Posts Tagged joy

Amazing Grace: Settling a troubled soul – AILEEN LAWRIMORE*  

July 4, 2017 – www.Baptistnewsglobal.com

When I stepped onto her hall, I could see her slippered feet just outside the door frame of her room. In her wheelchair, she rocked heel to toe, toe to heel, back and forth and back again.

“Hey, there,” I said, crouching to her height and attempting to push her chair back so I could get into the room. (Imagine a 5’4” duck wearing jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt pushing a wheelchair backwards; you get the picture.) I managed it, then pulled a stool right up next to her chair so I could speak directly in her ear. Nonagenarian ears aren’t especially known for their acuity, you know.

She does not know me; when I began my job at her church, she was already at the point of needing care. I do know her, though — at least vicariously. Her heart is woven into the fabric of our church. I’ve heard stories that told about her love for her church family, her heart for missions, her love of worship. “Such a sweet person,” they all say. “Such a tender soul.”

That day though, she was all out of sorts. She reached for me, her brow furrowed, her gaze unfocused and skittish. In a frantic, high-pitched tone, she began explaining the reasons for her angst. Sadly, her mind had played havoc with her reality again, leaving her agitated by imagined evils. Yet regardless of the validity of her concerns, the fear she was experiencing was undeniable. She begged me to do something to right the wrongs she had described.

“I promise I’ll check on that in just a minute,” I told her, kissing her cheek and stroking her arm. “But before I do that, let’s sing a song, OK?” When she refused, saying we didn’t have enough time and that she was just too upset, I started singing anyway, hoping she would join me.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ….”

That’s all it took. Recognition dawned and she began singing along, her memory as sharp as ever.

It reminded me of when I sang those words with my own Grandmama. We sang it in church, Grandmama all dressed up in her pink polyester suit, me with my ’80s hair teased to perfection. We sang it years later too, when she lived with my parents, her favorite pink suit now several sizes too large. By then, Grandmama had lost track of the decades, but she knew “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

I remembered singing it to my tiny daughter when I was a young mother. We’d be awake, just the two of us in the wee hours of the morning, when fear would cease me. How could I possibly be worthy of this gift I hold in my arms? The song sang itself: “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saves a wretch like me.” It became her lullaby. And mine.

There in the nursing home that day, we sang all the verses, then moved on to Jesus Loves Me and other familiar favorites. Once between hymns, she squeezed my hand and, exuding absolute joy, said, “Oh honey, I love this!”

When it was time for me to go, I promised to come again and to bring a hymnal next time. She smiled, content, and said, “God bless you, honey.”

“We’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”

*Aileen Lawrimore is pastor to children and youth at First Baptist Church of Weaverville, NC. 

 

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A New Adventure Dawns

A new year is dawning and a new president will soon be sworn in to fill the most important job in the world. The rest of us are wondering what the New Year holds and what is our place in it.  I am filled with gratitude for the friendships, adventures and surprises that came my way in the year about to close. I am excited and a little anxious about the year ahead.

I know that there will be good things in the year ahead. How do I know that? I know because there have been good things in every one of the past years for me. Yes, there have been tragedies from which I thought I could never recover even if I wanted to. There were some so deep that I was not sure that I wanted to survive, but survive I did.

I know that I face some overwhelming challenges in the year ahead, but I am just as certain that the good will outweigh the bad. I have a loving family, good friends, and a caring support system. Most of all I know that even though I am still working out my salvation I am confident that the grace that has sustained me through these many years is still there surrounding me, upholding me, and beckoning me to take another step into faith. One step at a time is all that I can muster and I know that it is enough.

I have had an unbelievable life. No one could have dreamed it other than God and my mother. For some my life seems ordinary and dull, but to awaken every morning with joy, thanksgiving and a sense of awe is all the assurance I need to sustain me.

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I AM A REBOUNDER (From grief to joy) by Rev. Paul Stouffer*

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David, the Psalmist said: “For my life is spent with sorrow.” Psalm 31:10

Both he and I needed a new Holy Spirit tomorrow.

The dictionary says that to rebound means to spring back from the force of impact.

I am writing my family and friends to inform them that this is not a play-act.

I have great pleasure in announcing on the second anniversary of the passing of my beloved,

I am now a believer, rebounder, and I am rebounding by the goodness of God; all of us awaiting our reunion in Heaven above.

August 16, 2016

Paul Stouffer

*Paul and I met at Mars Hill College as undergraduates. We have been friends for all of these years. He and his wife, Peggy, spent years as missionaries.

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The Unexpected – The Daily Cup – St Alban’s Church

 
By Anonymous on Aug 04, 2016 11:38 am

Last Friday night, I received a call that none of us want to get. An ambulance driver was calling me to tell me that my friend and neighbor had been in a very serious car accident. They suggested I come to the hospital. The accident could easily have been a fatal one for her.

As I drove to the hospital to be with her, I thought how precious, and yet how fragile, our lives are. And how unexpected events can end our lives as we know them. Events like car accidents, unanticipated and life-threatening illnesses, and wars that destroy people’s lives as they knew them; all these events can alter our lives and the lives of those around us.   My heart ached for my friend, but I also rejoiced in her survival, just as my heart went out to the refugees who shared their story with us on Sunday.

My friend today told me that she feels more alive now that she has in a very long time. She is grateful for the people in her life that that bring her joy. She’s focusing now on a “new normal” that is less focused on day to day worries and tasks–and more focused the people around her and on the positive aspects of her life that light up her life and the lives of those around her.

We heard on Sunday about the devastations of war that leave countries, cultures, and human lives changed forever. But we also heard the optimism of survival and intentionally going forward with courage and making new beginnings. In the refugee story and my friend’s story, I hear gratefulness for life and for communities of kindness and sharing.

One of my favorite books and a source for daily prayers is Celtic Benedictions by J. Philip Newell. The Thursday prayers include the following:

The vitality of God be mine this day

the vitality of the God of life.

The passion of Christ be mine this day

the passion of the Christ of love.

The wakefulness of the Spirit be mine this day

the wakefulness of the Spirit of justice.

The vitality and passion and wakefulness of God be mine

that I may be fully alive this day

the vitality and passion and wakefulness of

that I may be fully alive.

That we all may be fully alive to love and to life.    Que así sea.  (That it might be so.)

 

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