Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Weekend 2019

I had a stressful day yesterday beginning with driving in Houston's morning rush hour traffic. I commuted for years and was used to it. Now that I no longer commute Monday-Friday, I try to avoid rush hour like the plague because it causes stress. Last night I settled in to watch Dateline at 9pm and promptly fell asleep, I have no idea who did what to whom.

I woke up this morning and thought it's probably 6am, get up and get going, I started the coffee, unloaded the dishwasher, turned around and looked at the clock, it was 4:47am!!! The big decision, go back to bed, because - I am not a morning person, or enjoy the peace and quiet accompanied by coffee? I enjoyed the peace and quiet and currently drinking my 3rd and last cup of coffee.

This weekend means sales, Bar B Que's, and school dismissal for many people. For others, it is a sad weekend because their loved one sacrificed all for the USA. Let us remember the fallen. Let us pray for their loved ones. Instead of griping about politicians (which can be entertaining on the one hand and horrifying on the other hand) pray for them. Pray for the USA, the world, Pray for peace. Pray for the widows, the orphans, the disenfranchised, the addicts, the mentally ill. Pray for those living in war zones. Pray for our government to make godly decisions. Pray for our elected officials to be ethical in all they do. Pray for revival - pray that it begins with you and your family.

So many prayer needs for our country and the world. Pray as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Prayer - Just Do It

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Small World

Over the decade I was a caretaker, the size of my world decreased. As my mother declined more and more she could not be around many people. Holiday meals were an average size of 12 after my father died, then decreased to 8, then 6, and finally 3. If a relative wanted to visit with my mother I would remind them not to bring the whole family, no more than 2 people or she would short-circuit and it would take 5 to 7 days for her to be calm once more even though she did not remember the visit. 

My world shrank. Less contact in person with extended family, with friends, with strangers at the store because I began curbside pickup most days so I did not have to get my mother out of the house for an hour or 2 if it was a bad day and to save time. One a good day she would ride with me for the grocery pickup and we'd stop at her favorite drive-through fast food restaurant for lemonade on the way home.

I never realized how quiet my world was until it wasn't. I've been to visit my aunt, seen a couple of friends for lunch and dinner, had breakfast with my cousin this week, slowly re-engaging resisting the urge to hibernate at home, I've even visited a couple of churches looking for a new church home. 

With all that changed as Alzheimer's increased its grip on my mother, one thing never changed and that is the Lord God Almighty. He was and is my sure foundation, my comfort. It can be hard to stay focused on Him and His promises as a chronic situation becomes bleaker over the years. 

Of course, I failed at times, I succumbed to frustration, fatigue, and despair. But when I changed my focus I felt peace, the peace which transcends understanding, I found joy once more. And I know as I walk through the grieving process, He is with me every step of the way just as He is with you. 

Scripture sums it up for me:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (I asked, I prayed, He answered.)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (His peace flowed through me when I turned to Him.)

I really never thought about this at the time because I thought of my mother's suffering, never thought I suffered, from the Book of James:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (I believe I've produced some steadfastness.)

And most importantly in the APV (Annette Paraphrase Version) - God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes. Pour out your heart to Him and then sit quietly waiting for a reply. He loves you! 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bless this Mess?

Over the years I worked and was my mother's caretaker, I did not keep strict standards at my house regarding if something new came in, something old went out - as in I bought a new blazer, donate the blazer you rarely wear so it will go to someone who will wear it. As a result, my cabinets, closets, and drawers are stuffed to capacity. Along with thousands of Texans, I donated new clothes, gift cards, toiletries, and excess business clothes I rarely wore as well as my winter coats/jackets, and many Christmas decorations after Harvey hit in 2017. Decluttering was underway, full steam ahead. 

In early 2018, my mother required more care, I worked less, did more for her and would do it all over again, but I never resumed decluttering my home. Well, now - I have 2 homes filled with stuff. I started boxing and bagging items to donate at my mother's house and then I contracted pneumonia, which messed up "my" schedule, "my plan". 

