Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slaying Goliath

David Dragging Goliath's Head
by Giovanni Lanfranco

I can't stop thinking about this painting. Last Saturday morning while Rod was at Men's prayer and Gracie was immersed in Smile of a Child cartoons, I was surfing the net looking at Biblical art. This piece popped up on the screen and immediately a sense of what we are currently going through rang loud and clear to me. Goliath needed slaying. Sometimes our "insurmountable" problems are not.

I mentioned in my last few posts that Rod's dad, Kert, had had a fall and was taken to the hospital. He was then transferred to a nursing home. He liked it there, at first. They were keeping him busy with rehab physical therapy exercises and occupational therapy (making banana pudding) and batting around a balloon with a group of other elderly ones on the mend. Yes, on the mend. They are not there to stay. This was news to Rod until this past Wednesday, when Kert's caretakers at the nursing home informed Rod that Kert will be released in two weeks. His rehabilitation will be complete and he will have to leave. Needless to say, Rod came home stunned.

We were informed by the social worker at the nursing home that we needed to find him a place in an Assisted Living community. The DSS social worker said that Kert's Medicaid was "pending". Friday morning Rod and I made a plan to visit four reputable Assisted Living facilities in our area. Kert was glad to hear that. The place that he liked in the beginning has begun to wear on him. He is in the dementia wing and due to his now intense lucidity "these people are driving me crazy" is his lament.

In the hospital Kert was exhibiting extreme dementia. Once he was released into the care of the nursing home all of that began to subside and he became his old self again. The ER doc thought that he had a seizure and promptly put him on seizure medicine. Perhaps these meds are the reason for the great turn-around. I'm not sure. All I do know is that he "comes and goes" and you don't know when it's going to happen. It must be so difficult to be 80 and subject to perfect strangers who don't know who you REALLY are, twenty-four hours a day. But, Friday, Rod and I went out in search of a good "home" for Kert.

Our first stop was a very beautiful place closest to our home. We got the grand tour from the Head RN as the director was out at Wal-Mart with several of the residents. When we walked in the door the whole place smelled like my Grama's kitchen: bacon and cornbread. I walked through the welcoming, sunny dining room and noticed trays and trays of cornbread muffins sitting on the counter in the stainless steel kitchen. By the time we got there breakfast was long over and lunch was obviously being prepared. The whole place was carpeted, even all of the resident rooms. Each residence that we glanced into looked like it had been decorated to be someone's home. Quilts and afghans covered beds, family pictures and paintings adorned their walls. Music flowed from radios and small TVs glowed. Overall the sense of the place was homey. The residents we saw pushing walkers through the halls looked at us with kind eyes, many responding in kind to my hellos.

After the first fifteen minutes I was utterly sold on the place. We had financial questions the RN could not answer. She turned us over to the finance expert. After a twenty minute meeting with her we realized without Medicaid Kert could never afford the place. And oh yeah, they did not have any beds available either. The Director finally returned from her Wal-Mart outing and greeted us with the same kindness we had already experienced. She agreed with the finance expert: no beds are currently available and without Medicaid it will not be possible. "But keep us in mind".

Rod and I went home for lunch with mixed feelings. We'd spent about two hours there. We were sold on that place but we also had three other places to go look at before the kids got out of school. As we were eating lunch his cell phone rang. The DSS social worker informed Rod that Kert makes "too much money" to qualify for Medicaid. His application was denied. And, Kert doesn't make enough money to pay for any of the Assisted Living facilities on our list...or any other facility in or around our area for that matter. What now?

As human nature has it, and with the devil's help we did what people do when they feel pushed into a corner: we got mad at each other and had a screaming argument. That is so stupid but that's what happened. (That man is not my enemy. And I am not his. What is wrong with us???)

We have an agricultural channel on Sky Angel. (We do not have cable or sattelite. We have Sky Angel, which is a Christian television provider. If you have wireless internet you should look into it. It's wonderful. No smut, no cussing. Nothing offensive. You can walk out of the room while your five year old is watching TV and you know they aren't going to be educated by the world.) Anyway, I was watching a cattle auction on RFD TV (Rural Farm District). Deep down inside I want to farm but this is only a fantasy, I know. Still, a cattle auction caught my attention. While the un-intelligible information was spewing from the professional auctioneer the video that ran above the ticker-tape showed the branding of calves. A cowboy with two long sticks that looked like pool cues was herding the calves one at a time into these two metal bars with an opening in the middle. The guided calf ran and stuck his head between the bars and two other cowboys swiftly closed those bars on the calf's neck. His head was trapped. He couldn't go anywhere. Amidst the excited babbling voice of the auctioneer another cowboy applied the scalding brand to the calf's rump.

