July 31, 2014

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Jim Langham


Don't miss those special moments PDF Print E-mail

Don’t miss those special moments

One of the most special gifts in my life was the day that I had an anticipated connection with my mother in the nursing home. By that time, she was deeply immersed in dementia, usually confused, to the extent that I wasn’t sure if she remembered my name or not.

On that particular occasion, I walked into her room and greeted her. She gave me the warm, “I love, Jim,” and smile that she always flashed, indicating that she realized a special bond. Beyond that, admittedly, I didn’t understand what all she perceived.

On this day, I got the loving smile and then she said, “How are you doing?” A bit mystified, I responded, “Good, Mom, how are you?”

 
Just what are you thankful for today? PDF Print E-mail

By Jim Langham

My heart melted beyond description recently when I read the response to “things to be thankful for” on a Facebook account.

It was based on the story of a woman who was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital earlier this year with a massive aneurism, fell into a deep coma, and was presumed by doctors to be in a state where she would not recover.

Ironically, I was there visiting someone else the night her family was called into her intensive care room to say their final words to a beloved mother and wife. Her lifeless body was supported by various measures. Doctors had told family members once those were unhooked, it would probably represent her passing.

The dark day came for removal of tubes and support system, but she continued to live, the next day, and the next, for several days. Several days later on a Sunday morning, an “inner voice” spoke to her husband; “If she is going to continue to fight to live, then we’re going to summon some hope and fight with her.” Then, that morning when he went in to see her, he was stunned to see that her caring nurse for the day wore the name tag “Hope.”

 
Homespun PDF Print E-mail
Jim Langham

When things don't make sense from your vantage point

By Jim Langham

A childhood vantage point that I enjoyed for more reason than one was that of being underneath a developing quilt during quilt day gatherings held at our house.

Several days a year, especially during the winter months, neighbors and families would be invited into our home to help put together a quilt, made usually from cut-up material that had been used to construct clothing, or rags that had been salvaged from various situations. I was also surprised when completed quilts emerged that I could spot shirts, scarves, tablecloths and other items from our house. I can still recall my grandma saying concerning an extra piece of material, “Let’s just stick that in the quilt bag.”

Often, I was called upon to cut and shape quilt blocks, probably an exercise in busyness to fill out the temptations afforded to a young boy who might have otherwise gotten in trouble, had he not been given other things to do.

One of the things I liked the most about quilting day was the food. Underneath the quilt frame and emerging masterpiece, there was plenty of room to play with toys, making houses with building blocks, constructing with Lincoln logs – and eating snacks that special hands would “sneak” under the table as I waited for goodies.

Somewhere in midmorning and again in mid-afternoon, someone would say, “Time for a snack,” and out came cookies, homemade candy, fudge and other country goodies. While I played, unknown to my mother, ladies around the table quilting would “treat me” to various goodies. I was so glad that it was not a coordinated effort, that the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing, that no one realized the sum total of goodies that were being handed down over a day’s time of work.

As time progressed, I began to appreciate the quilts themselves, their beauty on our beds and their representation of material we had around the house at that time.

Eventually things shifted around our place. Many of the quilts were given as gifts; in some cases, the deed would be reciprocated as another neighbor or family member would host the construction of another quilt in a quilting bee. Several stayed around our house, decorating various family member’s beds with former pieces of clothing and material wear.

One thing that amazed me from “underneath the quilt” was how different things looked than they did from the top. I would see those strings and knots hanging down and I would think, “How is this going to look like anything?”

One day, one of the quilters told me a story that stuck with a good “life lesson story” to this very day.

It seems that some ladies were quilting and a small boy, in the same fashion that I used to, kept looking at the threads and ravels. Finally he said to his grandmother, “Grandma, what are you making? It just looks like a bunch of strings and things hanging down.”

Wisely, the grandmother replied, “That’s because you are looking at things from underneath. Up here where I am, a beautiful pattern is unfolding.”

Wow, did I get that immediately, something I think about more these days as I watch things around me that don’t seem to make sense from “down here,” but in the eyes of the Creator, I continue to believe that, like the quilts the ladies were making years ago, a beautiful pattern is unfolding.

 

 
Angels Unaware PDF Print E-mail

By Jim Langham

For most of her life, my mother was one of those people that was one of the first ones knocking on the front door when there was a need. When someone returned from the hospital, she took them their first meal. She loved working at the church sewing group, knowing that projects she finished would end up in the hands of people with need in third world countries.

One time, I can remember when a family moved into town of a different national background, poor, not knowing a lot of language and rather forlorn in a different culture. My mother visited them; she and my father picked them up for church on Sunday mornings. She purchased school supplies and took the lady and her two children to a clothing store to take care of them.

Of course, all of this, and many more actions, were performed without fanfare, preferably behind the scenes, with never any mention to anyone else that help had been given.

 
Caregivers provide calm in the midst of storms PDF Print E-mail

A few weeks ago when our area was devastated by an extra strong summer storm, my heart was deeply touched by a prayer request from a church member who asked that we especially remember caregivers during times of such unnatural circumstances.

Immediately, my thoughts went back to my dear friend who faithfully cared for his autistic brother. His family team-cared for many years and then, the final 10 years, he gave of his life, 24-7, as the ultimate sacrificing caregiver.

