Sunday, May 22, 2016

Farewell, Dad, Until We Meet Again In Heaven

1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  Romans 8:1-10

"Today we wipe our tears with Kleenex, but on that day God will wipe away all our tears."~Tim Counts

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Friday, May 13, 2016

To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

I know many intelligent people, most Christians, who say they will not be voting this year.  They cite many reasons.
1. There are no viable candidates.
2. The candidates are immoral.
3. The  candidates say things they shouldn't say.
4. The  candidates don't know anything about being president.
5. The  candidates are only interested in self aggrandizement.
6. The  candidates are not godly people.
7. The candidates are liars.
8. I want to vote my conscience, therefore I can't vote for either candidate.

The list goes on and on and on,  so I won't continue to list the reasons.  You see what I am saying.

Given the reasons above and others, are these good reasons Christian voters should sit the election out and not vote?

I plan to vote and here is why:

1. I am an American citizen, and I am registered to vote.  Voting is a civic duty and a privilege that our fore-bearers fought for and some died for.  I owe it to them and my country to carry out my civic duty to vote.

2. While it is true, that as Christians neither candidate is what we would all want in the White House,  we must remember that we are not voting for a pastor or elder.  The office of pastor/elder is a much higher calling than the POTUS.  So, yes, we would prefer to have a godly man that would hold up godly principles in the White House, but obviously, we are not given that choice in this election and we are not voting for a pastor to lead us.

3. We as Christians are commanded to go out and make disciples.  One of the guiding principles that I am going to use when voting is this:  Which candidate will be more apt to maintain our freedom to follow that command of Christ?  We need to vote for the one who will be more apt to not make laws that restrict that freedom.

4. Other Biblical Examples:

We see in the kings of Israel, that God gave them the leaders they deserved based on how they as a nation blessed Him.  We know that whoever we get as a POTUS is who God intends for us to have and it will be for His purposes alone. However, that does not absolve us of fulfilling our civic duty to vote.

We see many godly people who worked for wicked kings, not all by choice, but all willing to do what God wanted them to do.  Daniel, Esther competed to be the king's wife, Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king, and others to name a few.

Esther strikes me the most.  She was willing to become a wicked king's wife, which was no doubt repugnant to her, in order that she could be in a position to sway his intentions that one of his henchmen had against the Jews.  No doubt in my mind that joining the competition to be the king's wife was not in line with her conscience, but she did it anyway so that she might have an influence in the future for the good of her people.

We are not asked to marry either of the candidates running for office.  We are just supposed to vote. It makes sense to me to vote even if the candidate does not line up perfectly with what my conscience says, but with a view to a wider purpose...that perhaps this candidate will do more to retain our religious freedom to assemble, worship and share the gospel than the other one will.

I want to challenge you all to think about the ramifications of not voting and the possibilities of voting for an imperfect person, but one who so far seems to want to maintain our religious freedoms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Children Often Resemble Their Parents

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
1 John 3:2

Children often resemble their parents. I get comments all the time that I look like my mom or I look like my dad.  

Those whom God has saved are called children of God.  No one has seen God at any time, but this verse says we will be like him when He appears and we will see Him as He is.  We as God's children will resemble our Father.  What will that look like?  

The next verse says everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as He is pure.  We know that much.  We also know that we have work to do in preparation for that day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Comfort for Those Bereaved of Husband and Father

I sat down to drink something after a brisk walk with the dogs and suddenly out of the blue the phrase "a father to the fatherless" popped into my mind.
  Yes, I may be an adult on my own with a family of my own, but the loss of my dad still has a profound effect on me and I am sure it does on others who have lost their fathers no matter their age.  
I got tears in my eyes thinking about the fact that I may no longer have an earthly father but God is my father and I can find comfort in Him.  I just felt like God was wrapping His arms around me at that moment when I realized this.  I will always miss my earthly father, but I will never be truly fatherless.
Psalm 68:4  Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him.A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
For those who have lost their husbands, God is a husband to them.  What comfort to know that we are never truly alone no matter what happens in our lives!

Isaiah 54:5For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tribute to My Dad

Where do I start?

My earliest memories are when I was little and for some reason I loved to rub my nose in the hair on his arm. Who knows why?  But it brings back pleasant memories thinking about it.

He was the best bedtime story-teller ever! His rendition of the Three Billy Goats Gruff was the best!  He would change his voice for each goat that trip tramped across the Troll's bridge.  And there was the Three Little Pigs and each pig had a different voice and the big bad wolf had a rough voice. We loved bed time stories with him.

