Looking At the Pros

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I’ve had to put this principle to work lately concerning our neighborhood. If I’m not careful, I can let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it’s nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I try to remember the positive things—the pros. If I step outside at the right time in the morning, I can hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also have some nice neighbors, and we’re in a convenient location for the most part. As I look at the pros, I’m reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros—a situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe it’s time I come up with a new list. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b

*Flickr photo by Wiertz Sebastien, Creative Commons License

Warm Welcome

How many times have you experienced the blessing of a truly warm welcome? Don and I got to watch one as we helped Kristin and Shawn move into their new neighborhood during spring break, and I must tell you, we were amazed.

Neighbors from up and down their street popped over one after the other to introduce themselves and extend a hand of friendship to our kids. The warm welcome and spirit of unity and camaraderie displayed as these kind folks made an effort to get to know Kristin and Shawn immediately and assure them — and us in the process — that they were moving into a great neighborhood was indeed priceless.

I think I’m safe in saying that this just doesn’t happen that much anymore in today’s world, and what a blessing it was to watch it happen to Kristin and Shawn. What parent wouldn’t be thrilled to know that there are friendly, caring people living near their kids? And yes, I remember that my kids are grown adults who have been out on their own for several years now, but it still made me happy :) And I think it made Kristin and Shawn feel pretty happy as well.

After seeing the positive impact of such a warm welcome, I’d like to encourage us all — me included — to be ready to offer equally friendly welcomes to those in our own circles. I realize every neighborhood has its own personality and most won’t be like Kristin and Shawn’s (ours isn’t), but we can do our part to welcome newcomers there and in other areas of life as well.

For example, do we help others feel not only welcomed but included in relationships and groups through our workplaces or at church? Do we go out of our way to make sure they know a great community stands ready to support and befriend them?

Just think of the loving welcome Jesus extended to so many — the crowds, the little children, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, the thief on the cross… Opportunities are all around us. Let’s not miss them. Let’s take the time for a loving touch. Let’s take the time for a warm welcome.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

*Flickr photo by briannaorg, Creative Commons License

Love for our Fellowman

**Family update: We are still hanging in there. Don’s mom’s kidney function is ever so slowly improving, but the overall picture still doesn’t look good–probably because even with the improvement, the kidney is not working well enough to keep the toxins filtered out of her body. On a happy note for us, our kids have been home this weekend as well as all of Don’s siblings. So-o-o good to see them all. I told my girls I drew strength from their hugs alone. As you can imagine, I hugged them a lot :) Thanks so much for your prayers. We’ve seen so many tiny things that are just blessings from God, and I know they have been carried to us on the wings of your prayers. Thank you!

With all that’s going on in our lives right now, I may not have time to write the kinds of posts you’re used to finding here, but I will try to share something with you a couple of times each week as usual. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, I thought you’d like to hear what another well-known American from the past had to say about social justice. Think on these words from Helen Keller:

“When indeed shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are all members of one body? Until the spirit of love for our fellowman, regardless of race, color or creed, shall fill the world, making real in our lives and our deeds the actuality of human brotherhood — until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”

How do you think we as a nation are doing today where social justice is concerned? Closer to home, how are we doing as individuals?

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” James 2:1

*Flickr photo by hoyasmeg

Ready To Go

I don’t know how he pulled it off, but Don managed to get a new “toy” for himself on my birthday last weekend. To be honest, we spent that day shopping for several things, and he did try to dissuade me (weakly!) from spending any time at all looking for a new lawnmower for himself. But I insisted we take advantage of the fact that he actually had the time and opportunity to look that day, and so…voila! Don is now the ridiculously proud owner of a new TROY-BILT 3 in 1 Push Mower. It has a mulching feature that has him in Lawn Man heaven :) (First, he was Canyon Man, then Paint Man, and now his predominant identity comes out — he can most often be seen as Lawn Man!)

I must admit it was time for an update. His old push mower has been, I’m sure, driving the whole neighborhood crazy all summer with its sputtering death rattle. Or should I say Don has been driving everyone crazy as he ran the engine and worked on the dying mower for hours on end. After trying everything he knew — as well as a few things others suggested — he decided it was time to let go of some cash and get something that could actually cut grass :) (By the way, he uses his rider on most of our yard but still needs a push mower for certain parts of it as well as for the lawn he mows for an elderly neighbor. What a guy, huh?!)

I wish you could have seen him as he got his new mower set up and ready to go. He could barely wait to get it out into the grass and give it a test run. Just like a kid on Christmas morning, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he stopped just long enough to give me his first report. “Man, this thing just glides through the grass. It pushes so easy — it doesn’t shake and vibrate like the other one did. This is great!” And then he was off again, even mowing parts of the lawn he usually does with the rider. When I caught his attention long enough to ask him what in the world he was doing, he just smiled. Before I knew it, he had taken off to do our neighbor’s yard. I began to wonder if he would do the entire neighborhood before he came in :)

It was neat to see how excited Don was to get to work and use his new piece of equipment. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we all displayed the same kind of zeal over using the talents and abilities that God has given us? Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”, and Paul tells us in Romans that “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…” (12:6a).

What gifts has God given you? What did He create you to do? Let’s get excited about using our God-given equipment. Let’s be ready to get to work. Let’s be ready to go!

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received…” 1 Peter 4:10a

Food, Glorious Food…Someday

After surviving a meager liquid diet and the unpleasant prep day for a screening colonoscopy, what’s a gal’s natural choice for a first meal on soft diet? For this gal, it was a chocolate shake.

Sure tasted good after Monday’s fare of 7UP, jello, and chicken broth. Sorry to say, though, my smile didn’t last long. The whole colonoscopy process did quite a number on my system, and I’m still having trouble eating today. I’m probably one of the few who has problems after this procedure, but if there’s a “rare” category, count on me to fall into it :)

I had planned on writing about “Food, Glorious Food” today — you know, because I would be starving and everything would taste so good, but my experience just hasn’t panned out that way. Food hasn’t gotten glorious for me yet this week, but I know it’s coming. Soon (I hope) my system will get back to normal, and I’ll want to eat everything in sight.

Thankfully, I’ll have that opportunity. Food is plentiful in the good ole USA, and Don and I are fortunate enough to be able to buy all the groceries we want. I can’t help but think of those who are hungry on a daily basis — not just because of a medical procedure that puts the brakes on the food train for awhile, but because of famine or lack of money to buy available food.

I haven’t enjoyed getting a headache from hunger or growing weak because of lack of nourishment, but I know it’s a temporary problem. What about those who see no end in sight, who never get enough to satisfy their empty stomachs? I’ve got to be honest. I can’t fathom what that must be like. I’ve never come close to experiencing ongoing hunger.

When we think of the hungry, we usually think of those in faraway places like Africa, but poor and hungry people can be found right here in our nation as well. Maybe neighbors in our own community. What are we to do? How are we to respond? Scripture tells us to “Rescue the weak and needy” (Psalm 82:4a NIV) and to “…continue to remember the poor…” (Galations 2:10 NIV).

How can we as individuals alleviate a need that is so vast? It can be something as simple as giving food to a local food pantry or as far-reaching as sponsoring a needy child through an organization like Compassion International. Maybe a contribution to a food crisis fund would help you feel like your gift was going where it was most needed. Compassion, in fact, has such a fund featured right now on its home page.

Compassion is just one organization that reaches out to the poor and hungry. What other avenues for helping them do you have personal knowledge about? Let’s share our ideas. Maybe someone will be helped. Maybe my cry of “Food, glorious food!” will ring out someday soon from someone who is truly hungry.