Lessons from Dementia

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I saw this on Kay Warren’s facebook page and something in it deeply resonated with my soul.  May I learn to trust that He truly is the keeper and protector of my beating heart and my every moment.  May I believe Him at face value for His face is all I want to see.  May I be still and know, TRULY know Him.  I hope this blesses you today as it blessed me!

Lessons from Dementia
My 90-year old mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and while she has good days, she has some moments in which she doesn’t know where she is, isn’t exactly sure what is going on around her, and leans heavily on me for support –mentally, physically and spiritually.
The disease is always in a progressively downward motion, and we have had move her to the memory care unit of the assisted living facility where she has been living. It is a move she has protested and argued against in her more coherent moments. We go over and over and over the reasons for the move, but it has been a tough decision for her to process. Lately I’ve heard her talking aloud to herself and this is what she says: “I don’t like where I’m going, and I’m not even sure WHY I’m here – why do I have to go to this place? I liked where I was. But I know Kay loves me and would never do anything to harm me; she always has my best interest at heart – so I’ll trust her decisions for me.”
This morning those words rocked me as the spiritual parallels stared me in the face. How many times in my life – particularly in the last year – have I questioned the path God is taking me on? Frequently I don’t like the new path – it isn’t familiar, it isn’t as comfortable as the road I was on before, and to be honest, I complain loudly about it. I want to stay where I was – I want life to be what I’m used to. But after my griping and moaning and some intense conversations with Him, I settle down – like a weaned child on its mother’s lap – and I say exactly what my mom says about the changes in her life: “I know God loves me and would never do anything to harm me; He always has my best interest at heart – so I’ll trust His decisions for me.”
God, may I respond with trust more quickly tomorrow than I did today. Forgive me for doubting Your love; I always get myself worked up, become overly-anxious, and fearful when I forget that You are “rich in love” for me. I choose to allow You to still and hush my soul so I can rest quietly and peacefully in Your embrace.
Psalm 145:9 (NIV) “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 131:2(NAB) “Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.”

~Kay Warren

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It’s Time

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It’s time, people.

Time to let go of the wishing, hoping and reminiscing of better days.  I’m ready to let that ship sail.  I want to embrace uncertainty and change.  I long to be at peace with the unknown and let go of fear.  I’ve realized I’m a scared a lot, even though I know that everything is safe when I’ve committed it to the One above.  I’m tired of being a worry wart, in the worst kind of way, and I’m ready.  It’s time to give in to the One who cares for my soul and live fearlessly in a “If God is for us, who can be against us?” kind of way (Romans 8:31)!

Being away from my family, not knowing how long we’ll be in New Jersey, having my husband travel, and having a two year old sometimes gives me crazy worry.  I see a heat rash on her bum and I immediately think she’s dying.  I’m not kidding.  I’m the WORST when it comes to sickness.  When David gets the flu, I don’t eat because I don’t want anything in my stomach in case I get sick.  When Maya is sick, I don’t sleep.  Like at all.  If I see that someone is sick on Facebook, I immediately wonder if I’ll get it, even if I haven’t seen them and even had the slightest chance of catching it.  I freak out.  It is debilitating, my husband says, and he’s right.  Living in constant fear that I or the ones I love will have to suffer in the slightest is exhausting.  It’s time to let go of that fear and to live in freedom.  Worry is a prison cell that is captivating in the most horrific of ways; it tells us it will always be the same and freedom would be nice, but it’s not for me.

Well…

It’s time to kick that door down, people.

My new favorite author, Shauna Niequist, says it so well in her book Bittersweet:

Looking back now I can see that it was more than anything a failure to believe in the story of who God is and what he is doing in this world.  Instead of living that story– one of sacrifice and purpose and character– I began to live a much smaller story, and that story was only about me.  I wanted an answer, a timeline, and a map.  I didn’t want to have to trust God or anything I couldn’t see.  I didn’t want to wait or follow.  I wanted my old life back, and even while I read the mystics and the prophets, even while I prayed fervently, even while I sat in church and begged for God to direct my life, those things didn’t have a chance to transform me, because under those actions and intentions was a rocky layer of faithlessness, fear, and selfishness…

…If I’m honest, I prayed the way you order breakfast from a short order cook: this is what I want.  Period.  This is what I want.  Aren’t you getting this?  I didn’t pray for God’s will to be done in my life, or, at any rate, I didn’t mean it.  I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed.  I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways.  I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else for that matter.

I couldn’t make peace with uncertainty– but there’s nothing in the biblical narrative that tells us certainty is part of the deal.  I couldn’t unclench my hands and my jaw, and I locked my knees and steeled myself in the face of almost every wave.  I cried in the shower and alone in my car.  When I looked into my own eyes in the mirror, they seemed flat and lifeless, and things that should have been wonderful left me blank and despairing.  Sometimes at parties during that season, I felt my cheeks trying to smile, but I knew that my eyes weren’t playing along.  The tension and anxiety flattened me, and the fear about our future threatened to vacuum up the energy and buoyancy from almost every day, even as I fought to celebrate the good moments.  Looking back, it seems like I mostly lost that fight, or possibly, generously, it was a draw…

…If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits.  They’ll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you.  But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter.  Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and begin to swim.  Begin to let the waves do their work in you.” (p. 17-21)

It’s time.

