What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another Closed Door? Or an Open Window...

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a futre and a hope."   Jeremiah 29:11
The picture of the plaque to the left is the original image that inspired the title of this blog, "Closed Doors, Open Windows".  Years ago a young lady, who was a member of our church youth group, cross-stitched that picture and gave it to me as a gift.  I was very taken back by this gift, as well as by the giver...as she was one of our more troubled youth at the time...a young girl who had seen more than her share of slammed doors and perhaps "broken windows" in her young lifetime.  I remember wondering at the time how a girl I had perhaps misjudged because of her outward appearance and sometimes inappropriate behavior could have such a mature insight into a message that became so encouraging and precious to me as the days and years have passed by since.  God knew then what I couldn't see...and He inspired a wayward young teenager to send me a message from His heart...that still amazes me today, some 23 or more years later.  I've lost track of that young woman...have no clue whatever happened to her after we left that church.  I can only pray that somehow this act of kindness shown toward me, her pastor's wife, also had a lasting and profound impact on her life...and helped her to seek those open windows that led to peace and joyous life in Christ.

When I began to write this blog over a year and a half ago, I chose this as my title because I was in the middle of experiencing one closed door after another in my search for employment.  Finally, God opened a window of opportunity for me and has blessed my life in the process in so many different ways.  This blog itself, is an open window of opportunity, that has hopefully not only encouraged me, but has also been an encouragement to those who have taken the time to read it.

Now I find myself in the midst of another closed door...this time my husband's.  He was given some difficult news at his place of employment this past week which, due to no fault of his own, means that he is now exploring and searching for an open window of opportunity.  This comes at a very difficult time in our lives...(is there ever a good time to be unemployed?) and puts us in a real quandary about what the next step should be. 

I cling to the promise of the verse quoted above from Jeremiah 29:11...God is speaking to the Jews who have been in captivity, but I believe He is also speaking to us when He says,
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
The Lord knows how much we long to be in that place of peace...and to have that hope of a good future...not something that is evil.  God has promised to care for us and to shelter us under His wings.  The Psalmist cries out to the Lord in Psalm 57...and I cry along with him:
"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by."
The Psalmist then goes on to sing his praises to God in verses 5 and 11:
"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth." 
verse 9-10 says,
"I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.  For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds."
So, here I am again, Lord.  I don't like the sound of that door that just slammed shut in our ears, but I am seeking Your face...and waiting for that open window of Your opportunity to appear.  We've been here before, and You did not fail us.  Therefore, I will continue to trust in You; and "in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by..."  Amen.

I just noticed that there is a bird sitting in that open window above..."Shadow of Your wings"...hmmm...maybe there was more to that little image than I realized...

Lord, I also pray for that young woman who so sweetly stitched that verse for me so many years ago.  I don't know where she is today, but YOU know.  I pray she is safe in the shadow of Your wings...and that You will bless her in a very special way today.  Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Day After Mother's Day

"Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."  Ruth 1:16

Portions of this verse were actually sung at my wedding almost 42 years ago...and even though the song was intended as a message from the bride to the groom, the original scripture verse was actually spoken by a daughter in law (Ruth) to her mother in law (Naomi) after the death of Ruth's husband and Naomi's son.

This particular mother's day was very difficult for me, even though the day itself was pleasantly spent.  You see, on this Mother's Day, as I remembered my own dear mother who had gone on to be with the Lord exactly five years ago, I also was saddened by the departure of my mother-in-law from my home, who went to stay with her other son and family after being with us for the past six months. 

You may wonder why I was saddened...most people rejoice when their mother-in-law leaves town...and I must admit, in many ways it was actually a relief to me.  But on the other hand, it was a very difficult experience.  You see, my mother in law is showing all of the signs of increased dementia, and her departure from my home was extremely turbulent as she was overcome with anger mingled with fear and distrust of me and all others who had participated in her care in the recent past.  I must also admit that my own reaction to her anger towards me was not exactly sweet and controlled.  I responded like most anyone would respond when false accusations and allegations are hurled at them with such vehemence...and I know I must apologize to not only my mother in law, but to my Lord and Savior.  I regret that I was not able to "turn the other cheek" and speak softly and humbly in the face of such uncontrolled wrath.  Even though my response may have been justified at the time, it was still wrong and disrespectful of a dear woman that I have loved for all these years, and who, in her better days, also loved me as a daughter...not just a daughter in law.

This is the painful side of the effects of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.  The dear ones we have loved and cherished and enjoyed for many years suddenly become strangers to us...and this goes both ways...the one suffering from dementia views her loved ones as strangers and enemies, and her children and family also view her as a person they no longer recognize and understand.  She is not the same person we've always known and loved, and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to know how to deal with her unpredictable changes in behavior and mood each day.  It also becomes a concern for not only her safety, but our own safety and security in the home.  Oftentimes these behaviors can become so violent that one may actually fear for his life.

And so, difficult decisions have to be made...how to best care for one in such a condition as this.  In our case, we had done everything we were "permitted" to do for her physical and medical care.  When it became apparent that she was no longer going to accept our care and continue to trust us to help her, we had to make a decision to "pass the torch" onto the next in line...and let them try to move her on to the next level of care that is required to keep her protected, healthy and well treated.  Even though it may appear that we are happy to be relieved of our "duty", we are not celebrating.  We are grieving the loss of this dear one and the sweet kind of fellowship with her that we had previously enjoyed. 

Two weeks ago my own father passed away, and I am still grieving that great loss.  But sometimes I think there are some losses that are worse than death.  We never lost a feeling of love and trust with my Dad.  He was pretty much aware of us and enjoyed his family until the very end, as much as possible.  With my mother in law, I fear that we will not be able to enjoy that kind of fellowship ever again, even though she may live for many years to come.  And that is what grieves us today.

Lord, I confess to You today my inability to cope with the hurt that I experienced this past weekend in the relationship with my mother in law.  I pray that somehow she will understand that I truly do love her, and that someday we will be able to once again embrace and experience that love and trust.  Until then, please keep her safe from harm, and protect the dear ones who have taken on this awesome responsibility. May they have Your strength and patience and wisdom in becoming the new torch bearers. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Great Physician and Burden Bearer.  Amen.