Well it has been quite a while since I’ve had a post. I thought it is time to sit down and try to write. It is not an easy task in my life.
Since my last entry, I have returned to work and as you know, the home front continues to become more of a challenge. All through the experience I keep reminding myself that I am not working my plan for my life, as much as I am submitting to my heavenly Father’s plans and purpose for me. Once I acknowledged this; my life seemed to make sense for the very first time. When things don’t go my way, I accept that it is my Father rearranging things. When things fall into place, miraculously, there is just no way I can take credit.
I just flew with someone who told me, “no you need to pat yourself on the back!” Really? Why? I don’t want to pat myself on the back. (First of all, because it is physically impossible) and secondly, I don’t feel I have done anything so great. I know that I handle my life because God gives me the strength to handle these challenges. But I cannot say that I have always been happy about the responsibilities He’s given me. And sometimes, I’ve downright lost it! I’ve had temper tantrums and been filled with self-pity. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I’ve had all of those angry questions. But in the end, He keeps me grounded. He reminds me that I can handle it. He reminds me that His son had those very same feelings.
When I went to Israel many years ago, I saw the huge stone where Jesus had wept and prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Everyone was placing their hands on this stone as if they could feel His anguish. This is what makes me remember that even He asked the Father, “to take this cup of suffering from me.” In the end our Lord knew that it was not His plan He was working, but His Father’s plan. This picture of Christ’s grief is a stark reminder that He did indeed, “Suffer all things which are common to man.” He knows my fears and my sadness. He knows my joy when I see that this suffering, is worth the end result. “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)
Wow! If He could do that for me, I certainly can’t complain about my circumstances. He has chosen these things for me, “to perfect my faith.” Who cares about me more than He does?
I had to keep this in the forefront of my mind when I received a recall notice to work. I had been on a furlough for almost 3 years. Granted, the furlough was another blessing from the Lord. I had just begun to see my mom slipping more and more each day, when along came this offer to take the furlough. This couldn’t have been at a more opportune time. However, I didn’t really know that at the time.
I was really sitting on the fence with that offer, as I was a little fearful of losing an income. “How am I going to make it with no money coming in?” I asked the Lord. I wasn’t sure if this was something I should do. Then He placed people in my path, that I can only describe as messengers on behalf of Him. They encouraged me to take this offer and one person, asked if he could call and speak to me. This was a few nights before the deadline for our decision. He completely encouraged me to do this as he knew my circumstances. He knew that my mother is not going to get better, but she would decline.
I decided to take the offer because of all of ‘the encouragers.’ What a great time I’ve had with my mom, my brother and my children! I took her on a road trip to Wisconsin along with my son and my brother. Though she did not know anyone, I felt rewarded in the fact that her friends and family had the chance to see her. I also didn’t feel the guilt I had before. She has been obsessed with moving back to Wisconsin. In some way I felt I was holding her hostage. This trip was a revelation to me as well. I could see that the Wisconsin she remembers only exists in her mind. She can visit anytime she chooses. My son exclaimed, “We could have driven around the block and told her she was in Wisconsin!” lol Yes, I suppose that’s true, but besides seeing Palm trees everywhere, it wouldn’t have been as effective. As I said, I felt this trip was more for my benefit and those who could see her.
The past 3 years gave me a chance to be completely involved in my son’s life, when he needed me most. I didn’t know so many things were happening until I was present every day. There were people that would have wished I would just return to work, but that was not going to happen! The Lord wanted to expose so many things to me. He knows that I am a staunch advocate for people who cannot speak for themselves, and this is the very reason I have the care of my mother and brother and a young son.
However, had I not had some of the experiences in my own life, I would not have been as discerning. Now some of my suffering began to make sense to me. I have the ability to see things that the average person may not. I also have the strength to speak up, where most people will not. I find that my anger at such injustice overpowers any fears I may have. If I was not equipped with this righteous anger, I wouldn’t have the ability to take a stand.
