Category Archives: giving

The Last Day of Your Life

Whenever I hear of a loss of life, whatever the situation, I always think, “Did they (the people involved) know that was going to be their last day on earth?” Most likely, the answer is “No”. I know this may be a rather macabre subject, but I have a purpose in this post.

The years and days leading up to my divorce were dark – I have shared before that I walked around angry all the time. I was bitter, easily agitated, and not very much fun to be around. Some folks would have cheered my passing during that time! I wasn’t much better immediately following the divorce.

It takes me 40 minutes to get to work since I moved in with Cycle Dude. That gives me a great deal of time to pray, think about life and listen to worship music. This morning on my way in to work, I thought about the phrase, “The Last Day of Your Life” and what it means. I thought, what would most people do if they knew when they woke up this morning that it was the last day of their lives? Would they be more compassionate, more kind and generous? Then I thought, we ought to live our lives like that anyway.

Why wait until death is near to be a good person? To have faith in God? To show unconditional love to others? We should live each day like it’s our last. Yes, it’s easy to get angry, to be irritated by the hatred and evil we see around us. But what if we lived each day with a little more compassion, with a kind word on our lips, with a grateful and generous heart? We may not make a difference in the entire world, but we will make a difference in our small corner of the world.

Psalm 90, verse 12 states: “Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.” And again in Psalm 139, verse 16: “You saw my unformed body. . . You knew the number of my days before there was one of them. . . .”. Whether or not we know the number of our days, God knows. We are to live our lives with wisdom, being selfless instead of being selfish. Instead of living our days for ourselves – in a self-centered, grab-all-I-can for me, me, me lifestyle – why don’t we live our lives in such a way that shows the love of God, or our belief in the goodness of humanity? Whenever we depart this world, we will leave all our stuff behind. I don’t want to be remembered for amount of stuff I had, but for the amount of love I showed. Stay tuned. . . .

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Encouragement

One of my friends is going through a rough time at his job. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his job and does not intend to leave over the situation. However, he feels he is being unfairly singled out by some of his subordinates. We talked for a bit this morning. I reminded him that he is being singled out because he is ‘administration’ and those in authority are the most visible to employees with an axe to grind. As a fellow Jesus follower, I reminded him that other people are watching him – how is he going to handle this situation with his subordinates? If he talks the talk of being a Christian, is he going to walk the walk when the walking gets hard?

I also reminded him that he is not in his position of authority by chance. Like Mordecai told Esther (in the Old Testament Book of Esther), “You are here for such a time as this”. Why is my friend in a position of authority at his job? He told me that one of his sons knows how stressful his job can be, so his son is watching how his father deals with the job stress. One of my friend’s subordinates is also watching him for the same reason as his son – how is my friend going to handle the rough situations that come his way? I told my friend that stressful situations give us an opportunity to run to God, to lay down our fears and anxieties before Him and let Him take care of them.

As I was talking to my friend, I remembered the two friends who helped me through my divorce and the years following. One of them was an encourager – she would read scripture to me, remind me of God’s grace, and listen to my wounded soul. She has a wonderful gift for encouraging others – in word and in deed.

If you are recently divorced, you may not feel like reaching into someone else’s life and encouraging them. You may wonder if you will ever be able to heal to the point of being able to encourage another person. I took a few moments this morning to pray with my friend. It was a small, sixty-second prayer, but he said it meant the world to him. Did I start my day knowing or asking that I would have the opportunity to encourage my friend? No. But I did know that as a follower of Jesus, I can pray for and encourage others, no matter how small my part might be. Take heart, dear one. You may never know the value that your few encouraging words may have in another’s life. Stay tuned . . . .

The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. Stay tuned . . .

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions – Relationships, Part 2

There is a saying, “Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I found out that after my divorce many of my friends were gone. People I had known with my ex just seemed to evaporate into thin air. There were a couple friends that remained in contact. One of my friends I have known since 2003. She had been a rock for me through the divorce.

Sometimes, friendships just drift away and there is nothing you can do about it. People change, places change and one just has to ‘roll with the punches’. How do we continue to nurture those old friendships in spite of the pain we feel from the divorce?

1. Re-evaluate: Friends who like you for you and not because of your ex will most likely stick around. Those who drift away because of the divorce perhaps weren’t that close to you after all. You know who your real friends are when you’re standing waist deep  in mud and covered with poop. Hard times in our lives tend to feel like that. True friends will get in the mud with you and help you clean off the poop.

2. Be intentional: The friend I mentioned above recently retired. I can’t call her every day at work. She is feeling overwhelmed because of being retired, not really wanting to be retired, and having to get all her ducks in a row. I text her daily or every other day. I need to be intentional with her, to continue to cultivate out friendship, to polish that gold. Continue to invest in those gold relationships.

3. Give: Send an occasional note in the mail, call for no reason, send flowers for her birthday (even if it isn’t her birthday!), let those friends know you are thinking about them. I even do this with my children. I have known my children for over 30 years – they are those gold relationships that are worth the investment of my time and energy.

4. Accept: Friends may not know what to say or how to give to you after a divorce. That’s okay. Accept that they may feel awkward. Accept that they may be distant and silent because they feel uncomfortable. Accept that you will most likely have to make the first move to reconnect with them.

5. Be kind and merciful: No one is perfect. Extend grace to your friends. Reach out to them when God puts them on your heart. Pray for them.

God doesn’t want us to walk through this life alone. That’s why He gave Eve to Adam. That’s why the twelve disciples lived in community with Jesus. That’s why we have friends and loved ones – people who care about us even when we are at our worst.

