Five Ways to Love Well We Only Have One Chance

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Ryan and his Grandmother, Leah.

August 8, 2015 marked the one year anniversary of my friend, Susan B.’s mother’s passing. Her mom, Leah, passed on Leah’s grandson, Ryan’s 25th birthday. You can read more about this in a previous post entitled: Mother’s Day Evokes An Abundance Of Emotions. When Susan and I were chatting about this anniversary, she said, “I miss her every day, especially the woman she was before the disease. I know you understand!” My response was this: “I do so understand! Just after Mama died, our friend, Pam told me that even though her Mom had been gone for years, she still missed her every single day and probably always would. Now that it’ll be 9 years this coming October 24th, I can attest that this statement is truth. I do think of Mama and miss her every day…realizing that this is not all bad, because this is evidence that we loved well!” Since our conversation last week, I have been pondering what that means to LOVE WELL. Mama died, at age 78, just four short months following her diagnosis of esophageal cancer back in the fall of 2006.

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Mama and Daddy have been together forever since November 2013
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Mama and Daddy invested time, love, and their presence in the lives of their six children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. Here they are loving on grandchild #14, Caroline.
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Mama and Daddy always held hands…one of the simplest gestures in life. One day we will look back and realize the most important things in life were not things at all.

Mom and Daddy had just celebrated the birth of their third great-grandchild, as well as their 58th wedding anniversary. And talk about “loving well,” they set the greatest example I have ever seen of that.

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. Diane Ackerman

As I thought about loving well, I came up with a few ideas of how we can love those in our path while there is still time:

BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER. Tim and his family have been with us at our church since Tim was a very young boy. Angie and Doug, Tim’s parents, as well as Tim illustrate this so well. Even Ringer, Tim’s service dog is a great example of being there for each other. Tim has become one of the most positive and godly young men our family knows. His enthusiasm for life is truly contagious!

Be there for each other by having meals together. At family dinners, keep the conversation light by asking for “highs” and “lows” from each one’s day.

What does “being there for each other” mean in your sphere of influence?
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Angie and her son, Tim
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Tim and Ringer
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Tim, his parents, and Ringer enjoy a day at The College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

STAY CONNECTED WITH PHONE CALLS, LETTERS, CARDS, EMAILS, TEXTS and even SOCIAL MEDIA. Mama always wrote letters and sent cards to those she loved.

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Let’s teach our small ones to share their love with cards and drawings.

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IMG_5236 IMG_5234Mom was known for this! If you have a student in college or one who lives away from you, consider writing them a letter every now or then. Send your thoughts of how proud you are of them and how important they are in your life! How about slipping an encouraging note under your teen’s pillow or in a student’s lunchbox. Though I don’t see my friend, Sandy, near enough, I frequently receive cheerful texts from her just letting me know she is thinking of me. A text like that can turn someone’s day around!

My friend, Terri recently received this post from her daughter, Nicole. As Nicole waits for her second daughter to be born in November 2015, it is obvious from this post that she has a Mom who loves her children and grandchildren well, a mother Nicole can emulate as she parents her young.

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How can you and I stay better connected through letters, cards, emails or texts?

BE COMPASSIONATE AND KIND TOWARDS OTHERS. My husband, Donny’s thoughts on this was for us to show compassion and kindness in the workplace as another example of loving well.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Every beating heart has a story and we don’t really know the details of someone’s story unless we live with them or they choose to share it with us. When at work, or at play, let’s take a minute to love well by exhibiting a soft heart towards those in our path.

How can we show more compassion to those in our path, either at work or wherever we find ourselves?

PUT UP YOUR PHONE. Just so you know, the things I write about here on my pages are surely things I deal with, too! And this is one I admittedly have a hard time with. Back in the day, we didn’t even have cell phones, but now, of course, they are everywhere! When we are in a group, or even face-to-face with someone we care about, let’s work towards putting our phones off to the side and focus on others while there is still time. How about start by choosing one night each week at home, turning off the TV, where everyone agrees to “unplug” and hang out together, playing a game or just catching up.

How can you and I begin to make some small changes by putting our peeps before our phones?

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Though both Susan and our good friend, Brenda’s Mothers passed away from End-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease, memories of LOVING WELL bring happiness to their hearts as they remember their Moms in healthier days.
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My Mama and me on Mother’s Day, 1990. So thankful for a mom who loved me well.

