February 13, 2015

The Blessing of Rest - Weekend Rest!

It is the end of the week, and I am blessed, so very blessed! I survived what I thought would be a killer of a week, a week filled with "too many assignments" and not enough time to complete them. On top of that, I also was struggling with personal issues, family concerns that weighed heavily on my mind. In all, this killer of a week has come to a close (almost), and truth be told, I have survived. I am still not finished with all my assignments, but I am close to being finished, and I feel that second wind rush upon me in order to carry me on through to the finish line. God is good, so very good to me!

I sit here today, drinking my coffee, writing on the computer, and enjoying the open window next to my desk. The only thing that would make this morning better would be a garden or woodland view and no road noise (alas, I cannot have everything I want!) There is a soft breeze blowing through the window, and two very happy kitties lounging near the window sill (one in, and one near by). In all, it is a blessed, peaceful, and restful scene this morning. God is good, so very good to me!

My morning didn't start so idyllic. In fact, my night wasn't the picture of pure joy. No, not at all. I went to bed shortly after 11 p.m. last night, and I did seem to sleep most of the night without issue. However, sometime around 4 a.m. I awoke to the sound of tapping. I laid awake for a time before I got out of bed to check it out. I never did find what it was or where the noise was coming from but it was enough of a distraction to disturb my sleep.

Prior to the noise, I seemed to flit in and out of a dream. I can remember part of it, and I can remember hearing the Lord's voice speaking to me. I can remember answering Him, but I never quite understood exactly what He was saying to me. This is not really uncommon for me as I have experienced this before many, many times. It always seems to be during my REM sleep so perhaps it is just part of my dream. I never know, but I do hear the Lord calling to me, and I do hear Him giving me instruction.

Last night, my dream was odd. I was moving, of that I am certain, though I didn't recognize the house, the furniture or even the place (city, neighborhood, etc.) I did recognize the car and my cat, LOL! The car was my old, old Chevy Celebrity station wagon. This was the car I had when I moved from CA to AZ. It had belonged to my ex-in laws and we bought it from them shortly before we moved here in 96. It was a good car, well used, and travelled in. I remember moving here and bringing DJ and all 5 cats (oh, that was such a trip!) in that one car!

The car was in my dream, and it was loaded down with boxes. My cat, Snowball, was in the house. I had her from the time I was 8 until I was 25, so she was such a big part of my life. I loved her the most, I think, of all my cats. She was special to me, and we shared great affection for one another.

The weird part in all of this dream was this man, a man I didn't recognize, who was also in this dream. He was an older man, and I saw him sitting in a tattoo shop. I am not sure what he was doing there, but it looked like he was getting a tattoo. He had his shirt off, and had an ice pack on his shoulder. He had gray hair, sort of balding on top, but curly gray hair. He was wearing light blue jeans and sitting in a chair. There was a lady there who was tattooing herself, her leg, and I remember thinking that she was completely covered with tattoos and how strange she looked. I wasn't sure what the man was doing, whether he was getting a tattoo or just sitting there with this lady. I walked by the shop, stopping in to have a conversation with this man. He had been drinking beer, not excessively, but drinking none the less. I can remember seeing this man, and feeling like I knew him, but I really didn't recognize him or call him by name. He got out of the chair, and followed me out of the shop. He helped me load some things onto a trailer attached to my station wagon.

Before I could figure out who he was or what he was doing there, I heard the noise in the house. The noise caused me to startle so I was partially awake trying to figure out what the noise was and if I should get out of bed to check it out. I stayed in this half-awake, half-asleep state for a time, hoping to go back to the dream and figure out what I was doing moving, where I was going, and why this man was part of the story, but I never did go back to sleep. I never found out anything about that weird dream.

Who was this man, and why was he in my dream? Was it just random thoughts, just a random episode of nothingness, meaningless vision? I don't know. The dream stayed with me, and I woke up thinking about it so perhaps it was meant for some other purpose. I am not sure.

I can remember part of the conversation the Lord had with me, however. I can remember Him telling me that something had changed, that I needed to be aware of a change. I can remember answering Him and asking what kind of change. I asked if the change had to do with my family (parents or son) or with my career, my school, or my job opportunities (down the road). I don't remember hearing the answer, just that I needed to be aware of the change. As I listened or attempted to listen to the Lord, one thing was certain -- I was aware that the Lord was trying to tell me to be prepared, to be ready, to accept what was happening.

When I finally fell back asleep, I remember praying and asking the Lord for clarification, for understanding and for interpretation of the dream and His word. I wanted to make sure that what I was hearing was really from the Lord or if it was just nonsensical dream-talk.

