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“Food is My Poison”

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Hot Letter Abe

I’ve heard of this practice before and have even written a “hot letter” myself, but I never would have expected to hear that good ole’ Abe (President Abraham Lincoln) made a habit of doing so!

Illustration by Jason Stout

I recently finish reading Incarnate by Michael Frost, where he points out that Lincoln was a great leader primarily for his non-anxious presence among others. Often quoted for saying “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends,” Lincoln had a way of being patient with people of differing views.

Frost notes that, in order to curb his negative emotions, Lincoln would write “a ‘hot letter’ to the individual he was angry with, and then he would set the letter aside and not send it. If he did lose his temper, Lincoln would follow up with a kind gesture or letter to let the individual know he was not holding a grudge.” (Incarnate, pg. 202)

Knowing that Lincoln had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I wonder if his non-anxious presence was in fact a reflection of the fruits of the Spirit working in and through his life, particularly forbearance, self-control, kindness, and well, we might want to place them all on the table! I also wonder how better off we’d all be if we were to adopt the “hot letter” habit when something or someone made us mad, then jump right back into the relationship in pure love.

Until next time, Rage on paper, not toward each other…

Even Male Nurses Need a Place to Sleep

Male nurses are an interesting subject to discuss, especially these days. However, I want to point out a story of one particular male nurse in the American Civil War who deserved to lay his head somewhere.

Interior of a ward of Washington D.C.’s Harewood General Hospital in 1864.

Union officer David Lane served as a nurse for a time in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He provided care for up to 30 men in his ward, along with the help of 5 other nurses as he writes in his diary entry on January 5, 1864. That was not the problem though, since only two of the recovering party could not take care of themselves. The issue laid (no pun intended, well maybe…) with the sleeping arrangements (or lack there of) for the nurses.

There was literally no place for these nurses to sleep, unless you count the floor that they laid on amidst their sick. They would even go to another part of the hospital, like that of a holding area for men about to be sent back to duty, in order to warm themselves by the mean fires kept there. Such was the case of Mr. Lane, until a new surgeon relieved their ward.

Side Note Question: Can you imagine constantly hanging around your place of bidness, because you have no where else to go to stay warm or sleep!?!

One morning the surgeon, a new arrival and a stranger to me, noticed me standing by the fire, and thought from my appearance I was fit for duty.

“To what regiment do you belong?” “The Seventeenth Michigan, sir.”

“How long have you been here?” “About six weeks.”

“What are you doing?” “Nursing.” “Where?” “In the first ward.”

“What business have you here, then?” “No business, only to warm myself. It is rather cold standing in the street today, when off duty.”

“What, have the nurses no place to stay?” “No, sir; they are as poor as was the Son of Man; they have no place to lay their heads.”

This surgeon was Dr. Cogswell, of the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, who had lately relieved Dr. Fox. In a few minutes I was notified this pleasant room was at our disposal. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

I am simply amazed by Mr. Lane. Not only was he completely honest about his situation, but I get the sense that he was humble in his attitude toward his circumstances. I don’t know if I could say that I’d not have a sense of entitlement were I in such a predicament. Even those who serve need to be served themselves! Yet, Lane was humble.

Furthermore, David Lane served others as Jesus Christ, living out his faith so much so that he identified his service and position in life with that of his Savior. May this story be to me and you a testimony of the Son of Man alive in us, as we come also to serve and not be served in our place of work, vocation, or otherwise.

Until next time, Serve & Sleep well…

Received Packages are Sweet, Even If Opened Later

I received a package today and, as usual, had to wait to open it. The surprise of discovering what lies inside excites me. Having to wait to open it just makes the anticipation grow all the more. Even if it’s a present for someone else, like today’s was (we’ve done a majority of our Christmas shopping online this year; Amazon Prime baby!), I’m thrilled just knowing that someone I care for deeply will soon open a wrapped present this Christmas and receive the gift with wonder and joy.

Jenkin Lloyd Jones of the 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery, received a package from home on August 28, 1863. Jones had to wait to open his package on account of rain. Here’s how it went down:

Fine day. Just before dinner I was informed that there was a box for me at the express office… Found it “a good large one,” but just as I got in the wagon it commenced raining, and did rain all the way back, giving us as good a wetting as ever a soldier had… Obliged to lay the box away for two hours before the storm abated so as to open it… But at last it stopped and we found lots of good things, butter, cake, dried fruit, cheese, etc. Much obliged to you. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

When you’re fighting in the American Civil War, miles and miles from the ones you love, received packages from home are oh so sweet. Jones must have sat pondering for two straight hours what was in that box. Perhaps that added to his gratitude when he discovered the thoughtful and even literally sweet contents found inside from the ones who love him.

Many of us will be receiving gifts this Advent / Christmas season. Whether big or small, what you hoped for or not, I hope that each one is as dear to you as the one Jenkins Jones received in love. Perhaps its just the pastor in me, but please do take the time to reflect upon Jesus Christ amidst every gift you get this Christmas. He is the sweetest gift you can ever receive from God, or anyone else for that matter; for he too was given in love, from the very One who is love.

Until next time, Anticipate gifts of love…