We’re called to love our neighbors. But that isn’t always easy. What if we don’t know our neighbors, or we’re not sure how to start? Who are our neighbors, and how do we love well? (in)courage exists as an online community committed to making safe spaces for women to connect over topics just like this one. Every Wednesday this month we’ll be sharing some of our stories about discovering how to love our neighbors. We hope you’ll read along and then join us in a weekly Community Challenge geared toward discovering who God is calling us to love and some practical steps we can do together.
Week 1: Missing Casserole
It’s that contagious time of year again.
Our little family got ‘it’ and endured two visits to the ER within a 36-hour period. Our sweet 20-month-old daughter and IVs are not a fun combination, but necessary to avoid dehydration. My mom came to help, and she joined in our misery. We endured for nine days.
I’m glad that’s over.
But once I started to turn the corner and looked at the literal mountains of puke laundry, the filth of the house, and a nearly empty fridge, I started to complain. Not just about the work in front of me, but how I didn’t feel like anyone really cared.
If you’re a real life friend of mine, please don’t get me wrong. I appreciated all the Facebook messages and texts to check on our progress. And I completely understand not wanting to come over and do my 50+ loads of laundry or scrub my bathroom floor. I wouldn’t dare ask you to do that nor would I EVER let you.
I was missing the ways of the old church. The ones I can only imagine before social media, smart phones, 70-hour work weeks, suburbia sprawl, and calendar coordination.
I wanted a casserole. Desperately.
Maybe not a literal casserole since I was still just a touch nauseated. But I wanted someone to show up on my doorstep with tangible love that would feed my soul. I wanted to know that a friend went out of their way to make me feel loved in my time of brief desperation.
You may be great at receiving help, but I am not the best. Even when someone says, “Hey, I heard you’re not feeling well. Can I get you anything?” I always buck up and say I’m fine. I might not really be and would love some chicken noodle soup or a chocolate milkshake, but I wouldn’t want to put you out. I’m sure you’re busy.
And we all are, aren’t we? Busy.
Life is different than it was for the generations before us. But the needs are the same. We all desperately want to be loved. And to know how to truly love others.
I had said my peace and finished my complaining when just a few hours later a friend texted me to say she was bringing us a meal from our favorite restaurant. No questions asked. And she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She told me to call in our order and the time she we would bring dinner by.
I smiled BIG. And I let her love on me.
God had heard my cries. He knew my heart needed encouragement. He wanted me to experience what He would ask me to share with others later.
God was sending me a casserole that looked like takeout containers full of my favorite salad. And I couldn’t have been more thankful.
As I read the handwritten note my friend had tucked in the sack, the Spirit brought to mind others who could use some loved dropped on their doorstep. Why hadn’t I ‘forced’ help on my friends and family who probably weren’t great at accepting love either?
I wanted to remember this moment. Of how it felt to find the missing casserole so I could share it with the next person who needed a hot mocha after a long night with a sick child, balloons tied to a car door handle of a friend that had a terrible not-so-good day at work, or a family member who was just diagnosed with the flu who could really use the best chicken noodle soup from her favorite Mexican restaurant left her on her doorstep.
Let’s all remember the everyday struggles and how important it is not just to recognize the moments with a ‘Praying for you’ note, but to recognize the opportunity to help them feel tangibly loved through it.
Will you open your eyes and ears to see who God wants you to actively love on with a ‘casserole’? Yours may not fit in a dish. It might even be delivered by FedEx, or something as simple as a note to a friend. Our God is creative and specific to each need, so I’m sure your moment of active love will look different than ours.
Would you share with us what you did and how the recipient responded?
Let’s spread some love as we try not to spread any more germs.
