Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Box

Before my mother became sick, she controlled the finances.  She told my father what he could spend and what he couldn't spend.  Relinquishing control of the checkbook was probably the hardest thing for her after becoming bedridden.  She has had a Kleenex box in the bed with her for months, but last month, he gave her a "piece of money" to squirrel away in it along with her lipstick and a few other little medicinal items.  This has made all the difference in the world to her.  She now has some control...and it comes from that box.  When I start to bathe her or change her and move the box, she says, "Don't lose my box."  She wants me to be careful with it.  I ask her where she is going to spend that little piece of money, and she just says, "I don't know; he gave it to me."

What happens when all the tissue is gone?  Her treasures are moved to the next box, and so it continues.............

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Well-done, good and faithful servant"

Today after I bathed Mother, I brushed her hair, and she asked for her lipstick.  I gave it to her to hide away in her Kleenex box with her other "goodies." In spite of being bedridden, she wanted to look presentable, pretty.  When I teased her, she said, "There are no good-looking men around here."  I motioned to my father and said, "What about him??"  She laughed her little girl laugh.  The last few months she has resorted to that:  a little girl laugh.  Much of what she says is reminiscent of a school girl now, complete with a hearty, child-like laugh.

It has been five months now since Mother came home from the hospital with congestive heart failure under hospice care.  The last few weeks Dad has had a caregiver come in Monday-Friday to help her exercise her legs and get into a wheelchair for a time.  We are still waiting on the long-term insurance to kick in so the caregiver can be five days a week for most of each day.  Let me just say:  NEVER< EVER use John Hancock Insurance.   NEVER!

The last few days Mother has been getting mixed up or confused.  One night she saw someone who was not there, and today she thought Dad was six years older than she.  (He is three years and nine months older.)  There are other little things that she is confused about as well.  It's not Alzheimers, of course, but I attribute it to old age. 

When I came in this morning, she was hungry.  She had gotten mad at Dad earlier and refused to eat breakfast.  He had snapped at her over something she accused him of, but he had apologized.  He was hurt.  She had accused him of not doing something for her when he has devoted the last five months, indeed, the last 66 years, to doing just that.  He told her that he promised her all those years ago that he would take care of her the best he could, for as long as he could.  For the last five months, that is exactly what he has done.  He has stayed in that house, day after day, caring for her.  He has left on the few days when my brother or I am there each week. That is when he goes to the stores, not out to have fun. 

All I could think of each time he has said he will take care of her as long as he is able is this:  One day when he meets Jesus face-to-face, He will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Dad is the hands and feet of Jesus to my mother. He is the model of Christ-like behavior to his wife. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"When I meet Jesus"

This afternoon while I was washing up the hospital basins in Mother's bathroom after I had bathed her, I heard her whispering to Dad over her hospital bed.  It was something about her pink robe he had bought her last month for her birthday.  When I re-entered the room, I asked if that was what she wanted to wear when her new .part-time caregiver tries to help her get up.  In a low, shaky voice, she said, "You know, when I meet Jesus.  Do you think it is alright to wear that?"

I replied, "You can wear what you want."  Dad reminded her that my sister-in-law Carol had been buried in the matching pantsuit she had made for her wedding to my brother just four months earlier from when she died in 1975.  

I need to add that my mother is no closer to meeting Jesus than you or I, meaning that only God knows.  I knew since she came home under hospice care in March that she had congestive heart failure.  Somehow, she did not know, and I guess Dad had forgotten until the hospice office told him yesterday.  Now, in her mind she is closer than ever to "meeting Jesus."

Of course, she meant she wants to be buried in that pink robe.  It does not matter what we are "put away in" because when we do meet Him, we will be in glorified bodies.  Our earthly shell in that casket is for the mourners left behind because, in fact, those of us who belong to Him will never be more alive than when we meet Him.

Friday, July 31, 2015

"I'm not...enough"

How many times have you told yourself, "I'm not good enough," or "I'm not skinny enough," or "I'm not smart enough."  Whatever "it is," it's the devil talking to you...and to me, trying to defeat us.  God tells us in Psalm 139:14 that "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Meditate on this part:  "I am ...wonderfully made."  Try repeating it over and over when you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself.  If that is not enough, what about this verse from Genesis 1:26:  "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  Yes, we are made in the likeness, the image, of God.  I have trouble with this one at times, but since He said it, it is true.  God does not lie.

