Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Gift of Bread

If there's one grocery item I hate to be out of, it's bread. I crave it in some form at almost every meal. So even when our pantry was shrinking this week, in direct proportion to our checking account, I didn't think it was possible for us to actually be out of this hearty staple. But then, we were down to our last loaf, and I was even out of bread flour so I couldn't make any in the breadmachine.

It wasn't a big problem, as I had plans to grocery shop big-time tomorrow when our money comes rolling in. But I was in for a pleasant surprise when our next-door neighbor comes over with a big box of bread to give away. He volunteers at some food distribution center and occasionally shares some of their excess food. I took eight loaves, putting most of them in the freezer. Dean and I cut into a loaf and it was soft, delicious wheat bread.

God tells us in Isaiah 33:16 "...Bread will be given him, His water shall be sure." It was just a reminder to me from God that He is still in charge and there's no need to worry about finances. God will provide. And He is the Bread of Life. John 6:48

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's Your Name Again?

Some of the pleasures in life my husband says he still enjoys are bringing in the mail, locking the door at night, and answering the phone. It's sometimes risky to let him do these things--such as when he applied for his own credit card and started using it; or when he can't remember who called, except that it was important.

I got a real chuckle today when he answered the phone. The caller said, "This is Jennifer from St. Elizabeth's Home Medical. Is Teresa there?" He hollers to me in another room, "Teresa, it's Elizabeth from Home Medical." Jennifer and I both had a hearty laugh out of that one. She has met Dean and understands.

I always get a kick out of how he tries to remember his home health nurses' names. Poor Carla has been Kyla, Kayla, Kay, Carlene, and about every derivative in between.

When our granddaughter Julia was born a couple of years ago, he was having a terrible time remembering her name. So we told him it was the same as his favorite actress, Julia Roberts. The next day he called her Sophia. I forgot Sophia Loren was another one of his favorite actresses.

Thank heaven, there is Someone in this universe, who remembers our name. Isaiah 43:1 says, "...'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name. You are mine.'"

God remembers when we can't.

"Hey, G-pop, this call's for you," says Sophia, er Julia.

A Complete Makeover

Last night my son-in-law came over to give his father-in-law a haircut. Dean had been requesting one a few times and finally got his wish. We were hoping he'd consent to some hair loss in the mustache area, but once again it was a no-go for that one. He also refused an eyebrow trim. We can only dream for a complete "makeover" someday.

Aren't we like that with God though? We're willing to give Him some of our sins, but there are others that we consistently hang onto. There's no rhyme or reason to our letting go. Some things are harder to part with than others. Usually because we just love them more.

We should be willing to go along with God, no matter what He requests from us. And that's all He can do. God isn't in the demanding business. His commandments are actually requests. Even though they aren't optional, if we truly love Him and want to be presentable before the universe.

Help me go along with God in ALL the areas of my life. He wants to give me a "makeover" that will astound the universe. All I have to do is consent.

Monday, May 28, 2012

An Invisible Injury

Memorial Day should be a day of just that--remembering those who have passed away, especially those in the military. We call them servicemen because that's exactly what they do. They serve us, so we can enjoy the freedoms and safety we have in this country. And no matter how deficient you see our country in these areas, it's hard to deny that we are better off than many places in the world.

We should honor all the men and women in uniform for their sacrifices. None of those serving in dangerous fields will come back unaffected. And many of the wounded will feel their losses every day. Even those with invisible injuries, such as PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, have given up their previous lives and are striving to create a new normal for themselves.

My personal experience with a brain-injured husband allows me to feel great empathy for that segment of the military, those with TBIs. It's a scary world when you can't remember what you did an hour ago, or even less. And the families are no less affected. I pray that God will give strength to them all and show me ways I may help lighten their load when I can.

Here's a couple of pictures of my dad--just a teenager. He was in Japan right after the bombing. They didn't exactly appreciate our presence. But who could blame them. Dad never talked about being in Japan while we were growing up. I always wondered why he didn't like going to funerals. I think dead bodies scared him. But he made it known he wanted a military funeral for himself. It was the least we could do.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Support for Caregivers

I've been toying with the idea of starting a caregiver support group again. Nothing noble about it. I think I will be its biggest beneficiary. I could really use another night off once a month. I wouldn't expect many caregivers to be there; it's hard to get away every month. But it's just good to have an evening out yourself now and then to meet with others who share similar challenges. Or even who have shared them in the past. I still like to talk about caring for my parents, even though my focus is now totally on my husband. It's a good way to get inspiration, support, and affirmation from each other.

