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Sunday, September 25, 2016

From Pain to Purpose

So... these last few weeks... disheartening, difficult and discouraging...

As Dad's health deteriorates, our life has become more complicated.  He has become more needy...and more demanding... we know he is struggling with the letting go of the life that has always been his.  Letting go of the independence, the abilities, the choices... Letting go of the person he still is deep, deep inside... None of that is easy. 

And so the neediness.  And the demands.  And the irritability.  And the depression.

I have struggled as well.  Trying to meet those demands, trying to ease the hurt.

And failing miserably many times.  Brothers, grandchildren... all have stepped in.  And yet, the stress seems to increase... for him... for me.

Today, as I drove to the store to fulfill another demand... (fresh corn on the cob and butter pecan ice cream... dinner plans change on a whim!), the radio played music to soothe my nerves.  And finally words penetrated the chaos that swirled in my head...

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief.
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you'd be

In a moment, Matthew West captured the heart of our most recent days...

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

It turned my thoughts to Jehovah, the One who cares infinitely more than I can ever imagine...

So hold on, it's not the end
No, this is where love's work begins
I'm making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you're becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

Faithful God, He triumphs over the deepest despair.  I am reminded that God doesn't look upon troubles the same way we do... for dad... for me...

Where we see debilitating stress, He sees opportunity opening.

Where we see impossibly hard, He sees the growth beginning.

Where we see crisis, He sees a grace maturing.

Where we see piercing pain, He sees His powerful purpose...

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving

But I see you through eyes of mercy

Graced beyond words for His eyes of Mercy this day,


Thursday, September 1, 2016

An Unconventional Solution...

An elderly parent...

A chronic illness...

Widowed and alone...

What's a family to do?

Ya'll have followed our know how Mom's pancreatic cancer diagnosis hit from out of the blue and tore our hearts into shreds.  It was never supposed to be like this!  Mom was younger than dad, healthier than dad and certain to live longer than dad... assumptions that we realized much too late left us anchorless and clueless as how to live life well without her.

And these last few years have seen us stumble through the journey in rather regular bursts and sputters.

The grieving, the growing, the learning...we've all come to accept (but not always like) the new normal of our lives.

That new normal revolves around Dad.  For all of us...

But mostly, that new normal has happened for me and my brothers...

Through these past few years, it has increasingly fallen on us to make sure he was cared for emotionally and physically. 

We carefully navigated the obstacle course of respecting his independence while at the same time ensuring his safety and quality of life at home.

And then the emergencies and hospital stays began.  For the past 8 months we have experienced multiple health crises and emotional decisions...

Rehab centers and a army of specialists... 

Tests and prescriptions and nebulizers and therapists...

Dr appts and naps...

Breakfasts and lunches and dinners...

And thru it all dad has wanted, desperately, to stay in his home.  Would we be any different??

Watching his favorite tree blossom in the spring...

Enjoying fellowship and shortcake with a visiting brother-in-law...

Sitting out on his own patio, just because he can...
(wind was nippy that day, blanket cocoon!)

Dinner party with his own dining room...

And breakfast in his favorite recliner...

And so... in a God-thing, perfect timing, never underestimate your strength or His plan kind of way, the Farmer and I found ourselves between homes, and very available to step in and be the help he needed.

The between-homes part has been a journey in and of itself and perhaps one of these days I will find the words to share the back story of our grand adventure {and the way some dreams take on a perfectly splendid life of their own}

But the between-homes part is where we are now and we've come to realize with greater clarity than ever before how God placed us in this space and time for a ministry so much larger than we could ever have imagined.

We have become the Care-Givers for Dad.  In a rather unconventional way.  Rather than move him to our home, we've taken over his guest room and become, simply, the hands and feet he needs for this portion of his life's journey.

These past 8 months have been filled with a completely full and overwhelming amount of emotional baggage, and I'd be lying if I said that it's been all roses and rainbows.  I have shared much about the real (and ugly) part of caregiving... it's true, we're not saints, just real,(so real) love-you-no-matter-what, don't-have-a-clue-how-to-do-this kind of people.  We've been there.  We are there... 

It's been the little things as well as the big ones. The mundane and the monotonous mixed in with the frantic and dramatic.  Fixing the meals, minding the meds, watching his favorite sports with him, paying the bills, midnight ER runs, picking up milk, trimming the rose-bushes, changing the sheets, wringing our hands waiting on test results, wrangling with insurance, chauffeuring to dr appts, giving hugs, listening to stories, cleaning toilets and doing laundry... and always, always watching the time dwindle.

And we know that day is coming...

So, for today, we will fix a meal, dole out meds, watch some pre-season football
and give a big hug.

Just because we are Blessed to be able to.

It is Grace enough for this moment...

