Esther brought me to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ way back in the 1960’s. She’d been a bible class and Sunday school teacher since the age of 16 and had spent many many hours counseling believers and in other ministries for the Lord. She became my mentor and the closest of friends.
There was a practical side to Esther’s life. She shared her personal recipes for Christmas Cake and for non-alcoholic punch. Both were a big hit every time I had occasion to make them. When we were relocating from New Jersey to North Carolina in 1973, Esther showed up with hot coffee and juice and sandwiches which helped us get through the tribulations of our moving. She also made it a point to call me every year on my birthday at 8am no matter where in the world she happened to be.
I had the privilege of visiting with Esther last week in Florida. She’s ninety-six now and her memory isn’t nearly as sharp as it was until just last year when she taught her last bible class. Until then, she continued to drive, shop, cook, clean and entertain. But thousands of people like me have been touched by this strong woman over the years and we carry her many lessons in our hearts, like:
- We can’t have anything negative in our hearts for a person for whom we pray. We must accept them unconditionally the way they are.
- We are to be grateful to God first; then to others.
Esther is one of the most spirit-filled friends in my life and I’m grateful to God and to her for her love, concern and compassion. She prayed for my family as if we were her own. She honored God with each and every one of her steps.
May all of us be as willing, able and as productive for the Lord as Esther was.
A storm was coming. There was anticipation, preparation, excitement and anxiety enough for everyone. It’s unusual for it to snow here in the south.
It fell last night taking branches and powerlines with it. Driving is still difficult. But for all the calamity, there is also this:
I am blessed with a gorgeous woodland view from my windows and balcony. And the lawn before that is a stage for endless entertainment. I’ve watched through my binoculars all manner of species cavorting and gathering food. I’m always amazed by how different a squirrel or bird or deer is from another of the same species. Every petal of every wildflower is matchless. Something about the uniqueness of each of His creations comes to mind.
The berry bushes seemed more productive this year than usual. Someone told me that happens when there’s going to be a hard winter; the animals still need to eat, after all. Something about His provision comes to mind.
And now, everything I see is covered with snow. The sky is blue and the sun shines brightly causing a glistening on the surface. All by itself, it’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen, and I could happily leave it at that. But I can’t help but think … when He covers nature with snow, we can’t see or know what’s underneath it.
He does the same with our past; when we receive forgiveness, our past is packed into luggage and sent to some faraway place. There is no benefit in our trying to find it; it’s gone. What’s left is a covering of His love and the warmth of His peace. And that’s cause for a new hope, and excitement for the future.
“I am not a caregiver,” I said. Every head whipped around and looked at me as if I were loony. We were in the van on our way home from church. The conversation roamed from this to that and somehow got around to caregiving. The van’s occupants all live in the same Independent Living facility as I do and they see how I conduct my life. So they thought it odd that I would make such a contradictory statement.
An explanation is in order. Except for the care of immediate family, I cannot care for others because I can actually feel their pain. This I learned very young. I caught a boatload of fish, but the fish were in pain. So I turned the boat over and released them in the hope that they’d recover. I haven’t fished since.
So what were my church-going friends thinking? Perhaps they were thinking about yesterday when I walked through our maze-like hallways to visit someone who is sick. She was sleeping, so I just stayed there for a long time and prayed. When her son entered the room, I left and walked the halls for exercise. I encountered another resident and we chatted for a while. Further on, I came upon someone who was lost.
I’ve come to realize that even when I’m just walking, there is a potential to do something that ministers to others.
We’re all made differently. Every day, I wake up excited: Can I be a blessing to God or to His children today? Whether I stay in my apartment or take a walk or whatever, His itinerary for me is always fulfilling.
I’m looking forward to another year of being productive for Him.
There is another aspect to my God-given empathy, however. I receive so many negative reports, that they could outweigh the joy I’m experiencing in life. There is no way this tiny 81-year-old can carry all the pain. I have to constantly give it to Him.
I’m frequently overwhelmed with the strength and care and love of God for me. And His love for each one of us is equally great. If we could have just a sliver of that in our lives for whomever He puts in our path, it would help.
