Knit and Pray

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Care Giver Gets Care

I knew it would happen.
         I dreaded it.
It is now necessary.
        I whined and complained and worried. Mostly to my Heavenly Father who listens patiently to ALL my aggravations and fears.
        When I had to stand at the window for extra light to read fine print, I caved.
ALRIGHT  !!    OKAY   !!

I am always amazed (do not ask me why….’cause I’m a frail human I guess) that God handles so much for me. Most nights I stand in the shower at the end of a long day of being in charge of everything for everybody and I begin to cry. Before I can get out a really good sob, I begin to offer praises to my Father. Things that were amazing and awesome during the day jump to mind and I give thanks. So, before I realize what has happened, I am calm and head to bed feeling protected and loved. Even when things around me are painful, sad, hurtful somehow I know He cares. Even when I’m very made at God because my friend’s husband’s cancer is not healed. Obviously God has very broad shoulders and is absolutely forgiving.

Yes, I know that it seems I am on a “rabbit trail.” Be patient.

        How, I asked myself a couple of thousand times, can I possible have a cataract procedure when I am responsible for my household? I’m the only driver, lifter, doer, fixer, encourager, director. (Yes, I hate being the “strong one” but that’s our situation so I deal with it!!)

          First, my friend of 40+ years called to tell me about her DOUBLE cataract procedure. Piece of cake, she PROMISED. Blow by blow description; excited that it was so easy, that she was not nervous, was not aware of anything, and that she could SEE again. She promised the eye doctor is the best anywhere. My friend promised to do all my transportation, stay with me, watch over me, and deliver me back home. She promised to begin praying for my peace immediately.

Okay. It was some better.

Second, a younger writer friend sent me a happy e-mail assuring me that my eye doctor is WONDERFUL. She and the doctor are close friends and she trusts the doctor completely.

Okay. So I make the appointment.

Not too bad. I meet the doctor. WOW. My jitters simply melted. The doctor said the second eye is ready and should be done in two weeks. I grinned and said, “Let’s do it!!”

         In twenty-four house, my faithful friend of 40+ years will pick me up at my door and we will ride off to my great adventure together. I really can trust her because, believe me, we have been through thick and thin, well and sick, bad and good, births and deaths. We have held onto each other and each of us holds tightly to our Holy Father. All IS well.

           I’ve laid in enough groceries for three weeks for us people and for the cat, dog, birds, and hummingbirds. All our prescriptions are ordered and ready to pick up today to last through the time I can’t drive. All my eye appointments are organized, I’m on schedule with eye drops, the laundry is almost finished. I even filled the car with gas so when I can drive, it will be ready.

HOWEVER !!
There is one big problem for this old, sat-in-my-ways, Busy Person.

            After each procedure, I am to spend the remainder of that day ‘just laying around, being quiet and still.’ The second day, I am to take it easy. HUH??????????

            How do I do that if I can’t see the TV, my iPad, read e-mails, check FaceBook, read one of the five books on my night stand, or type on my computer. ??????????

Well, I guess I’ll discover patience at work.

            I will be honest though. Many hospital visits have not been great experiences for me so I deeply appreciate your prayers for safety and two successful procedures. Routinely, I claim the promise below from Hebrews of for many friends who are being dragged through rough mountains. I am claiming the promise for me over the next three weeks.

Sunshine blessings and Love,
   Liz

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us
in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)


        




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Physician Priest at our Door

just a flimsy plastic cup . . . . and we received.

            This past Sunday started out like most of our Sundays over the past ten months or so.
No public church service.
No Holy Communion.

Husband is up, like clockwork, about eight. Daughter is up soon after. I am up anywhere from four a.m. until 11 a.m., depending on the ole Restless Legs Syndrome and/or prescribed medications.
            All week, every week, I’m it: cook, chief bottle-washer, chauffeur. I must be up early most days to get one or another of us to one or another appointment, mostly medical and to keep our bodies and souls together.
            Every Saturday night I say to myself,Self, we WILL get up in the morning and make it to church.”
            On the Saturday night before every First Sunday, I say to me, “ME, now let’s pray.” As the shower stings my back with hot, healing water, I beg, “Holy Father, we so need to receive Communion. It is offered tomorrow at our church. Please help me to wake up, be alert, and have energy to dress, and to get the three of us ready and into the car in time to worship.”
            I am certain that He hears my prayers even as the noise of the shower drowns out my wails, cries, pleas, and thanksgivings. I cannot provide an answer as to why my prayers are not answered… in the way I desire!! I don’t know why, even with deep, fervent praying, that my legs get crazier on Saturday nights than most other nights. I have not a clue as to why my body/mind/spirit seems to collapse when I finally get a day to rest. I crave worship with other believers. I ache to lift my voice in song with a choir and a piano and an organ. I hunger after communion.
            Oh my, yes, I am positive that the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior never leaves me….whether I physically get TO a church or whether I receive communion every day, once a year, or not at all.
Yet.
He left instructions for me to pray.
He left instructions for me to gather together to worship.
He left instructions for me to eat the bread and drink the wine.
Until He comes again.

