Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Rain

It was a busy
morning, about 8:30, when an elderly
gentleman in his 80's arrived to have
stitches removed from his thumb.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an
appointment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital
signs and had him take a seat,
knowing it would be over an hour
before someone
would to able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch and
decided, since I
was not busy with another patient,
I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was
well healed, so I talked to one of the
doctors, got the needed supplies to
remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of
his wound, I asked him if he
had another doctor's appointment
this morning, as
he was in such a hurry.

The gentleman told me no, that he
needed to go to
the nursing home to eat breakfast
with his wife. I inquired as to her

He told me that she had been there
for a while and that she
was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease.

As we
talked, I asked if she would be
upset if he was a bit late.

replied that she no longer knew
who he was, that she had not
recognized him in
five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him,
'And you still go every
morning, even though she
doesn't know who you are?'

He smiled as he
patted my hand and said,

'She doesn't
know me, but I still know who she is.'

Friday, November 25, 2011

Served by an Angel

It was fifty years ago, on a hot summer day, in the deep south. We lived on a dirt road, on a sand lot. We were, what was known as "dirt poor." I had been playing outside all morning in the sand. Suddenly, I heard a sharp clanking sound behind me and looking over my shoulder, my eyes were drawn to a strange sight!

Across the dirt road were two rows of men, dressed in black and white, striped, baggy uniforms. Their faces were covered with dust and sweat. They looked so weary, and they were chained together with huge, black, iron chains. Hanging from the end of each chained row was a big, black, iron ball. They were, as polite people said in those days, a "Chain Gang," guarded by two, heavily armed, white guards.

I stared at the prisoners as they settled uncomfortably down in the dirt, under the shade of some straggly trees. One of the guards walked towards me. Nodding as he passed, he went up to our front door and knocked. My mother appeared at the door, and I heard the guard ask if he could have permission to get water from the pump in the backyard, so that "his men" could have a drink.

My mother agreed, but I saw a look of concern on her face, as she called me inside. I stared through the window as each prisoner was unchained from the line, to hobble over to the pump and drink his fill from a small tin cup, while a guard watched vigilantly. It wasn't long before they were all chained back up again, with prisoners and guards retreating into the shade, away from an unrelenting sun.

I heard my mother call me into the kitchen, and I entered, to see her bustling around with tins of tuna fish, mayonnaise, our last loaf of bread, and two, big, pitchers of lemonade. In what seemed "a blink of an eye", she had made a tray of sandwiches using all the tuna we were to have had for that night's supper.

My mother was smiling as she handed me one of the pitchers of lemonade, cautioning me to carry it "carefully" and to "not spill a drop." Then, lifting the tray in one hand and holding a pitcher in her other hand, she marched me to the door, deftly opening it with her foot, and trotted me across the street. She approached the guards, flashing them with a brilliant smile.

"We had some leftovers from lunch," she said, "and I was wondering if we could share with you and your men."

She smiled at each of the men, searching their dark eyes with her own blue eyes. Everyone started to their feet. "Oh no!" she said. "Stay where you are! I'll just serve you!"

Calling me to her side, she went from guard to guard, then from prisoner to prisoner -- filling each tin cup with lemonade, and giving each man a sandwich. It was very quiet, except for a "thank you, ma'am," and the clanking of the chains. Very soon we were at the end of the line, my mother's eyes softly scanning each face.

The last prisoner was a big man, his dark skin pouring with sweat, and streaked with dust. Suddenly, his face broke into a wonderful smile, as he looked up into my mother's eyes, and he said:

"Ma'am, I've wondered all my life if I'd ever see an angel, and now I have! Thank you!"

Again, my mother's smile took in the whole group. "You're all welcome!" she said. "God bless you."

Then we walked across to the house, with empty tray and pitchers, and back inside. Soon, the men moved on, and I never saw them again. The only explanation my mother ever gave me, for that strange and wonderful day, was that I "remember, always, to entertain strangers, for by doing so, you may entertain angels, without knowing."

Then, with a mysterious smile, she went about the rest of the day. I don't remember what we ate for supper, that night. I just know it was served by an angel.

~ Author Unknown ~

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to Love, God's Way

David was the fifth child in our family of eight kids. He was two years older than me and was born with Downs Syndrome. We lived in the "way outback" in south Alabama.

When I was a small girl, I was so totally embarrassed when people would stare at him as if he were a freak. He always noticed it, too. Many times he would ask the rest of the family why are they looking at me like that? We always told him it was because he was so handsome. But, I was still ashamed to be seen with him in public myself, and I was his sister.

