Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning to Change

Change is relentless.

Change requires even MORE lists to make. Constantly. Quickly.
Things TO DO.
Things MUST DO.
     Things NOT DONE.

Lists for
Next week.

I could write a book – IF I had more time. Which I don't and that is just as well: my readers who are also givers of care, would not have time to read the book. IF I found time to write the book.

Cut to the chase.

Fortunately, my foray into caregiving began uniquely: I RECEIVED the care.
Let me tell you, in case you don’t know: when a major health challenge strikes and you are tagged IT, life changes. When, suddenly, you are the one who cannot so much as get to the bathroom alone, your entire belief system changes. About everything. Drastically. Totally.

I did get well. Even at 76 years old, my health improved. WOW. A new chance to live life again.

By the summer of 2013, however, quiet warnings screamed that my husband’s health was going into big changes. Impaired vision. Stiff fingers. Weak legs. Hearing gone. My experience as the receiver of care had gifted me with new eyes so I embarked on a secret campaign to prepare.
I stepped back from myself and observed my days, routines, tasks, actions, and chores. I carefully considered how we used our time and I calculated our activities, schedules, and appointments. I paid attention to my husband’s actions, habits, movements, activities, and interests. I studied the layout of our home. I observed the flow of people and activities as we went about the act of daily living and as family and friends visited. I had the freedom to see, in advance, that the peaceful, easy, “normal” life we had enjoyed for twelve years on the hill would not stay the same.
My goals were simple:
Enable my husband to maintain his dignity.
Find joy in our adjusted daily living.
Create a safe environment.
Keep him at home.
Please note: I did not claim that my goals were EASY. Only basic.

Over the next year, the changes began in earnest. I studied my notes, cleaned out closets, assessed space. My husband began, voluntarily, to turn over to me first one household task and then another. Last winter, I began an immediate frontal attack on all my TO DO things. I had to find - - - 
Easier ways
How to work smart
Step / Energy / Time savers

Yes, I admit it. At 78 years of age, I did time studies. Even I was surprised at how much can be done while the microwave heats one cup of coffee. Thirty whole seconds. I tamed bed making, kitchen chores, and laundry by learning what can be done in a matter of minutes. 

It is my firm belief that all of us can and should benefit from sharing life lessons learned the hard ways. Caregiving will never be easy. Even for the strong ones. The physical, emotional, and spiritual drains are beyond understanding until you walk in that particular, difficult, and unique moccasin.  

There are little things, daily things, surprising things that do make the journey easier. I will share some of my experiments on this page. We who provide care are a sisterhood--sometimes inhabited by brothers--and we can benefit from sharing our lessons. 

I will not jump into the raging waters of financial, agency, government, insurance help. There are sites for those things and the trip through the mess can be vicious.  

I will, however, share shortcuts and encouragement, and prayers.

FIRST: Three LITTLE things that HELPED. In BIG ways.

1.     Laundry baskets on wheels

Inexpensive. Air Vents. Lightweight. Handle. Wheels. Available at most box stores.
No lifting required. Just wheel them into the bedroom, pitch laundry baskets around, sit on a stool that doesn't hurt old knees,  and sort laundry. Saves amazing time and my strength.

2. Drying Frames

Lightweight. Easily folded to store in closet.
For all those delicates that will shrink or pile or fuzz in the dryer.
Wish I had done this years ago.
Inexpensive. Found mind at Amazon  

3. Atomic Clock

Gradually replacing all our clocks with this fabulous, new-fangled, atomic clock.
Works PERFECT. Changes itself when there is a time change.
Knows WHEN  to change.
Now I don't have to climb on a chair and struggle and do contortions to keep us on schedule.
 Ahhhh, sweet. Twenty bucks at Walmart !!!

Thank you for stopping by.

Please share with those you know who provide care to loved ones. My ideas, hints, words, prayers are small but posted with faith, encouragement, hugs, and love.

I have absolutely no understanding of how God's goodness and mercy work or why God heard my cry just as he heard King David's.  I do know, for sure, that His Word is true.


“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple
he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. . . . .

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” 
Psalm 18.  6 & 16. NLT

L i z

Monday, November 9, 2015

Of Fireplaces and Traditions

 It was a glowing idea.  I did not need an alternative two years ago when my husband's endurance and health required him to stop bringing in wood and building our fires. I picked up the slack. We are a team. 

Local son kept firewood on our porch and several times a week, with my trusty pull-along, even on shivery cold days I could bring wood indoors and stack it next to the fireplace.


Under my husband's watchful eye and patient suggestions, every evening I built our fires.
All winter. We love our evening fires. Addicted might be the better word.

