Thursday, January 27, 2011

Relishing, not regretting, last chances

1:47 p.m. Today's project was to act upon a word from the Lord to resolve a question I'd laid out before Him.

Every year, Steve and I attend the Married Couples' Dinner our church hosts, either in our cleared-out sanctuary, or at the Calvary Bible College in Murrieta Hot Springs. The cost this year, for a steak dinner with all the trimmings and dessert, is $50.00. The way this month has been going, I couldn't justify spending the money or expending the gas, and had determined to pass it up this year. I can certainly whip up a special meal for two and enjoy doing it, but I really enjoy a lovely night out on Valentines Day.

Our finances have mended somewhat now, but I hadn't changed my mind. Many couples at church are in a similar position--groceries for the week or one dinner out! The church does accept anonymous scholarships for the event, but I doubt we'd qualify like a young couple with kids who are out of work. And I would want such a couple to be blessed so wonderfully rather than us.

I would have been totally resigned to missing the dinner, if a nagging thought hadn't kept popping in. "What if this is the last time you can attend?" It would be tempting to call it needling by the enemy, but with Steve getting more and more confused, and having a harder time each day eating appropriately, I do have to take it into consideration. At home, we constantly practice keeping his napkin in his lap, eating with a knife and fork, and not eating every last tiny crumb off of his plate like he's never eaten before and never will again. So a knife and fork dinner at crowded tables could be risky, too, somewhat embarrassing for Steve and awkward for people who don't know us well, if he forgets his table manners, spills or drops something from his shaky hands...

At Sunday night Home Fellowship, where we take turns bringing dinner, Steve can no longer serve himself in the buffet line, which is fine--I just fix two plates. But then, I need to steer him out of the kitchen at the end because he'll grab cookies and wrap them in a napkin for home, like he didn't already have dessert, and there's no food here at home. One time, after the Bible study was over, I said,"Let's go!" He looked at me in a stricken way, and loudly whined, "But I'm still hungry!" (Like a child whose only reason for being at an adult gathering is to get something to eat). The others nearby who heard this exchange graciously went on with putting on their coats and leaving, because they are well aware of his condition and blessedly tactful. I merely stated in a calm voice, "Please get your coat and let's go."

As for the Valentines dinner, the Lord had other ideas! This morning, a friend who hosted the second Home Fellowship we joined, called and asked if we'd like to drive with them to the Couples' Dinner. Ron and Gretchen hadn't been to the Conference Center before, and didn't want to go alone. The four of us have gotten together over the last few years, and we have a great time. With their teaching and ministry backgrounds, they know how to keep conversations seamlessly flowing, while still giving Steve time to finish his thoughts. It's been a while since we did more than greet each other after church, so they will notice a big difference in Steve's speaking ability. But it won't matter. That's the love that they have for us!

I John 4:7 says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."

After we talked, I went ahead and booked our reservation online for the dinner and Gretchen did the same. It was obviously the Lord! In His compassion, He knows that barring a miracle, Steve won't be able to attend next year; even getting him dressed in a suit and tie is already extremely difficult. And he won't know where we are going or what we'll be doing until the moment we walk in the door, even with me discussing the dinner repeatedly all day.

That's all right. I'll be just as proud to walk into the dinner with my husband as ever, and to enjoy his unique brand of "being in the moment!"

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