There is something connective/life sustaining/soul enlarging when I:
            Lift my voice in song in His Sanctuary
            Greet and hug and bless other believers
            Kneel at the altar beneath His rugged cross
            Eat the broken bread and drink the red wine.

Well. Don’t you know??? Life changes. Things happen.

I try to remember that I keep life and soul and heart in order when I:

  •  sing in my car.
  •  pray in my shower or when resting in the green chair in my sun room.
  •  praise as I load the dishwasher or fold clothes fresh out of the dryer.
  •  cook healthy meals and serve up interesting plates.
  •  drive Daughter to School for Disabled Adults and we talk.
  •  pile Husband into the car for an outing.
  •  dig in the dirt and watch plants thrive.
  •  prepare communion for God’s helpless hummingbirds all summer: by the gallons: fill and re-fill.
           
Then this past Sunday afternoon, our church saw our need.

The young woman knocked on our door.
        She was not in robes.
              Not an ordained minister.
Several years ago she was our family physician. Her knowledge and touch healed our bodies.
After that, we were friends, greeting each other with hugs.

This Sunday afternoon one of her three daughters comes, too. "Seven years old, almost eight,” the child whispers, dark blond hair falling over beautiful eyes.


         The mother / physician / friend / servant carries only a small black box. She sits on our couch. “Bear with me.” She smiles. “This is my first time to serve our Lord’s Meal.”
          She reads John 3:16.                                            
She prays.      
            We join hands, around our stained, scarred, beat-up, 30-year-old coffee table.
            We lift our voices TOGETHER in the old-fashioned words of His Prayer.
                        Our Father, who art in heaven……
     Kristi hands my husband a tiny crumb of bread.
            “Gus, this is the Body of Christ, broken for you.”
      Then she gives him a plastic cup…the kind of cup a nurse gives you filled with pills.
       With a medicine dropper, our Doctor ‘poured’ wine into the tiny cup.
            “Gus, this is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
His fingers, stiff with age and arthritis struggles to get the tiny piece of bread to his mouth and the tiny, flimsy plastic cup to his lips.
            Then the crumb of bread and sip of wine to Liz.
                        And to my daughter, Melinda.

Our friend says a prayer and we all say, “Amen.”
           Tears wet my face; I thank Kristi.
She hugs each of us. She smiles. “I’ll come every First Sunday. And I’ll bring a different daughter each time.”

This past Sunday
            there was no Silver Chalice.
            no linen cloth covered a loaf of bread.
            the organ did not ring out the Doxology.
            the Cross did not sparkle with sanctuary lights
Our Priest did not wear a robe.

Yet, our family received.
            We worshipped
                        We ate the bread.
                              We drank the wine.                                                 

                                    We gave thanks            

It is well with my soul.
        
May it also be well with you.


    With love,
         Liz

                                                                                                               Luke 22:19-20
He took bread, gave thanks
and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.”
 In the same way, after the supper
he took the cup, saying,
 “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
 which is poured out for you.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blessings of a Fractioned Day

     I love walking. My preference is to briskly walk on a sidewalk, up and down, around and back through the neighborhood. But, these days my walks are on my treadmill and that's okay.
   
     When solitary walks are by choice, it is exhilarating, delicious. Enjoying the cool of the evening, quietness, sweetness of life. Pondering, rejoicing. Wondering. Singing. Remembering. Laughing.

Then, there are times the walk is lonely. The road is hidden. Dark. Tedious. Solitary.



     I'm learning to let that be okay, also. Even though some well-meaning and loving friends tell me, "Ask for help." "Take care of yourself." "You can't do it all."

     Well. What happens at 10 p.m. and the mover/shaker/care-giver gets a splinter in the right thumb?? Who do you call?

     The funny thing is that there is no one in my household who could get it out at high noon. And, believe me, it is laughable to look up and see yourself in the mirror trying to take out a sticker!!!

Some of my days, recently, had been dark and solitary and difficult.

     I really did pray long and hard about my last post. Perhaps it was more for myself than for most of my readers. While some of it might be for those who walk similar care-giver journeys, it was basically a somber read.

Then.

The day dawns when you realize, "Wow. It IS all up to me!!!"
The day blasts when you know that there is no one else.





Man! I'm IT, baby !!!



        That understanding can either set you free ---- or slap you into your own mental prison. I do not like the thought of a prison.

     Do you remember a TV commercial from oh so many years ago when the young mom, exhausted and obviously fighting a terrible headache slams the kitchen cupboard, grits her teeth, and hisses, "Please Mother, I can do it myself!!" Some instant pain headache reliever, as I recall. I'm sad to admit that sometimes I treat my Holy Father that way.

