Finding Time in the Midst of Chaos


Mom and meWell it has been quite a while since I’ve had a post. I thought it is time to sit down and try to write. It is not an easy task in my life.

Since my last entry, I have returned to work and as you know, the home front continues to become more of a challenge. All through the experience I keep reminding myself that I am not working my plan for my life, as much as I am submitting to my heavenly Father’s plans and purpose for me. Once I acknowledged this; my life seemed to make sense for the very first time. When things don’t go my way, I accept that it is my Father rearranging things. When things fall into place, miraculously, there is just no way I can take credit.

I just flew with someone who told me, “no you need to pat yourself on the back!” Really? Why? I don’t want to pat myself on the back. (First of all, because it is physically impossible) and secondly, I don’t feel I have done anything so great. I know that I handle my life because God gives me the strength to handle these challenges. But I cannot say that I have always been happy about the responsibilities He’s given me. And sometimes, I’ve downright lost it! I’ve had temper tantrums and been filled with self-pity. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I’ve had all of those angry questions. But in the end, He keeps me grounded. He reminds me that I can handle it. He reminds me that His son had those very same feelings.

When I went to Israel many years ago, I saw the huge stone where Jesus had wept and prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Everyone was placing their hands on this stone as if they could feel His anguish. This is what makes me remember that even He asked the Father, “to take this cup of suffering from me.” In the end our Lord knew that it was not His plan He was working, but His Father’s plan. This picture of Christ’s grief is a stark reminder that He did indeed, “Suffer  all things which are common to man.” He knows my fears and my sadness. He knows my joy when I see that this suffering, is worth the end result. “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)

Wow! If He could do that for me, I certainly can’t complain about my circumstances. He has chosen these things for me, “to perfect my faith.” Who cares about me more than He does?

I had to keep this in the forefront of my mind when I received a recall notice to work. I had been on a furlough for almost 3 years. Granted, the furlough was another blessing from the Lord. I had just begun to see my mom slipping more and more each day, when along came this offer to take the furlough. This couldn’t have been at a more opportune time. However, I didn’t really know that at the time.

I was really sitting on the fence with that offer, as I was a little fearful of losing an income. “How am I going to make it with no money coming in?” I asked the Lord. I wasn’t sure if this was something I should do. Then He placed people in my path, that I can only describe as messengers on behalf of Him. They encouraged me to take this offer and one person, asked if he could call and speak to me. This was a few nights before the deadline for our decision. He completely encouraged me to do this as he knew my circumstances. He knew that my mother is not going to get better, but she would decline.

I decided to take the offer because of all of ‘the encouragers.’ What a great time I’ve had with my mom, my brother and my children! I took her on a road trip to Wisconsin along with my son and my brother. Though she did not know anyone, I felt rewarded in the fact that her friends and family had the chance to see her. I also didn’t feel the guilt I had before. She has been obsessed with moving back to Wisconsin. In some way I felt I was holding her hostage. This trip was a revelation to me as well. I could see that the Wisconsin she remembers only exists in her mind. She can visit anytime she chooses. My son exclaimed, “We could have driven around the block and told her she was in Wisconsin!” lol Yes, I suppose that’s true, but besides seeing Palm trees everywhere, it wouldn’t have been as effective. As I said, I felt this trip was more for my benefit and those who could see her.

The past 3 years gave me a chance to be completely involved in my son’s life, when he needed me most. I didn’t know so many things were happening until I was present every day. There were people that would have wished I would just return to work, but that was not going to happen! The Lord wanted to expose so many things to me. He knows that I am a staunch advocate for people who cannot speak for themselves, and this is the very reason I have the care of my mother and brother  and a young son.

However, had I not had some of the experiences in my own life, I would not have been as discerning. Now some of my suffering began to make sense to me. I have the ability to see things that the average person may not. I also have the strength to speak up, where most people will not. I find that my anger at such injustice overpowers any fears I may have. If I was not equipped with this righteous anger, I wouldn’t have the ability to take a stand.

Each year that the furlough was almost up; I would ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. Two times, I would receive another offer to take a year off. But this last year it has been different. This time we would receive an offer of an ‘early-out.’ Buyout offer plus benefits. Wow! This must be the answer, I thought! This was a big offer too! As I pondered this offer, I was ready to jump. Thinking that this would help me tremendously; I now heard the Lord speaking to me. “Hold on, don’t be impulsive.” As I weighed out the pros and cons of the offer, I asked the Lord to do what He has always done. To show me His will in this. To speak to me. He did and it was a surprising answer. He spoke to my spirit and He also sent people to me to give me answers. And just like always, the best plan is the most difficult!

As I began to see that this looked good on the surface, but it wasn’t really what the Lord had planned, I now wondered at how He was going to make my return to work possible. I am now mature enough in my faith that I know He will provide; but I still wanted to know how!

