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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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.

Hospital Again!

I am so thankful for my pastor and the way he preaches through a book of the Bible a verse at a time.  Lately he has been preaching on the armor of God in the book of Ephesians.  The breastplate of Christ’s righteousness that covers me protects my heart.  The shoes of the gospel of peace remind me that I am not condemned by God anymore and I can spread that peace to others.  Those insights and more are what got me through this week.

Monday I was in the ER with my mother-in-law and then she was admitted to the hospital.

Tuesday I was with my husband at another hospital to check on his head trauma from November.  He was totally drunk and could hardly walk.

Wednesday I was with my father-in-law in the ER at the same hospital my mother-in-law is in.  He at least got to go home after several hours.

Thursday I was with my husband in the ER at a different hospital.  He had fallen face first on the concrete floor.  Ended up with only a broken nose.  Since he was very drunk, it took us 3 hours to convince him to go to the hospital.  The one benefit of that time is that I was able to bathe him and get him into clean clothes.  He really didn’t have a choice in the matter.  He was covered with blood from head to toe.  After four hours in the ER he was released to go home.

It was physically tiring to work, take care of my father-in-law, make extra driving trips each day to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital, argue with husband on why he is not going to drive anymore, and try to keep up with the daily household chores.  Focusing on what God has done for me gave me strength each day to serve my family, to be thankful for all that I have, and to keep my heart and emotions steady.

I thought alot about the song “Rescuer” by Rend Collective:   “He is pasture for the weary, rest for those who strive….so come and be chain-less, come and be fearless, come to the foot of Calvary, there is redemption for every affliction…”.

I am looking forward to a calm and uneventful Christmas.

 

Just a Typical Friday

In the past 24 hours I have:

Cleaned up vomit from my husband and cleaned up vomit from a dog.

Watched my husband weep because I said that one of our cats needs to be euthanized.

Tried to have a discussion comparing how he feels about the loss of a cat and how we feel about the loss of a husband/father.

Been told several times that I make no sense and that I am full of _____.

Served a plate of food to my husband because he refuses to wash his hands and there was no way I wanted him to touch the meat I had cooked.

Had to help my husband get up off the floor because his leg muscles were too weak.

Been in on a conversation between my daughter and her father.  Heard the pain in her voice when she asked her dad if he loves alcohol more than his kids.  Got angry because my husband is either still choosing badly or is at a point where he cannot choose rightly.  (I don’t know, there are different schools of thought on that.)

Witnessed my husband walking around naked from the waist down, made him put clothes on, and had a conversation about what is appropriate.  Several hours later he asked me who had put different pants on him.

Seen God work out specific details in two different areas of my life.  Further proof that my God is taking care of me and that I can completely trust Him with everything.

Been reminded that “I’ve been held by the Savior…All my hope is in Jesus…All my sins are forgiven,  I’ve been washed by the blood…”

 

Like a Beast

On Thanksgiving weekend my husband was so drunk he fell down the steps.  He hit his head on the corner of the baseboard and was not able to get up.  If my daughter had not been there to call 911, he would have bled to death.  He was rushed to the local trauma center, given a blood transfusion and stitched up by a plastic surgeon.

Since that injury, his physical abilities have greatly decreased.  He walks very slowly and has an abnormal gait.  He has blacked out a few times.  He sleeps on the basement cement floor more than usual.  His logic is pretty much non-existent.

My husband still drinks excessively all the time.  He has become prone to crying and apologizing.  He is totally enslaved by alcohol and will just sit and do nothing for hours.

I keep thinking about how God changed King Nebuchadnezzar into a beast in order to humble him (Daniel 4).  Certainly my husband exhibits beast-like traits.  Cleanliness is not a virtue that he cultivates.  Modesty and common societal manners are foreign.

I am still waiting for my husband to humble himself before God.  A friend reminded me that as long as there is breath, there is hope.  The head trauma seems to have accelerated the physical decline that comes with alcoholism.  Hopefully he will soon choose to say with Nebuchadnezzar, “I praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.”

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.

“Thy Will”

This morning I read “in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your path straight”.  Was I going to choose to do that today?  I wanted to, but the feelings weren’t there.  Then, the first song in the car on the way to work was  “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott.  “I may never understand that my broken heart is a part of Your plan”   Will I trust God in the hard times?  “I know You’re good, but this don’t feel good right now”.  Exactly what I was thinking.   “It’s hard to count it all joy”.  I really wanted a pity party.  “Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that You’re God, and I am not”.   There is a power in music.  Soon I was singing along:  “I know You hear me, I know You see me, Lord.  Your plans are for me, goodness You have in store.  So, Thy will be done”.  

This evening when I got home, I saw that my husband had again done nothing all day but drink and be on facebook.  I asked him to clean up his mess in the kitchen and help me with yard work.  That led to a litany of “woe is me, I shall kill myself”.  Yes, I have heard that many times before, but this time it filled me with pity.  For tonight he sounded different: defeated instead of defiant, sad and remorseful instead of snide and vengeful.

Perhaps this change is due to the fact that today is our 33rd wedding anniversary.  In 1984 I married a kind, gentle, sensitive, and loving man.  Alcohol changed all that.  Today, I am definitely not in a place that I dreamed of, but I am in the perfect place that God has chosen for me.  Trusting, submitting, believing that I am held tight in God’s hand.