Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Forever

Tonight my husband and I are celebrating New Year's Eve at home with rootbeer floats and an old Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck movie called "The Lady Eve." The title seemed to fit the occasion.

I'm not sure how all my loved ones are spending the evening, but I know there are two of my siblings who are having a great time together in North Carolina. The best part of any holiday celebration is not what you do, but who you spend it with. I so wish I could be down there with them to bring in the New Year.

Someday we will be with our loved ones at the greatest celebration of all. We will not only bring in a New Year, but a new forever. At Christmas we honor the First Coming of Jesus, but we can't keep our focus there. The Second Coming is what we are to look forward to. A New Year is nice, but I'm ready to begin a new eternity.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fresh Eyes

Our entry into a new year is beginning with new doctors for both Dean and I. We saw one of the doctors today, a first visit, and I think the change will be good. Not that our previous doctors weren't good doctors, but after years I just felt that we needed someone to take a fresh look at our health issues and perhaps see something the other doctors missed.

In a similar way, as a writer and proofreader, I find that someone going over your work after you think you are done almost always turns up some errors that were made. Ones that you may have read over a thousand times yourself and missed.

It makes me want to have Jesus, the Great Physician, take a look at my life every day. Please, Lord Jesus, use your "fresh eyes" and uncover anything I need to correct and likewise change the treatment plan for my sin-sick soul, if needed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Unexpected Gift

Today I received an unexpected gift from a home health nurse. She will be coming here weekly to assess my husband's medical needs. But bless her heart she noticed that his fingernails were getting pretty long and she talked him into letting her cut them for him. I've been trying to get this accomplished for six months now, so you can imagine my joy when the task was done. I told her as she left that she had just given me my best Christmas gift.

A tiny bit of normalcy has returned to our household with this one, seemingly trivial, event. I have come to treasure all the tiny details in my life though. It's like having a zoom lens on a camera. Caregiving can do that to you. Or being a parent. Or anything that causes you to focus on someone besides yourself.

Joy comes through the simplest of gifts, viewed with God's" zoom lens." Look for them. They are all around us. I'll see one of mine every time my husband takes my hand.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fur Types

Today I gave our little dog a bath. She is such a tiny thing, only about five pounds, so bathing is fast and easy. Her fur is so thin and fine, compared to the Sheltie we once had. I can't help but notice the difference in bathing, based on fur type alone. It took forever to just get the Sheltie's fur wet, and after soap was applied, rinsing was equally time-consuming. With Minnie, it's just get her in the tub, zip, and we're through. Even drying is a shorter process.

What does all this have to do with you and me? I think we all have different personalities and needs, just like fur type. Consequently, some of us require more maintenance to keep our relational and emotional forces working properly. Do we recognize which of our friends and loved ones are those requiring more maintenance? Or do we even care?

This holiday season I should take a closer look at my card list, address book, Facebook page, and all my methods for keeping track of friends. It won't hurt to make a phone call, write a little longer letter or email, or even visit in person those who need a little more maintenance. It will mean as much to me as it will to them. I'll enjoy richer and closer friendships, and it will be as nice as having a clean-smelling dog around the house.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Respite

Today was a "me" day and I basked in the freedom this day at home all alone brought me. I left lights on in rooms I had vacated. The toilet seat stayed in one place with the lid up and the seat down. I ate my dessert before my dinner. I even had cranberry sauce on my oatmeal in the morning. I read a book whenever I felt like it and didn't even look at any bills or my checkbook. Amazingly the phone didn't ring while I was in the shower. Oh, sweet respite when my hubby goes to his adult day program once a week!

My daughter called later in the morning and wanted me to go shopping with her and to the library. I was going to the library anyway, so I said sure. I got to spend quality time with her and my two little granddaughters for a few hours. Who could ask for anything more?