He had a love for youth.  We had a number of foster children over the years, and he loved planning and doing activities with the youth at church and at Camp Gilead.  I remember the great New Year's Eve parties he would put on for the church youth at our house and then later at the church.  What a fun time that was playing pool and other games, watching Bear Country and then beginning the New Year in prayer.

He loved the outdoors and I remember many camping trips as we crossed the United States to go visit relatives.  So many memories were made on those trips.  We had a lot of mishaps along the way and he trusted God to take care of us.  We learned to look for God's hand in our travels.

He loved music and directed the church choir for a long time and often directed the congregational singing.  He loved putting special emphasis on certain parts of the hymns.

He loved preaching.  He stuck to the Scripture. There were tough times in his ministry, but he always persevered.  Often he wondered if he was having any impact for Christ on people, but in his later years he would hear from various ones that his ministry in their lives had helped to shape them into the people they are today.  Praise God for that.

He practiced what he preached.  He was a humble man.  He was a wonderful example to us kids, growing up.

His love for the Lord shined through his whole life.  He and my mom had daily devotions every morning and they had a box filled with the names of all the people they knew and ministered to over the years and each morning they would take three or four names from the box to pray for.  This was a practice they did up until he began to feel so poorly that he couldn't do it anymore.  He believed in the power of prayer.

My dad will be dearly missed.  It just isn't the same seeing his empty chair in the living room when I go to visit.  I'm going to miss his sense of humor, his puns, his "under the nose" looks, his prayers, his music and singing.

Oh, I remember attending Sunday School with him sometime in the last ten months when he was doing better and in the Sunday school class they sang some hymns.  I was sitting next to Dad and we were harmonizing.  I remember the Sunday School teacher commenting on our harmony.  That was a special time singing with him that I will remember for a long time because it was the last time I heard him sing.

I bet he is enjoying the singing in heaven right now.  He is no doubt singing at the top of his lungs in worship to his Savior. I'm looking forward to the day when I can harmonize with him again.  I love you Daddy and miss you so much!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Seeing God's Hand in the Details

My dad's health had started declining some years ago as Parkinson's invaded his body and mind and more recently the cancer that ultimately took him.

We have much to be thankful for even in this sorrow.

1. He realized soon enough that his mind and body were failing and that he might die before my mom, so he insisted they get set up in an independent living apartment at the Odd Fellows Home where she would be surrounded with people and friends they had made after their move there, and where she would not have to worry about the upkeep of the outside and living quarters, and she could get rides to town and appointments on the Odd Fellows bus.

2. There were certain legal papers that were needing to be signed before he died,but his health and mind had so deteriorated after he had to be moved to the nursing home, we were afraid he would not be able to sign them for the notary.  God was so good.  That particular day, when he was usually asleep, he was wide awake.  He was able to understand everything that was being said to him and was was willing with Mom's help to sign the papers.

3. We did not like him having to go to the nursing home, but he was too debilitated for Mom to be able to care for him at home anymore, so three weeks before he died he had to be moved.  It was hard on him and all of us emotionally to have to do this.  But in retrospect, it was a mercy for Mom, in that it gave her three weeks to adjust to being alone in the apartment.  It has made that adjustment smoother for her since his death.

4. Dad had a rough time in the nursing home.  His mind wasn't working right most of the time and he kept asking why he was there.  Eventually he could no longer talk or feed himself or move around without someone doing it for him.  Those were difficult days for all of us.  But God's sustaining grace saw us through it.  There were small memories made that were good. My favorite was being able to take him for wheelchair rides.  The first Saturday he was there, I spent a great deal of time wheeling him around. He wanted to "get the lay of the land" he said. We took several trips around the dining room and picked up a magazine each round.  Finally we went back to his room and we looked at a country magazine together.  He kept saying how beautiful the pictures were.  This made my heart happy to see that he was able to find some pleasure that first day in the nursing home.

5. Two weeks before he died, I went back to visit.  I took him outside.  He really seemed to enjoy that. I remarked how beautiful it was out there and he said, "Yes it is."  But alas it was short lived because he said he had to go to the toilet, so we had to high tail it back to his room and then he was tired and wanted to go to bed.  But that few moments was precious and will live on in my memory.

6. The day he died, I was scheduled to travel with Rick to Kennewick so he could attend a work meeting.  We heard he was not doing well, so we decided instead to go over to Walla Walla the night before and he would ride to Kennewick with his work group.  That was Providential.