I'm telling you this to say, this was the distinct impression I got on Friday. That the LORD was herding us into a specific place to do a very necessary work. I don't think those calves were too jazzed about being herded into a head-trap but there was work that needed doing and in the world of calves, cowboys know best.

God was unfolding His plan to slay this current Goliath we were dealing with. Unfolding reminded me of the anticipation I felt as a little girl each year just before my birthday. My Grama bought me an add-a-pearl necklace from Carroll's Jeweler's on Las Olas in Ft. Lauderdale. One day in mid-July she would come over to our house with a small square of white tissue paper and a sweet smile on her face. "Do you want to see it?" she would unnecessarily ask. I would hold my breath in complete anticipation as I watched her UNFOLD the tissue to reveal the small pinkish opalescent pearl to be added to my necklace. It was a special thing only my "Grandmommie" and me shared. I will never forget those days.

I calmly now, told Rod, "God is unfolding HIs plan." I told him the story about the pearl that I just told you. He thought it was amazing. I prayed that God would cause us to understand what He was doing and forgive us for kicking against the goads. I cried out to Him, "Kert is Your child. What do You want for him, LORD? Where should he go? Where will he be safest? What can he afford? He makes too much for Medicaid and not enough to afford ANYplace! We don't understand what You're doing, but we know YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING. Sharpen our minds to comprehend. Forgive us for our assumption about what we think is best and open our minds to embrace YOUR plan, which is obviously something we haven't thought of. Please make a way for Kert. Give him Your best, LORD. WE love You. We trust You. We want to do what is right for Your son, Kert. Please help us, LORD! In Jesus' name, Amen."

As I was doing the dishes that afternoon I almost FELT the LORD opening my mind. A thought came to me that was radical...and yet, so conventional that it made complete sense. That married with God's direction to Rod at the beginning of his unemployment made it clear what the Lord wanted us to do for Kert: finish our basement and take care of him ourselves. Remember when Rod was praying about his unemployment in April, God told him, "You take care of your father and I will take care of your family." Suddenly, it all made sense.

We began plying Pastor Billy with questions (this man has a HUNGER for building projects; songs have been written about really, they have!). Pastor Billy came over and had a look. He caught the vision and shared with Rod what was possible in our partially finished basement that is already electrified. The decision was made and we are moving forward with the plan to slay this Goliath of a problem.

Yes, it's true...all of it is happening in whirlwind fashion just before my surgery (I'm so sick of talking and thinking about that. I know you're sick of reading about it, so let's just leave it there.) My MOM is concerned that this is going to take too much of toll on me taking care of my family and now my father-in-law. Pastor Billy told Rod one of the greatest things his own parents ever did for their twelve kids was to move BOTH grandmas in to the home and care for them until they departed this earth. It will be another ministry, for sure. But, who better to care for my father-in-law than us? Who knows him better than we do? Who knows better how he likes his bananas and his chicken? Who knows better than I do that he loves apricot pie because that's what his momma used to bake for him in the California desert in the 30's when he was a little boy?

I told Ruth King about our Goliath of a problem and the God-inspired solution after church on Sunday. She said this verse came into her mind immediately, "Now, thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." 2 Corinthians 2:14

Ruth explained that "triumph" there means "a trophy of Christ's victory". David dragging Goliath's head is the celebrated trophy of God's victory.

I want to leave you with this. Perhaps you do not do this, but maybe you still do. I think the swift answer to our prayer came through one element of it. Instead of asking the God of the whole universe to twist things around to make them what I want and expect them to be, I asked Him to change my perspective and give me a heart and mind that will embrace what He has in mind.
Slay your Goliath with that prayer.

God be with you in your conquest.
Love, Jenn


  1. You are wise and wonderful, dear Jennifer!
    Thank you for your plan to take care of
    sweet Kert. If Kim and I could take care
    of my parents for over ten years you guys
    can care for Kert. Love makes it easier
    and I know you love him.
    (We are still praying all goes well with
    your upcoming surgery.)

  2. Hi Jennifer:

    I just got your e-mail about your pumpkin baking adventure. You can always bake another one and steam it this time. So glad your daughter had a good time!

    I sent you a couple of e-mails, about pumpkin baking, but maybe you didn't get them? Anyway, glad to hear about your pumpkin baking and how it went. Have a great day!