Now, I was most concerned with care for my mother. I can’t leave her and 24 hour nursing care is way too expensive. This would hardly make my return to work reasonable.

One day as I was praying and asking God for the answer to this dilemma, a person came to my mind. It was a woman who used to care for another elderly woman in a group my brother was a part of. My brother had a bowling group and this woman had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Her daughter was an excellent bowler. I had become friends with her and some of the other older ladies in the group. We used to sit and play cards together as the people bowled. You may remember an earlier post about this, “Kings in the Corner.” These women taught me many things. The woman that took care of her was a sweet, little Jamaican lady. She was so cute.

Marilyn eventually passed away, so the caregiver took care of her daughter. It was only a few years later that the daughter also died. She had a heart problem. I still have a picture of her smiling face on my bulletin board. She was full of joy and the sweetest girl. I remember at her funeral, the sister, coming up to me and saying, “You know Carrie, you and me are the same!” She was referring to the fact that she had taken care of her mother, and her sister after her mother’s passing. The caregiver lived with her and helped her take care of both of them.

As I thought of this, I thought, “I should call her and ask about Marlene! (the caregiver) She was excited when I called her. I told her that I had been called back to work and needed someone for my mom. I asked about Marlene. She said, “Wow! I can’t believeyou’re calling right now! She was caring for a woman and she just passed away about 2 weeks ago. She’s looking for someone else to care for right now.” I was so thrilled. I also knew that the was the Lord’s hand in all of this. He constantly reassures me that if He has called me to do something, then He will also provide!

It was only a few weeks later that I was back in training for 6 days. I had complete security knowing that this woman is experienced with people like my mom and she has compassion. She also knows my brother and is very experienced with special needs too. She told me that if she ever has a problem with her schedule, “her sister is her backup.” What a great thing! God not only provides our needs; He goes above and beyond what we need!

My son has proven to be a responsible and caring person from this experience as well. The other day, I messed up my own schedule and thought that I had given the information to Marlene and I did not. So of course, she wasn’t at the house. At first I thought that my printer didn’t print the trip, or she was reading the schedule wrong. I called her in a panic and she was already on her way out of town. She said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get someone to cover for me.” She did and this woman was her cousin. She was so wonderful and had also been living in the north for years taking care of an elderly woman. In the meantime, my son was able to ‘hold down the fort,’ until she arrived. He was asking me where the chucks were for my mom’s bed and I thought, “Is he really changing the bed linens?” This was just unfathomable, as he doesn’t do this in his own room! He had given my mom breakfast and helped my brother get up for school. I thought, this kind of responsibility is good for him and he will never regret the things he did for his grandma.

So now I’m thanking the Lord for all He has done and is doing to grow us. In the midst of the chaos of my life. I see His hand reaching through and holding me as I walk through all the storms. I’m grateful for the people that He sends to me to encourage me and give me wisdom for decisions. He removes those who have tried to bring me harm and continues to reveal His plans for me as I roll everything over to His ultimate will.

I think that my first layover was when it hit me; hey I don’t think I’ve had time to relax like this in years! Now I can understand the benefits to this decision. I felt refreshed for the first time in a very long time. I’m so appreciative of this time I’ve had with my family but also my ‘alone time,’ now. I also want to thank you people who have been a part of this journey with me. I am touched that those of you (and some complete strangers) have helped me through the most difficult times. I know who you are; and I know who has sent you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Welcome to my video blog


 

Video

Push My Swing!


 I just dropped my mother off at a senior center the other day when I received a call about my brother. My brother with special needs, had been acting aggressively and hit someone. I found this shocking, as my brother never hits anyone. He does a lot of fist shaking and some obscenities may fly from his mouth, but hitting? I’ve never seen him do this.

His fist shaking between my son and him, started when he came to live with us. He lived in an abusive environment and this was a behavior he learned. Some things I’ll never know about. His scars, for example. He had no way of explaining, except to say that, “he had been burned, at a restaurant he worked at, and taken to the hospital. No incident reports ever came to the family. He has scars with no explanation.

I went to get him and the minute he saw me, he wept like a baby. I have rarely seen him cry like this. The only times, really, were the times he was returning after visits with his family. He would scream and cry. He never wanted to go back and always thought it was punishment.

I finished speaking with those in charge and turned to him. He told me, “Someone hit me!(the name I couldn’t understand), and he touched the back of his head. “He was bothering me!” Next he stood up and shook his fist at one of the women. I was in shock. But as I turned, I saw the woman standing behind me. She had a look of amusement. This bothered me. And it also seemed familiar.

I caught a glimpse of the past in my mind. I knew this look. When my mother was trying to pick up the pieces of her life, after the loss of my baby brother, her marriage, and her home. She was trying desperately to find out the best solution to caring for a son with special needs, and all of us.

Memories of my brother on a harness, connected to our clothesline, came to mind. She would do her chores, and I would keep an eye on him. It was before I went to school, and the other school kids would walk by with taunts at my brother. He would get upset and I would get very angry. “Leave him alone!” I would yell from my bedroom window.

