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A Handbook for Nursing Home (LTC) Ministry - 5th Edition

Poems - Section 12

Christian poetry holds a special place in the hearts of many residents of care facilities. The following works of art include poems for use in "Church Services" or activities in nursing homes. Some are appropriate for volunteer recruitment events, some are good for long-term care residents, and some are there just for your reflection. Please use them liberally, and as you see fit.

When you share the poems, we encourage you to read them aloud. Practice, if you need to, so that you will not sound sing-songy, mispronounce words or misinterpret the meaning of a line. For best results, your reading should reflect the care the author originally put in the poem's composition.

Needless to say, this compilation is by no means comprehensive. You will find great poetry in old hymnbooks. Sometimes, reading a hymn will help bring out the meaning behind the wonderful, familiar tune. Though far too few, in our opinion, you may find Christian poetry books in your local Christian bookstore. The Salesian Missions series of Christian poetry books and pamphlets is a great resource at a reasonable price. You can contact them at Salesian Missions Publications, 2 Lefevre Lane, New Rochelle, New York 10801-5710.  Issues of The Journal for Jesus' Sheep, a free, periodic publication of Christian poetry published by Christian Concourse Ministries, Inc., is another resource for poetry.

Also, please remember this: some care facility residents are people of high educational backgrounds with an excellent, wholesome taste for poetry. These residents would love to hear great poetry they read and studied in the past. There are vast amounts of classic inspirational poetry to be found in most general poetry anthologies. Of course, the exercise of good judgment and discretion is a must.


Copyright note: Some of these poems are copyrighted by their respective author and are reprinted here with their permission. In this case, the claim to copyright is noted with the work and these poems are excluded from our permission for you to copy them for ministry use.



I'm Fine, Thank You!

Author unknown, copied from Sonshine Society materials


There is nothing the matter with me
    I'm as healthy as I can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees,
    And when I talk I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, and my blood is thin,
    But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
Arch supports I have for my feet,
    Or I wouldn't be able to be on the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
    But every morning I find I'm all right.
My memory is failing, my head's in a spin
    But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
How do I know that my youth is all spent?
    Well, my "get up and go" has got up and went!
But I really don't mind when I think again
    Of all the grand places that my "get up" has been.
Old age is golden, I've heard it said,
    But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed,
With my ears in the drawer, my teeth in a cup,
    My eyes on the table until I wake up,
Ere sleep overtakes me, I say to myself,
    "Is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?"
I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
    And pick up the paper and read the "Obits".
If my name is missing, I know I'm not dead,
    So I have a good breakfast and go back to bed!



Little Ones of the Master

by Jerry Johnson


I had the honor of getting to know a dear sweet lady a few years ago. Though a precious, weathered saint of God, she never preached great flowery sermons; never won a city full of heathens to Jesus; she never impressed anyone that I know of with being all that spiritually mighty. But what I learned from knowing her was God's perspective of His little children. He doesn't keep score the way we do...He's looking on the heart. No one took note as she faithfully read her little devotional book and kneeled beside her bed most every morning for fifty years to ask God to somehow get her through each day. She was never the Bible teacher at church; she always went to learn. But the Lord gave me the honor of seeing into this magnanimous soul. There I found a rare, solid-iron, death-defying faith in her Savior. The time came for me to stand, shocked, beside what I knew to be her deathbed. I asked God what I could say. I felt He didn't want ME to say anything. I asked HIM what HE wanted to say. He replied in His tender way to my heart, "Suffer my little child to come unto me." I wrote this poem that night.


They're precious, innocent, trusting, sublime:
Little ones of the Master,
Unaged by the passing of time.
Believing beyond any hope of reason:
Little ones of the Master,
Warmed from within, this winter season.

Passing their mem'ries, their faults and cares,
Little ones of the Master
Feel pain only their Father shares.

A moment's suffering a lifetime long,
Little Ones of the Master
Bear their cross with a silent song.

Touching everyone, holding no one firm,
Little ones of the Master
Lean on Him their hopes to confirm.

