Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hands that serve


Yes this is a picture of feet, not hands, but let me explain. I'm in a women's small group that meets weekly for a time of study, friendship and prayer. Our leader, Lisa, recently announced she'd been hired by the church to coordinate the small group ministry full-time, meaning she could no longer participate in our day-time group. I can't tell you how sad I am to lose her, but how excited I am for all the other groups she can now bless.

Last week was our last meeting together, and Lisa told us she wanted to do something special. She let us know lunch would be served. So we all showed up to find a yummy spread of salad with all the fixings, chicken, croissants, sweet tea and brownie pie - a classic southern lunch! Off to the side sat chairs arranged in a circle.

Lisa ushered us to the chairs first thing and after we were seated she said, "I'm about to do something for each of you that I've never done for anybody, not even my husband." She handed each of us a towel with "Philippians 1:3" embroidered across it and announced she was going to wash our feet. We removed our shoes and socks and one by one she went around the circle, washing each of our feet while telling us what she appreciated most about us. It was very touching, and a day I won't soon forget.

Lisa refers to me as "the famous one," to my embarrassment and chagrin because shortly after she met me she saw me on the cover of the P31 Woman magazine. (Yes, she has a pretty lenient view of what it means to be famous.) As she washed my feet she told me that she enjoyed finding out that I'm just a regular gal, and she called me humble. (I think she must also have a very lenient definition of humble.) All I could think as I sniffled back tears was, "You're calling me humble, yet you're the one washing our feet." Lisa is a true servant leader.

We went through a lot of tissues - we cried
not only when Lisa got to us, but while watching and listening to her honor every other woman in the circle as well. Occasionally some one would break the emotional weight of the moment with a comment about how badly they needed a pedicure, or else how happy they were that they'd just painted their toes. My recent at-home-spa day and always-keep-my toes-painted mantra served me well. In the pic above, mine is the rather pale foot with "Wild Thing" red polish.

Have you ever experienced a touching moment like this when someone humbly served in a way you'll never forget? Post a comment and inspire us! Or, have you ever wanted to do something daringly humble or self-sacrificing? If so, tell us about that and spur us on towards good works. Or maybe there's just been a day when you were so glad you'd just painted your toes too.

Anyone who posts any comment here between now and next Wednesday morning (1/23/08) will be entered for a drawing to win a Mary Kay Satin Hands kit valued at $30, courtesy of Dawn Ward. It contains the extra-emollient cream, buffing cream, cleansing gel and hand cream so you can get those hands ready to serve, or pamper them a little after washing someone's feet.
I look forward to hearing from you!

32 comments:

  1. My touching moment was a lot of little moments. I have three children. When they were 1, 2 and 7 years old my sister would come over and help me clean and organize my home. She had no children and a clean home. She didn't complain to me - she just helped. I now realize what a great help she really was. I want to return the favor to others. I have a teen parent living next door to me. Sometimes I give her a manicure/pedicure or help organize and clean her room. She really is overwhelmed emotionally.

    When we help others - they get an opportunity to put life in perspective. With God's Grace...

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  2. Have I done anything worthy of mentioning here? I cannot recall. However, there has been lots of blessings blowing my way lately. One of them was a brand new washer. November of 2007, our washer broke. So, I prayed and prayed for a used washer that I could afford, went to freecycle group and asked for one. But, no answer. Then, I humbly hand-washed my child's clothes (1 of six)and with every stroke of it prayed and praised God for healthy body, and hope for a new washer. The next day, I received an excited call that someone was donating a brand new washer for me. Now, that was very emotional to me because, I've received a lot of gifts, but they were used, some food were even a year or two overdue, but nothing new. So, this was very emotional and touching to me.

    One thing I've always wanted to do is to have the ability to bless someone who cannot pay me back. I would like to someday, purchase a home for a deserving family. It's a big dream, but nothing is impossible with God. And, like the little kid in The Rugrats said,"it is my wish anyway."

    So, there you have it. Can you tell, I really want to win? Honestly, I want to give something big to someone. I want to know how it feels to bring tears of joy to someone else.

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  3. My husband and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary the day after Christmas. We had planned for quite sometime to go away for a few days and were really looking forward to it. My Mom was going to come and be with our boys while we were gone to take them to swim practices, meetings, etc. Just about a week before she had a change of plans and couldn't make it. A dear friend of mine stepped in and immediately offered to stay at our home with the boys and take them wherever they needed to go. This was such a precious gift for me because her husband has been without work for several months and I know things were tight for them. She was willing to give of herself and bless me and my husband.