They thought it very funny to see this big kid, leashed to his back yard. With every teasing remark or look, I felt pain. I didn’t realize that the Lord was making my heart, so soft. With each experience. I didn’t realize that He was training me to champion the cause of the meekest of this earth.

When I shared my brother’s incident with friends and people who have known him, they all seemed surprised. “Yes, I know it isn’t in his character,” I said. “He seemed quite upset that someone was bothering him. But I’ll never know the whole story. I just want to help him to learn to cope with teasing.”

I’m very much aware of the transference of spirits. Our Lord, created Adam, by breathing His spirit into him. And not long after this incident, the enemy came to influence Adam and Eve to do evil. This is another spirit. We have these spirits all around us, and they can and do, influence behaviors.

I had the same experiences with my son. He would come home from places and I knew exactly where/who he had been with, because of the way he was acting and things he was saying. His behavior was so noticeably different. And at times I felt I would have to deprogram him from the world. After beginning high school, I saw more rebellion and aggressive behavior. Every day brought a new round of challenges. “I can hang out as long as I want. You’re too restrictive. ” All the things he was spouting. He felt he should be emancipated at 14 years old, because he was comparing to others the same age.

Then I prayed about this and found the Lord reminding me that our responsibility as parents, is not in academics. It is, “to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 He also reminded me of His Words, “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “Ephesians 6:4

I decided to home educate, and the change was almost immediate. He  has more joy and self-motivation. He has much more self-control.  I have thought how many times the Lord has warned us, as adults, to build a strong foundation on Him. So when the world’s problems and influence come, we can withstand the onslaught. How much more is it for children, or others like them? Of course I know this isn’t the answer for every parent. And it’s not always feasible. For me it was the only answer.

If we are committed believers in Christ, the Lords influence should be evident. “The old passes away.” We are transformed by the filling of His spirit, with our rebirth. The enables us to turn away from deeds of darkness. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are a positive influence in our character. One being self-control.

And conversely  the scriptures teach of the other spirits which will give evidence of the Last Days. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy , without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness, but denying His power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy3

I was upset to hear a woman at my brother’s school suggest the possibility of placing him in a Group Home. “I would not.” I told her. I’ve waited all my life to restore my brother to his family.” I was amazed that someone would even think, that it is better to have anyone other than a loving family member to care for these people.

Yes, it is a thankless job. It is exhausting at times. But my mother shared a story with me all my life. Me, in my baby swing and my brother cranking the handle. The minute the swing would stop, I would begin to cry. She says, “He would push your swing, the minute you began to cry. You were his baby.”

Now, on those dark days, when I feel worn out, I look at my brother. The unconditional love is flowing from him. He is so sweet and he will come give me a hug, when he senses I’m upset. Sometimes, I get a kiss on the cheek. “It’s okay, my sister,” he says.

I know that the Lord has promised, “I can do all things through Him, who strengthens me.”

That’s all I need. Another push of the swing.

The Simple Life


My brother is just so funny. I feel blessed to have him in my life. He makes me laugh so hard.  It’s wonderful for my mother to share this time with him too, since he had been living apart from her for many years.

I’ve noticed that he and the other people with special needs bring home beautiful pictures. The other day I was looking at this picture and I said, “Kevin, this is not yours. You’ve taken someone else’s picture by mistake.” He promptly picked up a pen and crossed out the other persons name and wrote his own name on the top! Then he said, “There you go.” As if life is just that easy. Take what you want. I wonder how many times he’s seen that done I thought. “Hmm,” I said. “He’d make a great attorney!”

My mother and I were laughing so hard at him. In his world forgery was nothing. If you like it, make it yours.

I looked at all of the artwork and started looking at the things in my home. I realized that life is just too short to collect things. The beauty of simple things that the artwork my brother produces, is better than anything one can purchase.

I sat in my living room and was sad when I noticed a small cardboard box which held the belongings which my mother was left with after being moved from her home. I took a picture. I cried to think this was so important to her.The Barbie dolls which she used to knit clothing for. No one could believe that she could do this and it was something that she took great pride in. The little Charlie Brown that plays music. The pictures. I managed to get the bronze shoes from my brother Dennis who had passed away as a baby. These she somehow never lost in all of her shuffling through the years. It is difficult to see my mother’s life reduced to a cardboard box. But then I look around and feel the weight of all the things in my life holding me down. I don’t want anything in my life. I can’t stand things holding me back from what is important. I hate greed and what it does to people. It hurts me to see what it has done. I don’t want to take care of things. Although I love looking at my brother’s pictures. And my mother’s things. It’s cute, but we all have the propensity to collect. So I want to bring joy to other’s by giving.