Of course, I can't forget the respite time God gave us at creation. The Sabbath was given to us for just this purpose too. So we can break away from the world on the special day He blessed and spend it with Him. Jesus told us the Sabbath was made for man. Are we using it for the purpose He intended? Don't throw away His gift. Use it wisely, and you can have a delightful respite just like I did today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Case Manager

With the holidays winding down, there's more time for relaxation and reflection, at least in our household. I've been looking back at my life, compared to the last year or two, and sadly, I can see changes that point to increased dementia in my husband. I don't want to recognize the signs, but they are glaringly present, and must be addressed and dealt with. These are not pleasant observations, but necessary ones for the ongoing task of caregiving for him.

Fortunately, God is in the caregiving business too, and His omniscience allows Him to constantly assess our situations and needs. We don't know the future, but this wise and all-powerful God does, and it's much less daunting for me to know that He is "on the watch". We couldn't have a better "case manager."

I pray that all my loved ones will allow God to orchestrate their lives. And He graciously does just that, when we totally and unconditionally surrender our lives to Him for that purpose. Don't wait another day to give Him the "reins" of your life. He will steer you through the roughest waters. It may be a rough ride, but He will see you all the way to our destination with Him, where all the worries in this life will fade into nothingness.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gift of Love

Christmas Eve and like children all over the world, I am having a hard time falling back to sleep. It's not the excitement of presents in the morning, because we had our family gathering and gift sharing earlier this evening and my daughter's family have left for home hours ago.

I think it's mostly just thoughts and prayers for our family that keep me awake tonight. Granted, I probably have physical insomnia issues (like with the meds I'm on), but I try to use this non-sleep as a time of meditation and prayer for loved ones anyway.

Do our loved ones know how much we do care about them? If the current holiday season serves no other purpose than to connect us with loving ties to those we care about in our lives, it will be well worth the commercial hoopla, even if Jesus' name was never heard. For God is love... Let's share love this Christmas, or whatever you call the time of year. It's the only gift worth giving or receiving. Let it come with each package you open or wrap.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Maranatha, Come Quickly, Jesus!

This day, one year ago, was bittersweet for me in so many ways, but I try to think of the sweetness of it only. My father got out of the hospital, which he was getting tired of after almost a month. He hated hospitals and doctors, so nothing was sweeter to him than to enter his house once more. His little dog was there to greet him, and he had two daughters to wait on him hand and foot. We fixed his favorite foods for supper, and got him settled in bed. He was so overjoyed to be there and, snuggled up with his little dog for the night.

It turned out to be his last night at home though. That night he went to sleep in Jesus. It was the end he would have wanted. He was ready to leave this world, as it had truly lost all luster after losing our mother just three months earlier. Their passing has left a big hole in our lives, but the things they taught us and the memories we still cherish are able to somewhat fill the gap. The children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren live on to remind us that their lives did have meaning.

We look forward to the Resurrection Morning when all who love and follow Jesus will be raised to meet Him in the sky at His Second Coming. I have no doubt that my parents are both "resting in peace" and we will have a grand family reunion someday. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Keep on the Meds!

This is a critical time in the life of my cold. I am starting to feel better, and it gets easy to skip medications for my lungs, or at least pace them out further apart, just due to getting busy with life again. But when I get lax with the medicine regimen, I am in danger of my lungs drowning in mucos/phlegm. Not good for me, because if a cough produces mucos that gets caught in my throat, my lungs are so wimpy, I start to choke. I can't cough it up.

We are drowning in a world of sin too, and if we get lax with the "medicines" God has provided for us to take on a regular basis, we will find ourselves without the power to get that sin out of our lives. The "medicine" regimen God has put us on consists of daily prayer, Bible study, and sharing our faith. Let's don't get apathetic or too busy with life to follow His program. We all have "wimpy lungs" when it comes to fighting sin.

So, when temptations start letting up, it is not the time to slow down on God's program. We must persevere on our God-given "meds" as long as we're in this world of sin.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy Gratification

Christmas is creeping up on us much too fast. Today when I was in a store looking for something for the granddaughters, I realized that I hadn't gotten anything for my husband yet. One of the standard things for him to open on Christmas has always been a box of candy. So he found the one he craved and I got it for him.

