Neighborly Love

When I was a kid every evening after dinner everyone in our neighborhood would come outside to the front of their homes. Most of the adults would be hanging out on their porches visiting with one another and us kids would be riding our bikes or playing games like wiffle ball or tag in the middle of the street.  Everyone seemed to know and like each.

Nowadays, people seem to be a lot busier and don’t tend to hang out on their front porches like they used to but, no matter where I’ve lived I have always managed to get to know most of my neighbors and I realize that though they have all been different they still always have two things in common –Neighbors are an important part of one another’s lives and neighborly love is something that I have always been a part of.

Neighbors are the familiar that surrounds you when you go outside of your home and somehow they make you feel secure when you’re on the inside your home too.

Neighbors watch over one another’s children and homes, keep an eye on packages delivered, and help one another fix things. I’ve had neighbors borrow eggs, butter, and sugar and they’ve returned the favor back to me also.  I even had a neighbor once who text messaged me pictures of a family of turkeys that she saw hanging out in my front yard. I would have missed them had she not messaged me!

Neighbors somehow feel like an extension of my own family.

About a year and a half ago, after living in the same neighborhood for 18 years, my husband and I moved.  Though I was excited about our new adventure I was also a little sad about leaving our old neighborhood behind.  Our first summer here our next door neighbor started bringing us homegrown tomatoes from their garden. Their kindness continued all summer long.  They then went away on vacation toward the end of the summer and told us we could come over and pick all the tomatoes we wanted while they were gone!  Those homegrown tomatoes were not only yummy but most importantly they were a gesture of kindness that made us feel welcomed and also let us know that we were also a part of our new neighborhood family.

Jesus told us to –“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31 NIV)

My whole life I have been a part of neighborly love even before I knew Jesus told us to love them.

I really can’t imagine going through my life without having a neighborhood family.

How about you?  Do you have a neighborhood family? How have you experienced neighborly love?  Do you have a special neighbor or what is so special about your neighborhood?  Share a line or two about your neighbors in the comment section below… or better yet if you have written a blog post about neighbors go ahead and share the link.

Since this post today is about sharing neighborly love I would like to invite you to leave via -> this link to Compassion International’s website.  When you click the link you will find out how you can share neighborly love with a child in a neighboring country by helping to protect them from Malaria. There is no obligation so please on your way out go check it out!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Don’t forget to leave a comment I am looking forward to hearing your stories!

 

 

Never Ending Winter

 

This Winter season has been extra long for me this year.  As many of you know I had a weird illness since September that caused me to be dizzy and to have to stay home and not able to do much of anything. On top of the illness our winter in Missouri, this year was brutally cold with lots of snow, ice, and long dreary gray days.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was beginning to think I may never see warm sunny weather again!

To catch those up who don’t know about my life over the past year here is a quick run-down : In February 2017 my husband and I paid a large sum of money as a down payment to a roofing company to put a new roof on our home. The roof was supposed to be put on in March of that year.  March came and went but there was no roof put on and the company was ignoring our calls and if they did answer they would put us off.  In May I finally canceled the roof because I felt like they were scamming us and never going to put the roof on.  June, July, and August were spent trying to get our money back from the company and then paying ANOTHER roofing company in August to put on the roof.  The first company never gave us our money back and in August the new company installed our roof. Also in August – my husband filed in small claims court against the first roofing company to try to get our money back. September – my husband and I went to small claims court and were met at the judge by an attorney for the roofing company who asked to have the case moved to trial by jury and filed a third-party petition against me for slander against the roofing company because I had contacted the Better Business Bureau, the state Attorney General, and wrote review about them on Angie’s list in the attempt to get our money back.  The roofing company took our money, never gave us a roof, but now they were suing me for $25,000.00!  It was around that time that I one day while I was at work I was suddenly hit with dizziness that felt as if the whole room was spinning so bad I may fall off the Earth.  From that day on I was dizzy almost every day of my life and spent several months going to doctor after doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  What had started as dizziness soon progressed to sound and light sensitivity, and I could not do anything with a screen such as computers or TV. I had memory issues, panic attacks, and soon even depression. If you can name it, I pretty much had it.  I ended up having to quit my job because I was too sick to do it plus my husband had to drive me everywhere, I went because I couldn’t drive because I was dizzy. If I had a good day and did go anywhere then I would get carsick or if not carsick I’d be worrying that I might become dizzy.  It got a point that I couldn’t even go to church on Sunday’s because the music and the stage lighting caused me to be dizzy.  I will stop here because it just suddenly dawned on me that my ‘brief rundown’ has turned into a full-blown story in itself.  If you’d like to read the much longer version, I did write a few blog posts about my illness this past winter which can be found hereVertigo, Panic, and Feelings of Insanity, When the Struggle is Real Keep Going Even if You Have to Do it with Your Eyes Closed, My Plans Aren’t Your Plans But Are Your Plans Mine Even Though They Don’t Make Sense?

