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?

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