American culture, in particular, has labelled women who are not size 0 as nothings, less than worthy of any consideration for anything.  All we need do is look at the fashion magazines at the check-out line for confirmation.  THEY are the ones who are lying.  The world's idea of beauty and worth are distorted in Hollywood and the fashion industry.  We are not to look to them for our self-worth, for we are to be set apart from them. While we are "in" this world, we are not "of" this world.  We get our worth from God, not the culture.

When you start to doubt yourself, your looks, or your abilities, remember who made you.  Commit Psalm 139: 13-14 to memory: "It was you who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made" by the creator of the universe itself.  Let that sink in.  God knew us in our mothers' wombs.  He made us the way we are.  Whether we are tall, short, or average, He knew that before we were formed in the womb.  He knew our hair, be it curly or straight.  He knew our skin tone, be it pale, dark, or in between. 

So, when that nasty voice in your head starts to berate you for whatever reason, push it down.  Don't listen.  You ARE good enough!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Attachment

 
 



God tells us not to be conformed to this world.....not to become attached to it .....I take it a step further in that we are not to become attached to "things."  There is the story of the rich  man who asked Jesus what he needed to do, and Jesus told him to sell what he had and give it to the poor.  This saddened the man because he was very wealthy.

Thirteen years ago this month I bought my house.  I knew  the moment I saw it that it was for me; it had my color scheme as well as the fireplace I wanted.  It has served me well.  But, I am not attached to it.  In fact, I am open to selling it after I retire if God moves me.

However, I "do" have an attachment to my parents' home where I grew up, and I am trying to reconcile losing it.  When my parents are gone, I am to sell it and divide the profits.  They have owned it since 1964 and lived in it since 1967.....almost exactly 48 years.  Dad retired from the Air Force for me to begin private kindergarten here.

This house has memories.  I walked through the backyard to my elementary school for grades 1-3; the playground is right behind their house, and now if I visit during a school day, I can hear the kids playing.  Then, I walked the sidewalks to another nearby school for grades 4 and 5.  Also, down the street there was a neighbor with a circular  driveway.  I have vivid memories of racing my bike through puddles on that circular driveway.

When I was small, we had one bathroom for the five of us.  It was not until I was grown that my then-husband and my dad built another bathroom as well as a breakfast room from the carport.  Memories.....

Also, as a child I remember climbing a ladder to the ROOF to help my dad, uncle Robbie, brother, and his friend reshingle the roof.  Dad even remembers me pushing the shingles to my uncle.  Today, I could not do that. As a child, I was brave and wanted to be a "big" girl.

I found out there is no Santa in that house.  On Christmas Eve one year I let our poodle out one more time before bed.  Behind the house was a box.  When I peered in, I saw the desk that Santa was to bring me later that night.  I just knew at that point, but I kept it to myself.

It was in that house that I remember the fake white Christmas tree of the early '70s.  I loved that white tree......so much so that I bought one myself a few years ago.

It was in this house that I began my fascination with current events.  I can remember by third grade sitting at the dining table eating breakfast while simultaneously watching the news and reading the Charleston newspaper.

When my husband and I separated, my son and I lived with my parents for nearly three years.  That house has special memories for him as well; he has his own attachment t.

So, I am trying to prepare myself for the day when my brother, son, and I meet at
 the house to take what belongings we want; the rest I plan to sell and add to the estAte.  It will be an excruciating time for my son and me as we realize we will be saying goodbye to the house that has been such an important part of our lives.  

I constantly remind(talk myself into) myself that it is "just" a house, and the memories will live.  I must not love the things of this world...........

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Battle

"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."  Ephesians 6:12

These are dark times in this country.  Summertime is supposed to be a carefree, fun time for kids out of school and families on vacation.  Yet, the last two months have been replete with a rapid fire of shootings resulting in mass murders.  It began with the Mother Emanuel shootings a short drive from me, and it has continued with shootings at military recruitment stations as well as in personal homes and another theater, this time in Louisiana.

We turn on the news any night, any time of the year, and we get the same thing:  death, death, and more death.  Children are killed or maimed in drive-by shootings, families are murdered in their homes by those close to them, people are shot dead at work or while enjoying a fun outing.

As awful as all of this is, we as Christians need to never lose sight of whom we battle.  Yes, these are men (primarily) who carry out these atrocities, but make no mistake about who is behind it.  The devil is real, as are his minions.  The Ephesians verse above makes it crystal clear to us believers:  we battle not man, but the powers of darkness that surround us.  And....it is getting worse.