Between the illness, being sued, and all the dull grey days of Winter this was probably one of the coldest, darkest, and longest seasons in my life I remember ever having.

Before all of this craziness happened, I led a pretty busy life and I always considered myself a pretty happy person but now looking back I can see that I was probably not as happy as I led myself to believe I was.  I was always rushing here and there and was always feeling overwhelmed with all the things I had to do but never doing much of the things I wanted to do.  I now can see that the things I wanted to do were things that I had been putting on the back burner that those things were truly important for my own well-being.  My job for instance – I was in the church building every day but I know now that I was actually pretty far away from the church on other aspects. Meaning my relationship with God. I know that sounds weird to say but now looking back I can see that needed to step back away from church in order to actually see just how far away from God I had moved.

Before I was ‘stuck’ at home I never had time to just calmly sit and read my Bible. My prayers were rushed more like a checklist and I barely journaled anymore because I just didn’t have the time. It was like my spiritual life only happened when I could fit it in.  Ya I know you can read my blog post where I always mention that but oddly even though I figured it out several times I never actually followed through with what I had learned until I was ‘forced’ into having the time to follow through. Bad… I know but now I do follow through … most of the time.

This past Fall and Winter has probably been one of the longest, coldest, darkest seasons I’ve been through physically and mentally in a very long time but all seasons do come to an end and even though I had small glimpses of sunshine here and there throughout the winter it wasn’t until about February that I started seeing the large rays beginning to shine through and this time they actually began staying.

My time stuck at home had given me a whole lot of time to begin connecting with God on a deeper level and also I was feeling a little better physically.  The dizzy spells were becoming less and less and I know my triggers that set off the dizziness now with stress being one of my big ones. Looking back, I can connect the whole roof scam and being sued by them as probably my breaking point and what set this whole illness off.  I have always been a stuffer of my feelings most of my life. Never telling people when I’m sad or upset and I usually just go about my days clinging to the good stuff and not paying much attention to the bad.  Now I can see that the bad I’d been stuffing finally caught up with me.  A person can’t stuff those feelings down inside without finally running out of room inside to stuff them and I think maybe I just broke because I was too full.  Through all of this, every doctor kept telling me I needed to get the stress out of my life but really how do you do that when it’s coming in from places you can’t stop??

I think it’s more in how you deal with stress is how you remove it from your life. Don’t stuff it inside where it can’t be dealt with or it will eventually end up eating you alive.

From where I sit now I can finally see that good stuff can be found even on a bad day but it is okay to acknowledge when things aren’t going so great. I realized now that it really is okay to be not okay.

During this season of my life, I have also learned to say no.  I have learned that if someone gets upset with me for saying no then that’s their problem, not mine. Also, now that I have said no a couple of times, I have realized nobody was upset with me anyway. HA 😊

I can see now that quitting my job was a good thing too.  I still love my church and of all the jobs I’ve had in my life being the church secretary was my all-time favorite.  So, when I say that quitting the job was a good thing, I know it probably makes no sense to anyone else except for me. But the best thing I have noticed is that now when I am at church, I am there for one thing only and that is God 😊

Also, I’ve realized that I’d been neglecting the things God called me to do.  Write my blog, finish the book I started and rekindle family and friend relationships that I’d let drift away because I didn’t have time.

