October 4, 2016

Fall is Here

So it is Tuesday, and that means I am home and resting. Yes, I love my Tuesday-Thursday off routine, and frankly, I am going to hate to have to give it up when the time comes to be hired full-time at some college or university. Until then, I am blessed to be able to enjoy these mid-week rest breaks.

It is really interesting to think about the way the Lord has arranged my schedule these past couple years. At first, I thought it was to give me time to do my school work. Now, though, I see it is to provide me with down time so I can rest and recharge from my teaching responsibilities. I really love the fact that I get to work three days and be off for two. I honestly do not know how I will deal with a 4-5 day work week again! Sigh!

The weather is lovely, I should say. It is spot-on perfect today. It is 75 outside right now (at 10:30) and the high is expected to hit 83. Oh my goodness! I cannot imagine a more perfect day. In fact, this week is supposed to be about the same; every single day for the next 10 days is forecast to be in the mid to upper 80s. I guess this is why all our winter visitors come in October, eh? I mean, it is starting to turn fall-ish elsewhere, and even in some places, there is a chance of snow (my brother lives in Ely, Nevada, and he said they are supposed to get snow today).  Yes, it is our winter weather that draws the "snowbirds" who flock down here to escape the drudgery of unending winter.

I personally love the fall season. I love pumpkins and gourds, and I love the cool crisp days. My favorite season is fall, followed close behind by Christmas. My least favorite season is summer -- go figure that one -- considering I live in perpetual "summer land." Still, I am thankful for the blessing of a nice climate, and I am thankful for the coming fall, albeit a short and not-so-crisp one. God is good, and praise to His glorious name, He is worthy of my praise this good, good day! Selah!

Planning Mode

My Dad has been working in the garage this past week, thanks in part to the cool weather. He has been breaking down boxes, recycling things, and generally sorting and trashing much of his "beloved" gear (boxes and boxes of things). I know he is down-sizing, so to speak. He is planning their eventual move, I am sure of it. My folks are over at the doctor's office today, mostly for a check-up with my Mom. Her memory is failing, and my Dad is hoping to get an update on her condition. In all, my Mom is doing well, despite the Alzheimers. It is a blessing because she simply doesn't see her condition as such. She said to me this morning, "I don't know why my memory is so bad." I am relieved, really. I mean, if she doesn't connect the two things, then she really doesn't have to suffer with the depression that many patients suffer with as they process the fact that they have a disorder that will, in time, rob them of their memory. My Mom is cheerful, though she regrets not being able to drive or go where she wants anymore. She is happy, and I am thankful for that small gift. She seems in good spirits most days, and we laugh a lot still. God is good to have made a way for her, and I am pleased that I am able to be here with her and my Dad as they deal with these difficulties.

I have noticed that my Dad has made a number of "preparations" recently. He has paid for their funeral. He has gotten his papers in order. He is now reducing the clutter in the garage. I heard him say to someone yesterday (on the phone) that Mom is doing okay, but that he is not sure how much longer they will be able to remain here (as in this home). He said, "we will need to make other arrangements soon." I am not sure if that is in respect to my soon to be graduation or simply because he sees her condition changing rapidly. My prayer is that whatever comes, whatever happens, the Lord will provide a way for my parents to live out their remaining days with good care.

I am committed to caring for them through the end of their lives. Yes, I have thought long and hard about this, and even though I do not believe the Lord intends for me to give up my life as a professor to become a full-time caregiver, I do believe that I am being given the responsibility to care for my parents through these remaining years. This simply means that in whatever limited way I can, I am to provide for them. Perhaps it is just with my time, my help, my support. Or perhaps it is to help pay for care as the days soon will require it. Until then, I trust in the Lord. I wait for His provision, and I believe that He will provide a way for me. He will make this possible, and I believe that whatever He provides, it will be good. It will be so good.

