Thursday ~ February 21, 2019: Trust is NOT an Easy Thang!

Trust is an easy word to use and any easy thing to expect from others, but it is not and never will be an easy thang! Trust is not just something cool that happens. Trust is not easy. Trust as a noun, by def, is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. The verb form of trust is actively believing in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Someone recently implied, for the second time, Alzheimer’s, henceforth known as the A Word, might be a part of my life because I let the devil get his foot in the door. They went on to share that they would never let that happen. That supposition is completely offensive to everything I believe in and hold in my heart to be true of God.

If I trust God and I do, then I must trust HIM with everything. I cannot pick and choose. I would not want to pick and choose. Trust is blanket coverage. I trust HIM to watch over and protect my children and their children, I trust HIM to guide my husband’s leadership over our home and all that entails, I trust HIM to get me through each and every day. I quite literally could not survive this issue without complete trust in HIM.

Two things came to mind when this came up for the second time in conversation. The first was Job. Yes, the devil did approach God after trying to find someone to destroy. Please note God suggested Job to the devil. HE told satan that he could touch everything connected to Job but that he could not take his life. Why on earth would God do such a thing to a man who devoted his life to God? Trust! God knew that Job’s love and trust was firm in the God who created him. And God’s trust in Job was unshakeable!

The devil made a run at Job that lasted for months and would have left most of us in a puddle of surrender. God’s trust in Job was reciprocal. Job trusted God to see him through. God did not intervene. Yet, Job knew God had his back and when it was all over Job’s latter was greater than the former because God rewarded his trust. God will always reward those who trust in HIM!

The second idea that came to mind was the hours Jesus spent on the cross. HE was GOD! HE could have called thousands of angels. HE could have released HIMself from the suffering. But trust in the plan kept HIM there. Trust granted HIM the ability to remain while they drove in those huge spikes. Trust sustained HIM through it all. Even when HE cried out in pain, feeling forsaken, trust kept HIM in place to fulfill God’s plan. When the time came, HE laid down his own life because of trust. HE trusted in the plan. The plan was our salvation!

I am not equating my life or what I am going through in any way to Job and Jesus. God forbid. I am saying if they could trust with all they went through, surely I can trust with my pittance of suffering. First and foremost, I do not believe anything comes my way but what it has passed through HIS hands. In the midst of Job’s suffrage he asked why we would think we can only accept the good things from God’s hands. (Job 2:10)

God’s hand was on Joseph from the beginning but he was betrayed, sold as a slave, and thrown into prison but in the end knew that it had all been a part of God’s perfect will for his life. While God has a perfect will for our lives, it does not mean, nor even imply that all will be well all the time. If it was not so in the life of Christ, why should we be expect a perfect hunky-dory life? It is not about HIS love for us. He loved Job and Joseph and they are just a couple of folks the Bible tells us who rolled through some tough times. When we suffer it is not a reflection on love. HIS love for us is boundless and endless.

Sometimes, the test is not in the questions we can get right, but in our attitude during the testing period. Can we roll with tough times? Can we still trust HIS hand when we cannot see where HIS hand is leading us? Or must we always believe only good things will happen to Christians? That’s not what my Bible tells me. “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. This means that anything that comes your way, good or bad, will be for your spiritual strengthening if you are serving God and walking in HIS purpose for your life. It does not mean, nor even imply that everything coming your way will be awesome or even financially beneficial, as some believe. It just means whether the things you go through are good, bad or ugly, they will make you stronger and be good for your soul. That gives me immense comfort, y’all!

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Matthew 10:29. If my Heavenly Father cares about one precious sparrow’s life, can I trust that HE also cares, sees and knows everything I experience? Of course, I can and I should! 

I serve a Sovereign God. I know HE is in total control of my life and I trust HIM to be working all things together for my good. For my growth. For my soul. For my eternity. I cannot be plucked from HIS hand, (John 10:29), but I can suffer. My life eternally belongs to God. This body can be destroyed and I will continue to trust in my Creator.

Trust is not an easy thang! It should be a building block of your foundational relationship with God and with others. Trust can weather a lot of storms. Trust stands the test of time. Trust is a treasure. I do not trust easily. If someone puts their trust it me, I consider it a sacred gift. It’s not a something to be used or granted unwisely. It takes hard work, faith, and hindsight. Be careful with trust but know this ~ God can be trusted to always do what is good for you. I look back over my life at all the times HE had my back and I was completely unaware. That faithfulness demands my trust. Sometimes I look at the life I am living and wonder how what I hold in my hands came about from what I pictured my life to be at this point. But God. HE had another plan. I trust HIS plan over my dreams every time.