7. My dad had a roommate who was not in his right mind.  He was a Kleenex hoarder.  I was told during my dad's last days, my mom was sitting by Dad's bed crying and blowing her nose repeatedly.  Leroy, the Kleenex hoarder, had six boxes of Kleenex on his side of the room.  Out of the blue, he got up and brought my mom two boxes of Kleenex. It was remarkable that this man was willing to share his boxes of Kleenex.  Just another sign that God was showing He cared and saw her tears.

8. My parents have a wonderful friend whose wife died three years ago.  He lives at Odd Fellows too.  He was instrumental in encouraging them to move there.  God has used him in many ways to help my mom through this time of Dad's illness and death.  He has told us that he will check in with her regularly to be sure she is doing okay.  We are so thankful for friends like these that God puts in our path. We informed him that he is now part of our family, and we will call him Uncle Blayne from now on.

9. Dad, although his mind was not working right, never forgot who who I am.  The few times he said my name and when I knew he knew who I was when I came to visit him meant the world to me.

These are just a few things where God has shown himself faithful through this ordeal.  There are many others I've not mentioned that my sister and mom have told about.  But these are the ones that mean the most to me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earthen Vessels

“For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”
2 Corinthians 4:6-12 NASB

As I have been observing the frailty of life, it has brought new meaning to these verses for me. On Thursday, April 21, 2016 after a difficult, painful battle with Parkinson's and cancer,  my dad left his earthen vessel on the bed in the nursing home.  Viewing his empty shell before the funeral home came to pick it up, he looked finally pain free and at peace and yet, as I stood there, the realization came to me that he really wasn't there.  That was just an earthen vessel.  We kept saying things like, "He finally looks peaceful and pain free."  And in my mind I kept saying, "But it's not him any more. He is gone!"  Praise be to the Lord, that He took him home to be with Him.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.Psalm 116:15

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Book About a Pug Was Just What I Needed

The last couple of months have been difficult months as we have watched my dad's health decline from cancer and his ability to communicate and move about has been taken away by Parkinson's.  It has been very stressful for all of us.

Even though he is still with us, we are mourning his loss because Parkinson's has essential already taken him from us.

Enter a book, given to me by the local librarian.  She had gone to a book seller's convention in Chicago and the author of The Pug List was there with her pug.  Since I own a pug she picked up one of the books and brought it back for me, thinking I would enjoy reading it.

I read the book in three days.  I could hardly put it down.  It couldn't have been a more appropriate book for the times I live in right now.

On page 23 the author, Alison Hodgson talks about the Before and After.  When tragedy or death comes into your life, there is a point where you cross over from Before to After and your life changes at that point.  You can't go back to Before ever again.  You must adjust and accept your life After the event.

On page 29 Alison talks about how when her house burned down, it was all merely stuff that was burning.  The most important things were her family's lives and their pets.  They still had those.

Although cancer and Parkinson's is taking my Dad's life away from me, what Alison says about "merely stuff", reminds me that I need to value and love those around me while I have them.  My "stuff" is temporary.  It doesn't really matter.  Those I love are more important than my "stuff".

Page 40 Alison says that trauma, while in the company of grief and loss are not the same thing at all.

Grief and loss is the process of coming to accept life After.  Trauma runs deeper and can cause Post Traumatic Syndrome and anxiety if the stress of the experience that caused the trauma is not addressed and worked through.

Page 53 Alison learned that grief is not a linear journey.  In other words, it does not follow the prescribed stages that you see in neat little charts about the stages of grief.  It bounces all over the board from one stage to the other and back again.

Page 54 Alison talks about the death of her dad.  I was impressed with the statement she made about him now seeing through a glass clearly. He had it all figured out now. She prayed to see things from his perspective and was amazed how material things didn't matter that much anymore after that.  She felt a clarity about what was important and what could be let to fall by the side.  It removed the guilt she felt about certain things like seeing pictures that were not put in a scrapbook.  She was able to work through the anger and grief and felt peace because she had learned to truly mourn his death.

Page 94  I liked that she said that the story of the Bible is not finished.  God promises there will be no more tears, but not yet.  We are part of the story and that is yet to come.

Page 112 She talks about her fear wasn't so much of losing her belongings as it was of starting over.  I think that can also be true of those who lose a loved one.  They aren't losing any stuff, but in a sense they have to start over with life without their loved one.  There is the fear of what that will be like.