Unfortunately, he ripped the box open in the car on the way home, offering me two chocolate covered cherries, which I accepted, while he pillaged the rest of the top half of the box before we got home! I tried to sneak the rest of the box, or what was left of it, into the house to wrap it. But he discovered my secret and couldn't wait to dive into the rest of the candy. I had to say good-bye to some of my best gift wrapping paper in the process, but such is the life of a caregiver.

This scenario reminded me of how I pillage God's plans sometimes. I dive into a project or an activity, without thoroughly testing it in the waters of God's design for my life. How I must spoil His fun by my desires for instant gratification. Help me, Lord, to wait on you, to postpone my pleasure for an eternity of beauty and love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Tonight we say good-bye to our nephew for just a week, as he travels back to his old stomping grounds, Florida, for a holiday visit. Leaving this 20-degree Nebraska weather for sunny 80-degree Florida has to have its perks, but I'm sure at the same time it will be hard for him to see loved ones again for such a short time. Sometimes our lives demand sacrifices though that are hard to understand.

The biggest sacrifice of all, that of God's dear Son, is definitely one we have to ponder when we are faced with emotionally-driven events that don't always make complete sense to us at the time. Jesus not only made a sacrifice by dying for us, but the fact that He left Heaven to do it, is something we will never come close to simulating in our life situations here on earth.

Yes, what He left and what He did reveal sacrifices that don't make sense to us at all. Unless you remember the force that drove those sacrifices. It was love. Love demands sacrifices, and sacrifice demands love.  The sacrifice will follow, but it must begin with love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Caregiver's Caregiver

Today was unusual in that the doctor appointment I went to was for me! It felt rather strange sitting in the examining room all by myself, waiting for the doctor to come in. As a caregiver, I'm more accustomed to being with a loved one, being their voice, and seeing that all their needs are addressed. I felt like a student pilot the first time they fly solo. I was really a bit terrified that I might not remember everything I needed to consult the doctor about. But at the same time, the freedom was exhilarating.

There is need for even a caregiver to have an Advocate though. In the courts of heaven, we all need Someone to speak up for us. We don't understand exactly what it is we need, but there is Someone who cares about us the same as a caregiver does. Enough to die for us. And He offers us the opportunity to cast all our cares upon Him. I Peter 5:7 is one of my favorite verses. It lets me know that there is a Caregiver for the caregiver.

I didn't need anyone else with me in the doctor's office today. Jesus was right by my side the entire time--the best Caregiver of all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Bigger Program

Big event today was seeing my oldest granddaughter in her first Christmas program. It was a simple affair; the little ones just got up, held a candle "light", and sang a couple of familiar Christmas carols. But Jenna, three years old, did her part so well. She just looked out at the audience bravely and sang her heart out.

We adults forget the courage it takes to be out in front of others like that, whether it be a play, singing in a choir, or any activity that others are watching your every move.

As human beings on this planet, where sin has been allowed to run its course, we are on a stage of sorts. Angelic beings throughout the universe are watching to see how we deal with temptation and how we manage to remain close to the Father, with so many opposing forces against us. Let's be brave and sing out praises to God with all our heart. God and the universe are watching.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Mr. Nasty Cold still has his grip, but so far I haven't bowed to his power over my lungs. I'm using a nebulizer (machine to deliver drugs to my lungs, like for asthmatics), a cough expectorant, and antihistamines. Although I hate using so many medications, it's the only way I can keep from going to the hospital with my colds. Did I mention I have restricted lungs from scoliosis?

Just for the record, I'm also using the natural remedies of water, diet, fresh air, rest, and trust in God. And when this cold's over, I'll try getting the sunshine and exercise part again. We don't often think of these as medicines, but they actually do aid in our recovery, and more important they work as prevention!

