Friday, August 31, 2012

"A Word in Due Season"

Not every day you go into a doctor's office, get a diagnosis, have treatment options explained, and head straight for surgery and then home. Unless you are seeing an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) and have laser surgery recommended.

It turns out I indeed do have angle closure glaucoma, not the most common kind of glaucoma, but one that has the potential for real vision loss, if untreated. I had no symptoms, nothing to indicate any risk for it, except that I just turned 60. Those over 60 are six times as likely to have glaucoma, I discovered. But it can occur at any age. Regular eye screenings where they dilate your eyes are often the only way to detect glaucoma, so I'm glad after four years without seeing an eye doctor, I was encouraged to go to a free screening at the local aging agency last spring.

I had actually decided not to go to the free screening that day a few months ago, but Dean's home health nurse was here and she told me to go on and go. So I did, and that set the ball rolling.

God was looking out for me, and He did it through one person, a nurse, who did nothing but say the appropriate word "go".

"And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" Proverbs 15:23 Help me speak those kind of words, Lord. The words that send others to you, the Great Physician.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Remember to Forget

It seems like there is something I forgot to tell my daughter the last time we talked on the phone today. How annoying to not remember something that might be important. It feels like it was something important, but for the life of me, I can't recall what it was I wanted to tell her.

Imagine what it must be like for people with dementia, brain injury, or anyone with short term memory loss. How totally disabling for my husband to not be able to remember what he had at his last meal, or even whether he had a meal. To constantly have to remind himself what day it is by posting it in several places around the house, looking at his watch, or asking me, his caregiver.

There is something Dean will not let himself forget though. And that is to tell me and show me his love. He does it multiple times throughout the day with hugs and kisses and verbal and written I love you's. When something is that important to you, you don't let your memory be an excuse for not getting it done.

God has asked His people to remember something too. A day when He wants us to love Him multiple times, just like Dean. Sabbath is a day we've been asked to remember, a day to draw especially closer to Him and forget that we have a care in the world.

Now that's something we would all love to forget...the cares of the world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That True Light

Today I had to go in for another field vision test, so the ophthalmologist could know how to treat my glaucoma. This particular test was different from the others I did. With one eye wearing a patch, you looked at this little light and clicked a button every time you saw a flash, just a small pinpoint of light anywhere away from the light you were focused on. But I found it very hard not to avert my eyes to where the tiny flashes were coming from.

As I walked back to my car, I thought more about that difficult test and how it is so much like us to find it hard to keep our eye on Christ. Those little distracting flashes are so easy to look at, taking our eyes off "that true Light that lighteth every man that cometh in the world." John 1:9

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Going Places on my Stationary Bike

I simply have got to start exercising in the morning on my recumbent stationary bike. Repeatedly when I wait til later in the day, I'm too tired to get it done. My oxygen is partly to blame for that, I'm sure, but it may apply to other people as well, especially if you are more of a morning type person, like I am.

There just seems to be so much to get done in the mornings and all through the day that I don't have time to do something just for me, like exercising.

This flies in the face of the caregiver presentation I'll be giving in October for a women's retreat. My message there is for caregivers to take care of themselves and take time for themselves. Guess I'd better start practicing what I preach.

Sometimes taking time means stealing it from something else. But I have to keep telling myself that I am as important as all those something elses. As a matter of fact, I may be the most important thing on my to-do list, because I'm the one doing all the things on the list.

In the same vein, God asks us to put Him first in our lives. Not because He's an egotistical dictator, but because without God first, none of us would be thriving, let alone even be alive. He did give us life, remember?

So, in the morning, right after I worship my Creator God, I'm going to hop on that bike and pedal my way to better health, and who knows, I might even get more done by the end of the day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What a Chore!

Today Dean and I were introduced to a new chore provider, the kind who provides you with a completed chore. The chore for which I requested assistance was taking Dean to his pool therapy twice a week. That doesn't sound like a particularly difficult assignment, unless you have ever had Dean as a passenger while you were driving.

Most of the patience I have developed with Dean, an ex-truck driver who hasn't been able to drive for thirteen years now, has originated in our automobile, listening to his never ending driving instructions. Just when I think I have mastered the patience test though, I find myself coming unglued again and yelling hysterically for him to shut up. Even saying the words "shut up" instead of "be quiet" will get his attention, but unfortunately I have spoken more graphically over the years, as I literally force myself not to do him or myself bodily harm. It's that bad.

