Single Parent Faith

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Power of Prayer- Uncertainty Ahead

“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” ~John 16:24

Note: What I wrote below was written days before my trip to visit my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was already sensing the looming struggles that lay ahead.

There are multiple struggles and changes occurring simultaneously at this moment in my life, demanding my attention and energy. I have been depleted for quite some time now, in need of rejuvenation, in need of deliverance. I found myself wondering last night, when was the last time I felt joy? I could not recall. I am in the midst of a heavy heart season, and I have lost touch with joy. Somehow it has disappeared into all the demands placed on me at the moment.

With a boyfriend too afraid to step up to life’s uncertainty and stand by my side, I felt a mixed blessing in his disappearance. If he can’t stand by me and be an anchor, then best he run scared into his safe closet. Now I may devote my energies to what God is calling me toward.

Hurricane Sandy heaped additional difficulties for my 87 year-old parents, living alone in NYC. Both were hospitalized within a day of each other. They are adamant about continuing to live alone in the city they have known all their life, despite having no family to assist them. As their Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, I am in a position to make decisions that will impact their lives. I want to make the right decisions for them, yet the distance poses a challenge, as does my father’s stubbornness to the point of self-destruction. It is all very daunting to begin to figure out what to do when I arrive. My father’s health is spiraling since admitted to a rehabilitative / long term care facility recently. I don’t know what I will be walking into when I arrive to see my father.

In my future, I will have a loving, supportive and encouraging spouse who will stand by me and walk through difficulties  with me. He will be wise, offer encouragement, guidance, give me a hug, and talk. However, given he hasn't arrived yet…I feel alone now walking through this. I must hang on to hope and the realization that there is purpose in this present moment exactly as it is. 

Sunday I awoke at 7 a.m. without my alarm clock being set, which is very unusual for me. I was alert which was to me a surprise considering I went to bed very late. I took the time to do some writing, and in the midst of it all, I was visited by a feeling that I needed to save my document and get ready for the mid morning service.  At first I was thinking to catch it live on the internet, but then felt prompted to go in person. I was obedient to this feeling.

When I arrived at church, the sermon was on “The power of prayer.” I must admit, I have not been giving to God the attention and focus He deserves, for all He provides in my life.  My thanks at mealtimes and bedtime prayers—which lately have been cut short by me falling asleep due to pure exhaustion—seem an insufficient prayer life. Something within me has been clamoring to connect more deeply and more often to The One.

“When we Pray we are filled with boldness and with the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Pastor Robert Morris (from Acts 1:8 and Acts 4:31)

In this season I need boldness and power to do God’s will in the midst of all my challenges. Lately this woman that I am, that is known by all as strong, has been feeling weak and inadequate to meet the challenge. I feel completely vulnerable during a time I know I must be strong.

What I like so much about this church is that they provide such great prayer support. So many people take Pastor Morris up on his invitation to come and ask for prayer. It is inbred in the culture of this church and he encourages it as very natural, by reminding us “We all need prayer.”

As I waited in line for prayer, a former co-worker walks by and stops when he recognizes me. I reach out my hand to shake his, but he lunges forward and gives me a hug. Oh, how I needed that. Meanwhile, the man in front of me begins to talk about some of the pastor’s CDs that he listens to during his drive to work. He gives me his business card and asks me to email him to continue our conversation. I notice an older woman searching for something she’s lost. I step out of line to assist her and thankfully find her umbrella. She places her arm around me to thank me.

I felt God’s love surrounding me in the warmth of these strangers. When in my immediate world I was feeling isolated, perhaps abandoned, He provided confirmation that He will not have me walk alone.

When it was my turn, I was led right to a friendly woman who was completely attentive to me. This kind woman held both my hands in hers, and prayed for my “Discernment, Strength and Joy.”  She reassured me that “God has not forgotten you. He wants you to come to Him, seek Him and ask.”

Come to Him. Prayer.

Seek Him. Prayer.

Ask. Prayer.

I got it. Loud and clear.

It didn’t escape me that she prayed for me to receive joy. Of all things, it wasn’t what I would have expected her to pray for — Joy.

To me this was confirmation that God is listening. He hears my laments and my cries to once again feel joy.

“Those who sow with tears
Will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
Carrying seed to sow,
Will return with songs of joy,
Carrying sheaves with them.” ~Psalm 126: 5-6

Ella Venezia

Image Sources:
©All rights reserved by yooza~
©All rights reserved by The Top Hat Bandit

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Father, My Child

“A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. Great spiritual strength is often developed by those with physical challenges precisely because they are challenged. Such individuals are entitled to all the blessings that God has in store for His faithful and obedient children." ~ Russell M. Nelson 

“Don’t Leave!”
“I’m not going to leave you while you’re sleeping, dad.”

