Find Some Comfort

photo-1539539797640-ae765135788bI recently took care of one of my grand dogs for a few hours. My daughter and son-in-law only needed me to check on him, but he likes to play with my pup, and I thought he might be alone for too long after they had recently been gone several days, so I picked him up to hang out with me at my house.

He gets super excited to see me, but when it’s just him and me, he settles in quickly. He played with my pup for a while, then we went inside to watch a movie. He paced for a bit, looking out the window often to check on my pup. I tried to make sure he had just a couple things he was familiar with to help him settle in and be comfortable. It didn’t take him long.

He reminded me of how important it is to find some familiar, comfortable things when we build relationships or reconcile with people. We’ll have some struggles, challenges, worries, and anxieties. We won’t always feel comfortable, but we can help put each other at ease by considering not what makes us most comfortable but what is helpful for the other person.

It seems like common sense, the basics of hospitality, but common sense is not so common anymore.

Instead of focusing on your own comfort so much, consider someone else’s. What does someone need in order to heal or work through a relationship challenge with you? Be humble and honest enough to go there with them. What does someone need in order to take a step toward seeing the truth of a situation? Step there with them. What does someone need in order to feel as if they belong? Shift enough to sit with them in that place even if you know you’ll need to shift again soon.

Finding some comfort isn’t just about yourself. It’s about others, too.

My Class

photo-1472162072942-cd5147eb3902Two years ago, I read to a local kindergarten class. Their eyes were wide with excitement as I read Listen, Buddy. They asked creative, inquisitive questions, and I declared them “my class.” I promised them I would read to them every year through the fifth grade.

Last year, I read Wooway for Wodney Wat, one of my daughter’s favorites. Since she’s a teacher at the same school, they especially enjoyed it.

My class is now in the second grade. The teacher they have doesn’t typically invite readers, but he made an exception (partially because I motivated him with homemade chocolate chip cookies). With the popularity of The Wonkey Donkey, it was easy to choose what to read. My daughter had recently bought it for me to practice my grandma reading skills. I thought most kids would be familiar with the story, but only a few said they had read it.

It was fun to see their excitement when I arrived. They wanted updates on Buddy and Wodney Wat, as if I kept up with the fictional characters’ lives.

It took only a few pages for them to catch on to the rhythm of the story line. They were soon chiming in anytime there was a “HeeHaw” involved. They giggled, and their laughter was infectious.

The time passed too quickly, but they needed to get on with their learning, and I needed to go back to work. I’ll see many of them in the hallways or throughout the community, and I’ll definitely see them again next year.

Despite only seeing most of them occasionally, it’s fun to feel connected to them. They always welcome me and seem excited to see me.

My investment in them is quite small, but it is something. I never feel as if they minimize my time with them, and I know I treasure it.

Refuse to minimize your investments in others. Of course, also refuse to rationalize when you are slacking in your generosity and service. But know what you give with humility and joy will ripple into others’ lives.

Chipped Off Pieces

photo-1497864149936-d3163f0c0f4bSome days, something breaks off me.

It’s not a bad thing. Apparently, there are many things that are part of my life that God continues to chip away at. I doubt I feel it some of the time. Other times, it hurts. Still other times, the chipping away feels good.

There was a day like that recently. Something broke off me and it felt like a release.

It was a simple day. I worked, shared travel adventures with my daughter’s fifth grade class, delivered packages to businesses for an upcoming community festival, and more. I loved pouring into others. I loved doing life alongside others. And as much as I was doing with others, I also knew people were praying for me throughout the day. I exchanged messages with people.

As I drove through town, reflecting on the dozens of conversations and contacts I’d had throughout the day, I sighed with contentment.

The day wasn’t about me. Of course, it involved me, but there was so much weaving of lives. Connections are powerful and nourishing.

There is contentment in intentional humility and service as we consider and engage with others.

When we are humble, we don’t have to hang on. We settle in. We’re willing to give and to let go. We trust God to chip off what needs to fall away from us.

And we can sigh in contentment.

Suddenly Incompatible

photo-1527224857830-43a7acc85260I was working offsite with several coworkers, and someone printed a single page to review. It didn’t print the way he preferred, so he made a couple adjustments to the document, then clicked print again.

It wouldn’t print. He got a message stating the cartridge was incompatible with the printer.

Several of us tried multiple things to solve the issue. Nothing worked.

One coworker stated with frustration, “That makes no sense! It was compatible a few minutes ago then suddenly says it’s not compatible. How can something change that quickly?”

I laughed to myself. I didn’t say what I was thinking out loud, because not everyone would understand why it seemed funny to me. And perhaps it wasn’t actually funny, but sometimes we find odd humor among sad and frustrating circumstances.

Why was I laughing? Because the parallel between the printer and my life seemed ridiculously sensible and perplexing.

What I withheld saying was, “It makes sense to me! I mean, my husband of 27 years suddenly decided we weren’t compatible, so apparently, that’s a thing that can happen all the sudden without warning!”

