Shot of Whiskey

Shot of Whiskey by Donna Reiners
Shot of Whiskey by Donna Reiners

Today is a different kind of encouragement and it fits whether you are young or old or in between. You can be single, married, divorced, widowed or single with kids. Honestly, I believe it is pertinent to you and your life regardless of age. I encourage you to read this today. Maybe you at times feel you will either yell or cry or drink a shot of whiskey.

What do you do when your life is out of your hands? You seem to be a victim of circumstance? You wonder if anyone hears you crying inside. But the truth is no one knows you’re alive.

These are my thoughts today. I just finished wiping up poop from the floor, carpet and wall. Wow. Really? Yes – really. Actually, I almost called this Poop on the Floor but decided that was a great title for another time. It did not disturb me or cause me to think poorly of the person whose bowels released in my home. I can clean up the poop. Instead, it has caused me to get quiet and consider life and how we respond to people (not circumstances). My precious friend is staying with us for a season and we eat a tad different than she is accustomed and so that being said, a vegetables only diet moves through her body pretty fast. My choices are to yell, cry or drink a shot of whiskey.

I decided to do none of the above – instead,  I chose to write. She was humiliated already so there was no need for me to point out that there was poop on the floor. I chose not to yell. I mean really? What would that accomplish other than make her feel squashed like a bug. She had not even had time to tell me. She slipped into the bathroom to clean her body and I found the debris hiding on the hallway floor. Obviously it was there and her cleaning it was not an option as I did not want to have to pick HER up from the floor if she lost her balance which would have totally made me cry. She kept saying that she could clean it up and all I could say was that its okay and I did not mind in the slightest bit. I mean, what if it were me who had loose bowels? How would I want to be treated? Granted, if this happened daily, it would probably test every fiber of the fruit of the spirit inside me and I would need to step away to find that peace. As a matter of fact….side note….the person she lives with has had every nerve in her being tested and it is a battle really because when you are a 24/7 caregiver – its a whole new ballgame of responsibility and need for rest. I have seen this care giver learn how to walk out life with kindness, love and loyalty. She knows how to love you even unto death and you just cannot say that about every person you know. Truth is that I’m more of a relief pitcher so my arm is not as tired in this area. Caring for someone all the time who cannot work, drive, cook, remember to eat or drink or what day it is…well…that’s a whole new level of pressure and pain. I have such incredible respect for the woman who loves the lady I’m looking after and know for certain she faces the same choices – to yell, cry or drink a shot of whiskey.

Shot of Whiskey

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self Control. Yes, these are the ways we are supposed to treat OURSELVES AND OTHERS. Don’t just be good to you and then shoot the finger at your neighbor just because their trash can ended up in your driveway. The wind could blow yours into their way next time. Truth is that what comes out of you and me already lives inside you and me. So, when it does come to the surface, look at it….why are you unkind to you? To others? Enough of the soul search. Back to my point and yes, I do have one. So, if you have stuck with me this far – some of you have already dropped off because you either think this is irrelevant to you or its too close to home so you want to avoid going there…but IF you are still with me, then I encourage you to consider all of this as if you were drinking a straight up shot of whiskey for a horrible cold or taking a shot that will save your life or….you get the picture. It may burn going down or hurt as it moves through the tissue but in the end it might just be good for you.

Pray With Me

God, I feel completely clueless. I see that life is precious and honestly, I’m unsure how to walk it out day by day. I can barely take care of me much less someone else. Help me know how to be kind to those around me and kind to me. Help me make room to love with touch and words and not just washing dishes or picking up the trash. I love you. Help me be love for those around me. Help me run this race so that when the day is over You say well done.

I love you – it is time to #BEBRAVER. Get a new attitude. Your life does not belong to you. You gave it up when you said I do to Him. Have some mercy. Mercy toward you and mercy toward others. Stop controlling all your circumstances and just love where you are and find out just how amazing God is to give peace.

Send this to friends who need encouragement to love their family while it is still called today.

