More Than Our Casserole

My friend Shannan recently wrote, “I believe that God puts people in all our lives that He wants us to be in relationships with. He wants more than our casserole and our free babysitting. He wants us to fall in love with them.”

She writes so much joy into the world on that blog of hers, that Shannan.

Kev and I had the opportunity to tag along with our church’s associate pastor, Tommy Green, one day a few weeks ago. Together, we filmed and photographed the testimony of a sweet little lady named Henrietta.

We pulled up to her house around 10am. It was warm and sunny, and so was she.

It didn’t take long to discover that Henrietta is really good at making sure the folks around her feel Loved.

I sat on the edge of my sofa seat in her living room that day as she told us about all the years she spent walking and talking with a lost and “challenging” woman in her neighborhood- who, unfortunately, lost her life to cancer not long ago.

Henrietta was her only friend for many years, but I could tell that their friendship made all the difference in the world…to both of them…especially when times got really tough.

What began inside Henrietta’s heart, ended up stretching way outside her comfort zone, and grew her in ways she never could’ve imagined. Something tells me it grew her neighbor in some pretty Amazing ways before she passed away, as well.

Hearing Henrietta’s testimony was really encouraging to me because I’ve been praying for a “lost and challenging” family member of mine a lot lately, too.

I text him every few days with a, “Hey ______! How are you?“. I usually get an “ok” or “fine” back from him a day or two later, but he recently replied, “floating around like a plastic bag“.

I could literally feel the part of my heart that belongs to him split right down it’s sensitive center.

I saw a plastic bag, full of air, flying around high off the ground underneath an overpass today. My eyes stung and teared up at the very sight of it. I immediately texted him.

I’m still waiting for his response, but I can feel how important it is to continue to show him Love…whether he writes back or not. (Thanks for the reminder, Miss Henrietta!)

Here’s to falling in love with folks and helping them notice something new in their reflections. Something that has a light all it’s own, and means so much more than our casserole.

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  1. says

    Thank you so much for this. I have a few people in my life that I just want to help so much. I have really stressed about their future and ours together and know that sometimes all we can do is encourage and to pray. in the end, we have to realize that we cannot do much more. Love can be pretty powerful, though! :)

  2. Amber says

    I love it. I come here for decorating inspiration and leave with great life advice. Well written.

  3. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    I cried thru your post this morning. I love the spirit of these older gals!
    I hope you have heard back from this family member…………..or you get a call soon. I think we all have one of these wayward souls in our families. With me, I cry, pray and try to love them thru it.

    Hey Layla…………….today you decorated our souls. Not so very different from decorating our homes. We all smile and leave “in a better place”.

    Thanks for the reminder. xoxoxoxoxo

  4. Stacy Kesting says

    Beautiful Layla! That’s what it’s all about!:-) Makes me think about the people around me in my neighborhood or in my life that I need to reach out to. I am going to pray that God makes me more sensitive to His voice in this area and gives me opportunities to make a difference for Him in their lives. Thanks for the lovely post!

    • says

      Oh, I love that “thank you for blessing us in the rooms of our heart.” I too come here because I love what you do but I”m so thankful to also know that I can love who you are.

  5. says

    Layla, thank you for a beautiful reminder to not give up on people. It can be so easy sometimes to forget the bigger picture and walk away from difficult people and circumstances. One thing I’ve learned about that, though, is that if we cut short that learning & growing experience, God brings us back around to similar ones again and again until we grow into what He intends.

  6. Bee Lane says

    You touched my heart today. And reminded me how important it is to keep on loving and praying. Thank you.

  7. peggy says

    Layla, Thanks for sharing from your heart… is a reminder to look around where God has planted us and see if there are people in need of love and care. I get so busy with my list of things that must get done that I’m sure I miss opportunities to share the love of Christ by encourageing others in need. Sometimes that means a simple hug.
    Praying you hear from the one your heart weeps for…..we all have someone……let your light shine…..for the Glory of God!

  8. Melinda says

    Beautiful testimony, Layla. Thank you. I’ll be praying for you and your friend. God bless you and your family.

  9. Amber Infante says

    Wow, that made me teary eyed. It’s so easy to walk away when people seem like a nut that will be hard to crack. But the joy and blessings are still there, and worth the effort. Thanks for the reminder and I hope you get a text back soon :-)

  10. Nancy says

    Thanks for your words this morning. I needed to read this today. You guys are always encouraging, creative and fun! I enjoy your blog immensely. God bless.

