Is Giving Care Different During the Holidays?

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Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,….

Christmas is coming. This time of year can be joyous as we celebrate the birth of our LORD and enjoy family and friends. Holidays can bring stress too. Being the main caregiver can add additional stress, changing the entire dynamics of the traditions of your Christmas (and other holidays).

As caregivers, you may be wishing that the holidays were over or anticipate them with a dread because you just can’t handle the stress of all the “doing” that you find is expected. You may find that you have been alienated by your caregiving duties. Friends don’t call or come by as they once did. You can’t find anyone to watch your care receiver so you may go with your husband to his office party. You have family coming into town to see the parent you care for and you hold resentment towards one or more of them for their lack of support or for telling you how to do something even though they never offer actual help. You dread the encounter, yet do not want to start an argument. You just wish it all were behind you. Your care receiver struggles to recognize pictures accompanying Christmas cards, getting agitated for their lack of memory. Or they don’t recognize where they are because the Christmas tree is taking up the corner where a certain chair is the rest of the year. These issues may occur year-round, but with the added expectations of holidays, you almost would rather skip them. Know that you are not alone.

Many people laden with family expectations, caregivers or otherwise, go through the holidays hoping they will be over soon.  Rather than wish we could bury our heads in the sand, keep in mind that you can begin anew, set down parameters that work well for you, and remember what Christmas is really all about.  A Savior came into the world over 2,000 years ago.  He is our peace, our Prince of Peace.

For a Child will be born for us,

a Son will be given to us,

and the government will be on His shoulders.

He will be named

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is our all and worthy to be praised.  During these times, let us keep our eyes focused on Him.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.  To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen. 1 Timothy 1:15-17

As Paul directed Timothy, Jesus reminds us that He is with us.  He is our “perfect patience,” guiding us through each day, through this time of year.

Ways to hold Jesus’ “perfect patience” during this holiday season:

  • Maintain a regular routine for both you and your loved one. The one being cared for must be considered of prime importance.  He or she may or may not know what time of year it is. If they are very sick, a holiday may mean nothing to them because they just don’t feel up to doing anything or being around crowds. Many need peace and quiet; others need to have the family gathered with the delight of children. Knowing their needs are a must. A person with dementia/Alzheimer’s usually needs to have little or no confusion or frustration in their environment.  Try to prevent loud noises, whether that be music or conversations.  Keep one room as a ‘quiet room’ for a nap or for a refuge from all of the hubbub.  Taking them to another’s home or a strange place can cause confusion.  Be conscience of the foods offered, making sure he/she eats/drinks properly.
  • Take care of yourself: staying healthy, both physically and spiritually, includes eating right and nourishing the soul.  The care receiver can often sense that you are tired, stressed, or burdened.  By caring for yourself, they see a loving, focused giver of care.
  • Allow yourself to say “No” to obligations or invitations.  You may have to limit just what you are able to do.  Decide early, letting family know.  Tradition often has to be exchanged for whatever is better for you and the care receiver.  Live up to the expectations that Jesus sets for you, not anyone else’s. 
  • Permit yourself to say “yes” to offers of assistance.  Don’t be shy to ask either.
  • Be positive and hold onto the beauty of Christmas.  Holidays are for memories, joy, and reflection.  Spend time talking about past times, special memories, looking through photo albums.  A care receiver may need this too.  Even if the care receiver doesn’t join in verbally, you may catch a smile or they may close their eyes to savor those moments.
    Memories affirm a sense of being valued and loved.
  • If the care receiver is able, involve them in decorating or making some of the food.  (Mama had special ornaments that she enjoyed seeing up every year so I made a point to have her tell me where to place them, letting her do what she could.  One year, both of my sisters were here for Thanksgiving.  Rather than have turkey and dressing, we made ravioli which Mama’s Italian father had made all of his life.  We three girls made it as Mama shredded up the spinach and directed us.  She loved it, especially the eating.  We were told it was “close to Grandpa’s.”  We have precious memories of that day.)  Play Christmas music.  Sing together.  Watch a Christmas movie from the era of their memory.
  • Depending upon the care receiver, friends and family visits can be important.  It is usually best if just one or a few at a time are with the person.  If the loved one lives in a nursing facility and cannot come to the place where the family is gathering, then small groups should go over and spread the joy out throughout the day.
  • Pray with or over your loved one.
  • If you have family members coming to your home and they have not seen the care receiver for a long time, sharing changes that have occurred since their last visit can be helpful if ongoing communication has not happened.  Sometimes we have estranged family members who are going to be there.  For some, nothing you could say will be heard or taken to heart so silence may be the best way to handle that.  They just need to spend time with the person. (My mother would often be so ‘together’ when my sisters would show up, but over their week’s stay, ‘the Mama’ I dealt would usually appear! If the visit was short, one sister would go away wondering what my problem was for she say nothing much changed.) My best advice would be to just let it happen as it will.
  • Gift-giving: If you are a family member or friend of the caregiver and receiver, visits and certain gifts can and should be given year-round.  Giving the caregiver a break is a wonderful gift: hiring a professional respite team to care for the loved one, or care for the loved one yourself.  Take meals from time to time, but often.  They can be prepared, frozen, gift certificates to local restaurants.  Asking if the caregiver needs anything often is answered with a “No,” but that usually is not the truth.  Offer assistance and then do it.  For the care receiver, gifts of music, comfortable clothing, bird feeders, photo albums, puzzles, games, are all possible gifts.  Think about the caregiver when giving a gift to the receiver for if a gift causes more stress on the one giving care, then it really is not a gift.
  • Sharing our faith with one another is really what Christmas and Easter are about.  Our stories of God’s saving grace should bring us joy no matter what the situation is with the one needing care.  He is the source of joy.  His river never runs dry.  The one with limits now needs to hear this beautiful story no matter how sad you may feel about their condition or impending death.  Our faith may have stemmed from them.  They need to hear how they made a difference in your life. If they do not know Jesus as their Savior, sharing your faith is the most beautiful gift you can give them.  You may never know if they accept Christ but God knows their heart and takes them Home if they asked Jesus into their lives.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrew 11:1  We all need to be reminded of God’s forgiveness and His promises, especially the promise of eternal life.

