Caregiving and Releasing Care

It’s been just over 4 months since my husband and I began our current journey. I can only speak from my perspective, but my prayer is one day he will speak from his and be able to testify to the goodness of our God.

For the 1st 9 weeks I watched him become weaker in mind and body as he endured both hospitalization and a multitude of out patient tests. Next there was a brain biopsy which resulted in more confusion and weakness, followed by a diagnosis of CNS Vasculitis and a tough treatment regimen with strong meds and the need for acute rehab. Being released to come home, but needing 24/7 supervision. Back to the hospital and now his most recent treatment regimen requires in home care and therapy, and very limited contact to protect his compromised immune system.

I have been overwhelmed at times and felt more tired than I can communicate. However, I have found many things to be grateful for. This includes:

  • The always with me grace and presence of God. Encouraging me through the Word, and speaking to me through the inner witness. When I need peace, grace, rest, whatever…I can look to Him. He is the I Am _____.
  • Precious family supporting, loving, helping, doing whatever is needed to help Ed and I
  • Dear friends, neighbors and coworkers caring for us and show kindness in such practical ways
  • Faith friends to pray and to remind me what the Word of God says and to stay anchored in His faithfulness

I am still learning, but I hope you will be ministered to by these tips and find them helpful:

  • Stay connected to the One who is faithful. Ask Him to give you scriptures to stand on. Mine (and for Ed) are Psalm 23, Psalm 103 and Hebrews 4:16.
  • Choose to pray, read, listen, praise, every day – even fall asleep doing it, or do it if you wake up during the night. Choose to meditate the Word (like Psalm 23 or healing scriptures) instead of allowing worry.
  • Feel overwhelmed?
    • Phone a faith-filled friend and have them pray. Trust the Holy Spirit to minister to you through them.
    • Let people help you with things like errands, meals, cleaning.
    • Get rest. It’s okay to nap.
    • Be wise – ask someone to give you a break.
  • Make things easier. For example:
    • Use services like Shipt and Amazon for shopping
    • Use free websites and apps for caregivers like
      • Caringbridge.com lets you easily give updates about your loved one to family, friends and others
      • Caringvillage.com has an app too and lets you set up a group involved in caring, share a calendar, to dos, wellness journal, messages, med list and more
  • Release the care. Trust the One who loves you and your loved one. He is the God of all grace, rest in his care and let him care for you.

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there , for he always tenderly cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 TPT
https://bible.com/bible/1849/1pe.5.7.TPT

Trusting God for Ed

My husband Ed became sick in early November…and after many tests was recently diagnosed with CNS Vasculitis.

Will you please join your faith with ours that he will be restored to health? That is what we are praying for and expecting.

If you would like learn more, stand in faith, and pray with and for us, you may read more here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/edwardaten/journal

Israel 2019: Part 10 – Our last day in the Jerusalem

This is the last part of my series sharing about my 2019 trip to Israel. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Our last day was spent in the old city.  We started at the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and while there we saw ancient stone Mikvah’s used by Jews to take ritual purification baths as they ascended to the temple.

We also visited some archaeological areas, including a stone wall built in the time of King Hezekiah over 2400 years ago. And, that those stones were dry-fit into walls, no mortar was used. And we were shown how even the stones that no longer stood as a wall, were often reused to build again. As a result, there are often very old stones found mixed in with newer ones in some walls.

There was one more quick stop at the Western Wall before we headed for shopping in the Jewish quarter, and for a view of the beautiful Menorah built in preparation of the next temple that stands close to a Synagogue near that area. It was fun to see the school-aged children in the area while we were there.

I enjoyed our visit to the area of The Cardo (HaCardo), and seeing the mural depicting what shopping would have been like there in ancient times, as well as the columns from that time. It was lovely to revisit Shorashim – The Biblical Shop, which I had been to in 2001. I have been reading their monthly newsletter by email ever since, and they are on Facebook too. I bought a lovely necklace there that I will treasure always.

After that, we went back to the Inbal Hotel to take a short break and then pack our suitcases. Shortly after dinner our buses took us back to the airport in Tel Aviv. Our flight was overnight, but it was very busy, and took some time to get through… then there was customs at Newark, NJ after we arrived at about 5:30 am. Our last flight left Newark mid-morning and we were back to the Grand Rapids area around noon. It was a very long day indeed.

Was it tiring? Yes. But, it was so worth it. The experiences, the unforgettable places, the people, the adventure, great teaching, new friendships,  and being with others of “like precious faith.”  And yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

And, we can look forward to this:  I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband;  Revelation 21: 2  (the whole chapter is beautiful!)

As we begin 2020, I pray that you experience for yourself the goodness of our grace-filled God in new and wonderful ways. Oh how he loves us!

