The speed of life

This morning I was counting my blessings as I tried my best to stay in bed.  I have so much to be thankful for.  As the song says, “I’ve been blessed beyond all measure”.

Two things stuck out in my mind.  My life lately seems like that Lucy in the candy factory episode.  Things keep coming at me quickly and I have a hard time adequately tending to them all.

This morning I thought about the contrast of my husband’s life.  I watched him go outside to smoke the other day.  He walked like a very old man, holding on to counters and walls to slowly get to the door.  His arms moved almost in slow-motion to get the door open.  Right outside the door is a small chair.  He carefully lowered his body onto that chair in a way that was similar to putting a baby in a crib: slow and steady movements.  Once seated on that chair, he just stared up the narrow stairway into our back yard.  I waited a minute or two, thinking that he would close the door since it was below freezing outside and the furnace had kicked on.  He didn’t.  I quickly walked over and shut the door.

This morning, as I was remembering this incident, I wondered what he was thinking as he sat on that chair.  He cannot go up that stairway for there are no railings.  He has not been in the back yard since summertime.  He can barely walk from the house to the car.  He has not been able to drive for over a year.  Does he feel like a prisoner?  Every day I ask him if he is ready to get help for his alcoholism and his answer is always negative.  He is living in a jail of his own making.

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His Love Endures

These past few weeks have been incredibly busy, but for the most part, I felt as if I was safe in a house while a storm was swirling all around.  Besides it being the most condensed portion of the accelerated program I am in, several issues with our grown children came up that just broke my heart.  So many hurts that I cannot fix.

One thing that I have been reminded of is from a song that Matt Boswell and the Boyce College Choir have on Youtube.  “Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more.”  That one line keeps popping into my head as I sing many different songs throughout the day.

Husband got mad at me a couple times for not taking out every bit of garbage when it was trash pick-up day.  He even told me that I don’t work hard enough.  I laughed.  It was an utterly ridiculous comment coming from the one who does nothing.  Statements like that would have made me mad last year.  God has changed me.

I have seen a glimpse of just how good God has been to place me in this spot at this time in my life.  I have wonderful friends who pray for me and my husband, and that is a major factor in my continuing sanity.  As I look back over the patients I took care of this term, each one seemed hand-picked for me.  Each one had a particular disease or mental illness could be related to my family members.  My entire clinical placements have been an amazing learning experience that has given me clearer insight to those family members, and will certainly help me next year when I have a job in the real world.

As I have gotten busier, my husband has slowed down.  He needs to hold on to something when he shuffles along because he does not have full control over his legs.  It is a major effort to go up steps, for it involves pulling himself up with the hand rails or doing a modified crawling with hands and feet.  Yesterday he did not eat anything, but still drank as much as usual.  He has had a dry cough for 2-3 weeks.  He has lost 30 pounds this year.

I decided to print out some information of the effects of alcohol for my husband.  He has never wanted to know, and when I would verbally tell him, he would always reply that I was full of bovine excrement.  I do want him to consider changing his lifestyle so that our children can remember him differently after he dies.

In the busyness of my life, in seeing the decline of my husband, in knowing the heartaches of our children, God has been faithful to remind me that He is good and that He is for me and not against me.  His love is overwhelming.  The following song by the Gettys has been replaying almost constantly in my mind for the past couple weeks.

“How great, how sure, His love endures forevermore.”

 

lessons learned?

As I look back over this past week I am so thankful.  For my mental health class it seems as though I have been put with the toughest clinical instructor at a facility that keeps us busy from start to finish.  Quite opposite of other groups.  My classmates talk about how easy and boring their clinical experience is.  They can get homework done or just relax.

On the surface, such an easy time seems very appealing.  I would love to have more free time.  But, I am looking at the bigger picture.  I have had a clinical experience which will be more like my future job.  I have had the opportunity to hone my skills and meet the needs of dozens of people.  My clinical instructor, by pushing us hard, has given me advantages in my other classes.  Just this morning I took a test and was able to answer some of the questions correctly because she had challenged us last week to go above and beyond.

