Rounding that circular slab of concrete on the exit ramp as I headed back to work last Tuesday, I said to myself, "My plate sure is full." Without hesitation the Lord whispered back, "What is it filled with?" I immediately saw the grace, the love, peace, patience, kindness and all of the other fruit that my plate was loaded down with. I was humbled because these gifts were not my original thought. I was heading back to work after having been at the doctor with Mom and Dad; the tears were wet on my cheeks, and Jesus slipped in close beside. Not only was my plate full, but my car was full of his presence. It reminded me of another time I was driving in my car about 12 years ago after I had gotten word that Dad had cancer. The dreaded "C" word. I remember driving foolishly as my eyes were so clouded over by the sadness in my eyes. I cried out to God and said, "Please don't take my father. I'm not ready to lose him yet." I found out later that my mother was praying that same prayer that same day.
We didn't lose Dad that year. He will be 84 next week. But, we have been losing him in a sense for the past few years, and the doctor confirmed that for us on Tuesday when we heard the "A" word. Dad has Alzheimer's. It wasn't that unexpected. The signs are classic. We had educated ourselves enough to know what we were up against. We knew that he had already probably progressed to a moderate level of Alzheimer's since the last visit to the neurologist, but having the doctor confirm it, set in motion a new reality of how we would be living our lives over the course of the time he has left. My father also has cancer for the second time. I don't know which disease will win or if God will take him home on different terms yet to be revealed, but I am prepared to battle through with him.
As we deal with the "A" word, we are also trying to wrap our minds around the unexpected news that came during the same doctor visit. The news that my mother has Parkinson's. A double whammy in one morning. My plate of responsibilities is indeed full, but my plate of blessings is even fuller.
811. Lots of loving time spent with my parents. I am thankful for it now, but I know when they are gone I will treasure these present moments all the more.
812. Inner strength even in the midst of tears
813. Choosing joy. Thanks Donna!
814. Hearing dad sing hymns the day after the diagnosis
815. New medication for Mom that already seems to be helping
816. A personal God who is always near and nearer still in the midst of difficulty
817. A father whose high IQ lent him many years as a doctor, missionary, Bible scholar and teacher
818. This beautiful opportunity to serve my parents
819. Learning how to love better
820. Finding service in my own home through the drudgery of daily tasks
821. Being present when my father took his oral memory exam, giving encouragement and love and honor while he could not answer a single question.
822. The love of wife, daughter and God that flooded the examining room
823. A kind lady on the elevator at the hospital who recognized my father and remembered him as the "greatest doctor she had ever known" hugging my father, and loving him for taking care of her for many years. He didn't know who she was, but he wanted to write down her name so he wouldn't forget her : )
824. Finding old books that my grandfather had given my father 50-60 years ago. Re-giving them to my father and watching him read the inscriptions written in his father's handwriting.
825. My mother's blue eyes. They used to be green, but now they are very blue.
826. Quiet time alone in my car at lunch. No noise. No responsibilities. Just time to think and pray for 30 minutes.
827. A cool breeze on my face
828. Lying in bed. Windows open. Breeze blowing. Window sheers flying. Thunder rolling.
829. A heart for the hurting
830. A God who listens
831. A God who speaks
832. A God who sustains
833. A God who encourages
834. A God who convicts
835. A God who never abandons
Your prayers for my parents are appreciated. I would also humbly ask for you to speak to God about me as well. I need strength and wisdom. I also need a willing spirit to do all I need to do for his glory. I love you guys!
HE IS RISEN!