Finding Joy in Christmas (Past + Present)

2018ChristmasTree

For me, Christmas is a time to show people they are loved, and that they matter to you.  It’s what the Father did — to show His love He sent his precious, beloved son to be Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).

As a child of divorce, Christmas was always a multiple-stop experience for my family, and I loved it. I had extra grandparents, and more aunts, uncles and cousins than most kids. I might have complained a little about leaving my new presents at home, but I really enjoyed spending time with family.  My family also visited nursing homes with our church groups each Christmas when I was young.  We sang Christmas songs and gave hugs to the seniors we met, doing our best to show them love.

When my husband and I had kids the tradition continued.  We packed our little ones up and made as many as 3-4 stops at Christmas to spend time with our grandparents, parents and extended family – which for a time even included great grandparents.

We’ve been married 45 years, so over time things changed, naturally. The kids got married and some had kids, grandparents and in-laws moved to heaven and we started just getting together with our kids and grand kids (the best part!)…   We tried to plan around their schedules, and usually Christmas day worked as many had other plans on Christmas Eve.  And, for several years now we have also gone Christmas Tree “shopping and chopping” together, enjoying the horse drawn rides at a local tree farm.

And as a couple, we have also hosted a Christmas Eve open house of sorts for several years… inviting extended family and friends – whoever else could or wanted to come. We made and decorated cookies together, played a white elephant game, played games…just hung out together.  Plus, for all holidays now, we always make sure to invite my mom. She is a treasure that I want to honor and enjoy!

I have great Christmas memories, and this is a favorite – it’s a card from my grandson Dominick a few years ago. It blesses me so!

This year is different. My husband has been ill and quite weak since early November. We are continuing to trust God for a diagnosis and plan for his healing/recovery.  The result though is no tree farm visit or real tree, and no hosting of Christmas events for us this year.  I am grateful our son and daughter-in-law are hosting Christmas this year, but sadly not everyone is coming.  Perhaps its time for a change and perhaps our kids/grand kids will start inviting us (and my mom) to participate in their Christmas celebrations from now on. But I hope we can at least do our Christmas Eve party next year.

BUT FOR NOW… regardless of present circumstances I WILL REJOICE in the birth of my savior, Jesus Christ. And, I WILL BE GRATEFUL for the love and kindness that has been show to us. This includes counting my blessings like:

  • Kids who took the night shift while he was in the hospital – so I could get some sleep in my own bed while they stayed with their dad
  • Pastor’s Keith & Judy who came to the hospital, sneaking communion in with them, and praying with love and compassion for healing
  • Several family, friends and co-workers who provided meals, cleaned our house, hung Christmas lights, raked our yard, and one who took me on the fastest most productive Christmas shopping trip ever (with my favorite coffee included)
  • Neighbors who left Christmas cards, came to visit, volunteered to shovel snow, rescued packages from rain… and are “here when we need them”
  • A boss and work team who have supported my need to work “wherever” and have helped when needed.
  • My mom, son Jon and brother-in-law Jim who have been there for us every week, for one or more days as needed, whenever we needed them.
  • Amazing friends (Shirlee, Cindy, Judy, Lori and others) and my EMIC eGroup who are strong in faith and praying for us, encouraging us with the Word. I can be real with these people – and know that whatever I share, they will always point me back to HIM, to His faithfulness, His truth, and to His love for me and my family.

Truly, because of Jesus, I am blessed to be living a grateful and grace-full life. And, I pray that you will find your joy in Him too this Christmas. Oh how He loves us!

 

Israel 2019: Part 9 – Ha Kotel, the Pool of Bethesda, Yad Vashem and more

I wish I could transport you Jerusalem so you could experience the tangible presence of God that I felt there. It’s like no other place on earth.

This is a continuation of June 2nd’s adventures. You can read the beginning in part 8.

Ha-Kotel, or better known as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, a place of prayer, sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE). It may seem unusual, but I have never felt more at home or at rest and peace than when I am in this place. Even the air feels heavy with His presence. It reminds me that I am heaven-bound, and that some day I will never have to leave that feeling of home, rest and peace ever again. I enjoyed this video on the 50th Anniversary of Reunification by Rabbi Sacks. I hope you will like it too.

Our visit to the Western Wall Tunnels afforded us the opportunity to view the history, architecture and geography of the Temple Mount from a unique perspective. Herodian stones, words carved by Roman soldiers, a beautiful synagogue, a dig going down through layers over 2,000 years old and more.

From there we walked through the crowded streets of the Muslim quarter (passing Israelis celebrating Jerusalem Day) on our way to the Pool of Bethesda excavation site. It’s the place in John 5:2-18 where Jesus told the man, “Stand up, take your mat and walk,” and immediately he was made well.

