Sunday, May 24, 2015

Obedience

For a few weeks now I have been bathing Mother on my own on Sundays.  Starting yesterday, I added Saturdays to it as well.  Dad won't have help for her on Saturdays again for a few weeks, so I told him last week I would come Saturdays and Sundays; it's only an hour away, and he needs me.

Dad stands beside her bed and directs me on which pads go under her and how to situate them.  Today, I bathed her in twenty minutes; I am getting better.  Today was also a first in that I "changed" her without Dad's help.  Somehow, she tends to slide down into the "valley" of the bed as she calls it.  Dad has trouble pulling her up due to arthritis, so when I am there, I hoist her up when she needs it. She also likes to lie on her side for awhile, so I roll her over and prop the pillow behind her.

When I go, I try to give him as much respite from the physical demands as possible.  He always goes out to the store and/or to get us lunch, and after we eat, he takes a nap in his recliner.  I sit in the dining room where Mother's bed is, and we chat some.  Today, she told me to go take a nap as well, so I went into Matthew's old bedroom and slept for about 45 minutes.  We all napped.

We don't know what life will bring.  I never imagined I would be changing my mother, applying hot rags to her hemorrhoids, or bathing her.  However, it must be done.  A month ago I never thought I could do any of these things.  It is obedience....simple obedience.  "Honor your father and mother...."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fear

2 Timothy 1:7:  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Psalm 115:11:  "You who fear him, trust in the Lord--he is their help and shield."

Psalm 56:3:  "When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

Isaiah 41:13:  "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.' "

 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reversal of Roles

Today I helped my father bathe my mother.  I never imagined our roles would be reversed, but life is unpredictable.  It is a bit disconcerting to see your mother naked, exposed, vulnerable.  About mid-way through, it became easier, and as I told Dad, "You do what you have to do."  She is bedridden and can not do for herself.  Hospice sends a certified caregiver to bathe her five days a week, and Dad pays a woman on Saturdays to do the same.  Still, he is the PRIMARY caregiver and had been bathing her on Sundays.  Daily he is the one to change her, to get her food, to refill her glass. 

So, I had to put aside my own feelings and think of my father.  He is 87 years-old, and it is difficult for him to physically turn her and pull her up in the bed.  After we finished today, I told him that starting next Sunday, I think I can do it myself---to give him a break.

I am reminded of Ephesians 6:2:  "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."  Also  1 Timothy 5:8:  "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

So, at this stage of my life, this is my calling....how I spend my Sundays.  No, I am not in church, but I am doing what I am meant to do.  I don't know how long my parents will be here, and it is my responsibility to do what I can to help them. They have always been there for me; now, it is my turn.


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Friday, May 1, 2015

Life's Not Fair

"That's not fair!"  How many times have I heard middle school kids say that?  Too many to count, and my response is always the same:  "Life's not fair; build a bridge and get over it!"  This week I have had to eat my own words.  I feel God is teaching me through this as well.  Then, I began to think of just what is not fair.  Here is the litany I came up with:  Is it fair that a wife has to endure habitual beatings from her husband?  Or that a child is victim to beatings by his parent?  What about the person who works her fingers to the bone at work to see subordinates and incompetents promoted, both literally and figuratively?  Is it fair that homeless people are treated like scum?  Or, is it fair that they are even homeless at all in the richest country on earth?  Is it fair that the very wealthy pay little to no taxes while the middle class in this country bear the brunt of funding the government?  Is it fair that able-bodied adults milk the system to enjoy welfare payments at the expense of honest, hard-working individuals? 

You see, what's not fair is subjective; it depends upon our life experiences.  Ultimately, God is the great equalizer, the judge of what is fair and what isn't.  Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 states, "I saw something else on earth; In the place of justice, there was wickedness, and in the place of fairness, there was wickedness.  I thought to myself, 'God will judge both the righteous and the wicked; for there is an appropriate time for every activity, and there is a time of judgment for every deed.' "

So, every time I think to myself, "That's not fair," I will remind myself that God is the ultimate judge, and He will eventually right every wrong.  It is not my job to dwell on it and question when He will act. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Convicted

God did a number on me yesterday......and I needed to be taken to the woodshed.  For awhile now I have been holding my tongue with a certain person close to me who challenges me in that area each time I am around him/her.  We all know someone like that:  a nasty, mean person who deserves to be told off.  "Deserves to be told off."----Well, who am I to cast stones that way?  Am I perfect?  Far from it.  I thought I was doing very well holding my tongue; after all, I constantly remember what the Bible says about the tongue:

  Proverbs 18:21:  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  Then, there is Matthew 12:37:  "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."  Finally, there is Proverbs 13:3:  "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."

There are many other verses about the tongue, especially in Proverbs, but you get the drift of what God is saying.  We.are.to.think.before.we.speak.  Is that easy to do?  No, absolutely not.  However, as I said, I thought I was doing well.

Then, last night I saw something on Facebook that convicted me.  I have written before how God has used Facebook.  I figure He is hip; He will use whatever means He knows will get our attention.  And, He knows I am on Facebook a lot.  This is what convicted me:

    This is from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:  "To live at peace with everyone, you need to    control   not only what you say and do, but also what you think.  It's common to assume that your thoughts about others don't matter much, as long as you keep them to yourself.  However, I am fully aware of all your thoughts.  When you indulge in negative thinking about someone, your relationship with that person is damaged.  Those hurtful also affect your relationship with Me, and they may have a depressive effect on you.  The remedy lies in turning to Me and seeking My forgiveness.  Then, ask My Spirit to control your mind and help you think My thoughts.  This is the way of Life and Peace."
 
     As though He were afraid that would not get my attention, this was on a college friend's status this morning:  "There will always be people in your life that are unlovable in your eyes, but our Lord Jesus told us before his death on the cross that we are to love unconditionally.  It is His commandment to us!  Put a little love in your heart, people...remember the world will be a better place for that love you share."
 
     So, I stand convicted, convinced, however you want to word it.  Is the passage from Jesus Calling from the Bible?  No, of course not; however, it is biblical.  If God is concerned about what comes from my mouth, isn't he concerned with what goes through my thoughts to lead to my mouth?  The Bible also tells us we are to hold captive every thought:  2 Corinthians 10:5:  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  To me, that is even harder than taming the tongue.  So, when an unsavory thought about someone comes to my mind, I have to harness it and dismiss it.    This is what I have to retrain my mind to do:
 
          "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
       is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
       think about such things."  Philippians 4:8.
 
I have much work to do...............
 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Used of God

God has a way of using the most innocuous people, if we let Him.  When I began teaching English in August of 1988, there was a (I think) fifteen year-old sitting front and center, grinning from ear to ear.   When I look back at that first year, I don't remember much except the students, and he was a card, as the idiom goes.  He was constantly cracking jokes and was the life of the class.  I loved that group that encompassed Nichole, Chris, Shedrick, Scott....  They were smart, smart kids, and as a first-year teacher, they fueled my passion for teaching high school English at a poor, rural school in Colleton County, Ruffin High School.  I would stay at that first stop on the teaching circuit for eight years.  Through the subsequent years I would make my way to schools in Walterboro and Beaufort.


Flash forward to 2011 (again, I think) and a funeral held in the gym of that first school.  Whom did I spy across the floor but that student.  What memories flooded back as I hurried down to hug and speak to him.  He was the same, yet he was a grown man with a family of his own.  His face had not changed a bit.  We subsequently became friends on facebook, and what a blessing he has become to me!  God has sent him as an encourager in dark times.  Just when I am feeling spiritually low, I get a phone call or text message from Him.  He is allowing God to use him to minister to his little ol'  high school English teacher of so very many years ago.  It is awesome how God uses people from our past to minister to us.  He makes and flourishes those connections. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Love Story Spanning the Decades, Part I

June 15, 1949 was the date of my parents' marriage; Mother was three weeks shy of 18, and Dad was 21.  Their love started in an era where times were simpler and vows seemed to mean more than they do today.  Let me start at the beginning.

My parents met when my mother was probably about six years old.  They lived in Bamberg County, South Carolina in a "hole-in-the-road" known as Little Swamp Community, not too far from Lodge and Smoaks.  My father's daddy worked for the railroad and was often away from home.  Dad was one of four boys that his mother basically reared by herself for much of his childhood.  His daddy was killed in a car accident in 1946.

Mother lived "across the branch," as they  called the woods, with her parents and four siblings.  Her daddy was a poor farmer who grew cotton, among other things.  She and my father attended the same one room school house and church.  In those days, country folk in that area had socials that centered around cane grinding and peanut boiling.  It was at one of those peanut boilings when she was probably about 15 that she announced to some of her cousins that she was going to "marry that boy one day."  And that is what she did.

Fast forward to June of 1949.  My grandfather drove Mother to Bamberg to buy her a new dress in which to get married.  One day shortly after, she came in from the field, kicked off those shoes, and said, "I'm done with you, old shoes!"  On the 15th, her eldest brother drove them to the parsonage in Smoaks and waited in the truck while they went in and got married.  The next day they took a bus to Columbia and the following day continued on to Clemson where they were to live while Dad attended the University and tried to support them.

This thing called "faith"

One.day.at.a.time......

So, I have this little nondescript blog that no one reads.  I have it to basically process my thoughts...when I feel "moved" to do so.  At times it functions to whet my spirit when it is dry.

This morning I am numb, depressed even, over what the next few weeks, months, or years will bring.  I am not in a comfortable spot.  I don't like change, yet change is a primary component of life.  Only God knows how much time my mother has left in her earthly body, one that I have classified as "bionic" because of shoulder and hip replacements.  I worry about my father--my rock, my hero--and I worry about how I will handle it when they are both gone.  See, they have put me in charge of their estate.  I have only halfway listened when Dad went over directions/procedures with me....contacting the Air Force base in Charleston, social security, on and on and on.  The smart man wrote everything down, too, because he knows .....he just knows......

Yesterday when the enormity of it all was pressing down on my shoulders, a friend reminded me to take it one.day.at.a.time.  This blog is old; birthed from my cancer experience, if I remember correctly.  On sun shiny days I have no problem remembering this.  Well, I am entering the not-so-sun-shiny days of my life.  This is what brings us back to our faith. 

One.day.at.a.time "I can do *all* things through Christ, who strengthens me."

It does no good to wallow in worrying about tomorrow;"Today brings enough trouble of its own."
Yet, we are, after all, only "human."  This is something I have to make a concerted effort to do.  One day, one step, one breath at a time....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Inching Closer to Our Creator

Purple fingernails and the low hum of an oxygen generator....every hum that resonates represents the inching closer to our Creator.....

Such was the scene as I left my parents' house this afternoon.  Just two weeks ago today, Valentine's Day,  we were eating lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Today, when I walked into their home since August 1967 (They bought it in 1963 when Dad was in the Air Force.), the dining table was gone, packed away in a back bedroom.  In its place sat a new hospital bed, replete with lovely eggplant sheets Dad bought yesterday.  We waited for several hours before the ambulance brought my mother home.  She had spent the last week in ICU--at first she had pneumonia and acute kidney injury---now she has heart failure, bedridden with constant oxygen and bed pads.  I stayed an extra two hours through the hospice nurse's visit and all her explanations to my father.  At one point as I looked over at him after she left, he held his hand to his head.  I calmly went over and wrote this verse on a sheet of paper from his legal pad:

"I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me."

I told him I had claimed it as "my" verse several years ago.  I reassured he "can" do this.  See, although hospice is involved, they will come a couple of times a week; *he* is her primary caregiver.  In the last week I have heard him tell several people that years ago, 65 years and 8 months and so many days, they promised to take care of each other as long as they were able.  He is fulfilling that vow.

In the twinkling of an eye one day, Jesus will return; in the twinkling of an eye our lives can irrevocably change. 

Two weeks ago I was eating in Cracker Barrel with my parents; today I was watching purple fingernails and listening to the low hum of an oxygen generator.


Inching closer to our Creator

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reminder

At times I am such a simpleton---truly slow and hard-headed.  I have been going through a very difficult time with a family member in the last year, and the last two months have been particularly trying.  On most days I find myself treading water, barely keeping my head above the deluge that constantly washes over me.  I have begun to claim as my mantra, "Walk by faith, not by sight."  How easy it is to say.  It's more difficult to do.

This morning I was on one of my regular blogs and saw this posting from the owner:  "In what ways am I slow of heart and foolish?
      1.  Letting discouragement bring me down
      2.  Listening to doubts instead of truth
      3.  Forgetting
      4.  Letting my mind wander instead of focusing on Jesus."

I messaged this sweet lady that I believe God meant that for me.  It truly resonated with me.  I should probably have it tattooed onto my brain or forehead.