Bev Duncan says
Just recently I had the opportunity to share some lovin’ with a young couple we have befriended in our neighborhood through walking dogs together. The wife is pregnant and they just went through an awful scare that has placed her on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. They are vegetarians, so I looked up some “tried and truly good” vegetarian recipes, made dinner and took it over (no asking, just doing). They were overwhelmed with gratitude especially since the husband (not a good cook) had inherited the role of meal preparer. You would have thought I delivered gold to their door. I also told them that my husband and I were praying for them and would continue to do so. We got the nicest, most sincere thank you note from them that expressed how much it meant to them to know that others cared about them and were sharing their burdens. It was a wake up call to me that I need to do more of this… to not ask, but just do. Thanks for an encouraging reminder!!
Bev @ Walking Well With God
What a lovely thing you did Bev x And such an encouraging post, I will definitely be keeping my ears peeled to whom I can spread the love and provide a casserole of sorts to. ‘Not ask, just do’
Missy Robinson says
Just experienced love delivered in the form of soup. I wasn’t asked I was told it was on its way so I couldn’t say no. I swear that soup brought healing. Paying it forward this week and will continue to look for ways to send tangible love to those around me.
Debbie Wenger says
Wow I’m going to love this series. 🙂 Thanks for this kick in the pants. I am so with you and appreciate that you didn’t just appreciate what someone else did, complaining that others don’t do it, but rather saw it as an opportunity to you remember to treat others the way you want to be treated (that never seems to sink in deep enough for us, does it?). I often ask people if they need anything and I usually get a “no thanks” but then realize that’s how I often respond even when it’s not true. Why do we do that? So I think some forceful love is needed 🙂 Thanks so much for this and the encouragement and challenge to love on not just other Christians but those who don’t know Jesus yet. Sometimes our words can speak louder when they include some tangible love, ya? 🙂
valencia sherique says
April Windsor Box says
I find it helpful to use something I enjoy in showing “gifts of love” to a neighbor or friend. For example, I like baking! I’m really into baking bread(s) right now and depending on what recipe I’m using it usually makes 2-3 loaves. So I give them as gifts to others to let them know they are cared for and loved.
Also sometimes I make a too much soup for my little family and so I take over some to a neighbor who lives alone or whose spouse is out of town and needs a good home cooked meal.
One time when I was going through a difficult time a friend gave me a sweet card with gift cards to Chic-fila & Starbucks!!! Needless to say, I felt very loved 🙂
When my Mum was dying of cancer the love we appreciated the most was in the form of home cooked meals friends brought by without us asking. Just not having to think about what to make and not having to leave Mum to do grocery shopping was a HUGE blessing.
Having experienced this blessing I felt compelled to do the same for a Mom of a classmate of my daughter who had cancer. I didn’t know her very well, so I started with just a card offering help, then brought by fresh fruit one day and then when they were well received, a lasagne. As I made the lasagne for her, I prayed God’s healing blessing over it and continued praying each day. In the New Year, when school was out, she texted me to say she got the all clear. She is cancer free. Praise God for His healing power and grace.
Tami Harbin says
Praise Him! I love hearing all clears! 🙂
Ivy Corbett says
This is a God-topic for us right now! I have been stewing over how to love my neighbors, how to reach out and connect. And now I have a broken hip, and was so blessed by some members from my church who brought meals. Such a blessing as we are scrambling at home (now home from hospital) with who can take over all the jobs I used to do. Having to be on only one leg for 6 weeks is really limiting! Brings my heart back to this practical way of loving – especially now that there appear to be no more meals, and I have to consider how we will cook! Appreciate the creative bent of hearing what might be best for a particular person. My words for 2015 are “responsive obedience” – hearing the Lord, and following as He leads. Perfect for this topic. Thank you!
Missy Robinson says
During a season of family crisis and challenging single mom years, I will never forget the way some reached out to me without asking and provided just the bump needed at the time. Pizza delivered without asking, lawn help, etc. Now I know to be intentional about demonstrating love. Seriously, there is nothing else that reminded me of Jesus’ care for me than His people meeting my needs. Let’s do this!
Lynn Richards says
YAY! Thank you for this. I just put some money on a community gift card at Dream Dinners for some dear friends who just lost their son. They have multiple food allergies in their family and have requested “casseroles” in this form. Thanks for the reminder that community still exists.
