August 27, 2014

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Jim Langham

Simple honest prayers are often most profound PDF Print E-mail

By Jim Langham

I will never forget my mother’s description of my dad’s first prayer, as she recalled it. My dad, you see, had at one point participated in his share of drinking and “less than Christian” living, as I was told. In fact, there was a point, so said my mother, that she was going to break off the relationship, not because he wasn’t good to her, but she wasn’t going to put up with his lifestyle at the time.

Then, one night, following an evening with her, he decided he was going to do something to change things around. So he drove into the country, sat on the hood of his car, looked at the stars, and said so sincerely, “Okay, Whoever You are, wherever You are, I need You!” Miraculously, he went back to his apartment, poured out his alcohol, and it was done, forever, done.

My search for a red wagon PDF Print E-mail

My search for a red wagon

It was one day last week, when I decided to leave my current world of reality and enter a search that I knew would make a good friend very happy if I hit paydirt.

When I left, due to the nature of the request, I felt that the chances of coming up with a red wagon like I used to ride around in my childhood, were less than spectacular.

I will never forget what seems like a lifetime ago, that I arrived home and discovered a beautiful red “coaster wagon,” as we referred to them, sitting on our property, ready for the ride. Over the years, it became a vehicle to ride leisurely around our neighborhood.

Recently, a good friend asked if I knew where to get such a wagon. She was looking for one because she had an idea of piling pumpkins in such a wagon and use it for decoration for the fall season in the front of her home.

My first stop was at the business of a close friend where I spotted a red wagon behind her floral shop. Since she had one, I thought that she might know where I could get one.

However, upon inquiring, I found that her treasure had come from an antique shop during covered bridge days in a small town nearly 100 miles away in western Indiana.

Ironically, her business is located across the old railroad bed from the small town where I was raised. The small town where I rode the wagon and used it to deliver vegetables to neighbors. Deep inside, I thought, “Wow, if I could come up with a wagon by my own old home place, that would be awesome.” However, the concept seemed too good to dream of, so I started searching through area antique shops. My journey led to an antique mall where I was told the chances would be good.

The entire search was to no avail, so I started back from my illusive search for the little red treasure.

Presently, the thought of discovering a wagon in the little country hamlet where I was raised wouldn’t escape me. I knew that if I didn’t at least make a drive-through search, I wouldn’t be satisfied.

I made the first turn to the north which led to the corner where I was raised. Now I was driving in an area that triggered 60-year-old wagon memories that I hadn’t thought of in years.

By Jim Langham

Presently, I crept past the old home place, allowing myself time to “return” for a few short moments before slowly continuing down the street.

I approached the house where my uncle and aunt had lived, just a few hundred feet from where I was raised. I passed the house, glanced toward the garage, and my eyes couldn’t believe what they saw.

There, sitting against the house was a red wagon just like I had driven. It was located on the property where I had ridden my wagon and 200 feet from the home where my beloved friend, Mert Sprunger, lived. It was there in the neighborhood where my actual wagon experiences had occurred.

With chills and hopes, I pulled into the driveway and went to the door. An elderly lady came to the door and I said, “Is that wagon for sale?”

Supper was family time PDF Print E-mail

By Jim Langham

Recently at an auction, an old dinner bell was one of the first items to sell and it sold at a hefty price. At first the property owner was amazed at the going price for the old relic, but then we started to reflect on the topic of,“suppertime,” and the realization of its value became more obvious.

At our little country home, suppertime around the old wooden table was absolutely the highlight of our family dynamics for the day. My grandmother would sit on one end and my father on the other. Then my mother and I would fit in between.

While it doesn’t take long to recall the aroma of fresh hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes and home made bread, the alluring smell of hot apple pie and sundry other goodies of our kitchen, the real value of supper at our place was the opportunity to gather as a family to visit.

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.


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