I challenge you today, dear one. Have you been thinking about someone, a friend? Send them a text msg, pick up the phone and call them, write them a note and send it snail mail. Friends are the gold in our lives. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

Pay It Forward

There were times when I was in college (the first time) that my parents would help me out financially from time to time. Ex’s parents would help us out in the early days of our marriage. My parents always told me they didn’t need to be repaid, but wanted me to “Go and do likewise for your own children.” There were many times when my children needed a little financial help as they were going through college. I did not hesitate to help them because I knew my parents had helped me.

There were some lean days early on in my divorce that I needed a little help financially. Friends would help where needed. I always paid them back and remembered their kindness and generosity. I have prayed to be more generous as I have experienced the generosity of others.

I have had the opportunity to be generous recently. I remember when others have helped me and I do not hesitate to pay that forward and help others. However, paying it forward doesn’t only mean financially. Your financial budget may be tight, but what about your time budget? You have the resources of time and capability. Give back as others have given to you.

This is the season of giving – not just of money, but of time and talent as well. Pay forward that random act of kindness, or that cheery email, or that smile from a stranger. Pay forward that warm greeting from a co-worker, or letting someone ahead of you in line at the grocery store, or that hug from a friend.

The weather outside may be frightful, but paying it forward is delightful! Stay tuned . . . .

Generosity

The holidays are usually the time of year when most people give – to their favorite charity, to their local homeless shelter or animal shelter, to needy families in their community or their place of employment. It is also the time of year that organizations who help these needs solicit donations. Please be generous with your time and resources, not only at the holiday season, but all year-long.

I live close to the Smoky Mountains. Several communities near me have been evacuated due to raging wildfires that, it is suspected, were set by arsonists. My heart breaks – for my friends caught in the inferno, for the animals affected by the wildfires (forest wildlife,  pets and animals at an aquarium), and for the beautiful forest that has been destroyed. Members of my church are donating supplies to the fire fighters as well as to the evacuees.

There was a time when I did not have much to give. I wanted to be more generous. I realized that generosity did not only apply to money, but it applied to time as well. Many times, I barely scraped by in paying rent, utilities, gas and groceries. I was frustrated because I wanted so much to be able to give financially. I was reminded of a verse in the Bible: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” There are many instances in the Bible where we are encouraged to be faithful in the small things.

I started small – giving to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle when I had spare change or a couple bucks, volunteering wherever I could, donating my unwanted stuff to a local thrift store to help the homeless. Then, I got a better job and another better job. I began to donate my finances – through helping friends at my church, or giving to a cause I believe in, or giving to other needs I became aware of.

My heart is not to accumulate stuff, it is to open my hands and bless others as I have been blessed. I have enough – a home, a car, food, clothing, love. Anything beyond enough is just extra – to be shared and used to bless others. Practice generosity and be faithful in the small things. Stay tuned . . . .

Thankful

I hosted Thanksgiving dinner yesterday for Cycle Dude and his adult children. I usually decorate with fall decorations, make a centerpiece complete with candles, and bake so the apartment smells really good. I enjoy the holidays because of all the good memories I have from my childhood. I try to make the holidays special for those around me.

When I got home from work on Wednesday, I realized I had left my iPad behind. There was no way I was going to fight the traffic on Wednesday just to go back to work for my iPad. Yesterday morning, I took my pups on a ride to retrieve my iPad. On the way, I prayed and thanked God for all the blessings He has given me – my children, my Cycle Dude, my dogs, my home, my car, my friends, my job, my church, food on my table, a warm bed on a cold night, relatively good health, great coworkers, and the list goes on. My list took me to work and back! I have a great deal to be thankful for.

If this is your first holidays season after a divorce, I know it can be lonely, depressing, confusing, etc. I would encourage you to reflect on the following:

1.  Who am I? Very often, we tend to lose ourselves in our family as we are wife and mom. A couple of days after my divorce, I realized I was no longer Mrs. Ex. I was now Ms. Me. But who is Ms. Me? The divorce presented me with an opportunity to figure out who I was aside from my children. I will always be their mom, but I was no longer a Mrs. Take some time this season to discover you.

2. What can I do? Take this time to find out what you are capable of. Are you having to do finances on your own for the first time? Figure out car repair? Or home repair? Don’t say, “I can’t do this!” Instead say, “I will learn how to do this.” You will acquire some new skills. I learned how to change a flat tire.

3. Where do I want to go? You are at a crossroads – your life has taken on a new direction. Where do you want it to go? Do you want to return to school? Take a class at a community college. Do you want to learn a new skill? Find a group in your community that you can hook up with – ex. learning to knit, sew, cook, do home repair. Your local home repair store (Home Depot, Lowe’s) has classes you can sign up for. Find resources in your community and take advantage of them.

4. How can I help? There are so many needs in our communities – opportunities to give and to volunteer. If you cannot give, volunteer. Many agencies are desperately in need of volunteers. Giving of your time to a cause you believe in is a good way to explore the other questions listed above.

5. What can I leave behind? Everyone leaves behind a legacy when they die – good or bad. This morning, I learned that Florence Henderson (“Carol Brady”) passed away. What kind of legacy did she leave behind? Many people knew her as “America’s Mom” from her role on the Brady Bunch. She will be fondly remembered for her unconditional love for her Brady brood. What kind of legacy will you leave behind? What will people remember you for? We can’t all be world-famous whatever, but we can positively affect our small corner of the world.

As we enter the holiday season, let us be thankful that we have an opportunity to explore who we are and give of our time, talent and resources to those who need them. Give thanks with a grateful heart. Stay tuned. . . .