Fear Not

Life sure is full of changes.

Two weeks ago my brother moved our mom into a permanent nursing home. This happened while we were overseas in Israel. A bed became available, so he had to move quickly. I felt badly that I was not there to help with the transition, but the timing was beyond my control.

Our family knew we were heading in that direction ever since Mom’s second fall right after Christmas. Unlike her first broken hip, this was not a simple replacement. This surgery required rods and pins, followed by a 7-week stay in a rehab facility. Her dementia seemed to fast track after her return home, and it was apparent she had forgotten how to complete the most basic self-care tasks.

This story may hit home for some of you. I have friends and other family members who are only too familiar with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition to the physical deterioration, the disease steals precious memories. That has been the hardest thing for my brother and I to witness. When that recognition and connection disappears, you suddenly feel as though a stranger has replaced your loved one.

As I seek ways to cope with this change, I have discovered something that brings me comfort. My mom has forgotten how to worry. The things that once caused her to fret are no longer important. She enjoys living and has no idea that she is no longer her former self. Her nurses tell us that she is so much fun to be around, that she makes them laugh. She tries to dance through her physical therapy, and loves joining in the daily games and activities. She still lights up when my brother or I walk in the room. There is still that brief glimmer of recognition followed by joy that we treasure so much.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” — ‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-27‬

Seeing our mom so content has also helped us to shed our own worries. Caring for her had been a huge challenge — particularly for my brother — for the past 8-10 years as Mom’s disease has progressed. I realized that this move, regardless of the timing, was truly an answer to prayer. As I stood with my forehead pressed against the Western Wall in Jerusalem back on July 7th, I asked God to help us care for our mother and to guide our decisions. When I returned home, my brother and I realized that our greatest prayer had been answered within days of that visit. Simply amazing.

Whatever trial you may be facing in life, please do not give up. Place your worries before throne of the Lord. Allow Him to care for you, even as he cares for every tiny sparrow.

Traveling Light

We’ve been home from Israel for a week now. I think I’m pretty much over the jet lag, and all the laundry is washed and put away. I added up all my Fitbit miles and realized I logged over 55 miles in 12 days. (I think at least 5 of those miles were logged walking through Frankfurt airport!)

My suitcase looks lonely though. I hate the thought of storing it away because it will probably be years before my next international adventure. Then again, I’d rather leave it behind and shed the impulse to bring every possible creature comfort from home.

I had a detailed packing list for our trip, but it grew considerably until I filled every last inch of my suitcase. Somehow I managed to stay under the checked baggage weight limit, even though I kept adding things up until the last moment. And it never occurred to me that I might want to leave space for gifts or souvenirs we might accumulate during our time in Israel.

Fast forward to Tiberias. After living out of my suitcase (and carry-on bag) for the first three days, I realized I probably didn’t need to pack that second bathing suit and extra sun dress. And I definitely didn’t need the fleece jacket or the Costco sized SPF 50 sunblock. Sure, I loved having clean clothing each morning, but I could have easily washed some things in the sink. By the end of our trip, I was envying those who packed a single carry-on bag or a trekking backpack. They looked so carefree as they navigated the busy hotel lobbies and crowded airport terminals. Why couldn’t travel light? Why do I feel the impulse to pack so many things I might want, rather than only those things I will truly need?

Hmmmmm.

Perhaps the way we travel is a metaphor for life. Personally speaking, I do tend to carry a lot of excess baggage around with me. The stresses of daily life can sometimes feel like we’re dragging a heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs. It weighs us down and slows our pace. Why is it so difficult to let go of the things we are convinced we need, even when they have little real value in life?

But, oh, there is hope . . .

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭68:19‬

Amen! I say it’s time to lay those excess burdens down!

Going forward, I think a better approach to life — and travel — is to carry only what we need for the journey. 🙂