There's a Bible verse that says, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." This definitely has had fulfillment for me with the news that I qualify for this new service for Dean. God knows how much I can handle.

Now, I just pray this new chore provider can handle Dean. All I know already is that they aren't paying her enough.

In Our Dreams

Last night I was too tired to blog after babysitting late for the grandgirls, but I just have to report what happened this morning when I got up and walked into the kitchen. Dean was sitting there at the kitchen table reading his library book, but here was the kicker: he was fully dressed in his jeans, shirt, street shoes, and cap!

This may not sound newsworthy, but it is the first time I have seen him dressed completely without assistance for about a year now. When I asked how this amazing feat happened, he said that I had told him to wake up about an hour before and get dressed for his day program. (Obviously, one of his dreams that are too real, at least in his mind. He's had them now and then over the years since his brain injury.)

When I asked how he was able to get dressed all by himself, he just said it was HARD! And he added he was mad at me the whole time he was accomplishing it.

Not unlike the way I feel about God sometimes for making me do things I don't think I can do by myself. When pressed, I suppose all of us can do things we never thought we could do on our own. God is never far away though. Just like I was right there sleeping in the same house, all the while Dean was struggling to get dressed.

And now he's asking me to fix his breakfast. I wish I could tell him in a dream to do it himself. Hmmm...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Camera Shy

Today I was asked to read the Scripture passage before the sermon at church. So at the appropriate time, right before the services, I went to the "pastor's room" in the front of church, where others, who were having a part in the service, meet for prayer. I was told that I could sit up front on the podium or in the front pew and just come up from there to read it.

After seeing in the bulletin where the Scripture reading fit in, the last of all the preliminaries before the sermon, I chose to sit on the front pew. I remembered the videos that are taken of the services (Dean gets one every week to watch at home), and wasn't too keen on being in the spotlight up front for that long, being videotaped.

While I was sitting on that pew though, I started to think about my reluctance to be in front of the camera. I thought that I really shouldn't mind it. Aren't we all being recorded in the books of heaven, everything we say and do? That won't be just an audio recording. I'm sure it will include video footage of some kind as well.

If God is living in me, I should not be camera shy. "Let your light so shine before men, that they will see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 Remembering that Jesus is the Light, I can humbly take my assigned place and let the cameras roll.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fitting Us In

I had a sneaking suspicion that our doctor appointment was going to be a surprise to the doctor this afternoon. A couple of weeks ago, a secretary, whose voice I didn't recognize, called and said she needed to change our appointment from last weekend to today. But I didn't remember getting the customary reminder call about it yesterday.

We were there on time, but there was a blank look on the receptionist's face when I said we had a 5:30 appointment. She checked with someone, I assumed the doctor, and came back out to say he'd see us soon. I was glad, because the doctor's office was clear across town, and my gas guzzler swallows almost a quarter with every mile I drive. I was very appreciative of them fitting us in, as I'm sure that's what they did.

Aren't you glad that God never has too busy a schedule to see us? And we don't even need an appointment. Sometimes the "secretaries" and "receptionists" (that would be us) get things a bit jumbled and out of order, but God is gracious enough to even forgive them, and just go on being God. That's just how He is.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Yesterday afternoon Dean was asking me repeatedly for something sweet to eat. I had nothing in the house for his sweet tooth, but was almost glad I didn't, because the other day we found a bag of Tootsie Roll pops hidden in his closet and he proceeded to finish them off in a couple of days.

I did remember and gave him a "stashed" Hershey candy bar that our daughter gave to me last time I babysat for them though. Was keeping it for one of his emergency "gotta-have-it" meltdowns. It seemed to satisfy him, at least for a couple of hours.

Then Dean pops his head in the door of my room while I was writing my blog in the evening and offers me a big glazed donut. Evidently while he was taking out the garbage, our neighbor came out and gave him a box of six bakery donuts. So I assumed that Dean would have one and so would I.

Later I went out to the kitchen and all but one of the donuts were gone from the box! I was a bit awestruck that he wasn't reeling from a stomachache or about to pass out from so much sugar in his bloodstream, but he seemed to be handling the sugar onslaught quite well, on top of all his medications.

