Single Parent Faith

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Life is Full

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”  Anatole France

My mom is fragile, 90, yet resilient. Her doctor told me when he first took her on as a patient in a skilled nursing facility, that he thought she’d be around for a few weeks at best. She’s almost 2 years there and though she has her moments when she’s under the weather or has a bout with her current condition, she rebounds.

Lately she’s been feeling weak and her rebounding isn’t as pronounced as before. Yet, she is not one to complain. When I arrive, she is always concerned about me, “Did you eat?” and I smile because I know she is the only one who cares about me in this manner. Simple things, yet significant to a mother who wants her child (no matter the age) to be well and taking care of herself.

I feel blessed that she loves me. That she has always loved me. That she has been my mother. Recently she started saying, “Te adoro” (“I adore you”). To adore is much more than a simple “I love you” (as if I love you is simple). To adore speaks more intimately to the heart. A lingering thread of connectedness, which is far more tender and intimate.

I too adore her. It has taken me years and the journies of my own independence to come to a place of realization that no stronger love, no stronger advocate did I ever have, than my own mother. How fortunate am I. How blessed am I.

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2016 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Noncommital Dead End

“A dead end street is a good place to turn around”—Naomi Judd

Looking at my blog statistics, I noticed a large interest in the post, “Honoring Ourselves—Saying No to Noncommittal Men.” It got me to thinking that there must be a large number of women who are in non-committal relationships. The fact that they are googling this subject must mean that at some level they are unhappy about it. 

If it bothers you to be in a noncommittal relationship, this is an opportunity for your renewal. It’s a prod that there are better possibilities for your life. You don’t have to settle for less than you deserve.

With every noncommittal couple there is an agreement, be it a conscious one or not. The agreement is that this noncommittal state is acceptable. Usually the one who wants more from the relationship tells herself something like, “He just needs time” or “He was hurt by his ex and he’s afraid…I just have to be patient.”

It is always the one who wants more that is left holding shattered shells, perhaps hoping that if she doesn’t shake them (by bringing up the subject), these pieces will unshatter themselves and converge to a whole.

Why do people lie to themselves?

The answer to that question is unique to every individual. And that is a good place to start, on “oneself.” As long as we keep telling ourselves a lie, we will not understand what within us opened the door to a noncommittal person. Often, a lack of self-esteem and understanding of our value, is why we accept a noncommittal person into our lives. What is the barrier we have erected to our self-acceptance as truly worthy and deserving of a man who will commit his heart? Sometimes it’s an addiction to “fix” someone, that doesn’t allow us to properly set filters, so what we attract are men who are a project.

If you are a single mom, erecting filters is even more critical to protect your children from the heartache of a noncommittal man. Whatever he is not able to provide for you, he definitely is not able to provide them. They, like you, deserve someone whose love will be given freely without limits and conditions. These little eyes and ears are observing you. This is a teaching moment to them, likely to impact their own self-esteem. They deserve a parent figure who will love and commit to loving them in a healthy manner. Remember you are a package deal, whatever the man withholds from you, he withholds from your children.

When my co-worker was in his 30’s, he dated women with kids and got involved with their kids’ lives. He developed a bond with the children. Then when the relationship ended, he severed his contact with the children and moved on to the next relationship. It was surprising to me how many women fell for his good looks and personality, but couldn’t see that he was a player. I saw this happen time and time again. He’s now in his 50’s. He’s still having success at this lifestyle. All I can surmise is that there are a lot of women who are lonely and lacking self-esteem. But what is sad is that in the process, how many children’s hearts has he broken? Protecting our kid’s hearts is a parent’s job and shouldn’t be left to the person entering the scene. Likely they are self-serving (especially if noncommittal) and won’t give it a second thought when they move on or continue to string the woman along.

Often, when in a noncommittal relationship we find our thoughts focused primarily on the other person and we speculate on the potential reasons for his state. Sometimes women stay with these men because they feel sorry for him because he didn’t have a good start in life, or he had someone hurt him along the way. Sometimes thinking that if you love him enough, you can break this noncommittal stronghold. We think “we” can be instrumental and that we hold the answer to his healing. It is a lie designed to keep our lives hostage waiting on one person’s decision to grow up. 