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Until next time,

d

 

THE COVER UP

The Cover Up 2 of 5

Shut Into The Cover Up

Admittedly, when I first began to visit, I kept my eyes forward and my ears shut because I had no idea what to do or say.  Also, I had no idea what NOT to say… to these older ones who had not banked on being shut away in their latter years. Slowly it dawned on me that they didn’t have a problem. I was the problem. I was a coward. Seriously.  Every color and every culture and every malady seems to exist down those lonely well lit halls. As I faced my own fears….you know like the truth that I was afraid I would fail at loving them or saying the wrong thing and yet that was a lie and it was fear filled. So, I purposefully started to make eye contact with every man and woman sitting in the hallways. Soon, you learn how you can gently touch on the shoulder and who you should only smile at and who is ready for an actual hug. Also, I began to say hello and smile at the staff that cared for these shut into the cover up.

What do you do with this? How to live??

Pray with me – God, help me to LOVE and to be loved. Help me be unafraid! I want to learn how to love. I love You LORD!

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To be continued…

Love, d

The Cover Up
©Donna Reiners

 

Memories are Precious! ©Donna Reiners www.bravetobraver.com

Today is Important 1 of 2

Today is Important ©Donna Reiners www.bravetobraver.comMemories of my mom flooded me this month, reminding me of when I took a shower with her and washed her body. She was ill when I was young and too weak to wash herself. Bless her heart, she needed help to preserve her dignity, so I showered with her so she would not fall. Now that I am oldER, I realize how little I knew in those moments of my youth when I thought I knew enough to handle what life dealt me. Cancer wrecked my mom’s body and ultimately wrecked all our lives for a long time. She was a gentle woman and I only knew her for 17 years of the over 50 I have lived. I remember wanting to love her but did not know how…I hardened my heart to protect myself but instead what it did was prevent me from loving or being loved. I’m confident I’ve written about my mom before but today, I have a fresh nuance – a moment of light shed into that memory and now those memories are precious and I know today is important.

Not a Baby, But a Woman

The last couple weeks, a wonderful woman has been staying with us and she needs additional help due to a weakened arm and short term memory loss. She did not ask for the bill of goods that came down her pipeline and I’m doing my best to do my best but I admit this is not my cup of tea or strength in life and I’m just crying out to God that she does not get hurt or stumble or fall on my watch. Needless to say, my heart watches and I wish I was superwoman and that this was not difficult but honestly, it is and I’m thankful for the woman who cares for her regularly. I’m thankful for her insight, her understanding, her wisdom, her life and the way she cares for those she cares for and you bet if something were to go down with me I would want input from her! Back to the woman I’m sharing about – in order to safeguard her body, I’ve been washing her in the shower.  She strained her left arm and when you are left handed, that poses a problem. She is weaker in her body already just due to the ravages of life and so I’m watching to make sure she is not straining her right arm too. She forgets her left arm is strained and she attempts to use it and so I’m constantly aware of her movements. What does this mean? It is almost like caring for a baby but she is a grown woman…so that means I get wet when I’m attempting not to get wet. It means I have to be on my toes because she has stability issues already without the weak arms. It means her bowels are loose like a baby too and that means clean up time for her and ultimately for me too. As I wash her buttocks and her legs and her back for the 5th time within a week, I think of my mom and the opportunity God had given me to love her…but alas I chose not to do it. Yes, I washed my mom but my feelings were not engaged and so I missed that season of loving her and being loved by her. In her weakened state, she was still my mom and I was still her daughter. Today, I do not have a profound message of grace or peace or mercy. Instead, I have a call out to you and to me to love and be love and to find memories are precious and that my today and your today is important.

I don’t know where you are in life. It seems when we are inconvenienced, God has something to say if only we will listen and make room for His voice. Honestly, that does not always mean 3 hours in a prayer room or 2 hours in the Word or even 30 minutes of meditation. Sometimes, God simply speaks and we need to listen for His voice, His tenderness, His kindness, His touch. It is not so much about our effort (though we must receive) but it is about His effort which He extends intentionally. There is a passage in the New Covenant that talks about how the lovingkindess of God leads us into a change of mind…a change of heart…a change of understanding. It is a change where we understand more about how He cares and how we are purposefully included in His caring plan for us and the planet.