Even though we have a Father in heaven to support us, God knew the value of the human element too. That's why He sent His Son down to earth to reach us on the human level.

Attending a support group is not a sign of weakness. It's an indication that you know where to find strength, also known as support. And these days I gotta' find it anywhere I can.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


This evening Dean and I visited my parents' graves. I still don't how I survived the year 2010 and losing both mom and dad to cancer. Talk about caregiving. I was stretched to the limit, making over a hundred 50-mile trips back and forth. But thanks to many family members pulling together we survived the tragedy.

Here they are in the middle of that year, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

The memories they gave us live on!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Food Party

My daughter and her two girls came over this evening around the supper hour. "G-pop" and I had already eaten, as we usually eat early around 3:30-4:30. Dean's appetite is just voracious these days with one of the medicines he's taking. Every hour or so, he's asking for something to eat. I try to feed him low-calorie foods, but his weight is still on the upswing.

Our toddler granddaughters have a very good reason to be hungry throughout the day too. They are growing, so their momma is constantly thinking about their next meal too. (I gave them some of our leftovers from supper, just to get them a little satisfied til they got home.) Kayla and I traded knowing glances when the girls were asking for something to eat. Yes, food is definitely on both our agendas pretty much all day, it seems. Life is just one big food party around here.

Speaking of hunger, how much do I hunger for God? Is He on my agenda all day? If we truly love God, we should never be satisfied with our intake. We should always be wanting more of Him, shouldn't we?

How else can we grow?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How High Are Your Tomatoes?

I was lamenting the fact that we didn't get our garden in sooner after seeing some of the harvested vegetables some of our friends are already enjoying. Isn't it a risk to plant before the last predicted frost date though? I guess some daring folks like to get a head start, and now I see the benefits of early-bird gardening. We could have started a month earlier too and already be having fresh, homegrown food on OUR table!

Then I also saw that some friends are just now getting their gardens in. Believe it or not, it's not too late to get in on the planting frenzy. I'm assuming they will have a bountiful harvest also, but will just have to wait longer for that first flavor-oozing morsel.

Whether you plant early or late, the final result is much the same. Although I have to admit that those early-birds are probably such conscientious gardeners that I'm sure they are guaranteed a premium crop. Besides, their garden won't have to battle the full heat of summer.

We are all gardeners when it comes to life actually. We are sowing character seeds every day that will bear fruit--for good or evil. The later you start sowing the good seeds, the harder you will have to battle the weeds and the heat. But it is possible to overcome those obstacles and still have a bountiful garden at any stage of your life.

The common question we are all asking this time of year:
How high are YOUR tomatoes?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paper Trails

The most dreaded thing on my to-do list, besides cleaning the toilet and scrubbing floors, is to fill out applications. Every time I fill out one, whether print or online, I hope and pray it is my last one. But of course, it never is. Yesterday I got one that needs to be filled out by next month, and today I got one that needs to be filled out by tomorrow. They just never stop coming. I feel like one endless paper trail. Why couldn't my information just be on one granddaddy database, so everyone could see all about me in one fell swoop whenever they needed to?

But then what would happen to our privacy if that were the case? Would I really want everyone to know all about me any time they wanted? Of course not. At least in this evil, unpredictable world we live in now, it would be disastrously unsafe for a database like that to exist. It may get to that before this earth's history is over, but for now I guess I'll just suffer through the inconvenience and keep trying to write neatly, stay in all the lines, and sign in all the right places.

One great thing to look forward to in applications. We'll have a character trail, instead of a paper trail.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fitting In

I had to make a trip to our neighborhood senior center today to sign up for fresh, local produce coupons at farmers' markets this summer. I've done this for several years now and each time I feel so young, compared to the other seniors when I go in there to apply. It's not a pleasant thought to know that I'm the one who qualifies as the senior citizen now, and not just my husband. He's five years older than I am. I don't have to apply for him as his proxy any more. But I still feel uncomfortable just the same.

Feeling out of place like that made me think of heaven. I've heard it said that everyone will go to heaven...everyone who would be happy there. Hopefully, I wouldn't feel out of place or uncomfortable in heaven. That's what our preparation is for here on earth. Living the Christian lifestyle doesn't just make us good witnesses to those around us. It is also our practice for the kind of living that happens in our heavenly home.

