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Is He or isn’t He?

Why that question? Because it is the “the” question we have to ask ourselves every single day in one way or another. Is God sovereign…and is He good? Without resolving that we cannot keep following Him. In this season of my life I have to answer that question almost every day. ..as I see my husband deteriorating from a terrible disease. Could the Lord stop it? Of course . Is He going to ? No. 

As I read the testimonies of those who walk away there seems to be something that ties them together. Something awful happens.. some tragedy that they cannot explain and suddenly it seems that God is not who He says He is. I understand their reaction. Why doesn’t He just do something to end the suffering? Do I have an easy answer ? No I don’t. The only answer for me.. is to know His sovereignty is real.. that His ways are not ours that His thoughts are not ours. 

If I should decide that I know what God should do and He does not do it, then suddenly I am God and He is not. The only safe place for me as I lose Steve to dementia every single day is to put my hope in the goodness of God. To believe that He is for us and that somehow in a way I cannot comprehend He will bring good out of this. Honestly most of the time it is impossible to believe that except for His grace. The grace that is carrying me though each and every day.. every hour.. every minute of this impossible situation. 

He is who He says He is and He will always chase after us with His goodness even when we try to run away and hide. He pursues us to pour our His relentless love into our hearts..

I am writing this with a heavy heart.. please pray for Steve and I.

 

Our favorite beach.. the last one we went to together last summer.

 

Pastoral Counseling

 

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As many of you know I have been working with women for the last 14 years as a Pastoral Counselor. I took the last two years off to take care of my husband who is currently in skilled nursing where he is getting very good care.

As this broken world continues to spiral downward.. many of us are hurting and really could use some help. I have decided to return to the work I love and I am praying that the Lord will send me people to help as He has always done in the past. My own situation continues to be challenging but in the midst of it.. I need to pour out to others so that the Lord can use me as a wounded healer. I decided to post this in case anyone reading it needs to talk through whatever struggle they are having. I am posting this here and on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/aliciasroses/) You can message me on Facebook if you want to connect. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Pastoral Counseling is not therapy and it is not Spiritual Direction.. it may have components of both but it is truly counseling by the power of the Holy Spirit as He brings healing to the brokenhearted.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise 
instead of a spirit of despair. ( Isaiah 61)

 

Almost 18 Years

Next Monday is March 30th.. it is our 18th anniversary. I probably will not get in to the skilled nursing facility because of the ” shelter in place” rule.  It is sad but when I finally get to see Steve again I just know it will be a celebration. Since hospice became  involved in our lives.. things are better than they were. Steve is holding his own and in some ways improved because of the extra layer of help. I am doing better because I have other people who are monitoring his situation and will step in if he needs it. I actually did not realize that hospice can extend the life of people because they provide comfort care and extra attention which enables the patient to feel more love and less stress.

As I have been sheltering.. I feel like I am seeing new things in our situation. God’s timing has been miraculous. 7 months ago there was a big change that forced me into the situation where I had to put Steve in the hospital and then the skilled nursing. Just last month hospice became a part of our journey. The Lord knew what we would need at this stage. He knew this pandemic was coming and exactly when and where it would hit. He know that Steve was vulnerable and that I would not be able to visit him every day .. so last month he enabled hospice to come in and do the things I was doing.. He also knew that I would eventually need to find a place by myself.

I stayed with my daughter and family for 3 months and with old friends for 3 months..the second place is only 5 minutes from Steve’s . Now that he is being watched and cared for by hospice.. the Lord has provided a new place.. my own small place back in my hometown.. close to my daughter and only a few freeway exits away from Steve.. it seems to be just what I need.. and want. So here I am having plenty of time to sort through things and prepare for this move since I can’t really go anywhere.. sounds like God’s plan for sure.

So on our 18th anniversary I will be moving into my new place and hopefully, God willing, it will not be too long before I can visit my husband again.. God is directing our steps and taking care of both of us separately just as He did when we were together.. I am so very grateful.

I hope you are surviving this season without feeling too isolated or lonely and that you are having the time to see God at work in your circumstances.. God is still God.. He is still in control and you can still trust Him. He is Good .. so very Good!