This week I also learned that schizophrenic audio hallucinations are most likely the result of stress.  It’s the mind’s way of crying for help.  Watching the TED talk that is posted below made me so thankful that I have a God who is willing to take all my issues, worries, and cares upon Himself.  Listening to this woman’s story made me wonder why her and not me.  I still get stressed out at times.  Stress causes imbalances in the body.  Christians under stress can have the same consequences sometimes as non-Christians.

I still have sadness, fear, insecurities, and anger that I deal with.  Most of the time those things are shoved aside and, for the moment, are non-existent.  I am very good at building walls to hide behind.  Compared to last year, my ongoing issues are decreasing in intensity and frequency.  I don’t think that it is just because I have gotten good at hiding them.  I believe that I am seeing more and more evidence that God is moving before me and all around me.  I am greatly loved and held tight in His hands.  Why can’t I learn that lesson and then remember it?

Past Meets Future

Yesterday I stopped by the house of a friend to give my condolences of his wife’s death.  Then I found out from his neighbors that he had actually died the week before his wife.  Well, I was a bit shocked for, even though they were both in their 80s, he was in much better overall health than his wife.

“Why him and not my husband?” was one of the first thoughts running through my mind. This man was an alcoholic.  He was 20 years older than my husband which likely gave him more overall years of abusing his body, but he only had 4-5 drinks a day compared to the 10-20 that my husband does.  This morning I still wonder why my husband is alive and can he please die soon.

I know that my perspective yesterday and again this morning is mostly due to fatigue.  I am physically tired and mentally stretched with all that I need to do for school.

The song running through my brain this morning as I woke up was Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons” reminding me to look at the big picture and get my focus on God and all that He has done for me.  I was having a really hard time until I remembered a conversation I had last Sunday.  One of my friends (named Redmon) felt that God wanted her to remind me of some truth:  that He is slow to act for He desires that nobody perishes.  At the time we did not know why that particular aspect of God’s character was important and singled out.  It sure does fit with my thought processes today.

So, here I am, still tired, still no caffeine yet, still not quite ready to take on my schoolwork.  But, resting peacefully for I know that God is with me on this journey.

In the past, He prompted Redman to write a song based on scripture (https://scriptureand.blogspot.com/2017/08/bible-verses-for-10000-reasons.html).  Last week He prompted Redmon to remind me of specific Bible verses.   Both to converge onto today when I need to be reminded of what is true.

Your Love Never Fails

I am so thankful for neighbors who have given us buckets of water so we can flush the toilets.  I slept well and woke up exhausted.  In my mind I heard songs reminding me that I am held in the Father’s hands.  I read that God promises to never leave me, to give me strength, and to always take care of me and cause me to become more like Him.  I still feel physically tired and am emotionally level.  I am trying to not grumble or complain.  Even without running water, I have been given too many things to ever justify whining over something that is not there.  We have a house with electricity.  We have plenty of food and clothing.  I am still a bit annoyed with my husband because he has inconvenienced all of us.

I spent time this morning focusing on God through songs.  It is the only way to gain real strength, especially this morning when I would love to just crawl back in bed and do nothing all day.  Now, after worship, a chat with the water company, caffeine, and a nutrition shake, it is time to get some school work done.  Hopefully, the water can be turned on before I need to leave for class.

Blessings Unnumbered

Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings see what God has done.”   An old hymn with lots of truth in it.  Today I was overwhelmed with blessings.  Contact with old friends, going to church and having a grateful heart for the people there whom I have come to know, the ability to sing praise songs, the people I know through school, my relatively good health, my relatives, my children and grandchildren…

During worship at church today I needed to stop thinking of how good God has been to me.  Had I continued, I would have been a sobbing, blubbering mess on the floor because my heart was so overflowing with joy.  (I cry when I am happy.)  Really didn’t want to cause a scene like that.

At least for today, I am not going to look at all the death and dying around me.  I choose to look up.  Life can be beautiful and full of blessing and joy.

smoky mt

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.