I Will Be Here


Sorry, our wedding pictures are still in a box somewhere. This was at our daughter, Hannah’s wedding.


November 18 marks my 25th wedding anniversary. Wedding anniversaries are by nature a thing two people share. I know I should say our anniversary, but for the life of me I can’t. I have been married to the same man for 25 years, but I have not been married to the same man for 25 years. Anyone who has been married that long knows that none of us are really married to the same person we married however many years ago. We change. Life takes its toll and we change. I am not the same person I was 25 years ago. I would wager that I have changed almost as drastically as Strokeman has in the past four and a half years.

Part of surviving for me has been to detach myself a bit from my relationship with my husband. But however painful it is to grieve the loss of what was I don’t want to forget it. I want to remember who it was I fell in love with, so that I can continue to care for this man I am still married to with compassion and tenderness. I have to work at this every day – this balance between keeping enough distance to make it possible for me to exist in the role of caregiver to a man whose brain just doesn’t have the capacity to really see me, and staying engaged enough in who he was to remember why I am doing this. And so. For my benefit more than yours, I am going to remember those first days.

I was 28 and single. I was working as a medical social worker in Rowlett, Texas. I lived in Dallas, but had begun attending a church in south Fort Worth for reasons that started with a Sunday school class on Romans back in 1982. I know it isn’t fashionable these days, but all I really wanted was to be married and have kids.

There was this man at my church. I had heard about him for a few months on the prayer list – a divorce, custody issues, etc. Then I began to notice him sitting there on Sunday mornings with his daughter and son. What I noticed was how gentle he was as he spoke to his children. He seemed so tenderhearted with them especially his daughter. It won my heart. I mentioned him to my best friend, Jann, then dismissed it out of hand – he probably didn’t know I exist, and what would possess me to want to deal with an ex-wife and stepchildren? But secretly I dreamed of being the one to bring healing to broken hearts.

One Sunday he came to church holding hands with a pretty little blond woman attended by two sons. I heard through the grapevine that they were engaged. “So much for that,” I thought. I went back to working my career and pining away for the life I wanted. “I would be happy for the rest of my life if I could just get married and have children!”

A few months later I received a letter in the mail from Lillian, Texas. I thought it might be an informal wedding invitation. Instead, it was a letter from this man. “I have observed your ministry in the church among the children and the young people and have been greatly blessed by your singing…” Thus began an old fashioned correspondence between us. (Apparently things hadn’t worked out with the pretty blonde.) During this time we saw very little of each other at church. We each had obligations that kept us away.IMG_1907

Finally, after several letters had been exchanged, Strokeman wrote, “Would you like to have dinner with me?” My response was a snarky, “Don’t you think we ought to actually talk to each other on the phone or something?” That phone call! It was my first introduction to the fact that Strokeman doesn’t communicate well over the phone. We have laughed over the years about how we might never have made it to the altar if we had started with that phone call.

We continued to write, but added a weekly dinner date. Very soon, Strokeman began to make noises about marriage. I tried to be the voice of reason. We hardly knew each other! We needed to take our time. I managed to hold him off 9 days short of 8 months from the first letter. 6 months from the first date.

It didn’t take long to learn that getting married and having kids was not going to be the thing to keep me happy forever. It was a hard first year. I was selfish and set in my ways. He was wounded and insecure. But we made it. We made it, and we grew to love and appreciate each other. We built a beautiful, traditional marriage. He went to work and I stayed home and raised our children. We didn’t have a perfect marriage, but we did have a good one. I can remember more than one day thinking to myself what a blessing it was to be married to THIS man. I was thankful for all the good in him and in the way we worked through the problems and became best friends. He taught me to be loving and kind. I taught him how to appreciate a good pun (well, tolerate anyway) and how to come up with a song for any subject. He taught me to appreciate creation science, I taught him to enjoy layers of texture in food. He gave me his love for trees. I gave him my love for a good cup of tea with milk and sugar.

So here we are, 25 years later, and I still love him as much as I ever did. It hurts more now, but I still love him. His anniversary gift will come in the mail today. “The Midnight Special” – 11 DVD’s of music from the ‘70’s. It’s one of many things he sees advertised on TV that he thinks he must buy.