Father, I pray for each one who is a caregiver facing the holidays with mixed feelings.  We are so very thankful that You sent Your Son into this world to bring salvation and love, forgiveness and mercy.  Please hold us close to You and remind us of why You came for us and why You have placed us as the giver of care to one of Yours.  We pray that we have Your words ready and accessible to share and that Your love shines into the outside world. We lift each other up for You know where we are this day. You know the price may be high in the task You have called us to do.  We also know that You give us the strength, the countenance, the ability and Your love to do the job set before us.  We thank You, Father, for going before us in all we do and in all we are.  We pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen.

beblacksig 

 

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

31 Days of God-Woven Moments – October 22

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I write because I follow God and this is what He is having me do these days.  I share my life here on this new kind of paper.  As God weaves my life, He has given me beautiful God-Woven Moments, experiences that He wants me to share with you.  I cared for my Mama for fifteen years and I am blessed to be able to write about giving care.  Please join me today…

Preserving Dignity

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Dignity: the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed

Weaving dignity into a tightly woven piece of art called caregiving is of vast importance.  Care recipients depend upon caregivers for the physical aspect of their care, but we far too often forget that emotional and psychological wellbeing is vital to one’s wholeness.  Many things can sever an adult’s self-respect and dignity.  It can happen slowly over time or quickly through a stroke, heart attack or accident.  Loss of abilities, such as driving, walking, talking, doing basic care for themselves, or losing the ability to make decisions often means loss of independence.  That loss is usually what eats away at one’s dignity.  Independence is an asset that lends value to life.

Even to your old age, I am He,

And even to gray hairs I will carry you!

I have made, and I will bear;

Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4

As a caregiver, what can you do?  First, learn to see your care recipient through the eyes of God’s unconditional love.  God sees them as His beautiful creation.  So should we.  This should cause the preservation of dignity to be central in our caring.  We should be empathetic, aware of and sensitive to their feelings and thoughts.  Try slipping into their shoes for a better understanding of what they might be going through.  A relationship based on dignity and respect is key to the way we give care.

We can show respect of privacy by closing a door while you help them dress or use the bathroom.  Knock before opening any closed door.  Get their permission before sharing any confidential information, whether it is to family, staff, or friends.  Respect their right to make choices, if they are able, so they can feel some sense of control over their life.  By treating them with dignity, we are listening to their concerns, asking for their opinions, including them in conversations.  Never talk to others as though they are not even there, and try to speak to them as an adult whether they understand or not.     

The care recipient usually knows us and we know them.  We know their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and their needs and desires.  I needed to let my mother make some of her own decisions.  Some of her wishes were dementia-driven.  Rather than tell her “no” or argue with her, I walked gently, working around her decisions to keep her calm.  There were times when she wanted “2 eggs over-easy, bacon, toast with strawberry jam” and she wanted it now.  Now was 8:00 P.M.  The nursing home kitchen was closed; we had no IHOP then.  I found a little cafe that cooked breakfast 24 hours a day.  I could drive there, order a Mama-breakfast and she would be thrilled, eating it like there was no tomorrow.  Yes, it was hard on me, but it was worth it to see the pleasure she had eating her favorite meal. It can prove to be more important to let them make decisions for themselves (or think they have) than to try to control each issue. Decision-making is hard to give up after they have done it for many years, but when we want the best for them, we, too, must be willing to relearn.  Dignity can easily be lost in our overprotectiveness or always knowing what is best.    

