We Need Laughter

Mom- feb 2009 003_zpsfddathxaMoments to Lighten Up While Caregiving

“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Are you a caregiver of one whom is losing their mental abilities, maybe slowly, maybe rapidly? Are you caring for one who is confused often? who gets angry, who can no longer tie their shoelaces, who hides things and then accuses another of stealing? Or are you a giver of care for one with such physical needs that you, yourself, are physically exhausted much of the time? Are you caring for one who…? …and the list goes on and on.

Caring for my mother for fifteen years tested my patience sometimes. I loved her no less. It was not Mama that I lost patience over, but it was the disease of dementia that shortened my fuse. Dementia was taking my parent away from me gradually and, sometimes, in harsh, ever-changing ways. Some days, Mama was clear-minded and in such a sweet place. Other days, she was confused, or angry, or short- tempered. She was usually not upset with me, but upset with her condition, her world. I could not care for her at home as my health, my back, would not allow it. I could not lift her. So she had to live where others would be caring for her more than I would, although I was with her most every day. Mama wore diapers. Mama slept a lot; she was vibrantly alert; she acted A.D.H.D.; she confused people, rooms, times; she used words she NEVER would use before and said things that I could not believe she said … OUTLOUD! I never knew who I was going to find when I arrived to see her.

Caregiving is exhausting, can be filled with love, is stressful, demands room for patience, and has plenty of room for impatience.  Caregiving NEEDS space for laughter!  Yes, I said LAUGHTER!  When Mama needed help and I would almost fall upon her, she would say, “Wow! sister, be careful. You almost fell on me. I wonder what would happen if you did?” And then I cuddled her and we both laughed. She would burp loudly and say, “I never used to do that so much, but I guess I can since I am 97!” And we laughed together! Moments like these would make the giving of care lighter, sweeter, even more loving. People with dementia can be funny as themselves, providing just the words or actions for laughter. Or one with autism may make a cute or funny face, giving a sweet second for laughter to erupt. Comments are often made that are so out of context by the one being cared for and when said aside from the actual incident, situation, or even television program, laughter just may be the answer. Whatever the incident, try to use it to be a laughable moment. No one may even know why they are laughing but it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Did you know that laughter reduces stress? increases circulation? decreases blood pressure? relaxes muscles? reduces pain by increasing the endorphins in the bloodstream? Laughter has many more wonderful qualities, giving our bodies and our minds moments of relief, pleasure, and time out.

Absurdity changes the moment from arduously serious into life bursting anew:
“You find your car keys in the freezer.”

“Your wife tries to pay for groceries by pulling out a sanitary pad from her purse.”

“Your husband spends his afternoons “debating” the man in the hall mirror (the “nice fella” who happens to look exactly like him).”

A woman, standing in her doorway, hollering at the Medication Aide for some ‘Viagra’ when she meant ‘Allegra’ for her runny nose! (This one actually was my mother!! Yes MY Mother! My dear mother gave the staff a moment of laughter too!…along with any family members who happened to be in the hallway at that moment!! Mama had been watching far too many ads on television.)  Of course, the staff had to tell me this great story too which I continue to pass along!

You’ve gotta LAUGH! Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. ~ Arnold Glasow

Laughter helps us walk through those tough times. Laughing with the one we care for and about also helps.

Loretta, a precious woman, would spend a couple of hours twice a week with Mama, as a caregiver, giving me those evenings with my husband. Some nights, Mama loved having her there, introducing her to everyone as “my friend.” Other nights, Mama just wanted to sleep. On those nights, Mama would tell Loretta, “If you are going to talk, I am leaving this room!” Loretta would chuckle to herself and say, “Then I will follow you wherever you go!” Mama would just close her eyes as a grin began to take shape knowing that her “friend, Loretta” would do just that!

The one who is now living in diapers who felt dignity has all but walked out the door, or the one who fell again, or the one who cannot speak words that once flowed easily from their mouth needs laughter and love. Watch a funny movie together, or call a friend who can make laughter erupt, or bring a child into the room who loves to make others smile. Laughter is a key to taking a hard situation and turning it around for even just moments. It is vital for the one being cared for, the giver of care, as well as some of the staff who happen to be in hearing range.

