Please pray for both my Grandmother and my friend's family, as they suffer and lean on God for understanding.
As I watch my grandmother battle for her life (& her mind), as well as my friend described above, I'm reminded that we can't take any of this "stuff" we accumulate with us. So why not change how we live now?
My grandmother and my friends above have taught me this lesson with their lives and it's a good one to consider.
Exactly a year ago yesterday, I posted an ode to my Grandmother MacLeod (my mom's mom), describing her resilience and faith in the midst of her pain & suffering. What's so incredible to me about Alzheimer's is that my Grandmother's multi-tasking brain since I first remember meeting her is now able to focus on one thing. She dwells on it over and over. Whether it be when people are taking her home from this hotel she is staying in or rereading over and over one passage of scripture she can't stop thinking about, NOTHING else matters to her.
While there is a lot of pain that goes along with this for her and for us, there are moments of joy. When she "discovered" that Katie & I were married recently (despite her being at the wedding personally), she joyfully proclaimed God's praises ever 15 seconds for about an hour -- "discovering" over and over that we were married. It's amazing the joy and sorrow that emerges from her focus on ONE thing at a time - over and over.
In the past 10 days, I've been to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Detroit -- through airports, speaking at conferences, meeting strangers, and seeing old friends (and my dad's parents, who live on a farm outside Nashville). What struck me was how obsessed people were in their own lives and the "things" that make them up. From a guy getting thrown out of the Golden Corral because he wanted RARE meat and verbally destroyed the server for denying him essentially raw meat to a woman on a plane that needed to bring all of her worldly possessions with her, including lotions & perfume -- and didn't like it one bit that the TSA guards told her no dice.
What are we doing here? Over and over the Bible talks about that we can't take this world with us when we go. If this is true, and I believe it is, what should be focusing on?
I do know this. The Bible is also clear that the voices of the oppressed carry on, crying out (Psalm 9:18) still to this day. And James tells us that true religion is looking out for widows and orphans, as well as keeping ourselves pure and holy from the things of this earth.
So how am I doing? How are you doing?
A woman I know in Zimbabwe is literally rescuing children from the ravages of life -- children abandoned and left on doorsteps after a parent or relative has had enough. MOst often, the children are orphaned because of AIDS and a relative doesn't know how to take care of the child, or is unable because they may be caring for a dozen or more, and brings them to my friend - abandoned. One child came to my friend severly malnurished, struggling to breath, and unable to walk. She was about 5 yrs old when I met her last year. She had been chained to the bed by her father for days and weeks at a time, as he would go off to find work after blowing through the family's money paying medical bills for his dying wife. While he would leave food for her, you can imagine the horror from a child literally CHAINED to a bed, with no access to a toilet, and the food mixed in.
This is just one of the 30 kids that my friend is working to save -- rescue glimmers of hope from a seemingly hopeless world. In partnership with a church, my friend has mobilized volunteers from the church to rescue these kids and give them a healthy place to stay, while family relatives can be contacted & counseled to see if a safe permanent home somewhere in the child's lineage can be found. If not, my friend and her friends are creating Forever Homes, where people have volunteered to watch over the kids every day and love them for the rest of their lives in a healthy, supportive environment.
How does all of this connect? Well - Forgotten Voices is trying to help my friend in Zimbabwe take care of AIDS orphans, as we are trying to do for many, many churches in southern Africa. My friend needs only $3,000/month to do this. We've committed $3,000 to help these cause and I need to send it by the end of August.
I was brought to tears when my friend in Zimbabwe sent me this email when describing her current need and our promised investment:
"The timing is awesome as we are very low on funds as it's summer holiday in the UK & US so no one thinks much about the poor when they're lying in the sun drinking cool drinks!!"
At first, I was struck by her perception, then her honesty, and then convicted by this truth for many of us. My dad is a minister. I remember as a pastor's kid when my dad couldn't cash his paycheck for a couple weeks when the church didn't have enough to give when people left for vacation during the summers. Giving always goes down for non-profits and churches when summer rolls around. But the need doesn't stop.
If you are in a position to give, or if you have a way to sell some of your stuff to free up some funds to Forgotten Voices, please consider doing so today at http://www.ForgottenVoices.org.
Anyway - I was brought to tears when I received the email of my friend battling for his life & his mind and the lessons he and my grandmother's lives have taught me about us not being able to take any of this stuff (cool drinks and all) with us when life ends. So, what is the one thing we can focus on?
God asks us to love Him and love our neighbors, with the stuff mentioned only to tell us not to care about any of it. How are we doing?
Now that's something to ponder and act on this summer.