After that was a wonderful healing service at St. Ann’s church. This beautiful and historic church marks the traditional site of the home of Jesus’ maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim and the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. The acoustics were marvelous and the presence of the Lord was sweet as we prayed, worshiped, and received his healing touch.

The last place visited that day was Yad Vashem. It is not a pleasant place, but it is a place that must be visited. It’s uncomfortable, even horrific to see and hear what the Jews experienced during the holocaust. My mind knows it is true, but my heart just cannot understand. The stories and images are heart-wrenching. The most difficult part was the memorial to all the children whose lives were cut short. Truly this is something that humanity must never forget. The best part was learning about The Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews from the holocaust. You may enjoy reading some of these stories.

We ended the day with a last night celebration dinner where we honored our tour guides and bus drivers. I may be partial, but I think the Red Bus had the best – shout out to Harrison, Moti, Julie, Lily and Shiree (smile).

Part 10 will be coming next, with the last day of my 2019 trip to Israel. For now I will close with these thoughts from the Word:
Hebrews 11:10 TPT — His (Abraham’s) eyes of faith were set on the city with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder are God himself.
Hebrews 12:22b TPT — …for we have entered the city of the Living God, which is the New Jerusalem in heaven! We have joined the festal gathering of myriads of angels in their joyous celebration.

All Scripture quotations are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.

Israel 2019: Part 8 – Bethlehem, The City of David, and more

I have found the afternoon of June 1st is the hardest to share. There is much I’d like to say… but I feel the need to be very sensitive.

After leaving the Garden Tomb we drove toward Bethlehem, first stopping for a tasty lunch at an Arab restaurant. Outside of it is where the cute photo with the lamb was taken.  I was surprised to see some large buildings that are part of a Palestinian refugee camp, and to see that Bethlehem is such a large city — not many fields in sight, but I understand the Shepherds Field was there somewhere!

I can’t share about the people we met that afternoon or what they said, because it might put them at risk. But I do ask you to pray for them, for protection, godly wisdom, angelic help — and to pray that more and more Arab and Muslim people are ministered to and come to know Jesus through their ministry.

We started our next day out with a visit to the City of David, seeing the grave sites (including very ancient ones which are in caves at the very bottom), the archaeological finds and then visiting a lovely shop there. You can learn more about the City of David and the shop here.

I’ll share more about June 2nd in my next post. I think its the day I walked the most steps. My fitbit recorded 27 flights of stairs, but it was so worth it.

For now I will close with I Chronicles 15:1  and I Corinthians 6;19-20

And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

It is amazing that this God, the only true God, whose presence filled the temple in Jerusalem with glory has chosen to make all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ to be His temple, His dwelling place. Oh how He loves you and me!

 

 

Part 7: Israel 2019 – Jerusalem, The Old City

This city, this beautiful old city, ever since I got my first view of it in 2001 has been in my heart. I believe it will be forever. I think it has something to do with this scripture:  “But I have chosen Jerusalem that My Name (and the symbol of my presence) might be there…” 2 Chronicles 6:6a (AMPC). I felt His presence more strongly here than anywhere else, and in a way I can’t explain, it felt like home.

I took these first photos in November of 2001:

On June 1st, 2019 we started our day with a lovely breakfast at the Inbal Hotel we were joined by a very brave bird who helped himself to leftovers o a nearby table), then we got on the Red bus and headed to our 1st stop, the Mount of Olives. Shelli Brim taught us there and I so wish I had brought a notebook, or could get a recording! It was so very good.

Next we had a chance to take photos from this place of breath-taking views.

We then followed the steep path that Jesus would have taken down to the Garden of Gethsemane; Pastor George and Terri taught us there. I believe one of the Olive trees there is old enough to have been there when Jesus was. My heart aches for what He went through in that garden, and yet it overflows with gratefulness at the same time. I believe he saw us, we were the joy that was set before him, the reason he was willing to bear our sins, to do what was necessary to save us. Wow, what love!

After a quick ride on the bus we were walking into the old city and singing Hallelujah in the Upper Room. Right after that we visited the Garden Tomb and Pastor George and Terri led us in taking communion. It was sweet, and precious, and powerful – all at the same time.

Believe it or not… this all happened before lunch! And our afternoon included more adventures, but I will save that for part 7. 🙂

Right now, thinking of Gethsemane again… my heart is longing for Jesus, our soon coming King. So I will end with these words from Revelations chapter 20 (TPT):

Then I saw heaven opened, and suddenly a white horse appeared. The name of the one riding it was Faithful and True, and with pure righteousness he rides to battle…His title title is called the Word of God…on his robe and on his thigh he had inscribed a name: King of Kings.

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.