Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekly Word for May 23, 2014

“The Hand you are Given”

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father.  We are the clay, and Thou our potter, 
And all of us are the work of Thy hand.
(Isaiah 64: 8)

We had just sat down, the singing was over, and the preacher was getting ready to speak.  I couldn’t help but peak over at Christian.  My little grandson had just been “dedicated”, his mom and dad had stood before the whole church, promising to teach him about the Lord.  Christian had cried when it was his turn to be dedicated.  But that was OK, as the people in the church just smiled and laughed a little, as they welcomed him into the church family.    

As I sat back in the pew, I couldn’t help but smile.  My mind was still on the sweet ceremony that had just taken place.  But as the pastor started to speak, his words jarred me back to the present.  He was talking about the things that can get in the way of living a Godly life.  “Sometimes it can be the hand you are given, or the cards you are dealt” he said. He explained that these were things that you had no control over, things that hadn’t been your choice.  As the pastor continued on with his teaching, those words seemed to stick in my mind.  They were words I had heard before; words that had been said to me.   As the pastor preached - - - my mind went back in time . . .

We are the clay, and Thou our potter . . . 

I knew him only as Dolly’s husband.  He came to the nursing home every day to help take care of his wife,  and feed her lunch.  He was also the man my mom had decided she went to school with.  “I’ve known you forever!” she would say to him.  “We went to school together” she would add.  He would laugh and tell her that he used to put her pigtails in the ink well.  Mom didn’t quite know what that meant, but she would smile as we walked by.  As I smiled at him and waved, I knew that this conversation happened a lot.  And yet,  he still smiled at mom and went along with what she said.  I couldn’t help but admire this sweet, loving man who took such tender care of his wife.    

Dolly spends her days in a special type of wheelchair.  It lays back (a little like a baby carriage)  and is padded all the way around it.  The padding keeps Dolly safe, as her body jerks in random movements all day long. On the back of the chair, is a sign that reads: “Dolly’s Cadillac”.  There are brightly colored animals and flowers hanging from both sides.

      On warm summer days her husband takes her outside for a little sunshine.  As he visits with her, he is always sitting close - talking softly to her.  He carefully holds and strokes her arms, as they flail about, her head and body moving this way and that.  As I watched them, I can’t help but wonder about their story.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;  
love does not brag and is not arrogant, . . .
It does not seek it’s own, . . . 
Does not take into account a wrong suffered,
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 5) 

   Mom has been in the nursing home for 5 years now.  She has gone through many changes in those years.  Because the disease called Alzheimer’s never stops it’s awful destruction, it has slowly taken away her memories, and her life.  Over the past few months, my mom’s mind has been drifting further and further away.  As the time has gone by, she has forgotten so much more - including the man she thought she went to school with.  As her condition has worsened, and her body has grown weaker, it has become difficult to visit with her.  And yet - I can’t stay away.  I am worried that at some point my mom will drift away completely, and never come back again.

As I walk down the halls, I have gotten in the habit of stopping to say “hi” to Dolly.  I stroke her arm and look into her eyes, telling her how pretty she is, or just saying hello.  I always ask her husband how he is doing, and of course he tells me he is great!  But I know that he is having a little more trouble getting around now, as he walks a little slower, and is using a cane.

On this day, I stopped in after a difficult visit with mom.  Dolly’s husband smiles at me and asks me how I am doing.  I tell him “good”, as I gently rub Dolly’s arm.  Then I look at him and tell him the truth.  I tell him how my mom is getting worse, and how I don’t know what will happen next.  He nods and tells me that he has noticed the change in her.  “How long has your mom had the disease?” he asks.  “I guess about 12 years or more” I tell him.  It is then that he starts to tell me about his wife.  Dolly has had Huntington’s Disease for 17 years.  She inherited it, and both of their children may also have it.  “There is no cure” he tells me.  It is then that I hear those words. “I guess it is in the hand we are dealt in life” he says as he shakes his head.  Looking at him, I want to say something - to give him some hope.  But I just stand there looking at him.

Love - bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, 
Endures all things . . . 
(1 Corinthians 13: 7)

As I stood with Dolly and her husband, my heart just ached for the two of them.  He stroked her arm, a little smile coming to his lips.  “She knows when I am here” he said as he looked up at me.  “She hears my voice as I walk down the hall and she turns toward the door” he continued.  “She likes ice cream” he said with a big smile.  “Vanilla ice cream, and she gets it with every meal!” he said with a laugh.  “Don’t you sweetheart?” he said, looking at his wife.  She had turned her head toward him, her pretty blue eyes watching him - even as her head continued to move here and there.  He looked up and just nodded his head toward me.  I smiled and told him I would see him later, as I walked out of the room.

Love - bears all things, . . . endures all things . . . 

The hand you are given, or the cards you are dealt - Those words just seemed to roll around in my head.  Then I watched a program with Ted.  It was a show called “700 Sundays” by Billy Crystal.  As I watched the show, I found myself laughing so hard that I was crying.  He is a very funny man.  The show was about his life, and he told stories about how he grew up surrounded by his family.  As I said, much of the stories were very funny.  But mixed in, he had stories of the heartaches in his life.  He lost his dad when he was only about 15 years old.  As the story continues, he finds himself talking to God.  “Why?” he asks.  “Why my dad?” he continues to ask.  “I needed him!” he yells at God.  And then he hears the words: “well, this is the hand that you were dealt”.  “Really?” he asks.  “Why?”

Love is patient, love is kind, . . . 
(it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
Endures all things.
Love never fails; 
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8)

As I sat in church a few weeks ago, I thought about all the things that had come into my life or happened to me - that I had no choice over.  Some of those things were awful things, that caused scars that I still know are there.  But then there are the things that came along, that were such amazing surprises.  Ted was one of those surprises.  I had believed that I would never marry again.  But I was wrong.  The blessing that came into my life, I will always be thankful for.

As Billy Crystal came to the end of his show, he told the audience something that I will never forget.  “The hand I was dealt was:  I lost my father when I was 15, I also got to meet legends in the Jazz world, I met and married the love of my life, I had 3 beautiful children.”  “Why would I throw away that hand ?”  

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father.  We are the clay, and Thou our potter, 
And all of us are the work of Thy hand.

Each one of us will face hardships and tribulation in our lives.  Some of them will happen because of things we do not understand.  They will not be from things we have done wrong, or choices we have made.  We may never know “why” they happen, but they happen anyways.  It is what we do with those “hands we are dealt” that will make the difference in our lives.

For me, I have asked the Lord to walk with me through it all.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have troubles, but it does mean that He is there to comfort me, hold me up, and lead me to healing and Life.  That is my wish for you as well.

What will you do with the “hand that you are dealt”? 

“For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

God bless you and keep you, as you walk this road we call Life.

In His Amazing Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers



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