It’s mid December, but it’s unlike any December I’ve every experienced before.  There isn’t the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas season happening this year.  I take that back, it IS there, but it is happening all AROUND me.  Even in my house, Samuel did 90% of the Christmas decorating this year.  It is very low key, just as I chose last year since we were traveling out of state.  What shopping I have done has been done online.  The rest, my husband, Kenny, has agreed to do.  He likes to shop on December 24th, but that is OK with me.  This year is quite different and I’ve learned to let go of lots of things I previously would have wanted serious control over.  

My mother is slowly growing weaker, but we have moved into a different stage.  She did all she knew to plan for her funeral and such, which ,in her confusion, should have culminated in the Lord coming to take her home to be with Him.  His timing is not our timing though, no matter how much we long to be with Him.  Her days have always been numbered and that number won’t change.  He will return to get her in the timing He has perfectly chosen.  And so we all, including Mama, will watch, and wait. 

One decision we made, with the encouragement of the Hospice nurse, was to move Mama and Daddy’s bedroom into the front living room of the house.  It is much larger, has more seating for visitors and mostly, it has a huge picture window looking out into the front yard.  We have set up bird feeders that are being enjoyed by the birds, a few squirrels, and even a cat on occasion who would like to get his dinner there, NOT in seed form.  Mama can see it all, and the heavy curtains close where she can have a good dark room if a migraine hits her.  It has been a good decision for everyone involved, I think.  She hasn’t been eating much recently and we are having some difficulty getting her pills in her.  We just made the switch to pain patches, instead of pills, and hope to get her other meds in liquid form this week if possible.  So far she knows everyone who visits her, although she does get confused still about where she is and what is going on around her.  She describes seeing things that we don’t see, but thankfully we have been able to talk through them and repair each situation to her contentment….well, usually.  

God has been at work in my family this month, in a special way as we contemplate Mama’s home going.  I’m sure it is different for each individual:  Caregivers, family near and family far away, and friends who have been touched by her steadfast prayers over the years, none of us who want to see her in this state.  I can only speak to what God is doing in me though, for the purpose of this blog.  As I study the life of Gideon, I have been amazed at how God has lined my circumstances with Gideon’s own situation.  I mean, how different can they be?!  A man called to forsake idolatry and follow the one true God, delivering Israel out of the hand of the Midianites and a 50 year old wife/mother with chronic health issues, who has an empty-ish nest and aging parents, one of which is slowly dying.  Pretty different, huh?  But if you look closely…well, maybe more at a distance, you see two people who feel very inadequate, asked to do something by God that seems WAY too difficult to do.  We are both asked to give up something, in order to give of ourselves not only to others, but to God.  Could we have refused?  Sure.  Like Gideon, this possibility left me shaking in my Birkenstocks, not just figuratively, but literally.  My anxiety was sky high as I contemplated Mama and Daddy needing me full-time at their house.  My focus was all on me, me family, what she needed, what he needed, what they needed, my pain, my freaky diet, my husband, my sons….Whew!  Exhausting, right?  When our focus is in the wrong spot, it IS exhausting. 

Finally, with the Lord’s help, I was able to focus on the Him, who knows me better than I know myself.  He had asked something of me.  These were my parents; it was a no brainer, since I was the only child here.  God had placed ME here.  He wanted ME.  For a time I was willing….but… Those “buts” aren’t there for us to use with God.  The “buts” I see in scripture are “But God…” and they are followed by something extraordinary.  I was failing to trust Him fully because I doubted I could do this indefinitely.  When asked by my doctor if my current amount of stress would last weeks or months, I said I hoped it was weeks, because the prospect of months…well, I melted into a mess of tears and trembling.  You see, God is always there for us.  And in return, He wants us AVAILABLE to Him.  I wanted to put limitations on my availability.  But last Sunday, Luke 1:38 was read at church.  “Any Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.’ and the angel departed from her.”  Mary didn’t put limitations on God’s plan for her life and look at what He asked of HER!  She made herself AVAILABLE to her God.  I realized at that moment with that truth and the truth that I am not to worry about tomorrow, I was to be available to God, one day at a time.  I don’t need to worry about the “how long” of it.  He’s got that!  Being available means being ready for use, being readily obtainable.  I was able to accept that I would be available to Him.  I’m choosing not to think about when it will end.  IF it lasts longer than I humanly think I can handle it then He WILL give me the grace to deal with that.  Each morning, all my focus needs to be is Him, and being available to Him, whatever He asks.  

With all that wrestling behind me, I have spent my first week at my parent’s house.  My original plan was to spend Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings with them…my regular days there.  I was quickly able to see that the stress I was feeling was coming from driving back and forth between their house and mine, trying to cook for my household, grocery shop for my household, and be there for my parents.  I ended up staying from Monday through Friday evening, and I came home Saturday morning to spend the weekend with my guys.  The Lord even blessed Daddy with our CNA offering to come on Saturday afternoon free of charge, so he wouldn’t have the whole weekend to care for Mama alone.  (He has had offers from other friends, but accepting help is hard for him, and I suspect it would be difficult for my mother to have friends do some of her personal care.  I want to respect both their feelings.  AND… it’s not my job to challenge my father on those things.  That is between HIM and God.)

I want to report that being at my parent’s has decreased my stress level tremendously!  I left some food for my guys to begin the week, and brought some of it with me to my parent’s.  They were fine on their own and very understanding of what God has called me to do.  In a way, he’s called them as well, to support me…and they have.  To wake up at Mama’s and not have to rush to get there has been a blessing.  Daddy is an early riser, so he does his thing in the morning while Mama and I get our beauty sleep.  😉  He has even willingly shared all of my strange Paleo dishes that I made, as long as there is some “kick” to it.  I love “kick” so it’s all good!

God has asked ALL of us to be AVAILABLE to Him.  For some it may be giving up a job in the workplace and stay at home with children.  What if it is educating your children at home, when you fully planned on sending them to the private school a few miles away.  Maybe it’s giving up an area that feels like “home” to follow your husband to a new job.  Maybe it’s giving up that new car in order to help fund an international adoption.  I could go on and on.  All I ask is that you get on your face before God, and make yourself AVAILABLE to Him…fully AVAILABLE. 

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