Genuine Kindness

Blessed Is The Influence Of One True, Loving Human Soul On Another. -George Elliot

Every day we have options… choices to make. Unless we live alone is some isolated place, we interact with other people. That has its pros and cons! Over a lifetime I have tried interacting with “challenging”  characters and situations in many ways. Being defensive, angry or manipulative generally do not work well. Genuine kindness goes the farthest. I have learned the hard way, both by giving and receiving in all kinds of human interactions, the truth of the statement: “Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” George Elliot

There are three words in this quote that lead me to translate the concept to “genuine kindness.”

Influence is about the exchange of information and ideas and how they change us. It is subtile. Influence does not require obedience. It is more of an invitation to a new or different way. It involves mutual respect and often more listening than speaking. Many times the one influenced observes behaviors and tone of voice more than the information conveyed in words.

True is a word we hear less and less in our culture of ‘everything is relative.’ It requires acknowledging facts and regarding some things as real. Not only tangible things, but things like gravity we cannot see or touch.  When it comes to personal character it is authenticity. Most people can detect if someone is honestly interested their well-being or if they are being used at some level.

Loving sometimes feels like a lost or dying art. So many people spend time with their eyes glued to a computer, TV or smart phone screen that many are losing the art of personal interaction. Our souls do not receive the same response from an emoji as we do to face to face, focused attention with physical eyes and ears.

With few exceptions, people respond to genuine kindness.

Kindness is one facet of loving. It is friendly without being controlling. Kindness is respectful and considerate of others thoughts, opinions and feelings. It reads reactions and adjusts gently as it seeks to understand.

A genuinely kind person has a healing effect on others.

We all hunger to be heard and understood and want to be seen for the good in us. We may be afraid to be seen for what really goes on in our heads, but a kind person believes the best. They call us up to our better selves.

Some great advice that has been around forever is, if you want to have a good friend, be a good friend first. Genuinely kind people make good friends. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it. Abba provides all the resources we need when we lean in and ask because He is the source of all that is true, kind and loving.

How can you bless another person with genuine kindness?

 

Lift My Eyes To The Hills

I’m sure you have had a similar experience. The kind where you hear the same phase, or see the same sort of think repeatedly in a short space of time. This last week I had independent encounters with Psalm 121 no less than four times in two or three days. That got my attention. So I decided to ‘lift my eyes to the hills’ and ask, “What, Lord, do you want me to see?”

I lift my eyes to the hills….

Psalm 121 is below and I emphasized some, possibly too many, of the verses. Rather that me feeding you my thoughts right away, I hope you will read it through asking Abba the same thing I did. “Lord, do you want me to see?

Psalm 121

 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

So what did your heart receive from Abba?

I am still sitting with it and learning, but here are a few thoughts.

The maker of everything is:

my help…in all situations in my life,

the stabilizer of all things in my life,

my ever vigilant, never sleeping protection,

my shade….

And the last verse is fresh for me as I consider “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” So far, that means to me that I am never alone. I am reminded of Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.” In seasons of transition and uncertainty, faced with choices, if I lift my eyes to the hills…to the Lord, I really can’t go ‘wrong.’ In all my goings and comings, Abba is present with me, and you!

May Abba bless you with the grace to remember Him in all things. In good times and challenging ones, He is present with you, giving you balance, protection, shade and guidance.

MOTHERHOOD: It’s Not Just A Job It’s An ADVENTURE

I officially entered motherhood when Kathryn entered the world in 1986 followed by Alex in 1988. Previous to that I had done some baby sitting and later took on some responsibilities that sure made me feel like I was the mother of a teenager before I was an official mother. But that did not qualify.

I entered Motherhood with excitement and enthusiasm. When Kathryn joyfully arrived in to the world we found out how unprepared we were to handle this new, helpless life.

Motherhood is one of the most demanding challenges on the planet, That’s why I love this t-Shirt. I wore it until it had so many holes I really had to retire it, but not before I took a photo to attempt to immortalize it.

The challenges of motherhood include long hours. One unofficially  ‘earns’  certificates and degrees in things like nutrition, psychology, nursing, time management, finance and yes, chauffeuring. With these two children I have lived through a life threatening drowning accident, late night conversations about relationships and arguments for the sake of arguing. There was an emergency surgery on Christmas Day in a foreign country, discerning where to go to University and why, lots of sporting events, celebrations and tears of heartbreak.

For me, one of my favorite challenges was, and is, to understand who each child is. What do I mean by that? Well, Kathryn became a high-end residential interior designer. Alex became an A U.S. Army Ranger Captain before he left the Army and moved on to consulting. They are very different! Yes they are from the “same mother, same father” as I learned to distinguish during my years in Africa. One might suggest, ‘All boy & all girl!’ But trust me it is not as simple as that. Every person is unique!

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Yes, that is about character development, but it is so much more. Parents get to study the children God has given us to raise to adulthood. We call them up into their strengths and we help them learn to cope in their areas of weakness. We help them learn who God made them to be. We encourage them to dream of possibilities and then we get to release them to find out where their gifts and talents will take them. We cheer them on to continue the cycle. Alex married Evelyn the end of May and Kathryn will marry Dewey just after Labor Day. 

Dewey, Kathryn, Evelyn & Alex. Just the beginning.

I have already released them to schooling far from home, then to careers in places geographically distant. Those things were hard for me because they occupied so much of my time for at least two decades of my life. But a lot of hard work by both parents, turned out responsible, God-fearing people who are up to the challenges of continuing the cycle.

Please forgive me for being a bit nostalgic as I release them yet again to a new level of becoming who God created them to be. Leaving and cleaving is important. My job is not exactly done, but now I get to be invited.

Besides…they all know I want to be a grandmother.=} THAT is another adventure I am looking forward to.=}

[I know, I know…I have to wait!]

Part of Psalm 23 in Pictures

I think we have finally hit the lazy, hazy days of summer. It is less hectic. It is easier to find peace, at least for me. Beauty abounds with flowers, animals and the ability to be outside enjoying it all. I found my self in Psalm 23 again this week and the beauty of summer life and the Psalm inspired me to try to mix the Word with pictures.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

No shepherd photo, but thriving in the desert.

Lack is a real thing. I have experienced it on many levels for varying lengths of time, from days to years. It is in those times I have come to experience the presence of God in new ways. So yes, I stand with David, ‘I shall not want,’ because the experience of the presence of the Lord at newer, deeper levels is well worth the measures of lack from inconvenience to trauma.

    “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

Green pastures speak to me of abundance, rest, and restoration, a place to graze, and relax in the goodness of God. I have known pastures with plenty of daisies. Daisies make me smile.

“He leads me beside still waters.”

Finding myself invited, by God and people, to the beach more in the summer. This picture is dusk at Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA. The water can be rough at times, but often it is calm and inviting. The sill waters lend to personal reflection and clearing the mind. A clear mind can hear the sill small voice of the Creator more easily than a scattered one.

     “He restores my soul.”

The salt air, the warm sun penetrating to my core, the gentle breezes with the expanse of the ocean all conspire to restore my soul. I don’t know about you, but I cannot be out in creation without it restoring me in mind, body, soul and spirit.

May Abba bless you with trust in His goodness, experience of His provision, even to the point of abundance. May He lead you gently to those places that speak to you personally. And May He touch you deeply in those areas of  your life that can use some restoration. …For His name sake!