Raising Up the Foundations of Many Generations Is Hard, But Let Us Encourage One Another to Be Christ-Conscious So We Will Be Called the Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of the Paths
Heart to Heart

 

During my week of spring cleaning in September, I oversaw three contractors work in my mother’s home, met with my brother from out of town so he could pick up some things from my mother’s house, entertained Jon’s sister, niece and her two daughters from Florida, managed a church field trip to Grant’s Farm, counseled multitudes of families, worked with land appraisers, worked on the conference video promotional, worked on the newsletter, worked on Jon’s sermon each night, and momentarily fell apart.

 

After only 3 to 4 hours of sleep night after night, I decided to sleep late. However, at 8 a.m., my mother came into my room. Seeing the covers disheveled, she began straightening my bed. I lay very still hoping that she wouldn’t see me because if she knew I was there, it would be the end of my rest. Carefully she pulled the covers up and then left the room. Relieved, I thought maybe I could get at least another hour of sleep. Not a minute later, my mother was back straightening the covers again. Each time she left, I thought maybe she would go into the living room and settle down, but then she would be back again to do the same thing over. In a period of five minutes, she had come in seven times.

 

Needless to say, sleeping became impossible, so I went ahead and got up even though I had only gotten a little over three hours of sleep. Immediately I was presented with the day’s duties: “Mom, can you sign these checks; Cass Bank called to see if you signed the papers they sent for Momo’s new account; Mom, did you send an email to Teresa to see if she sent the deposit for the Heart to Heart Tea; Mom, did you call back that new homeschooler; Mom, did you call back … and … to give them dates of when we can come to their homes for dinner; Mom, more homeschoolers have called to see if we found a place for our meetings and if you set up Wallyball for this year; Mom, could you look over these emails; Mom, these new homeschoolers need help; Mom, do you have a blog for me to put up; Mom, a lady from southern Missouri called to see if you put her advertisement in the newsletter; Mom, did you call the flooring people back; Mom, you need to give me a date when the gas company can come to do an inspection; Mom, you need to call Jacque back to talk about when you need her to watch Momo; Mom, the animal clinic called to set up Sadie’s surgery and told me that she needs to be taken in for blood work this week; Mom, when this week is over we need to go over all our bank statements to make certain I typed in everything correctly so that I can send in our taxes to our accountant; and Mom, can we go to the library today to take back these DVDs.”

 

Then came: “Candy, will you send this email to David for me, and can you bring up the email David sent to me; Candy, do you know if Sonia faxed mom’s accountant because he needs to know if you got that federal tax ID number for the trust; Candy, can you call the financial advisor and give your okay to sell the stocks I mentioned so that we can get a tax basis for Dad’s stocks and save the profit; Candy, please call Birdsong because mom’s garage door is not working again: Candy, when can we go to select toilets and sinks for Mom’s bathrooms; by the way the painter called and said that it would be two weeks before we could use the bathrooms; and do you know when I need to be at the airport to pick up Anne and the children tomorrow.”

 

After Jon left, Jedidiah called to discuss the problem he was having with one of the slit seeders. While he was on the phone, I relayed all the messages I had received for him. “Jedidiah, Mr. Smith called and needs a tree cut down; Tyler is going on vacation and needs their yard cut on these dates; the Woods need their yard seeded; our new insurance company needs your driver’s license number to put you on the policy; there is water leaking in mom’s back bathroom, so when do you think you and Dad can get over there to fix that; and when will you be home for lunch?” All while my mother was questioning me as to whom I was talking with and what I was talking about.

 

Shortly thereafter I sat down at the computer to finish the newsletter because the Creation Zoo Field Trip deadline had already passed without another run in the newsletter as promised. As I was rushing to get it done, my mother repeatedly came over to stroke my hair and face, ask me what I was doing, kiss my head and tell me how much she loved me.

 

Now you must understand that I love my mother and have been kind and respectful to her all my life, but after being stroked over and over again, one right after the other, literally every minute or so, after about the tenth time in a matter of minutes, I began to bristle.

 

It was just more than I could handle in my exhausted state, so I just walked back into my room, locked the door, and wept. As I wallowed in self-pity, I began talking to myself. How could the Lord do this to me when I give Him every ounce of my energy? My mother follows me everywhere, all day long, and when she doesn’t see me, she comes looking for me until she finds me. And when she finds me, she incessantly repeats the same questions. There is nowhere I can go to work without constant interruptions, and this goes on from early morning until midnight, and even after I think I have her settled in bed, she pops out to see where I am. And then when I try to change her Depend, she tells me that it is dry. And when I tell her it is wet, she tells me that I am crazy!

 

I cannot handle this. I cannot possibly continue taking care of my mother on top of everything else. After taking care of parents for the past six years, I have run out of fortitude. There is nothing left. At this point, my 91-year-old mother will probably outlive me because I am going to just shrivel up and die. Why shouldn’t I put her in a home? She would love it because she loves to be around people. Besides, my parents never took care of their parents. Even when I was a little girl, others took care of me because Mom worked full time. So why am I doing this? I just can’t do this anymore!

 

And then a voice of reason came to mind, as I remembered my mother’s voice saying, “Candy, are you being self-conscious or Christ-conscious?” It is amazing the transformation that takes place when I focus on God rather than on myself, and the incredible depravity of my heart becomes quite clear. Immediately, I starting realizing that many of the things that bothered me about my mother were things I did for my own children.

 

And so I began reasoning with myself. Mom continuously strokes me, kisses me, and tells me she loves me, just like I did throughout my children’s lives.

