Monthly Archives: April 2016


IMG_4241Judy Villanueva

“Kindness is a habit that softens the atmosphere. It is an outgoing of neighbor-love that becomes instinctive, and is often unnoticed even by the person who practices it; yet voices and actions and even thoughts surrounding acts of kindness impart this softening toward others as if it were a benevolent virus, a happy infection that eases everything for everyone…Kindness is a selfless form of thinking that sees a need and meets it, almost by reflex, with no thought of reward. (*J.I. Packard)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32)

I felt the cold wind touch my cheek as I emptied the contents of my trunk onto the pavement. Spring had one more snow shower to deliver and I had one large box to fit into my car before she did! The package looked a lot smaller in the store and was definitely not cooperating with my plan to override the laws of physics. Pushing and turning I pleaded with my new box and just when I’d about given up, a voice lifted up over the parking lot, “Do you need some help there?” It was definitely a rhetorical question asked by a fellow shopper who noticed my predicament. He stopped and with a smile and few calculated shoves loaded my box and closed the trunk! I shook his hand and thanked him, aware that this simple kindness deposited a “soulish” blessing — one that felt like a sweet touch from God.

Kindness is both gentle and powerful! It smells good, feels good and leaves love in its wake.  It notices another and offers care.

It springs up from kind deposits that have left their blessings and created love.

Kindness moves outward with intent to bless.  It is healing and makes us kinder people.  Its touch is disarming and its voice speaks with reminders of things we most need to remember.

“You matter. I see you. I love you. I am here.”

God is kind and when kindness touches us, it helps us touch God.  That is why in the wake of kindness we feel lighter even if our burdens have not yet been lifted, and hopeful even in the midst of a storm.  Is it any wonder God asks us to be kind and tenderhearted to one another because when we are, we usher people into an experience of His presence.

As I drove away with my new box safely tucked away, I became aware of a blessing that lingered over me. “Is that You, God?” I queried, remembering my morning prayer where I’d asked God to help me feel His presence in my real life.  He did … through the kindness of a stranger in the middle of a parking lot!  What may seem like a small gesture was a gift that encouraged my heart and helped me feel God touch my real life.  It also awakened me to the potential that each day holds to be kind and bless others, to participate in God’s kingdom coming to earth through daily habits that “soften the atmosphere” and usher fellow shoppers into His presence.

“Thank you, Father, for your many kindnesses and for helping me feel your presence today. Create love in me and use me to bring your kindness to others. Amen.”

How about you?

Where did you last experience kindness?

How did it make you feel?

Who in your life offers you kindness?

Are you kind?

Can you feel God in and through acts of kindness?

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 *J. I. Packer with Carolyn Nystrom, Guard Us: Divine Leading in Life’s Decisions, )Grand Rapids, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2008), 70)


Pausing and Pointing

DSC_0220By Judy Villanueva

Psalm 18

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (verse 6)

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (verses 16-17) 

He brought me out into a spacious place;  he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (verse 19)

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. (verses 32-33)

…you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. (verses 35-36)

When I look out the big picture window in our home my eyes are immediately drawn to the peak that seems to stand watch over us. It’s irresistible!  I can’t help but look at it every day, several times a day because its face changes with the light and I don’t want to miss even one of its beautiful declarations!  As clouds pass over shadows form and as the sun sets, colors dance around its silhouette.

“Look!” it beckons, morning, noon and night always inviting awe into the narrowed places of my heart and mind —the places that get small when I neglect to look at God.

Today, for the first time, I noticed a ridge I’d never seen before, a sheer rock wall that stands over a hundred feet high supporting an entire family of aspen trees.  The light, the time of year, and a moment that had my full attention gave way to an experience of God setting me in a spacious place where I could see more of His majesty!

Reading Psalm 18 today felt like standing before a spectacular mountain peak.  My inclination was to ascend up and over the 50 verses lickety-split but, I’ve learned that to hear God speak I must stand unhurried before His Word and listen as I read.  So, I took a deep breath and told myself to wake up and pay attention!

Pausing and pointing our attention at God, reading with patient expectation and noticing where we are drawn invites us to see things in Scripture we’ve never seen before.

Reading in this way becomes an experience of God speaking into our lives and, in that spacious place, we are known and loved and taught.

God hears my voice and my cries are before Him!  That my words are in God’s ears catches my attention and breathes love over me and the great consolation that I am known.  He takes hold of me and draws me out of deep waters.  He sets me in a spacious place and delights in me.  The relief and gratitude that God rescues me is overwhelming but the notion that He delights in me practically knocks me out unconscious!  It’s news that is too good to be true and while I can’t quite touch it, it touches me deeply!  Next, to read that He arms me with strength and makes my way perfect pours joy over my head and makes my faith sit up straight!

Most impactful is coming upon the words that God stoops down to make me great.

I’m not sure I can even put words to what exactly this speaks into my narrowed places but it undoes me!  It broadens the path beneath my feet, puts me in the arms of God and loves me to the core.

“Thank you, Father, for who you are always and for helping me see you a little better today. I see your great kindness in these verses and I am so grateful. There is none like you!  Amen.”

What about you?

How do you pause and point at God?  What helps you tune in to His voice?

Are you aware of the narrowed places of your soul?  Where you lack faith or a big enough vision of God?

How does it make you feel that God hears your voice?  That He delights in you?

I hope you’ll take time to pause and point your mind and heart at Psalm 18.  I pray you’ll see things about God that you’ve never seen before.

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