What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving, Role Reversal and "The Golden Rule" -Updated 11/25/15

This was originally written last year on the day before Thanksgiving, 11/26/14.  Here we are again, one year later, on the day before Thanksgiving...and not a whole lot has changed...We still have my mother in law with us primarily on the weekends, but this week, due to some health issues that my brother in law is experiencing, we have had her all week long. The other major change is that I just retired this past Friday, so now I am adjusting to being home all day...and she has been here as well...and it has had its challenges...but on the whole, I must say I am very thankful for the fact that she is still in pretty good physical shape for her age of 92...and that God is helping us to cope with the issues that come up due to her progressive dementia.  Sometimes you just have to find ways to laugh and be silly together...like playing with a baby doll,,,

Sometimes even my hubby gets in on the fun with the baby doll!

Or baking cookies together...(I bake, she watches and counts the cookies as they come out of the oven and tries to keep track of how many we've eaten before they even cooled down...a very good mental exercise for her...and she does surprisingly well all things considered)

Or having a tea party with a friend...

And sometimes it's fun to pat a baby's "bear" butt...and just enjoy the feel of something warm and snuggly...even if it IS a babydoll!  It brought a smile to her face...and that's worth everything... 

So here's the original post from last year...it was good for me to review this again after a particularly exasperating day.  I needed to remind myself that "Love Never Fails".

November 26, 2014:

It's the day before Thanksgiving...and there's a lot going on in my mind and heart right now. But for today, this is probably the uppermost thought, and even though it seems to be a bit of a repetitive theme for me lately...this is what's happening now.  I may elaborate on other things after we get through cooking and eating and enjoying Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends sometime later this weekend...

I just finished reading an excellent book on a subject that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately...
When Your Parent Becomes Your Child, A Journey of Faith Through My Mother's Dementia    by Ken Abraham.  One of my other blogging friends had mentioned this book and I thought.."I need to read that one right now!"  So I ordered it...actually ordered two copies...one for my family and one for my brother-in-law and his family.  Why? Because we are living it right now in our family as we are joint care-givers for my 91 year old mother-in-law...who is rapidly descending the slippery slope from being mentally present with us to drifting further and further away in a cloud of confusion, memory lapses, paranoia, anger and fear.

When I first picked up this book and started reading I was astounded. I thought Mr. Abraham was writing about my mother in law.  The similarities were amazingly much too close for comfort.  "Minnie" Abraham, Ken Abraham's mother, exhibited so many of the same symptoms that they could have been "sisters in crime"...the crime of changing into a totally different person through the sad progression of the deterioration of the mind.

This post is not intended to be a book review, however, if you are dealing with these kinds of changes in your loved one, I would heartily recommend that you read this book as well as any other information you can put your hands on.  There is a wealth of knowledge on this subject shared on the internet and I am certain many other books are available.  I appreciated Mr. Abraham's story because it was a deeply personal and honest confession of his own frustration and inadequacies in dealing with the changes he saw taking place in his mother.  However, he gave a lot of helpful information that he learned through first hand experience, which I have found especially enlightening.

I think the main thing that I am learning as we share the responsibility of caring for our loved one with my husband's brother and his family is that we have to communicate regularly with each other. There are changes taking place weekly and even daily that we need to be aware of.  Right now she is still able to be driven back and forth between our two homes on the weekends so that hopefully neither of us will  suffer caregiver burnout too quickly. But we are also realizing that this may not last much longer. As her condition continues to deteriorate we may have to enlist professional/long term assistance in one form or another.

For now we are taking things one day at a time and trying to make every moment count.    As long as she is physically able to do things in the home, we encourage her to take part in the family activities as much as possible.  Spending quality time together, cleaning up the kitchen after meals, folding laundry, setting the table...who cares if the towels and underwear aren't folded the way I always fold them?  What difference does it make in the grand scheme of things if she puts the knife, fork and spoon on the wrong side of the plate, or doesn't remember which drawer holds the silverware and which cupboard holds the plates...or if she gets confused about whether we just ate lunch or supper...she loves to feel useful as she is still contributing something to the family by her presence with us.