Over the past month, my new neurologist has started weaning me off the medicine that another neurologist had given me for the brain stem migraine diagnosis. His plan was to start me on a different medication that has fewer side effects but as time has gone on, I’ve started feeling like my old self again so I haven’t had to take the new medication. I feel like I am finally waking up from this nightmare I’ve been stuck in and now that I am waking up when I look back and can see that October through January is one giant blur to me.  I never realized when I was traveling through it all just how dark my winter season really was and to be honest, I was worried that it was never going to end but the best thing in all of this was Jesus. He was always with me the whole time and no matter how bad I’d feel he kept pushing me forward. Making me get up out of bed in the morning when I didn’t want to get up. Sending close friends to check on me at just the right moments. He kept nudging me to read my Bible and he was the one with me on the nights I couldn’t sleep.  He pushed me forward toward springtime and on those days when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore he carried me.

Be still my heart… His love for his children is a love like nothing else. I was the one in one hundred and he came looking for me.

The roof stuff is still happening but, as far as my health goes I feel like I’m on the upside. I can feel the warmth of Springtime outside but most importantly I feel the warmth inside of me once again.   I know that this long dark Winter season is finally coming to an end and like the rays of sunshine in Springtime make the flowers bloom, I can feel God’s love for me cracking away at the icy chill of this long winter season so that I to can now bloom once again.

Amazon Smile for Smiles

Help bring more smiles to these Kiddo’s faces by shopping with AmazonSmile this Christmas.

Did you know you can shop and Amazon and at the same time help children in need?

It’s so easy!

All you have to do is add the word ‘smile.’ in front of the normal Amazon web address, (smile.amazon.com), choose Compassion International as your charity, do your normal Christmas shopping, and then when you are finished shopping Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to Compassion!

How AWESOME is THAT?!

 

Happy Birthday to Me

We have a running joke in our house when it comes to birthdays.

Instead of just one day for your birthday, instead, you get a whole week, which by the end of the month has actually become a whole birthday month.

During birthday month the person with the birthday usually to tries their best to get the other people in our family to buy them gifts or to do things with them that we normally wouldn’t ask for or do.

For instance, when it’s my birthday week I know that it’s a given that my husband will take me out to dinner on the big day, BUT for the whole week I usually try my best to get out of cooking and every chance I get I will drop hints like, “have you seen the new birthday pancakes at Ihop” Or,  “wow you sure can smell the Mexican restaurant down the street today!”  I also throw in the fact that many of the restaurant’s reward clubs I belong to have sent us coupons for free birthday meals and somebody has to use them so it may as well be us 😀

Even though I truly don’t expect my husband to have to take me out to eat all week, A girls still gotta try, right?

And try try try I have because guess what October is for me?

October my Birthday month!

This is how Birthday month went down for me this year….

First, my husband gave me a new fitness tracker that I have been really, really REALLY wanting, AND I managed to talk him into letting me have it about 3 weeks early.  And then fast forward to Birthday week in which I managed to talk him into taking me to Ihop for free pancakes, we tried out a new Mexican restaurant that some friends suggested, We went to 54th Street Bar & Grill & Dairy Queen on my actual birthday, and then two days after my birthday, we went to another Mexican restaurant which just moved in at the end of our street. We also went on a ton of walks, Sunday drives, and shopping.

As I write this I realize how spoiled I am because even if it weren’t my birthday month he would still do all that stuff with me.  Thankfully we don’t do all of that eating on a regular basis or we’d both weight 5000 pounds!

