Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love one another as I have loved you.  -John 13:34

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For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I like to go bike riding. We have a stunningly beautiful trail that follows the river and goes into Denver, about 30 miles round trip. It’s also a trail that attracts many homeless men and women that set up camp along the river and under the overpasses.

Also, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past couple of months, you know my sisters and I, as well as others we recruited, had a 30-day prayer challenge where we tuned into those around us and prayed for a stranger each day. That trail gives endless opportunities to pray for strangers in need.

And here’s where the two tie together.

About a month ago on one of our bike rides, I saw a person way up ahead crawling on the concrete trail. I watched as several bikes passed by this person, swerving around him, barely taking notice. As I approached him I heard him groaning, struggling to continue on. My husband was a ways behind me and I stopped by this young man, who was clearly homeless, and asked if he was okay. During this time, more bikes passed by, and those that looked, quickly glanced away. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. We exchanged a few more words, he insisting he was fine. I got on my bike and continued, slowly, until my husband caught up to me. But when he did, I stopped. Something was keeping me from continuing. I couldn’t leave this man, hurt, in the middle of nowhere. I told my husband I had to go back and see what I could do.

Now, given the professions in which we work (my husband is a police officer and I work at a District Attorney’s Office), it’s all too easy to become skeptical and jaded about humanity. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea, thinking he might have been high on drugs or alcohol. But I insisted it didn’t matter if he was high or drunk, he was hurt. I could feel it in my gut. My husband agreed to turn around with me and go back.

As it turned out, he was hurt. He’d fallen the night before, thought his foot was likely broken, and was trying to make it into Denver. I asked him if I could call someone for him, he said he didn’t have anyone. I asked if I could call 911, he said he didn’t have any money, to just go ahead and he’d be fine.

I’d decided as soon as we reached Denver I would find someone who would know how to help this man. And the next mile was spent doing mental gymnastices trying to figure out how I could help him.

And then it happened. I heard in my head, the unmistakeable message, “You can’t help him, Rhonda, but I can. Ask Me.”

It was a clear message that gave me goosebumps on every square inch of my arms. God had placed this man in my path and I’d been so caught up in what I could do, that I nearly missed what I could do. This man was my stranger for the day, the one I was to pray for, and I nearly missed that golden opportunity.

When we reached Denver, I told my husband what had happened, and how it changed my heart. Once again, it struck me that praying for others blesses the person praying as much, if not more than, the one being prayed for.

On the way  back we saw him again. He smiled at us and we stopped. My husband pulled out his wallet and tried to offer him some help. The man said he couldn’t take the money, that he would be fine. That statement changed my husband’s heart. A homeless person refusing money??? Finally my husband said, “Please take it. It’s for me, not for you.” The man’s eyes pierced my husband’s heart, he took the offering and said, “Thank you for your blessing.”

Say what?!?

I believe God put that man in our path that day to change both my husband and me. My heart broke to see so many people pass by as if the man, crawling on the pavement, were nonexistent. As if they were afraid to notice him or too caught up in life to notice someone struggling. And it saddened me to think that that’s what has become of our society. Those that are homeless are every bit as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. They are His children. And if someone passed by my children when they were struggling and hurt, it would rip my heart out.

Helping one another, helping to make life that can be beyond difficult easier for someone else, giving to another the grace and mercy that is so freely given to us–isn’t that what life is about?

Mother Teresa

Time to share – Tell me about a time you’ve helped someone else and how it changed you in ways you never expected.

 

 

Hodge Podge and Update

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I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately. Although, I guess slacker isn’t an accurate term. Life has been exceptionally busy, but I’m so grateful that I’ve got a good life to live. My son was the passenger in a car that was totaled in an accident two days ago and he came out of it with nothing more than an injured shoulder. And that injury is already healing nicely. Some people say he’s lucky. I say he’s beyond blessed. God was also in the car with him that day. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my sisters and I have an ongoing prayer challenge where we find a stranger to pray for each day. I believe my son was somebody’s stranger that day.

My book, Shear Madness, is doing better than I expected, and on September 5th I have a book signing at the book store in the town where I live. I’ve ordered my book postcards, flyers, and pens with the name of the book and my name, which are due to arrive tomorrow. It feels like tomorrow is Christmas morning. 🙂

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Tomorrow brings with it a weekend trip to the mountains with lots of trails to run, elk that roam freely, and eagles flying overhead. And did I mention a Starbucks that sits just off the riverwalk by the creek? I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the live entertainment by said creek on Friday night. It’s sheer heaven listening to folk music with mountains on every side of us, breathing deeply of the fresh mountain air. A perfect place to drive creativity to all new heights. With that renewed creativity comes the time to lounge outside working on my current novel, Finding Abby.  Complete joy! 🙂

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Natural Beauty

It seems I’ve been blessed with the beauty of nature everywhere I go lately. I wanted to share some of the serenity with my blogging peeps. Have a cup of tea/coffee, put your feet up, and let yourself be mentally transported to the great outdoors, surrounded by peace, chirping birds, a gentle wind, and the fresh smell of woods.

