Recognizing Blessings When You’re In Pain

By Ellen Andersen

I lost my balance last week and stuck my left arm out break my fall. It was 10:30 at night, so I took some Tylenol and went to bed, even though it hurt a lot.  The pain woke me up an hour before my alarm was to go off, so I knew I needed medical help. Not knowing how bad it was, I drove to the nearest urgent care center. urgent-care-sign-600x295[1]

I did break my fall so my head didn’t hit the floor, but I broke my left wrist as well. I’m left-handed too. Fortunately I eat with my right hand. Otherwise, it’d be even harder. You don’t realize how much you use both hands  until only one works.  I know first-hand.

Even something as basic as getting dressed involves two hands. I can’t cook, water the garden, or  drive (and that affects a LOT in life), until my wrist heals, which will take several weeks. I love my plants and flowers so I really hate that.

Thankfully, I have several people helping me. One of my neighbors brought dinner over the first week I injured myself.sinner Sharon made when I broke my wrist  She volunteered to drive when we went to the theater last week too. Another friend has driven me to church.

My parents have been shopping for me, as well as watering my plants and cleaning around the house. Pushing a vacuum with only one hand just doesn’t work. And forget about dragging a hose.Mom waters plants while I have the cast --broke my wrist

I don’t like having to depend on other people, and I’m glad it’s temporary. But it does give them the blessing of helping me out, It always feels good to give of yourself to someone. I truly am blessed to have such loving, supportive family and friends.

How have you been blessed by someone’s generosity when you needed it? Or perhaps you’ve had the privilege of helping someone else.  Share it here so we can all benefit from it.

Small Acts of Kindness: Love Your Neighbor

By Kathy Cheek

Jesus said to him,“ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’   ~ Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

I learned a valuable lesson about being sensitive to the needs of lonely people while watching my husband one evening when a stranger walked into our yard. I was watering flowers on our front porch and Randy was doing yard work when an elderly woman he didn’t know or recognize from our neighborhood, approached him and asked if we had seen her missing cat. After my husband informed her we hadn’t seen the cat she described, the woman eagerly continued to speak with him, and kept talking for a very long time.

She told him she had been widowed eight years ago, and spoke of the life she shared with her husband that spanned half a century. She smiled and told of courting days, raising their family, and moving away from everyone she knew back east to follow his dream to live in the west. She told stories of their early years together and how they had weathered many storms together, but the storm she was weathering now was missing him.

She was lonely and God provided a listening ear. My husband stood there and patiently listened, although the mosquitoes were out and the sky was darkening and he wasn’t finished with his work. But he listened, and he could tell by her changed countenance that she walked back to her house with a lighter step and lighter heart.

Loving our neighbor as Jesus teaches should keep us attentive to the heavy hearts around us that are burdened by a depth of loneliness that we can help ease. Sometimes, all we have to do is provide a listening ear. All we have to do is care.


Kathy Cheek writes faith-filled devotions and is published in LifeWay’s Journey magazine and Mature Living, and also contributes to several devotional sites, including Thoughts About God, Christian Devotions, and CBN.com.

Her favorite subject to write about is the rich relationship God desires to have with us and the deep trust it takes to live it out. She and her husband of 33 years live in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and they have two daughters and one son-in-law who also reside in the Dallas area. You can read more of her devotions at www.kathycheek.com.

Small Acts of Kindness: To Be Loved

By Jennifer Slattery

She sat off to the side and in the back. She was an older woman, and though I suspect she knew a good number of others attending this conference, she chose to sit by herself. I wondered if perhaps she didn’t want to be there, or maybe she wanted to be left alone.

I thought briefly of approaching her, of thanking her for coming, but soon I was swept into conversations and greeting as other women filled the church.

I soon forgot about the woman entirely.

I wonder how often that’s happened to her? I wonder how often, though she sat on the outskirts, she longed for someone to approach and invite her in. Or at the very least, let her know they saw her.

And maybe, as she sat there, in a church auditorium, to know that God saw her. And loved her.

I hope, through my talk that day, she heard He indeed did. That He always had and always would. As I spoke of a God who pursues us, who heals us, and who longs to bring us to a place of incredible freedom, I looked her way to find her crying. My heart gave a squeeze, and for a moment, I lost my words as a desire to speak with her, to pray with her, swept over me.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that, but as soon as I finished, I hurried to where she sat, knelt beside her, hand on her shoulder, and handed her a business card. “Please, email me,” I said.

