Trying to make it through life with His help.

Posts tagged ‘God’

Being Thankful for Family

Whew! I’m not sure what it is about Sundays, but two weeks in a row now, my Mom has had a bad day on a Sunday. Maybe it’s that she’s put up with not “going home” for another week, and she’s gotten tired of it, and decides that today’s the day!, and she tries to do something about it. I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Sunday morning began, for me, being awakened by my Dad. He came in my room and told me that Mom had just called my cousin Martha, (who was named after my Mom, and just happens to be a nurse), to come get her and take her home. Being the sweet person she is, she told Mom that she was on her way and would come get her. So, a little while later, she and her husband arrived at our house.

They came inside, bringing our Sunday paper with them. (See? That’s sweet. Not everyone would have brought it in with them.) She and Mom went into the living room while her husband, Jerry, Dad and I stood in the dining room and talked for a little bit. A few minutes later, Martha and Mom came back out, and said they were going for a little drive.

Mom and Martha were gone for a while. She drove Mom all around, seeing familiar places, and talking the whole time. You can easily see that Martha is good at what she does. She’s so sweet and patient, and knows what to say, and when to say it.

It’s comforting to have family around when you need them. The Lord knows who you need when you need them. Not that any of my other family members wouldn’t have done the same thing. I truly believe that anyone Mom would have called that morning would have dropped what they were doing and come to see her just because she asked them to. That’s just one of the great things about having such a big ol’ wonderful and loving family.

I know things with Mom aren’t going to get any better. I know they could if that’s what the Lord wanted. Wouldn’t that be wonderful to receive a miracle like that? I know He can do anything He wants to do, and I wish he would give my Mom back to us. But I don’t know what His will is, so all I can do is just pray for it to be done. I have asked for us to be put on every prayer list I can think of. So, there are enough people agreeing for something to happen. I did hear from two different people this week that there is actually a promising cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia now. But, of course, it’ll take years upon years for the FDA to approve it and get it out to those who need it, IF they ever approve it at all. So, I know it’s possible. Plus, I heard ‘my’ song today, “God is On The Move”, by 7eventh Time Down. It’s just a little reminder to me that He’s still there taking care of me and all that is around me. His way of telling me He’s got this.

Do you have something you feel that the Lord uses to get your attention? Something that happens where you think, “OK, God, I know you’re there. Thanks for watching over me, yet again.”? If you’ll just listen, I bet you’ll experience God.

Thanks for listening.

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Being Terrified

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You’d think after my last post, (YESTERDAY), I might be better at not worrying, right? Well, that’d be a big ol’ NOPE!

Geez. Things hit you out of left field when someone you love has dementia. As I was leaving to go to church today, my Mom asked if she could come with me. I was a bit taken aback because she stopped going to church a few years ago for various medical reasons. I asked, “You want to go to church with me?” She said, “No, I thought you could take me somewhere. I’m not supposed to say it, but I thought maybe you could take me home.” (She’s been asking us for weeks now when we were going to go home. They have lived in the same house for 52 years, so, we’re not sure exactly where she’s wanting to go.) Once again, I told her if she could tell me where it was, I would gladly take her there. She turned around, waving her hands, and shaking her head, saying, “Never mind. Just never mind.”

Dad told me to go on to church, it would be ok. So, I made the short drive to church. One of the first things my teacher does is take prayer requests. So, I asked her to put my Mom and Dad on the list. I wanted to say more, but tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t get anything else out. We went on with the lesson, and my phone tumblr_lle1iri7zy1qbatwqo1_1280buzzed. I got up and out of the room as soon as I could, but I missed the phone call. It was from my Dad. I knew something must have happened because he wouldn’t have called me otherwise. I listened to the voice message. Mom had disappeared. She had walked off and he couldn’t find her. I could hear the fear and worry in his voice, which is such an unusual thing for my Dad, who has always been so strong. I ran back in the room, gathered my things and ran out.

By this time, I was barely able to see because of the tears. I knew I was going to have to pull it together, at least enough to drive home. As I walked to my car, two young men came up to me and asked if I was ok, and if there was anything they could do. I quickly explained what had happened and asked them to just please pray that she would be ok. Once I got out of the church parking lot, I didn’t have to stop at all – a total miracle since there’s at least eight stop lights between church and home. I tried not to speed, (much), but it was difficult. At one point I thought it might be a good thing if I was pulled over, then I could get the Officer to help find her. But, I just wanted to get home and make sure my Mom was found and ok.

