Simple as that

Yesterday my little sister piled up turkey, dressing, casseroles, bread, pie, and salad for a neighbor and walked across the street. We drank coffee while she spent an hour chatting with him; he’s not really into big family gatherings, but he probably appreciated the quiet conversation.

The day before Thanksgiving, I received a gift card in the mail for this same neighbor. I’d mentioned his home repair needs to some friends. His house caught fire years ago, and he’s been attempting to repair it here and there for years ever since.

energy-1326274_1920

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

This woman lives two hours away. She’s never met this man and probably never will. She doesn’t need to; she believes me when I tell her he is living in a shop building with no heat, no running water, and no electricity. She believes me when I explain that he has been unemployed and looking for work. She believes me, and she helps.

Not everything in life is this simple.

But maybe we have made things too complicated.

I’ve served on non-profit boards. I’ve organized fundraisers for organizations and helped raise $150,000 in a single evening. I’m not opposed to large-scale fundraising or development efforts.

There’s something refreshing, though, about hearing a stripped down, simplified “yes” to the question: Do you want to help this man?

My husband asked, “What is your plan once you gather these resources? What are you going to do exactly?”

“Well, I don’t have a plan. We’ll see what happens depending on how much money we can raise and how many people want to help.”

There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t trust God enough to handle any details—details of a project or plan and certainly not details of my life. I don’t feel that way today. I know God loves this man. I know God loves me, too.

Simple as that.

 

Dear Sabrina

*Today’s letter is written by one of my former spunky students. Thank you for adding spark to my life, Jessica!*

Dear Sabrina,

I have had five therapists in my lifetime from 2nd grade on. None of these people could get through to me until the 5th one. The 5th one was you. Something about you stuck out to me. Maybe it was because of your willingness to listen or your genuine want to help me and reach out. Honestly, I don’t know what it was, but what I do know is that I have not needed a therapist since December 2013, and I owe that all to you. Actually, no, I owe my whole life to you.

When I met you, I was in a bad place in my life. The therapist I went to a couple of months before basically blew me off and made me feel like I didn’t matter. She shooed me out of my second (and last) appointment that SHE scheduled and was LATE to because she had a meeting. Part of the reason I was going to a therapist in the first place was because I felt that nobody cared about me or what I was going through. I was lost and looking for some kind of direction in my life. That little incident pretty much proved me right. Not even my therapist cared about my life or whether I’d pull through or not. She only cared about herself.

After that, I kind of decided that maybe therapy wasn’t for me; after all, I’d had four different ones in my past, and none made me feel any better about myself or my future. Finally, I got to a point in my life where I REALLY needed someone to talk to. I felt I couldn’t talk to my family members because they wouldn’t understand. I talked to my best friend a lot, but she was getting tired of being the one to be unloaded on. Plus, in the relationship I was in, I was told to drop my best friend if I wanted to be with him. So, basically, I had no one. No friends, family, anyone.

You quickly became my friend as time progressed, though you could not be my “friend” because of your contract, but I knew otherwise. I always felt like you took a little more care with me than you did with your other clients. You can’t deny it. We spent three years together. You watched me grow as a person and saw me at my worst and still cared about me and my well being. I truly believe it was God that led me to you. He saw me struggling and knew just who could help me.

Ornament01You are an amazing therapist, and I would recommend you to anyone. You were the reason that I decided to become a therapist myself. I realized that I wanted to help people become all that they can be. Nobody should have to go through depression alone. All of that being said, I just wanted to let you know that I am so unbelievably grateful and thankful for you and your help. Without your selfless guidance, I would have never been able to pull myself out of the dirt and get back to the person I used to be, well, close to who I used to be. I love you more than you know, and I will never forget you.

Your Friend,

Jessica Nicol

P.S. When you look at Eeyore on your bookshelf, know that I’m thinking about you, too.

A cup of water

007Today, one of my best friends drove two hours to visit me for the second time since my baby was born. I consider her to be my “soul sister” because of the parallel spiritual paths we trod. As the mother of four children, taking an entire day to visit me, including the driving time, is no easy task. It takes planning, cooperation and assistance from helpful friends and family members, gas money, and time away from other responsibilities.

But I’m so grateful when she is able to visit.

Yesterday, I had a pretty awful morning, to be honest. My daughter was not interested in eating for a span of several hours, much longer than what is normal or healthy for her. She didn’t seem to feel well, but I couldn’t figure out the source of her discomfort. As I attempted to nurse her for the fourth time that morning, tears began to drip down onto her pudgy belly. I prayed and asked for God’s help in determining how to make her feel better and/or how to motivate her to eat. But mostly I let Him know, as if He didn’t know already, that I really, really needed His help, a break, and some sleep.

I let my daughter go back to sleep and put myself back to bed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to nap because of my endless insomnia. As I lay there awake, I prayed some more. I didn’t sleep, but I rested, and I felt a little less like a lunatic after an hour had gone by.

003Then the phone rang. It was my mom, asking if she could stop by to visit for a bit.

Yes!

Please!

God knew I needed someone to come along to encourage me, complement my baby on how much she has grown and how healthy and beautiful she is, and to remind me that I’m doing a very good job raising her. My mom only stayed a few hours, but it completely changed my emotional course for the day.

My friend’s visit did the same for me today.

As I relaxed this afternoon after she left, with my baby peacefully napping in the next room, a song by Chuck Brodsky performed by David LaMotte came to mind. “We Are Each Other’s Angels” has always been one of my favorite songs, and it’s never sounded sweeter than when I listened to it today.

When God sends me people to minister to me in moments when I need it most, it makes me feel like a marathon runner at the 25th mile marker–exhausted, legs aching, barely able to catch my breath, and ready to just give up.

And then an angel reaches out her arm, holding a paper cup of cool water, just enough to get me through one more mile.

 

God with skin on

Photo by Phoopla Photography

Chicken pocket filling for a ready-made supper.

A visit from two hours away.

Shadow box shopping with a crafty friend who is creating something special for our daughter’s nursery.

Eight hours slaving away over a stubborn sewing machine.

Countless encouraging comments.

Genuine prayers.

Two different sets of people planning baby showers.

A phone call–just because–from a 17 year-old who, I’m sure, has more exciting things to do than talk to me.

Meals prepared and renovation work completed in spite of sore muscles.

These are just a few of the blessings I received from the very valuable people in my life within one week. Once, a wise woman I know referred to people who bless us as “God with skin on.” I can’t think of a better description. My friends, family, and loved ones constantly extend their helpful hands and hearts to me, adding items to my gratitude list and strengthening my faith in God. How much must He love me to place so many precious people in my path?

Who has been “God with skin on” in your life?