Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's shaping up!

7:47 p.m. Today's project was to dig back into one of my 2006-2008 journals for hints, trail markers, warnings and outright incidents from our past, almost "peeking in" at a Christian couple walking towards the late stage Alzheimer's we  now live with in 2012.

The purpose of notating journal entries is that they will form the basis for my next book, which I've titled but am keeping mum about, because a publisher might want to change it anyway, and I'd bow to their editorial wisdom and marketing savvy unless the Lord blatantly showed me otherwise.  But because this certain phrase has characterized so much of Steve's and my married life, it will always be the "real" title as far as my heart is concerned!

Today I was working through the latter half of 2008, which did offer some praise reports, like occasional victorious days at Mission Plastics for Steve, his attendance at Men's Retreat, and participation in the Audio-Visual ministry at our church. But extreme forgetfulness, missed deadlines at work, and emotional pain were beginning to cast a dark pall over Steve's daily attempts to continue as a contributing husband, father and employee.

2008's journal also contained  the first mention of praying for his late brother Larry's healing from Alzheimer's...

The crusher for 2008 was Steve's September firing from Mission Plastics as maintenance crew leader--the pinnacle of his 35-year career, earnings, reputation and responsibilities. He did go on to lesser jobs in plastics because of his outstanding resume, references and industrywide reputation, but did not last more than a few months at each one. Imagine reading through this gut-wrenching year day by day, not just the facts, but picking up on nuances originating from my heart's observations!  The Holy Spirit was my Teacher, Guide and Comforter as I journalled prayer-after-prayer in my husband's, young adult and adolescent kids' and my own behalf.  I can only take for a fact that I went out and taught school each morning, and initiated and led the Mom's Morning ministry, because the journal says I did! God was carrying me through. Psalm 121:5-6:

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your
  right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by
Nor the moon by night.

Yet tonight, when it took both a caregiver and me to assist Steve with a very difficult personal issue, I thought back on 2008. Even with the devastating Mission Plastics job loss and beginnings of emotional breakdown, Steve was still working at a series of less-demanding jobs. He was still driving--cars, our RV, and later, even semi's in truck driving school! He was able to go online and post his resume multiple times, search for jobs, call potential employers, and do repairs on the kids' cars and our RV. He participated in A-V ministry, a real work of precision. He could still speak fluently and enjoy conversations with friends. He could work a cellphone...

As hard as that stage was, I would gladly have kept him at that level if I'd known what four more years of this disease would do to my beloved husband! But God's created concept of time does not stand still, or Steve and I would not have enjoyed two wonderful years of retirement together in 2009 and 2010. And the progress each one of us has made in becoming closer to the Lord through this trial would not have happened either.  And I wouldn't have learned to maintain my Jeep, run the sprinkler system, use spray gap-filler in a hole in a wall, or truly trust the Lord for each day's strength, courage and enthusiastic anticipation of His fresh work in our lives.

Just as the Lord is gradually giving shape to Steve's and my story of God's grace to us in the face of a fatal disease, He gives me assurance in His word daily that He is with me. I will close with Psalm 121:7-8's faith-building words:

The LORD will preserve you
  from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your
  going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even

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