Dementia

"Dementia is wicked," she wrote reflecting on a difficult week with her father.  
I understood what she was saying.
I responded: 
Dementia IS wicked.  
But (for me, at least) it is also endlessly and all-at-the-same-time
fascinating, challenging, tender, demanding, and sad.  
My mother's condition is drawing out the best in me, I believe.  
Qualities I never would have guessed myself to have...
Then again, maybe that's because they AREN'T "my qualities" 
but His remarkable grace.
A care-giver helps Mother with next week's meal choices...

The Holy...Drawing Near

My father and mother holding hands in a recent chapel service.

Pay attention to the things that bring a tear to your eye or a lump in your throat; 
they are signs that the holy is drawing near. ~ F.Buechner

So many tears in my eyes and lumps in my throat these days.
I don't mean to be a "Debbie Downer", but I am reassured by this quote.
I have sensed it; now I realize that indeed
the holy IS drawing near.

♪ Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary ♪

 Days are filled with sorrow and care,
Hearts are lonely and drear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Refrain:
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Cast your care on Jesus today,
Leave your worry and fear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Troubled soul, the Saviour can see
Ev'ry heartache and tear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Anticipation

 Usually our Bible study group meets in a coffee shop,
but this morning, they're bringing "the mountain to Mohammed".
 My husband has been incredibly helpful in doing some basic cleaning 
and moving the tables to accommodate our number.
I've arranged some of the lovely get well cards I've received
over the past almost-three weeks as centerpieces.
Coffee is measured.  A push of the button will get it going.
Coffee cake will arrive with the ladies.
And Jesus is ALREADY here.
God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5

(I'm not sure WHERE that mountain/Mohammed saying comes from!
Will have to do a little research.)

...and So Much More

My temporary bed in the living room from which I've met visitors and exercised by day and in which I sleep at night.
My husband
  • Single-handedly moved two large mattresses down to living room, stacking them so I could have a 1st floor "bedroom" when I got home from the hospital.
  • Tracked down a walker, bedside commode, portable shower seat and several other miscellaneous tools to make recovery easier.
  • Puts on the anti-embolic stockings for me (I can't bend past a 90 degree hip flexion).
  • Helps arrange my legs, blankets and pillows in the bed "just right".
  • Has picked up  sweet treats now and then on the way home from a meeting.
  • Has picked up so many things I've dropped for me when my frustration level reaches its peak or my "reacher" is not within reach.
  • Patiently rearranges the "clutter" that never used to bother me on the coffee table, etc. under my direction.
  • Goes after the cobwebs that magically appear overnight across the room from me.
  • Has done laundry and kept current with other household tasks.
  • Folds up and packs the walker in the car for my therapy outings.
  • Has never complained or sighed (audibly anyway, as far as I know).
  • Has helped lift a heavy leg up and into the bed.
  • Listens to me as I question and analyze each new pain and wonder if I've popped the ball out of the socket.
  • Drove a few miles while I was still in the hospital each morning to bring me coffee he'd brewed and share a morning devotional time with me as we normally do.
  • ...and SO MUCH MORE
  ...serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
My husband lives this injunction EVERY day,
but especially just now.

Catching Up

 I was already two days behind in my "Daily Readings in Sequential Time" Bible when I fell.
I wasn't able to concentrate very well in the early days of hospitalization,
but have been trying to catch up in these hours between therapy, visitors and rest.
I'm in Deuteronomy,  It seems like it was written just for me
preparing to go home and put into practice the exercises and precautions that came
with my hip replacement.  
(Dr. Charles Stanley is even quoting from it as I watch him this Sunday morning!)

