Monday, November 24, 2008
Random Acts of a Family's Love
This is a blog entry to share a testimony of what I have observed in our home this past month. I have watched an incredible love shared by a couple who are traveling through life together and aiming to glorify God during their journey. I have witnessed tenderness, compassion and an unconditional love from a wife caring for her husband in his final days. I have also seen great concern from a husband for his wife when she is left behind. He knows that God will take care of her and his children but he has been thorough in trying to help them with future decisions. He has even helped with Christmas plans for his family. I am sure he has spent many hours praying for each of them.
There is much care to be done for a person who is confined to bed. His wife is a self sacrificing servant and helpmate. She is an incredible inspiration to me. I know there are many people praying for her because she has had a supernatural energy to care for her husband at this time. She hasn't slept through the night in weeks (maybe months). She is diligent in giving medications (even shots - I call her Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy) around the clock to help alleviate Jim's pain and caring for his physical needs. She holds his hands often and prays aloud for him. She has taken her wedding vows seriously for twenty-one years, "...to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others till death do us part." They have been at our house for 25 days, and she has not left our house to go anywhere (except the front porch and back porch). She is the most diligent caregiver I have ever watched. She has been at his bedside caring for him and loving him every moment of every day. She often crawls into his hospital bed and lays beside him just to feel his closeness. She treasures each day. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24
My friend and her 18 year old son have been an incredible team and work very well together. Their son put his dream at West Point on hold to come home to serve and help care for his dad. This is something he didn't even question doing. I picked him up at West Point November 1st and he has been here since. His dad has been an exemplary role model, and they share an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. There is no greater legacy to leave behind! It has been a blessing to hear him and his dad play songs together on their guitars. They share a passion for singing songs to their Savior. It sounded like heaven on earth as they strummed together. They play well together. Another blessing for our family to witness! He has an incredible respect and love for his dad. When I had an opportunity to tell Jim that he did a fine job raising this young man, he just smiled and said "James". It was a very sweet moment. He is very proud of him.
I have been grateful for their sons computer skills on more than one occasion. He has beenextremely helpful and willing to explain things to me. He has been staying in shape for the rigorous exercise at West Point by working out at a local gym, chopping and hauling firewood for us, helping out at basketball practice, running errands (we always need a gallon of milk) and running after a 3 year old and 5 year old. Our 11 year old son shared with his physician that he was so happy to have an 18 year old (like a big brother) in the house that played and joked around with him. It is a joy to have him in our house. I even enjoyed our trip to the eye doctor today. His favorite quote is "What's today? Today's Monday and that means absolutely nothing!" I'm sure our days are not as structured as life at West Point.
Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Proverbs 4: 1-5 (NIV)
I have watched a very tenderhearted 14 year old daughter hold her dad's hands and her eyes sparkle when her dad was able to acknowledge her in some way. She is very helpful in our home and always offering to do dishes, do homework with the younger ones in our home, set the table, make lunches for six school children, etc. We have shared tears, concerns, questions, and wonderful memories about her dad. She is a pleasure to be around, and her Christian testimony is strong. She starts the day and ends the day with, "I Love You Daddy". I am sure that is music to Jim's ears.
Jim has a special place in his heart for his young daughter. When he found out that his cancer was terminal, he felt the urgency to get to the jewelry store to get her a purity ring. It is beautiful (two hearts that are connected and have rubies inside the hearts). This was a priority since he would be unable to be here for her 16th birthday. He is very thoughtful!! It will be a special gift from her dad forever. He adores his "Little girl" who is becoming a beautiful young lady!
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3
And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Our family has enjoyed listening to the prayers of their 5 year old son. At each meal he prays for his dad's leg to be healed. He has a childlike faith and is very excited his dad is going to be with Jesus soon. I'm not sure he understands fully what that means, but I do know his faith is a trusting faith. He will know, hear, and read of his father's love for and relationship with Jesus Christ. His prayers will soon be answered with his dad receiving a glorified body. Jesus said,"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
Excerpts from my journal from life at our house this month:
Fri. 10-31-08 Jim is very grateful for welcoming his family into our home. It is uncomfortable to be thanked. This is serving our Lord and Savior in the most intimate of ways. What a privilege and honor!
Sat. 11-6-08 3:11am Jim is in an incredible amount of pain. Please help his wife and son to be strong and not weary. Jim has said he wants to see Jesus yet he will miss his family terribly. He is a man of incredible virtue, love and compassion. Lord, I understand your timing is perfect and I will trust in that.
Sun. 11-6-08 Jim's wife and I talked about God's amazing and perfect plan. God knows they are planners. Jim and his family have been able to plan Jim's departure from earth and entrance into the glories of heaven! That has been a gift!
Sat. 11-22-08 Jim is funny today. He kept winking at his wife and smiling at her. He is at ease in her presence. Their love is particularly tender and sweet. It is a treasure to watch!
There have been many tears shed, hugs shared, and much laughter during this time. All have been treasured moments that can't be described in words. We have had some wonderful memories together (all 12 of us). Some of them are: exercising, roasting marshmallows, watching movies, singing praise songs, praying aloud, folding laundry (for the 100th time), building forts, trying to figure out algebraic equations, stamping cards, a trip to the Barber's shop for all the boys, cutting and stacking wood, organizing cabinets, target practice, mud fights, a grapefruit toss, eating, eating and more eating! These are just a few that come to mind.
Jim's wife and I were able to sing "This Is The Day" at Jim's bedside today. The song included the lyrics...This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it and we will enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, we will enter his courts with praise, ... I have observed a family truly rejoicing at the celebration of a father and husband's life.
Jim recently told a couple, when they came to visit him, to cherish each other and to love their family with all their hearts. Time is short for all of us... Forgive one another and love one another! Today two more people received a blog card with Jim's website! He is unable to communicate verbally right now, yet his life is still impacting other's for God's Glory! AMEN!!!
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance; perserverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-5