Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Care for the Dying


I rarely link to other sites or articles. This is because, having written 5 books, I'm hypersensitive to broach of copyright issues.  My books have been pirated and offered "for free" from numerous websites, and this is upsetting.  I don't know whether someone who clicks on these sites actually receives one of my books, but I'm certain a virus or malware comes with the download.  That my books would be used as bait for people who could cause my readers harm is just...so upsetting.  The takeaway from this is that if something sounds too good to be true, don't be drawn in.

But this isn't like that.

I found a little article at caring.com today that addresses an issue so important that I want to bookmark it for myself and share it with others.

It is a brief, easy-to-remember summary of the main wishes of someone who is dying (although it omits the #1 need of all who are at death's door, which I address in the next paragraph).  It's something for me to keep in mind for when my mother's time comes, and I'll share the link with you here:  The Four Main Wishes of the Dying, by Paula Spencer Scott.  

(Our very most important need as we are dying is that we are unafraid of what happens after death.  My referring you to this article assumes that your loved one has peace in the knowledge that death takes us to be at home with Christ. For those uncertain whether their loved ones have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I refer you to this post: What if My Loved One is Not Saved. 

I'm praying right now for those of you who are providing care for someone diagnosed with a terminal disease.  It's a difficult journey, but I am continually reminded of the Lord's steadfast, enabling presence. "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything" (Deuteronomy 2:7).

God remembers our labors on behalf of our loved ones, provides for our needs, and sees us through even the most difficult of times.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hope

In the Little House books, Pa Ingalls always says, "There is no great loss without some small gain." Through a loved one's Alzheimer's disease our gain can be an increased awareness of God's compassion, provision, and grace as He guides us safely through.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Always Present With Us

This morning I listened to two songs from an automatic shuffle of the music I have (somehow) downloaded onto my phone (anyone else have that sense of "not quite sure how it happened" regarding technology?).  The first was Beethoven's Five Secrets by The Piano Guys.  As soon as the music began the chords reverberated in my heart and as tears began to flow, I remembered why I've been on a fast from music.  It brings emotions right up to the surface, and if I am repressing grief I find myself unable to keep it contained.  Never mind that it is healthy to let those emotions surface, especially so if it is done in prayer, as a part of casting my cares on the Lord.  I'd been practicing repression of my grief over having had to put my beloved mom in a nursing home, and only now has it felt safe to let the grief surface even in prayer.

But I let the grief hitch a ride to my conscious awareness on the wings of that beautiful music,  tears poured down my face, and I felt better after the song was done.

Another song played:  You Are God Alone, by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  The lyrics touched my heart--our God is present, unchanging, and eternal--equally present in every life circumstance, good and bad.

Now.  Goose bump alert! I was singing in the Spirit along with You Are God Alone, harmonizing as I'm not able to do apart from when I'm praising God, and I got to the chorus...and recognized the same chord sequence that runs through a portion of Beethoven's Five Secrets!

The Lord used this coincidence to speak a truth to me that just blessed my heart; His song is unchanging through every circumstance of my life. He is always present, His purpose is always unfolding according to His perfect wisdom and understanding, and I can trust Him.

I've included links to the Youtube selections of the two songs that touched my heart today, and then I've also included a rough recording of my own of the little sequence that works through both melodies, hammered out on my ancient piano in my not-a-singer voice.

God is always present and is unchanging.  Lord help us to trust that the unchanging melody of Your steadfast presence is interwoven through every circumstance of our lives, even when we can't perceive it.


The Piano Guys Beethoven's Five Secrets




Phillips, Craig, and Dean You Are God Alone:



And here is the similar sequence I heard in both these selections that blessed my heart with the message that the Lord's unchanging song is with us all the days he allots for us here! 

Short Google drive audio of my recording of the similarities between both songs (you will need to click the link and then put your pointer on the play button on the screen and click to begin the recording):  Or you can click right HERE! 



Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Giving and Receiving in Relationships With Adult Children


There are truths I wish would be overtly taught during those famous premarital counseling classes that are a rite of passage when Christian couples marry:
  In marriage a new entity is formed as the two become one in God's sight. Your individual heartaches and joys now belong to one another. Your prior commitments are now shared. Your ongoing commitment to honor your parents is not displaced by your marriage, and your spouse does not replace your parents.  Ideally you will not feel jealous of your spouse's strong love and commitment to his/her parents, because you will share it and form with them a relationship of your own.  
Parents, too, need instruction. We should be taught that gaining a son or daughter-in-law is akin to adoption.  We have the template put forth by our God, who has adopted us as His own children through Christ. We are to love as we have been loved, forgive as we have been forgiven.  This template is needed on both sides during the sometimes tumultuous stresses of a wedding and the ensuing struggles of adapting to  a new status quo in our relationships.  We need to be steadfast and faithful for one another, forgiving, loving, and keeping the doors of our hearts open.

When our adult children marry and form new family units of their own, parents sometimes hold fast to a conviction that they must not cause additional burdens for their children during their difficult years of raising a family. Parents are often the ones who have a hard time receiving and are only comfortable when they are seen as the generous providers, and thus we set up a one way street of giving that becomes the accepted status quo on both sides. We pray for our kids, help them any way we can, and try our best not to add one iota of additional stress to their already stressful lives. 

Ephesians 6:2-3 refers to the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers as the first command with a blessing attached-- "that it may go well with you, and you may live long in the land." It was an enlightening thought for me that I may rob my children of blessing when I fail to allow them to honor me through their offers of needed support or even, heaven forbid, ask for help if I need it. My tendency has been to power through my challenges  without mentioning my needs to my kids simply because my motherly heart worries for them and, truthfully, because I don't want to be seen as needy or weak. But I am off-base if  I encourage my children to turn a blind eye to my suffering simply because it is mine and not someone else's. 

I am not advocating the use of one's children as emotional supports; as parents we ought to be spiritually mature enough to find our hearts' needs met in our Lord and Savior.  I'm speaking of a habitual "not wanting to cause trouble" mindset that, if they accept this status quo, could hinder the development of maturity in our children; robbing them of opportunities for growth that would enable them to someday transition into a caregiving role for an elderly parent without quite so much trauma for all concerned.

The Lord makes no allowance for how much work we have already done when he asks us to do something more; He requests our obedience, and that request is God's to make because He provides enabling strength for the tasks he assigns. God may judge us--and our children--more strictly than we judge ourselves; and he might not make allowances for the difficulties we've faced. Disobedience to the Lord's nudge to reach out, even with the validating excuse that the one who needs our aid doesn't appear to want our ministrations, is sin akin to laziness. We give up too easily because we have already done so much, but we mustn't dismiss or excuse sin because of all we have been through. We have experienced nothing that God has not allowed, and the solace and strength we have enjoyed have arrived through the Lord's faithful provision.  

I need to recognize that God grants my kids enabling strength for the life-challenges they face.  Parents of adult children who establish the status quo that they must always be the ones who are generous while simultaneously refusing any reciprocity may hinder God's work in their children's  lives.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Be the Way Sunlit or Dark...


I'm blessed to live in rural Kansas. You read that right! I love the ever-changing sky, the shape of the land, and the changing seasons (as the joke goes, we sometimes experience all four seasons in the course of one day). My drive home from town includes a stretch I call "the straightaway," and over the years I've used this one-mile section of road as a place to decompress, pray, inhale deeply, and relax just a bit from the stresses of caregiving.

On my drive home early yesterday afternoon, I was fascinated by changing light patterns caused by gaps in the clouds above. The wind created swiftly moving sunlit patches, always just ahead of me. I wanted badly to drive right into one of those bright places, but I couldn't catch up.

One of these days I will arrive at a sunlit place that is free of the darkness of my mom's Alzheimer's disease. She will be released, and I will be in grief because of the loss of her living presence in my life.  Even now, after these many years of living under the cloud of this wretched disease, I have trouble with the thought of that final release.  But, as Mom has said, "It is sad that we humans so often view death with sadness and dread—the actuality is that it is a blessed doorway into God’s continual presence."  

I'm grateful today for the Lord's abiding presence through every portion of my road home.