5 Practical Ways to Love People Around You

I wish I knew what to do… Let me know if you need anything… I’ll be praying for you…

Have you ever said those words? You know the person before you is hurting or has gone through some major life transition. You know they need to be shown love, to be encouraged, to be uplifted. But you have no idea how.

Me too.

Recently, there were four deaths of loved ones among my colleagues. A friend is adopting two special needs daughters from overseas. One of my sisters-in-law had an emergency hospital visit.

What can I do? I’m just a new wife, working more than 40 hours a week, and as busy as ever. I want to help; I want to show them the love that Christ has shown me. But how?

I asked a few friends about what would show them love and encouragement during a stressful or hurtful time, and I wanted to share these five practical ways to love people with you.

Write a Card

Hannah of The Young Wives Club shared with me that, in the midst of her miscarriage, the most helpful thing she received was handwritten cards. She treasured the encouraging words from people who loved her and from women who had been there. I like making my own cards, but you do not even have to be creative to send a thoughtful card. It just takes a moment to write a word of how much you care. Your words and even your written prayers could mean so much.

Bring a Meal {or more}

I’m from the south, where potlucks and casseroles are a way of life. I usually think of bringing someone a meal first. However, I did not realize how impactful it could be. My husband’s family suffered the loss of my sister-in-law before I knew them. My mother-in-law says she wishes she would have allowed people to keep bringing them meals. A couple weeks is not long enough for a mother to be willing and able to cook for her family again. In fact, bringing a meal or two a couple months later is such a blessing. You can even pick up simple things like toilet paper at the grocery store at the same time! My friend Leah of Shelemah wrote a post featuring my mother-in-law’s 15 Ways to Help a Family Grieving the Loss of a Child. I encourage you to read it if you are looking for more practical and thoughtful ways to minister.

Use Your Talents

Serving others is not just for good cooks! Naomi, the adoptive mom and blogger at 127 Living, challenged me when I read her post about supporting foster and adoptive families “for the long haul,” as she puts it. God has given you unique talents that you can use for a variety of purposes – why not use a few of them to minister to others? Can you babysit? Teach or coach? Help around the house? Mow the lawn? How has God gifted you and how could this gifting be used to help others?

Be Careful with Your Words

I love Abbey’s advice in her post on loving women who have dealt with infertility and loss. She challenges her readers to be careful not to speak incessantly about babies and pregnancies, as this easily alienates women who are suffering with infertility. I find this to be so true: Women are more than mothers. Motherhood is a wonderful, amazing thing, but a woman is no less complete without children than with them. Abbey also relates how important it is to be there for your friends who are struggling, but to allow them to determine what they need. Allow them to set the tone for your help, and don’t request that they talk about it before they are ready.

“Put Yourself in Their Shoes”

…says Heather Hart in this post on three ways to practically love others. Consider what they might be feeling or how they might be affected. If this happened to me, what would I need? This enables you to show love, grace, and empathy to those around you who may be hurting, stressed, or going through significant changes. It is important to keep in mind, though, that you probably do not know exactly what this person is going through. Avoid saying things like: “I know exactly how you feel!” Instead, humbly come into the situation willing to learn how God would like to use you. Prayer is a mighty tool for sensing how best to respond in any situation.

I found that these bloggers and friends ended up encouraging me to continue loving people as they struggle with whatever they may be facing. I hope they did the same for you. As we are the hands and feet of Jesus, we are called to practically love and serve. Perhaps you have gleaned some ideas, like I did, for some great ways to do just that.

What are the best ways people have served you in your times of heartache or transition?

Five Practical Ways to Love People Around You courtesy of Grace Upon Grace Today www.graceupongracetoday.com

Two Journaling Bibles: A Review!

After six years with the same Bible, I have invested in a new one. Bibles are not cheap, so it was quite a leap to make the purchase. The binding on my old Bible completely tore, and the entire thing was falling apart. Despite having this same copy of the Word through high school graduation, all of college, two trips overseas, and dating then marrying my husband, I knew it was time to move on.

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The first thing I was looking for in a Bible was plenty of room in which to write. As you can see from my old Bible, I write it in A LOT! I take notes along the margins, underline verses, circle key words, draw lines between phrases and words that are repeated, and so forth. I love it. However, I just did not have enough room to write everything I would have liked.

I began looking for a new Bible that could accommodate my superfluous note-taking habits. I also wanted it to be cute, and I really didn’t care for extras like devotions or concordances.

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting me. I did not receive any compensation or products in exchange for these reviews.}

two-favorite-journaling-bibles

So without further ado, here are my two favorite picks and little about them.