Wordless, they defy the doubts of mankind:
Little ones of the Master
Are a shout of eternal rhyme!

Bold at the threshold of Destiny's door:
Little ones of the Master,
Childlike, embark from mortal shore;

For they, most clearly, hear the call from across the sea
To the little ones of the Master:
"Suffer My little children to come unto me."


Copyright © 1995 Gerald T. Johnson All Rights Reserved.



A Dear Old Dame

Adapted by Herm Haakenson - Author Unknown


In yesteryear when things moved slow
And life was simple here below,
There lived nearby a country town
A dear old dame named Betty Brown.

She had not much, but anyhow
She got along, she and her cow,
This bovine beast could oft annoy
But still was Betty's pride and joy.

On Sundays it was off to town
In feathered hat and finest gown,
She loved God's word and naught would do
But Sunday find her in her pew.

She loved to hear the pastor preach
And listened breathless when he'd teach
But the thing that really made her day
Was when she'd hear her pastor pray.

His words of warning and earnest pleas
Could bring a sinner to his knees
But the crowning moment of Betty's day
Was when the pastor said, "Let's pray."

When strangers she would chance to meet
While walking down her hometown street
She'd smile, greet them, and always say,
"Come, hear my pastor preach and pray."

One wild and windy winter night
Poor Betty's heart was filled with fright.
Her cow got tangled in her rope,
Almost strangled, little hope!

She called her pastor, the good man came
Wishing to please this dear old dame.
He viewed the scene that before him lay,
While Betty pleaded, "Pastor, pray!"

Now Pastor knew not what to do,
Praying for cows was something new,
But as she put him to the test
He promised her he'd do his best.

He closed his eyes and bent his head
And these are the words the pastor said:
"You poor old beast, you look so bad
And your poor old Mrs. looks so sad.
If you live, you live; if you die, you do,
And that will be the end of you."

The pastor left, the cow got well
And ever after Betty would tell
Of that winter night, explaining how
Her pastor's prayer had saved that cow.

Time marched on and then one day
No pastor at church - to Betty's dismay!
He had an abscess, very bad,
Poor old Betty, felt so sad.

She made her way to Pastor's house,
Where she was met by Pastor's spouse,
Who led the way to Pastor's bed
Where Betty grasped his hand and said,

"Oh, Pastor, I remember now
When I needed you for my sick cow,
I never really learned to pray
But I learned the words you said that day.

"They worked for my cow and saw her thru
I'd like to say them now for you."
She cleared her throat and bent her head
And these are the words that Betty said,

"You poor old beast, you look so bad
Your poor old Mrs. looks so sad.
If you live, you live - if you die, you do,
And that will be the end of you!"

A chuckle started in his belly
His whole frame shook like a bowl of jelly.
He laughed until he thought he'd choke
And all at once his abscess broke!

Betty left - Pastor got well
And ever after he would tell
How in his hour of pain and strife
Betty's prayer had saved his life!



 A Young Girl Still Dwells

Copied from Focus On The Family magazine, Sep. 1985.


This poem was written by a woman who died in the geriatric ward of Ashludie Hospital near Dunde, England. It was found among her possessions and so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. It is addressed to the nurses who surrounded the woman in her last days. But because it cries for recognition of a common humanity, it could have been written to all of us.


What do you see, nurse, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you look at me -
A crabbed old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit with far away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice - "I do wish you'd try."
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who resisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still.
As I move at your bidding, eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another;

A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet.
Dreaming that soon a love she'll meet;

A bride at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;

At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound together with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown up and gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.

At fifty once more babies play round my knee -
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel,
'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.
There is a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now again my bittered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurse, open and see
Not a crabbed old woman,

Look closer - see me!



You Say I Have No Choices?

by Jerry Johnson


A few years ago I attended a meeting related to care facility work, and the young speaker made the comment that she had no intention of ever living in a nursing home. Her reasoning was that all of a person's choices are taken away when they go through the doors of the facility. At that moment, a vision burst into my mind of so many of the nursing home residents whom I have come to know and love in the course of my ministry. They feel all of their losses deeply, but they maintain their high character and grace, even in the worst of circumstances. Invariably, I find that their strength lies in the many years they have labored faithfully for the Lord. As the speaker made her point, the first few lines of this poem began to flow in my mind. While she continued her speech, I quickly penned this poem to honor these sweet, faithful Christians.

