Day 135: Dinner invitation

This tale has both a positive message and a lesson to learn. This morning, we met a new couple in church. I could tell right away they were potential kindreds. It was evident from their hugs and the sweet Spirit that emminated from them. We stood and spoke with them for about 10 to 15 minutes after everyone had left the sanctuary. Conversation was easy, and it was so refreshing! At one moment, the guy said, “I think people are more lonely today even though they are more connected and have hundreds or thousands of ‘friends.'” Ha! It’s exactly what I’ve been saying!

I asked them to come to lunch next weekend. I wasn’t prepared to do lunch today, or otherwise, I would have asked them over on the spot. But I needed some time. The last time I asked someone to lunch (and that was several years ago), it was such a pleasant time, but that couple has never initiated anything in return, except for a few pleasantries in the halls at church. At least from my previous experience, those who are true kindreds are reciprocal in friendship. Then, I went through some trying, emotional times, and that kept me from trying again. But I had to be ok again with reaching out to someone who may not be reciprocal. I’m there now. I can’t tell you that this new couple will be reciprocal at all, but I also can’t tell you that they won’t be. My calling is not to be hospitable to only those who will be reciprocal, but to be hospitable. Period. In this moment of being hospitable, maybe new reciprocal friendships will be formed. One can hope.

So, the lesson to learn was my greatest faux pas for the day. I’m not beating myself up over it, but since I’m a recovering perfectionist, I do need to confess it so you know that I can accept less than perfect execution. At the end of the conversation, I neglected to get the number of the couple I had just invited to dinner next weekend. My son had given them his cell number, so he volunteered to be the mediator of our outing. I was thinking, in the moment, “how sweet of him; let him arrange it.” Later, I realized that meant that it was on the couple’s head to arrange our lunch next week, when we were the hosts. They probably won’t call since they would essentially be inviting themselves over. How silly of me! Of course, after a time, a kindred could easily invite themselves over, but they may not  wish to start a relationship out like that.

I’ll let you know next weekend how it turns out. At the very least, I hope I run into them at church next week.

DAY 135 HOMEWORK: When was the last time you invited someone over for dinner? If it’s been a while, try it! If it’s not, then try inviting someone new over to broaden opportunity for potential kindreds.

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Day 134: Change of plans

Today was a surprise. I got up early to take my daughter-in-love to Franklin, about 40 minutes away, and I planned to stop to pick up my sister so we could go out for breakfast and run a few errands together. Then, I would get working on a day full of projects so I could cross them off my list. When we got to my sister’s house, our friend, Debbie, from Illinois, came out of her house. It’s been a year or two since I’ve seen Deb, so it was a really pleasant surprise.

Deb and her husband, Stan, are long-time friends of my sister; she’s known Deb from back in their youth, and in college days. I got to know Deb and Stan well as an adult, and so we all get along together well, and laugh a lot. They’re kindreds.

We spent the day looking through quaint shops and shopping and catching up on news from back home. We laughed as much as we talked, and along with the sunshine, the laughter did all of our hearts good. We ended the day with a dinner with all of our husbands, and enjoyed the story-telling until we had to call it a day.

Debbie has been following this blog, so she did point out that coming to see us in person was much better than seeing us on Skype, and that we were following the advice on the blog by spending the day connecting face-to-face. I agreed. Although I hadn’t expected to do much of anything that I actually did today, I had a blast and enjoyed the surprise I was given. The stuff that was on the to-do list will wait for another day…connecting with some kindreds was a million times more important.

DAY 134 HOMEWORK: Don’t count changes in plans as a distraction. Roll with it and focus on the connections you’re making. That’s the stuff that real life is made of.

Day 133: It’s time

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, a moving picture is worth what? Probably a dissertation. This morning, I saw a video that spoke volumes. It was a moment between parents and their kids to reinforce the idea of connecting. Take a minute to watch it:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/2wfbY3i4FY0” target=”_blank”>Who would you most like to have dinner with?

If kids are so sure of the need for connection, why do we grow up and lose sight of that? I think it’s mostly because we get tired. We are so busy running our kids and ourselves around, we can’t always know if we’re coming or going. If we’re not all together at the same time because of sports, or games, or other types of practices, or work, or whatever it is, it’s easy to have everyone grab something to eat on the run, or eat in shifts.

Maybe it’s time to pay attention to what our families are truly hungry for. It’s time, literally, and a few minutes of attention.

DAY 133 HOMEWORK: Plan a family meal this weekend, with no media, no phones, and sweet conversation.

Day 132: My little buddy

Tonight’s connector is my little buddy, my little brother, Timmo. Tim is an all-around great guy and it’s really hard not to like him. It wasn’t always that way. He could be a pain in my backside when we were little. Of course, that’s what a big sister will always say, but in reality, we got along pretty well all through the years, and today, he’s one of my best friends.