A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~ Mary H. Waldrip

In the assisted living facility, Mr. H. wanted the blinds up at mealtime so he could look outside. Mama faced the window and wanted them down because the sun was too bright. Rather than move around the table, she got up and lowered the blinds. Mr. H. raised them back, and Mama lowered them. This went on a few more times before Mama hauled off and hit Mr. H. She did not hurt him but both daughters had to be called like a parent is called to school. A meeting was held with the director, Mama, and me where Mama was told the rules and scolded. We also were told that this could not happen again as they could not keep her at this facility. As we walked out of the meeting, Mama quickly got ahead of me by about ten feet and said, under her breath, but loud enough, “Your mother’s Italian got the better of her.” I had to smile and thought to myself, “And your Irish too!”

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle

Sometimes, taking every moment seriously just wore me down so I needed these breaks! Now, two years after Mama has gone to be with the LORD, I am still chuckling at some of the moments that brought laughter. I still hold onto our preciously sweet moments too. God is gracious as He allows a caregiver’s memory of the hard stuff to recede further from the surface as He brings the sweet and laughable memories to the top. I am so thankful to our God for that.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations,The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”  Psalm 126:2-3

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  Psalm 126:5

Father God, You gave me the miracle of seeing You in ALL–in the small, everyday moments, and in the huge, mountaintop moments. I give thanks for the moment-by-moment love I had for my Mama and the love she had for me. Thank You for the laughter we shared, for the combing of her hair to calm her down, for the kiss on her forehead, and for the big hug she’d give me with such an “I love you, my firstborn.” You are restoring the years that wore me down by giving me a harvest of memories of the love and joy my mother brought to me, by reminding me of my dear parents and how much they wanted me. You satisfy me and I praise the Name of the Lord, my God. You have dealt wondrously with me, Father. Thank You. I lift each one here today who needs Your hand in their life. They may be caring for someone with dementia or cancer or autism. You know, Father. They need the joy of the LORD. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Seasons Change

“Even the stork in the sky
Knows her seasons;
And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush
Observe the time of their migration;
But My people do not know
The ordinance of the LORD.”  Jeremiah 8:7

As the seasons begin to change in some area, South Texas has not quite hit that beat.  A day here, a day there, we notice that the winds are out of the East or Northeast; they are a bit more dry…the first signs of Fall for us.

But in the next month, I will look to the skies and see a large “V” of White Pelicans floating across the sky to make their Winter home here in South Texas…every year.  They know their seasons, and they know the route of their migration.

I see God orchestrating this pageant in the sky.

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Seasons change bringing various weather shifts; seasons in my life change too.  I want to be open to God’s changes for me, for my husband and me.  I want to hear Him, feel His leading, and know that this is the way…that I should walk in it.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:…  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Father, Your creation is so majestic.  These amazing birds fly silently above as they float in each Fall.  They remind me of Your majesty because they are of You.  They renew me as I look up to see the bright white in the sky when so many are together as the warm sun beams upon their white-white feathers.  Then they change direction as if they are one large bird circling in the bright blue sky; their color changes to a gray-black, and then back to white as they circle around.  Oh, Father, they are beautiful and I so look forward to their arrival once again.  Thank You, LORD, for Your creation.  May I be open to Your will as the seasons in my life change too.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

 

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“Fell to the Ground”

Leaves_fallingFall may be in the air for some.  I am a bit too low in the hemisphere to have it yet, but soon…soon.  Falling is what I am writing about today.  Not the kind where I fell because I tripped or lost my balance, but a falling that occurred several times in the Bible when the Power of God was stronger than they were.

So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and *said to them, “Whom do you seek?”  They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.  John 18:4-6

After reading this chapter in John the other night, my husband and I were pondering this phrase at the end of verse 6: “and fell to the ground.”  Did they fall down and worship?  Did they fall down due to a moment of realization?  Why did they fall down?

