One Sentence Eulogy

If you are my Facebook friend, it's no secret that I have been reading a book (again) that I deeply love.  The title is Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman.  I don't get paid to promote the book.  I don't get a cut if you buy it.  I just think you should read it because it teaches us why and how to put others before ourselves in a world screaming "me first!"

One of the reasons I've really enjoyed it is because it gives actual, practical advice on how to love others beyond taking them a meal or sending a text (both wonderful things to do, however...not knocking either of them).  Like any great book, she goes out on a high note with my favorite two chapters coming at the end - entitled "Nearest and Dearest: How to Really Care for your Clan" and "Scatter Kindness."

As I sit here, plagued by a third trimester overactive bladder and inability to get comfortable in any sleeping position, I found myself contemplating both chapters.  You see, I'm not in a great mindset to be putting others first right now.  I'm grumpy, uncomfortable, sweaty, and tired.  Fortunately, that's all just temporary.  (Well, let's be honest, not the sweaty part.  Okay, or the grumpy part, if I'm being totally transparent.)  Nevertheless, how I treat others cannot depend on my mood.
We need to remember our why, the reason we love and serve and give thoughtful gifts and do good works.  It is so that others will see Jesus.  They may look at us, but we hope they see him.
I have the beautiful luxury of having a lot of "nearest and dearest."  This is amazing because I have seven, soon to be eight, staggeringly different personalities to learn and know and love and navigate.  It means I have seven, soon to be eight, people as a constant audience of me at both my best and, more often, my worst.  Our nearest and dearest have the unfortunate privilege of getting to see our ugly side.  We share with them the short-temper and harsh tones we wouldn't dare show to anyone else.  I am the number one offender when it comes to taking for granted that they know I love them.  I am guilty of pouring into others when I neglect to pour into my own.  "Yeah, but they know how I feel.  I don't have to show them."


This weekend was my husband's birthday.  It came on the heels of a week of business travel for him, and a whirlwind week for me at home with the six kids, a huge belly, plus tons of extra things going on (first soccer practices, volleyball practice, a few play-dates, hosting book club at my house, routine church activities, chores, etc.).  I was feeling less than energetic and inspired when it came to figuring out a present and a way to celebrate.  Fortunately, Sam rose to the occasion himself and arranged for us to pick him up at the airport and spend the night in Atlanta, where we ate at a couple of his favorite restaurants, enjoyed a favorite treat (Auntie Anne's Cinnamon Pretzel), "relaxed" at the hotel pools with six kids, and browsed the exhibit hall of a Homeschool Expo (wait, that part might have been for me).  Knowing he loves a good nap, we let him take a good one on Sunday after we got home, and the kids prepared the decorations and entertainment (an improvised Happy Birthday song to the tune of a wordless Disney karaoke track) while I prepared the caramel cheesecake because I had literally none of the ingredients to make a copycat Chili's Molten chocolate cake.  We presented the photos we took while on the way to Atlanta at church for a gift, and I prayed he somehow picked up on the fact that we adore him.  I simply cannot take for granted that he knows.  We have to show him and tell him we love him.

In the final chapter of the book, Karen poses a question to the reader.  If  someone were to record a one-sentence eulogy about me, what would they say?  How would they describe me?  I took that thought another scary step and pondered what my kids, specifically, would say.  Late in the third trimester suffering from insomnia is probably not the best time to be contemplating this, but I pray they'd be able to say something like:

She laughed more than she cried.
She praised us more than she criticized.
She let a lot of things go that might make other people crazy.
She succeeded more than she failed.
She apologized when she was wrong.
She did for others what others wouldn't do for her.
She was patient even though she was tired.
Maybe, she gave us soft, gentle, thoughtful answers rather than using harsh, painful, and careless words that stirred up anger.  Oh, wouldn't that be amazing?

I'm not sure they can say those things, but I can dream.

Knowing how fleeting our moments are here on earth, I want to do life better.  To scatter more kindness.  To love my nearest and dearest the way they deserve.  To invest in the lonely and brokenhearted.  To recognize the necessary people.  To reach out to the cantankerous and prickly knowing I might get hurt.  To glean my free moments to do these things instead of wasting them playing Cooking Fever or checking Facebook.  (Not that I do either of those things all day long.  I'm a grown woman!  Seriously though.)
Kindness starts simply.
An encouraging word.
A loving gesture.
A tender sentiment sent through the mail.
A thoughtful small token.
The gift of unhurried time.
A rousing pep talk.
Simply vowing to speak and act in a way that is gentle and kind is the starting point.
Aesop was right: "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
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