It must have been about 9:00 a.m. when I woke again. This time, I heard the voices of my parents down the hallway. My Dad's voice was raised and I heard my Mom crying. I remember thinking to myself that it was not like my Dad to raise his voice like this, so strongly to her. Yes, my Dad often raises his voice, often talks sharply to my Mom, to me, to my son. He doesn't mean to do it. It is part of the stroke he had back in 2000. One of the side effects or residual symptoms is a heightened emotional sense that often includes bursts of anger. We deal with it, we always have, but still it normally doesn't come out the way it did this morning, and that surprised me, almost shocked me.

I heard my Dad telling my mother that the house we are living in is not going to work for them much longer. I have known this for a while now, but to hear my Dad say it was both a relief and a shock. Apparently, my Mom must have said something about their staying in this house, and my Dad reacted strongly to that suggestion. When we moved into this home, my Dad jokingly said that this would be the last home he would live in. He said we would have to carry him out in a box, referring of course to the fact that he wasn't going to move again in this life time. My Dad has made himself comfortable here. He has a nice office where he can be on his radio (HAM), and a nice workshop where he can build little things. The physical needs are what challenge him most days, and even though we do not have to do any real maintenance on this house, he finds it difficult to take care of the little things now.

On top of that is my Mom's memory issues and her declining health. I think this was the point of the conversation really. My Mom may need assisted living care at some point down the road, and my Dad is worried about being able to pay for that level of care. He has taken to managing her life now, making sure she eats, takes her pills, and doesn't go anywhere without him. She is not to the point where she needs that level of care, but I know it is my Dad's effort to 'control' the decline that motivates him to do it. Mom reacts to it as she is not ready to give up the car nor her independence yet (soon, but not today). My Dad stresses over their finances, and my Mom fixates over the little things she can control like laundry, making dinner, cleaning the house.

I am caught in the middle, and as such, I try hard to navigate between the role of caregiver and daughter. I try to allow my Dad his place as husband and father, and I try to let him make the decisions for their own care. I get pushed, pricked, and pinched often because of the mounting frustration, but I manage to keep far from the battle fray whenever possible. It is a challenge for me, but the Lord sustains me, and He gives me His grace to keep my cool.

As I sit here this morning, perhaps this was what the Lord was saying to me. Perhaps it was that my parents, well my Dad that is, recognizes that things (their lives, our lives) are changing, and that the change in health is going to bring other more significant changes such as a permanent move. I have already started looking for a full-time job. I have applied to several, one locally and two in AL. I know that both AL job apps are in process. One has been forwarded to the hiring department for review. The other doesn't close the application period until the end of this month. I have not heard anything on the local position. I feel the Lord is giving me the go ahead to move to AL. I believe that this is His will for my life, and that He is moving me that direction for a number of very good reasons, of which a good career position is a part.

I struggled with the care of my parents, with knowing how I can leave them, move away from them. I have discussed moving with my son, and since I told him that there was a possibility, I have seen a change come over him. You would think he would be miserable, just the thought of leaving his friends, his role at church, his school (if that ends up being the case), but he is not. In fact, he has become reinvigorated with life. He is getting up in the mornings instead of sleeping all day long. He is going to school, and coming home at decent hours. He is hanging out on the computer, playing games (something he used to do with his online friends), and generally he is acting like his old self, the old DJ who used to be into computers and music and life.

Yes, so some might say that playing computer games is not a good thing. Well, for my son, it is a sign of activity, of life, of being involved in the business of living. For a time, he seemed to be so depressed, so despondent. He walked through his days, shrugging his shoulders and acting as if he didn't care about anything. His grades slipped last semester, and he admitted that he didn't care about his classes. Yes, I was worried. Yes, I was concerned. Yes, I prayed, and I intervened to make sure he was okay. We had long conversations, discussions, and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was causing him to be so disinterested in life. Then I took a step of faith and I applied for a position. I know enough not to link sequence with causation -- post hoc ergo propter hoc -- but still it appears to be a related act. Well, that is my prayer and my hope.

So as I sit here and wrap up this blog post one thing is for sure. While I may not understand the dream other than I was moving and there was a strange man in it who helped me pack boxes -- the word of the Lord to be prepared for change or aware of change -- seems to have been accurate. My life is in flux, in transition, and I feel confident that I will not be settled, fixed, and stable until the Lord finishes whatever it is that He is doing in my life. Until then, I hold on to Him, and I remain firmly fixed in my attention to His hand of blessing, of grace, and of mercy on every detail of my life.

God is good, so very good to me. Praise His Name! Selah!!

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