The Simple Life

My brother is just so funny. I feel blessed to have him in my life. He makes me laugh so hard.  It’s wonderful for my mother to share this time with him too, since he had been living apart from her for many years.

I’ve noticed that he and the other people with special needs bring home beautiful pictures. The other day I was looking at this picture and I said, “Kevin, this is not yours. You’ve taken someone else’s picture by mistake.” He promptly picked up a pen and crossed out the other persons name and wrote his own name on the top! Then he said, “There you go.” As if life is just that easy. Take what you want. I wonder how many times he’s seen that done I thought. “Hmm,” I said. “He’d make a great attorney!”

My mother and I were laughing so hard at him. In his world forgery was nothing. If you like it, make it yours.

I looked at all of the artwork and started looking at the things in my home. I realized that life is just too short to collect things. The beauty of simple things that the artwork my brother produces, is better than anything one can purchase.

I sat in my living room and was sad when I noticed a small cardboard box which held the belongings which my mother was left with after being moved from her home. I took a picture. I cried to think this was so important to her.The Barbie dolls which she used to knit clothing for. No one could believe that she could do this and it was something that she took great pride in. The little Charlie Brown that plays music. The pictures. I managed to get the bronze shoes from my brother Dennis who had passed away as a baby. These she somehow never lost in all of her shuffling through the years. It is difficult to see my mother’s life reduced to a cardboard box. But then I look around and feel the weight of all the things in my life holding me down. I don’t want anything in my life. I can’t stand things holding me back from what is important. I hate greed and what it does to people. It hurts me to see what it has done. I don’t want to take care of things. Although I love looking at my brother’s pictures. And my mother’s things. It’s cute, but we all have the propensity to collect. So I want to bring joy to other’s by giving.

Now I got my mom into a pottery class to learn something new. She was making me laugh with her antics. When the teacher told her to “pinch her pot,” she said, “What?” “Yea, I said, “That meant something completely different in the 70’s!” Now she’s learning a different skill at 82 and she’ll be able to make new memories and so will I.

I realized that life is not about owning things. In fact the more time I spend with my mother, the more fleeting I see that our time is on this earth. I see that those who have robbed and tried to fill their lives with things, are missing the most important qualities.

My mother and I listened to my brother talking last night. He was telling us about the lipstick that he was going to give his girlfriend at school. He was going to put it in his purse. It’s really a fannypack. He crams all kinds of stuff into that purse. Sometimes I’ll check it just too unload some things. It’s so stuffed full. I just have to see what he’s carrying around and it’s funny. Pictures of things unrelated. I try to connect the subjects, but can’t seem to and move on. The objects make no sense,but they amuse me.

The keychains that I have given him have all found a place on this pack. I have actually had to remove some,because it has become unsafe. The weight of this is ridiculous. And the fact that one of them is a round basketball for coins, makes it hilarious with his gait and when he bowls, underhanded, my son made the remark that it’s a good thing I didn’t give him the bull’s you know what, to hang from this pack, or it would be quite a sight to behold, when he bends down to bowl! This visual just made me crack up.

He is very animated. And when he tells us that someone threw up at school it’s hilarious. He is over the top. I don’t think it happened the way he tells us and at times, I only wish I could place a hidden camera on him. There was one day that he told me that one person threw up and another girl was told that “she stinks and needed to go into the bathroom,” while the teacher was spraying the bathroom. And later, he said the same girl was his girlfriend. My son, who is not easily grossed out, said, “Come on, I don’t want to hear this! You’re girlfriend stinks!” And my brother as proud as could be, said, “Yes, she stinks! Right?” Wow! That’s unconditional love at it’s best! And, all I can say is, those special education teacher’s work very hard, and deserve pay raises!!! Treat them well. They’re very special people.

But,people like my brother are also very special and he keeps me centered. I sometimes find I’m taking him for granted and when I come back to him, I find humor in his simple words and beauty in the world around him. It is just what God was trying to point out to all of us and the reason He told us that “the meek would inherit the earth.”

Look at what a mess we have made of all of this. Greedy people have tried to use people like my brother for selfish gain. I’ve had people say, “They look at your brother like a throwaway.” That has brought me unspeakable pain.” Yes, even at his birth they thought he wouldn’t live. But God had a different plan. And his plans were to bring men to repentance through my brother. Yes, my brother who is so innocent. Who would take an art project and cross someones name and sign his name, would do this with anything. He knows no difference. He tells me everything costs “a hundred dollars.”

But who cares? My brother puts everything in perspective. Whether it a billion dollars or a penny, in his mind it’s the same price. Just as the value of a soul is worth more than everything. And as the Lord has said, “Woe to the man who gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul.”

Honor Your Parents

Baptisms 001

a son and his father











I had been given a revelation of this very important commandment by my pastor in a teaching once. I wondered why I had never noticed it before. It’s the only commandment with a blessing attached to it. The Fifth Commandment which states, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Some translations say, “so that things may go well with you and you may live long upon the earth.” (Exodus 20:12)

Either translation pretty much tells you that it is a blessing that is dependent upon our own respect for our parents. It also does not state that this is a conditional blessing. Meaning, our parents do not earn this honor. We just honor them regardless. I’m not saying that if they have done something terrible, we condone this. I’m saying that honor, is just given as a choice by will.

If we look at this commandment then we must believe that conversely, by not giving honor to our parents, that things will not go well with us.

I remember being in a heated argument with my mother when I was a teenager and I lifted my hand as if to slap her. I was held back, supernaturally. I knew this was impossible and I alway felt grief knowing that I dishonored her to even bring my hand up. After this we have had many arguments and they always end up with me apologizing and telling her that there is no excuse for me disrespecting her.

Now something else the Lord showed me that I found very beautiful. It filled my heart since I was also a stepparent dealing with many parenting issues. As so many people have extended families, Christ did not differentiate.

One day I was reading the account of Christ’s crucifixtion and I was rereading the episode of Christ assigning John to His mother, at the foot of the cross. Why would He do this, I wondered. Here He is, dying, and yet, He finds this very important to make sure this last lesson is taught. Usually last words spoken from a dying man tend to be the most important. This is when I thought of my own life and realized that Christ was trying to tell all of us that His own blood is what makes us one family. It is not the fact that we are born into a family. Right there at the foot of the cross. So we know that once we give our lives to Christ, we are all one. This was the reason that “not a bone of His was broken.” It was to show that the family of God is intact. One body.

So, we know also that to “Honor our father and mother,” also extends to our spiritual father and mother’s. Anyone that is within the body of Christ and has a part in our spiritual upbringing.

Now my own father did many things that hurt me during my life, yet I knew he was full of hurt in his own life. He never had many chances in life. I had a lot of compassion for him. I never was angry with him. If my father ever had to earn any honor, well, it just would be impossible. But if we had to earn honor with the Lord, wouldn’t that also be impossible? How can we hold our parents to a standard that we can’t keep?

I know there are some parents that are just jerks. I’ve met them. They can’t help it. But don’t rob yourself of your own blessing. Honor them and that doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them. Just don’t live with regrets.

I think that the Lord must believe that this commandment is pretty important since it is one of the things that the prophet Malachi speaks will take place before the return of the Lord. (Malachi 4:5)