Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tree time

7:37 p.m. Today's project was to bring home our Christmas tree. Last week our daughter and her husband offered to help us out, because after last year's very difficult time for Steve, we need help with every step of the process. This year, I wanted to enjoy the fragrant pine, in every aspect, from choosing it at the tree farm, having it cut, shaken and netted, driving it home, even-ing up the bottom with a saw, and setting it up in the "perfect" position in its stand.

Last year, although Steve struggled with dealing with the tree at home, he was very active in selecting the tree, walking briskly around the tree farm, having his usual strong opinions and criteria for the tree that's just exactly the one for us. A friend came over to set up the 13 footer, and our daughter was home to assist her dad with putting on lights. Once the tree began leaning, another friend came over to prop it up, and we proceeded through the season. The saddest development, however, came as the time approached to take the tree to the curb. One night, while Heidi and I were in the family room watching a program, Steve surreptitiously got a saw and leaving the living room dark except for the tree's lights, began sawing off branches in the livng room! Appalling, heartbreaking and shocking, but instructive. I realized my husband would soon be needing constant supervision, and now in 2011, he does, whether provided by me, a family member, or, as the need has dramatically increased, we use Certified Nurse Assistants from a caregiver agency.

Last Sunday, Steve had trouble keeping up with me on the graded dirt road up to the reserve tree section, despite his 12" advantage in stride. He just has to think carefully about placing each foot in front of the other, and in between the rows of trees, he definitely had to concentrate to avoid "hazards" like irrigation tubes. Fast forward to today, when the two of us went to choose, pay for and reserve our tree, he was very slow walking on the road, and then would deliberately walk over a loose pile of wooden boards, or a piled tangle of black plastic tubing when there were clear pathways right in front of him. I say "deliberately" in a very fluid sense, because he has very little control now over his body's choices at times. I also think that the correction a normal brain would give to the legs and feet to "go the other way," "skip over that," or "stay on the path".just isn't happening now. I'm reflecting on what Solomon wrote about the way misfortune comes upon a man in Ecclesiastes 9:12:

For man does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in
  an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.

The curse of sin has been rampant throughout the earth since Adam sinned;  physical and mental disease is one facet of that curse. While some illnesses can be traced to one's sin--cirrhosis of the liver, lung cancer, deadly overdose--both good and bad people contract diseases. There's no behavior on the part of the Kruckenbergs that caused their generational Alzheimer's. Disease is part of the curse on mankind. As Jesus said of the Father in Matthew 5:45,

He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.

Looking forward, how will I manage this Christmas season? I've never put lights on a tree, certainly not by myself. I have decorated our giant trees in the past, and set up the lighted stair garland and mantel display. So I will be meeting my first challenge, the tree lights, with Jesus' help. I am convinced that if God allows sorrow and tragedy into our lives, He will take care of the details of each day's victory! Romans 8:35, 37 says,

Yet in all these things (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

And I'll be careful to give Him the glory, in Jesus' name.

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