Our tasks may start as simple, but they usually change over time.  I never imagined I would be cleaning my mother’s bottom, helping her put on a dry diaper, or feeding her.  There were times when her inappropriate actions caused her to be treated like a child by administrative staff.  Many of her inhibitions were loosed with dementia.  My mother, Italian and Irish, was a feisty woman, a proud one, but some situations really took a toll on Mama’s dignity.  My mother did not like to be told what to do, nor to be put down.  As she aged, it became part of my job to restore her self-esteem.  I learned to slough off indignities by talking about how she took care of my sisters and me.  I talked about the dress shop she owned and all that entailed being an entrepreneur, or about her WWII experience at the Naval Supply Depot typing up supply orders for all the ships at sea.  She also loved to talk about her life as a Navy doctor’s wife.  On her silly side, she loved to tell me how “gorgeous” or “beautiful” she was as I gave her a bed bath, or how “cute” her own bottom was, always with a twinkle in her eye.  She made light of those hard moments and I joined her with laughter.  These were our ways of coping with indignities.  To find the best ways to get through these hard moments is your task.  Caregivers who enter into the world of the person they’re caring for can accomplish more for that person’s dignity and respect than almost anything else. Listen to them.  Encourage their telling you about the life they once led, their passions, their daily routines, and their memories.  All of this still matters.  Be a good listener.  It does not matter if they repeat the same story.  Respond so they know you are interested.

   Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.  Proverbs 31:25

Doing what a caregiver must for the physical comfort of your care recipient is extremely important, but do everything with compassion and empathy.  You will feel so much better because you provided dignity and happiness in the midst of having to do the tough stuff.  You will also create your own enjoyment in the caregiving process.   

Something else I found that brought respect for my mother was to frame many of her photographs, beginning with her childhood on up through her 80s.  I placed them around her room.  When staff members would come in, they could ask Mama about a certain photo, “Who is that beautiful lady?” “When and where was this?”  “What were you doing here?”  These conversations became protracted because Mama’s longterm memory was excellent; she loved to tell her stories.  Making an album or wall collage of grandchildren also gives them pride to share. The staff began to see my mother as a woman who had a childhood, who had been a professional, who had parents, siblings, a husband and children.  They no longer saw Mama as just an old person who, one day, might be angry and demanding, or happy and loving on another.  Mama became real and respect grew.  The loss of independence takes so much away from a person, yet knowing that they are being heard, cared for from the heart makes such a difference in the way the one being cared for handles their own inabilities. 

Caring for someone of the opposite sex can be difficult.  They need to be treated in the same manner as I have shared here, but when a person has never had his daughter see him privately, it is hard.  As the caregiver, ask how they would like you to handle the situation giving them choices.  Be calm, bring humor if possible, and be dignified in the way you approach this.  If they know you are lovingly caring for them, they will adjust with time.   

You are God’s gift to His creation.  You are His hands on earth.  Be delighted.  What you are giving is better than any other gift you could ever give.  Yes, it may be tough.  Caregiving may test you to your limits, but often those tough things can bring rewards so great that you will feel wonderfully blessed.  I know that I can still feel the hugs and the kisses on my cheek, and hear Mama’s laughter as well as her words of endearment and gratitude to this very moment.  Yes, fifteen years was long and hard, but there were so many precious moments.  I would never exchange those years for the freedom of not caring for my mother.

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.”  Matthew 25:40

Father, I lift up each giver of care whom You have placed with one who needs that care.  I pray for patience and tender love as they care for another.  May we always remember that dignity and strength and respect are from You and that we would look to You for guidance as we take each step in Your will.  Teach us how to laugh and love in the hard moments, to bring joy and delight to those we care for, to do all we must by wrapping those tasks up in dignity and respect so that the recipient feels special, and to listen with empathy as though we are right there in their shoes (or slippers).  Father, we want to love as You love, feel as You feel, and be Your hands, voice and heart here on earth.  I ask for Your hand upon us as we walk this walk.  In the strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

beblacksig

 

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

31 Days of God-Woven Moments – October 12

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During the week with family in California, I spent a couple of hours with my mother’s dearest, lifelong friend who is now 92 years old.  She was so special to my mother that she, and her first husband who has been deceased for many years, were named my godparents.  I called them Aunt A… and Uncle B….  They were close and cared about us almost as much as biological parents.  After moving Mom to Texas in 1998, Aunt A would call me about every 6 weeks to check on Mom.  When Mom was in a good place and felt like talking on the phone, we would call Aunt A.  The two of them would reminisce, catch up on family, and laugh like girls.  They met in 1942 when they worked for the Naval Supply Depot in San Diego, California during WWII.  Mom was 27 and Aunt A was 18.  Mom was given the task to train this young new employee.  They became best of friends and stayed in touch over the many Navy moves we had and then stayed close through the rest of Mama’s life.  After finding out about Mom, Aunt A would always ask about me, how and what I was doing, and then reassured me that she would be praying for me.  She knew that I was in a hard place being a caregiver as she was one twice, for both husbands.  She understood what I could be facing and was always there for me.  I also knew that I could call her to talk, cry, or laugh.  She cared and understood.  I love this woman so.

We were blessed to see her and two of her three daughters.  We loved, laughed, and I had tears at the end.  As I was leaving, not only did I think to myself that this might be the last time I would see her on this earth, but she said to me, “You look so much like Eleanor (my mother).”  Then I turned back around to her and hugged her.  She then said, “When you walked in today, honey, I thought, ‘Oh my, she looks like Eleanor!'”  Tears welled up and they are now as I type these words.  I was so blessed, knowing that I have been truly loved by both women.  Aunt A is so dear to me as was my mother.

