Saturday, April 25, 2009


I know it's been a long time since I've written. So to those of you who look for my posts and have been encouraging me to write, thanks for caring and for reading!

God has been teaching me a lot in the past few months, and I've decided to share two of those lessons here.

Lesson One:

The past year was full of change for me. In a 12-month period I lost my job, left my church of 25 years, moved out of my apartment and into my friends' basement, job-hunted, felt called by God to serve my grandmother, purchased a house, moved out of my friends' basement, moved my grandma in with me, began attending a new church, joined a care group at my church, began volunteering with the youth in my church and throughout all that transition went through the ups and downs of some health worries without health insurance. Also during the past year one of my best friends got married and moved across the state and one of my other closest friends left to travel the world for a few months before settling in to serve at an orphanage in Peru for a while. So I found myself in a new place in life with an ever-smaller circle of the people I was most used to depending on for companionship, encouragement and advice. This winter I sunk into a pit of feeling discouraged, isolated and terribly alone. And there in the dark hours of my soul as I poured out my heart to God, I encountered him in a deeper way then ever before. I learned that there are times when he is the only one I can turn to for companionship (he will never leave me or forsake me), encouragement (he is gentler to me than I sometimes imagine and yet lovingly speaks truth to my heart when its perceptions are distorted by pain), and wisdom (he gives it freely to those who seek his heart and his will). I can't be simplistic and tell you that I don't need anyone but him, because I do believe that he created humans with the need to interact with others, and I'm thankful for the new friendships that I have been [slowly] building within my care group at church. But I will say this: God is the One who sustains me. Others may come and go but he is the one who guides my steps, guards my path and gives me those things that I truly need for the journey I am on.

Lesson Two:

Working with Gram has been one of the hardest things I've ever undertaken to do. It involves a complete giving over of myself to the needs of another (yeah, yeah, I can just imagine all you moms out there smiling wrily and arching one eyebrow, nonplussed). I have felt at times like my individual self was ceasing to exist and instead Gram permeates my thoughts, my actions, my wakefulness and my sleep. Every morning is full of getting her up and ready and every evening is full of getting her ready for bed and to sleep. My days, nights, sentences, thoughts, prayers and dreams are interrupted by the dull tweet of her whistle. It has been hard to let go of me and the time that I want to claim as mine (8 hours straight at night, for instance, or showers in the morning, or even time with the Lord in the morning). I am seeing my true rudeness and selfishness come out when I am awakened in the middle of the night to listen to apparently pointless and senseless ramblings from her confused mind. But I'm growing and God is giving me victory in small areas as I learn to see Grandma as he sees her, as I learn to speak gently rather than exasperatedly in the middle of the night, and as I learn to cheerfully and graciously clean up another's messes. I think the hardest thing for me has been the fact that often Gram misperceives my actions and intent. There are times when she grows suspicious of my actions and thinks I am taking her things, lying to her, ignoring her or even treating her roughly. This has been hard because in the beginning I believed that the whole point of this endeavor was for me to improve Gram's "quality of life" by caring for her and showing her love. So if she was going to believe that her caregiver was horrible or abusive it would be far better for her if she thought those things about a stranger than about her granddaughter who should be a source of love and encouragement to her. But with wise friends reminding me that it was clearly God who led me to this place in life, I'm realizing that perhaps his plan for this time is different than my plan for it. If it were true that the value of my service were found in Gram's perception of it or reception of it, then it is a futile task indeed--unappreciated, misunderstood and soon to be forgotten. I now believe that the value of what I am doing doesn't lie in Gram alone. Jesus taught that the things we do for the hurting souls of the world he accepts as service unto him. He sees every interaction I have with my Grandma--gracious and otherwise--and what I am doing is valuable not because it is grand or eternally meaningful to her, but because it is offered as a sacrifice of obedience to HIM! This lesson has deep and far-reaching implications in my heart, but it is very difficult to articulate. Suffice it to say that I am learning that my time with Grandma is not only about HER, but it is also about an amazing God who is using this opportunity in my life as a way to teach me and mold my character.