Headlines from First Thoughts

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Caregiver becomes a Care Receiver

Stephen Ministers train 50 hours to do one thing: to be there for the long haul when someone needs them. You would think this kind of thing comes naturally to people. As Christians, we're taught to love our neighbors as ourselves. We're also taught in the South to run by, say hi, and leave quickly. We're taught to fill in the silence with glib words pulled from the cliches of life. So Stephen Ministers spend as much time untraining themselves from bad habits to get to the root of what a believer does. Be there. And Listen. And ask great questions.

Margaret Woodhead was one of the first. She was part of that group of guinea pigs who take things when few know what they're getting into. After our first team of leaders came back armed and loaded for training, Margaret signed up. She took to Stephen Ministry like it was her very own. And it was. She lived such a varied life that her experiences probably prepared her for care giving as much as all those Sunday School lessons she attended. From parent, to hotel management, to telephone engineer, Margaret did a little bit of everything. She saved the retired years for a significant gift to the kingdom of God. She was commissioned as a Stephen Minister and became a caregiver to others. She was assigned confidentially to women who needed her, and she walked with them through their hurts.

But as the seasons of senior adult life shifted from independence to dependence, Margaret willingly laid down the mantel of caregiving to become a care receiver. She received help from two different care receivers as she took the long slow journey from health to Hospice to her eternal home.

When we gathered at the Veteran's Cemetery this morning to say a final comforting word to one another, Margaret's legacy was already speaking in and through this ministry. She left big shoes to fill as a giver and receiver. But that's what grace does to a person. You can't give grace unless you've learned to accept it. Thanks for showing us how, Margaret.

And if by chance, you would like to be a part of our next class of Stephen Ministers, applications are due by September 10. Please fill this out, and consider how you can be a part of this vital ministry at First Baptist.

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