Saturday, August 12, 2017

Caregiver Chronicles: When a Community Cares

I'm still studying Ruth, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, and am fascinated by Naomi. When she and Ruth entered Bethlehem together for the first time, all the people crowded around to greet her. She was nothing but a sour bag of grumbling, and announced, "I'm a bitter woman." 

If I'd been in that community, I might have thought, "Welcome back, Miss Bitter Bag. I'm steering clear of you." We'll talk about how Bethlehem responded later, but the thing that's caught my attention today is how everything turned for Naomi in a single moment. 

They were in desperate straits, so Ruth went into the fields to glean the charity grain. Her first day out, she gleaned in Boaz' field. When she returned home with leftover lunch and an apron full of grain, something huge stirred in Naomi. Suddenly, she wasn't Mara, Miss Bitter Bags anymore.

"...May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead..." (Ruth 2:20)

Hope flooded in, and her praise returned.

Sam and I had that kind of day yesterday. 

The Sisters of Strength were scheduled to arrive at 8:30. They were coming to help me with a couple of pressing needs. 

When I went downstairs, Sam was still asleep. I prepped the food for breakfast with the Sisters while I waited for him to wake up. He kept sleeping. For a few moments, I worried that he'd gone into a coma, but it was just my overactive imagination. He was tired out from the day before. 

At 8:00 I woke him and we started the sometimes-long process of getting him ready for the day. Sam said, "Maybe you should put a sign up not to come in until I get my clothes on." 

I agreed, but a sign meant I had to find a piece of paper, a pen, and some tape. All that seemed like too big a task at the moment. Instead, I prayed, "Lord, please delay the Sisters until the right time, because I have my hands full here."

He did.

The very moment I finished getting Sam situated (except for shaving him, a job at which I'm absolutely terrible), someone knocked on the door. It was Jerry Iverson. He'd brought strawberry shortcake and whipped cream and come prepared to sing to Sam, pray over him, and shave him. 

Harold Patterson arrived a few minutes later with tomatoes and a watermelon and a heart full of song and Scripture. 

While I finished getting ready for the Sisters to come, the two men blessed Sam. The sound of their singing floated through my house and filled it with praise. 

The Sisters arrived in the midst of their visit. We had breakfast while Sam had a shave-with-serenade. It was wonderful.

Kandy Walker, one of the Sisters, arrived after the men left in her "Unicorn Princess" outfit, ready to clean my house. I was surprised. "You're cleaning my house?" 

She said, "You're doing what's important. I'm doing your floors." And she did. 

One of the things all the Sisters try to do is get Sam to smile. He's not a Bitter Bag, but he doesn't feel good much of the time, and smiles are few and far between. 

Kandy, in her "Unicorn Princess" outfit started a smiling fest. She flitted about the house with her tutu and tiara, wielding her Shark mop like a weapon. It was amazing. I don't think Sam ever stopped smiling. 

Sam's new nurse arrived in the middle of all the action. We were doing paperwork when Sam needed to potty, and I jumped up to help. "Oh, no. Let me. That's what I'm here for. To help you both," the new nurse said. I was shocked. She rushed over to Sam. As she helped him stand, she said, to the man who towered over her by a foot, "You're sure a long, tall drink of sweet tea, Mr. Sam." He grinned again.

She looked at the potty chair after she had him fixed and said, "I believe he's a lot taller than this chair. Let me adjust it right quick." And she did. 

She came with a servant heart filled with love and it was exactly what we needed.

Before our Unicorn Princess left, someone said, "What's the plan for Sam when you do the Prayer Retreat? Because I'm depending on that retreat. I need it bad." 

I said what I always say these days, "I have no idea. I'm asking God to send someone."

We decided that, since God hadn't sent anyone yet, we should ask together. Since we were asking for sitters, I suggested we ask for a sitter for Tuesday the 15th, too, as I had several appointments I didn't need to miss. We prayed and thanked God for what He would do.

I won't go in to what Tonya Henley, Casandra Weeks, and I did before this next, but, when we were about sweated out from our work, we loaded Sam up and went to his house to look for T-shirts. Sam wanted to sit in his house for a while, so he was pretty excited about this.

We hadn't been there for ten minutes before Chris Crump and his son stopped by. (That raised the total vehicle count outside to four.) Pretty soon his wife joined us, and that made five. 

The Blue Springs Police were driving past, saw a crowd, and stopped. Chief Brandon Clayton and Officer Norris Robbins climbed out of the patrol car. "We saw all the cars and were worried something had happened to Sam. Is he okay?"

That started a flurry of calls and texts. People in our town had seen the cars and they were worried. "We're praying for you and Sam. Are y'all okay?" That's the kind of texts I received, because that's the kind of town Blue Springs is. People continued to check on him for hours.

When Sam had finished sitting in his house, Brandon and Norris offered to help get Sam back to my house, and I accepted. We made it just before the rain started.

After everyone left, I sat by Sam as we talked about the day. He was tired but still smiling. "It sure was nice that so many people checked on me." 

"Yep, Sam," I told him. "People love you." 

He didn't say much, but just nodded. After a few minutes, he said, "You know, Blue Springs has always been a nice town." And he was right.

It had been a huge day and Sam was worn out. He ate a very quick supper and turned in, then instructed me to do the same. 

"Are you trying to get rid of me, Sam?" 

He nodded and grinned. "Don't be making any noise and waking me up," he warned. I headed upstairs, leaving Sam to savor the love that had been lavished on him all day long.

It had been a turning point kind of day, but God wasn't through. I had just crawled into bed when I received a text from my friend, Diane Becraft. She was in town from Texas, visiting family for a week, and offered to sit with Sam one day. For exactly the amount of time I needed someone to sit. On Tuesday. 

Answered prayer.

I had just thanked her when June Winstead messaged me and offered to stay with Sam during the prayer retreat. 

Answered prayer again.

Sam and I both savored the community that cared. We thanked God for a day that was so filled with the love and provision of God that hope rushed in and praise poured out. 

It was a beautiful day and we're so grateful to all those who, in helping us, helped make it so wonderful. 

What about us? Are we a Bitter Bag or a Community that Cares? Which attitude do we have? In case you've wondered, being a Bitter Bag is nothing like Jesus. 

If we're in need of an attitude change, let's ask God to help us. Someone said yesterday that when they felt down and discouraged, they found someone to help and it always made the day better. Whether we're down and discouraged or not, why not find someone to help. We can make our day, and theirs, lots better by being part of a community that ares. 

In fact, we might just be the one on whom "the day when hope rushes in and praises pours out" depends. 

Be that one.

Serve Jesus by serving others. 

"The King will reply, 'Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40 niv
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Caregiver Chronicles: When Times are Hard and You Can't Recognize Your Blessings

If this is your first time to read about the Sam adventures and the Caregiver Chronicles, you might want to read this post to see how it started: When the Time to Move Finally Comes

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line
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