Friends that ‘outdo one another’

Greater love image revisedMy dear sweet friend had more on her to-do list than 200 people could accomplish in one week, but she didn’t flinch when my situation changed her plans.

She looked into my eyes and saw the 98-mile trek back home was going to be a challenge for me to accomplish on my own. She made a few quick adjustments to her return-trip plan, grabbed my car keys and tucked me safely into the passenger seat.

It was merely one of those crazy headaches I get every once in a while, but it was enough to make a simple hour and a half drive on the interstate seem daunting.

The day before another sweet friend secured a babysitter and hit pause on her routinely hectic day so we could celebrate our May birthdays over lunch. She also stuck around for several hours to help me with an important assignment that was on a tight deadline.

For the past few weeks — really for the past five months — my dear friends at The Alabama Baptist have worked extra hours or gone out of their way to help me with so many different personal and professional tasks, projects and assignments.

‘Love one another’

And then there are friends from church, my neighborhood and beyond who constantly surprise me with an encouraging word, a needed hug or a random act of kindness.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a crowd of special friends.

The Word tells us in John 15:12–15: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

And in Colossian 3:12–14, Paul says: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Doing life together

I sometimes have a hard time accepting help. I’m stubborn like that but I’m learning I really can’t walk life’s journey on my own. I definitely need the help of friends, and I love doing things for friends as well.

The little things are really fun and something I hope I never forget to do, but it is the helping in times of extreme need that fills my heart.

It is such a special gift for me when I get the privilege of doing something for someone that I know is truly needed and appreciated.

In fact, I had an opportunity like this recently when a friend was in a bind and needed someone to pick her up. It was really a simple request but it was urgent and it was such an honor to get the call asking if I could help.

And a few days before that my husband and I had an opportunity to assist a woman who was going to be stranded for hours had we not stepped in. We ended up having several mutual friends in common and connected on a spiritual level as well.

I could have easily ignored what I was hearing as she talked on the phone near me. She didn’t realize I was there and would have never known if I hadn’t helped, but I would have known.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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Happy Birthday, sweet Belle

Belle’s Ball

May 24, 2015 — Belle would have turned 8 today.

By Catherine Williams (friend of Belle’s Aunt Jen Jen)

Belle my sweet girl we still miss you soBelle dress up Aug 2014
You are with Your heavenly Father, this we all know
Your smile brightened our day, bravery inspired us too
We were always amazed by the things you could do
You loved the Disney Princesses, for a princess you are
God loaned you to us, but He is never very far
Belle on your birthday we miss your sweet smile
For you have been the Belle of the ball for quite a while
We miss you sweet Belle, this fact is true
And although you are in heaven we still miss you!
One day in the future we too will dance at Belle’s Ball
But for now may our love be a beacon of hope for all!

—————–

We shared a sIMG_20150524_222514pecial weekend together as a family celebrating Belle’s birthday (for the first time without her here). Along with lots of sweet memories and laughing at so many fun Belle stories, we did a few things in her honor such as wearing (temporary) tattoos of characters in Disney’s Frozen. She would have gotten so tickled to see her Daddy with an Elsa tattoo on his hand. Of course, she would have picked out each of ours for us as well as where they would have been placed if she had been with us.

To learn more about Belle’s story or to read Belle’s birthday post by her Mommy visit  www.caringbridge.org/visit/bellemitchell.

—Jennifer Davis Rash (aka Aunt Jen Jen)

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Do you know a church leader who is at the point of giving up?

Thom Rainer addresses @BhamBaptists Ministers Conference on May 18. (Photo by Maggie Walsh, TAB)

Thom Rainer addresses @BhamBaptists Ministers Conference on May 18. (Photo by Maggie Walsh, TAB)

BIRMINGHAM — “We may be living in the most precarious times in church history, but we are living in the greatest time of opportunity,” said Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, speaking during the Birmingham Baptist Association Ministers Conference on May 18 at Central Park Baptist Church.

Addressing “5 Critical Issues for the Church in 2015,” Rainer said, “God is not done with us. Let’s say to God that we are ready to start over. I will be bold in the presence of the community as we face” issues of culture, change, comfort, crisis and community.

In Zechariah 4, the temple of the Lord has not been built yet, but the foundation has been sitting there for 10 years, Rainer said. It is time to rebuild the house of God and Zerubbabel is the one to lead the effort. He can’t do it in his strength but by the spirit of the triune God.

