We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Scrawled on the Back of a File Folder . . .

Some years ago, I found the following poem hanging on the wall in a waiting room and copied it down on the only paper I had with me - the back of a file folder. I could find no author's name. I filed it away and just recently ran across it. Perhaps some good thoughts to consider as a new school year begins . . .

Help Me Grow

Be consistent with me,
Then I can trust your words and actions.
Comfort me when I'm scared, hurt, or sad,
Then I'll know I'm okay even when I'm not feeling strong or happy.
Take responsibility for all your feelings and actions,
Then I also won't blame others and I'll take responsibility for my life.
Communicate when you feel hurt or frightened or angry,
Then I'll learn how to constructively deal with my feelings.

Tell me clearly and specifically what you want,
Then I can hear you and I'll also know how to
communicate my needs in a positive way.

Express to me that I'm okay
Even when my words or behavior may not be,
Then I can learn from my mistakes and have healthy self-esteem.
Balance your life between work and play,
Then I can believe that I can grow up,
be responsible, and still have fun.

Remember what you wanted when you were my age,
Then you'll better understand my needs and interests.

Understand and accept me.
I may be different from you and that's okay.

Treat me as an individual,
Then I'll know that I can be my unique self.

Hug me and tell me that you care about me,
Then I'll feel lovable and I'll express caring to others.

Thank you for hearing me.
I love you!



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Quiet Invitation

Do you ever wonder if your efforts to encourage others will a make a difference? If your initiatives to offer kindness and help others will mean anything in the long run? Perhaps this story will encourage us all.

Today is the 80th birthday of Barry's Aunt Sue. A former second grade teacher, she has lived a quiet life. Apple orchards and grape vineyards surround her modest home on the family homestead in southern Michigan. She and her daughter keep a small garden. She reads and walks and attends church. She keeps up with us by writing letters.

Aunt Sue's birthday marked the perfect opportunity for me to thank her for what may have seemed like an insignificant event back in 1971. I don't think she'd mind if you read over her shoulder.

Dear Aunt Sue,
I've been thinking of how God has used your influence to touch the Phillips family. Barry often told the story of how you and Uncle Earl invited him to a Campus Crusade for Christ concert when he was 15. There he began to understand God's love and placed his faith in Christ for salvation. Little by little his faith grew. That decision forever changed the direction of his life story.
After college, Barry taught at and became the principal of a Christian school and moved on to become a professor and administrator at a Christian college. He brought up our girls in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Over the years, he aimed to love God and love his neighbor.
All because of one quiet invitation.
Barry touched hundreds of lives through his teaching, his leadership, and his influence . . . and somehow, Aunt Sue, I think you have a significant part in his legacy.
Now when we sing songs in church about eternal life and spending forever in heaven, tears run down my cheeks. In the end faith in Christ matters most - and because of your initiative, I have the assurance that Barry is with his Savior.
Thank you for not overlooking an opportunity to encourage a tall, gangly teenager named Barry. It made all the difference for him and for countless others. Have a wonderful birthday!
With Love,

I'm sure Aunt Sue had no idea how one invitation would bless so many. We don't know how our offers will influence others. Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he wrote, "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

So, how has one quiet kindness blessed you?

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Song in the Night

I woke with a start and reached for my husband next to me. Then I remembered. His recent illness had brought him downstairs to the recliner. Again, worry brought a sigh and a prayer. "Please, Lord, help him to feel better. Help us to know what to do next."

I closed my eyes to try to get another couple of hours of sleep when, from the living room, I heard Barry singing. I laid still and listened as he sang the words of an old song I taught to the girls as little children, words set to the even older tune of "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
God has made me very special, and I'm dearly loved my Him.   
Even though He knows me fully, He accepts me as I am. 
How I praise Him, How I praise Him,
For His wondrous love for me. For His wondrous love for me.*
My husband, in pain and unable to sleep, used the words of a simple hymn to bring comfort and strength to his circumstances. Isn't that when the love of our heavenly Father means the most to us?  When we feel all alone and out of sorts? When we're at our lowest and hope is ebbing away?
I've thought about that song in the night many times since then. Barry had it right. Whether we're feeling the ache of physical pain or the sting of rejection or the angst of loss, how comforting to line up our emotions with truth. God loves me. He knows all about it. 
Since my husband passed away I often find myself awake at night, thoughts swirling every which way. "How will I take care of the house and the cars and the yard and the finances and . . . who will take care of me?"

Then, like Barry, I remember an old hymn:
Be not dismayed what e're betide, God will take care of you. 
Beneath his  wings of love abide,God will take care of you.
God will take care of you, Through every day, O'er all the way;
He will take care of you, God will take care of you.**
God has taken care of me . . . of us. This gives me hope for the days ahead.

What songs have encouraged you through the night?

*Words by Verna Birkey, 1977.
**Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1869-1948.