Tag Archives: kindness

A Neighbor

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)

I have wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that requires monthly shots in both eyes. I’m sure you just closed and squinched up your eyes thinking about it. Fortunately, the nurse does a good job of numbing the eyes first. I normally drive myself to the appointment but this week I thought I’d try LYFT since dilation adds a bit more distress to my vision.

The young man who picked me up was on the phone when I got in the car. With all that’s going on in the world, I wanted to make sure I had the right car. Anthony turned back to me and introduced himself, apologizing for being preoccupied. He was talking to his disabled mom.

I asked how she was doing and a conversation began that lasted until he dropped me off. He’s only been in Tucson for seven months, moving from New Jersey. He thought he had two jobs lined up before he left, but neither one worked out. He’s nervous because he is a single dad in addition to being a caregiver for his mom. He’s lonely and frustrated.

Anthony is most concerned about his nine year old daughter, Gemma. He happily showed me her picture. We talked a little about what is most important in raising her and that fancy things and money is not as important as a happy dad. I asked if they went to church and he said no. He told me his local family were those “born again” types and would have nothing to do with him. They were not willing to help, even when there was no food in the house. I gather he was quite a hellraiser as a young man but has straightened up, quit drinking, and works hard so he can take care of his daughter.

So he drives LYFT. Some weeks are good, some not so much. He shook my hand and gave me a big smile as I stepped out of the car at the doctor. I’m hopeful he will think of the chatty grandmother who happily returned that smile. I pray that Anthony will remember that going to church may be a good option and that another rider will water the seed planted.

I didn’t realize until I checked in at the front desk that dilation was not scheduled for this appointment. I could have been irritated that I had spent the money for a ride but the only emotion I had was gratefulness that I could visit with Anthony and give him some encouragement. God had arranged this ride.

Our news is overwhelmed with pictures and editorial about the situation at the border. It’s heartrending and the options are not good. I don’t have a good solution for any of it but don’t forget we have strangers that cross our paths daily. If we can give a hearty handshake, a genuine smile, eye contact, show patience, and a willingness to listen to their heart, we have shown love. They are our neighbor.

And what greater calling.


May I help you?

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)

I grabbed my number from the dispenser on the counter and lingered near to be sure I heard it when it was called. This wasn’t the first time I had stopped by for the same problem. I was at Costco attempting to get my glasses adjusted. You would think it was a simple process.

The woman called my number and as I handed her my slip to confirm that I was next, she told me to wait a minute. I followed her around the counter where I noticed she was waiting on someone else at the same time. I think she thought it would only take a minute, but those minutes stretched on. She finally handed the problem to another employee and I gave her my glasses for adjustment.

She did a couple of tweaks, had me try them on, took them back and cleaned them and said, “Thank you very much.” I left because I can’t always tell if it is right until I wear them a bit. IT WAS NOT RIGHT.

A couple of days later, I decided to try again but I did NOT want that same woman. I pulled my number and waited. Thankfully, she was busy and when it was my turn, a young man, named Christopher, turned to me and asked, “May I help you?”

After briefly explaining my problem, he took the glasses and immediately offered to change out the nose pads. “I always do this for my customers because these are much more comfortable.” Great! The time and effort that he took to adjust my glasses so that they were just right was the exact opposite of my previous experience. He really did “help me.”

Certain businesses are known for their great service — Apple, Disney, Nordstrom, Ritz Carlton, and Costco (minus this one woman who I think was having a bad day) — to name a few. Rather than just being a number, you are a person and their aim is to please you and meet your needs with respect and accommodation.

Years ago, I was a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship and I remember the teaching leader admonishing us to not grow weary as we headed into the final stretch of the year. She said, “Don’t just finish somehow. Finish it will all that you have.”

As believers, our impact for Christ on those around us will happen in the small circumstances of life — standing in line at the grocery, walking the dog and passing others on the street, taking a moment to say thank you to the barista, opening the door for a mom loaded with children and stroller, opening the door for the older gentleman who is a bit unsteady, dropping a hand-written note in the mail “just because,” remembering birthdays and special occasions. Smile. Eye contact. A hug. Simple expressions of love.

Jesus loved people and they loved Him back. They wanted to be in His presence…near Him…touch Him. He had a reputation of care and concern and because of that connection, they listened to His message of salvation and accepted His gift of love.

What better way to represent Him and be His public relations people than to say, “May I help you?”


H. R.

Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)

Recently, I stopped by the Starbucks counter on the way to my seat in the boarding area.  As I gave the cashier my order, I thought she might have assumed I was a corporate plant because by the time I was done, every box on the cup was checked. I moved down the counter to pick up my latte and thanked the barista when she handed it to me.

After sipping it, I said, “You made it exactly right, it’s perfect.”

The woman waiting next to me asked me if I was in H.R. I told her no and asked her why she would suggest that.

She replied, “Because you gave her a compliment.”

I commented that it’s too bad that we are quick to give criticism and slow to give kindness and she agreed.

