Joy in the journey!

Joy in the journey!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Hug that started a life changing journey...

I remember the day so vividly. It was a few months ago, and I was leaving the doctor's office. It wasn't a fun visit, and quite frankly I was a bit low from all the tests that were being run. I got into the elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. Then I heard a faint whisper as we began to lower to the floors below. "Mommy, I think that lady needs a hug." I looked down and a precious little girl with big blue eyes was looking at me. She was probably in kindergarten. Her mother quickly said " shhh, don't bother the lady" in a stern voice. By the 3rd floor the little girl was pulling on her mother's skirt..."please Mommy, can I give the lady a hug?" And before her Mother answered, I said to her "Ya know, I'd love a hug!" A smile crept on the Mother's face. I knelt down to hug this precious little girl and she grabbed my neck so hard I could hardly breathe! She gave bear hugs a new meaning. This little girl knew.....she knew I needed this hug today, and by golly there was nothing that was going to stop her! Boldness! Oh for that childlike boldness and faith! God delights in that!

Well, not only did this little girl make my day that day, she made me realize even more the impact that just a hug, or a smile can make on somebody's day. I became more sensitive that day to look around at others. Doesn't it seem that so many people go throughout their day with no joy? People work hard, feel unappreciated, and sometimes wonder if they even have a purpose. So I did a little project this summer. Some call it "pay it forward" some call it "random acts of kindness", others may call it planting seeds. All I know is that I wanted to let others know they mattered.....just like that little girl in the elevator made me feel that day I was feeling low. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and I prayed God would show me those needing a "random act of kindness." I learned that He answers those prayers very quickly. God swung the doors wide open! And little did I know the healing that would come from it all would be mine.

It started with helping my elderly neighbor with her trash during the week. It grew to going to nursing homes....random nursing homes. I just went down the halls and gave hugs. I brought Holly with me and they adored her! The precious residents did the rest. I love to listen to life stories. What made these people who they are today? Boy did I hear wonderful stories! One dear man kept saying "Thank you for listening to me....nobody ever listens to me anymore.” His eyes brightened and he sparkled. I think he felt just like I felt the day I got that wonderful hug from the little girl. He mattered! And I was blessed beyond words by his story. I looked behind me as Holly and I left and about 7 residents were waving goodbye, saying “please come back!” Oh I will come back that’s for sure.

One day as I was driving in this 107 degree heat. I saw construction workers in this horrible heat working feverishly. I whispered out loud...."Thank you Lord, for the people who do this!" And I got the response...."Lisa, why don't you thank them yourself?" What? Wow. How Lord? Funny, I was parked right in front of a grocery store so I jumped out of my car, ran in and got cold waters and gatorade, and loaded up. I stopped at places throughout the day and handed out those waters and gatorades. The looks on the faces of these people will be etched in my mind forever. All I said was "thank you! what you do matters!" and off I went. I don’t know if those waters did for those people what they did for me even, but I just felt God’s presence in amazing ways through this journey. It was as if He was just guiding, directing, placing, and blessing each and every event in my day.....and indeed He was. This project was not just for others....He was doing a work in my heart as well. There was healing going on! Go figure :)

My daughter and I were in the store one day getting a desk for her room. The man helping us get the big box down was NOT happy. In fact my daughter said "Mom, I don't think we better bother him, he's not happy." But not only did we need help with our desk, but why not let this man know he was appreciated for the help he would give?" So I went over and he looked at me with a huge grimace. My daughter was right, he was NOT happy. He said "what do you want?" I asked if he could help us load up the box. He grumbled like Mr. Scrooge under his breath and got the cart. As he was rolling it down the isle for us I said...."Sir, thank you for what you do.....and thank you for helping us. I appreciate you" And he replied "You are the first person in months to thank to me Ma'am". And then he started talking....he talked about the lady who had just come in and screamed at him because they didn't have the lamp she wanted"...and before we knew it we were up at the front, laughing with all the other checkers around. Turns out this guy had a hilarious sense of humor!! He wasn't a scrooge after all! He walked the desk out to our car and loaded it up for us. Then he shook my hand and said “Miss, thank you for helping me remember I can laugh....and I really am a pretty funny guy!” I said, “Yes you are! and a very appreciated one at that!” I tried to look cool as I walked over to get into the car, because my lip was twitching all over the place and I knew the tears would follow. It was so touching to my heart, I could hardly hold it in. All he needed was a simple kind word. That’s all it took!

Was this journey easy everyday? No. The enemy loves to put things even negative people in our lives to trip us up. Oh he loves the art of distraction. There were days I woke up in so much physical pain from my journey with arthritis and celiacs that I thought, I won’t be able to do this today. I can’t even get out of bed! And you know what I found? I took the first step, and usually it was on those days the most miracles happened! And by the end of the day I was in no pain. I tell you heals! Encouraging heals! Getting out of one’s selfish comfort zone....heals! Staying in that happy place.....heals! Jesus......heals! And boy does He give the grace to walk it all out on those hard hard days.

What lessons I have learned this summer! The most life changing gifts one can give are free, they touch the recipient’s heart but they end up changing the giver’s heart as well, and they last a lifetime.....their echos are heard and felt for eternity. I have met more friends on this journey, and have never been more amazed at how many wonderful people are out there!

I recommend this to anyone and everyone. Give it a try! I wake up each morning excited for what people God will place in my life each day. What journeys He will take me on. My family is on this journey with me as well now....and I love hearing the stories at the end of each day. And I chuckle to myself as I write this because yesterday, I made a run for Starbucks. I realized I left my purse at home and was going through my change in the car. As I got up to the window, looking frantically for the money, I saw a big smile looking at me. Ma’am, your coffee has been paid for, by the man ahead of you. Are there words for that? If there are I can’t find them. Except......that’s just the way God does it.

I serve an amazing God! Even if you expect nothing in return....the blessing you will receive will amaze you. Get ready!

I hope I see that little girl again someday....I am going to give her the best hug ever. She has no idea what that hug started, and what the hug will continue for the rest of my life. See you on the journey....and when I do, I will give you a great big hug!

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