Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Witch of Rosslyn Street vs. The Jesus of Wailea Court

On the street where I lived as a child, a family from a different religion than us did not celebrate any holidays, including Halloween. Their house was always dark on Halloween. No lights. No activity. No free candy.   And because of that (and based on no other facts) the kids in my neighborhood referred to the lady of the house as the “Witch of Rosslyn Street.” I don’t think she was a witch. I never saw her broom or boiling caldron. In fact, she might have been a very nice person, but since she didn’t pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters we labeled her as a Halloween version of Ebenezer Scrooge.   For the children on Rosslyn Street, the man and wife were cruel, greedy candy misers. Unfair? Yes. But that’s how they were viewed.

Why remember the “Witch on Rosslyn Street”? I read a book a while back titled: un-christian. The authors did extensive research and interviewed lots of non-church going, non-believing young adults. The results were disturbing to say the least. Most viewed Christians as judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old fashioned (78%), out of touch with reality (72%) and insensitive (70%). I’ve got to tell you I don’t want to be considered any of those things, but like it or not too often that’s how a large portion of our society views Christians. To many folks, we are the “Witch on Rosslyn Street!”

There’s only one way to change such attitudes. It’s showing our non-Christian friends and neighbors that Christians can be real, sincere, loving, kind, non-judgmental, relevant, and authentic. How do we do that?

One small way is to use events like Halloween to change their attitudes. Halloween is the only day all year when my neighbors come to my door. I don’t have to seek them out. They come to me. In Kansas, usually Halloween nights were crisp and just a little chilly. I would place our portable fire pit in the front yard, grab some lawn chairs and a bucket of candy. Karla and I proceeded to greet the children as they came to our house. I met and talked to more neighbors in that one evening than any other time all year. I would wear a Michigan jacket (big surprise) and discovered that many in my Kansas neighborhood held various opinions concerning the Wolverines. Many parents warmed up by the fire pit and as they did we talked and laughed and enjoyed the evening. It was always a good night.

If the Michigan weather cooperates, I plan on doing something similar this Halloween.

If I am going to make a difference on Wailea Court, then I have to get to know my neighbors. I have to talk to them and engage in life with them. They need to see that I am not judgmental, insensitive and all those other undesirable traits. The way to change misperceptions, prevailing opinions and undesirable outcomes is show love and kindness one person at a time.

Do you remember what Jesus said when the question arose about his hanging out with the sinners instead of the saints? He said, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (Matthew 9:12 The Message). If I can be so bold, I believe that Jesus would be handing out mini snicker bars and getting to know his neighbors too. You see if we are going to be serious about transforming our society (seeing God’s Kingdom come to earth as it is in Heaven) then we must be in our neighborhoods sharing life with our neighbors.

I don’t want to be “The Witch of Wailea Court” but I do hope to be “The Jesus on Wailea Court.”

Honoring a dad with Alzheimer’s Disease

Karla’s dad has Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s stinks (I’m tempted to use a stronger expletive, but my mom would probably wash my mouth out with soap as soon as I stepped through the Pearly Gates if I did).

Alzheimer’s occasionally has robbed Arling of his sweet gentle spirit and has robbed Karla and her family of the intelligent and innovative man they once knew. All of us want to age with grace and dignity, Alzheimer’s is robbing him of that ability. We all want to know and be known; Alzheimer’s has robbed him of that too. Alzheimer’s is a dirty rotten thief (See the above soapy comments on my reluctance to use stronger adjectives).

I’ve been around a lot of sick folks through my years, and I can tell you there are not many diseases worse than Alzheimer’s. It’s horrible. If you have had a loved one with this terrible illness you know what I am saying is true.

Tuesday night, following our church board meeting and a long day, as soon as I arrived home, the memory care home where my father-in-law stays called to say he was being taken to the hospital. There had been an incident at the facility and he needed to see a doctor.

The ambulance and Karla and I arrived at the hospital at the same time. At this point, Arling was back to his “normal” state. It was late. Everybody was tired. The crowded, noisy emergency room was not a happy place. But tests needed to be run to make sure all was “normal” before he could return to the care facility. Nearly four hours later, the emergency room docs concluded that Arling’s behavior was the effects of Alzheimer’s. We already knew that.

Here’s what I didn’t know (well I knew it, but I was reminded again): I watched with a renewed appreciation and admiration as I saw Karla care for her dad. She was patient and kind. She tried to explain the happenings even when her dad didn’t always comprehend the explanations or the procedures. She was respectful and considerate. I saw her living into the words of the Ten Commandments to “Honor your father and mother.” I wish my boys could have witnessed their mom caring so tenderly for her dad. I wish you could have too.

It is easy to honor one’s parents when everything is great and all are blessed by them; it’s a totally other commitment to honor your father and mother when you aren’t always sure that they even know your name. I was thankful to witness Karla living and loving into Jesus command: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34). My parents are in heaven (my mom with her bar of soap), but if your parents are on the sunny side of the grave don’t reduce honoring them to Mother and Fathers’ days. Treat them with dignity even if the situation is less than perfect. Karla taught me that important lesson again this week!Al