What if you’re on an airplane experiencing turbulence, and the oxygen masks drop, do you wait on someone else to place the mask on your face? If you’re a child, yes.  Imagine yourself staring at the dangling oxygen mask. Do you sit there taking no action to save yourself? Do you sit there waiting for someone else to decide whether you live? To decide for you whether to place the mask on your face?

No! Your fight or flight instinct kicks in and you reach for the mask yourself, because you want to live! This analogy is of a scenario that is extreme and not a typical daily decision. But why should your every day life be any different? The decision we make on ordinary days are also life altering. Our life moves in one direction or another, depending on what we decide to act on during these ordinary days.

The agreement (whether spoken or not) you have with this person is that he wants you there making no waves, ignoring the obvious and in essence ignoring the problem. And without realizing it, you enable him, disregarding your needs and dreams for your life in the process.

During all the time you are trying to “fix” him or “wait” on him, you don’t put the mask on you and instead, essentially reach into his space placing it on him. Looking for signs that he is turning a corner and opening his heart. Looking for something that is not there. Any little sign that he is almost getting to a point where he can commit, if only you stick it out longer. The thing is, this is all perception. You are perceiving what his behavior or words “really” mean. You are assigning a meaning to them to make you hang on longer. You can hang on for years on a perception that at the end will prove to have been an error. You are perceiving what you want to perceive.

The truth is, as I myself have discovered, that I must be willing to look at the truth about “myself” and invest in “myself” to rid myself of this disease to “fix” someone. When you correctly place your energy on your own growth, it “will” yield marvelous results. You will no longer wish to throw your precious energy down a sink hole. Instead, you will value yourself and want to invest more in you.

It is a lie to think that we have the power to change a man. It is for God to reckon with your noncommittal man. He is not just noncommittal to you. His noncommittal roots run deep, permeating his life and spiritual walk.

If you decide you want to live life to the fullest, let go of your project (changing a man), and breathe in deep as you reach for your oxygen mask. What does this concretely mean? You take all that energy you formerly put into the distraction from living your life— because all the time spent thinking on him has kept you from thinking on you—and now focus on the work you are called in your own life to perform. The right relationship you deserve will make its way to you once you develop the right relationship with yourself.

Ella Venezia

Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rushing into Remarriage

The opposite of a non-committal man is an overly zealous man who rushes to get married.

Three years ago a single mom friend of mine, we’ll call her Trish, met a guy at a bookstore less than two weeks before Valentine’s day. By Valentine’s day he was sending her letters, cards and texts telling her that he loves her. She was swept up by her feelings upon hearing a man tell her he loves her. In a short time after that, it may have been another couple of weeks or less, he proposed to her and gave her an engagement ring.  By then she had already introduced him into her daughter’s life (she was six years old) and her daughter was crazy about him. He even went to the extreme of getting two engagement rings, one for the daughter and one for the mom, and had the daughter participate in the proposal. Trish was so wrapped up in the fantasy of this man, that she was pedal to the metal along side him, full speed ahead rushing toward a wedding date. 

Keep in mind single parents that children typically yearn for the attention of the parent less involved in their lives. In this case it is her father, so when a man steps into her mom’s life, quickly she attaches to him. She’s trying to fill the hole an absent father leaves. 

You can expect children to immediately rush to a conclusion of marriage (wanting this person to be their dad or mom), when they first meet mom or dad’s love interest. But it’s our job as the adults to slow things down and exercise discernment before immediately concluding marriage is the imminent conclusion, altogether bypassing (or shortening) the necessary season of “getting to know” each other. This getting to know should include time to observe how the other responds to life challenges, because they are a guaranteed part of life. This gives us time to observe their true nature after the shininess wears off.

Fast forward four to five months later, he stopped calling and texting and Trish was heart-broken.  The little girl was heart-broken. Some time after that, during lunch, she shared some things she learned that she wanted me to share with you.