In the days leading up to Christmas, as I cleaned up after puking kiddos, I worried, knowing it could hit the adults next. I was right and it was worst case scenario. Christmas morning both my husband and I were throwing up, leaving our fully recovered children cheerless, giftless (I hadn’t wrapped yet!) and essentially parentless as we took turns running to the bathroom. Christmas morning a friend left her family and went to the only thing open on Christmas. She delivered a laundry basket she managed to fill at the gas station. Crackers, applesauce, Gatorade, treats for the kids, bread so the 10 year old could be in charge of lunch, everything we could possible need. It saved us. She put the CHRIST in Christmas that day.
Kaz Zer says
Well, there is a lady who was sitting at the back of our church prayer meeting for four long years without saying a word. So one day I invited her to join me in our worship team. She is not perfect and not all together at all but the one thing that touched my heart is that no one ever told her she is loved. She makes lots of stupid mistakes and gets it all wrong all of the time. Sometimes it’s no use getting into it but just tell her I’m sorry instead as she didn’t get it at all. I’m not humoring her. I just think that God has HIS purpose and gosh, how could a person have never been told that they are loved. It’s common here. Lots of ladies have said this here in my city, cos I’m just a girl and not a son. So, she has been around for two years now and she is our intercessor. She turns up all the time and she does not even expect a meal though she has nothing at all. Not a bean. She asks for nothing. She just loves to be a part of our team. Nothing else. When we are done, she just goes home. Back home. She expects nothing. It blows my mind cos I’ve come from a very comfortable life. But God. HE just sent her to us, or, to me. Cos I care.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Did I say, Yes? A big amen to this post!
Mary Carver says
I just wrote about this!! I wrote about it from the other side – where I’ve had the chance to tangibly love someone and didn’t. I’m never sure what’s too much or not enough or bad timing or appropriate. But really? I need to get over myself and just DO, just LOVE. Because I’ve been in your shoes more times than I can count, wishing someone cared enough to DO and to LOVE. Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie. It’s definitely something on my heart this week!
Just last week I learned that my neighbor lady had the flu, but was getting well. I wished I had known earlier, but we just moved to this neighborhood & I hadn’t gotten to know her very well yet. I put it “into gear” and made some chicken/rice soup for her & her husband. They were so touched and sent me a lovely card saying how much they enjoyed it, couldn’t stop eating it and how I was a “God send”. It warmed my heart just knowing how my small gesture meant so much to them.
I’m 61 and retired. Been through the full-time work while raising a family and when someone gets sick….Ouch! It hurts…it really hurts. You feel helpless, guilty and overwhelmed.
My neighbors are both Teachers. They have 3 children…it seems like sickness is always falling on their household. Last week I heard the Mother was ill and two of the children were also sick with the flu. I had just finished supper for my Husband and I. We had plenty left over. So I asked my Husband to take the remaining food over to their house so the Mom wouldn’t have to cook. They were so happy to receive the meal. The Mother said it was such a relief and gave her some down time! The smallest of gifts sometimes mean the most.
God bless us all with the virtue of more and more giving!
Judy morgan says
What a nice thing to do.
My husband passed away last June. Oh how I pray every day that people would remember me and bring me a casserole. No one seems to care. On Christmas day I was all alone, no one called. And if one more person turns it around and blames me for not doing my part such as volunteering, I think I’m totally going to lose it. I just need time to heal and it would be so nice if someone would nourish my body and soul by thinking of me and offering me a casserole. Please pray for me. Thank you.
Praying Jesus will wrap His arms around you, Therese. Also praying that someone will be His hands and feet in your life. He sees every tear you have cried.
Thank you with all my heart!
Stephanie H. says
Therese, my heart goes out to you. I will pray for you.
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Judy morgan says
So sorry Therese…. We can be so thotless sometimes. I wish I knew you… I would gladly bring u a whole meal. I’m sorry for the loss of your husband… I can’t even imagine the pain of that. I pray our Father give you friends who really will show you His love. Judy
Thank you, this means so much to me!
