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Things I wish I had known about eldercare

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So, okay, I've said before that I came into caregiving with little preparation. I didn't grow up around elder folk, never knew my grandparents, and anyone older than my parents were healthy and independent. I (actually) thought that when you got to the place in life you couldn't take care of yourself anymore, you went into a nursing home.  And truthfully, I had just never given it any significant thought.

How I wish I had! But God has had us in the old learn-by-doing school, and our education has been filled with all kinds of excellent helps and helpers. I might add that the lessons continue every day--not just the nuts and bolts of a person’s care, but how to depend on God to give grace and patience for every moment, trust his wisdom for the constant decisions, and seek his love to buffer the bumpy edges of service. I hope I've changed for the good through this experience--mostly I'm aware of my failings and how much I need the Lord to make me able to do His will. …

Death and hope

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I lost a precious friend a few weeks ago to brain cancer. And indeed, death has been much on my mind as I’ve heard of many others recently losing loved ones or babies in miscarriage.

It brings a heaviness and sorrow to my heart as the inevitable question rises up within. Why? And for those left behind to process and carry on, I pray. The God who knows and understands all, and whose goodness is the bedrock of my life, will comfort and heal.  It’s what He does.

It has brought to my mind again an incredible truth I learned a few years ago when my mom passed away. All my life I had dreaded that loss.  We were so close, she was such a huge part of my life, and I couldn’t imagine how I could handle her being gone.

But when the day came—and the many days following—I was stunned to truly experience what the Bible promises to us and those who know Him: we sorrow not as those who have no hope.

I had the clearest sense the night she passed that I was not saying the heart-wrenching good-bye I’d …

Getting ready for the answer

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I read a devotional this week about preparing yourself to receive the thing you have prayed for--doing an act of faith to demonstrate your belief that the answer is on its way even though you can't see it yet.

It reminded me of an amazing lesson I learned about this very thing in the early years of our marriage. My husband and I had lived in our big-city condo for quite a while, following a strict budget to save for our first house. Now, with our dream close to being fulfilled, we began to explore neighborhoods in the area where we wanted to live. 

We settled on a lovely community flanking a hill that could be seen from across the city. Every morning in my quiet time, I would sit with my Bible looking out the window from our third-story condo to that very hill and pray about our new home.

"Right there, Lord, that's where we want to live. Please choose the perfect house for us, and please give us wonderful neighbors." 

One day an idea came to me. I remembered that oft…

There's a bottom to that trial

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Some years ago I found myself suddenly suffering from a severe systemic candida infection. Sugar and carbs were the enemy--they not only made me violently sick, but released toxins that caused miserable symptoms. Within hours of the diagnosis, I had to go cold-turkey off of half what I normally ate, eat only meats, fish, eggs, and green vegetables, and begin the regime of natural meds that seemed all my body could handle.

I cried through more than one meal. Not being able to eat all the good things I cooked for my family was brutal. The candida made me ravenously hungry; the spartan diet I was now on didn't satisfy, and my body was having to shift from getting its energy from carbs to proteins.

But the scary thing for me was rapid weight loss. I have an average build, and at the time had very little extra to lose. Within the first month, I lost 25 pounds with no end in sight, and I was soon seeing a gaunt, not-well reflection in the mirror.

One afternoon, a jeweler, who was adjustin…

The simple secret of relationships

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Fourth grade was brutal. At least the other-kids-in-class part of it (is there any other?). That year I learned what a horrible person I was (!), how unlikable I was, and how ‘sticks and stones’ weren’t the things that drove painful wounds deep into my heart. I learned how important it was to carefully calculate my words and actions, knowing that no matter what I said, a mean arrow could fly straight back at me from the class bully. She was my discovery that there were people who didn’t play according to the ‘nice’ rules I’d been taught.

In distress and bewilderment, I would pour out my trouble to Mom after school. What do you do when you can’t play the game according to their rules? What had I done to bring her hatred on me?

And Mom would always come back to the same thought in her response. “Honey, we don’t know why she’s acting that way. It might not be because of something you’ve done. Maybe she’s unhappy inside and is taking it out on you. But the most important thing is not what …

Grace-living

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I'm learning in this unusual season of care-giving a life lesson I hope I'll never forget.

As a type-A-box-checker, I love a list, a plan, a logical progression of things. I love to know what's coming, and will come up with a plan for any and everything. (Can anyone relate?)

Problem is, this creates all kinds of personal stress--because as often as not, life doesn't go the way I'd like it to. Then I get frustrated, and might go try plan B, which may or may not work. Then, I might even get sick!  (Stress does that, you know.)

Of course, the Lord has been working with me for a long time about this besetting sin. (Yes, I'd call it a sin because if I'm managing things, guess Who isn't?)  I've learned often in the past—and keep forgetting—the value of "letting go and letting God.”

But this season of my life has required a "letting go" way beyond anything I've ever lived. I've been walking not only on the unfamiliar ground of care-…

Helping someone in grief

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I recently went to a community talk on grief in an effort to help my mother-in-law navigate this time of sorrow and depression. She not only lost her beloved husband of 62 years, but also her vitality, sense of purpose, and independence. Add to that some debilitating health issues and you can imagine the grace it takes to daily live in such a place.

We have tried over the past year to encourage, love, and provide for her, but the bottom line is...there's nothing we can do to change her pain. We want to fix it, but she's on her own journey of loss and all we can do is come alongside, pray, help as we’re able, and leave the process to the Lord.

I was helped by the lecture.  It relieved me of the sense of guilt that I haven't done enough, that I've failed her and the Lord in some way. It armed me with some fresh understanding of both what she's going through and how we can better support her.

If you’re grieving a loss, or helping someone else who is, here are a few …