The Beauty of Autumn

Just Fall leaves 2after the death of the flowers, And before they are buried in the snow,

The comes a festival season, When nature is all aglow –

Aglow with a mystical spendour, That rivals the brightness of spring,

Aglow with a beauty more tender, Than aught which fair summer could bring.

Emeline B. Smith, “Indian Summer”

During our lives Autumn represents the beginning of an adventure, preparing for celebration, longer nights and the crisp smell of the decaying leaves while the earth preparing for its winter slumber and the end of our lives as we know it. Sounds very ominous but it is the cycle of all out lives, the ebb and fall of the time span of our lives.

The adventure – In my youth Autumn always signified the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. The day following Labor Day we were starting our new grade and perhaps a new school. The anticipation of meeting up with old friends, seeing new people and adjusting to any social and educational changes as we grew older was very high those first weeks.

The celebration – The later part of the year was always filled with the excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving always represented the gathering of friends & family and share dishes that had been prepared for generations or trying out for the first time. The focus of the holiday for me was not just the food but connecting with people, spend time with your immediate family or extended family reaffirming that connection that is/was very important in forming you into the person you are. God brings people in and out of your life to fill a need, to steer you in the right direction or support you when you have tough times. It is important to serve others but, sometimes, you need to step back and allow someone else to take on the task. You are still serving by the act of restraint. Christmas is my favorite holiday! The decorations, lights, cards, presents, songs and food! But after the baking has been done, the presents bought & wrapped, decorations up and the last card mailed I enjoy the quiet of the late night, sitting on my front porch wrapped in an old family quilt and let the peace fill me. The celebrations can be big and loud or still and quiet, both enlighten the spirit.

Span of time – That phrase has several meanings. The beginning and ending of an event, a period of time or a life. Autumn is another phrase to describe the twilight of our lives. You have let go of the playfulness of youth, the discovery of your 20’s and 30’s, the settling of your 40’s and 50’s and reevaluating in your 60’s. You have established yourself as an individual and understand the importance of acceptance and of letting go of things that are no longer important. Respect and cherish your time or the time you have with others. Taking the best of your past and applying it to the present and plan for the future. And the future is always a different shade of bright!

 

 

Did You Leave Your Mark?

GenerousityBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-2

This year I turned 60 and my Mother became 95. It is true, when I look in the mirror, I see the person that I was at 30 and do not see the the more etched lines in my face or discount the additional aches that greet me each morning. You wonder where the time has gone, all the plans you made and the expectations you had about your life have changed. Was it for the better? To answer that question you need to answer another one first, did I make a difference in someone’s life? It does sound a bit trite but looking over your life can you spot five times that your actions help someone change their path, accept their path or create a whole new journey?

Human beings are social creatures and need the companionship of others to share experiences and emotions with. If you connect with another person unexpectedly, for a brief period of time, who’s to say it is not by God’s hand? 

Reader’s Digest is one publication I always enjoy reading, especially their stories. https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/kindness-strangers/ has several wonderful stories about people meeting briefly during a low point for one of the  individuals and how an act of kindness solved the problem and left an impression that will last for a long time. They made a mark. Here are two I really liked. 

She Gave Me Direction.

As I left a party, I got on the wrong freeway and was immediately lost. I pulled over to the shoulder and called my roadside-assistance provider. She tried to connect me to the California Highway Patrol, but that call never went through. Hearing the panic in my voice, she came up with a plan B: “You’re near this office,” she said. “I’m about to go off shift. Stay put, and I’ll find you.” Ten minutes later, she rolled up. She guided me not only to the right freeway but all the way to the correct freeway exit. And then, with a wave goodbye, she drove back into the night. – Michelle Arnold, Santee, California.

Seven Miles For Me

Leaving a store, I returned to my car only to find that I’d locked my keys and cell phone inside. A teenager riding his bike saw me kick a tire and say a few choice words. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I explained my situation. “But even if I could call my wife,” I said, “she can’t bring me her car key, since this is our only car.” He handed me his cell phone. “Call your wife and tell her I’m coming to get her key.” “That’s seven miles round trip.” “Don’t worry about it.” An hour later, he returned with the key. I offered him some money, but he refused. “Let’s just say I needed the exercise,” he said. Then, like a cowboy in the movies, he rode off into the sunset. – Clarence W. Stephens, Nicholasville, Kentucky.

An act of compassion, charity or generosity can change a person’s life, whether you are aware of it or not. Trust your heart to recognize the need over the greed and rejoice in the effect of the gesture and not the act itself.