I have a firm belief in HIS reliability, HIS truth, HIS ability, and HIS strength and am actively believing and trusting HIM! Yes, HE could’ve prevented these health issues. Yes, HE can heal me at any time. But if HE is trusting me to stay faithful even in the bad? I am trusting HIM to see me through to the good! Trust! I do and will! No matter what! I would not dream of telling what HE can or cannot allow. But I will tell HIM every day that I am trusting HIM to see all of us safely to the other side. Trust! HE can handle it!

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Monday ~ February 18, 2019: The Fighter Within

“A Fighter knows a Fighter.” A friend said this to me yesterday on the phone. It was a very sweet, encouraging conversation, but that one phrase stuck with me. I have always been a fighter. Not by choice, perhaps, but meeting the challenges presented in life has given me no other option. Fight or Die, every single day and I choose Fight every time. It is part and parcel of my soul. But I don’t think anyone other than family has ever recognized the Fighter within. I was a little surprised. Yes, I am in the ring every day.

My daughter sent me a text a while ago which said, “I was reminded yesterday that one of the most amazing traits about my Mama is that she is a warrior.” I am a fighter, not by nature but out of necessity. Fighter by nature only if you mess with my husband or my babies. I will throw down on you so fast your head will spin. Not physically. I don’t even take on gnats anymore. But I love words and I know how to use them in such a way that by time I am finished, you will weep and call your mama and apologize for every time you chose to throw shade your entire life. We will be comin’ to Jesus before the bell rings and we exit the ring. I do not know how to NOT come up for air if you mess with them.

Now you can mess with me all day long until you are exhausted, sweatin’ profusely, and laid out, but you will not move me. You can throw shade and drink my tea. My 4 year old granddaughter folds her arms akimbo, taps her little toe and sez, “I don’t like you, Nee~Nee!” I smile and tell her that’s fine with me and remind her she still needs to do what I say. Now if she cannot sway me? Honey, ain’t nobody gonna hurt me with their word toss. Somebody called me a name they thought would hurt my feelings, I just smiled and thought soup. What they hoped would hurt my feelings actually just made me hungry. Words used against me truly don’t phase me. Not a soft spot for me. Not gonna expend one ounce of energy on that mess.

Now, for what will I expend all energy and every stance and technique of fight I know? To get through the day and do what is required of me. I set my own requirements. I set my own hours. I set my own limitations. My husband tries to intervene and do for me when he gets home in the evening. If I have done all I can do, I smile and thank him sweetly. But if I have anything left and he starts to clean up the kitchen after dinner? Uh, nope! We’re gonna have to talk.

Every morning, when I awaken, I thank God I’m still here and then I do a thorough assessment of ME. I know the moment I wake up how much I can do that day based on the pain I am in when I open my eyes. If you have or know anyone with FMS, you know every single moment is hot pain. Just a wrinkle in the sheet you are laying on can be excruciating. (I rec silk sheets.) Everything hurts all the time. My body feels as though I have gone nine rounds over and over and lost every round, but still standing for the next nine. My family has learned over the years where I can and cannot be touched on my skin. They have learned how to hug me because I cannot/will not ever give up their sweet hugs. And then I experience flares when the slightest sound even hurts. But I refuse to go to bed. I refuse to take pain meds. I refuse to quit! Ain’t NObody got time for that! I fight on!

So my husband and my children know when I ask for help, it is for something I physically cannot do. If I do not ask for help? I’m going to do whatever but you just need to back up and give me a minute. I love my husband to pieces but if he starts on that kitchen? I’m gonna ask him to please not. Come sit with me. Come talk to me while I rest. Come hold me while I cry and then I will get back up and I will handle that mess. It’s not that I don’t want his help and usually, when I do start to handle it, he comes alongside and we work together. I love it, but I’ma gonna be in there, too, washing, rinsing, stacking.

The COPD complicated things a bit. I have to pause a little more often. Tristan has to come chase the girls for me sometimes. I no longer vacuum at all. I know my limitations and have adjusted. The Alzheimer’s issue? Yup. Further complication, but I’ll deal. Eventually. I’m a fighter. It’s what I do. What I know. How I roll.