My little brother sang “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman  at our wedding. I didn’t realize at the time how this would all play out in our lives, but now, when Strokeman accuses me of never loving him and having been unhappy our entire married life, I just say to him, “Tommorrow morning when you wake up, I will be here.”

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Bringing Strokeman home from the skilled nursing facility was not a smooth process. The week had been filled with ice and snow. I feared getting stranded between there and home with him in the car. By the afternoon of his discharge day, things had melted off enough for us to make our way home. Strokeman is not an easy patient. He had alienated his caregivers in the nursing home, and they were not sad to see him leave. We were both happy to have gotten through the difficult month and were ready for the old normal.

But things did not go back to the old normal. While Strokeman had regained much of his strength, there were still issues to be dealt with that had not been part of the package prior to his sickness. He had been catheterized in the hospital, and while they had removed the catheter a week before discharge from the nursing home, there was still a bit of bladder training to do. He was much less stable on his feet, and fell several times over the next few weeks. One day I gave him a pill to swallow in the bed and he choked on it. I sat him up to help him cough it up, but he passed out and fell out of the bed, hitting his head on the bedside table on the way to the floor (picture me standing over him letting out repeated bursts of scream).

The worst of it, though, was the changes I saw in his personality. He was angry with me for having sent him to the skilled nursing facility, and fearful that I would send him back. His anger fed his tendency to be suspicious and wildly accusatory of me. He exhibited other behaviors that were uncharacteristic. I won’t go into details of all the difficulties that came. Suffice it to say that these things would have never been a part of his personality prior to the stroke. I was shocked, hurt, and confused as to how to reason with this person who was living in an alternate reality. I was quickly losing anything I had gained in terms of rest, as he would often wake me up at night to voice his grievances.

As I have many times before, I sought the aid of my pastor and his wife. While Larry visited with Strokeman to call him back to his senses, I poured my heart out to Cindy, confessing things about the past few years that I had not expressed to anyone else. How grateful I am for their love and support through this time! My pastor does his best to walk the line between being understanding of Strokeman’s limitations and not letting him excuse sin. He helps me see more clearly how I need to respond to the problems as they come. He does the hard job of saying things that need to be said. He is able, where I am not, to help Strokeman reign in the vain imaginings and enter the world of reality. Through Larry’s faithful ministry, Strokeman has come to be more subdued and manageable. Through Cindy’s faithful friendship, I have worked through much of the guilt and heartache and have gained the courage to keep moving forward.

At the suggestion of my pastor, I began to explore Strokeman’s medications to see if any of them might be causing the changes I was seeing. I asked pharmacists, read side effect lists, scoured online patient forums, and consulted with the social worker at the nursing home. There was no evidence that his medications were related to the behaviors that I was seeing. Instead, the evidence was pointing towards the area of the brain that was destroyed by the stroke. As I considered this, I realized that these behaviors had been in play on some level since the very beginning. It was as if putting him in the nursing home broke the last hold and all that had been festering beneath the surface came pouring out.

The social worker told me that it is not uncommon for things to get progressively worse. She encouraged me to start looking at the long term and begin planning for an inevitable nursing home placement. I knew she was right, but my heart still rebelled at the thought.

Meanwhile, my pastor encouraged me to meet with my children and give them a thorough understanding of all that was happening with their father. How I hated the idea of telling these things to my kids! I did not want to add to the pain that had already come to them through the events of the past 4 years. It was a difficult conversation. It confirmed for my children all they had been concerned about in January. They, too, encouraged me to begin working toward an inevitable nursing home placement.

I have to say that the realization of what I had to do was more devastating than the day-to-day trials of caring for Strokeman. It felt like ever so much failure. It felt like the opposite of “in sickness and in health”. The battle with depression was overwhelming. As I worked to get the house ready to sell, I grieved. Going through Strokeman’s closet was the hardest. I wept as I put his tractor overalls and work trousers in a box to discard. Every time I think there is no crying left to be done, another layer of grief rises to the surface.