So I just smiled and said the good Lord must have heard his prayer for something sweet to eat. Then Dean gave me a big smile too, as he ambled back to bed for some very sweet dreams, I am sure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Instruction Manual

With nothing on the calendar for today, and Dean at his adult day program, I had the day to myself, which was very nice. There was a lot to occupy me in the housecleaning line. But after taking care of all the routine chores, I decided to try to put the washed cover back on a car seat that Kayla had purchased secondhand as an "extra" for my car.

After trying to follow the one simple diagram it gave on the back of the seat, I gave up my effort. With no instruction book, it was impossible to even know if I had all the straps and accessories I would need. Let alone if I was threading everything correctly. I came to the conclusion after struggling with it much longer than I wanted to, that there indeed must be something missing. The biggest thing being, of course, the instruction manual!

How often we go struggling through life, wondering if we have all we need to be totally functioning people, but totally ignoring the instruction manual that God gives us? His Holy Word. It makes our lives so much more manageable and complete. And to be fully equipped for the task of living, there's an on-call interpreter available. He's called the Holy Spirit. His services are free.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Connecting the Dots

Several days ago my daughter asked if she left her wire-rimmed eyeglasses at my house. She seemed to think they were left on my dining room table. I told her I remembered seeing them there, but that they weren't there now, so maybe she left them somewhere else. Of course, I said I'd keep looking for them around the house.

A day or so later, Dean announced that he wasn't wearing his newest prescription glasses. He couldn't find them, so was wearing an old pair he had. This has happened before, so I didn't pay much attention at the time. All his wire-rimmed glasses look about the same to me.

Then last night Dean said he couldn't find even the old pair he was wearing, so I made a search around his recliner, which has a reputation for swallowing up his lost objects. There near it on the floor was a pair of eyeglasses. As I picked them up, they looked familiar. I asked Dean if he was sure they were his, because they looked very similar to Kayla's glasses. Of course, he wasn't sure about anything, even whether he had first found them on the table.

I couldn't hold Dean accountable for "stealing" glasses, but I sure felt like a fool myself for not connecting the dots sooner. Here I had been looking all over for Kayla's glasses, even asking for Dean's assistance, and all along the glasses were right in front of our noses. And literally ON Dean's nose!

How many people search for God all their lives, when He's as close to them as a pair of eyeglasses--sitting majestically right in front of their eyes?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fitness Goals

I just finished my daily online food diary, and I was alerted to the fact that I have not consumed enough calories for the day. Sounds like something to rejoice in, but it also stated that I was likely not getting enough nutrients and that my body could go into starvation mode by changing my metabolism, which would make it harder to lose weight. Oops. Will have to think of a good nutritious bedtime snack to get me back on track with my fitness goals.

I really hope I'm getting enough nutrients with the SPIRITUAL calories I consume each day. One could really fall short in this area. How easy to skip my breakfast of Bible study, then barely touch anyone with my witnessing, and finally to give a condensed, rehearsed, lifeless prayer as my evening meal. I'm starving myself, when God offers a full buffet of nutritious dishes for me each day. Look at what it cost for us to have God's Word, printed in our language, in all our homes. And how many people God gives me contact with every day to witness to. Finally, the Holy Spirit is available to translate my prayers into eloquent petitions. They only have to come from the heart.

I'm missing out on God's full blessings, and it may prevent me from getting for heaven.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quiet Rest

It has been so nice to be able to sit outdoors again since the temperatures have cooled down. I spent considerable time on the back deck today, reading and relaxing. Unfortunately, the air conditioner compressor, right next to the deck, goes on and off while I'm sitting there and the noise level of it is somewhat distracting. When it shuts off, the peace and quiet is noticeably contrasted. But I'm sure I would notice even more quiet if I were in a place where no traffic noises were heard. Wouldn't that be nice?

I wonder how many levels of quiet there are. At times I think I'm having peace and quiet time in my spiritual life, but then the Spirit really washes over me and suddenly I'm in a whole different level of contentment. It will take an eternity to experience all the levels of peace God has for us. But I think the ultimate will be when we are actually in the presence of our Father in our heavenly home.

I can't wait to sit on the back porch of my mansion. On a swing or in rockers with Jesus Himself. It can't get any quieter or sweeter than that.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Lap of God

I accompanied my oldest granddaughter Jenna (4) to her Sabbath School class program this morning. She just isn't totally comfortable there by herself yet. And since her mother has to attend the class with her younger sister, I was called for "grandma duty" with Jenna.