Stay on that path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow (5:33)
Commit yourselves wholeheartedly (6:6)
The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you (6:10)
Don't be afraid....remember....remember (7)
Remember how the Lord led you through the wildernes...humbling you 
 and testing you to prove your character....*He did it to teach you (8:2-3)
You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not--you are a stubborn people. (9:6) 
Fear the Lord...live in a way that pleases him and love him and serve him 
with all your heart and soul (10:12)
(God is giving me these commands) today for your own good (10:13)
Be careful to obey every command I am giving you today so you may have 
strength to go in and take over...(11:8) 

Through His Word (and I'm NOT caught up yet) I sense He is preparing me
to enter the next part of my healing journey.
The importance of observing the precautions and limitations I've been given
coupled with the out-patient therapy and daily exercises I will do
has been re-enforced by my readings over the past few day.
Right after church, Gary is coming to pick me up and take me home.  
He's been busy gathering supplies that will make my next few weeks easier.
I am blessed.
*"In school, teachers give you a test after you learn the lesson. 
In life, GOD gives you a test that teaches you the lesson!"
(Rick Warren, twitter)

Hospital Visitation

Family and friends can help speed your recovery, 
but too many visitors or visitors that stay too long an have the opposite effect.  
Please ask your visitors to comply with the following guidelines.
...so read a part of the hospital information I received when I arrived
 for my days of in-patient rehab.
Several guidelines followed -- most of which seemed obvious to me
but are often overlooked when visitors think to themselves, 
"Well, that doesn't mean ME"!
Friends have visited me.
Thankfully, most know the importance of short visits, 
quiet conversations, and limiting the number of guests at one time.
Thoughtful gifts (though unnecessary) have brightened my day.
Note the variety in the three book one friend brought for me.
I'm especially looking forward to reading the Lenten Reflections from C.S. Lewis (above).
 I assure you, there are not as many pieces of this wonderful chocolate left in the box today--
the day after receiving them.  The chewing gum that came with this gift is also much appreciated.
It felt so good to use this lotion after sponging off this morning.
This type of thing (chap-stick, powder, etc.) was nice to receive.
 And cards!
Some serious; some funny.
This one so appropriate!
I'm sure I'm not like all patients, but I don't feel my best emotionally or physically.  
And I KNOW I don't look my best.
I would like to think it's not simply a pride problem that makes me 
hope that everyone who is concerned about me
doesn't visit me during my short hospital stay.
So much time (for me, at least) is needed to do my therapy and rest.
 Appear as you are. Be as you appear. (annie s. on twitter)
I hope to be a more sensitive visitor in the future as a result of my current situation.
I think being aware of the individual patient's circumstances,
needs, and personality all enter into this 
along with respecting hospital guidelines which are for the general welfare of its patients.
What have YOU learned from personal experience about being
a good hospital visitor?

Moving On...

"What a Difference a Day Makes" was the title of the sermon
 my husband was prepared to preach on Sunday morning.
 Saturday, the day before the sermon, I slipped on ice
while visiting my mother about an hour away from home.
 By 10:00 Sunday morning, the surgery was over.
I had just been the recipient of some new hardware!
 Above, the picture my surgeon drew of the hip replacement parts.
Below, the white board that was updated (off and on).
 My room became a party place last night.
We could have used more chairs.
Friends were so encouraging.

 Here are a few other scenes from my room...
 This afternoon, I left the hospital that was near the scene of my fall,
 and traveled to a hospital where I will receive a little
physical therapy and occupational therapy
to equip me for the next several weeks.
How quickly life can change!
Ironically, my husband's sermon title Sunday was
"What a Difference a Day Makes".
Two things I know this evening as I settle into my "new" room:
1.  I shouldn't have read Wikipedia on the topic of hip replacement.
2.   That God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  (Romans 8:28)

Mother

 Can a woman forget her nursing child,
 And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
 Surely they may forget,
 Yet I will not forget you.
Isaiah 49:15 

Reassuring words from the One who walks with us
through the sadness and joys of a loved one's dementia.
I used to read this verse and think it meant it was impossible
for a mother to forget her nursing child - or child of any age.
But when it came to my mind the other day, I looked it up in various translations.
Now I see that many of them either imply or say outright
that it IS possible for a mother to forget...
How well I know.
I AM that child now.

