TRAPPED!

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Lovable, but not a genius. That’s Grendl, the white, not-so-miniature schnauzer we adopted from my folks when they moved to a senior residence. She had been, in large part, leash trained. Very seldom had she gotten a chance to run free. She’d been content as a refined, in-door, pampered lady in my folk’s home. That is, until she came to live with us and met Goliath. He’s our little, white, Maltese-shitzu. Our wild child!

Our large, fenced-in backyard became a huge playground for them both. Her old legs revived as the dogs chased one another – and every car, bike, truck, bus, and skateboarding pedestrian that passed by! She taught Goliath to bark, and he taught Grendl to run.

But one day, these two friends found the gate open.

Now, I don’t know how a doggie brain works, but knowing these two pups, I’d guess Goliath showed not one moment of hesitation as he raced into the world. But, I imagine Grendl paused before she chased after him. Regardless, off they trotted into the unknown together.

It wasn’t long before we realized they were gone, but it didn’t take long to locate them. Silly dogs had gone around the house next door and wound up in the neighbor’s also fenced backyard. When I called to them, they both came running, Goliath straight to my arms, but Grendl to the position pictured above. 🤣

That sweet, dumb dog (sorry, Mom!) thought she was trapped. I don’t care how many times I coaxed her from outside the gate, she still continued to woefully, repentantly stare at me from behind the fence. I actually had time to jog home, grab my phone, and return to take her picture. She hadn’t budged. I had to enter the fenced area and gently lead her through the exit, laughing the entire way home!

Oh, dear dog. I’m sorry I laughed at you. I’ve been there, too, and feeling trapped is not a funny feeling.

I’ve not often found myself in that situation physically, but I’ve been there emotionally numerous times. It’s a desperate, frightening, lonely feeling. And, like you, I’ve watched friends run free while I’m left behind, encased by bars too narrow to slip through. 

Being emotionally trapped often provides special challenges. If my friends realized I was trapped at the bottom of a deep, physical well, they would quickly run to my aid with buckets, ropes, and ladders. Some would even meet me at the top with dry towels and warm clothes. IF they knew I was trapped.

But being trapped emotionally makes rescue more unlikely. The fence often remains invisible to others. That’s not their fault. It’s merely the truth. None of us can read minds. (It’s kind of like my trying to read the puppies’ brains!)

So, two questions arise. One, what can I do when I’m feeling enclosed by pain, uncertainty, fear, financial or health concerns, relationship hurt, addiction, loneliness, or any other cage from which I see no escape? I can look up and lock eyes with the One Who can set me and anyone else free.

“But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me, my glory, and THE LIFTER UP OF MINE HEAD.” Psalm 3:3

I have a Saviour, and His Name is Jesus. He is the way to freedom. Wherever I find myself, I can find Him. It matters not if my entrapment is the result of my own unwise choices, or if it’s due to circumstances over which I had no control. He sees me. He loves me. He will make a way for me.

Personally, I find my greatest release in my time of Bible study and prayer. My time with the Lord draws my attention away from earthly problems and sets my focus upon His love. Once in a while, He points me to the path leading out of my problems. He comes alongside and gently leads me to liberty. Sometimes He lovingly shows me I’m not nearly as “trapped” as I thought. The gate beside me is already open. But whether or not He chooses to alter my circumstances, He always sets my spirit free! He is the Friend Who knows how I feel, and He cares. As I come to know Him better, I am encouraged to know how kind and capable He is on my behalf. And, “trapped” with Jesus by my side is not at all fearful!

As I travel through life, and if I remain attuned to the innermost needs of those around me, I will find others who feel the claustrophobic pains of entrapment. Thus, the second question remains:  how can I help others?

I don’t suggest you run home, grab your camera, and race back to take their picture to post on social media like I did to Grendl! Rather, come quietly alongside them, comfort them, lead them to the gate of freedom whenever possible, and simply be a supportive friend. Pray for them. Send a “snail mail” note of encouragement or drop off a donut and cup of coffee. Remind them of the Saviour’s intense and personal love.

Do not avoid them because you don’t know what to say. Sometimes there are no words, but a shoulder always works! Do not allow them to feel forgotten or forsaken. Sometimes, it takes very little difference to make a difference.

