...to the least of these...

Seniors LOVE children, and just having them around is a ministry to them.

It can feel a little scary at first to walk up to a very wrinkled stranger whose hair may not be combed, or who is shaking. But most seniors begin to smile when a child approaches them, so the nervousness begins to be overcome by the realization that this is really easier than you thought.

My children naturally held back when we first started visiting nursing homes, and in my heart, I did, too. I didn't know what to expect, and didn't know if I would see pain I wasn't able to handle. I began to prep the children each month, telling them how much their smile meant to someone, how special it was for them to talk to a child. I prepped them to tell them their name, how old they are, what they are learning in school, etc. Eventually, the children began following me as I greeted each one. And because they began to recognize them, thus establishing a relationship, they began to feel free to approach various ones, who sometimes greeted them with big hugs and smiles. We stayed about 60 to 90 minutes.

We paused in the car before we went in, to pray together, that the Lord would use us to encourage at least one person.

I always had our children wash their hands before and after the visit. If the children have a cold, cough or sniffles, I try to find a replacement.

I felt we were gently altering the courses of our children’s lives by letting them see the needs in the world around them, and not just read about them. I think their hearts grew a little each time they obeyed a thought to stay when their feet want to move on, or show respect to someone because they were a person, not because they were appealing.

Nursing Home visits are not just where we teach our children to give; it is where they learn how to receive God’s grace, compassion, mercy, and love – and then experience the privilege of passing that on to someone else. They inch out of their own comfort zones, visit after visit, and the Lord uses them to reach others with His loving touch. And then, miracle of miracles, Jesus tells them that it was really Him that they were serving all along.

And then the righteous will answer and say, Lord, when did we see You hungry and fed you, or thirsty and gave You drink? When did we see you a stranger and took You in, or naked and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly, I say to you, in as much as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.

Here is a note from Marilyn Wagner (marilynkwagner@gmail.com) about one of her family’s nursing home visits:

The trip to the nursing home was amazing this Monday. At one point, Nicole was talking to a burn victim. His nose and one ear and both arms were burned off. I was so touched that God was giving her the grace to linger there, talking. Later, I asked if it was hard to do. She said it was at first, but then it got easier. Another beautiful picture I saw was another teen with the man who can't talk. Imagine having cake put in front of you and not being able to eat it or tell anyone that you need help. She picked up the fork and fed him. I was touched, seeing Jesus in her.

Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

An Old Lady's Poem

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise, Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.....

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill....
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ...with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty -- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman ..and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years ...all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!