In a recent post here I shared that I was praying for direction about some changes to my chaplain ministry. For several months I have felt that I needed to make changes but I haven’t known exactly what they should be and how to go about them. My sweetheart had some thoughts – thoughts that, at first, I didn’t want to hear because I didn’t want to deal with the actions needed to carry out his suggestions. He was very certain if any changes were made they must be from God’s voice to my heart, not because he or anyone else thought that’s what I should do. I began to realize that my schedule was just too full – I was having trouble keeping up with needs of my family and home and I was having much trouble keeping up with myself. I often found myself wishing I could just retire and have more family and home time – and time to do things I just haven’t been able to do! Yet, I so dearly love the folks I have been ministering to and I found it hard to imagine leaving them.
Suddenly about two weeks ago I was faced with what seemed to be an urgent need to make a change. My dear little mother will soon be eighty-seven years old. She has lived for more years than even the doctors thought she would. She is a blessing to so many and we know that God has kept her alive inspite of health limitations for this long because He has a purpose for her. He’s not finished with her yet! About two weeks ago she suddenly began to have some medical problems and symptoms that indicated things may be changing. Add to that the fact that she has had several weeks of fairly intense pain in one shoulder and she was not doing well at all. A trip to her doctor confirmed that something had definitely changed but initial tests proved nothing. (More testing will be done soon.) Her doctor referred her to a wonderful orthopedic surgeon who just happened to have an opening the very next day. I drove my dear mother to a neighboring city for her appointment and I accompanied her in to talk with him. Tests and x-rays showed that she had a torn rotator cuff – that was what was causing all the pain. Because of her age, her heart and kidney issues she is not a candidate for surgery. A shot of cortisone gave some relief and she has begun a few weeks of physical therapy.
And what did that have to do with my sense of pending changes to my chaplain ministry? A lot!! Suddenly I KNEW that I was to step way back and, perhaps out of most of my weekly ministries. There was no doubt in my mind that I had heard God’s voice to my soul – I needed to clear my schedule to be available to help my mother and to be involved in her medical and physical needs. The process was simple – I resigned immediately from one skilled care center where there is a staff chaplain and other Christian ministries. I was one of many who assisted the staff chaplain there. I will visit some of the dear folks there periodically as my schedule allows, just as a friend. That takes a lot of pressure off of me and completely frees up one day a week. A phone call to my supervisor for the facility where I am staff chaplain two days a week brought more instant change. I am currently on leave and a chaplain from one of our other facilities is filling in during my absence. During this time away I am praying and considering whether I should resign and completely free up those two days, whether I should return but only commit to just a few hours one day a week or, perhaps, resign and, from time-to-time, stop by to visit the dear folks I have come to love. I will continue to minister at the third facility here in town (about two miles from my home) on Thursday mornings. This facility had been begging me for quite some time to come and I have only recently begun a Bible Study there. They have no one to replace me and I am only away from home for about two hours. As I’ve begun this new schedule I can’t believe how much I am enjoying the change.
My dear mother can’t drive her car so I am driving her to and from physical therapy, to the grocery store and anywhere else she needs to go. She protested that I have to take her grocery shopping – until I told her that she is helping me organize my shopping and I enjoy doing mine along with her. She is the ultimate bargain shopper so I’m always learning of good ‘deals’ that I might miss on my own. There are things she can’t take care of at her home and I am trying to help with some of those. Have you ever tried to change the sheets on a bed when you can only use one arm? I hadn’t thought about that until she called the other day and asked me if I would mind changing her sheets while I was there to help with something else. We take for granted what we can do until we can’t do it anymore.
On another note, I am making changes to my blog. You may find some new things and you may find some things that should have links that don’t work – so I ask you to be patient and keep coming by to visit. If things don’t work the way they should I probably haven’t finished the re-do.
I promised to tell you about our anniversary weekend. It was a bit different than planned because of weather and the fact that we decided to stay close to home instead of doing all the things we had planned. Friday evening, our anniversary, we went to a local steak house for dinner. We had been given a nice gift certificate so we decided we would use it then and we are SO glad we did. As we drove to dinner I joked with my sweetheart that I was going to order steak and lobster! Imagine my amazement when we arrived to find that steak and lobster was the special that evening. And what a fantastic meal for an incredibly amazing price. We were able to have two steak and lobster meals, flavored tea and lemonade drinks and a dessert to share for less than our gift certificate. My sweetheart added a few dollars to what was left on the gift certificate to cover the difference for the tip. So, we had a fantastic meal that only cost a few dollars out of pocket. We left feeling good about our evening out. We enjoyed a special time together and a wonderful meal – and we were thrilled that it had hardly cost us anything. What a good deal! Saturday afternoon we invited my cousin and her husband to join us for a movie and dinner out. We had gift certificates to the theater where we wanted to go so our four tickets cost less than the price of two tickets. Plus, we got a coupon for free popcorn! We saw ‘Blind Side’ – if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a good, true story. Afterwards we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Would you believe that my cousin and I each had coupons for buy one, get one free? Yes, we did. After dinner we sat for a long time and enjoyed time together for a good visit. Sunday was far different than planned. We had planned to drive to the coast for the day but high winds and extremely high waves on the ocean helped us decide to do something else. We thought we might visit someone special who was in the hospital and then go out to dinner – again with a gift card! But the day was stormy here and we were tired and wanted to stay home. We watched a movie and enjoyed watching an Alaska Cruise (our dream!) on the Travel Channel. My sweetheart got take-out Mexican dinner and we ate in front of the fireplace with a warm fire and a little dog whose nose never stopped smelling the aromas that filled the house.
And in the end,
it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years.