Category Archives: Truly Loving

The Importance of Response

*Sometimes I write things and then realize I hit publish a little prematurely. If you are wondering why the same post is ending up in your inbox again today – this one is a little different. After reflecting, I realized I didn’t quite say things like I had wanted to. Every once in awhile we need a do-over. This is my do-over. 

Oh my heart.

It feels like whenever I turn on the television, open my Yahoo account, log in to Facebook or read a headline somewhere – it’s almost too much.

The words I read, the images I see – they break my heart.

Our country seems a little more divided and a little more angry than I remember in my lifetime.

There is political discord, racial tension, terrorism and nuclear threats – to name a few.

And to top it off, the recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, has wreaked havoc on the lives of many – leaving over 30,000 people without their homes, their communities, their towns – now living in shelters. As the waters recede and they head back to their homes to assess the damage, they are left  to wonder what will happen next.

What do you do with so much wreckage?

Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel

The new statistics that come in daily are mind boggling.

The images are gut wrenching.

The stories are hard to hear and the images are painful to see, but I am watching from a place of comfort – not out my window. I see the images flash by on my television, my computer screen, my device. What about the people who are there? What about the people who watched, unable to help, as people were swept away by the water?

What about the people whose lives have been turned upside down in an instant?

And it’s not just the hurricane victims my heart breaks for.

What about the people who were at the Charlottesville rally? What about the people who stood there watching as the car drove into the crowds?

What about the people who were injured? What about the woman who lost her life?

Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Sometimes it’s just too much to take in.

I wonder how to process it all? What to make of it? What to do about it?

My life may have not been directly impacted by these recent events in our country, but they have still left a mark. My heart feels topsy-turvy and upside-downy and like I want to do something.

And so I am going to do something. Because I can.

Don’t think for one second that how we respond to these events we see on the television, or read about on our newsfeeds doesn’t matter. Don’t think that because you are just one person you can’t make a difference in this broken world. Don’t think that you aren’t able to make a dent, make a change, make an impact. Because you are.

How we respond to these things does matter.

I am learning sometimes the best response for myself is silence. Sometimes the best response is for me to say nothing at all. Especially on Facebook.

Shortly after the election, I posted an article that highlighted some of my thoughts on what had transpired. Within moments, I had responses from people. Some in favor of the post. Others in opposition. I quickly hit the delete button.

Getting into a political debate on Facebook would only create lines of division. I knew that as strongly as I felt about my opinion, there were others that felt as strongly about their own.

Posting an article wasn’t going to change those opinions.

I realized in that moment as I deleted the post, that I didn’t want to get involved with these discussions on Facebook. For myself personally, there would be no benefit.

Only frustration. Only more division. More discord. None of which I want in my life.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t engaged in political debates with people. That isn’t to say that I don’t think people should speak up for what they believe – because I do. I have just decided that Facebook is not a great platform for me to share my political views.

And sometimes the best response is for me to listen. To try to put myself in the other persons shoes. To try to see things from their perspective.

The racism that has been rearing it’s ugly head lately is like a bad breakout. You may not know how dirty your face really is, until all of the pimples appear. Then you know you have an issue that needs dealt with – pronto. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before – you just couldn’t see it.

Now that it has bubbled to the surface, it needs to be dealt with.

All of this racial ugliness has opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person I don’t want to be. It has made me realize how ignorant I have been to the sufferings and oppressions of minorities in our country.

This has been going on for a long, long, long time. Unfortunately, I was just blind to it.

The recent events in our country have made me want to listen. To learn. To open my ears and my eyes. It has made me want to build more diverse relationships. People tend to be drawn to people who are just like them. It’s what we do. I don’t want to be that way anymore.

As a white woman in our country, I honestly don’t know what the best response is to all of this, but I do know that I want to start having more conversations. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to be a part of the solution in some way.

As part of the majority, if I want to help enact change, then I have a responsibility to listen, to learn and then respond.

And I do believe that while sometimes the best response for me is silence, there are other times when the best response is for me to speak out against the injustice I see in the world.

