Thursday, 27 February 2014

Faced with Grace

I come face to face with God's grace every day and even more so every night. It's rare for me and Mike to have an uninterrupted night of sleep. I can't remember the last time it happened. Some nights we are awake two or three times and some nights we are awake every hour or more. I sleep lightly, like a mother of a new born baby…on guard and ready to meet any need of the helpless little love of her life. But for over two years, my delight in responding to Mike's needs in the middle of the night has diminished.

When Mike needs something in the wee hours of the morning it's a bit of a guessing game. Maybe he needs the head of his bed raised or lowered or maybe he needs something scratched, or maybe he needs to turn over, or maybe he needs to go pee...  To find out what Mike needs, I have to turn the light on because I have to see his face to communicate with him. Even his nods lately are somewhat hard to read...was that a "yes" or a "no"? His eyes tell me the most. I run through a series of questions; sometimes I get it right away and sometimes it takes a while, and every time, Mike is patient with me. However, my patience wears thin after the second or third wakeup call.

When I get up to attend to Mike, I put on a sweater, socks and sometimes shoes so I can get a grip on the laminate floor if he wants to turn over. Waking up is one thing, but having to get up and dress is another. Getting out of my warm, cozy bed is usually the last thing I want to do and this is where I come face to face with God's grace. Sometimes I'm a little disoriented, sometimes I get frustrated, even angry almost. Not at Mike, but the situation, not even the situation, I guess its sleep deprivation. I don't say anything in my displeasure, I keep it inside. I'm sure Mike can tell though because I'm not cheerful like I am in the day. Perhaps that's normal, but I don't want to be normal. I want to serve my husband with a happy heart all the time, sleep deprived or totally rested.

God is using this experience in my life in a couple of ways. One of which is to show me another side of His grace. God is with me in the middle of the night, in the darkness just before I turn on the light. By His grace I get up once more to serve my beloved husband. God enables me. He carries me. He loves me. When I think I can't do it again, He says, "Yes you can!" "I am here and I will help you." And He does.

God is also using this experience in my life to teach me about surrender. It's easy to say, "I surrender all" to God, but is it easy to do? Jesus said in order to follow Him you have to deny yourself (Luke 9:23). Wow, that's a little beyond me. But by God's grace, He helps me make strides in that direction and in the middle of the night I am humbled and grateful every time He says, "Yes you can!"

ALS has forced Mike to surrender everything. He hasn't had a choice in surrendering but he has had a choice in how he surrenders. He has done it with such dignity. ALS has forced me to surrender a lot as well and God continues to call me to surrender it all. And He has given an excellent role model: Mike!

I can't guarantee that lack of sleep won't get the best of me, but I can guarantee that God's grace has!

"Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time." Oswald Chambers.

Following up on my blog post "You're Richer Than You Think" from Dec /13, Madison raised $2855 from her run (Run for Wellness) for Project Wellness. Thank you to those who donated and for all the encouragement and support! The above picture is of my dad in Malawi, Africa just last week. He accomplished a lot once again...he provided food for 200 orphans until June when the harvest comes in, a stove for the new kitchen, medicine and he had a well drilled. This is our 25th well drilled in Malawi!! My dad was named honorary chief of the village, “Chief Nyoni” which means "Bringer of Gifts"!  Check out project

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Hold On and Let Go

Last week when I was driving Mike to his bath appointment, I looked at him through the rear view mirror and observed the content look on his face. I kept alternating my gaze between his face in the mirror and the road in front of me through the windshield. I couldn't help but smile and think how well he rolls with the punches.

People say what a difficult time we must be going through, but I don't feel like that at all. It's been difficult at times, but not necessarily a difficult time. It's been a time to grow and to learn. It's been a time to put things in proper perspective. It's a process for sure, but we are learning to hold on and let go. We let go of things in our lives that hinder and distract us like worry, fear, un-forgiveness and regret and hold on to things that enhance, beautify and bless our lives like faith, hope, and love and all the other wonderful outpourings of the Lord.

Good things come from bad things all the time. That's how God works. He redeems things.  God has done it with ALS in our lives a lot. I am constantly reminded of a popular Bible verse from the book of Romans. It goes like this: "And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Another version I really like of the same verse goes this way: "And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans."

We all have trials in our lives...we all have troubles...some more than others...its part of life. What I have learned is that the trials in life accelerate growth and learning. And without adversity you never really grow. It's a "good" thing. For us with ALS, it's been an opportunity to not only grow more, but to know more, to love more, to give and to forgive more, to serve more and to live more.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Mike enjoys his Wednesday afternoon hot soak in the tub at the hospital. It's not necessarily for washing purposes because he has a shower almost every day; it's more for therapeutic purposes.  Mike would say it was well worth the eight month wait to get into the bathing program.

When I was gazing at the content look on Mike’s face in the rear view mirror last week, I thought about a blog post I wrote a long time ago. It’s called: Mike’s Glass is Half Full…still so true!

Here is some of that post, Mike’s Glass is Half Full from October 2011:

Today Mike said to me that there was a positive side to taking so many pills…he gets the recommended eight glasses of water a day. The guy always looks on the bright side. When the big 'horse' pill goes down sideways and he gags it back up, he says he’s fine and tries again. He never complains.

Mike’s glass is always half full. He is a positive person. When he was diagnosed with ALS on March 7th, he remained pretty hopeful that he had been misdiagnosed. When the doctor recommended that he stop working and go on long term disability, he said he could use some time off. When his right hand continued to weaken, he said, “It’s a good thing I’m left handed.” When he was unable to run anymore, he was glad he could walk. When he gave up the walks, he was thankful he could still ride his bike. When he fell off his bike and landed on his face (again) and broke his nose, he said that the accident taught him to be more careful next time. 

Mike prays that he will learn what he is supposed to learn from the very humbling experience of being diagnosed with ALS. He said that the “humbling experience” will cause him to rely more on God.

"Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Him." Oswald Chambers