Grendl ran off several more times, and sometimes we had difficulty finding her. But we always looked until we found her. She was always relieved to see us and come back home. The tail wags and cuddles were our reward.

How much sweeter to see the shy, appreciative smile from a grateful friend. Just because you were there.

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”   Psalm 40:2,3

 

 

 

 

I SEE YOU!

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Where’s Tatum? Little “Sweet Tater” loves to play Peek-a-Boo! And I love this picture because I know he’s hiding a big grin and little giggles. Nothing warms this Mimi’s heart more!

Was figuring out who was “hiding” behind the hat difficult for me? Of course not! This 18-month old child believes if he cannot see me then I cannot see him. But as adults, we know better. My husband also loves playing Hide and Seek with our grandkids. Most of them are still young enough to answer the questions he asks while he’s “hunting” for them.


“Miles, are you hiding downstairs?”
“No.” 🤦🏼‍♀️🤣


It cracks us up! We love to hear the snickers from behind the recliner while we look behind the door. They think they really have us stumped. Someday we know they will be harder to find, but for now, we play the game just for the giggles.

Do adults ever play Hide and Seek? Sure! When our kids were older, we played the game in our house. I had a special hiding place my kids never found. I would hide in the shower under a big, white towel. When the kids looked through the shower door, they saw only white and assumed the shower was empty. I was camouflaged and remained safely hidden until the game was over. I never revealed my secret. (But if they read my blog, I’ll have to find a new spot!)

But as adults, we often play another version of the old game – the spiritual version. Have you played it? I have. Sad thing is this: I play with the mentality of a toddler. I find myself forgetting that just because I cannot see God doesn’t mean He cannot see me. But God is omnipresent. He’s EVERYWHERE! He knows and sees it all. No big white towel exists to cover me from His view.

Forgetting that God never takes His eyes off me brings two vastly different emotions to my spirit. First, I feel shame in knowing that the sinful actions of my hands, words of my tongue, and thoughts in my mind never go unnoticed by Him. The fact no one else knows what I’m doing doesn’t negate my sin. Jesus had to die for that sin to be forgiven. Oh, how sorry I am for my sinfulness, yet how I praise Him for His merciful forgiveness. Precious Lord, please keep me aware of what my sin cost you, even the sins I commit “covertly.” You know all of them.

But secondly, knowing He constantly watches me also brings incredible comfort. Just as God sees every sin I commit, He also sees every good act of service I strive to perform. Not one escapes His gaze. As parents, children, employees, employers, neighbors, and church members, we each have countless minuscule jobs which no one seems to notice unless we fail to do them. But God sees! I love The old hymn “Little Is Much When God Is in It.” My little chores are a big deal to God. And being appreciated motivates me to do a bit more, to work a little harder because He’s watching.

His all-seeing gaze also cheers me when I feel alone. I will reluctantly admit to feeling quite “out of it” in the public eye in my caregiving journey. My mind pictures it in a funny way. It’s the feeling of a little person who’s fallen into a sidewalk groove. He remains unhurt down in there, but he goes unnoticed by passers-by. Big footsteps may straddle the crack and cast a fleeting shadow below, but the occupant of the gulley remains hidden. Forgotten. Have you been in that sidewalk crack state of mind before? Most of us have at one time or another. It’s entirely possible to feel hauntingly alone in a crowded room (or even in a church sanctuary), feeling unnoticed.

But the good news is God is watching. He’s listening. He cares. He’s aware of my existence. In spite of the bigness of the universe in comparison to my smallness, I matter a great deal to God. And so do you. What a comforting realization!

I cannot play hiding games with Him. And I don’t want to. His ever-watchful eye improves my quality of life exponentially. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill Heaven and earth? saith the LORD.”
Jeremiah 23:24

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
Proverbs 15:3

GLOWING

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As I hurried out the door toward the car last night, I admired the stunning sunset. The whole sky glowed. Gold and orange touched everything!

But then, something unusual happened. As I turned to get into the car, I saw the sunset again! How could that be? I was looking in the opposite direction!?

From the picture above, I’ll bet you’ve already figured it out. I was seeing the beauty reflected in our front picture window. Of course, you can see a bit inside our house. You can see the Christmas tree, a window in the sunroom, a couple walls, and a light on in the front room. But what you notice first, and overwhelming so, is the sunset.

