Life doesn’t always go as planned.

Christ found me when life was playing out just the way I wanted. I was 24, married to my college sweetie with a good job in a new city. I was grateful. Being raised by a single parent, life before college was a tale of humble beginnings. The first truth that the Lord showed me was that He loved me and had much better plans.

Our pregnancy was going well in Denver, but back in Chicago, my mother’s health was rapidly declining due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. She was no longer able to work or care for herself, and she lost her health insurance coverage and her home at age 55.  

This is where we scrapped our plans and relied on the first truth the Father revealed – that He loves us and has already taken care of Mom’s needs, and ours. We moved her in with us with no precedent or blueprint of what to do. It soon became clear that Mom would always be with us, so our family portrait started looking a little different than we had planned. We didn’t know what we were doing, but only knew that Jesus was ahead of us, and that He would sort out the details.

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Taking care of Mom was the hardest but also the most rewarding responsibility to date, but I felt we were in full favor with God. Our mother-daughter bond grew because we spent so much time together. I witnessed my husband act selflessly and lovingly on her behalf, and grew deeper in love with him because of it. My children got to know Mom and love her unconditionally. This happened during the time that we found our first church home, Eastern Hills, which we’ve been members of for nearly two decades. The Lord covered our needs, provided Mom with full health care coverage, and blessed us with a caring community of people in a town where we previously knew no one.

Any time spent with Mom was a gift, even the hard times. God’s presence was there at every doctor’s appointment, every car ride, in every waiting room. We received help from strangers, changing our view of humanity and the power of service. It was during this time that Mom professed her faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, and spread the gospel to others in the nursing home, many of whom were dying. I witnessed Mom’s courage, strength and her deep faith in the Lord Jesus – a side of her that I did not know existed.

We were granted 13 more years of Mom’s company than her original prognosis. Even her passing was not what we had anticipated. When she passed peacefully in her sleep, with no suffering or pain, we knew that Jesus was with her, as He had been all along.  

Caring for Mom helped us appreciate each moment we are given, and ask for strength and favor as they are needed. We witnessed God’s sovereignty in Mom’s life when she was no longer in control. We received His daily provisions and tried not to worry about what lay ahead. Most of all, this time showed us how us to rely on a God who loves us individually and powerfully. Today, I still hope and make plans for my family, which always now includes others, but with the understanding that God has a bigger picture and has laid better plans than I could ever imagine.  

 By Marjii Middleton

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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