In the Stillness

Are you feeling fearful today? You are not alone.

I know a lot of people are very anxious right now regarding the COVID-19, or Coronavirus. My daughter is on the other side of the country as I write this. She will be safely home again in ten days, but still, I worry about her return flight, the crowded airport, and a bunch of worst case scenarios playing out in my imagination. I also have several friends whose loved ones are traveling internationally, bringing their families a whole new level of concerns.

How do we remain calm amidst all the chaos — even as we try to go about our normal lives? And how do we discern fact from fiction? The disinformation being spread through rumors and social media only feeds our fears. The chatter has become overwhelming.

Let’s all take a breath.

Turn off the noise. Be still . . . and just . . . listen.

God’s Calming Voice

It’s time to quiet our hearts and seek the calming peace and stillness found only in the Lord’s presence.

I’d like to share some of my favorite Scripture verses that always help calm my fears when I am feeling frightened or anxious. You may wish to write them down and carry them with you as daily reminders of God’s ever-present love.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” — II Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” — Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” — Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ — Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬

If your children are feeling anxious too, you may wish to share these simple verses with them. Let them know that God hears their prayers and is always nearby to offer His comfort, any time of the day or night.

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” — Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” — Psalms‬ ‭34:4‬

Always remember: there is no problem too great for God to handle. Trust that He is in control through this challenging time. Remember often to stop and listen for His voice, and know that you rest in the palm of His hand.

Inevitable

When you watch a loved one suffer through a terminal illness, “inevitable” is a word you know too well.

But inevitable becomes eventual. And eventual becomes soon.

Yesterday my brother and I made plans to meet at Mom’s nursing home. Neither of us had seen her since Christmas Eve. He caught a bad cold shortly after Christmas that lingered for a while. It wasn’t something he wanted to carry into the nursing home. And I haven’t been able to get away from work or weekend errands to make the 45 minute drive for over two weeks. A visit was long overdue.

Also, we learned on Friday that Mom is having difficulty eating. She becomes distracted and doesn’t seem to know what to do with the food once it’s in her mouth. Mealtime is now a daily struggle. For someone with dementia, that can be a game-changer.

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When the Clouds Lift

Normally I enjoy the drive which takes me through the beautiful countryside of northern Virginia. But yesterday was different.

Although it was unseasonably warm for January, it was a dreary day. The mountains were shrouded in clouds and a heavy mist was falling as I crossed the Shenandoah River.  My mood was similar, and I was dreading the visit. As I came over the final hill though, the valley ahead was clear and the sun was breaking through the clouds. I took this as a hopeful sign.

When we arrived at the nursing home, my first plan was to get Mom out of the “day room”. This is where she, and the residents with dementia spend their days. It is a depressing room with worn furniture and two tables. The Hallmark Channel is on 24/7, but the patients are usually asleep in their wheelchairs or staring blankly into space. I always want to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Yesterday I learned a very important lesson.

It’s not about me.

Searching for Home

From the moment we took Mom out of the Day Room, until we wheeled her back, she was agitated. First we took her to the lobby where the windows provide more than a glimpse of daylight. But she was clearly frightened there, as the doors kept opening with people coming and going. So we wheeled her to the sofa in the hallway beside the fish tank. It is full of colorful tropical fish, and has always been an enjoyable place for her. But today, with her limited vocabulary, Mom said she just wanted to “go home”.

She knew she didn’t belong where I wanted her to be.

That’s when it hit me. Home, for Mom, is the Day Room. The dreary place that I dread is where she is most comfortable. As soon as we pushed her back through the doorway to one of the empty tables near the TV, she calmed down and began smiling again.

These are her people, I thought looking around the room. They are familiar to her world and they comfort her. This is where she belongs. This is where she needs to be, despite my personal comfort zone.

Still Learning

Our visit only lasted about 30 minutes, but in that short time, I learned that Mom is still teaching me about life, about myself, and about why the inevitable doesn’t really matter today.

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In the new year, I chose three different devotionals to read each morning. These were my Saturday readings, in no particular order:

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬a

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” — Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven . . .”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” — 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬

“My times are in Your hand . . .” — Psalms‬ ‭31:15‬a

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I am always amazed at how God provides just the right words when we need them. I’ve read all of these scripture verses many times, yet when I looked back at yesterday’s readings, they were hand-selected for my day.

God meets us where we are every day.

His love, and my Mom’s future with Him, is inevitable.