Often my journal entries discuss the challenges of being a caregiver but today I want to share a blessing–my church family.
Before Lynn was diagnosed with MS, he and I were very involved in our church. We both were in choir; I helped produce drama enactments to support the sermon; Lynn played drums for the praise band; we both played handbells, and we both were in dinner theater productions. Three years ago, Lynn had to drop out of most of the activities he did due to fatigue and loss of coordination and strength. Two years ago, I had to drop out due to my need to be home to care for him. Since December 2010, neither of us have been able to attend church but are blessed to be able to attend through listening to the sermons on the church’s internet site.
Though we were well-known when we attended, there were many people who did not know us when we attended and I am sure that there are many more who have never met us or had any contact with our family since we had to stop attending church. I share that fact to emphasize that the blessings we receive from our church are not due to a family connection or special relationship. No, the blessings we receive from our church are due to the outflowing of God’s love for us through them. I think you will agree when you read what they have done for us.
First off, we are on the prayer list regularly and we get uplifting cards for all occasions and sporadically throughout the year telling us that we are being thought of, prayed for, and remembered. That is such a comfort when we live our lives in somewhat of an isolated fashion.
- When Lynn started having difficulty walking, a group of men put a ramp on the back of our deck so he could come in and out using the wheelchair instead. Without that ramp, he would not have been able to leave the house for medical appointments much less any other trip. The labor and supplies were provided by church members.
- We asked who in our church could advise upon getting a handicap shower installed. Within days, a shower had been ordered and two men from church installed it. Not only was the labor free but the shower was provided by donations from the church members.
- When Lynn was in the hospital two years ago and I was depressed because I could not decorate for Christmas, a group came over and decorated our home. Not only did they decorate, but discovered that our refrigerator was on its last ice cube and they got us a nice second-hand one that works wonderfully (without multiple containers to catch the leaks it produces like my last one.) Last year several people came over once again to help with putting up decorations AND taking them down.
- Groups have come over to rake leaves, mow grass, clean up debris after storms, and do all types of yard work. One group came and tore down an old playhouse and a fence that was falling down.
- One of the angels from our church cooks for us each month. She fixes all of Lynn’s special diet meals and freezes them in individual containers so all I have to do is thaw out a meal when it’s time to feed him. You can’t imagine (or maybe you can) how much I appreciate not having to take the time to prepare those meals three times a day. Several members contribute to the cost of the food she prepares so that most of what he eats, doesn’t cost us a thing. There is another Sunday school class that brings us bottled water every two weeks.
- One of the members comes each Thursday to help Lynn with his writing (typing). She helps him write his blogs or chapters in his book or whatever other correspondence he needs to get out so I can concentrate on my work.
If the church finds out we have a special need, they take care of it or at least help us find a way to meet the need. Every once in a while we even receive donations to help us with some of our expenses (which you know are a lot if you’re caring for someone with special needs.) I know there is much more they have done than I have listed here.
In fact, what lead me to write this was what happened while we were on vacation. We came home to a house that had a new coat of paint, a newly stained deck, and fresh landscaping for my azalea beds! A group got together to spend their time off this past week painting our house while we were on vacation! What a blessing they have given us!
Our church, Gethsemane Church of Christ in Mechanicsville, Virginia, (http://www.gethsemanechristians.org/welcome/) is a God-centered place of worship. Their mission is to follow Christ faithfully through word and deed and to demonstrate Christ’s love through action. The blessings they have provided our family are not unique to us. They have done the same for many other members. If a member has a need, they try to help. They are not a wealthy church or a large church; they are a rural community church made up of average people who love their Lord and each other. We are truly blessed by their generosity and faith and by the Lord that they (and we) serve.
I wanted to publicly thank them for their love and support over the years. As a caregiver, I can’t do it alone. As a person with MS, Lynn has much he cannot do. But through the love of Christ demonstrated through these saints of the Lord, we are truly blessed each and every day.
I hope you are fortunate enough to have such a church family as well. Their actions are not about religion or a particular faith-based group but are instead a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, our savor, and our healer, who never forsakes us and who will be there for anyone who chooses to be his follower. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being there for us.