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.

Tough Decisions in Caregiving

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share what I learned over the fifteen years of caring for my mother, my precious Mama.

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As a caregiver, there are constant decisions that must be made and many, if not most, are tough ones.  Relying upon God is so important when making these decisions for they affect a loved one, ourselves, and often others in the family.  If you are the one to make such a decision for someone who has lost the ability to do so for him or her self, truly turn it over to God.  Don’t try to go this alone.  Sharing your concerns with a spouse, a grown daughter or son, a brother or sister, (depending upon whom you are caring for) may be a step in the right direction, but sharing it with the LORD is the way to get His dependable answer.  He will direct the path intended for all concerned.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:6

Praying is the key, a must. The quiet time we spend with God in prayer is precious time.  God can reveal His plan to our still, calm, and quiet body, mind, heart, and soul.  God is our Stronghold, Tower, and Refuge.  Ask Him questions.  Share your feelings.  Tell Him your frustrations and struggles.  But be quiet, cease striving, and know that He is God of all, including you and the one you care.

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10 

Once His guidance is clear to you, it is time to move forward.  Whatever decisions need to be made particular to your case, you are not alone for God is walking with you.  You may need to research the assisted living or nursing home facilities in town.  Maybe you have to go to the state office where Medicaid is handled.  You might need to seek the advice of an eldercare financial planner or attorney for the procedure to shelter some of the income if one spouse must go into a nursing home while the other one must continue to be able to live comfortably, or you may need their advice to qualify your care recipient for Medicaid.  There might be a shift in medication with new side affects so making an appointment with the doctor to discuss these changes may give you reassurance of the physical or mental safety for your loved one.  Possibly, you might choose to search out those side effects by looking online at Physician’s Desk Reference (PDRhealth) or read those tiny words on that thin paper attached to the medication.  If you are working, you probably need to find out about the Family Medical Leave Act, how and when you can take time off to help your parent, child, or husband without being afraid of losing your job.  These are but a few of the many issues that can creep up and lead to caregiver overwhelm.  Take each one to the LORD and then, with the LORD, you can move ahead one step at a time.

Breathe in God-peace as you take each step.  Absorb God-love into your very heart.  Feel God-comfort as He wraps His arms around you.  You need and deserve these God-wrapped gifts; so does your loved one.  As you walk in His will, He is with you.

A dear one in my life was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease. His mental abilities were diminishing quite rapidly and decisions were needing to be made, one after another.  This dear one, his wife, had been caring for him alone since the diagnosis, but the ground seemed to be moving faster than she was able to keep a steady gait.  His behaviors, his memory-loss, and more had left her worried about his safety and the safety of others as he crossed their paths.  Her stress level increased daily, thus increasing her own health concerns.

She went to the LORD.  She spent time looking at local facilities that would take an Alzheimer patient.  She had her daughter go with her to the ones that were the choices she would make if and when she needed to place her husband in one.  Then fears arose:  how would others perceive her if she placed her husband in a nursing home?  Would they consider her a failure in her wifely duties?  Was she not strong enough to do this job even though she seemed able?  What about the cost?  Could she afford this?  Would she need to create a trust for the money issues?  Where would she get that legal help?  Was her husband eligible for Veterans benefits since he served in World War II?  All those “what if” questions crept into her heart and mind and did not seem to vanish.  Both she and her daughter went to the LORD on the husband/father’s behalf.  The LORD strengthened them, giving answers to these many questions as each one arose.  When the time came, she filled out one application to a special care nursing home.  She received a “go-ahead,” but at the last minute, the door closed.  She applied to a second facility.  They required her husband to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for evaluation for which she was willing.  After a week in the hospital, after a number of issues were resolved, her husband was able to be placed in the second facility.  Proper medication had been determined while in the hospital, and his adjustment to the medications and the facility began to smooth out.  God was with them.  The place and the timing were His.  The whole family agreed that the right thing was done.  And the wife had relinquished her guilt and burdens to the only One Who could carry them.

“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

Making such decisions are stress-filled and can leave the caregiver exhausted and spent.  Plus, the physical strain of being on duty 24/7 if living with the care recipient, as well as the emotional roller coaster ride, take their toll on the caregiver’s body, mind, and life.  For this dear one, the strain of carrying these many concerns along with giving care to her husband was wearing her down faster than the Alzheimer’s was taking him.  She needed help.  And her help was in her LORD. 

