I love meeting new people and have the blessing of doing it online as well as in real life. I’m not sure of the exact timing, but I began to see encouraging posts about hope in my Instagram feed and knew I wanted to get to know the creator more.
Enter Karen Sebastian and along with “meeting” her, I was given the chance to find daily hope in my newsfeed. Today I am honored to open up #TellHisStory to our first guest. Please welcome Karen as she shares a bit of her caregiving journey and blesses one reader who leaves a comment with her new book.
True enrichment comes from the blessing of the Lord, with rest and contentment in knowing that it all comes from him. Proverbs 10:22 The Passion Translation
I ran into the nicest guy the other night. I was hurrying home after a wonderful prayer meeting that went far later than I had planned. As I made a left turn, I realized that I was seconds away from a huge impact. And then I heard the screech of brakes, and the crunch of metal on metal. The last thing I remember was that my car came to stop after a 180-degree turn. I closed my eyes as the vehicle spun out of control and believe an angel stopped it just inches away from a light pole.
As I leaned my head on the steering wheel and was tempted to say, “I hope this stuff works” instead of my signature by-line of, “This hope stuff works.”
“M’aam, are you okay?” a man yelled as he tapped on my window. I opened my eyes and looked around. The window glass was intact, and I was able to get out of the car.
The gentleman who hit me as I turned into his immediate path had changed his mind about stopping and had accelerated instead. My split-second decision was costly. The lessons learned were priceless.
This moment reminded me of another time when I had felt the same sense of impact and resulting helplessness. We were in the special Muscular Dystrophy clinic at University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Nations was asking my first husband, Bill, to walk on his tiptoes and then on his heels. He could not do it. I stood up and demonstrated to him how to do it. Tears streamed down my face as the doctor told us that he had Facio-Scapular-Humeral-Dystrophy (FSHD).
As a pastor, Bill was very mindful of making sure he was listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding where we were to serve. We moved to the Dallas area to lead a church that had 12 attendees our first Sunday and 5 of those present were members of our family. We served in this church for 11 years before he retired due to the decline of his health.
It was a relief to know what was wrong with him, yet at the same time, it felt like we had been hit by a Mack truck. We faced the reality that, at this stage of the disease, there was no cure nor definitive treatment. As we drove home I felt like our future had been shattered. The disease progressed very slowly and was like the growth of your kids. You didn’t notice it daily but about once a quarter I would get a “reality check” that my precious husband was getting worse.
I became Bill’s full-time caregiver during the last two and a half years of his life. I cherish the time we had together. The disease affected his core so his diaphragm stopped working and he lost his ability to swallow. He was put on a full-time ventilator and I fed him through a feeding tube. When I look back on this season of my life, I am amazed how we both kept going.
Still, it was so hard. I felt exhausted most of the time. I started writing a blog (Hopegrams) about my journey but found that I was out of energy, time and motivation to do much else. I remember standing at the foot of his bed in the mornings waiting for a finger to move to make sure he was still with us. Then, the daily marathon would start.
This Hope Stuff Works
Someone asked me the other day about the greatest lessons I learned during this hard season. Here are a few:
- I learned the true meaning of HOPE. Hope in God is the confident expectation of a good outcome even if you don’t understand why and it takes a long time.
- I managed to turn in my super woman cape and ask for help.
- I made a list of how others could help and assertively asked them to do so instead of hinting and complaining about how busy/tired I was.
- I discovered the Lord was very close especially when I cried myself to sleep – JOY comes in the morning.
- I explored my capabilities and discovered I could do just about anything (with the help of a You-Tube video).
- I am rich and grateful for the opportunity to live with no regrets after serving a precious man of God who is now in the presence of the Lord.
- I can fulfill a dream of being a published author. I wrote a book based on the drafts of that blog – The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride. You can get the Kindle version for 99 cents during the month of November,2018 to honor National Family Caregiver Month.
I could keep going but I’m past my word count set for me by my wonderful friend, Mary Geisen. I would like to give a book away to one of you. Please leave a comment and I will select a winner.
P.S. This Hope Stuff Works – I determined not to complain about the accident. My car was totaled so I got a newer model with no additional cost. I received three months of chiropractic treatment that I needed. I now have a signature life story to tell anyone who will listen.
What does hope look like for you? Have you experienced your own caregiving journey and what did that look like? Share in the comments.
And if you have a minute, please share this post to get the word out about Karen’s new book, The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride.
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