Paying Attention to Other People’s “Stuff”

Another week has come and gone.

Last night I realized that when a person is in the middle of his/her own “stuff” it is hard to pay attention to and/or he/she has less patience for other people’s “stuff”. Unfortunately, sometimes our lives are filled with a lot of not-so-great “stuff”!

While last week was a combination of positive and negatives, I managed to find the positives pretty easily. I finished two projects and delivered them ahead of time. Woo hoo! Mailed out two belated birthday gifts. I got to see my daughter and baby boy several times and spoke to my son and texted with him more often than usual. The rain has continued (we really needed it) and the pups are over their kennel cough issues. I went to a couple of wineries to pick up shipments and had a glass of our favorite red while remembering Steve. A hummingbird keeps buzzing my head this morning! (Stinker!! I wonder what it wants?).

But, negatives and sadness has also been a constant presence and I just didn’t have the patience I should have had to deal with it all. But you don’t need to hear all of THAT!

Sadly, I guess what I am trying to say is that for the past several months, although things have improved somewhat, I have been so focused on my own “stuff” that I haven’t really paid close attention to the “stuff” that is going on in other peoples’ lives. I just kind of dug in, circled the wagons, closed myself off and with a very narrow lens, focused on my “stuff” never realizing how selfish I was being. In fact, over the past couple of weeks, I…

  • Worried a friend that she might have said something to hurt my feelings because she had not heard from me and I was really hard to get hold of by phone.
  • Hurt another friend’s feelings. I made her feel like I didn’t want to spend time with her. She thought that I wanted to take a “break” from our friendship. Then I made it worse by fussing at her and telling her that she needs to stop overthinking things and that sometimes things aren’t about her.  (Yes, rude!!)
  • Failed to realize just how hard a time my child is having with her second baby, the loss of her daddy, dealing with the terrible twos all and getting ready to return to work, allllll on little to no sleep.
  • Didn’t know that, because one of our family members continues to battle the demon of alcohol addiction, he lost his job and his sweet wife has been destroyed…again.
  • Found out that another family member has been called back to the doctor for more tests to be run. She’s scared to death as she is a single mama of two littles.
  • Worry that my son is not being forthcoming when we talk about how he is doing…is he really okay or does he just not want to tell me what is going on in his head because he doesn’t want to add to ‘my’ plate.
  • A Ft. Worth police officer died Friday evening after being shot in the head by a criminal.  I didn’t know that because I don’t watch the news anymore!!

So, last night was a wake up call of sorts. I acknowledge that I must take care of myself, grieve and get on with the business of living but I must also remember that the world does NOT revolve around me! I need to focus on others and try to make their lives a little easier. While I may not be able to change their circumstances, I CAN empathize, pray, show a little more patience, offer a shoulder and an ear and, when able to, take some kind of action to lighten their load.

The road to find joy isn’t to be a passive journey traveled alone. It is active, always changing and should include the people whom you care about and who care about you. It’s okay to cocoon, but it is just as important to include others in your safe place where you can work on being healed and where you can help others to heal and find their joy.

So, some suggestions for myself:

  1. I will plan my week out to ensure that I have time to do the things that must be done, as well as, things I like/want to do.
  2. I will call my people (or text if they like that better) to check on at least one person in my tribe every couple of days. Most importantly, I will really listen for their needs.
  3. I will be flexible. If one of my people needs me I will be ready to go!! All the other stuff at home will still be there for me when I get back home.
  4. I will be an encourager. I will sweep the judgmental, frustrated, annoyed feelings out of my head.
  5. I will learn something everyday even if it in how to better help/treat people.
  6. I will be kind to myself by changing my internal dialogue.
  7. I will document/write down at least three things for which I am grateful each day.

Even in our own sadness and grief we still need to do our part to help others. I pledge to do better in this upcoming week and beyond.

