Family, Friendship, Homeschooling, Parenting

Admonish. Encourage. Help.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

When I recently re-read this verse, I remembered a sermon Dr. Bill Clark (Lay Counselor Institute) preached over a decade ago. Admonish. Encourage. Help. He gave an example where he had to employ all three with a client, but usually only one was needed.

I was struck how my “go to” response of helping was not always the best choice. Occasionally, my response was random.

I admonished the fainthearted when I should have encouraged. I helped the idle when I should have admonished. I encouraged the weak when I should have helped.

The only “go to” response in this scripture is “Be patient with them all.” That was rarely my first choice.

Do you naturally admonish, encourage, or help?

Decisions

Overwhelmed? Start with One

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.

Andrew Mason

As a child, I thought clover was not only a flower, but the best kind. White clover covered our backyard, sprang back after each mowing, and made the best bracelets and necklaces. While purple clover was not best for adornment, its scarcity gave it value. It only grew near our back porch and chain-link fence.

Nostalgic Discovery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania June 2020

My husband thought otherwise. While my family mowed weeds, his family either pulled or poisoned them—including clover.

Along the way, I agreed that perhaps weeds needed more than mowing. The task was overwhelming so a few years ago, I chose one focus. Dandelions. I pulled dandelions each spring morning until our yard was almost dandelion free in 2020. That year, I joined my husband in pulling wild onions—but never clover.

It is obvious that any goal requires a first step. However, I marveled at the evidence of what I had accomplished in my yard with a small, singular focus for a few months each spring.

Any “weeds” in your “yard”?

PS Organic dandelions are nutritious.

Parenting, Sharing Stories

The Stories I Share: The Kittens

The view from my bedroom window was a vintage, decrepit sedan. (See Here) I ignored the eyesore. My middle son didn’t.

One spring, he became fixated on the car. He would watch for the longest minutes, run off to play, and then, quickly return. I don’t remember if I discovered his secret, or he revealed it. Newborn kittens lived under the car, and my toddler loved watching them and their attentive mother.

Unfortunately, that same spring our city was deluged with rain—the kind where relatives call and check on you. We were fine. I was convinced the kittens weren’t, even though I couldn’t see through the rain.  The neighborhood yards that weren’t flooded were drenched. Water whooshed under our pier and beam house.

Once the storm passed, my one-year-old resumed his watch. No kittens.

“The kittens aren’t coming back,” I gently told him.

He wouldn’t leave his post even though there were no kittens—day after day—until one day the kittens appeared. Somehow the mother cat had enough storm warning to carry her brood to higher ground. She obviously liked the car as much as my son and—once safe—had carried them back.

Persevering in hope?

God's Faithfulness, Sharing Stories

The Stories I Share: The Car on Blocks

“To begin, the car next door needs to go. It will deter a buyer,” our realtor explained.

“We bought the house,” said my husband.

“No one else will. This is a buyer’s market.”

The car in question was on blocks and sat outside our master bedroom window. Our neighbor—being the good sister that she was—had allowed her brother to tow it to her yard when his wife said the relic had to be removed. The wife had given up on her husband restoring it.

What to do? We liked our neighbor and didn’t want to offend her. The car wasn’t against any city code. Not only did it not bother us, I also had fond memories of my middle son standing at the window and gazing at the car.

So, we did nothing and trusted that God would allow our house to sell with the eyesore. A couple of weeks later, two men towed the car away. Our neighbor said they had knocked on her door and offered to clean her yard in exchange for the car.

An unexpected quick sale for 1991

Have you had a difficult situation disappear?

Family, God's Faithfulness, Sharing Stories

Share Your Stories

I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.  

Psalm 40:10

At my age, I am more on the giving end than the receiving end of stories. Most stories I want are unattainable. I either waited too late to ask or was too young when it was time to ask. Therefore, I am becoming more deliberate about passing down family history and information, especially if it demonstrates God’s loving care.

Along the way, I learned that the more I tell or record my stories, the more I am the one who benefits. Like Deena Kastor, I reflect and process both the fleeting moments and the long hours that rushed by me. (See here for more.)

Telling a remembered story usually leads to a forgotten story and sometimes a second forgotten story, which all remind me of a special time or an important truth. Both the remembered and the forgotten bring necessary comfort or conviction.

The more I share, the more I am blessed.

Do you have a favorite story that blesses both you and others?