Wednesday, March 19, 2014

All In God's Time!

I've been pondering this post for a long time. Each day I ask God to enter my life, I thank him for the blessings and the challenges, I ask Him to be with me every moment of every day, guiding me, protecting me and loving me. This last year has had more challenges than fact...some would say my life in general has had more challenges than blessings...but sometimes I think we have to stop, reflect and really think about things and with an open mind and trusting heart...this pretty darn amazing.

I don't know if it is just because I am getting older but I find myself reflecting more and more on my life, my experiences, my blessings and my challenges. When I was young I had a lot of dreams and when I reflect back I realize some of those dreams have come true, some never will, some have been changed or tweaked and some things that have happened I would have never dreamed of.

I am not the same person I was when I was young. My life experiences have changed me, shaped me, broke me down and built me up and that process continues today.  I began this reflection on life when I was quite young, probably around the age of 25. Around that time my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and it was the first time someone so close to me faced a challenge I never dreamt of. I was scared for my Dad and for me. I didn't want to live life without my Dad, I didn't want him to be sick, I didn't want any of this to be happening...but it was.   I wanted to run not have to face that which I found difficult or unpleasent.  I wanted to busy myself with my life, my needs, I had a lot going on, I was young and people would understand if I just couldn't...but I didn't. I was still living at home because I was working full time and attending college. I had planned to move out but decided to postphone moving to help my Mom with my Dad. Remember my prayer...hmmmm...was God guiding me???

I worked hard in school and to develop my Marketing career...some would even say I was driven. I worked long hours and I enjoyed the challenge of working my way up from a clerical position to management. As my career evolved I began to travel and explore the world beyond Port Washington Wisconsin...and I loved it.  Remember my prayer....hmmmm...was God guiding me???

After I got married and had children my career began to take a back seat to my family.  Although I really wanted and had dreamed to work full time and have a family, it seemed my life was taking a different turn.  Ben needed more help in school, my travel did not work well with Jeff's work schedule, I wanted more children and the list goes on.  I loved working, I enjoyed learning new things, I liked the challenge but I also felt the pull and need of my family. I found a less challenging job and took up volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House and Make A Wish to help me find my balance.  Remember my prayer...hmmmm...was God guiding me???

I had settled into my new reality when along came my third child and the one that would rock my world and firmly establish my faith.  I never dreamt of having a child with special needs, I would be lying if I said that was on my wish list.  But this child...this perceived challenge in my life...would teach me more than I could ever hope to teach him, he would change me, challenge me, love me unconditionally, make me laugh and make me cry, slow me down and make me feel more...never taking a moment for granted.

As much as we question what happens in our lives...if we really take time to stop and is amazing the way it all works out. I'm not saying that I understand every challenge or blessing in my life but there are times I can see glimpses of God at work.

This year has kept me guessing but let me paint some of the picture for you and maybe as you reflect on your you try to find you come to terms with the you just try to make sense of it all this will help you.

In this last year I have lost my father-in-law, a great aunt, my Mom, my best friend, other friends of our family and just recently my Dad.  During this same year Sam had his 2nd major hip surgery which included having an external fixator on his hip for 4 months and the daily care that came with it.  Danielle was diagnosed with Mono and missed over 90 days of school. This year was beyond challenging, beyond difficult and I still struggle with the grief, anxiety and questions that keep me awake at night.

And yet, if I take one event...the loss of my father and I explain the circumstances...both the challenges and the blessings that allowed me to spend the last 2 1/2 months with my Dad I think you will begin to see just how amazing God is.

My Dad was diagnosed with Stage 3 bladder cancer and Stage 4 lung cancer in November. My Mom had passed in February and the promise I made to her became a desperate need...I promised I would take care of my Dad while he was here on earth and until they could be together again.  Easy to say the words...not so easy to implement when you are married, have a family, a home, a job, a child with special needs, another child who is ill...and the list goes on. 

Add to this my Dad wanted to stay in his home, Sam is most comfortable in his home...and all worked out.  But how it worked out, how God combined the challenges and the blessings, how he brought certain people in, how certain events fell in place is beyond anything you or I could orchestrate.

Let's start with Sam and my Mom.  My Mom was my rock, my biggest supporter of my life and challenges with Sam...she loved that little boy just as much as I do. It would be easy to question God's plan on having me lose my Mom during the most difficult surgery of Sam's life...or could we look at it another way?  There would never have been a good time to lose my Mom. She was an intricate part of my life and support system. Losing her at any other time would have been just as devastating and there is a good chance I would have withdrawn and become depressed.  But when I lost my Mom...Sam needed me.  I couldn't just curl up in a ball and let the world go by.  I had to do pin care, problem solve the issues we had with Sam's healing from the surgery and try to get him stable again. I had to carry on, Sam's need forced me to carry on.