Now I got my mom into a pottery class to learn something new. She was making me laugh with her antics. When the teacher told her to “pinch her pot,” she said, “What?” “Yea, I said, “That meant something completely different in the 70’s!” Now she’s learning a different skill at 82 and she’ll be able to make new memories and so will I.

I realized that life is not about owning things. In fact the more time I spend with my mother, the more fleeting I see that our time is on this earth. I see that those who have robbed and tried to fill their lives with things, are missing the most important qualities.

My mother and I listened to my brother talking last night. He was telling us about the lipstick that he was going to give his girlfriend at school. He was going to put it in his purse. It’s really a fannypack. He crams all kinds of stuff into that purse. Sometimes I’ll check it just too unload some things. It’s so stuffed full. I just have to see what he’s carrying around and it’s funny. Pictures of things unrelated. I try to connect the subjects, but can’t seem to and move on. The objects make no sense,but they amuse me.

The keychains that I have given him have all found a place on this pack. I have actually had to remove some,because it has become unsafe. The weight of this is ridiculous. And the fact that one of them is a round basketball for coins, makes it hilarious with his gait and when he bowls, underhanded, my son made the remark that it’s a good thing I didn’t give him the bull’s you know what, to hang from this pack, or it would be quite a sight to behold, when he bends down to bowl! This visual just made me crack up.

He is very animated. And when he tells us that someone threw up at school it’s hilarious. He is over the top. I don’t think it happened the way he tells us and at times, I only wish I could place a hidden camera on him. There was one day that he told me that one person threw up and another girl was told that “she stinks and needed to go into the bathroom,” while the teacher was spraying the bathroom. And later, he said the same girl was his girlfriend. My son, who is not easily grossed out, said, “Come on, I don’t want to hear this! You’re girlfriend stinks!” And my brother as proud as could be, said, “Yes, she stinks! Right?” Wow! That’s unconditional love at it’s best! And, all I can say is, those special education teacher’s work very hard, and deserve pay raises!!! Treat them well. They’re very special people.

But,people like my brother are also very special and he keeps me centered. I sometimes find I’m taking him for granted and when I come back to him, I find humor in his simple words and beauty in the world around him. It is just what God was trying to point out to all of us and the reason He told us that “the meek would inherit the earth.”

Look at what a mess we have made of all of this. Greedy people have tried to use people like my brother for selfish gain. I’ve had people say, “They look at your brother like a throwaway.” That has brought me unspeakable pain.” Yes, even at his birth they thought he wouldn’t live. But God had a different plan. And his plans were to bring men to repentance through my brother. Yes, my brother who is so innocent. Who would take an art project and cross someones name and sign his name, would do this with anything. He knows no difference. He tells me everything costs “a hundred dollars.”

But who cares? My brother puts everything in perspective. Whether it a billion dollars or a penny, in his mind it’s the same price. Just as the value of a soul is worth more than everything. And as the Lord has said, “Woe to the man who gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul.”

I’m In Contempt….Again!


So I had a stressful holiday as usual and decided next year, to avoid it until after all the pagans are finished celebrating.  Of course I say this every year. I’m tired of the people taking up my parking space when I want to go grocery shopping. I’m tired of the mall shopper’s on the streets. I’m tired of the people with bad moods, just because they’re all trying to get the last-minute items for everyone, and they don’t even believe in anything.

Oh, I know, I know. Everyone is supposed to be something. At least that’s what statistics say.  But the truth is that no one knows what the original meaning of it is anyways, so I’m going to start doing my own thing.Well, it’s not as if I wasn’t already. But, I really mean, I’m just tired of doing  everyone else’s thing. Come on, hang with me on this one. Christ did not…and I repeat…He did not, celebrate His own birthday. And you can research this any time you please. I am an avid believer that everything had a purpose in scripture, and God said, that nothing was placed there without a reason, so, that being said, why didn’t Christ have birthday parties, yet we celebrate His? And, by the way, on a date, which, we just decided, for Him?

Nope, I’m thinking that this was a merchants, fiscal dream. At any rate, it’s fun for kids. Yet, I’m not sure if we are teaching the real message of love and giving. And I’m way over the bad attitudes, in the name of the goodwill to all men  No matter,how badly the churches scramble. Even they seem to be sending a message of trying to get something by using this holiday to bring hordes of people in. Even they have gotten way too commercial. They’re using all kinds of bait to draw people in the name of Jesus. Then  in the hopes of membership. Yes, I know this isn’t what some people like to hear because they get comfortable in those seats. So comfortable that they never leave.

The lights, the shows. It’s way over the top. I cannot even stomach the flashy churches with the show-stopping bands and lights. Sorry, if I don’t fit the image of all things religious for you. But, I’m not into it. Once I went to visit a church with a friend of mine years ago, and he said it best; “if the show starts, I’m leavin.” I started cracking up. But it’s true. I don’t think God needs a bunch of bells and whistles to get His point across.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not every church has a sinister agenda. There are some with a true desire to seek and save the hurting and the lost. But then they would get outside of those walls, wouldn’t they? I’m reading a book about this right now. Probably the best I’ve ever read on the subject. The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the founder of World Vision. He stepped down from position of CEO to serve the poorest of the poor.