Now fast forward to a little bit ago…

Last night I was writing letters to the kids I sponsor through Compassion. As I was answering the questions one of them had asked I realized that one of the questions was – When is my birthday month?.  The cool thing about that question is that the child who asked it just so happens to have her birthday in October too and it was really kind of cool to tell her that we share the same Birthday month.

As I was writing her letter I began wondering how she had spent her birthday. I started to write the question asking her if she had done anything special for her birthday but then I  stopped.  I stopped because I wasn’t sure if that were an appropriate question to ask because she lives in extreme poverty. The more I thought about the question the more I realized that she most likely doesn’t eat dinner out or get extravagant gifts for her birthday like I do.

As a sponsor, I am always offered the opportunity to send a donation towards a birthday gift for her and several times when I have done this I’ve received pictures back of what she bought with the money. What I’ve noticed is this – Every time she used her birthday money to buy practical gifts such as clothing or cooking supplies such as flour or sugar. While those are good gifts,  and she seems to be very excited to get those things I know they would not be my first choice of how to spend my own birthday money.  I realized now that her birthday and my birthday are probably very different.

I ended up never asking the question about her special day, but I did tell her how special she is and that God made her special by creating her on her birthday day.  I also wished her a Happy Birthday.

I think birthdays should be special for everyone, but especially for children.

I know my birthday was a little very extravagant, but the truth is even if I’d never gone out to eat dinner or received a gift it would have still been a great birthday.  It’s not about the eating or the gifts, it’s just knowing that people love me so much that they took the time from their own days to wish me a happy birthday, or to just hang out with me. Those are the things that really make birthdays special for me.

How about you? What makes your birthday special for you?

How do you like to make birthdays special for the people you love?


Today is the last day of my birthday month and in honor of birthdays of everyone everywhere, I’d like to try to squeeze in just one more gift. But this time the gift is not for me. This gift will be a special birthday opportunity for a child who may not normally have a special birthday. If you follow the link below you will go to Compassion International’s child sponsorship page.  On that page you can use the birthday search filter to choose a child that has a birthday coming up, or if you’d like you can even choose a child who shares the same birthday as you.  when you sponsor a child he or she will receive the news just in time for their birthday that they have been sponsored by YOU!

Wouldn’t that be an amazing birthday gift for that child to receive?!

If you’d like give the gift of sponsorship to a child for their birthday just click this picture and it will take you to Compassion Internationa’s website.  If you are unsure or just want more information this link will take you to that too.  

 

My ‘Two-Worded’ One Word for 2017

Recently it was brought to my attention that I like things to be symmetrical.

I may have known this info all of my life but I guess I never really thought much about it.

The first time that it really hit me that I seem to have an over obsessive issue with things lining up perfectly was the first time I stood up after I had knee replacement surgery last September.

The minute I stood up I noticed that the leg with new knee was now longer than the other one. Also, the leg with the new knee was perfectly straight and the other one was bowed back. The thought never occurred to me that after surgery my legs would be different lengths and man oh man did that drive me nuts!

Actually, this bothered me so much that over the course of the next ten weeks I spent a whole lot of time trying to rig my shoes in the hopes of somehow making my legs more even.

I bought several different styles of lifts from the store but all were either too high or too low. After the store failed me I decided to get crafty and began cutting different widths of cardboard and gluing them together to stick inside of my shoes. This helped a little but nothing I tried made them match perfectly.

My physical therapist even measured my legs and gave me a lift that she said was perfect but I still could feel a difference.

My other knee was scheduled to be replaced in November and soon I began worrying that maybe the doctor wouldn’t get my legs even and I would be lopsided for the rest of my life!

I know this sounds like it’s not such a big deal and I did know that I needed to just let it go, but oddly no matter how much I tried to ignore my uneven legs I couldn’t.  The lopsidedness was driving me crazy!

After Surgery Getting Ready for Christmas

Because I had my second knee surgery scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving I figured I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things I usually do to get ready for Christmas.

I also knew from the last surgery that I should consider my day to be very productive if I was just able to take a shower and finish all of my physical therapy exercises.

