I care about you! How do you know it? There are so many ways to share your love and to show someone that you care about them. What are your favorite ways? One way is a technique many call “A Lost Art.” What is it? Letter writing! With blogs and e-mails, text messages and phone calls, television shows and videos, FaceTime and Skype taking the place of pen and paper, many of our nation’s post offices are closing. But you and I value the power of the written word. Let’s keep our post offices busy! We know that there is something to be said about a written message sent in a letter or a card. We know people enjoy reading over and over again the words of encouragement sent to them by neighbors, friends, family, loved ones. I subscribe to a Guideposts card ministry called “Someone Cares.” Each month I receive a dozen cards in the mail – ready to be sent to just the right persons. Each card is carefully crafted with a thoughtful message. The back of each contains a story that fits that particular card’s subject. Usually, the story brings to mind the face, the situation, the joy or sorrow, struggle or triumph of a friend – and I know (as soon as I see it) for whom that card was intended. Within a week of receiving the packet, each one is on its way to someone I care about. It may be a “Happy Birthday” or “I’m Sorry for Your Loss” or perhaps a “Hang in There” message or “Thank you” for something that person has done. Around Veteran’s Day, there will be cards of appreciation for service to country. Sometimes one of the cards will express sorrow about the loss of a pet – and inevitably that card will arrive right when I need it. This month one said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God no matter the conflict.” How timely that was! I had just had a long conversation with a friend about a conflict in her life. “Thinking prayerful thoughts of you,” it said inside. A brief letter with a signature tied the message to her specific need – and the story on the back reinforced the prayers of encouragement and hope. What better way to show love to your neighbor? Don’t let the letter writing process become a “lost art.” You have a friend who needs one from you today!
Who is the neighbor you find the most challenging? It’s not the one who loves you back. It’s not the one who reciprocates with a meal invitation or the one who waters your plants for you when you’re off on a trip. It’s not the neighbor across the state or the country or the world who sends you a Christmas card or calls you once a year. It’s the one who doesn’t love you back. The one who doesn’t reciprocate. The one who doesn’t seem to know how to reach out to others. The one who needs us to love them the most – expecting (and receiving) nothing in return. Do you have such a neighbor? How do we love THAT neighbor?? I Cor.13:4-7 tells me how (In Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”).
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
When I love my neighbors with THAT kind of love, keeping my ears tuned to God, asking for God’s help discerning the best way to help THAT neighbor, then I can be sensitive and listen with my heart. I can give while preserving the dignity of the recipient. I can try to deliver to THAT neighbor a much-needed touch of God’s grace.
Most gracious God, who gives me enough grace to feel it overflowing, teach me to share. Help me love THAT neighbor Your Way.
When first I met her, I was struck by how pretty she was. After I spent some quality time with her and we became better acquainted, I saw that her inner self was even more beautiful than the exterior. Both are gorgeous. She is a complete package. But, she doesn’t seem to understand that. Somehow, when she was very young and vulnerable, too much attention was put on her big blue eyes, her lovely blond hair, and her developing curves. Maybe she was physically abused by a person she thought she could trust. I don’t know. But, mental abuse had to have occurred. She seems to resent her outer beauty – or at least she appears not appreciate or trust it. “Don’t take my picture,” she insists. “Don’t mention my beauty, it’s not who I am.” She’s right, of course. Each of us is so much more than what people see on the outside. Being “cute” doesn’t carry the same connotation as “beautiful.” “Cute” never made me self-conscious. “Cute” rarely turns anyone on. “Cute” doesn’t give me yoke to carry. My beautiful friends have taught me that it’s hard to be considered gorgeous. They’ve taught me to look deep inside and see the special person beyond the clothes, beyond the skin, beyond the self-consciousness. See the heart. See the hurt. See the deeply rooted need to be appreciated for more than the attributes inherited. Love your neighbor? Yes, but show that love by calling attention to what makes your friend special deep within – in the places most people never stop long enough to notice. I love who you are, my friend!
Life is all about LOVE. Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the greatest commandment. On this blog I will record each day at least one thing I do to demonstrate how I remember to “Love My Neighbor” AND something I do to “Love Myself.” Today I begin with a healthy lunch: lettuce, a small bit of smoked salmon, 1/4 of a sliced cucumber, a little goat cheese and some tasty basil flavored olive oil from Olivelle (my favorite Bozeman, MT store). Now I am headed to go be a Senior Companion to a client who has difficulty getting around. I’ll sweep and mop her little apartment – and cheer her with a few quotes from my latest book, “Aging with Attitude” – subtitle: “Better than Dying with Dignity.” I’m off to provide a little help, a lotta cheer, and a hug or two. See ya tomorrow, my friends.