What’s your name? Stephanie. Do you have babies at home? Oh, yes, ma’am. Four. She tells me the name and ages. We share mom talk. I thanked her for the way she’s served us. She tells me that’s her ministry: serving. I’ve watched her refill drinks and clear tables for hours with a smile and kindness. I also watched her sing along to the praise and worship music as she cleaned after the last session. I understand joy better because of Stephanie.
We’re taking turns sharing our book topics. Our stories. Sandy from Wisconsin has a “word” to share with me. Two things. One: It is what it is, but it’ll become what you make it. Two: Do not allow your children to be victims, but victors. Such a gift from this “stranger.” Sandy teaches me boldness. To share your wisdom with others.
She’s 68 and came to the conference alone. She desires to help others through her story: How Jesus took an orphaned girl and made her a beautiful daughter of the king. I learn you’re never too old to answer His calling.
Three years old. My prayer partner lost her only daughter to cancer when she was only three. Then divorced and now a widow…and only 40. Such courage and boldness to come and share her story. To use her pain for purpose. This mom teaches me courage and obedience.
I meet Brandon in the hotel coffee shop. We chat while I add cream. He tells me the hotel was unprepared for the large number of ladies needing coffee and lunch, resulting in very long lines. He ran out of most everything quickly. I ask him, “Have we been kind to you? The ladies at this conference? Because you know it’s a Christian writer’s conference, right?” And he says, “Oh, yes. Everyone has been wonderful.” Brandon reminds me that when others “know we are Christians,” they’re always watching to see if our actions match our words.
Kathi adopts older children. (Most people want younger kiddos.) Her family of seven includes two Ethiopian children. She feels called to help others understand adoption. As I listen to Kathi, I know I need to trust Him more. He is strong when I am weak.
She’s a published author and sought after speaker. She sees on my Instagram that I’m in Charlotte and comments, “I live five minutes away!” I ask if I can come over for coffee or dinner (I’ve always wanted to meet her in person.) She messages me and says she’s moving this weekend and time is tight, but she really wants to hug my neck. She makes time for me this morning. Forty minutes in the local Starbucks. And she’s just what I thought…exactly who she says she is. Humble. Kind. Encouraging. Genuine. Wanting God more than any thing. Taking time to meet me and share blows me away. It’s a privilege. A highlight in my year. She reminds me the “famous” are truly just moms with to-do lists, trying their best to be obedient to a call that comes with TONS of responsibility.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the “people in my neighborhood, the people that I meet each day.” God’s nudge to be intentional about really seeing people has taught me so much lately.
And these words still apply…
Every single person has a story and is carrying a burden you can’t see unless you want to. (ALL people…not just the ones who look like you and not just the ones who are kind. ALL people – all of those made in God’s image.)
Notice people. It matters.
We just want someone to genuinely listen our their hearts. To hear a piece of our pain and to acknowledge it – not to fix it, but to simply say…I hear you.
I am not in “my neighborhood” this week. But, aren’t we all neighbors? Don’t we all need to love our neighbor – where ever we are – as ourselves? So, I am still noticing. And in the noticing, God is teaching me about himself and his children – one by one.
Who are the people in YOUR neighborhood? Would you take the time to notice someone today and share the story in the comments? I’d love to hear how God is leading you and who you are meeting!