Here is a list of some of the things I usually do in preparation for Christmas:

The Christmas tree – I am usually the one who gets the tree ready to decorate by putting on all of the beads and bows. Once those are done my husband and I put the ornaments on together.

Christmas cookies – I usually bake a whole lot of different Christmas cookies.

Christmas Shopping – I usually spend many hours going from store to store to find just the right present for everyone. I then spend several full days wrapping them.

Christmas Dinner – I usually make a full course meal for our family dinner on Christmas day.

I really had no idea how these things were ever going to get done because everyone knows that I am the only one who knows how to do those things correctly…or so I thought….

About two weeks before Christmas my husband decided that he was going to put up the tree and decorate it. He put on Christmas music and I hung out in my chair with my foot propped up watching. I did hang a couple of ornaments but I soon learned that my husband has quite a talent for Christmas tree decorating. I also found out that putting the Christmas tree up was a whole lot of fun this year.

A few days later I found myself Christmas shopping online and without ever stepping a foot out of my house I was able to buy most of our Christmas gifts!

And they all arrived on time!

A few days after the presents arrived I put a roll of wrapping paper, tape, and a pair of scissors in the middle of my dining room table and just left them there.  Part of my knee rehab requires that I take a three-minute walk around my living room several times a day.  Each time I would get up for my 3-minute walk I would wrap a present. Eventually, all the presents were wrapped. It was actually kinda fun wrapping a few presents each day and also allowing wrapping paper, tape, and scissors to live on the dining room table for two weeks was somehow very freeing for me.

The weekend before Christmas my husband decided he was going to bake M & M cookies.

I helped by finding the recipe and explaining a few small details but for the most part I backed off and let him have at it. I soon realized another talent I never knew he had… Baking!

My husband’s cookies came out much fluffier than mine and I will also have to admit that they were the best tasting M & M cookies we have ever had in our house!

For Christmas dinner, this year it was decided that everyone coming would bring a dish of finger foods. This ended up being way yummier than the traditional dinner I would have normally made and also it allowed me to spend more time with my family.

Lesson learned…our family never needed a fancy dinner all we really need is to be together.

Also not spending all my time on Christmas day cooking and cleaning allowed me to snuggle with this little guy while he napped.

I think maybe I might have napped for a bit too.

Even though I was laid up with this knee I think this may have been one of the most peaceful and fun Christmases I have had in a long time. I am not sure exactly when it was that I put myself in charge of everything to do with Christmas but now I can see that I have spent a whole lot of time trying to make a perfect Christmas but all I had really accomplished was making myself dread the holiday season and I had missed all the important stuff like enjoying my family and preparing for the true meaning of the season… which is about celebrating the birth of Jesus which really has nothing at all to do with trees, food or shopping.

Over the past few months, I have realized that I just may be more of a perfectionist and a control freak than I thought I was.

I also have learned that there are a lot of things that I’m holding onto that I need to let go of and let other people do.

The past two years in a row God has given me a sort of theme word for the year. In 2015 my word was Trust and the year 2016 was my year to Believe.

With all that has transpired in the past few weeks, I can tell that I have already been given my one word for 2017 which is “Let Go”….Yep I know that technically that’s two words instead of one…but since I’m working on letting go I think I will just go ahead and go with the two-word one word this year 😀

A couple of things I have noticed by letting go are not only that I can relax when I let go but also that when I don’t hog everything there is to do, it gives others a chance to shine their own talents… hence my husband the awesome baker and decorator.

Also just another Fyi – It’s been 5 weeks now since I received my second knee and am very happy to report that my legs are a perfect match now and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better that makes me feel!

I’m not sure I can ever let go of the symmetrical thing fully but I can truthfully say that I can for sure let go of a whole lot of other things.

Oh, and one more thing…  we ended up having two Christmas trees this year! My husband found a great bargain on the display trees at K-Mart so he bought one and we put it up also! Yay!!!

2016 was overall a pretty good year and I am looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store as I learn what else God has to show me about letting go.