Pray with me:

Father, I need You this day to help me #BEBRAVER and live out life with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. LOVE through me today! LOVE THOSE AROUND ME! LOVE ME!  CHANGE ME! Let me pass every test. Let me enjoy others and be thankful for the presence of those around me. In Jesus name, today is Important!

To be continued…

Send this to friends who would appreciate remembering that today is important.

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Until next time,
d

 

To Live or Not to Live

To live or not to live – this is the question.

Perseverance and Inconvenience

Recently, I heard of a conversation that took place with a good friend – let’s call her Perseverance. She had an awkward dialogue with a family member whom we will call Inconvenience. It went something like this:

Perseverance:  I’ll be going in for a medical procedure in a few weeks and am wondering if you would mind being available to stay with me in case I have complications and need help at home while I recover?

Inconvenience: Why don’t you try a nursing home?

Now in all fairness, it was a longer conversation than these two lines but I think it sums it up nicely.

My older friend is a not as healthy as she would like at almost 70 but she chooses to live. Her mind is vibrant, her desires are creative and her days on the planet are far from over and she chooses to live.  Perseverance cannot bend down the way Inconvenience can but rarely does Perseverance complain because she chooses to live. Perseverance has trained herself to be grateful for every moment of every day with few acceptations to the rule because she has chosen to live. Inconvenience, though younger, has her own physical maladies and reasonable excuses as to why she is unable to help Perseverance….though near the end she says she will try with no guarantee. Perseverance cancelled her request for Inconvenience to help. To live or not to live is the question.

Love is a Battlefield

I remember that very old song….with the phrase in it…love is a battlefield. It comes to mind as I ponder to live or not to live. I believe it happens to most of us really – this complicated thought process of living or dying. Most do not face these complexities until later in life. However, I faced mine when my mom, whom I loved,  passed when I was 17. Then, I faced it again – six months later – when my best friend, whom I loved, was killed by a drunk driver. This battlefield of love is challenged continually. Can we love in the midst of the darkness that avails us? Can we love ourselves and others – it is part of this whole living or not living theme. To love is to live. After losing both people whom I loved, I would ask myself, “How long do we have? and the answer, “I’m not sure” would regurgitate in the back of my mind. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was in the middle of living or not living…loving or not loving…and I vacillated in this oasis of dark middle ground for years while God taught me how to see life from His perspective. Read here to learn how to live life! God would challenge me to look up in the midst of life and death. Now, I’m 51 and surrounding me are precious women with not so pleasant maladies from heart problems, to severe diabetes to no arms to no legs to losing a mind to fighting to live to choosing to die. To live or not to live. This is the question. This is the challenge. Watch this short video to encourage you to look up!

Choose Life or Death

In Deuteronomy there is a station in life when God challenges His people with this passage of thought, “…setting life and death, blessings and curses and His admonition to choose life so that they would live and so that their children would also live. It was a strong directive yet it came with freedom to choose. God used plain language as He continued to explain that they were to love Him and obey Him and cling to Him because HE was their life and the length of their days and loving and clinging would give them the freedom to dwell in the land He had already given to them. Choose life or choose death. Choose blessings or choose curses. We still get the choice – to live or not to live.

I recall many years ago when I was struggling with a physical ailment. I cried out to God. I said, “I don’t understand You God! I’ve given You my life!” And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and responded, “Yes, You have given Me your life but I also own your death and to walk with Me you must surrender it all.” What a strong strong challenge to my young believing mind. I had clung to death so long that when He asked me to give it over to Him – I was not even sure how. This is when I realized that our God – our Father – that HE has a plan. His plan is from the beginning of our life in the womb to the very end of our life on the planet and extends to our life after death as our spirit soars with Him. HE knew I had to give Him my will to life or not to live as well as my desires to die and everything in between. It was my personal choice. HE loves me and respects me and gave me the freedom to walk with Him on His terms or to continue living life on my own terms. I remember responding, “Father, I don’t know how to live but I surrender it all to You and ask You to teach me.” I learned over time that life is a moment by moment choice. Every moment of every day I can be in agreement with living or dying – with God or with the enemy. Over my lifetime, I have learned agreement with God is best. To live or not to live? Live is the answer to the question.