I imagine the anxiety of thinking that when he awakens, I will not be here.

He fights falling asleep as he lays in a hospital bed, this cold November evening. I reassure him, 

“You need to nap dad. Go ahead, I’ll be here.”

My hand softly placed on top of his head, feeling the once thick mane, now wisps of strands remain.  The warmth of his scalp penetrating the palm of my hand, as I caress the head of the man who brought me into being.

I look to him as he closes his eyes. This frail and bony figure, once a strong vibrant hearty man whose very laughter incited laughter from any within earshot. Now at 87, tired, weak, and wistfully contemplating, “I never would have imagined this.”

The voyage of a lifetime brings him to a hospital room two days prior to Thanksgiving. Dehydrated, malnourished, sleep deprived, hallucinating…

It’s been over a week he’s been in the hospital after we removed him from a rehabilitation/ skilled nursing facility. After days of hydration, anti-biotics, nourishment, rest, his infection continues.  

“Is your mother alright?”

I tried to cheer him up earlier. I couldn’t find a good get well card, so I opted for a funny Christmas card with a chimpanzee wearing a santa cap. When I showed it to him he quickly admonished, “Put that away. There’s a lot of Jewish people here.” Glimpses of my father’s personality still remain.

As he drifts to sleep, he says,
“Now I’m 99% safe”
“Because you’re here.”

I am now my father’s mother.

Maternal instincts kick in to protect my father and to make him feel safe. But just as a parent needs to balance caring for a child with caring for oneself, I find myself  every evening before I leave telling my dad that though I’d like to stay, I have to return to look after my mom and to get sleep so I may be able to return strong the next day. None of that seems to matter to him. All that matters is the immediate and the now. He doesn’t want me to leave. He doesn’t really think about what’s best for me, and what I need. I don’t think he can. All he can think about are his needs—like a child does.
But tonight, before I left for the evening, I stayed until he awoke from his nap. I wanted to make sure he ate before I left for the night. But when he awoke, he did not want to eat.

“No tengo animo para nada, tampoco para comer.” (I have no will for anything, not even to eat)

I attempted to coax him to eat by telling him it was the only way he could heal. But he didn’t seem to care. At one point however, I think he realized that as long as he ate I would stay longer to feed him. The last couple of days he was feeding himself, but tonight he said he couldn’t. It may be that he was feeling weaker because his hemoglobin count is low. The doctor is planning to give him blood this evening.

This once highly intelligent and reasonable man, is now having hallucinations and paranoia. He believes he will be transformed somehow. The transformation he refers to is more akin to a Star Trek type of transport. Earlier today he told me “I feel the changes already taking place in my body.”

“You have an infection your body is fighting, likely that is what you feel.”
“No, I can feel the change already starting. I feel movement in my body.”

He kept having recurring thoughts that his hospital room mate is “one of them” and is going to kill him when he sleeps. I told him, “Don’t worry, he can’t even walk, he is missing a leg.” No matter, my dad reassured me, “He can still strangle me from his wheel chair.”

Sometimes what he says strikes me as funny and I even inadvertently giggle out loud. Maybe this is how I am coping with an otherwise tragic circumstance. Even in difficult times, there is still humor to be found. Even though in my poor dad’s mind he actually believes this as reality.

Where did my father go? He undoubtedly wonders the same. There are moments he is present and making sense. And then he'll lapse into hallucinating. The doctors say this behavior is a marker for infections. But as the days progress, though he seems to be hallucinating less than when admitted, he still has not rid himself of this.  

Last night, like every night, a similar conversation takes place:

“If  you leave, they will transport me.”
“I don’t know. But as long as you are here, they won’t harm me.”
“I promise you’ll be fine. In the morning you’ll still be here and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I hope so.”

I kiss him multiple times, tuck him in and say, “Good night dad. I love you.”

And as I walk away I see the child, sad and shaking his head in disappointment, uttering, “I am so disappointed.”

Tonight I did not walk away in tears, as I have the other evenings. I don’t know if it’s exhaustion on my part, or the realization that just as when my daughter was young I had to make decisions that she didn’t understand, so too now, I must do the same. However, no matter how one rationalizes it, it is never easy to disappoint a child, or a parent.

Ella Venezia

Image Source:
©All rights reserved by the tЯefts