Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Journey Never Ends

I'm not sure what it says about me personally but I am constantly & pleasantly surprised at how God has worked in our lives. In previous weeks the hubby and I have diligently been praying for guidance. We were both exhausted (having numerous family obligations) & finding absolutely no time throughout the week to rejuvenate ourselves. We love everything we do however there is only so many hours in the week, and something was going to have to give.
We fully expected some kind of answer while we took 10 days away from it all. Clearing our minds of the chaos that has become our lives in hopes of making room to be able to hear Him properly. Every couple of days I'd turn to dear hubby & ask, "so have you had any epiphanies yet?" The answer was always the same, "nope, have you?"
We came home with the same questions we left with. What does He want us to do? Where can we best use our gifts? Out of the things we have a passion for what can we possibly let go?
In our minds, we were leaning towards having to let go of our ambitions to lead the teen program at church. (something that had given us some knots in our stomachs) It had recently changed nights which was additionally challenging for us.
We felt even more urgency for answers when we were asked to speak to the congregation about how God was leading us to work with the teens...Yikes! How in the world are we going to answer THAT one?! What a dilemna!
Again the answer came when I least expected it. While sharing my frustrations with the Ladies Life Group (a small group of ladies that meet weekly to not only share God's word but also their lives) there were observations shared with me that made things clearer & also eased my mind. And the clincher was something that I myself said in relation to someone else. We need to love people where THEY are at.....then it occured to me, why can't that same philosophy be afforded to us? Why can't we love people where WE are at? Do we have to do God's work by adding another ministry or can we just embrace all those people into the ministries we're already involved in?
So with some trepidation we needed to tell our pastor. We knew in our hearts that he would understand but there was still that feeling that we were going to be letting him down. The time had come though and we couldn't put it off any longer. Then just as I opened my mouth to speak, he says he has a favor to ask. Something unexpected had come up & he needed us to take over the next night's teen gathering! I think I chuckled out loud as I looked to my husband and nodded that it was ok with me. We did then explain that unfortunately we weren't going to be able to do this on a regular basis. We both felt a weight lifted though. And we even discussed that we'd still be able to be used for the good of the teens it just wasn't going to be within the format of teaching the group.
The following night, things went off without a hitch. And we enjoyed ourselves in the process (probably partially because that weight had been lifted) Afterwards one of the young people approached me very perplexed about some things in their life. I asked if it would help to talk things out privately which they agreed. When we met the next day after a few hours of conversation they asked if I'd be willing to study with them on a weekly basis to help them stay focused.
The thing is although I'd have wanted to help I don't know for certain if I'd have so easily offered my time for a private study, if we were still doing the 'group' thing regularly. Another interesting I said yes to them there were no knots in my stomach or feelings of dread that I was once again biting off more than I could chew. In fact it made me feel happy inside.
What are the chances? Coincidence? I really think so? Not a chance!

Do you see what I see?

Who of us as children did not play this game? I for one remember doing this with my parents on long car trips or rainy days at home.
Now we have the opportunity to win a Do You See What I See book! The newest one is Toyland Express AND it is signed by the author Walter Wick! Just in time for the holidays.
I don't have any kids, you might say....No problem! These books are fun for all ages. I love them in a quiet moment for myself, have bought them for my 80 year old mother that has dementia (it helps to stimulate her mind) and I've bought them as gifts for folks in the hospital or other times when they have to spend alot of time in bed.
If you too would like a chance at winning go on over to Mark it with a B blog for details. It's easy & worth the effort!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jump Into a Book!

What a great name for a blog! And how fitting as well....even as a kid that's how I thought of reading a good book! Jumping into a new and different world! You can 'go' anywhere when you read all from the comfort of your own little space. Stretching your imagination as you slay dragons, talk with fairies and mingle with the forest creatures. Now there's a great opportunity to win 19 wonderful books at Jump Into a Book!....Oh what a treasure this would be!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Can you hear me now?

