Tag Archive | rainbow

Moving on to the Next Phase of Our Lives

ddKDiBP7QtqhQpiYFYQsPgMonday of this week seemed really strange. It was the first day of the next phase in our lives. The day before, Anna, our last long-term assisted living resident, moved on to her next life. She had lived with us for eight years, and had just celebrated her 98th birthday a couple weeks ago. She died peacefully last Sunday with Mim holding her hand.

Now Mim and I are beginning the next phase in our lives. We’re planning to be “retired” for several months while we recuperate and clean house. (We’re both in our early 70s.) But then we plan to work a little more. We have talked informally with Rainbow Hospice Care about the possibility of Rainbow referring families to us who feel they can no longer care at home for their loved one who is receiving hospice care. We would care for their loved one in our home for their last few days, weeks, or possibly months. But we aren’t ready to start doing that yet. We need a break first. That’s our plan.

In the immediate past phase of our lives we have provided assisted living in our home. We have done this for over 16 years.

Whispering Winds Retreat Haven

The previous phase of our lives had been turning our remodeled farmhouse into a bed and breakfast. We welcomed a couple thousand people into our home over a five-year period. We began the B&B in 1998. We loved it, and we experienced steady growth in the business. By late 1999 we decided to put an addition onto our house to be able to accommodate people in wheelchairs and with other mobility issues. We named the addition our Nightingale Suite. We became one of a handful of B&Bs in Wisconsin that were wheelchair accessible. But in order to do that, Mim and I had to become politically active to change the Wisconsin B&B law to permit additions to be built onto B&Bs. Getting the law changed was the most frustrating experience of our lives. But with lots of help from other B&B owners and a few savvy state legislators, the law was changed, and we were able to complete our addition.

On September 11, 2001, the B&B phase of our lives began an abrupt change. After 911, tourism dropped drastically all over the country, all around the world actually. Our steady growth in “room nights” for our Country Comforts Bed & Breakfast came to an end. After  several months of having many more empty rooms than full rooms, we decided we needed to re-think how we would earn a living. That’s when we decided to re-christen Country Comforts Bed & Breakfast to Country Comforts Assisted Living, capitalizing on Mim’s experience as a registered nurse. In November, 2002 we welcomed our first two assisted living residents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been in the assisted living phase of our lives for 16 years and 5 months. During that time we’ve had a total of only 10 days without having a resident to care for in our home, and those days were all in the first few months of the business, 16 years ago. Fortunately, we have always had two or three excellent caregivers to give us a few hours off each week, and even an occasional night or two away. But even during our time away, Mim has always been on call as the nursing expert. 

In our 16+ years, we have cared for 20 people in our home, all but three of them through their last moment on earth. (Two recovered enough to go home, and one had to move on to a facility equipped to handle patients with advanced dementia.) In addition, we have cared for four other individuals outside of our home through their last days. We’re truly thankful for all the people, both residents and their families, God has brought into our lives throughout this phase of our lives.

Selma and baby Pun croppedkWe had good preparation for the assisted living phase of our lives by caring for our parents. In 1987, we cared for my mom for the last six weeks of her life. She and my dad came to Chicago to live with us while we cared for her. A few years later, in 1991, Mim and I took some time off from our work in Chicago to come to Cambridge to care for my dad throughout the last couple weeks of his life. And finally, in 1993, a few month’s after we moved to Wisconsin, Mim’s mother had a stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side. We cared for her in our home for almost five years.

Although both Mim and I have loved being in the assisted living phase of our lives, we’re ready for a little break. And on Monday of this week, that break began. It feels really strange to be able to come and go as we please, and not have to be sure our residents are cared for while we’re gone.

“Christ in Our Home” is a quarterly devotional booklet published by Augsburg Fortress in Minneapolis. Yesterday the scripture reading was from the end of the first chapter of Matthew, where an angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream to marry his pregnant fiancee, Mary – that God had a plan for their lives. The comments in the devotional booklet really caught my attention as I was reflecting on the changes happening in my own life.

I have a hunch that most of us can relate to Joseph, because most of us have had something happen in our lives that took us off our planned route… Joseph later found out that God had a plan for him the whole time. It wasn’t Joseph’s original plan, but it was much better…

When life diverts us onto a detour, it is comforting to remember that God is with us, that God is still in control. And when we trust and believe in this, there is no detour too great to cause us to lose our way. When our lives seem out of control, we can trust that God is still in control and has a plan for us… [p. 82]

Mim and I have exciting plans for the next phase of our lives. Whether things happen exactly according to our plans, or not, we learned from the B&B and assisted living phases of our lives that God’s plans may be even greater than ours. We’re eager to see what’s next!M-M Close-up - cropped

Enjoying God’s Many Gifts

Some of the colors of October

Remember how much fun it is to watch a three-year-old tear the wrapping paper off a birthday present, to watch the excitement and delight in her face. She completely trusts that whoever gave her the present has given her a wonderful thing that she will enjoy to the fullest. One of the verses from the Gospel reading yesterday was “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. [Mark 10:15 NIV]”

After church Mim and I took Anna, our assisted living resident, out for breakfast. The morning had begun as a cold, cloudy day, but by mid-morning, the sun was beginning to break through the clouds, and gradually the completely gray sky had turned into a bright blue October sky, with just a few little fluffy white clouds scattered here and there. The sun shone brightly on fall foliage as we drove through the countryside. Yesterday must have been the peak day for fall colors in southern Wisconsin. Anna kept exclaiming with delight at the color of this tree and that, all the way to the restaurant. Even though Anna is 91, she was sure that the “yellow, orange, apricot, and red leaves were the most beautiful autumn colors” she had ever seen. Talk about childlike enthusiasm! We had a leisurely drive, a conversation full of excited exclamations at the beauty of each tree we passed, and a tasty breakfast where we each enjoyed our personal favorites. Anna’s was corned beef hash topped with fried eggs, Mim’s was French toast, and mine was a Greek omelet with fresh fruit on the side. What a way to start a Sunday! Our souls as well as our bodies were feasting!

Mim and Abbey starting down the trail at CamRock 3, a mile down the road from Whispering Winds.

Last Tuesday, Mim and I took our dog Abbey on a five-mile hike down country roads and on trails in CamRock Park. We ambled along for more than two hours. Tuesday was a beautiful day with a bright blue October sky. We hiked through a woodland landscape of every fall color you can imagine – bright red, dark red, rust, orange, yellow, tan, brown, and even some colors not usually associated with fall, like pink and purple.

As we walked the trails, we stopped to take a few pictures whenever something seized our attention –like a patch of deep red sumac in front of some yellow maples, or an open milkweed with seeds just waiting to be lifted out by a gentle wind.

As if all the beauty we saw on Tuesday wasn’t enough, God pointed out even more beauty to me the next day. On Wednesday evening, just as I was ready to leave the farmhouse to go to the condo for dinner, God set a rainbow in the sky. It had been raining lightly, and then the sun came out. I first noticed the rainbow over the trees between the farmhouse and the condo. That was the left half of the arc. As I walked around the yard, I spied the right half of the bow over the farmhouse.

I think God has been talking to me over the last several days through all this beauty in the sky and across the landscape. The Psalms remind us that God often speaks to us like this, without words.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
[Psalm 19:1-4 NIV]  

How wonderful it is to be reminded that God wants us to notice all the beautiful things around us and to be delighted by them with the enthusiasm of a child.

Happy Autumn! Take time to enjoy it. God wants you to.