This is the point. The love and compassion for the lost and hurting is what Christ wanted. Not a birthday party. So I am beginning to watch this whole exercise of Christmas with a mix of amusement and irritation.

Then I have all of the other things that come due at this time of the year. Like my brother’s guardianship report. Which most of you remember from last year. Yes, it always happens that I leave out some small detail and it’s kicked back to me with some threatening letter from the court, that I will have to appear if I don’t fix it, or “I’ll be held in contempt.” Or worse, “I could be removed as guardian.” The fact is, I’m the only real guardian, my brother has ever really had in his life. I love him and care for him. I’ve always protected him and wanted the best for him. He wanted to be with his family since my mother was forced to give him up and it was my desire to bring him home since I was a child. Now I have to jump through hoops ever year to prove that I am a fit caregiver.

Now the previous agency was just a generic entity, that made documents to commit fraud. They had listed all kinds of things on his reports. They had him capable of having a driver’s license,” marrying, the ability to  “buy and convey property.” What’s the big deal? Yes, if one would peer into some of th documents,  of the people with Special Needs and the elderly,they would find some interesting details. But that is the funny thing. Most wards of the state, have none to oversee their care so it is very easy to fly under the radar.

So, I painstakingly make out my  report year after year, even though nothing is going to change. I take him to his doctor to have him do his part. “Yes, he’s still mentally challenged. He still hasn’t been cured.”

Now, like clockwork, I get the letter. “Your letter has been audited and your letter isn’t clear about his residence. It should state, “current or present.” On page 6, it should say, what his plans are for the next 12 months. This must be complete in two weeks from date of letter or blah, blah, blah. Same old threat.

Oh, I’m so irritated. I would like to take last years and the year before. Or maybe the ones from up north. Oh no, those would pass no problem, they’re so ridiculous.

I make the necessary corrections immediately, but I have to go to work for a few days. Then the offices are closed. I decide to up to the office with my brother. I hand the secretary my report. She looks at me and almost with glee, she exclaims, “You can’t turn this in! It has to say, Amended on it!” “Well,” I told her. It did not say that in my letter. It only stated what corrections to make, and I made the necessary corrections.” Then she asked, “Do you have the letter with you?” “No, I didn’t bring the letter. I made the corrections, which I was told to make and brought it, before the date requested. But I’m sure you have the copy.” She yells back to the other woman, “You sent her the wrong letter! You didn’t tell her to write Amended, on her copy!” “Are you kidding?” For some reason, I’m not feeling the love from this woman. Really? Is the peace, love and joy, of the holidays, finished already?

Now she looks at me with a smile and says. “Oh, and you have to sign it again over your signature. And your attorney has to sign it again, over his signature.” At this point, I could see that she loved all of this control she was wielding over me.Wow, she must have really been shafted over the holidays. Probably got some sock’s or a Snuggie(so last year) “You mean I must go back to my attorney, just to have him sign above his signature again?” “That’s correct.” She said.

As I looked at her, all I could think of is that word “contempt” and how descriptive, it was of her.  She smiled and said, “Happy New Year!” I wouldn’t let her have the satisfaction of knowing that I was wondering how it would feel to slap her right now. Yes, I could do, three, instead of the traditional New Year’s kiss. One for each cheek. After all, it is a Christian mandate, isn’t  it?  Turning the other cheek? Except it would be her own. Yes, I’m zoning in right now;It’s all about visualization; HAPPY (SLAP)NEW((SLAP)YEAR!(SLAP)!AHH, That felt good. The Lord was right. We Should turn the other cheek! I smiled right back at her and said,  “Oh, Happy New Year to You!” Even knowing, full well, that I had to leave, again, to go to work the next day. Arriving home on the holiday, with only one day to spare to get this paper-signing feat.

But alas, I still managed to get this accomplished, and my attorney, said “Isn’t this stupid?” “Oh, believe me” I said,  I’m like so over all this nonsense!”

Those who should be held accountable, are not, and those who are doing the best they can are inundated with paperwork and technicalities.   I’m ready to boycott Christmas next year, I’m over the courthouse records, guardianship papers, etc. It’s just more money and my time. So, I’ll just be doing my own thing from now on. That’s why I like Richard Stearns book. He found the Hole In Our Gospel. I saw the same thing many years ago. You can see it everywhere you look. But as we continue to pour ourselves out to a dying world, He fills me up. Those irritations will come and they will go.But He will lift me up, through it all.

Yes, that was my super spiritual moment! So even though I did get back from my trip get those signatures and back to the courthouse. I got everything in order. Next year and the year after….I’ll be in contempt again and again and again!!!!