And when I choose to not be silent, when I choose to speak for justice – I must be sure I am speaking from a place of love. I am learning if I choose to respond to hate with more hate then I am no better than the people I am speaking out against.

There is such a thing as righteous anger. When there is injustice in the world, it is likely to make your blood boil. As it should.

When I saw the images and videos of the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville it stirred up anger and sadness and frustration and the reality of how incredibly ignorant I was to the racism that exists in our country.

A fire had been ignited. And when I heard people defending the actions of the white nationalists in any way – that fire burned bright.

I was angry.

But even in if the anger is righteous, even in the face of injustice, we are not called to respond with hate. We are called to respond with love. We are called to love our enemies.

It is easy to pray for the families of victims. It is easy to pray for the people who are suffering from injustice. It is easy to pray for those who are being marginalized and mistreated. It is much harder to pray for the person who caused the pain.

What about praying for the person who drove the car into the crowd?

What about praying for the other people who were there marching?

It is counter to our natural response – it definitely wasn’t my first response. Or second. Or third even. But over time, as I have thought about this I have realized that if we are called to love our enemies, these are the people we are called to love and called to pray for.

I can make a difference in this world by choosing to respond to even the most atrocious acts in love.

I believe we are capable each and every day of making small choices that will leave large, lasting impacts.

When we hear about the division in our country, we can pray. When we hear about injustice, we can pray. When we hear about terrorist attacks and international discord, we can pray.

When we hear about the devastation happening in Texas and surrounding areas, we can pray.

We should pray.

We can also make monetary donations. We can find out the greatest needs and send those items. And for some, you may be called to pack up your belongings and travel there to physically help in some capacity.

Whether you donate $5 or book a flight. Every little bit helps. Don’t think for one second it doesn’t.

We can all make a difference in this broken world. Our words, our actions, our response to the small things and the big things that happen in life – they matter.

The more that we choose to respond in love, the more we choose to love our neighbor as our self, the more we choose to listen and empathize, the more we choose to pray for our enemies instead of lashing out in hate – the more we will impact this world for the better.

We don’t have to be paralyzed by the headlines. We don’t have to be afraid of what we see. We can make a difference, even in the face of great disaster.

The remarkable thing is that if everyone does a little something, it becomes a whole lot of something. And that is when change happens. As we can see from the outpouring of love in our country toward the victims of Hurricane Harvey – our response matters and when we act in love, together, we can make a difference.

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Click on any of these links below to make a donation to help Hurricane Harvey victims:

The Red Cross

Americares

The Humane Society

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

The Texas Diaper Bank

Catholic Charities

Direct Relief

Matthew 25: Ministries

The Salvation Army

Save the Children

GoFundMe

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr. Seuss
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
Proverbs 10:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbori and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 38-48
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Uplifted

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

The couple of weeks prior to our departure were exhausting, emotional and by far some of the best weeks of my life.

We were constantly surrounded and uplifted by friends and loved ones.

Friends who stopped by our home in the last days just to hug and talk and laugh and cry.

Friends who came to pray.


Friends who had us over for dinners and going away parties and family celebrations.

And in our final days when we needed places to stay, friends who opened their homes to our noise and chaos and plethora of bags and pillows and all that comes with opening your home to a family of six for the night.

Friends. Friends. And more friends.

Love. Love. And more love.

So much that my heart felt on the constant verge of bursting and my eyes felt on the constant verge of welling up and over into a pool of grateful tears.

We didn’t deserve all of this, but it was being poured on us in buckets. It was a picture of grace.

And then when I thought it possibly couldn’t get any better, that we couldn’t possibly feel any more love than we already had felt in the previous weeks – we walked into the home of our dear friends for our going away celebration.

We spent the next hours in the company of loved ones – laughing, crying and saying, “Hope to see you soon” – which sounds so much better than goodbye.

These days leading up to our departure and our final celebration served as a reminder for me. A reminder of what matters.

Relationships.

Relationships matter.