She nodded, and sometime later, I’m not sure exactly when, she slipped out.

I haven’t heard from her but with each Wholly Loved Conference, I meet other women just like her. Women who are hurting, who’ve replaced the truth of who they are in Christ with all the lies our broken world continually throws at them. Lies like, “You’re not good enough,” or “You’re a failure,” or, “You’re unlovable.” Though the lies are different for each one, the anecdote is the same—love. God’s love. To live it, to own it, to believe in it. To rest in it.

My prayer for these women echoes Paul’s spoken in Ephesians 3:20, that we may “have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, how deep [God’s] love is. May [we] experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (NLT, emphasis mine).

Made complete, by love.


Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.


Healing Love

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073R1MY1C?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35380240-healing-love

Small Acts of Kindness: Do Something

By Jennifer Hallmark

Acts of kindness. One reason I like sharing what others are doing to make the world a better place is to inspire others. Everyone can do something. From helping a neighbor to donating time and/or money to community projects, you have value inside of you to share with others.

I found this article on the top ten most amazing Christian charities. You can look over their sites for ways to volunteer and/or donate.

(1) Samaritan’s Purse

(2) Compassion International

(3) Lutheran World Relief

(4) Operation Blessing International

(5) Advancing Native Missions

(6) Children’s Hunger Fund

(7) The Salvation Army

(8) Catholic Relief Services

(9) Lifeline Christian Mission

(10) Food For The Poor

Click to tweet:  You have value inside of you to share with others. #kindnessmatters #compassion

Whether you look within your community or around the world, opportunities abound to help others. Here’s a good video by Matthew West that made me think.

Personal Care at a Pharmacy

By Ellen Andersen

I buy my medicine from an independently owned pharmacy called Mauldin Family Pharmacy, about 3 miles from my home. I’ve been going there for over five years now and know all the employees by name. They know me too.  When I walk in, they greet me specially, saying, “Hi Ellen. How are you doing today?”  When I’ve called ahead of time, they have my prescription and any over-the-counter meds I often buy there, set aside in a bag for me, often already rung up.

Last month I went to pick up some medication. When I arrived, they brought it out and when I went to pay, I discovered I didn’t have my credit card. But I was completely out and needed it that night.  I HAD to have it.  I talked to Deb about it and Tony, the pharmacist, overheard the conversation. He came to the front and said,

“Go ahead Ellen. We can give you what you need for the next couple days. I trust you.”

“Thanks Tony!” I said. I took the medicine and headed home.  I went back the next day to pay and pick up the rest of the prescription.

I’m sure that never would’ve happened at a chain pharmacy or anywhere in a big city, but because this is a small, family-owned place where I’ve been a customer for years, they were willing to trust me. It made a difference, giving me peace of mind as well as the medicine I needed.

What has someone done for you that was out of the ordinary or that you didn’t expect? Encourage someone by sharing it with us here.

 

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

The first Friday of the month is when I share my best-loved classic fiction and Margery Allingham is one of my favorite authors. In her long series of literary detective fiction with universal uncle, Albert Campion, The Tiger in the Smoke is the most thrilling. It will keep you looking over your shoulder…

The Tiger in the Smoke

London, ‘the Smoke’ to Cockneys and the hipsters who appropriate their slang, is living up to its nickname: an unusual cold snap has combined with the fug from coal-fires to produce the ‘Great Smog’, blanketing the city in choking shadow. And lurking in those shadows is Jack Havoc, a killer with a particular fondness for knives. Havoc is by far the most dangerous villain that Albert Campion has ever encountered, and his startlingly realistic menace, combined with the light touch common to all the Campion novels, gives the book a modern feel, as it straddles a line between Golden Age detective fiction and contemporary psychological suspense.

 

Small Acts of Kindness: Good Samaritan

By Andrea Merrell

Sometimes we don’t realize how one tiny act of kindness can impact someone.

It was late one night during a writers’ conference as I headed back to my room—exhausted. I could hardly wait to slip into my PJs and eat that last piece of dark chocolate that was waiting for me.