Build An Ark! There’s a Flood In My Bathroom!


I’m had a dream and I was full of anxiety. I know it is the encounter with my mother and the fact that my siblings are not involved in her life. They don’t see the everyday struggles she has. And I have constant battles with her to try to help her.

She’s angry about aging. Every time she sees another person,from her era, die, she gets upset. I understand, but I am the only one she blames. As if it’s my fault she is getting older.

I try to keep her healthy, and she doesn’t want to listen. She finally used a walker, to take walks around the block with me. She fought against this, for a long time. And finally, I convinced her that she would never be able to walk, if she doesn’t exercise the legs. “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” I told her.

After the first time using the walker, she remarked, “That was pretty good! Wasn’t it?” She enjoyed it so much, that she asked to do it every night, which I encouraged. When I told her we were going out, I went in another room to grab my keys, and there she was, standing at the door, with the walker! I was shocked. I told my daughter, “she reminded me of ‘Zeus,’ my ex-husband’s little min-pin. When you ask him if he wants to go for a walk. He gets so excited, he just runs to the door.

But again, she started in with “I’ve got to get back to Wisconsin as soon as possible. And this I couldn’t handle. She told me, “I can’t keep her here forever!” I was so upset. We had gone to the store and she made her purchase of a truckload of chocolate, as she usually does. After going upstairs with her bags, she came down, embarrassed to tell me, that she could not open the bags. She then asked for a pair of scissors. I said, “mom, I’m going to tell you the same thing I used to tell people, when I used to bartend. “If you can’t remember how many drinks you’ve had, you don’t need another one.And to you, if you can’t open the bag of chocolates, you can’t run around with a pair of scissors!”

At this she laughed. I said, “how can I trust you to walk up those stairs with a pair of scissors?” Now we were both laughing hard. But the fact is, she shouldn’t even be going up stairs. But this is another, battle, I lost. I told her she will continue as long as she believes, she can. But I have a bed downstairs for her, which she refuses to use.

After this last argument, I was so upset, I just watched her. And she’s so helpless. She actually said, “You act like I’m 90, or something!” “Mom,” I said, you’re 82,that’s not much different. And just can’t bear to remind her that, if she can’t open a bag of chocolate, how is she going to live all by herself. “How are you going to go grocery shopping?” I asked. “I’m going to walk to the store, just like I used to! I did it before.” “Mom, I said, that was years ago, and you aren’t able to get around like you did then.”

I know she’s losing ground, and I’m taking her in for testing, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am having a difficult time with the constant struggle. She looks at me as the enemy. Each time I help her, I’m a reminder of what she cannot do.

I had taken her to my own doctor, and she told me that I must have her tested by a neurologist. Her falling down and inability to walk are both signs of either dementia, or Alzheimers. She assured me that “this is not to say that she has it. It’s merely a test, to find out. Well, I understand this, but I’m almost afraid of the results. And then, what will she be like if she gets a diagnosis? Will she accept it, or will I really be in trouble?

So last night, I had a dream. I had been forced to move into a small home, with my children, my brother, and my mother. From the very beginning, I could see problems. The house was not able to hold our furniture, and we were very crowded. I was trying to soothe my son, at the loss of his other house, and let him know, it would be ok.

I stepped in to one of the rooms and there was my bed. My son came running in and told me, “There’s a flood in the bathroom!” I went to see it, and the whole floor was full of water. I told him to go and I would deal with it. But to be honest, I didn’t know where to start first. Our house was in total disarray.

I went into my room and just laid on my bed. I wept. As I wept, I started to feel my back getting wet. I got up from my bed and I was soaked. As I pressed down on the mattresses, they were also soaked.The room was now full of water. The mattress was acting like a sponge, and soaking up the flood which was now seeping, into my bedroom.

I ran out and my family was in the next room. A man had come over, and he was very comforting. He told me he would help us with everything. Then it seemed he had ulterior motives, and I just couldn’t be distracted from my current dire circumstances. I was frantic, as I tried to look for a way to get everyone out.

As I woke, once again, from one of these dreams, I was full of anxiety. I realized that the only way out, is The Lord. He reminded me, once again, “The Lord will not give you anything more than you can handle, without providing a way out.”And He is that way. He told me that, “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Many people will quote a portion of the Words He has given, and not all of them. It changes the whole context of the sentence. I hear people say, “Oh, just remember, the good Lord, will not give you anything more than you can handle.” But they leave off the end of the statement; “without providing a Way out.”

I had to be reminded of that myself, just yesterday. I had two men come to my house to help me with repairs. They are from a church, and do this as a form of ministry. They charge for materials and the labor costs are minimal. All money goes toward their ministry.

I looked up and told them, I have a lot of repairs. Last month, I had a flood in that bathroom, upstairs. I was thinking of my dream, as I spoke. I had just made the spiritual connection.  It certainly symbolizes the flood in my life.

