Wisdom and Presence
Today marks my 100th Post for “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham.” This post is special to me because it represents a hundred weeks (of writing) that I have been blessed with Wyndham’s presence since his diagnosis of MSA. Each week is a blessing. Every day is a gift.
Over these past hundred weeks, God has been transforming my heart. The decline of Wyndham’s health to the point he can do nothing for himself, and my caring for him has transformed us both. This week I’ve been reflecting on lessons learned as a caregiver. I was not looking to learn so many lessons, as neither of us willingly signed up for this class. From my early teen days as a candy striper (volunteer nurses’ helper) at the hospital, I was confident caregiving was not my thing. My very first assignment was to fill the patients’ water pitchers with ice. Instead, I filled all their urinals. I had no idea until a man laughed and said to me, “This gives peeing on the rocks an entirely different meaning.” I was so embarrassed.
I don’t like to lean into pain and suffering. I prefer to run the other way—but caregiving forces me to “be there.” Really there. It’s a constant reminder that Wyndham and I are temporarily here, though permanently homed with God. To live life in the fear of death is suffocating. I’ve felt that; however, the resurrection allows us to overcome this fear, though it’s not easy. I’m not there yet, but making good progress.
I would much rather fix Wyndham’s suffering than enter it to stay; however, I can’t cure, but can certainly care. Through all the associated ups and downs, God has stayed with us. He has been present in our pain and participated in our joys. He hasn’t left us alone and promises He never will. I am humbled that Jesus came here to lean into my pain and suffering in every way—to give me hope. To be with me. To hurt with me. To rejoice with me. To be present with me during my short time on this stage, as life truly is a mist. A good mist, however…full of inexpressible joys and unimaginable sorrows. Full of the warmth of love and the beauty of a creation only God could imagine.
Wyndham, in complete weakness, is still strong. Of course, he doesn’t like being in his situation, but he graciously accepts it. He finds fullness in the presence of God and in the presence of those he dearly loves. This time has flushed out any pretense of identity. God’s love and acceptance must always be enough. Suddenly, things I once felt important take an appropriate place. What we do is nothing compared to who we are—God’s beloved. The important thing is to experience and to give that love.
As one who likes to stay busy, I can, at times, feel impatient with the slowness, repetitiveness, and tediousness of caregiving. Our home is our hospital, our restaurant, our theater, our vacation place, his church, my office, my schoolroom…but most importantly a place to give and receive love. It’s a haven, yet I can at times feel guilty when I miss the freedom to be outside of its borders.
In so many ways this chapter of life is a gift. It seems strange to say this, as it’s a gift I don’t really want, but find precious—sort of sacred. Above all, I am learning the importance of presence. I know how important my presence is to Wyndham, because he can’t do anything without me (or someone who is here caring for him). What a stark illustration this is to me of Jesus’ words in John 15:5: I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. I am completely helpless without the presence of Jesus in my life. Completely. But fortunately, I don’t have to be apart from him.
One of Wyndham’s favorite passages has been Exodus 33:14-15, when Moses is hesitant to do the job God called him to do:
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
What a great comfort. Often, I would hear Wyndham pray, “God, I don’t want to go unless your presence is with me.” His presence with us means everything. This is the biggest lesson I am learning. Nothing is better than to be in His presence. It really is enough.
I have sweet memories of my mother (before she became deaf) singing in our home. One of her most oft-sung songs contained the words: Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go, anywhere he leads me in this world below. Anywhere without him dearest joys would fade, anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid. Anywhere, anywhere, fear I will not know. Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.
What a beautiful message of Jesus’ presence. His presence is everything. His presence is enough. Thank you, Jesus, for never leaving me alone.
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:5-11, emphasis added)
Thank you Jeanie for allowing me to sit in your home and take in your treasured lessons just by reading your story. You have my respect and love.
Thank you so much, Theresa. This means a lot. Love, Jeanie
I love to read your writings. Thank you for opening your heart and bringing us into your home. This one catapulted me right back to my caregiving days with Ron, and my mom. I share many of your sentiments, although there were distinct differences, an uncertain future for Ron, young children at home. You are so relatable, thank you.
You loved Ron so well and so much. I admire your strength and loving, giving heart. Much love, Jeanie
Jeanie – my Mom’s memorial service was last Saturday, April 6. She had significant short term memory loss for six years. I shared at her service that one of the greatest gifts I received from her in the last two years was learning to be present. As a leader and a ‘doer’ like you, I have a hard time slowing down and being present. Yet I deeply desire to be present, especially in my relationship with God. Thank you for 100 posts. Thank you for teaching me.
Love you, Jennifer. Thank you.
