The Gift of Hospitality

Too many days have passed for me to catch you up to date, so I begin from today.

Day after day the news becomes more dreadful locally, nationally, and globally. Oft times, we are left scratching our heads and muttering upward, shaking our fist at God asking, "what gives?"

Sickness, death, murder and the like are fronting our days. The media blasts us 24 hours a day with all the ills of the world, whether self induced or merely by living in an imperfect world. Now and again though, you know of someone who shows a kindness or offers a hand. Being part of an active church that believes in reaching out to our neighbors, I am privileged to see God's people hard at work in practical ways to meet the needs of others near and far.

My big sister Nancy lives north of me about 4 hours away. She and her husband Jim have done well. Lots of hard work and discipline have afforded them to live in a breathtaking part of the state. The view out their windows everyday is onto a beautiful body of water with all the natural parts of life that accompany such surroundings. They balance work and travel and manage to fit in plenty of other activities too. Nancy and Jim volunteer at functions in their community but mostly what I've noticed is the open door policy they have for visitors. And, it seems, they have visitors quite often.

This week they are hosting some relatives of Jim's whose daughter and son-in-law also live in this "Shangri-La" area. Ann, the daughter, is in her very last days of life. She is dying from colon cancer and will be departing this life long before anyone is ready for her to go. She's young by our standards of living. Her husband Dave has been a faithful and tending husband to her needs but the ravages of disease are winning now. So, as is necessary, Ann's parents are traveling north whenever possible to see their daughter in her last few days of life. By choice, Ann secluded herself through this battle and when it came down to the real nitty- gritty, she adamantly pushed everyone away except for Dave. Now, while she may have more fight left, she has no energy to act on it. At last her parents can come close and hug their daughter before she leaves.

Nancy and Jim's home is opened to Ann's parents to allow them to be nearby and yet have a place to grieve in quietness and tranquility. In a few more weeks, their home will be an inn of sorts as Ann's entire family will travel north to honor her memory.

My cousin Chris is married to Jodie, who is an angel of mercy. In my eyes, Jodie is amazing; a tireless worker, mother of three, and a loving daughter-in-law. My aunt and uncle are in their declining years living under the shadow of cancers, Alzheimer's and just plain fatigue. Jodie picks up their laundry several times a week and returns it to them so they don't have to go up and down the stairs where their machines are. She often takes several meals in hopes they will just heat them up and eat. This list could go on and on, but mostly what amazes me about Jodie is that she is employed outside the home and that one of her own sons has a rare disease that requires a lot of extra attention, just because. There are doctors to be seen fairly often along with the fact that Josh can't be left alone. This family of 5 really sticks together in many ways and Josh is loved much.

Both Nancy and Jodie, along with their husbands (because you really need to be supported to do this well), remind me of the verse in 1 Peter which says, "Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully." (The Message)

If there's anything that can be taken to my recovery in this post, it would be that when serving others the focus moves off me, my and I, and onto them. It gives a moment of focus elsewhere and reminds me that maybe my day wasn't so bad or my issues aren't so grand, or perhaps aren't issues at all if I just let life be.

So in the midst of the bah-humbug mindset of life, I applaud Nancy and Jodie as ministers of light to some really dark corners in this world.