1. Don’t be too  Quick to be too Honest
“Honesty is very good but being too honest in the beginning with a man, has lots of down sides. Because once you tell everything about yourself, everything you want from a man, he begins filtering himself and only telling you the things you want to hear. You get so fascinated with him and think he’s the one you’ve been looking for.  But. Honestly, you’re putting all the words in his mouth and in his mind. Even though honesty is very good, take it step by step.

In the beginning of the relationship it’s a good idea to just listen more than talk. Let him represent himself, instead of you telling him what you want— Especially if you are like me, who already had a bad experience, a bad marriage.

It’s not a bad idea to talk about this, but if you’re telling him all the qualities your ex didn’t have and the qualities you missed in your previous life, then you give him information to deceive you with. If you tell this new man all these things in the beginning, he may tell you what you want to hear,  and show you the qualities you want to see, but this is not his true self.”

2. Don’t Rush to Introduce a Man to Your Child

“I’m a single mom. I have a little girl. This man just stormed himself into my life and my little girl’s life and my family. You may think this is good because he starts showing you his fathering side by helping you and spending time with your child. But if for some reason you break up or this is not the guy you think he is, then there are two messes you need to clean up: yourself and your kids, especially if they are young.  As nice and sound as it may seem at first, when they convey they want to meet your kid, they want to be a father to your kid, don’t rush it.”

3. Believe in Yourself and What You Deserve
“As for myself I lived with a man (husband) who was very abusive. He used to belittle me, and crush my confidence.  I didn’t date anyone for a long time after my divorce. This guy was the first one I dated. I didn’t think about myself very highly. Don’t take yourself not serious enough. Think about yourself. Raise the bar high for yourself.”

Note above in number 2, where she said, “This man just stormed himself into my life and my little girl’s…” No one just storms in. We allow them to. We have the power to open the door or not. We have the power to exercise the brakes if it’s moving too quickly. If they do not respect your applying the brakes, or if they keep picking up steam again after you’ve applied the brakes, then see these red flags and act on them to protect yourself and your children.  A relationship that is honest and not a farce (short duration fantasy), will allow for a natural progression to unfold and discover each other. There will be no need for speed nor short-cutting. Only with time will you have opportunities to see the person’s true character. Don’t fall for any reasons that are given, for why there is a rush on this. No matter how sound or true the reasoning may sound, always error on the side of time. Time will allow you time to open your eyes, in the event you are wrapped up in fantasy and do not see things as they truly are.

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved. 

Image Source: Tarah Madden @Pinterest

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Happiness— Expectations We Place on Partners

For those of us who are single and ready for that special relationship, if we are not wise, we may unwittingly set ourselves up for failure when we begin our search upon a foundation that is error-laden.

This happens when we put our hope in ideals and fantasies we have about relationships. One such fantasy is that a new man or woman, the “right one” of course, will deliver us into a realm of happily ever. This concept often assigns the responsibility to the other person, to take us there. In essence, we have heaped a lot of expectations upon the role that this person must fulfill. We basically rest on them as our foundation for our happiness.

When embarking on such a fantasy, inevitably it is interrupted when the discovery is made that “they” no longer “make us happy.” Or as I was once told, “You are no fun any more.” The fantasy ends with one or both bolting away from the relationship in search for another “they” to fill this unrealistic perception of relationships and love.

I would like to say that I am describing what teens and children do, but unfortunately, this type of behavior is repeated throughout all adult age groups. In fact, I would venture to say that children are more mature than this, than to bolt at the first signs of reality. After all, they have a lot of practice putting up with adults.

A friend of mine recently lost a lot of weight. When I saw her she said with enthusiasm, “Now all I need is a man to be my motivation to keep losing!” My heart hurt for her when I heard this. When we assign to someone else other than ourselves, this role of driver and catalyst for change, we essentially sign away our power and place it in the hands of another. Nothing long term and sustainable results when this happens. A few years back she lost a lot of weight and met a man who swept her off her feet. She assigned him then, the role as her catalyst to continue losing weight. In less than 2 weeks he was prophesing he loved her, in over a month they were engaged. Then out of nowhere he disappeared and would not return her calls. I think you know where I am going with this. Sadly similar scenarios have occurred to a variety of people, though the details may vary, the outcome is typically the same. When the relationship ends, the weight comes flying back on.


