Because


carolsseriouskidsSoft wrinkled fingers gently stoked the hair back from my aching head, like they did every time my head hurt that badly. “Oh, I love you.” My grandma spoke in a quiet I’m-sorry-you-don’t-feel-well-voice.

“Why?” I asked.

“Just because.”

That answer didn’t satisfy. I thought there should be more to the story, but usually those fingers were so soothing my eyes would close against the desire to hear more, and I would drift off to sleep.

Years later and with three children to love and to nurture, I find myself cataloging their gifts and thinking I have wonderful children. But sometimes when we are discussing something about their lives and they share their surprise at being capable, or looking good, or succeeding and I say, “Of course you did well!” Or, “Of course you won!” Or “Of course you’re beautiful!” and they ask me “why?” all that comes out is, “Because!”

Because you are beautiful, smart, amazingly talented and sweet. Because you’re a hard worker and a deep thinker and your quirky sense of humor gets me every time.

Because you persevere through things other people only think of dealing with in nightmares and because you keep trying no matter how hard it is and because you feel perfect when I hug you and because you still lay across my bed to chat with me.

Because I cannot imagine life without you and your eyes are so clear and direct and sometimes when you get mad you say ridiculous things.

Because you are unique and ornery and loving and have a temper that matches your hair. Because I’ve shared every moment of triumph and sadness and you’ve grown into a stunning person.

Because you do some things that remind me of myself at your age and because you do other things that make me wonder if you’re actually my child.

Because you are capable and confident, shy and uncertain and you expect everyone to deal in honesty and respect.

Because I believe you can do anything you set your mind to and because you don’t know yet exactly who you are.

Because you love and you cry and you laugh with your whole heart. Because you are a piece of me, only so much better.

Oh my children. I love you more deeply than I ever pictured and more than words can ever say.

And just like my Gram, sometimes those feelings overwhelm me and all I can say is, “I love you, just because.”

carolslaughingkids

31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers

31Days headerbold
Because caregivers need a daily dose of comfort. (tweet this)

That’s what I craved during my caregiving season. It didn’t matter if I found myself in the midst of a medical emergency, surrounded by frantic hospital staff, or awakened in the quiet of the night from my restless slumber on a hard hospital cot, I needed comfort.

And after the crisis passed, I still craved comfort. Comfort as I made the adjustment to my new reality and comfort that that I would be able to handle the pressures of caregiving and parenting and working full time.

Sometimes, I turned to food for comfort (which didn’t work very well), even though I knew all along that only one place offered true comfort. In order to receive the comfort, I needed to spend time with the comforter.

During the 31 days of October 2014, I’m joining up with my friends at Kate Motaung’s, the host of Five-Minute Fridays, who have accepted the double challenge of blogging about a topic for the 31 days of October (a challenge started by The Nester and now hosted at Write 31 Days) AND trying to write each post in five minutes—more or less.

And so I invite you to return each day in October for a peak at the comfort God offers to YOU—a busy caregiver. Brew a cup of coffe or a cup of tea, grab your Bible and a comfy blanket (brisk mornings come along with October—even in the high desert) and join me. Or, if you’re really stressed and busy, lock yourself into the bathroom for five minutes and use your cell phone to read about the comfort God offers.

Each day in October, return to this page to follow the link to the post of the day. Or, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or to the blog. I’ll also be posting the links on twitter and pinterest using the hash tag #write31days and #caregivercomfort. The topics for Fridays will remain unknown until Kate supplies them on Thursday nights at the weekly #fmfparty on twitter.

If you’re not a caregiver, but know someone who is, please pass along the link and the encouragement!

October 1—He is
October 2—Rod and Staff
October 3—FMF
October 4—Increase
October 5—Promise
October 6—Unfailing
October 7—Afflicted
October 8—Abounding
October 9—Job
October 10—FMF
October 11—Despair
October 12—Faint
October 13—Dance
October 14—Spoke
October 15—Mourn
October 16—Troubled
October 17—FMF
October 18—Downcast
October 19—Quick
October 20—Lavish
October 22—Hope
October 23—Redeemed
October 24—FMF
October 25—Wait
October 26—Put
October 27—First
October 28—Regrets
October 29—Burned-out
October 30—Blessed
October 31—FMF

 

 

God Chooses YOU!


potterpotinbowl
Dear Friend;

God chooses YOU! Yes, you. He chooses you from all of the other lumps of clay and chooses to turn you into a beautiful vessel—a work of art and purpose.

This summer I spent hours filming an award-winning master potter turn a lump of Lizella clay into a beautiful work of art—a traditional Cherokee cooking pot.  I have seen potters work before—on television and in movies—but I have never seen a potter in real life. What I witnessed surprised me and made me think.