She sat with the other children and was participating pretty well, until the teacher asked them all to come up and pick a stuffed animal to take to Noah's ark. Any time there's a come-one-come-all event like that she shrinks back, and she came and asked politely to sit on my lap. So, that's where it looked like she'd spend most of the rest of the class, until it was time to slide down the giraffe. Suddenly her shy persona vanished and she jumped up to get in line, ready to climb up and shimmy down the long giraffe's neck.

Sometimes, as a caregiver, I want to retreat to the lap of God, till I'm braver to meet the difficult duties that confront me. Thankfully, He rewards me with a glimpse of His love that encourages me to climb right up and slide down another mountainous trial. And just like the giraffe slide, there is a heavenly "Parent" waiting to catch me as I come tumbling down.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bloody Elbow

When Kayla, our daughter, came back from a store with her dad today, she had good news and bad news. He was walking in the store with his two little granddaughters on each side, holding their hands. They came to a step that went down and four-year-old Jenna said, as she's heard us do, "There's a step here, Grampa." He has very poor, lower peripheral vision.

But her warning was a second too late. As Dean started to go down, he pushed Jenna out of the way and let go of Julia's hand before he kissed the ground. He had a bleeding elbow to show for his accidental acrobatic show, but at least the girls were out of harm's way. Hence the bad and the good news.

There is a lesson for my daughter to learn with each outing. Last time she learned not to let him hold one of the girls. This time she discovered that even holding their hands can lead to disaster.

I remember one of the last times Grandpa went with them, Jenna told me with her good-bye that they would take good care of Grandpa. So young, but wise to recognize his limitations with dementia and brain injury.

And I'm likewise impressed with Dean's ability to always protect his granddaughters as much as he can, even if it will mean more injury to himself. God is indeed speaking to him and helping him with those kind of quick reflexes.

I hope I can always put others first in my relationships, just like Jesus has done for me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blogpost #265

This is my 265th blogpost, so just one hundred more to go for my goal of a year's worth, per my sister's suggestion. Writing this blog has been a great faith builder for me. And even a stress reducer. It is relaxing to sit back in the evening and meditate on what has happened during the day and how I can use that event to make me think about God and the part He plays in my life.

I hope as you read these posts, it has inspired you to look for God in even the simplest happenings of your day. God uses our environment to communicate so much to us, if we will just pause, listen, and learn.

The Bible plays a part in this too. I would not be able to make the connection of my physical life to my spiritual one were it not for the many Bible stories and lessons I've enjoyed over the years. So, I would encourage both Bible study and meditation/prayer as a means of really incorporating God into your everyday life.

This isn't my Bible, by the way, but someone sure has the right idea!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Her Pizza Smile

Today the granddaughters were over to our house for awhile with their mom. They were both eating a small pizza for lunch at the dining room table when Jenna, who just turned four and doesn't want you to forget it, comes up to me and asks very grown up, "Grandma, is there any pizza on my face?" I said, "No, I don't see any," thinking to myself how grown up she really is becoming with this new-found interest in her appearance.

Thirty seconds later, she reappears from the table and asks me if there's any pizza there now. Trying to hide my chuckles, I informed her that indeed there was quite a bit of pizza around her mouth now. She just smiled and said, "Thank you."

I wonder what my maturity level looks like to my heavenly Father. I think I'm "all grown up" spiritually, but in actuality I've still got a lot of "pizza on my face". Like Jenna's grandma, I'm sure God will help wash me up at the proper time, and do it with a smile.

Jenna on her 4th birthday
Jenna and her famous, natural, "baby doll" hair!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bits and Pieces

A big accomplishment for me today was working on my PowerPoint presentation for a Christian women's retreat this fall. I have been meaning to go to the college library computer lab for weeks now, but the logistics just never seemed to work out. But today, the "stars were lined up just right" and I was able to make a big dent in creating a PowerPoint about caregiving.

Of course, I have been doing research, making notes, and making an outline on my laptop here at home, but just didn't have the PowerPoint capability on my home computer. I tried working on it at the public library a couple of times, but it was too nerve wracking there with a time limit over my head and other people working feverishly on every side. (You'll remember the time I left my memory stick there and thought it was lost for good, until I discovered someone had turned it in to the librarian on my next visit.) On the other hand, the college library was almost empty today between semesters, so I was able to make some good progress on my project.

