Well, there goes another nap. Whenever words start stringing themselves together in my head, napping is impossible and writing is required. It's happened again today.
I am feeling so thankful today. One of the beautiful things about sadness and heartbreak is that often those around us rise up feel and the sadness and heartbreak right alongside, lending their support and strength when sometimes you just don't have any left. This, of course, is also true in celebrations of joy and gladness, but somehow it's easier to rally the troops for those. People know what to do when a friend has a baby or gets married. But the friends that are with you when you're in the midst of a trial are friends who are to be valued and honored.
As most of you probably know or have observed, I tend to keep my fingers in a lot of pots. I like to stay busy and I like to exercise my gifts and to serve. Caleb made me laugh yesterday when he realized that I had helped coordinate the church BBQ from Sunday. He said "it seems like everything time something special happens, you're the one coordinating it!" My response to him was "Well, when God gives you a special gift in an area, it's important to serve other people by using the gift." And I believe that to be true. And so, when God calls me to serve, I serve. Sometimes it wears me out. Sometimes I wonder why I give so much.
I remember back to when I had Caleb. We had only been married about a year and in the area about 18 months. We were part of an amazing small group in Annandale (and had recently moved to Sterling), but outside of that, we weren't very connected to anyone or anything. When Caleb was born, we received two meals; one from our small group and one from a random neighbor that Philip helped out with a project right around that time and that was their way of thanking us. I was very grateful for those two meals, as well as the help of my mom and other family who were in town some around the time he was born, but as any new mom will tell you, two meals doesn't get you very far when hubby goes back to work and the rubber hits the road. I remember the first week I was home alone with Caleb. I remember thinking Thursday night "If tomorrow weren't Friday, I think I might just give up and die right now." Having an infant is tough and receiving the support of meals is an incredible blessing! And not just for when babies are born. For this reason, I have brought more meals than I could possibly count to friends and people I'd never met over the years. Because I know how much it means.
Flash forward to now, seven and a half years later. We couldn't be in a more different place. We are surrounded layers deep by friends, old and new, people who love us and people who care, many of whom we know because of our many areas of service. Last week when we got the news, we received an outpouring of notes on Facebook and on email from people expressing their concern and prayers. And I appreciated every single one of them. Thank you. But I have to really give a shout out to those who went beyond that, to the people who said "I am bringing you a meal, which day do you want it?", "I am coming to take your boys for a few hours so you can be alone" and the ones that "made" Philip and I go out on a date on Friday. To the ones who picked up the phone and called and let me cry in their ear just so I could hear them say "I am here if you need anything." The friend that stopped to hug me in church and started crying for me and who looked at me and said "None of us wanted this for you! I wish I could take all the pain off you and put it on me." The one who put her day on hold and came to stay with the boys all the way from Lucketts on Monday because I'd had a painful night. The friend who called today and said "I want to know if there is anything I can do to serve you during this time." And everyone else who said "I am here for you. Tell me what you need and I'll do it."
This is the body of Christ in action. These are acts of kindness that people never forget. That I will never forget. And this is what motivates me to keep on serving and giving...because you never know when that one (sometimes simple) thing you do or word you say will be the one thing that gives someone the strength to carry on or fills them with the hope of knowing that someone really cares.
We are Jesus with skin on. And for some, we, YOU, are the only Jesus they will ever see. One act of kindness can change a life.