Sweet Perseverance indeed did cancel her invitation to be cared for by Inconvenience and is trusting our Father to prepare her for whatever is next on His agenda. We had a strong talk. She is not ready for a nursing home and frankly, I’m confident there is no nursing home ready for her either. So, she presses forward from a place of pity and pitiful me to trust and treading the land He has given her. Perseverance is no weakling. She is strong in the Lord, strong in His Words and strong in her intimacy with Him. Her body is rebelling but her spirit is soaring. Why? A lifetime of ups and downs from being severed from her husband to burying a child to having friends cut off living life with her – don’t get me wrong – she has also experienced many many joys and stupendous feats of varying degrees. Through living life, she has trained herself to answer the question of to live or not to live by choosing to live.

So, what now you ask?

One day at a time my friend – one day at a time. You can get a vision for your life by choosing to live today. Read to help you get a vision for this season of life! This is how we choose to live. So, go look in the mirror and say it with me, “I choose to live.” Say it a cazillion times if you must. The devil is still in the same vengeful mood he was in while in the garden. So, you must be BRAVE. You must be BOLD and in the face of darkness and disease and depression and defeat and despair and all the other d words – you must say NO. You must pick up a mantle of RESPECT for yourself. God respects us so much HE allows us to CHOOSE LIFE!! So, choose it. Take ACTION in the area of living as you feel God instructs. Know that this will compel you to be VICTORIOUS over your past decisions that encased a destiny of death and you will emerge as your own greatest ENCOURAGEMENT. Be Brave my friend and over time, you too will answer the question – to live or not to live.

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To live or not to live. Choose life.

#bravetobraver #chooselife #dontgiveup #donnareiners

 

 

 

Lived LONGER than I have left

Have you ever noticed how the sanctity of life is being demised little by little year after year after year? Children are discarded alive and elderly people are cast away into nursing homes.

It is an ever so subtle happening…

I’m over 50 now and this means I have lived longer than I have left on the planet. When I was 17/18 years old my mom died at the age of 57. YOUNG. Her premature death haunted me for many years…for years I would stay up all night just because I had a fear of going to sleep and not waking up at all….talk about a sick point of view….I had it.  At the same time however her death also impacted me positively. I see life precious. I see life short. I see relationships precious. I know when someone treats me poorly it is because they have been treated poorly. I know if you don’t acknowledge me when I come into a room means you probably aren’t acknowledged in a way where you understand the value of your own life or others. I’ve learned (over time) to understand that most of us truly mean to do good….but we many times fall short because of our own personal issues. In other words – if you don’t like me – it may not be about me.

In my 20’s I was pretty arrogant. I searched for the meaning of life by delving deep inside my own heart…all 20 years of it. At that time I figured I had it all figured out. HA! I consulted my own mind and my own emotions and decided what was right or wrong based on my own experience…all 20 years of it. Bless my heart…I lived under a rock of denial and abandonment. This was how I handled death and tragedy and all of the trauma that came through it.  My mom’s death was not something I just “got over”. She was my best friend and influenced me more than anyone I knew. Then, she was gone so early in my life – well – it was more difficult than I can express. Yes, my dad was still living but he was hurting and had known her much longer than I had known her and the hole in his heart was a thousand times larger. Dad lived a long time and moved to heaven at the ripe age of 81….many years later.