My friend, and social worker, and chorus director, Lynda, gave me the name of a Medicaid advisor who would educate me on the laws surrounding spousal protection in the course of nursing home placement. I made an appointment to meet with him.  My oldest son, Caleb, flew into town to go to this appointment with me. Through this meeting, subsequent email communication and hours on the phone with my financial advisor, I have been able to come up with a plan to work within the laws to provide for Strokeman’s needs without becoming financially devastated in the process.

As with the idea of selling my home, this added burden of making financial decisions and working toward a plan that would only solidify Strokeman’s suspicions of me was overwhelming. But in each case, as the days unfolded, God’s grace was poured out in unbelievable ways. As I cried out to God with a million “how will I ever…?” prayers, He cleared the way for the next step. Things that seemed absolutely impossible have been accomplished with relative ease. Things are falling into place.

It can be done.

It can be done.

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While You Were Sleeping (and I was mostly not).

Wow! Time flies. I looked back to see when my last post about “us” happened, and it was 2014. So let me try to catch you up.

In January, all my children came for the great occasion of my army man-child marrying his German sweetheart.


Family photo at the celebration.

After celebrating this great occasion, my children took me out to dinner and had what my friend, Lauri, calls a “come to Jesus” meeting with me. They were concerned about my health. (I am sure it had nothing to do with the horribly ugly skin rash I had over most of my upper torso and face.) We talked a bit about what might help me and I conceded a few days of respite somewhere away from home would be nice. Since the stroke, 4 ½ years ago, I have not been away from Strokeman more than two nights and three days at one time. I admitted needing a break, and they encouraged me to do what it would take to make that happen. It took me a few days to even think about what would be a reasonable plan, but I did, and I began to work towards a trip to see my sister in California. She was lining up massages and counseling and walks on the beach. I was counting the days, and hanging on for dear life.

Then, Strokeman got a case of the flu that hit him so hard he could not think well enough to make his legs work. He became so impaired, so quickly, that I thought he’d had another stroke. The EMT’s that came at my request assured me that he was just really sick with something. I made the mistake of letting Strokeman control his own destiny at this point, and sent the paramedics on their way.

Just a few hours later I found myself in the bathroom where Strokeman was unable to control his body enough to get the two feet from the wheelchair to the toilet. In my efforts to help him, I moved the wheelchair out of the way to be close enough to … I don’t know – pick his legs up and move them? … I found myself in the ridiculous situation of standing next to a man twice my size, who was leaning his head on the bathroom wall, while resting an increasing amount of weight on my shoulder and saying to me, “I wish you would stop panicking. Can you just stop panicking?”

I could not. I also could not continue to hold him up. Fearing he was going to fall and cause us, both, bodily harm, I worked at lowering him to the floor. As I put a pillow under his head, he said, “What did THAT accomplish?”

I did not stop to explain. I simply called the paramedics back and had him transported to the hospital. After several hours in the Emergency room, they admitted him for observation. (Apparently, being hammered with the flu is not an adequate diagnosis for a true admission to the hospital.) I realized could not take him home. He needed way more than I could offer him.

They managed to keep him a few days while running various tests, and I made preparations to have him transferred to a Skilled Nursing Facility for some physical therapy. This was the fulfillment of his worst nightmare. From the very beginning of our stroke adventure, he has feared being “dumped” in a nursing home. When we left the hospital he was still in such weakened condition that he didn’t really argue with me about the plan. It didn’t take him many days before each visit started with him begging me to take him home.

During his one-month stay at the skilled nursing facility I managed to get some much needed rest (on nights he didn’t call me to tell me he was not being taken care of). The facility was close enough to home that I could visit daily. I did what I could to keep him from feeling abandoned, while maintaining that he must regain his strength before I could bring him home. He stopped begging to leave and made valiant efforts to do as the physical therapist instructed – for the most part.

While I couldn’t bear to leave him for long, I did take this opportunity to make an overnight trip to OKC to see some dear friends from Africa. It was good to visit with “aunt” Jeanine and “uncle” Glenn Boyd who had been surrogate parents for me when the borders between Kenya and Tanzania were closed, making it difficult for me to get home from boarding school. We spent the evening remembering stories from another lifetime. Their oldest daughter, Becky, is a dear friend, and she managed to take a break from her family to come spend the night at her parents’ house. There is something so comforting about drifting off to sleep in the middle of late night conversations in the dark with an old friend. Another friend, Rilda, came over for supper and stayed to visit for a while. This was a trip I have wanted to make for years. So many of my aunts and uncles from Africa are growing older and frailer, I felt as if I was racing against time to see them.

