Opportunities to Encourage

12/6/05 We pray again, Our Father, for your blessing on this fellowship. Remind us of our several blessings – the value of family and friends – the opportunities each of us has to offer an encouraging word to others and our collective opportunity to serve this community. Amen

Yesterday at lunch a woman in a car stopped me as I walked across the parking lot to ask if I knew where the So & So employment office was. I didn’t, but the address implied it was close. I told her to park her car, it had to be close.

Once inside the quaint indoor old fashioned dining area of Michael’s Bakery, I looked at the tenant directory. There was no “So & So” business listed, but there was an Impact Employment office. I walked down there and checked it out. Yes, that was it. “We tell people to come to the Impact office, they just don’t remember.” She didn’t sound real empathetic.

I went out looking for the woman who had just asked directions of me. I found her and guided her to the proper place. She was cold. The wind was fierce.

She saw the inviting atmosphere and asked if it was an expensive place to eat. I said no, $7 or 8 could get you soup and a salad. She said she could use a chili. She entered the office to fill out an application to work in a factory.

I ate my lunch, but managed to chat with her when she left. I wish I had ordered her a chili to give to her. My loss.

Although I failed to encourage her with food, I provided some other assistance. I pray she finds work. She looked very stressed.

Returning back to work, a young woman with rainbow colored long beautiful hair (I work at the juvenile court) saw me struggling to keep my hood up in the wind. She and I chuckled at the futility.

She then asked if I dyed my hair to get the mostly salt color it is…I looked at her and said, “No way would I have patience to dye my hair any color. No, it is all natural!”

“Grey is very ‘in’ right now!” Was her fashionista response.

“Not with an old face!” was mine.

“You’re beautiful! I love your hair.”

You never know who you can encourage…it may even be an old lady returning from lunch.

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Always Father, & Lord?

11/30/04 We come again, O Lord, humble and thankful for the blessings of life, for the renewal of ties with family this past week – for friends and their patience and understanding and for the strength you offer each of us. Amen

If I pause to investigate what our family did for this 2004 Thanksgiving, I will get lost along the way and this will not get posted.

Sufficed to say, in the last 30 days, and maybe longer, my dad’s prayers were never addressed, “O Lord.” Even my phone’s autocorrect has been programmed to pray, “Our Father,” or “Our Heavenly Father.” So today, back in 2004, why, “O Lord”?

In my Bible studies I have found that being a word usage & pattern detective helps me. It seems to be a product of my early art training; spotting contrasting elements that jump out at you.

So this usage begs an explanation I will never get, not from Dad anyway.

But in my own life, I know there are patterns of my walk in this life. Days, weeks, months, years where I can only see a limited range of titles and names of God. Then I attend the Messiah, in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle (of course) and I hear, “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” and I am so moved I can scarcely breathe.

May you be awestruck today & your breath be taken away.

Renew our motivations for service

11/29/05 Bear with us, our Father, for our reluctance to give thanks before asking for something else – remind us of prayers answered – of the blessings that are ours. Renew our motivations for service to this community & be with those in need of your Grace this hour. Amen

I don’t recall Dad ever talking about what motivated him to be dedicated to community service as he was. He lived his faith, he didn’t talk about it.

But there must have been times when he needed extra motivation. I do know where that came from. It came from the incredible circle of friends, coworkers, Board members, and neighbors that he nurtured.

May we all rely more on our external circle for motivation. Self-reliant motivation is an oxymoron.

Look beyond ourselves

11/28/06 Our Father, hear our thanks for this day and the blessings that we have received and enjoy. Remind and help us to better share our gifts with others – to look beyond ourselves – to be more patient and tolerant and to be ever grateful for life in this nation. Amen

Look beyond ourselves on “Giving Tuesday” seems fitting. This pic was shot in my pink tiled bathroom…TMI?

Thinking of others starts early in the day, doesn’t it? As we dress and prepare mentally for our day, others, beyond our pink bathrooms will benefit. If my prayers are to be more tolerant and patient, may it be with a broader view than the stubborn head of hair staring back at me.

But, may I also be patient with “her”. God is not finished with “her” yet, either.

Teach us how to live without stress

11/27 Exchange Club prayer of Dad’s: Remind us that you have answered many of our prayers – that our tears and worries often never happen. Teach us how to live without stress – to live just one day at a time – content to enjoy life as it comes and to be ever grateful for the blessings that are ours.

No “Amen,” no Heavenly Father, no real introduction. The most logical year for this would be a more recent one, 2012. The year before Dad was diagnosed with cancer. His handwriting is different here. It is less formal and that I attribute to being on some kind of pain.

Rushing was not something Dad ever did…ever. He was always dependable, on time, reliable. Thomas the Tank engine reliable. Years of catching the Illinois Central out to the ‘burbs in Chicago polished that habit, already present.

What habits am I polishing…one day at a time? Polishing silver is an activity I do this time of year. The amount of tarnish accumulated inside the little blue flannel bags is not huge, but it requires “elbow grease” as Grandma K used to say.

This season there are a million gadgets available to save us the mess of elbow grease. But, using elbow grease allieves stress. Focusing on one intricately hammered and designed edge of a platter reminds me of many things, helping order my thoughts.

Of course, it ruins your hands, but that is why you use plastic gloves. Another dying unpopular product that used to be a staple in any home.

Amen

Remember Your goodness

11/26 Our heavenly Father we come this day and this week with genuine Thanksgiving for your goodness to each of us. Remind us to share your grace with others – to resist temptation and anger – to include You in times of doubt and sorrow AND to remember Your goodness is everlasting. Amen

Today’s prop is the pile of notes and notebooks that contain all my passwords. Passwords I still can’t remember or find. If I write them down and can’t remember, how much worse if I don’t write down, daily, God’s goodness to me.

I certainly need daily reminders.

Remind us often

11/23/04 Exchange Club prayer of Dad’s: Our heavenly Father we come here today looking forward to Thursday and the joy of giving thanks with family and friends. Remind us often to share your Grace with others – to be ever grateful for life itself and the freedoms we enjoy. Amen

Remind us often means:

  1. Use the holiday China and crystal more often. Don’t retire the desire to give thanks and gather family because it’s not a holiday.
  2. Make a holiday meal…mid-week.
  3. Pecan pie for breakfast is totally OK.

If a one-day meal can foster such feelings of gratitude, then we shouldn’t wait for a holiday to do this.

May we listen to Your reminders during the week, Lord. We don’t have to wait till the next holiday:

You said, “Lo, I am with you always.”

Thank You!