Here is the thang ~ Baseball has pinch hitters. Football has backup quarterbacks. Actors have understudies. Pretty much everybody has a stand in or backup. My husband who is a Senior Database Admin told me a while back they were considering hiring a Junior. These folks can step up and do the exact same job as the original. And then there are assistants. Paralegals, dental hygienists, Congressional aides, Supreme Court clerks, Admin assistants, etc. Assistants assist those who need their assistance. Go ahead, you know you wanna try saying that five times, fast. But a fighter steps into the ring alone. No one wants to jump in and share their face for the haymaker coming your way. The left jabs are coming so fast, there’s no time to replace you in the ring, and no rule that would allow for the possibility. You are in it to win it, toe to toe with life, and the only respite you get, if you’re good, is to pull a Rope-a-Dope once in a while in hopes of catching your breath and wearing your opponent down a little. But what if someone offers to step into the ring with you?

As a fighter, if you’re wise, you will surround yourself with encouragers, trainers, people much smarter than yourself, empathizers not sympathizers, and possibly buy stock in emergency ice companies. (They’ll get it to you fast, ya know?) But no one else can step into the ring for round one but you! Seriously! The thought of an alternative is crazy, right? No one goes in to start for you, no one is stepping in to give you a break, and nobody, but nobody is going to stand, take the punches, deliver the counters, and slug it out until the bell rings but you!

Here is the crux of the thang ~ What do you do when someone does offer to take one hit for you? It’s against your personal rules. It is not in your reference manual. It goes against your grain. It’s not even on your possibility radar. Someone, not your husband or children whom you can accept help from only when absolutely needed, steps up and does something so kind in effort to make the fight easier. To spare you one lick! Do you refuse as you worry it could weaken the warrior stance you have perfected? Do you refuse all the while wishing with every fiber of your being that you could accept? Do you say “No, thank you” when your mind is screaming “Yes, please!”? Won’t accepting the offer result in a TKO? Won’t accepting the help cause you to fold? To become as weak as a newborn? Won’t all your fight flee? But ultimately can you, are you willing to risk their blessing by refusing the offer?

God sees the fight and God sees the fighter. HE knows you and me better than we know ourselves. If we trust HIM, how can we not trust the people, the blessings, HE places in our lives? So, as usual, when I fight best and hardest it is because I trust the Lord to have my back.

On this day, I choose to trust HIM and look at the things HE is doing on my behalf as a gift. It’s not easy for me, but I will accept the offer of a hand in the ring, from a Fighter who knows a Fighter, who feels and knows the day you’re experiencing. It doesn’t always have to be Fight On or TKO, Baby. No one is going to call a technical and say the fight is over and you lose if you accept a helping hand once in a while. It just may help you to Refresh & Fight On another day.

Fight On ~ But try to be willing to accept help from others as orchestrated by HIS hand. And perhaps you will find out someday that you blessed others along the way. We all need help whether we can readily admit it or not…..

 

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February 14, 2019 ~Happily Ever After!

Skipping from mountaintop to mountaintop can be a beautiful thang. Sunshine and sparkles abound and you will generally find yourself surrounded by folks who adore and live for the mountaintop experience. There is nothing wrong with that feeling or adventure. Who doesn’t love a feel-good moment that lasts forever? It’s like clouds of cream and lightness to keep you floating above the fray.

I only have a couple of problems with this concept. One of those comes in the form of complete exhaustion. Happy-all-the-time totally wears me out. I am not talking about the inner joy and peace that comes with serving God. I am talking about the life-style that tempts everyone to believe you lead a perfect life and nothing bad ever happens. I have known folks to go into full meltdown when life comes at them while they’re speeding down happy trails. They become traumatized over an event that should not take the wind out of their hang-glider experience, but suddenly, they have crashed into the side of a mountain and need a squadron of rescuers to get them back up to the top of the mountain once again.

The other problem I have with this concept is when you exist for the higher-than-a-kite life, you will never learn the value of being content with whatever station in life you find yourself. If you go to church on Sunday to get your fix, by mid-week, your hump day is a major slump day, spiritually. On Sunday, you believe in miracles, bottomless pockets, rainbows around each corner, and everybody loves me. Your mentality has become dependent on how you feel spiritually on Sunday. I love Sundays! Refreshment on the Day of Rest! I love going to church and worshiping with like-minded folks, hearing a word from the Lord that does exactly what it needs to do in my heart and mind. But I cannot sustain the relationship God wants to have with me, the one I depend on having with HIM, based on once or twice a week. Church is important and if you are blessed to have a church family? Well, you like me are certainly blessed.