According to one source:  The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias will grow as the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to increase. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million—a 40 percent increase from the 5 million age 65 and older currently affected. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

Lent: Both/And

...three crosses on our mantel...
I have a blogging friend who has decided to give up opinions for Lent.  She has explained her decision in previous posts and locked it in in THIS one.  She refers to Lent as "six glorious weeks".  Personally, I can't imagine that refraining from opinions for six weeks could ever be glorious.  I fear I would fail with such frequency that I would give up LONG before the six glorious weeks were finished!  But it got me to thinking....

Commenting briefly on her post this morning, I wrote:  "I have about 12 hours to decide if and from what I will 'abstain' for the Six Glorious Weeks. I'm leaning toward an add-on rather than a subtraction, however.  Maybe Both/And - as did our Lord those 40 days.... 'not bread alone/every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'.

Meanwhile (and on the subject of Lent) Scotty Ward Smith tweeted:  "To equate Lent with legalism is similar to equating water with drowning. There's the right use, misuse, and abuse of most things." 

I come from a church background that doesn't observe Lent in the traditional ways.  This DOES not and WILL not keep me from intensifying my focus on the Christ whose passion resulted in my eternal salvation.  I want to - I NEED to - "use" Lent rightly.

The Secret to Longevity

Ours is not a designer house.  It's simple, old and functional.
Behind these doors in our main floor bathroom is this:
a stackable washer and dryer.
Purchased at least 15 years ago out of necessity (space requirement),
it survived a move and fit perfectly into the space allotted for my current laundry purposes.
  Do you know, we've had NO repair issues for this  "Whirlpool wonder" to date!
I wouldn't want to bring any on by my comments.....
(I don't think it happens that way)
BUT, as I transferred a load of blue jeans from the washer to dryer this morning,
I did what I think I have done EVERY SINGLE LOAD.
"This", I tell myself silently, "is the secret to the machines' longevity."
It has become a habit for me.  I don't even think about it most of the time--
except this morning when I thought of a line for which I cannot give proper credit.
"Keep short accounts with God," is how I remember it.
Today I ponder that line in terms of keeping the lint trap free.
Confess frequently. Confess thoroughly.  Confess promptly.
 Every time something comes to interrupt 
fellowship and joy in my relationship with Lord Jesus!
This restores the unhindered flow of His Spirit in and out of my life.
Confession is the "secret" of longevity in the life of a soul
much as cleaning the lint trap is to the life of my machines.
My prayer is that confession will become as engrained in me
as my habit of cleaning the lint trap on my dryer...

The Puzzle of a Lifetime

I don't remember when (or where) I bought this puzzle.
I'm sure it was either in a thrift store or at a garage sale.
Last night seemed like a good time to  bring it out.
Unfortunately, we found no picture to accompany the pieces!
We turned all the pieces over and separated out the straight-edged outside pieces.
Without a picture to guide us, the task was difficult,
and we went to bed before the outer frame was finished.
This morning, I set the timer for 30 minutes and with great determination
I set about to complete at least THIS much.
SUCCESS!
But as I thought about the difficulty of doing this puzzle
without any idea of what it's supposed to look like when finished,
I thought, "It's the same way with life!"
Without God's Word to give me the big picture along with details of
life as God intended it to be lived,  I'd approach the puzzle of life
with much frustration and discouragement!
But WITH it, I have a guide by which to organize and put my minute and days together
to work toward a desired end.
Inspired by this initial success, we'll work on the puzzle until completion.
And encouraged and guided by His Word,  
I'll keep working on the puzzle of life until completion, too.
 P.S.  Done!  Wednesday A.M.
It took a system and some time...
but it's finished.  No pieces were missing.
(That's kind of like life, too.)