When I was a few miles from home, my Dad finally answered his cell phone and told me that he had found her. She had walked five houses down the street to a neighbor’s house…in 90° heat. We live in an older neighborhood, where the houses aren’t stuck so close together you can reach out the window and touch your neighbor. There’s actually room to roam. You know, like neighborhoods used to be 50+ years ago. So, this wasn’t just a few feet, but closer to a quarter of a mile. That may not sound like it’s too far, but for an 85 year old who can’t walk well, that’s a LONG way. Thankfully the neighbor, a woman who’s children I had grown up with, was home and brought Mom back to us.

Apparently, Mom had wanted to go “Home” so badly, that she was willing to strike out on her own to get there. I later found out that she had told Dad that she would walk until she dropped to get there. So, when he left the room for a few minutes, she did just that. Thankfully she didn’t drop, though, or get too far.

As much as I would like to tell you that I didn’t worry, or fear, I’d be lying if I did. And, I’m not going to do that. Heck, I’ve already told you that I cried all the way home, which doesn’t exactly mean I was too confident. I knew He was with me. I talked to Him all the way home. But, I think that being strong and confident in the Lord is something that most of us have to work on, or build up to. We’re so used to doing things for ourselves and/or relying on someone else to do things, that relying on Him isn’t necessarily the first thing we think of. Even though it should be. I’d really rather not have to be tested on this again, but I think it’s the only way we learn to trust him fully. I just hope I get better at it sooner than later, because I’m not sure my heart can take too many more days like today.

Thanks for listening.

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Being Heartbroken

My Mom has dementia.

The first real signs of it were several years ago when I was in the hospital. Dad and I, for the most part, put her behavior and forgetfulness down to the fact that she was very tired and worried about me. And, while being tired and worried certainly didn’t help, it was the first time I saw my sweet Mother confused about what she was confused about. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Over the years, it has steadily gotten worse. Since I lived in Atlanta at the time, I didn’t see her on a regular basis. It wasn’t until I moved home that I saw first hand the steady decline of her memory. It started out with her not being able to remember the word she was trying to say. I can’t remember a time when my Mom didn’t have a crossword puzzle around somewhere, because words had always been fun for her. She still has one around, but, rarely picks it up.

Yesterday when I came home from work, she was busy looking around the house for something. This is common these days. She misplaces things very easily now, and Dad or I have to find them. (Mostly Dad since he’s with her more and knows where her frequent ‘hiding’ places are.) After a while, I asked her what she was looking for, because she kept looking out the door and windows and going outside. She said she was looking for ‘that man’. I told her he was upstairs.

“No, not him. I know he’s there. I’m looking for the other one.”

“Mama, he’s the only one here.”

“I know that.”, she says frustratingly. “The one I’m looking for says his name is David, and that he wants to marry me.”

I smile, knowing, of course, that’s my Daddy. But she’s looking for the ‘young man’ she fell in love with 63+ years ago, not the older man who is upstairs, and loves her even more today than he did back then.

When Daddy comes downstairs for dinner, he tries to explain that he is the one she’s looking for, but she doesn’t quite believe him. She asks him for ‘his’ phone number because he’s got to have it. So, I quickly text my brother and tell him about the situation, just in case she calls him and thinks he’s Daddy from years ago. But, that doesn’t happen, she, at least for the moment, still realizes that my brother is the Jr. of our two Davids, and not the one she’s looking for.

While dementia is a horrible thing for anyone to live with, and those who love them to live through, there are some sweet and funny moments. They’re just so cute when they happen and you can’t help but laugh, which really helps. I’ll give you a couple of examples: When I was in the hospital, they had given me oxycodone pills for the pain. Mom has always been a worrier. I’ve often told her she’s a “Professional Worrier” because when she doesn’t have anything to worry about, she’ll manufacture something! But, that’s my Mom. Anyway, she came to my bed and said, “Do you need one of your oxymorons?” I couldn’t help but laugh. She looked at me strangely and asked me why I was laughing. I told her, “It’s oxycodone, Mom.” To which she replied, “Well, you know what I meant!”, and laughed. Then, just a few weeks ago, I went upstairs where she and Dad were watching tv. I asked them what they were watching. They both answered at the same time, Dad: “American Ninja Warriors”, while Mom came out with “Ninja Turtles”. I couldn’t stop laughing for a while at that one. I don’t even think she knows what a Ninja Turtle is, but she’s heard it somewhere. She’s priceless. Always has been. But, even as difficult as these days have been, and will be, I wouldn’t take anything for the time I get to spend with them both.

Don’t take for granted that someone will always be there, because they won’t. Put down your phone and interact with people, especially your family, and most especially, your parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, they won’t always be there, and believe me, you’re lucky to have them for as long as you will. My brother and I have been extremely blessed to have both of our parents as long as we have. Too many friends lost theirs long ago.

