Unshakable Faith

Squeezing my hand, the frail voice whispered, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  The nurse rolled him further on his side, he groaned, “For you are with me."  His grip tightened around my hand as he gasped, "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

I glanced over at the nurse who was packing his wound with gauze. Tears were streaming down her face. “I’m so sorry, almost done.” She looked at me, her eyes filled with despair.

It was the worst decubitus ulcer I had ever seen- a gaping, five inches wide, to the bone, bed sore.  Nursing home neglect had taken its toll and now Tom had been moved to our hospice house to die.

As the nurse kept working, Tom’s jaw tightened, his voice strained. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." His voice weakened to a labored whispered, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

I don’t know if the morphine finally took effect or if he passed out from the pain, but he fell unconscious. I loosened his hand from mine and looked at the frazzled nurse.  I asked, “Have you ever seen such faith?”

She wiped her wet cheeks. “No, it seems impossible. How does he do it?”  

didn't have the answer then, and I still don’t. His family had abandoned him in a nursing home. He must have felt unwanted. Unloved. Tom never regained consciousness and died a few days later. In spite of his physical pain, emotional suffering and unanswered questions, the last words on his breath,"I shall dwell in the house of my Lord forever."

I wish I knew his life story, how his unshakable faith was forged. How he still felt the love of his Father in spite of pain. Thankfully, I look forward to asking him one day when I see him whole and in perfect health.

As I reflect on the end of his journey, I’m reminded of others who chose praise in their darkest hour. Jonah, Daniel, David, Paul... the list goes on. In fact, I think it's harder to find a Bible hero who didn't praise through his hardship than ones who did. How reassuring to know Tom is now in a circle of these great men of faith.

Makes me think twice next time I grumble about insignificant nuisances and temporal inconveniences. I pray for an unshakable faith so that in spite of circumstances, even during tragedies and crises, I will be able to praise in spite of pain.

Dudley's Demotion

Saturday morning. 

A mountain of laundry stares at me. The neighbors are probably on their way to take  pictures.

Dust bunnies have grown into annoying rabbits. 

I think I'll name him Dudley.

It's the perfect day to scrub down, sweep out, and polish up. The house is quiet. Hubby is fishing. Jess is living her missional dream in Uganda. Nathan is working, and Katie still slumbers. 

I glove up and jump in, but as I run a feather duster over picture frames, a bittersweet nostalgia trickles in. Pausing, I stare into three little faces. Is it possible that the precocious toddler smiling at me will be moving away and starting graduate school in just a few weeks? Can the snaggle-toothed girl sitting atop her pony really be starting her junior year of college? And Katie, my baby, is it possible that she’s no longer a baby at all but a blossoming tween?

Then... reality slaps me in the face. In ten years, will I look back and feel remorse because I didn't have a tidy, Martha Stewart home? Doubt it. Is it possible I may regret not spending time with my children? Quite possibly. A sense of urgency replaces the nostalgia. Cleaning supplies are quickly put away. The dust can wait. The laundry will keep. Plans have changed. 

I bound into Katie’s room and declare, “It’s Mommy-Katie Day!”

Groggy eyes open. “Really?” She squeals in delight. Her bear hug takes my breath.

After shopping, lunch, a movie and playing at the neighborhood pool, we drag home.  I open the door, and Dudley Dust Bunny greets me. I don’t care. Dudley doesn't bother me one smidgen. He's been demoted to the bottom of my to-do list.

Top of the list: Family. Our little ones leave the nest way too soon not to keep first things first.
Photo by Katie

Three Words

Three words. Three words to describe myself. Well, what day of the week is it? Am I at my best or worst? Am I refreshed with creative optimism or petering out after a high pressured week?  Am I polished and ready to take center stage or wallowing under the covers, feeding my insecurities while unsuccessfully comparing myself to others?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m struggling with this whole time-to-promote-your-book thing. One of the author spotlights asked me to describe myself in three words. Three words! I admit, I can be overly analytical, (oh, that should probably be one of my words) but this is a daunting task. Should I be transparent and admit that at my worst, I am impatient, cynical and smart-alecky? No, that won’t work. I’m supposed to be likeable. Transparency has its limits.

How about my best day self? I can honestly answer with empathetic, capable and creative. No, now I sound like I think I’m all that. When clearly, I'm not. Humble? No, people who claim to be humble, usually aren’t. Perhaps I should go with my ideal self, the woman I aspire to be. Genuine, compassionate, accomplished. No, that's my dream self. If anything, I need to be honest. Integrity? Should that make my list of three?

What about you? What three words would you choose to describe yourself? If you rattled them off in less than five seconds, I’m jealous. Maybe I should add envious to my list.

Okay, it only makes sense to go with an average day. I am warm, caring and sarcastic - not biting sarcasm, the fun, bantering- I like you so I’m going to say the opposite of what I mean- kind. Oops, I broke the rule, I can’t elaborate on my words. Conundrum.

Time to wrap this up. Three words! Just three words! Pressure is building. . .THREE WORDS. . . The Jeopardy tune is playing as I peck out words on my keyboard only to watch them disappear as I hit delete.

Sigh. Pause. Throw my head back. Eureka!

Grateful! Yes, grateful. That should be number one, top of my list. I am grateful that I don’t have to fret over being defined by three words or a whole long list of words for that matter.  Why? Because I just realized my three words: Forgiven, Free, Redeemed. Oh, I have three more. Covered by Grace.  Oodles of Grace to be exact.