The Beautiful People God Loves

At the end of our church service Sunday, our pastor Steve Shoemaker said “Look around and see all the beautiful people God loves.”

Isn’t that lovely? Ī’m going to try to remember to adopt that as an exercise for all kinds of different situations.

Not just the lovely people. The annoying people, the clique-y people, the people who spout opinions without being able to consider any other than those soldered in their minds.

I find at age 62 I write off people faster than I used to. My time in life is getting shorter. Why would I hang out with someone who is rude, angry, or disrespectful? Why would I hang out with those who would rather fight than have a conversation? Why would I want to hang out with people who are not committed to living life well on this earth?

Yet we need to balance these things with loving those who need love. Sometimes, though, that love is tough.

I chair the Mission Board at my church. I’ve gotta be honest. I didn’t want to do it. I only agreed because a dear friend, who was chairing it magnificently, was fighting a battle against cancer and no one else would step up. Our friends fighting cancer don’t need stress to multiply those cancer cells – they need the freedom to fight it. I had no real excuse not to. I love my friend.

God’s already taught me a lot. I love how our church does missions. That’s one reason I first went to this church – they were involved with needy people in community.

Twenty percent of the regular giving that our church takes in goes to missions. That’s quite a high percentage – but that is our church culture. That doesn’t include the three special offerings we do throughout the year.

We focus on our community. Not that we never give to missions in other countries, but mostly we look for needs around us.

We do a summer offering during a time we call our Season of Grace. Summers at our church are informal. We’re pretty informal already, though you have people who dress in all the ways.

During the Season of Grace, we don’t do Sunday School and we do our service at 10 a.m. instead of 11. Our pastor takes some vacation time for part of it, and we have some interesting guest speakers. The topic this year is “healing” – but that definition is broad in scope.

Our missions committee decided we wanted to give our Seasons of Grace offering to an organization for the elderly. We decided to look at a small local non-profit adult day care center. It was our first choice – but we wanted to check it out first.

It’s usually not a good idea to give to an organization blindly. None of us had been to this place, so we wanted to make sure it was somewhere we felt good about supporting. We want to be good stewards on behalf of our people.

I called the center this morning and went by this afternoon to take a quick tour. (It’s a good sign when they are comfortable saying “Come on over!”)

It was nice and bright and a beautiful environment for these seniors. Three out of the four staff have been there over twenty years. Burn-out? I saw no signs of it. They love their jobs.

The staff weren’t people just sitting around doing nothing or acting as babysitters. They engaged the folks. Some who were at the center colored, some painted. Some sat on the sun porch and talked. The staff tries to encourage them to do different things during the day.

They take regular walks. They took one when I was there. Most joined in. Just that movement helps every single one of them.

One lady was making very cool bags she weaved from plastic grocery bags. There is no way I would have guessed that was what they were made from. She said a friend had told her about it.

Most at the center were very happy, except for one sad sack gentleman who said he never won at Bingo. I told him I’d come back and play with him one day because I am very lucky. We may lose, but my goal would be to see him smile.

Our church usually doesn’t just give money for our offerings (though we definitely accept money). We have started giving “stuff” too. I have seen many churches focus on money or big items, while I knew people in the church wanted to participate but were struggling with their own budget.

We try to give opportunities for all to give, regardless of our circumstances, We’re going to focus on paper products and cleaning products for the center, as well as coffee, tea, and sugar. Then comes the fun category – prizes for Bingo and birthday presents. They don’t require big things, but say dollar store items work.

Oh, and the lady who makes those bags always needs plastic grocery bags – we’ll make sure she has a good supply.

I know I have some “never been used” items around that will be good prizes for them. You know, those things you pick up and never use or the gifts you were given that weren’t right for you. All never-bern-used items. I also have some ideas of good things to buy. One is adult coloring books and colored pencils. This is a favorite activity there.

I loved being there and look forward to going back. I’m hoping to fill their Bingo and birthday coffers for the summer (my sister is going to help) and bring them a large bounty in the fall from my church (the missions board approved them for the offering tonight).

We don’t pay enough attention to our elderly and those adults with special needs. These people who go to adult day care all live with family, but five days a week they have a place to go from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. That way their family can work or just get a break, while their family member stays engaged with others. It’s so important.

It’s another good reminder.

“Look around and see all the beautiful people God loves.”

Steve Shoemaker

Then help care for them.

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