Monday, July 10, 2017

Loving Your Neighbor and Using Interpretive Dance to Do It


When I went to my local box store on Saturday morning, I left Sam in bed, too weak to get up. I dashed in to get what he absolutely needed, then looked for food for myself. I prayed God would help me "find simple." The simplest things I found were peanut butter and a bag of fresh green beans. 

They'd moved the gluten-free products again, and all I could find was frozen bread. Time was short, so I went home with no healthy snacks and nothing that would make a simple meal without cooking everything from scratch. 

I was kinda surprised I didn't get a better answer to my prayer, but decided to be grateful for what I had.

Since the bread was still frozen, I couldn't make a peanut butter sandwich without stopping to thaw the bread. For lunch that day, I squirted mustard on sandwich meat and hoped I could find something better for dinner without having to cook. I didn't. 

Usually, I use the weekend to prepare enough for several days, but I hadn't gotten to that yet. It wasn't that I didn't have food. I just didn't have easy food.

I haven't asked permission to tell this next part, but I'm doing it anyway, and hoping for forgiveness. I had plans for lunch, but had cancelled them because Sam wasn't physically up to going to eat after church. 

I had just cancelled my plans when my friend, Kandy Walker, texted me. She wanted to come visit for a little bit and maybe do some interpretive dance. I was intrigued.

When she arrived after church, she jumped out, arms flung wide, and gave me a huge hug, then broke out into her interpretive dance routine. It was simply marvelous. She frolicked about on my front lawn and we laughed at the outrageousness.

My spirit lifted with that laughter, just as Kandy knew it would.

"I brought simple," she announced and began to unload her car. I blinked back tears. God had heard my prayer and answered it in an unexpected way.

"You were on my mind this morning and, as I was praying, I kept thinking, 'What would I need if I were Leanna?'" 

Kandy brought paper goods, including paper plates and napkins. "Eat off paper plates for a while." I embraced her suggestion.

She brought frozen gluten-free dinners. (Ones she knows are both tasty and organic.) Fruit. Pre-washed, cut up vegetables. Gluten-free snacks. Gluten-free soups. The array of gifts was enormous and healthy.

She prepared a simple lunch and we ate together. I asked about her needs once, and she cut me off. "Nope. Today is not about me. Today is about helping Leanna keep taking care of Sam." 

She let me ramble, and listened as I talked. She went with me to feed the farm animals. Later, she suggested I make a list of all the things I'm doing, divide them into things someone else could do, and consider where I might find help. "If Sam wants you to do everything for him, let's figure out how that can be possible." We did.

Instead of merely responding to one urgent need after another, I have a plan that's workable. It's a great relief. 

Instead of cooking from scratch, I have easy (and healthy) meals that don't require much preparation. 

Kandy took the time to consider the life she knows I live and find ways to make it easier for this season. 

She loved her neighbor as she loved herself. Literally.

I don't know if Kandy has ever met Sam, but she's made his life much better by making my life easier. 

Kandy's gift to me was one of the sweetest and most helpful anyone has given. I'll treasure it for years to come.

What made her gift so great?

1) She used a moment of silliness to intentionally make me laugh.
2) She listened to me vent and didn't judge.
3) She considered my needs and dietary requirements, then acted accordingly.
4) She brought a few simple frozen meals I could pull out when I need something healthy and quick on a hard day.
5) She gave me permission to use disposable plates and napkins.
6) She asked about what else I needed to do that afternoon and left in time to allow me to do it.
7) She helped me examine all I'm doing and make a plan to find help where needed.
8) She gave lots of hugs.

Somewhere near each of us, there's a Sam or a Leanna, a care-receiver or a care-giver, who is struggling. We want caregivers to go the distance, right? Let's help them do it.

Take a hint from Kandy and consider what would make life simpler, easier. 

Going out to eat isn't alway easier. Take a meal, then sit and eat it together. 

Instead of taking a huge basket of fruit, take a few bananas or a couple of pears. 

Fresh baked goods are nice, but not necessary. I could never eat an entire cake or pie by myself. The box of gluten-free snack bars Kandy brought were a much better alternative.

What about paper plates and napkins? I'd never even considered using paper products for a while.

If everyone did a little bit, it would make more of a difference than you can imagine. Who in your world needs a visit from you? Interpretive dance isn't required, but a listening ear and a loving heart are. 

Today, make a start. Be present. Love your neighbor the way you love yourself. It's okay to start small as long as you do something. 

According to Jesus, doing nothing is never an option, so let's start loving. 

"Jesus replied, 'The most important commandment is this...Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No there commandment is greater than these." Mark 12:29-31 nlt

(Sam's walking with his walker again, thanks to the prayers of thousands of people. Thank you!) 
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