Thankful It Takes a Village for Adults, Too
Thankful

Regardless of your political persuasion or opinion of the author of a book by a similar title, I’ve learned “it takes a village” for adults, too.

It’s been more than a year since I experienced the most significant loss of my life. The loss of my better half left me feeling disconnected. Not only disconnected but helpless and overwhelmed at all the things it took two people to handle over forty years.

That’s when my village stepped in.

It started with the memorial service as friends created the photo slideshow, decorated the church fellowship hall, and provided a generous meal for 300 people.

In the year that followed:

  • A neighbor volunteered to pressure clean and seal my driveway and then repaired and adjusted all the sprinkler heads in the irrigation system.
  • This same neighbor repaired 2 patio doors and my garage door and cleared my gutter of wayward plants.
  • A friend repaired a leaking doorframe.
  • A friend from church repaired a couple of leaking faucets.
  • Another friend from church arranged for the maintenance and repair of my lawnmower – and took care of the pick-up and delivery.
  • Two friends from church trimmed palm fronds and seed pods around my home.
  • A friend from my previous church repaired a broken roof truss.
  • Another neighbor spent hours replacing my garbage disposal and kitchen faucet.
  • That same neighbor arranged for the repair of some minor body damage on my car.
  • Yet another neighbor brought meals many times.

And this list is by no means complete.

Even contractors and service personnel—total strangers—went above and beyond to provide not just what I needed but added little extras with a dose of kindness.

With each act of compassion, my sense of feeling overwhelmed dissipated.

These experiences taught me it’s okay to ask for help. I was so used to helping others that asking for it seemed foreign…and somehow wrong. But what was wrong is the pride that didn’t want to receive what God had equipped others to give. Equally important, by not asking, I was denying others the blessing of being a blessing to me.

That joy and blessing flowed both ways.

In Philippians 2:4, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV).

So my question to you is, where are you in your village? Are you feeling overwhelmed, but reluctant to ask for help? Are you wanting to help, but don’t know where to start?

Your village needs you. It needs you to both give and receive. John Donne understood this when he wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

And the Bible tells us Christians are all members of one body—the Body of Christ. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (I Corinthians 12:26 NASB).

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for being a member of the Body of Christ. And I’m thankful for my village.

Who’s in your village? Are you giving and receiving?


Lessons from a Weed
Lessons from a Weed

Some say a weed is just a plant flourishing where you don’t want it to grow. The plant I gazed at certainly fit that description. Its tender green leaves and slim stem contrasted with the smoky-blue Florida sky as it grew in the gutter on my roof. Definitely a place I did not want it to flourish!

I had watched the foot-tall plant growing for several weeks. Inch by inch and day by day, I kept expecting the weed to wilt and die as it reached a point of no return. It didn’t belong there. Yet, there it was, tenaciously rooted in a most inappropriate place. A logical conclusion was that the gutter was filled with decaying leaves and dirt. The combination would naturally provide a welcoming environment for seeds carried by birds or the wind.

A kind neighbor offered to clean out the gutter and remove the weed. But when he climbed the ladder, he made an interesting discovery. The plant was not rooted in dirt. It was rooted in a single, decomposing piece of palm bark. The rest of the gutter was clean.

Lessons from a weed

The lessons taught by this weed were not lost on me.

Importance of Perseverance

First, I was reminded of the adage, “An oak tree is just an acorn that held its ground.” This plant flourished because a lone seed tenaciously clung to the only opportunity it had.

How often do I give up when life becomes difficult? It’s so easy to blame less than ideal circumstances for my failures. The characteristic of perseverance is much like a muscle: it needs exercise to grow in strength. James 1:12, says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial” (NIV). Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not grow weary of doing good” (ESV) and Romans 5:3-4 tells us suffering produces perseverance.

Danger of Passivity

On the other hand, the second lesson I learned sprang from an observation by a friend. After viewing the photo, she noted, “Interesting how little it takes for a weed to take root.”

Hmmm…what about the weeds in my own life? Little sins easily grow into deep-rooted and destructive habits. And they do it with little to no conscious encouragement from me. Sort of how the weed sprouted and flourished while I passively watched it grow on my roof for weeks.

I love how Elisabeth Elliot addressed this warning:

“Spiritual strongholds begin with a thought. One thought becomes a consideration. A consideration develops into an attitude, which leads then to action. Action repeated becomes a habit, and a habit establishes a “power base for the enemy,” that is, a stronghold.”

What thoughts am I tolerating today that will become strongholds tomorrow?

The final lesson reminds me of yet another adage:

Bloom Where You’re Planted

There were many better places in my yard for that weed to grow, but it grew where it was planted.

Am I content in where God has planted me? Am I listening for the prompts of the Holy Spirit to share Jesus where I am and to be a blessing to those God has placed in my life? Or am I looking longingly at other peoples’ lives, wishing I had been planted in their circumstances instead?

One little weed. Three big lessons.
What are your thoughts?


Things Aren’t Always What They Seem
Autumn in Florida: things aren't always what they seem.

Autumn is here. Splashes of red, orange, and gold punctuating a green canopy. Falling leaves blanketing lawns. A nip in the air and hot apple cider on the stove (or in the microwave!). Sweaters and scarves become go-to accessories.

Or not.

Here in south Florida, the only red and orange we see is found in flaming sunsets across blue skies. There might be the occasional falling leaf, but for the most part, the only thing blanketing our lawns are grass clippings from the last mowing. And we’re not quite ready for hot apple cider. Cold water and iced lattes are still the beverages of choice. Sweaters and scarves? Not for another few months, when a “cold front” slips through and the temperature dips into the 50s and 60s.

Things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Autumn in south Florida is less like a different season and more like a cooler version of summer. Yet, if you’ve lived here long enough, you can sense the subtle change in the air. A bit of a breeze. A lessening of the humidity. Of course, there are man-made indications, as well. Children back in school. Halloween displays in the stores and Christmas decorations lurking in the aisles that used to contain patio chairs and barbecue supplies.

People are not always what they seem, either. We make judgments based on assumptions and past experience, often arriving at the wrong conclusion.

The bully in school may be compensating for an alcoholic father. The neighbor who keeps to herself may be afraid for anyone to see her bruises. The coworker who eats lunch alone because he doesn’t want anyone to know that he can’t afford to join his colleagues at the local restaurant.

But God sees what we can’t see, and knows what we don’t know. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

The problem isn’t just that we make wrong judgments. It’s also that wrong judgments are made of us. I’ve been misheard, misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misjudged countless times. Still, I have a choice. I can lash out in my hurt, dishing out payback, which I’m sorry to say I’ve done more often than I’d care to admit. Or I can remember I don’t have all the facts and ask God for the ability to view that other person with His perspective.

Autumn in south Florida:

  • Sunscreen at the beach
  • An iced latte at the Starbuck’s drive-through
  • Flip-flops or bare feet.

Yup. Things aren’t always what they seem.


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