I've always been amazed at how resilient our bodies are and yet how delicate its composition. Today, the seventh day to "remember" our Creator (see the Fourth Commandment), we often look at God through nature, but part of that nature is our created bodies. How wonderful that of all creation, our bodies can be "born again", or recreated. What a wonderful God we serve!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Voice

This cold I caught the other day has stolen my voice! It has made communication with my hard-of-hearing husband nearly impossible, because no matter how many times I repeat myself, he still cannot hear me. So, we have come to the place where we aren't doing alot of talking with each other. Loud whispers, when necessary, are about all I can muster.

I missed writing this blog last night; just wasn't feeling up to it. But tonight I suddenly thought that even though I can't talk with my mouth, I do have a second voice. The written word can be just as useful to communicate as the spoken word. Is that what God was faced with when we caught the "sin cold" and could no longer hear each other? He now speaks to us through the Spoken Word.

I'm so glad God did not give up trying to reach us when we became inadequate to speak face-to-face with Him. We may miss the direct approach they enjoyed at first in the Garden of Eden, but no one is to blame but ourselves. Let's listen to God now--in whatever way He can reach us...through the Bible, observing nature, good friends, and our conscience. All tools that God has placed at our disposal, if we will just use them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fighting a Cold

If there's one event that stands out in my daily life, it's coming down with a cold. Therefore today an outstanding event occurred. I'm coming down with a cold! And I do mean DOWN. Due to my restrictive lung disease, an average person's worst cold in their life, rates as one of my average ones.

There's just no way life will go on as normal for me the next few weeks. I will be using a nebulizer and  prescription meds to conquer this thing and not end up in the hospital. Natural remedies don't seem to make a dent in my recovery (and believe me, I've tried them all). With the exception of drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, and resting, at least as much as possible for a caregiver. (Lots of microwave meals this week for hubby!)

It's taken years to master my cold remedy regimen, but I think I'm prepared to tackle another bout with my worst enemy, Mr. Nasty Cold. I got to thinking about another regimen we all had better master though. How to handle Mr. Nasty Temptation. He tries to get us down on occasion too, but do we know how to minimize the effects of his unwelcome visits? And most importantly, do we have the necessary tools on hand to manage this ugly intruder called sin? We must be prepared and ready to fight the enemy, whether it's a nasty cold or a nasty temptation. Check your medicine cabinet NOW, call the "Doctor", and get ready for the fight!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gift exchange?

Tonight we went to my husband's monthly support group for brain injury survivors. Of course, being December, we made it a social event, with potluck supper and a gift exchange. It was nice to just focus on having fun.

As I thought about having a gift exchange, it just didn't make sense that you would bring a gift and come home with a different gift that someone else had brought. Why not just keep the gift you brought in the first place? Chances were good that your gift was something you liked anyway. Seems kind of silly, when you think about it. But people seem to enjoy it anyway.

Wouldn't it be more Christian to give a gift to all the significant people in your life and not get anything in return? After all, Jesus gave the Gift of His life, so that we could live, and He doesn't expect anything in return. But then, I thought--wait a minute, maybe Jesus does expect something from us. He expects our whole hearts, all our love and trust. Of course, our gift could never match His, since the whole world has benefited from His death on the cross. But there is an exchange going on in this act of salvation. God receives a relationship with His children, in exchange for His mercy and grace.

So, I think I'll keep going to gift exchanges. It really is a "give and take" world, even when it comes to God.

Monday, December 12, 2011

True Sisters

The other day I was shopping in the store with my daughter and two granddaughters. I saw some house slippers that fit the oldest granddaughter, but not the youngest one. So, I got the ones for the three-year-old and not the one-year-old. Figuring she wasn't aware enough yet to mind not getting something when her sister did.

I was rather surprised to have her mother tell me as soon as they got to their car that the older sister was upset that little sister didn't get something too. I hadn't counted on her awareness and sensitivity to the needs of her sister.

