Powerful and so true. A good reminder when I judge someone else and want to give up on them.
“Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
There has always been a lot of conjecture about the true ownership of the quote above. While most people believe that it belongs to a Scottish author by the name of Ian Maclaren, there are some that attribute it to Plato, or argue that it was Philo of Alexandria who first uttered the phrase. Regardless of who owns it, the simple, yet profound meaning it conveys speaks volumes, especially in a world where we so often feel as though we are struggling, and forget that we are not alone.
Every single person in this world is living through their own unique version of reality. And in that reality, they are fighting battles both within themselves, and with the world around them as they try their best to survive. While some people face battles that manifest themselves as physical…
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Oh how sweet! Yes. A funny memory: My almost four year old granddaughter who mostly only used sign language for expressing her needs was riding in the back seat for the hour trip to my house. Speaking to her didn’t bring any response, so I decided to lighten up the boring drive on the Interstate. I started singing. I am tone deaf unfortunately, and my granddaughter, like many who deal with Autism, has perfect pitch. So, after a few lines of the song, she said clearly and emphatically, “Don’t sing, Nanu! Don’t sing!”
We keep (and are raising) a three year old here at the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners. Like pretty much all the kids who live (or pass through) here, she struggles to overcome developmental, social, and academic delays. As such, she does not, as yet, speak in complete sentences – certainly not elaborate ones. Rarely more than word pairs. However, she can and does sometimes sing a whole verse or two of a song.
Despite her limitations, she strikes me as very smart. She is quite expressive. Even if we must remind her to use her “big words” several times in even short exchanges, she seems to be a modern woman in the making. She mysteriously conveys the idea that she knows what she wants and how to get it. (Her secret agent name is Secret Agent Sassafras or “SAS”.) We are remote learning/home schooling during…
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It seems impossible to forgive people like Hitler. But when the challenge comes from people like Archbishop Tutu and Corrie ten Boom, we know that with grace it can be done and that each of us is called to do this. Hard, but Jesus did it on the cross and calls us to follow him.
Grace for hard times comes in kindness, humor, and persistence.
I just saw in the obituaries that a very special person died. His name was Louie. I met Louie at a nursing home when I was staying there for the five months my husband was in rehab and then Hospice.
Louie was 89 then, but feisty! My first encounter was when I went to the rescue of Louie and his amazing daughter-in-law. She came every day to try to help Louie recover mobility and self-care skills. Louie was a challenge to take care of and he appeared to be purposely sliding down out of his wheel chair with her struggling to get him back up safely, so I came to her rescue. As I bent over to support him on the other side, he quickly kissed me on the cheek. His daughter-in-law was mortified and once we got him safe, apologized profusely. I laughingly assured her that in my eighties, it was a rare treat to be kissed sweetly on the cheek by an unknown gentleman.
My next encounter with Louie was when I was getting an ice cream treat for my husband and had parked my bright red rollator in the hall outside the tiny room with the refrigerator. When I came out, the rollator was gone. I looked up and down the halls and it was nowhere to be seen. Then I spotted the back of a wheel chair propelling itself rapidly down the hall and I sped up to get a better look. Sure enough, it was Louie propelling himself with his feet while he pushed the rollator at an amazingly fast clip. When I laughingly tried to re-appropriate it, he tightened his grip proving that the therapy on his hands was working. A nurse saw my problem and joined us, saying, “Oh, Louie, your hands look cold. Here, let me warm them up by holding them.” As she began to take his second hand, I could see Louie catch on to the trick, so I quickly grabbed the handles and took off down the hall!
Though I didn’t think Louie could speak, as I passed him sitting by the nurses station the next morning, I couldn’t resist teasing him. So, I stopped and said, “Louie, you stole my red rollator yesterday.” Louie’s eyes twinkled as he grinned and said clearly, “Yeah! I did, didn’t I?”
Louie had good days and bad days, but on his good days, I’d see him pushing his own black rollator rapidly across the parking lot making his daughter-in-law run to catch up with him. I often saw him working with a therapy block of things to twist, pull, push, and tie to regain dexterity with his hands.
Then, one evening when Louie was parked in his wheel chair slightly behind a man who had a support for his head and back attached to his own wheel chair, I realized Louie was working intently on loosening the screws that held the support on. I managed to put the other man’s chair with its back against the wall before I warned a nurse about the approaching danger from Louie’s successful rehab.
The last time I remember seeing Louie was a few days before my husband died. I had walked past him crying and when I came back past him, he said in a small voice with such a sad look on his face, “You were crying.”