When people look at us, what do they notice first? Let me ask another question. What SHOULD people notice first? Yes. Jesus! The most prominent attraction in my life should not be me, but Him.

I’m not writing anything new. I’m not sure I ever do. My purpose is not so much to present new material, but rather to draw into specific focus those truths we already know. To make their application clear. And to get into the nitty-gritty of practicing these basic principles in our everyday lives.

That being said, how do we display a proper reflection of our Savior?

We must set our full attention on Him. The hardest part for most will prove to be getting eyes off of self. We often spend an inordinate amount of time staring into the mirror – admittedly, often more time for girls than guys, but not always. We become preoccupied at times by how we want others to view us. And there’s nothing wrong with fashion sense and style, fitness and eating right, health and cleanliness. The Lord expects us to care for our bodies and to make ourselves acceptable representatives of His creation.

However, when the desire to look and feel great commands more of our time and energy than does our effort to correctly reflect Christ, we have a faulty balance. Christ must be the hub of our lives, not merely a spoke we add in as we have opportunity. Portraying Him doesn’t happen by accident. We don’t put it on or take it off on a whim. It’s not simply spiritual catch phrases we drop into our conversations. It’s a way of living.

How can we make that happen? We must spend time cultivating our relationship with Him to the point that it’s Him Who shines from every expression. We must intentionally fill every facet of our lives with His Word, with meditations of His character, and with purposeful practicing of His truth. We must consciously work at it. Haven’t you heard it said that we begin to look and act like the one with whom we spend the most time? It’s true! To be like Jesus, we need to spend quality time with Him.

It’s also fascinating to me that when God created us, He made us each different with the obvious intention of using our individuality to portray Him. You and I will each present the Savior to others through our own circumstances. Our unique personalities will come through in our ministries. As mentioned, you can see a few characteristics of our house in the picture above. That’s how you can tell it’s our house. But you have to see most of what’s within through the sunset reflection. Our circumstances in no way limit our responsibility to be His ambassadors. No, rather they are the tools He’s given us to use in this most worthy endeavor. Each one of us is personally and perfectly equipped by Him.

I’ve not shared this before because I fear being misunderstood. But I’ll share it now because it just fits. Following a rugged weekend of working among mainly strangers (many of whom were not Christians), my husband and I unexpectedly received a thank you note and gift card from folks we’d met at the event. I don’t remember much about the gift card, but I’ll never forget the comment in the note: “Jesus looks so beautiful in you.” Folks, we have never been more honored. We held in our hands right then the best compliment we could ever have received! It humbled us.

We each have daily opportunities to mirror Christ. Do family members see Christ in our words and actions? How about co-workers? People at the grocery? The goal is to magnify (enlarge) Christ to all those with whom we have even casual contact. We are to present Him as lovely to the world. Yes, they will know it’s us. They will notice our face, smile, and personality, and perhaps our outfit, but those qualities should be viewed only through Christ’s reflection. We should be glowing with His beauty for all to see. Always.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Let it shine ‘til Jesus comes, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

“For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
II Corinthians 4:6


REFLECTIONS

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See the window? No, of course you don’t. Not really. At the time I took this picture several mornings ago, I wasn’t in a position to see the actual sun rising and shining through the curtains. But when I saw this image, I knew exactly what was happening. And as the sun cast it’s lovely reflection onto my bedroom wall, I paused for some reflection of my own.

I started thinking about the Word of God.

Have you ever considered what life would be like without the Word? How often as a Christian have you run to your Bible for comfort, for understanding, for encouragement, for renewal? If you’re like me, you’re claiming the promises found within those precious pages more and more in recent days. Too much around us is changing! But as I study my Bible, I am able to make sense of it all and gain an understanding of what is really taking place. I’m so grateful for the peace it brings to my heart!

You know, God could have created us and been carrying on His plan for the universe without writing it all down. No one obligated Him to lay it all out in writing for us. He could have remained an anonymous Orchestrator, not allowing us to be privy to His purposes. He could have kept us guessing what it is all about and how it would end. But, He, in His great compassion for us, understood what a comfort it would be for us to have an understanding of what He has accomplished in the past and the great plans He’s working on for eternity itself.

