About the Author: I am Joshuah Ellis and I have been working, full time, with the Hub City church of Christ since June 1, 2016. I have never considered myself much of a writer. Perhaps that is why I like the blog format so much. For me, it feels like there is less pressure to be perfect with a blog as opposed to a more formal article In this blog, you will find personal stories, anecdotes, humor and maybe a bit of sarcasm, but the aim of each post will be the same: to encourage, inspire, and challenge the readers to dig deeper and work harder in their service to God. If you would like to offer feedback, leave a comment or contact me here.
If you would like to be included on our mailing list and receive updates when a new blog is posted, please click here.
For the Ladies
How to "Be There" for a Fellow ChristianTuesday, May 09, 2017
It seems inevitable that at some point, there is going to be some hardship among your spiritual family. After all, we all suffer, don’t we? We lose people who are dear to us. We endure financial struggles. We suffer from illness. Sometimes, the hardship might not necessarily be negative, though. Think about the craziness that comes from bringing a new baby home from the hospital or moving into a new house. All of these things, whether they be good or bad, tend to bring stress into our lives and burdens we aren’t typically accustomed to bearing.
It is natural, I think, when we notice that someone close to us is carrying around one of these burdens, for us to want to help. We usually let the person or persons know that we are praying for them and then we say it. We speak the same phrase almost every time, don’t we? We look at our struggling brother or sister, we smile, and we say, “If there is anything I can do, just let me know.” But what happens after that? How many times do they call us up and say, “Hey, since you offered, I could really use…?” It doesn’t happen very often, does it? So even though we are very willing to help and bear the burdens of our fellow Christians (Galatians 6:2), our hands are tied because no request has come to us.
What if there were some things we could do on our own that did not depend on a specific request? The following are a few things I think we can do to really “be there” for a brother or sister who is struggling.
1. Pray for them. Yes, it is obvious, but stay with me on this. We often tell one another, “I’ll pray for you” when we notice they are struggling. While there is not a thing in the world that is wrong with this, try mixing it up a bit. Instead of talking about what you will do, mention to them what you have already done. Say a prayer for the person and then send them a text or give them a call and let them know that you have already petitioned God on their behalf (Hebrews 4:16).
2. Use one-way communication. I remember, when I lost a loved one last year, I was pretty destroyed. I knew my brothers and sisters were so concerned and wanted to be there for me. However, I had a really hard time talking on the phone about what had happened. More than anything, I appreciated the emails, texts and cards that I received. That way, I was able to receive the encouragement I needed without the added pressure of having to respond right away. So, instead of calling, think about sending a text, card or something else that can let that person know your thoughts and prayers are with them, but won’t obligate them to an immediate response.
3. Cook something. Ok, I am seriously laughing right now. I know this might be the most southern sentiment ever. We the goin’ gets tough, Texans fire up the trusty crockpot. Still, it’s a great idea. If someone is having a difficult time, the last thing they want to think about is cooking dinner. To have something brought over is a tremendous help and it is also very thoughtful and encouraging. My wife is great at this! She might not have the perfect thing to say in her back pocket at all times, but she is a fantastic cook and this is a great way to “be there” for someone who is going through a difficult time.
4. Don’t ask (or wait to be asked). OK, this one is based 100% on your relationship and influence with the other person. That being said, this suggestion might not work with someone you are not very close to. This only emphasizes the importance of building relationships with your spiritual family. If you do have a strong relationship, then don’t wait to be told what to do. Just do it. If a brother or sister is struggling, just show up and do something. Pick up the house. Wash the dishes. Do a load of towels. Pray with them. Do something! Take some of their menial burdens off their shoulders so they can focus on more pressing matters.
I know this isn’t always easy and that often, our level of love and concern is matched only by our lack of understanding as to what we could or should do in a difficult situation. There are no small gestures when it comes to offering support and encouragement to a fellow Christian who is suffering. Just don’t let uncertainty paralyze you.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to be notified when others are posted, please email us at email@example.com.
A Love Note to My Sisters - EnoughTuesday, August 16, 2016
Have I been enough? Am I enough? Was I enough?
Heady question. Being enough. When I was 29, and anticipating my 30th birthday, I looked back and lamented. Lamented that I was not where I had envisioned I would be in the world, in my career and in my life by that age. Was it because I had not been enough?
When I was 39, and anticipating my 40th birthday, I looked back and regretted. Regretted that I had not given more fully of myself. Had been selfish and not more selfless. Had missed so many opportunities.
