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Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of Grace for the Caregiver

31 Days....

A post for each day of October...

On a topic that just speaks joy to my heart...

Grace for the Caregiver
And how did I ever come up with such an idea?!  Crazy, Glorious 31 Day Idea?!  Smile...I didn't, but I'm joining in this year with other crazy, fun, amazing bloggers at The Nester for the challenge.   Every year, she puts forth the call to write on a topic (of your choice) for 31 days.  And so many have come alongside her to share their lives, their stories and their inspirations...for 31 days.
31 days!
Is it possible?  To write on 1 topic every day for a whole month?
Oh my, yes...especially when it comes from the heart.  And being a Caregiver for mom has been such a terrible privilege throughout her long pancreatic cancer journey.  The things that have humbled me, torn me, filled me and blessed me... this 31 day project comes from the deep.  For I know there are so many unsung hereos out there laying down the same sacrifice for those they love...
You are the Caregivers.  The ones Giving, Loving, Hurting and Hungry.
Hungry for the Encouragement and Hope that your sacrifice is not in vain.  For the Words that speak Peace to your troubled heart and broken soul.  And  Yes, for the Grace to believe that it is enough...
Day 1  Who...Me? A Caregiver?!
Day 2  Grace...Simplified
Day 3  When Grace and Need Collide
Day 4  Top Ten Grace Tips for Caregivers
Day 5  Grace Break...Farm Style
Day 6  The Nitty-Gritty Life of a Caregiver
Day 7  Yoga and Moses
Day 8  Hands Held High
Day 9  The Mother of All Guilt Trips
Day 10  Swarms of Locusts Everywhere...Ugh!
Day 11  Another Perspective...Through the Eyes of the Cared-For
Day 12  Grace Break...Fall-Style!
Day 13  Too Dog-Gone Cute to be Guilty
Day 14  Meltdown Madness
Day 15  When Things Can't Be Changed...
Day 16  The Best of All Meltdowns!
Day 17  The Cyclone of Fear
Day 18  Craft Fair Craziness!
Day 19  Courage and Fear...
Day 20  Grace Break...Friend-Style
Day 21  The Mighty Acorn
Day 22  How do I Choose to be Remembered?
Day 23  The Right Place at the Right Time doing the Right Things
Day 24  The Grace Gift of Friendship
Day 25  The Ungrateful, The Unthankful, The Unlovable
Day 26  Words to Live By...
Day 27  Grace Break...Funny Style!
Day 28  Run...Don't the nearest Spa!
Day 29  The Shadow Valley
Day 30  It is a Privilege...
Day 31  I Would Do it All Over Again in a Heartbeat!
Join me please...we'll journey it together, in Grace, Always,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Moving Tribute...A Bride's Dance

He died of pancreatic cancer.

Before he could walk her down the aisle.

This bride is given an incredible gift from her brother, as the men in her family step up to bridge the gap and be love in action.

So utterly absolutely uplifting... (you may need to grab a hankie before you hit play, just saying...)

First up is her grandfather, then her brothers and finally her new father-in-law.
Such tenderness and love shown to this hurting a moment her father's loss was especially keen.
May we be reminded always that the vulnerable ache of the grieving can be softened by our words, our actions, our presence.
We are His hands and feet.  We can be the shoulder for the weeping, the hug for the hurting, the ear for the wounded. 
We can be the Dance.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

51 Ways

When life's storms bow us low...and we say that this is NOT the life I ordered...what can we do as the weight of the sorrow, the panic and the pain bends our knees?