He knew I’d need the example of Daniel to help me resolve to do right regardless of the consequences. He knew I’d be challenged by Noah’s wife to be an encouragement to her family even while the rest of the world mocked them. He understood how I’d be motivated by Joseph’s faithfulness through many occasions of unfair treatment, and that I’d be excited to know God had a great ending in store for Joseph’s life. He has used Job’s trials to increase my awareness that God has a plan to bless me and bring me forth as gold in the end even when everything else has been stripped away. He recorded it all for my benefit. I can see it in writing!

The promises of Scripture have never held more importance in my life than they do right now. As I’ve contemplated the challenges we’ve all faced this past year, I’ve come to understand to a much greater degree that the ONLY confidence we have comes through the truth of the Word He’s given to us.

You see, I wasn’t there when God spoke creation into existence out of nothing by the power of His Voice alone. But He’s told me about it.

I wasn’t there when He parted the Red Sea to deliver His people from their fierce enemies. But I can read all about the exciting victory in the book of Exodus.

I didn’t witness David’s conquest of the mean giant Goliath, but the record of it in my Bible challenges me to tackle seemingly impossible tasks with faith in God’s promises of help.

And on the other end of the spectrum, I haven’t beheld the glories of Heaven yet, though I have dear ones who have. But I see reflected in the pages of my Bible some of the splendor that awaits the children of God. I’ve learned about the mansions, the streets of gold, the jeweled gates. I’ve been told about seeing Jesus face to face some day. I’ve been promised a victorious end. I cannot view it all now, but I see enough to keep me running the race of faith until I get there some day.

I haven’t seen God. But I’ve learned of Him through His Word. Today, I see through a dark glass. But some day it will all be perfectly clear! For now, I’m just thankful for the reflections He’s allowed through Scripture. He’s given me understanding, a sure hope, and peace of mind because He’s given me His precious Word.

During these tempestuous and uncertain days, I have come to cherish my Bible as my most valuable treasure. The power it has in my life is palpable. I’m deeply saddened when I realize there are many who do not place any confidence in the Word of God. How unsettled and confused they must be! I cannot believe for anyone else, but I can keep sharing the Truth.

So as I reflect on the eternal truths of Scripture, I know I can cast my cares confidently upon Him today. I’ve come to understand God has a Master Plan. He’s been working on it for forever! I know. He’s told me all about it!

Thank you, dear Lord, for giving me your Word in writing!

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

I Corinthians 13:12

Question for thought: What promises are you clinging to today? I’d love to know.

I HEAR YOU!

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BANG! I woke this morning to the sound of a load of lumber being dropped at the house directly behind us.

The surrounding neighbors were probably awakened shortly thereafter by the pounding of my heart!! 😳 Oh, my! For someone who has grown acutely aware of every noise in our home, THAT was rough!

So, today, I’m thinking about sounds. With three elders living with us, I’ve become attuned to an amazing variety of audio signals. For your understanding, and perhaps, for your enjoyment, use only your audio imagination as I describe a short list of sounds you would hear every day in our home. (It’s okay to chuckle. ☺️)

Both dads use walkers. I can differentiate them by how they are used, the time of day, and the direction they are headed. My dad’s gait is painstakingly slow and halting; he’s rather stealth. My father-in-law’s walk is noisy and reckless and includes the scuff of slippers against the hardwood flooring.

Then there are the phones. My father-in-law dislikes cellphones, so we transferred his landline to our address. The problem is he can hear nothing. The audio amplifier (pictured above) really helps . . . when we can get him to wear it. When he does hear and answer, he tends to tell whoever is calling he can’t hear, and he hangs up. My dad, however, tends to think every phone that rings is his phone. He will “answer” every time, very disappointed when he gets no one to reply. His own phone, on the rare occasion it rings, plays the theme song from “The Andy Griffith Show.” VERY loudly. My mother’s phone tends to ring it’s harp music wherever she is not. Lol!

But phones also sound out numerous notifications, each with its distinct tone: texts, messages, warnings, news, dying battery. Keeping up with all those different sounds from all the phones can be challenging. And sometimes, humorous!

My father-in-law uses an oxygen machine 24/7. The big tank downstairs swishes day and night. The portable tank on the main level doesn’t make too much noise unless he is sleeping on the couch. If he doesn’t take oxygen in through his nose, the machine beeps continually.