Willing and Prepared

Jesus IS watching.  Jesus sees. 
And that's enough.
Those were my concluding words to yesterday's post.
An unexpected affirmation to those words came within an hour of writing them.
I was driving to make one of my frequent visits to my parents.
Before I left, I had sent a link to a file containing the hand-outs for a presentation
I was scheduled to do in the evening for a group of pastors' wives
to my husband to be copied at his office.
I was using drive time to formulate an introduction to my "talk".
Then came the phone call from the organizer of the evening's meeting.
The weather forecast for the afternoon predicted serious weather for our area.
Knowing the reluctance of women to be driving in the snow and ice,
she canceled the meeting.
As I drove on to visit my mother at the residential care unit,
I was SO aware that Jesus IS watching.  That Jesus sees.
I felt a little like Hagar.  (Genesis 16:13)
 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 
"You are the God who sees me," 
for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
BIBLE PAINTINGS Hagar and the Angel Carel Fabritius
Hagar and the Angel, Painter: Carel Fabritius, 1643-5
I had been willing and I was prepared for the evening.
For yesterday, this was all He asked of me--to be willing to be used
and to be prepared to be used.
 After a pleasant visit with my dear parents,
I drove home in fair weather and arrived safely
before the predicted snowfall began - which it did with a fury.
Oh!
You'll never guess what the reading was this morning (Tuesday)
as my husband and I shared it from the explorefaith site,
The passage from Mark 12 about the widow's mite!
(You'd have to read yesterday's post to understand why this excites me...)
Coincidence?  I don't THINK so.
 Jesus IS watching.  Jesus sees. And that's enough.


Monday Morning


Monday morning for pastors' wives (well, THIS one anyway) are not so unlike those of everyone else except for the possible addition of another emotion or activity - reflection on the events and conversations of the previous day.  THIS pastor's wife has a tendency to review things thoroughly with thoughts of following up and following through.  Sifting through what to pass on to her pastor husband for HIS action, and of course FULL of suggestions for improvement!  (Can you read the regret/sarcasm/confession between my lines?)

This morning, I'm reflecting on my tears.  WHY could I not hold them back?  Why were they falling incessantly down my cheeks all through the service?  I'm still not sure.  The answer(s) aren't coming readily.

Some of them, I think, are tears of exhaustion.  Not from being physically overworked, but from emotional overload.  While considering that possibility as I dressed this morning, the strangest passage of Scripture came to my mind!  This one from Mark 12.

Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
(The Message)

Our Penny Bank
 I KNEW it was a message for me.  And I know what He is asking of me. 
Today out of my "poverty", I will put in everything!
(And I'm not talking about financial poverty).
I will keep on giving.  Extravagantly.
I will keep on going.
Jesus IS watching.  Jesus sees.
And that's enough.

Resting

Things are busy here.
Well, maybe not so "busy" as "heavy".
I miss blogging but don't seem to have anything left when it comes time to post.
It's just that season--
a combination of health, family, and other personal challenges.
More thankful than EVER for His invitation:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  
(Jesus, Matthew 11:28)

Speaking of Words

Gleaning words while waiting in a hotel lobby last week...
Speaking of words (which I did in my last post), here are a few that have spoken to me over the past weeks.  I actually have a post burning in my heart, but it needs a little more shaping before it's ready.  So today, I share these sentences - mostly gleaned from twitter to which I subscribe solely as a source of mental and spiritual challenge.  I try to be careful in selecting and limiting my following there so as not to be over stimulated and under responsive!
  • "As long as Christ sits on the throne, every day is a good day and all days are days of salvation." AW Tozer
  • Saying "Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary" is similar to saying "Feed the hungry at all times, use food if necessary."  Burk Parsons
  • “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”  Jean Vanier
  •  "If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. If you want to hear him speak audibly, read it out loud."  Justin Peters
  • “The silence of God is not absence.”  Tim Keller
What quote is currently challenging or encouraging YOU? 

Words

"The power of words is that they have the power to do more
than convey meaning; not only do they have the power to make things clear,
they have the power to make things happen."  (Frederick Buechner)
 We DID get the tour of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC!
 I took a "ton" of pictures!
 When I downloaded them (or is it UPloaded?) into a facebook album,
 I realized how many of them were pictures of WORDS!
 Various forms...
Quotations, explanations, and Scripture verses.
 I knew it before, but this experience confirmed it!
I love words!  (Notice the words on Ruth Bell Graham's tombstone above.)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 
“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.” (Heny Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science)

Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)