A Different Kind of Lent

“Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:10

A couple weeks ago I was praying and speculating about whether to give up something for Lent. Being raised in a Baptist church, we didn’t do Lent, but I have always liked the tradition. Coffee, books, sugar….those are the things that came to mind right away. I was keeping my heart open……Soon after that, events transpired that made it necessary for my best friend’s mother to move in with us. Suddenly we had to figure out how to make a two bedroom house big enough for three.

My self-sacrificing friend is now sleeping in the Arizona room, which the cats had previously taken over. She gave up her room to her Mom. At first the cats gave the bed a wide berth, a bit apprehensive when they saw it being wheeled out to “their” room, but they are now thrilled at having another place to sleep.

She has a tough job. Her folks are not easy to care for. They are not positive people and never have been. They have taken much and given little. There is one consolation when all is said and done, she will know that there is not one thing more she could have done for them.

There are times, however, when this is not much consolation, especially when your own sanity is in question.
In spite of everything, she remains positive, gracious and a joy to be around. I don’t know how she does it, but then again I do…..loads of Grace, and Prayer. Did I mention her Mom has Alzheimer’s?

In the midst of insanity, and chaos, and stress, there was some humor yesterday.

The remote control was ringing

Lipstick seemed like a good idea on cheeks

She lost her pants, which were in plain sight on the dresser

She programmed the microwave for 1 hour and 55 minutes to heat coffee

And this was all within the first hour of the day. When she saw her Mom furiously scrubbing her face at the bathroom mirror she figured out what she did. And then they both had to laugh…..Grace. Life and death side by side. Things like Alzheimer’s have a way of making death more visible and just when you think it is gone forever the old life comes back……that’s what makes it tough.

And every time we give up something and make room for His grace we wear a bit of the sacrifice of Jesus.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Aging well

Douglas MacArthur evaluated his life on his 75th birthday, saying: “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. In the central place of every heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old.

I have found that young people really do like to be around the elderly, provided they are fun, positive and most importantly have not forgotten how to laugh. Let’s face it, aging can be humorous!

I think a healthy culture values its elderly population. After all, God greatly values the elderly. He gave them their biggest jobs after they had reached the age where many Americans are living in retirement villages playing golf and bingo!

My folks have done a great job of aging well, I only hope I can do it half as successfully as they have. Here are some of the reasons I believe they have continued to stay young at 81 and 82!

Staying in the Word
Staying positive
Laughing at themselves and the world around them
An extremely active lifestyle
Loving God and each other
Reaching out to others
Giving generously
Staying current with world events
Taking care of their health

I pray for those elderly today who are not well. For those who are alone, and who feel left behind and left out. Who feel they have nothing to contribute. May they find a friend and comfort in You God, and help me to be a friend to the elderly in my own life. Amen

Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”