Why am I sharing all of these seemingly disconnected thoughts and what does this have to do with the sanctity of life from babies to the elderly? I share because they are not disconnected in my brain and heart. You see I’m the 51 year old baby of my family and at the present time of this blog, I have a sister approaching 60 – another sister in her mid 60’s and still another sister who literally just moved to heaven this week – she was 68. When I was 18, 20, 25 and even 30 –  I could not ever fathom living this “old” and now being this “old” I can tell you – I’m not that old!!! LOL!!! Yet still I’ve less left than I’ve lived and in that mindset and that place inside of me where I’m watching all of us grow older.…I am able to truly see how as a culture, we could easily ignore what once was considered precious and honorable….and what God says is now precious and honorable – one another.

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My Main Distraction

So in this busy world we live in with our lives inundated 24/7 with business, busyness, social media distractions….face it…most of us spend more time on a computer or our phone than we do actually interacting with live human beings face to face where we actually look one another in the eye. In this place of computer land, have you noticed how our hearts can grow insensitive to the needs of others – even those closest to us? Wait…let me finish this post and then I’ll talk to a live person. Seriously. I’m sure this may not be for everyone but I’m sure there are some reading this whose kids want your attention but you are at your computer. There are some whose spouses would love to have actual time with you one on one without you looking at your phone – all of these “needs” to be on the computer to make us satisfied….our hearts are growing just a little bit colder and colder…and I gotta admit…I’m married to an IT guru and its with honesty I say that  I LOVE MY MAC.

Our precious sister who just passed lived in a nursing facility.  Her needs far outweighed anything any of us could provide and truly it would have been a disservice for her to live where her needs could not be met or where she would be in danger alone.Yet the guilt that shadows our hearts because of her living alone in a place like that was like a rake across a dry root covered ground. I would go to see her as often as possible and yet it never seemed enough on the inside of me. As I write this blog, this same sister just this week has moved to heaven. Her health was very poor – congestive heart failure, failing lungs, failing kidneys,  low heart beat and the list goes on.  Her husband traveled with her to the hospital and remained as much as he could and each one of us did as well. It would have been so easy to dismiss her and – she was not my responsibility – after all – she was not my mother and she had a husband. Yet, her own daughter lives in another city and was unable to care for her and her husband worked and could not be there every waking moment.

What do we do?

What do we do when the needs of another outweigh our energy, resources and ideas? WE HAVE TO GUARD OUR HEARTS to keep from becoming insensitive. HOW? BE BRAVE! Be BOLD and lean into the Father for wisdom, rest, ideas, energy and resources. HE will strengthen you to do what you can when you can and live as best as you can this life HE has given you.

What do we do?

Be BRAVE! We must pay attention to the cry of our Father Who wants us to RESPECT His guidelines for our hearts to stay right – stay pliable and soft and easily convicted and lead by Him.  We keep our heart undistorted by the cares and weights of this world and the busyness of our minds and stay focused on what and who is important to Him. We must take ACTION to LISTEN and to be as organized as possible taking care of His priorities so we have time for that suddenly that comes up in life that requires our attention like a loved one in the hospital….which is one of His priorities. We take on becoming VICTORIOUS by living guilt free when we are available to hear Him and respond to Him instead of our emotional regrets, guilt and distractions. We live bravely doing the very best we can daily and when we mess up – when we are selfish or when we are just losing our minds and must have a break from all the “duties” – we stop – we RECALIBRATE our lives and we ENCOURAGE ourselves! We get still and make a new list and start all over again 🙂

If we put ourselves in His shoes and walk out life through His life, we will have peace for our journey and be able to help another along the way without it eating us alive in the process….HE is the journey….HIM knowing us and us knowing HIM.

Look into your life. Is there someone who needs your love? Your touch? Your call? Do you need to recalibrate for this year and free yourself with a few minutes per day to reach outside of you into someone else who cannot give back to you? Don’t do it for kudos. Just do it for the precious shortness of life you and they have on this planet. Do it so you have fewer regrets. Do it for God – do it for them – AND do it for you. Stop. Breathe in and breathe out and consider your day before you waste it away. Love and see how love comes back to you.

