Monday, July 20, 2015

The Ministry of Listening

-A homemaker mom, longing to talk to someone besides her four year old all day.

-An old lady, aching to tell of her adult son who committed suicide.

-A pastor's wife, needing to share the burden of what's going on in her church with someone who knows no one and will share it with no one.

-A child, desperate to tell someone of their new home and backyard.

-A teenager, wanting attention, yearning for love, even if she has nothing of substance really to say.

-A husband, reluctant to talk, and yet, needing to share his heart.

 Many times on the deputation trail, I find myself with people who need to listen. It shocked me at first, what people will say to a missionary's wife. I guess it's because I'm not local, but people tell me all kinds of situations, problems, family life, and so forth. I've found that even though a person may be willing to listen to me share my burden for Georgia, they can't listen fully when their heart is carrying it's own heavy burden.

And listening is more than hearing. Listening is caring. Listening is coming along side another person to help them carry their burden for a moment. Listening is praying for and with them. Listening is a ministry.

Perhaps deputation is quite accurately referred to as pre-field ministry. Do I love God so much that His love for people overflows into my heart? Do I really care for people? If I cannot love people now, witness now, listen now, I won't be able to automatically start on the mission field. THIS is my training ground. Sometimes it's hard to drop what I'm doing or thinking to listen to someone else, especially when I feel burdened myself. Again and again, I have to remind myself, this is what God has given me to do. Am I willing to listen for Him?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tribute to My Great "Funny" Grandma

Elizabeth Mills Stacey, my great grandma whom we affectionately called Funny Grandma, passed away at 99 years of age to Alzheimer's.

What do I remember of Funny Grandma?

Every morning, (until relatively shortly before she passed away) she drank her cup of coffee while reading the Bible. It didn't matter where she read, or the passage was interesting, or how much was going on around her, or if she was in a hurry. She took time in the Word. 

She was faithful to go to church. -Even wanting to go on days that weren't Sunday! She wanted to go to Sunday school, and everyone at her church(es) knew "her" chair. She would prepare the night before, with her nicest blouse, slacks, shoes, and string of pearls. And she always had to have her tithe ready!

Funny Grandma was always hospitable. If you came to see her, she offered you a drink, a snack, and a bed. She would not go to bed until you said goodnight and left her. She was a perfect hostess, full of stories and humor to cover even the most awkward of moments.

She was opinionated! She was not afraid to tell the truth or offend. If it needed said, or even if it didn't, she would let you know. ​When she met my son Jude, her great-great grandson, she said "Where's his hat?!" Not, "How cute". She knew babies were supposed to be kept warm wearing hats in her day! When I went to attend a friend's wedding, she told me quite plainly "Have fun, but don't drink too much." 

I remember that visiting Funny Grandma always meant laughter. I remember learning to play pick-up-sticks and to enjoy baseball. I remember that she loved her family and sent us handmade Christmas gifts as long as she was able (and I wish I had understood their intrinsic value before now). She made time for people.

She was full of wise sayings, even when alzheimer's wracked her brain. I wish I could remember them all. She firmly believed it was better to laugh than to cry, and to trust God and mend friendships. When I was once distraught over something I had been told, she asked me why I wasn't so happy. Then, when I gave her the short of it, she said "It's better to be a faithful friend than to be a popular one." Another day she told me to "Smile because God is good." ​

These are just a few of my memories of her. I feel very blessed to have known her and cared for her in her last days. She taught me much, and has left a wonderful heritage behind her. 

I will miss you, Funny Grandma.