A Second Chance?

Well my husband has mostly recovered from traumatic brain injury that occurred in November and a mini-stroke that occurred at the beginning of this year.  He is not falling down several times a day anymore.  He does not suddenly fall out of his chair, either.  He can go up and down entire stairways again.  He can speak normally.  He does not sit and stare into nothing for hours at a time.  The physical signs that told me his body was internally shutting down have disappeared.

When I talked to him about these changes and said that God is showing him mercy and kindness and giving him a chance to start living differently, his response was disbelief.  He was sober during this conversation, but still unable to see the big picture.  Why can’t he just surrender to the Creator who gives life to all?

My husband and I are so far apart in our thinking and living.  It reminds me of a song called “Just One Touch” performed by Kim Walker Smith:

“I searched the earth when all that I needed was just one touch, …my soul won’t rest ’till I find rest in You, for there is no peace, no freedom apart from You,”  This is the part that my husband just doesn’t get.  He keeps trying to find peace and freedom with alcohol and thoughts of dying.  He is content to wallow in misery.

“Here at the end of me you are my victory, I’m trading my scars for all that you are, for just one touch.”  He doesn’t see that in surrender there is true victory.  We can give all our scars, hurts, addictions, etc., to Jesus and he will give us an abundant life.

The next part of the song expresses the truth of my life:  “My joy overflows from all of Your beauty revealed to me…”  (Anatomy and Physiology class shows me every day just how awesome the human body is with its billions of cell actions and complex muscles.)  “I have been longing, I have been yearning in reckless abandon, surrendered to You, I feel Your fire, I feel You healing, all that You are is all that I’m needing,  here at the end of me, You are my victory…with arms stretched open wide come set Your heart in mine, I’m here at Your feet, Jesus I need just one touch.”

I have surrendered to the God who loves me and my heart is at peace in spite of the turmoil of my surroundings.

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Pick a Different Road

What do I say to those I know who are believers in Jesus, or at least were raised in a church, but choose a lifestyle of drinking alcohol?  Several times a week they are consuming more than just one or two drinks.  Frequently they are at the point of fall-down stupid drunk.  We live in a culture that yells “don’t judge!” when a conversation tries to occur so what can I say to them?

How can I tell them that my heart breaks to see the path they are on?  Don’t they know the consequences of continuing in this lifestyle?  It might seem fun right now, but can they think ahead several months or years down the road?

Are they ready to accept heart damage, liver inflammation, pancreatitis, a higher risk of developing certain cancers and a weakened immune system?  Do they want to live with frequent stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of bladder control, sexual dysfunction, muscle cramps, and possible diabetic tendencies?

Are they ready to accept that their thought processes in the future will be really messed up?  That they could get to the point where their moods are not what they used to be and it will be difficult to think logically for any length of time?  That the ability to do simple tasks like putting on a belt will take significantly longer than normal?

If their physical bodies are working fine right now, are they willing to give that all up for muscle loss and loss of coordination?  How about loss of appetite or even throwing up while eating because of the irritation alcohol has done to the intestinal system?

Are they willing to lose their job and the dignity that comes from contributing to society?  Are they willing to be cut off from friends and family?

My whole being wants to shout at them.  I want to be in their faces to point out the wrong way they are on.  I want to open their eyes to the amazing lives they have.  I want them to be grateful for how well their bodies work right now.  I want them to have a good look at the amazing world in which we live.  How can they see all the beauty around them if they put themselves in a grey cloud of alcohol?

I wish that I could go back in time and say all these things to my husband.

The song running through my brain says, “Fresh outpouring, tear the fabric open.  Come, Jesus, come.  Breath of heaven, nothing left unshaken, we long for more. We need a fresh outpouring…”  Sometimes all I can do is pray:  Let my friends be gently pulled back to You by Your Spirit.  Remind them of how much they are loved.  Help them to live in ways that are pleasing to You.

Remember the Right Stuff

Oh, how quickly I forget!

This morning I started my day by creating a document which I could eventually tape on my bedroom door as a reminder:

truth

The rest of the day stressed me out.

I had to make two different trips to stores.  It wasn’t the fun kind like grocery shopping.  It was school related stuff.  (I am now a full-time online student.)  It was snowy and slushy so my car is really coated with salt now.

The dogs acted like needy, whiny, crabby toddlers.

My biology experiment had some major setbacks.

I discovered that I wasn’t very prepared for the first major test in another class.

I am a bit overwhelmed in another class because the technology is brand-new to me.

Husband was running a circular saw while being very drunk.  He always was a high functioning alcoholic, but operating power tools while intoxicated really is a dumb thing to do.  And, as usual, there was the periodic need for me to shut the door to the outside.

Throughout the day I battled in my mind.  Should I quit school because it takes me so long to complete everything?  Am I too old to do this?  Should I wait and go to school when my life is less crazy?  Realistically, what kind of grade point average should I expect of myself?  Why can’t I convince myself that healthy food tastes as good as corn chips and oreos?  Am I taking care of my husband in a way that is pleasing to God?

