I was in the eleventh grade when I learned exactly how a proper place setting should look.  We were preparing for our Junior-Senior Banquet.  To insure that we all knew how to use the correct forks and spoons, it was part of our curriculum in all English classes to learn how to set a table. 

I was pleased to see that my mother knew how to set a table correctly.  I had questioned her abilities because she was a “country girl” and some of the more “sophisticated” mothers of my friends put the forks, knives and spoons on the wrong sides.

From that time, I attempted to set our table correctly.  Today, I began to muse why setting the table properly in our home was important to me.  There were probably several reasons.  Yet, perhaps the most important one came from something that my mother said to me as I was reaching my teen years.

She was a Stanley Home Products dealer and I often rode with her when she made her Saturday deliveries.  I didn’t get candy or Cokes when I went with Mother, like I did when traveling with my dad but I got much more.  I got to be with Mother alone–all to myself. 

 One Saturday, she pulled up to an extremely small home that was positioned in the back of a large fenced lot.  I thought nothing about the house but my mother said as she got out of the car, “Look at this house.  The lady who lives here is poor, dirt poor, but she and her husband keep everything neat and clean.”

As she loaded her arms with the box of items that had been purchased, she said, “Linda, always remember, you may not ever be rich; but you don’t ever have to be lazy and dirty.  You can always live with dignity, no matter how much money you have.” 

I sat in the car as Mom visited with the family; and I never saw the woman about whom my mother spoke.  But she had a profound effect on me.  I always tried to live up to the level of that unseen and unknown lady who lived in dignity in the tiny, white house inside a large, fenced yard.

One day as a group of her staff sat at lunch, an agency head said, “I love working with mentally challenged people because they struggle to make themselves better.  They are never satisfied with the status quo.”

Of course, that is a generalization.  However, it is a pretty accurate accessment of the population in general.  It’s the little things, like Sam who comes to church each week in a suit and tie.  Perky Annie who can do more with her one arm that is works than most people who have both functioning arms. 

Their bravery and dignity are a great example to me.  I delight in looking at them as they interact with each other and play silly games.  For me, they are the church in action.  They are using the few assets they have and allowing God to magnify them for his glory.

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