Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let it rest

2:02 p.m. Today's project was to tear out the remains of the 2012 garden. My good friend Cindy came over this morning and  really worked hard to help me get the job done. Over the last month, the yield, size and quality of the produce, mainly tomatoes, has degenerated, so that this gardener knows that the unripened vegetables are not going to ripen, and wishing won't make it so! I picked two tiny ripe cherry tomatoes yesterday, adding them to the few that a client gave me, and am truly savoring them as the last of my harvest.

It's hard to admit that a season is over, whether it has been a good season or a bad one, even while the evidence God gives is right in front of our faces. When we are really in tune with the Holy Spirit, we will pick up on His will for us in the Bible, just as part of our daily reading. I was encouraged two days ago by Jeremiah 23:3-4, God's promise to restore and prosper His people, a remnant out of exile:

"But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds who will feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking," says the LORD. 

Recently, people ask me how I am "holding up," and deeper questioners ask what my life is like now with Steve no longer at home. My reply is that I am restructuring my life, generally referring to scheduling daily visits to Steve after my morning exercise, devotions, yard cleanup, and dog duties. Also worked in are times to help my dad, business calls and appointments, and blessed fellowship with girlfriends and my kids. I set aside little pockets of time for community organizations to which I belong, and personal ministry as the Lord brings women my way for counseling.

In the season of hands-on care for a disabled loved one, the Lord gives definite times of anointing for service, physical strength and even joyfulness we could never muster up. But overwhelming sadness along with mental, emotional, organizational and financial strain keep a caregiver from caring for herself in important ways. My health was deteriorating, even though my energy and drive never left me. Yet God never let go of me, even in the toughest hours, not once, nor did I lack loving encouragement from family and friends to carry me forward.The time finally came for me to obey His still small voice that told me to find a place for Steve to be cared for.

Now, that God has given me the responsibility for building my somewhat single life His way, I am tackling long-dormant issues. I discovered a morning aerobics class on a Christian station, and get up early to work out.  To burn a few more calories, some days I follow up with a walk in the cool air, and always get the backyard cleaned up and three water bowls filled for our dogs. My strength is returning, and prayerfully, my healthy weight will too.

Another matter to get in hand is the household budget! Interestingly, my prayer partner Cara invited me to a Dave Ramsey financial workshop series at her church Sandals on Wednesday nights. I couldn't commit to 9 weeks, but I have begun implementing the principles I have learned, such as knocking down debt, and trying to create an emergency fund. Years ago, when Larry Burkett was teaching biblical money management, I was stymied in the budgeting process by my husband's vehement and angry refusal to participate. I believe his dementia was already coming, because emotional disturbance--fear, mainly--was at the root of many conflicts. So I gave it up, with unfortunate results.

Now, God is redeeming and providing the guidance I need to prosper. The Dave Ramsey videos and materials are evidence of a financial "shepherd" who will guide me; the Good Shepherd, my Jesus, has promised in the above passage from Jeremiah, that I will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall I be lacking. And He is good as to His word, having already provided a foreign student to pay me room and board through the fall and up to Christmas season! There's a miracle--now my work will be the means to financial freedom.

The bare ground of the garden is like our marriage, now decimated by dementia.  It is devastating to look at and contemplate, because it no longer pictures the lush and vigorously growing relationship we enjoyed in the past. And I accept that as God's will for us, unless He chooses to reverse it.

But bare ground also represents potential for a never-imagined, glorious future! Over the next several months, the soil will rest and the life-giving organic matter beneath the surface will burst with new life, capable of supporting life-giving plants and their produce.

As with that future plant life, there will be God-given life, in a new style, for Steve and me as well!

"Behold," says God in Isaiah 43:19, "I will do a new thing."

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