Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Foolish things confound the wise

3:54 p.m. Today's project was to get up nice and early, finish my Esther Bible study lesson, pray with Steve, get our breakfast cooked and taken care of, and attend our women's study at church. Even though I was there just last Tuesday, it seems like long ago. Guess that being out of town on a Sunday and attending another church gives me that feeling. We have always made a practice of attending church with whomever we're visiting, whether in Ventura, Palm Springs, Fresno or Florida, enjoying the ways different Bible-teaching churches conduct their services. But it is good to be back home!

One thing about being home with loved ones is that along with cozy, affectionate, familiar routines come familiar stressors, irritants, and responsibilities! On my way out of the driveway, I stopped to put out a piece of mail, and discovered that no one had brought in Saturday's mail. No time to run into the house, so I just put it into the car with me, after a quick perusal. Well, happy day--my California State tax refund--a real check this time, not a ludicrous "voucher"--had arrived, so I made a plan to deposit it before heading off to a friend's house after Bible study. Steve had some tasks planned, so I was comfortable to be gone a few hours. I'd check in to make sure he had lunch in between errands, anyway.

In our video presentation, Beth Moore challenged us to confront our worst-case scenario fears that can allow the devil to torment us constantly, and to trust that God will be with us no matter what. She also talked about being one decision away from making a major life change that can revolutionize our ministry and usefulness to God and others. I have to say that I made such a decision and sea-change this year when I retired from teaching to be home with Steve, providing the companionship that a wife is called to, ever since God saw that, in Genesis 2 :20, after he had named the animals, "For Adam, there was not found a helper comparable to him," and created Eve.

Even though I had pensions to count on, and an annuity for additional income, we had no idea when or if Steve would qualify for permanent Social Security disability benefits, nor how long his State disability benefits would last. The total was a long way away from my salary! One thing we did know was that, despite his surface appearance of normalcy and reasonable social skills, Steve would not be working again. Memory, organization and logic were slipping away daily, despite all of the medications and supplements. Prayer and encouragement from scores of fellow believers sustained us. But I knew what I had to do. I could not in any kind of good conscience leave Steve alone to watch tv, or fritter away his time online...he needed the stimulation of companionship and structured activity that I provide as his wife.

Steve's neurologist told us that Steve is "lucky" that I'm a teacher with training and skill in motivating and directing the thinking of others into constructive behavior. Frankly, those skills are stretched to the limit daily as I minister to Steve. But I have seen his frustration level go down as I break ideas and tasks into manageable steps coated with generous layers of encouragement and praise. I use a variety of approaches and methods so he feels useful, depended upon, and successful in at least one major task a day.

Spiritual growth is evident, too, as Steve is now journalling after his scripture reading! We enjoy a leisurely pace in the mornings, giving us both all the time we desire to read and study the Word of God, together and separately. Life is not necessarily without frustration on both of our parts, but we are enjoying time together day after day that most couples wait to enjoy in their sixties and seventies!

My worst fear, like that of any wife, had been that Steve would lose his ability to work, and that we would lose everything he worked so hard for. Many wives of fit and able husbands are experiencing that today in this economy. We have faced that fear down, and God even led me to quit my job. But we trusted God, bathed each decision in prayer, and God has met our every need.

There's nothing "lucky" about my education and career skills coming into play at "such a time as this!" (Esther 4:14b) Instead, it's God's perfect timing and arrangement. As He is so prone to do, God turned "common sense" on its head and called this married couple to be unemployed, so He can provide!

I Corinthians 1:27 says, of believers who trust only Christ instead of worldly wisdom, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are mighty...that no flesh should glory in His presence."

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