Nighttime noises provide angst. When a thump in the night wakens me, I first have to determine if the noise was in my dream or if it actually happened in the house. Haha! Then I need to evaluate whether it requires attention. THEN, I have to get back to sleep.

The stairlift also makes some unique sounds. I hear the arm rest clank down when a trip up or down commences. I hear the beep when the chair reaches a new level. It chirps incessantly if it’s not locked into the correct position after each trip. The other day it made a new, rather alarming sound. I finally discovered the battery was low and repair was necessary.

My father-in-law’s sound amplifier squeals horribly (insert horrid feedback sound here!) if the headset gets too close to the main unit. My father-in-law tends to place them together on the table when he walks away for a few minutes. Bless his heart . . . He cannot hear the piercing sound. The rest of us clamp our ears until one of us separates the unit or turns it off. Haha.

Since my dad has grown increasingly weak, we have an “intercom” (baby monitor) in his room. We have receptor units in the sunroom and our upstairs bedroom. We hear dad when he gets up, snores, calls for help, and talks in his sleep. We hear EVeRyTHinG! Day. And night.

My mother loves ice! She has received endless ribbing about her “ice addiction” since we were children living at home. We know she is up for the day when we hear her ice filling her cup for the day, and we know she is settling in for the night when we hear the ice clinking into her glass for her bedside table. And when I hear the refrigerator door open, I know that will be my mother, too. The gentlemen never rummage around in the kitchen.

Then, of course, the microwave beeps, the oven timer chirps, the doorbell rings, and the television drones on. I evaluate every cough and sneeze I hear. Several times I’ve had to listen for the sound of  fire truck and ambulance when we’ve needed help. I listen for water to run (and to be turned off, because that gets forgotten here these days.) The dog whines to go out. He scratches at the door (bad, doggy!) to come in.  Two of our folks wear medical alerts. We have “fun” with those alarms any time of day . . . or night! And I won’t even attempt to describe the many other sounds I hear!

Sounds! So many sounds. And I count on my ears to differentiate each one.

So what? Is there a lesson in there? Yes. For me, there are two.

First, I’ve become increasingly grateful for good hearing. I know I don’t hear as well as I did forty years ago. But my ears work plenty well enough to keep my loved ones safe. And I praise God for that!

Secondly, I pray my spiritual ears are as sensitive to the voice of the Lord as my physical ears are to my earthly environment. Not all the sounds I hear are loud. Some are little more than stirrings. Sometimes, I’m alerted by an absence of sound. But I’m constantly alert and listening. Now, I must ask myself, am I spiritually alert to the stirring of the Holy Spirit in my heart? The proddings and urgings He sends to get me to obey.  Do I hear them? Do they move me to action? The warning He speaks to my heart when I’m tempted to make an unwise decision? The encouragement He whispers to cheer me when I’m discouraged. When I fail to hear Him, am I drawn to check out what’s going on in my heart?

Well, I’m going to be working on amplifying my spiritual awareness. I pray I will always listen for the Lord’s voice. May I never let His most important voice be drowned out by the temporal cares of this life!

Speak, Lord! Thy servant heareth! I Samuel 3:10

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”    John 10:27

QUARANTINED!

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Gonna admit it: I’ve had some fear. I’ve done some wallowing in self-pity. I mean, the entire world has erupted into a place I don’t recognize. Simply getting groceries proves challenging. Germs lurk everywhere. I’m in a situation from which I find no relief. My big plans for a dream vacation emptied like dirty dishwater down the drain.

Yet, when I look at the situations others find themselves in, I realize I haven’t been truly hurt as a result of this horrid situation. At this point, all my loved ones are virus-free.  I’ve been only moderately inconvenienced. Although I’m exhausted, the personal damage effected by this horrid virus has only been to my mind.

I’ll confess, calling to cancel our flight two days before leaving bummed me out. But certainty we’d made the right decision ultimately replaced our disappointment.

We are closing in on two years in our caregiving journey for my parents and my father-in-law. Although we have no regrets in taking on this responsibility, I concede it is the heaviest load I’ve ever carried. It’s often 24/7 now. The weight physically, and, more so, emotionally is utterly staggering.

My siblings have been gems to give us breaks for church and special events. They’ve also allowed us to get away every four months or so for a week of respite. But our last real break happened late last summer. Burn-out has stalked us. I’d, naturally,  been allowing my heart to soar as I loaded my suitcase for our big trip.