The sensual pleasures and worldly entertainment we enjoy here on earth will not be found in heaven. Would I be bored there? How will I fit in? How can I find joy in the presence of angels, if my actions here make them veil their faces? I pray the Lord shows me now what "things" I can and cannot take with me when I enter that glorious land. I really do want to fit in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wiggling Out

I'm beginning to experience blog withdrawals--two nights in a row I've missed posting on this blog. But they have been busy nights. Friday night we were at a friend's house for a little Christian fellowship and last night I babysat again for my daughter so she could have her "date night" out with my son-in-law.

This time babysitting, I faced a real dilemma. Instead of just Julia, the two-year-old falling asleep in my lap, Jenna, the almost-four-year-old, fell asleep there too. I thought I was going to have to sit frozen under this "iceberg" of heavy toddlers until the mommy/daddy couple returned. But just before they walked in the door, I had managed to wiggle out from under the sleeping masses, leaving them still asleep in two bulky heaps. One in the chair and the other on the floor.

This reminded me of all the times when I thought I'd never manage to wiggle out of a difficulty, only to find that when I got the courage to wiggle a little, the Lord helped unload those burdens gracefully and almost effortlessly. God sees our struggles, but most importantly we have to see that He's nearby. And He'll be walking through the door to rescue us fully, much sooner than we expect.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Caregiver Woes

It has not been an easy day for this caregiver. My husband's appetite, although somewhat better since we lowered one of his meds, is still through the roof. He is asking me for something to eat repeatedly during the day, and it gets old. I'm still battling a chest cold myself, but that doesn't mean any lightening of my workload around here, including the constant worry about finances. And now he just got mad when I wouldn't give him one of my cough drops!

I'm tempted to think of him as a demanding, selfish old man, but then I remember all the hugs and "I love you"s he has also showered me with during the day and I'm reminded that this is just part of the dementia. He isn't trying to be a burden, and it would hurt him fiercely if I thought of him that way.

So I'll just try to take a deep breath, put it all in perspective, and pray for patience and strength to keep myself together for one more day. After all, look at what the good Lord puts up with in me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Best Insurance

Twice this week I have found myself cancelling doctor appointments, instead of scheduling them. I appreciate the secretaries giving me advance warnings, but it still doesn't make sense that Medicare won't pay for a cast on a fractured foot, or for an eye exam when you've been screened negatively for either a cataract or glaucoma.

I'm sorry, but I don't have hundreds of dollars left at the end of the month to pay for these medical costs on my own. I make just a little over the amount to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for my own medical needs. So for now, I will just pray that my foot heals within the next month, and that this is just a slow-growing cataract in one eye and not glaucoma.

As one of thousands who are "falling through the cracks" financially, I still have a backup insurance plan I can depend on. God and I are business partners in a sense. Returning tithe to God is the best insurance plan on the market. No deductibles and no co-pays. Besides, it builds faith and faith is definitely a valuable commodity when you find yourself falling. I know my God will catch me. He's been doing it for years.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Having Fun

There's a price to pay when you're having fun. For me, having fun with my granddaughters often means I pay the price of catching their colds. But that, of course, is a price I'm willing to pay, as I'm doing once again this week.

Whether it's good fun or bad fun, you have to think of the consequences. And that includes the final, eternal consequences. For instance, there's sweet satisfaction and joy in serving Christ, even when it leads to persecution, a not-so-pleasant consequence. But the final reward, an eternity in heaven, far outweighs the earthly price we pay for it.

On the other hand, the fun that we find so attractive in the world often leads to pain and suffering on this earth, but also in the loss of eternal life with our Father.

What kind of fun are you having this week?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Healer of Body and Soul

Finally I get something to help with the inflammation of my foot from the injury almost three months ago. Just a topical gel, but I hope it does the trick. The foot is still puffy and hurts after all this time. The bone has healed nicely they say, but I suppose there's more to a foot than bone.

This leads me to a paradox I've been thinking about for a few days. When your life gets messed up, just like my foot did, what part do you work on first? The outward behaviors, the addictions and displays of anger and depression, or the inward stress, unforgiving spirit, and heartache that eat away at our inner peace and happiness?