  11. Cheryl says

    Especially touching and personally convicting. Thank you so much for posting this…they are beautiful women and your photography captures it perfectly! I have a lot of “plastic bag” friends as well…SUCH a good reminder to pray for them more often! {hugs}

  12. Lisa says

    So inspiring. I would love to have the link to see the whole video. Bless you for sharing this story.

  13. Lisa W. says

    Oh how sweet…AND thank you Layla for reminding us that its the little things THAT really are the BIG things:) Wishing your family member much love and prayer, I too am dealing with the same thing and trying to reach out:)

  14. says

    Tears, tears, and more tears.” How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” ~Romans 10:15. Thanks for sharing such love and encouragement. And I hope that response comes soon and that you are able, through His Spirit, to win this precious soul to Christ.

  15. Gaela says

    This gave me blessing bumps all over. :) The Lord puts people in your lives and you in places for a reason. He knows the hard-to-reach and the “plastic bags” who need filling with His Spirit. Sometimes we need reminders (like this post) to know that we CAN make a difference if we just let the love of Jesus flow through us into somebody else…even if they never give it back. They are worth every prayer.

  16. says

    Layla, can I just say how much I enjoy your blog. It is usually the first one I read of a morning. You are such an encourager, wonderful designer and seem so full of laughter and fun. Someday I would hope we could meet but until then, I will just enjoy your blog and your everyday goingson. -Teresa

  17. MaKenna says

    Thanks for this Layla! I needed this today. I’m about to go text a “lost and challenging” friend. Way out of my comfort zone, but hopefully God can use me to make a difference in her life!

  18. Karie says

    Thank you so much for sharing this today…I just posted on my facebook page about a dear friend who is getting ready to pass…Everyone thought she would go this weekend but for some reason she just keeps hanging on…I am not able to be with her right now but my mom and dad are spending time with her…she has a special place in my heart and always will…Thanks again for sharing such a touching story…

  19. Gina says

    Love this!! I love what God is stirring in your heart and your lives. :) It’s worth every effort to touch the lives of others because in the end they end up touching ours, don’t they? :)

  20. tracyo says

    Dear Layla,

    What a beautiful post this is! Thank you for brightening my day. I needed that today. Hugs to you!

  21. says

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful story. It touches me, as I have been feeling like the lost paper bag. Good to know that there are some amazing people out there still wanting to connect to others.

  22. says

    Loving this post Layla, it has so much heart in it. :) Thank you for brightening my day and making me think of my grandmother too who is so much like Henrietta-patient, kind with a great big heart who seeks out the lost, prays for them, speaks light into their life and was the only friend many of her neighbors had.

  23. says

    I have such a soft spot for the elderly and love hearing of them still reaching out at whatever age they are. We have so much to learn from them and their journey of faith. Great post…

  24. Denise Carter says

    I prayed for my dad, a very stubborn old cowboy, for 20 yrs. One day my husband came home from work and said he felt like he had to tell dad about God’s love for him. Now this was very scary for my poor husband but he went and did it and dad asked Jesus into his heart. I didn’t see and incredible change in him before he died at 81 but I know someday I will see that change when I go where he is. Glorious day.d

  25. Heather says

    Send him a short meaningful verse or rhyme that is uplifting. No question, just a “hug” in words. Knowing someone who cares is THERE, is empathetic, is sometimes enough to get us through. Good luck to both of you.

  26. Tammy says

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and it seems so strange to me that I never comment. You should know how much you touch other people’s lives, how much cheer you bring them.

    I pray for you and your hubby all the time in your patience for a baby. I will now add your lost family member to my list of prayers for you. You put yourself out there and are a friend to people who you’ve never met. You have friends all over this country and probably world who will be on their knees for you and your family.

    Blessings to you, always.

  27. Kris says

    What a beautiful post, and a beautiful reminder. I adore that last picture. You have me in tears on my lunchbreak.

  28. Arli says

    Wow! This is the most beautiful and touiching post you have written. Incredible feeling worded incredibly. Wishing the best for your ‘floating’ family member. May he soon land safely.

  29. Cheryl F says

    Oh Layla. You’re speaking to my heart. I’ve spent the entire weekend and today in angst over my troubled and very challenging friend. Last night I was thinking that no friendship could be worth dealing with her anymore but I can’t come to peace with it. How can we know when to walk away from what might be a toxic friend and when to keep giving someone more than our casserole? The plastic bag metaphor hit so strongly it stung and will be turning over in my mind for hours to come. You’ve given me more food for thought.