What is the one word God is telling you to focus on this year?

Will you please share your word in the comments below and if you have written a blog about it post the link so I can read it.

Happy 2017!

Terri Siebert

Giving Tuesday ~ Hurricane Matthew ~ A Visit with Haiti

Unless you live under a rock I’m pretty sure you have heard about the hurricane that hit Haiti this past October.  As you can see by this video the effects of the storm were devastating.

Arial Footage Shows Destruction in Haiti After Hurrican Matthew

Many homes, schools, and businesses were damaged or are completely gone.

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Livestock and crops were wiped out.

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Cholera is on the rise again and people are in need of food, clean water, and medical attention.

Many families lost their homes and are still in need of temporary shelter.

This is Rose

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Rose is my sponsor child.

Rose and her family live on an island in one of the hardest hit areas of Haiti. My husband and I met Rose 3 years ago when we were on a trip with Compassion international.

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Rose is the little girl in the lime green dress

While on that trip, we visited the island where Rose lives.  We also visited the child development center she attends and we also became Rose’s sponsors that day.

The day I met Rose was a really awesome day and also is a pretty cool story. If you would like to read it you can go here and check it out -> Stepping Into the Boat .

Every since the Hurricane, we have been waiting for word from Compassion and praying for Rose and her family.

A few weeks ago we finally received this email.

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I am so thankful that Rose and her family are okay but at the same time, my heart is breaking for them because it looks as if they have lost almost everything.

Even though they lost everything I am very relieved to know that because Rose is in Compassion’s sponsorship program that Compassion is working very hard to make sure she and her family are taken care of.

There were over 3100 children and their families in Compassion’s program who were affected by Hurricane Mathew. Compassion is working hard to help all of them but they can’t do it without people like you to help support their efforts.

Did you know that today is Giving Tuesday?  Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving created to unite people around the world to make a difference in the world.

On this Giving Tuesday in honor of Rose and I would like to share with you an opportunity to help children in Hait who have been affected by the storm.

By clicking these links you can help

Click HERE if you would like to donate to give support to children and their families in Haiti

or

You can click HERE to sponsor a child in Haiti.

And most important of all… Don’t forget that your prayers are always needed.

Will you please consider joining others all around the world on this #GivingTuesday and helping children in Haiti?

What better way to start off this holiday season of giving than by making a difference in someone’s life.

Even though the Hurricane has ended the storm still continues for many families.

YOU can be a blessing in someone’s life today.

Thank you so much for your help and have a wonderful day!

Terri Siebert

 

 

Here is an inspiring story of how a young woman survived Hurricane Matthew…

#GivingTuesday #CompassionBloggers

A Gang of Eleven

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Me and my sponsor child Ericka. We are reading a book that she made for me.

On a recent visit to El SalvadorI learned that gangs are a huge problem in the city of San Salvador. I also learned that children living in poverty are prime targets to be recruited into gangs and sometimes parents will send their children off to school and they never return home because they have been recruited by a gang.

Something else I learned while in El Salvador is that a gang will not recruit someone if they are a Christian. There are parents who will put their child in Compassion’s program to try to help keep them out of gangs. Gang members will even put their own children in the program to keep them safe.

Children go to the Compassion project, learn about Jesus, and bring home what they learn to their family members.  Some parents who were gang members have become Christians and left gangs.

Because of the gang problem in El SalvadorI have started a campaign to try to help children in the country who are waiting for sponsors. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see as many of them as possible to be free from the violence that could await them in a gang? Also with a sponsor to share the love of Christ with them they also will know just how truly special they are!

My new campaign can be found at this link -> A Gang of Eleven.

Please take just a few minutes of your time to check out my page and say a prayer for the children on the page.

Also, if you have a facebook, twitter or any sort of place that you can share the link, please please please share it.

Thanks so much for reading and also thank you for your prayers!

In case you missed the link here it is again – A Gang of Eleven

Have a great weekend!

Terri Siebert