If you are in a loving relationship with anyone, your spouse, child, grandchild, best friend, or even your pet which you adore, you depend on contact much like your lungs depend on oxygen and your heart depends on the blood pumping through. You talk, text, fb, email, visit. You need that intimacy for survival. I need daily contact with my Lord. I cannot get through the day without conversation with Him, repeatedly, and getting into the Word.

The relationship that is the richest and most rewarding does not happen on it’s own. While Jesus craves time with you, HE will not force HIMself into your daily time. HE might remind you from time to time that HE is still there, but HE never imposes. In that respect, HE is no different from anyone who loves you. They will remind you from time to time of their love, but they would never demand you spend time with them. Spending time with someone is your gift of love to them. You want to be with them, so you plan for those times. You make time even when your schedule is full because it is important to both of you.

Same concept applies if you truly want a relationship with the Lord that is ongoing, sustained and the most powerful and power-filled love you will ever experience. Make time to talk to HIM throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be poetic, or filled with pontification like the Pharisees. HE just wants you to use your words to express your heart. HE will listen like nobody has ever heard you before. When your heart is broken? Only HE can truly understand your pain. If you are fearful? HE will speak peace. If you are between a rock and a hard place? HE will be your Rock. Jesus can do for you what you need. Even when you cannot speak the words, HE and only HE will hear your heart. That is prayer. Prayer is about confessing everything, sharing everything, and loving HIM. Prayer is when your heart is so full of worship and thanksgiving, all you can do is cry. Prayer is about communication with HIM in whatever form it comes. Talking, sharing, expressing.

When we make prayer out to be some mystical experience we make folks shy away from spending time with their First Love. It is not an out-of-reach thang. It is no different that chatting with someone on fb, sharing a blog, or texting 20 times a day. It is just that simple! Communication and conversation.

Spending time in the Word allows you to know about this One with whom you will desire an all-consuming relationship. You will learn the basics about everything HE created. You will see how HE got folks through tough times. You will experience HIS eternal love and desire for you by spending time in HIS Word. It will foster an appetite for more of HIM. Creating the devotion in you for HIM in the same way HE is devoted to you!

The benefits are this relationship are endless. But that one branch of it that means the most to me right now? Over time and life-experience, you have a constant companion who has remained faithful, no matter what. You learn that HE is Dependable. Forever. Unchanging. Loving. Comforting. Trustworthy. When you KNOW HIM, you know that HE is within you in the midst of everything. When a situation feels impossible? HE is the Possible! When you are up against a wall? HE is the Door. When you can’t see your way out? HE is the Light. When you crash and burn? HE is your First Responder. When your heart breaks? HE is Comfort. When your body is wrecked with pain? HE is the Balm. When you come to the end of days? HE is Happily Ever After!

This Love Connection will bring you everything your heart longs to feel and experience. This relationship will keep you content in whatever station of life you are currently living. This relationship will fulfill your entire life, if you want. HE will promulgate HIS love for you but will never force you to reciprocate. HE longs for you but will never insist. HE wants your time and affection but will wait patiently. Stop wasting time and go for HIM!

HE is your Happily Ever After!

 

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Saturday, February 9, 2019~Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

It seems as though everything is shifting and changing so quickly, at least it feel that way to me. This morning, I am feeling thankful for some really random things that not so long, kinda irritated me. The main thing on today is how easily and peacefully my hubby falls and stays in a deep sleep.

In the early years of our marriage it irked the fire out of me. I still had a lot of buried hostilities. He would just be lights out, ni-night, and was finished with the day! I would fidget and fuss and on occasion accidentally,  NUDGE him. I’ve confessed. God is faithful. I’m forgiven. Moving on now, folks.

This man could sleep with spotlights flooding the room. He can just as easily sleep in strange motel rooms. I think if we were in the woods, in a tent with an open container of salmon, and we knew there were grizzlies on the way, he would take a nap with instructions to “Wake me when they get here.” Okay, maybe a skosh of this~mama~papa~drama there, but only a skosh. This kind of drop~off to dreamland used to tick me off. I wanted him to be as restless as I was at night.