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Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my Faith, it’s what gets me through. There are things I worry about, I know better, and try not to because He’s there and has it all planned out much better than I could ever even try to plan it – IF I had any control over it. I have to remember to rely on Him, not me or anything or anyone else. It also helps to write about this, which He told me to do. Amazing how that works, isn’t it? He knows what’s best for us, and if we’d just listen, everything would work out like it’s supposed to.

I should have listened to Him a long time ago and been writing all this down. Apparently, writing is my therapy. 🙂  Thanks for listening.

 

Being in the Light

I was watching tv tonight when a commercial for the new Samsung Galaxy 7 phones came on. Have you seen this one yet? It starts off by saying, “All the best stuff happens in the dark…” then goes on to show and tell some of those things. What it’s doing is promoting how well the new phone takes photos in the darkest of situations. (Which, ok, I love my Samsung and its camera, and would absolutely LOVE to have this new one.) Anyway, back to it… Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, but no, all the best stuff does NOT happen in the dark. SIN takes place in the dark, in secret, because a lot of people are ashamed of what they do – or have done – and they keep it ‘in the dark’ in hopes that no one will know or find out.
How many of you have uttered the words of my parents, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”?  🙂 As a Christian, it seems to me that the world is getting darker and darker. Believe me, there have been PLENTY of things in my ‘former life’ that I would prefer to keep in the dark, but to do so lets the enemy win. Because if they’re in the dark, that means you’re still ashamed of them. But Jesus died for our sins and has washed us white as snow! Which, as hard as it can be at times, means we shouldn’t be ashamed of our past, or even think about it any more. Jesus doesn’t remember our sins, so we shouldn’t keep bringing them up, either. As Beth Moore says, our sins are like an old, tattered coat that needs to be thrown away. It’s the enemy’s M.O. to keep bringing up our sins. He just doesn’t understand that Jesus has taken care of all of that for us. Or, perhaps he does understand, but we’re the ones who forget it. Either way, it can be a very effective tactic for him to use against us.
Let’s all try to stop letting the enemy use our pasts against us!
And, wow, I love it when the Lord gives me confirmation about things to let me know I’m on the right track! After I finished writing my blog above, I came across this:
Christine Caine – First Things First
Today’s devotional was taken from Chris’ newest book, UNASHAMED. 
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8).
The apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians 5 that bringing what’s hidden in the dark—our secrets of shame—into the light, into God’s merciful presence, is how they lose their power over us.
God’s light is tender, not harsh. As you trust Him with your pain, He will gently shine His healing light on all your wounds. He is for you, not against you—and will never shame you or humiliate you (see Romans 8:31). That kind of treatment is not in His nature. He is good, merciful and kind. He didn’t cause your pain, but He’s ready to help you through it.
Jesus paid for your guilt and bore your shame. He carried it all to the cross. But there He left it!
Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were more than enough for you—for all of us. When He emerged from that tomb, He was no longer clothed in the sin and shame of this world. Sin and its shame were left entombed. Conquered. Vanquished. Paid for. Redeemed by His blood sacrifice. It is finished. The blood of Jesus has healed you. The blood of Jesus has set you free.
Jesus was wounded for your healing; He bore your shame so you could live free.

Being Obedient: The Last Key

As I told you in another post, I have a special relationship with keys. Not only do I have the set of keys in the photo I posted earlier, but I have several other keys that I have gotten since people know I like them. A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a set of keys she found. They’re big, substantial and dark. Beautiful. It was actually my first set of keys after I knew I needed to find the set of four.

IMG_6126Not long after getting that first set, I went to the LifeWay store at the Mall of Georgia and found necklaces on the sale rack that had a key attached to a black cord. Each key had a different word engraved on the front and a Bible verse on the back. I gathered all of them up, sat in the floor, got a Bible from the shelf and looked up each verse to see which one should be mine. I settled on Grace, Psalm 84:11

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

I’m not exactly sure why I picked this one, it just felt right. Plus, I went to Grace Fellowship Church, so it just seemed like it should be mine. After deciding on my key, I purchased it and have worn it almost every day since.

The Lord told me I needed to go back and buy one of each necklace – seven in all – and give them away. I knew He would let me know who should receive each necklace. So, later that week, I drove back to the store and bought seven necklaces, each one different from the other. I don’t remember all the words or verses, but they were beautiful words like grace, friendship, courage, love, and peace, each with a matching verse.

The first two I gave to a friend who had told me about one of her friends who was going through a really tough time. So, there went two of the necklaces. Her friend seemed thrilled to get the necklace. I just hoped that it would mean as much to her as it did to me.

