Thursday, July 3, 2014

Edifying & Rejoicing Together!

Last night, my children and I went on a walk around the neighborhood so my 4 oldest children could sell raffle tickets and coupon books to offset their upcoming football/cheerleading expenses.  

In the recent past, I've written about our neighbor from down the street, Hank.  He is an x-professional baseball player with a heart of gold, and he just turned 89-years old a couple of weeks ago.  Last week we had left some birthday cards and a balloon in the shape of a baseball player with another neighbor to give to Hank when he would arrive home. 

When we arrived at Hank's house last night, I told the kids not to sell him anything because he had already given them so much in the past.  I told them we were there just to say hi to him.  

When the children knocked on Hank's door, he and his daughter greeted all of us with great excitement and invited us into their home.  

Hank and his daughter insisted on buying raffle tickets anyway, and then she pulled me aside and said that when Hank read his birthday cards from the kids, he said to her, 
"If I didn't have these kids in my life, I wouldn't have any friends."

I teared up, and so many emotions ran through my heart and mind when she told me that.

I felt sad that my children would be his only friends… I wondered:  How could they be?  He never seems sad or lonely.  In fact, he seems cheerful every time we see him!  I felt sad that I hadn't been a better friend!

At the same time, I felt deep gratitude for the times we had stopped to talk with Hank because I realized in that moment that it meant much more to him than I ever understood.

I continued to ponder on Hank…  Hank is very strong for his age, but his body is so much weaker than it used to be.  He doesn't move as fast, and he falls down a lot.  He has to rely on other adults to keep him safe.  His humility to accept assistance from others is remarkable.  

Just this morning I read in Proverbs 18:12, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility."  

Hank's humility is what makes him a man of great honor in all of our eyes. That's why we love him so much!

We stayed and chatted for over an hour!  I had a nice conversation with Hank's daughter about the plants in her yard, and I let the older boys have their time with Hank.  When we were about to leave, Hank and the boys excitedly told me bits and pieces of their conversation.  

I discovered that Hank had spent that time telling the children how great God is… how wonderful families are… how important it is to love their parents and their brothers and sisters… the power of love in the home… he told them that it is only because of his faith in God that he was able to play in the pros in baseball…  

As I listened to them, I had to fight back the tears.  I thanked Hank for taking the time to share such meaningful words with my children from a perspective and a wisdom that only he could impart.  All of us felt immense love and kindness just pouring from this fragile, dear man.  

Seeing the brightness in my children's eyes, I realized my children felt as if they could do and be anything when they listened to Hank, and then it hit me… 

I'm positive that sweet Hank has other people in his life who care about him and are his friends, but the children's innocence, love for God, and eagerness to learn from him gives him purpose and meaning in their friendship.  I believe he recognized that they saw the true Hank underneath his fragile body.  That's why their friendship is so significant to him and of course to my children.

Then it hit me even further… They could feel his greatness as they listened to his words of wisdom because the Spirit of God was in their conversation, and they all felt that Spirit.  Even when the rest of us started to walk home, Jackson kind of lingered by Hank's side… almost as if a magnet was connecting him and keeping him there.

In the Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-22 it reads, 21 "Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?  22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together."

I know this to be true!  I recently wrote about several people whom we have come into contact with who have had the courage to deliver to us sweet messages of Jesus' love.  It happened again 2 nights ago!!  

The children and I were walking through Target when a man stopped and looked at us. I could tell he felt something because of the look of interest and wonderment on his face.  He was quiet for a moment and turned away a bit, and then I could tell he couldn't contain himself anymore.  He made eye contact with us and declared several times what a blessing our family was and then told the children to always trust Jesus.  

I was touched by this man who was "preaching by the Spirit of truth" in Target and by Hank declaring a humble message from God and about God.  My heart continues to be touched as I also ponder on the people I have written about in this past week because all these people, from all walks of life, were not afraid to share their faith in Jesus with a sweetness that I cannot quite describe… only that I know they were messages they were inspired to share.  

It is a joyful feeling that rushes through my heart when people bear pure testimony of Jesus with the Spirit of truth.

I believe that these many experiences in just this past week alone of strangers who felt our love for Jesus and spontaneously shared their love for Jesus is not a coincidence… it is a miracle… 

God knows what we need.  I believe God wanted me to feel that HE knows I am striving to be and striving to teach my children to be valiant disciples of Christ… for HE is our Lord, Savior, King, and our EVERYTHING.