Moriah S. says
Praying for you!!
“As your days, so shall your strength be.”
I would bake you a casserole if I could! And some brownies too.
Thank you so much for your prayers and nice thoughts!
Dear Therese, Lifting you up in prayer right now. Dear Lord I pray for your loving comfort and warm embrace around Therese. Help her feel Your love in tangible ways. Help her to know just how much you love her.
I can’t imagine your pain. Big huge hugs! BTW if you let us know where you live/share your email address, maybe someone could offer more practical love? I live in the Netherlands, so am probably not much use?
Thank you for your loving prayers and hugs!
I praying that “we” can be your casserole. That we can bring some light into your life and that the Lord will bless you with peace and comfort your heart!
All these loving replies are like a soothing balm to my wounds. Thank you everyone!
Beth Williams says
Praying you feel God’s loving arms surround you! I pray you will heal and grieve and allow God to comfort you during this time!
Thank you so much!
I am praying for you, Therese, but for more than a casserole on Christmas. I want you to know His undying, unquenchable love for you every day! Hugs from afar, L
Thank you so much Laurabelle! Thank you for your prayers!
Susan G. says
I loved this Stephanie. Such truth. I know most of us have ‘heard’ the Lord many times, and we have obeyed that voice. But we really need to ‘hear’ on a daily basis to be fully used by Him. Now I need to heed my own words, and pray every morning “Let me hear your voice today Lord, and not to miss it.”
Bless you…with many more ‘casseroles’ when needed!
Lovelle Ellen Gerth says
Moriah S. says
What a beautiful idea!! The courage God has given me to love lately came by a simple idea. A Valentine Card Challenge for orphans in Uganda. He has blessed my goal of 1400 by Feb. 14th greatly! So far we have a total of 1,068.
I insisted on taking a friend that I haven’t had for more than maybe a year or two to chemotherapy. It meant I had to take a day off of work and she didn’t want me to do that but I told her I was doing that and that was that. I have an incurable illness myself and children so taking off time is scary to me because I might need it but it felt like the right thing to do. Her husband doesn’t work and I felt he “should” stay but I refused to judge so I forced it on her and I know she really, really appreciated and I have faith that God will take care of my family and me so I still have my time off of work for us.
Diane, you are truly a child of God. I pray that He would send you one of His miracles.
Melanie Singleton says
This is beautiful. I’ve recently learned to receive and say “yes” to many who ask to help. It feels risky, letting myself be loved. Yet, it’s my deepest longing, all of ours.
Carrie Wibright says
Oh wow!! I’m really good at this and love showing the cross through my actions of love-He wired me for hospitality and service. We JUST sent 10 frozen homemade meals to my brother in law in Atlanta. god is so good! And so is FedEx!
Recently an Al-Anon friend lost her husband. He was in his 80s and had deteriorating health. But I loved their shares in meetings. I felt such a loss I couldn’t bring myself to contact her. Last week, I sat down and wrote her a note, telling her how much I love their sharings. She wrote back that my note was ‘such a pleasant surprise.’ I know it was my HP pushing me to sit down and write the note.
Beth Williams says
I am forever cooking for people. Last year a neighbor lost her young son and another friend had both parents in hospital. My hubby and I took off for KFC. We got a bucket and sides for the neighbor and I got 2 meals for my friend and hubby. We delivered the meal just as my friend was coming home from hospital.
Later that year I got another meal for that same friend when her mom was back in hospital. I also made (canned chili) with some turkey in it for them.
Any chance I get to cook for people or send cards, buy something I do it without asking and deliver it. I know it is appreciated and some day perhaps I will want the same!
Judy Turner says
A friend needed some help, she had a newborn baby, and three other children; and things were a little crazy. I did not have any extra money to spend to make her a casserole dish, but I did have extra time. I told my friend that I would like to babysit her children for several hours, so her and her husband could go out “on a date.”. They enjoyed the opportunity, and the children and I had fun.