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help.  From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.  Psalm 18:6  

Father, as we come to these cliffs of decision, we may find that we must jump or back up and wait.  LORD, we pray for Your Fatherly guidance.  We ask that You lead us, holding us near to You.  May our physical ears and heart-ears be open to hear You.  May we be willing to leap forward into Your loving and secure arms or wait with the patience You give us.  Thank You for loving us through these tough decisions and for reassuring us that, with You, nothing is impossible.  You are our Ever-Present God, our All-Knowing LORD.  You deserve our worship and our praise.  We fall before You on bended knees and lift our voices to You in awe, knowing that You already know how it is all to work out.  Your plan is perfect.  Thank You, Abba Father.  In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

beblacksig

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.

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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.

…..

 

befuschiasig

 

 

Long Time Passing

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 “All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…

Isaiah 40:6b-8a

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September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence and now connected with radiation poisoning.

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Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  January 30, 2013, Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery (just this past Sept. 9, 2013) with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

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My mother was a hero too.  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy in food and other supplies. She became a Gold Star Widow as we became Gold Star children.

     “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Yes.  That was me…still is.

My husband served in the Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, an Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years.
They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

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Just prior to Memorial Day weekend, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, “Flags-In”… in memory and honor of these heroes.

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We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song. 

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A poem from WWI, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918, Canadian Army:

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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When will we ever learn?  When will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

 

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The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:5-8

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One hundred fifty years ago in May 1864, the first military burials took place at Arlington National Cemetery, one month prior to its establishment as a national cemetery. The burials took place in the oldest section of the cemetery – section 27. 

Commemoration of this 150th anniversary as a national cemetery began this past week, May 20, 2014, with an Army wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William H. Christman, the first military burial at Arlington.
Pvt. William Henry Christman, 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first military service man interred in Arlington.
Pvt. William H. McKinney, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was the first to have family present at funeral.
Pvt. William Reeves, 76th New York Infantry, was the first draftee interred.
Pvt. William Blatt, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first battle casualty interred.
Privates Christman, McKinney and Reeves were interred May 13, 1864. Pvt. Blatt was interred May 14, 1864.

 

I am still…

BW sig dark blue

Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

Memorial Day Flags @ Arlington National Cemetery: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/FdngYNPGdDt/Arlington+Cemetery+Decorated+250+000+Flags/FloG7f1oqSA

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, no credit given.

In Flanders Field: the story behind the poem @ http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

Painting of Poppies between crosses in Flanders Field: unknown

Poppies @ Sunset:  http://viewedfromanotherangle.blogspot.com/2012/07/in-flanders-fields-poppies-grow-by-john_25.html

Last photo: Arlington National Cemetery/Cherry Blossoms dropping upon the graves http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cherry+blossoms+dc&view=detail&id=2C08990B96757DE3E5C9DB4AF4A29A02FFD83B3F&first=181&FORM=IDFRIR

Home from Arlington National Cemetery

Home from five days in Washington, D.C. to lay my Mama’s ashes to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with her dear husband of almost twenty years, our Daddy, who died fifty-three years ago.  It was her wish to be buried there with him.  It was an honor, not only to have her buried there, but to receive a spouse’s military honors in burial.

Yes, it was hard, sad, but wonderful all at the same time.

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Our small family was there from Hawaii, California, Texas.  The 98 year old remains were laid to rest at last and at the same time we are blessed with the beauty and vibrancy of a 16 month old, the only great grandchild of our mother.  Mama would have just adored her.  Life continues and we move forward.

We had to wait over seven months to fulfill Mama’s wishes to be buried in Arlington, but closure can truly begin even though we have been grieving for many months.

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LORD, we thank You for blessing us with such a fine service, a lovely day, and for family.  Thank You for bringing us together and giving us special times to reminisce, reflect, and digest all that has gone before.  May the honor that was bestowed upon our parents at Arlington National Cemetery remind us of the qualities that made them the parents they were to us.  I thank You that one of my sisters was able to come, to spend time, just the two of us, together a couple of the evenings, a day journey to Mount Vernon and Alexandria, and especially at the cemetery our last day when we cried, laughed, cried some more, and reminded each other what family is all about.  And I am so very grateful for the caring staff at Arlington.  We have truly been blessed.  Thank You for prayers lifted high from so many people, even women I have never met person-to-person, yet they are friends.  LORD, You kept us all safe and brought us to and from nestled in Your arms.  I pray that the words spoken by the Navy Chaplain will touch each one there, giving pause for reflection upon those words which are Your Words.  You used him, LORD, to bring Your message to us, possibly to some who needed to hear it.  Praising You with all that I have to praise!  I also thank You, LORD, for bringing this new sweet life, this little child, into our family who is truly a joy.  May the peace that prevailed on that day continue to flow all around us in these days and months to come.  I love You, LORD.  I pray in the Mighty Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Release? Renewal? Refreshment?

Question to ponder from Soli Deo Gloria:

“What about the summer brought about a release of things ready to be let go,
or a vacation that evoked a sense of renewal,
or how do you long to be refreshed as the summer winds down and fall begins?”