His desk always has all manner of electronics on it and every single one of them has some sort of colored light on the outside even when the item is off and closed. His desk was always in an area of our bedroom. For me, it was like trying to catch a few winks on an airport landing strip in the middle of the night. We would try to huddle them all together and cover them, so I could sleep. Sensitive soul, yes?

He knows I’m a bit oriented towards the insomniac and has always tried to make sure I was settled in perfect comfort before retiring for the night. He puts my favorite socks on my feet, covers me with the softest fur blanket, turns the fan just so to help me breathe, makes sure there is something in a cup by my bed and then after kissing me good~night and telling me he loves me, he asks if I’m ready for the light to be turned off. Sometimes, no! I hesitate. I don’t want the day to end. I ask for another kiss. But mostly yes, because I know he is exhausted and needs his rest.

One of the things that has completely changed ~ While he could still sleep through enemy fire, I am suddenly and terrifyingly afraid of the dark. A few nights ago, we spent some time in scripture, listened to some songs and then prepared to turn in for the night. We went through our nightly routine to lights off. Once the light was off, I was instantly afraid. “NO! Please, turn on the light!” He responded immediately, turned the light back on and asked what was wrong. I told him I did not know, but please, it can’t be dark in here.

He thoughtfully turned on some of my flickering candles and that was enough. Just a soft glow, but I was able to feel peace again. It’s now a new part of our nightly ritual. And I am so grateful that even though I have once again changed things up on him, he can lay his head to rest at night and awaken refreshed to handle whatever God sees fit to allow on our plates the next day. A man who can roll with the punches and changes of life, and still sleep in peace to fight another day? Priceless!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my husband! And I thank you for the sweet rest you give him every night.

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Monday ~ February 4, 2019: Stranded on an Island

I have promised to keep this real and write from my heart. I know many may not be able to read this and that’s okay. Please, feel free to walk on by. I do not want anyone to feel obligated. I give you my word I will not be offended. It is a hard place to be imprisoned. I am doing this for anyone who might be in a similar position and if it helps them feel less alone, less isolated, then this journey has a purpose. I desperately need to know there is a purpose, even if I cannot know what it is at this point in time. So here we go ~

If you were to be stranded on an island, with only one thing, what would you want the one thing to be? I have heard this question asked many times and heard myriad answers; my Bible, my Everything Pan, a First Aid kit, a mirror, a hair dryer, tent, blanket, a My Pillow, and the list goes on. I have always wondered what my answer would be if asked. I never really considered an answer until recently.

My sister asked me if I had a bucket list or if I was going to make one. A Bucket List, in theory, is a list of all the things you want to do before you kick the bucket. My Bucket List would be the things I want to do before I forget how to do them, or before I kick the proverbial bucket, whichever comes first. When I was diagnosed with cancer, there was only one thing I really wanted to do to fulfill a life-long dream and I was blessed to be able to check it off my one-item list. I never added or even thought about one more thing or several things I would want to do in my life. I am not dream~oriented. I am not purpose~driven, that I know of anyway.

Jesus, Family, Home. Me in a nutshell. So if I were to attempt a one more thing in life, what on earth would it be? It would certainly have to do with water. I love the ocean. Really, any body of water as long as it has a beautiful beach. We went to the lake several times throughout the summer when our children were young. My sister and I would load up the van with kids, food, water toys and rafts and head out early in the morning and spend the entire day on the beach. Sometimes, our hubbies took the day off and went along with us. When we moved out here close to the lake, we started taking the kids and grands and spending the day on the beach until it became too much work for me to make it to the water’s edge. If I couldn’t even get far enough to put my feet in the water and feel the breeze coming off the lake, I didn’t see the point. I encourage them to go and take the babies and send me pics, but it’s just not going to be the same. Maybe, I’ll go this year, sit up in the shade and keep binoculars in hand. Maybe….

We have taken several trips down to the Gulf. Sometimes just one or two nights, eat dinner in an ocean-front restaurant on the open deck, stay in a motel with a view so I can say good night and good morning to the waves. I am continually fascinated by the fact that the ocean is stayed by God’s Word and HIS hands. It laps around my feet and no further without HIS permission. The awe and the power of it all beckons me to return.