Because we heap our expectations of deliverance onto someone else. We give the other person the role that we must own. We are constantly looking for someone else to make us happy. Weight issues are never just about liking food too much. If you dig deeper you will discover the root cause. This can be said for any addiction, not just food.

Running away can be an addiction, also.

Some adults are addicted to remaining perpetually in childhood.

I know someone who kept coming into my life, then bolting at the first sign of anything he was not equipped to handle, basic life and relationship skills.  When I let someone into my life, I have to take responsibility for my choice. If instead I focus entirely on what he did or didn’t do, and his issues as I perceive them, then I am pouring all my energies into something I have no business doing: living someone else’s life for them. In the interim, who is living mine? My job is to see what this is to teach me about me. My life requires I pour my energy into solving my own mysteries. Making my own discoveries about myself, and learning where I need to grow.  

In the initial phase of dating, before you make the decision to go on that first date, the second, and so on, you must have an understanding of yourself—What your core values are, what you believe, what you struggle with, where you need to grow, whether you want to grow, and what are you doing about it? Without this, you cannot determine clear character traits this person must possess and won’t be capable of differentiating if they are present, or have the strength to say “no” to the wrong relationship if it appears in a deceiving shiny attractive package.

But first, one must come to terms with the expectations of the role for each adult participant. We cannot assign to the other, the ownership of our happiness. Our foundation must be sturdier and more solid than to put it in the hands of flawed human beings.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
Its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Notice that this bible passage is clearly expressing reality, not a fantasy. It foretells that heat will come. It doesn’t say “if” but “when” heat comes. It doesn’t say “if” a drought arrives, but ”in a year of drought” meaning to expect droughts to come. The reality is that these challenges happen on earth, just as they happen in relationships. When the heat arrives, what do you do? Do you run? When things get uncomfortable, tough, do you run? If we do not put our confidence in the Lord, which is a steady foundation with life pulsating roots that run deep and whose source is living waters, we are putting our confidence in someone (the other person in the relationship) who is flawed. When you base your foundation on something flawed, it will succumb to fear when the problems and challenges arrive, as they always do in every relationship.

The person who believes in fantasy, believes that there is a relationship (just around the corner, possibly the next one) where they will not experience any discomfort or sacrifice. It will always be “fun” and light and require no work out of them. Wee!

Reminds me of the passage,
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a childWhen I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1Corinthians 13:11)

Adulthood is a time to assess our childish ways and readjust our thinking regarding the lies we have believed which have not yielded beneficial results. The lie that relationships are supposed to be effortless and no work, is a classic lie that only works in the cinema where a relationship is limited to ninety minutes.

I am encouraged when I meet single men who understand reality and are not afraid of it. Men who place their trust on a sound foundation. Below is an exerpt I am sharing from such a man, to be an encouragement to all the women who believe the lie that all good men are taken or married. This is from a divorced man who has done his work and gets it:

“Another thing I am realizing, at this age in life, is that we each have different experiences and cultures and it is not possible for two people to see everything the same on every issue. We need to be wise enough to discern differences that really don’t affect the closeness of a relationship and differences that will pull apart a relationship. Because the differences will be there.

I say all this to point out that I want to be very open about the many facets of my life, past, present and future. My plans, and feelings, even at the risk of you rejecting me. I would rather have you reject me now than later. If I am not willing to do that, then I don’t think you should even want to get to know me. How can you make an honest evaluation of whether you would want to allow a person in your life if you don’t really know what you are signing up for?

It’s important to share similar “character” like honesty, fairness, responsible, doing the right thing even when it is a sacrifice. And of course, foremost, and I remember your profile pointing out a similar thought, a real love for God and a commitment through trials to keep focus on God. Not an up and down waverer, going on feelings. And in looking for all that, I have the responsibility to be that way myself. And I am not meaning perfection, for either of us, but generally in life, we should be able to trust one another to live their life accordingly.