LEARN YOUR LOVED ONES’ LOVE LANGUAGE. When Leah and Scott went through pre-marital counseling, they read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.

I think the most significant work we ever do, in the whole world, in our whole life, is done within the four walls of our own home. Stephen Covey

When I asked Leah about examples of how to love well, this was the main thing we discussed.

LOVE always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Leah shared that learning each other’s love language has enhanced their relationship as they have grown together in these past sixteen months of being newlyweds.  There is a book to help us identify our children’s and grandchildren’s love language, too! Look for Love Languages for Children and there is one for teens, too! The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: How to Effectively Love Your Teen.

What are the “love languages” of those whom you love the very most in this world?

How To Respond To Travel Stress

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“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Stephen Covey, (1932-2012) Author  of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One of my favorite books that I find myself referring to again and again is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book came to mind again on the first full day of our recent trip abroad.

After a two-hour delay at the Atlanta International Terminal, followed by an all night flight to Rome, Italy, paired with a six-hour time change, our first stop was to the Baggage Claim area to collect our many bags. It didn’t take long to discover that Leah’s green Nine West checked bag had been taken by another passenger by accident, while leaving an identical bag behind. Leah and I made our way to the Lost and Found counter to speak with representatives who knew very little English. “Switch!”, “Switch!”, they kept saying loudly to each other as they waved their hands while smiling encouragingly at us. Copying our Celebrity Equinox Cruise Itinerary, they promised to keep making attempts to track Leah’s bag as we left the airport with our driver.

Understandably frustrated, Leah vowed to not allow these circumstances to damper her excitement about our adventure. This made me think of Chuck Swindoll’s famous writing on Attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

More than 50 hours later, when Leah’s suitcase was finally delivered to their cabin on the ship, Jessica suggested we raise our glasses and toast Leah at dinner for staying positive as she awaited the arrival of most of the clothes/shoes she had packed for our trip. WE all agreed wholeheartedly!

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Leah shops for undies in Florence, Italy.

During this experience of traveling inconvenience, I thought of a few  good things to remember :

  • Mark all checked suitcases well. While Leah’s was marked with an ID tag, it was still taken by accident. Let’s all double-check all bags before walking away from baggage claim. We couldn’t believe this other party actually left the airport before they realized they had picked up a bag marked with someone else’s name.
  • Things don’t always turn out the way you hope or expect. While this (in the grand scheme of things)turnedoutto be more of an inconvenience than a major obstacle, our attitude and responsereallycanmake a difference in how we walk through the circumstances. If Leah had chosen to have a full-out negative response about this missing bag,thiscould’ve rippled out among our group of six. Instead, Leah made a choice to say, “Oh well, hopefully this will work out soon.” and then move on to the fun of our CruisingAdventurethatwas scheduled to begin that day in Rome, Italy at 5:00 p.m.
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    Our Itinerary. Even though Leah wasn’t sure if her suitcase would ever be returned to her, she made an intentional decision to carry on, looking ahead to the amazing adventure that was before us.
  • Even in trying circumstances and especially when there is a language barrier, it is good to remember that ALL PEOPLE SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE. So when we make an intentional choice to smile through our challenges,ourresponsecan be contagious and may lead to more smiles, no matter what language one may speak.
    While it is common to see a black suitcase on the baggage claim turnstile, it is less common to see a black suitcase with a wide hot pink strap around it.
    This green and gold bow tied tightly around a handle serves as an “ID” for a weary transatlantic traveler looking for a bag on the turnstile.
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    Thank goodness Leah’s suitcase arrived in time for her to wear Scott’s favorite dress to dinner one night.

    Do you mark your suitcase in some special way

    before you head out for a trip on a plane?

    If not, why not?

    How do you respond when things don’t go as you hoped or planned?

    Have you heard of Swindoll’s writing on Attitude?

    Will reading it impact how you may

    consider your own attitude in the future?

    It has been noted that Swindoll wrote this after he noticed his growing testy, argumentative attitude towards his young children and wife. He knew that if he didn’t give himself an attitude adjustment regarding his four children, he stood the chance of alienating them from himself, later becoming a lonely, bitter, and crotchety old man.

    Are you and I in need of an attitude adjustment?Let's Start

  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:2-4; 12