Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekly Word for Oct. 30, 2009

Weekly Word - October 29, 2009

But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, saying,
“Lord save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, . . .

(Mathew 14: 30 & 31)

The other day, Ted and I headed to see my dad. It had been such a long time since I had gone. Ted was on vacation, and this seemed to be the one day we had to spend a little time together. We had spent much of the vacation visiting with Jen, and then I had to work one of the days. So here we were - - - finally alone in the car. As Ted talked, I tried so hard to listen. But my mind was in so many other places - - - and other times. So much had changed in just over a year. And even knowing all that was happening, planning for each heartbreak we were facing - - - it didn’t change the hurt and pain that seemed to still sneak up on me. As we drove, I let my mind - and my heart drift back . . .

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, . . .

In my mind I could picture it - Christmas at mom and dad’s house. It was always a bit crazy - with every chair mom could find all around the living room. The tree was tucked in the corner, and we would laugh at how they always seemed to find a “Charlie Brown tree” each year. Mom would say how beautiful her tree was, as she kept busy with goodies or presents - smiling and laughing as she moved. We all seemed to visit on Christmas afternoon, and our children would play together on the living room floor. As they opened their presents, dad would be taking pictures. He was always checking out a new “gadget” or camera he had picked up that year. And always - - - there was the “Hohler picture”! Mom and dad, my brothers and I, and our families would somehow squeeze together and smile - as the camera captured those moments in time. The kids would whine, and someone would stick out their tongue - but somehow - we always got that picture! After all . . . This was our family Christmas!

As the years passed, the tree was replaced by an artificial one. The house seemed so much smaller as all of our children grew bigger. The gifts had become less personal, as mom’s disease had started to make her thinking less clear. We all got calendars, and writing paper, and pens. Some of the children got lots of gifts, as others got just a couple. Dad tried to make things better, but his movements were slowing, as his body was getting sicker. The goodies on the table were now brought by each family, but the cookies were still made by mom. Mom passed out her cookies - as dad sat on the couch taking pictures. On this year, he was learning how to use his brand new video camera. He still loved his “gadgets”! It wasn’t an easy Christmas - watching my mom and dad get sicker. But it was still our “family” Christmas. And nothing could have prepared me for the moment - - - when it was all gone . . .

“Do not fear . . . ”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”
(Isaiah 43: 1 & 2a)

When I looked over at Ted, I couldn’t help but thank God for this man sitting next to me. He had been right there to hold me, and comfort me - as I faced the loss of my dad - and even my mom. I had cried and sobbed into his safe, warm arms. And yet, I couldn’t shake the memories that still seemed to creep into my mind as we drove that day. They were memories of both good - - - and bad. And both seemed to have their hold over me. Taking Ted’s hand in mine, I sat back - closing my eyes and letting more memories wash over me . . .

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.”
(Isaiah 43: 2b)

The past year seemed to rush over me. Hospitals, waiting rooms, and even the nursing homes were all there. Each place and time, I found myself comforting my mom, easing her fears as she worried about what was happening to my dad. Her disease had made each trip so much more difficult, as we waited and worried. And then another memory came back to me. One from so very long ago . . .

Again, I was sitting in a waiting room at the hospital. My little baby girl was in my arms. She was smiling and cooing, as I anxiously waited for the doctors to begin the tests. As the nurse came to take my little girl away, the tears started streaming down my face. That’s when my mom reached over and hugged me. “It’s going to be alright” she promised. As I let her words wash over me, I knew I had to believe her. My little baby’s life was in the balance. Mom’s quiet words kept me sane, as the minutes slowly ticked by. Finally, when they brought my screaming, shaking baby back - all I could do was hold her tight and thank God for her life. My little Jenny was going to be alright!

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.

(Isaiah 43: 1 & 2)

It is funny how memories seem to jumble together. As we drove, I found myself remembering birthdays and cookouts at my mom and dad’s house. I remembered the hill right beside our house, and how we would slide down it every winter. So many memories seemed to fill my being. And then I remembered my dad’s last birthday, the one he didn’t really want to be at . . .
Dad was in the nursing home, IV’s hooked to his arm. He had caught sepsis and the treatment needed to be done by IV. So when his birthday came along, we asked if we could use one of the rooms right there at the home. We decorated the walls and mirrors, we had special table cloths, along with plates and napkins. But still, we knew dad didn’t want to be there. All 3 of us were there with our children and grandbabies, as my dad sat at the head of the table doing his best to smile. We took pictures and we had presents, but nothing could seem to make my dad happy. His one wish was to get out of that nursing home.

