The Business of Autumn

The Business of Autumn

During autumn, once life-filled leaves begin to fall to nourish the earth, making way for new growth in the spring that follows winter’s stillness.

Letting Go

Autumn Brings Opportunity for Growth

In the midst of purging through a forest of file folders it became evident that lives have passed, lessons have been given and opportunities for growth sit on new paths waiting to be discovered.

Address changes, special greetings, thank you notes, do I toss or keep? A wastebasket sits by my feet ready to swallow what I discard. It isn’t easy to put some things into a wastebasket, but it is time to let go, turn towards the next season while holding in my heart names and faces I see when reading a hand-written address or note from someone who is no longer on this earth but may be looking down from one of heaven’s windows.

I hold a card with a photo of a black and white cow wearing a colorful sombrero. Inside the card, the words “Moo-chas Gracias” appear. The writer couldn’t find an appropriate card picturing a chihuahua, her favorite dog. Her card also contained a two page hand-written note on yellow legal paper written a decade ago. I can’t let go of it. The writer passed in April. I will treasure it. In part she wrote:

Note

Being There Can Be Enough

If you run across a cow wearing a colorful sombrero, remember, “Being there can be enough to get us through.”

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Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A man from Argentina looking for a dialysis center rang the door bell. I gave him directions to where he needed to go, silently praying for him as he walked back to his car.

A young girl asking for olive oil for a recipe rang the doorbell. I welcomed her into the kitchen, filling her measuring cup with more oil than she might need.

A woman asked for directions. I described how to get to the place she was looking for.

We decorate and light our homes in preparation for the coming of Immanuel. The light of Christ shines through us every time we open a door, pray a prayer for a stranger or give more than asked.

Someone recently described a GPS tool as God’s Positioning System. God’s system doesn’t black out in the darkness of tunnels or get interrupted by solar flares. God lights our paths equipping us to serve others for Him.

It is seven days before Christmas. God counts on each of us to light the path so that others will see his glory. Can he count on you?

Be the Light Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Be the Light
Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Hope for the Homeless Population

Hope for the Homeless Population

A memorial mass for a local homeless man framed our trip to Salt Lake City the day before we left town. The homeless man, hit and killed by a car in March on a busy Central Florida road was partly identified through his pockets full of Starbucks and Panera gift cards given to him by caring people who took time to get to know him. At the memorial service, a simple urn donated by a county memory garden contained the remains of this bearded, beloved to many, homeless man.IMG_0080

Our trip took us to Denver, CO, before boarding the California Zephyr Amtrak train to Salt Lake City. Four random Denver taxi drivers, all from Ethiopia, expressed their gratefulness to be living in the United States. There is a homeless population living on the streets of Denver. The California Zephyr’s route travels through majestic, yet desolate canyons, following the Colorado River. As we left Denver, many homeless people stood along the station’s railroad tracks.

Arriving in Salt Lake City, we observed homeless people of every age on street corners, sleeping in vacant building entrances, holding signs asking for assistance. I saw the face of the local homeless man reflected in each homeless person I encountered in Denver or Salt Lake City.

Homeless people are around us from coast to coast, living under bridges, trees, in woods, on streets, carrying belongings in borrowed shopping carts or in well worn garbage bags.

The day we flew home, news reports mentioned our local officials visiting Salt Lake City to observe best practices to help their homeless population. It is too late for the man hit by a car last March but a glimmer of hope is building for others. May the area officials respond in more generous and permanent ways to help the homeless community before more lives are tragically lost.

“Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? Wasn’t my home always open to them? Weren’t they always welcome at my table?” (Job 31:16-18, The Message)

Back to School

 

Lonesome for Children's Voices

Do you sense fall in the air? Have you noticed the sun’s amber glow? The summer heat is waning. Last month, many families shopped for school and dorm supplies, anticipating the beginning of a new school year.

Yet many families didn’t have money to purchase new clothing or supplies. Their children will have to make do with what they have. Their children need clothing in larger sizes; they have outgrown already worn-out shoes.

Anticipation of a new school year is a joyful time for most children. For children living in poverty, it will be another year of being left behind, receiving leftovers, used clothing, maybe a new pair of shoes, receiving a donated backpack filled with school supplies.

