A New Heart

Tonight, as I sit writing, my role model, hero, and friend Hugh Hollowell sits with his sweet wife, Renee, waiting for her heart transplant.  She has been on the list for a while, and today they got the call.  It was time.

They are beautiful people.  Hugh heads up Love Wins Ministries in North Carolina. I have written about him and how what he believes and how he lives has changed my life–here and here, among many other times.  He works hard for and with people who are in the midst of chronic homelessness, and it’s not an easy job.  We people, housed and homeless, are not always easy to love.  When I had the honor of meeting him in person in January, I noticed when he spoke of Renee, there was a light in his eyes and in his voice.

And that is a precious gift.

There will be all kinds of changes and challenges ahead of them over the next few weeks.  So much excitement and anxiety in this day alone.  And yet, when Renee posted this afternoon, she said she has plenty of folks sending prayers, positive energy, and well wishes for her–but she asked for thoughts of peace and prayers and love for the donor, a 38-year-old male, and his family.

Tears, y’all.

My Mama wanted to be an organ donor.  I remember this vividly.  And I also remember the moment when the hospital told me she could not be a donor because of all of the circumstances surrounding the deterioration of her health.  I wept.  Because I had so hoped for something somehow good to come from our pain and loss.

Organ donation is important.  It’s the ultimate gift that can save a life.  Just as it’s saving a precious, treasured life tonight.

If you have a moment, will you please think of Hugh and Renee? Of the staff at Love Wins as they carry on with their mission without Hugh there for the next few weeks?  Of the family of the man whose loss is saving another?  Of the surgeons and nurses and staff who have a long night ahead of them?

To find out more about my friend, Hugh, and Renee’s story, you can read here.  There are links to the backstory and ways to help if you are so moved.  These beautiful souls have given so selflessly to others in need over the years, it’s time for the community to support them.

That’s kind of how it goes, isn’t it?  We love and are loved.  We care and we are cared for.  We give and we will one day need to be on the receiving end.  It’s the yin and yang, ebb and flow of this journey, I think.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about organ donation and how to sign up to be a donor, click here.

Tonight I am thankful for those who give selflessly–both with their bodies and their souls.  I give thanks for the call Renee got today and for the gift she’s receiving tonight.  Most of all, I give thanks that we are not on this journey alone.

Others.

What a beautiful word.

Love to all.  Thanks for listening.

‘Tis Always the Season

Six months from now many of us will be menu planning.  Or mapping out the mother of all shopping experiences.  Or listing things we are thankful for.  Planning holiday gatherings and wondering if it’s a good time to start shopping for Christmas.

This is not one of those “y’all get ready, Christmas is so many days away” posts.

This is quite different actually.

We are six months from the start of the holiday season.

Inevitably hearts and minds, reflecting what they are thankful for, will turn to those who have less. Those who are in need.  Without enough food.  Without shelter.  Without a home.

Many people reach out and offer their resources and time to those agencies and people whose mission it is to feed the hungry and support the people who are homeless.

Which is absolutely wonderful.  And resources wisely invested.

Unfortunately, these missions and folks helping people in need are in desperate need of these resources all year long.  While we hate to think of folks being out in the cold of winter with no place to go, imagine not being able to escape the oppressive heat, or the torrential thunderstorms, or the incessant attack of gnats and mosquitoes.

I once met a woman who had been living by the river to escape some of the worst of the heat.  She came to the meal that we all shared on Sunday nights covered in mosquito bites.  It was heartbreaking that something like a can of bug spray would have made all the difference in the world for her.  Something that would have been cheaper than a pair of gloves and a hat in the cold of winter, but just as important for survival.

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So this is not a “Hey Christmas is coming–feel the pressure–and dread it already.”  This is a reminder to drop by your local shelter with those travel soaps and shampoos.  Take a few cans of bug spray with you.  Or call the soup kitchen and offer help with a meal.  Everyone loves the idea of serving the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but folks need feeding all year long.  Maybe check and see if a program in your community helps provide food on the weekends for children who are on the free meal program at school.  The school year is coming to a close, and these littles ones will be home…..and hungry…..more than they have been all year.

