Mercy: Football and Flowers

Over the past few weeks, I have been highlighting what I call simple mercies — small things we can do for each other that help us get through a difficult time. The one I want to share today is from my neighbor whose husband recently passed away unexpectedly.  They were a beautiful couple and had been through so much together.

One of the things they enjoyed doing was attending Jacksonville Jaguar football games together. So, I’m sure it was difficult for Bonnie to get a call from the Jaguars asking if she would be buying tickets for the upcoming season. She explained that she wouldn’t be renewing their tickets because her husband passed away. I imagine when someone close to you dies you have to have a lot of conversations explaining how life will be different now.

But, I didn’t imagine it going any further than that. Neither did Bonnie.  Still, a few days later, flowers showed up at her door expressing condolences. They were from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

When I began this series, I really wanted to show the people to people connection. It wasn’t about business or even non-profits but just people serving. And yet, this act of kindness reminds me that businesses are not just entities but groups of individuals who can make a difference through the positions they hold. I don’t know who the individual or group of individuals were who decided to send my sweet neighbor flowers but I would want them to know that they could not have sent them to a nicer person. And, even if it only gave her a moment of sweet relief, she is worth that effort.

What I love most about mercy, about stories like these, is that we know they don’t end with the act of kindness. Instead, they are like waves of cheering fans: rising, spreading, and lingering long after all has gone quiet. Football or not, that’s got to be the best kind of win.

Hi, friends ~ This past Sunday marked a year since I experienced a spontaneous carotid artery dissection in my neck. I often say I was the stereotype of the “healthy person who drops dead.” Only by God’s mercy and the prayers of so many dear people like you, I didn’t die.

These kinds of anniversaries are strange – filled with gratitude, anxiety, and emotion. Sometimes I wish that our hearts healed as completely as our bodies do from injury but it seems like these kinds of traumas sometimes take a little longer.  But they also remind us how much acts of mercy can mean to others.  So for all of you who have gotten me through the last year, who sent up so much as a single prayer, know that I am grateful.  And, I’m more determined than ever to share the mercy you showed me with others. Likewise, I hope you are inspired to keep sharing your compassion with others, I promise it makes all the difference. ~ Love, Lara

If you are interested in reading about how acts of kindness can bring peace, my book, Simple Mercies is available for pre-order now at bit.ly/larabooks or https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Mercies-Works-Mercy-Fulfillment/dp/1681924536/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3F4TVB0MQ94V6&dchild=1&keywords=simple+mercies&qid=1619481953&sprefix=simple+merci%2Caps%2C163&sr=8-2

Keeping the Faith: #DTWD

#DTWD: Duval ‘Til We Die is the acronym that shows Jacksonville Jaguar fans’ commitment and faith in the team and the city it represents.

I was born in this city. Growing up, I didn’t know how special it was to live in Jacksonville. I took for granted going to the beach and boating on the St. John’s River with friends and family.

We didn’t seem like a very fancy city, but we were always a beautiful one. I don’t think outsiders thought much of us. They wanted to head south toward Orlando to visit Mickey or to some of the quainter beach towns north of us.  I didn’t think much about it at first. I mean, who can compete with the “happiest place on earth?” Nor did I feel there was a reason to compete. Jacksonville didn’t need to be a vacation destination. It was home, and it always had my heart.

That’s why I wanted to beat the New England Patriots. Not because I care terribly about football, but because I felt like as a city we had something to prove. For too long, we’ve been considered a backwards city of rednecks. Our natural beauty isn’t recognized, our commitment to family life is mocked, and our lack of diversity is criticized despite the many ethnicities who live here.

I guess it is silly to think that winning a football game would help change those perceptions. People will always think what they want. I know this city has real problems, and I am not trying to diminish our demons, the greatest of which may be our lack of pride.

The Jacksonville Jaguars gave this city hope. I dedicated my mass this morning to their win for no other reason than this is my city and the Jags represent my people. People who know their neighbors, are charitable, practice their faith, and are fierce in the way they show up for one another.

I am disappointed in our loss, but I couldn’t be more proud of Jacksonville. As I scrolled through social media posts I saw that the real win was how the game, the fans, and the team, united the city.

It is my prayer that we build on that momentum, on that faith in ourselves, and on the hope of what we can become.

Duval ‘Til We Die.

Interested in reading more about having faith in yourself, read: http://larapatangan.com/2014/09/04/one-word-you-nee…r-life-right-now/