Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Word for November 23, 2015

Weekly Word for November 18, 2015

There is an appointed time for everything.  
And there is a time for everything under heaven . . . 
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1)

There is an appointed time for everything . . . I have known this verse for many, many years.  I have trusted in it, and believed in it.  Yet in the past few months, I want to argue with it.  I want to argue with God about how things happen, and why?  As I turn off the news, hating the bombings and terror that seems to be increasing in this world - I ask “Why?”.  As my mom becomes increasingly difficult, doing things that I never thought she would do - I again ask “Why?”.  When friends lose their children, when life seems unfair - the word just seems to roll around in my head!  Why Lord?

And there is a time for every event under heaven - 
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 2)

“Why?”  - I guess I have asked this question most of my life.  My poor dad used to have “debates” with me when I was a teenager.  We both listened to the news and read the newspapers;  and then I would tell him what I thought was right or wrong in this world.  There was a war going on at the time - Vietnam.  And the president of the United States had been caught cheating - and Watergate was part of our every day news.  Dad and I had differing views on about everything.   But surprisingly - he listened to me!  My dad encouraged me to search for answers to the questions I had about life, about the world around me.  Because of dad, I still search - - - I still ask Why? 

And there is a time for every event under heaven - 

Norma and I started out as colleagues, working in a ministry together.  She seemed so confident, so knowledgeable when I first met her.  I on the other hand, felt very inadequate for the job I was doing.  I had started at the ministry a few months before she did.  During that time, I was asked to run the entire place.  I made up schedules, took courses on counseling, and fell in love with the ministry.  We counseled teenage girls in crisis.  Each morning the volunteers would come together to pray for the day ahead.  We never knew what we would face that day.  Some days we had girls walking in the door all day long.  Some needed help to take care of their new babies.  Other girls were scared of being pregnant.  We faced so many challenges that summer.

When fall came, everything changed.  The volunteers had to go back to work - as teachers or home schooling their own children.  Norma was starting as head of the ministry, and I really didn’t know what that would mean.

Truthfully, I didn’t like the change that came that fall.  I actually wasn’t sure that I liked Norma.  She was now head of the ministry, and I was doing scheduling, paperwork, and bills.  Everything was different.  I wish I could say I was nice to Norma that first few months.  But truthfully, I wasn’t.  So how we became best friends, I will never know!

We became best friends!  Over the next few years, we learned to trust each other.  I knew that Norma was always there to listen to me, and to pray with me.  She was there as I struggled through my first marriage.  She prayed for me as I went through counseling, working through the abuse that I had gone through in my life.  She listened when I questioned “why” things had happened to me;  and she taught me about God’s love for me.

Norma taught me so much over the years, especially about praying.  I just loved to listen to Norma pray, she knew just what to say - for the girls we saw in ministry - or for whatever was going on in our lives.   So I guess that is why I was so surprised when it seemed that the Lord wanted “me” to go pray with Norma.  She had been very sick, and I had called to ask our pastor to go pray with her.  But the pastor asked me to go.  With shaking knees, I held Norma’s hands and prayed that day.  I asked the Lord to please help the doctors to find out what was wrong with her.  It was on that day, that we found out that Norma had cancer.

A time to give birth; and a time to die . . . 

For three years, Norma battled cancer.  I believed that she would win the battle.  But when the cancer came back, it seemed as if it just wasn’t going to happen.  I found myself praying - asking God “why?”   “Why her Lord?”   “She has a husband and a son the same age as my Mike” I would remind Him.  As Norma grew weaker and was hospitalized, we talked every night on the phone.  She would wait until her husband went home, and then she would call.  We would talk about the things she was thinking about - her son and husband.  We talked about Heaven, and what it would be like.  She asked me how she would know how to go. I have to admit, I was shaking as we talked about these things.  I didn’t know all the answers, but I did know that God was right there with her.  I could feel Him holding her, as her body grew weaker.

Norma passed away on July 18, 1998.  That day, I sat by her side and held her hand.  I told her how much I loved her and was going miss her.  “How will I ever get by without you?”  I asked.  She had been in a coma for days, but somehow I knew she was right there with me.  As I said goodbye that day, I knew that she would soon know the answers to the questions - we had talked about only weeks earlier . . .

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find . . . ” 
(Mathew 7: 7)

So many times through the years, I have wondered “Why”  when terrible things happen.  When those we love die, tragedy happens, or sickness overcomes us - we ask those questions.

These past few months have been full of questions for me.  When one of my best friends lost her 19 year old son, I couldn’t help but ask God why.  My head understood that he had been sick - but my heart just didn’t understand why it hurt so badly just thinking about it.  When wicked men took guns and bombs and killed so many people in Paris, my heart just broke for the families, the city, and the country.  And when my mom started to change with the disease called Alzheimer’s - I didn’t know how to feel, react, or understand.

