Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Lonely Least of His Family

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you do to the least of my family, you do to me.”
In Gal 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it
is Christ who lives in me.”
I doubt if many of us want to be considered the least of God’s family. Most of us aren’t too
eager to be crucified either. Yet we want to be one with Christ and to be able to say that
it is Christ who lives in us.
A missionary friend told me that the Christians in Africa pray for America, because they fear we have lost our souls. I sometimes think their fear is justified.
When you read Acts, it’s hard to see a connection to the watered down, comfortable, socially
acceptable version of Christianity we experience today. When you look around in church, there don’t seem to be many, who would admit anyway to being the ‘least’ of His family.
So, who are these ‘least’ that are one with Christ? Where do we find them? Because ignoring
them is the same as ignoring Christ.
The obvious are the homeless or foster children, but not all of us are cut out for that kind of ministry.

In our times, loneliness seems to be rampant and often emotionally crippling.  When we moved to a new city, my first grader came home after a week or so in school and said that no one played with him on the playground, so he just stood by a tree.  I asked him if there were any other children standing by the tree.  The next day he came home very excited.  He announced that he found several others standing by the tree and now they were friends and  had played together at recess.

Look around you in your office, in the pew next to you in church, in your children’s classroom, in your extended family, in your neighborhood, in the nursing homes. Who are the lonely? Whose life can you make a little better even just once a week for a few hours.  Ask God to help you to see whose lives He wants you to touch, not necessarily fix or save, just   touch.

For me right now, I have friends my age or older, who are home bound or in a nursing home, and whose children work.  Taking them out to lunch or bringing books and magazines or a batch of sugar free brownies can literally make their day.  Even just visiting breaks up a very long lonely week for them.
My four year old granddaughter loves to go with me to the nursing home. She says it’s because all the people there love her. And they do. Residents and caregivers and even visitors simply come alive when she walks in. She’s like a tiny bubble of joy for them in their bleak days.  She doesn’t have to do anything but smile.
It isn’t a dramatic ministry, though it does often break your heart. But being even a tiny light for anyone in a dark helpless time in their lives is like staying with Jesus at the foot of his cross.

Circles: Teardrops and Daffodils

I always start Lent early. When the cold, grey days of January set in, I hibernate and look inward to try to scrape a little of the spiritual mold off my soul. I seem to be on nature’s calendar rather than a liturgical one.
Sometimes it’s hard to dig my way out of my burrow again. But the first sign of daffodils bravely struggling up to the light is my personal sign of hope. (My blog post, Sign of Hope, tells why.)
This week the daffodils in my yard are almost all the way up.  And it really has been a lovely grace filled week.
And as I write this, the raindrops are clinging to the bare tree branches outside my windows. That’s another of my favorite spirit lifting graces. Here’s something I wrote years ago to describe the sense of our circle of life that this always brings me.
Circles
Fat raindrops glisten
On bleak winter branches,
Wistfully clinging
In pregnant suspense.
But earth’s silent call
Comes bursting their bubbles
Of immortality.
The world weeps at endings,
Reluctant to admit
That nothing lasts forever,
Not even death.
For each dying teardrop                                                                                                                         Becomes a rainbow celebration                                                                                                                   of the sun’s rebirth.

House Beautiful Enough for Those Over Seventy and Nearsighted

We have all our lighting on dimmers.
I don’t wear my glasses in the house.
I try not to do anything to make tracks in the dust on tables. (Luckily my husband can’t see well either.)
A leaf blower on my walker is easier on my bad back than vacuuming.
I spot mop the kitchen floor when my feet start sticking to it. I put on my glasses, spray 409, and rub the spots with a rag under one foot.
For $5.97 at Walmart there are washable house slippers with dustmop bottoms. They feel great. You can also order child sizes on line for the grandchildren. You can make a game of getting them to scuff their feet in corners and under tables and chairs.
We downsized, so now there are full plastic boxes under all the beds. A foot in a dustmop slipper scooted around the edges is all it takes until actual adult house guests are scheduled.
When we moved into our small new house, I considered having all the furniture refinished, but decided that would be an exercise in futility with as many grandchildren as we have.  Besides, those teeth marks, cola rings, and heel prints represent lots of memories.

Plants cover a multitude of furniture scars and are a cheap way to decorate. At our age we’ve ended up with a whole lot of lovely houseplants from family funerals.  Shedding leaves can be scooped back into pot plants for mulch as I walk by.  My husband is allergic to mold, so I keep plants in vases of water in the areas he uses daily and simply rinse them out once in awhile. To avoid extra trips, I roll my large plastic watering can around the house on my walker.

Since I’m old, short, unsteady on ladders, and out of sight means gone forever, we have no kitchen cabinets, just a walk-in pantry with open shelves.

When the garbage has Stouffer’s Boxes in it, I take it out before my husband comes home.
He’s probably not fooled, just glad he didn’t have to take out the garbage.
When I put the right two kinds of canned soup together, it appears homemade.
If my husband has cereal for breakfast, melted cheese, ham, and egg on toast can be dinner.