The next four went to friends in England for Christmas. Which left me with one necklace. This one, I DO remember. I had this one for about four more months before I knew who it should go to. And the circumstances were such that I wished I didn’t have to give it away.

I was visiting my family for Easter. The day I was to come home, I got a phone call from a friend who told me that one of our best friend’s son had died. When I hung up the phone, I knew that she would be getting my last key. At the time, I had no idea what the word or verse was on the key, but I knew it was to be hers. I left soon after and drove back to the Atlanta area. I had been asked to bring a Bible with me when I went to see her. So, when I got to my apartment, I grabbed an extra Bible, ran out the door, and started driving to see my friend.

As I drove out the gate, I did a quick mental check to make sure I had everything I needed for her.
Bible? Check.
Necklace? Ch…
…..dang.
You know how your mind can race through entire conversations in a single millisecond? Well, I had a whole, long conversation with myself about how I could just take her the necklace next time I saw her. But the Lord had asked me to take it to her now. Today. I went back and forth with myself – and Him – several times in that split second. But, of course, He won out in the end. So I made a U-turn, drove back through the gated entrance, ran up to the third floor, grabbed the necklace and looked at it…….

I stopped.

I nearly sank to the floor as I read the word, then, the verse.

The word was Love.

The verse was John 3:16.

In case you don’t know what that verse is, this is what it says: IMG_6127

“For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

I looked up and shouted, “Really?! THIS is the necklace You want me to give her?! The verse about how YOU lost Your only SON?!”

I couldn’t believe it. Never in a million years would I have picked this key for her, especially since she had just lost her only son. But, I’m not the one who can see the big picture here. He is. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to leave the necklace in my apartment and not give it to her. But, I know He had chosen that key for her long before I bought it, and I needed to do what He was asking me to do. So, I found John 3:16, placed the key in the Bible and took it with me.

I argued with myself – and God –  the whole way, but I knew what I had to do.

I walked into the house, found my friend and gave her a huge hug. We talked for a few minutes. I opened the Bible, then I held up the key necklace and reminded her that the Bible, and all it represented, was the key to her getting through this tragedy and the necklace was a reminder of that fact. In my head I kept praying, “Don’t read the necklace. Please don’t read the necklace.” And, thankfully, to my knowledge, she didn’t. At least not while I was there. But, I think even if she had looked at it, she would have understood the meaning of it and been ok. God would have made sure of it.

A few days later, my friends and I went to the funeral service. It was beautiful. Several people spoke about her son and what they remembered most about him. One of the last people to speak, was the father of her son’s best friend. He had a lot of wonderful things to say. And, boy, could that man preach! But the last thing he spoke about was John 3:16….

I can’t tell you much about what he said after that because I was so shocked that he quoted the very same verse that was on the necklace. It was, for me, confirmation from God that I had done the right thing by giving her the necklace. Even though it was not what I would have done, it was what He wanted done.

I have to believe that the necklace was a comfort to her. I was told it had been the night I gave it to her. But I hope it continues to be a source of hope and comfort, because the death of a child isn’t something she will ever get over.

Don’t ever put off doing what He asks you to do. If you do, you could be denying someone a source of comfort they could never get from someone else. And, it could come from something as simple as a necklace. You never know what God will use to console another.

Oh, and by the way, it turned out that if I hadn’t taken the necklace with me that day, I wouldn’t have seen my friend until the funeral, several days later. So, obey Him when He asks you to do something. His timing is always perfect and best.

Personal Note: Thank you to my friend S.C. for granting permission to publicly publish this part of her personal story. I love and miss you daily. I’m so glad to know that God is keeping you safe and helping you heal. It makes my heart happy to hear that you continue to grow closer to Him, and that the key has a special place in your heart.

He Continues to Amaze

The fact that God cares about me and the every day minutia of my life isn’t anything new to me. I’ve known this for a while now. As I stated in a previous blog post, I can look back and see where He has guided me one way or another. But what continues to amaze me – BIG time – is just HOW He brings things together. Things that some will say is coincidence, but for those of us who Believe, it’s just another one of His ways of saying, “I’ve got this.”

Today, I had to go to the Unemployment Office. I needed to update some information I had originally put in a form. When my name was called, I went to talk to the young woman at the desk who would answer my questions. After finding out what I needed, she lead me to a computer, logged me in and showed me where I needed to update the information. Before she left, I asked her a few questions that I had wondered about, but hadn’t planned on asking, like what I should do about the fact that I am having to scrounge for places to apply to for a job. I told her there were only so many places needing a graphic artist/designer at the moment. After she gave me her best answer, she turned to leave and I went back to updating my information. But then I heard a man ask her a question…about me. She, as an employee of the Department of Labor, couldn’t legally answer any of his questions about me directly, but by this time, I had turned around and was answering anyway. When she saw that she was no longer needed, she smiled and left. The man rolled his chair over to sit beside me.