Within a few weeks, dad was finally able to have his wish come true. His treatments were done, and he was going to be released. But the doctors were very concerned, as dad’s cancer was pretty wide spread. So we made special arrangements for dad and mom to go stay with my brother Wayne at the Cape. For over a week, my dad was able to visit beaches and lighthouses. Wherever he wanted to go, Wayne took my parents. At each stop, dad would take pictures. I have pictures of lighthouses, beaches, and mom standing against a rock wall. These were my dad’s last pictures. Each night, my brother would sit up with my father - talking and helping him through the awful pain that seemed to be taking over. Finally, it was time to get more help. Dad needed more care than my brother could offer. And again, my dad needed to go back to a nursing home.

This time though, my mom was able to go with him. Together, they went into the nursing home. The walls were covered with pictures and Halloween decorations, and the room really was very pretty. But I knew that dad really didn’t want to be there. We had brought my dad’s keyboard - only to have him play it just once (to the delight of all the other patients!). Within a few days - - - my dad had slipped into a coma. Over the next 5 days, my dad thrashed - and talked - and just seemed to be in a fight with what was happening to him. We took turns holding his hands, and talking to him. And then finally - - - my dad truly did - go home . . .

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, . . .
And let him behold My salvation.”
(Psalm 91: 14 - 16)

As Ted slowed the car down, I could feel my heart starting to pound. I hadn’t been back here since the funeral. Slowly, we drove into the cemetery. Passed statues and flags, we drove - searching for the right section. Finally, Ted stopped the car. Getting out, we started to walk between the markers on the ground - searching for my dad. I could feel the fear start, as I read name after name - unable to find it. My eyes were already a bit blurry, and I was starting to panic - until I heard Ted’s voice. “It’s right here” he said quietly. As I stood looking down at my dad’s name, Ted handed me the flowers I had brought. Slowly, I bent down to brush the leaves and grass off the marker - making room for the pot of bright purple mums. I just knew my dad would have loved those flowers. Kneeling down, I traced my hand over his name. I didn’t even realize that Ted had backed up - giving me the time I needed to talk to my dad. And that’s just what I did. I started to tell my dad about mom. I told him that I was doing my best to keep my promise to him. “I’m trying so hard dad - to take care of mom” I said. And then I told him how she’s gotten so much worse and needs to live in a nursing home now. As I talked, the tears seemed to just fall. “I miss you dad” I said, and then I got up and turned toward Ted. As I started to sob, his arms pulled me into him.

I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to Thee . . .
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me; . . .
And Thy right hand will save me.
(Psalm 138: 1 & 7)

This past year has been full of so many emotions. There have been weddings, and funerals. There have been wonderful joys - that I thanked God for. And yet, I still have hurts within my soul.

The other day I was driving in my car, when I heard a song by The Gaithers. The name of the song is: “When I Cry”. The words just seemed to catch me, and I found myself crying as I listened to them. It seemed to tell the story of how I felt. These are some of the words:

When I Cry
by Benjamin Gaither and Marshall Hall

Makin’ a list - of all the good things You’ve done for me
Lord I’ve never been one to complain
But right now I’m lost
And I can’t find my way.

My world’s come apart
And it’s breaking my heart
But it helps to know - that Your heart is breaking too.

When I cry - You cry
When I hurt - You hurt
And when I’ve lost someone
It takes a piece of You, too.

When I fall on my face
You fill me with grace
‘Cause nothing breaks Your heart - or tears You apart
Like when I cry.

These days, it seems that I find myself crying more than I have in a very long time. It hurts to know that Christmas and Thanksgiving will never be the same. But I also know that new memories and traditions are being made - even now. My children and grandchildren are a huge part of our lives! And for all of that, I thank the Lord. He has been with me through the really tough times - as well as being here now through whatever lays ahead.

It is my deepest hope and prayer that you too will ask the Lord to be with you - through whatever lays ahead. His hands are big enough, and His arms are wide enough - to hold you through whatever you are facing . . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand . . . And Thy right hand will save me.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;

(Psalm 138: 7 & 8)

God bless you and keep you, until we meet back here again!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers