Wednesday, September 6

Coming Alongside: Blessed to be a Blessing {Guest Post and Giveaway!}

We've had the honor of knowing Sue Moore Donaldson for a few years now and love the simple way she offers encouragement and easy ways to show God's love through hospitality and mentoring! Her books make you feel like you're having a conversation with an old friend and leave you feeling inspired to share the love of God with those around you! Today we are thrilled to have her share a portion of her new book, Table Mentoring, and are giving away a FREE copy to one of our lucky readers! (See details at the end of this post!)

In my early 20’s I met Jeanne Garison. Jeanne was wise, gracious, funny, and for some reason, loved me. She showed it by pouring her wisdom into me, her time into my time, her life into my life. Living life with Jeanne alongside made all the difference.

I was a new college grad, starting my first whirl into the real work world—single and facing my first career, a new roommate, a new town and a new church family. Not floundering exactly, but needing emotional, practical and spiritual support.

I don’t remember how we first met one-on-one. I do remember sitting at Jeanne’s table, talking and talking, usually a cup of tea in one hand and a pen in the other. (It was good to have a pen when I spent time with Jeanne.) I also remember Jeanne’s response: spoken with a smile, a gentle word, often a chuckle of understanding--never a judgment:

“You know, Sue, this is how it was with my mother.”

“Sounds like you could use help in this area – let me get this organized for you.”

“The most important thing you can tell your students is that God is your most important thing.”

Tuesday, July 25

A Competition Worth Winning

Did you sign up to receive our Summer Bucket List of Kindness? Starting today, you can get our second list! (yay!) If you already signed up to receive our emails and got the first list, the second one will be sent to you automatically. If missed out on our first list; no worries, we'll include it along with this one. Simply click the prompt on the home page and you'll be able to sign up. Easy peasy. Also, today I'm talking about how summer kindness has been going in our home:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10, ESV)

I was tired of the squabbling in our home. Normally, my girls get 20 minutes of “technology time” after they’ve cleaned their room and finished their other tasks for the day, but after a morning of incessant fighting I decided to switch it up on them.

“That’s it!” I said, trying to breathe deeply through my annoyance. “Today the amount of technology you get to do is based on how kind or unkind you are to your sister. I’ll add or subtract accordingly.”

Although both girls began the day with 20 minutes, as the afternoon wore on and the fights over Barbies, who threw water from the mini pool on whom, and which towel was the prettiest ensued, they were down to a lackluster 10 minutes each.

Pulling them aside, I let them know the current tally.

Tuesday, July 18

When You're Grasping for Control

I was wishing her ill-will. And I hated it. Someone had wronged us (at least that’s how I felt) and I wanted nothing more than to retaliate. I was frustrated and angry.

I knew it wasn’t right to have these thoughts—certainly wasn’t a common occurrence for me to feel this way— and yet I did. I couldn’t shake it. I walked around unable to think well of this person and their slight of us, coming up with all the things I’d like to say to her, ashamedly, all very unkind.

“I’m angry,” I whispered to my husband later that evening, “and I hate it. Hate what she’s done. Hate that I want to wish her ill-will. Hate that I have such awful thoughts about another human being. But I especially hate that I feel so helpless and out of control to do anything about the situation.”

And there was the heart of my anger, truly, I hate when things are beyond my ability to control and that, most often, expresses itself as anger.

It’s a familiar struggle in my life.

It rears it’s ugly head when my kids don’t obey me or my husband Kyle doesn’t take the advice I’ve offered.

Kyle, who is often much more even- keeled and level-headed than I, looked at me with love and sympathy in his eyes, “Honey,” he stated, “what good will it do to hold onto your anger? You can’t control it, you need to let it go.”

Monday, July 10

Doing Life Together

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.... Hebrews 13:2

My son puts the early birds to shame. He awakens ultra early and - if I'm honest - slightly grumpy, a trait inherited from his momma. And on this brisk morning in a tiny cabin nestled at the foot of the Black Hills, it's all I can do to get him dressed and out the door for a donut run with my hubby before his loudly whispered conversation wakes our traveling companions.

We're on a road trip because our friends are returning home to China, because they've never seen Mount Rushmore, because we want to eek out just a little more time doing life with them before we're separated by an ocean, a language barrier, and time.

Doing life together: it is one of my favorite things. And taking others on vacation with us is quickly becoming a cherished pattern in our lives. There is nothing quite like road trips, small cabins, and kitschy tourist traps (thanks, Wall Drug!) to replace polite small talk with the stuff made of real life: discussing cultural differences within the safe context of friendship, laughing over our bad road trip karaoke, and building memories as our children turn somersaults in the warm sunshine and freshly mowed lawn of the small mom and pop campground.

Monday, July 3

When Life Gets Lean

My dad always owned his own business. When I was a child he was a farrier, traveling from farm to farm—putting in long days, especially in the summer, coming home smelling like animals and outside and barnyards. I loved it.

When I was in middle school we moved, horseshoeing had become just too physically taxing for my dad to continue doing and so he needed a change. We settled across our state in a small town where he began a financial services business. And although I could say many things about that time of my life, one thing I remember distinctly was how lean the next few years were financially. Not that my parents complained or worried to us kids, but we could sense that things we’d done before wouldn’t be happening those first couple of years, that we needed to cut back on spending. Still, we found we were okay.

And that is why this season, this year, has felt somewhat familiar to me. My husband owns his own business and it has afforded us many benefits for which I am so grateful these past seven years. But this year has been slightly different. Through no fault of his own, some client bases have changed, contacts moved to different companies—leaving us in a season of leanness, at least financially.

Wednesday, June 28

The Pull of Home

We moved to a new town the summer before I began fourth grade. A shy bookworm, I had stick-straight blonde hair down to my rear, 90s bangs, and an affinity for wearing a Mickey Mouse tunic and leggings. It was summer, so without school to help me meet other kids, I grabbed my trusty Huffy bike and took to the roads instead. Up and down the streets I rode, hair flying in the wind, as I learned my new home. One by one, I counted the blocks and memorized the streets. Sibley. Marshall. Holcombe. Each day, the map in my mind expanded.

It wasn't long before I was looking at Lisa's hamsters, or playing with Rachel from across the street, or buying slushies from Handi Stop and daring my friends and I to suck them down in Lauren's piping-hot attic until we could no longer stand the heat.

I didn't travel far, really, no more than a mile radius in all. But slowly as I learned the streets and the people who lived on them, and began to measure the distance to friends in city blocks, the town became home.

Later, when I moved from the south side of town to the north side, I fell into my old bike-riding routine. Sara was two blocks away, Shayna a short distance the other way, Kelsie up past the schools. Familiarity bred comfort, and that became home.