Today, I'm not writing a theological treatise or telling a touching story. I'm acknowledging that all of you who follow my blog have become family to me. Today, I'm sharing the hard part of my life with you.
I'm trusting you to handle it gently.
For those who don't know, I bought my farm in 1989. Sam Wiley had worked there for two decades and he didn't want to move. He loved farm work and he loved the farm. The woman who sold the farm to me didn't exactly make keeping Sam on a condition of the sale, but it was strongly encouraged.
I agreed to let Sam live on the farm for the rest of his life and to look after him.
I was much younger then, and I didn't know what that would mean for me, personally, over the years, but I'm living it today. When you give your word, you keep it. If you don't, it says a lot about your integrity. It you keep your word, it does, too.
Sam is now 87. He's a widower with no children. He has one living sibling who's in a nursing home. He has no family that's involved in his life to any significant degree. I'm his caregiver, and happy to be so.
He has Parkinson's Disease. He's increasingly frail and, in the way of people who are chronically ill, has mostly lost his appetite. He's said for years that he doesn't want to have life-sustaining treatments in an impossible situation. Really, who does want that?
Sam understands eternity and he knows where he's headed. It's a much better place than where we are now. He doesn't begrudge the passing, but he'd like to have a lot fewer symptoms than he does. We're learning to cope. He's on hospice at home, and they've been wonderful.
Yesterday was our hardest day yet. He awakened so dizzy he couldn't sit up and so weak he couldn't feed himself. I spent most of the day taking care of him.
That doesn't make me a hero or anyone special. Sam's not a hero, either. Many of the people I know are either the one who needs care or the one who gives care. We're just two people going through life the best way we can. The difference is that we're doing it "out loud" in a way that allows people to know.
Late yesterday, I posted a request for prayer on Facebook. The outpouring of love and prayers was incredible. Within two hours, Sam was enough better that he ventured over to my house. His "misery" was much lessened, and we're both grateful.
Sam loves a crowd. He's energized by a lot of people. He loves the crowd of people at church, even when he can't remember names and can't always remember faces. This morning, after our very hard day yesterday, we'll load up the walker and go to church again. I desperately need the fellowship, in my way, and Sam needs it in his.
I'm a bit of a loner and a very private person (believe it or not) and "out loud" living is terrible to me, but I know that I'm called to this life of "modeling" the life of a disciple. I'm doing it because I want to be obedient, so I share my life and my challenges.
This is what it means to live your faith as a disciple:
- You love God enough to do what is impossibly hard just because He asks it.
- You love your neighbor as yourself, even if it's difficult.
That's what I'm doing. It's nothing special. It's what we're ALL called to do.
People always ask what they can do to help. Here are a couple of suggestions:
1) Pray. The best thing you can do is pray that Sam's suffering will be limited and that we'll both have the strength to persevere to the end.
2) Visit Sam. If you live in Blue Springs and Sam has known you for years, stop and visit. Strangers confuse him, but he welcomes people he knows. Brief visits are best. Share a Scripture. Read a few verses to him. Pray with him. His stamina is not good, so he can't visit long at a time, but he enjoys a brief visit.
3) Be patient with me. If I don't answer your messages, texts, or calls, please understand. If I don't respond to birthdays or offers of help, please know that I'm not intentionally rude. If a blog is "late," please check back. I have an overwhelming load right now, but it won't last forever and God will bring me through, just like he always has.
I'm literally doing the best I can.
4) Get involved. If you're not involved in the life of at least one person who needs what you can give, (other than family) you should be. Loving your neighbor as yourself might be hard, but it's an act of obedience, and it will be worth it. Nothing thrills me more than to see others doing what God has called us all to do.
I know that, when I write about Sam, I make him "alive" in the hearts of people who read what I've written. That's what writers do. Bring characters to life. If I'm successful as a writer, you will want to respond to Sam, but what you need to realize is that there are "Sams" living near you. God has placed people who need you just as much as Sam needs me.
Don't cross a city limit to love on Sam when you're supposed to go down the street and love on your own "Sam".
Today, start loving your neighbor as yourself. It's okay to start small, but it's not okay to refuse to make a start.
"Jesus replied, 'The most important commandment is this...Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No there commandment is greater than these." Mark 12:29-31 nlt
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: When the Light is Out but You're too Stressed to Notice
If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841
Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line