I have had young people not understand how someone could do these things; my reply to them is that there is evil in this world.  Ultimately, there are two factions:  good and evil...and they are in a constant battle.  The good thing is that we Christians know the ending already......and our guy wins.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

God has a sense of humor/Man may plan his steps, but God directs his path

I could not decide on a title for this post; I even considered "The best laid plans of mice and men."  Ultimately, all three pertain to this.  Bear with me while I relate this little vignette.

 Twenty-six years ago I began teaching English and would continue to teach that subject in grades sixth-AP English.  About the same time I took the Praxis test in English, I decided to also take it in elementary education to "make myself more marketable."  I had zero intention to teach elementary school.  My personality would mesh more with older kids, and I certainly did not want to teach anything but ELA..  Fast forward to a month ago.  The week after school was out for the summer, my principal called and told me she was moving me for this next year to the 3rd-5th grade Gifted and Talented pull-out position in the Lower Academy (My school is pre-k-8.).

I relate this because while I had other plans for my last two years prior to retirement, God had other plans.  I never had any intention of teaching elementary, so He does have a sense of humor.

I know people who design their lives---where they will live and what tbey will do----and God has jerked them right back where He wants them..  It is a matter of who controls their lives:  God or them?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reflecting on God's Faithfulness

Today marks my 8th year cancer-free.  When I look back over the last eight years, I am in awe of God's faithfulness to me and my family.  I went through the six months of chemo without too many problems, other than my hair thinning.  The very last chemo treatment did have to be halted due to extreme back pain, but the doctor says that happens sometimes. Evidently, I didn't need it, though.  Throughout the chemo, I was able to work pretty much all the time, except on days when I had to take off for the chemo.  In the ensuing years, I have been able to recoup and surpass my prior sick days,  so I have days to take to help my parents if needed.  God is faithful.

Almost four years after I was diagnosed with colon cancer, my precious father was diagnosed.  Where my tumor had perforated the colon, his was a flat tumor on the side of the colon wall.  At 84 years old, he had surgery on a Thursday, was home the following Tuesday, and the Monday after that he was back on his riding lawn mower.  God is faithful.

In February of 2015, Mother was initially hospitalized with pneumonia.  After a week in ICU, she was sent home under hospice care with congestive heart failure.  Here, almost five months later, she is still bedridden in the hospital bed, and hospice still comes five days a week, but she is still hanging in there.  Her mind is still good, but she is too weak to get out of bed.  God has blessed Dad to be in good health to take care of her.  My brother cleans their house on Thursday and is there if they need him.  I go on Saturdays and Sundays to bathe her and relieve Dad so he can get out.  God is faithful.

I praise God every day that He has blessed us with my parents' overall good health; Dad has his mother's genes as she lived to be 92.  He has problems with skin cancers, but his health otherwise is pretty good for an 87.5 year old.

On top of all of this, I have a new position at work this fall, one that will reduce my stress exponentially.  That is a HUGE blessing considering what I may face with my parents.

God is good, and He is faithful.  Be encouraged that if you hang onto Him, He can get you through any of life's trials.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

66 Years Later

You can read the beginning of their love story here

June 15 is my parents' 66th wedding anniversary.  Yes, 66 years!  Here they are today:

If you have read this blog for a few months, then you know Mother is under hospice care.  She was sent home from the hospital the first of March with congestive heart failure.  Hospice comes in Monday-Friday to bathe her and the RN comes twice a week.  Dad is her primary caregiver, though.  I go on Saturdays and Sundays to bathe her and change her, basically to give him a break.  Some Sundays he goes to church. 

Hopefully, by mid-July the insurance will allow her sitter to start so Dad can have more help than he does have. 

God has been so faithful and good to us to allow Dad, at 87.5 years, to still be in really amazing health with a sharp mind to be able to take care of her at home.  Her bed is in front of the dining room window, so she can look out if she wants.  Also, my brother lives nearby and is their "maid" once a week, and he can come if they need him more often.

I am praying for 67 years.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nugget from Heaven

Today, my soul was refreshed.  A student I had 25 years ago came to town to see me, and we spent four hours at lunch and reminiscing.  I had not seen her since graduation....and I cried when I saw her and when we parted.  At the time I had no clue the effect I had had on her.  I have thought much of that in the last few years.  We don't know how we may influence those we come in contact with.  I needed this nugget from God today.