It’s time to let the waves do their work.  It’s time to be redeemed, to approach it (whatever “it” may be for you) with open hands, slowly prying our fingers off of the control that worry falsely tells us we need to firmly grasp.  It’s time to jump into that wave, letting it jostle us up a bit while it moves us forward while changing us; freeing us.

Let’s dive in.

***And if you’ve never read any of Shauna’s books, I highly recommend them!  I first read Bread and Wine, which was like walking through the front door of my best friend’s home and sitting down to dinner.  A book of short reflections and stories, it’s not a novel or a self help or a cookbook, but a conversation with a friend.  I loved it.  I’m now reading Bittersweet, which my sister in law sent me in the mail the other day and I cannot put it down.  Just had to tell you all about my new favorite!****

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If I Could Write You A Letter…

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If I could write you a letter…

I’d start by acknowledging the bitter, cold truth that no matter the strength of the relationship built, nor the good intentions expressed, or even the pinky-promises exchanged, everyone has the capacity to let you down. Everyone! And you can either be anchored in that reality or crippled by it. May you choose to love fearlessly anyway…

I’d tell you that while you’ll spend the first quarter of your life searching tirelessly for the person you’re going to marry, that you will likely spend the rest of it working TWICE as hard to stay married. And upon realizing this, you will likely want to right hook Cinderella to the throat for not telling you such a thing! And believe me, you wouldn’t be the first one…

I’d tell you that no amount of makeup, self-tanner, or fake eyelashes can make you feel worthy enough after a broken heart (and that at best, it will only serve to make a greater mess once the tears flow. And mark my words, they will FLOW!)…

And when they do, remember that even the strong break – but more importantly, that the STRONGER aren’t afraid to admit it! Choosing to be vulnerable in the midst of your brokenness always feels like weakness, but it looks like strength; sword-wielding, courage-blazing, dragon-slaying STRENGTH! So never apologize for the state of your heart…

In the event that one day happiness feels so far from you, when you truly forget what it once felt like to savor the warmth of the sun on your skin, converse effortlessly, belly laugh to the point of keeling over, or wake up with anticipation; just know there will be people along the way who are predestined to remind you that happiness is awaiting you in the future, so long as you “just hang on a little longer,” which you will do rather reluctantly…

And someday you will be glad you listened.

Someday…

But for now, you will sob so hard that you’ll fear your heart might give out. But it won’t… and that will always surprise you. And let’s be honest, on an especially dark day it might even piss you off!

Again those said individuals will remind you that “God will never leave or forsake you” and again you will struggle to believe them. Because while you cry to the point of hyperventilation into the palms of your hands, tears streaming down your face, you will also believe wholeheartedly that God is looking down on you…and that He doesn’t care!

But one day you will come to know that He does.

…only to forget it once again…

Lather, rinse, repeat.

In those moments where God seems like “the Big-Bad-Bully” on the playground who deviously ties the already-untied-shoelaces-of-your-life together so that He can laugh sinisterly as you fall to your face – when you feel beat up, worn down, and rage wells inside you – tell Him! He can handle it. All of it!

He can handle the “HOW DARE YOU’s???” and the “WHERE ARE YOU’s???”  The threats you make and the fists you shake! He hears your most private pleas for the pain to be taken, for the strength needed to endure even just onemoreday, and all those nights you are faced with the (often insurmountable) task of simply falling asleep. So pray honestly. Always!

One day we will all find ourselves at the same place in life – whilst while you are so genuinely happy for others – you are also so so SO debilitatingly sad for yourself. When that day comes just remember your closet is you best friend; it’s always there and will never tell of the countless times it finds you crying in a heap amidst the darkness and the denim in the name of broken dreams and hopeless nights… It also won’t divulge that you secretly aren’t THAAAT happy for others! 😉 

You see, if I could write you a letter for the moment you find yourself slipping farther and farther away…

When you look in the mirror and worry the person looking back at you is becoming less recognizable to the person you once were…

I’d tell you that in time you WILL get through this,

Although you may not feel like it, you WILL stand triumphant over your darkest days.

Because My Love, you are so much stronger than you know…

 

*** A letter of understanding and hope for the day my daughter goes through the kind of heartache I am faced with today. May the Lord comfort her – and all of you – every step of the way, in much of the same way He has always comforted me ***

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A Reminder For Those Weary Days

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I look up to the mountains

Does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!

The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 

The sun will not harm you by day

nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm

and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

both now and forever.

~Psalm 121 (NLT)

I read this yesterday and was instantly reminded of A.W. Tozer’s glorious words that always provide me perspective on even the weariest of days:  “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends.  Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.” (Tozer, p. 19-20, The Pursuit of God)

We are safe, friends.  Everything.  Everyone.  Commit it to the Lord and it will succeed (prov 16:3) and rest in the knowledge that he does not even sleep in his care for us.   Tozer says again “God is here.  Wherever we are, God is here.  There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not.” (p. 36)  Can I get a hallelujah?!

May we be reminded, even on the weariest of days, that he keeps watch over us as we come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:8)

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