It is the cry of my heart to see the Christian community . . . all Christians . . . take up their responsibility and do their part to encourage and strengthen the hands of these precious saints now living in care facilities, often forgotten by the religious public.

I don't set my own alarm clock,
    Haven't seen it for many days.
The open curtain at my window
    Lets in unwanted rays.
I guess my roommate is a sweetie
    But she sure does have her ways.
I've forgotten my dear home address:
    Good memories now a haze.
A lotta neat people pop in to visit
    But no one ever stays.
No need to fuss about the noise at night,
    I found it never pays;
And the rigmarole to get my prune juice
    Is a daily, tangled maze.

Oh yes! I let go of many things:
    Choices . . . and control of my own fate!
But there's choices I won't surrender
    In this lonely, forgotten state:

I choose to keep my smiling face:
    Won't let depression take my heart.
I'll pray for the crying souls at night:
    While nurses struggle I can do my part.
When my children call, I'll make small talk
    When they don't have much to say;
I'll make them laugh and giggle;
    I'll understand when they cannot stay.
I'll choose to keep my patience
    When the shower is too cold.
I'll not complain or grumble
    When the burger's three days old.
I'll talk to poor Miss Sally in the hall
    Though she never talks to me.
I'll wait with a real sweet smile for that nurse
    Who comes so grudgingly.

And, so don't you see . . . . . ?

I still have my choices!
    This power you cannot take.
My attitude is still mine to mold . . .
    And I'll mold it for Heaven's Sake


Copyright © 1995 Gerald T. Johnson All Rights Reserved.



The Morning is Still Dawning Now

by Jerry Johnson


I stand, quivering child, and peer
Into this sea of loss and fear
To strain my eye, "Oh, are You near?"
Your voice would soothe my longing ear:
Strength to my doubt, a blot to my tear.

'Tis stronger than life this loss that I feel
Though no open wound, no less to me real.
How I need your touch my pain to heal!

Look! I can see you, coming...there!
I hear your comfort, I feel your care...
...As my friend bows for me in prayer
My tear, my loss, my wound to share.

Thus, I know you feel the pain I bear:
A dear friend's love has made it clear:
You, too, know the loss of one held dear:
You lost your Son when He was here.

But, though gone He did not stay away.
You raised Him up on that third day.
And in my heart I can see somehow,
That resurrection morning is still dawning now;

For my hope is resting solid in You
That my loss now is but temporary, too!


Copyright © 1995 Gerald T. Johnson All Rights Reserved.




by Nelta Brock


I knelt to pray when day was done
And prayed, "O Lord, bless everyone,
Lift from each saddened heart the pain
And let the sick be well again."

And then I woke another day
And carelessly went upon my way,
The whole day long I did not try
To wipe a tear from any eye.
I did not try to share the load
Of any brother on the road.
I did not even go to see
The sick man just next door to me.

Yet once again when day was done I prayed,
"O Lord, bless everyone."

But as I prayed, into my ear
There came a voice that whispered clear,
"Pause now, my son, before you pray.
Whom have you tried to bless today?
God's sweetest blessings always go
By hands that serve him here below."

And then I hid my face and cried,
"Forgive me, God, I have not tired.
But let me live another day
And I will live the way I pray."