I had a God-woven moment that day and am having one now while I type these words.  I am truly in His Presence.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  Exodus 20:12


Thank You, Father, for these precious women in my life.  I thank You for my mother.  She bore me, raised me, and loved me for 65+ years.  She was just the best.  I thank You for Aunt A as she still loves me to this day and cares so much.  I was just nine months older than her son whom she has lost now.  I thank You that You gave her three daughters as well.  Her prayers, her care, her love have meant the world to me, especially these past years as I cared for Mama and after Mama died.  She is just so special.  Thank You for the time my sister and I had with her and her daughters last week.  You wove beautiful moments with love and words that I hold dear.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

 

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

Postcards of Hope

I have been blessed to share a ray of hope from my experience with my Mama over on Stories of Hope in God (no longer running online).

Anita Hunt “runs the Scattering the Stones Christian ministry … a place of peace, praise, and prayer, with the aim to encourage you; focusing on the gifts of grace, joy & hope, with a thankful heart.”

 

She and her husband “live in the beautiful county of Dorset in England.”

Anita shares that she “had the pleasure of studying at Bible college, gaining a degree specialising in Theology and Pastoral care.” She says, “God called me to be a Christian writer sharing His love, hope, and Good News in 2011. My heart’s desire is to walk alongside those who are in pain, reflecting God’s love and grace, and share the Hope of the world (Matt 12:21).”

Stories of Hope in God is a part of her ministry and is a special place to sit awhile.

Hope-in-the-Lord

My story…

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  Psalm 13:6 ESV

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“How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me?
 

How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
 

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”   Psalm 13:1-2 ESV

I would cry the first line of words out over and over again as I would leave the nursing home where my mother had to spend the last five years of her life.  She took a terrible fall, shattering an ankle and the bones in her lower leg.  So after surgery, she would never be able to fully walk again, although she could stand up momentarily and get around in a wheelchair.  Previously, as well, her mind had slipped into a roller coaster of dementia-ridden fear, repetition, accusation, jealousy, confusion, and hallucinations.  The diabetes she got at age 55 turned to Type 1 at age 85, making her insulin-dependent until the day she died at age 98 years and 10 months.

I loved my Mama dearly.  She loved me, my sisters, and her one and only grandchild.  She lived near me the last fifteen years of her life.  I watched and lived my Mama’s life daily.  I loved to see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her motherly arms around me.  A mother’s love is mighty precious.  As her mind diminished, I found it most difficult to watch her change from a proud and strong woman to a dependent and often confused woman.  Mama raised us three girls alone after Daddy died from Pancreatic cancer.  We were only 12, 10, and 7.  She had her hands full raising three girls in the 1960s and 70s, but she did it.  She was pleased and proud of us all after we got through those rugged teen years.  She loved us through the hard places though and never gave up on any of us.  She was one of those gals during World War II who went to work for the war effort.  She married a Navy doctor.  She owned a dress shop.  She took care of herself, physically and mentally.  She was just an amazing lady.  But over time, not much it seemed, she changed so much that the mother I had always known was vanishing.  She had vascular dementia.  So as this disease diminished her mental abilities, along with the physical struggles, I came to see my Mama was just as vulnerable as I had been when I was a child.  She needed to be handled with respect, dignity, and loving care.  She needed strength when weakness overtook her.

As her daughter, I came to know a mother who I was quite unfamiliar with, but wanted to know.  I wanted to learn how to be the kind of daughter who could also give her the best care.  The nights when she would be so angry over something imaginary, or when her blood sugar would be extremely low and she needed to be hand fed, or the times when she would scream at a hard-working, poorly-paid staff member, I would be all torn up inside.  I was the one who needed care sometimes.  Yet, I would hold up while I was with her, calling upon the LORD to calm me and her.  When I would leave for the night, I would walk toward my car and cry out to the heavens, “How long, O LORD, how long?”  Not that I wanted her to die for I would (and do now) miss her terribly, but watching her mind go through so much, getting a very odd and extremely painful cancer the last year of her life, continually left me in stress and anguish over my Mama.  It all went on and on, and I just wondered if God had forgotten about her, about me.

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
  Psalm 13:3-4

But He had not.  God never left either of us.  The number of Mama’s days were in God’s hands.  God was our strength.  He is the LORD Who sees, Yahweh Roi.  He knows and sees all.  God was drawing Mama closer to Himself all along through prayer, through the precious witness of a kitchen staff member who would share her Bible study on Mom’s clear-minded days, and through the divine appointment of a Christian caregiver who came to be with Mom two nights a week so that I could spend those evenings with my husband.  And I know that God, Yahweh Roi, took her to heaven on that final numbered day.  He also drew me closer to Him through His Word, through the love of my husband, through His children on staff, and through quiet moments with Him as I sat with Mama during her sleeping times, or when I was on my knees in prayer before Him, or when I was alone with His Word on my lap.  Yahweh Roi, the LORD Who sees, never left me nor my Mama.  Drawing near to Him grew my relationship with the LORD and gave me peace and hope as I drew upon His power and might.  Through His love and hope for Mama’s future and mine, I have been reassured of His Presence and Omniscience in my life.  I know that I have a hope in the LORD that is truly unsinkable.  I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.