This is going to make an amazing book one day. And your presence, and Wyndham’s through you, is already having an indelible mark on the hearts of all those reading. Thank you for making the effort when you are bone tired on Tuesday nights!
Sent from my iPhone
Thank you for being so encouraging, Kitty. Love you.
Jeannie, my son, Nicholas and I read this together. He said several WOWs ,OHs and Hmmms. Your words are powerful as are your examples of faith, love and perseverance. I will continue to keep you in my prayers, and thank God for the both of you. We shared about Wyndham at our family devotional last week, and when I started reading this to Nick he was very moved. I’m so grateful that God allowed me to sit at your feet and learn from both of you. I was listening and your presence was truly my present. God bless you and all of your family.
Wow, Mary Beth,
This is so meaningful. Love you and your family so very much. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love, Jeanie
Sending you both so much love and gratitude, Jeanie. What an exquisite love you and Wyndham have shared. Thank you for spreading your hearts across the world in words and service all these years. It’s just like a blanket that comforts us and inspires us all at once.
Thank you for sharing this, Caroline. This means a lot. Sending my love to you and your family. Love, Jeanie
My dear, sweet Jeanie,
I have loved reading your words for 100 weeks. I have learned so much from you and always feel strengthened and blessed. I pray for you and Wyndham constantly along with many others.
I love how you have focused on God’s presence this week. I can just picture your mother singing that wonderful song. Little did she realize what an impact that made on you.
I pray your 100th week will be blessed. Love to you both.
Thank you, Bonnye. I love you very much.
Again, Aunt Jeanie, you have eloquently penned how it is to live and abide in His gift of the day and in His presence. Thank you for blessing me (and others) with your faith. Continually praying for each of you, Kimberly
Thank you so much, Kimberly. We love you and your family. Thanks for the encouragement. Love, Jeanie
Thanks Jeannie for sharing for the last 100 weeks. i have been so moved and touched by each moment shared. It has helped to feel a part of both your journey, even though I am thousands of miles away in Singapore. You have inspired me to also be willing to lean into pain, be present and care for those around me. My heart and prayers are always with you both and your family! Thanks for opening your heart and life to all of us!
Love you, Joyce, and the precious memories from years ago. We love you. Thank you for the encouragement.
Thank you so much, Jeanie. Beautifully penned, beautifully expressed. I love your heart and the way you honor God and minister to all of us from your home/hospital/schoolroom/theater in this sacred stage of life
Thank you, Tammy. Love you.
Thank you, Jeanne, for sharing so vulnerably and opening your heart to share the lessons you and Wyndham are learning so we can all learn too. We love you so much and deeply enjoy reading your weekly posts.
You are so a consistent encourager. Thank you so much, Debbie. We love you and Jim.
I agree with you about times of suffering – we are being made holy. God is purifying our hearts and building our spiritual muscles (James 1). What an honor to be chosen by God to learn invaluable lessons through pain and heartache. His presence has led me out of the pit and crowned me with love and compassion. His presence has walked me through through the fires and the rivers without being overcome. Even lately I’ve been experiencing a depression, but I have thanked God for whatever he might be trying to reveal to me. Jeannie, thank you for your 100 posts. That’s 100 times you’ve affected people’s outlook on life and open their eyes to a different perspective on God. I praise him for the lessons we’ve learned through hardship.
You are being refined through your suffering and sharing the very powerful and real struggle so vulnerably. Thank you. You are touching and inspiring many lives. One day we will be able to say that the light and momentary afflictions aren’t worth comparing to what is in store. Aaaaahhh. What a day that will be. Love you.
Jeanie, I remember times when caring for Ralph was overwhelming for me. Years ago Ralph was very incapacitated by Fybromialgia and depression. We didn’t have any children yet; we lived in Somerville in a small apartment. I worked 3 jobs and tried to take care of his needs. At the time he couldn’t work. I was resentful sometimes about the things I had dreamed of us doing together that we couldn’t do and the things I had to do alone. Tom and Sheila Jones got with us a bunch of times and really helped me to get my heart straight.
But Ralph was not dying. And though we couldn’t see healing in sight at the time, it did eventually come; by God’s grace! (Certainly not the doctors!)
I so admire how you are coping, even embracing this very difficult time of caring for Wyndham in his last days. -And your blogs are so warm, sometimes humorous, insightful and challenging.
Though sometimes I don’t get to them for a while (read two weeks worth tonight)- I always save them to read when I get a quiet moment.
Thanks again, Julie. I remember being in your home once when you were bleaching vegetables for Ralph in order to accomodate his health needs. I am so grateful God has blessed him with better health. Love you. Jeanie