I'm a Senior Citizen

 Author Unknown (from the website of the Christian Association of Senior Adults, )


I'm the life of the party...even when it lasts until 8 p.m.
I'm very good at opening child-proof caps with a hammer.
I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I'm going.
I'm good on a trip for at least an hour without my aspirin, beano and antacid.
I'm the first one to find the bathroom wherever I go.
I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.
I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a word you are saying.
I'm very good at telling stories...over and over and over and over.
I'm aware that other people's grandchildren are not as bright as mine.
I'm so cared for: long-term care, eye care, private care, dental care....
I'm not grouchy, I just don't like traffic, waiting, crowds, children, politicians....
I'm positive I did housework correctly before my mate retired.
I'm sure everything I can't find is in a secure place.
I'm wrinkled, saggy and lumpy, and that's just my left leg.
I'm having trouble remembering simple words like....
I'm now spending more time with my pillows than with my mate.
I'm realizing that aging is not for sissies.
I'm anti-everything now: anti-fat, anti-smoke, anti-noise, anti-inflammation....
I'm walking more (to the bathroom) and enjoying it less.
I'm sure they are making adults much younger these days.
I'm in the initial state of my golden years: SS, CDs, IRAs, AARP....
I'm wondering...if you're only as old as you feel, how could I be alive at 135?
I'm supporting all movements eating bran, prunes and raisins.
I'm a walking storeroom of facts...I've just lost the storeroom.
I'm a Senior Citizen and I think I am having the time of my life!



Prescription For A Laugh

Author unknown


Just a line to say I'm living
That I'm not among the dead,
Though I'm getting more forgetful
And more mixed up in the head.
For sometimes I can't remember
When I stand at the foot of the stairs
If I must go up for something,
Or I've just come down from there.
Standing before the frig' so often
My poor mind is filled with doubt-
Have I just put food away, or
Have I come to take some out?
With my night cap on my head,
I don't know if I am retiring
Or just getting out of bed.
So, if it is my turn to write you
There's no need in getting sore.
I may think I've already written
And don't want to be a bore.
So remember, I do love you
And I wish that you were here,
But now it's nearly mail time,
So I must say "Goodbye, dear."

There I stood beside the mailbox
With my face so very red
Instead of mailing you the letter,
I opened it instead.



A Chaplain's Thought - "Yes Lord"

Author Unknown


This morning I asked, "How much more can I take;
What else must I do for Your name's sake?"
I'm running this race to get closer to You.
But, my God, I can't believe the things I go through.
The stress and struggles of this thing called life.
The unknowns: will I marry and find a good wife?
What school shall I attend; Masters, Doctorate, then what?
Am I even in the right profession or just stuck in a rut?
Did I mail off that payment? Did I pick up my suit?
I know I'm forgetting something. Is patience part of the fruit?
We have rehearsal tonight?! But, I have other plans.
Help the needy and greedy? Lord, I've only got two hands.
There's Bible Study on Wednesdays and meetings on Monday.
I am practically at Church from Sunday to Sunday.
You've burned my insides like a craftsman with gold.
Flames set hot and long enough, gave newness to the old.
My old friends are gone and some family members too.
You've got my attention, now what must I do?
Dedicate my whole being to focus on You?
Put aside my plans and desires and give what is due?
Should I think of You each second and meditate each day?
Should I fast and pray and watch what I say?
Should I be humble and obedient and forget about myself?
Shall I, Your vessel, just sit here on a shelf?
Waiting to be used by You, is that my only goal?
Have You the rights to my spirit and the papers to my soul?
Pray harder, listen better, study more and sin less?
And my God silenced me, as I felt Him say. . ."Yes".

Whatever I command, you should do with no delay.
You must study My Words and walk in My Way.
I will cleanse you from all you have done to yourself.
For you know not the time, you'll be pulled from the shelf.
Like a glass that is dirty, with smudges and spots.
You must be presentable, having minimal blots.
For My Living Water must be sweet to the taste.
Therefore, I must prepare the container in which it is placed.

Your life is not yours, it belongs to Me.
I knew you before you knew, now I want you to see.
Your true purpose in life is based on My plans.
So, I'll mold you and shape you with My own hands.
Yes, pain you feel and experience loss.
But it's not as though I asked you to carry The Cross.
Who has stretched you wide and speared you deep?
Who has nailed your hands and pierced your feet?
Are there stripes on your back or bruises on your face?
When was the last time you saved the human race?
Have you died lately and arisen from the dead?
Did I ask you to adorn a crown of thorns upon your head?
My Son wore that crown, so that yours may be one of glory.
Now, all I'm asking of you, is to tell the story.