But then . . . pandemic landed in place of our flight.

As I unpacked, I began to panic, wondering if I could mentally handle the imposed restrictions. Alone. No help. No relief. No known end. I started to erase my fridge calendar (above), but I just couldn’t do it right away. I wanted to continue dreaming rather than face reality.

We have guarded the health of our loved ones with every ounce of our beings. No one in. Only my husband out, and that being very limited. We sanitize groceries, mail, and packages. We miss our family and our support system, . . . but we are doing fine and are grateful.

It took a while to get to that point of gratitude.

It finally came when I received a spiritual vaccination! Are you interested in receiving what I found to protect against fear, depression, and uncertainty?

It’s administered in Psalm 46. This Psalm was written when King Jehoshaphat faced war with multiple kings. His heart was fearful. (I urge you to read of his circumstances in 2 Chronicles 20:1-32. Notice, in particular, verse 9. Also notice the resolution of the situation.)

In his consternation, he sought God. He took notice of God’s character. He took time time to praise Him as he pleaded for new help. The problem we currently face is as real as what he faced. And our answer mirrors his exactly.

So how can Psalm 46 help?

PSALM 46

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. [Think about that!] There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most high. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. [Think about that!] Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will Be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. [Think about that!]

This Psalm assures us that, though the earth be utterly demolished, God is our refuge. God’s character never changes. He will hold us in His strong Hand throughout any calamity! And what does He expect of me through it all?

Be still and know He is God.

Be still? You mean, like, quarantine my mind with Who God is?

Yes! Exactly! Spend time saturating my thoughts with dwelling upon Who He is!

When my mind is unwaveringly fixed upon Him, I find it impossible to worry.  To be dismayed or discouraged. To want my circumstances to be any different from what He allows. There’s room for nothing short of praise! 

Praise works as both a vaccine (preventative) and a cure (treatment). That’s absolutely priceless! With that knowledge, I can bolster myself for both the present and future. And, my friend, so can you!

”Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”

Isaiah 26:3

SUGAR CRAVINGS?

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Fair warning: this post differs from my “normal” post. Honestly, I’m an open book. I do goofy things and make dumb decisions, and I have no problem sharing those humbling situations if what I learn can be an encouragement.

This post, however, isn’t really about me. It’s about a precious loved one who lives with us. A dear one who is experiencing the ravages of a broken brain. Who, until these past few years was known for incredible wisdom and insight, but who has now lost common sense due to late stage dementia.

I hate dementia. It’s a heartless thief! It robs families of loved ones and replaces them with strangers.

My precious one is forgetting how to get dressed. Not recognizing common foods, dear family and friends, or familiar situations. Refuses to accept that a cure for all ailments has not been discovered, and, in turn, believes we are withholding the said panacea out of reach. 

I’m not particularly comfortable sharing the sadness of this disease with others. My goal is to protect the dignity of those I cherish. But as I looked at these three cans of cream soda, I realized a truth about myself. Perhaps you will relate as I share.

Growing up, we understood soda was a special treat. And when the rare opportunity to drink the sweet treat came along, I remember seeing water added to dilute it so we did not over-indulge in sugar. NEVER was it offered for breakfast!

Now, one of those who protected my health so diligently when I was young is requiring my vigilant eye in tending to the diet. I serve balanced meals every day. I make sure all our occupants are staying hydrated.

Recently, however, sweets are being craved. I mean, LOTS of sweets! At this stage of life, my goal is to make them happy, so, as long as healthy meals are also being eaten, I allow the extra indulgences. The weirdest part, though, is the craving of soda for breakfast!

😳

Rarely is more than half a can of carbonated beverage consumed at one sitting. But the old can, the current one, and a can in waiting are required to be lined up for the meal. Seriously, it’s odd. But it brings contentment, so I concede. I’ve been told repeatedly that it’s how we’ve always done it. (Of course, it’s not.) But that’s what the broken brain thinks. And the craving for sugar is calmly satiated.

But as I stared at the arrangement of cream soda cans last week, it dawned on me that I, at times, have a broken brain. Not a physically broken thinker, but a spiritually broken one.

I am guilty of craving the sugar of earthly pleasures. I’d often rather quench my desire for entertainment than my desire for valuable spiritual nutrition.