One hot summer afternoon when David was 14 years old, he came running into the house sobbing loudly. His heart was breaking in two. Before I could get to him to see what was wrong, he had fallen down beside his bed and began to cry and pray. This was his prayer:

"God, why me? Why am I so different from everybody else? Nobody understands me. I just want to play with all the other boys and be like them. Why? Why? Why am I so different?"

My heart began to pound. My anger began to rise. I walked outside to see what had happened. My younger brothers said several boys from the neighborhood had been in our yard mocking and making fun of David after he asked if he could play with them. They broke his heart.

Remembering what I had just heard, my anger turned to rage. I went looking for those boys. They were still mocking David when I found them two houses away. I whipped 3 boys that afternoon, all bigger and older than me. I quickly ran home and confessed my fighting to Mom, before those boy's mothers could get to her.

David was still crying when I had gotten home. He stayed beside his bed for over three hours crying and praying to God. When he finally ended his prayer, he so quietly said to God:

"I want your will to be done in my life. Amen. Thank you, God."

Crying myself, I tried to comfort David that afternoon, but could not. He was too broken in spirit to hear me or to feel my compassion for him.

That was the first time I really knew that David fully understood how different he was. My image and view of him totally changed that afternoon. He became a strong focal point in my life. I loved him so dearly and took him with me everywhere when Mom allowed me to.

My admiration and respect for him knew no boundaries. He showed love to everyone he came in contact with. His life was centered around loving people unconditionally. He accepted everyone. He never spoke ill of any person. Even when people hurt his feelings, he forgave them immediately and hugged their necks.

It was many years later, when he died at 49 years of age, that 'I' received the answer to 'his' prayer. I realized the "why" of David's life.

Before he was placed on life support and was unable to speak to us, I was sitting on a short stool beside his hospital bed when David reached for my hand about 2:30 a.m. in the morning. He smiled at me, told me he loved me and asked,

"Sis, will you hold my hand when .... you know?"

I knew from the look in his eye that he knew something I did not even want to think about. I hugged him tightly, gave him a kiss on the forehead and agreed to hold his hand until he got better.

David's earthly body soon gave up. He could not fight to stay alive for us any more. I had been holding his hand and singing worship choruses to him for several hours. He left this life behind as I was singing "Amazing Grace."

So many people attended his funeral. He had touched so many different people. The main topic of conversation about David at the funeral focused on the way he had touched and loved so many people during his lifetime.

Then I remembered his prayer and this was God's answer. The reason David was born with Downs Syndrome, and the reason he was so different was so everyone who knew him could learn to love, God's way, by watching David shine with pure, unconditional, unfailing love, forgiveness and longsuffering. What a wonderful man my brother was!

My heart breaks each time I think of the physical and emotional suffering throughout his lifetime. But I smile each time I think of what he meant to so many people.

His reason for being was to teach us how to love. God's way.

~ Author Unknown ~

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Power of Forgiveness

During the American Civil War, a young man named Roswell McIntyre was drafted into the New York Cavalry. The war was not going well. Soldiers were needed so desperately, that he was sent into battle with very little training.

Roswell became frightened - he panicked and ran. He was later court-martialed and condemned to be shot for desertion. McIntyre's mother appealed to President Lincoln. She pleaded that he was young and inexperienced and he needed a second chance.

The generals, however, urged the president to enforce discipline. Exceptions, they asserted, would undermine the discipline of an already beleaguered army. Lincoln thought and prayed. Then he wrote a famous statement.

"I have observed," he said, "that it never does a boy much good to shoot him."

He then wrote the following letter in his own handwriting:

"This letter will certify that Roswell McIntyre is to be readmitted into the New York Cavalry. When he serves out his required enlistment, he will be freed of any charges of desertion."

That faded letter, signed by the president, is on display in the Library of Congress. Beside it there is a note which reads,

"This letter was taken from the body of Roswell McIntyre, who died at the battle of Little Five Forks, Virginia."

Given another chance, McIntyre fought until the end. Most of our decisions are of a different magnitude than Lincoln's, but he illustrates that there is always a time to try again.

It never does a boy (or anybody else for that matter) much good to shoot him. But you might be surprised at the power of forgiveness!

~ The Author is Steve Goodier who is publisher of many books as well as a free newsletter on sharing life and love at THIS LINK.