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  4. Forgot to add, if I win, I will share it with my dear friend.

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  5. Rachel,

    Thanks for your comment on my post for the contest. I appreciate it. This blogging thing is kind of new for me so every comment is precious to me. Thanks for taking the time!!!

    Blessings!

    Elaine

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  6. Rachel,
    I am so glad you got to experience a "washing feet" ceremony. Allan and I did this at a couple's conference we hosted a few years ago, boy was the powerful to wash your husbands feet, and for him to wash yours. Words can not describe the power in these activities.

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  7. I love your foot shot! I often take foot shots of myself in different places (family and friends laugh at this).

    Two years ago at a women's retreat, we were "surprised" in much the same way by many of the leaders and lay leaders of our church. As I sat there and closed my eyes, I felt as if it were Jesus washing my feet. I will never forget it.

    I'm so glad I stopped by... your post reminded me that I never put that moment down on paper. Thank you for sharing your moment!

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  8. I am in seminary, where we frequently have well-known authors speak in chapels. On one occasion, a line of people stood waiting to shake hands with a well-know man who has authored over 20 books. I noticed the president of the college and seminary in line with the rest of us. When he got to the front, he introduced himself simply with his first and last name, no title. The author greeted him and was ready to move on, when someone told him, "This is the president of our school!" Immediately the author did a double-take and began a conversation. I was struck with the humility that the president showed, with no thought that he should be treated any differently above the other students around him. It was a true example to me of having the mind of Christ, "who emptied himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant." What a blessing to have someone like that lead the school by such an example in humility. He has discovered what many of us must still find-- to be a leader, we must be the servant of all.

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  9. I am in seminary, where we frequently have well-known authors speak in chapels. On one occasion, a line of people stood waiting to shake hands with a well-know man who has authored over 20 books. I noticed the president of the college and seminary in line with the rest of us. When he got to the front, he introduced himself simply with his first and last name, no title. The author greeted him and was ready to move on, when someone told him, "This is the president of our school!" Immediately the author did a double-take and began a conversation. I was struck with the humility that the president showed, with no thought that he should be treated any differently above the other students around him. It was a true example to me of having the mind of Christ, "who emptied himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant." What a blessing to have someone like that lead the school by such an example in humility. He has discovered what many of us must still find-- to be a leader, we must be the servant of all.

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  10. We had a foot washing ceremony for the children in Wednesday night church one evening. The humbling part of it for me, was to witness their response. We were concerned that they "wouldn't get it" and would just be freaked out by all the stinky feet and turn what should be a special experience into a circus. But these kids really responded! Even the most hyper in the bunch grew quiet as his feet were gently massaged and lotioned. They really seemed to feel the power of servitude. It humbled all of us adults involved to see their reaction.
    Thank you for your gentle heart. I so enjoy reading your observations and insights into your experiences.

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  11. Our Kinship (Small Groups) at our church that meet on Thurdays last year our group sold an item on Ebay and with the money we decided tha we would use the money for the Lord. We got together and discussed who we could bless. Our church was doing a Kids Kamp soon for the children that lived in the town that our church was in. The camp did not have outside lights so we bought tons of flashlights and we looked up verses that had to do with God's love and light and printed them out and put them on the flashlights for the children. It was something special we did for the children and it moved me doing it and felt wonderful! it was something the children could read everytime they used their flashlights. They were also allowed to keep them - so they brought them home where they could read that little verse on the flashlight that may have touched their little hearts. It's a great feeling to do something kind, loving and Godly for someone else. Gives you a great feeling inside.

    Washing of the feet. I've heard of that. How humble. How neat. Never experienced it- but wouldn't mind I don't think. God Bless!!!--Linda

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  12. Rachel..I mean the Famous One:),
    That picture is priceless!!! That would make an excellent cover for our magazine, don't you think?

    How awesome of your leader. Great story. Miss you friend:)
    Love,
    Melissa

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  13. Rachel,
    It is so nice to "meet" you online, not sure if I'll make it to the conference, I really hope so!

    Thank you so much for blessing me today! You really did!

