Tag Archives: kindness

Tasting God’s Kindness

Apples on a tree, with caption "tasting God's Kindness"by Lydia Floren

“…if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”  1 Peter 2:3

I eat fast. Really fast.  My husband, Andrew, does too.  Often when we are out to dinner, and the waitress breezes by to ask, “How are the first few bites tasting?”, Andrew is reaching for his wallet and I am asking for a “to go” box.  Those of you who have shared a meal with us are nodding and smiling, aren’t you?

In our defense, we come by this food-shoveling habit honestly. It was a survival skill we each developed during our medical training. Here’s a typical scenario of dinner as a resident-on-call:

After multiple visits to the ER, two admissions and a crisis in the ICU, our four-to-five-member on-call team, finally catches a break. Uniformed in scrubs and stethescopes, we head down to the cafeteria, to stack our trays with the free hospital food. After settling into orange vinyl seats and tasting the first few bites, a beep-beep-beep sounds. And then, another one joins in. As everyone reaches for their pagers, an announcement drones overhead:  “Code Blue, 4th floor, west wing… code blue, 4th floor, west wing.” Collectively we groan, and then grab our gear and rush upstairs to see about the emergency.   Often – no, usually – by the time we make it back down to the basement to try to salvage the remainder of our cold meal, we find the cafeteria is dark,  its doors bolted shut. Sigh. Another night of vending machine supper.

In residency, it became clear that you’d better eat fast, or you may not get to eat at all.  Food wasn’t to be savored, just consumed, because the main point of eating was not enjoyment, but sustenance. Enjoying the taste of food was a luxury one could not afford, with such an unpredictable schedule.

Andrew and I have learned over the years that normal people don’t gulp or shovel.  Normal people take their time, and actually seem to enjoy the taste of their food. They savor. They actually enjoy what they are eating.  When I eat dinner with these folks, I find that I appreciate the flavor of my food  more than I ever would on my own.

1 Peter talks about tasting the kindness of the Lord.

I love that word picture, because in order to taste something, you have to slow down and pay attention to what you are eating.  Don’t we find ourselves rushing through life, consuming the blessings God gives us, but never taking time to savor them?  In order to taste God’s kindness, we have to be willing to let go of our tendency to hurry, and embrace a more  leisurely, thoughtful approach to life. Let’s face it:  most of our rushing around is not because of life or death emergencies.  It is primarily caused by an accumulation of commitments or desires – some important, some not so important.

So today, choose to not simply consume God’s kindnesses without really appreciating them.  Instead, choose to taste God’s kindness.  Take the time to notice the many wonderful ways He has, and is now, blessing you.  Savor His loving presence always with you and within you. Enjoy!

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

Red flowers with the words, "Kindness:  a gift that keeps on giving"Kindness:  A Gift That Keeps on Giving

by Lydia Floren

It’s cold up here in Wisconsin, so when the weather finally warms up, most of us folks try to stay out of doors as much as possible.  For me, that means spending lots of time in my garden.

Map of the United States, with growing zones highlighted in different colors

Gardening is different in the Northwoods.  We are in the “3b” USDA cold hardiness zone.  The little purple stripe on the tippy top of the map.

What that means is that the growing season is short, and only certain types of plants will survive. I have learned that perennials – flowers that come back every year – are the way to go. Several friends and neighbors have shared extras perennials with me over the years (and most of them I have managed to keep alive).  For example, Liz gave me some hostas, and my neighbor across the road some angel’s wings. Rhoda donated some bee balm and a rose bush I can’t kill (I am quite good at killing roses!).  Lori contributed a bunch of day lilies and ferns, and I think some purple iris (was that you, Lori?).

Perennial blessings

Anyway, the explosive color in my yard summer after summer is in largely due to these dear folks’ kindness. These flowers bless me and my family every year, and many others who happen by, for some reason or another.  Often they remind me of the friends who contributed so generously to my garden, the memories prompting me to give thanks for the friend.