Later in the trip, I had a conversation with one of my grandgirlies who was struggling with friendships at high school. She was afraid that a friend might take a compliment and give it more meaning than she intended rather than hearing it as a quick encouragement. It made her rethink whether to say anything or not. I reminded her that, maybe, her words might be just what that person needed on a bad day. Being kind and polite is always appropriate.

Our society becomes more rude, impolite, and unkind as the months pass. We, as believers in Christ, are called to be kind — to share the ultimate love that only Jesus can bring. Our lives are a book that others read and hear. Take the time to notice, to compliment, to encourage. Let them wonder of H.R. might stand for His Royalty.


Just a Word

 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Have you gotten used to writing 2017 yet? I love a new year — new wall calendars, new devotionals, new Bible studies, new semester. Changing over from the past of 2016 and embracing all that is ahead in 2017— I love it!

Starting from scratch has a particular appeal for me. It gets my creative juices flowing and I begin to look at a project in new ways. Never compelled to operate under the guise of “I’ve always done it this way,” the new year gives me freedom to expand what I already know and look for new and better ways to do it. “It” may be the way I decorate my house, arrange a closet, organize my library, exercise routine, or choose which areas to serve my God, family, and church.

One routine that I began in 2013 is to choose a word for the year. I thought I was being original until I opened my email today and found a devotion from a pastor telling you how to do this very thing. My journey began in sheer desperation because life was hard and getting harder. My word was HOPE. I needed to know that I was going to make it, by the grace of God. And He provided the hope that sustained me then and continues to this day. Always HOPE.

Other words flowed from that original word to include joy and grace. Last year, I though the word would be love but God had another in mind — humility. He kind of hit me upside the head but proved over and over that being humble was something I needed to practice.

This year it’s kindness. I’m just beginning so I’m not sure how it will play out but I know it will affect what I do and how I speak to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.

Our world has become impersonal, impatient, and often unkind. We expect our life to be solved with instant messages, microwaves, emails, and TV episodes wrapped up in 40 minutes. Friendships are “likes” on Facebook. Being kind is not part of the mix and requires persistence and intentionality; two big words that may require spell check because they are not in vogue.

Yet, the outcome of a little kindness may be a new friend, a smile from an overworked employee, a squeeze of the hand or a pat on the back to let someone know you care. It may be a meal delivered in the middle of illness or crisis. Or a simple note that says, “I care.”

To help me focus, I’m always on the lookout when I read the Bible for verses to include in my journal with a focus on kindness. Etsy is a great place to find a plaque that I place on my desk to remind me of my commitment when I glance at it. If you’re artistic, make your own. God is faithful to give you opportunities to use your word and encourages you in the process.

A special blessing happened this year when my grandgirlie, Kate, called a couple of weeks before Christmas and asked me what my word was for the year. Under the tree was a bread board that she had burned in the words, “be humble.”

So…do you have a word for the year? It’s never just a word. What is God whispering in your heart that He wants you to concentrate on for 2017? Let it be a filter that God will use in your heart and mind and add in ways you never imagined.

I’d love to hear what your word is. Feel free to comment.



Mercy and Grace

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)


For the past three years I have chosen a “Word for the Year.” It may have been chosen out of desperation or because I wanted more of it in my life. Or I wanted to show more of it to others: my words — Hope, Joy, and Grace. In typical Gerry-fashion, I researched and found devotionals, books, and apps to study and find inspiration.

But this year of Grace, I noticed that the words “grace” and “mercy” were often linked in the same Bible verse. Are they the same? What is the difference? Why are they linked?

No, they are not the same. After looking them both up in the dictionary, the way I remember the difference is that mercy is not getting what you deserve while grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Our church has been studying the book of Jonah and his story is a good one to illustrate both mercy and grace.

Jonah completely disobeyed God’s instructions to go to Nineveh to warn the people and instead headed in the exact opposite direction. A terrifying storm overtook the boat that he was on and eventually the sailors threw him overboard to save their own skins. To their relief, the storm calmed and they were safe.

But Jonah? Mercy arrived in the form of a great fish so that instead of drowning, he was swallowed by the fish and allowed to live and think about his decisions. Grace showed up when he was vomited onto dry ground so that he had a second chance to obey God and head to Nineveh to rescue the city with God’s warning. The people of Nineveh listened and a great revival occurred and God spared the city (the same Nineveh in recent news reports.)

Another word for mercy is kindness. Of course, the ultimate example of grace is eternal life because Christ took the punishment that I deserved.

In doing a little research I found:

Grace is something we all need, but we cannot earn it or give it to others. It comes only through the sacrifice of Christ. Mercy, though, is something we need at various points in our lives, and is something we are expected to show toward others. 

As we think about mercy and grace, today’s verse reminds us to come confidently before the throne of God to express our love, worship, failures, and needs. He is there to offer kindness and unmerited favor because He loves us so much.

Every day, we have opportunities to do the same—show mercy and grace.