Be a blessing through listening
I was talking with a friend last week about how our Facebook feeds have gone from fun and entertaining to depressing and me-focused. Whether it’s our friends sharing their political views at nauseaum or post after post of selfies, it has become another avenue for society to compare, shame, and tick off people. My friend and I have both recently begun to “unfollow” people who constantly put negative vibes out into the Facebook universe.
How I miss the days of my Facebook feed being full of my friends’ cute kids, family vacations, or fun adventures!
There is no better timing than now for Karen Ehman to release her new book, Listen, Love, Repeat (available tomorrow at LifeWay). What would happen if all of us turned from a me-focus to an outward focus? Can you imagine the radical shift in moods, levels of joy, and the expanded witness we would have?
Here’s a look at Karen’s new book:
Our culture is self-obsessed – in our schedules, relationships, and especially online. (Can you say selfie?) But in this near-narcissism, people are less content than in decades past. Why? Because we forgot the joy that comes from putting others first. Doing so requires us to live alert, listening for “heart drops,” hints from those in our lives who need a helping hand or a generous dose of encouragement. Living alert lifts our own spirits, showing us that blessing others blesses us even more.
Listen, Love, Repeat offers biblical teaching and suggests doable actions that are simple, heart-tugging, sentimental, even sneaky and hilarious. This message:
- Presents scriptural examples of those who lived alert, including Jesus, who noticed those who least expected to be seen.
- Explains the role of good works for followers of Christ. They aren’t our ticket to heaven but they are our marching orders on earth.
- Gives creative ideas for showing love to friends and family, and suggests practical ways to reach out to the lonely, the marginalized, the outcast, and the odd duck. Additionally, it helps you comfort the grieving, showing what you can do when you don’t know what to say.
- Provides inspiration for blessing the “necessary people” in your life, those often-overlooked souls who help you get life done every day, and teaches you how to hug a porcupine by genuinely loving the hard-to-love.
As we scatter love, we create a safe space where we can openly share the gospel. We get to see lives changed right before our eyes. Most importantly, Listen, Love, Repeat will enable you to live a life that is full of kind deeds, not to selfishly shout, “Hey! Look at me!” but to humbly implore, “Will you look at Him?”
I’m so happy to welcome Karen today! She has the perfect word for us as we begin a new week. May you find her words an inspiration to go out and see who you can bless this week! Oh, and be sure to check out the special announcement from Karen at the end!
How to Hear a Heart Drop
“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (HCSB)
Some days my life seems hum-drum. Ordinary. Perhaps even sorrowful at times. When things aren’t going my way, I rely on a piece of advice my sweet mama once gave me. A working mom single-handedly raising two children, she was able to make a wonderful life for our little family even though we lived on a budget so tight it squeaked. However, mom never seemed to be discouraged—although she had reason to be. Instead her life seemed full of purpose and joy. Her secret? She told me it once. “Whenever you feel that your circumstances are getting you down and your life seems unhappy, remember this: there is always someone out there who has it worse off than you. Go find that person and make their day. Somehow, it ends up making your day as well.”
Nearly four decades later, I have done enough day-making to know mama’s words are gospel true. If we make it our aim to lean in and listen to the people in our lives, we’ll locate that someone—a soul in need of some of encouragement, a few minutes of physical help, or even some financial assistance. They may not ask for it outright. In fact, they almost never do. However, when we purpose to listen between the lines we can learn to catch what we refer to around our house as a “heart drop”. Let me explain.
A heart drop is when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into their heart. It may be through actual words, or you may pick up on a feeling, perhaps sadness or loneliness. Or maybe you sense anxiousness or worry in the tone of their voice when they bring up an upcoming medical test or job interview.
When we hear a heart drop, we can brush it aside and go on our busy way. Or, we can respond with an act of kindness and become the conduit through which God shows his attentive and unconditional love, delivered uniquely to each individual just when they need it most. When we do, we help to lighten a load—whether physical, financial, or emotional. We recently experienced this in our own family.
Our youngest son has a friend who hangs out at our house—and eats lots of our food! He was raised mainly by his dad, but his paternal grandmother was also very involved in rearing him. When he was in middle school, she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that soon took her life. Whenever he talks about his grandmother, there is still a twinge of sorrow in his voice.
One day as we were discussing his grandma, this teen excitedly talked about her fabulous cooking. I asked him what his favorite foods were that she used to make. “That’s easy,” he answered. “Double-meat lasagna and pineapple upside-down cake.” I listened to him describe her delectable dishes. And then, I walked into the other room and wrote down his answer in the Notes app on my cell phone.
A few months later, just before he was to move away to attend college, we had this “sorta son” of mine and his father over for dinner. Any guess what was on the menu that night? Yup. Double-meat lasagna and pineapple upside-down cake.
When I called everyone to the table, he became visibly choked up. He gave me a big hug and quickly sat down and devoured his dinner. Sure, he had eaten at our table many times before. But this night was magical. After we’d eaten, I assured this young man that his grandma would be so proud of who he had become. And since she wasn’t around anymore to cook his favorite meal for him as a sendoff to college, I decided I would step in and have the honor of doing so.
Now let me assure you that I didn’t carry out this quest without a little struggle. It came on a week where I was slammed. I was tempted to just order pizza and have ice cream for dessert, but I knew how much a home-cooked meal like his grandmother used to make would mean to this teen. And the pause and the preparation were good for my soul. They reminded me that relationships require work, that remembering isn’t always easy—and that sometimes sweat is involved in listening and loving.
As we meander through life this week, may we be ever aware of those around us who are giving off heart drops. Lean in and listen. Respond. Love. Reach down to help carry their load. When we do, we fulfill the law of Christ.
Mama was right. Go make someone’s day. When you do, it will make yours as well. And then? Then the boomerang of blessing will land right back in your lap.
Want to go deeper?
Karen is doing a free 5 day video on her new book! It’s called “How to Hear a Heart Drop: 5 Days of Listening Between the Lines.” It offers a short 5 minute teaching from Karen each day along with a story, Bible verse focus, and challenge for the day. You’ll learn how to listen well and how to respond in love, even to those who are difficult to love!
Follow this link to sign up!
Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. She writes for Encouragement for Today online devotions that bring God’s peace, perspective, and purpose to over four million women daily. She has authored ten books including the popular LET. IT. GO: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith and New York Times bestseller Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It and When to Say Nothing at All.
Visit her website at karenehman.com