Page 123  Corrie Ten Boom said, "There are no ifs' in God's world. And no places are safer than other places.  The center of His will is our only safety--Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!"

Of course there is the pug.  I laughed at all the things this little imp of a pug did.  It all sounded exactly like my pug when she was young.  The bawling at the vet when it was time for toe nail clipping, the happy dances when his "person" came home, the unhappy whines when his "person" left his sight...all of it parallel's Daisy.  All pugs must be cut from the same cloth.  But the most precious part was how this little dog healed the hearts of this family in spit of his frustrating habits of snoring, hogging the bed and making messes around the house.

I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with loss of any kind.  You will laugh.  You will cry. But above all you will come away encouraged.

The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Christians Bashing Christians Over the Elections

I was deeply troubled by a post on Facebook from a Christian friend. This person said they could not understand how people who call themselves Christians could reconcile that with supporting Donald Trump.

This isn't the first time I've seen comments of this sort from various sources.

Is this election so important that we need to call into question the Christian profession of fellow believers based on who they choose to support in the election?  Is it so important that we need to alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ if they don't choose to support the same candidate we have chosen?

I know many would say that without question a Christian should support the candidate that claims to be a Christian.

It seems to me that many Christians look at the election much like voting on a new pastor for a church. Let me remind you that we are not voting on a church pastor, elder or deacon. (Christians shouldn't act like this toward each other then, either)

I guess I'm just wondering where the fruits of the Spirit play a part in how we treat others with a different opinion than us this election season?  

I'm not saying we can't debate the issues or debate who might be best, but can't we at least agree to disagree with those of other opinions without calling their Christian faith into question if they disagree with us?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Difficult Days

Would appreciate prayers for strength and wisdom during these difficult days for my mom, dad and my sister and me.  Thanks.  Marsha

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hearts Full of Graditude

Today we have thankful hearts for all the blessings God is raining down on my Mom and Dad.  They were worried about the costs that would be associated with my Dad's illness.  They learned today that Hospice will take care of everything and Medicare will pay for everything.  

Hopice is ordering a power seat lift chair for my dad which will be a big help to him as getting in and out of his chair was getting more difficult and he didn't look very comfortable in it.  Medicare is paying for this.

Medicare will pay for all his medications associtaed with his cancer and the medications will be delivered to their door, saving my mom having to go pick them up.

If mom needs immediate help, she is to call Hospice, not 911 and they will come.  The nurse will come once a week to check up on him and as things progress she will increase the number of her visits as needed.

CNA's will be scheduled as needed in the future to help with showers, dressing, going out for wheelchair walks outside or just to sit with him so Mom can get a break.

This is such a wonderful service for them and it has lifted a heavy burden for them both.  We are so very grateful.  

Thankyou all for your prayers for them. Please continue to pray them through this transition.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Aging Stinks but God is Still Good

My dad went to the cancer center today. The doctor there did not offer any hope.  Hospice will be ordered and we wait.

 I hate what Parkinson's and cancer has done to my dad.  He is just a shadow of his former self.  He has trouble walking, he is weak, his mind takes vacations on him and leaves him confused, eating is difficult, he has to swallow half a pharmacy every day and he is just plain worn out all the time.

It is exhausting for my mom to keep up with his continually changing needs.

It scares me to death to see what old age can do to a person and I fear that one day it will do it to me or my husband or my mom or any other family member.  It's living Hell.

Yet, as I think on this, it makes me realize a number of things:

1. Life is am I making the most of the time I have?

2. We live in a fallen world....there wouldn't be all this sickenss and heartache if it weren't for sin having entered the world.  This is not to say that my dad or anyone else is ill because of sin they have committed (although some are).  It's just an acknowledgement of the fact that sin has turned our world upside down and part of the judgement for Adam and Eve's sin is that we all get sick and die.

3. It makes the realities of heaven more real and makes me long for heaven.

4. It makes the passages of Scripture that talk about old age mean that much more to me now.

5. It makes me think about what kind of legacy I am leaving for others when I read notes from those whose lives he touched.  So many people benefited from his ministry.

6. It makes me want to hug my loved ones a little more and say, "I love you" more often.

7. It shows me the need to put my ducks in order to make things as easy as possible for my kids when it is my turn to walk through the shadow of the valley of death.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Time So Far in Walla Walla

I've been here at my mom and dad's since yesterday just before noon.  It's been good to be with them.  