Memorable kindness

Gifts that keep on giving can come in all kinds of packages.  They might be plants, or tangible presents people have given, like the afghan Karley crocheted for me, or the little pillow Debra gave me for my birthday one year.  But the kindnesses that I most vividly remember are often the ones I can’t see or touch.  Terri, for example, taking an afternoon  to shop for clothes just for me.  Karen sending her boys over to help me sod the backyard, before Michael and Kiley’s wedding reception.  John Larson making me feel like a part of the team, when I started practice in Bloomer.  Ms. Paula patiently listening, as I tearfully shared some small concern about my kindergartener. John Markquart rescuing me on the side of the road, where I was stuck in the snow.

And my sister, Becky, painting my toenails while I was flat on my back after surgery.

Two sisters, heads close together, smiling

Kindness endures

Kindness endures.  It lasts long after the ground freezes over, the polish wears off, the clothes are discarded.  A kindness – especially an intangible kindness – is remembered and shared and multiplied, traveling far beyond where you think it has gone. And, while many can be touched by it, kindness invariably blesses the giver most of all.

So, if you feel that nudge to share an extra smile, or go out of your way a a bit, or give away some of what you have, do it. Kindness is never wasted. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Be kind and compassionate to one another.  Eph. 4:32

What memories do you have of someone being kind to you?  Please share. We would love to hear from you.

Ferns, with the caption Kindness lingers long after it is given.

Shoes At My Door

Shoes At My Door

by Lydia Floren

When we first moved to Wisconsin, I was surprised to find that, when people came to visit, they always left their shoes at my door. I soon learned that Wisconsinites shed their shoes, just like they do their coats, when they enter someone’s home. Children learn to do this almost before they begin to walk. In fact, around here, taking your shoes off when you cross a threshold ranks right up there with the “yes ma’am’s” and “no ma’am’s” of the South: good when you do it, really rude when you don’t.

At first this shoe-at-the-door thing didn’t make much sense. But that was because we moved up here in July. By December, the reason became obvious: snow. Well, not just snow –  the sand and slush and salt and mud that accompany the winter months. Taking shoes off keeps everyone’s houses from being dirtied by the outside mess. This is such an ingrained habit in our Northwoods culture that, even when the weather is nice and the streets are clear, everyone still sheds their footwear when they come inside.

We each have some mud on our lives, especially this time of year.

Extra commitments, financial concerns, worry about family, renewed grief, loneliness. Some of the stuff is obvious while other parts – like the stirrings of old hurts –  stay hidden beneath the surface.

As we step into each other’s lives, wouldn’t it be cool if we would remember to first take off our “muddy shoes”? That might mean setting aside happenings from earlier in the day: a difficult circumstance, or unpleasant encounter, or hurry or stress. Maybe it means withholding judgment, extending grace, forgiving, getting out of our own perspective and choosing to enter theirs.

This holiday season we are going to have many distractions.

And we are going to step into a lot of lives.

May we remember to set aside our stress and tread gently, giving others (and ourselves) extra grace.

BTW, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this “extra grace-giving” became a habit we practiced all year long?

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4

Oil of Joy

oil-of-joy-title

by Lydia Floren

From Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman:

“There is an old story of an elderly man who always carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went. When he would go through a door that squeaked, he would squirt oil on the hinges. If he encountered a gate that was hard to open, he would oil the latch. And so he went through life, lubricating all the difficult places, making it easier for all those who came after him. People called the man eccentric, strange, and crazy, but he was steady on, often refilling his can of oil when it was nearly empty, and oiling all the difficult places he found.

“In this world, there are many lives that painfully creak and grate as they go about their daily work. Often it seems that nothing goes right with them and that they need lubricating with ‘the oil of joy’ (Psalm 45:7), gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

“Do you carry your own can of oil with you? … A pleasant word is a bright ray of sunshine on a saddened heart. Therefore give others the sunshine and tell Jesus the rest.”.

Joy

Every day we have opportunities to lighten another’s load by sharing a word of encouragement, a laugh, or a simple act of kindness.  Ask God to help you be aware of opportunities to bless someone today. Be on the lookout for ways to soothe someone’s heart with a little “oil of joy.”

Oil of Joy

 

Whether you happen to be on the giving or receiving end of such a blessing, we would love to hear from you! Please share with us!

Related Posts: Choosing Joy, Kindness Is…, The Kindness of God

Kindness Is…

kindness photo

Kindness is saying no to what you could do so that you can say yes to what you’re called to do.