I do not live in the flow of excitement and busy-ness of so many others; even of my own younger days. Now, I am content to be what I am. Even when I catch a bug, I’m content. We can talk about happiness: yes, there are times of great happiness. But 90% of the time, it’s joy, not happiness. Joy is experiencing His deep-rooted peace in all circumstances. The joy of God and His peace are His greatest gift to me. Happiness is an occasion short-lived. Joy is knowing that you are in the right place at the right time by His will.
We live in a world of feelings. “If it feels good, do it.” Fine. Feelings are an important way for us to receive guidance. Our ability to correctly interpret feelings must be called into question, though. One might feel that this is not a good situation, causing you to run from it. But character would have you stay put and see the situation through to the outcome. It’s hard, but in the long run, it’s worth it.
On the other hand, you may feel it’s a bad situation and run from it – and this could be a good decision because the outcome could have been destructive for you.
The point is that we can’t go by our feelings because we’re not always right in our interpretation of them.
I avoid this problem by taking time to be alone with Him; to know who He is, because He’s God in me. I spend time to know His thoughts and not my thoughts. If I ask Him for guidance, He answers me.
For all of my life, I’ve taken time. I think of war-torn Europe and how God gave me peace while I walked through it. I’ve had the privilege of being underprivileged; of not having parents and having no one else to turn to but Him. This always energizes me and gives me confidence. His way ultimately will be for His glory and my best.
I have been blessed with so many friends for whom I would lay down my life, and who would do the same for me. One of the God-directed ways I got my friends was by being interested in what’s happening deeply inside them.
At the same time, I have never truly shared what’s deep in me. Perhaps that’s what ElderBlog is for. We’ll see how He directs me.
When ElderBlog started, I wasn’t thinking about an end. I’ve written almost 200 posts in the past 3 years: about transitions, illnesses, events; the things of death and life. We’ve shared extraordinarily intimate details, some tears, and more than a few laughs.
But my posts have not been as frequent in the past year because, frankly, Mom’s life has settled into a more normal pattern than in previous years. She’s surging now. Proof? Two long round-trip flights in the past several months and another one coming up in a couple of weeks. She’s actively participating in the Residents Council at her Independent Living facility and readily joins in scheduled events. She dines with old friends off campus, and shops for herself as needed.
Mom would be the first to tell you that her earthly life is better now than at almost any time in the past.
So I’ve been wondering: Rather than my constantly thinking about what I could share with you about Mom’s experiences, why not let Mom share herself with you directly?
After only 60 seconds worth of resistance, she understood what could be accomplished by writing ElderBlog herself and she embraced the idea. I have no idea how often she might write, nor what she might write about. But ElderBlog is hers now.
If events warrant, I’ll pop back in as necessary. Until then, the next posts you read will be written by my mother, Edith, age 81.
The management of Mom’s facility found and distributed this lovely New Year’s sentiment.
The new year has begun,
Another chance to start again;
Another chance to make more memories,
Another chance to make more friends.
The end of the year always seems to bring
regrets for things left undone:
Spend more time with the family,
Make more time for yourself,
Allow more time for long walks in the sun.
We should never take a day for granted
For no one is promised tomorrow.
Time is stingy and will not wait.
It will not lend or borrow.
Do what you can with what God has given you.
Don’t put something off for another day.
Make things right with those you love,
and be full of nice things to say.
Make this year your best one yet;
Set high hopes and dreams.
And always remember no matter how bad it gets:
Nothing’s as bad as it seems!
— by Misty Horner
Mr. Squeezable is Christopher – Mom’s great-grandson, my grandson, Kim and Jeremy’s proud creation. Christopher and his parents live in Tulsa, a bazillion miles away, and Mom can’t wait anymore. So she’s getting on a big Delta jet right now.
It was all Marsha’s idea. Marsha is Jeremy’s mom, and she wants to squeeze her grandson, too. She lives pretty close to Mom and thought it’d be a fun trip for her. So, she made the arrangements, bought the tickets, and off they go.
Mom has always loved traveling, but hasn’t been able (or willing) to do much of it in recent years. We’ll see how she fares, but I think that the next five days will be heart-warming and wonderful for all. They’re even going to see a live performance of Veggie Tales. Can you picture Mom surrounded by singing, jumping toddlers? It makes me giggle just thinking about it.