Ironically, the individual who asked for prayer had once in her life been called upon to give special continuous care to a member of her family. As she remembered the world of caregivers, it dawned on me how the most sensitive and caring in such situations are almost always the ones who go through difficult circumstances themselves.

__PUBLIC__ So, while most of us were scrambling for safety, praying for our lives as trees and wires dropped around us and made last minute inventory checks of our lives, there were many caregivers out there who didn’t have the option to think of themselves. They totally invested their energy into their handicapped loved ones, those who couldn’t go for safety because they were in wheel chairs, those whose loved ones reacted violently to the sound of thunder or sirens, those whose loved ones couldn’t begin to understand the inconvenience of living in a dark house with no air conditioning.

Many scrambled to their basements or interior rooms when the county tornado siren went off. Many years ago, I knew of a lady ministering to a Native American group in Oklahoma, where there are many tornadoes. She had been crippled from polio and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. So where could go she when the sirens went off? Thankfully, a woodworker in the area built an elevated table that she could wheel her chair under when sirens were sounded.

Back to my friend, I can recall times when ice storms struck or storms rolled in. He fervently prayed that their home would be spared of outages because his autistic brother would react nervously if such changes were to interrupt his much-needed rhythm.

People who are autistic, or who share other mental disorders, are often deeply troubled when their routine is interrupted. It then becomes the responsibility of caregivers to attempt to make their environment as comfortable as possible, even in the midst of storms. It is very difficult for them to understand why there would be change in eating routines, bath times and other routine parts of the day.

Other stresses include sirens, flashing lights and rapidly rushing vehicles.

I recall that when my friend would spot an oncoming emergency vehicle, he would often divert to another street or route to avoid an encounter that was extremely irritating to his brother.

Of course, in more serious health problems, loss of electricity can quickly interfere with breathing, purifying machines or other health habits that totally depend on the use of electricity for their function.

It is a natural reaction after a storm such as we had to mourn the loss of shingles, parts of our home structure, and the inconvenience of cleaning limbs and leaves off of our cars and sidewalks. Loss of electricity can mean the interruption of conveniences or worse, the destruction of food in our refrigerators.

However, to the neighbor across the street, it could mean that a caretaker is quickly taking various measures to improve the lives of mentally and physically handicapped. It is a time when we might consider praying for situations well beyond us, situations that could take quick thinking of caregivers and cause annoying interruptions to those who can’t fully understand what is happening in the first place.

 
Unsung heroes PDF Print E-mail

One of the most special moments of my life occurred in my mother’s room at a local nursing home just a couple of weeks before she passed away. As was the case several times a week, I stopped in to check on her. There, to my deep appreciation, was a hospice volunteer singing to her and reading to her from the Bible.

At that point, I’m not positive how much she was taking in, but the peaceful look on her face gave me so much peace in my own heart.

When the volunteer saw me, she said, “Can you wait outside for a few moments, I would like to do something.”

I stepped down the hall to visit with some other residents. Within about 15 minutes, I was called back to my mother’s room. When I stepped back into her room, tears welled up in my eyes.

 
Community Fiber PDF Print E-mail

If fiber is a food that gives strength to our physical well-being, then community fiber represents a coming together that brings strength to the meaning of those who live together in that entity.

Once again the miracle of “community osmosis” proved its reality in the small towns of our county during this past week’s storm recovery experiences.

I was raised in a small village where people would collect money for a family that lost their home to a tragic fire before the firemen had the fire extinguished. When someone came home after a hospital stay, cars would line the driveway with people bringing food and supplies to the family that was affected. I have always been proud of the way the small towns in my life have stepped up to take care of their own during difficult times.

 
Progress or regress, storm tells the story PDF Print E-mail

This past weekend I stopped to visit with an Amish friend and purchase some delicious baked goods. We were joking about the affects of power outages from Friday’s massive storm. Jokingly she said to me, “We didn’t have to change anything. We were already prepared.”

I laughed and also recalled a different time and era when we were much more prepared for power outages than we are now.

In small Ceylon where I was raised, in the summer, food was as close as walking out the door. The garden, full of vegetables, was on the east side of the property and the orchards of apples, cherries, pear trees, grapes, strawberry patch, raspberries and rest of our fruit was even closer to the house.

 
Never take things for granted PDF Print E-mail

Isn’t it amazing how much difference a little can make when you haven’t had any?

Late last week, several spots in the county received the first rain drops received in several weeks. When the first drops started to fall, people came out to the sidewalks and from their homes to experience refreshing wetness and smell that has eluded us most of the summer.

I was driving in the country when the first big drops started splashing against my windshield. At first, I soaked in the pleasure so much that I refused to turn on the wipers but eventually that had to change. Still, the sound of the swishing wipers almost seemed like a novelty again.

 
The coin game PDF Print E-mail

It has been 22 years since my lifelong buddy, Meredith Sprunger, experienced one of the most faith-building journeys of his lifetime.

It all began the day school left out in at the middle school where he taught eighth grade history near Marion, Ind.

He left school and stopped to purchase gas for his automobile. As he was walking from the car to the station to pay for purchase, he noticed a penny laying on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.

One thing about Meredith that I always appreciated was that he bent towards conserving anything in sight, rubber bands, paper clips, pencils, ball point pens and stray coins. He never passed any retrievable item of value, regardless of how meager its worth, because he believed that the “big picture” was a huge savings if he were to consider the total accumulation of recovered valuables.

 
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