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

Father God, I do rejoice and sing to You.  You truly have dealt with me bountifully and lovingly for I never walked alone through the many years caring for my mother.  During the hard times, you were with me, even when I forgot.  During my weaknesses, you never stopped holding me up.  As I walked around unknown corners, I would find You there waiting for me with the caress of Your Godly love.  Oh, Father, You have blessed me beyond my thoughts.  I know that my mother is with You and that I will one day be there too.  Your bountiful gifts never ceased even when I could not see them.  I look back and know that You were always there.  You are my God Whom I trust and sing to today because You have sustained me, loved me, comforted me, answered me, and, most of all, tenderly cared for and brought salvation to my Mama.  In the Perfect Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

…..

 

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I Need…I Want…to Learn to Play Again!

I used to know how to play.  I used to know how to dream from the large branch of a tree or beside a stream.  As a little girl, I used to lie flat on my stomach to direct the choir of “Johnny-Jump-Ups”…they looked like little faces ready to sing from the steps of a choir loft in our garden.  I did know how to play!  Really, I did!  I used to love to ski, both downhill and cross-country.  When I did either, I played, I mean really PLAYED!  When I downhill skied, I would sail through the trees, often laughing, giving a “Yippee!!”!  When I cross-country skied, if the ski area had swings hanging from the trees, I would sit in the swing to eat my lunch, swinging away as if I were a six year old.  I would lie down in the soft snow and make a snow angel.  When I taught first grade, Kindergarten, I would sit on the floor with the children to teach, read, play a learning game, draw.  Sometimes, I would even lie on my stomach and read like the kids did during afternoon reading circles.  I jumped the rope at recess with them.  I used to know how to play when I was a younger adult. I was a rather serious child, and the oldest of three, but I did know how to play then, at least to some degree.  In my very recent past, the most fun has come when Ken and I travel in our fifth wheel trailer.  We both love getting away and spending time in God’s country.  Yet, once home, I am back into the routines, and life’s seriousness.  I am such a structured person, have had too much seriousness in my life of late, that playing has become hard for me.

I am 64.  When did this all change and when did I allow fears, responsibilities, irritable issues to interfere with my ability to be a child at least once in a while? ~ fourteen and a half years of care giving, Mom’s ever-increasing dementia and physical concerns, fear of Mom dying while I am away, fear of her living longer and longer, losing so much of herself with each year; old tapes playing in my head from when Daddy would travel with the Navy to be a part of the Manhattan Project tests, or as the Navy physician to the Secretary of the Navy and the Surgeon General of the USA – he would ask me, his eldest, to “take care of your Mommy and sisters for me while I am away”…an innocent request, I believe, but one I took seriously, and then he died when I was one month from 13, and that request became ingrained in me for he never came back.  There have been financial concerns (not trusting in God’s steadfast provision), a sister’s false accusations that hurt so very deeply.  Plus, I have fallen a number of times, have aches and pains from spinal issues and from fibromyalgia, and then have had three surgeries since last May.  I also watch and read some news where wars, famine, politics, greed, and all else cross my vision or filter through my ears and touch my heart and soul, becoming stressed by most of it, or become so disappointed by the way others treat one another, or feel such a heart for the people of this world and nation.  I feel worn out and weary.  Play does not seem to fit into my way-of-being these days.

YET…God is calling me to spend time with Him…more time.  He wants me near…nearer still.  He desires my company…more of it.  I thought, while I was recuperating from surgeries, I would have so much time that I would be able to spend more time with my God.  Yet, the pain, the therapy, the recovery, the stress just sent me running in anguish to the farthest corner.  It was not the way I had hoped.  I wanted to sit at His feet, to be near.  I wanted to seek His face.  I desired the closeness He wanted with me.

I picked up L. L. Barkat’s book, God in the Yard, again, and journaled the many questions throughout the fifth chapter, “Sky: Gratitude”.  Laura says on page 47: “Spiritual exchange, a rhythm of give-and-take with God and others, that is both based on and produces gratitude is not something we can easily practice.  At least in my life, making lists of what I’m thankful for doesn’t necessarily create the requisite openness and trust.  These attributes require deeper soul work, of the kind we’ve been exploring.”  I do make lists and they do remind me of the daily, ever-present gifts from God.  But, I seem to be unable to find that openness and trust that children have in their earliest years with only a list.  I need to regain the sweet relationship I have with the LORD, that relationship that has slowly gravitated away.  As I neared the end of chapter five, I happened upon the real eye-openers for me: I was to make (or draw) a house with openings…doors and windows.  Then I was to cover them up with complaints, including fears, anything that caused irritability or jealousy.  I did this.  I was surprised at most of my answers.