My mom has had Alzheimer’s for around 15 years or so.  It has grown from a mild case to where she is now.  In the past month, my mom has become very aggressive, and very emotional.  She doesn’t seem to understand what simple things are.  She used to love to color, but lately tried eating a crayon.  She doesn’t always understand what food is, or that she is supposed to eat.  And she doesn’t understand where she is supposed to go, or that other patients’ rooms aren’t hers.  She has gotten angry and aggressive with the staff as they try to reroute her from going into other people’s beds, taking their things, or even messing up their bathrooms.  (she doesn’t know how to use a bathroom).  All of these things have confused me, making me wonder how to feel.  When my mother threw her walker at me, growling and hissing at me, I stood outside the room and cried.  But there are other moments when she is so happy to see you - and the hugs are huge!  I guess it felt like her emotions are just all over the place, and I felt bad for the hard work she is putting the staff through, as they clean up her messes.

“Why Lord?” I asked.  “What purpose is there for her being like this here on earth?”  I couldn’t help but ask Him.  This past Monday I went to visit mom.  Her aide was finishing up getting her washed and dressed.  As Paula smiled and told mom that I was there, mom just looked through me as she walked toward me.  “Hi Mom!” I said.  I took her down to activities and sat next to her as we started to do exercises.  Mom just couldn’t seem to understand what was happening.  She looked at me and said: “I sleep now”.  I told her OK, and I took her to her room and put her to bed.  I covered her up and gave her a teddy bear, and kissed her as she closed her eyes.  She just looked so tired.  I then went up to the desk where her doctor was sitting.  I waited for him to finish up and then asked him if there was anything we could do to help her.  He just looked at me with such caring eyes.  He told me my mom was in a phase that would change soon.  “Is there any medicine we can give her to help her be better?”  I knew I was grasping at straws.  He told me no.  But he would check her out in a little bit.  I left that day feeling so sad, and wanting to help my mother - even though I couldn’t.  When I told Ted about the doctor, he asked me: “what did you want him to do?”  I knew the answer - I wanted him to fix it all!  But that wasn’t possible . . .

“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”
(Mathew 7: 8)

I went to visit mom today.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do with this day.  But the rain had stopped and the skies were blue, and it just seemed like a good day to take a drive.  I put on some Christmas music (yes it is a little early) and I sang along with it.  One song, seemed to bring tears to my eyes.  It was a song about gathering together, until we meet again.  As I got to the nursing home, it just felt so good to be outside.  As I went inside, I waved and said “hi” to Sue at the front desk and some of the nurses.  When I got up to mom’s floor and headed down to her room, I saw that Nicky was mom’s nurse today, and that made me smile.  “Mom is sleeping in her room” she told me. I was a bit surprised, but I went inside to sit next to her.  She moved a little bit, and I said “Hi” to her.  She opened her eyes and looked so tired.  “I am sick” she told me.  I asked her where, and she put her hands on her legs and belly.  "I’m sorry", I told her.  I gave her one of her baby dolls and covered her up a little more.  She held the doll - as her eyes closed.

I spent the next hour checking on mom and visiting with the nurses and helping out where I could in the activities room.  “I don’t know why I am staying, while mom is sleeping.” I told Nicky.  “You are here for us.” she said.  As she said it, I knew she was right.  I needed them - to help me through what was happening with mom.

“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, . . .”

“Why?”  I don’t have all the answers to this question.  But I do know that God is listening.  Why was mom so aggressive?  I guess I wonder if the frustration of losing her understanding of things, words, all of it - just made it difficult for her.  She had to get those emotions out!  I had asked God “Why” - and maybe that is one of the reasons.  I just don’t know.  But I do know that mom is getting tired.  The disease is eating away at her brain, and her body hurts - and she is sleeping a lot now.  I don’t know how much longer she will be with us.  But truthfully, she isn’t really “with us” these days.  Maybe that is why the song touched my heart.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - 
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.

There are many times in our lives when our hearts are just broken.  We don’t understand why, but it happens.  I wish I could say that asking God to fix it, would make it all better.  But the truth is, our hearts do get broken, and God is there to help us get through those times.  He helps us to love, and to mourn.  He then helps us to go on living, as we love those in our lives - - - and those we have lost.

Terrible things happen in this world. But God is right here, with us.  He gives us helpers, and He stays near us through whatever we are facing.  I am so glad for the friends He has given to me at the nursing home.  Nicky was right, I go to check on mom, but I also go for the help they are giving me - to get through this.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

When you are struggling, asking “Why” the hard and terrible things are happening in your life, ask Him!  He is there to answer you, be with you, and guide you through whatever you face ahead.

God bless you and keep you - as you walk this road we call life!  Trust in Him, and He will guide your path and bring you to everlasting life.

“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)

Until we meet back here again, may you be blessed as we begin the holiday season.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers