Jane Johnson Struck

Jane Johnson Struck
The percolations of a coffee-guzzling wife, mom, grandma, writer, and editor

Drink This In

"Coffee, according to the women of Denmark, is to the body what the Word of the Lord is to the soul."
Isak Dinesen
"Coffee makes us severe, and grave, and philosophical."
Jonathan Swift

Monday, June 22, 2009

God's Economy

Twelve hundred miles away in Florida, my 91-year-old father-in-law is still hospitalized after falling and breaking his pelvis two weeks ago. My husband, Rich, and I have been on the phone often, waiting for updates, listening as Rich's mom expresses her fears for her husband's future.

Rich had just visited his parents for five days before his dad took his unfortunate tumble. While his mom and dad still live in their house (to our consternation), they've been struggling with the burdens of aging and ill health, so our visits to Florida have been increasing incrementally. Just two days after Rich's latest trip there, this debilitating spill happened—and again we agonize over the distance between us, second-guess why we live so far away, and wonder how to make some changes.

But it's not as simple as it may seem. As much as we'd like to live closer to Florida, we're torn; one of our daughters lives four hours from us, and my folks live a day's drive away. Rich and I can't just pull up roots and transplant ourselves into his parents' town—at least, not yet. And we know they couldn't handle the shock of being moved away from the Florida heat into our frigid Chicago winters. So the what-if's and should-we's drive my husband and me to prayer—and to many restless nights.

Yet, amazingly, some wonderful Christian neighbors have come alongside my in-laws in times of need. This family met Rich's father when their young son assisted my father-in-law with the heavy bags of chlorine required for their swimming pool. Two weeks ago the mom, Lisa, called us from the ER to inform us she was with Rich's mom after his dad's ambulance ride to the hospital.

I silently offer a prayer of thanks for this family who acts as Christ's hands and feet to our extended family, who have soothed our worries and filled the gap when we haven't been able to. And then I think about my church friend Carol.

In the last two years, Carol's husband, John, has been in and out of the hospital and in rehab. I've offered Carol moral support through my friendship, my prayers, my phone calls, my rides. What began as a part of our church's visitation team has become a wonderful friendship.

Carol calls me one of her "angels," but she's blessed me more than I've blessed her. This ministry-turned-friendship makes my heart sing; I sense God's pleasure as I spend time with Carol and John, seeking to demonstrate Christ's love to them in a variety of tangible ways.

I suspect that Lisa and her family, my in-laws' Florida neighbors, feel the same way. Although we live twelve hundred miles apart, we're discovering the joy of becoming venture capital for the Kingdom, investing our time and talents in God's economy. It excites me to realize what my husband and I can't do for my elderly in-laws, God moves others to do. And what church friends' family members can't do for their loved ones, I can.

How wonderfully God's Spirit moves to meet needs, fill in gaps, or send encouragement. I'm learning to see more clearly that if we're willing to be spent, we can take part in this heavenly exchange of goods and services in God's kingdom, used to bless his dearly loved ones—wherever they are.


  1. I love the new layout, Jane!

  2. All of your sandwich-generation sisters commiserate with your dilemma...and rejoice at your discovery! Well done, dear Jane.

  3. Jane,

    Many, many families can relate. Thanks for encouraging all of us who are caregivers that even when we can't be all to our aging parents, God both can and will provide for them (and for us!). Keep caring ... and keep us posted on what you're discovering.

  4. inspiration, faith building, food for thought, comfort and encouragement to see.

  5. Sharing the tough stuff of midlife is what makes ALL of us meno-sistas stronger! Keep writing, friend, and keep sharing!

  6. Hi Jane,hopped over from AL's,i agree with you -god will provide a way.Hope your FIL recovers soon and upon waking this morning i read this post...good way to start the day.Have a good day.