 

Homecoming 2019

Kids in cemteryBehold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. ~ Psalm 127:3-5

 

I thought the topic of Homecoming would be appropriate as Jennings United Methodist Church is about to celebrate another one on May 26th this year. This annual homecoming was a tradition that my Mama, Vera Harper Spencer, insisted we all attend. It was never a question of if but what you are bringing. This was before the Fellowship Hall and kitchen. The ladies of the church would go down to the basement and use that small kitchen to warm food and have the men carry readied dishes to the long wooden tables under the trees by the cemetery. The cemetery was cleaned up and decorated so that you could see picked masses of flowers laid on graves with the freshly mowed grass framing the tombstones. Young and old wandered through the cemetery, visiting relatives long gone, and listening to stories about grandparents, great grandparents, parents and children. The stories might be your family but there was always the stories of the man who’s’ arm was buried in the cemetery or how a fresh grave would appear overnight or the scores of small markers representing the babies and small children who died because of fire or disease.  We connected through the sharing of memories and the relating to stories from our elders.

People would dress up to attend church and then perspire under the trees as they devoured southern fried chicken, deviled eggs, chicken casseroles, peas, corn, tomatoes, squash, watermelon and mac & cheese. The desserts were plenty, fresh apple pies, peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler, pecan pies, banana pudding, cakes and cookies. Sometimes homemade ice cream was cranked in the afternoon. Playing with seldom seen cousins, talking to people who lived in exotic places like Florida or California or simply fill your belly and stretch out under the trees and listen to the faint droning of conversation that settled on you like a light blanket, making you feel safe and connected at the same time.

Unfortunately the only thing that is consistent is everything changes. Homecoming is still an important tradition at Jennings but the connection that we cherished as children is more readily assessable through cell phones and the internet. Information is easier to share and people’s free time is becoming scarce, making it problematic to attend a potluck dinner on the grounds. I still treasure those connections in my youth and some have survived to this day. I sometimes wish that those earlier experiences could be shared with the next generation, getting dirt, walking through the cemetery and sharing a piece of fried chicken with a newly found cousin.

Happy Homecoming Jennings Chapel!

Toolbox for Spring

Spring 2019 “But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the LORD says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.” Isaiah 44:1-4

Spring cleaning is a practice the world over. Trees and plants are budding. The days are lengthening. Like every other creature in Nature, we feel a sense of renewal, and, with it, a desire to make our surroundings fresh so they can further enhance our better moods.

So why don’t we make the most of this instinct by paying particular attention this Spring to our bodies, minds and spirit? It might be that you’re stuck in a rut that saps your energy. Maybe you feel like you’ve let your social life hibernate a bit after the December round of holidays. Whatever might have you in the doldrums, a deep cleaning of mind, body and spirit might be just what you need to enhance and rediscover your true self.

Fitness Refresher

  • Exercise at the right time. If you’re not a morning person, first thing in the morning might not work for you. But don’t use that as an excuse for not exercising, and be aware that the longer you put off exercising, the harder it is to get motivated to begin a program.
  • Set specific, realistic and attainable goals— short-term and long-term. A weekly goal might be to work out four times, while a long-term goal might be to finish a 5K race. Keep goals attainable. If you’ve never run before, don’t attempt a marathon in the first couple of months. A 5K would be a better choice.
  • Monitor your progress. Keep a journal to see improvements. Note feelings about your exercise program, as well as accomplishments.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard, or you’ll want to quit. While progress takes work, allow adequate time to reach each new level.
  • Reward yourself for each goal reached. Buy a new book, an article of clothing, or something else enjoyable.
  • Vary or change the routine. When a workout routine starts to get stale, add variety. If you walk, run or cycle, try new and different routes. If nothing else, do a regular route in reverse. Or, try adding another activity for change. That allows for cross-training and helps prevent boredom.

Nutrition Makeover

  • Eat more whole grains by choosing whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice and whole wheat pasta.
  • Choose a variety of vegetables, especially the colorful dark green, red and orange vegetables, as well as beans and peas.
  • Add fruit to meals and snacks.
  • Include three or more servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.
  • Use moderate amounts of canola, corn, olive, peanut or soybean oils in place of solid fats.
  • Eat less added sugars (such as sugar, honey, corn syrup), solid fats (like margarine, butter, shortening), refined grains and sodium.

