Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alzheimer's - Something to Hate!

Did I mention that I HATE Alzheimer's? 
I hate and miss the loss of relationship! I rail against the long slow good-bye! I wish for heaven and Jesus to come back soon. And more.........
Today is my birthday. On my birthday for all these years since I left home the phone would ring - usually first thing in the AM. It would be my parents (until last year when my dad was newly gone to heaven) and a chorus of "Happy Birthday" would ensue! It wasn't good music by most standards but by the standard that matters to me, it was music to my ears!
It always ended, Happy Birthday, Ann Austin, happy birthday to you! Last night - a day early - that's not how it ended for the first time, the new normal (until there is no call at all).
Instead, when it came to my name, there was dead silence! My mother didn't know who was on the other end of the phone. She knew when my sister dialed the phone in that split second, but she didn't know just a few short seconds later. The fog had descended again!
The fog of Alzheimer's is there more often than not! It's a wild and crazy world for my precious mother! It's a very sad, random world for those who love her!
Life's transitions - some are good; some are painful! NOT to sermonize, but I'm having to preach the Gospel to myself today, I have to remind myself, Self, God is good all the time! All the time God is good! Even on days like today and nights like last night!
I still hate Alzheimer's - just for the record!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Nasty surprise around midnight two nights ago was about the washing machine. My husband needed a pair of trousers and a shirt washed to wear at 5 AM on Monday. Of course, he forgot to say so until we were going to bed!
Not wanting to wash two things for a load, I also threw in a couple of towels. At midnight when I went to put the washer load into the dryer, there was water running across the laundry room floor and the washer tub was FULL of water! UGH!
I tried to carefully advance the washer dial hoping the spin cycle would kick in to no avail. So I wrung all the water I could out of the towels, shirt and trousers. Then I threw the soggy items in the dryer. Of course, they took almost forever to dry. I was up and down all night starting and restarting the dryer.
Wouldn't you know that when I tried the spin cycle early yesterday it worked just fine, thank you very much! Double UGH!
Last night we went through the same drill (only a few hours earlier) but I blithely assumed the washer would work so threw a satin quilt in with a shirt and trousers and socks this time. Same scenario all over again! Once again I wrung as much water as I could out since the spin cycle wouldn't kick in for love or money!
Guess what? This morning - once again - the spin cycle is magically working so I could spin the quilt ...........  NOW the question is: do I go shopping for a washer today or will the third time be the charm?
Did I mention that the washer is easily 25 years old? That alone doesn't bode well for a resurrection! It is a fact of life that things wear out, break, rust, etc.!
When our boys were growing up, I remember when the washer that preceded this one finally bit the dust along with the dish washer, the dryer, the refrigerator and the disposal - all in the same approximate time frame. Our youngest son wanted to know what the deal was with everything breaking at once. He was thinking some kind of oppressive conspiracy or something. I told him it was probably because they were all new about the same time so they were breathing their last gasping breaths in unison as well.
My washing machine is just a sad part of normal life. Everything wears out eventually or rusts or otherwise disintegrates - EVERYTHING this side of heaven! Every day I live I am more and more aware that even I am wearing out! Nights with little sleep used to be barely a blip on my radar; now I feel them to my bones!
We all have the stuff and mess we wake up with and lug through each day. Some people carry far heavier loads than others. Some of us stagger under the weight because the load is so heavy!

There is an awesome truth for heavy loads and days when things break and when money just won't stretch any further: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness! (Lam. 3:22-23) It is God's faithful promise for His children, and God ALWAYS keeps His promises!

No matter what your day looks like - God's faithful mercy is tailor-made for just such a day as this! God's faithfulness comes in exact measure to whatever you and I face in this hour, this day because He sees and knows! NEW EVERY morning - great is His faithfulness!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Piles of Words

I have a former professor who is a word smith and speaker par excellence! Her class scared me to death as I knew every breath almost was going to be scrutinized! Yikes! She cares deeply still about her students being the best they can be and to live all of life with excellence!
For some time now, she has been posting a "Lesson for the Day" on Facebook for her former students to "enjoy."  In each she discusses some grammar concept: when to use lie and when to use lay; using to, too, two correctly; etc. It's not new information to me and almost always it's how I normally speak and write, but it's good reminders.
Today I saw she had posted another lesson. This time it is a really, really good reminder!