So, here I am at 3am, unable to sleep, and nursing a pretty good headache.  I took some medication and am now getting relief from the pain.  Jumbled up snatches of songs are running through my brain.  I am putting everything into God’s hands.  I am His servant and I need to just go to bed.  Everything will be fine.  He loves me.

 

 

 

 

False Alarm

A week ago, after several more falls and injuries, my husband took a turn for the worse.  He wasn’t drinking nearly as much as usual, but the effects were so much more pronounced.  He was slurring his speech, drooling, unaware of his location or position, and hallucinating.  He spent 24 hours not being able to stand, walk, or crawl.  After that segment of time there was a day or two where he could barely sit up and take a step.  He had other physical symptoms indicating that his body was shutting down.

I made the hard decision to immediately quit my job.   It was time.  My husband looked like he needed a full-time caregiver, and that person is me.   It would not be right to have my kids be the ones to change his clothes and bathe him.

I shed lots of tears that day.  I discovered deep down that I was not ready for my husband to die.  Yes, on the surface he irritates me and I wish this whole phase of my life could be over.  But, I will miss him for who he used to be.  I will also miss the wonderful people that I have worked with over these past 9 years.

Wouldn’t you know, the day after I quit my job, my husband was back to his somewhat normal self.  He was walking, talking, and acting just the same as he was two weeks ago.  A couple of the symptoms of body shut-down went away.  He even was able to walk up a short flight of steps.  I am continually amazed at how this man’s body defies science.

He is eating better now because I am making him small meals now and then.  Partly done out of compassion.  Partly done because I am tired of him making a mess in the kitchen.  Eating soup with a fork can leave lots of debris behind.

This near brush with death hasn’t made him change his mind about his lifestyle.  If anything, he wants to do all he can to speed up the process of dying.  What a waste of all that God has given him!

Every day I still need to choose how I live.  I sing with Jesus Culture:

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice ’cause You set me free….I am Yours.

Yes, I’m Angry

The other night as I was helping my husband get up off the floor, I just wanted to pick him up and throw him onto the couch.  I wasn’t very kind with my words as I prevented him from slamming down onto the floor again.  I just got madder when I checked the basement door.  There was evidence that he had fallen in two places in the basement before I had heard him fall in the living room.

Was I angry because I was so tired?  After all, it was 3am and I had only a couple hours of sleep before hearing the crash.

I get angry with my husband when I think of how he wasted his life.  He used to be so talented at many things: music, woodworking, photography, poetry.  He excelled in the business world and received superior reviews from his boss every year.

I get so mad at my husband when I think of all the hurt he has caused me and our children.  I am thankful that when the kids were younger, he did all his drinking in the basement after they had gone to bed.  Unfortunately, when our youngest was 16, my husband changed for the worst.  No more hiding it from the kids.  Alcoholism in all it’s ugliness was on display for everyone to see.

I get mad because I sometimes think that if only I had done x, y, and z, my husband wouldn’t be this way today.  Too bad time travel isn’t a reality.

When I did get back to bed the other night, God reminded me of some verses in Isaiah 61, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”   My anger might be justified or it might be sinful.  Therapy will help me to figure that out.  Right now I can have joy in what God has done for me.

But I don’t want to go home…

I’ve been in California for a week visiting kids and making new friends.  Today I fly home to Cincinnati and I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to continue to see my husband slowly kill himself with alcohol.  It is so tempting to forfeit my plane ticket, quit my job, and stay here.

However, I am sure that most of these feelings are brought on by lack of sleep and a deep love for my kids.   At home I have kids that I also deeply love, family, friends, and lots of other things that remind me just how blessed I really am.

As I cry in my morning tea, watching the sun rise, I try to calm my heart with promises from God’s word, “Do not fear for I am with you.  Be not anxious for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will hold you with my righteous right hand…” (Isaiah 41:10)

God has not called me to leave my husband or home.  He has promised to give me strength for each day.  I still choose to be His servant even in the hard places.  I will still cry this morning as I leave family and friends.  I love my California people.  Sometimes it takes my emotions a little bit of time to catch up with my head.

Germs

Continuing education courses are meant to empower and enlighten.  I took one on multi-drug resistant organisms.  Now I am just a little paranoid about what is lurking in my house.  So many diseases can stem from poor bathroom hygiene.  End-stage alcoholics are famous for their lack of personal hygiene habits.

So, not washing hands after bathroom use, not bathing for months, not brushing teeth for years,and not changing clothes for weeks all lead up to a fantastic festering hodgepodge of potential bacterial or viral diseases on my husband.  Add to the mix the chronic cough from smoking and the daily coughing up of phlegm.  This is why I use the bleach cleaning wipes or spray disinfectant on all surfaces that he touches.

Unfortunately, my husband does not understand that he is a walking petri dish.  When I refuse his sexual advances, he believes it is because I hate him.  How can I be romantically involved with somebody who is verbally abusive to me, smells like a cesspool, and would probably give me half a dozen diseases in the process?   I have enough self-respect to say, “No”.  I ask him to bathe and get counseling.  He tells me that I am full of bovine excrement.  (He uses different terminology.)

Every day I am thankful to God for the health that He has given me.  I am thankful that the courses I took help me to be more aware of potential health dangers.