Spiritual Enrichment

  • Meditation: This is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey it in our life. Take time away from the noise and hurried way of life to quiet yourself so you can be sensitive to God’s presence.
  • Prayer: Real prayer is life-creating and life changing. Listen to the Lord and ask yourself, what is He saying to me? What is my response?
  • Reading of Scripture: Do not try to read the Bible in one sitting,” Janik said. “Take only one or two verses or a story at a time, and ask yourself, what does this say to me? How can I apply this to my life?
  • Celebrate your Life: Celebration brings us and others joy and happiness. Joy is the spirit that brings us energy and power. It makes life worth living.

5 Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Soul

In spring, the sun shines longer and brighter, which means it’s easier to see the dirt that’s settled in the house over the winter months This year, while your spring cleaning the house, why not check-in with your soul, too? Easter is just around the corner, and there’s no better time than now to prepare your heart for the Easter season. Here are five steps that will help your soul feel light and refreshed. You can use this exercise as a devotion or meditate on the steps as you clean your own house.

  1. Open your heart and let God in.Just as you open the windows wide to let the fresh air of spring sweep through your house, open your heart, and ask the Holy Spirit to move in your heart. Don’t forget to call upon the Holy Spirit, for “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” (John 6:63 ESV)
  1. De-clutter. With the Holy Spirit sweeping through your heart, think about what in your life has been keeping you from spending time with God each day or what is taking away your peace. Get rid of it, and create space for more of what is good and beautiful in your life. Remember that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)
  1. Dust. Just as dust slowly and quietly settles on the furniture, bad habits slowly build into our own lives. What bad habit have you formed lately? Gossip? Laziness? Negativity? Make a commitment to rid yourself of that bad habit, and strive “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV)
  1. Sweep. Like dust upon furniture, we slowly drag dirt from the outside world onto the floor. What bitterness have you dragged into your heart? Have you been harboring resentment toward anyone? Forgive them. Until you do, you can’t truly spring clean your soul, for Christ tells us, ”if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
  1. Make a plan to keep your soul clean. Now that you’ve thoroughly examined the ways sin can creep into your soul, consider creating a game plan that will keep your soul clean throughout the rest of the year. Commit to joining a Bible Study, attending Wednesday night services, or daily praying a morning devotion. For “you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10)

This is an article by Justina Miller. http://insider.purefix.com/lifestyles/5-steps-to-spring-cleaning-your-soul

Let A New Adventure Begin!

Butterfly“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Too often we let responsibilities and daily tasks interfere with us exploring the world around us and learn how we can better ourselves, our family’s life and the world. Evaluate obstacles, gain perspective, stay focused and committed.

There are stories all over the internet about how people changed their lives and found their passion or their purpose in life. Opening their own restaurants, losing weight, traveling to another country, moving and starting over in another country, mentor others through health awareness, realizing that you enjoy teaching and training others to success. Below are a couple of videos and articles that might inspire you.

https://goodlifezen.com/how-to-start-over-3-inspiring-real-life-stories/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/05/12-ordinary-people-who-can-inspire-us_n_6348652.html

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/suicidal-doesnt-want-to-die

https://mashable.com/2015/08/12/inspiring-career-changes/#jrnM2pPEhsqg

You have to start somewhere so here is a list of six steps that can get you started with a new beginning. It does not matter if it is the organize closets to working on getting a degree to volunteering with an organization, each of these new beginnings can only improve your mindset and your life in some way.

Just Do It.

You have something you have always want to try to do. Take cooking classes, learn to fly an airplane, write a song, look for another job or take a computer class. It will not be easy but each skill you learn, each test you pass or that mmmmm! after your first homemade cake is a stepping stone to reaching that milestone. Take action by making your mind up to just do it, no excuses as to why you cannot.

Always Commit.

Once you have committed to a task allow yourself to accept the challenge and become determine to complete the task. Accept the sense of fulfillment you will receive for completing the task, don’t minimize it.

Be Open Minded.

This new beginning might take you down roads you never thought you would go. If you write the best country song in class and are asked to perform it, do it! If your place of work offers training in a new field, try it! Step outside of your expectations.

Rejoice In Your Mistakes!

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything” by Theodore Roosevelt. Making mistakes is a way we learn and improve. It can deepen our knowledge, invite us to make better choices, reveal a new insight or can suggest new options we have never thought of before. The only negative aspect is if you never try to begin with.

Live In A State Of Wonderment.

