"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)
I have written before about the ministry my husband and I had in Cedar Park, TX several years ago. We had the honor of providing the Sunday worship service and the Wednesday evening Bible study for an independent living retirement facility. We served there for a full five years and we will both tell you that it was a great privilege to get to know so many delightful people. We learned about their younger lives, their careers, their children, and their life experiences. We also walked with many of them through illnesses. We literally held their hands as we sat by hospital beds, or as we listened as they told us of a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or cancer. And, we provided several memorial and graveside services.
We loved those folks, most of whom are gone now. But what we learned from them and the memories we made will stay with us forever.
I was reminiscing today about greeting each of them as they came into the theater room that we used for services. Each Sunday morning I would stand at the back and hand out the bulletin for the week and hug them. At some point, I kissed one of the men on the cheek and then went to wipe off the lipstick that I had left there, but he stopped me. "No, no," he said. "I want that to stay there." Once one of them had a kiss mark, the others wanted one so I always made sure I wore a lipstick shade that was bright enough to be seen.
As I was reliving those precious moments, I realized that walking around the building with that lipstick on their cheeks was a blessing for them. It was an attention getter, a conversation starter and it made them feel special for a little while. As I pondered that, I wondered about the little things that we can do that may not be anything much to us, but just might bring a smile or a bit of joy into someone else's life.
The Lord has gifted each of us with various abilities. Maybe you are one who likes to bake. Perhaps, you are a good listener. Some of us love to read and could possibly spend some time reading out loud to a dear one that has trouble seeing the words. Are you an artist? Could you do little drawing and include an encouraging scripture to cheer someone up?
The older I get, the more I understand how much we need each other. We weren't created to be isolated and alone. And we weren't put on this earth to think only of ourselves. When we use our talents and abilities to bless others, their lives are brightened but so are ours. It is incredibly fulfilling to give the gifts of love and encouragement to another. As today's verse tells us, "those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."
My heart warms when I think about those lipstick marks. Such a little thing but it meant so much to those men, most of whom were widowers. It cost me nothing but a dab of red from a tube. And now that they are gone, I am the one carrying the joy of those smiles and I thank the Lord that He gave me such a joyous opportunity. God bless.