Memory’s Music

 

Soothing Moments

Let me introduce my Mama to you. She has since passed away to be with the Lord, but in this picture, she was 98 years old with dementia and diabetes, living in a nursing home within two miles of my home.  This picture was taken on her last birthday.  She has earbuds in her ears, attached to an iShuffle, listening and singing to a French opera singer from her childhood days, Lily Pons.  She listened to Christmas carols sung by the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, a few patriotic songs sung by Kate Smith, and a musical piece called “Maple Leaf Rag,” composed by Scott Joplin in 1899.  She sang, even reaching the extremely high notes of Lily Pons.  She directed the music with her hands.  She played the piano with her fingers on the arms of the chair when the “Maple Leaf Rag” came on.  She would tell me stories about her Italian bricklaying father who made all in the house be quiet so he could listen to opera on Saturday morning radio programs.  Mama loved that time with her father and playing this music brought that whole scenario back to life for her. She told me stories of her Chicago upbringing and about all of the vaudeville shows and silent movies with the good music being played by the live piano or organ player. I downloaded these tunes for Mama about two years before she died.  She enjoyed music so when she was awake and in the mood to listen I would put those earbuds into her ear and she loved it.  She was amazed that the “little bitty thing” could hold all of that “great music” for her to listen to.  Even though I could not hear her music, I knew what she was listening to for she told me each piece, the singer or the piano player.  And she would want me to hear it too!  This became quite a special event for her and I absolutely loved it, for her sweet sake!  Music takes us to places and things remembered, may it be as children, teens, adults, or to landings in our journey through life, a special moment, or a special person. With today’s internet, the music from era upon era is available. I was actually quite amazed to find Lily Pons (whom I had never heard of) who began singing in the late 1920s. Mama would have been in high school at that time.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts;
His name is the LORD;
exult before Him!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in His holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;…. Psalm 68:4-6a

Music needs to be something that the person can relate to so finding out the tastes of a person is important.  Hopefully, the one you are desiring music for can tell you his or her favorites, as was the case with Mama, or you can recall the favorites, or there is a family member or friend who can name tunes that would bring back a fond memory.  I found that songs of a varied mix, maybe four or five of one artist, four to ten of a certain type of music (Christmas, spiritual, ragtime, country, Big Band, etc.) interspersed with singles of just one particular type make for a delightful combination for the listener.  The listener doesn’t seem to become weary of the varied flavors of music for it spans much of their lifetime, their likes, their memories and sweet times.     

Over-the-ear headphones work better than earbuds as they tend to stay on the head better.  The earbuds tended to fall out, as I quickly found out, repositioning them from time to time.  Mama could not deal with the iShuffle’s intricate method of operation so I was there to forward a piece or shut it off completely.  Some people may not like either the headphones or earbuds so a small speaker may be the ticket.  Years ago, I had a small cd player/radio for Mama with built-in speakers.  (The staff and I used music to soothe Mama during her paranoid and hallucinatory dementia stages, especially at night.)  If the elder knows how to use the player, that makes it easy, but if not, then someone nearby needs to help.  Over time though, I got an iShuffle and downloaded just her music for just her enjoyment.  Because I was dealing with a constantly changing staff at the nursing home, I kept the iShuffle in my purse, always having it with me on each visit.  I would see what mood Mama was in and decide whether or not to use it that visit.  Using it from time to time also keeps it special.  (Nursing homes are finding music works well during a transition in a daily schedule: if someone is hesitant to take a bath or eat or get dressed, music may take their mind away from the task at hand, allowing them to flow into that which needs doing.)

The memories associated with the various music may take a bit of time to surface.  Yet, for others, they bubble to the top immediately.  Even though we may spend a lot of time putting the music together on the device, patience is our key.  Allow the person time to listen and become accustomed to what they are hearing.  If the person is responding, don’t be shy about joining in as they sing.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!  Psalm 98:4

Well over two years ago, I wrote about this topic.  I had been using music with Mama for some time.  In the news, I was seeing articles relating to music and the mind, brain function, and such.  I want to share a website called “Music and Memory” where they have been studying and encouraging the use of music with the elderly, especially those who have shut down or are depressed.  This is a short video about Henry.  I highly recommend taking the time to watch it.  You will be so encouraged to take up this mantle and bring music to one you love.  http://musicandmemory.org/

Another website that includes music as therapy is “Validation.”  This video does not use a device but the beauty of spiritual music brings a woman to life:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrZXz10FcVM

LORD, I thank You for giving people the creativeness to write, sing, and play music, for the ability to so appreciate different kinds of music, and to bring memories to the surface through music.  I thank You for these wonderful elderly who can express themselves, for some…a breath of “FINALLY” can come out because of music, for others a freedom to sing, dance, whistle, direct the band, and clap.  Thank You, LORD, for the staff and the families who use this way to bring about changes for these special folks.  I am so grateful You allowed me to use this well before ever seeing such articles and videos.  Mama enjoyed this self-expression, not that she needed to come out of a shell, but that she was so happy with her kind of music.  I am so blessed, LORD, because You showed me this way for her.  I give You all of the glory.  All, LORD, ALL!  Amen.