Tim is a family man and a realtor, and does a super job of caring for both his family and his clients. He speaks with such pride over what his wife and boys are doing. In his work, he celebrates each client’s joy as they buy or sell their homes, and his reviews from his clients are glowing. But I think what Tim does better than most people I know is that he is incredible at connecting. He started an online site for his town of Peoria, IL, (#PeoriaLife) where photographers and writers can contribute information and photos showing their mutual love for their hometown. Most recently, Timmo and his connections started up a handful of radio shows about Peoria. He was telling me tonight that a local TV anchor and a newspaper journalist have joined his radio shows as hosts, and the number of “likes” on his sites is growing quickly. He’s pouring his heart into getting the radio shows up and running, and even though he’s exhausted, it somehow energizes him.

I’m so proud of my little buddy. His creative energy encourages others, and he connects people who can collectively do something way beyond what they could do by themselves. He’s a great example of a kindred who finds other kindreds. He builds a love for his community, and shares that love with as many others as he can find. He inspires me, and I’ve decided I want to be just like him when I grow up.

DAY 132 HOMEWORK: Give a kindred you love a call. Take the time to catch up. Sometimes just listening to all that’s going on around them can inspire you to be better than you think you can be.

Day 131: Different is good

Our church has been focusing on prayer since the beginning of the year. Tonight, we had a Prayer Gathering, and it was really cool. We were guided in topics to pray about, and prayed about them by ourselves and with others around us. I met 3 new people, who were in my group, and I couldn’t help thinking about the little Sunday School song we sang as children: Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. That literally described my group, and it reinforced one of the reasons I love belonging to such a culturally-diverse church.

One of the things I look for in my kindreds is diversity; I love learning from people of other cultures. This trend has been in my life since I was a little girl. One of my first friends was from another country, and I’ve been drawn to other cultures ever since. I married a Brazilian; I taught ESL to awesome students from all over the world; I lived abroad for a few years. These experiences taught me so much about myself and about life; I’m a much better person because I have been enriched by people from across the globe.

Learning about other cultures can open your mind to new ideas, and broaden your views about many aspects of life. These types of kindreds allow you to gain new perspectives, ways to improve your ideas or where those ideas are already successful.

DAY 131 HOMEWORK: If you don’t have a diverse set of kindreds, see what you can do to broaden your exposure to those who are different from you. What groups can you join that may allow you to strike up a new friendship with someone from another culture? Or invite a nearby international university student over for a Sunday lunch. You’ll learn a great deal!

Day 130: Breaking the mold

Last night was our last night of our most recent Bible study. I’m glad I stuck it out because it was really good for me. It took me out of my comfort zone, and I learned more about myself, and dealing with others, especially here in the south. The ladies at my table were very nice ladies, but several of them talked…a lot. Sometimes they talked while a speaker was talking, and I have a hard time with that. Because of my experiences with speaking a second language and loving many people who speak English as a second language, I understand how difficult it is to pay attention and fully grasp what someone is saying, especially if the conversation is coming in a non-native language. And we had two non-native English speakers at our table: my daughter-in-love from Brazil and the pastor’s daughter-in-love from Thailand. Both of these great women speak very good English. But, for those who don’t speak another language, there isn’t an understanding that someone who can speak English well may not understand as well as she speaks, so realizing that another may need silence just to understand isn’t even on their radars.

I can’t really be mad at them for not having a wider view of others if they haven’t been exposed to the special considerations needed; however, I do get a little indignant that Americans can be so narrowly focused. I want to teach them everything I know about helping others understand. I want them to have instincts about what is considerate for a non-native speaker. But what I want in this circumstance isn’t voiced, mostly because it will only make things worse, and then others will be distracted as well. So I let it go.

While the women at my table were lovely, and I was so happy to get to know them a bit, I will keep trying various study groups because I want to find some southerners who don’t fit the mold I’ve experienced for the 13 years I’ve been here. I know they’re here, those mold-breakers. Because not everyone fits in a stereotype and while there can be generalizations, those broad strokes cannot and will not fit everyone.

DAY 130 HOMEWORK: Listen to something in another language. Imagine that you can pick up a word or two, or can say some common phrases. If you can say something in the language to which you’re listening, try speaking and listening at the same time. Like a toddler who knows what you’re saying long before they can respond, it takes a long time for most people to process the understanding phase before they can speak much. And even those who speak much may not understand everything. Be patient, and be kind.

Day 129: Think twice

A coworker sent me a cartoon today. He was making a statement about employment, and taking full advantage of older, experienced employees.

The caption was, “Think twice before loosing (sic) your old & dedicated employees.” A man was standing at the end of a board, somewhat like a diving board, but instead of being over a pool, the board was hanging off of a cliff. The man at the end of the board represented “Management” and was looking back at the man on the cliff, who represented “Best Employee.” “Management” had a gun pointed at “Best Employee,” but the kicker is that “Best Employee” was standing on the board, and was the only thing holding the board up in the air.

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Obviously, the message was about how bad it is for management when a company pushes out older, experienced employees. But I got thinking about how often this cartoon could represent us in other relationships. How often do we “shoot” old friends for something, maybe even something silly? How often do we burn bridges with previous employers because we’re irritated with something? How often do we write off a potential friend when we make a judgment based on little information? In any of these cases, we are sabotaging ourselves, and we’re the ones who lose out.

DAY 129 HOMEWORK: Is there anyone you’re “aiming your gun” at? Before you pull the trigger, consider the implications. Is it really in your best interest to do so? You’d better think twice!