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Don’t Slam the Door

Just recently my mom moved out of her home.  There were a lot of swirling memories as my sister and I  went through the stuff of the 64 years of living and loving that had gone on in that house.

When asked what they might like as a remembrance from Nana’s house, my grand daughter said she’d like the door from the basement room.  It’s an old door from a Pullman train car and when it slams shut, it has a distinctive, easily identifiable sound.

That got me to thinking about doors.  And the sound a door makes when it’s slammed.  And how you know exactly which door it is that’s been slammed.   I don’t know how many times my mother told me not to slam the kitchen screen door.  But I can still hear the sound of that door.

I know I told plenty of car pool kids not to slam the doors of my car.  Sometimes  I thought those doors would fall off their hinges.

There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe all the sounds of a slammed door nor the thousands of reasons for a slammed door.  Reasons which range from eager, happy announcements to irate and vengeful anger.  And how it’s slammed often predicts what is to come.

I hope 2013 brings a lot of open doors for you.

And if you do have to slam a door or two, just don’t knock them off their hinges.

 

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee

Author of WOMAN MEETS JESUS

Journey of Faith

 

A Promise is a Promise

 

The day before Florida students were going to take the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Testing) this year, the evening news announced that students would be signing a statement promising they wouldn’t cheat.  This was something new. They had to assent to, “I agree that I will not give or receive unauthorized help during this test. I understand that giving or receiving such help during the test is cheating and will result in the invalidation of my test results.”

When I asked a middle-school friend what her teachers did to draw attention to the statement, she said that before they began the testing her teacher read some instructions about the statement and then told the students
to sign it.

Which got me to thinking about promises.  Is it a well- meant promise when I automatically promise to do something whether I mean it or not?  Is it a promise if I sign something I have no intention of keeping?  Is it a  promise if I assent to something knowing I would get in more trouble not signing it than signing it?  What happens to the promise I make when I have no idea what temptations or desperations lie ahead of me, and I promise naively?

I know my young friend signed the statement fully intending on not cheating.  But what about the kid who is fully inclined to cheat.  What do they do?  They probably sign. Because not signing would cause them more trouble than signing.

What if there were two statements. One promising not to cheat and one saying, “I cannot promise that I will
not give or receive help. I understand that giving or receiving such help during the test is cheating and will result in the invalidation of my test results.”

If we gave kids a choice, we would at least not be encouraging some to lie.

It’s easier to tell kids what to do. What to think.  And to assure us that we feel better, or assure us we have done our job, we ask them to make promises.  What they will do.  What they will think. They will do what we tell them or talk them into.

This makes me think of the movie Courageous which has been a favorite for some.  The scene I’m thinking of in
that movie is when the father takes his young teen daughter out on a date and lets her know that she is valuable and special to him and he will be praying for her as she grows and faces many difficult decisions.  He gives her a ring to let her know of his love for her.  He does not ask her to make a promise she either is not old enough or wise enough to make.  He doesn’t make her promise anything she is unable or perhaps to naïve to promise. The father makes the promises.

I know that keeping promises is tough stuff.  It’s easy to make promises – hard to keep them.  And the not keeping either results in guilt and shame or a calloused heart in which promises don’t matter.

That’s serious.  Living honestly and with integrity requires a heart that doesn’t play games with promises.

Shame on the adults who insist on children making promises they may or may not keep.  I wonder where those adults will be when the kid feels either shame and remorse for breaking promises  or uncaring and hardened about breaking them.

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee                                                                                                                                                                              Author of WOMAN MEETS JESUS                                                                                                                                     Journey of Faith

 

 

FTD is Not a Bouquet of Flowers

FTD is Not a Bouquet of Flowers

If I get a delivery at my door with Mercury Man on the logo of the box, I am thrilled.  That means someone thought of me and ordered flowers from Florists’ Transworld Delivery which is more affectionately known as FTD.

But for my friends who had dinner at my home last night FTD means something grim.  For them it is a 24/7, day after day, month after month, and year after year watching someone they love slowly slip away.  FTD (FrontoTemporal Dementia) has knocked on their door and is not going away.  And, believe me, it did not leave a bouquet of flowers.

FTD first expresses itself in the person you love in apathy which is often mistaken for depression.  Later the person with FTD becomes increasingly self-centered, withdrawn, unaware of the emotions of others, and they become disinterested in hobbies and interests which previously occupied their time.

As if that is not bad enough, as the disease progresses, inhibitions disappear and the person you love becomes impulsive, hugging and kissing strangers, overeating-especially anything sweet, expressing frustration with frequent inappropriate outbursts.    The person with FTD lives an unfiltered life without boundaries of propriety or pattern.

My friend who now has this terrible disease has loved her husband, raised her children, worked tirelessly in the church, used the gifts of music God gave her.  She cooked for her family, baked countless strips of banket ( a flakey crusted – at least hers was flakey – pastry filled with almond paste and sugar), and did countless deeds of kindness for those around her.

And now she is like a small child, always outwitting the adults around her with irrational acts.

But this is what I saw in my home on Sunday night.  I saw a woman who with all her childlike behavior was indescribably cared for by her husband, her sister and her brother-in-law.  They keep her looking pretty even though that is no longer important to her.  They distracted her when she became anxious about what was going on and when for the tenth time she asked if she could brush her teeth,  included her in the conversation, gave answers to her many questions, led her away from things which could harm her, and validated her.

I saw the grace of Jesus pervading every inch of my home through the sweet gratitude of the child-woman and the unashamed kindness of her care-givers.  Their tears are private. Their patience is tried but still true.  Their sense of is humor intact.  Their unwavering faith is strong.  But their journey is long and tiring.  And they don’t see light at the end of the tunnel as far as any “getting better” is concerned.  She will only get worse.  There is no cure for her FTD.

But they know the Jesus who heals the heart even when there is “no human cure.”  They have heard him say, “You can go in peace into the uncharted territory of the FTD afflicting the one you love.  Your faith has healed you.”

I think I’ll send them some flowers from FTD.

Love, Ruth

PS.  The family’s only regret is that they did not understand what was going on early in the disease.  They hope that if there is someone in your life who, at a rather young age, has unexplained behaviors, you will go to the following sites for information. www.ftd-picks.org, info@ftd-picks.org

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Author of WOMAN MEETS JESUS
Journey of Faith

Ruth Vander Zee

Ruth Vander Zee
On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.

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