As the time grew near for Strokeman to be brought home, I decided to make a quick trip to see my parents. I got my youngest son, David to come with me to do the driving. On the way back, we stopped in Waco at our favorite local restaurant, Lula Jane’s. As we sat there enjoying a bite to eat, David broached the subject of selling the house. I told him all the reasons I had given up that dream, and he proceeded to do away with all my excuses. I agreed to at least try to start down that path again. I dreaded it. Not because I didn’t want to leave this house, but because the road seemed full of insurmountable obstacles. I just didn’t think I could do everything I needed to do to make it possible. But I knew I had to try, if for no other reason than to come to an arrangement where David felt comfortable leaving me to get on with his own life.

Once I got home and got Strokeman home, I began interviewing realtors. I fully expected they would tell me what I was endeavoring to do was impossible – and one did. But there was one who made it all seem doable. He promised to help make a long complicated process as easy as possible. Thus, the new leg of the journey began.

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Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

The months of April through July were full of packing, renovating, staging and cleaning. I collected a stack of business cards from various painters, handymen, plumbers, etc, as I tried to take care of all the things in the house that had gone unattended for years. I learned the difference between propane fixtures and natural gas fixtures by trial and error. I learned that you have to have a plumber to install a propane cooktop, but that they won’t know anything about how they are supposed to work. David learned how to replace the grout in the bathroom tile (although, after doing two showers, he probably would just as soon forget it).

“Only paint the rooms that need to be painted – maybe just one accent wall,” the realtor said. But the truth is that my whole house needed to be painted. I started with the worst wall, but each completed wall just made the one next to it look so much worse! David was doing the painting for me. I noticed that when he would finish a room he would try to avoid me, because he knew I would have decided one more wall needed to be done. I threw things away, boxed things up and put them in storage, re-arranged furniture and staged rooms. By the time I finally decided I had done all I was willing to do, all I could see were the flaws.

There were still plenty of flaws left. The laundry room was not painted. I had found a really easy fix for that hole in the closet door on Youtube and decided to give it a try (David was gone on a rock-climbing trip, or he would have stopped me). It looked worse than ever when I got done. The master bedroom had received no facelift other than the removal of some furniture to make it look bigger. I cleaned the carpets, but they were stained and loose. The photographer came to take pictures of the house for the listing. The house in the photos was beautiful. I started worrying that people would come in and think, “Oh! This doesn’t look anything like the pictures!”



On July 27, the house went on the market. On July 28th we showed it 4 times. In all we showed it about 400 20 times. We had indicated on the listing that we would not be able to leave the house for showings. Each time people came to the door I welcome them with these words, “If you will please start upstairs, that will give me time to get my husband up from the bed to a chair for you to tour the master bedroom.” People were more than willing to accommodate. They were patient with my husband’s need to tell them all sorts of details they may, or may not need to know. The feedback was mostly positive, but we had no offers.

The last week in August a young couple came to tour the house. I can’t explain why, but I just really liked them. The young wife seemed to be asking all the right questions. They seemed to appreciate all the things I love about this property and house. When they left, I told Strokeman, “I want them to buy the house!”

Two days later, we had not heard anything, and I decided to ask our realtor if we needed to think about lowering the price. Before I called him, he called me. The young couple had made a full offer on the house, asking that we pay closing costs and buy a one-year home warranty. I didn’t even think about it. I just said yes! They set the closing date for October 9, in order to give us plenty of time to find and modify a place to move.

The next day David, his girlfriend, Eden, and I went to look at houses with my realtor. We looked at 6 houses. Only one of them was close enough to what I wanted to consider doing a “wheelchair run”. We agreed to meet back the next day so that I could bring Strokeman to take a look. Hours before our appointment my realtor called to say he had a house I needed to look at before making a decision. He thought it would need less in the way of modifications. I headed out the door to take a look.

