Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Cookie Angel

I know some of you who read my blog are aware of what we've gone through with our neighbors. For those of you who don't know the situation, suffice it to say we've had trouble with these neighbors the entire time we've lived here (9 years in September). Almost from the start, we've felt it was a spiritual battle because we are Christians and these people obviously are not. We tried to stay to ourselves, but sometimes it was close to impossible when they would get verbally abusive and would threaten my husband whenever he did say anything.

A few months ago, I was in the living room and the air conditioner was on. I turned off the air and immediately became aware that there was a lot of noise coming from outside. At first, I ignored it because I thought it was an argument. As I continued to hear raised voices, I realized that something was wrong. I opened the front door, but I didn't see anything. I could, however, hear the voices were in our neighbor's back yard. I went to our back door and opened it. I saw some people in the neighbor's yard and I asked if someone needed help. They replied no because the lady's son was handling it. It was then I saw the neighbor give me a look that at first I thought was an angry glare, so I simply said "OK." and I closed the door. A few minutes later, I noticed an ambulance pull up and the neighbor's mom was loaded in. A week later, I saw our neighbor outside when we came home from church. I decided to ask him how his mom was doing. He was on his cell phone so I waited. He kept looking at me so I knew he too wanted to say something, so I silently breathed a prayer for God to help our words to be pleasing to Him. When he got off the phone, I asked how his mom was and he said that she had broken her elbow and was getting surgery the next day on it. He then thanked me for asking if they needed help! I apologized that I hadn't heard her cries for help sooner, but I was at the front of the house with the air conditioner on and it wasn't until I had turned off the air conditioner that I heard the commotion. He understood and accepted my apology. I truly think that the fact that I had gone to see if they needed help in spite of how awful they have treated us for 9 years made an impression on him, and then I apologized on top of that for not hearing sooner.

Since that initial conversation, we've talked to them a few times. Our conversations may not always be real long, and some are just to say hello, but it is a huge improvement considering the words being spoken by all are said with kindness instead of anger. Yesterday, my husband and my son were out hunting so my daughter and I decided to make Christmas cookies. Before starting the last batch, I was putting the cookies that had cooled into a container and I realized we had A LOT of cookies. I felt impressed to take some cookies over to our neighbors. To be honest, I have felt like doing that before, but I was sure they'd probably just throw them in the garbage thinking we were trying to kill them or something! LOL! This time, however, I didn't hesitate. I went to find a container and put in a few cookies. I walked next door and rang the doorbell. I was invited in and simply said that I had been making Christmas cookies and I wanted to give some to them if they wanted them. The adult daughter was there and said "You are like an angel! My mom just said that she wished she could make cookies, but she can't do anything with her arm. She JUST got done saying that and you rang the doorbell with cookies! I have chills!" I have chills typing this! I smiled and said "Well, I guess that's why I felt that I should come give you cookies!" The mom came over and gave me a HUG! As I was hugging her back, I was filled with awe that this was happening. 

I couldn't help but smile as I walked back over to our house. I thanked God for being so awesome. I was thankful that the one batch of oatmeal cookies had made far more than I had imagined. I had actually split the oatmeal cookie dough in half and made half with raisins and half with chocolate chips. Each type made close to 4 dozen cookies! I hadn't doubled the recipe, but God must have multiplied the dough! I was thankful that I had listened to that feeling about giving the neighbors some cookies. I was thankful I didn't dismiss the thought or delayed in bringing them the cookies. I went at the exact time God wanted me to, and it made a huge impact on our neighbors...and on me! I'm not often called "an angel", but it was an awesome experience to know that God used my homemade cookies (which just so happened to be my grandma's recipe, who is singing with the angels now) to further mend the rift between our neighbors and us.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Are You Wearing?

Colossians 3:12 says, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." When I read that verse, I thought of what it means to clothe yourself. It means you are putting something on that everyone who looks at you will see. I then looked back at the verse to take another look at what God thinks is important for others to see when they look at us. God wants others to see compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience when they look at us.

What I see in all those character traits is that we are to be thinking of other people before ourselves. We are to be putting their needs before our own. We are to show them how much we care about them because by doing that, we will be showing them how much God cares about them. That is why I believe God wants us to be clothing ourselves with these traits. He wants everyone who looks at us to see that we genuinely have a love and concern for others. The way we treat others will either point them to or away from Him.

For me, I know that it is not easy to be showing patience or humility all the time. I'm sure everyone who may read this blog could say the same thing about at least one of these traits. It may not be the same ones that I struggle with, but I am certain that each person has something that they find hard to do. We are human, and thankfully God knows we are not perfect. We won't be able to do this on our own. It is something we truly need to daily ask God to help us do.

What do people see when they look at you? What are you wearing? What have you clothed yourself in? This verse has really given me something to strive for. I truly want others to see in me the things God wants them to see. I am determined to do my best to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I want to point others toward God and not away from Him.