Things I Learned from R. B. … August 23rd, 2020

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Episode 29

While I was waiting for a member of R. B.’s family to arrive, to assist in care and making decisions, I made a practice of visiting him once a day.

It was not easy.

He had convinced himself that I had placed him in this institution, and that it was I, and I alone, who had the power to release him.

The spread of the cancer had left him weak, sallow and embittered. It was difficult to ascertain what parts of his actions were real, what parts were brought on by drug interactions, and what portions that were conjured from the horrors of the disease itself.

“I thought you’d die first,” he said to me.

It became a recurring theme.

He looked at me and then at himself, and wondered why, with all of my obesity, I was still living and he, who was slender, was on the verge of demise.

He wanted to blame God.

But mostly he wanted to blame me.

Even though he felt that I had been generous to him, he insisted that I had withheld just enough to keep him from true success and happiness. He lamented following me all over the country and spoke disparagingly of our adventures.

I started to wonder why I was putting myself through this daily bombardment of accusations. But deep in my soul, however, I knew that at this present moment, I was all R. B. had.

However, it was a little too much for the other members of my family. To their credit, many of them were able to set aside some time to visit R. B. and listen to his ramblings, but no one was willing to take on the daily duty.

About a week after we put him into the lovely hospice, it was decided by the federal government that R. B. did not qualify for this particular home, so he was moved to a less expensive one down the road.

It had less of everything.

Even less hope.

R. B. was about ready to explode with anger—when family showed up from Rhode Island. It was just his younger brother, Johnny. Johnny was quite different from R. B. Johnny was glib, filled with stories, and fancied himself to be humorous. Johnny was curious.

R. B. was glad to see him, but Johnny did little to bolster the dying man’s will to live.

He joked about death.

He joked about how cheap R. B. was.

He even joked about the fact that he had pulled the short straw with their family—which was the only reason he had made the journey.

He did it all in a spirit of jest, and R. B. seemed to laugh along. Matter of fact, the arrival of Johnny was the best thing that had happened to R. B. for several months.

I stood back at a distance and remained supportive. Johnny jumped in, took over R. B.’s finances, living quarters and car. I was a trifle uncomfortable with some of it, but then rebuked myself since it really wasn’t my business.

Everything seemed to be going along pretty well until late one night, when I got a phone call from Johnny.

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 14) His Eye Is On the Sparrow… July 31st, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

It was a merciful Monday.

The phone didn’t ring, no one visited and Meningsbee had a chance to sit alone in the parsonage and muse the happenings in his life.

He kept thinking about that scripture: “God sees the sparrow and we are worth many sparrows.”

He roamed the house talking to himself, allowing the ideas stuck in his head to gain air instead of suffocating in his brain or struggling for dominance.

He sorted through things. He opened the door for some healing.

After the cleansing Monday, he was ready for a terrific Tuesday.

Phone calls came from congregation members, saying how much the service had meant to them and how freeing it was to realize that it’s all right to have doubts–as long as you don’t lie about them or assume they are true.

But then came worrisome Wednesday. It began with a knock on the door. Patrick Swanson was there, accusing Meningsbee of sharing their private conversation about the finances of the church with his new congregation out at the Holiday Inn Express.

Meningsbee was so glad that he had remained faithful to his mute position. He could honestly say that he had said nothing to anyone.

Patrick did not believe him. He explained that he had a mess on his hands, because somehow or another, the church folk had discovered his feelings about the old church and were not very appreciative of his plans.

Meningsbee listened quietly but didn’t respond. It wasn’t his business.

At length, Patrick gave up and turned to walk away, only pausing to say, “Word has it that you don’t even believe in God. Is that right?”

It seemed that this dear brother wanted a fight. But thanks to merciful Monday and terrific Tuesday, Meningsbee was more prepared for worrisome Wednesday.

He replied, “My dear friend, my beliefs are a matter of public record.”