 

Her anxiety attacks when anyone leaves the house, when the sky is cloudy, when afternoon approaches, when nighttime approaches, when… followed by, “Will we all be altogether?” “You aren’t going to leave me, are you?” “Will I be with you?” “We are all going to sleep together, aren’t we?” “Show me where I sleep.” “Show me where you sleep.” These are quite frankly the same things I desire. I want to be together with my family. I don’t like it when someone leaves. And I want to sleep in the same house with everyone else. Besides, if Jon passes before me, won’t I feel vulnerable, lonely, and in need of my children? Of course I will.

 

Yes, Mom does these things over and over again like a stuck phonograph needle, but after all, Mom would not be repeating herself non-stop if she were in her right mind. Where is the patience I had shown the children all through the years? I never felt stressed or burdened by their questions. Why am I so stressed now? Yes, I know it is not the same as patiently caring for the children, but where is my compassion? And why am I bristling?

 

After all, I am not the only one caring for Mom. Things have been stressful for all of us. My goodness, Jon has had to deal with so many breakdowns with his equipment, and now another clutch in his tractor is out with customers clamoring for their fields to be cut and baled. And I know he is stressed over the new job he and the boys just took on, which will add another 60 hours of work a week when they have all their power raking, seeding and fertilizing to do, especially with equipment in the shop. He also has to be worried about his neck surgery. And then of course there’s Sonia who not only helps me take care of Mom all day, but also gets up with her in the middle of the night. I know she is tired, too.

 

Wisely recognizing my transgressions in all of this, I confessed my sins, repented, wept some more, and then… Well at times of great stress, my motto has always been to throw a party for my family. So I got up, washed my face, told Sonia that I was leaving to get some things for a fabulous family celebration and then proceeded to orchestrate a great party for my family. Sonia probably thought I had lost my mind, as we were supposed to be getting ready for our out-of-town company, but like the dutiful daughter she is, she just smiled.

 

When I arrived back home, I decorated the table, put gifts at everyone’s place, and prepared fried chicken, mashed potatoes, okra and tomatoes, salad, and apple pie. The party was great. Everyone was refreshed, including me. Consequently, after everyone went to bed, I worked on a wonderful five-day itinerary for Jon’s family who were flying in the next day. In spite of everything else going on in our lives—we take care of family because, after all, that is the most important duty in life and, thankfully, that which gives the greatest pleasure.

 

At church on Sunday, my mom placed her arm around me as we sang this hymn together:

 

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word;

Just to rest upon His promise,

And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

 

Refrain:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to trust His cleansing blood;

And in simple faith to plunge me

‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

 

Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just from sin and self to cease;

Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest, and joy and peace.

 

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,

Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that Thou art with me,

Wilt be with me to the end.

 

Later that week, after family had returned to Florida, I pulled up an email from a young mother, thanking me for encouraging her during her time of distress: I am tired. We have our 6th baby, who is still nursing and who does not sleep well. We are trying to get our house on the market, buy a farm and care for my aging grandmother. If anyone understands tired, I am sure you do. With a house full of little ones, I need ...

 

After I had responded to her needs, she wrote back:

 

Dear Candy,

 

Thank you so much for your email. You really are a blessing, and I love that you are who you are—honest and loving and graceful. Thank you for your obedience to the Lord. You personify the Titus 2 woman to me. I feel so inadequate at times because of becoming a Christian as an adult, I did not have the benefit of good teaching throughout my life. It is wonderful to have it now.

 

There were five very specific things in your email that illustrate the encouragement and practical advice I was talking about. God truly provides!

 

What I said to her was that all things are for our good, and difficult times most of all. God never gives us more than we can handle. Difficulties are just for a season. During these times, remember to make time for reading God’s Word and praying, listening to your husband, and spending fun moments with your children each day. Candlelight and flowers are a must for dinner. A bubble bath and a funny or delightful movie now and then also help.

 

Most importantly, remember that your children are taking mental notes of how you are handling each bump, each hill, and each mountain. During difficult times, my mother would always ask if I was being self-conscious or Christ-conscious. For one short moment, it would sting, and then the truth of her loving direction gave wings to my burden as I contemplated my focus. Her question still rings in my ears when I face seemingly insurmountable tasks. God will see you through this time. It will be over before you know it, and then God will provide a time of rejuvenation. May you rest in His mighty power!

 

Final Thoughts

 

Sometimes it becomes necessary to refer back to one’s own counsel when sinking under the weight of stressful situations. When Sonia had come to me crying over the difficult time she was having with my mother being in our home day after day, night after night, after sharing my own frustration, I said, “Sonia, are we being self-conscious or Christ-conscious?”

 

Families, this is the key to all of life’s problems. Taking care of parents along with everything else is not easy, but this is what God has called us to do. And this is what will make it easier for our children when their time comes to care for us, and what will make it far easier for their children because by then, it will be common practice in our families.

 

We did not have parents who took care of their parents, so consequently we are breaking fallow ground. But haven’t we been doing that throughout our entire lives? We have been chosen for such a time as this to return to “the law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20). And it has been on the job training from day one, with discipling, family Bible studies, cooking and eating healthy, organic gardening, biblical family economics, integrated family worship, courtship, and … the list goes on, for He has called us to “rebuild the ancient ruins, raise up the age-old foundations, repair the breech, and restore the paths” for future generations (Isaiah 58:12).

 

Dear families, remember this: “The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not become weary or tired. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though you grow weary and tired, though you stumble badly, if you wait upon the LORD, you will gain new strength; you will mount up with wings like eagles, you will run and not get tired, you will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

 

Let us encourage one another to be Christ-conscious through all our trials and tribulations so that we can be called “the repairer of the breach and restorer of the paths” (Isaiah 58:12).