For our 40th Anniversary, my husband and I went to an Island in North Carolina. It was just a stone’s throw from the coast but we were surrounded by water. It was beautiful and peaceful and perfect. My sister and brother-in-law were on a driving vacation across the southern states and they met us there for a few days on their way home. My best friend and her husband came in for a couple of days and it was just a perfect interlude.

A few days ago, I was reminded of that trip. First Class all the way, sports car rental, our own home on the beach, friends and family, chilly evenings wrapped up in a blanket sitting on the enclosed porch watching the moon dancing on the tide, and early mornings watching the image of a flickering fire burst over the horizon as the sun slowly came up over the water. The thing is, I cannot recall those moments from my own memories with very much clarity anymore. I now remember it from looking at pictures and knowing I was there.

On a too frequent basis, things are slipping from me. I have redundant reminders and alarms set in order to remember certain things throughout the day. I take copious notes to help me remember things I feel are important. Then, I find a paper with my handwriting and have no idea why I wrote what I wrote. It is a scary place. Sometimes I feel completely alone. No one can possibly understand. No one gets the fear, the sadness, the loss. My husband just ordered a book by Stormie Omartian for me. I have a few of her books on my bookshelf and he thought I would like to read ‘The Power of Praying through Fear‘. I pick it up repeatedly and read but cannot seem to retain the power I know are in those words.

Alone. On an Island. I think that’s my one more thing. And I’m there. Alone on an island with palpable fear. I pray throughout the day and the fear eases but it roars back in during the night like stormy waves slapping at the stilts of this fragile house I live in these days. I worry about things I have never worried about in my life. I worry about handling any money. My doctor told me to relinquish any and all financial control as that is one of the biggest problems early on and I have seen it happen. I don’t remember what I did exactly, but I remember messing something up and trying to fix it only to make it worse. It was my own budget but it was frightening, because the recall of how to do it right is gone.

Conversations I have had in the last few weeks are slipping away. I can remember bits of convos but I can’t put the pieces of how that statement came about or why that person said the one thing I remember. Always writing. Notes I cannot understand. The essence of me is here. I know who I am. I know who everyone I love is and how they are connected to me. I know where I live. My town. My state. I remember where I was born. Where I was married. Where my children were born. But I don’t know why or when I put radishes in the knife drawer. Or why my phone was in the guest bath. I don’t know why there is trash stuffed in the washer, but pretty sure I put it there. I don’t know where I put my favorite shirt or even what color it is anymore, just that I can’t find it. Little illusive things. Frustrating things. I don’t understand where these things go and why I can’t get to them. And that makes me afraid.

Afraid to engage in conversation. Afraid of what I might forget that is vital to me or someone I love. Afraid I will misplace something important that will never be recovered. Afraid to walk outside. Afraid to stay inside. Afraid to take my medicine in case I’m taking the wrong kind at the right time. Afraid I’ll forget appointments that must be kept. Afraid to remember anything for fear of forgetting everything. More notes. More writing. More fear. And the cycle of fear and stress makes it so much worse. This I know, yet I cannot get perspective.

I need an interlude where I can just be me again. My short term memories are slipping away. I feel it. I feel the encroachment of more slippage and I know that I cannot stop it, but I cannot process the reality of it all either. The song by Jim Brickman ‘Hear Me‘ sings simply~

“Hear me, hear my words unspoken. Restore my faith in hoping.
Hear me, I am feeling broken. I am broken open.
Take this life, turn it into something. I’m afraid it’s just wasting time.
Turn this life the sun has ripened, grow it slowly on the vine.”

Then the cycle begins again. How long before I forget the words to that song? To other songs? The song I sang to my husband on our wedding day? My favorite hymns? The lullabies I sang to my babies. I love songs. I love words. Yet I forget how to spell them. I have to edit and edit and edit everything. I forget how sentences go together and obsess going back over them and changing everything.

But more than anything? Memories. Those precious bits of forever that link us to the past, keep us in our present and urge us to plan for a future. I fear more and more of those slipping from my mind. So today, if I were to be stranded on an island, and I think I just may be, what one thing do I want with me? Certainly not the fear! The one thing I want is all of my precious memories. The ones that have been lost through the natural process of time and the ones Alzheimer’s is snatching from me. I want them all back. I want to sit and go through them one at a time. I want to touch, smell, taste, hear, experience them all. I do not want to go back in time or have any do-overs. I’ve had a good life. God has been good to me. But I want to go through all my memories, alone, on this Island….