Tell them where you were when you heard the Good News.
How you came to know that Jesus paid all your dues.
So, yes, you owe Me. But your life is not the fine.
As a matter of fact, you're only giving Me back, what's already Mine.

Just do what you must and give it your best.
Don't worry, just have faith and I'll take care of the rest.
I love you and want you to trust and choose Me.
You must My dear child, if you want to be free.
Free from the powers and bondage of sin.
Able to choose eternal life instead of an eternal end.
I want Us to be close and in one accord.
Then His eyes asked if I understood.  And I humbly replied. . .
"Yes, Lord."



Unfolding a Rose

Author Unknown


It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of GOD's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so sweetly,
When in my hands they fade and die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of GOD's design,
Then how can I think I have wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust in Him for His leading
Each moment of every day.
I will look to him for His guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

The pathway that lies before me,
Only my Heavenly Father knows.
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.



Old Grandma Shoes

Author Unknown


When I was very little
All the Grandmas that I knew
Were wearing the same kind
Of ugly grandma shoes.
You know the kind I mean. . .
Clunky heeled, black, lace-up kind,
They just looked so very awful
That it weighed upon my mind,
For I knew, when I grew old,
I'd have to wear those shoes.
I'd think of that, from time to time
It seemed like such bad news.

I never was a rebel,
I wore saddle shoes to school,
And next came ballerinas
Then the sandals, pretty cool.
And then came spikes with pointed toes
Then platforms, very tall,
As each new fashion came along
I wore them, one and all.
But always, in the distance,
Looming in my future, there,
Was that awful pair of ugly shoes,
The kind that Grandmas wear.

I eventually got married
And then I became a Mom.
Our kids grew up and left,
And when their children came along,
I knew I was a Grandma
And the time was drawing near
When those clunky, black, old lace up shoes
Was what I'd have to wear.
How would I do my gardening
Or take my morning hike?
I couldn't even think about
How I would ride my bike!
But fashions kept evolving
And one day I realized
That the shape of things to come
Was changing, right before my eyes.

And now, when I go shopping
What I see fills me with glee.
For, in my jeans and Reeboks
I'm as comfy as can be.
And I look at all these little girls
And there, upon their feet
Are clunky, black, old Grandma shoes,
And I really think that's neat.



The following ten poems are by Betty Jo Mathis. She is a long-time nursing home minister, a Bible teacher, a pastor's wife, and matriarch for seven children and 22 grandchildren. Mrs. Mathis is the author of many booklets of articles, poems, and devotionals. Much of her work is included in materials published by The Sonshine Society and she continues to write for them today. If you would like more information on any of her poems or articles, or for permission to copy any of the ones we have printed here, please leave a message to that effect in our guestbook.


Latest Update On Mom's Will

By Betty Jo Mathis


I had hoped to leave you children
A tidy little sum of dough.
I'd hoped when I was dead and gone
That you could reap what I did sow.
I'd dreamed of futures bright for you-
Each one retiring in the south;
But I just got my dentist's bill
And all your money's in my mouth!

So, Jimmy gets my gold eye tooth
And Tedd receives my lower plate.
Bill will get my upper partial
My plat'num molar's Scotty's fate.

Your future's looking bleak, my boys.
There'll be no posh adventures;
But surely you won't mind at all,
For you'll really like my dentures!


Copyright 1992, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.




By Betty Jo Mathis


Oh, I've lots of blessings! Come and take a look.
‘Count them one by one', it says in the Sunday hymnal book.
Where should I begin? I'll start with home and friend,
Then I'll mention lands and houses and the riches that I spend.
There are cars and cycles, pleasure boats and planes.
I overflow with blessings (thanks to beauty and to brains!)
I'm just full of blessings, running o'er the sides!
(Of course they're not all paid for; But you know, ‘the Lord provides!')

Blessings! Are they really? All these things I prize?
The things my hands can fondle, that bring pleasure to my eyes?
Glitter is not gold; it could go tomorrow.
The things I set my heart on may only bring me sorrow.
What if God should quickly take away my wealth,
Like Job the tried and tested, I'd also lose my health?
Would I still consider I was being blest?
What would I be thinking then? Could I handle such distress?