'When are you going to get a break', a friend would ask...'you need your rest', another would say. All things I knew of course, but oh so much harder to impliment.

Are you listening? I thought I was...but apparently not to the fullest extent that I should've. I'm trying, really I am. I'm doing so much better too!

By June mom had been moved to a rehab facility however things still weren't stress free, by any stretch of the imagination. And with that there were new challenges that were added to the mix. For instance her asking about going home, her anger, her adding nasty name calling to her repertoire (this is all the dementia/strokes talking, I must add! NOT my mom)

However we did get good news on another homefront. It was as if God said, "just to remind you, not that you doubt it, that I'm still on THIS case even when you are busy with the current one. I am still in control. I can perfectly multitask whereas you are only human!" And a gift was given by way of healing of another loved one with a serious health issue. After 2 1/2 months of having a nagging darkness in my heart, they got a clean bill of health! Ahhh the blessed relief! I had relied on Him in a very dark hour and he not only heard my prayer but had shown his mercy on us. (I would like to add here that I had turned it all over to God & I had a peace about things. However being realistic & in anticipation, you just never know how God is going to answer you, ya know?) Even now a month and a half later I get very choked up reliving that moment.

One night being so dog tired even though there was still plenty for me to do at the house I made myself go to bed at 9pm. After my evening visit with mom I would normally still come home working through my sleepiness, to do the dishes, clean the cat box...finding myself getting to bed at 11. But you see, I've always been a person that needs a good 9 hours sleep to function the next day! But I truly was trying to put into practice all that I was learning.

Wouldn't you know it, the next morning I felt SO much better! Sure my dishes weren't done, nor the sweeper run, but I felt better....

Shortly thereafter, I actually was able to take a day 'off' from all the stresses of my current life. You see, even when I'm not with my mom, I am doing something for her in some way..her laundry, dad's laundry, making food for him, picking up things for her, doing their bills, taking care of paperwork in addition to my own 'stuff'....And I must be clear, I am not complaining about doing these things. This is just stating facts as they are. My dear husband and I moved back here 5 yrs ago for the sole purpose of looking after my parents in the elder years rather than hiring a stranger.

But I digress...on this particularly day I got to visit with an old friend that I hadn't seen in 20 yrs, ate some of the best pizza in W. Pa (in my opinion) and got to go to a favorite shop of mine, the Sheltering Tree, in Freeport. I always find wonderful gifts for friends/family and many times they have an inspirational theme to them.

As I anxiously looked over the clearance shelves wondering what treasures I'd find, I saw lovely gift boxed coffee cups with scriptures scrolled on their fronts. They were all neatly stacked which is what initially got my attention to begin with...however then my eyes drifted down to the lone cup...It was the only one, sitting at the edge of the shelf. It was also the only one not in a box so the words on it were clearly visible.

I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was nearby...'Did you hear that?', I thought to myself....I swear I think I just heard God talking to me, I chuckled to myself...

Oh you mean REALLY, "BE STILL"....why didn't you say so in the first place! LOL I can take a hint.....and every day I try to remind myself of that simple admonition.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are you listening?

I knew as soon as I heard my dad's voice that May morning that something was dreadfully wrong. Our daily 9 am 'touch base' call was usually the same pleasantries of how are you today, etc...but when I asked that his voice was exhausted and stressed. "Mom put in a terrible night"...and so it began. I went right over & knew that something was drastically wrong. The moderate dementia that plagues my mom was now complicated by something much more sinister..and at this point we weren't sure what. Our guess would be stroke.

Five hours in the ER and still we didn't know much...nor too much the next day besides an irregular heartbeat....finally we were told that they had gotten her that stabilized. That was something. Long story short we later found out it was not only a heart attack but multiple mini-strokes. Although she didn't lose use of her arm & leg we could see subtle things that weren't right. Her left slip-on shoe would no longer stay on for instance. Well that was because she wasn't feeling her foot!

