We had seen it all: lions, tigers, geese and crazy monkeys who loved to sing and holler. We’d had a lovely lunch and were just about ready to head home. There was just one more thing to do…
We had been told when we entered the zoo that certain animals had feeding times at which you could go and participate. When we heard we could feed the giraffes, we all were excited.
So there we stood, waiting in line to wash our hands and receive the carefully torn up romaine lettuce to hand to our long-necked friends. It was a nice place to wait; in the shade and right next to the zebras and warthogs so there was plenty to see.
As we chatted together - my husband, children and my mom, and I – we recapped the highlights of our trip. That is until a small boy about four years old ran right through the line to get to the zebra exhibit. We watched in horror as he jumped up and threw one leg over the top, ready to hop in and join his striped friends. Without even thinking, I ran over and grabbed him off the wall. He laughed, wriggled free and began to run away.
I can’t remember a time when I’d been so terrified for a child who wasn’t my own. And I was frankly a bit perturbed that his mother would be so irresponsible as to let her son get away from her so drastically. I envisioned some hipster chick with a blue-tooth ear piece and an iPhone stuck to her face as she spent some “quality time” her kid at the zoo. In none too compassionate of voice I called out,
“Whose little boy is this?? Does he belong to anyone??”
Several seconds went by with no response and my frustration only grew. Then I saw her…running to the zebra enclosure, pushing a baby girl in a stroller, fatigue and fear etched on her face.
“Oh thank God! There he is. He’s mine.”
“Oh, ok,” I replied. “Just so you know, he tried to climb over into the zebra exhibit. I grabbed him off the wall…I hope that’s ok.”
A look of disbelief and sheer desperation crossed her face. I was suddenly quite aware that this was not necessarily a rare occurrence for this little boy. He kept his mama on her toes twenty-four-seven and she was at her wits end. I tried not to eavesdrop as he begged and begged to say and feed the giraffes and as she explained they had already done several extras and it was time to go home. A fit ensued and that poor mama just sighed, grabbed his hand and began to walk away.
As she passed me, our eyes briefly met. My wrongful judgement gone, I just smiled and before I knew what I was doing I gently stroked her back as she passed and said,
“Hang in there, mama, you’re doing good.”
She paused briefly, smiled a tired, weary smile in thanks and walked away.
I’ve thought of that encounter so many times since that day. I’ve talked a lot here about how we’re all in this together; we’ve got to be there for one another, support each other. We need to reach out even if the person isn’t necessarily asking for help verbally.
Friends, opportunities to encourage someone else are all around us. Everyday. Everywhere. Even at the zoo. Your homework today is to keep your eyes peeled for just one person whom you can encourage. It could be a kind word in line at the store, finally sitting down to write that note you’ve been needing to write for weeks now, a kind gesture for the waitress who’s having a bad day. Maybe it’s that mom at the mall with all the screaming kids.
We’re all in this crazy journey of life together, and our kids need examples of compassion and kindness to look up to and emulate. So let’s get out there and encourage each other today!
Did you encourage a random stranger today? Come back and share in the comments what happened, and let’s keep this community rolling forward in love!
There have been several times in my life during which I’ve felt particularly useless.
Times when life seemed to be not only lacking opportunities to use my gifts and talents, but almost seems to be deliberately blocking the use of them.
I feel these times more acutely as a mother than another other time of my life thus far.
On a recent road trip with my family, I saw something that spoke to my heart and was such an encouragement to me for those times when I feel particularly useless. I’m sharing my thoughts over at The Better Mom today, and I’d love to have you come join me!
If you’ve just clicked over from The Better Mom, I want to extend a warm welcome to you, and thank you for taking the time to come visit! I hope this little corner of the web is an encouragement to you. Be sure to introduce yourself!
This week the prompt for Five Minute Friday with LisaJo is VIEW:
We stood at the precipice of the canyon – pillars and wiggles of red rock as far as the eye could see.
It was stunning. Breathtaking.
From the bottom looking up it was a hot mess…dirt and dust; rock and debris.
Rough tough, blood sweat and tears work just to move a few feet forward only to end up in a sweaty, matted mess.
But from the top…
Oh, what beauty. What a masterpiece painted on a canvas only the very Best could accomplish.
We stood for longer than we intended, just soaking in the glory what He has made.
Later as we lingered even longer in front of the photographs, I hear The Whisper…
“This canyon is like you.”
I look at my hands, my words, my heart and all I see is mess. Rough, tough, ragged edges.
Blood, sweat and tears just to move a few feet forward only to end up in a sweaty, matted mess.
You craft, sculpt, create.
What you do, what you make…who.I.am…
Because of your Hand in my life.
From my view there is dirt, mess, struggle, ugly.