Kindness is allowing other people the space they need to grow.

Kindness is taking the time to learn someone’s name.

Kindness is remembering someone’s name.

Kindness is caring for yourself so that you can care for others.

Kindness is giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Kindness is choosing to think the best of someone.

Kindness is having a positive attitude.

Kindness is compassionate action.

Kindness is keeping a secret.

Kindness is not complaining. At all.

Kindness is refusing to guilt someone into doing what you want them to do.

Kindness is taking responsibility for your own life instead of blaming your problems on someone else.

Kindness is refusing to make excuses.

Kindness is tickling someone’s funnybone.

Kindness is laughing with folks but never laughing at them.

Kindness is choosing to have a thankful heart.

Kindness is refraining from giving advice.

What does kindness mean to you?? Let us know in the comments!

Kindness Is... from Belovedlove

by Lydia Floren

Photo by Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)

The Kindness of God’s Acceptance

psalm 139

you have searched meGod’s acceptance of me boggles my mind, when I think about it. 

Too often, I don’t – think about it, I mean.  Instead, I hide from myself,or others, or Him.  Yet hiding doesn’t change reality.   No matter where I hide, He is there, with His arms open wide to me.  He is fully aware of my faults and failings, and loves me lavishly in the middle of them. (BTW, one of the best ways to hide from yourself or God is to stay too busy.)

In order to receive the full measure of God’s acceptance, I must stop each day and remember that God knows my every thought before it becomes a word or an action, and is intimately acquainted with all my habits.you know it all

This is gritty reality. He accepts me knowing every unkind word I have uttered, every selfish act I have done, or will do.  Even more daunting, God accepts me knowing the ugliness of the motives behind some of my words and actions, those things often hidden from others.  He accepts me with my petulance, pride, manipulation, greed, impatience, annoyance.  It boggles the mind.

knowledge too wonderful

You would think this would be depressing, but in truth, it is quite the opposite.

The understanding that finally someone knows me completely and loves me unconditionally,   empowers me to accept myself with all my faults and failings, an to give my true self to Him each day, and allow Him to make me whole once again.

I can start each day:

  • Celebrating who I am – His precious child, made perfect by Him.
  • Rejoicing where I am – on His path to growth and wholeness, with Him showing me the way.
  • Embracing what I am called to do – love Him, others and myself – in the unique way He created me.

How are you starting your days?enclosedbehindbefore_lg

By Lydia Floren

The Kindness of Receiving

gift photo

  

james 1 17 color

 

 

by Lydia Floren

One of the kindest things I can do

with my life, is to choose to receive the love of God everyday. I know that seems contradictory, but just hear me out:

Taking the time each morning to receive God’s love, frees me to be the person I am meant to be.  It allows me to shed

  • insecurities,
  • selfishness,
  • restlessness,
  • unforgiveness, and
  • self-condemnation.

psalm 23 3 colorBeing loved also energizes me. It moves me to

  • love My Heavenly Father well.
  • love my neighbor better.
  • love myself more.

And, as I live in my belovedness, I can’t help but act on it. Experiencing God’s love ignites a fire in me to love those around me, and to act kindly towards others (for more about this, read Breathing In!). This may be in the form of a smile, a shared joke, a word of encouragement, a listening ear, a gift (delivered in secret, if possible), or a note.

1 john 4 19

 

Heart-Kindness

But even these aren’t the most far-reaching acts of kindness I can perform. The most precious acts of kindness are heart-kindnesses – decisions of the will. Heart-kindnesses can look like

  • withholding judgment,
  • giving grace,
  • forgiving,
  • letting go,
  • or apologizing.

1 cor 13Heart-kindnesses shape my attitude, my outlook on life. The more heart-kindnesses I choose to do, the more profoundly my outlook on life is transformed. And a joyful attitude is the most profound kindness I can give to the world. It affects every word I say and action I do.

The Fruit of the Spirit named “Kindness” will be manifested in my life only to the degree that I allow God’s love to move through me, prompting me to heart-kindnesses, transforming my attitude, and moving me to acts of service.

Has someone been particularly kind to you recently? We’d love to hear from you!

Kindness is love in action written over pictures of hands clasped.By Lydia Floren

Photo by procsilas