 It is important that we try to do our best with what God has given us.
 We have talked a lot about words, grammar, and pronunciation. There is, however, something much more important.
 Let us suppose that we were born unable to speak. Never had we been able to say a single word. Then, let's pretend that one day God gave us a king-sized pillow case packed with words. We could use those words until they were gone. How would we use them? Would we choose carefully, making each word count? What would we build or tear down with those words? Once the words were spoken, we could not get them back.
 Now, one more pretend. What if one day God poured all the words we had ever spoken on top of our heads? We would be swimming in millions of words. They would be all over us!

Then, what if God told us to begin separating those words into two piles. On the left side we would put all the hurtful, sarcastic, coarse, cutting, mean, spiteful, jealous, lying, critical, cynical, unfeeling, backbiting, unfair, rationalizing, self building, defensive and unkind words.
 On the right side, we would put all the kind, edifying, helpful, loving, complimentary, gentle, helpful, get the picture. WHICH PILE WOULD BE LARGER?
 I think we have been told that we will be called to account for every one of them. So, whatever we learn from these little lessons, know that we need to make our words count for good.             
-- Bewey Bowden, Adjunct Professor, Reformed Theo. Sem. (Jackson, MS) retired
So, I'm thinking about words today.....Words come from the heart!
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
Change my heart, O God, Make it ever true; Change my heart, O God,May I be like You.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On a scale of 1 to 10.........

I know just how you feel!
Did you ever let these words pass your lips? We might think we know, but there's NO WAY we can get that far under a person's skin and into their heart!
A friend who lives in a power chair told me recently, Nobody knows how hard it is to be this disabled! And she is that disabled with a disease she didn't ask to have, was born with and knows is progressing rapidly. NOBODY - I mean nobody - can know how SHE feels even someone else in somewhat similar circumstances.
The thing about pain is that it's a lonely business! We can't share! I have my own pain stories. I know how many times I have wished (probably not on my most spiritual days) to "zap" someone else with my pain so they could see how intense it is.
Just in the last few days another friend said, Everyone has their own problems! She was feeling the intensity of the pain in her life. 
There is no meter to measure one person's pain against another person's pain. This isn't bridge where one card can trump another. This is real life lived on the razor's edge!
I absolutely hate to answer the question that doctors and nurses love to ask, On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain? I think the question is totally useless as every person/patient handles and perceives pain differently, and there's no factor for that fact. There have been times when my physical pain was so intense that I wanted to answer 15!
There is a story (which I thought was attributed to D.L. Moody but the web says either Persian proverb or unknown and the picture another source) about a man who had no shoes and felt very sorry for himself until he met a man who had no feet. It's all about perspective! It's all about who's inside the pain! And, clearly, some pain is worse than other pain! Having a baby or a kidney stone or an attack of pancreatitis are infinitely more painful than a sore throat. But, that being said, the person with the sore throat doesn't have a kidney stone so the sore throat is the pain of the moment.

And no, you don't know how I feel and I don't know how you feel! What matters is whether you and I care more about someone else's pain than our own!

O, by the way, I had time to write this blog post just now because I got a pain reprieve from the dentist. I was supposed to have 2 fillings today but the dentist office has no electricity! Darn! :o)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Green Eggs, Ham, and Care-giving!

Green eggs and ham? I think there's a book with that name, but this isn't a book review. This is about the breakfast menu. Which has more commitment to the breakfast menu - the chicken or the pig? It's a no-brainer! The chicken is involved; the pig is committed!
But, this isn't about breakfast. It's about care-giving!

In my family my four sibs (if you count blood or nine if you, like my mother, count love), we all care for my mother. She needs lots of care. She is 92 feeble. She has Alzheimer's with its many complicating issues. She lost her 70+ year companion (my dad who was her rock) a year ago today. But, like the breakfast menu, some of us are pigs; others are chickens.
One sister and her husband have Mother in their home. They give her 24/7 love and care, and their responsibilities are not easy! They are pigs! They are totally committed!
My brother and his wife are the stand-in-the-gap emergency response team taking Mother to their home for breaks and other emergencies! They are little pigs, but don't tell them I said so! They like horses more than pigs!
The rest of us - sisters all - are the chickens! We are involved. We go when we can. We pray many times each day and often in the night. We send flowers and cards. We call and have rambling, random conversations with Mother.
Recently I've been thinking about this "care-giving breakfast menu" we have going. I think it's a common phenomenon in giving care. Some are chickens. Some are pigs. Both are needed. The chickens are involved. The pigs are committed!