 

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He Has Dealt Bountifully With Me

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(I am blessed to be a guest devotional writer today over at Granola Bar Devotional.)

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I would cry out, “How long, O Lord? How long” as I would leave the nursing home where my mother spent the last five years of her life. Due to a terrible fall and surgery, Mama would never be able to fully walk again. Previously, her mind had slipped into a roller coaster of dementia-ridden fear, repetition, accusation, jealousy, confusion, and hallucinations. Diabetes turned to Type 1 at age 85, making her insulin-dependent until the day she died at age 98. Then in her last year of life, she got an extremely painful, odd cancer.

I loved my Mama dearly and she loved her family. I loved to see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her motherly arms around me.  She lived near me the last fifteen years of her life where I watched and lived her life daily so also watched the hard side to aging.

Mama was one of those 1940s gals who went to work for the war effort. She married a Navy doctor. She owned a dress shop. She raised three daughters alone after Daddy died from Pancreatic cancer. We were only 12, 10, and 7. She had her hands full raising us in the 1960s and 70s, but she did. She loved us through the hard places, never giving up on any of us. She took care of herself. She was just an amazing lady.

As her body and mind deteriorated in her aged years, I saw my proud, strong mother become dependent, confused, in pain. Mama could be so afraid over something imaginary, be so angry or jealous with those who cared for her; her blood sugar would drop so low that she required hand-feeding, or the pain of the cancer would be intense. Anguish built up in me. I would hold on, quietly praying for Him to calm us both. As I left her in the care of others, I would cry out to God, “How long, O LORD?” Not that I wanted her to die for I would (and now do) miss her terribly, but watching her go through so much for so long, I just wondered if God had forgotten her.

He had not. God never left either of us. The number of Mama’s days were in God’s hands. He is the LORD Who sees, Yahweh Roi. God was drawing Mama closer to Himself all along through beautiful avenues. He drew me into His arms of peace, of hope, of gentleness. I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.

Memory Verse:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
– Psalm 13:5-6 (ESV)

Prayer Prompt:
“Father God, I rejoice and sing to You. You truly have dealt with me bountifully and lovingly….”

Originally published @ @ Granola Bar Devotional…

This post has been linked up through Granola Bar Devotional FaceBook as well @ https://www.facebook.com/GBDevotional

Gratitude Each Day…Every Day

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13

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Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day…

commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

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Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.  The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red color became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

When I was a girl, we wore the poppies on our dress or blouse, men in the buttonhole of their shirt or suit jacket.  The graves were marked with a paper poppy also.  People sold them on the street corners on November 11.

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Most countries changed the name of the holiday after World War II, to honor veterans of that and subsequent conflicts. Most member states of the Commonwealth of Nations adopted the name Remembrance Day, while the United States chose All Veterans Day (later shortened to ‘Veterans Day‘) to explicitly honor military veterans, including those participating in other conflicts. “Armistice Day” remains the name of the holiday in France, Belgium, and New Zealand.

No matter what this day is called, it is in honor of all of the military veterans (and their families).

I thank you.  Those three words do not tell you just what you mean to me.

You have joined our Armed Services to uphold this country’s freedom and honor.  You are a hero to me, no matter what job the military gave you to do or which war you fought or whether you even fought in a war.  You are my hero because you are a veteran of the United States Armed Services.  I am forever grateful.

My heart is heavy with such thoughts of war upon war, men and women giving their lives, bodies and minds may be less than whole after conflicts, the return home to find that the world looks different after serving in combat.  BUT…I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done, are doing, and will be doing.

And I also thank the families, the wives, the children of all of those who served and are serving right now.  You have sacrificed much and I thank you.

Can I tell you that “I love you?”  I do.

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I understand.  My Daddy was a career Navy doctor who took doctoring seriously as he served in the Pacific theater in World War II.  He became a part of the post-WWII Manhattan Project as the United States continued to test atomic and hydrogen bombs (Daddy served @ Bikini and Eniwetok Islands.)  He became Chief of Medicine and later a physician for the Surgeon General and Secretary of the Navy when they traveled.  He wrote curricula for the internship and residency programs for new Navy doctors.  There is so much more to my father’s military history, yet much will never be known by me as he died of Pancreatic cancer when I was twelve.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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My mother served alongside Daddy, but on the home front.  She worked for the Naval Supply Depot in San Diego and Los Angeles, California, during WWII.  She served as a Navy doctor’s wife at the various bases we lived.  She was the President of the Navy Doctor’s Wives Club in San Diego.  Mama was proud to be in the Navy with her mate.  She never remarried, raising us three girls alone after Daddy died, and lived to be 98.  The Navy and the friends she made were lifelong.  Mama is now buried with Daddy at Arlington.

