Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In the Way

By Wendy Custer

I came upon a man stocking shelves at the grocery store today and, as I passed him in the aisle, I said, "Excuse me!"

I was simply being polite, but when I rolled by, the man murmured, "I'm sorry, I am in the way. I started to refute his statement, but he just kept talking. "I'm always in the way," he mumbled to himself. I even feel like I am in the way when I am sleeping."

Wondering what could have made this gentleman feel so bad about himself, I simply commented, "Well, I appreciate you being here. If you weren't, our shelves would be empty."

The man responded with a surprised laugh and I continued my shopping. After I rounded the next corner, he came around the aisle and exclaimed, "Since you said you appreciated me, I'll tell you Happy Valentine's Day!"

That man stayed in my mind all day! Having just participated in the "Love and Respect" conference, God's command for women to respect their husbands was ringing in my ears. I don't know if this man was married, but he certainly was not feeling respected! I found myself praying for his wife to appreciate him when he got home.

As I contemplated what to do for my husband this Valentine's Day, I thought a lot about what would make him feel appreciated and respected. I realize that I need to think about that every day and not just special occasions. I pray that, on those days that I make my husband feel like he is in the way, God will bring the man from the grocery store back into my mind. I hope that I will remember how easy it was to make him feel appreciated and what a delighted response I received from that small act of kindness. I hope that I can stop and express the kind of appreciation for my own husband that I was able to give a complete stranger.

It is my goal to show my husband, not only that he is not in my way, but that I actually like having him around - when he is awake and while he is sleeping!

The wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peace In the Midst of Chaos

By Wendy Custer

After a tragedy in our neighborhood, our neighbor, Agnes, called to say that she would like to come over. Jerry walked over to escort her through the yard while I bustled about trying to create some order to the house. We made a place for Agnes to sit on the sofa, between my oldest son and myself, and continued to talk about the events of the evening. The TV was playing in the background, puppies were whining from the studio, dogs were lying at our feet, and the kids were rotating in and out of the shower. It was our typical pre-bedtime routine and the house was in its usual state of disorder, so Agnes really took me by surprise with her announcement.

"I always find such peace at your house," she stated as she held my hand. I looked around at the laundry baskets of unfolded clothes and various other neglected chores, and I couldn't imagine how someone else could find my chaos peaceful!

I was sharing Agnes' statement with my sister-in-law, Shannon, and I fully expected her to share my surprise. Instead, she laughed and reminded me that I had found that same kind of peace at her home during one of my difficult times. I thought back on that experience and realized that I had found peace in the midst of many other people's chaos as well. It really didn't matter what was going on in their homes as long as they welcomed me in and offered company when I was alone, or afraid, or sad. The chaos, as they saw it, was simply home and family happening around me. The fact that someone would let me into the midst of their everyday life meant that I was loved and welcomed. If anything, the chaos was a welcome distraction and a reminder that life was going on.

I have fresh eyes for my own chaos now. Of course, I would prefer to have a clean, beautifully decorated house for my guests, but now I see that it is not my house or the decorations that draw them to my home. Instead, it is the warmth of the love that we offer, the vibrancy of life that we demonstrate, and the promise of a welcoming smile no matter what else may be going on.

I am so thankful for all of my friends that have opened their lives to me in times of need. I am just as grateful, though, that God gives me the opportunities to share my home as well. After Agnes' reminder, I am also feeling blessed to have what I call "chaos" in my home. As odd as that may seem, it is the children, the animals, and yes, even the chores that come with them, that make our life so rich and full! After a look around my home through the eyes of my neighbor, I realize that I too can find peace in the midst of my chaos!