We let the outside forces cloud our observations of the world around us. The world is a fascinating and exciting adventure happening around us. The wonder of living insects fluttering from flower to flower gathering pollen so that larger plants can grow and feed us. The body itself, the mechanics of living tissue being able protect and repair itself is remarkable. To see the beauty in an old tire by the side of the road and interpret it into art.  See the world through the eyes of a child, your inner child, remembering growing up and how the world was just a big playground for you. You will be amazed at not only what you see but how you feel and how those feelings can color your world just a little brighter.

Always Stay In Touch With Loved Ones.

We cannot go through life alone, it is meant to be shared and experienced with people who are special to you. They are your support system, they will offer unsolicited advice, not understand what your drive is about or not appreciate the difficulty of the day to day dedication to your task. But they will help pick you up when you feel defeated. They commiserate with you over your mistakes and bandage your pride when the blows cut too deep. You in turn will support them in their endeavors and you will all be examples for each of how to be the best you.

You have the tools, see where your dreams will take you!

 

 

Welcome, Welcome, Share This Feast

free-thanksgiving-dinner 2018Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 8-9

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, and has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well.

The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the “First Thanksgiving”, including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.. In later years, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford, who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God”.

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln.

On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost.

In modern times the President of the United States, in addition to issuing a proclamation, will “pardon” a turkey, which spares the bird’s life and ensures that it will spend the duration of its life roaming freely on farmland.

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song, Thanksgiving Song, has the phrase “Grateful for each hand we hold gathered around this table” which is a perfect way to sum up what Thanksgiving is all about. To be grateful for the loved ones in our lives, celebrate our love for God and family and remember to always count your blessing. We all have so much to be thankful for.

 

Thanksgiving Song

by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.”

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for what’s understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.

Preserving Your Family History

FamilyFor the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

There are several great web sites that can give you information on preserving old family pictures and documents. These family documents represent your past and show you the abilities or gifts members of your family possess, both past and present.

I personally have always enjoyed the unplanned pictures, catching a person in an unguarded moment. Adding information about the person, location and/or date makes the photo more interesting and relatable. Those pictures tossed in a drawer or documents placed in a folder and filed can be utilized to introduce younger generations to their past.  Several of these web site are: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~george/preserving_photos.html  http://www.loricase.com/faq.html  https://www.livescience.com/39494-incredible-tech-preserving-historical-documents.html and https://www.recordnations.com/articles/properly-store-documents/

Shutterfly, and other companies like them, can create books that contain this information without damaging the originals, can be shared and is easily accessed.  My nieces and nephew have always asked about stories about their parents so several years ago I created a book that told a story about relatives going back to their great grandparents. It is one of my fondest Christmas memories. With a loud and boisterous group sitting around the Christmas tree I gave the book to them all at the same time. When they opened it the room was quiet for about 15 minutes with occasionally comments of “this one is about me” or did you see the picture of dad on page 10?

Shutterfly

With the documents you are filing you can chose a family member, a year in the life or family storytelling and create a custom book.  Great way to start a conversation or send sometime just reminiscing.

Enjoy!

Caregivers

Old-Hands-Young-HandsCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” —Matthew. 11:28–30

Wikipedia describes a care giver as a person is an unpaid or paid member of a person’s social network who helps them with activities of daily living. Care giving is most commonly used to address impairments related to old age, disability, a disease, or a mental disorder.

Typical duties of a caregiver might include taking care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease; managing medications or talking to doctors and nurses on someone’s behalf; helping to bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled; or taking care of household chores, meals, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone.

With an increasingly aging population in all developed societies, the role of caregiver has been increasingly recognized as an important one, both functionally and economically. Many organizations which provide support for persons with disabilities have developed various forms of support for careers as well.

Being a Caregiver is one of the most rewarding and draining thing you can do. The relationship that develops between the caregiver and the patient becomes a dance, each party working towards each other to establish a relationship based on trust and love surrounded by major life changes. The caregiver will take on more responsibilities and their priories will have to shift. The patient is grappling with certain freedoms and their independence will be reduce or eliminated depending on the aliment/disability. This can cause frustration, depression and lashing out at their loved ones. Patience is an easy word to say but applying it to this situation makes you realize how encompassing the meaning really is. The caregiver must reevaluate their lifestyle, adjusting to the reduction of free time and pace in which they accomplished things, matching the patients pace. The patient has to accept their new limitations, whether it is due to age or injury. The lack of independence and the growing new for assistance is very scary, causing frustration and depression. As the relationship continues to evolve a new aspect appears, one I call the “safe zone”. The patient needs that one person who accepts them even as they are changing, does not judge and encourages them to express themselves honestly without the worry of being dismissed. In addition, this lesson in patience is very therapeutic, being able to understand the need to connect so that the patient has someone who helps keep them grounded. The dance continues in a gentler version, the understanding what is needed, how to delivery it and respect the person for their place in your life, past, present and future.

