Monthly Archives: July 2009

Arson at the Nursing Home

The 3:00 a.m. alarm jolted awake the sleeping residents of my mother’s nursing home. It also woke up the neighbors. They poured out of their homes with their own blankets and coats. They helped the elderly and infirm down the stairs and outside, no small task given the number who used walkers or wheelchairs. The neighbors helped the seniors onto city transit buses to keep warm, and Red Cross volunteers distributed care packages. One kind man stood with his hand on my mother’s chair, ready to help should she need it.

But what of her two cats? People first of course, but then what of her pets? Then came the radio bulletin: a firefighter was chasing a cat on one of the upper floors! Soon they emerged—two burly firefighters, each holding a most unimpressed feline. One firefighter has more than enough strength to carry a person, but two traumatized kitties is obviously another story.

We still marvel. All the residents, staff and pets were saved. The building was not.

As their grandma, I hope that Tommy and Tina will grow up to be like those kind neighbors, racing to help others in need at even the most inconvenient times. I also hope they will be empathetic, ready to listen and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. But I hope they will never, ever understand how someone could start a fire in a nursing home.

Jesus tells of a man who was beaten and robbed, left to die by a priest and a temple worker, and then cared for by a despised foreigner.
“Which now of these three [asked Jesus]. . . was neighbor unto him that fell upon the thieves?”
And [the lawyer] said, “He that he that showed mercy on him.”
Then said Jesus unto him, “Go and do thou likewise.”  Luke 10: 36, 37

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Sir Tommy, Knight of the Tall Grass

Tommy’s acting . . . what’s the politically correct word? Aggressive? No, that’s negative. How about assertive? No, that sounds like business negotiations.

Let me tell you what he does. As we walk through the big park, he wants to break a branch off the hedge. I discourage this. We explore the tall grass (up past his waist) and the deep forest. Tommy finds a branch on the ground. He picks it up and whacks one tree (with permission), then another. He hits the ground.  He rips up dandelions and tears their stems.

Back at Mommy’s house, he clenches his two-year-old fists, tightens his chest and arm muscles, and roars.

We visit Auntie Maria. Tina, Tommy and I cuddle on the trampoline under a sleeping bag and read a book about horses—cowboy horses, Indian horses, ponies, racehorses—and one bearing a Mongol warrior. “He’s going to fight somebody,” I explain. Tina listens attentively to all the pages.

Tommy returns to the Mongol page again and again. “He’s gonna fight somebody?” he asks as he returns to his favorite page. “He’s gonna fight somebody?” he asks in the car. Back at Mommy’s, he asks for the horse book.

He’s running around the house and I’m chasing him. He stops suddenly. I crash into the wall and a serious little voice asks, “I hurt you?” His eyes are wide with concern. What a sweet child!

Tommy doesn’t watch much TV at all, and he goes to a very politically correct day care. Where does this whatever-it-is come from? And is it bad? I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it’s bad, at least not what I’ve seen in Tommy.

Some would tell us that boys and girls are wired the same, and that upbringing makes the difference. What do you think?

Lioness in the Sunday School Room

Role play has to be one of my favorite ways of learning and teaching. Perhaps Tina feels the same way.
 
I stay in the Sunday School class with Tina when her mom’s working. Tina’s just three, and hasn’t quite got the “Our teacher’s telling a story so I should listen” idea yet.
 
The teacher and one of her helpers are lions in the parable of The Lost Sheep. Plan A: Roaring, they threaten the little lamb Sunday School children, only to be fended off by the other helper, a shepherd.
 
Tina proposes Plan B. She breaks rank with the other lambs, runs up beside the teacher, gets down on her hands and knees, and roars. I go to bring her back, but the teacher stops me. “I think she wants to be a lion, too,” she says.
 
I love organized chaos! I call for help and Tina rescues me from the clutches of the ravenous helper lion. In a few moments, it’s all over. The defeated lions withdraw and the sheep bask in safety.
 
My thoughts turn to the teacher . . . . Tina clearly wasn’t following the lesson plan, and could have caused some disorganized chaos if the other children had wanted to be lions, too. But the teacher took that chance, and responded to a little girl’s desire to participate in her own way.
 
Our pastor gave us a very interesting slant on “Train up a child in the way he should go
 . . . .” (Proverbs 22:6). He covered the commonly understood interpretation, that we should bring up our children in the faith. But then he said “in the way he should go” referred to the unique gifts and personality of each child. Wise parents treat their children differently, do they not? Not in terms of love or fairness, but in sending one to hockey camp and another to art lessons, spending time in deep spiritual discussions with one, praying for an opportunity to say a few words to another. 
 
I think that’s what this wise teacher was doing, training up Tina in the way that she needed to go.
 
Tina loves Sunday School. I’m reminded of a woman who had the beautiful faith of a little child—when she was a little child. In middle school, a teacher she greatly admired scorned the idea of creationism. “Nobody believes that,” he scoffed. And the girl, now too intelligent for such fables, began to disbelieve the entire Word of God.
 
Fast forward a few years. As a young woman, she met a man who greatly loved her—and believed in creation. He wanted to marry her, but she was too intelligent for him.
 
Fast forward again. This intelligent, attractive, professionally successful and popular woman has a deep problem. No one can help her and she cannot help herself. She confides in me. I am no match for her intellect, but I know One who is much, much more than a match. I read to her from His Word. She listens, faith returns, repentance follows, and today my friend is radiant with the joy that comes with a moment by moment walk with her Savior and King.
 
“Train up a child in the way he should go . . . .” (Proverbs 22:6)