Moment to moment, life is fleeting. If you do not know the Lord, I pray HE will place folks on your path that can help guide you into a knowledge of Christ. If you have walked with HIM and slipped into a place of withdrawal from HIS presence, return to your First Love. And if you are in a great place with the Lord, and you are going through a frustrating time in your life, remember this: You will get through this phase. I don’t know how long you may be in it, or how deep it might get, but I know HE will not let you sink. HE will always hold you up with HIS hand. And even if you are in a place like me where you feel completely alone and lost, HE is still right there. Run into HIS arms as many times as necessary throughout the days and nights. The Lord’s arms are always wide open and HIS love for you is unending.

For today, that is enough to get me through another day.

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Saturday ~ February 2, 2019: One Day at a Time

I am currently in the moderate phase of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. I have been forgetting many things like meds, appointments, events, and anything with numbers pretty much feels like it’s fried my brain. I am a weeper. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m surprised. I cry at Christmas. I cry over cards and gifts. I cry when I’m sad and the tears are unabated at this point. I am reminded that joy comes in the morning, so I know all these tears are just a one-night stand and this too shall pass.

I cannot help but think, sometimes to the point of dwelling, on two simple facts. My long-term memory is still in tact. My short-term is quite compromised. Long-term. Short-term. Is there a timeline I can set out so I know what to expect and when? Is long-term ten years or more? Twenty? Thirty? Five? Two? And how short is short-term? I forget things that happened two weeks ago and convos I had a week ago have gaps in them.

I have become a total fanatic about taking notes and we have set reminders on Alexa so my husband gets the reminders on his phone, too, and can check to see if I remembered something important. We have back-up reminders and alarms on my phone and watch. I have pages of notes on my phone to refer to daily to help me remember. I go through my photos on my phone and on fb daily.

The things most precious to me are simple things. These simple things are the memories I am desperate to hold on to with both hands, feet, arms and teeth, if need be. Ferociously trying to keep them from slipping away. When my hubby walks in the door from work and I see that look of peace come over his face. His phone call at lunch just to say he loves me. His precious kisses. The quirk of his eyebrow when I say something off the wall. How he smiles when our children or grandchildren walk into our home. The way he tilts his head when he touches my hand. How easily and peacefully he lays his head to rest at night.

My oldest son’s smile. That look he gets when someone says something he’s pretty sure is not right. His happiness when he’s with family. The way he laughs and enjoys some back-in-the-day stories. The flashing of his dimples when he wants something from his Ma. How he tugs at his shirt hem or readjusts his sleeves when he’s sharing something with me, almost as though he wants to look his best in that moment. The way he plays it close to the vest.

My youngest son’s way of caring for me. His tenderness. His righteous indignation. That smile melts my heart. The way he always comes for a kiss on the cheek before he leaves. The generous spirit that always asks for a list of things I would like done that I can no longer complete. How he runs his hand back through his hair. His love for Mexican food and trail running. His respect and honor for us.

My baby girl’s requests for Girl’s Day Out with her Mama. Her smile and the way she throws her head back and laughs with abandon. How hard she works for her family’s future. How she reassures me and keeps me focused. How she uses her dimples to persuade me to her way of thinking. Her love of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise jewelry. The way she shares her babies with me.

My husband keeps reminding me that we are going to take things one day at a time, one step at a time. A few scriptures come to mind:

“This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Let me focus on this day and not what is to come. I will keep the Lord’s Word ever before my eyes and hidden in my heart. Thanking God for today!

 

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Pieces of Me ~ Part II: Welcome To The Club

Most folks would like to hear those words of “Welcome” at some point in their life. Several years ago, there was always some kind of club or group I could never seem to get my foot through the door to become a “member”. When I ached to join and suffered rejection, I pretended I didn’t really care about being in the midst of the fun after all.

Youngsters formed Clubs in the neighborhood for “Friends Only”. You were allowed entrance only by invitation and only if the invite was issued by a founding member. I recall one group just around the corner from our home which met in an actual tree~house. I thought it was the coolest club ever and I would walk slowly down the street at meeting time, in hopes that someone would see me casually strolling by and invite me into the “Club”. I wished fervently to know what they talked about in there. I was dying to know what was in the bowl of goodies his mother carried out every afternoon and what flavored drink might be in that metal pitcher. They noticed me all right. But they just pointed, laughed and climbed the ladder to the magical palace in the tree. And silly me kept walking by every afternoon, thinking this would be the day they chose me.