God is relational and He created us in His image. He created us with a desire to be loved and a desire to love. Loved for who we are in all of our imperfection. Pure, unconditional love – like the love God shows us. Gracious love.

People went out of their way time and time again to show us this kind of love. They took a moment from their own busy lives and busy schedules to pour into us.

Looking back on the last weeks spent in Indy, I needed this and my family needed this. More than we knew.

This time of love from friends and family filled my tank and also reminded me of how I want to live my life.

It reminded me of the importance of a text. A phone call. A card. A hug. A shared prayer.

It reminded me of the kind of friend I want to be and one that I oftentimes am not.

It reminded me of the importance of leaving margin, leaving space, leaving room for God to show me how He may want me to spend my day.

It reminded me of what matters.

I often get wrapped up in my own little bubble. My own list of to-dos has the potential to rule every minute of my well planned out, perfectly orchestrated day.

There is nothing wrong with calendars, to-do lists and schedules. In fact, those are wonderfully effective tools for living an organized life.

The problem for me is when the calendar is so full that I can’t see past my plan for the day. I start my day in my bubble and forget to stop and think about what may be going on in the lives of the people God has placed around me.

This kindness we experienced had a profound impact on me and has continued in our first days here.

Prior to our move, a sweet friend from Indy introduced me to a mutual friend of hers from college who lives in the small Tennessee town we now call home. She took the time  to introduce us via email and her friend was kind enough to invite me and the kids over the day before school started for some ice cream.

Her three children are all close in age to our three oldest. She said she was just returning from a long vacation, but she would love to have us.

Again, this made me stop and think.

She made space for us. School was about to start and I had to imagine things were hectic for her. We were complete strangers and she made space for us. She invited us into her home. She fed my children ice cream and she gave me a hug.

A complete stranger.

I want to live my life like this.

I know it won’t be long before our calendars become full again, but I hope to not forget the impact that the love of others has made in my life and in the lives of my family members. I hope to remember the importance of leaving space. I hope to remember the importance of keeping my eyes open to what is happening in the lives of those around me. Neighbors. Friends. Family. Strangers.

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

I was exhausted. I had cried many tears in the previous weeks, days, hours and minutes.

As I followed my family to Tennessee in the rental van with the Illinois license plate that said AM I found myself looking continually at the words, “I AM.”

It was a beautiful reminder of God with us. God carrying us. God leading us.

I was exhausted, but I was ready. It was time. Time to trust. Time to let go. Time to open my eyes to the bigger picture of what God may be doing in my life. In my husband’s life. In my children’s lives. Change isn’t easy, but I have to believe it will serve a bigger purpose.

I pray that as I begin this journey here I can love a little better. I pray I can trust a little more. I pray I can be the kind of friend that others have been to me. I pray I can live with space in my life. I pray the lessons I have learned in these weeks will be embedded deep in my heart. I pray they won’t be fleeting. I pray God will use me in this new space I occupy.

Please God. Use me.

 

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“Oh Shoot”

Yesterday evening, I received a phone call that made me fall to my knees and cry.  I knew this call would come.  That wasn’t the surprise. I guess I just hadn’t expected to receive the call so soon.

And even if I had expected that my phone would ring at that exact hour, my reaction would have been the same.  Longing.  Longing for more.

One more hug.  One more kiss.  One more I love you.

Just one more.

But that one more would never be enough.  Because when we love someone, we don’t want to have just one more of anything.  We want lots more. We want to be with them.  Here and now. With them.

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But, that is not how life works.  This life is temporary.  We all have a guarantee that one day will be our last.  We don’t know when that day will come, but it will.  And when it does, our loved ones will fall to the ground longing for more.

But that pain that makes the body crumple and the tears flow is, for me, often times accompanied by another emotion.  An emotion that seems contrary to, but somehow compliments, the heartache.

That emotion is hard to describe, but the closest word I have for it would be peace.

Peace in knowing that the one I love is truly in a better place.  Peace knowing that there is no more pain.  Peace knowing there is no more suffering.  Peace knowing that they are now at home.