Almost to my room, I noticed a young woman sitting on the floor a couple of doors down the hallway. The contents of her large bag were spread all around her. Thoughts raced through my mind as I approached her. Was she sick? Had she fallen? When I got closer, she looked up with a rueful smile.

“I can’t find my key,” she said, obviously as tired as I was.

My heart went out to her. “Are you sure it’s not in there?”

She shook her head. “No, I’ve been through everything. I might have left it in my room. Guess I’ll have to walk all the way down to the front desk to get another key.”

It was then I remembered the app on my phone that gave us access to the front desk. “Wait, let me text them and see if they can send someone up to let you in.”

The relief on her face almost made me cry. Sure enough, within a short time, someone from the office came to her rescue. She thanked me and called me a Good Samaritan.

“Well, I don’t know about that. Never been called a Good Samaritan before. I’m sure anyone who came by would have stopped to help,” I said.

She shook her head again and looked a little sad. “Actually, they wouldn’t. Two people already passed by without saying a word. You were the third and the one to stop.”

To say that I was blown away would be putting it mildly. It was hard to imagine anyone passing this woman by without offering to help. Once she was inside her room and all was well, I slipped into my own room, thankful that I had not been the third one to look the other way.

We all need help from time to time, whether it’s from a friend or a stranger. God never meant for us to walk this journey of life alone. In fact, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV) that two are better than one. The Message puts it this way: It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps. But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Be that Good Samaritan when you see someone in need. It can be the smallest, simplest acts of kindness that mean the most.


 

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis.

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

Small Acts of Kindness: Aiding a Veteran

By Josh  Drzewicki

Living in metro Detroit isn’t an easy feat. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poverty stemming from the decline of the Motor City that started in the 1950s, continued with urban decay throughout the 1970s, that has evolved to now.

In fact, Detroit was the only city in the 50 biggest cities to lose population between 2010 and 2015. I didn’t grow up in Detroit or the metro area, but I feel a strong sense of belief in the biggest city in my state.

I know it’s a digression from the story, but many people just assume that Detroit is some horrible place that looks like it’s out of a Dystopian video game. While it’s not beautiful everywhere you go, and there is noticeable poverty, it’s still like other cities. That includes the care that we show the people who find themselves begging for money underneath the bridges or outside ball parks.

I was in the Do Random Acts of Kindness club while in university, and it taught me to give back. I was inspired to help this older gentleman, Matt, that I always saw near 8 Mile in my city. He was always sitting at the corner begging for money. He’s African American and an Army vet as I later found out.

The first time I encountered Matt was shortly after I moved to the area. It was June, hot, and sprinkling. He walked up to my window at a red light and asked for some change. I didn’t have anything in my car at the moment, so I told him next time. I encountered him a week later when I ran to get groceries. Again, I told him I didn’t have any money on me, but he could get in and we could get some food.

He hopped into my aging Chevy Cavalier and I drove a half mile to McDonald’s. I told him to order whatever and we could hang out and eat. I ordered a side salad and french fries (I’m vegetarian). Matt ordered a Big Mac meal and two more cheeseburgers. I thought it was a lot of food at first. Then I listened to him tell me his story. It helped me realize that even buying someone a meal can increase their quality of life. Even if it’s just one time.

I learned that Matt was in the Army in the 1990s, back when I was just a little kid. He was injured during a drill and discharged. Through the years, he’s been dealing with the VA system with little luck. Eventually, in the early 2000s, he was given some prescription painkillers. Despite having a steady job, he fell into addiction which caused him to lose his job and his girlfriend. A year later, he lost his house without steady work. By 2012, he was on the street devoting his whole life to finding drugs.

In 2015, some clergymen helped Matt. They taught him how to get help as a drug addict. While it got him off drugs, it didn’t get him off the street. He’s been living there since. He said it was the first time someone had bought him a meal in six months.

Not everything is like it seems. The city of Detroit or even Matt. With a little help and a little bit of food. Anything is possible. I haven’t seen Matt in months. I’m hoping it means he got off the street.


 Josh Drzewicki is a variety writer hailing from metro Detroit. In his free time, he enjoys long walks through the city while listening to NPR podcasts. He spends time attending the local National Stuttering Association meetings and playing video games.