The following questions are asked:
  • Do I see any patterns to my complaints?
  • What do I make of them?
  • Would I like to be able to remove them?
  • What gifts might come inside my house if I did?
  • What gifts might leave me to bless the surrounding landscape, (those who come across my path)?
As I answered these questions, I prayed…Abba Father, I want to share a lightness, and openness with you and not live in this heaviness I feel every day.  I so want to sit at Your feet daily…not sporadically, but daily.  I want Your love to flow through me, washing this spirit of weightiness out of me.  I want to find the girl, Linda Lou, again.  She seems distant today, yet I know she is there. Please bring her to the surface so we can play, lie on the grass, looking up at the sky to find gratitude in the color blue, in the white billowy clouds leaping across the wide open sky-prairie, in the smell of the Texas Mountain Laurel blossoms, in the joy of being in love with my husband, in the kindness of Your people.  I want to frolic along the creek’s edge with You in the soft meadow grass and hear the gurgling waters rolling over rocks.  I want You.  I want to be less serious, less structured for play, more serious and more structured for setting time to sit with You, yet less order so that Your will shall be done in our time together.

Can we find that swing where we used to sit, pumping higher and higher?  I feel the lightness of my body, mind, soul, and spirit already, Abba.  Deepen my trust in You, that I won’t carry the fears, the pain, the struggles.  Jesus told me: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)   
Thank You for sending Your One and Only Son for me, for me.  He is Light, Life, Truth, and the Way.

May You and I play along this Way while I learn from You.  May I be present with You and learn that the beautiful gifts You give to me, the ones I take into my house, are to flow through my heart and hands and be passed on to others.  O LORD, may I play once again.  In trust I sit in Your lap.  With a lighter heart, I smile.  With a light heart, I laugh as a child, as I once did and could!  Amen.

 

Photos:    

“Mother and Daughter” – stock.xchng – http://www.sxc.hu/photo/565496hortongrou

Crown of Glory (republished from Sanctified Together)

I have the privilege of writing this article for “Sanctified Together”.  This month’s topic for all of the articles and poetry is “The Measure of a Woman”.  


Crown of Glory

 

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”  – Proverbs 16:31 ESV

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Just what is the measure of a woman who has grown to an old age? When the joints hurt doing simple household chores? When she feels unable to help herself or those she cares about?  What if she lives in a total care facility — even has to wear a diaper?  Or when Dementia or Alzheimer’s or a stroke or heart attack has taken the mind or abilities away?  From a physical standpoint, old age seems immeasurable.

The world measures by physical beauty — slender figure, wholesome complexion, youthful hair color and agility. When so much of that worldly beauty changes, what is there to measure? Gray hairs, wrinkles, poor eyesight, hearing loss, protruding belly, mental slowness?  The world’s yardstick is tough on her.  The moral and spiritual character often is torn asunder.  Yet, God measures differently.

Creator God made His children in His Image.  Can one allow the world to be the judge?  God is Judge — He sets the standard.  No other.  Beginning to end, He sustains, carries, and promises.

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you.  I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”  – Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV

“LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.”  – Psalm 39:4 NKJV

We are all called to grow in wisdom, in character, in faithfulness, in holiness, in love.  As a woman grows older, God continues His call for her to mature more fully. The body is decaying.  One day, she will return to dust.  Yet the heart of God living within her never grows old, never decays.  How glorious! We are learning from experiences, adding to our knowledge bank, adjusting judgments, acting with soundness and obedience, following His call to be holy as He is holy. Loving unconditionally are marks of our growing maturity.

“So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  – Psalm 90:12 NKJV

“Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 20:7 NKJV

The beauty of a woman is not merely her outward appearance.  Her true beauty shines from her heart, especially as she ages, having gained spiritual wisdom.  The quiet, gentle, meek spirit is not a fearful spirit, nor subdued or shy.  It is a mild disposition that trusts in God’s goodness and His control over life’s situations.  By wholly relying upon Him, He grows and purifies those who follow.

“Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”  – 1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB

God has set His child apart, sanctifying her.  She is to protect her mind (that place of understanding, feeling, and desire) by caring about what enters in and what exits out.  She is to keep her thoughts pure.  She is to raise up her children well, be respectful and submissive to her husband, be prayerful, hospitable, a servant to the least, be sober, and obedient.  She is to lean completely and set her hope solely upon the LORD rather than the world.  God will guide and strengthen her as she walks the path to holiness.

“You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.”  -Leviticus 20:7 NASB

God measures in His own way as He is the Only Ruler.  He is looking for much.  He expects much.  He loves much.  God uses godly women to exemplify His character. Sarah knew her duty as a wife, honoring and revering Abraham, following him submissively to a land they knew not.  As a woman, she certainly made her share of mistakes, yet God honored her. Anna, of an elderly age, was cared for by God in the temple. She served her God by praying and fasting, praising and thanking Him.  God blessed her with the ability to see beyond human walls; thus, Anna knew the Messiah when He entered the temple as an infant.  Holiness shines through these women who sought God.