Joy and peace and inner strength; such blessings can't be gleaned
From this old passing world. They're neither touched nor seen.
The Blessing of the Lord stills that ‘inner itch'.
His blessing brings no sorrow; it alone can make one rich.


Copyright 1992, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



How Can I Sing?

By Betty Jo Mathis


How can I sing the Lord's songs
In this confusing land?
How can I ever be on top
When nothing goes as planned?
How can I keep on going when
I simply want to quit?
How can I be at peace when in
This dark and awful pit?
Am I supposed to learn from this?
Are there lessons for my soul?
Is all this just a happenstance?
Who's really in control?

Look up, dear one; He's leaning down,
List'ning to your prayer
He'll lift you from the miry clay;
He doesn't want you there.
Look up! God has great plans for you.
Your cry He'll never mock.
Don't wallow in that awful pit!
He wants you on the Rock!
And once upon that Rock, you'll see
A new and diff'rent view,
For then you'll know it was His love
That taught and chastened you.

A brand new song you then will sing
‘tis praise to Him alone,
The One who planned each circumstance,
The One Who's on the throne.
That Rock, who is our Savior, Christ,
A refuge strong will prove;
And though you tremble on the Rock,
That Rock will never move.


Copyright 1992, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



Four In The Fire

By Betty Jo Mathis


There were four in the fire - not three alone
When the Hebrew lads in the fire were thrown -
Those boys who refused to idols to turn,
And were cast in the cruel furnace to burn.

Four in the fire - and the fourth was no less
Than the Son of God - Who was there to bless
And protect His brethren from smoke and flame,
And bring them all forth to extol His name.

Yes, four in the fire, and when they returned
They smelled not of smoke, neither were they burned.
And all that they lost in that fiery blast,
Were the fetters that bound and held them fast.

Another's in the flame, God's child, with you
When the fiery trials you're called to go thru'.
He'll stay thru' the heat, and then lead you out
With no hurt, no bonds, the vic'try to shout.


Copyright 1972, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



A Bit Of "Sonshine"

By Betty Jo Mathis


I see her in her tiny room
And taking notice of the gloom,
I call her name, but she hears not;
This lonely one who's been forgot
By busy folks like you and me
Whose ears can hear, whose eyes can see.
But she's dozing in her morning nap,
One withered hand within her lap;
Her useless foot just drooping there,
A lap robe tucked about her chair.

I hesitate this one to rouse,
Perhaps she's dreaming of her spouse,
And days gone by with children young
When games were played and songs were sung,
When back was strong - hands were able,
Mind was clear and limbs were stable.

But then she wakens - bless her heart,
And finding me, she gives a start,
"It's you!" she cries, "O friend of mine,
You've brought a bit of God's sunshine!"

We chat a bit and reminisce.
(Why do I slight such times as this?)
She's so delighted by my call
And shows me pictures on her wall
Of sons and daughters far away;
Like me, they're thoughtless day by day,
Forgetting how the minutes drag,
The helplessness and sorrows nag.

We speak of Heaven, then we pray.
I rise to be upon my way.
She begs me soon to come again,
"You've brought sunshine - you are my friend!"
I cringe with shame. It cost me not
To cheer a lonely soul forgot.
In fact, the benefit was mine.
‘Twas me who needed her Sonshine!


Copyright 2000, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



The Trail's Not Home

By Betty Jo Mathis


When settlers crossed this barren land
In covered wagons, band on band;
Behind them all their bridges burning -
To homes ahead their wheels were turning.

Upon the trail no spot was found
To sink their roots, to settle down -
A better place their hearts were yearning
And all the while the wheels kept turning.

The dusty trail was not to be
Their journey's end, their destiny -
Home lay beyond the desert burning
So wagon wheels just kept on turning.

Tho' marked by joy or scarred by fears,
Hallowed by graves or soaked by tears;
Our fathers knew what we'd be learning -
The trail's not Home - wheels must keep turning.