This year, it is now too much for me. Too much to lug, lift, shovel, squat, stoop, bend, lift, lug. Too much. I can't do it.
Okay, I said; no more wood fires.
Oh, I know: I will have a candle place. 

For days, I planned, thought, pondered, and decided yes! I must have something to flicker and glow.

Today was the day. I went to work with joy. One lone and charred log remained from the last fire we had just before Spring. I tossed it into the back yard and sang as I polished the glass doors, measured strips of aluminum foil, and cleaned candle holders.

I thought and arranged. Stepped back to assess. Rearranged and moved candles and assorted holders back and forth. Finally. Yes.

For the final touch, I added my collection of sea shells. I filled the floor of the fireplace, between all the glowing lights, with beloved treasures I had gathered and collected through many years. Shells from Texas beaches in Galveston, Rock Port, Corpus, and South Padre; from the white sands in Jacksonville, N.C.; from a memorable beach inTampa, Fl. and one in Charleston, SC. 

Perfect. Beautiful. I sighed deeply.  No, not the same as a blazing wood fire, but this is fine. I struck a long match and quickly the candle place glowed and flickered.

What? Did you say something about pride?  ... a fall???? 

Within an hour, one large candle melted down its center core and spilled all over the floor of the fireplace. At least that aluminum foil idea paid off.  I cleaned up the wax, added a few tall tapers, and surveyed. Okay.  Maybe . . .

Less than ten minutes, my tall, expensive tapers burned down to a figment of my imagination. No way could I keep the candles glowing all winter. Night after night. The town would run out of candles before New Year's Eve. 
I swallowed hard and quickly busied myself in the kitchen, clearing away the evening meal.
Still undone, I went to the laundry room. Sounds are muted there. I grabbed a few things to wash and as the washing machine roared to life, my tears started.
I cried. Hard.
Yes, I am ashamed. I am painfully aware that I am blessed beyond measure  with loved ones, with a safe, warm house, food to eat, and that I am still able to take care of my family and our home.  I give thanks, daily, for blessings upon blessings. But, I cried.
So many changes.
So many things we will never do again.
So many people already gone.
Stories still untold, trains not ridden.
A book not written.
Gardens that soon will not be tended.
Fireplaces that will not blaze a welcome.
Writers who no longer gather, warm their hands, and read their words.
Even as I asked forgiveness, the tears gushed.
It is just a silly tradition. It is just a fireplace. Its just a silly crackle and glow and flicker.

Yet, it is more. It is change. That cannot be reversed.

They say a wise woman knows when to give in. 

Tomorrow I will clean out the candle place, throw away the aluminum foil, and shut the glass door.
I will find a pretty, colorful, and large arrangement to set next to a comfy pillow on the hearth. 

I dried my tears and retrieved the piece of burned and charred wood from our last fire that I had carelessly tossed aside. I took it to the front rock garden and it will lie in state next to the piece of driftwood Gus and I picked up the last time we were on the beach. 
We did not know it was our last time.
Those two pieces of slowly rotting wood will remind me to make an intentional effort to pay attention and cherish even the mundane things. Even through the hard days. And I will smile more.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blessings 3 Plus MANY

       I'm thirty-one days into my 78th year and after all those birthdays, you would think friends and familywould say, "Boring. That's a lot of birthdays. Let's find something more fun to celebrate."

      But, guess what?? I was blessed with a delightful birthday. This post will be boring and non-spectacular to most folks, but this is my blessing list so I'll write it down anyway!!

      My son called first. "Hi, Mom." 
And he was immediately the Fern Creek High School Marine Jr. ROTC Drill Team shouted, "Happy birthday, Master Gun's Mom. Yeaaaaaaa."

     Then my daughter grinned and said, "You HAVE to open this, Mom. NOW!"

Gift from my Daughter. The one with special needs.
The one who can't drive. The one who had to make specific and special plans.
The one who had to ask for help. The one who spent an hour in the store searching for the
perfect gift from her to me.
An angel. On a swing.
A hundred blessings wrapped up in one.

Next, the doorbell rang. Flowers from my son's family.
His delightful wife chose a flower arrangement that would keep on giving.
A dried wreath. Bright, colorful.
A new blessing every day when I walk into my dining room.

Another door bell. OH MY !!!
Flowers from my husband's first granddaughter and family.
The one who chose to allow me to be her Memaw.
The one who brings joy and delight and smiles and surprises
and who shares her life and her family with so many.
I'll bring out the Happy Birthday vase for each of our family's birthdays.
A blessing that will give over and over.

