Friday, November 23, 2007


Today I went into Mom's apartment and saw that she was napping. There was a Post-it sized notepad of paper with a floral design laying beside her chair, and she'd covered several of the notes with script. The tiny pages required her to crimp her handwriting into a minuscule version of its usual size, and she wrote, "This pad of paper is pretty, but a little bit small. Unique!" She went on to describe her lunch menu, her cat's green eyes, and the beauty of her Christmas tree.

I rummaged through the stack of books and papers on the side table and found her spiral notebook. I placed it atop the pile so she would find it when she reached for her pen again, and as I returned to my part of the house I marveled at Mom's calm acceptance of the incongruities that she encounters so often through her day. I don't know where she found that little bitty pad of paper, but she was neither frustrated or angered by the lack of writing materials that would have better fit her needs. "Unique!" she wrote, and went about her day.

I pray for grace to accept the circumstances God has provided for us with childlike faith like my mom's.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Holding My Breath

I have been suffering from writer's block. I submitted a book proposal to an editor and invited her to read my blog. Immediately I found that I was nixing every idea for a new entry. No thought was profound enough and no composition adequately crafted for editing eyes to see! But I've felt blocked in other areas as well. Several days ago I was in prayer and I felt the Lord say, "Stop holding your breath."

I understood. My daughter is expecting her first child in early February, and I feel an increasing sense of dread on her behalf. My impulse is to pretend nothing is worrisome and to go on as before. My way of coping with this anxiety is to think that I can just "hold my breath" until her labor and delivery are over. And, my mother's Alzheimer's disease is a marathon. I might be able to get through a short ordeal by pulling into myself and refusing to interact with others or with the Lord, but the sheer length of labor required to see a loved one through to the end of a battle against Alzheimer's requires that I learn to breathe deeply of the Lord in the midst of the ordeal.

I have a mind picture of Mom and our family in river rapids… whoa... whhoooaaa… WHOOOAAAAAA! God is the raft. We're hanging on! This raft won’t flip over and can’t be torn by rocks…we might get a little battered and bruised but if we just cling tightly to the Lord we'll be o.k. We are tethered to this raft as with seat belts; Holy Spirit power has us even if our hands are torn loose.

(whine) I don’t wanna go on a ride in the rapids with my precious daughter…here is my fear, here is my fear…

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze...Isaiah 43:2 NIV

(whine) I don’t wanna go through the valley with my mom.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil , for you are with me....Psalm 23:4 NIV

The Lord is with me. I choose to partake of His Word, to seek out fellowship with other Christians, and to give praise to His Holy Name. I will breathe deeply of Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Anna Ruth and Her Brothers in 1945

These lovely young people have now morphed into lovely old people! They each have lived lives worthy of the Lord. From left to right above: Anna Ruth (Sunday school teacher, youth group leader), Fred (deacon in his church, witnesses in order to win souls for Christ), Clark (deacon in his church, active in mission work in his community).

The Length of our days is seventy years, or eighty if we have the strength...teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:8, 10 NIV

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Avoid Escapism (Escape Avoidism)

Yesterday afternoon I watched a movie. There's nothing wrong with that but for the fact that my reasons for closing myself into the upstairs T.V. room didn't hold up to the Lord's light. I wasn't taking a much-needed rest so much as I was attempting to escape from a conglomerate of negative emotions.

I was feeling upset and resentful toward Mom because though I did so much for her on Saturday morning, I was unable to muster a sweet and accepting attitude. I was short-tempered. As we drove home from Mom's hair appointment, I snapped at her for nearly spilling my cup of coffee as she reached out to pick up a stack of library books that I had checked out for her. She made no reply but after about a sixty second silence she said, "You know, I just love Sandy. Sandy is a jewel. When will she be back?" Sandy is our respite care lady who cleans Mom's apartment and chats with her and never, ever snaps at her! Alzheimer's patients aren't known for finesse. Mom's point was clear. She wished I was more like Sandy.

And I was worried about my son. He has recently passed two major life milestones. Two weeks ago he turned twenty and on the same day he broke up with his girlfriend, who lives just a few miles down the road from us in a neighboring town. I had thought I would be relieved at this separation because they are young, and though they had taken a purity vow they had seemed to me to be more seriously involved than a pair of teenagers should be. Curiously though, I felt unusually grief-stricken as my son pulled out of the driveway to return to college today. I realized that without the emotional attachment to a girlfriend that he was free to stretch his wings a bit. He'd talked about going off on a mission trip next weekend and home with a college friend the week after that. Nothing wrong with that. But I realized that I'd been depending on his connection to his girlfriend to draw him back home in a predictable, week-by-week pattern. When he left today I felt for the first time that he was truly leaving home.

Instead of taking my troubles to the Lord, I took my grief and my resentment up to the T.V. room and stuck a movie into the DVD player.

In the night last night I woke up feeling disturbed in my spirit. We'd pulled my computer desk away from the wall as the guys began to lay new laminate flooring in the kitchen. Robbed of access to my word processor, I rummaged in the cupboard and found an old spiral notebook. As I flipped through the pages looking for a blank section in which to record my thoughts and prayers, I just happened to see the following entry:

There is no comfort for those who have turned their backs on the Lord; there is only escapism. They can't get rid of their fears, they can only bury them. That's why the Lord is so upset when his children use the same methods of escape used by people of the world. He died so that we could cast our cares on Him.

Isn't it amazing how the Lord provides us what we need when we need it? I hadn't used that notebook for months. And yet when I opened it last night my own words served to bring me back to the Lord in order to cast my cares upon Him.

Scripture: I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song, He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:13-14 NIV