“For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”  – 1 Peter 3:5-6 NASB

“And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.  At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”  – Luke 2:36-38 NASB

The measure of a woman is the crown of glory she wears because of the life she leads—the life of righteousness, doing that which is right, wholesome, and holy.  The beauty of her heart is by the grace of God.  The Holy Spirit grows the inner person, magnifying the character of God.  She wears a quiet, gentle spirit, a temper easily controlled, with a lack of pride, a becoming behavior towards all, even toward herself. She is lovely from the inside-out with a strength born of God.  A woman’s worth is measured in godly increments.

 

“May we walk in Your holiness, LORD, in Your mercy and love.  We pray that our adornment be Your grace and Your virtue. May the world we touch be able to see You in us, beyond the earrings, the makeup, and the clothing. It is the holiness, devotion, honor, reverence to You that needs to be seen and measured. May our crown be gracefully worn in our graying years because we have known You, grown in You during our youth and mid years. May we be thankful for each gray hair, LORD, and may we be precious in Your sight, worthy of Your love.  Amen.”

The whole magazine, “Sanctified Together”, can be found @
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Her Mind

I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.  Isaiah 46:6 NLT

The ups and downs of the mind and heart are difficult enough when we have control of our thoughts and have the ability to make wise decisions.   What about those with dementia?  My mother has an incredibly smart and wise mind… or had, I should say.  The dementia has changed things though.  Some days, the clarity is near crystalline.  More days than not, now, are murky as the Gulf waters.  Murky like unable to see clearly from the outside, yet from her mind, she seems clear and right, correct in all she pronounces ‘truth’.

Yesterday, I had been to have lunch with Mama and I could tell that Tuesday was not one of her clear days, but it did not seem terribly murky, at least yet.  A couple of hours later, C called me from her cell phone while in Mom’s room.  C is a wonderful CNA who has cared for and about Mom for the past two plus years.  She loves my mother.  (When the Admin toyed with an idea to move Mom to the other nurse station, C spoke up and said, “No, please don’t take her from my hallway.  She is one of the few I can talk to and love and she loves me back.”  When Admin told me that, tears broke from my ducts like a torrent.)  So when C calls, she tells me that Mom is terribly confused, looking for her husband and was wandering around in her wheelchair all over the nursing home looking for him.  We have struggled with this issue as she got it in her head that a certain male CNA was her husband.  We have been reminding her that my Dad was her husband and is deceased.  As I talked to her, I got a better picture of Mom’s mind-full, the cluttering of overload, the impurities of the mind running amuck.  As she allowed me to speak, I shared some of the truth … her husband deceased since 1960, the other man … a CNA working on the other side or gone home by now.  Then she questioned “the girls” which turned out to be us, her three daughters … one in Kauai, just gone home from here, one in San Diego at work or school, and me at home with Kenneth.  She was so sure that there were plans that she must attend to and we all were a part of them.  “No, Mama.  You are ok right there.  We just had lunch together two hours ago.  It is not meal time yet.  They will come and let you know.  No lunch with your girls now.”
“Well, am I crazy?”
“No, Mama.  You are just a little confused.”
“That’s crazy and you might as well put me in an asylum.”
“Oh, Mom.  No, you are just a little confused.”  “Yes, I need to go to an asylum.”
Oh, my heart ached so deeply.
She suddenly wanted to get off the phone and said “goodbye.”  I told her “I love you, Mama.”  She did reciprocate.
C got back on the phone and talked a bit, said she would try to get Mom to take a nap.  Then, suddenly, C said, “Oh, she is crying.”
Oh, my!
She was crying.  My mother rarely cries.  Has rarely cried.  When my father died, she did not cry in front of us children.  She needed to be strong, she thought.  My heart said she needed to teach me that crying was ok.  That God gave us the ability to cry.
So here she is in the nursing home with dementia and is crying because she is losing her mind.  Yes, she is gradually losing her mind.  Oh, such a slow agony.  I ask God for mercy.  I ask God to hold her.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.  Psalm 71:9 NKJV

Tonight she is extremely sleepy, barely able to hold her head up while eating her dinner.  I wheel her back to her room.  I undress her and ready her for bed.  She rolls in and is asleep in less than five minutes… sound asleep.  It is only 7:00 PM.  Her cycles run like a roller coaster.  Clarity.  Confusion.  Hyperactive.  Sleepless.  Wild ideas.  Sleeping all day.  Predictable, not predictable.  The mind is so powerful.  God created a beautiful piece of machinery in our brains.  It also deteriorates with age sometimes.   For my Mama, it is happening and ever more so with each day.  She is old.  She is beautiful.  She is precious in His eyes, in my eyes.  She is my mother.  I am her eldest child, her firstborn.  I struggle so to see her suffer, to question herself so.  Life should not have to end like this.  I think these thoughts because I am human, because I live in a fallen world.  I want life differently for my Mama.  I want her mind to be refreshed, clear as the azure blue  Pacific, not like these Gulf waters.