    I'll be back.
    Sue

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  14. My mother is a servant..she has a servants heart. She will come when I am bogged down and fold laundry, keep my children, cook a meal...you name it. I do try my best to return the favors. She is a blessing to my family and I love her dearly!
    What a wonderful, humble thing your friend did for you and the group.
    Blessings~Alyce

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  15. Rachel-your post brought tears to my eyes as this act of service is so special. Imagine how the world would change if we did this more to those around us? What a blessing you were able to share. I have experienced this in a group also but we did not know each other as well as your group. The value of those words of affirmation! Our pastor did this to our leadership team which my husband is on. It was very humbling for him also. My anniversary is coming up...I may have to incude this for my husband, to honor him. What a beautiful thought (thanks Charlene Kidd!).
    In His Graces~Pamela

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  16. I would love to do more things that are self-sacrificing. I sometimes get too caught up in the need for response/thank you/acknowledgment for what I did for someone, and get disappointed if it isn't what I would hope for. Your post really helped me in my journey of just doing things to bless people and by doing so I am doing it to Jesus, and He sees, and that's all that matters!
    Blessings,
    Kelly

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  17. crowtherkidsmomJanuary 22, 2008

    Thank you so much for the enlightening post. In today's world, we often feel that we need to do something elaborate in order to honor someone: build a library in their name, rename a street etc. What your friend did to honor you and your group was simple and humble... which is something that we rarely see nowadays. She gave from her heart and that is the most precious gift anyone can give.

    My husband is always trying to do something to make my life easier. As I suffer from Fibromyalgia, it is often hard to get all of the work around the house done that I want to get done. At Christmas this year, I asked my husband if there was anything special that he wanted for Christmas and he said "just knowing that you love my and you so graciously have agreed to leave a career behind to care for our children and myself... that you were willing to give up what you were used to, that is all I really need." Here he was honoring me for something that I very willingly wanted to do (I have never liked the 9 to 5 ratrace of the workplace).

    I was stunned... because he had never really told me his true feelings. He tends to keep things bottled up, but he honored me by letting me see what feelings he had held inside. For the past year, I had been writing down my feelings and prayers, whenever my husband sent me to my room to rest. In it I wrote how much I appreciated his unselfish way in which he helped around the house and how well he was able to take care of the children, when I physically could not. I wrote about how Godly it was of him to serve me, even when his day was already crammed with stuff to do and how much it lifted my spirits.

    His willingness to serve me, has opened up my eyes and has helped me to realize that it does not take a large amount of money or prestige to honor someone, it is in the little things that we do for others ie: helping a neighbor by shovelling the sidewalk before they get out of bed, sitting down to talk with an elderly person in a nursing home, babysitting for a single mon so that she can have some alone time to reenergize herself.

    Some people may think, how is my husband honoring me? Isn't marriage a 50/50 relationship? As a Titus 2 wife, it is my job to take care of the household, while it is my husband's job to support the family through his work. His workday is often long and stressful, and I believe that he needs to be able to sit down and relax when he gets home. Instead, he willingly helps me without my asking him to.

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  18. I do have an occasion worth sharing. I have been blessed to have my feet washed at a retreat through a women's ministry. After a friend attended the same retreat, she shared with many women how having her feet washed encouraged her to wash her husband's feet. Listening to her talk about washing her husband's feet, the Holy Spirit stirred deep within my soul and gave me a desire to wash my own husband's feet. My husband's birthday was a few weeks following our conversation and I wanted to give him a very special gift. I surprised my husband for his birthday by washing his feet. This took great humility on my part, but it was such a blessing to see my husband's reaction. As I knelt at his feet to wash them, I prayed for blessings upon my husband as the Lord led me. I thought I was going to bless my husband this day, but I was blessed just the same if not more. As I washed my husband's feet, the Lord gave me an new and deeper understanding of how I was called to honor and respect my husband. We had been married for nearly 26 years, and I had never experienced such reverence for my husband as I did on that day. I encourage all wives to try it!

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  19. Beautiful story, it really inspires me to try this with my close friends. We have our bible study every Thursday and I would love to show them how much they mean to me. Thanks

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  20. What a wonderful woman! Cherish her forever and God Bless you all!

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  21. What an emotional and humbling experience to have someone wash your feet. This gives you glimpse of how Mary felt when she washed Jesus's feet. God opens the door, all we need to do is take the step to touch others.

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  22. Thanks for sharing this humbling time. I have heard of others doing it and believe it would be a real blessing to our husbands/families, too.

    Oddly enough, I attended a church during my childhood that did this on a regular basis, men and women separately. Our family didn't participate for whatever reason, but I've always remembered that time.

    I do want to watch for opportunities to serve, whether it might be this way or another.

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  23. I washed the feet of the children in our church about seven years ago. At that time, Acacia was 10. She is now 17. She told me not too long ago how that helped her see that serving others was a gift from God. I was humbled. Anyone who works with children lives for the moment when they know they have touched them through Christ. I thank God for the opportunity to serve.