As much as I would like to answer the first two parts of this question, I cannot.  I have done nothing that brought release…YET…not taken a vacation that provoked renewal…YET… ALTHOUGH… I certainly do long to be refreshed, renewed, and released.  So the third part of this question is where I am… this moment, this place.  I stand upon ground that is built upon the Rock and ask for this time.

I am looking upon a time, right around the corner, that is to be a start for real closure to my Mama’s death this past January 30th.  We will head to Washington, D.C., for burial of her ashes with my father’s remains in Arlington National Cemetery.  It has been over seven months.  It takes time for the scheduling of funerals at this honored cemetery. Mama wanted to be buried with her beloved husband of twenty years, he having had died fifty-three years ago.  Time….  Not only will there be a sense of this closure’s beginning, but there will be a time for more complete closure with Daddy’s death.  We were just kids.  Fifty-three years is a long time.  Time….  This should allow for RELEASE of a long-lived life, 98 years, almost 99, our Mama…. Time.  At last.

Then there is family time as some of the family will be there and be together in a place where we once lived when Daddy was stationed in Washington, D.C., with the Navy as a doctor.  We have a house and neighborhood to revisit, recalling moments of childhood.  More RELEASE along with some REFRESHMENT that comes with recalling young, memories with both parents.

We will have a new child in our family with us there. We will meet this 16 month old, Mama’s first great granddaughter whom she never got to meet, but knew all about.  REFRESHMENT in new life. From this time together, and then separating to return home to three different states, we will share special memories together, quiet thoughts that will be ours alone, gentle peace that will float down upon us as we have finally been able to lay this precious woman to rest. This is something that needs to happen before the next stage can actually begin, for me. This brings RENEWAL for me. I have been a caregiver for fifteen years and have felt that weight being lifted these past months, but it is time to move beyond the walls of burden through this final act.

Yes, I miss her terribly, but am ready to have this funeral behind us with new outlooks ahead. We have been waiting. Time has been ticking. We could not move forward until this happened. TIME. Our dreams and hopes have been in the air. We will have time to revisit them each, listen for God’s calling, and see where life might be taking us next.  RENEWAL IS NEEDED HERE. It is coming in God’s time.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV

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Father God, I lift this funeral and small family gathering to You, for Your will.  I thank You for my Mama and know that You have her in Your hands.  May we here on this earth rest in You as this funeral comes and goes, and may we continue to depend upon You for our all, our provision, our future steps, our care and comfort.  Father, You are my LORD and have held me close to You.  You are the God of all comfort, my comfort for which I am ever so grateful.  I praise You and know that You are calming my heart and preparing the way before us.  Thank You, Abba.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Like a Weaned Child …

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A Song of Ascents, of David. 
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; 
Nor do I involve myself in great matters, 
Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; 
Like a weaned child rests against his mother, 
My soul is like a weaned child within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD 
From this time forth and forever.  

Psalm 131

Where Am I?

Where Am I?

Father, as I think about my Mama and find my heart and soul are missing her, You remind me of the beauty that rests in me … from You, Your gift to me.  Through my relationship with You, I have come to know that I am Yours and You are my LORD.  You gave me to my Mama and Daddy many years ago.  In these moments of feeling lost because I miss them both, You are with me.  You are here, right here.  Guide me through these times. I do not feel that my “soul is like a weaned child within me.”   I do not feel, as David did, that “I have composed and quieted my soul.”  I need You, Abba Father.  I need You to compose me and quiet me, Father.  I nestle into You as these young swans do into their parent.  You are my Comfort and my Hope.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

Photo:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

two others photos from my personal/family collection

I Miss You, Mama

Mother’s Day has always been hard for me because I am NOT one.  I have taught and worked with children much of my career life as well as during many pieces of my personal life.  I like children…the way they love and learn and just are!  But I am not a mother… for many reasons.  That is just the way it is.  I am 65 and there is no reversing this now.

This year is particularly difficult because I just (in January) lost my own Mama.  I miss her terribly so, but am grateful that the LORD’s numbered days reached that final point and she is with Him now.  But I still miss her and surely will for the rest of my life, I imagine… just because…

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This orchid was the last orchid plant I gave her.  And I have managed (through no fault of my own) to keep it alive.  It is actually blooming right now as I type.

I send you my love, Mama.  You and your red hat!!  You were a special lady.

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Dearest Heavenly Father, my Abba Father,  I thank You so much for giving me to this precious Mama 65 years ago.  She was the best one for me and I am ever grateful to You for Your gift of her.  Hold me near as I mourn this HUGE loss.  I know You are comforting me and loving me as I learn to live in this world without her.  Thank You, Gracious LORD.   I love You, Abba.  Amen.

