Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, heaven, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Taking Care of Family

If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!” Proverbs 19:17

I know I didn’t know them…but I felt I did. As a pastor I occasionally receive a call from either a funeral home or a family that has experienced the loss of a loved one and they don’t have a pastor that can help them.  Well, that happened recently.  A mother had died and her sister, on behalf of the family, contacted me.  Could I help them?  I agreed but I had a request.  I try and make every service personal and special and since I didn’t know her or the family, I asked they provide some personal memories of their mom.  Graciously they did, and in so doing they painted a picture.

She and her husband were blessed with five children—a challenge and a blessing. As they sent the comments to the sister and then to me, it became painfully apparent that life had been financially hard.  Their mother had worked at a local manufacturing plant but was constantly being laid off.  When she was, she worked as a cook at one of the local restaurants.  It finally reached the point where the inconsistency of the one job made the other more attractive and she began working all the time at the restaurant.

She appreciated the consistency of the restaurant job, but it made for an even tighter budget at home.  I was moved by the comments of each one of her children.  They were so appreciative for a Momma that did everything possible to provide for them.  They spoke of gratitude for a roof over their heads, food for their stomach, and heat in the winter.  One spoke of the fact that regardless of the fact that Momma and the family were broke, somehow, someway, she made sure there were presents at Christmas and on their birthdays. That meant a lot to me.

At the service I rhetorically asked, “What does success mean?” It was one of those questions that I didn’t expect an answer…but I got one.  Quietly, one of her sons said, “Being comfortably full.” When he said that it moved me…it still moves me.  In a world where it seems everyone one has so much, in this family’s world abundance was a roof, some heat, food for their stomach and on a real good day, being comfortably full.

After hearing from her son, I went on to say that to me success is owning the things that money can’t buy…the things that don’t come from Walmart or some other store.  Success is five kids who at their Momma’s funeral talk about the sacrifices she made, the hard work she did to make sure they had a roof over their head, some heat, and food in their stomachs.  I then read a story paragraph that someone wrote about success.  It said, “What is success? Success is living well, laughing often, and loving much. Success is gaining the respect of those who know us best; finding and living our purpose and leaving our world better than we found it.” I finished that service in deep appreciation of a 72-year-old mother who did that and so much more.  She gave her five kids a home.

I’ve written several times that money was pretty thin when we were growing up, but I am sure we had more than this family and these kids.  I’ve written before how much I appreciated the fact that Momma and Daddy always made Christmas and birthdays happen.  It may have been courtesy of the local finance company, but it happened.  Now I am reminded that there were and are plenty of people where even that would not have been an option but somehow—they make it happen.

So, I’m just writing to say thank-you to someone I never knew—but felt I did.  I want to say thank-you to five grown up now kids who taught me to appreciate even more deeply what my Momma and Daddy did. They too made it happen whether it was a roof over our heads, or fuel oil in our kerosene tank or food on the table.  Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to thank the ones who made it happen in your life—whether it was years ago or yesterday.  Maybe take the time to whisper a prayer of gratitude for those in your family—or maybe even outside your family—that made it happen.

Maybe, just maybe, you can be one that helps make it happen.  Maybe you know someone who could use a little help.  Maybe God has given you a little more so you can share with those who have a little less. Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!” I like that.  When we share, we are being the hands and feet of Jesus and that is always a good thing.  You may be the one that your Dearest Daddy uses to whisper in someone else’s ear—someone who is struggling to make it happen.  And what is whispering? “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne