Friday, June 21, 2013

Just Breathe!

I watched him struggle for breath. His chest heaving. His face strained, pale and moist with sweat. A look of single determination was etched upon his face. Breathe, it read. Slowly.Purposefully.Deeply. Exhale – push out all the air, empty your lungs then breathe deeply, slowly again. Sit up straight in a hard back chair and TRY to relax.

He has struggled with asthma for the past 28 years. It began when he was 38. That is what first drove us to the VA Hospital back in Ohio. Is this service related? Is it from Agent Orange exposure? The tests there were "inconclusive" and rerun. We never heard back from them. For almost the same amount of years we have been seeking an answer as to the reason for the delayed onset of asthma.

It has been 23 years we have lived in the Southwest. The asthma is more controllable here, but it still affects his life, his standard of living, if you will. This past Tuesday he received written confirmation that the VA has determined this is service related. All medical expenses related to not only his cardiac issues, but now the asthma will be taken care of. Is this a “God Thing”?

Taking a step back to May 14th. I filled out the form for a Hardship Transfer for his previous cardiac related disability and the need to be closer to the VA Hospital in Tucson – it is a 124 mile trek one way. I wrote a memo for consideration and attached the military / VA paperwork showing his ‘disability award’. Early on the 15th, my supervisor read and signed the document and forwarded it through the chain-of-command. By that afternoon, I had it back in hand, all signed and approved. My supervisor said she had never seen one approved that fast – ever. Is this a “God Thing”?

Getting home from work, I told Husband the hardship transfer had been approved. We could plan on moving to Tucson. We placed an ad in the newspaper in an attempt to sell our home of 17-years. Within a week, we had a firm offer our home. Is this a “God Thing”?

This coming Saturday we are having “A Get Out of Dodge Moving Sale”. We are living out of boxes and will officially move on June 30th. We are leaving 1400 sq ft of living space and moving into 700 sq ft of living space. Do you recall my goal for 2013? It was to simplify our life, to minimize our home – to downsize? Is this a “God Thing”?

My head is spinning. I am grateful. I am amazed. I am excited. I am apprehensive. I am in awe of what God can and will do! I shouldn't be, but I am.

So, how am I sorting through 17 years of accumulations? I have to ask myself honest questions: Do I own this or does it own me? If I get rid of this, will I be trying to replace it in a month or two? When is the last time I used it? Will I regret parting with this?

This is not our home. It is our temporary dwelling place. It became our home because of the imprint we have placed upon it and the love we have invested in it. That will also be found in our new 700 sq ft apartment!

I am finding this somewhat liberating – to part with accumulations! Here in America, most ‘third world’ inhabitants could live entirely off our discarded items.

Pray for us and our transition. The morning will come early and so with the bargain hunters. We will entertain any and all reasonable offers. Our memories however, are not for sale. We will keep and cherish them.

This reminds me of the elderly couple who lived behind us in Orrville, Ohio (home of Smucker’s Jams and Jellies!). They had owned and operated a Mom & Pop hardware store until it was sold and he retired. He would take off on walks in the neighborhood and get lost. Other neighbors or the police would bring him home. His memories were gone, but his precious wife was the torch bearer. She taught me so much by her Christian example. The personification of love she displayed for her Savior and for her ‘lost’ husband was beyond amazing. He was lost only to the memories they had once shared. She exemplified grace and dignity.

After the summer’s gardening season was ending, she brought a few items from her garden to my backyard where I met her. She was my gardening master and shared so much with me. She informed me they were selling their home and having an auction. They were to move to a residential care facility where they could be together their remaining days. I broke down and sobbed and she hugged me and said, “It is all right, we will be together in our final days. He may not know me now, but I know and remember him.”

The day of the auction I went to their home. I came away with a devotional book that had been hers. It was underlined and well read. I cherished it until it was time for me to pack up and move to another place, and another home.
God has been ever so faithful to bring persons into my life who have been unknowing mentors to me, even when they are merely living out their Christianity in everyday life events.

The little New Testament book of Philemon, reads as follows:
I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother(s) (and sister(s)!).

Things will be quiet on this end for a while, but that doesn’t mean you are not in my heart and in my prayers!

Simply yours,

Tamara