Being the research librarian that I am, I looked up this phrase in the Blue Letter Bible in a number of versions and then checked the Greek and Hebrew.  Since the verse is in John, I will stay with the Greek for today…

πίπτω

piptō

  • descend from a higher place to a lower

    1. to fall (either from or upon)

      1. to be thrust down

    2. metaph. to fall under judgment, came under condemnation

  • to descend from an erect to a prostrate position

    1. to fall down

      1. to be prostrated, fall prostrate

      2. of those overcome by terror or astonishment or grief or under the attack of an evil spirit or of falling dead suddenly

      3. the dismemberment of a corpse by decay

      4. to prostrate one’s self

      5. used of suppliants and persons rendering homage or worship to one

      6. to fall out, fall from i.e. shall perish or be lost

      7. to fall down, fall into ruin: of buildings, walls etc.

    2. to be cast down from a state of prosperity

      1. to fall from a state of uprightness

      2. to perish, i.e come to an end, disappear, cease

        1. of virtues

      3. to lose authority, no longer have force

        1. of sayings, precepts, etc.

      4. to be removed from power by death

      5. to fail of participating in, miss a share in

Saul, who later became Paul, experiences this same fall…

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  Acts 9:4  (Acts 22:7)

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At first, I was thinking that the men in John 18 fell down in worship even though they were coming to arrest Jesus, but I know that that is not so now.  They drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6b)  was a fall from terror or astonishment.

Other versions of the Bible replace “drew back” in John 18:6 with:

went backward

stepped back

retreated

went away backward

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary about John 18, states:  “See how he terrified them, and obliged them to retire (v. 6): They went backward, and, like men thunder-struck, fell to the ground. It should seem, they did not fall forward, as humbling themselves before him, and yielding to him, but backward, as standing it out to the utmost.”

There is fear in the meaning here…fear when Jesus proclaims Himself as “I am He,” Jesus the Nazarene…fear when a light flashed around Saul/Paul and then the voice of the Lord speaks to him.  In the verse below, there is fear when God speaks from the cloud and announces that “This is MY beloved Son….” 

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”  When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.  And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”  And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.  Matthew 17:4-8

In Matthew 17, Jesus tells His disciples to “not be afraid.”  I love this because He touches them and gently prods them to get up and to let the fear go.  Does that not sound like our Lord?  Oh, YES!  He knows us and wants us to follow Him and not be afraid of Him.  It is in the knowing of Him that will ease our fears.  Spending time with Him, in His Word, in prayer, in communion, will draw us nearer.

Dear Jesus, I know that You are the One and Only LORD, the Son, the Savior.  I thank You for Your power in my life.  I am so very sorry that You went through such awful things for me, for others such as I.  But, I am so grateful that You fulfilled Scripture all the way through to this with more to come yet.  I pray I do right by You in what I say and do in this world.  If I fall down, may it be for worship and not because of fear.  I pray in Your Name.  Amen.

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Praising the Creator

psalm148

 Psalm 148

1   Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

praise Him in the heights!

 Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

2  Praise Him, all His angels;

praise Him, all His hosts!

3  Praise Him, sun and moon,

praise Him, all you shining stars!

Genesis 1:16-18aAnd God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.

4  Praise Him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens!

Genesis 1:6-8aAnd God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.  And God called the expanse Heaven.

5  Let them praise the name of the Lord!

For He commanded and they were created.

6  And He established them forever and ever;

He gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,

you great sea creatures and all deeps,

8  fire and hail, snow and mist,

stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Genesis 1:20-21a And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

9  Mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars!

Genesis 1:11-12aAnd God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.

10  Beasts and all livestock,

creeping things and flying birds!

Genesis 1:24-25aAnd God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind.

11  Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the earth!

12  Young men and maidens together,

old men and children!

Genesis 1:26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

13  Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for His name alone is exalted;

His majesty is above earth and heaven.

  Genesis 1:2bAnd God called the expanse Heaven.

Genesis 1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.

14  He has raised up a horn for His people,

praise for all His saints,

for the people of Israel who are near to Him.

Praise the Lord!

Amen.  Amen,

This beautiful psalm of praise sidles up alongside Genesis 1 throughout.  Each part of God’s creation comes forth to honor and praise the Creator.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Father, the Creator of All, You saw that all was good, even very good.  I am so humbled that You even made me amongst all of the beautiful and incredible mountains and flowers and butterflies and beasts.  You are such a beautiful One, the Holy One of Israel.  You created and I deserve all the honor.  I thank You.  I love You, Father God.  In the Name of Your Son, Jesus…Amen.