And as my Mom struggled to stay on this earth...I made the promise. The promise that would come to fruitition in less than a year.

So Sam got through the external fixator and the removal and keep in mind, the child who normally struggles with staying healthy was able to stay healthy during a difficult Wisconsin winter for the 2 1/2 months I took care of my Dad. My Dad had bladder surgery on December 2nd and I began to live with him at his house from Sunday evenings until Friday nights, on the weekends I was blessed to have my siblings take over and spend time with Dad and I went home to do laundry, clean and spend time with my husband and children.

Now anyone who has a child, but especially those who have children with special needs will begin to realize the juggling issue that comes with Mom, the main caregiver living off site for months. How did that work out??? Let's put the challenges and blessings together to watch how this worked out.

I have been blessed to work at two companies that know and understand my need for a flexible work schedule.  Both companies supported me in taking time off work to care for my Dad. you think my finding these jobs was part of God's plan?  The fact that my husband's business is thriving and our family does not need my income to survive...might that be part of God's plan???

Along that line when I started working at Duluth Trading Co., Danielle would watch Sam during the summer months and my Mom would watch Sam during the school year.  With the loss of my Mom we had to rethink how I would be able to continue to work.  While meeting with Sam's case worker I asked if Balance Inc. an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities could possibly add Sam into their program.  Balance normally only works with adults with cognitive disabilities but Sam has participated in their summer recreation program and they know him well.  Thankfully Balance took Sam on...2 months before my Dad was diagnosed....hmmm another piece of God's plan?  When everything happened with my Dad Balance stepped forward to offer additional care of Sam beyond my work schedule. Isn't it amazing the people God places in our lives? Thank you Sandy, Sara, David and the entire Balance organization for your love and support at a time when we needed it the most.

But, even with Balance's help that didn't cover 5 1/2 days a week of 24 hour care for Sam. Interestingly enough my last road trip was with my sister, my Dad, Danielle, Sam and Danielle's friend Isabella. When Bella heard about my Dad she stepped forward to offer her time to care for Sam.  With Balance and Bella on board the schedule was beginning to come together but let's talk about one of those challenges that was also a blessing.  Danielle was diagnosed with Mono at the beginning of her Junior year, she was only able to attend school 1/2 days for the first semester which just happened to fall in the same time frame that I was taking care of my Dad. Yep, God is good! Danielle could allow Sam to sleep in, get him dressed and spend time at home with family. But Danielle went above and beyond too, she helped with additional coverage for Sam, she kept the house in order, ran the dishwasher and helped where ever she could. Thank you Danielle!!

But even with all that...we still needed more coverage...and that is where I talk about my husband, Jeff.  Jeff never for a moment, doubted, questioned or ever complained about me taking care of my Dad.  He by far was the person that was most inconvienced by this situation and yet as busy as he is he handled it with grace.  He covered the additional times for Sam, took care of Sam's needs each night, including showering and keeping him from missing Mom.  He would even drive him over just so I could give him a hug and kiss. Jeff having lost his Father before me gave him a better understanding of how precious that final time is. I love you Jeff!

And there are other examples of how things needed to fall in place (equipment needs, friends working within my new schedule, doctors/nurses who cared, our whole respite experience) so I could care for my Dad.  The challenges and the blessings combined and the outcome was something I could have never orchestrated on my own. Thank you God!!

It is easy to get caught up in the challenges, to question the reasons why certain things happen in our lives but sometimes we need to take time to stop, reflect, analyze and be amazed at just how crazy, wonderful this life really is. How the challenges, the blessings, the good, the bad and the ugly combine to create circumstances and opportunities that amaze us.

This year still heart still mourns but my faith is what picks me up each day and pushes me forward. May you take time today to find the silver lining, to think outside the box, to appreciate all that makes up your life.

1 comment:

  1. It truly is amazing how much God's hand really is in every aspect of our life. I think sometimes we can have a hard time recognizing this when life isn't easy, but it's refreshing to read how you've been able to see His hand every step of the way. I have a sister with down syndrome and have been able to learn so much from her. One of the greatest things I've been able to learn from her is seeing and appreciating the very simple, yet beautiful, things God has blessed us with in our everyday lives. I recently read a similar article about this, maybe you'll enjoy it?