I am reminded of this story in Matthew.. this is from the Message:

The Wind Ran Out of Breath

 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Let’s decide to be in absolute awe of Him as we sail through the storm that is upon us..Our great God!

Hospice

 

 

Yes.. they stepped into our lives last week.. at my request. Steve is declining rapidly. He can still walk around and eat and he tries to communicate. Most of it does not make sense. He is only partially here.. he is also very tired and weak and unfortunately a fall risk.

How do I feel? Very sad.. relieved that he will get extra help..ready but not ready.. accepting but not accepting all of this. It all happened too fast.. only 7 months ago we were taking our last walk on Drake’s beach.. now he can barely function. Today I talked with him and told him that I would be fine when he went to be with the Lord.. a lie that is necessary.. I hope he understood. I reminded him that he would see his parents and sister there.. He responded positively but it is difficult to know if he truly grasped what I was saying.. My selfish desires to hang on to him are finally gone.. he will be restored there and out of this life where his body and mind are both failing.

I am sharing this because I need to.. it becomes more real when I write about it and it is a very real part of our lives.. learning to let go and saying goodbye when their time is getting close. I sense the Lord being close to me but I am sad and lonely and afraid of the future. There are times when I just want to close my eyes and wake up to the life I have lost.. my husband, our home .. most of our belongings.. all gone..

So.. I continue to believe that God is good even though I don’t know if right now I can rely on Romans 8:28 to be true.. It always has been but nothing has challenged my faith like this trial.. I know I am not forsaken and not abandoned but the nights are long and the tears continue to flow ..

So.. I have opened my heart to those of you who read this.. I am not hiding and I am hoping it encourages you to be authentic and real and allow others into your pain. We were not created to suffer alone and I am so grateful for the family and friends that continue to support me and let me lean on them as this long trial unfolds.

He is faithful and He is good.. He will never forsake us and leave us to face all these things alone. His ways are not ours.. His thoughts are not ours.. We see through a glass darkly..trusting Him to reveal more in His time.

Help me to cling to you Lord..on this last leg of Steve’s journey .. to remember that you knew all this was going to happen before time began..

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Update on my life

Steve’s last trip to the beach .. last July.. the love of my life…

It  has been quite a while since I posted here.. I had some internet challenges and had to move for the second time in five months.. life is very hard for me and all I can do is try to live fully while the storm rages.. I feel like one of the disciples when they were in the boat with Jesus.. ” are you going to sleep and let me drown Lord?”.. at the same time I trust that He is at work and will continue to give me reasons to be here. My husband’s dementia is progressing and he is declining.. I see him every day and eat lunch with him .. feeding him yogurt and ice cream.. he loves both. Today I played music for him.. worship and a couple old hymns..he perked up and I know he remembered them.. we or rather I talked about Jesus reminding him and me that He is with us.

I was going through my old emails and I found one he wrote three and a half years ago.. it may have been the last one.. He was reminding me that the Lord was with us and He would take us all the way together.. exactly what is happening. Almost like he knew I would need that right now. God is in this and God has us and He is with us.. the pain is unbearable but we still have the love that the Lord has given us. This disease cannot separate us and eventually when He goes to be with the Lord.. I know that our love will survive into eternity.

For anyone who is suffering and in great pain .. I understand your journey and I only wish I could pray over you in person…

Lord, we are in a broken world and there is devastation everywhere. You are our sanctuary and our refuge in this dark place. We put our hope in you and trust you even as we struggle to believe.. strengthen us and encourage us and give us signs of your presence.. You will never fail us and we love you and will follow you as you lead us..Amen

 

 

 

 

 

Upside down

 

It has been months since I last wrote on my blog.. I thought maybe I would give it  up.. but I see that people are still reading it so I am back. My world has turned upside down since I last posted. My husband’s disease suddenly worsened and he was hospitalized. He is now in skilled nursing.. all of this started on the day after Labor day so it has been almost two months. I had to move quickly and I am now staying with my daughter. She and her husband were gracious enough to take me in and let me be here until the next step is clear.