Your view, from the very top – big picture sweeping landscape sort of view – its beautiful. Ever changing, ever growing, but beautiful none the less.
Oh that you would give me grace and eyes to see myself from Your view.
It’s one of my favorite times of the week: Five Minute Friday with LisaJo. Each Friday she gives us a word – a prompt. The rules are simple: write for 5 minutes flat about the word for the week. No stopping, no editing. Just. Writing. Then head over to LisaJo’s place and link it up, and read the other brilliance brought on from the world’s most awesome writing flash mob.
We laid in the dark on the mattress on the floor. Your fevered body pressed against mine; breathing fast and shallow.
I held you close and sang song after song. Praise. Worship. Hymns about grace and love.
I’m not sure if I was singing them more for your benefit or mine.
It was the fourth day of fever, fussy, fits and meltdowns. We were both at the end of our tether; both exhausted yet finding sleep elusive.
As I sang songs about mercy and grace and the beauty of the name of Jesus your breathing slowed, hands stilled, tension released. We melded together and breathed our praise into the dark of night, certain we were the only two in existence. All because of the power of a song.
You’re better now and sit playing with your things. Cars and baseballs and books strewn about. I lean in close and hear your sweet voice lifted in song. You try – the tune is there – but many of the words escape your memory. So you sing the ones you know…
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Love me. Jesus. Jesus.
And as you sing my breathing slows, my soul stills and tension that comes from spills and diapers and groceries and homework and he’s-picking-on-me’s releases.
All because of the gentle power of a song, and the potent beauty of a Name.
A large group of people followed. They crowded around him. 25 A woman was there who had a sickness that made her bleed. It had lasted for 12 years. 26 She had suffered a great deal, even though she had gone to many doctors. She had spent all the money she had. But she was getting worse, not better. 27 Then she heard about Jesus. She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. 28 She thought, “I just need to touch his clothes. Then I will be healed.” 29 Right away her bleeding stopped. She felt in her body that her suffering was over.
30 At once Jesus knew that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd. He asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people,” his disciples answered. “They are crowding against you. And you still ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 But Jesus kept looking around. He wanted to see who had touched him.
33 Then the woman came and fell at his feet. She knew what had happened to her. She was shaking with fear. But she told him the whole truth.
34 He said to her, “Dear woman, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from your suffering.” Mark 5:24b-34
I love this story. I love the faith displayed in the woman’s actions; I love the tenderness and compassion we see from Jesus; I love the ultimate power displayed from him. And I love the evidence that faith truly can move mountains.
Its so encouraging to me that all I need is to barely encounter Jesus, through faith, in order to see drastic changes in my life…in myself. Just by reaching out in faith and touching the proverbial hem of his robe I have access to his almighty, healing power.
Yet there are times I feel that is all I encounter of him – the hem. I rely on the fact that I can reach out in distress, touch his robe, and be healed from the malady of the moment. He is faithful to intervene; to inject his mighty power into my life, my heart, my situation and move mountains. With just a hem!
But I wonder how much more wonderful it will be to encounter him face to face? I want more than just the hem of his robe. I want to be swept up into his embrace and fully accept all of who he is, even if I don’t fully grasp the greatness of it. I want to lean in close, head to his chest, and listen to the beat of his heart. Remaining there until the beat of mine matches the beat of his. Until what grieves him grieves me. Until what brings him joy fills my cup to overflowing.
I am so vastly grateful for the power that can be found in just the hem. Meaning I don’t have to be in a perfect state of mind and heart to approach him. I can come in my dirty, foul, bleeding mess when I lack the strength to stand or even call out to him. I can simply reach up a hand, weak and trembling, and he answers.
But I want more.
In this dark world in which we live it sometimes seems as though the hem is all of Jesus we have access to. It’s hard to see his face among the incomprehensible evil surrounding us. It seems as though the hem – the bare minimum – is all he is offering to us. But I have a feeling that is because we are looking up from a heap on the dusty earth. We are battered and tired and weary. From our view all we can see is his robe swishing in the breeze just ahead of us. But he is all there – all present – ready to lift us to our feet, look in our eyes and speak peace.
Oh how I want so much more than just the hem of his robe.
I want to sit at the table and share the deepest parts of myself. To get beyond the surface aches and pains and get down to the real root of what ails me.
To walk the roads of this life side by side and listen to his voice.
To get beyond just the distress calls and pleas for help.
To encounter him full on, everyday…not just in times of trouble.
Oh how grateful I am for the power we can find just in the hem of his robe.
But oh how I want so much more.
Below is a song by Christy Nockels that I adore. It’s been on repeat on my iPod for days. Some days this is my anthem – a resounding love song from my heart to His. Other days, it’s my prayer – I want to be able to sing these words with all sincerity. I pray it blesses you as it has me.