Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Called to the Reserve

It was 2004, and we were working on the finishing touches of the upstairs to the house in Owen Sound. Just as I was installing the last piece of carpet we received the call.  It was from a reservation in Northern Manitoba. They needed someone to come and help them at their Christian school.  Would we consider coming?
We had moved into the house in Owen Sound thinking that maybe the Lord wanted us to use the downstairs for a Christian school. We didn't know for sure. We had been working on getting the upstairs livable so we could move up there and work on the downstairs.  It wasn't until the day we finished the upstairs that the Lord revealed his plan for us.
We had looked into teaching on a reserve before.  God had taken me to the place where I was willing. This is an excerpt from my diary in 2003 after the Christian School committee on the Red Lake Reserve had talked to us:
I had a lot of thoughts to deal with: My home, my garden, and especially the children and the grandchildren ...   After we got off the phone Bruce asked how I felt. I started to cry. I knew that I needed to talk to God, or more importantly, I needed Him to talk to me.
I went to my Bible and it opened at Luke 9. I read, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Then in the same chapter, “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me.” and then again, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
My priorities were set straight and I was ready to go where ever He led. I realized that reading about missionaries and wishing I could be one, was a whole lot different from actually facing the sacrifices of loneliness and stepping out of my comfort zone. My ideal is traveling around as an evangelist’s wife.  And yet the greatest joy comes with obedience, knowing that nothing I can do in myself is of any great value, but to obey Him is what pleases my Father. 
 Now as we received the call that would change the direction of our lives, I was ready.  I had no Idea what I was getting into but I knew Who was directing us, and I was at peace.
Our daughter, Susy, and her husband, Hank, were now working in Owen Sound and needed a place to live.  The upstairs of our house was perfect for them and it meant that someone would be looking after the place while we were away.  Within a week we were flying toward our new adventure.

The next blog in this series will follow our path into the unfamiliar world of a northern reserve.

For the previous blog see:  Thanksgiving trip
For the previous blog in this series see: Anna
For the last post about my husband see: The doctor called   
(Bruce has been very confused for the last couple of days so we would appreciate your prayers.)



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Trip

We had almost reached our Georgia destination when our car sputtered and died.  It was evening and the night was black.  We were on a winding road away from any street lights and right on a curve. This was before we owned a cell phone, and to make matters worse traffic was sparse.  It was Thanksgiving day in the USA.

Samantha, Anita, Bruce, and I had been looking forward to attending some special services and visiting friends in Georgia.  We had made this trip before, and every time we went, the Lord had provided a special blessing for us. Our faith had been built up with each gift from the Lord.  We had even gone in a car that should never have made it, but the Lord kept the car going and we arrived safely.

We had become so confident in His blessings that this incident took us by surprise.  What was going on?  Whatever the reason, we knew we could still trust God so we prayed, turned our flashers on, and waited their on the dark, lonely road.

We weren't surprised when cars passed us by.  No one could be blamed for not wanting to take a chance on stopping in the dark.  I wondered, if we had been the ones driving by, would we have stopped?

And then our good Samaritan came.  He slowed to a stop and got out of his vehicle.  It was a young man  from the military.  He was heading home for Thanksgiving.  "I just couldn't leave anyone stranded on the road on Thanksgiving day," he explained as he drove us to our destination.

We learned a bit about our rescuer as we traveled, enough to know that God was speaking to his heart.  He was a sheep who had been straying from the fold, but I believe the Lord used us that dark night to light his pathway home.

I don't know what the young soldier's ultimate decision was, but I am believing that God spoke to him that evening.  I do know that he blessed us with his kindness and we will never forget him or that special Thanksgiving day.

For the previous post see: The Doctor Called Today
For the next post see:  Called to a Reserve

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Doctor Called Today

The Doctor called today.  I didn't want to hear what he had to say.  I think I knew all along, but at least I could say it was just my lack of faith.  And I guess it still is my lack of faith or I wouldn't be shedding all those tears.
I had been noticing his thinking patterns changing since he started getting so sick, just little things like his inability to find the correct word, or a slight slurring of speech at times.  But whenever I asked they always told me that it was normal when a fever is high and a person is fighting infection.
Then when he was no longer fighting an infection, his heart valve started leaking badly and he had edema and congestive heart failure.  I was assured that it was all that extra water on the brain that was giving him the trouble.  He needed to get the valve replaced.  The implication was that the open heart surgery would make him all better.
No one told me how hard that valve surgery would be on the brain.  They give you the standard life or death odds, but not much in between, so I was horrified when my husband came out of surgery with a badly messed up brain.  His voice was low and grumbley and he would get strange delusions.
But gradually that began to improve.  Within three weeks he had recovered almost to where he was before.  I was assured by one of the doctors that he would slowly gain his mental health back. He didn't say he would gain it all back, but at least he wasn't as harsh as the geriatrician who gave me little hope.
Two months after his surgery Bruce was ready to be released from Rehab.  They were thrilled with his progress physically.  When I questioned them about his brain problems they comforted me with the assurance that the brain would just take a while longer to mend.
He had only been home four days when I was given a heart wrenching scare.  Bruce slept in a chair in the living room, so the first thing I would do every morning was check to make sure he was OK.  I came out as usual ready to bid him a cheery good morning, but he wasn't sitting back in his chair.
Instead he was slumped forward.  His eyes were open but the pupils were rolled up under droopy lids.  He would not respond to me.  Finally his hands started to flap as he tried to move them, but that was all he could do. 
I called my son-in-law, and when neither of us could rouse him I called the ambulance. 
Our family doctor was there.  I think it was the first time he realized the seriousness of Bruce's mental condition.  Bruce gradually started to come out of his stupor, but the doctor admitted him into the hospital and did some tests for stroke,Nothing showed up.
Today the doctor called.  They checked Bruce for his cognitive skills and on a scale of 1 to 30 with normal being about 28 he says Bruce tested at 11.  He says there is no hope for improvement.  He says it will get worse.  Maybe gradually, maybe in spurts.
He is worried about me looking after Bruce.  He is giving Bruce a weekend pass, but wanted me to bring him back if it's too hard on me.  I am getting a bit of home help, about an hour a day, but he thinks I may have to put him in a retirement or nursing home.
I don't want to let that happen.  The doctor said he knew we had spent forty-three years together, but I would have to realize that the together part can't last much longer.  I don't want to even think about what that would mean.
This blog is all about how God leads us along, and I know beyond a doubt that he does, but today I just need to let it out, and do a bit of crying.  Maybe tomorrow I can be cheerful again.
"Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning."  Thank You Lord for Your promise.

