Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Wait (and Weight) of a Long “Good-bye”

“Any bites on your home?”
“How is your mother doing?”
“Any more bites on your home?”
“We’re so happy you have a buyer!”
“Will you be moving closer to your mothers?”
“Has your buyer found a buyer yet?”
“Has your buyer found a new buyer yet?”
“We’re sorry your contract expired in Wooster.”
“We’re so glad you found a new buyer!”

These are some of the inquiries and comments we’ve heard during the past year from a loving and caring community of friends in and around Cedarville during a year of waiting and dealing with health issues.  Whether great or small, the challenges of life are often difficult to keep asking about and telling about; and especially, praying about.  Being surrounded with friends who ask, care, and pray has been a blessing to Abby and I.  We realize that our experience is only a small speck in the larger universe of God’s provision and plan.  After all, people buy and sell homes and face illnesses every day.  However, if you want more of our story, please read on.  We hope it will honor God in spite of our limited maturity and vision.

Abby and I began a period of “redirection” of our lives in August, 2011, following 32 years of teaching at Cedarville University.  We have already explained the goals we have prayerfully established (See Oikonomia, December 23, 2011).  We explained the Priorities we had set toward each other as Partners, in honoring our Parents, in loving our Progeny, and in practicing our Profession through a local church in the community of Wooster, OH.  All of these are to be accomplished through the disciplines of prayer, worship, and service that accompany true faith in God and His Word.  The events that unfolded between August and December, 2011 were an immediate affirmation that God’s hand was in these Priorities to accomplish His purposes.

Abby and I with Mom and daytime-caregiver, Lisa
First, as we explained in Oikonomia, December 23, 2011, Abby’s mom experienced a massive stroke on August 31 within days of my redirection.   This event immediately affirmed to us the rightness of our decision to redirect our energies to each other as Partners, and to our Parents.  Whereas, normally I would be teaching classes, I was now available to drive my Partner back and forth to Canton, OH so that both of us could assist in the care of our beloved Parent, “Mom Moser.”  Through numerous trips between Cedarville where we had listed our home with Irongate Realtors and our caring agent, Jeri Drew, we were able to help Abby’s six sisters in a 24/7 care of Mom.  Mom’s recovery began at Mercy Medical Center, continued at Carroll Health Center, and since December has continued at her home since.  With the help of regular physical therapy, Mom was able to regain  her ability to walk with assistance and to enjoy her family in the warmth of her home. 

However, the physical and emotional rigors of devoting extended time including overnights with Mom in December and January, combined with the holidays and travel to maintain relationships with our Progeny in Michigan, began to take a toll on Abby.   In January, while we were caring for Mom for six days, Abby began to have some symptoms of dizziness and fainting which, at first we attributed to her blood pressure medication (You know, “the side effects in fine print.”).  We soon decided to return to Cedarville and admit her to Greene Memorial in Xenia, OH.  Through this, we learned that she had had at least one stroke, although thankfully less severe than her mom’s stroke.

Once again, we both experienced God’s leading, mercy, and provision through caring health professionals, family, and friends.  A CAT scan revealed a blockage in her vertebral artery in her brain.   Thankfully, Abby’s circulatory system had responded to this blockage by redirecting her blood so that her strokes were less debilitating.  Therefore, Abby’s mobility and speech were not affected by the strokes.  Thanks to God’s healing through the good care of the physicians at Greene Memorial, and both our family physician and our ‘nutrition-friendly, homeopathic doctor in Berlin, OH, she has made remarkable improvement.  Abby now keeps a well disciplined schedule of conventional medications, herbal alternatives, healthy eating, nutritional supplements, and exercise.

Although we had hoped that our home would sell before Christmas so that we could eliminate the 8-hour round trip to Mom’s home in Carroll County, and also the 6-hour round trip to our homeopathic doctor in Berlin, we were satisfied that God’s plan was for us to remain in Cedarville.  Our church and community has had a very important part in our lives and in our children’s lives for over three decades.  At Grace, we have been encouraged the preaching ministries of Paul Jackson, David Graham, and now, Pastor Craig Miller; and, the fellowship of our “Philadelphia Class” led by Merlin and Ruth Ager.