Its a new day. Look at it as precious. Love while you can. Say a kind word when you can and answer that email, that phone call – that letter – that prayer request. Reconcile with those who you feel have wronged you and restore relationships with those whom you have wronged. Truth is when you have lived longer than you have left (if you have not already) – God gives you opportunity to love while it is still called today….and when someone does not love you back – well – all I can say is don’t take it personally – it may have nothing to do with you. Do your part to have humility. It is pride that refuses restoration or reconcilation even if it is disguised with hurt or pain or offense. RUN to the altar of humility and let the price He paid for your life be lived through you. Fight to sit in the back seat NOT the front seat!

LIVE your life while it is still called today. Live…longer……today…by giving yourself away…

Be BRAVE –  Bold-Respctful-Active-Victorious-Encouraging for yourself and for those around you.

Until next time,

d

End of Life

20121231-NDIP10014As I watch her lie in her big boy bed, I am cognizant she is mostly unaware of my presence while I pray, cry, or pace. How do you fight for the very life it is time to release?  

End of Life. It continues to roll across my mind…over and over and over it speaks to me. First it comes as a whisper and then it is louder than the voices of those around me. Most certainly, these three little words have a stronger significance when it has to do with you or a loved one.

End of life.

It is intense.

It is intimate.

It is final.

It is no respecter of persons as it comes to every single one of us. 

Sometimes it is sudden. Sometimes it is a process. Sometimes you are ready and sometimes you are not ready and truthfully even when “ready” are you ever really prepared? Sometimes you want it now as in today and then, sometimes you wish tomorrow would never arrive. Even so, whether you are old or whether you are young – we will each meet these three final words. 

It is indeed personal.

Every once in a while she attempts to lift her head and tries to talk but not much comes out. Her continual complaint is, “I’m tired.” She is mostly unaware of my presence while pray, cry out and pace. How do you fight for the very life you need to also release?

End of life. Three little words that change you, your perspective and the lives of those around you.

How do we live out the end of life? One day at a time seems to be the only answer.

So, this is what we are doing….one day at a time…we are surrounding the one we love…caressing her forehead and speaking into her ear our love…holding her hand…not just giving hope but being hope for a brighter heavenly tomorrow.

As I ponder what has passed us and what lies in front of us, I realize our responsibility and privilege is the same whether we are “living” in the end of life stage or whether we are not living in the “end of life stage” because truly we do not know what tomorrow holds.

So, what do we do? What do you do? What do I do?

Take an inventory of your heart.  

  1. Is your heart and mind right with those around you? In other words – are you IN offense….or maybe ON the fence in relationships? You know the enemy is a liar and his job is to kill – to steal – to destroy what God gives you to treasure and to hold near. Don’t assume you are “in the right” because your right can be very wrong in the eyes of the One Who desires unity with His friends.
  2. How is your mouth with those you hold dear? If tomorrow does not come with you and that person – how will you handle it? Will you be guilt ridden? Will you be filled with regret? Pain? Condemnation? If that is the case then you are a candidate for a new heart toward not just them but yourself and with God. Don’t go to sleep tonight without righting what has been wronged EVEN if none of it is your fault.
  3. Lastly, we do not take any of this earthly stuff with us…..not even the body we live in here on planet earth. What is precious to you? Where do you spend your time? Maybe – just maybe – you might need to re-prioritize your time, your efforts, your finances, your life so that you can live with you when it is all said and done.

Pray with me – Father, we come in Jesus name and ask You to reveal by Your Spirit any wrong done that has affected how we relate to others including ourselves. We change our mind God. We sever this from us and command it to be under our feet once and for all. Show us how to approach others for restoration – even if we are not in the wrong. We ask You to forgive us Father for You paid the price for us to stay in right standing with You and one another. We receive Your forgiveness. We forgive ourselves. We forgive them God – we know who they are and we choose to forgive. Show us how to talk to them before its just too late and the enemy has his way. We release Your peace, Your forgiveness, Your mercy and Your restoration into us and those around us in Jesus name and with His resurrection power which no foe can withstand. Let it be. Let it be.