With this, Meningsbee quietly shut the door and resumed his life.

The rest of the week was blessed with happenings and intervals of joyous nothingness. That is, until Sunday morning arrived.

Meningsbee was excited–because last Sunday, he had handed out little notes to twenty-two members of the congregation. When they peered at him, wondering what it was all about, he had replied, “Read the note. It’ll tell you what to do.”

So he quickly dressed, ate a light breakfast and headed out the door, pausing as he gazed at the porch swing.

And there she was–the young girl he had met at the motel in South Dakota, cuddled up on the swing with her little daughter, sound asleep.

“Kitty?” he said quietly, hoping he had remembered her name correctly. She woke up, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, eased her feet to the ground, and launched into her story.

She had lost her job and therefore could not afford the motel anymore. She got his address from the front desk clerk, and since he was the only person who had been nice to her, she grabbed her daughter, Hapsy, and hitch-hiked to Garsonville.

She didn’t know what to do, so she chased the last place that she felt love.

Likewise, Meningsbee didn’t know what to do.

He explained that he was on his way to church and invited her. She replied, “If they don’t mind my old, stinky jeans…”

Meningsbee laughed. “I think they’re just old.”

They headed off to his car. Meningsbee held the door and welcomed the two of them inside. He picked up a couple of treats at the Donut Barn on the way.

As they munched, he wondered to himself whether this was a gift from God … or a mis-delivered package.

 

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Ask Jonathots … August 20th, 2015

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I know the Bible says not to worry, but I worry about money all the time. I really don’t have enough to pay everything. Every month I juggle something out of rotation, and then wait through all the notices. I hardly have any debt–I have one credit card, so that’s not the issue. I’m talking about rent, utilities, cable, phones, car, insurance and childcare (two of them, ages six and eight). I just don’t make enough money to get by. Suggestions?

Brain space.

Long before you solve a problem, you have to make room in your brain for creative consideration.

Jesus told us not to worry. He didn’t say this because he was some sort of air-head who believed we should live off our faith in God, with no consideration for being responsible for our needs. He was just enlightening us that worry, fear, apprehension and too much budgeting take up humongous amounts of space in our minds, closing the door on inspiration.

Someone asked me the other day what I thought about welfare. Here’s what I think: if someone is unable to work, finds it difficult to live on the money they make from working when daycare is included, then, they should be given assistance–as long as they realize that this blessing requires a lifestyle of using what they have instead of what they want.

In my lifetime I’ve had much money and literally no money. When I had no money, my main problem was feeling cheated out of the things I wanted, and therefore I was unable to creatively address what I needed.

The first thing I would suggest that you do is figure out how much real money you have coming in each and every month. Get a number.

Then take a look at your responsibilities, and subtract them. If you end up in the red, go back again, trim things up, and see if you can get yourself within striking distance of your own budget.

I understand that with children there are always surprises, but you won’t know what to look for, ask for and seek out until you understand how you must live within your means.

I know it’s not popular to say this, but you just don’t get to eat Hamburger Helper if your budget only allows for hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. And you certainly don’t get to eat chicken and steak if your intake only allows for Hamburger Helper.

The best way to get assistance from agencies–or even friends–is to ask for a specific portion of your living expense that you’re having trouble with, instead of coming in general desperation.

To do this, you must free up your brain space.

To free up your brain space, you have to transfer your fear of money (or the lack thereof) and change it into numbers.

As long as money is about feelings instead of numbers, you will fail.

  • Money is a number thing.
  • Your feelings should be reserved for creative solutions.

So keep in mind that Jesus was not trying to get you to spend hours in prayer, waiting for the miracle of a big check. Jesus was asking you to take the brain space you’re using for worry and fear, change your need into numbers, and use your ideas to find solutions.

If it doesn’t work out on paper, don’t start worrying.

Instead, get it out of your head and onto paper … so you are freed up to seek out solutions.

 

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