Saturday, October 27, 2012


Yesterday afternoon I returned home from an errand and tossed my purse into a chair by the kitchen table. I had a writing project to complete, and a quick check of the clock told me I had about thirty minutes before my mother would expect her supper to be served. I hurried upstairs to my computer, inadvertently leaving purse and cell phone behind.  While I was working I could hear Mom's voice on the monitor and assumed she was talking to the cat.

I worked diligently for a half an hour, then hurried downstairs.  I remembered my phone, and while Mom's supper was heating I saw that she had tried to call me three times in that thirty minute period that I'd been upstairs.  I took her plate to her and though she was grouchy, she was happy to see the food.  I put my phone in my pocket and went back to work on my project.

A few minutes later a police car pulled into the driveway.  I hurried to the door.  The officer said there had been a 911 call from our address and said he needed to speak to Anna.  I took him into Mom's sunny apartment, and there she sat, her empty supper plate beside her, music wafting in the background, the cat asleep on her lap.

"Ma'am, you reported that you were being neglected," he said.

And regardless of the fact that her only daughter appeared in danger of being hauled off to jail by a uniformed police officer (and even though his enormously tall colleague came galloping through the door unannounced in the midst of the conversation), Mom drew herself up righteously and said, "Well I DO feel neglected."

I said, "MOM!  You called the POLICE on me!!"  When she looked at my face her attitude changed but only slightly.

She shrugged, "Well, I'm senile. I know I'm well cared for."

There were apologies all around, an admonition from the policeman and his colleague  not to leave my cell phone behind again, and they left.

When I listened to my phone messages it became apparent that Mom had not called the police from confusion or emotional upset, but out of a vindictive desire to hurt me.  In the first two messages she had asked for a box of crackers to eat with her diet coke.  The third message said, "Linda, I am thinking of how I can annoy you the most.  I am going to call 911 and report elder abuse."  And she did.

This dealt me a heart hurt as deep as any I've received during these eight years of caregiving. My son told me I couldn't take it personally, that it was the disease.  "Yes, Son, I know that, but let me have my moment!" I exclaimed.

I needed a moment to feel the betrayal, to suffer the grief, and to process through to forgiveness.  In prayer I felt the Lord emphasize the importance of forgiving Mom now, and I remembered that Scripture that says what is bound on earth is bound in Heaven.  As a dear friend told me this morning, ".. though it is now a dim reflection, at times barely visible at all, one glorious day your momma will sweep her arms knowingly, lovingly around her beloved Linda as the Father wraps you both in His embrace!" 

I want to be ready to walk right into Mom's welcoming hug once the last vestiges of Alzheimer's and sin have fallen away and we meet our Lord in Glory. And so I forgave her, and prayed for her, and today we've had sweet fellowship together once again.  

This morning I installed a nifty one touch phone, with large printed names of four family members Mom can call, both home and landlines. She now has only to lift the receiver and press one of our names so the process of dialing won't be so frustrating for her.  Giving her more options of people to call should lessen greatly the chance of her dialing 911.  

I've vowed never, ever, to forget my cell phone again.  But if I do, I know the Lord will be with us just as He was yesterday when two police officers arrived at my door to inquire about the welfare of my Mom.  

Scripture:  "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18).  

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).  

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Have Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken

There have been times when someone in my circle of friends n' relations has quit a well paying job for reasons no one else fully understands.  When this sort of a decision is made from a basis of personal discontent and apart from the Lord (which probably explains the discontent), it is almost always a poor decision.  God tends to put us in uncomfortable situations because we are so weak and He wants to strengthen us.  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11)."

When I decided first to cut my paying job to half time, then to take early retirement in order to provide care for my mother, not very many people understood.  Earlier posts have shown how hesitant I was to make this decision, how the Lord narrowed the path before me, how I agonized, indulged fear, wept, and prayed.  Talk about "testing the spirits!" I wanted to be positive I was following God's will for my life and sought Godly counsel, prayed, perused Scripture, and prayed some more.  