     Last night, sleep would not come. The day had been pretty good and fruitful but long and I fell into bed with many things left undone. Finally, I snapped on the light (thankfully, my wonderful Dear Heart goes to sleep instantly and can sleep through anything), pulled out the book I chose to read during Lent.



The Praying Life Seeking God in All Things, by Deborah Smith Douglas.
Yep, I chose a heavy duty lesson to study. But, it had been good and over the weekend it was my great privilege to attend a day seminar to hear the author in person.








So, last night, after enough wiggling and squirming I got still and quiet and opened the book to where I had left off last Friday. Page 47. I picked up in the middle of a chapter. And God sat down beside me.



Ms Douglas writes of her own experience as a harried and sometimes too-busy-to-pray young mother. "The fractioning of my days is not likely to end any time soon. But perhaps--by a miracle of grace, by the grace of God--I can come to see myself not as meaninglessly disintegrated but as broken and given like bread, poured out like wine......"

I read it over and over. I cried. I found my trusty yellow highlighter and rubbed the words. I cried.

Providing care to my grown disabled daughter and to my beloved husband is, in some aspects, like those long ago days as a harried and too-busy-to-pray young mother. Except now I am old. With health issues of my own. But, last night I felt not alone and I slept.

Today, I worshiped as I tiptoed into another day of Lent, remembering what Jesus did for me. He does know all about my journey.




And I know that God's word is true. Because He said so. (Colossians 1:17) 
And, by the way, He is alive. Now.

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

He will even hold together the solitary life of this aging care-giver!!

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Love,
        Liz






Sunday, March 9, 2014

Busy Lent


And God said……

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31  (NIV)


Our house is relatively quiet these days. But we are B. U. S. Y.

We come and go    Get it done

Busy

Doing

Shuffling

B.  U.  S.  Y.

Oh. I said that.

Busy. Even though it is Lent. And winter hangs on.

  Easter has not dawned
We did attend Ash Wednesday services     Well, it was an evening service
 I could handle that. (Thank You, Father) Then . . . .

          Another day. Another grocery store run
          and Dishes into the dishwasher (thankful I don’t have to scrub each by hand)

          and Dirty clothes into the washing machine

Pick up prescriptions, drop off a bad hearing aid at the Fixer Place

Bring in wood

Make a fire


        
  Light candles after dinner    Just because

Get some rest, child

          Another daylight

    Beds made

     Gas in the car

    Load the walker into the car

          Run the car through the car wash

(thankful it doesn’t have to wait for me to do it myself)

Get some rest, child

          Everyone in bed, lights low, house softly creaks

Balance the checkbook            Call in prescriptions

 (thankful for telephone recording systems)

    and another load into the over-worked but faithful washing machine

             fill Dishwasher, again      it      quietly does its job

                    Night-lights turned on          Oops….rinse the sprouts
(just because I love green things on my counter and in our salads)

Okay, Father, now I am here.

          Silence

                    Finally       I sleep

Sunrise, mark days off the calendar     and buy ice cream-- just because

Sunset
 The house gets dark and it rests again. . . then it wakes and runs    then it rests

Father. Hi.

          Silence

                    Everywhere

                    No thunder    No lightening    No doors slam   

          If a tree falls in the forest, I don’t hear

Another day dawns       B. U. S. Y.

Then . . .

Father, I am here.
         

Daylight            Dirty clothes   Feed the dog,    the cat      the people


Smile, cook, share news, acknowledge birthdays, send e-mails                                

Encourage hurting others, bake molasses cookies, go to another funeral,
unload the walker      walk slowly and hold doors      smile
Re-load the walker       drive     talk about the life lived well

Check on all the far-off children/grands/greats

Truth be told, I expected a quiet revelation at the most

                    A loving whisper at the least

          Just silence         and      The quiet screams all around me

Father. It’s me        Again

          Silence

I sit           Ask for nothing             He does not reply



I go back     Again     
                                       And again

Cold      Silence

               And still     I     Return     

                                                 Again



When did I finally KNOW       . . . . . .   that He sat beside me

           When did the quietness wrap around me      Like a warm blanket

I ponder His sweet, amazing love      and       my     on-going human frailty

His love is greater than all my need

Now I can breathe

                     And carry on     All the things that are mine to do      Alone

     But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9


Monday, February 24, 2014

Farewell Old / Young 76 * * * * *

ENTER SEVENTY-SEVEN.

Wait. Hold it.

My 76 is not finished.

Ahhhhh. What a beautiful day.
I've enjoyed a number of sweet events during the last days of my seventy-sixth year as a real God-created human living on this earth. The first six months of my 76th year, I was still reeling from a life-changing illness that began during the last two months of that strange silver jubilee.

