like ripples on a pond

See (and do)

There are needs all around us, intertwined into the framework of our daily lives. Do we see them or do they simply blend into the background of life?

Some see- really see- and spring into action to help. Some view the action and contemplate all the better, more expeditious ways the spring to action should happen- yet remain stagnant, not actually doing anything. Fortunately, we have people among us who demonstrate that good works result from seeing and doing. Here are two shining examples.

Recently Christine heard from an employee about a local family in significant need. The single mom was very sick, with 3 kids about to start the new school year, and had little in the way of food or money. Christine, a busy wife, mother and business owner, paused in order to see. She responded. One heartfelt post on Facebook – with details of when people could drop off donations to her business – set the wheels of love in motion. She helped others see and they responded to her spark. Donations and further offers of help abounded.

New to the neighborhood, Cindy made an effort to get to know her neighbors. She met a single mom who left for work with her school age children at a time when other kids were rolling over in their beds  for 2 more hours of sleep. The neighbor was doing the best she could to manage her home and her job as a school bus driver. Cindy, even though she was involved with her own work, family, and a special cause, saw. She responded and now ushers the children onto their buses at their appointed times. A straightforward example of matching a resource to a need, when one is willing to really see.

Two people in one community chose to see a need, and pulled it in from the fringes, front and center. They made a difference; they grew love.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. –Letter of James 2:14-18

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, on any given day, see | Leave a comment

A life’s lesson in building bridges

Libby Norris built bridges.

While her day job was as a Watershed Restoration Scientist, one wonders if she knew she was actually a top-notch Social Scientist as well.

Would she have said that a core element of our lives is “social capital”- the value of our social networks- who you know, how you are connected, and what happens as a result of these networks? That success is when members do for each other without expectation of anything in return? That there are those who bond with people with similar interests and lives, while others expand and build bonds to bridge (seemingly) conflicting interests? Did she know that the latter takes far more effort and courage?

If she did, she didn’t shrink from the challenge. Libby built bridges.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF.org) posted “Quite simply, thanks to Libby’s good work, today there are more healthy rivers and streams, more fish, crabs, and oysters, and more clean water for all of us across Virginia.” Not the easiest bridges to build – from cattle farmers to watersheds. “Libby worked tirelessly with farmers across the Commonwealth. She also got to know Bay watermen on remote Tangier Island, and hosted many farmer trips to Tangier as well as brought watermen to the Valley to meet farmers. She instinctively recognized that these two groups had more in common than they did differences and sought to build shared understanding.”

The young athletes around Williamsburg will tell you she helped them bridge frustration and disappointment by illuminating that “it’s all a learning experience.” Fellow parents of athletes will share that she helped them bridge a knowledge gap of the sport, as well as how to replace nervous energy with pure enthusiasm.

Her peers will tell you she “got out of the truck.” She didn’t ponder a situation for too long; she dealt with it head on. She got out of the truck and got it done. She bridged thought to action.

Her friends and neighbors will tell you she just “was” – a reliable, genuine friend. Her encouragement helped many bridge self-doubt to the fulfillment of an ambition. Earning a Masters degree, becoming a coach, being more confident as a mom, and becoming an Outdoors Woman, to name a few. Her (perhaps EMT inspired) response time to a friend in need defied logic.

Her ready smile reminded us it was possible all along – to be a great parent, spouse, child, coach, athlete, citizen, scientist, coworker, friend, human being. Lucky for us we can see special versions of that smile in her two greatest accomplishments, her daughters. She bridged the next generation, and her laughter-ready husband will sustain the joy.

Here’s what the social scientists say at bettertogether.org, “We build social capital by creating new ties and strengthening old ones. These connections may increase individual well-being and opportunity by linking people more strongly to their local community and to larger societal resources. Or they may build community by strengthening bonds that link community members or by bridging divisions between them. The new ties may be formal, like a club, association, or civic institution, or informal, like a group of friends talking or colleagues collaborating. There is no limit to the number of specific pathways to social capital creation. How to build social capital in each community, family, block, or neighborhood is best left to community-based groups.”

Many felt it was “best left” to Libby with her “can do” approach. Now, it’s left to us.

Libby Norris planted the seeds of optimism and confidence within us. Because of her legacy, Libby continues to grow love.

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God, [and] not by human wisdom but by the grace of God”. (2Cor 1,12).

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, time talent treasure | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Strong Launch

The way your day starts can direct its course. Don’t we all want a strong launch? Whether it’s a healthy breakfast, an early morning workout, a thought provoking walk/talk with a friend, prayer, meditation, reading, or a steady combination of what works, the sooner we discover it, the better.

When you find your strong launch, and then deploy it to assist others in theirs, that’s pretty special. Every day, Tammy M. reads scripture, meditates on its application to daily living, and shares her personal reflections via a text to friends. All before most of us are even awake!

