Monthly Archives: September 2014

Good people

Aunt Sis by Lydia Floren

Andrew and I went to visit my Aunt Sis this week.  She is 92 years old. She still has an impish grin and twinkle in her eye, though her health and mental faculties have declined a bit. She calls me “darlin’” though she doesn’t remember exactly who I am.  That doesn’t matter, because I definitely remember who she is.  My Aunt Sis is an incredible human being.

A human exclamation point

My cousin Sam, her youngest son, fondly calls her a “human exclamation point.“  In her healthier days, she was full of vigor, a true southern lady.  She was one of those folks who never met a stranger.  She always remembered everyone’s name, and what was going on in their life and their family, and even how they like their iced tea: sweet or unsweet.  She could make any awkward newcomer feel like a part of things within five minutes of entering her house.  In fact when she greeted anyone at the door, friend or stranger, she would throw open her arms and say “come on in this house!”

Aunt Sis was a gracious hostess. 

Aunt Sis was a gracious hostess.  She welcomed stray family members like me:  many a weekend in college I came “home” to her house, “my” bedroom all ready for me (my folks lived too far away for weekend visits).  One year I even spent the whole summer there  when my job kept me in Georgia.  Several foreign exchange students also enjoyed Aunt Sis and Uncle Jake’s  hospitality over the years. Those students didn’t realize until later that part of that hospitality included a lifetime “adoption” into the Hodges clan.

Aunt Sis was the ultimate entertainer. When our family visited in the summers, she would stock the freezer with ice cream treats and the walk-in with cases of bottled cokes.  And boy could she throw a party.  It might be a paper plate barbecue down at the carriage house, or Christmas dinner for the extended family complete with linens, silver and china.    She was every bit as comfortable hosting a coffee for the Sunday school ladies as she was serving a steak dinner to the Georgia Tech basketball team.

It’s about people

It was never about “show” with Aunt Sis.  It was always about people.  People weren’t merely a part of Aunt Sis’s life. People were – and are – her life.  The highest compliment Aunt Sis could say about someone was to say that they were “good people.” Many times after she introduced someone to me,  she would put her hand on their arm, turn to me,  look me straight in the eye and say

“Now Lydia, Darlin’, these folks are ‘good people.’”

I would nod and smile. She didn’t elaborate. She didn’t have to. I knew exactly what she meant.

Good people

“Good people” were Godly people.  “Good people” were honest, kind and gracious.  They were people of integrity, generous, and compassionate.  They cared deeply about others, and did a lot for others no one ever knew about.  In short, “good people” were like Aunt Sis.

God is good people. 

God is good.  God is “good people.”  He has a good heart. He is honest and integritable, welcoming and warm.  He has common sense and practical advice, and a strong sense of right and wrong.  He is generous and wise and loving.  He does what’s right, even if he is misunderstood for it.  God cares deeply about others–more than people realize—and is always working in this world to take care of those He loves.

What’s great about good people

You know what’s great about “good people”? The more you’re around them the more they rub off on you. Aunt Sis may be nearing the end of her life on this earth, but she hasn’t quit rubbing off on me.  Her habits– “good people” skills – echo through my life, encouraging me to

  • Give joyfully
  • Entertain graciously
  • Brag about others enthusiastically
  • Hug wholeheartedly

And of course, lovingly bestow terms of endearment –“precious”  “dear one”  “sweetie” “ baby doll” and her favorite (and mine)– “darlin’”

The fruit of the Spirit call goodness is really just God’s goodness in us.

The fruit of the Spirit call goodness is really just God’s goodness in us. It’s there. We just choose whether we’re going to let it out or not.

In  her life, Aunt Sis chose to let God’s goodness to shine through her, loving people in her own special way.   In so doing, she unknowingly encouraged the rest of us to love others a little more, and love them a little better.

Aunt Sis is “good people”.  No matter where she is– on earth or in heaven–she will always encourage me to be “good people” too.

Oh, by the way, darlin’, how do you like your tea–sweet or unsweet?

We would love to hear from you!  How DO you like your tea?

A Note in Your Lunchbox: giving thanks in all things

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By Lydia Floren

For years I packed lunches for my husband and kids. Because food is NOT my thing J I tried lots of different ways to streamline this, including  making 20+ PB J sandwiches at a time and freezing them for the week.  That way all  I had to do in the morning rush was grab one from the freezer and throw it in a box with a few other prepared items.  Most days I tucked a card in each lunch with  a bible verse written on it—a little spiritual refreshment for midday to go along with the physical nourishment.

Typically I wrote out these verse cards in the early morning when the house was still quiet.  As I prayed and meditated, preparing for the day, I would ask God to focus me on one particular verse to share with everyone, and if there was anything more He was leading me to share.  Then I would pull out my stack of blank cards and start writing.  5 cards each day.  25 handwritten cards per week.

Did those verse cards have an impact on my family? Yes, I know they did for 2 reasons:                 –The kids have told me so. (They still have some of those cards.)                                                       – –God’s word is powerful. It always has an impact.

Sure there were some days those notes  didn’t get read.  But other days they were read over and over again, and even shared with friends at the lunch table. Samuel says he used to pass them around so everyone  could take a shot at deciphering my handwriting (who knew that my doctor-handwriting would have a positive benefit?)

The power of habit

Those card impacted  my family, but what I didn’t realize until years later was how much they influenced me.  The practice of writing out 25 verse cards a week enabled God’s truths to penetrate deep into my heart.  They pop into my head at unexpected—and timely—moments,  blessing me with their God-inspired wisdom.

