Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#8 - Their Shoes

“GRAM HAS FALLEN! NO BROKEN BONES!” was last Tuesday's tweet that speedily got the attention of all 14 teen girls in her every-Saturday kitchen table get-togethers. Moments later more tweets followed, indicating Gram, a.k.a. Mrs. Hope Tappin, had tripped on a rug at home, lost her balance and landed pretty hard on her left hip. Her retired husband, Ross, helped her into bed and applied some ice packs. .

As one of the very first to join the get-togethers, Tamara was definitely a 'take-charge' type of teen. Just after her first class the next morning, Tamara called the Tappin's to get an update. The swelling had all but disappeared but the pain was continually reminding Gram she better stay in bed and fairly quiet.

Each of the teens had grown especially fond of Gram and her calm way of looking at every day challenges. All of the teens had clearly adopted her as their very special grandma they gleaned boatloads of comfort to be found nowhere else. Every one of the girls knew deep down, that Gram's back door was always open any day of the week for those super special private hugs that seemed to bring a teenager's world into proper focus.

Wednesday afternoon about the time that school let out, Ross answered a knock at the back door. Deena and Trudy just couldn't wait a minute longer to give their beloved Gram a hug, a get well card, and a bright colored flower. Ross saw what great healing the girl's visit did for his precious wife, Hope. Deena explained to Ross and Hope that Tamara had organized the other teens to provide some food for the retired couple while Gram was on the mend.

Saturday morning there was a rather faint knock at the back door. Ross recognized the visitor as Monica, one of Gram's Saturday broods. The teen stepped in the back door and asked if she could see Gram for just a minute or two. This was a bit unusual in that Monica was a rather shy person not given to join in any discussions with the others. Ross took a moment to see if Hope was up to a visit. He should have known that Hope was always ready and eager to touch base with her 'girls'.

Monica explained, “Gram, I'm not too good with words. I'm always afraid others will laugh at me. But my heart just pulled me over here and wants me to pray for you; with you. Ross thought, “Oh boy! Here comes more of that healing you could never put in a bottle or candy box.” Monica gently took hold of Gram's hand so gently, it might be a fragile piece of china. The wrinkled hand, often wracked with arthritis, slowly pulled the teen's timid hand toward her chest.

Ross left the room thinking there was no better communication of healing for every kind of hurt, that a hug, hand-hold, and heart-felt prayer. As Gram listened to the halting words of prayer voiced by Monica, Hope blotted a couple tears with a nearby handkerchief. It was crystal clear that Monica's communication reached beyond just spoken words, or computer tweets, or any other gadget communication made by man.

The final amen to the prayer was spoken and a kiss was left on that wrinkled pained hand. Without another word, Monica headed for the back door, thanked Ross for his hospitality, got on her bike and was gone.

That evening, Hope got a call from the secretary of her church's Quilters for Christ club. Etta explained the whole quilting club has been praying for her and wanted to know if Hope needed anything. Hope responded, “Etta, the teen girls have been just wonderful. They've really taken me under their wing, so-to-speak. If you have just a minute, Etta, I want to share something I've learned from the girls, I want to let all the Quilters for Christ in on.” “Sure, Hope. What's on your heart?”

“Well, Etta, it's just this. For a long long time I just figured most all the teens were COMPLETELY in their own world. They had their own language, with all this cell phone gadgetry and were stone cold to the needs and things of others much older than themselves. But some things have been happening around here that tell me they are not unreachable at all. Etta, they're not on a different planet unless we've exiled them there by our standing back and stereotyping them as stiffnecked digital zombies.”

By her words to Etta, Hope began painting a different picture of the teens, especially the

kitchen table texting girls. With tears Hope, and Ross too, had grown to know a little of the insides of the teens and sort-of adopted them with all their cares and hurts that fill a teens growing years. Etta learned the unexpected thing was the teens had really adopted them in return. But the two-way adoption was based on giving love; the kind of love that Jesus Christ showed the hurting people around Him.

Then Etta dropped the bomb! It was a short and simple.

“Hope, what would you think if I talked it over with some of the other quilters and see if our church club could begin an Adopt a Teen program? On TV they often want us to adopt a child in a starving country by getting a picture of them and communicating with that child. Well, what you're telling me, Hope, is that the teens here in our own neighborhood are starving just as badly. They are starving for someone to care about them, just as they are. The teens don't want to be around people that will criticize and make judgments about them, until they've walked a mile in the teen's shoes.”

“In fact, Hope, this whole Adopt a Teen thing would even deepen our own gratitude to Christ for having adopted each of us into His church family.” “Etta, can you get ahold of Tom, our youth pastor and see what ideas he has along these lines? I'm sure he's felt pretty alone in trying to reach the youth, with so many of us carrying a scared attitude of the teens, and their so-called different world, attitude of things.”

So the bottom line here, is when we're sizing up teens or choosing a king, we'd better follow God's measuring stick given in 1st Samuel 16:7.

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

This is also a great standard for judging our own spirituality each day.