I realize that if I had been responsible for Louie, I would probably not have such fond memories. But Louie helped me make it through a really hard time. After Covid came, I sent him a few cards kidding him about our encounters. I don’t know if he could read them or remember, but I hope so. I’m sad that I didn’t get to see him again.
The ocean swallows a grain of sand with each turning of the tide. It’s been happening for millennium. Progress is imperceptible in the blink of a human life span. It’s like the difference between watching a train go by from a mountain top or standing close to the tracks. But when we recognize our own oneness with the ocean it no longer matters.
During Advent each year, I pray daily, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Then I watch eagerly for special moments that help me recognize his presence.
Years ago, shortly before Christmas, my then almost four-years-old granddaughter spent the night with me. She had been diagnosed as having Autism at two. I asked God to somehow bless our time together. At that time, most words had no meaning for her. When we spoke to her, she either echoed what we said or resorted to a fast speed repetition of dialogue from a Disney video she liked. She could only express simple requests, mostly in sign language. This evening she set up her tea set on our kitchen table and to my surprise said clearly, “Have a tea party.”
So, she and I took turns pouring imaginary tea and saying, “Thank you” to one another. To break a long silence, I mentioned her little sister being sick. She responded by chattering incomprehensively to her image in the window, but then turned and looked at me and said clearly, “Cats go meow, dogs go woof-woof, cows go moo, and birds go cheep-cheep.”
I was both startled and touched, because she was describing the communication of others without language. And this was the longest understandable speech I had ever heard from her. Then, she yawned and a moment later smiled at me and said, “We go nighty-night.” Then she led me by the hand to our bed. There for the first time ever, she snuggled close and gently patted me saying, “Nighty-night.”
This amount of understandable verbal communication, direct eye contact, and her initiation of a physical show of affection and sustained physical closeness were completely new.
I thought of the Scripture in Second Corinthians where Paul quotes the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” With silent tears of joy, I recognized the presence of God and His grace within us. And my heart overflowed with love for my wonderful little granddaughter.
Here are the Blessings Beyond Measure that I have experienced in loving a handicapped child: Learning to love unconditionally. Recognizing that life is about becoming the person we alone were created to be. Wanting all others to succeed in their own journey. Experiencing sheer joy over others’ and our own small, but difficult achievements. Learning to live in the present moment. Finding freedom from living for image or others’ opinions. The gift of your own best self being called forth. Learning patience. Developing tenderness toward the vulnerable. Finding the courage to have humane values. Becoming able to see the beauty in those different from ourselves. Seeing with Jesus eyes.
What Will We Remember
what matters in the long run
of fading strength and memory
no longer clear or bright
do we know what counts
out of all the years of effort
and forgotten hopes let go-
what in our confusion lasts
perhaps a smile or tender kiss
the sweet sound of applause-
or windblown waves beneath
the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc
reminding us of heroes lost-
buildings designed and built
sermons preached on love
what we’ve written being read
songs relighting darkened hearts
lessons taught to children
actually changing lives-
matters it if loved by many
or one long love, now gone-
a special gift received or given
small kindnesses of others
a letter written to console
flowers when it’s least expected
laughter experienced as grace-
care-giving for the one you love
the letting go when it’s time
what will be remembered
when we’re on the other side?
This poet speaks to my condition!
We always bet
the world on Hope
although it has always been
a sort of Icarus-being
with its reclaimed wings
and hot-glue foundation.
We lay ourselves at its feet
and stare up into its eyes with love
although we know from its past
that it is likely to leave us
and soar until it crashes.
We spend too many days after that
staring at the ocean imagining we see it
struggling still and calling to us for rescue
even though each of us points
at a different spot and say we were certain,
this time, that we have it right.
Somehow in spite of all the times
we have found Hope’s soggy feathers on the shore,
all the time we have gone out in boats
to where we sure Hope was still afloat
and found nothing, we go back to the sea
and stare at the horizon, pointing first here,
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A very special memory of a grandchild opening his heart to Jesus.
Many years ago, I began on the first of the four Advent Sundays to pray “Come, Lord Jesus.” Then I watch expectantly for Him to become present in small, but recognizable ways in my heart and life. And most years my heart and mind are actually attentive enough to recognize His coming.
One Christmas Eve, our children and grandchildren were all at our home, surrounded by the friendly reds and greens of Christmas and delicious smells teasing from the kitchen. In one bedroom, a grand-baby snuggled into sleep, while in others whispering parents wrapped and ribbonned Santa secrets. Only Granddad was missing, out doing his traditional Christmas Eve shopping.
As excited older grandchildren were setting out to explore the woods and creek, I was making a clean up sweep through the holiday chaos. And one preschooler, too young for exploring and too old for a nap, went from room to…
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