The issues of my own family taking advantage of my elderly mother and leaving her in distress. And me,the only one to care for her. My brother, with special needs and his care. Then last month my daughter had gotten herself into trouble and I have a young son, with many needs, along with a job, which has also taken its toll on me. I have had to work, half of a schedule, to take care of all of them, and then my finances are cut in half. I’m juggling one bill after another, health care, and necessities. I feel the weight of these problems on my shoulders and try to field one after another.

Yes, there’s no doubt that I am to blame for many of my own problems as well. I vent constantly, and my mouth gets me into trouble all the time. Just recently with my mother. I felt guilt and sadness, after snapping. I sometimes, want to just go to my room and shut out the world. I did that for the last two years, though, and it wasn’t good. Besides the fact that I was becoming numb, to the world, I still had the problems, when I came back. Just a few more, along with the debt.

Jame listened as I spoke, and he told me that he had been in prison for a while, and it was here that he really learned to trust in the Lord. He said, once he was feeling so much anxiety, and the Lord told him a simple message, “Where my Word is, there I AM.” This was very powerful to me. I needed to hear this. To be reminded that He is here. “A very present help, in times of trouble.”

Now, I think of all the future has, and I feel very afraid at times. I know I’ve walked in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, my whole life, but I need to fall on Him. No matter, what news comes my way. We all agreed, that without Him, we are all just a lump of clay.

These two men, were sent to me at the right time. I was feeling the flood waters engulfing me. After, they had looked at what I needed to have repaired, ‘James,’ said, “Why don’t we pray right now?” I was so blessed. He grabbed my hand and his partner’s hand, and right there in my kitchen, we prayed.

I told him, I feel the influence of this world pulling me back , away from my devotion to the Lord, especially in my times of stress. But then the Lord shows up, and puts out His hand, to grab me. And it’s through servants, like you!” “Oh, he said, we are all the same. We are to encourage one another.”

So, late last night, I went into my mother’s room and gave her a big hug. I told her how much I love her, and she was so sweet. Like a little girl. But I am like a child in the Lords eyes. I have my tantrums, and act out all the time. Yet, He never loses patience with me. As foolish as I am. In many ways, I have felt, my lack of trust in man, has made me sabotage myself. I have tested people to the very limits and driven them right out of my life. Yet, when I have tried to do this with the Lord, He cannot be moved. He tells me, “I love you until the end the age, and no one can take you from my hands.”

I try to comfort my mother with these words as well. The two repair men, are really servants. Acting as ambassadors and this is a picture, of the ark, which Noah had built. It sailed them safely in the midst of the raging waters, and if you don’t find the ark, the Lord will bring it to your door.

The waters will continue to rage, in this world, and in my own life. I just need to remember, to enter into the shelter He has provided. This is the way out.

King’s In the Corner


To be a child

It was about 3 years ago, that I had met Marilyn. The wheelchair would come out of the van and she’d power herself into the bowling alley. Her daughter has Down’s Syndrome, and this woman as frail as she seemed, was truly a powerhouse.

I met her son, John. He was my age, and we described the similarities of our lives. Both of our mothers were the same age, and had raised us without a man.

His pride in his mother’s accomplishment was apparent. We both were amazed at the strength which was demanded of our mothers in the era that frowned upon single women trying to raise children, especially special needs children. The public didn’t have much sympathy for women like this. It was almost as if divorce was a contagious disease.

Now, looking back, I have more understanding of my mother and the reason for her moodiness.

But Marilyn, did not show this side of herself. I had gotten to know her and the two other women at the table. We sat as at a table as we watched the special needs bowler’s. All of these women had a son or daughter participating. I had my brother.

Marilyn, Muriel, and Yvonne, invited me to play cards with them. They taught me how to play, King’s In the Corner. As we commiserated about our current issues on health care, for our loved ones, and the care involved. Our personal lives discussed over suits of Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds. Amazing how sharp these gray-haired women were. I couldn’t keep up with them at times.

I went through all my issues with discussions leading to advice and hugs. Muriel, the outspoken one in the group, had a soft side. She would tell people off, if she got angry. She once told a guy, who happened to be a coach, to “grow up!” She let him know that his, stirring up my son, with his antics, were not appreciated. When the guy looked at me and stated, “His mother hasn’t told me to stop!” Muriel responded, “She doesn’t have to! I’m telling you and I know she doesn’t like it!”  I laughed at how aggressive she was, at her age. She had no fear. Yet, when I was depressed about something, she would come and put a gentle arm around my shoulders and tell me, “Hang in there kid.”

We were playing one night and right in the middle of the game, Marilyn slumped over in her wheelchair. I saw a look of alarm on Muriel’s face. As we tapped Marilyn and called her name, she still did not respond. She had an oxygen tube in her nose. At this point her son, John walked in and tapped her. She seemed to wake up instantly and Muriel looked at me and mouthed the words, “I thought she was dead!” Yes, I sure did as well, and wondered if I might have to employ CPR. Whew! I was just glad that I wasn’t needed and it turned out her oxygen was turned way down, and it was causing her to fall asleep.