It almost seems to me that both have to find relief. And the only way that can be done is to turn it all over to the one who specializes in all the parts that make us who we are. That would be God. The Healer of Body AND Soul. He not only takes away our symptoms, but He cures the disease that gave us those symptoms.

We need doctors. We need pastors. But most of all, we need a Savior. And we must give Him everything, all the parts of us, or else it's all a waste.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

One of my Mother's Day gifts was a homemade lemon meringue pie, which I announced as something I would especially like. After two tries at making the meringue, however, we were almost ready to call it quits because the egg whites just were not cooperating at all to form the stiff white peaks they were supposed to. But I remembered that there were enough eggs from the dozen I had bought, which were from cage free hens and all natural, and I was positive they would make a difference. And sure enough, they made a beautiful meringue.

Beginnings are so important. Where those eggs came from, the environment the chickens lived in, and the food they ate, made all the difference in the quality of the eggs we needed for our cooking.

And this is the reason we honor our mothers today. They gave us the needed foundation for our success as adults. It's where we got our beginnings. As God requires that we recognize His role in our beginning by keeping the Sabbath--"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," He also enjoins us to recognize our family beginnings by honoring our fathers and mothers.

Thank your matter what kind of meringue you turned out to be.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Staying Connected

There's nothing like the sinking feeling when you discover that your supplemental oxygen was turned off all night and you were breathing with a Bi-PAP and some flimsy stuff they call room air. Instantly, I just wanted to re-do the whole night--to go back to bed and start over. Does this mean I start out the day with fatigue, instead of ending it that way?

I tried not to let it matter, but questioned my stamina all through the day. Amazingly, little difference was noticed, but how many nights would I be able to pull this off and not have my blood gases suffer? I'm not willing to find out.

This thinking got me to wondering how long it would be for me to miss God, if He were to disappear from my life. Would I notice right away? Would I want to start over? What difference would it make for my strength and stamina for daily living? Just as with my oxygen, I'm not willing to try.

It may be called supplemental oxygen, but we all know it is vital. And God is no different. He not only gave us the breath of life when He created us, but He IS the Breath of Life when we are born again. One is for our mortality, and the other for our immortality. I choose to keep my life support for both every day. And to make sure I'm connected to Him when I go to bed and when I get up in the morning. My prayer check. Gotta' stay connected.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On a Wave

The caregiver resource fair that I went to tonight was wonderful. It was a chance to get out of the house by myself, but still tied to the thing most familiar to me and close to my heart. Caregiving.

The speaker they provided for us spoke on using spirituality to overcome obstacles. He mentioned normal obstacles in our life that require normal coping. And then there are tsunami moments that totally consume us and call for extraordinary coping abilities. For these, our spirituality is stretched to the limit, but still provides an anchor that we can hold onto to get us through the storm.

Twelve years after Dean's tsunami tractor accident, it still feels like we're riding the wave of that tsunami though. And I'm sure there are a lot of caregivers who also feel like they're on one wild surfing ride.

Is it possible to ride out a tsunami? Certainly not on our own. With practice, we may become pretty skilled at surfing though. But we are nothing without our Board. Keep that Board under your feet and you will survive. Balance is everything. So enjoy the ride.

 Stock Photo of a Guy Surfing in Santa Cruz, California

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hobbies in Heaven

Tonight I gave my husband free rein in the kitchen to make some milk/egg gravy for our mashed potatoes for supper. That was one culinary skill I was hoping would come back to life for him...and it did. We had some delicious gravy to go with our mashed potatoes and succotash.

Then I got close to the garden this evening. It was just dry enough for some tilling before the watering. I couldn't resist the urge to grab the garden "fork" and start turning soil. Of course, with shortness of breath, it didn't last long. But it felt good to be a part of the garden gang for a short while.

Its so satisfying to do familiar tasks that we enjoy. The thought occurred to me that surely in heaven we will be permitted to pursue some of our interests and beloved hobbies that we have enjoyed here on earth. Even those we have "outgrown" in our old age.

All the more reason to maintain activities now that are in harmony with God's principles and ideals. Could Jesus sit next to you with your entertainment of choice?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Busy Weeks

Each week since my foot injury seems to be busier than the one before. If I never have to go to another doctor's appointment or see another home health nurse, it will not be too soon. This week I'm not only caregiving for my husband, who cracked his ribs last week when he fell in the house, but now the dog is added to my list of needy family members, since I just brought her home from the vet's today after her spaying surgery.