Heavenly Father, You know my mother.  You created her.  She is a rose in Your garden.  She is beautiful.  She is a blossom and sparkles for us.  On those days where she doesn’t sparkle so much, she touches my heart with her heart.  It is Your hand to mine that I am feeling and I thank You, my LORD.  Please hold her ever-so-closely that she would feel Your very Presence, Your strength and love.  Please cup her mind in the palms of Your mighty hands and give her freshness and clarity.  Let her know that You are caring for her.  O God, hold me too.  Catch my tears, her tears too.  I need You to give me strength for each day, for each hour as I tenderly care for her.  The emotions, the roller coaster rides she takes, the frustration with her body and her mind … please give me wisdom and understanding in order to be there for her in those needs.  I love her so very much.  When I know not what to do or say, when I cannot be there with her, even when I do not even know what she is going through because I am not there 24/7, please, God, take care of her.  Hold me too.  Use me for Your glory, mold me into the tender, kind, gentle, joyful, patient, loving, grace-filled, peaceful person that my mother may need at the given moments of her day.  She is my rose.  Oh, she is my rose.  The fragrance of her beauty.  The essence of her love for her daughters, for her precious children.  She has loved us so, still loves us so.  I ask all in Your Son’s Strong Name.  Amen.    

“For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.  Isaiah 54:5 ESV

 

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Desiring to Be a Giver of Care … Biblically

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Many of us are caregivers for our parents. My mother is 95 and has been living in close proximity to me for 11 years now. She is now living in a nursing home after a terrible fall in February, 2008. I visit her almost daily. She is diabetic and has dementia. I have become quite knowledgeable about both diseases. Learning how to be a giver of care, understanding what not to do in trying to be a good one, I continuously face challenges. It has come by trial and error, reading, sharing information with others who are in a similar situation. The basics of caregiving are done in the same way whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever, though, as a Christian we desire to take a path close to the heart of God in our obedience to His call.

‘You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.’ Leviticus 19:32 NIV

I want the best for my mother. I want her to be comfortable and cared for. The LORD has truly blessed us with a nursing home where she is truly cared for and about. Yes, we have had our issues, but I have learned how to approach the concerns in order to get things handled. Yes, they are short of staff regularly, overworking many making the turnover rate high, but those who stay know Mom and love her. They also know me well. They have come to know that I am a Christian as I willingly pray with some of the residents, offer assistance when I can without overstepping the family/staff boundaries, and hug and/or touch many. I am not afraid of these elderly folks who once had a vital life. I ask questions to know more of who they are. I am willing to give those much needed hugs, and, pointedly, to the ones who have no family visiting them. They become family for me. The responses always amaze me. A touch, a hug, or an “Hello, Mrs. …”, “Mr. …”, can often bring a sweet head on my shoulder, a smile or laughter, a hand that won’t let go of mine. Talking about the outside world, even my world, with Mom’s table mates during a meal … they need stimulation and fellowship. They need love and joy.

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV

As Mom goes through terrible phases of dementia such as anger, jealousy, hatred, rebellion, hallucinations, false accusations, she is still my mother. She is the one who bore me and raised me. She loved me and still does. I love her and honor her. I treat her as my mother, not as a child or someone who acts weirdly. The others who suffer an illness, have had a stroke, have a mental illness, are growing older and need people who will accept them the way they are today. This verse in 1 Timothy moves me by the last three words: “with absolute purity”. There is no better way to treat them then from a pure heart, a heart wholly of God.

Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4 NKJV

For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. Psalm 48:14 KJV

The Holy Spirit will teach me if I listen, keeping my heart-ears and eyes wide open for His word, for what He desires of me. He also reminds me in these two verses that God will take care of my Mama. He assures her that He will be there for her until the very end of her life here on earth.

As we care for these precious ones, they are God’s children, too. They are to be seen from the inside outward as God knows them. He knows them intimately. We may be exhausted from years of care, whether it is mostly physical care, or emotional turmoil due to dementia or Alzheimer Disease, or both, or watching and caring for one who is slowly losing abilities. By treating them with godly wisdom, with godly love, with godly peace, God will allow us to know His children. He will walk every step of the way with us, if only we will remain under His wing.

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21 NASB

LORD, may I walk in Your way, the way You have predetermined for my life. This caregiving has been tough at times, pleasant at times. It has never been easy, but You have always been with me and directing my steps. I am sorry when I have done things my way. Forgive me, LORD. You have given me strength for each day, a temperament that has endured through struggles beyond my imagination, love that could only come from You. I thank You for giving me these eleven years with my mother close by. I am here with her for however long she is on this earth. Thank You for teaching me how to give care, how to love unconditionally, how to be gentle and kind even when Mom or someone else is not either of those qualities. Thank You for loving me and upholding me even when I am not worthy of Your love or Your arms. Thank You for my doctor who could see my heart on the outside, how it was breaking and weary. Thank You for his experience in a similar situation of his own that he would understand and be able to guide me in and around some rough corners. Thank You for Mama’s doctor who understands palliative care. I thank You for my incredibly understanding husband (who also spent years giving care to both of his parents). I am truly blessed. Amen.

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.Deuteronomy 5:16 KJV