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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I love the Gruners!

As you may have read, we love going to the Nursing Home.
Going to Crestview has become one of our highlights for the week.
I love it, and the kids really love it too!!!
We have made so many friends there. They love my kids! They light up when they see them! Some of them have amazing stories to tell. Some were teachers for 50 years.
I want to sit and listen for hours about that.
Many fought in World War II.
They have lived through poverty that our generation can't imagine.
They have pictures in their rooms that look like they're straight out of "The Notebook."
Some were parents of 9 kids.
Some were Sunday school teachers for 50+ years.
It's just an untapped reservoir of knowledge, experience, and life over there.
They will tell you they feel useless and are living without purpose.
But they are such a blessing to us! We started going to bless them, but they undoubtedly bless us more.
James 1:26-27
27 Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

I realized a while back that Rusty and I were obviously involved in caring for orphans. You can read all about that on this blog. But what was I doing for the widow? Or the elderly who had been cast aside by our culture?
So we made time to start hanging out with the old folks...and voila! I met...

The Gruners! Ken and Joyce. They are the bomb.
I adore these people! Seriously! I want to be them when Rusty and I get old. They are still so in love, and I told Mrs. Gruner that I wanted to have hair like her's when I'm old. She doesn't have the blue-hair-permed-do, ya know? I really want to avoid that!
We have been visiting them regularly for months now, and have enjoyed them so much!
They take delight in my children, let them crawl up on the bed with her, mess up their room, and tell them they love them all the time.
Have you noticed this about old people? They are quick to tell you they love you, and are a little more honest. I guess you realize by the end of your life that those things are important.
Mr. Gruner tells us what it was like in World War II. Mrs. Gruner tells me what it was like when she was left behind with a baby and had to go to work. No one could get gas for their cars, so she had to go to work each day on a bike, with her baby in the basket on the front!!! Can you imagine?
They rented a garage apartment for $20/month.
They tell me things like "Whatever you do, don't invite the whole first grade class over for a birthday party! We learned that the hard way!"
or "I would have had a yard full of them (kids) if I could have afforded them!"
For Martin Luther King Day, we interviewed them about what it was like as Christians to live through the days when racism and discrimination was at it's height. They were very honest, heart-broken, and sober.
I so look forward to these talks with them!
Yesterday was Mrs. Gruner's birthday. She turned 85. We have had it marked on our calendar for over a month.
So we took a party to her! She hasn't been able to get out of bed for months. She has MS, but is really debilitated by bed sores. However, she rarely complains. She loves the Lord, and she is such a shining example of joy despite her circumstances.
She lives on the Nursing floor, but Mr. Gruner has to live in the assisted living area. So they are in separate rooms. They've been married for 68 years, but can no longer sleep in the same room! So sad!
However, he spends every waking moment in her room, no exaggeration.
He cares for her night and day. He refers to he always as his beautiful bride, or "my Joycey." They are so cute together!
We brought pizza, ice cream, a birthday banner, birthday napkins, and a pack of cards. The kids crawled up on her bed and played UNO with her. How fun is that? She was totally into it.

They said it was a birthday they would never forget. Me neither.
The Gruners already know and love the Lord. They're super worn and torn Bible is always nearby. But there are many people there who don't know the Lord.
As Rusty says "It's final exam time" for them.
My heart is fixed on sharing Jesus with them. They need to know Him before it's too late! The kids and I pray for opportunities to be bold and share Christ with them. I think most importantly, we have built a repore with the residents there in that we keep coming back. There are many drop-in one time visitors, especially around the holidays, but the residents just go on and on, like when we delivered valentines to all of them last week, about what it means to be thought of and remembered. They appreciate it so much!
If anyone is interested in visiting with us, let me know. We have more people to visit than we can possibly do each week. They each deserve more one-on-one time with someone. I would like to bring a birthday party to all of them!
And you can come by and meet the Gruners. Did I mention I love them!?


Leslie Moore said...

Wow! They are precious! The Gruner's should probably have their own section in the Countdown curriculum! Over 60 years of marriage, wow! I would love to meet them sometime! I'm always convicted (and rarely follow through) about investing in older people, especially those confined to the nursing home. I had to see all of my great-grandparents spend their last days in the nursing home, and it was incredibly hard to see those who didn't have families look with envy when my family came to visit.

The Roberts' said...

i want to go! they just seem like the sweetest couple ever!

Brenda said...

I've never written a comment before but have read your stories every day and this one touched me so much.(I'm Matt Mosier's Mom and Erin's Mother-In-Law, Love those kids so much). You are such an amazing person to spend time with older people and have your kids spend time with them. It is so valuable and such a rewarding experience and so appreciated by so many. I only wish more people appreciated the heritage, stories and love of our eldest population.

Anonymous said...

I love this story!!! And I love spending time with the elderly :) My mom's neighbor is the sweetest woman ever - remind me to tell you the coolest story about her one day! If I was there, you KNOW I'd be tagging along! I know everyone there loves to share their hearts with you and enjoys the heck out of your gorgeous kiddos! Love you!

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

I wish I could go with all of you . . . sniff.

May I just say that one of the greatest things about this post is how it spurs others on. I didn't read the post and think about how awful I am for not being a regular visitor to the elderly. Instead I thought, "I want to DO that!!" I love that about your posts. Encouraging. Moving others to action. Joyful. Lovely.

Jennifer Bacak said...

I'm so glad to hear that Meg! Because I would hate to make someone feel that way! But I do love sharing our lives with you, and what God is doing and teaching us. I feel blessed that I don't have to work during the day, and that the kids and I can do things like this!
Thanks for keeping up with us Meg! I love and miss you!