For example, why does it seem so much easier every morning for me to grab the television remote or my phone to check out the world according to Facebook than to grab my Bible? Why is my first inclination to “phone a friend” or post a prayer request than to bow my head and carry my concerns directly to the throne of grace?

Perhaps it’s the “sugar rush” of immediate gratification I’m craving. Maybe, the attention of the crowd thrills me more than the attention of One.

Regardless of the reason, it’s “broken brain” thinking! It’s silly to think anyone or anything can replace a well-balanced diet of spiritual discipline.  Clearly, television, social media, and earthly friendships are not inherently evil. When used wisely and in modicum, they serve a fine purpose.

But I truly long for the day when my mind is craving Jesus above ALL else. When He crowds out all other superficial desires. When Christ is ALL I want!

My loved one has an excuse for wrong thinking. But, as I’ve asked myself numerous times before, what’s my excuse?

Please, dear Lord, fix my thinking.

“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land.”

Psalm 63:1

 

WHAT AN IMPRESSION!

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I had an . . . awakening last week.

You see, we sleep on a memory foam mattress given to us by friends who’d only used it for six weeks (another sweet answer to specific prayer). One morning, as I crawled out of bed and started pulling up the sheets to make it, I noticed the odd-shaped dent in the mattress. It quickly dawned on me what it was from. Me! Memory foam does not lie. It dutifully takes on the form of the objects placed upon it.

I had left that impression.

The great thing about memory foam is this: it forgives and rebounds. Perhaps that’s its best quality.

Not all of life has that capacity, however. Impressions can, potentially, last forever.

Do I even need to write the rest of this post? I’m guessing my readers already know where I’m headed with this, but I’ll see if I can add a bit more to amp up the thought.

All of us leave impressions.  Every day. Every where. We “impress” our loved ones, our co-workers, classmates, cashiers and waitresses, doctors, nurses, and therapists, neighbors, church family, and even remote strangers we meet along the way.

The impression we leave will be solely up to us. Yes, others may allow that “dent” to have whatever effect they desire in their lives, but the imprint itself is our own responsibility. 

We’ve all heard stories about the life-changing results of an encouraging word to a distraught stranger. Sometimes those situations make the headlines, but they seemingly  affect few of us. HOWEVER, the next impression you or I leave could be a major headline in THAT person’s life. What a powerful thought!

We do not know all those around us are experiencing. We may know a bit, but even those closest to us may harbor burdens about which we are clueless. If we only knew . . . .

So, how do I make sure I am leaving a good impact? Live a godly, Christlike life. That’s it. Stay in the Word of God, speak with Him often throughout the day, and let His impression be made on my life. Let Him shape me. Then, when I rub shoulders with those around me, I will be leaving HIS impression on them! Excuse my vernacular, but, that’s just cool! It’s foolproof. It’s simple. And it’s doable.

The challenge is making the changes in my life needed to be more Christlike. In order to leave a godly impression on others, I must do an introspective inventory, carefully evaluating myself as I compare my life to what the Lord desires it to be. Do my hobbies, habits, goals, priorities, or relationships need changing? Perhaps. Then I must prayerfully and diligently work on those areas that need improvement.

The adjustments will be worth it. Not only will I benefit, but those around me will be blessed as well.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to try AGAIN to get this blue ink off my finger. I coated it thoroughly in order to take that picture above. As I noted earlier, some impressions are permanent. I’m really hoping this isn’t one of those times!! 🥴

MEANWHILE . . .

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It was a dark and spooky night . . . .  but I had no clue it was only the prelude to a couple of extremely trying weeks. Let me back up and share the story. I hope it’s not too long for my readers.

On November 20, shortly before my husband arrived home from work, my mother hurried into the family room, in a panic because my 88 year old dad had fallen. I hurried after her, my heart pounding. With both of my parents and my father-in-law living with us, as cliche as it sounds, we never know what a day may bring.

Dad assured me he was fine, but he needed help getting up. After a few tries, I finally finagled him up onto my bent knee, pivoted, and transferred him in a seated position onto the edge of his bed. Then, I knew we had trouble. From that position, he could neither stand nor lie down. After a few minutes of discussion, I used the medical alert to call for help.