I guess one lesson I have culled from this endeavor is that our work has to broken into little pieces for it to be manageable and for the end result to be worthwhile. Similarly, our character development happens in bits and pieces throughout our lifetime. When we're very little, we research all the adults around us and learn what we can by our observations. Then as we get a little older, our early school years, we start making notes. As teenagers, we begin to organize all our notes and create an outline of who we want to be as adults. Then in the adult years, we create our "PowerPoint" character presentation for the King of the Universe.

Hmm, I wonder what mine will look like.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Storytelling and Prayers

Another sign of Dean's increased dementia is the repetition of his old stories. After his brain injury in 1999, it was several years before we saw the "old stories" drop off and he would be able to give variation to his storytelling, making it more bearable for family members and those who knew him well to listen with more enjoyment. His stories now are taking on the flavor of a tape recording in his brain again that only allows him to tell his stories one way, word for word, and please don't interrupt him!

On the other hand, his prayers still have some freshness and eloquence, and I know he must be putting a lot of effort into his conversations with God. (Some of our family members are getting doubly blessed, by the way; but at least no one gets left out.)

I, on the other hand, must remember not to let my prayers take on that trait of being repeated monologues that God has heard from me countless times before. Let them be fresh and deeply thought out, as if I was talking to a very important friend. I know God is a polite listener, but I don't want to take advantage of His graciousness.

My prayers must be the very best I can offer, just like Dean's always are and have been. I thank God for a very spiritual husband. In that, he will always be the head of our house, the patriarch in our family.

on Father's Day, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forgetting to Remember

I have come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time getting DVDs for Dean at the library. I painstakingly chose some today that I thought he might not have seen. He is on the second go-round for one of them that I brought home. I told him when it started the second time that he had already seen all of it. He said, "Oh, well, I can't remember it."

That is just one change in Dean's dementia. There are other subtle things, but fortunately it is all very gradual. He used to notice if he had seen a video within the last year or so, then it was anything in the past week or day. Now he's watching them back to back!

Isn't this how we fall into sin though? Rather gradually? It can creep in without our knowing it, but not without our permission. What a careful watch we must have on our senses. Satan is looking for a way to cause us to forget God. That is one kind of dementia none of us can afford to have.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Small Fixes

My computer was not performing for me the last couple of days, and I was experiencing some strong withdrawals from it. My son-in-law pinpointed the problem for me this evening though, and I was so relieved that it was such an easy fix.

About six years ago I remember the first night they set me up with oxygen equipment in my home. It felt like a death sentence to be tethered to a machine for the rest of my life. I truly thought I would be homebound forever and was really in a panic as to how I would occupy my hours on my own tiny turf.

Fortunately, the daytime oxygen usage became minimal, so I have had much more independence than I was anticipating. That, however, is being renegotiated with the increased dementia my husband has been experiencing the last couple of years. I've been spending much more time at home with him.

My most wonderful outlet has been my computer. I use it for so many things during the day. I thank God that even if I were totally bedridden, I would have access to the outside via my laptop.

I have so many worries, but having my laptop working again will make it all bearable. Thank you, God, for the small fixes. Even they can have earthshaking benefits.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Being a Witness

I visited with a gentleman at Madonna Rehab Hospital today while Dean was in pool therapy. His name is John and several in our church know him. If any of you have been to this hospital, you will notice the walls of the hallways are decorated with pictures and success stories of people with brain injuries of various kinds who have graduated to a normal life "on the outside".

John is another success story who may not grace their walls, but he definitely graces their hallways. He was struck with Guillain-Barre syndrome a few years ago and although his physical recovery has been somewhat stunted and rocky, his spiritual recovery is nothing but miraculous. He permanently resides at Madonna now and is unable to move anything from the neck down, even though his nerves allow him to feel things. He has some movement in his neck and shoulders, I believe, but it is very minimal.

It is such an inspiration to talk with John and hear him share his faith, which he unabashedly does with everyone he meets. As soon as someone asks how he copes with his limitations, he speaks of faith in the Lord as the only thing that has sustained him through it all.