Below are several verses that are helpful when you are having doubts and questions.

If you’re wondering what God’s plan is in all this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5–6

If you feel guilty about not doing enough: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.—I Peter 5:7

If frustration is getting the better of you: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.—Colossians 3:23–24

If you’re afraid of what tomorrow may bring: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalm 118:24

If the person you’re caring for is difficult: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.—Galatians 5:22–23

As your caregiving journey continues: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.—Numbers 6:24–26

If you want to help a caregiver but time is limited here are several ways to help ease their burden.

Take Them Food – Whether you take sandwich fixings, a casserole or health snacks that be taken to a hospital or rehabilitation center it is always appreciated.

Give a Gas Card or Prepaid Card – Expenses mount up for family members driving to the hospital or doctor’s appointments. Having a little extra funds to pay for gas and parking fees is a blessing.

Don’t Ask. Do. – Caregivers might have commitments to other organizations or are serving on committees. Tell them you will attend a meeting for them, make deliveries that they had committed to and/or take over a position they can no longer handle. It may seem intrusive but sometimes it is a relief to not be responsible for something you had committed to.

Take on Yard or Repair Work.  – Mowing or, in winter, shoveling snow is always a huge help. Check with the local churches to see if there is any outreach efforts dealing with repairs of house or building ramps for the disable or elderly people.

Take A Ride – Sometimes just taking the patient out for an hour to ride around, get a treat or park and talk with them outside of the house is beneficial to both of them. Just a break from each other for a while can have a tremendous affect.

Give the Gift of Laughter – When visiting caregivers, be yourself. Talk about a special memory. Give them a reason to smile. Laughter, clinical studies have shown, is good medicine.

Pray – Even as a friend or relative of the caregiver, don’t shoulder the emotional burden alone. Ask others to pray for the patient and the caregiver. Let caregivers know people are praying.

Take A Ride – Sometimes just taking the patient out for an hour to ride around, get a treat or park and talk with them outside of the house is beneficial to both of them. Just a break from each other for a while can have a tremendous affect.

We will all need a caregiver sometime during our lives. Remember that respect, trust and love are the most important components in a successful relationship. By adding patience into the mix this experience can be the most profound and important relationship you might ever have. Treasure the sweet moments and empathize with the difficult ones. The memories will strengthen you by showing what you can accomplish and again later, what you will allow done for you.

A Grandparent’s Touch

Baby and Grandmother

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is complex. They store the past, celebrate the past and become a memory in the future. In this age of technology growth we may have gain instant information but we have missed out on the simple niceties of life. Holding a face to face conversation with someone, the physical response to conversation creates additional depth that cannot be felt through a text. Grandparents and grandchildren’s relationships comprises of a more lenient and compassionate element. The grandparents recognizes the speed in which time is passing and the grandchild feels love and support from this family teacher that establishes a solid self-esteem. It also supports that the connection allows for the relationship to change over the time so that the one who needed support while growing up can now reciprocate to the caregiver as they age.

The relationship between a grandchild and grandparent is a very special one. While grandparents act as an authority figure and provide unconditional love, they also get to spoil their grandkids in a way parents simply can’t. But beyond that, grandparents also wield incredible influence. Here are 10 things grandchildren can learn from their grandparents.

World History

Children can find out what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression or World War II from grandparents who experienced life during that time. Personal stories are much easier to remember than lists of names and dates from books.

Teaching a new skill

When they were growing up, many grandparents learned practical skills such as sewing, gardening, baking, farming or woodworking. These are great things to pass on to grandchildren, as they may not be commonly taught anymore, but are still very useful talents to possess. They also understand how to use an item or product fully, teaching recycling in a practical way.

Wisdom

Life lessons and other advice delivered by grandparents have more validation because they’ve often lived through the same or similar experience — possibly more than once.

Family History

Everyone has those old black and white pictures of unknown relatives or family friends, but grandma and grandpa may actually know where they were taken, the history behind the picture and who those mystery people are. Resource for your family tree — who are their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles? You’ll know about tons of family members you didn’t know existed, even stories about their parents that the parent may not want told!

Humor

Teasing is a part of growing up, but when it comes from someone who loves you unconditionally, it’s way more enjoyable. Learning jokes and pranks from your grandparents is a great way to bond with them and understand how to react if you’re teased by your own peer group.