One afternoon, one of the cool girls came running from the tree~house just as I was strolling by. I gave her a big grin of excitement and my heart beat out a sweet, fast rhythm. She stepped up in front of me and pointed her finger in my face. “Karla, you are not allowed on our street anymore. So stop!” I responded, “This was the last day I was walking over here anyway!” and ran all the way home in tears. I shut myself in my bedroom and listed all the reasons I didn’t want to be a member of their stupid club and then cried some more.

I was never one of the cool kids. I was not athletic, or bubbly, or super smart. Never fit in with any clique or group of kids. I stood on the sidelines of my own childhood. The only “friend” I had as an adolescent was one girl who enjoyed pummeling me. I was her practice dummy in case she ever got into a fight at school. I didn’t know how to fight back and knew if I did, I would get in more trouble at home, so I withstood the occasional beat-down. She was bigger and stronger and could grab me by my ponytail and swing me around in circles until I hit the ground. She would sit on me and punch me. I never fought back, although I wanted to in the worst way.

I was and still am quite average. I was never encouraged to excel at anything. So I made it through tenth grade by the skin of my teeth. I went back later for my GED and took some college courses to better my chances in the workforce.

I don’t excel, I don’t initiate, I don’t engage. I sit back, observe, and learn. I am not a naturally gifted people-person. I don’t seek others out. I am content to watch. I am content to enjoy life from the sidelines.

But as a parent, I encouraged my children to find their “thing” and be the best they could be at whatever it was they found to be their niche. Whatever they tried their hand at, I was always in there telling them to “go for it!” But I tried to never steer them in one direction. Each of them has found a place of contentment, fulfillment and that fills my heart with joy. Two of my children have children and each of them is unique and owns their own special piece of my heart.

I am fulfilled. I am content. Life has not always been kind or behaved as I might have imagined, but as an adult, my heart has always been full and that is more than enough. I have found my place in God’s Club. HE welcomed me with open arms and I will not turn away from HIM or HIS presence. I am a life-time member of “I can do all things through Christ!” I have an amazing husband with whom I share my heart. He completes me in a way I never dreamed was possible and our beloved children and grandchildren round out the picture of “Home”. The sidelines have been perfect for me.

There are many opinions on faith and what God does or does not need to do for us. There is the Name it and Claim it camp that believes whatever you claim in Jesus’ name is yours. The Disclaim it and Blame it folks think if you refuse to accept it and put the blame squarely wherever it belongs, it cannot effect you. Personally, my faith provokes me to APB the situation. Acknowledge. Pray. Believe.

I prayed for a doctor who was Godly, wise, and kind. God provided abundantly. So when he does the tests and tells me what is going on, well, I’m going to trust him. I am going to thank God for the incredible minds HE gave these scientists! However, God still has the final say in my life over everything! So, I can acknowledge the diagnosis, pray to my Heavenly Father who has all things in HIS hands, and believe that HIS perfect will is unfolding in my life. If HE chooses to heal me instantly, Hallelujah!  If HE chooses to heal me as I walk through it, Hallelujah! And if not either of those? Hallelujah! anyhow!

God is still and always will be in control. Nothing touches my life but what HE has said, “You can do this with MY strength. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I trust you to lean into ME and when the going gets tough, rest in MY everlasting presence!” Welcome to the Club. The membership guidelines are clearly stated in the Word of God. Many have been called to join, but few are actually chosen. Thank God, I’m in the club of a lifetime whose membership carries you through eternity!

I am also a member of another club. In the Acknowledgement phase, I have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. In the Praying phase, prayer never ceases. And the Believe? Oh, yes, I believe! APB!

This blog will now be dedicated to this journey as we walk it out. I will be sharing insights from my husband and children through the process. I covet your prayers for my family. The sorrow has been abundant and it is a tremendously heart-breaking situation for them. They are my loves and my life so please keep them covered.

If you are not a member of the God Club, I invite you to pick up your Bible and allow HIM to lead you into all truth. When the vicissitudes of life are rocking you to your core, HE will be the steady hand you have always sought. When you grieve, HE will send comfort. When you are hurting, HE will hold you. HE will place the perfect people on your path to be a source of strength and guidance. HE will see to it that you are fulfilled and content and ready when HE returns for HIS people! Welcome to the Club!

I love you but Jesus loves more!

 

 

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