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I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

Morning Glory

This brilliant sunrise is what greeted me on my morning run. What a glorious way to start the day!

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And this mama bird protecting her babies, still unhatched, as I marveled at the maternal instinct of all God’s creatures.

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Seize this day with gusto, my friends! Life is a gift. 🙂

 

Prayer in Numbers

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It started, as my ideas usually do, on a morning run. Typically I like to listen to music or audio books when I’m running, but there are times I enjoy simply basking in the sounds of nature or beautiful silence. And there are times I go on a prayer run.

This was one of those mornings.

There are a lot of people in my life that are in need of prayer right now, and as I was running, and praying, it occurred to me how many people out there in the universe, people outside of my small circle, that need prayer.

What would happen if I prayed for one person every day for 30 days. Someone that I came across in my daily routine. A daily routine that often becomes a rut that we continue mindlessly.

BUT…

If I prayed for at least one person, it would force me to live mindfully while I searched out the person God leads me to. The person who needs prayer that day.

And then it was placed on my heart to call my sisters to join in this challenge with me. Both who enthusiastically agreed to join.

From there, I took it to my job–going as far as I could without crossing the whole line of church and state since I work for a government office–and invited several people to join the cause, also all who enthusiastically joined.

Yesterday my person was someone I spoke with on the phone. He’d received a head injury years ago while serving in the navy, later had a stroke at a much-too-young age, and recently had become a victim of a second degree assault. My job as an advocate is to help make sure medical bills are taken care of. This man, after all he’d been through, told me before we hung up, “I just give it to the Lord.”

Wow!!

And when someone yells and cusses at me over the phone, what better salve for the heart than to pray for them rather than what would normally come to my mind–and lips–causing destruction all the way around.

Lesson learned – Prayer helps the prayed for as well as the one doing the praying.

Why thirty days? While experts claim it takes two weeks to create a new habit, I’m a slow learner. It takes me a very long time to break a bad habit. Sometimes months. So doubling that two-week theory of the experts gives me needed extra time. 🙂

Do you want to join our prayer challenge party?

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Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

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I’ve posted in the past that running is my therapy. And a whole lot cheaper! Running in the early morning is when my mind churns out ideas for my novels or short stories, or brings to light an answer to something I’ve been praying for. However, that being said, this typically only happens when I’m running outside in nature, not on a treadmill or on the track at the gym where I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This was my lesson this morning:

When I think I’m certain of what God is telling me, it’s important for me not to be so certain I’ve heard the message that I miss what He’s really telling me. In other words, when I think I’ve heard the message, listen further and don’t walk out of the room while He’s still talking.

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The last several weeks I’ve been promising myself that I am going to work on staying tuned in to His presence throughout my day. That usually lasts until I walk through the door at work when busyness, deadlines, the phone ringing, and constant chatter around me transports me far away from Him. Without realizing it, I allow the noise of the world around me to drown out the One who brings me peace in the midst of chaos.

Which brings up the importance of mindfulness even in the small things. While I was running this morning I mentally mapped out the route I would take, a different path from the one I typically enjoy. When I got to the crossroads that would take me on my preplanned route, I was so busy thinking about the day ahead of me, my mind miles ahead from where I was physically at that moment, that I automatically and mindlessly turned onto the same path that is routine. I was certain the message was to pay attention. And while that is a good thing to work on, it was just the surface of what went so much deeper.

That happens all too often in life every day. What has become habit in our lives is what we tend to do naturally, and if we aren’t mindful of the present moment, our thoughts and behaviors fall into the habit rut. The only way to create a new, more positive habit is to be mindful of what we’re doing and thinking in the present moment. And the only way to make mindfulness a natural activity is to mindfully practice mindfulness.

Had I not kept my mind and ears open, I would have walked out of the room at the “pay attention” part of the conversation, figuratively speaking, which was a very small brush stroke in the whole picture. I would have been blessed by the sun but would have missed out on the beauty of the entire landscape.

Another thought that came to me during my run? An entire scene for one of the books in my mystery series. I would say it was a pretty productive day before I even left my house for the office.

Rather than morning coming too soon, I’m already looking forward to my morning therapy session to see what gems He will bless me with. 🙂

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Happy Mother’s Day

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There won’t be any biking today as I traditionally do on Mother’s Day, as the ground is coated with about 5″ of white fluff and the trees are several feet shorter under the weight of the snow. It looks like we went from spring back to winter here in Colorado. But it’s beautiful, I’ll give it that.

To all the mothers, step-mothers, grandmother’s in the role of mother, women who have found their role as mother in any other way, conventional or not, and to all the men who have had to play dual roles, one of mother:

Here’s wishing you an amazing, beautiful day to celebrate the little ones–or not so little–that you nourish, love, guide, teach, and “mother.”

And thank you to my boys, Benjamin and Alex, who have made me the most grateful, blessed, and happy mama I could ever hope to be. My life has been beyond beautiful–and never boring 🙂 –because of those two amazing boys who have turned into amazing men. I couldn’t be more proud!

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” ― Rudyard Kipling