I Left Him

Alone.

For one week.

In his back up wheelchair that is not retrofitted for him to drive his van. So now he is homebound too.

How could I leave him like that? He told me to. I offered to cancel my travel and stay home. He said no.

He knew I needed this time away. I knew he needed me to take him at his word that he would be ok. We both needed to trust God, and our wonderful circle of friends.

And they came through.

I left meals for him, friends also shared some meals.  My sister took care of household needs. Others stepped in to fill the gaps of morning and evening attendant care. A couple offered to drive him to church. Someone else walked uptown with him one night for dinner.

d56a9-img_3763Did we miss each other?  You better believe we did.  It’s healthy for us to remember that we each can make it on our own, even in challenging situations.  But even better is the reminder that we don’t want to make it on our own.  We truly are better together.

 

 

 

What about you?  What is your best tip for travel that does not include the whole family? Any lessons God has taught you in times of being apart?

 

 

 

Thank You Brother

The sermon being preached from the stage was full of truth.  Yet in the back row of the auditorium a very different sermon was reaching deep into my heart.

I find it difficult to go to church alone, and this was one of those days when I had to do just that.  Strike 1 against my emotional fortitude.

Strike 2 came before I left home.  It happened when I asked God to open my heart and mind to worship Him fully.  He reminded me of some confession needed first.  As I sat before Him asking forgiveness the tears began to flow.  I want to repent, yet sometimes I don’t really want to. Help me Lord to live the words I say.

The final strike came while walking through the lobby at church and talking with friends who know me well.  They knew the right questions to ask to get to the point of how I was REALLY doing, not accepting the “I am ok” or “fine thank you, and you?”

By the time I walked into the sanctuary tears were gushing from my eyes.  I purposely sat alone in the back row as I tried to direct my heart and mind to worship. Another friend walked past and shared a  hug before going to find his family.  A few minutes later he was back and took the seat along side of me. I thanked him for being a good “little brother” to me when I needed one most.

If the story ended there it would be enough for me to experience Gods care through my brother in Christ.  But it doesn’t.

Last night I read a Facebook post from the wife of my “little brother friend” which I think put their names in my head as I fell asleep.  I remember a dream in which I was in a different location, walking on a country road to find a church.  This brother passed me in his van, and asked if he could give me a ride as he was also headed to this little church.  Once we got to the building looked like it fit more in the country side of Africa than the US.  My friend encouraged me to wait in the van while he would go in and check out the church.

Being the independent woman I am I did not heed my friend’s words but instead stepped out of the van right into a deep mud puddle.  My friend came out of church to see me literally wallowing in a mud puddle.  He lifted me out of the mud and set me on a rock.mud and rock  As I sat there drying off people with all kinds of disabilities came out of the church to check on me.

I don’t often put a lot of stock in my dreams. I do love how God gave me a foretaste of  today – when I needed to be figuratively lifted out of my emotional mud puddle and set back on the Rock of Jesus Christ.  When I shared my dream and got to the part about all the people with disabilities who were at the church he replied, “then we were at the right church weren’t we?”

Thank you God for my brothers and sisters. in Your family.  Thank you for Your Word that was fulfilled just a few short hours after I read it this morning.  “In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.  May he send you help from his sanctuary (italics added) . . . ”  Psalm 29:1-2a NLT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unintentional Look at the Past

Neither Jerry or I are big celebrators of New Years or ones to make resolutions.  This New Year’s Eve has been spent like many others – quietly at home playing or watching games, puzzling, reading and writing.

I went on a hunt for a new journal to use for my prayer time (I have probably a dozen unused notebooks and journals). I picked up one that had only a few pages used, and began to set it up for my prayer journal. But first I looked at when I had written in this journal. It was 12/14/97; nearly 19 years and 3000 miles ago.  old-journal

I have been gifted with a good memory (though sometimes that doesn’t always feel like a gift!) and as much as I think I remember about the past reading journals always reminds me of times long forgotten.

What was most interesting about this glance at the past was that 19 years ago we were in a very similar period of transition as we are now.  We were living in California but knew we needed to move east for a number of reasons.  We were waiting on God to show us where and how. Reading about the process we pursued and the lessons we learned was encouraging and a great reminder that God’s loving kindnesses never fail and He will continue to be faithful as He has in the past.

That move from CA to the east meant a change of relationships (and a loss of some) with those who had been so dear to us.  The transition we are in now has also resulted in relationship changes with those we hold dear from our years with Joni and Friends.  God knits people together for seasons sometimes and other times for life.  I am grateful for those He has knit into the pattern of my life and excited about the “new yarns of friendship” that He’ll knit in during this next season.

Thank you God for leading me to this journal tonight, and for the reminders of your grace, love and mercy.

 

 

 

To Be Known by Name

November is National Caregivers Month.  Peter Rosenberger, a ministry colleague at Caregivers With Hope created a video to honor caregivers.   We showed this video at our recent Caregivers Day of Pampering to 120 women who provide care for a family member affected by disability or special needs.  There were few dry eyes in the auditorium as the video played.