I buy cheap saucepans so I can throw them out when I’ve been smoke detector forgetful while cooking.
I consider myself lucky, because I get plenty of exercise forgetting why I’ve come into rooms, and searching the house for my glasses and things I have put away for safe keeping, evidently for eternity.
Kleenex boxes, wastebaskets, post it note pads, and pencils strategically placed every six to eight feet save me time and frustration. (I can get an idea for a blog or something I need from the grocery and forget it before I can get to my computer.)
Designing our house so a bathroom is just steps from an outside door has cut down on panics (and mopping.)

Building our house in the woods on a lake with the back of our house all long windows means no matter how long any recuperation may take, we have constantly changing beauty to see. And we have birds, waterfowl, deer, racoons, and even foxes to watch at the birdfeeders.

But we’re close enough to town that when my husband had serious chest pains, I got him to the E.R. in four minutes.

Being old has its challenges, but once you’re brave enough to face it, there are ways to compensate.

Love Dilbert, but the short story packs a wallop.

Morning Story and Dilbert

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author…

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“will have smoothed you forever away.”
Ain’t it the truth, Ruth! So much effort, so little impact, and even that temporary. Makes me consider going back to bed, except the ice coated trees outside my windows create a moment of beauty, so perhaps my purpose is simply to cry “holy.”

Dark Matter

This planet of ours
rolls so consistently
through its appointed rounds
we can easily forget
it is not itself
immortal
but will have an end date
long after our own.

When we realize
how little will likely be left
to remember us
on that day
we set upon it
tooth and nail, desperate
to make a permanent mark
of some sort.

Heh,
and really,
and oh please,
the earth responds.

By the time I’m old enough
to welcome my end
I will have smoothed you 
forever away.

 

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The Night Watch

Keeping night-watch
By a silent stream
Stars spilling
Like glitter
From an open hand
A lavish marquee
For choirs of katydids

Tired children sleep
By a dancing fire
Snug in cocoons
Sticky sweet
With chocolate hands
Marshmallow mouths
And memories

Earth holds its breath
As the flames leap higher
Reaching for the stars
Melting me
Into a sense of
Simple oneness
With everything

I love this sort of delightful serendipity. It’s what I tried to describe in my blog, “God Does Sweat the Small Stuff.”

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

I coordinate activities for students who are blind, and I always try to make sure that everything is accessible for them, that is, multi-sensory and in the proper large print or Braille format.  I got a little more than I bargained for last Saturday when we had a Happy New Year Party for them.  Because it was AFTER the new year, I gleefully shopped for party supplies that were 75% off.  (Gee…if I used the same theory and we celebrated Christmas AFTER Christmas, I would have saved a ton of money…but I digress…)

New-Years-Eve-Poppers-for-Kids

Knowing that the children love novel items, I purchased a large supply of “crackers” or “poppers”, such as in the above photo.  During the party I thought they could pop them overhead, and feel the confetti rain down on them.  I was mortified when the first popper was popped. It had little toys in it; a little…

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Winter Grace

The measured tones of winter are seasoning the light
that wakes a sky with layered streaks of grey
just faintly edged with whispers of forgotten blue,
like ancient streams that long since lost their way.
Through grey of trees and frame of snowy white
sleeps faded green in winter’s silver lake.
On wooded slopes still shadowed by the night
the first pale hints of dawn bring grace.

Senior Moments

A splash of sunlight

floats lightly on the lake

like dollop of whipped cream joy

on the quiet pudding

of my morning.

Peace, simple as the sunrise

spilling through the trees,

 butterfly streamers

shadow dancing

on the table.

 

Grow, Lord Jesus, Grow

Had an interesting dream last night. I discovered that I had a new baby. At seventy-five this would not necessarily be good news. But this baby was simply awesome. He could talk and had eyes that sparkled with intelligence and love. All he seemed to need was some food, so the baby and I set off to find food for him.

When I remembered the dream today, I thought maybe the baby represented a new part of me that needed nourishing.  I couldn’t figure out what in me needed nourishing, until I was looking at my Nativity Scene, debating whether to put it away.  The figure of the baby Jesus resembled the infant in my dream.

I love Advent when I spend each day praying, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come” and watching for glimpses of God’s love and grace in each day.  This hope and expectation suit my personality perfectly. And I am seldom disappointed. But, somehow once the joyous symbols of Christmas are put away, I often lose my focus, and allow the cold grey days of January and February to dampen my spirit and dim my vision and ability to see God in each day.

There is a difference between waiting expectantly for new life and taking responsibility for nurturing it once it comes.  With the infant Jesus this is easier, because He can tell us how.

As I looked at the tiny figure in the manger, I felt a renewed sense of responsibility for nourishing Him within me. So, my prayer for after Christmas, is “Grow, Lord Jesus, grow within me. Help me find nourishment for You.”