Soon, emergency workers arrived. They reassured me we’d done the right thing in calling. They left with dad in an ambulance. MEANWHILE, my mom got ready to follow them. She didn’t want to wait for me.  I assured her I’d be there as soon as I could, wanting to first make sure my husband was available for his own dad.

My dad had a broken hip which would require surgery the next day. As MPOA, I talked with the surgeon and decided with him to do a less invasive surgery, if possible. I felt way out of my comfort zone making such decisions, but I felt peace. Just before midnight, dad was transferred to his room, and we stayed to see him settled in.

When mom and I were finally leaving the hospital, we walked out into an extremely foggy night. I commented that it looked like a spooky Halloween night, and we laughed. She decided to follow me home. I drove slowly, keeping her constantly in my rear view mirror. But on the second to the last corner, she didn’t follow me. I pulled over and called her. She sounded shaken but okay as she said she’d had an accident. I immediately drove the quarter mile back, just as two officers pulled in behind her. They greeted me by saying it was “a spooky Halloween-type night.” Ha! Yeah, I’d noticed!! 

The officers had heard the explosions. Mom had hit a curb and blown two tires. The tow truck would take almost two hours to arrive, so I decided to take her home and come back to wait.
The picture above was taken as I came back alone to the scene at 12:30 am. Again, I was way out of my zone, but I waited in a nearby parking lot. About thirty minutes later, I watched another car pull up beside the crippled vehicle. I decided to drive closer for a look-see.  A man was out of his car, looking into mom’s car. I mustered more courage than I knew I had and pulled a bit closer. From a fairly safe distance, I questioned him. He said he was checking to see if someone needed help. Although I seriously doubted him, I thanked him and told him all was well. He did a u-turn, drove slowly back by, and pulled off the road again a little further down the way. I don’t know why.  He stayed for about ten minutes and finally drove off.

After another thirty minutes, the tow truck arrived. We arranged a tow to our house. At 2:00 am, the car was deposited into our driveway. I was exhausted, but so thankful to be home.

The next day, dad had successful surgery. We were relieved. A couple days later, he was transferred to rehab.  I will spare many ugly details to say rehab was a horrible experience from the beginning. It was similar to the terrible stories you hear but never expect to experience. We were shocked. But it was a long holiday weekend, and no one was available to help us.

MEANWHILE, we’d been transporting mom to and from the hospital/rehab since her car was (is) still disabled.

MEANWHILE, our kids came from out-of-state for a combination Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration. Sparing the happy details this time,  we had a delightful time.

MEANWHILE, my father-in-law was not feeling well, and not acting like himself. On Sunday afternoon, he felt he couldn’t walk, so, again, we called for medical assistance.

MEANWHILE, amidst eight emergency workers in our hallway, our kids were trying to pack and leave for their home in Ohio.

MEANWHILE, my husband’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting at the house, our other son and grandson were trying to say goodbye to family, and mom was waiting to be driven to see dad in rehab.

MEANWHILE, I was completely overwhelmed. After the ambulance departed, we finally got everyone organized and on their ways.  Family left, including my husband who followed his dad to another hospital. And suddenly the house was empty – except for me. And God.

Several hours later, my father-in-law was diagnosed with pneumonia. He should recover, but he will go to rehab, as well.

Yesterday, I had a long meeting with the rehab staff and executive director. Yep. Way, waaay out of my comfort zone. (I think I’d almost rather be the patient than the patient advocate!) But the meeting went well. Today, my dad was a different person. Changes were made almost immediately, and he responded exceedingly well. I’m so relieved!

But here’s the biggest MEANWHILE . . .

MEANWHILE, God has been seated quietly in Heaven. He’s not been surprised, dismayed, or “out of his comfort zone.” Not at all. I have come to realize through this ”series of seemingly unfortunate events” that His Grace IS sufficient. His protection, peace, comfort, and wisdom have been made so evident. Because of His strength, I’ve done things I never thought I ever could or would. I’ve had peace beyond my comprehension. I’ve had strength beyond my human capacity. He had it all planned, prepared, and available at just the right times and in just the right portions.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I now know this: that MEANWHILE, God will remain calmly seated in Heaven, watching over us all, available to give me all the help I might require. God is, truly, very good!

And, in that knowledge, I will “lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Praise Him!

”I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the LORD sustained me.” Psalm 3:5