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.

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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.

When it Rains, it Pours

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I frequently heard our littlest dog scratching and whining.  Why couldn’t he begin this during the day?  He has long thick hair and it is very difficult to see what exactly the problem is, but I am doctoring him to the best of my ability.

Today was the day we scheduled euthanasia for our oldest cat.  Shortly before that appointment, I found out that my mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital.  I told my husband to sober up and clean up because this evening we were going to go see her.

My daughter and I took the cat to the vet, crying all the way there.  Waiting in the exam room we cried over this precious cat.  Watching him die peacefully from the injection we cried some more.  The vet gave us a nice cardboard casket so I could bury the cat in the garden.  Thankful that it was warm enough that the ground had not froze and the digging was easy.

When I walked into our house with dead cat casket in hand, I was greeted with chaos.  The dogs were not where they should have been and there was some moaning coming from the kitchen.  My husband had fallen on the floor.  He said he wasn’t hurt, but I don’t know why he was moaning.  He was pretty confused about lots of things.  Eventually he was able to get himself up off the floor.

I was so disappointed in him.  I thought for sure he would shape up enough to see his own mother in the ER.  He has a good relationship with her.  We live in the same city and see each other every week.

As I sat in my room messaging my brother-in-law who was at the hospital, I really wanted to be there.  I was emotionally torn because I don’t feel that my husband is safe if left alone.  I am concerned that he sometimes chooses to smoke around flammable materials in the basement.  I worry that he will try to cook something in the kitchen and start a fire.   I am concerned that he could  hurt one of the dogs with his very clumsy ways.  I am concerned that he will make really bad choices and the dogs will escape out the front door into the big city.  (The last time it happened it was so cold and icy that they couldn’t get very far.)

Then I heard my daughter’s voice in my head.  Last week I had told her that I felt like quitting my job to stay home and keep an eye on my husband.  Her response was quick.  “No!  Don’t waste your time on him when he does not deserve it.  You take care of old people that really need you at this time in their lives.  That is way more important.”

I decided that I would have to trust God to keep my husband, house, and dogs safe.  My dear mother-in-law was in the hospital, less than half an hour away, and I needed to be there.  So, I went alone to the hospital.  Almost four hours later I arrived home to only mild chaos.  Everybody was still safe and sound and there had been no more accidents.

I am so thankful for family.  I am thankful for medical technology.  I am thankful that God loves me way more than I had loved that cat.  I am thankful that it was in the 40s (Fahrenheit) today.   I am thankful that it was just a gentle misting rain falling while I dug that grave.

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…”

 

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.