Love, Always,

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Happy Sunday!

From here...



Today has been a good day...

Graced to watch him shuffle around his house
with that happy smile.

Gratitude rising from bended knee this day.

My Love, Always,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Geese Crossings and Ambulance Drivers

Another day spent behind these hospital walls with nurses and doctors, breathing treatments, blood tests and endless other important medical activities...

Dad is continuing to mend.  And I am continuing to worship grateful.

As I was leaving tonight heading home. I happened to pull in behind an ambulance leaving the ER bay.  As they approached the stop sign that exited us out of the parking lot, they slowed to a crawl and, well, perhaps a picture would make you smile...

A family of geese casually crossing the road... A sliver of joy split my heart.

The ambulance driver waiting patiently until all were across before pulling out.  {Love}

And all was well until one of the geese had a moment of indecision and that messed everybody up!

Do we stay the course and journey on?
Maybe we should turn around and go back?

I am sure there is an appropriate lesson somewhere here,
but I am way too tired to make sense of it...

In the end,

The family headed back to the grassy knoll from which they came
and decided the bug hunting was superb there after all.
(Or so I imagine that's how it went...)

You never know who will be gracing your path each day...

Grateful for moments of happy joy
even in the midst of dad's worrisome hospital stay!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

And here we are...

Back in the ER...

Dad has struggled with days of fatigue, a worsening cough, and lungs that refuse to behave.  This has led us to back to familiar ground. 

But this time no pneumonia.  Cheers!

Just a complicated, frustrating, overwhelmingly intense COPD flare-up.  The kind where panic is written with each labored breath.

Grateful beyond measure that I just happened to be spending the night, but still reeling from the jarring, disorienting wake-up as dad called for me, past midnight, hoarse and frantic.  By the time I reached him, his lungs were closing, and his eyes spoke fear, suffocating and real.

As we rushed thru the darkened night to the closest ER, minutes, precious minutes, passed as dad struggled to hold on, the hissing of the oxygen tanks competing with the distressed wheezing of each ragged breath.

I found myself breathing with him... desperately willing oxygen into his starved lungs.

No prayers would come... Just Jesus, please.  Jesus.



And He was there.

I realized much later that His name was prayer in and of itself.  These times when our heartache, our cries, our desperation are the call He longs to answer... our groanings are the prayers spoken long and deep without words... just our broken, sobbing, mess of need...

And He hears.

"God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves... and keeps us present before God."
                                       ~ Romans 8:26-27, The Message

Jesus.  His name is all we need.  No, there wasn't a miraculous healing in that moment.  Dad's damaged lungs remained scarred and stiff.  But a Calm descended and from somewhere it steadied my voice and stressed commands gave way to soothing encouragement.  His breathing slowed and his eyes closed as he concentrated on the next breath...and the next...

There was a Presence that held us together.  And I know now it was His arms holding us close. 

Dad isn't out of the woods, but he is resting and breathing more comfortably in Room 201.   

Jesus.  Breathing His name in prayer.  And continuing to lift up Dad as the doctors tend his fragile lungs and give comfort in the days ahead...

Graced to call on the name of Jesus this day, for He promises always to meet us in our deepest need.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Do It Now

May there be no regrets at the end of this journey,,,

From my heart to yours...  {go live your best life}

Take that leap, cross the bridge, open your arms in spite of fear,
speak your heart, trust His plan...
and do it now, because sometimes later becomes... never

Journeying with Gratitude this day...

     ~ for second chances
     ~ for sunny skies
     ~ for a father who loves me
     ~ for doctors and nurses who work their craft with wisdom and compassion
     ~ for joy and hope in the midst of struggle
     ~ for family who hold the line when all around crumbles

Choosing Now over Never...

                                        My Love, Always,

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sitting in His Sovereignty

Sometimes a week can just suck the life right out of you...

Maybe you've been there.  We have.  These past days have been trying.

A beloved pet... gone too soon.

A investment soured... bankruptcy updates not what we had hoped.

A care-giving trial... dad's health and frustrations simmer low and long.

And in the midst of the hard, we saw this video-story of Chloe:

... beautiful, beautiful, tear-soaking, heart-lifting story.  I needed this story.  Now.  In the middle of our hurting. And whether you are struggling with infertility or cancer, or loss or heartache, we can be reminded, completely and utterly, that God's Love and Sovereignty over our lives has not changed, nor will it ever... even despite a week like this one past of woes and worries and weeping.

And so...

We choose to Sit in His Sovereignty.
We choose to lift our tear-stained faces to Him.

We choose to proclaim our worship
to the One whose love is better than life...

Even on the hard days.

Graced to lift heavy hands today, because we have seen His Power and Glory,

Rest Sweetly in Peace
our little Petie...
You were loved mightily!