Trustworthiness is a biggie, and I think we all have to make effort to not be selfish, and look to our own desires, at least at the expense of the other. And bible study and prayer and just so much more enters the picture. And I am still learning too, don’t want to portray I think I have arrived. I know there is much I don’t understand. And am not afraid to admit it.”

So refreshing to know that single adult responsible men who trust in God exist! 

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved. 

Image Source: All rights reserved by malak77

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I love how beautifully the photographer captured this seagull. His wings outstretched and feathers fanned out such that you can almost count them individually. Notice the pattern created by the unique outline of each feather.

Like this seagull’s pattern, each of us has a unique pattern to our life. Each with a unique story to tell. A unique history. A unique present. A unique future.

The seagull has his eyes cast forward in the direction of his flight. He’s not distracted looking backwards, such as dwelling on the past.

Look at his hind legs. They look like they are trusting. They are not struggling nor fighting against the rest of the body for control. They are following the intelligence already divinely bestowed within the design of their bodies. How often do we struggle with God’s all knowing intelligence, and fight for control?

I don’t know how evolved a seagull’s mind is, but it is not as complex as ours. We have the ability to reason, yet we usually don’t use that God-given power to catapult us to soaring. Instead, we may allow our past, or present circumstances constrain our wings. We need to be more like a seagull which leans forward toward the journey.

The seagull trusts that if he propels forward with his wings fully extended, he will take flight. He has his whole self fully committed to flight, otherwise he drops like a rock.

This seagull’s body in flight is a metaphor for how God designed us to lean into Him. We must trust in the infinite wisdom of God—The One who created every minute detail of every living creature, the limitless universe in the heavens and below the surface of the earth. If we fix our eyes forward to Him, we will expand rather than contract. We will not rely on our own limited powers and abilities, but rather soar in His. After all, God only designs masterpieces. 

Ella Venezia

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All rights reserved by Dragan*

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Teen Moment- Keeping us Humble

Recently when I had my blog page open, my nineteen year-old daughter took interest.

She innocently asked, “How many followers do you have?”

“Thirty eight.”

“On Facebook, that would make you a loser.”

“But look at how many people have viewed my blog!”

“That doesn’t mean they stayed on your blog. They could have just clicked by mistake.”

Ouch! Nothing like my teen’s comments to keep me grounded and humble. 

Ella Venezia 

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

In my Father's Vulnerability, I find Mine

“I feel like I need to tell you that it’s okay to be afraid. You’ve had to be strong but you need to know that it’s okay with God to be afraid. Spend some quiet time with Him and share what you’re afraid of.”

These were the divinely inspired words spoken to me by a couple from church who were recently brought into my life, to bless me with their friendship.

What God is this, that He doesn’t require us to be strong? He welcomes us as the weak and vulnerable beings that we are. In fact, He invites us to come to Him, honestly, like a child. This is some Awesome God! We can come to God any time, anywhere, just as we are. We can have a conversation with Him without formalities.

I recently had to make a decision to place my father in a long-term care facility. This decision is not an easy one, even though I know he requires around-the-clock skilled nursing care.  My prayers and thoughts have been more geared toward, “God please make me strong, give me wisdom to deal with all the decisions I must make for my parents who rely on me to do the right thing for them…”

To instead come to God and talk about my fears, shifts my prayer from a request, to just simply a conversation; Sharing what is stirring within me. I was not focused on what my fears are specifically, since survival mode made me bypass this step and jump immediately into, “I have to be strong.” Bypassing this step is necessary when the situation calls for it. For me it was several days before Thanksgiving, when I had to hop on a plane to see my father. I knew I had to hit the ground running as soon as the plane landed at La Guardia. I had to be strong enough to walk into a nursing home where workers were evasive and patronizing, to assess why my father was experiencing an abrupt decline.

Now, several weeks later, my father is in a safer place, I have returned to Texas, and my friends’ words act as a reminder that I can let my guard down and be honest and vulnerable. They must have noticed me still trying to shoulder it all, on auto-pilot portraying strength.