There are many people who depend on others to look after their needs. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, yet how often are we overlooking the fact that we have plenty and they are struggling? Lord, help me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me, and not focused on my own desires and wishes, especially during this holiday season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Day We Forgot

Today I happened to be out shopping and noticed the flurry of people out doing the same. I realize it's getting close to Christmas, but I've noticed over the years that Saturday AND Sunday seem to be ordinary business days for most people. Special maybe in the sense that it is the weekend, but also days for doing whatever needs to be done that you didn't have time for on the weekdays.

Nobody has time for a "day of rest" any more! Sunday-keeping Christians for years have used what they call the Lord's Day as a day set aside for God. And I believe initially that included resting from ordinary work that can be done on the other six days. Ask your grandparents, or great-grandparents.

God designed the world and even our human bodies to appreciate one day of rest every week, just as God himself rested the seventh day from His work of creation. So, how has the Christian world fallen so far away from seeking God on His special day?

Upon investigation years ago, I came up with an answer that satisfied me. But you have to go back to the eternal, unchangeable Ten Commandment Law written with the very finger of God. God specified not only A day, but WHICH day we are to reserve as holy. And He even told why...because HE BLESSED THAT DAY, a day that would point to the Creator, the Author and Finisher of our faith. It's the only Commandment that describes who we are to worship. In a sense it is like His autograph and placed right in the heart of the Law itself.

Man is trying to make a day holy that God has never blessed--and it hasn't worked. It was the only Commandment prefaced with "remember", but somewhere along the way we "forgot".

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Real Magic

So thrilled to see a live nativity performed by our church tonight! This was the first year we tried it and it seemed to go well. The church grounds and parking lot were the stage of Joseph leading Mary on a real, live donkey, the angel talking to the shepherds, and wise men bringing gifts to the Baby in a manger.

Some of the "magic" of the scenes may have been compromised for me, since I knew all the actors by name. These were people I see every week in church. Just ordinary people playing outstanding Bible characters. It was exciting, but perhaps not as "magical".

But then I thought that the people we read about in the Bible were just ordinary people too. They were asked by God to follow His will. Isn't this what God asks of us? Sure, Mary and Joseph's lives have impacted alot of people for eternity. But we have the opportunity every day to influence others for God. None of us has any idea how far reaching our words and actions will be on others. Let's take our role in this world more seriously and see how many we can win for God--even by doing something simple like portraying the Story in a live nativity.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Box of Memories

Nothing stirs up memories like long-lost photos. My husband just got a whole box of memories today from his sister. They were the prizes won for emptying out his dad's house after he passed away recently. It was such a joy to see all the photos we hadn't seen for years and many we had never seen. Once we got started, we just couldn't quit until the box was empty and the photos were somewhat sorted.

Both of us had started looking through the box on our own at different times today, but it was decided that we just had to wait till we could do it together. Aren't memories like that though, so much more enjoyable when they can be shared with someone?

Isn't this the kind of relationship God wants to have with us? One of closeness and sharing? And even if we haven't always been close to God all our lives, we can get close to Him easily. Because He shares our history, the same as our siblings and spouses. He knows all our experiences already, and He is so anxious for us to share with Him through prayer all our joyous moments, and our trials. Nothing is too personal to bring before the Lord. He longs to help you sort through your box of memories too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Tires

I had no idea getting new tires on my car would be so important. This was pointed out to me since our recent snows caused me to get stuck three times on the first day! Spinning tires is so unproductive. All that energy under the hood, but it doesn't get you anywhere. The surface of our tires is such a small thing on a car, but without it you are at the mercy of ice and snow. Just try driving a car in the winter with no traction and you'll know what I'm talking about. It's downright scary!

Is there some small thing, like tire traction, in my life, Lord, that is a hindrance to my getting somewhere in my relationship with you? Don't let me start spinning out of control before I discover what it is. I need your mechanical prowess to assess my maintenance needs and recommend what I need for this "car" to get me where I need to be. And that is on the road to heaven and my home with You!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pulling Out Drawers

Have you ever pulled a drawer out too far and spilled all the contents? My granddaughter did that very thing today. I didn't chide her for it. Heaven knows, I've done it myself a few times. But I did encourage her to put the things back in the drawer and put it back the way it was.

