Jewels

by Faith Kelley

We met a few months ago in the nursing home lounge, Jewel and I.  Several ladies from our Sunday school class stop in for an hour each Monday morning to sing the old hymns, pray and visit with the residents who gather together in a wide semicircle of wheelchairs and couches.  The little birds in the aviary flutter happily and join their chirpy little voices to our music.  To the sweet strum of the dulcimer, a violin tunes in, and occasionally the piano picks up the tempo as we raise our voices together in praise to our Lord with these amazing people.  They each have a story.  They love to talk about their childhood, homes, family, favorite food, and they have many needs, physical, emotional, mental, material. But for one hour on Mondays, we share one another’s burdens and seek consolation in each other’s company.

Jewel often dozed in her chair, but she had come to know my voice, and would rouse up to greet me with her beatific smile and her soft southern drawl. We talked of how “bad” she was when she was a little girl, and how she loved her sisters and their children and her little house.  She mourned having to give up her home, and the loss of her leg to disease, and her failed eyesight. But oh, she loved the Bible stories nestled in “On the Wings of a Dove” – she told me how Noah had let a dove out of the ark after the flood, and how a dove had settled on Jesus’ shoulder at His baptism, and how as she grows weak and troubles surround her, she knows God doesn’t forget her; He sends down His pure, sweet love on the wings of a dove.

I told Jewel that I have a friend named Precious Jewel, and that was how I thought of her.  She often came to my mind during the week, and I prayed for her.  I sang her that wonderful children’s song I learned when I was young.  She had never heard it before, and so I sang it to her often:

“Little children, little children, who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown.”

We talked about how she was Jesus’ Precious Jewel, that He loved her and would never leave or forsake her, and that she could talk to Him during the long silent nights and the dark and dreary days.  Some weeks ago she no longer joined our sing time. She lay in her bed and told me how sad she was, how she could no longer keep even a sip of water down, but she loved to hear “her” song and I held her hand and asked Jesus to look down upon His daughter and give her His peace.

After Christmas, I looked for Jewel, but she was no longer there. She had risen in the arms of Jesus and is now rejoicing as she looks into His face and walks those streets of gold to her new Home!  How I thank God for the privilege of getting to know her and a little bit of her story.  She brightened my life with her wide smile and her quiet spirit. There are many more to know: Connie who knits, Gerald who reminds me of my dad, David who sleeps in his wheelchair, Coral who sings from her heart, Patricia who knows all the hymns because she was once a church pianist, and so many more dear ones.  Every one,

“He will gather, He will gather the gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown.”

Words: William O. Cushing, 1856/Music: George F. Root, 1866

Would you consider visiting in a nursing home where you already know someone, and reach out to include others in a ministry of friendship, encouragement and care? Or maybe you could commit to pray for the residents and the caregivers in the many nursing facilities in our city? If you want to join our Monday Morning Hymn Sing at Sherwood Manor contact Shelli Pleasant at FUMC:  918.592.3862, ext. 1110.

The middle one of 5 sisters, Faith had a carefree childhood and learned early of her need for a Savior.  She studied Bible & Ministry of Church Music in college where she met Jim Kelley.  In 1982 they moved from his hometown in Illinois to Broken Arrow where Jim has worked as a homebuilder and remodeler.  They have four children and 7 grandchildren.  Currently Faith is taking violin lessons and working part-time in the U.S. development office for Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary.  She enjoys reading, writing, music, and poetry.

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