Each year that the furlough was almost up; I would ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. Two times, I would receive another offer to take a year off. But this last year it has been different. This time we would receive an offer of an ‘early-out.’ Buyout offer plus benefits. Wow! This must be the answer, I thought! This was a big offer too! As I pondered this offer, I was ready to jump. Thinking that this would help me tremendously; I now heard the Lord speaking to me. “Hold on, don’t be impulsive.” As I weighed out the pros and cons of the offer, I asked the Lord to do what He has always done. To show me His will in this. To speak to me. He did and it was a surprising answer. He spoke to my spirit and He also sent people to me to give me answers. And just like always, the best plan is the most difficult!
As I began to see that this looked good on the surface, but it wasn’t really what the Lord had planned, I now wondered at how He was going to make my return to work possible. I am now mature enough in my faith that I know He will provide; but I still wanted to know how!
Now, I was most concerned with care for my mother. I can’t leave her and 24 hour nursing care is way too expensive. This would hardly make my return to work reasonable.
One day as I was praying and asking God for the answer to this dilemma, a person came to my mind. It was a woman who used to care for another elderly woman in a group my brother was a part of. My brother had a bowling group and this woman had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Her daughter was an excellent bowler. I had become friends with her and some of the other older ladies in the group. We used to sit and play cards together as the people bowled. You may remember an earlier post about this, “Kings in the Corner.” These women taught me many things. The woman that took care of her was a sweet, little Jamaican lady. She was so cute.
Marilyn eventually passed away, so the caregiver took care of her daughter. It was only a few years later that the daughter also died. She had a heart problem. I still have a picture of her smiling face on my bulletin board. She was full of joy and the sweetest girl. I remember at her funeral, the sister, coming up to me and saying, “You know Carrie, you and me are the same!” She was referring to the fact that she had taken care of her mother, and her sister after her mother’s passing. The caregiver lived with her and helped her take care of both of them.
As I thought of this, I thought, “I should call her and ask about Marlene! (the caregiver) She was excited when I called her. I told her that I had been called back to work and needed someone for my mom. I asked about Marlene. She said, “Wow! I can’t believeyou’re calling right now! She was caring for a woman and she just passed away about 2 weeks ago. She’s looking for someone else to care for right now.” I was so thrilled. I also knew that the was the Lord’s hand in all of this. He constantly reassures me that if He has called me to do something, then He will also provide!
It was only a few weeks later that I was back in training for 6 days. I had complete security knowing that this woman is experienced with people like my mom and she has compassion. She also knows my brother and is very experienced with special needs too. She told me that if she ever has a problem with her schedule, “her sister is her backup.” What a great thing! God not only provides our needs; He goes above and beyond what we need!
My son has proven to be a responsible and caring person from this experience as well. The other day, I messed up my own schedule and thought that I had given the information to Marlene and I did not. So of course, she wasn’t at the house. At first I thought that my printer didn’t print the trip, or she was reading the schedule wrong. I called her in a panic and she was already on her way out of town. She said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get someone to cover for me.” She did and this woman was her cousin. She was so wonderful and had also been living in the north for years taking care of an elderly woman. In the meantime, my son was able to ‘hold down the fort,’ until she arrived. He was asking me where the chucks were for my mom’s bed and I thought, “Is he really changing the bed linens?” This was just unfathomable, as he doesn’t do this in his own room! He had given my mom breakfast and helped my brother get up for school. I thought, this kind of responsibility is good for him and he will never regret the things he did for his grandma.
So now I’m thanking the Lord for all He has done and is doing to grow us. In the midst of the chaos of my life. I see His hand reaching through and holding me as I walk through all the storms. I’m grateful for the people that He sends to me to encourage me and give me wisdom for decisions. He removes those who have tried to bring me harm and continues to reveal His plans for me as I roll everything over to His ultimate will.
I think that my first layover was when it hit me; hey I don’t think I’ve had time to relax like this in years! Now I can understand the benefits to this decision. I felt refreshed for the first time in a very long time. I’m so appreciative of this time I’ve had with my family but also my ‘alone time,’ now. I also want to thank you people who have been a part of this journey with me. I am touched that those of you (and some complete strangers) have helped me through the most difficult times. I know who you are; and I know who has sent you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!