Bow low...Bend the knee...Weep the hurt....Seek His Face....Pray

Prayer.  A Life Line... to the sinking, the ones crushed under the weight of Life's Journey.
It is what came first for us when mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Prayer.  Agonizing, Weeping, Wordless Prayers... and we knew our Creator heard, for...
"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, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
                                        Romans 8:26  The Message
And I am not a theologian.  Nor a Bible scholar.  But I believe.
I believe in a God who loves me at my darkest. (Romans 5:8)
I believe in a God who summons me by name. (Isaiah 45:3)
I believe in a God who loves me so much (John 3:16) that He sees my tears (Psalm 56:8) and hears my cry (Psalm 34:15) and rescues me. (II Peter 2:9)
I believe in a God who has a plan for me...a plan to prosper and not harm, a plan to give a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I believe in a God who invites me to come to Him for soul rest. (Matthew 11:28)
And I believe in a God who wants so very much to have communion with me.   (I Corninthians 1:9)   With unclean, so unworthy...and yet, so passionately loved.
God wants conversation with me...just because I am His Beloved...
Sweet, Blessed Prayer
I wish my feeble tongue could better express the beauty of Prayer, the gift that it is.
Prayer takes me through the trial to the very Throne of Grace.  It Moves my eyes from the crisis at hand to the Christ whose Hand moves mountains
Somehow, someway, Prayer lifts the burden of the here and allows me to see straight thru to the Heart of God.  A God who Loves Me and knows my sorrows. 
A God who offers a Future and a Hope... Yes, that's the Glory of Prayer.  Raising us from our knees to a Life Lived Well in Him.
Prayer Graces Always,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is NOT the Life I Ordered...

It was an impulse buy.  I read the title and just up and bought the book.

And it turns out the book is every bit as good as the title.
This is NOT the Life I Ordered...
50 Ways to keep your head above water
when life keeps dragging you down.
This book was written by 4 amazing woman who really know about Living the Life NOT Ordered.
I read it during our week at the Lake...because really, fishing and me...well, let's not go there.  Reading was, oh, so much more relaxing.  Just me, a book and the lounge chair by the pool.  And such a good book.  It had me from the opening page.
Because I'm thinking that all of us, at one time or another could say, "Hey, wait a minute... this is not the way I thought things would turn out."  As a matter of fact, my mom said almost the exact same thing just days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Reeling from the diagnosis, she was the first to accept that the disease was terminal.  In essence she had just been handed the last chapter of her life.  And it wasn't ending the way she had expected.  Practical as ever, she took a deep breath and just said, "Well, this isn't the way I planned to spend my retirement."  And she laughed and then proceeded to play the hand she was dealt.  Hills and Valleys, Sorrows and Joys.
And I am still amazed at her courage and her strength to face such a terrifying diagnosis.  Pancreatic Cancer was definitely not the Life she had Ordered.
So what do you do?
How do you face the Life Challenge?
Can you really keep your head above water when life is intent on dragging you down?
The authors of this book are a testament to Lives Lived Well.  They are resilient and loving and funny and wise and they have all faced the worst that life has to offer.  And come out the other side with Hope and Purpose.  Choosing to not only survive, but to thrive.
Their stories and bits of wisdom have stayed with me.  It is inspiring to read of their courage in the face of death, infidelity, cancer, miscarriage and a million other catastrophic Life Challenges.  They truly know that of which they speak.
There is no magic formula... but their practical advice is a lifeline of encouragement for anyone facing Life's Obstacles and Tragic HeartAches.
I finished the book all too soon...and found myself adding to their list. There are so many ways to Live Life Well.  Our journey with pancreatic cancer and its aftermath has been the most debilitating Life Challenge our family has ever faced.  And the road with cancer has taught us so many things...
Would you join me in the coming days as we add to the list? 
Sharing.  Encouraging.  Inspiring. Each. Other.
I will start tomorrow with #51...
Keeping Our Heads Up As the Waves Threaten to Swamp,
In Grace Always,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back Home!

A week away with Dad on Lake Conroe...

So nice!
Only a few from the family could make it, but no matter, Dad very much enjoyed the time away.
These condos were built right on the shore of the lake.  And I mean right on the shore!  We could fish from the balcony...a vacation perk that Dad made the most of!  The orange caution tape on our balcony was a little disconcerting - for me anyway - but the management assured us the balcony was completely safe (hmmmm).  They were just doing routine maintenance and saw that our railing was slightly rusted out at the base, So, well, don't LEAN on the railing and all should be well.
I found other ways to spend my time...
And after we ate...Katie decided the ducks needed some treats too...
Everyone's happy on Lake Conroe...
And now we're back home.  Rested and Refreshed.
Grateful for time together and the Gift of time away.
In Grace Always,