Happy Valentines Day!!

Sometimes, a picture says it all!!!

Lucy and chocolate

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Do You Know What Today Is?

“Do you know what today is?”

This was the question that Mom asked me yesterday when I went to visit.  Yesterday was November 11th … generally known in the United States as Veteran’s Day, a day for honoring those who have served in the military forces in our country … and Mom could have been thinking of the fact that both my Dad and I were veterans … but she wasn’t.

In my family, November 11th has another significance…

I had heard the story many times … of how on a particular Friday afternoon Mom and Dad had each quickly left work and hurried home, had gathered together the newly and lovingly hand made infant clothes, and then together with their young son, had driven to the county’s Children’s Home … so that they might receive the infant who would become the fourth member of their family … their new infant daughter … and how, after receiving their daughter, on that day and days afterwards, they had introduced her to an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins … and to their church family as well.

This was what Mom was referring to as she asked me if I knew what the day was …

And how could I possibly forget the day’s significance?

For this day, so many years ago on November 11th, was the day that I received the greatest gift anyone could receive…

It was the day that God gave me my family.

Laundry Time…

They sit in their rooms… or lie in their beds… or sit in a common room… or wander through the halls…

They laugh, they talk, they cry, they babble…

Some are recovering from a hospital stay and will be going back to their homes and families and independence…

Some make perfect sense and know who and where they are…  most of the time…

Some live almost exclusively in their own little worlds…

They are the who-knows-how-many-people who live in elder care facilities… nursing homes… health care centers… assisted living facilities… Altzheimer’s units…  They are there because they have aged and need help in caring for themselves… maybe their memories are bad and they’d forget to take their medicine… or maybe they are too weak to stand or walk or dress themselves or go to the bathroom by themselves or (whatever)…

Maybe their family members need help to care for them… or maybe their family members just don’t want to be bothered…

They are our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, neighbors…

Many of them have been forgotten by the world and by the very people that, not so long before, they loved and cared for with pride and joy…

My mother is in such a facility.  It’s a very nice place and Mom is cared for very well.  I visit her almost every day.  We were joking the other day about how she wouldn’t be able to pay her “laundry lady” (me) because that day she just happened to be a “little short of cash”…

And as we laughed and I told her that her credit was good enough for me, I was thinking what a privilege it was to be able to do such an easy and mundane thing as laundry for this incredible woman I call “Mom”… and that I was the one who would never be able to repay the debt…

Once upon a time, they lived joyously ever after…

Once upon a time … They lived happily ever after!

The typical fairy-tale beginning and ending… life nicely and neatly described, wrapped up and summarized with these statements.  It is a fact though that real life lies between the statements… in the spaces where the periods (…) are.  And the “real life” that most people lead cannot always be summed up so neatly with “…they lived happily ever after” because not all of life’s stories end like that.

Actually, living “happily ever after” does not indicate the end of life, but rather the end of some difficulties or challenges that have been resolved, so that from that point on, one lives “happily ever after”…  Implying no more problems, difficulties or challenges will ever again be a part of that person’s life…

And that’s where the fairy tale quality comes in… because everyone knows that for as long as one is alive, in reality, there will always be difficulties and problems to encounter and challenges to overcome.  That is just the way life is in our world.

But what if we tweaked the phrase a little?  What if, instead of saying, “they lived happily ever after” we said, “they lived joyously ever after”?  Can one live joyously in spite of problems, difficulties and challenges?  Can one live joyously amid hatred and violence and war?  Can one live joyously in spite of sickness or suffering or death?

While some might say, “No! It is not possible!” I believe that it is possible.

Living joyously does not mean that you always feel happy… It doesn’t even mean that you always like what is happening… because living joyously is an attitude towards life… a way to face what comes at you.  It suggests a hopeful outlook, in spite of (whatever)… It means living courageously… It means asking for help when you need it, and giving help when others ask… It means trusting… It means not giving in to the fear and despair that can so easily overwhelm…

I don’t know about others, but I can’t live joyously on my own strength… I need help to live joyously… and my help comes from the Lord… from Almighty God… from the Creator of all that is… from the One who walks beside me through all of life’s ups and downs and to whom I look for strength and courage…

One of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 121:1-2) says it all:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

This is my story… this is how I try to face life… joyously ever after!!