So dry the tears and leave the grave
Nor revel in what fortune gave;
Our Home's ahead - the trail we're spurning -
Just passing thru', the wheels keep turning.

And Pilgrim, when we've ceased to roam
And reached at last our Heavenly home,
No more the weary trail a-churning -
How glad we'll be the wheels kept turning.


Copyright 1975, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



How Do You Tell A Gramma When You See One?

By Betty Jo Mathis


How do you know she's a gramma?
She looks too young for that!
She hasn't got a speck of gray
She's not the least bit fat.
Oh, I know she's a gramma, tho'
She doesn't look the part
I can see it plainly in her ways
And know she's one at heart.

Have you not heard her catch her breath
When little ones get spanked,
Or how she often overlooks
A childish lack of thanks?
She trims the bread in tidy squares
For one who can't stand crusts,
And says it matters not a bit
When floors get tracked with dust.
She winks at lots of little pranks
Her own kids used to pull
That got them into trouble when
She held to stricter rule.
She never seems too busy now
To hear of youth-ful feats,
Nor does she seem to mind at all
If stories are repeats.

You can't always tell the grammas
By looks or height or weight.
They're known by smiles, not styles
And by the stuff they tolerate!


Copyright 1975, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



The Parent Becomes The Child

By Betty Jo Mathis


She knows his frame.
Mindful of his years;
She excuses spills,
Tousled hair,
Mis-matched sox.
Listens to grandiose, glowing plans,
Disciplines erratic behavior.
He's nine.
He'll grow up.
She understands.
She's his mom.

He knows her frame.
Mindful of her years,
He excuses spills, unkempt hair,
Mis-matched clothes,
Listens to repeated fading memories,
Overlooks erratic behavior.
She's ninety.
She'll not grow up.
He understands.
He's her son.


Copyright 1999, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



Bloom Where You're Planted

By Betty Jo Mathis


 "Bloom where you're planted!"
That's what I always sing
To transplants in my flower bed
When I've moved them in the spring.
They look so droopy and forlorn,
So fragile and forsaken;
Will they withstand the shocking change
As from the warmth they're taken?
I leave them in their earthy nest
And I know it won't be long.
In spite of setbacks for awhile,
Thirsty roots will grow quite strong.

"Bloom where you're planted!"
Though it be dark or bright,
Some blossoms give their fragrance best
In the darkest hours of night.
"Bloom where you're planted!"
Be strong, be not afraid.
The winds may blow and sun may beat
And your spirits droop and fade.
"Bloom where you're planted!"
You will withstand the strain.
God's life within will guarantee
That His plants will remain.


Copyright 1999, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



Watch The Signs, Stay In Your Lane!

By Betty Jo Mathis


I'm heading north on I-25,
Wanting to get home safe and alive.
Husband's words are clear and plain:
"Go 55, stay in your lane."
Hands on the wheel, knuckles turned white,
Semis on left, cars on the right;
Cycles ahead, pickups behind,
Strung way out, an impatient line.
Husband's words, clear and plain,
"Go 55, stay in your lane.
"Drivers may glare and truckers jaw,
"But ‘twasn't you who made the law.
"You'll not get caught, you'll pay no fines
"By keeping rules and watching signs."

I clenched my teeth, looked straight ahead,
Glad not to know what truckers said:
"Watch that old gal in the Cadillac;
"She's headin' north and not lookin' back"
Husband beside me kept me calm,
His presence there a soothing balm,
His words again, clear and plain,
"Go 55 and stay in your lane."
I did just that, nor looked around
And got us home all safe and sound.

All God's kids are headed ‘up there'
Midst folks who race, they know not where.
They whiz on past, some shake a fist
Or glare as they pass, groan and hiss,
"You hold us up -- you slow us down.
You make us mad, you make us frown".
But the Lord is there, beside, within;
We'll not go wrong if we mind Him.
You want to get HOME safe and sound?
Then don't be looking all around.
His signs are clear, His way is plain:
Look ahead and stay in His lane.
People may fret and think us fools,
But He's the ONE who wrote the rules!


Copyright 2003, Betty Jo Mathis. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



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