The habit of giving thanks in all things

I think there are lots of habits—repetitive choices—that bless our lives –and then keep on blessing us.  They start with small decisions in a moment or day, but their cumulative effect is powerful.  There are several other such habits that have blessed me like this over the years, but one rises to the top:  giving thanks in all things.

Thanksgiving restores my joy.

Choosing—repeatedly—to give thanks in all things changes my perspective.  It shifts my focus from my problems and weakness to His sufficiency and grace.  Thanksgiving also changes my attitude. It refreshes  my hope in the future, and strengthens my faith in God’s goodness.  Most important, thanksgiving restores my joy. In the practice of thanksgiving  I remember that God is at work, and He does love me and everyone else in the world.

Things to give thanks for:

  • The last 24 hrs. people and events. God works all things to good.
  • God, my loving Father:
    • His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
    • His working in my life and in this world, even when I don’t see it.
    • His commitment to me personally, to always be with me—within me, to restore my soul every day, to lead me in the way I need to go.
  • Myself:
    • The gift of life, and of this day.
    • My unique identity, value, belonging, and calling.
    • My limitations, and God’s limitlessness.
  • Others:
    • those I know (especially those that are dear to me), and those I don’t know.
    • those I will cross paths with.
  • My concerns:
    • That God knows my concerns before I do, and he will take care of them, and lead me in the next step.
    • perspective:  Problems are just opportunities for God’s work to shine.
  • The next 24 hrs.
    • the people and circumstances I will encounter in this day.
    • God’s faithfulness to lead me in the way I need to go.
    • God will work all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

 Giving thanks in all things—the habit of thanksgiving– is like writing a note for your lunchbox:  a message of hope that seeps into your heart and soul bringing refreshment when you least expect it, and may most need it. 

 Please share with us:  What are you thankful for?

“Good” gets a bad rap. God is good.

God is good

by  Lydia Floren

The word “good” often gets a bad rap.  “Good” might mean unapproachable, perfectionistic, hypocritical, obsessive compulsive, squeaky clean, self-righteous, pompous.

A “good person” might bring to mind a “goody two shoes”, teacher’s pet, brown-noser, self-righteous prick or a clean freak.

Does anyone really want to be good, or to be around good people?  Well, yes, I think we do, because we know that “good” really means honorable, trustworthy, kindhearted, selfless, genuine, approachable, giving, humble.

When we hear “God is good”, what image surfaces?  A tall white-robed  man holding out a stick, frowning down at us?  Is God that harsh, unapproachable, difficult to please, and downright mean-spirited guy we sometimes think He is?  No. Definitely not. God is no monster.

God is not out to get you:  He is out to bless you.

Remember the aftermath of 9-11?  Being afraid to open mail, being suspicious of unaccompanied suitcases in an airport?  You would not accept a package, and certainly not open one, unless you trusted the sender.  We are every bit as hesitant to trust God sometimes, believing at some level that He really is out to get us, like a bait and switch scheme.  Know this:  You cannot receive and open the gift of abundant life God has given you without first accepting that God is truly good.  God is not out to get you.  He is out to bless you.

Here is the truth–God is good:  God is loving, joyful, peace-loving, patient, kind, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. 

God is

  • forgiving,
  • generous,
  • creative,
  • tenderhearted,
  • respectful,
  • strong,
  • honest,
  • protective

No one will love you more or take care of you better—both now and in eternity—than God.  He is totally trustworthy. There is no evil in God. None.

God is genuinely 100% good.

It is safe to follow Him.  In fact, you are safest when you follow Him.

“God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 NASB

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10  NASB

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. ” Hebrews 11:6 NLT

Q:  What does God is good mean to you?  Share your story below.

What makes you valuable?

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By Lydia Floren

When I meet someone new, I do my best to avoid the fact that I am a physician. (Outside of work, of course. Hard to avoid that fact with a white coat and stethoscope!)  I am not ashamed of my profession—far from it—but sometimes that “MD” can really be a barrier when I am getting to know someone. For example, I can meet a person for the first time, we will be having a wonderful conversation, discovering mutual interests and telling funny stories. but that all changes if somehow it gets out that I am a doctor. It’s like a bomb goes off.  My new friend will get this look on her face, and then maybe say “Oh. You’re a doctor?” I’ll nod. “A medical doctor?”  I’ll nod again. Silence. Then the questions: “Where do you practice?  What kind of doctor are you? How long have you been doing this?”  and so on.   In the space of a few moments, I have stopped being a person. I have become a stereotype.

We  all identify one other by our roles, and value each other based on achievement. But what makes you valuable? Secretly, at our core we each long to be understood and appreciated for who we are, not what we do–or who we know, or how much we possess.

This is exactly the way God values us. We don’t have to posture or pretend. He already knows the “real” us—our essence, our core identity.   He values us—loves us—not because of our performance, but simply because we are. What a relief!  We can finally come in from the cold of competition, and warm our hearts with His loving acceptance. His presence within us enables us to be fully alive, fully ourselves.  And full of joy.

 In Your presence is fullness of Joy. Psalm 16:11 

I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

 Man looks at the outward things, but God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

 I am fearfully and wonderfully made and my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

How about you? Do you feel sometimes that you value is based on your achievements or title? Or the things our culture tells us are valuable? Leave a comment below.