Thinking about the incident, I was reminded how many times I've grabbed hold of a problem and pulled at it with all my might. All too often, I'm left with a mess at my feet and lots of work to get things back to normal.

But there's still something positive gained from the experience. In putting things "back in the drawer" I am put in touch with what was "IN the drawer." Benefits include something found that was lost, things are more organized when I am done, and I am just forced to slow down and take stock of the situation and what resources I have to help with the problem.

So, although "pulling out drawers" isn't recommended in every situation, when it does happen, take advantage of the event and grow from it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where's Your Coat?

How do you convince an elderly gentleman (won't mention any names here) that he needs to wear a coat when it's 9 degrees out? When the outside thermometer didn't convince him this morning, I resorted to bribery. I asked how bad he wanted me to fix supper tonight. He finally relented some and agreed to wear a vest.

How does this small detail fit into the larger picture of life? Is there something here to be learned about all of us? Yes, I think we are often like obstinate children (or stubborn senior citizens), who refuse to do what God thinks is best for us.

God patiently shows us the thermometer Bible, and even throws out the "carrot stick" of heaven. And even then, some of us aren't convinced. When will we learn that God is God and this Creater of ours happens to know what's good for us? We'd be so much better off if we'd just "listen and do," in other words, "obey," instead of doing what feels good to US.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Cold

We are experiencing our first bout with snow in Nebraska this year. Even though it's pretty to look at,  you don't want to stay long outside. As a matter of fact, I thought our little dog would be having less requests to go out because of the cold. There seems to be just as many, but her visits are of a shorter duration.

Looking back over my life experiences, I find many cold, wintry times, when I needed to be out there doing my "business." But fortunately, I too have a Master at the door welcoming me back into a warm home. He knows just how long I can stand it out there.

I look forward to an eternal Spring. When we won't have to deal with harsh winter days any more. But right now, I'd settle for a temporary spring...bbbrrrrrrr! CLOSE THAT DOOR!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joy in the Morning

I would like to be lighthearted and cheerful on my husband's birthday today, but it just hasn't happened. This day last year and this year, as it turned out, have both held some very disastrous events for my family. Too personal and horrific to even mention in this blog. But nothing that almost everyone will have to go through at some point in their life.

Suffice it to say, I'm glad the day is over. There is some hope as the sun set on this heartrenching, stressful day though. The Bible says that joy comes in the morning--Psalm 30:5. But even with hope, I can hang on. Just help me, Lord Jesus, to hang on.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Way Home

I was thrilled when someone I knew years ago asked me "out of the blue" to edit his book. Through the process I have felt that providence sent me this task, because the book seems tailormade to several people in my life who are looking for the answers this book provides.

Its title will be "The Way Home" and I will let everyone know when it becomes available. I think it will greatly enrich the spiritual walk of many Christians. I know it has mine already.

We are all on a journey and our paths do not cross haphazardly when we commit our lives to God. For me, I feel all events in my life are God-planned. That is such a comforting thought, especially when heartaches arrive. I may not know all the "why's" and "how's", but there is a Being out there who does..."And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God..." Romans 8:28

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Wings of Forgiveness

Joy to the world, happy holidays, and merry Christmas--bright and colorful lights to cheer us and chase the darkness away. But for many people, this time of year holds no cheer...

Whether it's a sagging or non-existent bank account, no job prospects, a terminal disease diagnosis, or a failing marriage, there are many present burdens that keep us from feeling the joy of the season. In the same vein, there are nightmares haunting us from the past--memories too painful to mention--that keep us enslaved and unable to experience the peace this season is supposed to bring.

There is only one thing untouched by tangible events--our future. And we have to pin our hopes on that element of time. The past is over, the present is all around us, but the future is yet to be lived. This is where Christ, the Christ of Christmas, can come to our rescue. This Christ can give us hope, peace, and yes, even joy. It comes on "angel wings" of forgiveness. When we are forgiven and are able to forgive others, true love will be acheived and all the rest will follow.