The new house was designed in a way that was so much more conducive to our lives! There are double doors into the master bedroom. It is large enough for a sitting area, which will sport a lovely daybed for those nights when a sitter will need to stay close (or I just need my own space). The shower has a built-in seat. The builders had already offered to pour ramps at the doors for the wheelchair. The other bedrooms are on the opposite side of the house. The upstairs sports a bedroom, bath, and sitting area that will be perfect for my daughter. The formal dining area off of the foyer will make a lovely private sitting area for me.

I asked the community manager what it would cost to exchange the carpet in the master for tile, and she said they could “throw that in”. What about bars in the shower and toilet area? Yes. A refrigerator? We could have that at builder’s cost. Only thing left was the wheelchair run. This also went well. Unbelievably, three days after signing a contract to sell, I signed a contract to buy.

The next big hurdle was the home inspection. I had heard horror stories of inspectors who nick-picked through peoples’ houses in ways that made buyers back out. It was a discipline to stay calm and not fret. The inspection took hours. The inspector was friendly, and asked few questions. Once he was done he told me he had found nothing major. I let out a sigh of relief.

The next day we heard from the buyers. They sent a list of 4 things to be fixed prior to the closing, all of which were reasonable, only one being pricey. I set about getting these things done. Now all that is left is getting the modifications completed on the new house, setting the official closing dates, and getting moved.

As I look back on this year I am amazed at how many seemingly insurmountable hurdles have been overcome. God has provided the right people at the right time. He has provided not just what I need, but also a number of things that I want, like that Red Oak in my new front yard. I will rest easier when all the papers are signed and I am setting up house in my new home. But for the moment, I am raising Ebenezers.


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From a blog I follow. This Ted Talk spoke to my heart in many ways. Thought I would share it with you.

Originally posted on Sometimes Care Giving Stinks:

Even unexpected good news can bowl us over.

Melissa was surprised when I proposed to her. She remembers it as one of the few times she was at a loss for words. (fortunately she gasped out “Yes”).

Christians celebrate Easter, when the first reaction to Jesus’ empty tomb was,

…they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8).

Care giving usually begins with a surprise. Generally, it is a traumatic incident or an unwelcome diagnosis at the doctor’s office.

But even that kind of “bad news” can lead to surprises that become blessings over time.

If you’ve not heard this talk by Pamela Nelson, give yourself the 13 minutes to listen. She comes to “12 Tips” for caregivers. Some of these reflect surprises that “come our way” as we care for someone…

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Remembering Andy

It’s a difficult thing to explain–this relationship missionary kids (MKs) have with each other. We share the experience of growing up in a country not our own where we are forever changed by experiences that will keep us from ever feeling quite normal in our country of origin. We become extended family for each other, calling each other’s parents “aunt” and “uncle”. We go to boarding school together and deepen the level of experience that sets us apart, together. We comfort each other when we graduate from high school and have to go home to a country that isn’t really home.

Some of us adjust better than others. Some of us never quite get over that feeling of not belonging. But whether we put down deep roots in a small Texas town, or drift from place to place around the world, there is a connectedness between us that never goes away. These are our brothers and sisters. Sometimes, because of the boarding school experience, they feel more kin to us than our own siblings. We may not see each other for years. But when we do, we pick up where we left off with an uncanny ease. This explains how I can be so affected by the death of a man I have seen only a handful of times in the past 35 years.

Andy was one of the few people who shared both my life before Africa and my life in Africa. I don’t remember a time when our families didn’t know each other. We went to Africa in 1967, and they followed a few years later. Their first Christmas in Kenya, they drove the thousand miles to our little town in Southern Tanzania to celebrate with us. I was young, and I don’t remember that Christmas. But Andy’s daddy, my Uncle Tom, has told me the story of their trip south in a car that should not have been driven that far on African roads. He tells me he was carrying a guitar that my parents had bought for my older brother. Somewhere along the road, that guitar got lost. Somewhere on the back roads of Tanzania, an African man or woman got a wonderful surprise for Christmas that year. My friends who create magical stories could maybe write one about the life that was changed by a guitar that was found on a dusty road. But I am no good at that. I will just stick to the facts.

