I'm happy (overjoyed, actually) to report that I finally finished the restoration project and delivered it. The client is happy, I'm happy...life is good.
Tomorrow, I'm having surgery to remove a plate from my leg that's from an accident I had about five years ago. Not sure what the recovery time will be like, so I can't say when I'll next post. Until then, I'll leave you with the images of the project I just completed.
WHEN GIVING IS ALL WE HAVE - by Alberto Rios
*One river gives
Its journey to the next.*
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it--
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
~ ALBERTO RIOS © 2014 for the Academy of American Poets today
Used with permission. To learn more about this poet, go to http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/alberto-rios
This beautiful poem turns my thoughts to a passage of scripture. Jesus talks about what it means to be a disciple in Matthew 10. At the end of his teaching, He says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
This is a guide to being a follower and reflector of Christ. Not everyone is called to be a great teacher or powerful evangelist. Not everyone is called to be a reformer or influencer of nations. But anyone and everyone can extend their hands and give cups of cold water.
By their very nature, cups of cold water are small things, easily forgettable if you aren’t paying attention. The people who extend them do not draw attention to themselves, but life would be poor, indeed, without those small, and I would argue significant, acts.
Moving Mom to Grand Rapids opened up a treasure trove of cups. So many people helped pack, transport, move, and clean…it was amazing. People I knew, and some I didn’t know at all came out to help. In one day, her house was cleaned out, her furniture was transported and cleaned and her apartment was set up and made hospitable. Each person did a part so that I didn’t have to do it all. That was a day of incredible blessing to us.
One woman took her dog to visit Mom occasionally, which delighted her. Another volunteered to pick her up for church every single week. Another would go walking with us in a nearby park. When I had to ready Mom’s house for sale, people extended help of all kinds. Painting, patching, ripping out carpets, visiting, and encouraging. Whatever they were able to give, it was all appreciated and refreshing.
Cups of cold water seem insignificant, especially in a world that screams that to be successful and fulfilled, you need to have notoriety. But the Lord notices what is done to and for the least of His followers. It seems it’s not the cost, nor the skill, nor even the quantity He observes. He’s paying attention to the motive. What we do to His followers because they are His, He will repay with the riches of His grace. While many of the people who offered help loved me or my mother, many didn’t know me at all – they just wanted to extend God’s grace through their lives.
The giving and receiving of cups of refreshment makes something great and beautiful.
I have been working on a restoration and gilding job for some months now. It’s been start and stop because of life events, but also because of unexpected problems that pop up in the work itself. Close to completion a few weeks ago, I rushed the final finish and ruined it. I did it. No one else. I cannot blame anyone else for the stupid mistake I made. And so, with a heavy sigh, I had to take off all I had worked on and start all over again. There was resignation as I realized there would be no profit on this project.
As I was meticulously picking out crud from some crevices with a dental tool, my thoughts turned to spiritual restoration. While it may be hard to fathom, this fastidious process is quite relaxing and meditative. I put on music, and just start to work. Since it will take some time, I don’t hurry and just go inch by inch cleaning the surface, preparing to start again. The thought struck me that this might be a picture of how patiently God works on the restoration of our lives.
Slowly and painstakingly, He works in our lives. His patience is astounding and He doesn’t mind starting over and over again, as often as it takes. Be honest, how often have you gone through something and not learned from it? I cannot count the number of times this has happened to me. I suspect that I’m supposed to learn something from caring for my in-laws that I missed when I was caring for my mother but the lesson keeps eluding me.
Fortunately, He’s not nearly in the hurry we are to complete the process. That may be because He wants relationship. “Come, let us reason together,” He says. “Let’s hurry up and get this done,” I say. I want results. This explains why I keep going around the same mountain – similar to the Israelites when they left Egypt.
I have no words of wisdom, nor thoughtful insights to offer on this. But I think I just got a glimpse into the heart and mind of God. He really loves process. It’s a way to slow us down and engage us. If only I would pay closer attention.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.