Monday, May 09, 2011

POster "Girl" for HOPE

When my dad worked as a minister just south of Houston, they met a woman in the congregation named Minnie Miner, not her maiden name. With her double M names it seems that she ought to be a poster girl for something. As her story unfolded for me over the years, I finally understood that she is indeed just that. She is a poster girl for H-O-P-E.

Last year, Minnie passed the milestone of 100 years of age, and I learned more about her life from her friend’s letter written to honor Minnie. When I first met Minnie she was 80 and had the energy of women half her age. A sad part of her history includes the year 1958. When she was only 48, her dear husband died inside their home. That first night she couldn’t make herself sleep inside. His presence seemed everywhere, so she slept in their car for one night.

After a year of deep sorrow, she knew the only way to step away from her sadness was to invest in the lives of others. Never shy, and having performed on the organ and piano, she made plans to cheer people up who were going through rough times.

She bought yards of white furry fabric, and without a pattern, she constructed a bunny suit, complete with a cotton tail and large pink ears. She found a job to support herself, and she often took the bunny suit to work with her, and didn’t go home until later in the evenings. Driving around Houston and Baytown in her pink Rambler, she visited shut-ins and the sick. She felt the gloom lifting from her life. Although she’d always miss the love of her life, she found a new passion for living.

Straight from work, she visited nursing homes. At other times she wowed the children at MD Anderson and other hospitals, schools, and doctors’ and dentists’ offices. For 26 years that bunny suit, and later also a Santa suit, helped her warm the hearts of the hurting. Mark Devon with “The Lake Travis View” interviewed Minnie last year close to her 100th birthday, and she said her daily goal was “to make one person happy.”

Her jovial spirit found her winning the “Miss Congeniality” title in the Miss Texas Senior pageant when she was 79. Minnie continued to work well into her 90s, and now lives in the Austin area with her daughter and family.

Back to thoughts about Minnie Miner as a poster girl for “Hope.” Her spirit of resolve to overcome misfortune and invest in others didn’t come from Minnie. That hope sprang from the heart of her risen Savior, poured out into her life. She’s not shy about her love for the Lord.

When Jesus walked this earth, his continuous message was one of loving our fellowman, and making things better for others in life, and he supplied all needed for his followers to do this. Through their witnessing of his powerful miracles, they knew that Jesus offered genuine help to overcome small problems and even death itself.

I am especially drawn to one biblical scene near the streets of Nain (means pleasant or green pastures). When Jesus and his disciples approached the city gate, they met a funeral procession and a large crowd of people carrying out the only son of a widowed woman. “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry” (Luke 7:13).

When we see funeral processions driving toward us, we pull over, we wait. We show respect for the mourners by stopping our lives for a few minutes. But we can do nothing about the life that has passed. Jesus’ words were legitimate because he alone had authority over death, and the power to return her son’s life-breath.

Undoubtedly, Jesus had seen many funeral processions, but this time he intervened for the widowed woman, he intervened for those standing there that day, he intervened so we’d have this accounting of his power over death. He touched the coffin and those carrying it stopped. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

And he did! Utterly amazing.

This spring, on church signs, in yards, and in greetings we see and hear the words, “He is risen.” They express confessions of belief that Jesus returned to life after his death by crucifixion. They express awe that Jesus intervenes in our everyday lives, and that he will raise us up at the appropriate hour, known only to God.

Minnie’s story. Your story. My story. They all include miracles of birth and the power of rebirth into the awesome arena of Jesus Christ. Like Minnie we can be poster people for hope, the hope found in trusting and obeying our Lord.

Happy Easter because the story of Easter spells H-O-P-E.

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