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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rivers In The Wasteland



What amazing things have happened in the span of one week.

After I posted about the "winds of change",  it felt like there was a major shift in the atmosphere and the ball has started rolling.

We have stayed quiet and prayerful, watching and waiting.  

Using your faith can be scary.   

When God speaks something to you, there's always the temptation to question and say, "What if this is all in my head?"

What if this is just something our flesh wants?

What if we tell others and its a huge fail?

Stepping out into the unknown is exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying all at the same time.

And yet we've taken the first steps.

Over and over I feel like God has been talking to me about streams in the desert.  Rivers in the wasteland.

Only God can do this thing for us.   It is impossible in the natural.  

But with God all things are possible.






 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Winds of Change




I just posted something not too long ago, talking about the life I never expected and all of the changes that we have been through these past few years.

And once again, just when I begin to settle into a rhythm of what feels a bit like rest, I am sensing big changes ahead.

I recently read an article that was talking about what happens when God begins to deal with you about something.

It said:

The response requires change.

God’s beckoning always requires a response and almost always requires a change in our life.

This is why we try to ignore Him, because change is the last thing we want to do. One thing for sure, the reward of obedience is far better than staying where you’re at.


I so want the reward of obedience, and I don't necessarily want to stay where I am at.  And so as hard as it is to think about more change, I find myself a bit excited at what God is going to do next.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Momma Said This Would Happen - Precious Memories 18


My body is loathing zippers, buttons, and seams 
I find myself wishful gazing at elastic waist jeans 
I’m sweaty and hot, who turned up the heat? 
I’m bloated and swollen and just want to eat. 
I wake up exhausted
Want to spend my days nappin’ 
Why am I surprised? 
Momma said this would happen. 
                                     (***original by Yours Truly – CafĂ© Lily)
 

Oh, how she would laugh, if she could hear me now.

Moaning and groaning as I try to get up from the floor. Popping and cracking, creaking and squeaking.

Kneecap locked in place, at a weird angle. From mopping the bathroom floor?

Whose body is this anyway?

My middle age body is betraying me, and Mom was right. She said this would happen.

She would gloat just a little right now if she were here. Teasing me, laughing with me (not at me). She’d be amused to see her “baby” hitting this time of life.

  (one of the last notes my mom wrote to me........)


When I hit 30?

Now that was a rough birthday. I cried, and mourned the loss of my youth. I felt so old. But by the time 40 came around, I felt a strange sense of empowerment. I was comfortable in my own skin and cared much less about how others viewed me.

Or maybe it was the menopause giving me a false sense of bravado. 

Either way, as time ticks on, I become bolder and more outspoken as the hormone shift takes place. I have said many times, menopause is like a truth serum.

I distinctly remember my mom saying how frustrating it was when her body wouldn’t keep up with her mind. Or, how she would do a few chores on her “to do” list and have to sit and rest. “I just can’t go like I used to,” she would tell me. I am right there with her. And wow does it stink.

Naps and Tylenol are my new best friends some days. Though I am “going” places in my mind, my body wants to curl up somewhere and sleep. I am way past 40 now, and I feel it.

I imagine she would laugh out loud if she knew that I referred to my gray hairs, as platinum highlights. I will be just like her. I’m not going down without a fight.

My mom worked full time until she was 75. She was funny, feisty, and hell bent on taking care of herself. She refused to hang out with the “old people”.

“All they do is talk about their aches and pains.”.....she would tell me. 

No membership to the senior center for her, thank you very much. She drove until it wasn’t safe for her to be behind the wheel anymore. Thankfully she surrendered the car without much of a fight. She cared about others enough to give that up. She was independent, lived alone, and took care of herself for many years after my dad died.

One of the (many) cruel aspects of Alzheimer’s was that she lost her ability to make choices. She slowly lost her independence, her privacy, her dignity and her freedom, along with her mind.

We can’t know what the future holds. Life doesn’t go as planned, and usually doesn’t turn out as we hoped.

I am living proof of that, this very moment. 

Not too long ago, I reviewed a book called, The Life We Never Expected.

That could be my life motto at this point. I may very well end up like her, one day diagnosed with this awful disease.   I pray not.

But rather than let that fear cripple me, I just keep getting up, taking each day as it comes.



