I’ve allowed a few years to slip by without a proper visit to Mr. Don, our beloved backyard neighbor. The kids have been busy growing as they do between the ages of three and six, and I’m plain worn out come December. At least that has been my excuse.
But not this year. This is the year of no excuses, so we create
excuses to go visit our favorite neighbor and to meet the new ones. Our excuses come in the shape of cookies and candies dipped in chocolate and decorated with sprinkles and molded sugar. We make plates of goodies for the librarians and the new neighbors who moved into Mrs. Barlow’s
house this fall. And for Mr. Don.
I pack up the goodies and the kids on December 23
, and we set out to make deliveries. Our first stop is next door and the new neighbors aren’t home. We decide to try again later and drive around the block to Mr. Don’s house.
We knock on his door and the stillness of the house makes me think this will be strike two. Then the little one tries the doorbell and we wait some more.
This is not how I’d imagined it would go. Just as the kids are getting discouraged, Mr. Don opens the door. He’s surprised to see us. He stands in the doorway and greets each child by name, telling them how big they’ve grown. Then he thinks to invite us inside. If you have a minute, that is.
We make our way into his living room and find places to sit. My daughter lands right next to Toby, the white Maltese who adores attention as much as my girl loves to give it.
Mr. Don shows the kids the bird feeder adhered to the front window. While they’re absorbed in the birds, he shows me photos from his recent trip to a cabin down south and the large brown bear that made its way onto the back deck one evening. He and his sister had a ball catching the whole thing on camera.
Many pictures later, we stand to say goodbye. The kids are anxious to get to the library to make our next delivery. Mr. Don thanks us for the Christmas goodies and for the company.
We should do that more often, I think as he waves us off.
I spend half the weekend away from my family to learn more about being a disciple who makes disciples. I see good friends I haven’t seen in quite a while and sit at a table full of new friends. We learn and discuss and drink loads of coffee.
God uses the time to encourage me through a woman the same age as Mr. Don. She tells us to go where we’re called, stay where we’re put, and give what we’ve got.
On Monday morning, with that phrase on repeat in my mind, I just don’t feel like I have much to give.
An odd feeling of loneliness creeps in. I was with so many people this weekend and had so many deep conversations. Why was I suddenly feeling a sense of being a lone soldier?
With a book in one hand and my blow dryer in the other, I wonder if I can really carry the spirit of the weekend forward with me into the work week. It’s exhausting, trying to be all things to so many people.
My mind continues to wander. Was I really seen this weekend? Did I bless anyone? Would it have mattered if I’d just stayed home? Should I have just stayed home
I’m almost done with the blow dryer and I read this from Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen:
Loneliness is meant to be an invitation to draw closer to God. But our tendency is to try frantically first to meet that need with people, to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and funny and worthy of attention.
I realize my loneliness is a reflection of my focus and that my God is too good to allow me to feel content in my sin.
I’m not home when Mr. Don drops by to leave a cherry pie and some Valentine’s Day chocolates for the kiddos. When the kids and I bust into the kitchen after a long day, the goodies fill the table and I’m the surprised one now. My husband passes along the message Mr. Don asked him to give us.
Tell them thanks for stopping by at Christmas. It was nice to spend time with them.
He used the very same excuse to drop by that we did a few months back. And it’s nothing new because nothing says I see you…I appreciate you…I’m glad you’re here…like a surprise visit with a sweet treat.
That’s when I realize it. There are two very real kinds of lonely, aren’t there?
There’s the physical loneliness that Mr. Don must feel on occasion. He lives by himself after all. And then there’s the loneliness that comes — even if I’m surrounded by family and friends and coworkers — when I sink into myself instead of turning to the One who created me for communion with Him.
And I can’t help but wonder at the perfection of a God who would make sure that the cure for my brand of loneliness leads me to become the antidote for the other. When I turn to the Lord instead of people to fill my soul, God shows me how to see and love my neighbors as though they were me. As if Jesus were loving them through me. Because He is when I do.
He leads, we act, and His love is felt by a lonely soul. And all the world changes when we go where we’re called, stay where we’re put, and give what we’ve got.
If you need an excuse to visit someone this week, why not make (or buy!) something sweet. If you need some inspiration, start with my Lemon Rice Krispie Treat — just in time to help welcome spring!
Lemon Rice Krispie Treats
An easy treat to whip up just in time to usher in Spring!
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Bag Mini Marshmallows
- 1 Package Lemon Jello Mix
- 6 Cups Rice Krispies Cereal
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- Grease a 9×13 pan with butter
- Melt butter over medium heat and stir in the marshmallows
- Continue stirring marshmallows until completely melted
- Remove from heat and add the jello mix and lemon juice, mix well
- Add the Rice Krispies and mix until they are well combined
- Use a spatula and press the mixture into the greased pan
- Optional: I like to add the zest of half a lemon. Just mix it in as the last step before pressing into pan.
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/