Now as I barrel towards 59, anticipating my 60th birthday, and I’ve been looking back with pain in my heart for the hurt caused, the love withheld, the indecision that unwittingly became decision. In my twilight years and at the hour of my death, will I still wonder if I was enough?
So I’ve decided to turn back around. It has solved nothing for me to continually look back, questioning whether I had worked hard enough, been treated fairly enough…been loved enough.
What I have discovered about looking back, lamenting and regretting, is that I was afraid. I was afraid no one would love me for who I am; that I would not hold any value to anyone; that I would not hold any value to myself. Afraid I would not be enough.
Growing up and growing wiser means a lot of different things. It comes more quickly to some than others. I have a particularly hard head and evidently need many tests to finally learn some lessons.
The lesson I learned here is that it is not possible to be enough. I am not perfect. I cannot hold myself to that standard. It will mean I make mistakes. It will mean I’m human, no more, no less.
There are so many scriptures I could use to illustrate. The love of God for his children. Jesus giving his life for an imperfect world and advocating on my behalf before the throne. Having a servant’s heart, loving one another…and on and on. But I believe the one I would choose is in Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Sisters, relieve yourselves from the same question of whether you are enough. Whether you are enough of a wife, enough of a parent, enough of a child or sibling. We, in and of ourselves, will never be enough. There will be mistakes and lessons learned. We are a work in progress, a lump of clay to be molded. Please pray that I am being molded as Our Lord would have me.
A Love Note to My Sisters - Heart BlessingsTuesday, August 02, 2016
Bless her heart. Bless. Her. Heart.
It's a southern thang and the more slowly you say it, the more concern it conveys. It's like a free pass to make it appear you have not just said something unkind about another person. "Did you hear about ... Well bless her heart."
So have I? Blessed her heart? Have I done anything today to bless her heart?
Have I sent her a card to let her know I’m thinking of her?
Have I asked if she needs help cleaning her home?
Have I volunteered to take her to the doctor?
Have I asked about her sick mother?
Have I told her I miss her at church?
Have I said a prayer for her today?
Have I done anything? ANYTHING?
I offer time excuses all the time. I start Monday with a list and find myself at Friday afternoon having accomplished nothing on that list, having blessed no one’s heart, my own included. I’m approaching the evening of my life and look back with grief for the heart blessings I did not make time for. Who did I lose as a friend because of it? Who did I lose as a sister because of it?
I know of at least one. She meant the world to me. She was my earthly sister from another mother. When I set about trying to find her a couple of years ago, hoping against hope I could repair the mess I had made years ago, what I found broke my heart. She had passed away 2 years earlier.
James writes, in chapter 4 of his letter, “14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, it him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Make the time. Make a conscience decision each day to bless someone’s heart. You will find your heart blessed too.
A Love Note to My Sisters--IndependenceTuesday, July 19, 2016
The following is a guest post written by one of the women who worships here at Hub City. Her words are beautiful and poignant. I hope you enjoy this submission by Nannette Oswalt.
I was raised by an independent woman. She was silent when I thought she should speak. She defended my father when I felt he was undeserving. Her desires seemed to always take a back seat.
So it’s little wonder that I grew into a stubborn, impatient, independent woman. How much is nature vs nurture? It’s hard to say. Between the example I had at home and growing up in the 60s and 70s, I would say it was beyond a reasonable doubt I would be who I am.
Then I got married. And I knew what I had been taught all my growing up years about the man being the head of the household. I chaffed against the very idea of handing control over to anyone else, even my husband. After all, who could possibly know or do better than me? Right?
Guilt rarely motivates me to do what I know is right. I’m good at digging in my heels. So I was in a constant battle to get my way and then feeling guilty when I did. I’m not talking about minor things like what to have for dinner or when to do his laundry. I talking about decisions that determined where we lived, where we worked, and who our friends were.
And then I had a light bulb moment. A moment you can get only through mediation and soul searching. And my realization was…it’s not about me being in control. Control was nothing more than me being selfish, self-centered and inconsiderate to a person I claimed to love. All attributes that are very unattractive and destructive.
So what to do? Let go. Relieve myself of the weight. I married this man because I love him and I want him to be happy. I trust that he has my best interests at heart and won’t intentionally do anything to hurt me. I found that when I considered first what he wanted or needed in the small things, like when to do his laundry, I became more willing to support and help work through his decisions on the big things.
Paul, in Ephesians 5, writes, “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
It’s interesting to me that 3 verses are directed wives. The following 8 verses are directed to husbands. And the final verse brings them together.
Only after understanding my motivations and more fully understanding my role as a Christian wife did I find the peace of mind I needed.
I also understood my mother.