Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)
TITLE: Tender Invitation
By Genia Gilbert
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She sadly studied the deep lines in Mom’s face. Her countenance said her time was limited, <I>but how limited?</I> Allie wondered. Her mother’s pain had stretched into months, as the relentless cancer ravaged her thin little form.
Allie shifted her position, trying to relieve her own aching back. Glancing at her watch, she knew her husband Jerrod was boarding the plane bound for Chicago and the conference he would attend. She recalled his sagging shoulders when he had walked away. They’d actually made plans for her to accompany him on this trip, but that had been before.
<I>Before</I> Allie’s mother had gotten worse;
<I>Before</I> their daughter Katie’s marriage had fallen apart, and she and little Ashlee had moved in with Allie and Jerrod;
<I>Before</I> their son Kyle had shattered an ankle playing college football, requiring surgery and much moral support.
Allie could hardly believe it all. She was worried about Jerrod, with so much on his shoulders. They had heard of the sandwich generation – those wedged between the care of their children and their parents – but hadn’t expected to be there in one rapid sweep of events.
Around three o’clock, Aunt Corrine poked her head in the door. She was Mom’s only sister. She herself was aging, but insisted on staying a few hours most every day. Knowing Allie’s hands were full, she also loved her sister dearly. Allie’s only sibling, a brother, was in the army, serving in a dangerous area, and couldn’t come to help.
“Any change?” Aunt Corrine whispered.
“Not really, but Dr. Evan still thinks someone should be with her, just in case. She hardly talks at all now,” Allie’s lip trembled as she spoke.
A nurse entered to check the catheter and IV’s. Cheerfully but firmly, she asked them to step out for a few minutes.
Allie guided her aunt to the small chapel area across the hall where they sank into the inviting, soft chairs. Immediately Corrine suggested that Allie go home to get some rest.
“Oh, Aunt Corry, everybody tells me that! And I <I>am</I> getting sleep and rest, especially since we found a sitter to stay at night. But it doesn’t help. Mom looks so terrible, Jerrod needs me to be home more… Katie is so broken-hearted… and Kyle’s out for football season…” Allie’s voice broke. “I’m so tired.” Her body trembled with sobs.
Wisely, Aunt Corrine just allowed her to cry. With her arms around Allie’s shoulders, she was simply there.
When tears began to subside, Allie’s dear little aunt lifted the Gideon Bible from the corner table. She knew Allie didn’t need a sermon or a long passage. She opened the stiff pages and held her finger in the place she found.
“Sweet Allie, I know you’ve walked with the Lord for years. He knows too, and understands and cares how you’re feeling. Jesus even left us words for times like this.”
Allie nodded, ready to listen. She needed those words.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and <I>I will give you rest</I>…learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find <I>rest for your souls.</I>” *
Corrine added only one comment. “Honey, sometimes life gets so heavy that the rest we need is deeper than physical, and only Jesus can give it.”
The living Word washed over her, striking a chord in Allie’s heart. All her struggling and worrying had only drained more strength from her. As Aunt Corrine prayed, Allie accepted her Lord’s loving invitation. She would come - and keep coming - to Him for the rest her <I>soul</I> needed.
A fresh new peace filled the little room, seeping into her being. She hugged her aunt as they rose to return to the hospital room.
Once inside, they found Allie’s mother awake.
“My Allie,” she said softly, “Thank you for making me feel so loved.” Then she slept again.
Allie cried “joy tears” as she left her Mom with Aunt Corry, heading home.
Ashlee, her delightful granddaughter, greeted her at the door.
“Mommy looked for a ‘partment, but I told her ‘No, Grammy’s house is the goodest place! She always plays with me.’”
Allie laughed. Grabbing a glass, she gulped down an aspirin, and followed Ashlee to the den where her little china tea set waited, ready for a party.
* Matthew 12: 28, 29b (NIV)
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