Monday, January 11, 2016

Strength for the Day

...And as your days, so shall your strength be. (Deuteronomy 33:25)

My family ended the year with some life altering news.

My mom has ALS.

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that was all the rage way back in the summer of 2014? The proceeds from that benefited the ALS foundation.

So, what exactly is ALS? Simply put, it is the your muscles losing their ability to function.  It starts with voluntary function and strength, and moves on to no ability to function at all. It is a combined muscle/brain/spinal cord/ nerve thing. It is pain free (thankfully), but it is a death sentence. 80% of people diagnosed with ALS will die within 1-4 years of their diagnosis. It affects every muscle group-arms, legs, throat, lungs. Most people end up on feeding tubes and ventilators as their muscles shut down.

There is no treatment. There is no cure.

This is quite the shock to my family. We knew something was wrong with mom. We'd seen some troubling things. But, we all were expecting a stroke or internal bleeding (on the brain) from a recent fall.

I can't tell you how hard this is to process. I know we all are going to die. I know that any one of us could die any minute. But, to have such a definite death sentence, that is hard to swallow.

I've cried quite a bit in this new year.

It's original grief as we face up to what we are going to lose. It is grief as we watch one we love more than we can express deteriorate. It is grief as we eventually will lose her to death. Though only a temporary separation, still a devastating loss.

Mom not there at holidays. Weddings. Births. "Every"days. That's a hard thing to contemplate.

It is a struggle as I try to find the balance between being a good mom to my kids, and a good daughter to my mom.

How quickly will this progress? I want to spend as much time as possible with my mom while she is still fairly healthy and mobile, and then also be there when she needs basic care. It's hard, because we live 1200 miles apart.

I want to continue on with "normal" for my kids and not put life on hold for an indefinite period of time.

With current plans, and providing things stay fairly static for a bit, I am planning to be with my parents and a couple siblings, for our cruise in February. And then my parents are planning to spend the summer up here, closer to us.

Those are the plans. We will just have to take things day by day, to see how it pans out.

I've prayed a bit, but probably not as much as I should. Frankly, I'm not exactly sure what to ask for. Healing would be miraculous-not impossible at all for God. But, I haven't prayed for that. I've prayed for comfort for all of us. And peace. Wisdom for decisions to be made. Eyes to see what needs seen so we can do what needs done. I've prayed for God to be glorified. Which He will. That's a promise.  (Romans 5:2- rejoice in hope of the glory of God) I guess I'm also praying that we get a glimpse of how God is being glorified in this situation.

I know God is good-all the time. I know God is faithful-all the time.

These are not just empty words. Empty promises. They are the very foundation of my life. God is the foundation of my life.

Some circumstances just require WAY more faith to rest in these truths-trusting this foundation will hold and will not be shaken. In some circumstances, it takes eyes of faith to see God's faithfulness, graciousness, goodness, and loving care.

Know. Trust. Rest. That's faith.

I keep thinking of the word strength. My mom is losing strength. She has very little strength in her arms. She can barely lift small things. She can't pull the grandkids onto her lap. It's really hard to see.

It reminds me of one of my favorite verses/hymns.

Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent (all powerful) hand.

The verse (Isaiah 41:10) actually says I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

The song I've been singing with the kids this week is one by Keith & Kristin Getty and Stuart Townend.

Still, my soul be still, and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side; no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

God, you are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me, to rest in You alone.

Still, my soul be still; do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways, with shield of faith against temptations flaming arrows.

Still my soul be still, do not forsake the truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord, and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

God, you are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me, to rest in You alone.

This is my prayer. I can't hold on on my own. But, I have friends lifting me and mine in prayer. Praying when I can't. And, the Lord of peace, the God of all strength and comfort, is upholding me in His everlasting arms. Renewing my spirit.

Still, my soul be still.