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Rashional Thoughts Allowing others to hold the rope provides blessing both wayscomment (0)

July 3, 2014

By Jennifer Davis Rash

Belle will be featured in my prayers this day — for her, for each one who has a part in caring for her and Aunt Jen Jen, may the Lord wrap you in His loving comfort and enduring courage.”

Prayers like this have been coming my way continually through email, handwritten notes, Facebook messages and texts. Friends from around the world are following the cancer journey of my 7-year-old niece Belle (www.caringbridge.org/visit/bellemitchell). They have been such a great support to all of us, especially during the intense moments like now. As I write this column, Belle is having a difficult recovery from her fourth brain surgery.

Each day brings new challenges but also new levels of support.

Many who are praying have never even met Belle, yet they tirelessly secure the rope for us to hold on to during this time.

Along with prayer support, many are doing practical things like helping with Belle’s other siblings, mowing the family’s grass, bringing meals and even sending meals from hundreds of miles away (ordering pizza and having it delivered ... a great idea I’m going to remember to use myself).

Showing grace

And so many are helping me personally by taking on extra work assignments, assisting me with my personal responsibilities and showing lots of grace for the commitments I’ve put on hold at the moment.

Some friends are too far away to help clean the house or do laundry, but they sincerely want to help.

“I’m not just saying it. I mean it. Tell me something I can do,” one friend said. Another, “I mean it. We are here to serve.”

And while I know what it is like to be on the other side sincerely wanting to help, it is still hard for us as a family to allow people to do too much. We are always appreciative and even shocked at the care shown by so many, but we start feeling as if we have used up our compassion quota and worry those around us are experiencing compassion fatigue.

Still we are learning to accept the offers more widely and depend on others during the tough moments.

The small things

It is amazing how much someone showing up at the front door with a bag of paper products or a gallon of milk can make a difference. Then there’s the Thinking of You card that shows up with a few $1 bills in it to help with vending machine and parking deck fees at the hospital.

Observing the various options for assisting a family in crisis and plugging into those areas seamlessly and quietly seem to make the greatest impact, I’ve noticed.

Even inexpensive gestures that save the family time or make a routine responsibility more convenient means so much.

Above all though, consistent prayer support undergirds the family. It helps even more when specific prayer needs are known. The best way to keep up with these needs is to follow the patient’s preferred communication plan (CaringBridge, Caring Pages, Facebook, a blog, a family spokesperson, etc.). Another ministry to a family in crisis is to protect the immediate family members’ time and energy and work through extended family, close friends or church connections to stay updated and know how to help.

We have a hard time letting others serve us. We are used to being the ones serving, but what a tremendous blessing it is — in both directions — to allow people to minister to us. It is truly a picture of God’s people at their best.


Rashional Extras



We need the Church 
By Ray Van Neste, professor of biblical studies
Union University, Jackson, Tenn.

I recently read “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque with my sons. With good reason it has been considered a classic. The writing is powerful and sobering, raising many key issues of life as it follows one German soldier through the challenges of life at the front in World War I. One passage particularly caught my attention as an illustration of the Church. After the narrator got lost in no man’s land after a reconnaissance mission at night, he began to despair. The hopelessness of his situation is powerfully communicated. Then in the midst of the darkness and despair he heard movement and voices. He realized these were his friends nearby. Then he states:

“At once a new warmth flows through me. These voices, these quiet words, these footsteps in the trench behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death by which I had been almost destroyed. They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear, they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades.

“I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness — I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me.”

This is the Church. In the midst of a fallen world, particularly in our dark times when despair claws at us, we need to hear the voices of our brothers and sisters, the ones to whom we belong and who belong to us. The ones with whom we have shared life and fears and joys. At various times, when our faith falters and our strength fails, it will be these voices that save us and stand by us. 

But this only really works when there is a community of believers with whom we are connected, whom we know and by whom we are known. This is the vision of church we see in Hebrews 3–4 when we are called to watch over one another and exhort one another daily lest anyone “be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). Throughout the New Testament the Church is not simply an audience for a sermon or a gathering for a program, but it is a community of faith where people care for one another, watch over one another, linking arms with one another to help each other on our way to the Celestial City, saying, “We don’t intend to make it there without you.” We dare not neglect this great gift of the Church.


Making the most out of the work you do
Excerpts from the book “Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results”
By Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen

“There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.”

1. Choose your attitude.

When you are doing what you are doing, who are you being? Are you being impatient and bored, or are you being world famous? You are going to act differently if you are being world famous. Who do we want to be while we do our work?

2. Play.

Fun is energizing and leads to creativity. Happy people treat others well. Having a good time is healthy and helps time pass quickly. Work becomes a reward and not just a way to rewards.

3. Make their day.

Who are our customers and how can we engage them in a way that will make their day? How could we make each other’s days?

Serving our customers well will give us the satisfaction that comes to those who serve others. It will focus our attention away from our problems and onto how we can make a positive difference to others. This is healthy, will feel good and will unleash even more energy.

4. Be Present.

Be present for each other and our customers.



“Anything I hold on to, anything I am unable or unwilling to give over to Him is actually holding on to me. Am I willing to do whatever is necessary to loosen the chains of bondage? ... Surrender is a major step for real life change. ... We cannot continue to do negative things and expect to get positive results.”

Joyce Ainsworth
“Food, Freedom and Finish Lines! How to Lose the Weight and Win Back Your Life”



Shared yearnings for the future of the Church:

For a bold, enhanced, reformed and enlivened Church to exist.

For churches to transform the lives of everyday Christians.

For imagination to take precedence over institutionalization as we shape the future together.

Kathryn Mary Lohre
Keynote speaker at the 2014 Associated Church Press convention and author of “For Such a Time as This”



I liked your Rashional Thoughts “Blitzing My Way to Freedom” in the May 29 issue of The Alabama Baptist. The last three paragraphs really got me thinking about the importance of not letting the immediate distract me from the eternal. As humans, it is so easy to let that happen.

Bob Van Elsberg
Enterprise, Ala.



“Before we can renew our business (or ministries), we have to be renewed ourselves. We all need renewal in our personal lives and can’t come up with new ideas for business until we renew ourselves. We must take time for ourselves. Even when we are doing ministry work, the tank may get very low.”

Roger Lall
DePaul University in Chicago, Ill.

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