Cincinnati. Home of the Bengals, chili, the Reds, King’s Island, and me.

No two parts of this trip have been the same. For me to say this last stop was different for me than our past stops, albeit true, implies that there is a routine, or a “norm” for how the rest of the trip has been. However, in reality, the only “norm” is that there is no “norm.” Every time we stop, every person we meet, every act of love we choose to make, has been unique. Every experience just deepens a foundation in us of loving others and enhances our understanding of what love is.

But for me, this last stop was different.

Late Thursday night/early Friday morning we rolled into Cincinnati, OH, where I was born and raised. Over the past week my anticipation of going home has been growing more and more. I’m not one to get home sick, and it actually takes a good amount of effort on my part to keep in touch with people who aren’t staring me in the face. I’m just naturally an “out of side, out of mind” kind of guy. Not cause I don’t care, but I tend to end up focusing a lot of my energy and attention on the people I’m currently with and the situations I’m currently in. But as we got closer and closer to Cincinnati, it took everything I had to keep my face from breaking out into a big goofy grin. Needless to say, it was good to be home for a few days.

There have been countless times throughout this whole trip where it just seems like we’ve been at the right place at the right time. The timing of things has just been perfect in so many situations; everything from being able to help our new friend enter rehab in Knoxville to getting to see the Goonies in a movie theater in Wichita. Everywhere we go things fall into place, and Cincinnati was no exception.

I spent a good amount of time in Cincinnati visiting family. For one thing, my great aunt Sybil was in town this past weekend from Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s always great to see her because she is so full of life and energy. She really encourages me. It was a pleasant surprise that she just happened to be there at the same time I was.

On Friday, Sybil, my mom, my sister, and I went and visited my grandmother in the nursing home. Even though she doesn’t always know what’s going on, I think she really enjoyed us stopping by. And it was really good to get a chance to visit her.

From the nursing home we met up with my dad, and traveled over to the hospital. Just that morning (again, talk about timing!), my cousin Beth and her husband Michael had their first child, a healthy young lad by the name of Jacob Eli. He was a beautiful little baby, and I’m very happy for them. To my surprise, Jacob and I coincidentally have the same intials: JEH.

On Saturday, my mom and I visited my Scoutmaster from Boy Scouts at a physical therapy center. He had recently had a stroke, and was now in the process of speech therapy, etc. In just a couple days he was going to be moving to live with his sister in Delaware, so she could help take care of him. Again, the timing was just right that I was able to see him before he left.

Finally, on Sunday we all drove down to Jeffersonville, Indiana for a big birthday bash for my grandfather. We rented out a hall, had a DJ, food, cake and tons of family and friends showed up. It was great to see him, and to get to talk to people about what we’ve been doing. I could tell he really appreciated all the love everyone showed him by taking the time to come.

And that’s what this trip to Cincinnati has really taught me about love: that love, while many things, is also time. A lot of the things we’ve done for people have been acts of love using the money we’ve been given. This trip has changed the way we see things. We’re constantly looking for opportunities to help someone, pay for someone’s food, or gas, etc. But time invested can be just as important.

These were the highlights of my visit to Cincinnati, because they pushed me to show love in a different way. I don’t like hospitals, or nursing homes, or physical therapy centers. They make me really uncomfortable and sad. I admire the people who are able to work at those kinds of places, because I don’t think I could. Visiting my grandmother is always bittersweet. I love getting a chance to visit with her, but I hate seeing people suffer the loss of their physical and mental strength. But that’s what love is. It’s stepping outside of your comfort zone, its sometimes doing things you don’t want to do, going places you don’t want to go, so that you can invest in another person’s life. I enjoyed getting to see all these people that I love during our stop, but I know that for them all, it meant the world that I took the time to stop by.

Choosing to invest your time and energy into another person goes a long way. It’s amazing how people just open up if you’re willing to listen. Sometimes a quick family visit doesn’t mean much to us, but you’d be surprised how much it can mean to them.

We came to the conclusion that the true test of what we’ve learned on this trip will be how we choose to act in a few weeks when we’re all back home. For some reason the hardest people to love sometimes are the people we actually care about the most. We tend to treat those we love worse than we do complete strangers. Maybe its because we know that they love us and we unintentionally take advantage of that. Maybe we just don’t realize sometimes what we have. I really don’t know why it happens. And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. What matters for me is that I am choosing to make a conscious effort not to let that happen anymore. Choosing to walk in love isn’t always easy, but the point is it’s a choice.

I recently memorized the love Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 13. Meditating on them has been really helpful for me. It’s been a great reminder of what love looks like and how I should be acting. For those of you that don’t know what it says after “Love is patient, love is kind,” I leave you with this:

Love does not envy.

Love does not boast.

It is not arrogant.

It is not rude.

It does not insist on its own way.

It is not irritable.

It is not resentful.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.



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