On my birthday evening,
my husbands son and his wife, who live down the road,
invited the three of us to their home to celebrate my birthday with a family dinner.
A delicious meal, made to order with laughter, hugs, visiting.
To be celebrated by my "step kids" blesses me every day.

And, to ensure my birthday did not stop with the delicious meal,
that special family sent these flowers home with me.
A month later, the yellow blooms are still spectacular.

Even though I am just today finally finishing this blessings post, last Thursday was, technically, the last day of my 78th birthday celebration. My writer pals took me to lunch. Local Italian. We spent about 90 minutes talking, praying, crying, sharing, and laughing together.

I am blessed. Many times over. May it be also with you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blessing Two

There are days when I simply have no energy to think of blessings to count. There are days when I cannot find my smile. There are days . . . . well, you probably know what I mean. Sick or exhausted or over whelmed by the to-do list.

That's when I forget to say or think or whisper

Tuesday was one of those days.
      I dragged out of bed at 7 a.m. to help Daughter get ready for her twice a week school for special needs adults. While she dressed, I poured another cup of coffee, looked at the day's schedule, and sighed.  Maybe it was more like a growl. My ole Restless Legs had kept me up, litterally most of the night and a fierce pain pounded in my head. 

      Daughter came in, dressed for her day and a special outing the school had planned. Sunshine filled the kitchen and I could only mumble 'thank you, thank you, oh my thank you'.
My beautiful Gift, dressed for Living Well College class outing
in the school's new tee shirt.

Thank you, Father, that you chose me to be the mother of this remarkable and beautiful and delightful woman who must struggle for the smallest of daily activities but who never gives up. Thank you for the sunshine and joy and abundant love she adds to every single one of my days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today, my soul is that little hummingbird getting free, life-sustaining nourishment just by drinking from the pen of Gratitude. After all, He provided the nectar; all I have to do is drink. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thanksgivings Begin Again

Ten months ago I stopped taking time to write down my praises and thanksgivings. I stopped putting them into print.
Why?  I bowed to the dailyness of life. My caregiver role increased and my time and energy decreased. Gradually, I picked up my pen less and less.

Oh well, my thankful spirit is fairly natural and relatively strong so, if I thought about it at all, I’m sure I assumed I could keep my grateful heart without INTENTIONALLY LISTING thanksgivings. You know:  in writing.

My husband's health quickly spiraled downward and my adult daughter with special needs went through a period of additional health challenges.

I was IT.
      Time evaporated.

I don't think I stopped being grateful; there was just too much to do.
Oh ---- and, I am no longer young. Or strong. Or healthy.
The pressure, the stress, the endless to-dos bore down on me. Excuses took hold. Suddenly I got seriously, physically ill.

In addition, I felt, emotionally, just like that old house on our property:

Empty. Dilapidated. Decaying. Weather worn., Forgotten.
The old house surrounded by bare trees and dry weeds and the
old barn that is literally falling down.

It sits alone with nobody to care or repair or visit or water its dead grass.

Yesterday, while sitting in a dark pit, exhausted, I clicked aimlessly through the internet and stumbled (! ? ! ?) onto Shari Dacon's blog on: Writing One Thousand Gifts.
I read. And reread. And remembered.
I found my pen.
     The words flowed like a gushing well. Words of praise and thanksgiving. More. And more.
I wrote each blessing. Intentionally. Many blessings.
    Those many but little repairs and those big projects that God had continued to do.
            All that nourishment for my soul.
                     Those sunsets and gorgeous moons.
                          Those countless loving things our children do to help, to care, to water.
All those mundane life-sustaining blessings our family pours onto us.
            All those thoughtful gestures and prayers offered by friends.

Things that my Holy Father sends to me.
To my family.
To my care receivers.

Today, I smile. 

And I keep going.

And I will continue to write them down.
I will post my blessings. Hopefully others will be encouraged.

“I’m grateful. I am blessed.”

                       Do you write your blessings?

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will PRAISE you forever; from generation to generation we will PROCLAIM your praise.    (Psalm 79:13)

Love from Liz

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shrove... What ???

On this Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday, I share with you my meditations as I prepare for Lent and that sweet time to fully embrace Easter morning.

 It is nice that my grandson is a minister.
        He is young.
                I am old.
                      I taught him about life things and things of the Lord.
                               He teaches me scholarly things and things of the Spirit.

         Last week, said young man posted new [ to me ] information on Face Book about Shrove Tuesday. Intriguing.  Oh yes, I “knew” the word, but not the meaning. I spent considerable time on the website he listed  For a couple of nights, I prayed myself to sleep with things of praise, confession, forgiveness, and celebration buzzing around my mind.