 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  


You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 


You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Oxygen Of The Soul - Precious Memories 17

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Oxygen Of The Soul – Precious Memories 17



Freedom is the oxygen of the soul – Moshe Dayan 


In some people’s minds, assisted living and nursing homes are one in the same. However, there is a big difference, and assisted living was a blessing for my mom. Going into this, I really didn’t know much about assisted living.

According to the various statistics I have read, assisted living is the fastest growing long-term care option for seniors. Each family has to decide what is right for their loved one and their situation. Some families are able to keep their loved ones at home, during the progression of the illness.

My mom’s geriatric specialist, recommended that we seek out assisted living, rather than try and keep her at home. My mom had lived alone for many years, and being independent was vital to her mental well-being and her self esteem.

Because there were still things she could do by herself, she just needed a safe environment. She didn’t want to be treated like a baby (her exact words!), or fussed over. She needed to feel as normal as she possibly could, for as long as she could. It was critical that she maintain a sense of dignity and self-worth.

Assisted living was one way to do that, when she could no longer stay in her home alone. She had her privacy, and I had peace of mind. We visited several facilities and she chose the one she liked best. Assisted living allowed my mom to retain as much of her independence as possible, up until the very end. Since she wasn’t able to live alone, this was the next best thing for her. And because she had a “say” in it, she adapted to the change quite well. She still had her freedom, and her dignity. She had her own space, and we moved in most of her own furniture. She had a private bath, and her television. She called it her apartment.

Her “apartment” made her happy, and she had a sense of self-worth, even as her mind declined. We made decisions that were as close to her wishes as we could possibly get. She wanted to be on her own and do her own thing, just like she had always done. She spent about a year and a half in her own “apartment”, before she no longer qualified to stay there.

As her brain began to shut down, she no longer was able to walk. This was a progression. At first, she was unsteady on her feet. Then she started to fall here and there. Thankfully, she never broke a bone! Eventually, she could not stand up, and was in a lot of pain, due to severe osteoarthritis. This landed us a hospital stay, via an ambulance ride. She simply stopped walking.

Because she was such a high fall risk at this point, her care plan had to be changed. She was no longer able to remain in assisted living. We knew that a serious fall, and broken bones could be fatal. We had been fortunate so far, that her falls weren’t serious, but now the situation itself had taken a serious turn.

If she attempted to walk (and she was known to still try!), she could really hurt herself.

Dementia patients may not remember that they can’t walk anymore. And because my mom was so used to being on the go, she still attempted to get up at times, even in a wheelchair. So this presented a challenge. We wanted her to live as comfortable as she could, for as long as she could. The hospital staff told us point blank, they would not release her back to assisted living.

We had to make some tough decisions.

On the advice of her doctors, we agreed to admit her to a long-term skilled care facility that also offered rehab and memory care, specific to her diagnosis. We had a small glimmer of hope that maybe, with physical therapy, she might regain the ability to walk. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Physical therapy however, was quite entertaining for her. She was able to “exercise” and was absolutely giddy when she could use the hand bike. She would laugh and giggle, pedaling as fast as she could with her arms and hands.

She was like a young girl, taking her bicycle out, joyriding. Her arms would “pump” the pedals as fast as she could go, making up for what her legs could not do. That hand bike set her “free” on therapy day.

It made me laugh to see the joy this small piece of equipment brought to her.  It was a bright spot, in a very rocky sorrowful journey.


 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  


You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 


You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
A Mother's Heart - Precious Memories 16

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Christmas Choir, DVD


Over the holidays, I stumbled up on a very heartwarming, family friendly movie.  Though the holidays are over, I highly recommend you keeping your eyes out for this DVD. This is a clean movie, with a fantastic message.

Based on a true story about Montreal's Accueil Bonneau Choir, The Christmas Choir is the inspiring account of how one man made a remarkable difference simply by giving of himself.

Peter Brockman (Jason Gedrick) is a successful-but-spiritually lost accountant whose life is turned on its head when he begins volunteering at a homeless shelter run by the caring-yet-cantankerous Sister Agatha (Rhea Perlman).

Amazed at the musical prowess of some of the shelter’s occupants, Peter sets out to organize them into a choir, singing holiday tunes in a local subway station. Though the singers and Peter each go through their own difficult personal trials, they slowly begin to learn to trust in each other and the power their music holds.

“The Christmas Choir” is inspired by the true story of a man volunteering at a homeless shelter who saw a way to help the men living there by creating a choir from their surprising musical talents. The men in the choir, mostly recruited from the streets and shelters of Montreal, ranged in age from 19 to 67.