She would laugh as we caught her a few times, messing up the game or trying to cheat. We were never sure, if she was conscious of what she was doing, however, she was sharp as could be. Which led me to believe, she was bluffing.

Nice try, Marilyn. After a year or so, we moved to a new location, and added anther player. Matthew’s grandmother. A sweet little lady and quite energetic. Matthew is one of the sweetest boys. His case is particularly sad, since his disabilities were caused when he’d been in a car accident with his parents, as a toddler. I still remember the first time I watched him bowl. I had to turn around because I was crying. He looks as if he’s struggling to get up to his lane and that he’s about to fall right over, as he violently throws the ball forward. As it careens down the lane, he gets strikes more often than not.

I went to the banquet where I danced with Matthew quite a few times and just to see the smile on his face warmed my heart. All of these kids are so special.

Last year I went to Marilyn’s birthday party at her daughter’s house. All of the kids from the bowling night were there, along with their parents. Marilyn’s daughter lovingly served her all night and it was sweet to see the relationship all of Marilyn’s children had with her.I got to know her family very well and was blessed to be a part of this special day.

I had a great picture of Marilyn from the picnic we had been at the year before and I gave this to her on her birthday. At this picnic, I took a couple of hula hoops out of my trunk that had been in there for years. Who knew that  these simple hoops could inspire such childlike joy in so many? As everyone took a turn, I heard Marilyn speaking in her soft voice. “Let me try that, ” she said. “Oh, Marilyn, I sure will!” Being a former hula expert, I knew that even in a chair, this woman could show some skills. She grabbed the hoop and started spinning on her wrist. She was laughing like a little girl and I was laughing just watching the show. It made me remember my own youth, when I could hula from my neck, to my ankles and did the wrist hula, transferring it back and forth between arms.

Next her health care aide grabbed it, and with her big belly, she slid that thing down. Just watching this woman, made us laugh until tears were running down our faces. She didn’t care. She was a child again. As Marilyn’s daughter took a turn and my son and I, and many other’s, I thought, this is what heaven is like.

Later, I looked at my pictures and laughed again, to see how old and young alike, had been transformed into little kids, by the power of a circular piece of plastic.

A few weeks ago, Marilyn’s son John sat with us. Marilyn was in the hospital. He had tears in his eyes as he told me about her struggle. At one point he told me her heart had stopped, but right before this, she looked into space and exclaimed, “It so beautiful!” He said, I wanted to know what she saw, so I asked her. Mom, what is so beautiful?” As the doctor’s brought her back, she looked at him and said, “When am I checking out of here?” He said, “I never got to find out what she saw.” “Well, ” I told him, “You found out just enough. It’s what the Lord wanted you to witness. Death is not an end, but a beginning. I’ll be praying for you and her, I said.

Last night, I came to the bowling alley and as I walked in, I almost knew. There was the flyer on the table. Marilyn had passed away. I walked over to Muriel and Matthews grandmother. My son and I sat down and talked about Marilyn and how much we were going to miss her. Muriel told me that her daughter, Barbie,was not real upset. “Well, that’s the blessing with these kids. They do not experience the deep sorrow, which we experience,” I told her. “I still remember when my brother Chris died, and Kevin pointed at his casket and said, “He still owes me $5.” We all laughed.

My son filled in for Marilyn, and we played our game as we talked. Yvonne had health problems and hadn’t been coming for a few months so our group is getting smaller. But for these past few years, I have been blessed by all the wisdom, which comes with age and experience.

 Tonight we went to the funeral and I decided to get copies of the pictures from the picnic, for John. As I walked in, I looked up and there was a big digital screen with pictures of Marilyn and her life. Much to my surprise, there was that beautiful picture of her, spinning the hula hoop on her arm. As I handed the pictures to John and told him, I brought them for him, he said, “Oh, that was your picture?” “Yes, I love that picture of her.” “Oh,” he said. “You know that’s one of the pictures we picked for tonight.” “Yes,” I said. “I saw that. We missed her at the table last night.” The tears welled up in his eyes once again. “Don’t forget about those words she had spoken. She is truly in a beautiful place now.”

As I looked at her life and listened to the eulogies,I was so touched by the quiet strength this woman had and the beauty of her spirit which she shared with all of us. I thought of my own mother, as I looked at the year she was born. She was born the same year as my mother and had much the same difficulties. A poem was shared by John, which she had written. It was incredible, as it had taken her 15 years to write and the subject was her daughter, Barbie. At the end she stated that if God were to speak, and ask her what she wanted, she would tell him, “A daughter with Down’s Syndrome.”

Well now she is in a place where there is no pain or crying. The King is truly, In Her Corner!

Hula hoops