Listening

Many young children are used to their parents listening to everything they say, and they expect others will do the same. While this is often normal for young children, it’s important for them to learn how to listen to others as well. Listening to their grandparents reminisce about the past teaches the children how to listen and participate in a conversation.

Games

Playing card and board games instead of video games encourages successful social interaction. Learning to share, play fair and understand how to be a good winner are important life lessons that will serve they well in their life.

Emotional Support

Having a sounding board who doesn’t spend every day with you, like a parent or guardian does, can be invaluable when you’re trying to navigate the teenage years. Amy Kelly of Libby, Montana says,

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Grandparents have lived long enough to realize not to get upset over the little things; life is too short. Young grandchildren think everything is hyper-important, but can learn to adjust their priorities after discussing problems with their grandparents, who have a broader world view.

Snail Mail

The art of letter writing is fading. It’s great practice for kids who are learning how to write. Purchase postcards, stationery and stamps and set up some pen pal time with your grandparents and you can each send postcards, letters or souvenirs about is going on in their lives. You’ll both have a great time waiting for the next letter to come in the mail, and grow closer in the process.

The Angelus by Millet

The Angelus

    God grants each of a special set of gifts, one of the most amazing gifts to me is the ability to depict an everyday occurrence in a profound manner that it causes you to stop and reflect on what you are seeing or experiencing. It could be by book, film, photographs, drawing or painting. This painting is a wonderful depiction of giving praise to God.  The subject matter always makes me stop and look a little closer to the painting. The subject is beautiful:  a man and a woman are reciting the Angelus in a quiet field. Because they have paused in the middle of working, all the tools of their labor–a potato fork, basket, sacks, and a wheelbarrow–are right beside them. What is the meaning behind the name of the painting, The Angelus is?

Millet reportedly wrote of the painting, “The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed very religiously and with cap in hand.”

The painter, Jean François Millet, was born in Gruchy near Gréville on Oct. 4, 1814. His parents were peasants, and he grew up working on a farm. In 1837 Millet moved to Paris to study painting. To learn the traditions of classical and religious painting, he entered the studio of Paul Delaroche, a successful academic imitator of the revolutionary romanticist Eugène Delacroix. He and Delacroix were not a successful pairing but Millet stayed on in Paris, supporting himself by making pastel reproductions of rococo masters, occasional oil portraits, and commercial signs. During the 1840s Millet’s painting gradually shifted from classical and religious subjects to scenes of the rural and peasant life with which he was familiar. As it did, he gained increasing support and recognition from other painters in his generation. Among these were Narcisse Diaz de la Peña and Théodore Rousseau, two landscape painters who were instrumental in forming the loose association of artists known as the Barbizon school. Millet and the other Barbizon artists resisted the grand traditions of classical and religious painting, preferring a direct, unaffected confrontation with the phenomena of the natural world. During the 1830s and 1840s their works were generally regarded as crude, unfinished, and unacceptable to the official tastes of the Parisian Salons. After mid-century, however, the Barbizon artists slowly gained increasing recognition, and their achievement became an important inspiration for the younger generation of impressionists. Millet moved to Barbizon in 1848. The village was his home for the rest of his life, and he died there on Jan. 20, 1875.

The story the Angelus tells is first of all one of willingness, of actively embracing a task at hand, just as Mary rose to her calling as Mother of God. She not only conceived but, as the prayer continues, exclaimed, Be it done unto me according to thy word. Second, the prayer is one of embodiment and immanence: And the Word became flesh / And dwelt among us. This is an old devotion that was already well established 700 years ago. The Angelus originated with the 11th-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening, or Compline, bell. The first written documentation stems from Italian Franciscan monk Sinigardi di Arezzo (died 1282). Franciscan monasteries in Italy document the use in 1263 and 1295. The current form of the Angelus prayer is included in a Venetian Catechism from 1560. The older usages seem to have commemorated the resurrection of Christ in the morning, his suffering at noon and the annunciation in the evening.  In 1269, St Bonaventure urged the faithful to adopt the custom of the Franciscans of saying three Hail Marys as the Compline bell was rung. The picture, even after interrupting work with a divine injunction, the prayer insists that the divine is also present in the people and things at hand, however fleshy and messy they appear. Upon returning to work, then, we take that incarnation with us.

From the tones of the colors, the humbleness of the people and the innocence of the surroundings this painting express a devotion and commitment to their Faith. That is always a beautiful thing.