Andy’s family lived at Brackenhurst, the beautiful hotel and grounds that hosted our yearly mission meetings in the highlands of Kenya. Not every year, but more than a few, we stayed with them at their home during that week of meetings. I can still wander the rooms of their house my mind. I can remember sitting around their table sharing a meal. I remember throwing up on their couch. I remember walking down to the hotel dining room in the fog that rested on the ground. I remember riding into Nairobi to watch “Young Frankenstein” with them. Family.

While Andy and I graduated high school together, we didn’t really keep in touch, other than when our class would meet somewhere in the US for a reunion every few years. The last time we met up for a reunion was in South Texas almost 5 years ago. I remember noticing how Andy’s voice had that soft gravelly quality I had grown to love in his father. He made jokes at his own expense about not having found someone willing to marry him (“bachelor till the rapture”). I learned that he was a barbeque aficionado. He asked me if I was doing any writing, and remembered fondly the poetry I wrote in high school. A few weeks after the reunion, he wrote me a note encouraging me to write. It was kind, and sweet, and brotherly. I remember reading it to a non-MK friend who thought it was terribly forward for him to write something like that to a married woman. It’s not something that can be explained easily, so I didn’t try. In my mind I knew he wasn’t threatening the integrity of my marriage any more than if one of my real brothers had written it.

And then I saw that Andy had finally found the love of his life. I teased him about managing to skip right to being a grandparent without ever having to pay the dues of being a parent. I was happy to think of him being loved by someone. I enjoyed seeing him holding a precious little grandbaby in his big old arms. It was a good thing.1016273_725215390842180_213917014_n

From a worldly perspective, Andy’s death came at an inconvenient time. I was in the midst of meeting my son’s fiancé, and getting them married, and celebrating with friends and family. Then my husband got sick, and I didn’t have time to grieve properly. I couldn’t break away to attend his funeral. It was inconvenient.

It was inconvenient for our high school class who would have liked to see him in June when we meet in Pennsylvania for our reunion.

It was inconvenient for his mom who is going through chemo at the moment and probably didn’t feel like she had any reserve to be grieving the loss of her baby son.

It was inconvenient for his dad and his sister and brother who couldn’t help but see his passing as being grossly premature.

It was inconvenient for his bride who had only really begun to live a life with him. So many people were not prepared. So many people were taken by surprise.

I don’t know why it was his day to die. But I know that he believed in the God of the Bible, and that he would have been the first to say, “amen” to the verses in Psalm 139 in which we are promised that all our days are numbered before one of them come to be. And while we grieve, he rejoices. He has seen his Savior face to face, and he knows for sure the perfection of the timing of God’s calling him home. It seems senseless to me. I just have to trust that God is too wise to be mistaken, and too good to be unkind.

I don’t really have any wisdom to impart about Andy’s death. I can’t think of anything to say that will make it easier for Aunt Nancy, Uncle Tom, Sally, or Tom Jr. I wouldn’t dare lecture his wife, Twyla, about how she should cope with this horrible loss (but I wish she would come to our reunion in June so that we could meet her and love on her as family should). I just wanted to remember him the best way I could. And so I did what he would have encouraged me to do. I wrote.

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Counting My Blessings


“When I am worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings…” The little interlude in White Christmas when Bing sings this song to Clooney is one of my favorite parts of that movie. It’s a pretty song in that crooner’s voice, and the sentiment is a good one.

If the truth were known, there have been very few nights in my life when left to myself I couldn’t sleep soundly. It just isn’t a problem I have. The problem I have is that for a good portion of my adult life I have had other people who depended on me who could not sleep at night. So I have been woken up – a lot.

I gotta tell you – I really, really love my sleep. And when I get woken up, my go-to response is not to count my blessings. I will refrain from incriminating myself by confessing my first response. My second response is generally some form of repentance for the first one.

Strokeman has had several weeks here lately of needing me repeatedly throughout the night. He has gut pain, and he has a rash that itches and must be oiled and rubbed. And in order to distract himself he wants to watch TV. All.night. He mutes the sound, but that flashing of the screen…argh. So I put my mask on and pray my repentance and try to get a few moments peace between calls for help.

