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happy birthday Dad……

January 23, 2010

tomorrow is my dad’s birthday.  the reality of that has been weighing heavy on my heart all week.  this is his second birthday in the nursing home, but this one, he will not even know of or understand.  but i know, and it hurts so much knowing that i won’t be with him.

he turns 62 tomorrow and i still  find it hard to believe that my dad…my young dad is only 62 and has been in a nursing home for 2 years.  it’s even harder to believe that 7-1/2 years ago he was diagnosed w/early onset alzheimer’s disease…talk about a harsh reality.  watching my dad deal with conflicting emotions and depression for those first 5 years after his diagnosis was heart-wrenching.  watching this man,  who used to build houses and could fix anything,  lose his ability to do those things  was more than i could bear.

the day that we were forced into making the decision to move him into a nursing home was something that i had hoped i would never have to face.  even worse than that, was the day we moved him into the nursing home…..walking away from him was the hardest thing i’ve ever done. 

seeing the look of joy on his face when we came to visit soon after that was bittersweet, because he would then hold me in his arms and cry and say that he didn’t think we were ever coming back.  do you know how awful it is to feel your parent clinging to you, in hopes that you will save them from the reality of their life?  again, not something i ever thought i’d have to deal with.

dad doesn’t acknowledge me anymore….is unable to respond to me saying “i love you”, and maybe doesn’t even know it’s me talking to him.  the first time i said “i love you, dad” and he didn’t say it back, i thought my heart was going to rip in half.  it was a pain like none i have ever experienced.

one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that God has grown me so much in the past 2 years…..He has taught me to depend on Him in ways that i never knew i could.  He has taught me about his sovereignty over everything and everyone in my life and that i CAN trust Him to know what’s best for me….even when it hurts…..even when it feels like it’s going to kill me.

right after dad went into the nursing home, a dear friend of mine encouraged me to read trusting God by jerry bridges.  i am so thankful for the care this friend expressed to me by encouraging me to read that book…it literally saved my life.  God, in his loving kindness, used the words and Truths in that book to show me characteristics of God that i never understood before.

i now see and TRUST God with areas of my life that i didn’t even realize i was holding back from him.  i see him as sovereign over my marriage, my husband and kids, our health, etc…..  i now see that i can’t control those things and that i can release them to God and trust him to know what’s best.  it isn’t always easy….in fact, it sometimes hurts to totally surrender things over to God, because i want so badly to hang on to those things and try to take care of them myself…but i can’t.

as i was having my devotions this morning, the Lord, in his loving way, brought to my attention the story of Lazarus…..i’ve read it many times, but this time certain verses spoke right to my heart.  in John chapter 11, mary and her sister, martha, are coming to Jesus and telling him that Lazarus, who was a friend to Jesus and was also martha’s brother, was ill.  and this is what first stood out to me… verse 4, Jesus says to them, “This illness does not lead to death.  It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”   wow……that just blew me away.  how sweet of God to remind me that my dad’s illness does not lead to death (my dad’s a believer) but it is for the glory of God….so that the Son of God might be glorified through it.  Jesus goes on to say in verse 25, “ I am the resurrection and the life.  whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”    my dad was a strong believer and loved the Lord w/all of his heart, soul, and mind. 

then, in verse 40, Jesus says to martha, ” Did i not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”  he then goes on to show them that He raised Lazarus from the dead.

what a sweet comfort these verses have been to me today…..even though i am still sad and missing my dad, i have the hope and promise that God is using this illness for His, and i can honestly say that i have witnessed the Truth of those promises over the past couple of years……i have seen myself and my family lean on God in ways like never before, i am closer to my sweet mom than i ever thought possible (i give all the glory to God!!! thank you, Lord!), i talk to and see my brother much more than i used to, my uncle (my dad’s brother) is a huge part of my life now, and the list goes on.

i know for a fact that my dad would go through all of this again if he knew what God was doing through him…..all he’s ever wanted is to glorify God with his life, and he’s STILL doing so, even though he doesn’t realize it.

God is so good………..



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