There are as many needs that need attending to as there are people in our world.  My point is not to make anyone feel guilty or to tell folks what they need to do.  We can get both of those from any number of other places–we don’t need to make each other feel bad.

My point is–the need is always there.  If you felt moved to help at Thanksgiving or Christmas, please think about helping out now.  Right now is when the giving to these helping agencies goes way down.  Your help is needed more than ever.

Let’s all make tomorrow a day to help another.  With our gifts, talents, and resources.

Giving and sharing never go out of season.

Love to all.

 

 

 

If you don’t know where to start in helping folks, here are a few places to start.  You can do a search for your own local agencies.

Love Wins Ministry  Raleigh, North Carolina

Daybreak Shelter Macon, Georgia

Backpack Buddies, Bare Bulb Coffee  Kathleen, Georgia

Macon Outreach at Mulberry UMC  Macon, Georgia

Family Promise of Greater Houston County  Warner Robins, Georgia

Macon Rescue Mission, Macon, Georgia

 

Again, this list is just a start and by no means exhaustive of all the great folks who are helping others.  If you have any to add, please do in the comments so we can all learn more about these missions.   Thanks.

 

Where Was Her Biffle?

This afternoon I had the pleasure of being a part of a girls’ outing.  Aub, our Princess, a dear friend, and I went to see “Cinderella” together.  Cooter didn’t want to go, not because it was a Princess movie, but because he had heard about the “Frozen” short film that was to precede the main feature.  He’s so over Frozen, the thought of watching that short was downright off-putting.

We gathered in the lobby and headed down the hall to the third door on the right.  The previews started shortly after we arrived.  And still folks came in and wound their way to find seats in a nearly packed theater.  By the time “Frozen Fever” started, we were ready.

The short was actually cute and entertaining, and I can predict what Disney’s new stuffed critter item will be (spoiler alert–baby snowmen).  Then Cinderella started.  I watched the old and comfortably familiar story; yet I still found myself on edge, wondering what would happen.  Which part would they change, and which part of the story was so sacred that it could not be touched?

Photo via eonline.com

Photo via eonline.com

I enjoyed the movie, once I employed suspension of disbelief.  I think that the enthusiasm of my friend who is the mother of a son was infectious, and I was able to forget about the overall message and fall in love with the beauty and romance and magic.  Our Princess was enchanted, and her eyes shone brightly all through the movie.  She missed nothing.

A time or two during the movie a particular thought tried to surface, but it never quite made it.

Until the movie was over and I was sitting quietly with my thoughts.

Then it hit me.

Where were the people who knew Ella and her family?  Where were her friends?  Their friends?  Surely there was someone who, at some point, thought to him or herself, “Hey, wonder where Ella’s been?  I haven’t seen much of her since her Father passed on. I should really check in on her.”

I wondered where the people were who would feel inclined to pay their respects after his death.  Bring a casserole.  Drop by for a visit. Why was there no one to realize that this girl was being mistreated by the very ones to whom her care was entrusted?

Why didn’t someone notice and do something?

My friend who joined us reached out to me two weeks ago with a message: “Hey, if y’all are going to do a girls’ outing to see ‘Cinderella’ and I wouldn’t be intruding, could I join y’all?”

Absolutely.  It would be our pleasure.  And it was.

It was so good to see her, to sit and laugh over the hideous dresses of the stepsisters and gasp at the wickedness of some in the movie and to agree that we like to sit until the credits are pretty much over.  Most of all, it was good to visit.  To catch up.  To share stories.  To check in with each other.

The greatest gift is that she wanted to be with us, and she said so.

That right there.

How would the story have been different if Ella (Cinderella) had been able to call up a friend and say, “Hey, I would really love to spend some time with you”?  Where was her tribe?  Her friends?  Her “biffle,” as my college girl calls her best friend?

And then the next question is begging to be asked:

Who am I supposed to be reaching out to?  Whom should I be checking in with?  Who has locked him or herself away, and needs a friend to help bring him/her out?

Tonight I’m thankful for my friend who reached out and made time to be with us.  For seeing an age-old story with new eyes and feelings, I am grateful.  In this world of busy-ness and to do lists and running here and there and yon with littles in tow, it is good to be reminded to be still.  Be quiet.  Listen and look.  To check in with those I care about, and help those who need to be free and loosened a little from their worries and woes.  To be a good friend.