The hardest part for me and dad was her confusion. We never dreamed that we would be saying, "oh I wish she had just her regular dementia'!..but we were. The confusion really complicated things and seemed literally painful for her. Which of course tore our hearts out! It was not uncommon for dad & both to spend 6 to 8 hours at a stretch so she wouldn't be so scared by her surroundings. There was one night that just as I was crawling off to bed at 10:30 (after being with her all day) I got a call from the hospital. She was so upset, agitated, anxiety filled, you name it, that they felt best if I go up. I didn't let my dad know til the next day because I was hoping he could get a decent night's sleep. It was close to 5 am the next morning when I finally got back home. After a couple weeks of that our gas tanks were getting pretty low.

I held it together while I was with her but my drives home from the hospital were solemnly alive...I know, that seems like a contradiction...I was so exhausted that I felt numb yet it was my time to pour my heart out in prayer. (that sounds very dignified when in all actuality I felt like a crying, blubbering idiot! I'm sure I was a sight for any car going in the opposite direction seeing me!) After one particularly heart wrenching day, I honestly felt like I had nothing left. I had been trying to find some shred of evidence that anything good could come out of this situation. I prayed for strength, wisdom, mercy for my mom & rest for my dad. I also gave it over to God & prayed that he help me to not try and take it back!!! Just let Him handle it. And as so often has happened in my life, by the next day I felt lighter once again...I couldn't explain it but I felt better. If I'm not mistaken my mom had a 'good day' then too (which meant only that there was less crying & fussing on her part and usually meant I got out of the hospital before midnight!)

I contemplated about the the great strides I thought I'd made prior to all this...and as the need for me to stay more at the hospital meant things at home fell by the wayside, again I was learning. You just CANNOT do everything all the time at the pace you use to do it!!! And you know what? I didn't have the energy to care that my sweeper hadn't been run! I was beginning to understand the overused saying, "Let go and Let God!" Remember I'm a slow learner? lol But I was also learning that the Let Go and Let God class 101 was one class you can't clep. You have to actually show up & you have to study! No cutting corners, NO easy 'A' have to do the homework.....

I don't know how it all happens exactly...maybe it's just the nature of the beast of being a woman/wife/mother/caretaker/gardener/accountant/grocery buyer/homeroom mom etc....but I've been a multi-tasker for a very long time. I fear my dear daughter has been cursed with this affliction also but since she is still young she has yet to have it all catch up with her. lol I was the same way. Invincible.

There have been so many parallels with what's going on with my mom and my own psyche...I realize that apparently God feels the need to 'fine tune' my reliance on him. That 'Let Go & Let God' is not for just with the circumstances with my mom but in EVERY part of my life...see the thing is, I thought I was already doing a good job with that?! lol Just goes to show you that we can always do better!!!

As the heavens would have it, a friend shared with me something she'd just read from Max Lucado. Max wrote, "Still we object..."But, but, but, Who is going to run the store?", "What about my grades?", "I've got my sales quota"....We offer up one reason after another, but God silences them all with a poignant reminder, "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day. God's message is plain, "If creation didn't crash when I rested, it won't crash when you do!"

Are you listening?

To be continued........

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A work in progress....