Lining Up for Assistance before 8:30am

People Lining Up for Assistance

Poverty is a constant uphill battle, a formidable foe. It affects a child’s ability to learn. Poverty creates subtle stress in families. If parents can’t put food on the table for their families, how can they afford to provide needed clothing and shoes for their children much less afford to buy school supplies?

You can ease the cycle of poverty:

  • Volunteer at your local school.
  • Find out what a teacher needs for the classroom and donate it.
  • Be a mentor for a child.
  • Help a child learn to read.
  • Donate food to a local pantry.

Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses. (Proverbs 28:27, The Message)

 

Who are the Strays in Your Life?

Two “preachers” came to visit him. A stray dog appeared. The preachers made unkind remarks about the stray dog while they were talking. Their comments did not sit well with the host. He said, “Do you know that dog spelled backwards spells God?” The two told him they never had thought about that.

He gave the preachers money for their cause. After they left, he gave the stray dog food.

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Many times, one with a humble heart touches one of God’s creatures, by nurturing a heart without a home or providing food to soothe a hungry belly. Sometimes, one reminds others of the value of all of God’s creatures.

Who are the strays in your life? Who are the ones who have no home or the ones who have lost their way, hungry for love and acceptance, who need to be nurtured?

Just Enough

Just Enough

Your heart melts, looking into her beautiful green eyes watching her lift each of three young friends to the table to choose a donated danish, cinnamon roll or chocolate chip cookie. She is nine years old, but acts more responsible than some adults. She steers another child to the front of the line, “She’s new. She doesn’t know what to do,” she says. Nine people are in her family. We give her a loaf of raisin bread dusted with powdered sugar to make French Toast. Walking away, she is smiling. Your heart melts a second time.

Today, there was just enough bread and pastries for everyone. A woman, a regular, was missing. We wonder where she is. Has she moved?

“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, Common English Bible)

You are the Light

You are the Light

A green-eyed child taking care to see that other children get a sweet treat on a hot Florida evening is a light in a dark world. Her light shines in spite of the darkness of poverty around her. Just enough good things shut out darkness.

You Don’t Want That Dog

Every evening I look up, watching lights go on in a third floor corner condominium diagonally across the street from my home. Nola used to live there, her terrace filled with tomato plants, basil, other vegetables and herbs. Ten years ago this month, Nola began a 6-week seminar in my home teaching Dr. Joel Furhman’s “Eat to Live” program. Fourteen women gathered every week to listen to Nola’s wisdom.

Nola

Nola

We watched videos, discussing material, enjoying fellowship. Nola passed away August 25, 2012.

A photo of a rescue Chihuahua named Nola living in Virginia is mounted on my refrigerator door.

April of 2013, a beloved friend’s dog named Francois passed away. She notified me of the passing by email. Condolences were sent. I didn’t hear back from her which was unusual.

A lengthly letter arrived August 25, 2013 a year to the day of my friend Nola’s passing. The letter described my friend’s recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her chemotherapy, surgery and radiation she had gone through the past months. Her letter included a photo of Nola, a newly acquired rescue Chihuahua to help her heart repair from the loss of Francois.

One day she and her husband went to the pound around closing time. She saw a Chihuahua. She was advised not to take the dog, being told, “No one can handle this one.” She asked to take the dog outside. The dog immediately warmed to her, jumping into her lap, sitting peacefully. It was closing time. She decided to take the dog home, naming her Nola, for her love of New Orleans (NOLA) and family ties going back several generations. Two weeks after adopting the Chihuahua, she received the earth-shattering pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

When I read her letter, I shuttered in unbelief. On the anniversary of my friend’s death, I learned of my friend’s diagnosis and learned about a dog named Nola comforting her during a severe medical crisis.

We met later. I shared this with her. It gave her comfort. She is in remission. Her dog Nola does have her challenges with the rest of the family pets, but she is a comfort to her master.

When the lights go on in the third floor condominium, I think of Nola. Angels are among us. Some may be covered with fur.

Furry Angel

Furry Angel

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11