  30. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    “Off the beaten track”
    Heard this song today and thought of Kev. I bet he could put his own tweak to it…..maybe Christian it up a bit ……..
    It instantly reminded me of the two of you. Don’t ask me why….lol


    Your little pkg is in the mail. Enjoy! If your jeans get tight – pls don’t blame me.

  31. Kat says

    Truly the right words at the right moment. Thank you, Layla, for this beautiful, inspirational reminder.

  32. says

    Your posts recently have quietly whispered of how the Lord is growing you. It seems he has increased your territory and is taking you down a new spiritual path. I love your blog, but even more so lately.

  33. Geri says

    Everyone has the ability to be a “Miss Henrietta”. Not everyone knows they have the heart to be a “Miss Henrietta”. Everyone should know a “Miss Henrietta” in their life. I am blessed, I did.
    Layla your loving spirit is right, keep texting calling, whatever it takes to reach out to someone you care about and are concerned about.

  34. Cate says

    Lovely story, but I don’t think the term “sweet little lady” describes Henrietta, To me she is more “quitely” dynamic.

  35. says

    I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:11, 12 (NIV)

    Returning to the States after 2.5 years in Eastern Europe, we have been surprised and disappointed at how the people we are encountering- even in the church- build relationships upon mere convenience. This sweet saint “got it.” Thank you for sharing!!

  36. Tiffany says

    This is beautiful. I have a nasty habit of holding onto grudges, and am currently working on letting go and treating everyone I meet with love and grace. I constantly remind myself that it is up to me to respond with love…regardless of what I am getting in return. Now that I’m pregnant I’ve got a great reminder to be the person I want my child to be…

    So nice to see inspiring stories like this. It is so easy to get caught up in the selfish pace of today’s world. Keep trying with your family member. Just knowing someone who loves you is there can make all the difference!

  37. Mom Palmer - Katie says

    This was a beautiful post. It really touched my heart. I will be praying with you for your family member.

  38. says

    I know Henrietta! She and her husband Don did our pre-marriage counseling at Frazer. Wonderful and amazing people! Thank you for sharing this! :)

  39. Cheryl says

    OMGosh! Was that the Scenic Hills neighborhood?!? I used to live there in the late 80’s and early 90’s! Great memories. :)

  40. Mary J says

    My grandmother could bend over and touch her toes just like that one picture until she was 93, that picture had me welling up, lovely memory and great post.

  41. Hilah Sanders says

    Thank you for this post. It has made my day. I love this……”Here’s to falling in love with folks and helping them notice something new in their reflections. Something that has a light all it’s own, and means so much more than our casserole.”

  42. Becky KC says

    Layla – I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 years, and just want you to know how much I appreciate youur heart for the Lord. I love decorating, yet something more has always kept me connected to your and Kevin’s life. Now I realize that it;s Him! Blessings to you!

  43. Angela says

    Layla ~ your post gave me the nudge I needed to send a couple of texts. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your home! ;)

  44. Shannon says

    hi~it touches me about your family member. I think we all know someone whether an official family member or not that is sad, really sad. So I understand how it touches your heart. Never stop reaching out and loving him. If he ever texts you again telling you that he feels this or that let him know that you understand, that you have felt like that before, or similar before, that his feelings are okay. Sometimes when a person is very sad acceptance is truly what they need. 1Thess5:14 tells us to speak consolingly to the depressed souls and support the weak.

    I’ll definitely include this person in my prayers and you too :)

  45. Charity says

    Layla, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. I I have loved your decorating style, your humor, your photography, and honesty. But, lately I have really loved seeing your faith. Thank you for sharing that part of you on this blog. I feel like I know so much more who you are through that. This is a precious post, and a good exhortation to us all. Loving and showing the love of Christ can be messy and hard, but it is SO worth it

  46. says

    I know Miss Henrietta! My husband works with her husband and I’ve had the opportunity to be around her on several occasions. She is such a special lady and just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out!

  47. says

    Thank you and Henrietta for your reminder. I have a family member that has recently seared the part of my heart for him as well. My husband and I pray for him often, and I reach out every way I can think of, but some days I ache at how lost he continues to be. I constantly feel so sorry for him. I pray God sends a Henrietta his way. Thanks for the message, it was a blessing,


  48. Rachael says

    Regarding your lost and challenging family member, mine is my daughter. It’s a gut-wrenching, tearful thing to love someone who is choosing self-destruction. You cannot control the outcome, that is between them and God, but you can love them right where they are and breath life with your words, even if only for that moment. I know it matters. And that love coupled with the painful but necessary boundaries are important plumb lines that will guide them when they are ready. Love never gives up, Layla and God is faithful.

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