Some of the Church Ladies recently visited Mabel. The Church Ladies are a group of women who serve and support women in need – usually women who are going through medical treatments, bedrest, surgery recovery, etc., but we also help community ministries organizations as well as women we can encourage by cleaning, grocery shopping, gardening…or listening.
Mabel is one of those one-in-a-million ladies. She has poured into people for years. My family sat in front of her the first Sunday we visited the church we now attend, and Mabel took a sincere interest in our young girls. Her genuine attention made a lasting impression on us.
Mabel has lived with pain for many years, but she’s rarely let it slow her down, either physically or emotionally. However, lately she’s been able to leave her house less and less. So a group of us decided we’d plan a party-on-the-go for her. Her birthday isn’t close, but we decided we could celebrate her life any day of the year. Happy UnBirthday, Mabel!
We met after church and packed our cars with a variety of items for a lunch smorgasbord. We tried to keep it simple, so we could pack up the leftovers and leave them for Mabel’s meals for the week. We took paper products, so there was no need to dirty any dishes. And who wouldn’t want fresh flowers? So, we included those as well. We wore our Church Ladies shirts as we traipsed into the house. We’d asked her ahead of time if we could visit, but I think she was still surprised to see the extent of what we had planned.
Mabel said she wasn’t hungry…but she ate a full plate. We visited for over an hour, answering questions to keep her updated on church happenings and listening to stories about her family and recent visitors. We shared memories and laughter…and planted seeds for helping in other ways.
But no matter how much effort we put into encouraging Mabel, at the end of our time together, we felt we received more encouragement than we poured out. As usual, Mabel opened her heart and shared her life in an offering that God accepted, multiplied and showered onto those around her.
Every year, we celebrate birthdays. Living another year is cause for celebration, but each day in between our birthdays are equally worthy of celebration. It’s in the moments of those unbirthdays that we have the opportunity to share laughter and lives with others, and when we do, something wonderful happens. We feel a weight is lifted, nearly as if minutes and days rewind and help us experience a renewal. We’re refreshed and rejuvenated.
As we sang Happy UnBirthday to Mabel, her eyes twinkled, and she proclaimed, “You just made my day!” Perhaps, Mabel…but you made ours as well.
Already, the one who harvests is being paid and is gathering crops for eternal life. So the one who plants and the one who harvests celebrate at the same time. John 4:36
Who will you encourage today? Many people have unbirthdays today. Celebrate with someone!