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I am a proud daughter of them both and am honored to have them buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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My husband is a Vietnam Veteran who served in combat with the United States Army, 101st Airborne, 1968-69.  I am blessed to have this man by my side now although I was not married to him at the time he served.

Near Los Alamos, NM


I stand proud of my heritage and my husband.

And I stand proud of each and every Veteran in this country.  

Thank You.

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Veterans Day poster @ http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/gallery.asp

“In Flanders Field”: http://highgate-rsl.org.au/remembrance_day.html

In Time … Eukairos

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Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16
εὔκαιρος eukairos
In time…
The Greek meanings for this word in this context may be: the opportune moment, the right time, the seasonable time


God provides the blessings from heaven in His perfect moment for my specific need.  God’s time is really all there is.  No matter what my schedule looks like, my time is in His hands.  My need is His because He holds that in His hands too.  His timing for answers, for blessings, for provision is perfect, eukairos.  I cannot rush Him nor can I change that which is perfectly His.  All is as it should be.  And I must accept that.  Yet, I should never doubt that my part is to enter the courts and come boldly to His throne where His grace is overflowing.  Kneeling before that throne, before the LORD, is my place.  Praying, asking, carrying the boldness He gives to me, taking it all directly to Him, laying it down at His feet, are my jobs in His time.  He hears my prayer, He knows my needs and my requests.  He will answer with His perfect answer in His perfect timing.  He gives me grace and mercy for today, for this very moment I stand in.

My time is God’s time … the opportune moment, the right time, His seasonable time … and not mine.  Grace rains down upon me in His perfect moment and from moment-to-moment until the right time is nigh.  

LORD, may Your mercies calm me that I may hold still, being quiet, awaiting You in Your time.  I draw near and behold the beauty of You, my LORD.  May Your time become mine.  Gentle and kindness are Your graces over me.  Perfect are You and perfect is Your clock.  Amen.

Cartwheels

Cartwheels

After 31 days of writing for the #write31days challenge, I am ready to do a cartwheel on a nice soft lawn to release the little girl that wants to go out and play!  Laura Boggess wrote a book called Playdates with God which inspires me to play once in awhile, but playing has changed for me.  This 67 year old cannot play the way I once did nor can I play like I want to play.  A number of surgeries and new pieces and parts of a spinal column and hip prevent such sheer fun!  But…I can take my mind and heart out to play and they can do all the cartwheels they want!

Sheer joy!  What would be sheer joy to me today?

…praises to my LORD

…moments with my husband with my hand in his

…seeing doves, woodpeckers, sparrows all on the yard at one time

…having the fox family in the yard eating the Anaqua tree’s berries

…reveling in the beauty of the Word of God

…hearing God’s voice in my heart

…seeing my great niece sitting beside her grandmother watching Canada geese

…sharing a whole week with my youngest sister

…having a sweet time with a once estranged sister

…having the whole family together, especially since Mama is gone from this earth; purposing to get together

…a heart filled with love

…the gift of Redemption

 joy

Shout to the LORD, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.  Psalm 98:4

Sheer joy!  There is so much more that I could imagine, but these joys are real.  They are beautiful.  I thank God for each and every one.

For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!  Luke 1:44

John was doing cartwheels at the first meeting of the cousins on earth.

and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes.  Have you never read,
‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’
?”
  Matthew 21:16 (Psalm 8:2)

Praising God is joy itself.

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout in triumph to the God of Jacob.  Psalm 81:1

Let us do cartwheels wherever we are and whenever the opportunity affords it.

Abba Father, You are so beautiful and so real to me.  I thank You for planting joy in my heart.  You give me real or pretend moments of play when I feel like a child.  I am grateful for those times.  I am thankful that You are with me to remind me of all the gifts that are from You.  Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.  James 1:17-18  You have given me Your best, LORD.  With my heart, I turn a cartwheel of joy.  In Christ’s Name, I pray.  Amen.

Beyond 31 Days @ write31days.com

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WOW!  What a challenge this 31 days of writing has been.  My initial desire was to focus clearly on the Holy Spirit’s teaching as I would prepare to write or make notes about a future post.  For the most part, I was able to be still and know that God was in my presence.  But, I will admit, that there were posts that seem rather unfocused in the looking back.  I think that the initial desire of mine is well and good, but possibly not something I am truly able to do every day for a month because I am not always tuned in and I found that I was needing to “try hard” on a few posts and that is not Holy Spirit led.  I think I prefer writing as the Holy Spirit leads me down His path.

But I have learned something about writing for this blog that is invaluable for the purposes for which and Whom I write.  If it is to be for the glory of God, then I must be in line with the Spirit of God.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2

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May my mind be fixed on You, LORD.  May I be clear and know that which You want written down here.  May each word be for Your glory, Father God, and Your glory alone.  I thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to guide my every step.  May I be still and know that You are God.  In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

 

To catch up on the previous days of this 31 day challenge, you can find them listed here.

Photo and verse from VersaDay @ https://versaday.com/