I thought I had learned the lesson I was supposed to back in April. Relying on Him when serious health issues arise & letting go of unnecessary things. I have felt God whispering to me for months and I thought I got 'it'. Simplifying...I am beginning to see that that was just the beginning of my lesson.
Within a week's time from numerous sources, I heard a common theme....on a radio talk show, a friends comment, a sermon etc...and I'd think to myself, well isn't that interesting that there's this common thread in all the things going on around me & also in my mind. It culminated in an Oprah a-ha moment, while watching a Bible lesson on dvd. The whispers I'd been getting for the months prior, were to not think I had to do all the things that were asked of me. That I can't do everything for all people at all times! I know this concept is probably very clear to most people, but sometimes I can be slow.
It was explained that it's like having a row of empty boxes in front of us. Unfortunately we feel we have to fill each of those boxes..but it's ok not too! There are seasons in our lives where we can only fill a few of the boxes. It's not that the other boxes aren't worthy it's just that we sometimes have to choose which boxes to work with. That hit me like a ton of bricks and made me teary at the relief it gave me.
I felt lighter after that...seriously...there was a burden lifted from my shoulders.
Good thing too because I got to put into practice my new 'tools' if you will....May 2 my mom went into the hospital after having suffered a heart attack and numerous mini-strokes! Perhaps the months since then were just to be another tier, building on that original lesson? You be the judge as the story unfolds....

Friday, April 8, 2011

When it matters most...

I have always wondered how I would react if faced with something really terrible. I don't mean unexpected guests that show up at dinnertime or not being able to afford the newest electronic gadget on the market. I mean something very serious like a life threatening health scare. I'm thinking first off, there'd be that initial panic, not being able to wrap your brain around it all. Perhaps walking in a daze for a few days wondering how you're going to cope. That's how I am anyway. I have found that a 'falling apart' period, if you will, which includes tears, shaking, nausea, you can name your 'breakdown' of choice here, is my method of coping in the initial stage. I tend to get bogged down in the 'what ifs' instead of the facts. Then I take a big breath and remember where my source of strength comes from. My God. That's not an exclamation here but rather a synonym for my strength...MY God & my faith. These hard to deal with moments also put into perspective what is truly important in life. It's not about wearing designer clothes, having a new car or having lots of money in the bank. When it comes down to it that is just stuff that might make life alittle easier but certainly shouldn't be where you find your peace, contentment, joy, happiness....well the list goes on.

These are the times to lighten your load. Simplifying can be very good. Get rid of the things that aren't important. Clean your mental 'house'. Col. 2:8 in the Bible says, "see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow & deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions & the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ. (italics is mine, I might add) The scriptures there goes on to say don't let anyone judge you for religious festivals, a new Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. We can't be burdened by mere human rules..Who has the time? "Do not handle, don't eat this, don't touch that" And isn't just being human enough of a burden at times? I get weary just thinking of all the demands we have on us.

There are things that in and of themselves may be good, but if the right motivation is not there, then it's not good. Col. 2:22, 23 We need to do things not because we have to be but because it's in our hearts. (you will have to use discernment here because as responsable adults there are some things we have to do when we don't want to like say, going to work!) Not imposed upon us by someone elses rules. Do not let someone disqualify you based upon their own personal rules...more importantly, what is God's opinion? (for instance, did you know that nowhere in the Bible does it say that a man has to wear a suit & a woman a dress to church? Man-made rule/personal choice...and what a burden that can be if you don't have those things! Do you think God is going to turn you away? ummmm NO! )

I, for one, don't want to be so concerned with the 'stuff' of this world, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, so much that I am not able to truly enjoy the simple gifts that God has given me. You can get so caught up in the rules that you miss the whole point.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

As time goes by....

Do you remember when you were a kid and summer vacations seemed to last forever? How about the 2 weeks you got for a Christmas break? It seemed to stretch for so long that some kids (not me, however) could actually get bored & their parents were glad for them to go back to school!

My DH (dear husband)and I got to spend 12 glorious days in WA state with our daughter, son-in-law, and two of the most beautiful and smarter than average, granddaughters! (ya-ya you'll have to live with that last comment because I'm a proud Oma! Ü)
The first day or two I thought OK the pace doesn't seem too bad and we are going to be able to luxuriate (is that a word?) in this slow pace & savor every moment. No sooner did I have those thoughts did it seem like time did a fast forward to when we had to leave! Yikes!

Why does it do that when we are together with loved ones? Thank goodness I have pictures to keep track of many of our 'moments'.