Single-Column Journaling ESV Bible

On the outside, this hardcover ESV journaling Bible looks like something you might find in an antique store. The pages are a slight off-white that make it easier to read. Width measured from the outside edge of each page to the text is about one centimeter shy of two inches, and the margins have very light dotted lines. It includes a ribbon bookmark, a Through-the-Year Bible Reading plan, and a table of Biblical weights and measurements. This Bible is the English Standard Version with some footnotes. It has a lovely lay-flat binding. I have noticed some bleeding through and shadowing when writing/highlighting.

Journal the Word NIV Bible

With a more vibrant color on the cover, this softcover New International Version Bible is very bright. It has a ribbon bookmark and a lay-flat binding, just like the ESV Bible above. This Bible has a preface about the translation and a page of Biblical weights and measurements. From the edge of the page to the text is about a 2 inch margin. In some sections (such as the Psalms), it is closer to 2 and a quarter inches. There are light dotted lines in the margins. I haven’t noticed any bleeding through or shadowing.

Ready for my results?

esvsinglecolumnbible

ESV Journaling Bible

Pros:

  • Beautiful hardcover
  • Lovely off-white pages
  • I use the ESV at church

Cons:

  • Small font size
  • Some bleeding through and shadows
  • More expensive than some other options

nivjournalingbible

Journal the Word NIV Bible

Pros:

  • Bright softcover
  • Lighter/Easier to carry around
  • I use the NIV at work
  • Have not noticed any bleeding through pages
  • Less expensive than some other options

Cons:

  • Binding doesn’t seem quite as sturdy as hardcover Bible
  • Small font size

As you can see in the photo below, both Bibles and roughly the same size, are both single-column, and have similarly-sized fonts.  While I love the extra large margins, my only qualm with journaling Bibles is the small font size.

I’ve found that these two Bibles are very similar, however, with the hardcover comes a price increase of roughly $15. We actually used the ESV Hardcover Bible for our wedding guestbook, and it was perfect. Personally, I think that the NIV Journal the Word Bible will be exactly what I need for my everyday devotions and Scripture-reading, primarily because of the light weight.

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I hope this review helped! Do you have a favorite Bible, journaling or otherwise? I would love to read your comments and questions below.

Hello 2016

It’s been a crazy year… But haven’t they all been crazy recently?

When 2015 dawned, I was bowling with my mom, brother, stepdad, and stepfamily. It’s a long-standing family tradition. I celebrated six months with that handsome guy in January, turned in my first real resignation letter in March, and began the process of moving to a new state. During a Sunday morning sermon, our pastor explained that sometimes we don’t see the next step. We don’t see point C when we’re standing at point A. We have to step out in faith to point B and follow God’s leading. He said: “Jesus is standing on the waves, calling you to step out of the boat in faith,” referencing Peter’s walk on water. At that moment, I realized God was asking me to follow Him to my next place, which involved moving closer to the guy who would soon become my fiance. So, I took a new job, moved to a new city with new roommates in a new apartment, and fell deeper in love with the handsome guy I’m marrying in less than six months. He proposed in October, and it was perfect.

In 2015, my OneWord was love. One single word to focus on for the entire year. That’s three hundred and sixty five days of one word. One. Word.

But y’all… It works. I learned so much about love. When 2015 began, I was celebrating six months with my first and only boyfriend. When 2016 begins, I will celebrating less than six months until we say “I do.”

When 2015 began, I was learning how to continue to love a Buddhist co-teacher. When 2016 begins, I will be learning how to continue to show love to 60 sweet and crazy teenagers.

When 2015 began, I was praying for the future service opportunities I would have to show love to others. When 2016 begins, I will move from assistant to teacher roles in the toddler class at church.

Above my desk in my bedroom hangs a quote from Ann Voskamp:

You love as well as you are willing to be inconvenienced.

So much truth. Love is not easy or convenient or simple. Love cannot be an afterthought. The beautiful thing is we get another shot each day. I’m not the best at showing my fiance that I love him, and sometimes I find it difficult to accept his love, but I know that he’s not going anywhere. He loves me, and we are willing to try again if we didn’t do such a great job of showing that love this time around.


 

As we move into 2016 in the next few hours, I wanted to take a moment to announce my OneWord for this year. In a world of smartphones and commercials and social media and pushy waitresses, I want to focus. I want to be in the moment. Like the quote: “Wherever you go, be all there.” I want to be mentally aware where I am physically existing. I want to be connected to my body, my soul, my emotions, and my Savior. I want to be real with people who are actually in the same room with me. I want to pray with passion because God and I are actually having a real and meaningful conversation. I want to give and serve and love it. I want to invest into people and I want to be invested in. I want to go and meet and dream and love. I want to be present.

OW2016