But just like Zechariah and Zerubbabel, believers today also face discouragement and obstacles. “Many times we also find ourselves like them,” Rainer said — at the point of giving up because of five critical issues.

To read more about those issues, click here.

What are strategies you have used to overcome similar obstacles and crises?

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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TAB on the Road goes international

DSC_0718DSC_0873My first TAB on the Road news/feature video snippet from north of the border tells a little about a news and current events TV program broadcast out of Toronto. Watch the two-minute video here.

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Final Four: Raw talent yes, but also ‘sticking to the fundamentals’ and ‘playing simple basketball’

The Elite Eight are one game away from being the Final Four, and Kentucky is the only team left from my initial picks. 1312322394_Clip_Art

But even with the excitement and intensity of the games, I’m trying to learn from the best of the best in basketball by looking past the fast-paced moments on the court to see what got them there.

It is interesting to hear the coaches’ philosophies on growing a solid team that knows how to win with humility and how to lose with grace. I’m also intrigued with how the coaches teach and develop the players as individuals and as a team.

One coach urged his team to “play simple basketball” while another echoed the sentiment with “stick to the fundamentals.”

And then another coach said “don’t be afraid to take a risk but make the risk count.”

The “play simple basketball” and “stick to the fundamentals” instructions reminded me of the time I attempted to camouflage an English paper in school with a fancy cover sheet, binder and fonts. I don’t remember how weak the writing of the paper was but for some reason I felt compelled to decorate it, likely in an attempt to earn points for presentation.

My English teacher saw right through me and called me out on it. She said I needed to spend more effort developing the fundamentals of the paper and less time trying to make it look good — that if the paper were solid in and of itself, then the rest wouldn’t matter. It would stand on its own.

Her coaching in that moment has guided me in a lot of areas in life well beyond writing English papers, news articles and first-person columns.

And her words come to mind every time I see an organization, team or even church trying too hard to “decorate” itself to earn points with those considering joining it.

Why do we sometimes think a polished image and glossy appearance is more important than securing the core of the structure?

Think about some of the most precious experiences in your life. The surroundings might have been truly beautiful or they might not have been special at all, but most likely whatever was happening was because it was simply what it was meant to be — with no extra, unnecessary decorations.

Tell me about a basketball game or other event in your life when “sticking to the fundamentals” made the difference.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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He’s only 9, but he’s stepping up

Jack is a good-looking kid with a lovable smile who lives life in full-throttle and has a thirst for activity, adventure and amusement. He also can be a bit loud, but the volume merely represents the excitement he is experiencing in the moment.4x3 Jack quote RGB

Jack was a good big brother to Belle. With only two years’ difference in their ages, they were buddies, roomies and confidants. He protected her as a big brother should and he challenged her as any sibling would.

Belle’s fight against cancer ended Jan. 17. Jack and his sisters Taylor and Emily stood by her side through it all and were so strong as they said goodbye. They, along with their mommy and daddy, miss her beyond anything words can describe. So many of us do, but theirs is a pain only they can understand and a hurt so deep that climbing out of it seems impossible at the moment.

Brotherly instincts

And while Jack is the younger brother to Taylor and Emily, I can already see those brotherly instincts to protect his older sisters kicking in. I have a younger brother myself and he has those same instincts. The age order doesn’t always matter when it comes to brothers looking out for their sisters.

Jack was already prepped to make this move because he had turned a corner last summer. I’m not sure what clicked when he turned 9, but he was different. His mannerisms changed and he developed a protective and courteous spirit toward lots of us that we had not seen before then.

New maturity

And that new maturity continued to grow and develop through the fall and into winter, right in line with the decline of Belle’s health.

As I watch Jack help shoulder grief and pain that comes with the loss of a child in a family, I also see him embrace his mom and dad’s decision to “praise the name of the Lord” in all circumstances (Job 1:21).

Even at his young age, he gets it. He lives with hope and peace and knows that “God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

I can’t wait to see the young man he becomes. His life is richer because Belle was his sister and I know he won’t waste an ounce of the part of his heart that belongs to her.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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My heart forever polished in hot pink

Belle cardWe said our official goodbyes to our sweet Belle last night at her celebration service — complete with a sprinkling of hot pink throughout the sanctuary filled with nearly 1,000 people.

To see a glimpse of her silly and sassy spirit and the sweet girl we all loved so much, click here.

To read more about Belle, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/bellemitchell and the September Rashional Thoughts post.

—Aunt Jen Jen

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