Last week, my friend Linda came for a visit. In Single-Parentdom, the chaotic frenzy of being responsible for everything can be quite overwhelming. In a conversation a month or so ago, we were discussing the things on my to-do list
when Linda offered to come help me tackle a few projects.
she didn’t just offer.
She drove six hours from Tennessee with paint spattered clothing packed in her suitcase.
She came ready to tackle whatever was most pressing.
As I prepared for her coming, I thought about the Amish and their barn-raising practice. A barn raising is an event where a large group of people come together to build a building (like a home or a barn) in a short period of time. The tv show Extreme Home Makeover does their magic this way. Planners and organizers do a lot of work, but the bulk and brawn of the work is done by the friends, family and community who come together to get the project done.
In the past, Linda’s family of six has come to help us make a few of our moves. And the children and I have helped them make several of theirs. We have all loaded trailers, scrubbed baseboards, filled cardboard boxes with treasures and stopped to fellowship and sup in-between.
Linda is my “Reading Friend.” Years ago, she was the first person to read to me (at least, as an adult). Others, including Kenneth, have since do so. And I love it. If the words in a book or poem mean so much to someone else that they want to share them, Oh how I want to listen!
I have had one person after another tell me that I should read the book Love Does. And I have shared quotes on Facebook from Bob Goff, the author of Love Does.
So, around the time that Linda and I began to plan her visit, a friend told me that he had a surprise for me. He told me to be watching for it. He didn’t tell me what kind of surprise, so I didn’t know what to expect. Nearing 2:00 and having found no surprise, the thought occurred to me, “Oh! Maybe I should go look in the mailbox!”
And there it was. My friend had sent me a copy of Love Does.
As Linda and I sat at the breakfast table, I asked her to read Chapter 10 while I took my bath and got dressed.
I asked her to read it,
because I could hardly see the words on the page
as I worked through Chapter 10 in tears
just an hour earlier in my room.
The chapter, for me, was about two things:
being a good parent and being a good friend.
What I heard as I read through the chapter
was that parents go out of their way to encourage their children
by doing …. by feeding their spirit and encouraging them to be themselves.
A parent has the ability to make a crazy idea
appear completely attainable for a child
so that the child grows up knowing they should go and do and explore
rather than sit … and fear … and live stunted.
And a friend ?
Well, Bob tells us that his children were told a story while meeting a Russian leader at the former Communist Party Headquarters. (Really, truly … you need to buy and read the book! Go here to do that. And no, this is not a paid or sponsored endorsement.) Bob writes of this leader,
“He shared his thoughts drenched in sincerity about how a friend knows what you need even before you ask.
He ended his talk with these words that still ring true for our family.
‘You know what it is about someone who makes them a friend?
A friend doesn’t just say things; a friend does.'”
How fitting. That morning, of all mornings, God times it that I am reading a story about encouraging my children to be themselves and about friends who “do” … and Linda is here … encouraging me to be myself and bolstering me in my loving of my children WHILE she is here to “do” … to work.
I couldn’t read the chapter to her.
I had to hand over the book
and leave the room
lest I begin the day with sobs.
The week involved lots of encouraging and lots of doing.
We cleaned and purged and put back together.
We prepared and repaired and fellowshipped.
Linda pressure washed the entire outside of my home … all the way around.
She removed mildew and moss and dirt and gunk and more.
With a little Clorox and a lot of water pressure,
she single-handedly removed years of build up from the brick and mortar, vinyl and wood that make my home.
I thought so much about this in terms of a spiritual/physical parallel
and how, left without attention, our spirits form a film of life
that can smother us and encourage decay.
It takes time and energy to life gunk-free.
It takes work. It takes doing.
And sometimes, it takes a friend’s help.
Last week, I saw friendship and love in action.
I experienced my own little barn raising right here in my little suburban neighborhood.
And even after she left, she still “did.”
I found this encouraging, loving, uplifting note on my cluttered desk
a full day after she got into her vehicle and drove away.
Bob’s words and Linda’s actions remind me to look for chances to make a difference.
Love …. drives, cleans, fellowships, encourages and, yes, pressure washes.