For more on this topic see my Everyday Christian post Give thanks when my husband has dementia?
For the previous post see: Anna 
For the next post see Thanksgiving Trip

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Anna

Bruce is back in the hospital, and it's hard to be thankful.  It's hard to see God's hand in this; easier far to say, "Why Lord?"  But how can I question God when He has always been so faithful?

We didn't have any answers in 2005 when God led us to the run down building on 4th and 17th st. W.  either, but we do now.  He had plenty of reasons, and number one on the list had to be Anna.

We hadn't even finished unpacking when we first met Anna and Wilbur.  I was outside most of the time turning the weed patch into a garden, and they stopped by to introduce themselves.  They didn't have a car but went almost everywhere on their scooters.  At least they did in Summer.  Winter was a different story, and I soon learned that they were often stranded at home in winter.

Wilbur was OK with that, but Anna needed to get out.  I offered to take her shopping whenever I went, and it was the best decision I could have made.

On our first shopping trip together I had only a few items to buy.  The main thing was dishwasher soap, but when I picked up Anna, she handed me a bag containing three bottles of dishwasher soap that she had and couldn't use.  She was tickled to find out that she had brought me exactly what I needed.

We talked about the way God moves.  She was raised Catholic and loved "the good Lord" as she called him but had very little knowledge of what the Bible said.

After about the third shopping trip, she was enjoying our conversations to the point of wanting to know what the "Good Book" said.  She had one packed away somewhere and decided to get it out and start reading.  She felt that a book should be read from beginning to end and that is what she proceeded to do.

Before long we were having Bible studies in her home.  She read her Bible from cover to cover and loved every word of it.  She talked to God and knew she was His child.

One day while we were shopping she had a heart attack, and we almost lost her.  During her time in the hospital she decided she didn't want to wait any longer to be baptized.  Her infant baptism had not been her choice.  This was.  A few days later, March 8, 2006, Bruce baptized her at the Days Inn.

God loved Anna, and knew she needed neighbors whom He could work through. The Lord's hand was in our move to that neighborhood.

His hand is also in Bruce's stay in the hospital.  We just need to be open to His leading.

For the previous post see:  Selling

Monday, November 01, 2010

Selling

We weren't too thrilled when our daughter, Samantha, decided to sell her trailer, but she couldn't see any other alternative, so while Bruce was struggling for his life, our son-in-laws, some friends and I all tried to help prepare her trailer for sale.  Meanwhile, Bruce and I prayed for God's will for the situation.

We were not worried.  Even though we knew that trailer had been an answer to prayer for her, we also knew that the Lord wouldn't let it sell if it was not his will, and if He wanted her to sell, it would happen.

We had seen it happen in our lives.  Not only did He have the exact timing for  buying the house in Chatham, and selling it a year later, He had found us the house in Paisley, and He also told us when to let it go.

Our church friends couldn't understand us. When they heard we were planning to sell they would ask what our plans were, and we would say, "we don't have any plans."  It made sense to us; we were just letting the Lord do the planning.

There was a young Christian family we hadn't met but who had always admired our house.  They had apparently been interested in it before we bought it, and they had been watching as we transformed the yard into a beautiful garden.  The same day we placed the sign on our house, this couple was given a notice to vacate their rental housing. The owner wanted it for a family member.

The young man, driving by the house that day, was excited to see the house for sale.  They came to see it and seemed impressed but then we didn't hear from them for a few days.

Meanwhile we drove by a few properties in Owen Sound.  One that hadn't looked the least bit impressive to us at first seemed to catch our attention.  One day as we were having our morning devotions, Bruce stopped for a moment in the middle of his prayer.  Afterward he told me that the Lord wanted us to have that property and also that we would have an offer on the house in three days.

The offer came from the first couple who had looked at the house.  They had checked everything else out before making their decision.  We went to see the property in Owen Sound.  If Bruce hadn't been certain that this was where God wanted us, he wouldn't have even considered it. He could barely stand to go up the stairs.

But God was in it.  We set a low price that we would be willing to pay, and only found out later that the owner's son had tried to buy it for more than that and had been refused.  The mortgage also seemed impossible because it was considered commercial, but God made a way and we were able to purchase the house, because He had a plan for that house for us.

With memories like these to look back on, we were not going to worry about our daughter and her trailer.  If the Lord was using her financial situation to cause her to prepare her place for selling, we would not interfere.  Instead we did what we could to help.

Just as the finishing touches were being done and she was ready to call the real-estate agent, she received a job offer that worked perfectly for her.  She would be doing PSW work looking after someone she was already familiar with, and she would be doing it in her own home.

The trailer was ready, and she was able to start the job immediately.  Samantha will not have to sell her home.

In the next post I will fill you in on what God's plan was for us and why He wanted us to have that house in Owen Sound.

For the previous post see: Good News and a Rainbow