Friday, September 11, 2020

Pray Adequately But Don't Worry Needlessly

 


My prayers were focused on my children and grandchildren this morning, but this meme can just as easily be a caregiver's prayer. When we are emotionally involved with the hearts and minds of those for whom we pray, it is hard not to give way to worry!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:6-7.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Never Alone


This morning I opened my front door to the light, then placed my hand against the glass of the upper portion of the storm door. The barrier seemed symbolic as I felt the familiar loneliness of division from parents, Heaven, and home. But then the thought came that the Lord is on this side of the door with me. I remembered that Jesus has destroyed the dividing wall, and has conquered death. We are never separated from Him. He is with us.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Resting in the Hollow of His Hand

 This morning I read the lyrics to Frances R. Havergal's "Like a River Glorious," penned in 1867. I was sitting outdoors as I read, and looked up at the canopy of tree limbs overhead. I couldn't see the sky, but I was protected from the heat, and the thought came that sometimes the protection God places around us blocks our view of what is going to happen next. Praying today for grace to rest in the hollow of God's loving and capable hand, trusting the future to Him.

You can find the lyrics and hymn story here: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/l/i/k/likriver.htm

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

When Pre-planning Becomes Pre-dreading




Most people have a junk drawer, and I certainly do have one--ok, two or three--of those. But I also have a junk room.  I call it "the storage room" because that sounds more acceptable, but this repository for items I can't bear to discard consists more of trash than treasure.  

Our waste management service makes its weekly stop on Wednesdays, and I've taken to going into the "storage room" each Wednesday morning, carting an empty trash sack and determined to decrease the clutter. Today I fed the bag two dilapidated Easter baskets that I will never use again but have been keeping "just in case." I then tripped over the Good Will box, which is a collection of odds and ends that I no longer want but are too nice (in my perception at least) to throw away.  I plan to donate these items... at some point, probably within the next four or five years or so...  

I peered into the box and saw the plastic garment bag that contains the brand new dress I purchased for my mom at the time I made plans for her funeral.  

One of the most difficult days I endured as a new caregiver found me writing my mother's obituary at the request of our funeral director. This was a part of the requirements for Mom's prepaid burial plan.  Our doctor had predicted just 3 to 5 years of life remaining for Mom, and our attorney recommended we make arrangements in advance. I had to pick out a casket and make plans for Mom's service, and the kind gentleman who led me through this process suggested we plan something for her to wear.  "It will save stress at the time of her death," he said. And so I perused catalogs and selected a beautifully embroidered dress in Mom's size, and hung it in the back of her closet. 

All this happened nearly 16 years before Mom passed away. 

For all those years, that black shrouded hanger caused my stomach an unpleasant lurch each time I encountered it.  The irony is that toward the end of Mom's life she lost so much weight that, less than a week before she passed, I realized the outfit I'd planned so carefully for her would no longer fit.  I selected a new and what turned out to be a prettier dress, and had it overnighted so that it arrived in time for the funeral.  

There are all kinds of lessons to be learned here. I wish I'd trusted the Lord for Mom's end-of-life needs and not given them so much thought until necessary.  I wish I were better at inhabiting the only point on my time line that is actually mine to influence--the present--and I pray to grow in trust to the point that I'm better able to leave the future in His hands.    

It is probably true that my OCD-tinged advance planning saved time and trouble, but I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that even when we make no wise plans at all, He helps us through. At the very least, I wish I'd left Mom's funeral attire up to the Lord.  I could've spared myself the avoidance I developed of delving too deeply into her closet.  

This morning I bade that black garment bag goodbye.  I stuffed it into my Wednesday garbage bag, and it will haunt me no longer.  And, if somewhere there is a lady who shops Good Will and could've used a nearly 17 year old embroidered suit, my apologies to her.  


<><

"Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today." 
--Matthew 6:34 CEV--

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it." 
--Francis de Sales--

Monday, August 3, 2020

Waiting



During the pandemic, I've felt strongly that my assignment is to stay out of the fray, but my goodness, isn't it difficult to stick to a resolution to shelter at home?  

And, having made that resolution, do you find it difficult to avoid a sense of isolation, as though everyone else in the world is up to speed while we...aren't?  

The most difficult challenge for human beings of any age is to wait. Abram and Sarai ran out ahead of the Lord to try to make God's promise to them come true. Saul persecuted Christians with religious zeal ahead of the revelation of God’s plan. These Biblical characters were given new vision and new names, but in God’s timing and not their own.

Here is a prayer today for those called to shelter:  Lord, grant us grace to take the precautions you are calling us to take, and keep us both from being judged by others and from judging ourselves.  Thank you for being with us as we wait upon you.  Amen.  

 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sheltered in Him

My role during the COVID-19 crisis has been to shelter at home. This photo made me smile because the lens effects show light shining on my front door!  I appreciate small affirmations that I'm making the right decision for me as I stick close to home.  

What a challenge to find and hold to the path God has for each of us during this time. Those called to shelter need to be patient in the midst of the discipline of forgoing life as they've been used to living it, and those called to be out and in the world need courage as they face the stresses of possible exposure. We all need patience and understanding as we respect one another's differing assignments.

 I think of and pray for those who are caring for a loved one at home, for those who have loved ones in nursing homes, for those of us called to stay sheltered, and those who must be out and about each day. Thank You Lord, for Your presence with us all.

Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Monday, June 22, 2020

He Is in Our Yesterdays and Tomorrows


My dear cousin is dealing with aging parent issues, and so I have been providing her daily emails with readings from my caregiving book that was published back in 2009.  My mother died this past January, following a 16 year battle with Alzheimer's, and to my surprise, these devotions I wrote as a new caregiver are helping me in my grieving process for Mom. 

The vulnerability of honesty about our struggles as caregiver and patient was a hallmark of how the Lord led me to write that caregiving book, and so I know when I say that I am amused by Mom, or feel compassion toward her, or love, that it was true at the time I wrote it.  Thus, rereading those words from the early years of my caregiving journey, reminds me that Mom's later, difficult behaviors were indeed dementia related.

It is incredible that with all my--albeit self-taught--knowledge about Alzheimer's disease, that  I struggle now to believe that Mom was not always as she ended up being. This, despite my oft-repeated counsel to others that Alzheimer's is no different than any other crippling disease, except that in dementia, it is the brain that is damaged, so that outward signs don't reveal that disease is at the root of the aberrant behaviors.  But when my own mother expressed vicious anger toward me, I struggled to separate the manifestations of disease from the person she was prior to her diagnosis. 

The process of rereading God's counsel to us given toward the beginning of Mom's disease process is helping me to remember. I am making the needed separation between who Mom was prior to Alzheimer's, and the vast changes in behavior that occurred as her disease progressed.  The lines blur because of sin, I guess: Mom's and my own.  Her later, disease-fueled behaviors echoed, if not who she was earlier in life, than my remembered emotions in response to her occasional, sinful behaviors. As the years went by, the lines blurred and I lost the ability to separate the dementia from who she was and is in the Lord, and I somehow forgot or dismissed the great blessings she brought to me earlier in life. 

God is with us, past, present, and future.  A part of the grieving process when we lose a loved to Alzheimer's lies in reconciling who that person was in the past with later, disease-influenced, behaviors.  We mustn't allow the evil of the disease our loved ones suffered to influence how we remember them.  I pray that the Lord, who is present in our past, present, and future, will help me remember and honor my Mom for the blessings she provided me pre-Alzheimer's.