When Mittens & Gloves = Love

The weather guys are predicting a colder than usual winter. At the same time, we hear snippets about the burgeoning homeless population, due to the economy and housing crisis. Many homes sit empty, lost to foreclosure. A colder than normal winter, a swollen homeless population—and I wonder, what can I do to help?

If you watch Joyce Meyer, you know she’s been preaching The Love Revolution. If we truly love our neighbors, we will reach out to them in crisis. “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Most of us are familiar with this scripture, found in Galations 5:14.

So again I ask myself, what can I do? My husband and I are learning to live on a smaller salary since he lost his job. Can I still do something? I know I can. With God, all things are possible, right? (Matthew 19:26) I want to do something.

Gloves and mittens – I keep thinking about gloves and mittens. I hate to have cold hands! You know the feeling, when your fingers really hurt from the cold, the ache, the stiffness. Why not buy an extra pair and give them to someone in needeach time I go to the store, pick up a pair of gloves or mittens to give away? I am aware of several different ministries to whom I can give these. They will take the gloves to the homeless. Or I can take them myself. How would that feel—to hand someone a pair of warm gloves—someone whose hands are swollen and painful from exposure.

I think of my beautiful grandchildren, who thankfully have shelter and warmth. They have warm coats and mittens. But what if they did not? What if they were homeless, their lives out of control in the deep of winter? I would certainly want someone to be merciful and obedient to God’s call.

God shows His love in many ways. I challenge you—this winter—to follow my example. Buy an extra pair of gloves or mittens and give them to your favorite charity or homeless ministry. Pull out gently used outerwear that you no longer want and give them to someone who needs them. Donate money to buy gloves and mittens to your local church group. Don’t wait for someone else to lead the way, you do something. Show God’s love.

Guest Post: That’s Home by Matt Owens

Six years of memories. I’ll just need one last look at the yard, at the tree I’d planted, at the landscaping I’d done, at the small place in the corner of the yard where the grass grows a little richer because that’s where we’d buried the cat. Inside the house, I’ll revisit the kitchen I’d remodeled, listen to the sounds of the creaking floorboards, and take a glimpse once more of our first child’s room we’d worked so hard to make his own. And climbing into the truck to haul away everything we consider ours, I’ll watch the house grow smaller in the side mirror until I turn the corner, and it will be gone.

As the season has changed and the trees have begun to glow with red and orange fire in the light of the autumn sun, it’s become apparent that not just six years have passed, but a portion of my life filled with bittersweet memories. It seems as though the more recent years were the sweet ones, though, as I’d grown so much closer to my wife, and it was in those years that we’d welcomed two beautiful boys into our family. At the new house, we’ll have a lot of work, but each busy moment will add time towards years spent in our new home.

These thoughts have made me realize that a house is just a feature of our family. It’s certainly part of us, and we make it ever more so the longer we live in it. We grow to love it, become comfortable in it, make it look and smell and feel like our home. We fill it with treasures, with special things, with fond memories.

My sons will spend their days there growing into young men. They’ll be fascinated by bugs. They’ll catch or kill them and present them to their mom as both a discovery and a gift. She’ll shriek in panic. The boys will rub the insect between their fingers, getting the icky goo stained on their skin, and probably wipe it on their clothes. Or they’ll hold it loosely, and it’ll leap out of their small hands to find refuge in some small dark place hidden from curious eyes. And then she’ll make them wash their hands, and she’ll make me catch it and set it outside preferably unharmed.

But we’ll always remember these things. That’s part of what home is – the memories of how we grew together, grew to love each other, grew to know life and experience joy, pain, laughter, tears. Growing together in such a way that our roots are beyond untangling and fed from the same soil; and our trunks intertwine, our branches sway together in the wind, our leaves make each other appear ever greener. When it ends, when autumn comes and our leaves change and fall, and winter rules our bodies, the real home was the memorial that we made together, four lives grown side by side such that no man can separate them. That will never change. That’s home.

I Speak the Language

“Ah can do south.” I drawled out the words, giving south two syllables, as it was meant to be spoken. I was responding to a comment that my accent was not so prevalent. (Sorry about the rhymes, it was an accident.)

Originally from West Tennessee, I spent the last…ah…few years in Louisville, Kentucky. My first day here, Bobby Kennedy was shot. You do the math.

I tend to match the speech of those I am with. My mother was a Northwesterner who married a Southern good ole boy and for a few years, our family bounced back and forth between Southern California and West Tennessee, so you could say I grew up “accent challenged.”

When I break out into Southern Drawl around my friends from Kentucky, it never fails to get at least a chuckle, but when I go home to West Tennessee, no one notices my speech. If you live in Louisville—pronounced Loo-uh-vul by the way—you hear it all. You can usually tell what part of Kentucky someone hails from, just by listening to them talk. Eastern Kentuckians, for instance, have a very distinctive accent.

I remember my first experience with the “native tongue” of Kentucky, when I overheard two neighbors talking about turning farty. Sounds like a bad word, but they were actually talking about the number that follows thirty-nine. It didn’t take long for me to settle in. Far miles down the road meant that something was 4 miles away. 1425 Elmwood Court was far-teen twenty-five Elmwood Cart. A small amount of translation was all it took.

When translating local colloquialisms to the written page, I tend to run into trouble. I like to know how a character pronounces words, but an editor usually doesn’t like to see it.

“Ah was comin’ acrost the Miz-sippy Rivah on a Sad-dy afternoon”, is a little difficult to read. It reads more easily as, “I was coming across the Mississippi River on a Saturday afternoon.” You still get the feel of the southern accent, but without all the interruptions.

Feelin’ fair t’ middlin’, Feeling fair to middling. Use colloquialisms with correct spelling and the reader doesn’t stumble, but they get the idea.

If it causes the tongue to stumble, or slows down the reader, it is usually unacceptable. A fellow writer and excellent teacher gave me very good advice. Limit the accent to the first time or two the character speaks and then let the reader take over. If you keep the same speech pattern, without supplying all those accents and broken words, the reader is aware of the difference and it makes for a smoother read.

There are definite exceptions to this rule. I can’t imagine reading the Grapes of Wrath any other way, but I guess if you are on par with Hemingway, you can get away with most anything.