The Ark (Part 1)

Generational Living In A Me World

It was Monday, April 22nd, and our lives were about to take an abrupt detour. Michal, my wife, and I were just about to become empty nesters as Katy Beth, our youngest, was getting ready to graduate from high school. Parenting is a relentless journey with your children that never truly ends, but it does change once they move out. And KB was planning on going away to a technical school the following fall after graduation. So, we were kinda looking forward to some alone time.

By 8:00 PM the night of April 22nd, we made a decision that would keep us from nesting alone. My mother, Alice, had fallen in March and broken her hip which required a hip replacement and at 83, following surgery and rehab, she found herself in an assisted living facility. My father, Arthur, was soon turning 88 and struggles with Alzheimers so, once mom moved into assisted living, dad moved in with her.

They had moved in together there a week prior to April 22nd, while Michal and I were actually out of town. Michal’s an adopted child and she and I were visiting her birth mother, for the first time in her life, that week (that’s a story for another time). My sister’s husband watched my dad and helped move my parents into the home while we were away.

The Retirement community they lived in was the best place money could buy, so their ads said. And, in fact, they had been living in the retirement community for the past two years but independently in their own condo. However, there is a big difference between a condo and and an assisted living facility.

Their new home was little more than a nursing home. Let’s face it, you can put all the perfume in the air system you like, but it doesn’t hide the unpleasant odors; you know what I’m talking about. This was very apparent that April evening as Michal and I visited mom and dad there for the first time. After less than two hours Michal and I couldn’t wait to leave the environment. If that were the case, how could we expect Mom and Dad to live there. It was not a place where people thrive. In fact, while we were visiting, my mom said she felt as if she’d been “put in a corner to die”.

Several decades ago, as a State Trooper, I investigated a crime in a nursing home and I told my mom I would never have her living in one. Up until that point I used to joke with her that I’d put her in a nursing home. Yeah, not funny.

The hallways had that nursing home air that can’t be escaped by visitors. Mom and dad’s room was in the basement and the only outside light was through a basement well window. Down the hall there was a courtyard with a broken water fountain. Mom and Dad seemed happy just to be together, which they hadn’t been for almost a month. Yet, Michal and I left them that night knowing without a doubt we would be moving them into our home. While tears streamed down both our faces in the parking lot, we didn’t know how, but we knew it. Emotions ran strong because we knew, without ANY doubt, what God was calling us to do and yet we grieved the loss of dreams that Michal and I had been very much looking forward to.

Additionally, we had no desire to move, but my parents couldn’t move into our home because it wasn’t accessible or large enough to make the necessary changes so, our home was put up for sale.

Not everyone in the family was excited about our choice to move Mom and Dad in with us. There were differences of opinion, but Michal and I began to do what we always do when facing a big life decision; we prayed to God and asked Him to make it “Idiot Proof” and trusting that He would open wide the doors we needed to walk through or slam doors closed when we needed to stay still.

In other words, our human ways and thinking are fairly idiotic to God so in order to avoid being an idiot we pray, “Make it Idiot Proof”. It’s actually where the name of my blog came from.

Thee Bloomin Idiot Logo

So many times in my life people ask me to explain how I can have faith in an invisible God. But my God has not been invisible, He has been present and real and he makes things Idiot Proof for Michal and me through circumstances, input from others, timing, and His word.

God has been answering our prayers for years (not always as we wanted Him to!); after all, as the book of Isaiah says

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

~ Isaiah 55:8

We found ourselves talking to other Christians about their experiences of caring for elderly parents; the pros and cons and the hard realities, coming away encouraged about the choice we were feeling led to. We heard in a church sermon that God wanted us to care for the widow and the needy

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” ~ 1 Timothy 5:4

I was going through the Bible Study of the Book of James by Francis Chan, on my YouVersion Bible App.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” ~ James 1:27

In the video, Francis Chan talks about True Religion being taking care of the needy widow in her distress and how God would say, “I love that”. Again, speaking truth to the tug of our hearts. Almost everyone was encouraging us to move forward, including my mom and dad. So, it seemed we needed to follow God’s leading once again.

My friend Mike’s wife, Carla, is a real estate agent and we called her. Both Mike and Carla have been standards of excellence in my life as believers and pretty much in everything they do. We put up our house for sale and started looking for a house to take on the needs of our family but, hold on, it wasn’t just going to be to help take care of my parents, it was also going to need to be able to provide a place for Michal’s parents. My mother-in-law has Parkinson’s and my father-in-law is her sole caregiver and they decided to make a move before it became necessary; while they still had the choice. Then, add the fact we wanted room for our other kids, Alex, his wife Haley, and our son Ben to each have a place to crash.

Oh, and did I mention five, that’s right five dogs; Athena, Leah, BJ, Maizie, and Sherman!

We looked and looked and looked and looked, but everything we looked at had major draw backs that left our needs wanting; until I finally gave in and decided to look at a house that kept showing up in our list of possible matches. For various reasons I just didn’t want to look at it but when we did, within the first 5 minutes Carla, Michal, and I looked at each other and said, “I think God was saving this house for us.”

It had a first floor master for my parents and a lower level apartment for Michal’s. It had a Junior suite for our daughter, a huge Master for Michal and me, and still two extra bedrooms and an additional bathroom for the other kids. When they saw pictures of their new future digs, my parents were both excited, as was everyone else involved on this huge undertaking. So, we bought it. Our house sold in 24 hours, Michal’s parents home sold in a week, and we moved in the last week of July 2019. OK God, we’re on our way!

What seemed impossible at first; finding the right house, actually happened very quickly. All I had to do was look at that one house which kept popping up on our search. God knows I’m an idiot, so He kept that house on the market for us. At least that’s what I’m going with!

We instantly nicknamed it ‘The Ark’. I joked that God gave us the Ark and is having us move in two by two. Michal and me, Art and Alice (my parents) and Bobbo and Grammy (Michal’s parents), with room for more. Little did I know at that time that our son and his wife, Alex and Haley, would also be moving in after Thanksgiving.

Between our purchase and moving into the home, God kept displaying rainbows to us. Rainbows aren’t that rare, but I was seeing them all the time. In fact, on a trip right after purchasing the home, we saw a rainbow in front of us along the PA Turnpike for almost 50 miles, just moving with us. It was odd. On the day that we moved out of our house Michal and I were in the hot tub at Alex and Haley’s apartment (we were spending the night till we could move into the new home the next day), and in the middle of a sudden down pour there was a rainbow that spanned the courtyard of the apartment complex the tub was in, like it was just for us; weird.

Well, God has a way of making His believers faith increase and this rainbow thing was doing the trick.

Yet, He wasn’t done. Having moved out in faith, God, on the day of the move into the Ark, gave us one final sign of His presence with us in this move.

A picture is sometimes better than a million words. Over top of our new neighborhood as I looked out the front door, having just moved in, was a rainbow.

Are you kidding me? Yes, God! Thank you.

I’d like to say everything has been peachy keen since. That’d be a lie, but God never promised us a rose garden and there aren’t any rose gardens on the property! But still, the blessings never stop coming, just when we need them.

This was only the beginning and *hopefully* you’ll check in to see how ‘The Ark’ is floating. It’s been almost a year and there is much to share and, if you are contemplating such idiocy in your own life, I can’t think of a better person to share the ups and downs with you than me. ~Thee Bloomin Idiot