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?

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Do You Know Patsy Ann?

Do You Know Patsy Ann?

When you live in a tourist town, expect company. How sweet it is when family members visit. The theme of a recent issue of Alive Now magazine was Hospitality, our hospitality to God. How are we extending His hospitality to others?

We get to pick up family from the airport or pick them up at their hotels, and have lunch or dinner with them at theme parks or local restaurants. We get to put hospitality into practice with our family, guests and strangers we may meet. The story of Patsy Ann has been on my mind, maybe because a friend is traveling on her second trip to Alaska in a few weeks. Patsy Ann left a deep impression on me when I first saw her statue in 2002.

Official Greeter of Juneau

Official Greeter of Juneau

*”I think about the story of an English Bull Terrier born in 1929 whose name was Patsy Ann.  She lived in Juneau, Alaska.  Patsy Ann was known for enthusiastically greeting every ship that docked in Juneau.  In 1934, she was named “official greeter of Juneau” by the town’s mayor.  Born deaf, and intended to be a gift from a father for his two daughters, Patsy Ann chose to make her home along the Juneau wharves and at the longshoreman’s hall.  Though unable to hear, it was reported that she could sense a ship’s whistle a half-mile away and would run to the wharf to greet passengers.  On the 50th anniversary of her death, a statue of her was dedicated by The Friends of Patsy Ann organization.  The statue sits with Patsy Ann facing the waters of the channel where she greeted Juneau’s visitors.  The organization bearing her name raises scholarship funds to promote ‘understanding, respect, kindness and compassion.’  Those words sound like love to me.  Patsy Ann knew her passion and lived it despite being deaf.  I imagine what she looked like, her wagging tail and big eyes smiling, greeting the passengers disembarking from a ship… One could say that Patsy Ann flourished in her job as official greeter.  Today, all that remains of the stray dog named Patsy Ann is a bronze statue and a plaque summarizing her story…”

I like to think of myself as an official greeter in the name of Christ, at an airport, in a grocery store, or at a turnstile to enter a theme park. I strive to exude the enthusiasm of Patsy Ann, to promote understanding, respect,  kindness and compassion. I am grateful for family and friends who have extended amazing love and warm hospitality during their visits.

“…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

To see more of the story of Patsy Ann, click here.

*Excerpt first published November 25, 2011 by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

 

Spring Cleaning

Spring Blooms

Spring Blooms

A Dogwood tree securely anchored by deep roots bends in the breeze. The tree is comfortable with its surroundings, wearing its pink blooms on a spring day.

Teenagers create self portraits, describing their art through words from their hearts. 

A bright future

A bright future

A teenager expresses his path

A teenager expresses his path

Thousands of young children and teenagers aren’t rooted in families that provide safety for growing and blooming into healthy adults. Programs like art therapy offer an outlet for healing processes to begin.

Springtime is a good time to clean our spiritual houses. Harmful acts such as abuse keep us from beginning to heal dark places in our souls. Through Christ, the process of healing the messes that pepper fragile lives can begin.

Children may have no other outlet to begin to cope with trauma and pain other than art until caring people point them to Christ whose love has no boundaries.

“People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. ‘Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.'”  (Luke 18:15-17, The Message)

 

 

 

 

Midnight Pizza

He had given me a personal invitation to attend a performance of Les Misérables, not knowing if he would be selected for a part in the musical. Auditions had not been scheduled.

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His home turned into a gathering place for friends planning to audition for roles in the musical. Fifteen pairs of shoes sometimes sat by the front door, abandoned by teens taking the stairs to couches or seats on the floor to listen to music or watch DVDs of professionals performing roles they would audition for. The teens encouraged each other, bonding like family.

Auditions closed. Casting was completed. He and his friends were selected to be part of the cast!  Months of hard work paid off. The all-important production crew and orchestra would work tirelessly to ensure excellent performances. The school edition of Les Misérables was coming to life.

I attended the second night’s performance with four family members. Afterwards, we went back stage. Tired but smiling cast members and crew were showered with congratulations, hugs, and flowers from relatives and friends. The excitement was palpable. I left with his parents. While driving to the house, he called his mom to ask her to order pizza for his friends.  “How many are coming?  What kind of pizza?  Are you sure?” she asked.

Five cast members arrived at the house.  We talked with  “Jean Valjean, the Bishop, Marius, Enjolras” and others while they were eating pizza, discussing the performance. Conversation turned to family. Between pizza slices, one cast member said that grandparents would be arriving from New Mexico.  Others told of their family’s plans. It was after midnight.

The family room was prepared to accommodate the cast for a few hours of sleep before a 7:20am performance the next morning. Pillows, quilts and blankets dropped from an upstairs landing.  A mattress from an adjacent room was moved to the family room floor. “Javert” arrived after most cast members had retreated to the family room. He joined them after having pizza.

Midnight pizza with friends on a school night may be unusual.

I observed the teenagers treating each other with care like I imagined they had treated each other while preparing for auditions and performances.

ImageIn Les Misérables, Jean Valjean experiences the mercy and grace of God through the Bishop’s actions when he was caught stealing. Valjean’s life turned around in a significant way though he suffered from his past.  I watched this group of high school students care for each other, bound together through a musical, yet bound deeper through sharing God’s love with each other.

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was published in 1862.  The life lessons remain relevant today.

Take a few minutes to watch this short video for a spiritual perspective.