(Martin Luther said that!)
I quickly found a word to focus on for 2015: Glorify. Then I realized that I had done that one a few years ago. I even have a beautiful piece of art for my bedroom, made by my daughter-in-law, with that word on it, surrounded by the Bible verse I use for my GloryQuilts business:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(God said that!)
While I am always committed to glorifying God, I have a new word for this year.
When I was a military wife in my twenties, my husband was stationed at Whiteman AFB, in a rural community in Missouri. There, I was oh-my-goodness-so-incredibly-blessed to be a member of an Extension Homemakers Club. I can never be grateful enough for the fellowship and mentoring of those older women in my life. They were mostly farm wives, borderline southern, and gracious to their fingertips. At the beginning of each meeting, there was a reading of the minutes, a couple songs to sing, maybe a poem or simple devotional, and then we recited the club collect.
Keep us, oh God, from pettiness; Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with faultfinding and leave off self-seeking, May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face Without self-pity and prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. Let us take time for all things; Make us grow calm, serene and gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, Straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences, That in the big things of life we are at one. And may we strive to touch and to know the great, common human heart of us all, And, oh Lord God, let us forget not to be kind.*
It’s a beautiful prayer, but that ending struck me as especially important the first and every time I heard it. Those ladies were kind. In my years with them, I never heard gossip or critical words or husband bashing. They exemplified the Proverbs 31 woman.
I pray that I will model kindness for for my children and grandchildren and anyone else God places in my life. I often tell my granddaughters: “Be good and kind and loving and gentle.” It’s nice to be pretty or smart or talented, but it’s more important to be good and kind and loving and gentle. I’m not sure that they entirely understand the concept, however, in a world that tells them otherwise.
( Abraham Joshua Heschel said that one. I like it.)
Kindness can be giving and serving as done by great philanthropists and Mother Theresa. I hope I can do those things, but it’s not what I want to focus on this year. And I’m not talking about Random Acts of Kindness, either. This year, by the grace of God, the word “kindness” will inspire me to a real and personal kindness. An intimate kindness. Loving kindness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (God said that, too!)
Sometimes it’s easy to be kind, and sometimes it has to be deliberate. It’s worth being deliberate.
Kindness is listening without interruption and responding in an affirming manner, not hurrying into your own story. Kindness is not insisting on being right. It’s anticipating the needs of others and responding to them so they are not made to feel uncomfortable. (This is also known as “having good manners.”) It’s stopping when you would rather move on. It’s sharing in the joy or pain of others without comparing it to our own circumstances.
(From Richard Carlson)
It’s part of love, and it is loving. It is caring for others more than yourself. Really caring for others more than yourself.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
Kindness has power and real results. Kind words heal.
(Another good one from God)
I pray that throughout 2015, I will think on the work “kindness,” ponder it in my heart and put it into action, blessing others and glorifying God. I pray, Oh Lord God, that I will “forget not to be kind.”
*The Collect was written by Mary Stewart of Longmont, Colorado, in 1904 as a personal prayer and without any organization in mind. The prayer was published under the title, A Collect for Club Women, because Mary felt that “women working together with wide interests for large ends was a new thing under the sun and that perhaps they had a need for a special petition and meditation of their own.” The Collect has found its way around the world wherever English speaking women work together.