Maybe it doesn’t sound as funny when it’s taken out of context. I certainly don’t laugh at the pain of my situation. But I find moments to laugh about the ridiculousness of it all. When I shared it with someone later, she replied, “Well, it’s not really that funny, but the fact that you can laugh at it makes me laugh!”

We all need comic relief at times, even when we’re in some difficult, trying situations.
Find a reason to laugh at yourself and your situation today. You can take life more seriously tomorrow.

Misplaced Pumpkins

photo-1506906994454-39c6f0584675Yesterday I wrote about picking up replacement pumpkins after a friend’s pumpkins were smashed in the road. I also delivered pumpkins to a few others, including a friend from work. She has two young girls, and they get very excited about pumpkins and decorations. She had recently moved and would be gone while I was delivering, so she texted me the address. I typed it into Google maps, followed the directions, and was confident when Google announced, “You have arrived at your destination,” because there was a house with a For Sale sign right in front of me. A perfect match for someone temporarily renting while their house is built.

When I got a text from my friend asking where I’d put the pumpkins, I quickly realized I should have paid more attention to details. I didn’t check a house number. I just unloaded the pumpkins where I assumed they belonged.

I was wrong.

Fortunately, no one lived in the house I’d mistaken as my friend’s, and she lived close by. She picked up the pumpkins the next morning with no issues. I felt bad, but I also laughed at the thought of her moving multiple pumpkins from one house to another, hopefully not mistaken for a vandal or thief.

Sometimes our best intentions end up a bit misplaced.

Overloaded

photo-1508322345744-2745200b300fWith only a few days before Halloween, I noticed a social media post from a friend whose pumpkins had been smashed in the road overnight. They had quite a few, several which I had delivered from my mom’s neighbor’s pumpkin patch. Because of my own experiences with smashed pumpkins, I felt for my friend and her family. Such a senseless, upsetting mess.

I already planned to be at my mom’s that day, so I decided to try to get a few replacement pumpkins to deliver. I knew the pumpkin patch had pretty much been cleared, but it was a bumper crop, so I thought I could find a few. Mom and I jumped on the ATV and headed toward the field.

There were plenty! I started making a pile of a variety of sizes. Before long, I had more than I intended, and Mom and I started to trouble-shoot how we’d get them back to the house. We piled the smaller ones in a crate attached to the front of the ATV. We bungee-strapped others around the crate. Then I held four larger ones between me and Mom. She said she’d drive slowly.

We only dropped one as we got close to the house, and it didn’t break. I drove back to pick it up later.

We probably should have planned ahead a bit better, but isn’t that the way life is sometimes? We forge ahead then realize we’re not as well prepared for something as we thought we might be. Our planning doesn’t quite keep up with our thoughts and goals.
But we can’t always know the details of what will happen.

We don’t know exactly how God will provide. We can trust him through it all. I didn’t realize I’d pick up that many pumpkins, because I didn’t know that many were left in the field. I probably should have planned ahead better anyway, but I didn’t, and it worked out.

I’m sure Mom and I looked a bit ridiculous on the loaded-down ATV. But we sure had fun. We got some replacement pumpkins for my friend, but more importantly, we spend time together on a beautiful fall day.

Sometimes, working through an overload actually eases a burden in more ways than one.

Friends Helping Friends

photo-1526958097901-5e6d742d3371It was day of friendships – not just the fun, relaxing, hang-out-and-enjoy-life together moments, but the help-when-help-is-needed moments. Perhaps I just noticed it more in the details of the day. I saw it among others at church as people helped carry kids and all the paraphernalia that comes with them, gave rides to each other, and worked through the details of schedules for the week. But I also lived it personally.

One of my mom’s best friends had a death in the family, and my mom and aunt were helping serve the family meal after the visitation. I stopped by after I saw the family at the church to say hi and see if there was anything I could do to help. I ended up staying for hours. The experience of people coming together and doing life together regardless of the circumstance deeply nourishes me. I grew up in a tight-knit community. My parents had many good friends through the years who would drop everything to help each other.

I’ve been blessed through the years to have those type of friends, too. Many of them. They share life when it’s fun and when it’s burdensome. They answer the phone in the middle of the night and stop what they are doing to help. They laugh with you at the silly stuff you do, and they let you know when you’re doing wrong. Because they care.

While I was helping my mom’s friends, a friend’s husband texted me to let me know he dropped off a bale of straw at my house for my dog. I replied, “Thanks. I owe you.” His response was simple: “Nope.”

There is beauty in doing life together. It’s not about what we do for each other but more about our willingness to consider and sacrifice for others. Our generosity matters, because it connects us. It opens us up for hurt, because relationships can be messy, but it also opens us up for a deeper, richer life. We get to see different perspectives. We get to experience new things. We get to widen our circles.

We get to live life with others.

Invest in friends today. Help them. Invite them to help you. Simply do life together.