Here’s a sampling:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. Proverbs 19:21. Sometimes we are fanatics about our to-do lists. I love making them and feel so satisfied to check off each item but then have the nerve to get upset if God steers me a different way. How quickly I forget that my plans are like dust; insignificant and can be wiped away with the breeze. Remembering that His plans prevail over our plans. Ask him what he would have you to do FIRST. Pray, be patient, listen and he will direct you. Everything else will fall into place. Let God be first on your to-do list.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you”. Isaiah 41:13. Often we have need of help in a situation – daily chores, work questions, support during illness or in a financial crisis. Friends and relatives offer help but it is limited by our abilities as humans. The Lord says: I got you! I am your help – don’t be afraid; I’m right here holding your hand! Give him the biggest Sunday Shout you can today! Spread the word that he is our help. He has every need met, every problem he’s already got handled and every promise he made, he will fulfill! Shout!”

Just as the sun rises each day, the light of these texts is consistent, yet different in its reach. Touching recipients – in their unique lives, joys, and struggles – some are a “direct hit”, while others provide the warmth of meaningful perspective to carry throughout the day.

Simply and quickly, the day’s text can be copied and sent to someone particularly aligned with that day’s reflection – a direct hit that breathes energy into a personal journey. Perhaps that person forwards it as well. And so on and so on and so on! All because Tammy shared her launch.

Here’s one more:

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. Psalm 52:8. The other day I noticed a small rosebush I had put in a shallow pot. My intent was to plant it in the ground but I thought since the weather was so hot and dry, it would not survive. What I failed to notice was the new growth was attached to a stronger shoot that was already flourishing. I love that word! We flourish when we remain connected and grounded by His love and trust. No matter how hot it gets or steamy the trials; when we firmly and are focused on Him, we become stronger and unwavering in the work. Be a strong “shoot” and grow in his word. Trust and be connected to him with all your being. You will not waiver; you won’t faint – you will flourish!”

Thank you Tammy for helping us “grow in His word” and “flourish”. Thank you Tammy, for growing love!

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Travel in Place

If where you stand depends on where you sit*, perhaps we should move around a bit?

Travel advice often suggests experiencing a new place off hours. Pre-dawn allows one to appreciate a locale’s core peacefulness, then provides the privilege of inclusion in the subsequent awakening process.

The beauty of travel is that it broadens our perspective. In the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

We can travel “in place” simply by stepping outside our normal routines. On any given day, watching a sunset reminds us – that particular day had unique merit. Its beauty rewards us for staying a while- past completing the necessities of the day, past our own priorities.

Cathie is a shining example of what can happen when you travel in place.

Rather than keeping her head down when she stays at work late, she sees who surrounds her; she appreciates the sunset. Rather than simply giving a polite nod to the cleaning crew, Cathie values them as a rich part of her “travel experience”. She makes the effort to know their names, their kids’ names, their aspirations – she has gotten to know them. It would be safe to assume this approach follows Cathie through all her travels, wherever they may be.

Thank you, Cathie, for growing love where you sit and leaving a trail for the rest of us!

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” Ralph Waldo Emerson

*often referred to as “Miles’ Law”

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond, on any given day | 1 Comment

What’s Your Sign (on)?

If your “sign” says something about you, what does your “sign-on” say? What are you spelling (and sounding out after mistyping a time or two) to kick off your day? Suppose it’s “today is a good day.” that you type each day and begin to believe it. Who needs a horoscope?

Now imagine you control access to your company’s computer network – employees must go to you first in order to do their jobs. Arethea, an IT expert with this responsibility, doles out far more than your standard login. Each newly delivered computer comes with a yellow sticky note bearing a hand written password. Not just to start your day, but to approach life.

Asked for her top 10 logins, she provided the following. And please note the punctuation. It leaves no question. It says “Do it.” “Period.”

1. Today is a good day.
2. Love and laugh unselfishly.
3. Love generously, it is a must.
4. Focus on the facts!
5. Speak kindly and love fiercely.
6. Never pretend to be something you are not.
7. Give without wanting back.
8. Find the goodness in people, we all have some.
9. Live simply and care deeply.

Turns out she gave us nine, not ten. Can we help her finish the list?

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond | 2 Comments

Force field

There was no announcement on the loudspeaker like you’d hear for “please stand for the playing of our national anthem.” It just was. A silent force that spread through the spectators, ushering attention away from pre-game conversations to the stillness in the center of the playing field. Gathered there in a tight circle were the competing high school football teams – each player on a knee, each physically connected with another.

Moments later, we did get an announcement. The voice on the loudspeaker noted the moment of silence for the fellow football player in a neighboring town who died that week. Asking for it wasn’t necessary. The love from that circle on the field had already enveloped us. Our job was to help it along towards its intended recipients.

Remembering Jacob

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