I never really prayed about what to do 1st in the great declutter/donate job of 2 houses. I am bringing 4 pieces of furniture to my house along with her china, silver, and a few pieces of depression glass. After praying, I realized I cannot stick a for sale sign in her yard until I have an Order of Probate. (The case is chugging through the system.) I need to declutter my house and make room for what I am bringing here, then do her house. I can take boxes of her books to 1/2 Price Books and gather all the papers that need to be shredded but I don't need to fully empty her house 1st. I need to prepare mine. 

It is the same way with our spiritual heart if we've been away from the Lord for a long time, we need to remember He meets us where we are. We need to ask Him to plow up the fallow ground of our heart to prepare the soil so we can listen to Him, hear Him, and receive what He gives us. The line from the Christmas Carol Joy to the World states it well, Let every heart prepare Him room. Farmers prepare the soil before they plant if they want a good harvest. We must do the same. Talk to Him, tell Him your misdeeds and deeds, your actions and inactions, your lies by commission and omission, who wronged you, who you wronged. Pour it all out to Him. 

Ask the Lord to meet with you, where you are. He will meet you with open arms. He loves you so much He gave all to save you. As the father ran to the prodigal son, so the Lord runs to you.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.  Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.  And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.  And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’  And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.  And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’  But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,  but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’  And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Mother

My mother died peacefully in her sleep Sunday night. My real mother was gone a long time ago due to Alzheimer's Disease, but I still loved the woman left in her place.

I am so thankful she is no longer suffering. I am beginning to relax a little and not jump when the phone rings and can turn off my phone if I so choose for the 1st time since 2007.

My job as caretaker is done. The to-do list is long but manageable.

And because I am keeping a few items of hers, pictures, china, 4 pieces of furniture, I will pare down my belongings further as I transfer things from her house to mine.

I picked up the Diet Coke habit again, beginning the day she broke her hip. I will stop drinking them next Monday. I've also consumed pounds of sugar in the last 5 weeks as well. Low sugar diet begins next Monday. I may not be fit for polite society next week!

Arrangements for her service are made. The funeral home and church want a picture of her, no one seemed to listen as I said she would not want a picture attached to her obit or bulletin at church.

The mental fatigue lifted a bit yesterday. There are still tears ahead. My faith in the Lord will sustain me. We can take comfort in His Word.

Psalm 23 in the ESV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Red Suitcase

In 2010, my mother wanted to travel to South Fork, CO where my parents had owned a cabin on the banks of the Rio Grande. Alzheimer's was taking a firm hold on her and I knew travel would be difficult but I decided to go for it. If we did not travel in 2010, it would never happen.

She wanted a new suitcase on wheels. So off we went to buy one, she chose red because it would be easy to spot on the conveyor belt in baggage claim. She also wanted to buy me a red suitcase which I did not want but felt I was to let her buy it, she bought 2 red suitcases.

We flew to Colorado Springs, rented a car, and drove to Creede, CO where we rented a cabin. My friend Anna Marie joined us.

The scenery was spectacular, mom enjoyed herself as much as she could, we drove by the old cabin to take a look. There were a couple of Alzheimer's meltdowns due to being away from home. On our return trip, 5 of us were removed from the flight to lighten the plane. (That makes one feel good about oneself!) My mother was left on the plane. I called my husband, he would pick her up in Houston. They assured us we would be on the next flight and our luggage would be waiting for us. HA! We had to spend the night. Most of us made it back to Houston on the 1st flight of the day because a family of 5 who had checked in never showed up to board the flight.

So there was my mother at Bush Airport with a United Airlines employee claiming her luggage. She claimed mine too. She claimed 2 red suitcases. I looked back on it a month later. God was not surprised I spent the night in Colorado Springs. (I was!) My mother was able to identify our suitcases because they were red in a sea of black luggage.

God was in the small detail of red luggage. He also prepared a DHS employee who let my husband park in a no-parking zone to wait for my mother to be wheeled out of baggage claim by an airline employee.

Sometimes we think where are You? He is there with us every step of the way.