To put words and form to my fears, makes me look honestly at the moment. Not through a prism of strength which sometimes can distort the truth and mislead one to think one is in control, or doesn’t need anyone, much less God.

"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:12-13

Only when we are honest with ourselves, with God, can we search for God with all of our heart. Only when we are open, vulnerable, pour out what our heart yearns to say, the reassurance we need to hear, the loving ears that our cries yearn for, can we shed pride and ego. What keeps our distance from God are the wedges of pride and ego which make us think it’s our problem alone to solve. Even feeling sorry for ourselves for being alone in the crisis is an act of ego – separating ourselves from our Creator. Sometimes we look to others to save us. Though we need the physical support of others during a crisis, we must be cautious not to default to relying on them solely, without coming first to God with our heart.

That November night, alone in a NYC hotel, after my visit to the nursing home where my father was barely recognizable to me — emaciated, lips and tongue wrinkled, parched from dehydration, confused, paranoid, hallucinogenic — I knew I was in over my head. My father needed me, but I didn’t know how to help. Only God could take care of this. Only God could give me the strength to face this fear. Alone, with no visible support system, my vulnerability busted my heart wide open. I could not rely on any one person to get me through this. I turned to my Heavenly Father in conversation and prayer.

I gave Him my tears, I sought Him with my heart.

In the days and weeks that followed, I have felt God’s reassurance in so many ways. In one instance, I initiated a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop, merely asking if she knew of any good nursing homes. Come to find out, she recently went through something similar with her mother living in Florida. She shared a wealth of advice. My parent’s podiatrist, Dr. Yu, unable to treat my father now that he is under the care of a facility, still made himself available to me any time, to discuss concerns and potential solutions.

During one of these evening calls, Dr. Yu echoed my concerns and agreed that, “It doesn’t sound like this is a good facility for Dad. I agree, we need to get him out of there.” He advised me against just single-handedly taking him out without a doctor’s approval. He was afraid there would be health insurance consequences if I didn’t follow discharge protocol. That night I felt an overwhelming urgency to take him out of that facility. I played many scenarios in my head of how I would scoop him up and physically remove him (he no longer walks), but knew I couldn’t manage him physically. I didn’t want to hurt him in the process of executing a poorly thought-out plan. I felt completely helpless.

In the midst of this whirlwind of thoughts, I remembered to return the nursing home doctor’s call. I was expecting I would have another difficult conversation with her — as I grew accustomed to her putting up road blocks — but instead, I heard, “You’re father isn’t doing well. I would like to send him to the Emergency Room, if you are in agreement.”

“Absolutely! Of course I agree! I will meet him there!”

My pleas to God for help were answered! Praise God! Now he was out of that horrible facility, without me having to force the discharge.

Elderly people are so vulnerable, especially when experiencing a health crisis. I was witness to this when I stood by him through the night in the Emergency Room, during his long hospital stay, then later when discharged to a skilled nursing facility. My father is vulnerable every time he requires a diaper change. Naked and requiring assistance to roll onto his side, the nurse and certified nursing assistant (CNA) follow a protocol to clean him.

To be in the presence of this moment, forces both my father and the observer into humility. How can I watch this and not feel mercy for my father? How can I watch this and not feel his pain, his shame, his unraveling? How can I hold judgment against him as a father, for any past expectations he has fallen short of? Naked, not a one of us can withstand scrutiny that is not through the eyes of love. Naked, the shackles of unforgiveness dissolve.

In this moment of humility, whereby I watch my father helpless and in complete need of assistance for his basic needs, my soul awakens with his visceral cry, “Dios! Dios!” (God! God!)

“What’s wrong Dad?”

“I want to die.”


“I am tired of them turning me this way, turning me that way…”

They have to perform this protocol when the patient is unable to roll over on his own. They need to turn him to adequately clean him. Otherwise he is at risk for infection. After explaining that, I added,

“There is still purpose for you Dad. It’s not time for you to die.”

“How do you know this?”