Well, into the life of everyone some rain falls, and all that.  So be it.

BUT. . . .

These days, I make myself STOP to relish, cherish, memorize, and enjoy moments. And to give thanks. The past few days have been full of those times. 

For the LAST time while I am SEVENTY-SIX, things I will never ever repeat while I am still 76:

  • Monday:
     I attended a writers’ meeting. !!! Those faithful writing ladies at Hill Country Women of Words always save a chair for me (and reading time) just in case I show up. I read an excerpt to them from a project I’m desperately working on to finish before my 77th year is done !!!! (worthy goal, don’t you think !!!) They, of course, gave me great reviews and cheers to carry on to completion.

  • Tuesday:
     Dear Heart & I had missed Valentine's Day this year, on purpose, so he took me to lunch a few days late to celebrate our Valentine memories…believe me, we have special ones: He proposed--with roses in hand--on Valentine's Day 2002, we walked on the beach in Sarasota, FL, and landed back on earth a few years later. We cherish remembering special days AND continue (YES, even old folks can create new special memories) to make new memories to celebrate.
               My Christmas Cactus is blooming like crazy. Gorgeous, beautiful, crimson blooms to knock your socks off. 


  • Wednesday:
    **Dear Heart, Daughter, and I all went to Darren's Hair Cut place for fresh haircuts. Together. At the same time.
    ** Then, all three of us got pedicures & manicures. Well, I got the additional french tips, but I'm the birthday girl, don't you see.
    ** Son called me from Louisville.


Ahhhhh. One of the good things in life. A grown son who calls his mom. A year ago when I was desperately ill for some 40 days, he called everyday for some four weeks when life was touch and go. Didn't miss a day. With all his responsibilities. Yes, I am blessed. Last Wednesday we chatted and shared while he walked Duke, the family faithful dog. Yes. Good things.

  • Thursday:

     **I am ashamed to admit that I actually forgot a lunch date with a precious friend. Can you imagine???? Well, give me a little credit (and, she gave me LOTS of forgiveness) several bad nights / busy days in a row. Being such a dear and long-time friend, she knew something had gone wrong when I didn't show up at our appointed time. She called, I cringed, she forgave and even brought hamburgers to my house--even an extra one for Dear Heart.

  • Friday:
     Sweet daughter-in-law gave me a to-die-for massage.

  • Saturday:
I left my two precious care-receivers at home for 4 hours while I attended a workshop at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. With her words, Mary Earle filled my heart, soul, and days with encouragement, enlightenment, and hope. I've ordered a few REAL books to further encourage me through this year's Lenten Journey. You know: books with paper pages on which I can mark, highlight, and dog-ear. (apologies, Grandson J.)
     ** Mary Earle's: Julian of Norwich: Selections from Revelations of Divine Love-Annotates & Explained.
     ** Greg Pennoyer: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter
     **Kathleen Norris: The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"

These selections should fill my 77 Lenten Journey. !!!

And now it is Monday. I'm still 76 years old. This week alone:
    ©     Dear Heart and I took time today to run errands. While we were out and about, I filled the car with gas and gave thanks we can afford to keep it running; we went through the car-wish and gave thanks I don’t have to hose it myself; I vacuumed all the dirt and gravel out of the inside and gave thanks for the heavy-duty vacuum that is easy for this OLD woman to handle; and back safe in our garage, I wiped all our windows with my magical e-cloths.
    ©     I made a CD, all by myself, that will play a video I made, all by myself, on my camera. wooo-hooooo
    ©     Saved $10.00 per month on my phone bill
    ©     Further organized my office to efficiently handle the latest responsibilities passed off from Dear Heart. He calls me his Best Secretary.
    ©     Served a delicious soup and cornbread supper on the lovely new dishes Daughter K. gave me for Christmas.

 

None of my little, daily, end of a year, things are earth-shattering or even life-changing. I just know that life goes on and that it feels good to stop to remember and to give thanks.
So, when you wake up in the morning, you will find this, the last words I penned while I was yet SEVENTY-SEVEN. I was born in 1937. On the 25 (2+5=…. Yes 7). Somehow, I am eager to experience what a whole years of SEVENS will produce.

Therefore, dear friends, I am convinced that it is a good thing to stop, think, remember, make note, and high-light special moments, days, events. Life speeds by faster than most of us can even think. Life is good. Rich. Sweet. God planned it like that way back in the Garden days. I believe it is important, regardless of our birthday numbers, to continue to take stock, remember, celebrate, and yes: CHERISH the gifts God provides day after day, year in and year out. In sickness and in health.

                    Until He calls us Home.

Pending that  day – REJOICE. I say again, REJOICE.

Of one thing I am certain:
          My Holy Father’s love and presence and forgiveness is faithful. Always.


Even to your old age and gray hairs I am HE,
I am HE who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Blessings and Hugs,
                    Liz