Wishing you all someone who will do that for you.

Love to all.

 

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As I was wrapping up writing this post, I saw this shared by Love Wins Ministries, folks who know how important relationships are and work hard to get them right and make a positive difference.  I think this is spot on and wanted to share it with you.  

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Cinderella could have survived locked in the attic, but what kind of survival would that have been?  

Just a thought.  

 

 

 

Watching and Waiting

My little guy Cooter has been under the weather for a few days.  He started off complaining of a sore throat and then the sniffles hit.  It all came to a head (his head) yesterday with coughing and sneezing that had us all running to get out of the spray zone.

Ahem.

He is a little more willing to cuddle when he’s like this.  While this cold hasn’t knocked him out completely (thankful for that), he has wanted to sit right next to me as he worked on his math or read his book.  He and Miss Sophie have gotten quite territorial over who gets to sit curled up on my right side.  It’s been downright comical at times.

Yesterday evening the Fella was a little later getting home from work.  I was scrambling to get Miss Sophie’s evening constitutional walk in before someone had to take our Princess to swim practice.  It was cold, and my goal was that Cooter not have to get out in the weather or be left alone inside while I took Miss Sophie out.

So I quickly took our canine companion down the street while the Fella gathered up what he needed to head out the door a few minutes later.  And while I was walking her, he took this picture.

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Besides the boy himself, this is one of my most favorite things the Fella has given me.

This picture.

Oh those bare toes and the mismatched pajamas and the shirt on backwards and the toting of Wicket the Ewok everywhere he goes–that’s enough to love it with my whole heart right there.  This is Cooter’s childhood in one photograph.

And I love him so.

But what really fills my heart to bustin’ is what he’s doing.

Peering out from behind the curtain.  Watching.  Waiting.  On Me.

As my oldest would say: all the feels, y’all.

That precious little guy.  This little person who changed my world forever when he came into being–he was waiting on me.

I’m so not worthy.

Yesterday parts of our country saw some very harsh weather.  Hugh Hollowell, the Director of Love Wins Ministries in North Carolina, wrote yesterday morning that he was walking in the snow from his house to open up the Hospitality House at Love Wins.  He posted pictures, and this Georgia girl was impressed.  Snow like that here and we’d be battening down the hatches and going nowhere.  (Well, we’re doing that anyway based on temperatures alone, but still, SNOW.  It’s been a while, and I’m not a big fan.)

A  little while later he shared that he had been there twenty minutes and had already gotten a couple of phone calls.

Folks wanting to know if they were open.  All day.

Yep.

“Thank God.”

Hugh had folks waiting for him.  Watching for him.  Depending on him and his folks to be there.

To provide friendship, comfort, warmth, shelter, and food–for the body and soul.  And he didn’t want to let them down.

I wonder if he feels worthy.

(I happen to think he is, just for the record.)

The thing that touched my heart last night as I went in and covered up my sleeping, sniffly boy was how humbling it is to be the one he was waiting on.  And not just waiting, but actively watching and waiting for.  Seeking.

I want to be worthy of that.  I want to be the one he and his siblings can depend on like Hugh’s friends can depend on him.  I don’t want to get caught up in the world and its expectations and busy-ness and not be there when one of them is looking for me.  I don’t want to let any of them down.

I am honored to be the one.

For now.

I know it might not always be so.  Eventually they will head out on their own paths and have other people to whom they might turn first.  And that’s okay (I guess, thankful I have time to get adjusted to that thought), but for now, I’m working really hard to be worthy of those eyes and those toes and the mismatched pajamas–worthy of that heart looking to me to help guide the way.

Tonight I’m thankful for cuddles and for noses that are much better today.  I am thankful there are people like Hugh who are there for those in need who are waiting and watching, so that right now I can be that person for my children at home.  One day I want to be like him–helping where I can–but for now, this is where I belong.  Coming home.  To the ones who are waiting.

Love to all.

 

To support Hugh Hollowell and his staff helping those in need, please visit their website and find out what they need most this time of year.  Click here to check it out.