“Because God would have already taken you if your purpose was fulfilled. As long as you draw breath, God has a plan for your life. There is purpose in this very moment, though you may not know what it is.”

“How can I do anything in this condition?”

“I don’t mean literally that you are to perform a physical feat. We don’t know God’s plans, but what if your presence is necessary for those around you? What if you are part of the plan for our lives?”

“I know all that, don’t tell me!”

“Okay Dad, I know that you know. “ I smiled. This is my father. You can’t tell him anything because he knows it already. It’s part of the teacher in him and the way he has always been. This part still remains, though other parts of his personality have altered.

Then I quietly pondered, what is God’s work still to be done in him?

What work is He doing in me, as I witness my father enduring this?

What work is God doing in any of us who are in the presence of another’s pain?

We do not have God’s infinite eyes to see the majestic purpose behind this intricately woven tapestry that defines a person’s life, or a person’s season. 

However, one thing I do know, my father demonstrated his love and trust for me by allowing himself to be vulnerable in front of me. Much like I demonstrate my love and trust for God by giving Him my vulnerability.

I demonstrated my love for my father by choosing to stay in the room during his diaper changes, and during moments like the intake process at the skilled nursing facility, when they must uncover his body to assess his ulcers and body’s condition.

Most nurse’s were gentle and polite by informing me I can wait outside the door until they are finished. Some harshly instructed me I had to leave. I responded, “No. I choose to stay. I am my father’s health care proxy.” They typically proceeded on, and most were kind. However, when he was in the prior problematic facility, a CNA threatened that if I did not leave she would get her supervisor. “Go ahead, because no one is removing me from witnessing my father’s care.” 

There are times to be bold. God has emboldened me to stand up and show up for my father. I am humbled by His courage which He gives me when I need to call upon it.

Of course it would have been easier to excuse myself and not make waves. It would have been easier to avoid seeing the sacral (buttocks) pressure ulcer,  which after they removed the dead and infected tissue, has left a huge 5 inch diameter hole fully exposing his tailbone, spine and ligaments. The cavity is so deep, that one could fit a hand inside it to cradle his tailbone. This is covered by a gauze dressing, which must be replaced every time it gets soiled with a diaper change, to prevent infection.

I am afraid every time to look at his uncovered sacral ulcer. But I do not focus on the fear. I focus on my love for my father, which is independent of how he shows his love for me. My dad has never been one to openly and demonstratively show love. Though, in recent years it was a large victory when he began to tell me the words, “I love you.”

In that space with my father, in his most vulnerable state, I felt the words enter my consciousness, “Honor thy father.”  There was no choice other than to bear witness to the truth, to the reality that he is enduring. How can I understand his pain, if I look away from the truth?

There are times in life when there is no one to step in and do something for us. We’re it. As my father’s daughter, I need to be aware, so that I may stand up for him. We all have people who depend on us. We all must make a choice one day, to stand up for love. My strength comes from the Lord, not from me. Those weeks in NYC were not easy to navigate through. God gave me the courage and the wisdom to ask the questions of the medical staff, to seek assistance, to not walk in fear, but rest on Him as my source.  

I feel like I am in the midst of the story. That moment in the movie when you look at your watch and realize there is still more to come. Time still left for the plot to unfold. 

I do not know tomorrow. I do not have conclusions. I do not know the details that lay ahead. Unknowns. So many. There are seasons in our life designed to remind us that we are not in control. Surely this is such a season for me.

Though earthly time is running out for my father, that is irrelevant to God. God isn’t limited to the timeframe we have come to believe is the only time that matters. Some doctors tend to speak of an 88 year old in a manner that indicates he has been written off. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t write off His children. He loves every one of us with unbridled passion. We are all precious and we matter to Him.

The One who masterfully purposed our lives as He knit us into our mother’s womb, has a mysterious plan to do a wonderful work in my father, in me, in you.  He will use our present season to fashion a love story. He will use our fears, our vulnerabilities — anything we lay before Him with an open heart — He will use it all in the vast design of our lives, to reveal His love.
Ella Venezia

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Caption by Ella Venezia