Sitting on my back, porch enjoying the sunshine of New Years Day 2014, I reflected on t 2013. It was a year of great changes for me and life happening pretty fast. It was a year of finishing a long long journey down the road that I had been on since 2003.
Mom and Dad dancing in 2010
In 2003, my mom was diagnosed with a rare disease. Her medical condition was too difficult for my dad to manage, so for years, I had gone to numerous doctor’s appointments, arranged caregivers, managed care while she was hospitalized and made more trips to the pharmacy than I care to remember...they know me by first name. Slowly watching the vibrant life being sucked from my precious mother was difficult emotionally. There were many days I was not sure I would be able to take another step as I juggled work, motherhood, being a wife, becoming a widow, living single and being determined to have fun and discover new life.
|My Mom in 2011|
Then my father became ill with heart disease and bone cancer...There were days I would just have to breath deep, ask God for strength to serve and honor them and often feeling like I had two special needs children. Unless you have been the child in town responsible for your aging sick parents, I do not think you can really comprehend how challenging this can be.
2013 began with just loosing my sweet mom, doing major repairs to our home from a house fire in December and realizing my dad only had months to live due to his declining physical condition. I was determined to finish this journey strong and all I knew was to just take the next step. I was also determined to not waste the suffering on this bumpy road knowing God makes all things work together for good.
My sweet daddy left this earth February 5th, not even two months after losing mother. Then the trip down memory lane began as my siblings and I began to sort through their personal belongings and putting their home, my childhood home, on the market.
Reading II Corinthians 1:3-6 and could see some of the bigger picture. It says, “... the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” I Corinthians 1: 6 says, “...if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in patient endurance of the same suffering we suffer.” (NIV) I began to see as this 10 year journey, God was working in me was patient endurance. This unexpected trip down a long dusty and bumpy road had produced something in me that I did not even see. Often times we simply move through the motions of life and don’t see the bigger picture.
Beauty in the valley
Patience and endurance are greatly valued character qualities and mentioned numerous times in scripture. Colossians 1:11 states, “...being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience...” Too many people quit instead of hanging on to God when things don’t go our way.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “ We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Endurance produces faith and hope.
I Peter 1:6 & 7 tells us, “...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold...”
I still look around and wonder how I made it through and am grateful for the joy God brought in spite of the difficulty. My new husband, I think is the funniest and most steady man alive and has kept me laughing. I am overjoyed with both my new grandchildren that arrived in August of 2013 and am looking for those around me that need encouragement and comfort because I have a lot to give away in 2014.
|Austin holding my Truett and Collins|
Whatever road you find yourself on, do not quit or lose hope. God is working in ways you cannot see and I am confident you will emerge with patient endurance and pass the test.
Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, a social worker, writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com