Don’t forget me

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Have you ever listened to someone explain why they started a ministry or became involved in a particular cause? Often times tragedy triggers people  into action, but what about love? Since there’s so much tragedy in our world — how many times do you hear someone say that Christ’s love touched their heart in such a way that they knew they had to do something to help someone else? Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I wonder how often people miss the opportunity or don’t even recognize it.

Years ago, I started writing because I held so much hurt inside from my childhood that it began to spill out in ways I didn’t like; I knew I had to do something. Blogging was a good way for me to deal with it all and to hopefully help others through similar struggles. But honestly, that was for me. It was to help my heart heal.

However, I recently experienced something very unique.  I’m never one to start something or take charge, but recently something grabbed ahold of my heart. There’s no better way to explain it. Christ’s love compelled me to do something for those who are in the nursing home (and to help out their loved ones).  If you’ve ever had a relative live there, then you know some of the struggles they experience —  for example, hating living in a different place, experiencing loneliness, and the fear of being forgotten being at the top.

Years ago, I moved my grandmother into a nursing home near us. I was her only family member left (in the same state), so I was her only visitor. Because I worked and had children involved in sports and school, I couldn’t get there as often as I would’ve liked. The guilt was almost too much. I will never forget when a couple friends from church told me that they wanted to visit my grandma. They didn’t know her, but they did it anyway. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me — and to her.

Over the years, I’ve carried that memory in my mind and wondered what God wanted me to do with it. Now I know.

My husband and I have decided to make it a point to visit people once a month who live in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. We aren’t quite sure how this is all going to unfold at the moment, but we knew we had to start somewhere. Yesterday, we decided to make a day of it. We started out by visiting a nursing home that’s about 20 minutes away. I had overheard someone say at our Bible study that her mother had recently moved in there. I knew when I heard it that it was something God wanted me to hear; He was just waiting to see what I was going to do with it.

You never know how someone is going to react when a stranger walks in their room, but she seemed glad to have company. Her name is Dimple, and the name fits her perfectly. She was very sweet. After talking about her family, it was obvious how much she loved them. She’s one of the lucky ones who often receives visits from them. We discovered that one of her children had the same name as mine. Funny how those little connections can make a difference.

We joined hands and said a prayer. What a blessing.

As we walked down the hall, my husband stopped — then backed up a few steps. Just down the hall from Dimple was a woman who was our neighbor about 35 years ago! We hadn’t seen her in probably 20 years.It was a quick visit because she was getting ready for a nap, but we will be sure to go back.

Last, as I stood outside of our former neighbor’s room, I met eyes with a lady across the hall. We knew her, as well. I couldn’t believe it! What were the chances that she would be in that facility — right across the hall? After we caught up on life, we had prayer and began to walk out. Before I made it out of the room, she yelled out, “Don’t forget me.

Those words will ring in my thoughts for the rest of my life.

The next stop was beautiful, also. Although we weren’t able to talk to her, we had a lovely visit with her family. As I’ve experienced, family members need to know they are not alone in their journey, too. That’s what this ministry is all about.

Our last visit was with a lovely lady who is living in an independent living facility. It was our first time to meet her.  Our conversation began with where we all have lived, how many children she has, her moving experience, and ended with how many years she and her husband were married. We discovered that the best man in her wedding (some 60 years ago) was the senior pastor at a church we were involved in about 30 years ago. We were all a little stunned about that connection. I almost chuckle as I think back to our expressions!

I’m sure future visits won’t always be as good as this day was, but I have to thank God for whispering in my hear, “What are you going to do with what you’ve just heard?” that day when I overheard someone talk about her mom moving into a nearby nursing home. Is He whispering something in your ear today?

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced  that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

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