One Word ~ Still

From OneWord365, January-2012,

“One word can change everything.

….Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2012.

….

 “But since we are halfway there, let’s check in with each other for a One Word 365 update.”

“If you haven’t chosen a word for yourself yet, it’s not too late. It’s never too late to choose to live each day with intentionality and focus. So choose a word, blog about it, and dive right in with us.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So here I am…

I actually did choose a word in December, 2011, for this year of 2012, but never knew about this “One Word 365” so am joining this conversation in July-2012:  My word is still.

   Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  Selah  Psalm 4:4  NKJV

LORD, please take all that I am this day and hold me until I become still, quiet, calm in Your arms.  May my heartbeat be in rhythm with Yours.  May I slow to the pace of Jesus, my LORD.  Love me into stillness.  Caress me still.  Surround me with Your Stillness.  Open me to be still in You.  Amen. 

This year of 2012, I want to slow down, to smell the Texas Mountain Laurel.  I want peace; I want to stand still so God can show me His creation, His beauty, His lessons.  I desire the calm so that I can contemplate all that He has done in this world, and what I might do for Him in this world (and all that I do in the names of pride and selfishness so I can turn from that, repent, change).  I want the moments to stroll by the eyes of my heart and give Him the glory each day.  A morning appointment with Him will direct me to His path for the day.  For any of this to happen, I must be still, breathing in His breathe for life in me, His life in me.  I can and I shall be still for I love Him so and desire to walk with Him, be still for Him, be loved by Him.  I came to Christ by faith and through that door, I entered His rest.

  For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.  Hebrews 4:10 NASB

Entering His rest requires some steps on my part…obedience and faith.  I pray for a Sabbath Rest and feel a stillness, am brought to a standing still, a peaceful calm, a quiet place.  I can slow down, be still in an earthly sort of way… and know my God.

    “Be still, and know that I am God.
        I will be exalted among the nations,
        I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

I have wanted to slow down from concern and worry over my mother, my 98 year old mother in the nursing home.  I want to enjoy each moment I have with her from now on.  That happens more often than not these days.  I love my time with her on most days.  We may spend the time talking, chattering.  We may watch a Cubs game together.  We may not be communicating because Mama is sleeping but I sit in her recliner and watch her, pray over her, journal of things said before, of thoughts crossing my mind that moment.  I may just be there in the room with her.  Night’s like tonight where Mama was extremely hyperactive, talkative, glad to see me, never allowed a moment of silence to occur between us, still just does not happen unless I can allow her to be her and allow me to be in the moments as they roll by.  Sometimes, I succeed; other times, I just do not.  Tonight was a hard night for “still”.  Activity, mind-boggling words and moods, a visitor of hyperactivity, talk, and bias…I was able to let it all float through and by, then drift away giving me at least partial “still”, more so after I left the nursing home!  I could absorb His still.

Being still may take me to a green chair in our spare bedroom where I read God’s Word and soak in a bit more than when I am not still and trying to read the Bible.  I have found that there is a difference between reading in God’s stillness and trying to read.

Being still may take my mind to a quiet stream in the mountains.  I see God’s creation and rejoice as I can hear the ripple of the water, or feel the cool breeze rushing through my hair.  Still soothes me.  I have lived in the place of motion where I notice nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing.  I do not want to live there anymore.  I want still so that I may feel, hear, see, touch, contemplate, adore, rejoice, glorify God, and adore Him.  What better place than this still place, this resting point, this quiet order.

I have had three surgeries during the past year.  My body has been through a lot of stress.  My mind has been on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  Stillness is where I need to be as the healing process continues.  Even though I chose this word in December, and had two surgeries ahead of me, one unknown, God knew what I would need in the days and months ahead.  Stillness has ebbed and flowed these months as pain and struggle made it difficult to even remember that I wanted to be still this year, to sit in the stillness of God, in His cloud.  Yet, He always meets me, waits for me when I get distracted and forget.  He is so wonderful and His Still is so beautiful in all.  They are a calming balm to me.

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Just as Jesus rebuked the wind and calmed the sea, peace is amidst the wild when the LORD is there in the midst.  That is what I am learning through this “still” year.  Keeping my whole self focused upon Jesus and not upon the situation, the circumstance, the pain, the noise.  I am learning to allow myself to know the peace of the Lord, the stillness of God.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  Mark 4:39

 


Johnny Jump-Ups
photo:  KitKat @ DeviantArt  Link: http://fav.me/d277000   http://kitkat878.deviantart.com/art/Johnny-Jump-Up-133016256

Peace, Be Still graphic:  John Bell, July, 1999; http://www.jrbell.com; http://www.heartlight.org