Monday, June 18, 2012

Building muscle

5:00 p.m. Today's project was to help Steve get ready for his morning, see him off in good spirits to the bus, and settle down to begin my preparation for Thursday's II Samuel teaching.

I am not the world's finest caregiver, because I pretty much do what ever works best and fastest without causing Steve to lose his tenuous balance or causing me lose my cool! I'm learning how to help a much larger person who can't follow directions such as bending his arm to get it out of a sleeve, or who can slip off one shoe (the right one) but then look up at me clueless at the idea of slipping off the left shoe! The jeans seem to go off and on better, but again, he puts on or off the right leg more consistently than the left. So the Lord has me there as Steve's literal "helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:20b) just as God created Eve for Adam in Genesis 2:22.

When the morning caregiver doesn't make it for the 5 a.m. shift, like today, it becomes my job to take care of every detail for Steve's cleanliness and appearance. I've found that if I get up at my usual 6 a.m., start the coffee, get the kitchen squared away, stir his chopped meds and supplements into a half bowl of applesauce, let Jada out, and then run back upstairs with the bowl, have a morning facial, read my Spurgeon devotional, shower and dress, I can then wake him up at 6:45, feed him the applesauce right there as he sits up in bed, and then proceed with his care. (That way, the chopped pills, powders and drops can get into his system sooner for a more cooperative, less shaky morning). There is only one Source for this kind of wisdom given to me daily as needed: God the Holy Spirit! Wisdom cries out, in Proverbs 8:10-12,

Receive my instruction and not
And knowledge rather than
  choice gold;
For wisdom is better than
And all things one may
  desire cannot be compared with
I wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and
Even if the efforts earlier in the morning made Cara and my prayer time start later than planned, I was able to finish my personal devotions and prayer journaling beforehand. (and even make and eat my delicious fancy scrambled eggs)! Not wanting to complain once again about a caregiver no-show, I blurted out something God had just showed me: "I noticed that I'm getting physically stronger and developing muscles by taking care of Steve!" No longer utterly drained, stressed, and exhausted, I am energized, and  see him off with a cheerful smile of genuine joy, not just relief that I can get my day going!

But God is developing in me an entirely different set of muscles than I've ever had (or needed) before: physical efforts needed for property maintenance; solo responsibility for all aspects of our lives; dependence on God for the right spirit to push my own needs aside when Steve has a sudden issue that needs attention. Jesus has "changed my mourning into dancing" (Psalm 30:11) because I can laugh, goof off, sing, have fun and entertain our family here at the house, as at yesterday's party, while Steve aimlessly walks about. By accepting my husband as he is, with no apologies, explanations or embarrassment, my worry-about-our-image muscle has been shrunk! Now, our testimony is much clearer and more compelling: Jesus is with us and it's all right to have an awkward, oblivious, mentally and physically handicapped person participate right along with everyone else.  Steve's lack of self-consciousness has been a lesson to me that "God looks on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). We have nothing to be ashamed of!

That, my brothers and sisters, is a set of muscles all of us could stand to develop!

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