Monday, July 25, 2005

a kiss of kindness

Peggy’s tumors weren't responding to her treatments. Despite every effort to halt her cancer and urge it toward remission, it grew and spread throughout her body.

She fought hard and tried to keep up a normal schedule. At her request, I met with Peggy and some of her friends for a summer study of the book of Romans. That first morning, she surprised us all with a hefty brunch: shrimp salad, fruit salad, taquitos, and cookies.

"Peggy," I protested, "the whole idea of meeting here is so you can rest."

"But I want to bless you," she argued back.

The following week, the rest of us brought lunch. That didn't stop Peggy from contributing. She'd been up early to bake for us.

Peggy continued to host the study till mid-summer, when it became clear she didn't have the strength to ready herself for company any more. With reluctance, she asked that we discontinue.

Friends from church rallied around her. Some came on a weekly basis to weed her garden or do laundry. Others brought meals. Still others came just to sit with Peggy and pray.

One of our young girls, Elaina, showed up at Peggy’s door on a sunny morning and asked if she could help with some housework. Peggy paused before saying yes. Elaina was only twenty. Peggy thought about all the things she should be doing instead: running around with her friends, hanging out at the beach, shopping at the mall. Why would this young girl choose to spend such a beautiful day indoors, cleaning house?

She lowered herself into an easy chair and visited while Elaina vacuumed the living room, dusted the shelves and knickknacks and watered the plants. She watched while Elaina fluffed the pillows on the couch and straightened the magazines on the end table. When she asked Peggy for window cleaner and a clean rag, Peggy stopped her.

“Oh, Elaina … you don’t have to do that. You’ve done enough already, honey. I don’t want you spending your day washing my windows.”

Elaina’s eyes filled with tears and her chin trembled. “Please let me, Peggy,” she said. “I don’t know any other way to tell you that I love you.”

Peggy stayed earth-bound for another fifteen months before slipping away to her new life. I saw her just hours before she left, and though she wasn't conscious at the time, I believe she heard our prayers, and that her heart responded with anticipation when we reminded her of Who she was about to see.

Often, while missing Peggy and remembering her last months, I've thought about Elaina's gift and the truth she walked out that day. Genuine love will always find a way to shows itself. An act of service is one heart telling another, “You matter to me.” It’s appreciation bubbling up into action. It’s a kiss of kindness.

Life can be very fleeting. Many things draw our attention and demand our time, but we’ll never regret setting those unimportant things aside long enough to tell another person, “I value you. I appreciate you. I love you.” Don’t let this week pass by without giving a kiss of kindness or two.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” --John 13:14-15 (NKJV)

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13 Comment:

At 7/25/2005 4:10 PM, Blogger Cora had this to say ...

Thanks for the great cry, Shanny.

What a beautiful post.

I know that Peggy is missed by a lot of people.

I know that a lot of people are blessed by Elaina, me being one of them.

Seems God is talking to me. . . another reminder that we are here to glorify God by being loving servants to one another.

At 7/25/2005 4:24 PM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...

Shannon, thank you so much for sharing this. Crying wasn't part of my scheduled plans for today but I needed to, nonetheless. From what I know in meeting Elaina just a few months ago, I can see her doing this for so many.

What a beautiful reminder of how we are to share our love, and the love of Jesus, with others.


At 7/25/2005 4:48 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess had this to say ...

Shannon, this struck such a tender nerve with me because our Bible study group is watching our sweet Barbara follow these same steps. She has an enlarged heart and with Spina Bifida (sp?) is undergoing surgery this week...maybe, if she's strong enough. Barbara opened her home to us because she wasn't strong enough to go to church and Bible study group was her church.

Thank you for this gentle reminder that we are only temporary residents here. Praise God for that!

At 7/25/2005 8:31 PM, Blogger Kim had this to say ...

That was beautiful. It made me cry. Often I'm at a loss as to how to be useful, but cleaning someone's house is so simple and yet powerful. Elaina is such a sweetheart. I once told Mike that if I ever die I want him to remarry someone like her. *blush*
I wish I had known Peggy. Can't wait to meet her in heaven.

At 7/26/2005 10:33 AM, Blogger JOE B had this to say ...

I just do not know what to do. I wish there was a way I could set my computer to only view your blog after 5 everyday. Why, do you ask? Because I read your post at work again. My fellow co-workers are going to start thinking I am losing it.
You are right, life is fleeting. At our church, we have lost four young men over the past year. A couple by illness and a couple by accidents. I am going to a funeral tomorrow of a co-worker who died of a heart attack this past weekend. You never know when God will call you home.
God bless, Joe

At 7/26/2005 10:57 AM, Blogger whaaaat! had this to say ...

Another post that brought a tear to my eyes (ok, quite a few tears). I was convicted Sunday when it was pointed out that only 4 people showed up from our church for an opportunity to show "acts of kindness". Not always typical of our congregation, but another reminder to put aside our own selfishness.
Thanks for the link to my blog by the way.

At 7/26/2005 11:05 AM, Blogger Monica had this to say ...

Elaina's words to her friend Peggy touched me so much today. Thank you for sharing.

At 7/26/2005 12:16 PM, Blogger Fishkrisser <> had this to say ...

I don't know whether I should admit this Shannon but you made me cry. Here I am at work in front of my dad and the other three employees not to mention customers that are coming in the office which is where I work at the computer. That was a very touching story. If story should be the word for it I don't know. It's when I hear things such as this that I realize I should be spending less time goofing off and more time focusing on serving others. Thanks for the reminder. You cut me deep. :-)

At 7/26/2005 12:38 PM, Blogger Cindy-Lou had this to say ...

What a great post... thank you for the reminder...

At 7/26/2005 12:53 PM, Blogger steve had this to say ...

I loved this post! I love a greta postfromtheheart.

God is good!

giving you a shout from Portland!

At 7/26/2005 3:23 PM, Blogger LAMommyof3 had this to say ...

This was a beautiful post, that, like the others mentioned, brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing reminder that even the smallest of things can show others that we care!!

At 7/27/2005 8:39 PM, Blogger Christabelle had this to say ...

Thank you, Shannon. The story of Elaina is one of my favorites because of how true it is and how much it is a mark of her true character. "They shall know we are Christians by our love..."

At 10/04/2005 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

I am hoping you will share your story.
christian acts of kindness


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