Sunday, November 16, 2014

Intentional Servant

For many years before there was a Take Them A Meal.com site, I've signed up on a sheet of paper passed around the room, to cook a meal and deliver it to someone who was sick, or had lost a loved one, or had a new baby or was simply an overwhelmed care giver. Unless there was a valid reason I couldn't help, I always did.  Until now, I've never been on the receiving end of that type of love. Love cooked up in someone's kitchen in the form of vegetable soup or pumpkin soup, which we had delivered to us a few nights ago. Love...in the form of thinking of something to prepare for a family in crisis, taking the time to shop for the ingredients and the time to stand in front of a stove and stir in the goodness from the thoughts about that family as the pot simmers. Taking food from your kitchen to theirs is such a personal, loving, unselfish gesture. But, when you can't do that, something store bought or restaurant prepared is just as good.  Within the next few days we will be on the receiving end of two meals ordered and paid for by people who are concerned about us and who love us.  They live across country and though I wish they were close enough to bring food from their kitchen to mine, they are not, so they thought of the next best thing. They were intentional about serving us, so they discussed how they could do that.  They didn't call and say what can we do?  They called and said this is what we are going to do.  Intentional.
I've thought a lot about that in the last few days.  I wondered how many times I might have asked that question, "what can I do?" to someone who needed help, but they didn't know exactly how to express their needs. so they didn't, though there might have been many. I hope in the future instead of saying, "what can I do?"  I will say, "let me come pick up a couple of loads of laundry," or "how about I pick up your kids from school, take them to my house for a couple of hours."  There are so many needs.  Ask for a grocery list and make a run. It doesn't have to be a long list, maybe just milk and bread.  Or maybe that sick person would love a frappuccino from McDonald's or better yet, Starbucks. Offer to vacuum their floors, change the sheets on their bed, load the dishwasher, take them to a doctor's appointment and the list can go on and on.
As caregivers to our daughter Amy, and her family, I can tell you any little thing is appreciated. We've had four meals provided in the two months we've been here.  They didn't ask what they could do, they just provided.  Two times we've had people take the boys for a few hours.  It was good for the boys and good for us. We've had someone willing to come to the house and stay for a couple of hours to assist my mother-in-law as she takes care of Amy while Howard and I rushed to the grocery store for a weeks supply. And then there are those that say, "let me know if you need anything."  And that has led me to this article, because I don't know what to say, or what to ask for.  Can you bring us a meal?  Can you take the boys to your house to play for a while?  Can you come and stay with Amy while we run errands?  You see, I don't know what they really want to do.  What if I ask them one of those questions and they really deep down don't want to, but don't know how to graciously say no. So, from now on I will be specific when I ask someone if they need help. I will make suggestions about what I am willing to do. And maybe we need a new sign up site, an I Am Willing To Do This.com site.
I am a mentor to the MOPS group at The Heights Baptist Church and we are constantly in the midst of providing meals to new moms.  What a blessing.  A hot meal provided by loving hands.  The hands of Jesus!  The next time that sign up sheet appears in your email, type your name in and bless someone.  Then call and see what other need you can provide.  Be an intentional servant.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Treasured Memories AKA Grandchidren

Home...I've always loved being at home.  When I was a little girl I always wanted to spend the night with a friend, and I promised Mother that this time I would stay until morning.  I would beg her to let me go and she would sometimes give in, knowing that as soon as dark descended I would be brought back to her in tears.  I remember the emotions that started to surface as it began to get dark...the yearning for my mother and the warmth of our home and my bed. It's called homesickness for a reason!  I have to confess, and some of my childhood friends know this, I couldn't stay away from home at night until I was in the seventh grade.  I lived in Lake City, Arkansas until I married my husband and moved to North Little Rock. Two years later I began to recover from the worst case of homesickness anyone could ever imagine, and I was truly surprised that I'd survived.  I missed living in that small town where just like in the TV show Cheers, everyone knows your name. When I went back for visits and someone called me Linda Ruth, I knew I was in my hometown.  That was a long time ago, and many of those people have either passed on to Heaven or moved away. I have a few friends who still live there, but most last names I no longer recognize.
My home is currently in Virginia and has been for the last twenty-three years and seven months.  I didn't want to live in Virginia, but the military decided that for us when my husband received orders to report to Ft. Lee for a three year tour of duty.  Three short years and then we would head back to Arkansas, at least that's what we'd planned. But after living in cramped quarters on Ft. Lee for eighteen months, we began to look for a home to rent in Colonial Heights. With nothing available that would work for our family in the price point we felt comfortable with, we changed our search to a purchase. That proved to be difficult as well. After much searching, we finally bought a house we could afford and that would accommodate our family, but I told my husband it was the ugliest house on the block. We moved in and began the long journey of making that house our home.  Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.  For me, the beauty of my home isn't the paint on the walls, the furniture in the rooms or the d├ęcor that is my own personal taste.  It's the memories that have been layered one upon another during the days we've spent being sheltered in this structure of wood and brick.  The memory of the first time my granddaughters, Taylor, Emily and Bailey came for a visit and Taylor cried when she had to leave.  Or the time Taylor came and stayed two weeks, but was really, really ready to go home to Arkansas. The sleepovers.  Our grandson Todd stayed at least two or three times a week until he was about twelve, and thankfully by that time his younger brother Trey had begun staying overnight (and still does). Their sister Ashley reminded me of myself.  She wanted to sleep over, but always had to be taken home right at bedtime, which fortunately was only two blocks away. After the first time she successfully stayed all night, it was never a problem again.
We have many summertime memories in our backyard swimming pool.  The grandchildren from North Carolina always love to visit and I remember many times watching Kailey, Jeremiah, Sophia, Mackenzie, Eva, Josiah, Ruby, and Uriah, all tumbling out of their big white van with excitement and yelling our names as they ran across the yard to the front door.  I love looking through old pictures and seeing how much they've all grown.
Jackson, Reid, Emma Kate and Hudson, visited a few months ago from Arkansas (with their parents, of course) and we went to a museum where we'd visited a few years before. They'd dressed in period clothes for a photo and were delighted to find some of those same clothes still there.  So another photo was taken to compare to the first one.  More memories.
Saying goodbye to Canin and Isaac when they moved from Virginia to Missouri and then on to Colorado are memories that were painful.  But, visits back to our house with their younger brothers, Jesse and Heath have given way to good times once again.
A few years ago God blessed us with grown grandchildren, Kristen and Ryan and we have memories of their first visit to Virginia to share in this madness of our great big family.
Our beautiful grandchildren, 2013
Zealand Paul, Grandchild #25, he was still baking when this post was written!