John and I discussed witnessing as essential for our spiritual growth. We talked about the difference of "doing witnessing" and of being a witness. When your activities of daily living are so restricted, he can rejoice in simply being a witness by his life of quiet trust and faith in his heavenly Father. This is the kind of witnessing that we all should desire.

Lord, help me witness, but more important, help me be a witness.

And what a witness you are, John!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Thrive

Just inspected our garden, or what's left of it, and it's a sad sight with this summer's drought. I decided about a week ago it wasn't worth it to keep watering, with voluntary water restrictions being called for in our city. We had been getting a fair crop of tomatoes up until then, but I was watering every day.

Likewise, I can't expect my spiritual garden to thrive when I fail to "water" it with prayer and Bible study every day.

This is how things looked in June, lush and green--

 And here are the same plants now, brown and dried up--

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pool Meltdown

Well, we had our second visit to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital pool and it almost turned out to be our last. When Dean came out of the dressing room with his suit on, needing help with his pool shoes that they provide, he refused to let me help him put on the brace they also provide to help support his drop foot. I tried to explain that they wouldn't let him in the water without it. But he wasn't listening, just demanding that we go home and not stay to exercise.

The staff recognized our difficulty and his therapist came over and literally "sweet-talked" him into trying the boot on again (he had worn it the last time) and told him to let them know if it hurt too much. She explained the reason why he needed to have it on, and was very calm and courteous the whole time, letting him make the final choice. Not a bit demanding. Which is just the way he has to be handled. I could tell right away that this lady has worked with the brain injured. She was an expert!

Praise the Lord, he relented and let them help put the brace on, along with the shoes. He went from a lion to a lamb in seconds, which is just how it usually happens with him here at home. But today, I really don't think I would have won him over to wear the brace without the intervention. I wish I had a Madonna nurse with me every time we go in public. I might be braver to take him places.

I do have the Lord's assistance though. He's only a prayer away and I know He's listening for my distress signals, even before I get the prayer in the air. Thank you, God, for giving me words to say to prevent the meltdowns. Both mine and Dean's.

Here's the lady who prevented the meltdown.
Ain't she a saint!?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Julia's Lord

I have to share something about my granddaughter, Julia, age 2. She loves to sing, but there's one song that is evidently irritating to her ears. Every time we all start singing "Kum ba yah, my Lord, Kum ba yah", Julia protests vocally with "no, MY Lord". So her mother, my daughter, has wisely learned to accommodate her two-year-old request and correctly sing the next line "Kum ba yah, Julia's Lord, Kum ba yah." Only then will the determined girl join our singing.

If there's one thing that we want our children to remain possessive about, it's their Lord. Only when God is "all ours" can we share Him with others. Whenever I sing that song or any hymn about my Savior, I'm going to think of putting the emphasis on the "my" and then God and I will share a smile, thinking about a cute little girl, insisting on the right words to the song.

I let her pick this tomato from my garden. 
This was several hours later...I don't think it ever made it to the salad bowl. It's hers!!!

Baking From Scratch

In addition to being the Sabbath, it was also my nephew's birthday yesterday. The day started out special, with our electricity being off all through the house for several hours, due to a power line down, causing a wide neighborhood outage.

Knowing I should have made time to ask this earlier, I thought to ask my nephew what his favorite cake was for his birthday as he was going out the door with a friend. Angel food cake, I was told. Well, I had a whole afternoon ahead of me and a trusted recipe an elderly friend gave me long ago (she always brought one to potluck). So I proceeded to collect the ingredients and get started. I had made it once before myself, I think. I remembered how delicious it had been.

I knew instantly what a labor of love it was going to be, after the first step though. Sift the flour four times. Then add half the sugar and sift another four times. Even the counting was a challenge. The next steps weren't any easier. Separate about a dozen eggs, beat them until foamy, then add the sugar 2 Tbl. at a time with the mixer. THEN fold in by hand the flour and sugar mixture 2 Tbl. at a time too. Only the almond and vanilla flavoring scents wafting up gave me the strength and energy to continue mixing and stirring.

The end product was again delicious. But I can certainly understand why cake mixes have become so popular now. Imagine making all your cakes before we had electric mixers. (I thought of our power outage.) You could afford the extra calories from eating them. You burned them off by working so hard. I still say baking from scratch results in tastier treats too. But, they'd also be eaten in moderation. Who's going to let anyone gobble up something that you put so much work into?!