Don't get me wrong. I'm just reporting, not complaining. I thrive on staying busy, and it is especially sweet that I'm staying busy for others. There are many theories on how to stay young, but to me the most powerful one is to keep your youth by caring for others.

Well, maybe it won't keep you young, but it will keep you alive. I'm counting on God to keep me around as long as I can be of use to somebody. There's really no reason to hang around this old earth any longer than that. Right? Heaven's too good to postpone.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dog Surgery

Tomorrow my little dog has surgery. Just a simple spaying, but I'm sure it will be a big deal for her. It will be hard dropping her off at the veterinarian's in the morning. I wish there was some way I could communicate with her to let her know what's going to happen, so she won't be as frightened.

But I can almost guarantee that when I pick her up the next day, she will not hold it against me that I brought her there. Her trust and love for me will be just as strong as the day I first took her into my home. She will have lots of doggy "kisses" to share, despite the pain that she'll be experiencing.

As humans, shouldn't we be that trusting of our heavenly Father? It must pain Him that He can't share everything that may happen in our lives, but we shouldn't hold it against Him. Our love must survive for our Master, even when we are in the very heart of pain and suffering.

We dog owners are always looking for ways to teach our dogs obedience, but let's not overlook what they are teaching us about love.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Strength

I just got back from babysitting tonight for my granddaughters. It was such fun to be with them for all their evening home routines before bedtime. We read stories and sang songs. There was also the satisfaction that I was giving some time off for their mommy and daddy. They hadn't had that in awhile, so I was glad I could help.

There was one point that I wasn't sure I could measure up. Little Julia fell asleep in my lap and I wasn't sure I could get up and carry her to bed. But I tried and the old body cooperated. There was "lift off".

Another time I remember doubting my ability was when I had to carry Jenna, she's the older one, clear from my car into my house. And we all know kids weigh more when they're asleep.

Thank God for bodies that still function well when we really need them. The older you get the more you find yourself saying, "My strength comes from the Lord." And so do these beautiful children we call "grands".

Thursday, May 3, 2012


This was a big shopping day for me. The cupboards and fridge are no longer bare. As I thought about what to have for supper tonight, I realized how difficult it suddenly was to choose, compared to when the few ingredients left over from last month pretty much determined exactly what we would have from night to night.

Both decisions were a challenge though; whether it was making a meal out of extremely limited resources or deciding which of the many menu items would taste good and be good for tonight's supper. You still have to use up those foods with the shortest shelf life first, so it took quite awhile to decide which one would be most appropriate to have first.

Isn't it a blessing to have food to choose from at all though? So many people go to sleep hungry every night. So many children will wake up in the morning with nothing to put in their rumbling bellies. So many teenagers will be forced to skip lunch, because they are too poor to bring a lunch or buy food at school.

There is another choice we all can make. Choose to help those less fortunate. Every chance you get. They say that the only excuse to look down on someone is while you're helping them up. Choose to lift up, rather than put down, and the world will be a better place for everyone.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stacking Your Plate

Tonight we had the typical Adventist meal called "haystacks", or build your own tacos. What's so nice about haystacks is that you get to pick your own food items in the order you want and build it according to your own preference and style.

Isn't this somewhat how God lets us live our lives as well? God provides the ingredients, the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an example in the person of Jesus, but we are left to make choices along the way that makes our Christian lives uniquely different from each other.

Although no haystack is alike, they all turn out amazingly delicious and nutritious. Christians don't have to be identical either. It all depends on how you stack your plate.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Jesus Way

As we entered a store today, my daughter noticed that a lady had some things on her cart that were about to fall off. As a matter of fact, it looked like she was never going to get her items to her car the way they were loaded, without some assistance. So Kayla offered to accompany her to her car and help hold the items while the lady pushed the cart. I, Grandma "Anya", was there to watch the two little girls till she came back.

No big thing, but I was particularly proud that Kayla was observant enough to see someone in need and not hesitate to do what she could to help. I was also glad to see the good example she was giving my granddaughters.

Later in the day, a neighbor called and wanted to know if I could run her up to the garage to look for her missing bank debit card. Of course, helping her out was not an option, if it was in my ability to do it. I thought about Kayla's earlier good deed, and had to smile at where she got her kindness and compassion for others.

I guess she's been seeing it and doing it all her life. It's the Jesus way.