Everything is unclear.. my husband is still here but eventually this disease will take his life and I will be a widow again.. The first time was 20 years ago. Everything is different this time.. Steve and I are having a sweet season right now.. I am able to help out with his care and show him that my love is just as strong as ever.. He is able to smile and tell me he loves me.. even though he is confused and disabled now.. He remembers me and he remembers us. We still look into each other’s eyes and I continue to look forward to each day that I have on this earth with him.

Dementia is a terrible disease and it should not have the right to take the life of someone so young.. it is so hard on the person who has it and terrible on those who love that person. Sometimes I just can’t imagine that the Lord is allowing this and yet I know deep down that he has purposes that are totally mysterious in all that is happening. I am grieving for the life we had together.. knowing it will never return. I miss us.. our home, our lives our dreams. I look ahead the road is empty.. no more dreams for me.. only the hope that God will not waste this suffering.. that He will use me to bring comfort to those who will go through this and need understanding.. He is teaching me what grief feels like that is daily.. anticipatory grief.. ambivalent grief.. grief that rises up and attacks me at night.. grief that hides it’s face and suddenly tries to drown me.

A while back I started writing poems.. I never even liked poetry but they seemed to come out of the darkness and sadness.. from somewhere deep inside me.  Here is the most recent one:

The Eye of the Storm

It is totally dark

the winds blow all around me

There is no future

No light

Only a deep darkness

I am alone

sad, lonely, waiting

The road ahead is empty

He is here with me, yet I 

feel like I am falling

Keep me close to you Jesus

 

My memories of our life together are like sweet soft pillows that I lie on at night when the sadness comes.. the trips we took.. the dinners we ate.. the drives we went on.. the sweetness of our love.. nothing can take that away.

Our God is with us as we continue to trust Him through all of this.. He will never abandon or forsake us.. we are His.

Romans 8:28

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“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”

This is a quote from the Voice translation of the Bible.. I love the way this is expressed.. so clear and easy to understand. I learned this verse when I was a new believer and have held on to it ever since.. over 40 years now. Lately I have been doubting that it could possibly apply to my present circumstances. How could the Lord bring good out of this? My husband losing so many abilities and words and me losing him little by little.. impossible to see that turning into something good and beautiful.

This weekend the Lord showed me that He is still living up to His words in this verse. My two step sons and my grandson came to visit us. The back story is that there has been almost no communication with his oldest son for many years.. the last time we saw him was 9 years ago and there have been almost no conversations for the last 17 years.. since we got married. I don’t know what happened.. but now it does not matter at all. As they were driving here from Idaho I decided that I wanted to welcome them with a dinner and I drove to the store.. While I was there I questioned the whole thing.. what would it be like? Would we all feel very awkward, would there be anger? I distinctly heard the Lord say ” It is a celebration” and that we were welcoming home the prodigal son. Wow! Really God? Sounded good to me and I bought what I needed to make the dinner and went home wondering .. what next?

They arrived a couple hours later and when we opened the door.. it was exactly like the story of the Prodigal son.. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  …The room was filled with joy and the weekend continued to unfold.. with many tender moments and many tears.. I was stunned.. never expecting to see this moment and never imagining it could happen right now!

For me it has lifted the depression and despair that has surrounded me for the last year…my faith was getting weaker and weaker and I was crying out to Him daily.. Save me. . I saw that the Lord is bring good out of the suffering of this season.. I know now that the Lord has been at work even though there was not a single sign of that.. He was doing things in everyone, preparing us for that moment when He would move and do what He does best.. bring Healing and Reconciliation!

I see how God is using my husband to bring us all together.. this man I married is an instrument of sacrificial love for the whole family.. He is still giving so much to us as he is losing everything.. For the first time since we got married I feel grafted into his family and they are becoming more and more precious to me every day.. what a wonderful gift.

I hope this encourages you.. I know what it feels like to lose hope and to wonder if God even knows or cares.. the trials of this world can devastate us.. He will show up and surprise you, just as He just did for me.. This season is never going to get easier, but my desire is to continue to Trust Him and to believe He has more gifts to shower down on us.

” He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.”

Lent..again

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As I look back on my blog, I see that I seem to write a post every year during Lent.. I want to be true to that tradition and it has been a while since I posted. I always see Lent as an opportunity to reflect.. to look back and to see how God has been working and to be aware of what He is doing right now.