 

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Graphic/Photo:  Sweet to the Soul

Doxology:  Words: Thomas Ken, 1674. These lyr­ics, sung as the Dox­ol­o­gy in many church­es, are ac­tu­al­ly the last verse of a long­er hymn, Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun.   Music: Old 100th, Ge­ne­van Psalt­er, 1551, at­trib­ut­ed to Louis Bourgeois

Stumble…Stumbling…A Stumbling Block

stumble-clipart-l_078I have stumbled many times in the physical sense…as a child, I ran faster than my legs could go, tripping over things; as a teen, I would be busy talking, a curb attacked me which I never saw coming; as an adult, I might trip over a leg on a piece of furniture; as a senior adult with my spinal cord having bone spurs, disk problems, and a cyst, I began stumbling over things and even over nothing…I just fell.  Stumbling happens to many, if not most, of us.

I have also stumbled spiritually.  Oh, my!  Yes, I lost my way…wandered in deserts, in places where wild things lived.

God talks about stumbling in His Word, both the Old Testament and the New.  We stumble spiritually when we disobey God, when we don’t listen to know His way for us. We can easily be led astray, causing us to stumble spiritually.

כָּשַׁל

kashal

to stumble, stagger, totter, waver

to be made to stumble

to make feeble, make weak

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
Whoever is discerning, let him know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right,
And the righteous will walk in them,
But transgressors will stumble in them.  Hosea 14:9

Staying close to God and His Ways is what keeps our spirits strong.  We wait upon the Lord…to hear His still, small voice, to know the wind of the Holy Spirit as He guides us, and to remain steadfast to our Creator.

“True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.

“For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

“But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.  Malachi 2:6-8

 

Finding the path of wisdom through God’s instruction and through godly counsel keeps us near.  Stumbling can occur when we turn from God’s Ways, listen to the ways of men who are not of God, wander from the path of righteousness, are disobedient.  We can also cause others to stumble.

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Jesus speaks of stumbling and a stumbling block in the New Testament.

σκανδαλίζω

skandalizō

verb

stumble

to entice to sin

to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey

since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed

σκάνδαλον

skandalon

noun

a stumbling block, a trap, a snare

any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall

fig. applied to Jesus Christ, whose person and career were so contrary to the expectations of the Jews concerning the Messiah, that they rejected him and by their obstinacy made shipwreck of their salvation

any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin

  “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”  Matthew 18:5-7

 

For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone,”

and

A stone of stumbling,

and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.  1 Peter 2:6-8

Many trip over Jesus.  The Name of Jesus causes some, many, to lay up a defense and they will not open their eyes nor their ears to the Truth that is Jesus the Christ. 

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Yet many find Jesus to be the stepping stones to eternal life, the Living Water, the Bread of Life.  Praising God for His mercy and grace upon us.

Jesus calls us to walk in His Light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.  John 12:35

Oh, that darkness makes the stumbling even worse.  Peter reminds us who we are and the image we are to portray to those of this world.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.    1 Peter 2:4-5

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Father God, I pray that I will stand upright and close to You with each and every step.  May I sense Your very Presence that I would not turn from Your ways and that we would be obedient children to You, our Father.  I have stumbled physically so much, especially in these latter years, but am so much better now.  I have also stumbled spiritually yet You never left me.  You were right at the door and ready for me to enter Your Kingdom.  I pray that I would not lead one astray, ever.  I pray I have not done that in my past Sunday school teaching or any other time as I spoke with others about Jesus.  Hold me strong as I grow older.  Keep me from stumbling both physically and spiritually.  I want to be holy as You are Holy.  I thank You, LORD, for loving me through all my history and calling me to You.  Oh, I am so grateful and I give You all of the glory.  I did nothing to deserve Your mercy and Your grace.  I pray in the Name of Your Precious Son.  Amen. 

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photo/graphic of Jesus:Stumbling Block…from http://www.campusbiblechurch.com/message/jesus-christ-stumbling-block-or-stepping-stone