I am deliriously happy to announce that our book project for the nursing home ministry is finally finished! After six months of writing and almost another six of editing and rewriting, the eBook edition is now live on Amazon! I am so excited. The book of Proverbs tells us that:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NKJV
Hope deferred has been exactly my experience, since I began this project last summer. I was hoping to have the book done by Christmas. But that hope was deferred time and time again, but I am humbly grateful that here in August we are finally done! Yay!! One thing I have learned is that this project has been a team effort – and working as a team, needed far more time and patience than I had originally scheduled. My wife did some of the first edits, followed by my good friend Rob Keller who also designed the cover. After I trudged through their corrections, it was nearly Thanksgiving, and I handed the manuscript over to Sue Hyson for a more detailed edit. The final edit and formatting of the manuscript was done by our daughter-in-law’s brother, Winston Crutchfield who not only edited but also fixed my formatting mistakes and improved the older photos as much as possible. These people have selflessly given of their time for one reason – and that is to tell you the story of our many friends in long-term care. Though it is my hope that “Walking With Lambs” will prompt more people to take action in practical ways, I believe you can also just enjoy getting to know some of the wonderful stories of friends whom I have made over thirty-five years in nursing home ministry. Their stories have taught me more about life than everything I learned in college and Bible school combined! If you would like to check out the eBook version, the link is here
When the news came last week that Doug had been in a bad accident on the farm, I wondered if this might be his last. The week that he survived gave us all some time, not only to pray for him and his family but to remember this simple man’s kindness, loyalty to his friends and willingness to help. Doug didn’t read much. Besides repair manuals, the only books I think he ever read were the Boy Scout manual and the Bible. All his life, Doug had struggled with learning. His slight speech impediment also made it difficult for those who were not friends to understand all he said. But at 6 AM on Sunday mornings when the church furnace didn’t come on, Doug got the call. When someone’s car broke down and they couldn’t afford to take it to the garage, he fixed it at his house. Over the thirty plus years we knew him, Doug had rewired two of our homes, and replaced most of the plumbing in one. Doug also helped take care of the farm I managed. When the pipes leaked, the irrigation wouldn’t come on or the fields needed mowing, Doug was there.
But age wasn’t kind with our friend and after a few accidents falling asleep at the wheel, heart surgery and a fire that took out his big garage, Doug was hurting. But just as always, he assured me that he could cut the fields one more year, once he got the old tractor running again and bought 100 gallons of diesel at the crazy high prices of 2022. Then came the phone call that Doug was in intensive care, with nine broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Throughout the last week we all prayed that God would work a miracle and bring him back one more time. But it was not to be. Jesus had made other arrangements for our friend. He had a schedule to keep with the almighty and a home prepared by grace that would never need the furnace serviced. There would be fields to walk through, but never mowed. There is fresh living water that doesn’t run through pipes that freeze up in winter and a place prepared at a table.
No, my friend wasn’t perfect, but he had put His faith in a Savior who was. Despite his failings, he kept hoping to get his kids pointed back in the right direction or help out any neighbor he could. I can hardly believe I can’t call him up today or send him a thank you note for whatever work he had done lately at the farm. Goodbye Doug. May the Lord watch over us both until we meet in that city where there will be no more night, neither tears nor suffering. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for letting us have such a wonderful faithful gentle friend who will be sorely missed.
This morning I am introducing a new Thursday feature to the Praise2worship blog called the Sunshine Newsletter. As some of my followers know I have had the privilege to be involved in nursing home ministry for about thirty years. About three years ago I began printing out a devotional newsletter for the residents to give them something to read between weekly visits. When Covid-19 shut down all the communities I visited, I began to include a bit more in the newsletter and was able to get it to the residents by sending it to the activities directors of the various facilities. Fast forwarding a year – two wonderful friends, Pastor Janice Burnett and Rob Keller came on board and helped with the writing and editing of Sunshine Newsletter replete with new formatting and images. Sadly I have not yet found a way to directly upload our format to WordPress but you will be seeing the content of our publication along with the best photos I can find each Thursday. What you may find surprising in a Nursing Home Devotional newsletter is that, while now and then there is some news or a brief mention of nursing homes, its focus is rather to encourage the residents. They face many of the same issues we all do, so after receiving permission to use their material I present to you today a recent installment. Have a blessed day all!
I Call You Friends by Pastor Janice Burnett
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV
Did you ever have a job where you didn’t know much about the business? Perhaps it was your very first job as a gas station attendant or a waitress. If you were pumping gas, you might have known just enough about which gas to put into the car or the truck, then take the money and make sure it got into the cash register. It might have been the same if you were working in a restaurant – you waited on the customer, served them the food, took their money and handed it over to the cashier. Maybe over time you stayed working there long enough to know more about how the business was run. In fact, you might have ended up managing or even owning it! But, that didn’t happen overnight did it?
One of my first jobs was behind the counter at a snack bar at a W.T. Grants Department Store – remember them? I knew just enough to do my job, but I didn’t know my manager’s responsibilities, and I certainly didn’t know anything about running the entire store! Jesus knew something about this and talked about it and our relationship to Him in John Chapter 15 when he called us “Friends” – Wow! When you think about a relationship with Jesus, do YOU usually think of HIM as a friend? Many times in our lives, we have been rightly taught to respect and obey Him. I want to do that, don’t you? But Jesus is telling His disciples – and us – that He calls us friends. We are not just servants who get ordered around and from whom He keeps secrets. As a parent how many times did you reassure your child or grandchild of your love even though you told them what to do? Did you only say it once? No! You repeated it time after time just like Jesus! He tells us to remain in His love and so love each other, and then He calls us friends! He is so loving, patient and kind! Just as the song says, “Oh – What A Friend we Have in Jesus” Have you made friends with Jesus by opening your heart to Him? It is never too late to begin that friendship. He is waiting to hear from you today!
Circle of His Friends
by Peter Caligiuri
No need to knock on Jesus’ door
It’s open all the time
But He will always knock on ours
When He is passing by
He looks in through our windowpane
To see the empty spot
That at our kitchen table sits
With our dinner fresh and hot
Won’t you ask for Him to enter in
And forgive your sins and more?
We join the circle of His friends
Once He’s come in our door!
When Joseph Scriven wrote the words of his now famous hymn, they were actually a poem he sent to comfort his mother who was very sick and missing him terribly back in Ireland. Several years previously, Scriven had lost the love of his life just week’s before they were to be married and in his time of grief he dedicated his life to God and there found great joy and peace. Hearing word of his mother’s ill health he sent these words of the hope he had found. Today they are still sung on job sites by brick layers and in corn fields by farmers. People lying in hospital rooms as well as standing in the largest cathedrals have been encouraged to know that no matter how important others think we are or how much money we have in the bank, there is nothing we could ever have that compare to the riches and power of a life lived as one of the friends of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Joseph Scriven 1855
Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God – Teresa of Avila