I don’t even remember the Lent season last year.. probably because I was getting ready to bring my very disabled elderly mother to my home. I brought her here almost exactly one year ago.. It was the day before Easter 2018.. so that was March 31st.. the day after my wedding anniversary.. I was pretty worried about how it would go and that was apparently a prophetic feeling…since it did not go well at all and three weeks later I was frantically looking for a skilled nursing facility that would take her.. I never found one but Kaiser did! What a trial that was.. then we were faced with another even more challenging situation. It was becoming very clear that something was wrong with my husband and I knew I had to face whatever it was.. we found out in May that he has a rare type of dementia..

I have been grieving since that neurology appointment and it is only now that I feel like I can say that I have begun to accept this outcome.. many nights of crying, yelling out to the Lord and feeling sorry for myself followed that diagnosis. We are now living in a “new normal.”

This year for Lent I was hoping to focus on giving up worry and anxiety.. but God seemed to have another plan for me. Instead of trying not to worry or be anxious He began to show me that it was impossible to truly get rid of those things and that I needed to give myself permission to have those feelings and others  and to welcome them as part of me.. I never imagined that as an option.. but it has helped tremendously. There is even a name for this.. Welcoming prayer..As I have tried this.. my process is to sit with my feelings, to acknowledge them and not fight them.. to just feel them and when they are less intense, I release them to the Lord.. The result has been more peace and much less fear.

It was a big shift for me to realize that all feelings are legitimate and that I don’t have to deny them or try to kill them.. even the ones I dislike.. that the Lord will enable me to live through the times of sadness, pain, grief, worry, anxiety, fear and anger. I realized at a deep level that I am not defined by these feelings or these times of struggle. We live in a broken world and when the brokenness overwhelms us it is incredibly difficult and impossible to pretend that we are not suffering and hurting.

The take away is that we are loved by God even as we battle the feelings we wish we never had. He is not going to leave us even when our circumstances overwhelm us. So I am living more fully day by day and thanking Him for the good days..or maybe just the good hours or minutes.. Knowing that this journey is full of uncertainty when it comes to our future but that we can be certain of God and His faithfulness.

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Memories

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Remembering is such an important aspect of our faith. We remember all that the Lord has done for us.. He remembers us.. our needs, desires.. everything about us.

I have lots of time on my hands these days since my only job is to help my husband in the ways that he needs it.. The condition he has affects his memory and that impacts our relationship as well.. I want him to remember things that he has forgotten and he remembers some things that I can’t remember because we were not together until later in life. With this extra time.. I can reflect on how all of this is impacting me.

I understand that his forgetting is a big deal for me.. it seems like we base so much of our life together on the good times we have shared.. Fortunately he still remembers lots of those times.. but I know that could change. Today as I was getting lunch ready I thought about this and realized that the Lord has all those memories and even if we forget things.. God does not and someday we will be together with Him and all the memories will be returned to us.  We will be restored and nothing will be missing.

One thing that my husband is not forgetting is the Lord and how important He is to us. He won’t lose that knowledge because he has the Spirit of God in him.. we can pray together even if he forgets many words..we can reminisce about how God has always been there for us even if the details are foggy.. Our God is very much in our midst and He will stay with us through whatever the future holds.

My job besides the care giving is to remember the goodness of God above all else. To dwell on all the ways He has come for me when I thought everything was lost.. to know that nothing that is happening behind His back.. He knows and He sees and He will direct our steps in this season.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
 yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.”       ( psalm 77:11-12)

Find me in the River

My last post included a video.. you have to play it on my site because it does not show up as a video if you receive email updates. The song is Find me in the River from a CD called streams that was released in 1999.. a tribute to the classic devotional Streams in the Desert.

Here are the lyrics:

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We’ve longed to see the roses
But never felt the thorns
And bought our pretty crowns
But never paid the price

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees with my soul laid bare
Even though you’re gone and I’m cracked and dry
Find me in the river, I’m waiting here

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We didn’t count on suffering
We didn’t count on pain
But if the blessing’s in the valley
Then in the river I will wait.

The whole CD is worth listening to if you find yourself in the wilderness or the dark valley..

Blessings,

Alicia