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  24. One of the most touching ways that I have been served was by two of the members of a small group I was participating in. I had shared with the group how overwhelmed I was feeling at the time, feeling especially weighed down by my house and my inability to keep it clean. I had sunk into a mild depression and just couldn't seem to shake it.

    I'd talked to one of my friends from the group on a Thursday night and tried to make plans to meet her after a school meeting the next morning. She told me that she wouldn't be able to meet me then because she and her mom had some special plans together. I replied that that sounded like fun and that we could get together sometime the next week.

    Fast forward to the next morning. It turned out to be particularly rushed, and I headed out the door with all 3 boys (4 and under) to the school meeting. When I returned home about 4 hours later after running errands and having lunch with my husband (who had called me out of the blue as I was driving home), I walked into a house that was sparkling clean from top to bottom--although it took a minute for it to register with me. As I walked into the kitchen from the garage I glanced at the kitchen table wondering what had happened to all the dishes that I was sure I had left there a few hours earlier. As I slowly made my way through the kitchen, I noticed that the door to my bedroom was open--something I NEVER do because it's always so messy--and could see a perfectly made bed and freshly vacuumed floor. In an instant I recalled my friend and her mother's "special plans" for Friday morning and knew in an instant what those plans had been. I immediately fell to my knees, praising God in humble gratitude for such amazing servant love from my sisters in Christ. I won't ever forget it and hope someday to be able to give a gift of that magnitude to someone who needs it as much as I did at the time.

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  25. I think it is so cool what Lisa did! I did something similar a couple of years ago at our youth girls "sisterhood beach getaway" I, too felt the Lord leading me to do a foot washing, I had the teenage girls wash each others feet and then give each other pedicures. The leaders and myself did the same for each other. It was a very touching moment, the leaders and I prayed and asked the Lord to pair each of the girls off, and He did a fabulous job(as always!) Girls that normally did not "hang" in the same circles were suddenly humbling themselves and washing each others feet and painting their toe nails! God moved so powerfully that evening, we even had a young girl that had an issue with being touched, and God set her free! She won our "good sport" award that night! It is truly a blessing to humble ourselves and serve one another. Thank you and everyone else for sharing, I enjoy reading everyone's comments!

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  26. I forgot to add, we also took a "foot shot" of all the girls and leaders that night, wish I still had the picture to share, one of my girls has it!

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  27. Hi Rachel!
    I just wanted to mention how much you blessed me today with your P#! devotion on patience - what a perfect God-send for me today! Secondly, the Lord has me serving in a women's ministry leadership role, and I've always wanted to do "something" related to feet washing - this is perfect. Thanks for the great idea!

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  28. Hi Rachel!
    I just wanted to mention how much you blessed me today with your P#! devotion on patience - what a perfect God-send for me today! Secondly, the Lord has me serving in a women's ministry leadership role, and I've always wanted to do "something" related to feet washing - this is perfect. Thanks for the great idea!

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  29. Not only are your words a blessing to me, but imagine how many others Lisa will bless by the pebble effect of her actions. Carol

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  30. I have been blessed to have received many serving moments but one always sticks out in my mind the most...Much to my, dislike, I was in the process of ending an abusive marriage. It was a Wednesday night and I was in route through the church to pick up my two children from their scouting classes. As a passed through the hallway, I encountered an acquaintance, whom I esteemed highly as a very godly woman. She asked me how I was doing - and gently prodded me to tell her "the truth." Truthfully I was acclimating myself to a new job, hoping my children would be able to find some new kind of normal, processing the legal ease of my attorney, and wondering what everyone was going to wear the next day because I hadn't found time to get to the laundry mat. As I recounted my concerns she said, "don't worry about it." I said, "what?" She said, "the laundry. I'll be over in 30 minutes to pick it up and have it back to you before you have to drop the kids off to school." I was totally taken aback. I explained that the clothes weren't sorted and there were at least five baskets...she shushed me and said, "meet the at your apartment in half an hour." Sure enough, she came through. Not only was the laundry delivered back before school, but it was folded beautifully, pressed when appropriate and a precious note of love included. That was more than ten years ago, and I remember the smell of that clean laundry like it was yesterday! It still brings tears to my eyes!

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  31. I recall my first foot washing by a beautiful saint, Margaret Navorska, so humbling, so sweet and with such love. I wish now I could kiss her cheek, and one day I will. To practice what Jesus taught is such a beautiful expression of His love.

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  32. What a powerful yet gentle picture! I can see your friend being a major blessing to these other groups. Your loss is their gain, but think of all the lives that will be touched! How awesome!!

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