Let’s continually surround those we love with our time and effort. Let’s speak to one another our sincere love and appreciation and encourage one another when it is still today to not just give hope but be hope….for a brighter, heavenly…tomorrow whether we are still here on this planet earth breathing breath or we step into heaven after taking our final one.


Much love – until next time,

Donna Reiners

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Face It Head On

Do you face it head on or ignore it and hope it goes away?20131006-NDIP10502

I remember the first time I had to do it – I grimaced. With disgust on my face, I wanted to wash my hands as quickly as possible though they had been covered with gloves. Yet at the same time I heard a gentle whisper, “You are revolted  – yet she is humiliated more deeply than your little disgust.” I knew this was true. I’m confident when she was 20, she never dreamed of not being able to wipe her own behind after a bowel movement. However, life sometimes just HAPPENS!

As I walk into the nursing home, I smell baby powder. It is an overwhelming scent. Honestly, I picture someone pouring it into a large pile in the corners so the odor of the powder takes over the lobby instead of urine or sickness. As I continue down the halls I see the same faces every week. They look up with a blank stare. Sometimes, you almost want to wave your hand over their eyes to see if their eyelids have movement. Are the lights on? Is anybody home? I’ve learned not to be dissuaded by that gaze….but it was not an easy task.  The truth is that those looks are an almost audible voice saying, “Will you take a moment and say hello?” Will you shake my hand and pretend just for one minute that I still have dignity and that I am a person who commands respect and honor?” These once giants wait intentionally at the thresholds of their rooms with absolutely no interest on their face – yet it is a test for me. What they really want is a smile or a kind hello.  They want you to say their name with joy and recognition as if they are your closest friend. Most don’t give you the satisfaction of showing any facial change when you do stop because they don’t want pity – they want genuine interest. So, don’t stop and care for show – they know a fake when they see one.

Admittedly, when I first began to visit, I kept my eyes forward and my ears shut because I had no idea what to say.  Also, I had no idea what NOT to say… to these older ones who had not banked on being shut away in their latter years. Slowly it dawned on me that I was a coward. Every color and every culture and every malady seems to exist down those lonely well lit halls. As I faced my own fears….you know like the truth that I was afraid I would fail at loving them or saying the wrong thing…WOW! WHAT A SICK LIE! Purposefully, I started to make eye contact with every man and woman sitting in the hallways. I’m learning who I can gently touch on the shoulder and who to just smile at and who needs a hug. Also, I began to say hello and smile at the staff that cared for these shut ins.

Gradually, as my eyes opened to the hopeless and defeated cries of the hearts of the men and women sitting and crying and sometimes yelling aloud for help…I realized…they were just like you and me. They just want dignity and they just want love. Is that too much to ask for? Have you ever heard that song –  “R.E.S.P.E.C.T  – find out what it means to me?” Just some love. Just some respect. Just some good old fashioned dignity. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what I want? Love? Respect? Dignity?

NOPE – I can’t fix their situations. I don’t know why each person is there. I don’t know why some have no visitors except on a major holiday and how some never have visitors- ever. BUT if I will be faithful to love and to respect and to honor  – one smile at a time – one person at a time – perhaps one man will feel human again….AND maybe one woman will feel alive instead of useless and MAYBE ….just maybe that smile and that kindness will be what they remember on days when they are ignored by those who pass them by.

Cowardice is not attractive. Fear is ugly. You and I have to face head on those things that keep us from loving others as well as ourselves.

LOVE is always the answer and it always PUSHES FEAR OUT THE DOOR! THEREFORE, do yourself a favor and instead of feeling guilty or condemned for not taking action or for not knowing what to do or how to do it – Be BRAVE in living because the truth is that LIFE HAPPENS! It happens to you. It happens to me. It happens to those around us. It happens when we least expect it. So, join me in an effort of love and kindness in every day life and when life happens to you or me – perhaps the love and kindness we gave will come back as our friends.

FOLLOW Brave to Braver

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