You Don’t Need to Walk Alone

In a daily devotional on “The Impact of Right Relationships,” Dr. Charles F. Stanley wrote: “A group of people rightly connected can do so much more than a man or woman acting alone.”

I am happy to say that for the first time in my adult life, I am living in a neighborhood where people do this thing called connecting. Specifically, it is the people in my cul-de-sac that I have become friends with; however, Bart and I are branching out and getting to know some of our other neighbors as well. We have lived in other places where the people around us didn’t really seem to care about knowing the people who lived right next door to them. That’s just sad.

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In our cul-de-sac, we don’t all have all things in common, but each of us connects to several of the others in different ways, and we are learning how to look out for one another through various circumstances. It’s nice to know that if I ever need anything, like a ride to the store or a couple of potatoes for my pot roast, I can call or text them and someone always comes through. We’ve had a Bible study, a fall block party, and numerous chats across the yards (when weather has permitted). We have just started making plans for a spring block party, which I am really looking forward to.

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And when something more serious occurred, like the recent tragic death of one of our neighbors, we found even more ways to connect with, support, lift up, and love one another through the following days. At first, many of us were concerned about intruding; we didn’t want to appear nosy and insensitive. But it turns out that the most sensitive thing we could do was to reach out and lend a hand. It reminded me of this post that Lysa Terkeurst shared a couple days ago:

“My friend’s husband passed away after a long illness and when I asked her about some of the lessons she learned through those tough years, she said something that will stick with me forever. She said, ‘When people are going through hard life circumstances, don’t say “Well if there’s anything you need just let me know.”’

My friend said most days she couldn’t process how she was going to get through the next ten minutes, much less be able to ask others for help. I was challenged by this and wondered how I could help someone in need without being asked.

I could deliver dinner. Gas up their car. Mow their lawn. Pick up an extra gallon of milk or some pet food from the grocery store. Whatever it is, I’ll think I’ll just do it and I won’t wait to be asked.”

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This is what we did and this is the type of stuff I hope we will continue to be able to do for one another. Especially when you live in an area without any of your own family around, it is so wonderful to be able to build and experience a new “family.” If you don’t have that type of community—if your neighbors don’t really seem to be connecting—maybe YOU can be the one to get something started. Have a cookout and invite everyone over—even if you’ve never spoken to some of them before; host a pot luck in your home or create a space for one outdoors (that’s what our fall party was); set up an event for all the kids to get together and play. Maybe everyone else is just waiting for someone to make the first move. That someone could be you.

As enjoyable as it is to share good times with your neighbors, it’s also nice to know that once you have connected, it’s easier to share the everyday moments as well. When Bart was out of town a couple months ago, a few of my neighbors checked on me. One family even invited me over for dinner one night, which was super sweet (and very enjoyable). Just this past weekend, I was sick with an ear infection and a cold. I got calls and texts from different neighbors asking me if I needed anything. It’s bad enough when you feel sick and miserable, but how wonderful to not also feel alone and forgotten. And you know what, it’s okay to need others.

DSC02083The Faith Barista posted this just today: “Following his beating, it’s likely Jesus could not physically carry the cross all the way to Calvary. Jesus needed someone. In that moment, a man whose journey somehow crossed his path was pulled in to help him. We don’t know if Simon even knew who Jesus was. … All we know is that an ordinary person helped the Savior. Through one simple, understated act, became part of the journey with Jesus. And I’m reminded. It’s okay to need someone. When the cross is too heavy to carry, but we still want to be faithful to see the journey through, needing someone isn’t a shameful. … needing is good because it creates space for God to enter in. And love us through others.”

In a blog post on friendship, Lysa TerKeurst says, “Loving someone else is one of the most God-honoring things we can do today. After all, we’re reminded in Scripture that all the commandments can be summed up and fulfilled if we will love others.”

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“Let no debt remain outstanding,
except the continuing debt to love one another,
for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. …
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor.
Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Romans 13:8–10

So, my advice, my encouragement, for you today is to remember that you do not have to walk through life alone. Reach out, connect, walk beside someone else; you can start with the people next door. What a blessing it is to build bonds with our neighbors.

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Finding My Voice

When I first started my blog back in 2010, I titled it Everyday Moments: Celebrating Life, Love, and Laughter. I knew I wanted to use my own photos and I wanted to write encouraging words, but I really wasn’t sure exactly where I was going to go with it or who it might appeal to. Funny how, looking back, I just noticed that my very first entry fit well with the Faith Barista’s post on perfectionism from February 18th.

At that time, this is how I saw my blog developing: “my eyes are being opened to the importance of everyday moments and how we react to them or how we change because of them. Noticing the beauty around us. Spending time really talking to someone you care about. Finding things to laugh about every day. These are the types of things I’d like to share in my blog as it develops and grows.”

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Several months went by before I wrote again.  In January of 2011, I began combining my words with words from Scripture, devotionals, and other blogs I read. I focused on the word “trust” for the month. Two entries were strictly quotes from other sources. While I think they are good quotes, I see that without my own story surrounding the words that I share, they are less likely to engage someone looking to connect.

In the following months, I wrote about things like “rest” and “peace,” but then I got to second-guessing myself. In May, I included these words in my post—“What Do I Hope to Accomplish?”:  “I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately. I’m not sure yet if I have really found ‘my voice’ or my niche. I’ve been struggling with figuring out what works best for me on posting specific topics or following certain formats. I believe, for the most part, that some of my content has been good and valid, but it also seems like what I have been writing is more appropriate for a paper for school rather than something directly from my heart. And I have been more worried about consistency rather than connecting. I don’t want my posts to seem like I am giving a lecture or a sermon (although many a good sermon has changed lives).  But I would like for people to want to read what I write.”

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I thought about my title to my blog and how I should be showing more moments of love and laughter, so I later wrote about “Living with Joy” and I included pictures of some of the things that bring me joy, starting with my family and moving on to other things.

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And then came 2012. I was inspired by books and magazines on getting more organized and living a life with more meaning and less stuff. At that time, I changed my blog service and my domain name. I chose Fuller Way of Life (because Fuller is my last name) and I made my tag line “on living simply and living well.” Here  is what I planned to focus on “I promise I will have some interesting household suggestions, product recommendations, blogs to check out, ‘did you know’  concepts, and more.” I guess I thought that I might appeal more to others if I offered them a compilation of some of the information I was discovering for myself in simplifying my life. On top of that, with the big surge in Pinterest use, it seemed like so many people were focusing on food. I was doing a lot of cooking and trying new recipes myself so I began writing about food and sharing recipes with others, as in my “Food for Thought” post.

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I continued down this path for a few months. I think the recipes were appreciated and I enjoyed sharing them, but truthfully, I didn’t feel like this was the right voice for my blog or for me. It didn’t really fulfill me or provide the creative outlet I was looking for. In July, I eased back into something a little more thought-provoking with my “Seasons of Life” post, but ended it with a recipe. Just to cover all the bases, I guess. 🙂

Next up in my blog journey was our move from Texas to Kentucky and a big focus on “Finding Time” during a very busy period: I “realized that sometimes I need to forget about all the things that should be done and actually make or schedule time for the things that really matter to me – like writing, making crafts, and capturing images with my camera. I also need to try not to get so caught up in doing that I miss out on the chance to experience simply being.

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I delved one more time in some food sharing, and then … there was nothing. From October 2012 until October 2013, I didn’t write or post anything. Right after writing about finding time, it seems I was unable to actually make time for doing something meaningful that I enjoyed. “So, once again, I find myself working on finding focus in my life. Or maybe it is more accurate to say adjusting my focus. I know what the important things are. I just need to find a way to fit them all into my schedule. I need to set priorities and stick to them.”

I’m actually quite happy with my November post – “In Pursuit of Peace.” I feel like it has the right combination of personal story, quotes from other sources, and  real-life application. Plus, I have continued to use my own photos to enhance my posts. I know I personally enjoy blogs that include pictures as well as words, and I enjoy sharing the images I have captured, especially the ones from nature.

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Now, with the help of bloggers like Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista and Holley Gerth, 2014 is off to a good start. Although I still cannot keep up with regular weekly posts (and I don’t see how anyone does this on a daily basis), their weekly writing prompts are helping me to focus on, develop, and continue to share my voice … whatever it happens to be or wherever it wants to take me that week. And each time I submit a new blog post, it makes me feel somewhat accomplished. I also experience the joy of connecting to other bloggers at the same time, reading and enjoying their words and their journeys. This community of bloggers is really helping me continue to find my voice and appreciate the beauty and value of my own words as well as the words of others.

If you are a creative person (whether it be writer or artist or cook) or you want to be creative but are afraid that you aren’t good enough or you don’t know where to start, just begin anyway. As you work and play, you will begin to find areas where you are more often “in the zone” and where you feel fulfilled. And that’s really more what it’s about – not creating what’s necessarily pleasing to others, but finding your own joy and happiness in the process.