Monday, October 26, 2015

The Faithful Farmer

My Great Uncle Paul was a farmer. He grew corn and soybeans. But instead of driving a tractor down long rows, planting seeds until he grew old, he traded farm machinery for a car and wore a path between the homestead and the assisted living and nursing care facility in his small hometown. His wife Donna Lou, diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, went to live there when she was 62.

I remember Donna Lou as a happy, friendly lady with curly salt and pepper hair and cheeks that made her eyes disappear when she smiled. She used to organize extended family gatherings at the farm, where the tables groaned with fabulous food.

I also remember the woman Uncle Paul would sit with, wheel around the halls, and feed. Her head would loll to one side, she needed a bib, and she could not communicate. Uncle Paul's commitment to cultivating a life with her never wavered.

She lived with Huntington's for 17 years.

Paul and Donna Lou had three daughters, Barb, Jackie, and Teresa. Jackie and Teresa inherited the neurodegenerative genetic disorder from their mom. Jackie died in 2007, two years before her mom, at 56, and Barb and her husband Rick took Teresa into their home and cared for her until she died last week at 58.

Imagine burying three members of your immediate family. It would challenge the strongest seed sower to find good in the soil of that situation.

But not Uncle Paul. Now in his eighties, through it all he has always maintained that God is good. All the time. And the faith he modeled for his family planted deep roots of trust and hope in each of them. At the funeral Saturday, someone shared how Teresa, Barb, and Rick chose to start each day. They recited Philippians 4:13 together: I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength. That seed of faith was sown years before the difficult times came, and sustained them when they had a difficult row to hoe.

I have been blessed to have many seed sowers in my family--persevering people, like my Uncle Paul, who quietly lived out their faith before me.

Thanks, Uncle Paul.

What seeds are you sowing in this season for the difficult times ahead? 

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