One theme that seemed to overtake this trip was birthdays. DH celebrated his 51st while there and our girls surprised him with a Toy Story themed party. Well sure not your typical party for a grown man but hey, they had the plates & other accessories (which included sheriff badges) at Walmart! And since we are known for marching to the beat of a different drum anyway, it was fitting that he didn't have a regular birthday either. He got instead, his favorite cream horns stacked on top of each other! Then he was serenaded with the Happy Birthday song on the keyboard by J, the 6 year old!
My 50th birthday isn't until May so you can imagine my shock at having a surprise Harry Potter themed birthday in March! Well, since the kids couldn't be with us in May, they decided to have it while we were there! This was just awesome. I was a little kid the last time I had anything close to this. I even got a hand-made bedazzled OMA shirt! And to top it off our dear friend of over 25 yrs, was visiting from Spokane way that made it all the more special.

To keep the ball going we decided that we'd get the little girls their April birthday presents while we were there to enjoy seeing them with it! I took them outside blindfolded while their Opa brought the battery operated four-wheeler around to the back of the house. What a hoot it was to see them driving along then holding their arms up like you do on the downhill on a rollercoaster!!! It only goes a max. speed of 5 mph so they were safe!
We got to go to Roslyn, WA where they filmed the show Northern Exposure. This was always a family favorite show as it took place in the fictitious place of Cicely, Alaska. We ate at the Brick restaurant, walked in Dr. Fleischman's office and strolled through Ruth Ann's General store...Also got to see where "Chris in the morning" dj'd on KBHR radio.

DD bought baby chicks to raise for eggs. This delighted not only the little girls but also quite intrigued their Jack Russell, Linus.

We ate great food! I've been hearing for years how good pheasant was & we were finally able to get some and smoke it which was a culinary delight! In addition to all the other outstanding things our daughter prepared.

And let's not forget those quiet moments where we just sat & talked, read books, cuddled on the couch, napped, enjoyed movies,saw Mt. Rainier, had library day, shopped, took walks,played frisby (not so quiet I realize) etc.

Hmmm, in restrospect I guess it's really no wonder our time went by in the wink of an eye! We tried to stuff a years worth of love, hugs and memories into a mere 12 days!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mice are our friends, not lunch!

I've had people ask me how all the critters are getting along since Gretel has now been here a month. She has totally made herself one of the family that's for sure. For the first week, I thought perhaps I finally had THE perfect cat. Come to find out that was her scheme all along. Make us absolutely fall in love with her so that when she showed us her 'finer' qualities we would be less likely to kill her or send her back to the shelter! (not that either of those would really be an option but you get the idea) I have jokingly told her that if she didn't shape up she would make a fine set of guitar strings.

Her and the big white dog have become great friends. Of course there was the 'break in' period where Gretel's tail was constantly puffed up whenever Zoey was anywhere near. And Zoey also came to the painful realization that the cute little fur-ball had very sharp claws that did not feel good when connected to her nose. She however only ended up with three superficial scratches so I thought that was pretty good. Zoey is very gentle with her bringing her toys and trying to engage G in play. Just last night I witnessed something I'd never see...Gretel was chasing Zoey around the living room! It made me laugh out loud!

The bigger challenge has been trying to get through to Gretel that the mice are suppose to be here. Thank goodness she is only a 5 lb. cat since I am constantly finding her on top of their cage! What's really funny is that there are a couple of them that seem to deliberately taunt her! I don't know if it's coincidence but today she figured out that I don't squirt her with water if she merely sits there and watches them. Hmmm maybe we're making progress. Course then again we may be starting all over with a new day too. lol

I do know that in between those times I have to yell at her to quit playing with the blind strings or getting off the coffee table, she is the source of absolute delight. I would have to highly recommend a kitten to just about anyone. Don't get me wrong...I adore dogs. And our Zoey is very special to us...but there is something to be said about the love from a cat as well.

I honestly can't imagine my life without one or the other. Ü