My being here has given my mom freedom to go to the laundry room and do her wash without worry about my dad being by him self.  It has also given her the freedom to go to town and run errands without worry and without him feeling like he needs to ride along when he doesn't feel well.

So far it seems like his mornings are worse and his afternoons and evenings are better.  This morning he had trouble with his cereal going down so I offered him some soda pop to help.  That is what the doctor said to do.  I put an ice cube in it.  He spent a long time staring at the ice cube in the bottom of his glass.  He couldn't figure out what it was.  His mind was not working this morning.

He was not feeling well when I arrived yesterday, nor was he feeling well at all this morning, but both yesterday and today by after lunch he seemed to perk up.  Today he visited quite a bit, he got up and walked to the door a couple times to see what was going on outside. He spent a long time browsing through his books on the bookshelf and finally chose one out to read.  
He even walked out to the mail box in the lobby and got the mail.  I think once he got past the rough start, he had a fairly good day today. He did have to take pain meds at supper, but it seemed to help him a lot.

Tomorrow is Sunday (I'm writing this at 9:30pm Saturday).  If he gets up and is not feeling well enough to go to church, I will stay home with him so my mom can go to church.

Mom needs breaks.  She has a lot on her plate especially when his mind is not working straight sometimes.  I'm glad I could come and stay for most of four days and help out.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Most Important Thing

I woke up in the middle of the night the other night and lay there thinking about my kids, education, jobs, their futures etc.  

They have both been slow bloomers like myself when it comes to moving on in life.  I didn't leave the nest for good until I was 24 years old.  They are 23 and almost 20.  

As happens, well-meaning people want to know what my kids are doing.  What college they are attending, what job they are in, and if they are making it big in the world.  It's interesting, because the prying questions never seem to stop.  When we were struggling to have children, well-meaning people would ask us when we were going to have children, and make unwelcomed remarks regarding that.  It's no different now.  Everyone seems to think they know better and that we are doing it all wrong if they aren't in college, in a lucrative career, married, out on their own by now and the list goes on and on. 

But you know what?  On any given morning, I can walk into either of my kid's rooms to leave the mail or what have you and find their Bibles and Bible study guides and assorted other Christian books laying about on their beds where they left them after spending time seeking the face of God.

It warms my heart like nothing else to see that my children are walking with the Lord.  It says in the Bible to seek God and His kingdom first and all these things will be added unto you, and it says in Proverbs to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your steps. This is what my children are doing.  Isn't this the most important thing of all?  

They may not be moving along on the same time table as most other kids their age, but who says they have to be like all the others?  What is important to me is that they have a heart after God and He will direct their steps in the way that He wants them to go.  

A Visit to Walla Walla to See My Parents

Yesterday was a holiday for Rick and Sarah had the day off too.  So we all piled in the car and headed to Walla Walla to see my parents.  It's just under two hours drive depending on how many slow pokes we get behind.

My dad is moving slowly.  They had company when we arrived. A man from their church who also happens to be the fire marshal, fire fighter, was there visiting.  Just before we came my dad got up to do something and down he went, fainted on the floor.  Tim, the fire marshal saw him go down and helped him get back up again.  He was really good, asking my dad lots of questions about the episode etc.  He assured my mom and dad that if Dad falls and my mom can't get him up that it doesn't cost a dime for them to call 911 and have them come pick him up off the floor.  He gave her his personal cell number and work number too.  He is going to compile a list of no cost and low cost options for things they might need and services they might need as things progress with my dad.

It's nice to have so many helpful individuals to support my parents through this time.  There are people at their church who have offered to help in any way they are needed and I have been giving my mom ideas of how she might utilize their offers...such as just coming and sitting with Dad so she can get out and run errands or just go to the big social room and sit on the couch and read a book, because she is going to need breaks like this.

Others have told her they are ready to bring in meals if they need that.  So nice to see such support and caring in the church.

I will be traveling back to Walla Walla on Friday alone and staying through Monday mid-afternoon while Becky and Dan are out of town.

I covet your prayers.  This week, Monday we were in Walla Walla.  Today I'm home, Tomorrow I have a morning outing. Thursday I am in Kennewick all day (2 1/2 hrs from home).  Friday I travel to Walla Walla and return on Monday.  Please pray for my health and energy for all this travel, preparations and stresses associated with it all.  I want to be of help to my mom and dad but I don't want to be worn out or sick while there.  I need to be at my best.