“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all peoiple. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1

Thessalonians 5:14-16

 

Hard Times

Hurricane Harvey…you are welcome to leave the great state of Texas at any time! You have become similar to the guest that overstays his/her welcome…you stink like days-old fish. Bye-bye!!

Although we only received 5.5 inches of rain over three days at our home, the communities of East Texas were not as fortunate. Houston and areas south and east have received over 50 inches of rain in places. It is estimated that over 30,000 homes have been destroyed in Houston alone and literally hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. As of this post, six people have lost their lives, among them a first responder who drowned while attempting to get to his assignment and a mommy who died trying to save her 18 month old baby. The tragedies are many but for each sad, depressing story there are many, many more that are uplifting and filled with hope.

Texans take care of their people. When the first responders became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people needing to be rescued from the swiftly rising flood waters, their neighbors rose up to help. Boats of all sizes were used to traverse the waters to pull people from the roofs and through the windows of their flooded homes. People used social media to connect those who needed help/shelter to those who could provide what was needed. Businesses opened their doors to any who needed shelter and volunteers poured in from all areas of the Lone Star State and neighboring states to provide a hug, a blanket, water and a hot meal to those affected by Harvey. Celebrities donated monies to help the relief effort while others set up foundations to raise funds and take donations. There is an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and boy has that been true of Texans this week.  Although there were those who tried to put a political spin on this tragedy, the following were non-issues: race, wealth, gender, life style, politics. People helped people. It’s that simple.  All else just faded away.

Houston and the rest of the coastal area will survive. They will rebuild. They will heal and move forward. But my heart breaks for the loss of homes, possessions and, most importantly, lives.

And the rain continues to fall…

My heart is so heavy tonight. One of our sweet neighbor friends passed away this evening. His illness came on fairly recently and after a brief procedure in the hospital he was released only to return soon after. Four days later, he is gone. Michael was such a sweet man. He and his precious wife, Angel, lived across the street from us for over 29 years. They were the very first people we met…even before we moved into the house. When Steve and Mike got together they talked for hours about everything and about nothing. One thing was always certain with those two…stories were told and laughter was loud. Mike was the kind of man that would give you the shirt off of his back…literally. He always had a smile on his face and a chuckle in his throat. The ONLY annoying thing about Michael was that his lawn was ALWAYS the greenest and the most beautifully mown in the neighborhood.  Shrubs were trimmed neatly and flowers grew bigger and brighter than any others!  It didn’t matter what we did, when you compared our lawn to his, ours always looked dry, brown and raggedy!

My heart breaks for him, Angel and for his family. His death will leave a real void in their lives…and in ours.

Though rain, high waters, adversity and death surround us, we must remember that…

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
(Psalms 46: 1-3)
and

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
(Psalms 46: 10, 11)

We are not alone! God holds us in the palms of His great hands and we WILL prevail!

Adversity

I went out to water the garden today and noticed a couple of weeds growing up through the crushed granite.  They were just behind the containers where I had planted some of our favorite tomato varieties.  Absentmindedly, I bent down to grasp the stem where it met the rock and then I stopped.  The plant was NOT a weed but a tomato plant.  In fact, as I stood up, I realized that there were two tomato plants growing up through the stone.  Paying attention now, I looked around and there was a third tomato plant growing up through the rock.  How in the world did that happen?  I laughed aloud as I wondered how those seeds had found a foothold in the soil beneath the crushed granite and how it was that they were growing bigger and stronger than the plants in the containers!!

In some ways, the lives of people mimic what is going on with the stone and those little tomato plants.  When do we grow the most?  When do we become the strongest? We become stronger only when we go through adversity.  When the world of hard knocks comes around, we learn new skills and/or strengthen those we already have.  We push through, pick ourselves up, straighten our backs, lift our chins and step out to continue on for another day.  When the world treats us less than well and we come out successfully on the other side, we have overcome!

God is waiting to hear from you so He can help!  He is there for YOU!

What do you need today?  We will pray for you!

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“…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that  tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. ”  Romans 5: 3,4