And truly she is.  I love to hear her humming a little song as she helps dry the dishes or as she sits in the rocking chair and chats with me while I prepare our meals. They say that music is one of the last "senses" to go from the mind...and I believe that to be true.  My mother in law still loves to listen to her favorite gospel music CD's every day and she can sing along like she is right there with them.
"Nanny" helping our son with the dishes and enjoying spending happy moments
with her #1 Grandson.  He appreciates the blessing of sharing this time with her as well.
We try hard to see the humor in some of the things that she says or does, even if it is sad that she doesn't realize what is happening to her.  However, some things aren't so funny, especially when she gets angry over the least little thing that doesn't go her way...or when she tries to cut short our visits with friends because she thinks it is time for them to go and she's tired of not being the center of attention. Or when she repeats the same things over and over and over again all day long, and to her it is like she just thought of it that very moment...but we've already had to endure the story/comments/questions too many times to count.

Patience is a virtue that sometimes wears thin. It is difficult for those closest to her to understand that our loved one really doesn't know that she's saying these things over and over again...or that her temper tantrums, negative comments about other family members and delusions are not really the product of a ninety-one year old mature Christian woman...but are the manifestations of a mind/brain that is rapidly breaking down, shriveling up, wearing out...dying.

So every day is a challenge in this journey we are traveling. As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I try to count my blessings and not dwell on the difficulties of life.  I know that someday it will be my turn to be the one that needs care...and I pray that there will be someone willing and able to go the extra mile for me as long as deemed reasonable and possible.  I try to practice "The Golden Rule"..."do unto others as you would have them do unto you..."...not expecting my mother in law to be able "do unto me" any longer...she has already done her part in loving and caring for me and my family all these years.  It is our turn to return the blessing to her...and perhaps this experience will also help the younger generation realize what their part will be in the future.

Some thoughts from the "Love" chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13:1-8

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a
clanging cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, 
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
but have not love,
it profits me nothing.




There really isn't anything more I can add to  that...
Hug and hold your loved ones closely this Thanksgiving.  We never know when it will be the last opportunity we will have to show them how much we love them.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever!"
Psalm 107:1

Click HERE for previous thoughts on Thanksgiving and Family traditions.

And Click HERE for previous posts about the journey we are currently on with my mother in law.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands

"For you shall go out with joy,
and be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills 
shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

Isaiah 55:12

If you've been keeping up with me here lately, you know that I am in the midst of a huge life change! It would be most appropriate to state that this is definitely an event that fits the title of my blog, Closed Doors, Open Windows perfectly!  If you go back to the very beginning of when I first started to write this blog, way back in February of 2010, you will see that the driving force behind my writing was the fact that I was in between jobs...one door had definitely closed in my life, and I was diligently searching for another to open as quickly as possible.  It didn't happen quite as soon as I thought it should...but in God's perfect timing He opened the window of His choice

The next five and a half + years were not always filled with joy and laughter...there were many trials to face during that time, not only in my work, but in the realm of my whole life...(click on each link to go back in time and read the history)Read here about "The Last Farewell""How Could I Not Want This Day to Come?".  But there were some wonderful blessings and times of joy as well...Read "Blessed to Be A Blessing""An Offering of Praise".  

And now, today, a Monday, is the first day of my true retirement from working.  (Actually, last Friday was my last day of work, but today is the first day that I didn't actually have to set my alarm and get up and go to work).  The full reality of that probably won't hit me until I realize that I won't be earning regular paychecks anymore, and we are going to have to watch every penny to survive.  But I know that God is in this. He will provide...and so I am not going to worry about that today. 

(No, I didn't see him this morning...but I always have to be ready
just in case.)
So this morning, as soon as I was able to reasonably slip out of the door and get outside, I took at little "walkabout" our house and neighborhood, with my trusty whistle for protection from any strolling bears
or other "wildlife", and my camera ready to capture the beauty of this first morning of the rest of my life.  It was a rather chilly morning for us here in Florida, but the air was brisk and refreshing, the sun was shining...and I was FREE to wander!

Even though there wasn't much activity this morning, I found enough beauty to fill my senses with the joy of God's wonderful creation and the gift of this new freedom...it's all good. I was a little too late for the sunrise (and it was too chilly at that hour even for me), so this is the earliest picture I could get of one of my favorite spots in the neighborhood... and definitely "all the trees of the field" were clapping their hands for me today.