Now, get this… This is just how awesome God is.

This man didn’t work at the office, he is, himself, unemployed. And yet, he came over and offered to try and help ME find a job. He told me he has contacts in the printing industry, IN NASHVILLE – where I will be moving in a few days – and would probably be able to get my resume in the hands of several different companies that need graphic artists. When I told him what I used to do, and the magazines I used to help produce, he knew exactly where I had worked, and even called the name of someone we both knew. So, this guy is legit.

When I finished my update a minute or two later, he was gone. I didn’t see him anywhere. I walked outside to my car and said a prayer of thanks to the One who loves me enough to care about the small things in my life and put someone in my path who may be able to get me a job. At the very least this man gave me a bit of encouragement.

Our God is an AWESOME God, isn’t He?! If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve had a few weeks now to look back and figure out where you can see His fingerprints on your life. I hope you can find them in your life. He’s there, in the every day details of your life. You just have to look.

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Decision Made!

So, the date has been set, and barring any changes from the moving company, I will be back HOME in three weeks! I never thought about being in Atlanta this long. For the last 6 years, at least, I’ve thought I would be moving home ‘soon’. But it just never seemed to happen. But finally, after 14 years, 7 months and 24 days, (…but who’s counting?!), God has allowed me to move. I’ve ‘graduated’ as my best friend says. Apparently I have done all He needed me to do and learn here and my next ‘growth spurt’ will occur in a new place.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about what God has in store for me. I have no idea what it is, or what it entails, but I am so ready for it! A new job with new opportunities to learn and grow, new people to meet…Wow! Awesome!!

What I’m not looking forward to, however, is trying to find a new church home. It will be impossible to even come close to finding what I have here in a church. But I need to look at finding that new church home as an adventure. One that I should look forward to. Stepping outside my comfort zone, making myself go somewhere new isn’t something I do easily. But it will mean finding new leaders and teachers who will help me continue my walk with God. But I know without finding a new church, my life as I have come to know it, will become stagnant. And that is something I can not let happen.

Life without hearing from my Heavenly Father would be unbearable. When you’re used to hearing from Him on a somewhat regular basis, it can be unnerving when you don’t hear from Him. When I lost my job, I figured I would move home, but it wasn’t a guaranteed thing. I waited and listened for His voice to tell me what He wanted me to do. But it never came. I didn’t want to make this decision on my own. I wanted to do what He wanted me to do, but I wanted Him to TELL me what to do. So, I sat and listened. But I didn’t hear that Voice as I had before. I never actually heard Him say, “Move home” like I thought I would. Like I wanted to. That would have been too easy, I suppose. So, I had to rely on His gentle, guiding ways of letting me know what to do. You might call them signs… I don’t know how else to describe it. The signs varied, everything from hearing Bluegrass music and feeling a yearning for home that I hadn’t had in years, to someone telling me I reminded them of the woman stuck on her roof in a flood who refused all help because she was ‘waiting on the Lord to help her’, (which, I wasn’t THAT stubborn about it!), to the anxiety I felt about even applying for a job in Georgia, to finally, the peace that moving home was the right decision to make. It took an agonizing three weeks for the peace to come. But come, it did. And now I can say with all certainty that moving home to be closer to my family is the best and only decision that I could have made.

I will miss a lot of things about Georgia, but nothing here can compare to being in God’s Will for your life and knowing that it coincides with what you want. I am ready to walk in my destiny, where ever that may lead.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk in your destiny? God has a destiny just for you. One that is for no one else in this world. It is uniquely yours, and you, and only you, can fulfill the destiny He has for you. All you have to do is ask Him what He wants you to do. He’ll tell you. A lot of people don’t ask because they’re scared to know. They’re afraid they’ll be sent to Africa or some other far away land. And, yes, that is a possibility. But you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. So, you have to start living a Christian life and be open to all it means before He will call you to something big. He won’t call you to do something He hasn’t prepared you to do. Change, especially as a Christian, is a constant thing. He will mold you into what He wants you to be. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s painful. But you will never be the same. But it will be an exciting journey from the first day, until your last.

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” ~ John 15:2-6

Go ahead. Ask Him what He wants you to do. I dare ya. You’ll never be the same.

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Warne Riker Photography | 2013   •   http://www.wrikerphoto.com

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