Friday, September 11, 2009

You live where?

"Yuma? What's in Yuma?"

That was the question we were asked. Over.and.over.

That was 23 years ago when we lived in Phoenix. The words that came next were pure irony: "It's hot down there!"

For those uninitiated to our little corner of the country, it is hot here. But it averages something like 2 degrees warmer than Phoenix year around. Oh, and Phoenix is slightly more humid than we are. Oh, and we get more wind because we are in the Colorado River Valley. Oh, and we don't spend hours every week stuck in traffic.

Besides, as one sage former resident told me, "After two years your brain fries and you don't know any better!" Therefore, take the rest of this article with a grain of salt. Or just toast me with a glass of Gatorade.

This desert place has its own beauty. (My brother's wife thinks the trip across the desert from the metropolis of Gila Bend, Arizona is the longest stretch of highway in the world!) You have to love brown to appreciate it, but the desert in bloom is a sight to see. The desert mountains are rugged and grand, even though they are small compared to, say, the Rockies.

Ask anyone who has seen a Big Horn Sheep in the wild or spent a sunset lazily floating along the Colorado in the shade of red sandstone -- this place is beautiful. Put that together with friendly people, beautiful fields of produce and uncrowded streets -- you've got a winning combination that I love to call home.

Someone came from Phoenix not long ago and called Yuma the best-kept secret in Arizona.

Shhhh. Don't tell anybody!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Words We Can't Retrieve

Cathy got placed in a situation recently which at first broke her heart. Then it propelled her into action.

Lady A (Cathy knows everyone in this story) emailed Lady B. In the email, Lady A made some critical remarks about Lady C. Lady B sent out a group email to a large number of women. In it, she accidentally sent the original email from Lady A. Lady C is in the group.

Lady C then sent out her own email to the group expressing her extreme hurt and anger at what Lady A had said. Cathy knows and deeply cares for both these ladies and was driven to tears by the severity of what she was reading. "What should I do?" Cathy asked.

After consideration, she immediately wrote to Lady A. By then, Lady A had expressed her embarrassment and sorrow for what she had said and the hurt she caused. Cathy knows about the experience of letting words escape and wishing to goodness she could get them back.

I know, too. Do you?

Anyway, Cathy wrote, expressing her love and support of Lady A.

That's not all. Lady C lives nearby. Cathy, having chosen how to respond, went to Lady C's home to express her support for her, too. In both instances she encouraged the ladies to work through the problem. She even offered to help.

What would you have done?

"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9 New Living Translation)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They put a smile on your face...

I need your help once again, reader. I'm working on an upcoming project and am looking for stories about serving.

Specifically, when have you felt totally and unselfishly served? It could have been at a business or in a home. The one serving might be someone you know or someone you don't. Please tell us about your experience.

Second question: how did being served by that person affect you?

Thanks for all your help. I did this a few weeks ago and it was quite beneficial.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Those Who Serve

My friend and Christian brother Jose has uniquely reminded me about the importance of Labor Day. Jose, who is educated, a farm manager, citizen of two countries, bilingual, and one of the smartest men I know when it comes to fruits and vegetables, remembers those who work hard in the fields. I know. Virtually every time I have heard him pray for a meal, he thanks God for them and asks the Almighty to bless them.

Having grown up on a little farm, I can remember many prayers of thanksgiving for the fresh food we ate. We were grateful for the bounty of a harvest. But Jose, in this industrialized, information-age culture, takes time to remember the workers who helped deliver the food we enjoy.

I know that the idea of Labor Day is far more about Unions and management, blue-collar and white collar, etc. But yesterday, during prayer over breakfast, I was reminded of those who serve us on a regular basis.

People like Victoria, the server at a local restaurant where my little accountability group meets each week for lunch. The moment she knows which of the three of us will be there, she gets our drinks on the table.

Or people like the maids who clean our hotel rooms or the folks who stock the shelves at the supermarket. I know one man who has some limitations, but he faithfully gets the shopping carts from the local WalMart parking lot and puts them back in the store.

Each of these, like the workers in the fields, serves. They labor.

Here's our problem. We move so quickly through life that they are often invisible to us. But we can do something about that. We can be thankful for them when we pray. And we can be thankful to them when we see them.

When is the last time you saw a worker cleaning a public restroom? Many of us would never want that job. It's the kind of work that usually gets noticed for its failures. What if you looked that worker in the eye and said, "Thank you for keeping the restroom clean."

You might be surprised at the kind response.