Many were jobless and homeless, and some suffered from drug addiction and mental illness. But the choir's success in helping its members became part of its downfall. The group, which went on to record several albums and tour the world, experienced such success that the singers where able to gain the financial security and personal confidence to leave the streets forever.


 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Mother's Heart - Precious Memories 16

 
Days go by so quickly 
Summer turns to fall 
Seems like only yesterday 
That you began to crawl 
So don't be afraid to take that step 
I'll catch you when you fall 
I don't mind if you leave behind 
A few hand prints on the wall 
    Kenny Rogers - Hand Prints On The Wall 


I never wanted an education in dementia or Alzheimer’s, however, you do not pick and choose most of your life lessons. At least I haven’t.

I was drafted into a war, I wasn’t prepared to fight. I wasn’t trained. There wasn't boot camp or a briefing.

This cunning enemy caught me unaware. At the end of this war, I felt like I had earned my Ph.D, and some bumps and bruises to my heart. I am still in the process of recovering. It has not been a journey easily taken.

However, there were some good lessons.  One thing I learned is that what is helpful and therapeutic for one dementia patient, doesn’t work for the next. Some therapies are controversial. For instance, doll therapy is highly controversial however it was a huge benefit to my mom, for a short time.

She initiated it. I knew nothing about it. But when she took interest in a life-like baby doll she found in the activities room, I saw with my own eyes what it provided.

I immediately went home and began researching on the Internet. I was curious to know why I had observed the reaction from her that I did, when by this stage of Alzheimer’s my mom was mostly silent and non-emotional.

It was amazing. And yes, it was also strange. To see my mother, cooing and cuddling a doll as if it were her own newborn was a little startling. But as I began to watch her – and I mean really observe her, I saw the light sparkling in her eyes.

She was happy. Her face glowed with emotion. She was nuturing, gentle, and loving.

That doll unlocked something for a moment, deep within. In her failing mind, she was suddenly transported back to a time, when she held her own precious babies. She adored children and babies, and Alzheimer’s couldn’t steal that. Something in her brain switched on. A connection was made.

And so I observed.

I watched, intrigued, as she began to search for a “burp cloth”. She found a blanket and put that over her shoulder. Immediately her mothering instincts kicked in and she rocked the baby, burped the baby, and loved on it. She smiled, as she gently stroked the baby’s cheek.

A staff member was walking past the doorway and my mom called out, “Look!” She wanted to show off her precious bundle. She was so proud and just beamed when they made a fuss over her new baby. She remembered the process of mothering.

I was more than a little stunned.    She remembered. 

This was a woman who provided childcare in her home, way back in the day before "daycare" really took off. She loved children, and loved taking care of them. She simply adored children.

Art and music as part of dementia therapy we knew about and had experimented with.

Dolls?  No one had mentioned this to us.

When I questioned the staff about it, they told me that because it was so controversial, it wasn’t something they could suggest. The dolls were made available by family and friends who donated them to the facility. The memory care patients were welcome to make use of them, on their own.

This happened a few times, before mom became completely bedridden. She eventually lost interest, but for a brief moment here and there she felt needed again. She was useful and young, and caring for someone else.

She was once again a mother, doing what she did best. Loving her babies. 

If you would like to explore doll therapy further, here are some links:

Doll Therapy and Alzheimer's

Baby Doll Therapy

Doll Therapy and Dementia

Doll Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease

 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  


You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 


You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Side By Side - Precious Memories 15

Monday, December 19, 2016

Not A Sparrow Falls




Mary Washburn never planned to make a career out of meth production.  She also never planned to end up living in a rusted out singlewide trailer in Virginia, with her boyfriend Jonah and Dwayne, their business partner.  

With her Mama dead and her Papa gone – she has no family to run home to.   Mary feels trapped with little education and no viable skills, and struggles to stay one step ahead of the law.   After turning her boyfriend into the police,  Mary attempts to start over and escape her life of crime and drugs.  

She faces plenty of new challenges that could blow her cover . Not even changing her name and assuming a new identity and career will guarantee that the secrets she’s running from, stay buried.   


Cafe Lily's Review:

I recently read this again, after finding it at a book sale.  I think I enjoyed the story even more, the second time around.  This book is about second chances, grace, and forgiveness. This is a great story about starting over when your life is a complete mess.  It is a good example of how God quietly "whispers" and directs our path, even when we aren't quick to catch on to His leading.  Recommended!