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One of my favorite movies is Inside Out.  I love how it describes the developing emotions of a young girl going through significant change in her life. In the beginning, her emotions are simple. She would feel each of her emotions independent from one another. As she grows and changes, her emotions become more complex.  By the end, it is not just the isolated emotion of joy that she feels, or the isolated emotion of sadness, but instead a beautiful combination of the two.

This is how I felt in that crumpled moment.  I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness in knowing I would never see my grandma again on earth, and at the same time a peace that all was how it should be.

My grandmother, Marjorie Alice (Hill) Lohman, who we all lovingly called Gammy, was 95 years old.  95 years wonderful.  95 years wise.  95 years stubborn.  And 95 years well loved.

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She was the master of the English language and taught me at a young age that you should never end a sentence with a preposition.  If she ever heard me say, “Where is it at?” She would yell, “Right before the AT!”

She knew the way things once were, and the way she believed they should still be, and she wasn’t afraid to let you know.  A man should take off his hat when he walks in the door, and a hat should under no circumstance be worn at the dinner table.  Hands should never be washed in the kitchen sink.  A table should always be set for dinner, even if you were just having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  And when you set the table, you better set it properly.

She loved reading, knitting, and the game show channel. She strongly disliked commercials and muted them instantly.  She loved wine spritzers (after 5:00 of course), bridge, golf, good food with good friends (no spice, please), and the occasional trip to the casino. And with the exception of golf, did all of these things until the very end of her life.

She was an artist. A teacher. A wife. A mother. A grandmother. A friend. She was my Gammy.

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Gammy spent her summers up north at her lake home on Walloon Lake, Michigan.  When I think of the Lohman family, I think of Walloon. Gammy would spend her summers there, and the rest of us would come and go throughout those months.  She would have a revolving door of family members.  As one family would leave, another would arrive.  We would enter her home with the anticipation of another week spent at Walloon.  We would bring with us our bags, our noise, our chaos, our joy, and most of all our love.

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When the week, or two, or more if we were really lucky, had come to an end we would gather our belongings into the car and prepare for another trip home.  Knowing we would return again next year.  Those who still remained would all gather on the front lawn to wave goodbye.

A week spent at Walloon would always come and go quickly, as most times spent in the company of loved ones at a special location do.  And even though the promise of next summer was ahead of us, that did not take away from the difficulty of saying goodbye.

With the car packed, we would all kiss and hug.  Inevitably, some would cry.  Those fortunate enough to have had their vacation, but unfortunate enough that it was now over, would pile into the car to make the trip home. The cottage sits on a giant oval, like a track. With two cottages on one side and two on the other.  Those who were leaving would make their way around the curve, and when they came to the straightaway they would honk and wave.  This was our tradition. Gammy would always be front and center waiting for this ritual to take place.  Sometimes she would even yell, “don’t forget to honk!”, as if any of us ever would forget.

For as long as I can remember, whenever someone drove away, tears would well up in Gammy’s eyes.  She would stand there while the car turned off of Hamilton Court, and watch it until it could be seen no more, and then she would turn and say, “Oh shoot.”

Gammy

She went out in style. She had just started hospice care and was told she had up to two months to live.  Anyone who knows Gammy knows she loves a good party.  So, that is what her kids decided to do. They were going to throw her a party.  She was taken out of hospice and brought to my dad’s house. We all gathered to tell her we love her.  It was her living wake.  Why wait until someone dies to throw a party?

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That night, when she was brought back to the facility and tucked into bed, I was told that she told the nurse that she “had made peace with everyone.”

The next day, I was informed that hospice had changed their time frame from two months to two days.  A few hours later, I got the call that she passed.  She was surrounded by the people she loved most in this world, her four children.

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She had her party, and she was ready to go home.

I can picture all of us standing on the lawn waving, and this time it is her turn to drive away.  I know she honked.  I know she waved.  I know she smiled.  I know she was ready to go.

Oh shoot.

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