This week seemed to be ending on a better note. After two very traumatic medical appointments, we ended with a shot of cortisone that curbed the itching as it was supposed to and had the added bonus of giving some relief from the gut pain. And then the hiccups started. What is it about steroids and hiccups? But they weren’t bad, and I am so exhausted, I think I could have ignored them.

“Hey!” I thought, “I might actually get to sleep tonight, and (dare I hope?) go to church in the morning!”

About the time I was getting ready to head to the bed, Strokeman started vomiting. And my night became rounds of holding the bucket while keeping the torpefied arm in position so that Strokeman could stay on his side while his stomach heaved. I said my good-byes to sleep, and to church. I looked for ways to soothe and comfort. After all, as much as I felt sorry for myself, I have not lost my mind to such an extent that I couldn’t see who was the real victim in this scenario. Such disappointment he had as he realized how short lived that relief from the gut pain would be! Such humiliation and suffering he experienced as he propped himself up on his good elbow the keep from spewing his supper on himself and the bed.

It’s easy at the moment to whine and complain. Life is hard, and there is no denying it. Lack of sleep does not make me a nice person. But I have not been called to an easy life. I am told in the scripture that in this world I will have tribulation. I am told I should expect to suffer. And I am told to count it all joy. I am told to let my requests be made known to God with thanksgiving.

This is a discipline. I am not the most discipline-inclined person in the world. I am pretty good at making excuses for why I can’t do what is required of me. From a worldly perspective I can give you a long list of reasons why I should not have to be thankful. But as a Christian, the worldly perspective is not worth my attention. Instead, I turn to the perspective of Christ. He suffered by taking on the punishment of the very sins I commit each time I am woken up in the middle of the night. He served those who should have been serving him. He did things way below his rightful position. He gave up his place of authority. And as he anticipated his death for people who were still sinning, he prayed for us. Surely I can start here.

I am thankful that while I was content in my willful sin Christ died for me. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit breathed life into my heart of stone and made it a heart of spiritual life. I am thankful that the Father looks on me through the blood of His Son and accepts me as his own child. I am thankful that each person of the triune God agrees to pour out love upon me in a way that not only secures my soul but also purges it that it may be clean. I am thankful that none of my life here on this earth is meaningless. It is all for the purpose of being conformed to the image of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am also thankful that at a time when I felt such a yearning for a vacation my sister came to spend a couple of days with me. We didn’t get to go on that cruise we dream about. But somehow just having her here to share the times between calls for help was a respite. I felt rejuvenated when she left.

I am thankful that my daughter is back home after a stay in the hospital last month. I am thankful that we have insurance to cover the stay, and that she is feeling more like herself these days. I am thankful for her amazing strength and the spiritual maturity as she remained calm and cheerful in spite of this huge setback; always eager to give a reason for the hope that she has.

I am thankful for getting to have most of my family here for a Thanksgiving dinner and that they will all be here at the end of this month. I am thankful to be so loved by every one of my children and their spouses. And then there are those grand children! Oh how thankful I am for them.

I am thankful that in spite of the many setbacks and complications of last month I was able to make strides in my attempts to make Young Living a meaningful source of income. Even this month has brought surprises in that area that can only be attributed to the grace of God.

I am thankful for music: singing in the Texas Traditions Chorus, listening to Handel’s Messiah at Bass Hall, iTunes, this post on a favorite Hymn, various youtube videos, etc. etc. etc.

I am thankful the itching stopped before the vomiting began. I am thankful that it was only coming out of one end (pardon me, but man am I thankful for that!). I am thankful for washing machines and essential oils and cleaning products and extra clothes. I am thankful for cortisone shots.

I am thankful for birds singing out my window and unexpected visits from old friends. I am thankful for my African family and my American family and that I actually have such an amazing life that I get to have two extended families. And speaking of families, I am thankful for my church family. What a blessed plan this community of believers thing is!

So, in spite of the fact that I may never get to fall asleep, I can still count my blessings. They are many and abundant. I have only scratched the surface.


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