Thursday Morning Sunshine

Thursday Morning Sunshine is a revised version of The Sunshine Newsletter which three of us who are involved in Nursing Home outreach publish weekly. Our writers are Pastor Janice Burnett, who is a Nursing Home chaplain in Western New York as well as my friend Rob Keller who is both a graphic designer as well as the writer of some of the devotionals. Our free publication goes into about 9 different long term care facilities in Florida and New York. Each We purposely are not copyrighting the material so as to make it freely available to as many people as possible. If you know anyone in the long-term care community including, staff members, family, residents or volunteers, please feel free to either contact me for future issues or copy and share our weekly issues with people you know.

God Loves You! By Peter Caligiuri

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 ESV

Marie* wants to see you in the cafeteria after the message” they told me. As I went in to sit with Marie, she began to cry and took hold of my hands saying, “God hates me!”  Marie suffers from Parkinson’s and that afternoon she was so depressed that she hadn’t come in for our song and prayer time at her nursing home.

She felt isolated from the world outside because no old friends ever came to visit, no family came for her birthday or Christmas. But there was still good news to share with her that afternoon – “God loves you Marie! Because the Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” I told her as I struggled to communicate the love of Jesus in a way that would touch her at that very moment.

As we head towards the holidays this year, remember that just as God has not forgotten Marie, He has also not forgotten you. He has not left you alone. You may not be the richest person in the world, but if you know Jesus as your Savior then you have the best hope in the universe because you have received God’s gift of love and His promise of heaven. Now we need to remember that there are people named Marie or Betty or Bob or Joe all around us. They need the hope that only God’s love can give and in the same way that He has helped you to hope, why not pass that hope of Jesus along to them?

The most thrilling thing about heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there. I will see Him face to face. Jesus Christ will meet us at the end of life’s journey – Billy Graham

Every Christian who keeps looking up, stretches their heart’s capacity for Heaven – Joni Eareckson Tada

Thanks-Living  by Pastor Janice Burnett

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV

Many years ago a friend and I travelled to New York City for a wedding. One night on a whim we decided to treat ourselves to dessert in a restaurant in one of the World Trade Center buildings. The driving directions to get there were fabulous; we arrived with no problem. We enjoyed our dessert and cup of tea – that is all we could afford! Then it was time to drive back to our hotel. Little did we know that the way out was different from the way in. We didn’t have a map, and this was in the days before electronic GPS directions. Yes, you guessed it – we got very lost. Late on a Saturday night we ended up in parts of town that were – well, let’s just say we didn’t belong there.

This would be one of those circumstances where living and breathing with a thankful attitude doesn’t sound normal, does it? Can you think of other situations where you wouldn’t naturally feel very thankful? Go ahead and name them. God and our friends are not put off by our honesty. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he told them, “In everything give thanks!” in other words – LIVE THANKFULLY!

Wow, notice the absolute words related to an action on our part – Evermore – Without ceasing – Everything. I guess that we cannot shy away from God being definite about this point! Not sometimes – when we feel like it or when things are going great. It is true that we need to remember to be thankful when good things happen and throughout our average daily life. I know I do, and this is a reminder not to take anything for granted.

Also, to be thankful in the sad, scary or painful times goes against what we feel like doing. Yet, not only is this God’s will, but it is healthier for us to live grateful lives. Remember our trip leaving NYC? Yes, we made it out safely, obviously. This was with help from a couple of helpful people and God’s provision of safety. Not to mention that or one-hour drive going in took three hours for us to get out! We may have forgotten in the thick of the moment to be outwardly thankful, but you can be sure we thanked God each time we met helpful people and especially when we had reached our hotel! Let us set a goal to think and live more gratefully in the midst of our circumstances! And, let us get practical and make a commitment to thank God OUT LOUD for three specific things every day!

Sunshine News – It may be hard to believe but we are only six weeks from Christmas! I am excited to say that this year our small prayer group has helped with the purchase of over 50 large-print Christmas Devotional books to give to residents at the three communities which I visit. I would love it if someone could come when we give these out and are also in need of people to help sing Christmas carols. If you can help let me know.  We have song books and will sing easy traditional songs. I would also ask if you could to pray that God would provide one or two other volunteers to help throughout the year. If you are interested we need help with serving communion, singing, visiting, writing for the newsletter and filling in when I am away. Have a blessed week all! 

For more ideas on Nursing Home Ministry, you might find this 2021 edition of New Frontiers in Nursing Home Ministry a helpful resource. This is available on Amazon in both a print and eBook format.

Singing With Virginia

O Sing unto to the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 96:1 KJV

I have been praying for God to open doors at the long-term care facilities I visit, but I wasn’t prepared to see them swing open quite so wide. Today seemed like just any another Thursday morning at the West Wing which is the memory care portion of one facility I visit. I got there at my usual time and found about a dozen folks seated in the TV area by the nurse’s station. They seemed happy to see me as we started singing “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man who stilled the waters!” As the chorus rang out I noticed behind them a lady named Virginia who was pacing aimlessly back and forth hunched over her walker. I paid little attention to her until she suddenly turned towards us and shuffled in our direction. Being concerned that she might fall, one of the nurses jumped up and gently redirected her back to the hall. But just a minute later Virginia was back and this time walked right up to me and stood quietly for a moment, then reached out her finger and touched the strings of my guitar.

Curious to see what she would do; I assured the nurse that it was fine and I watched to see what she would do next.  I had not been able to see Virginia’s face because she was so completely bent over her walker but on the next hymn she looked up at me and began to sing. Her face lit up with a smile as she stood next to me and our voices joined together, “Jesus – Jesus – Jesus – Sweetest name I know. Hears the every longing of my heart – Keeps me singing as I go!” Oh yes doors began opening today but the doors that swung open wide were not the ones I expected, they were ones to my heart and hers. God sent Virginia to remind me that everyone in all the earth needs to sing for you!

Through the Great Waters

The closing of the door to nursing home ministry during Covid reminds me of this verse. 14 months ago the doors closed to in person visitation and frankly I was unwilling to continue putting myself and others at risk. Then came long uncertain and often confusing months of terrifying statistics and our world shut down to silence.

During that time I began producing weekly videos and put out a devotional newsletter as an effort to stay connected and to bring a little cheer. These were not professionally done nevertheless the residents seemed to like them. What a joy it was today to step out of those great waters today as I began singing again for my dear friends in memory care at Sunshine Christian Home. This is the second of three facilities where we used to have services to reopen.

A few even remembered me! I say all this to encourage you to never give up on what God has given you to do or the field of service he has called you to. No great waters are too great for God! In fact God delights in making a way through impossible obstacles because just like the children of Israel we can rejoice on the other side of the sea. For the record, the first song we sang after 14 months was, This is the Day. Yes this is most certainly the day the Lord has made!

Tomorrow the third place where I used to hold services has invited me also so I’ll update you on how that goes. If anyone has been involved with ministry at Long Term Care facilities and you have questions let me know.