What is so striking in this video is the names.  We are so often acknowledged as “Jerry’s wife” or “Matthew’s mother” or “Kim’s sister.”  Yes that role is a very big part of who we are, and a role we (usually) cherish.  But every once in a while it is needful and appreciated to take a few minutes (or even hours) to be known as Joan, Sharon or Beth.

12238058_10153208770271778_5381036211214562344_oI think that is why at our Pampering Days one of the first “spa stops” for many of the ladies is the paraffin hand dip.  It affords a few minutes to sit down and be face to face with another person who calls us by name.  Conversations can quickly go deep as the “pamperer” looks the Caregiver in the eye and massages their hands.

This month (and beyond) one of the best things you can do to honor and respect a caregiver is to learn their name, call them that, and spend a few minutes looking in their eyes and getting to know them as Marie, Stacy, Janice, Amy, Maria, Trish, Marilyn, Carin, Pam, Colleen, Kelly, Janine, Candy, Savine, Cindy, Marty, Helen, Gwen, Shirley, Jennifer, Michelle, Rose, Kim, Nina, Debbie, Jenn, Theresa, Joy, Lisa, Gwen, Anne, Leann, Katy, Eleanor, Brittany, Jill, Rachel, Maggie, Leanne, Willa, Betty,   . . .

Isaiah 43:1-4 ESV  (italics added)

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,

Behind the Scenes

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Sometimes I feel like this is all I see of God’s picture for my life.

I have a friend “Renee” who has a very real need in her life and the deadline to have this need met is rapidly approaching.  She is anxious about when and how God will answer.  Many of us are praying with her and trying to help her find leads.

At church another friend “Belinda” mentioned a situation she needs to find a resolution to very soon.  As I drove home from church I thought, it may just be possible that the answer to Belinda’s dilemna could also be the answer to Renee’s need.  So I floated the idea by Belinda.  She is interested and agreed to pray about it before we approach Renee.

I wish I could tell Renee right now that there may be an answer on the horizon.  But I can’t; I want to honor Belinda’s request to wait and also don’t want Renee to get excited about something that is so preliminary right now (leads have often not panned out).

All of a sudden it struck me!  This is just a small picture of  God and me.  He rarely tells me what He is up to – even when I beg for an answer because time is growing short.  I tend to think God must have forgotten about me and my situation and begin to  take things into my own hands.  When I finally realize that’s what I am doing and I get myself back to actively waiting for God’s answer it really is a much greater answer than I could have ever dreamed up.

As I pray for both the needs of Renee and Belinda to be met (whether together or separately) I am also grateful that God gave me this opportunity to view things from the other side for a few moments.  I am reminded that even when I think He is silent or has forgotten my need He is still at work in ways I may not yet see (and perhaps never will).  If I wait upon Him I am usually blown away by the way He responds.

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As I wait for His time and plan the details fill in. Surprise (ha!) He had a plan all along.

It’s All About Whose You Are

This past week I celebrated another birthday.  As is typical these days with social media I received scores of greetings via Facebook, texts, instant messages, email and even a few paper cards (which seem to hold more and more value!).  Some of the most interesting wishes came to me from people I do not know.

photo_76510_20160913Jerry wrote a birthday tribute to me on his Facebook page (thanks honey!).  Twenty eight people commented on his post sharing birthday wishes with me.  A number of those people I do not know and to the best of my knowledge have never met.  They shared greetings and blessings with me simply because of their respect and friendship with my amazing husband.

Thinking about that I am both grateful and reminded.

Grateful that I married well and I appreciate the care of Jerry’s friends (though he thinks it has more to do with their amazement that someone married him – not true!)

Reminded that just as I receive the blessings “simply”  by being Jerry’s wife, I also am blessed because of who my heavenly Father  and “big brother” are.

Romans 8:17a New Living Translation

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. . . .

 

Love Our Village

The saying “It takes a village . . .” can be true of much of life.  Today as I was driving to Spruce Lake where we will host our first two weeks of Family Retreat for families affected by disability I was so thankful for those in “our village” who make this, and so many other parts of our lives easier.

People like Denise, who I asked to pick up a prescription that wasn’t ready yet before I left and bring it to us at camp when she comes.

Guys like Scott, Roger, and Gary who step in while I am at camp and Jerry is at home to help him get up each morning and to bed at night.  Then there’s Ron who comes to camp (hauling much of our equipment) to help Jerry here so I can focus on my role.

Ginny, my sister who said dinner will be provided the night we come home exhausted from two weeks of camp.

Once I pulled into Spruce Lake there was Lucas who offered to carry my suitcase to my second floor room.

And the best thing about our village?  They love Jesus, and they know by serving us they are serving Him.  Can’t wait to turn some of that love around these next two weeks to serve other families affected by disability at Family Retreat!

“Behold! How they love one another.”

Want to get more of an idea of what happens at Family Retreat?  Follow our hashtag #JAFjourney2joy for the next couple of weeks.