Like life, the more challenge it is to achieve something, the more rewarded we are for the effort. God knows that we need trials in our life to make us "good". God started us from dust. I'd say that's creating from scratch too. And He knows we're going to be worth it in the end.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Organized Clutter

Yesterday I cleaned out my clothes closet and drawers. I had a big bag of clothes for the trash, one for donations, and one to try to sell on consignment. And today it was the bookcases in the living room. When I was through, I had one bag of trash, one pile to give away, and another pile of things to relocate.

Now here's the kicker after all that work. My closet looks just as full. And my bookcases don't look any emptier. I thought I was going through them with a fine tooth comb, but evidently it must have been one of those wide tooth shower combs for getting out tangles. All I can say is that my clutter is more attractive now. The librarian in me mandates if you have to have clutter, it must at least be organized.

Something tells me that God doesn't see our lives that way though. Clutter (sin) is clutter with Him, regardless of how it's packaged. I pray that I can clean out my ugly habits and character traits with that fine tooth comb called the Ten Commandments. I'll be glad then when I move into my heavenly mansion. It'll be a nice, clean move. No work involved. Piece of cake.

We know where the clothes disappeared TO, but where did they come FROM?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dean's Poolside Humor

A few posts ago I mentioned that Dean's "safe environment" is his recliner, but it's not his "healthiest environment", as we learned at his last doctor visit. So he wrote him a prescription for some aquatic therapy. We started it today at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital.

Before he got in the water, the therapist who will work with him gave him quite an interview to help assess his skills and establish his goals. As far as goals, Dean could only come up with one and that was to be able to hand-glide someday. She laughed and said that was beyond what they do there, but good try. After some prodding, he finally settled for being able to walk farther without pain.

At the end of the interview, she asked him if he had any questions. He did--"Are you married?" She chuckled again and told him she didn't mean that kind of question.

When they finally got in the water, I tried to read my book by the poolside, but couldn't keep from watching to see how they would do in the water. Dean had a very creative way of counting how many repetitions he was doing. "That's 5, 8, 10." I don't know if he was trying to make her lose count or what, but it didn't work. Evidently, this gal's worked with the brain-injured before. She was counting in her head, and there were no shortcuts available with her counting.

As with God, we can't get Him off track with the countdown to end-time events. God knows the number and our trying to figure out how much time is left must seem pretty silly to our omniscient God. Likewise our goals and questions must seem pretty off base to Him too. Letting Him guide us in all things, now and in the future, just makes good sense.

I can't wait for our next entertaining therapy session.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"It's Mine"

What a blast I had in the grocery store today! It was a store that had those small-size carts that little ones can push; so each of my granddaughters ended up pushing her own grocery cart. Fortunately it wasn't a very populated store because little Julia (2) was not very adept at steering or maneuvering her cart and her mom and I have some sore ankles to prove it.

But the funniest part was when we pulled our carts up to the checkout and Julia saw us unloading our food onto the counter to get the items scanned. She started putting up such a fuss as we put her items on the belt. She grabbed the veggie hot dogs from her cart and wouldn't let go of them for love or money and was quite vocal with her objections, which included a little "not happy" foot dance. "It's mine. It's mine," she firmly announced.

The only solution seemed to get the dogs scanned quickly, so we could hand them right back to the about-to-lose-it toddler. Fortunately, the clerk was quick about it and handed it right back to her, but we still had to figure out how to extricate the "hot dogs" from her possession and convince her to leave the cart by the door.

Her mom, who seems to be an expert at handling these episodes, had it all figured out. She got out a big, refrigerated water bottle from the grocery bags and handed it to her while we tenderly explained that Grandma was bringing the dogs home for Grandpa's supper. With sister's example of leaving her cart by the door, she seemed to cut her losses and go with the offered substitute water bottle. Besides, the water bottle was so big, she needed both arms and all her strength to hang on to her new possession and lug it to the car.

How many times do I behave like a selfish toddler? I feel like all I have belongs to me, when in actuality, God owns it all, and everything I have is just on loan from our Creator God. Yet God, like a patient parent, shows me the "Substitute" for my selfish ways. I just have to hold onto "It" with both arms and with all my strength and lug "It" all the way to heaven.