Now with this caveat that an impetus to step off one path and onto another must be of the Lord--because I don't want anyone to read this and feel moved to indulge an urge to quit their job in order to live off the land in bucolic bliss--I offer the following thought: 

It’s not so much that we need to get used to living with less but that we need to trust that God is willing to provide us more, when we are following His will for our lives.  We cling to our chosen method of making our own way, and in so doing rob ourselves of the abundant provision the Lord would provide free of cost or the terrible labor we expend as we seek to earn our own living.  If we release the need to provide for the future into the Lord’s hands, we’ll find that as we go about His work He provides for our needs and holds our future safe in His hand. 

"I was young and now I am old yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread" (Psalm 37:5).  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Against All Odds...

This morning I find myself at the beginning of another book publishing journey, and this is an enormous-to-me event. To my humble amazement, Les Stobbe, agent extraordinaire, responded warmly and positively to my email asking whether  he might possibly consider becoming my literary agent.  Less than two weeks after I listed my novel with a manuscript screening service that  by its own admission places only 3% of its submissions with book publishing contracts, I have a well-known Christian literary agent and a pending book contract with a well-respected Christian publisher, Ambassador International.

The door to these blessings was opened because I obeyed the Lord when He asked me to release something very important to me in order to do work that is very important to Him.

I really struggled with the decision to obey Him.  

When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's she was still so high-functioning that putting her in a nursing home wasn't really an option. She couldn't live by herself any longer, and so we took her into our home.  The next school year I had the opportunity to cut my teaching job to half time. This took away my status as a classroom teacher and began the weaning process from the school that had been the center of my career and the focus of my ministry to children for all of my adult life.  The Lord was very gentle with me as He narrowed the path before me.

Still, it was hard.

When my special half time position was discontinued, I had the opportunity to accept a new job description and to continue on as a teacher, but I knew the Lord wanted me to place my trust in Him and to retire early so that I could write and provide care for my mother. I did not stride forth with faith and confidence.  I took tiny, baby steps, weeping and wailing, clinging to the past and mourning; pretty much discrediting the Lord who had guided me safely thus far and had promised not to drop me now.

He stood by me anyway.

When my first book contract netted a grand total of $164 over three years of royalty proceedings, I thought at first that I was on the wrong track, that I'd heard the Lord incorrectly.  But God doesn't measure success as the world does.  About that time came out with Author Central, which posts a map showing where in the United States an author's books have sold.  As I looked at that map and saw that the fifty some odd books my publisher had sold through Amazon had been distributed all over the country, I realized that the Lord had made a way for a retired school teacher from Kansas to touch fifty lives with the guidance God had graciously provided her. I saw that I'd been blessed indeed.  And meantime, against all odds, the Lord has provided us health insurance (think about two fifty-some-year-old people trying to find health insurance in this day and age...but the Lord provided us a way) and adequate income (even though we are farmers and have faced two drought years back to back).

My mother's condition is deteriorating and I am afraid.  I am ashamed to admit that I can't let her go.  I cannot release her calmly and with sure faith in the One who hasn't dropped me yet.  I will weep and wail, cling to the past and mourn, and will risk discrediting the Lord who has been so gracious to me on every step of our journey through my mother's Alzheimer's.

He'll stand by me anyway.

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watchedover your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything (Deuteronomy 2:7).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Caregiving Comfort

We caregivers always have to renegotiate the relationship we have with our loved ones each time their disease moves forward and our status quo changes. I want to share the Lord's comfort to me from these difficult days as my mother's condition begins to deteriorate.

When your care recipient is demanding and rude...

You belong to Me, but I will never strangle you with grasping arms, accuse you of being inadequate for My needs, or cling to you so that you feel smothered.  Drawing near to Me brings freedom, not bondage.  You do not have to be cautious in your submission to Me; I will not selfishly use you to gratify My needs.

When the path ahead seems frightening and you aren't sure how to proceed:  

Don’t forget, you do not have to make your own way, or to forge your own path.  I am your path maker.  You have only to follow Me.  Seek ye first… 

Reassuring Scripture:  

"The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert..."  (Deuteronomy 2:7). 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).