We must also thank God for Cedarville College, now a university; and, for the privilege of working with fine colleagues and students for 32 years.  Though it is not possible to name all of my faculty friends and administrators, I remember with joy my first interview with Cliff Johnson, James T. Jeremiah (now with the Lord), and Paul Dixon.  Later, I participated in the search for Cliff’s successor as AVP, Duane Wood; and then, Paul’s successor as president, Bill Brown.  We pray regularly for these men and for Duane’s successor, Tom Cornman.  Our prayers are also with my department chairs, past and present, Don Baumann, Dan Wetzel, and (currently) Dennis Flentge; and with my colleagues of the Science and Mathematics Department.

Although our attendance at Grace Baptist in Cedarville has been more sporadic because of Abby’s health and our travelling, we have been able to maintain relationships and some of our caring ministry to dear folks whose needs far surpass ours.  When I was involved in our “Grace Care” ministry, it was a blessing to serve with folks who struggled with their own physical limitations.  These were among those who prayed faithfully for Abby and I as mentioned above.   One of these friends, Shirley Strobridge, just went home to be with the Lord in July.

Shirley Strobridge

Many months prior to Shirley’s death, her health had declined through bouts with pneumonia and chronic respiratory complications requiring that she leave her lovely home in the forest near Cedarville to enter an assisted living facility.  For the past year, she relied on supplemental oxygen and assistance with her breathing.  One would think that the scope and influence of Shirley’s life was very limited by her weak and frail condition.  However, every time Abby and I, or others would visit her tiny room, all neat and clean, this nearly bedfast lady radiated the love and power of God through her faint speech, her welcoming smile, and her questions about how we were doing.  It was not by (her) might, nor by (her) power, but by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) at work in and through Shirley that made her “temporary home” there in Hospitality East a place where she could continue her ministry of encouragement to the many who came to visit.

Shirley viewed the change of seasons evident in the tree outside her window, praying that Jesus would not delay long in taking her home.  As we visited her during her final months, confined largely to her bed, we began to see Shirley’s “long good-bye” as a metaphor and a message to us—“God is faithful and He is never late.” Meanwhile, we could see our own trials as much less significant.   Sure, we had our priorities, each beginning with a “P;” but God’s ways are above our ways, and His purposes are much greater.

Although it has been frustratingly long and filled with ups and downs, our “long good-bye” to Cedarville has taught us much.  God had provided us an extended time of transition—of dependence upon Him, lifted by the prayers of dear friends and family; and, we were still in Cedarville to say “good-bye” to Shirley, and to other dear friends whose departure occurred within time we were waiting on God for our “good-bye (listed in reverse chronology of their deaths):”

Shirley Strobridge
Jerry Shumaker
Oscar Schonscheck
Gary Olin
Merlin Bliss
Harold Amstutz
Esther Frye
Harold Green
Marv Troyer
Lois Helmick
Marabeth Elmore
Phyllis Wetzel

Now, as the heat of summer gives way to the crispness of autumn, we are glad to report that we have completed the sale of our Cedarville home and have also purchased a home in Wooster, OH as God has led us to do.  This blessing did not come without a prolonged effort and emotional commitment for several months to some dear folks who loved our home.  By July, with no success in selling their home, we mutually agreed to “let go” with hopes that they would eventually sell and renew their contract with us.  At the same time, we our contract on a home in Wooster.  But eventually, God provided us a new buyer and we were able to renew our contract in Wooster.  However, the strain we had brought upon our sellers in Wooster made us wonder if we would ever meet them and learn something of the history of that “house” that would become our “home.”

Thankfully, our sellers agreed to meet with us after closing and we were able to begin a friendship through sharing of our mutual challenges including health issues in both of our families.  We hope to be in Wooster by mid-October and to see the end of our “weighty wait”and long “good-bye” to Cedarville.  Our prayer is that we will continue to honor God in keeping the Priorities we have set toward each other as Partners, honoring our Parents, loving our Progeny, and practicing our Profession through a local church in the community of Wooster.   So, pray for us and “stay tuned.”

Thank you again for the blessed part you are having in our lives.  And, if you understand the thrust of this account, you will agree that any “good-bye” among Christian brothers and sisters is only temporary.  It is an act of faith that our “good-byes” will someday be followed by blessed “hello’s” when we hear a voice from heaven saying,

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new.
  – Revelation 21: 3-5a

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure.  
– I John 3:3

Memorial Park Wooster, Ohio

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We will be in prayer as you go through the moving process. Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." love, the Postemas