I believe it is good to ponder and remember and practice ancient things.
My interest and confusion grew. Which led me to 

There I learned new [to me] things about old practices. I read:

“Shrove Tuesday is the day of preparation for Lent, that is, the day before Ash Wednesday. The name shrove is derived from the word “shrive.” It is therefore the day when the faithful confess their sins in preparation for the holy fast of Lent. The meaning of this day was explained in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes translated from Theodulphus by Abbot Aelfric c.1000 A.D who declared that the week immediately before Lent ‘everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance].’ So shrovetide is primarily religious, and the same is true of the German Fastnacht (the eve of the fast). “

I find no biblical mandate requiring Christians to observe Shrove Tuesday, but the history of the Christian church is rich with ancient and enduring concepts that are integral parts of today’s worship practices, in both liturgical and no-liturgical churches as believers bow down and/or raise hands in worship before the One Triune God.

Such as: Praise:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. Amen. 

Such as: Confession:
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.    James 5:16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Such as: Celebration
Rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:11

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Such as: Feasting
 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Luke 15:24

          No, our family does not dine on stacks of pancakes and bacon in order to use up the last of the sugars, eggs, fats, and dairy that were traditionally prohibited during the fasting of lent. And, as I yearn to dwell in the House of my Lord, I wonder if the simple act of serving pancakes with bacon at supper might spark a conversation that will help us enter Lent in a more meaningful way.
          Truth be told, my particular family will not sup on pancakes. We don’t do wheat well. We control our sugar intake—as much as we love that larapin delicious, good ole Maple Syrup. Butter is consumed only in regulated amounts and bacon is almost non-existent in our modern, senior citizen diet.
          However, tonight as we partake of a healthy salad we will celebrate God’s remarkable love; we will remember His Grace, practice cleansing, offer confession, and accept forgiveness.

Tonight, I will end my day contemplating things I can do or change or not do in order to offer thanks and praise to my Lord Jesus Christ during the precious days of Lent.

I pray that your Shrove Tuesday blessed you.
                                That His love surrounded you.
                                               That you found Grace and Mercy at the 
                           Throne of our Living God.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Looking at Dirty Dishes in a New Way

              It’s my mother’s fault. Back about 70 years ago, she began to teach me to ‘do it now’ and to never leave a sink full of dirty dishes. Great teacher. Hard lessons. Because....

·       There are days that try the souls of old ladies.
·       There are times when one more step seems impossible.
·       There are hours when the tears are barely contained behind itchy, tired eyelids.

          Of course, I can only speak for this old lady. So, while the house is settled I sneak off to my little office. It is where I do some serious prayer/thinking/contemplating/pondering. My knurled fingers click as thoughts congeal and I remember.

Jesus has my back.

          I stop to review a few of Paul’s powerful and life-sustaining words.

If you are like me, you probably know the words I'm talking about “by heart.” But I read them again anyway. You know the ones…. Over in the book of Romans, all the way to the 8th chapter, and keep going to the very end verses: 38 and 39.
          The first reading in old faithful King James wasn’t enough so I checked the words out in The Living Bible, in J.B. Phillips New Translation, and in The Message.


 How do I forget such MEGA love & power & absoluteness & might & CERTAINTY ??

Oh! Because I am a normal, run-of-the-mill, weak, sinful, human.

But, OH, JOY!!! Even my forgetting can keep God’s love away.

 Not big things or bad things or those little daily things—that irritating pebble in the shoe things—those knife in the heart things.

With apologies to Paul, there are even more THINGS that absolutely will NEVER keep God from loving or forsaking me.

·                 a sink-full of dirty dishes
·                 over-flowing dirty laundry bins
·                 income tax / number crunching time for this word person
·                 a day filled with doctors’ appointments on a bitterly cold day with drizzling rain
·                 lifting the walker out of the car for the fifth time in one day

Jesus doesn’t go away even when the ragweed and cedar and mold allergens rage and makes my body ache and cough and not sleep.

No, our Master and King did not promise a perfect life without heartache, trials, burdens. I don’t pretend to grasp His authority, the fullness of His being the beginning and the end. I can’t begin to comprehend His sovereignty.

          Step by Step
          Mile by Mile
          Trial by Trial

He makes it abundantly clear that

Y       I am His child &
Y       He cares for me &
Y       He keeps me going &
Y       He listens and He hears &
Y       Provides surprises at every painful turn.

I pray diligently that we will watch for and SEE God’s gifts, especially in the hard stuff.
    Blessings and Hugs