It is a challenge to deal with aging parents. I think for many people, keeping their loved one in their own home is the goal. Few do what I have done -- move back in with the parents. Most keep their lives separated by some distance until that no longer is safe or working well. In many ways, this is what I wished I would have done. I know that my moving in with my parents lengthened the decline. You see, had my parents remained in their home, I can tell you honestly that they would have had to move to an apartment and then into assisted living by now. My Mom is able to do some things, and while she can still cook a bit, she needs assistance. In fact, yesterday my Dad had to go to the dentist and he took my Mom with him. He said that he didn't want her to be home alone. This is new so it says to me that he is unwilling to leave her home unless someone is here. Both my son and I were at school, and Dad was going to be gone for 2 hours. Mom needed to go and sit in the doctor's office because she couldn't stay here at home. I am sure she would have been fine, but my Dad was concerned so he took her along with him.

My issue is simply that without us living together, my parents would need to be in assisted living right now. Though my Dad could get a long in some ways, the fact that I am here simply gives them a measure of comfort. Neither my Dad nor my Mom would be able to take care of everything on their own. Dad's physically limitations are keeping him from doing what he wants, and well, Mom's memory issues and other health issues, are making her care level more and more necessary. So what is there to do about it other than what we are doing presently? I mean, until the Lord says otherwise, I am here to care for them. End of story.

Right now, my prayer is for their ongoing care. I am asking the Lord to provide care for them -- either as we are now or with some other arrangement. I will be ready to teach full-time soon, and with that, I have always assumed it meant moving, relocating. Now, I am not so sure. I mean, I know I cannot continue to live and eek out a living as adjunct. Yet, the Lord has provided abundantly for me, so in some ways, I think "I can do this, I can do this." Of course, He must continue to provide for me. He must provide enough work to ensure I can bring home a good salary AND make it through the long and very dry summer.

I am in a good place right now. I am content to remain where I am at until the Lord moves me. And, while there are days when I feel so frustrated, so overwhelmed, I also realize that this too shall pass. My parents are 83, respectively, and while that is not old by any measure, with their physical issues, there is a limit to their days. I believe the Lord will give them a good long life, and if that is 83 or 93, well, so be it. He knows their beginning and their end, and I am simply to enjoy the gift and blessing of their life for however long it may be. Selah!

Accepting My Role

My brother is coming to visit in the next two weeks. He is bringing a new girlfriend with him, and while I am happy about that, I am not sure it is the best thing to do really. I mean, my parents will be kind and gracious, of course, but frankly this is a difficult time. It is for my Dad's birthday, and it is a blessing that he is going to visit. I am just saying that it might be weird, odd, and well, uncomfortable for us all.

Sometimes I think that my extended family is not conscious of our life, our challenges, and the issues we face day-in and day-out. In fact, I am absolutely aware of it. My brothers will not accept the fact that my parents cannot travel anymore, that they cannot give, give, give of their time or their income. They still expect my parents to function as they always have, and well, this is just not possible anymore.

I try not to feel bothered by it, but frankly, it does bother me. I mean, I am in a very difficult patch, what with my teaching load and my pending dissertation and defense. I am stretched thin, and anything at all that "upsets my apple cart," well, just gets me really down, really down. I guess I am thin-skinned right now. I am trying so very hard to keep all my balls in the air, but some of them are coming at me too fast and with too many at one time. I am praying that the Lord sends me help soon, very soon, and that through it all, I am able to complete the work He has assigned to me. I ask for help now, only because if He tarries, I will be in more difficult straits very, very soon. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Thus, while I accept my role and my responsibilities, I also understand that ultimately, my role is as a servant of the King. My responsibility is to worship the One true God, and to serve others in His name. Therefore, my role and my responsibility is fixed. It is set, and now I must walk on with the burden He has given to me, trusting that He will carry it for me. He is good to me. He is so very good to me. I know He will not fail me nor will He leave me without hope or without help. He will do it, I believe it. It is done. So be it.

Now, as I close out this blog post, I rest in His sufficiency. I rest in the knowledge that He has me so well-covered. He has me covered from head to toe, and as such, I can trust in His provision. It is enough. It is sufficient. It is good. I don't have to worry, to doubt or fear that I will have "lack." My cup does indeed run over and yes, goodness and mercy follow after me (Ps. 23). I can rest in Him and in Him alone. He is good. He is God, and I rest, I rest. Amen.

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