And all the holly berries are bursting forth in color, ready for the holiday season to begin...and also ready to feed the myriads of birds and wildlife as they store up food for winter...

 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, 
but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, 
That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall MY word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, 
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."  
Isaiah 55:10-11

And this beautiful pink camellia is blooming...this was a plant that I thought had died last year, but I kept nursing it back to health over the summer, and now it is rewarding me with the earliest blossoms before all the other bushes that appear much healthier!  This must be its way of thanking me (and GOD) for rescuing it from an untimely death...
 "Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the Lord for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."  Isaiah 55:13

And there is this lovely Christmas Cactus plant blooming already...another one that I thought was about dead...and it, too, is the first to bloom of all the others!

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 

so are My ways higher than your ways, 
and My thoughts 
than your thoughts."  
Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, today is the beginning of a new adventure...an "Open Window" of opportunity...for what? I don't yet know exactly what God has in mind for my future...but I know He holds my future...and therefore I do not fear.

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, 
and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me,
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you..."
Isaiah 55: 1-3
(This photo was not taken today, but it still speaks volumes)

Yes, today is the beginning of a new day...an Open Window into the rest of my life!
Praise God, and Here I Go!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Letting Go

Yes, I did it! I am still reeling from the euphoria of the realization that I am truly retired from the "working world".  The reality won't fully hit me until next week when I don't have to get up early and jump in the car for the long 45 minute drive to work each day.  As I drove home yesterday I found myself thinking that I would never pass that way again...which is silly, because I am certain I will travel into the city many times in the future...but it will never be with the same purpose or intensity of thought about the day ahead (or the day behind on the way back home). 

I also thought about the young teenage boy that I had been praying for over the past several years Click HERE for that Story and the sequel to it HERE.  I haven't seen him for quite some time at his usual bus stop...perhaps he has now started driving himself to school.  The last time I did see him he still looked like he needed some encouragement and prayers, so I have continued to pray for him each day whether or not he was there.  Now I probably won't remember to do that...and that saddens me...but I deliberately "released" him into God's capable hands as I passed his road.  I should have done that sooner...but I kept thinking that God was depending on ME to be the one to pray. 

In the process of "letting go" of my job and releasing it into the very capable hands of my successor, I have found myself having sleepless nights, thinking of so many little details that I needed to tell her so that she would be able to do her job successfully.  Finally I had to realize that I could not continue to lose sleep over worries of things that were no longer under my control. I am trying very hard (without much success yet) to let go and let GOD direct her as she learns the job and takes ownership of all the responsibilities involved. This woman is very intelligent and competent...exactly who God has chosen for this position...and I must surrender my feelings of ownership and PRIDE. (yes, that is what it is).  Oh, and remember THIS STORY?  and THIS Picture: 
I had said in the above linked post that I would probably leave this picture behind in my office unless I saw that my successor did not appreciate it the way I did...and so I asked her what she thought of it, and she loved it...especially when I told her my little story behind it and its significance to me.  So, that clinched the deal as far as I was concerned as to whether or not she was meant to be there...but again...that was GOD'S deal, NOT MINE!

My son, the sign-maker, said to me yesterday that he was going to create a sign for me that said simply, "LET IT GO".  That is probably not a bad idea. I need to hang it on my mirror, on this computer, over the kitchen sink, and on my bedroom ceiling so I can see it when I lay there awake at night unable to "let it go".   I never realized just how much I thought I had to be in control until this week when I finally handed over the keys to the "kingdom" of my office and walked out that door, never to return in the same capacity again.

So now, as I practice this new act of letting go of what has been my world for the past almost six years, I am asking the Lord, "What next?" But perhaps I ought to be asking Him to forgive me for thinking that I need to be in control of my life and the world around me. That responsibility belongs totally to God.

As Moses prayed to the Lord in Exodus 33:13 ~

"Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way,
that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight...

And God responded in verse 14:

"And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Ahhhhh, REST....YES, LORD....THAT is EXACTLY what I need right now...as well YOU know! Yes, sweet rest...when I LET GO and LET GOD, I will find rest. Where have I heard that before?

"Come to ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you REST.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find REST for your souls.
For My yoke is easy 
and my burden is light."
(Words of Jesus Christ found in the book of Matthew 11:28-30)

I keep saying that I want to provide a place of rest for others who are weary from their burdens and sorrows in life, and that is still my ultimate goal for "retirement", but before I am able to offer this gift to others, I need to learn it for myself. 

