Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our Hearts

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my 8-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw.Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus 'til morning." He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face ... I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments .." For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning." I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch.. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No, thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.
When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take a long time to see that this old man had an over sized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her 5 children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him.When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind." I told him he was welcome to come again. And, on his next trip, he arrived a little after 7 in the morning.As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen! He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us. In the years he came to stay overnight with us, there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk 3 miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!" Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But, oh!, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God. Recently I was visiting a friend, who has a greenhouse, as she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!" My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden." She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body." All this happened long ago - and now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

My cousin sent me this in an email. I am thankful for two reasons...that she considers me worthy of such a story. And I am hoping that you were touched by the words. Makes you think of how we view others. God made us all just the way he thought we would be perfect. We just need to change our hearts towards others sometimes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

another sunset

grayton beach state park

red sky at night...

sailor's delight....

august sunset in panama city beach, florida

It's Just The Little Things

I am so fortunate that I can work from home. But it really isn't like work to me. Don't get me wrong some days are more challenging than others but at the end of the day I can smile and say that I had fun. I have always said that I would have a house full of kids. Kids around me until I am 90. Never really want to be an empty nester. But I know someday that will happen and another chapter in my life will begin.

I am blessed to have little ones with me during the week...other than my own who are quickly growing and will be spreading their wings. But my little buddies, they are the ones that keep me young. All those years I was blessed to be a preschool teacher come in handy. Then all the years of foster care have given me patience. All the years of raising our own kids...gave me tons of experience. Then there are all those others kids that have come and gone in my life. I can cay that they all have taught me lessons about life. They all hold a special place in my heart. God has surely given me abundance joy and an abundance of gifts. And I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Seems every time I am on FaceBook this week, someone is posting a video of soldiers surprising loved ones . They get me every time. I cry like a baby. Last night I was sitting on the porch trying to get a pic of a goldfinch and the flag just jumped out at me. We are so lucky and privileged to live in a land where we can made our own decisions. We are safe. All because men and women work hard to give us these things. I am proud to say that my dad and father-in-law are veterans. Several nephews are in the armed forces now. One is getting ready to be deployed. Sure puts things in perspective. I am a proud American. And most importantly...we are all under God.