So to sum this post up and get to bed for the night, I am going to try harder to "LET IT GO"....AND "LET GOD" take the full control of my mind and heart and life...and allow Him to give me that rest that He so desires to give me.  Then perhaps I will be better prepared for whatever comes next.

I am letting go...and letting God...
Good Night my friends.
Sleep Tight...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Could Be Better?

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Acts 3:6 (NKJV)

On my way home from work today I was blessed with the most beautiful rainbow in the sky...and me without my camera!  Thankfully I had this picture in my archives from another trip on this same road several years ago...

I wasn't the only one enjoying today's spectacular vision of God's promise in the sky.  As I was driving along I noticed a truck stopped in the road ahead, with an old hippie-looking kind of man standing up in the door of his truck taking a picture of the rainbow.  I slowed down, rolled down my window and said "Hey! How about sending me a copy of your picture since I don't have my camera!"  He laughed and said "Sure" as I drove away! I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one crazy enough to want to stop and actually take a picture of a rainbow in the sky! I think I would have at least pulled OFF the road instead of blocking an entire lane on the wrong side...but, well, that's what you get out here in the boonies where I live.  

Anyway, I enjoyed looking at that rainbow in the sky all the way to the outskirts of my neighborhood, where it stopped and faded into the clouds...before I could get my camera of course.  But the memory of the joy it gave me lingers still.  I felt such hope and encouragement from the heavens above because God set His "rainbow in the cloud" as a sign of His promise and love for His children.  (See Genesis 9:13)

Click HERE for another story of a rainbow in the sky over our home several years ago.  At that time, we had just moved to our home out here "in the boonies"...a fulfillment of God's promise to take care of us always...and to give  hope for our future here.  We are now at another kind of new beginning.  If you read my last post in which I shared with you the good news of my upcoming retirement, you will know that I am looking forward to the start of a new life here...and yet I don't know exactly what the Lord may have in store for us.  However, this rainbow in the sky today gave me such hope...it reminded me that God is with me all the way...and that I have nothing to fear.

So what does all this rainbow and hope talk have to do with the verse quoted at the beginning of this story? Well, that's a good question. This verse just popped into my head this evening as I was chatting with a friend of mine on the phone about some concerns we share regarding people that we know. People who need hope...the kind of hope that only God can give.  People who don't know that God can give them that kind of hope because they've never truly known God.  And as we talked, the idea came to me that perhaps part of what my new adventure will be is to be an instrument through which God can offer these people hope.  

The old King James Version of this verse goes like this:

"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."

That's the way I remember learning this verse..."silver and gold have I none"....in other words, I don't have money to give away (especially now that I am retiring), but what I DO have is God's offer of hope and healing in the Name of Jesus Christ. No, I don't expect to be able to make the crippled and lame walk again...at least not in the literal physical sense...although if that is what God desires, I know He can do that...but what I do expect is for God to bring the kind of healing that can actually help these individuals "rise up and walk" in hope and love...The kind of healing that brings salvation to wounded souls and gives them the courage to rise up from their beds of affliction, whether it be emotional scars, physical and spiritual brokenness, poverty...and yes, hopelessness, and to walk in wholeness and joy.
Only the love of Jesus Christ can accomplish this. I can not accomplish this in my own strength. But I can be a vessel for His love to flow through...how? By using the gifts that He has given me to share with others...my home, which has already been dedicated to the Lord... and the knowledge of His love and salvation that is free to all who will receive it. 

I don't know all the details of this yet...but a plan is forming in my heart and in the heart of my friend as we agreed together in prayer that we would be open to however the Lord may direct in this adventure.
I would ask that you, my praying friends in "blogland", would also pray that God would give us wisdom, courage, and the strength to carry out whatever His plan may be.

No, I may not have silver and gold, but what I do have, I will give to you...in Jesus' Name.
What could be better than that?

I may not have been able to capture a picture of the rainbow today, but when I got home the first thing I saw out of my window was this lovely rose blooming! Just another of God's ways of showing me that He is with me...and that the gifts He offers are far greater than any silver or gold! I know that I am meant to share them with others one way or the other! They are not for me alone.

What could be better than that?