I watched the potter choose a nondescript square of brown from his stock of clay and carefully slice off a chunk. He pounded it and warmed it in his hands and while I looked around for a potter’s wheel, he pulled out a rolling pin. He explained his process, and started to roll out the lump of clay and once it met his specifications, he placed it inside a bowl.potterrawpot

Again, not what I expected. As he pressed the clay into the bowl, he explained that without a potter’s wheel, his ancestors most likely used rocks or stone bowls to create a form for their cooking pots. I thought it looked more like a pizza crust than a cooking pot.

After rolling out a strip and using water to attach it to the clay in the bowl, I could see a pot taking shape—but it still didn’t look like the promised end result. When the potter added a second strip of clay, and carefully formed the lip of the cooking pot, I could finally see the promise.

The potter prodded, pounded, smoothed and then slapped the upper part of the cooking pot with a stamp paddle—after which he instructed us to come back tomorrow when the pot would be dry enough to work with, but not so hard that it would lose its malleability. Life interrupted the plans, and it took three days to return to the potter’s studio. But the potter knew about the interruption, and he kept the pot covered so that it would not dry too fast. Continue reading

You are Worth the Effort

worth the effortDear Friend;

You are worth the effort. It’s not easy, struggling through each day and learning to squash the automatic thoughts that the evil one has planted in your subconscious. But you are worth the effort.

Answering endless questions posed by psychiatrists and counselors feels like an invasion of privacy (and possibly pointless.) But each person involved wants to help fit a piece of the puzzle into the masterpiece that is you. And you are worth the effort.

Sitting in group sessions or classes and listening to people who really ‘need help’ seems like an unnecessary chore—especially when from all outward appearances you look pretty normal (unlike the guy rocking back and forth in his chair with his hair askew and wild eyes). Take heart—join the community of flawed people (after all, we are ALL flawed)—and learn to share your burdens in a safe place. You are worth the effort.

Learn to remake the movies in your mind—the ones that currently star ‘Failure Girl’ and have titles like Looser, She Bombs Again, and Worthless Waif.  Remake the movies with the real YOU—the one who is infinitely precious and beautiful—and remember that her name is ‘God’s Girl.’ She stars in movies with titles like Saved Again, Walking With Jesus, and Precious Child. Mindfully edit the horror movies that predict failure and defeat. You are worth the effort. Continue reading

Ready to Rest Under His Wings


Underhiswings

I’m ready, Lord, to throw in the towel.
You know how caregiving
weighs on my soul.

You know how often I try to
provide the cure and
not just the care.

You know how I enter hyper-super-warp
speed overthinking of every detail
when disaster strikes.

Help me to remember that
you have me covered
with your mighty
wings.

You stand ready,
waiting for me to say,
“Do, Lord, do it all!”

You wait for me to relinquish my
spot as superhero (I never really had
it to begin with), supermom (I have no
claim to that one either) and superChristian
(nope, that one doesn’t apply, either)

I can’t solve the world’s problems.
I can’t solve my students’ problems.
I can’t solve my friends’ problems.
I can’t solve my family’s problems.
I can’t even solve my own problems.

I’m ready, Lord. So I’ll stand still
and stretch out my limbs and
luxuriate in the assurance that
I’m under your wings.

I’m joining Kate Motaung and other brave bloggers for Five-Minute Friday.  You can find the details and join us by clicking here!

Ready or Not

Snapshot_20140902_12While waiting for the Five-minute Friday prompt to appear I check my flight itinerary again. Next weekend I’m flying home for my high school reunion and to visit my family. The prompt appears and I laugh out-loud.

Ready.

Ready or not, here comes my THIRTY year high school reunion. 30. Yes, you read that right. I’m sure you must be glancing at my author-ish picture posted on here and feeling shocked because I appear SO much younger than that. Right? Right? But indeed, I’m going home as an old lady to visit my old friends in my old hometown.

SCAN0286 (2)Now take a look at this picture I ran down and pulled from my senior-year scrapbook. One of my senior portraits. I can only chuckle at the irony that my hair has undergone multiple style changes over the years but has evolved back into something so similar to my high-school look (although I’m not sure anyone can accurately achieve that giant 80s hair quite like we did it back then).

Look at those innocent eyes. I was so ready to graduate and get on with my life. Ha! One can almost see the fear as I thought I really needed to have life all figured out upon graduation and I could not even check anything besides the “undecided” major box in my college applications. I did not feel ready for college!

As long as we’re talking about ready, let’s move on to getting married. I wanted to get married, but was I ready? Motherhood. I loved kids but didn’t’ feel ready to be a mom with all the commitment and responsibilities. Three kids? Seriously. Who is ready for that? Anyone ready for a child with leukemia? How about for the death of a student or a best friend? Who is ready for the loss of a family member or for moving across the country?

THIRTY YEARS! Thirty years since those innocent eyes smiled upon thoughts of graduation. I didn’t feel ready then, and I’m not sure I’m ready for what’s next now.

But my “not-feeling-ready” stuff is different now because I know that maybe I will never quite be “ready” for the next thing. In fact, most of the time, I won’t even know what the next thing is going to be. But it’s okay.

I know that I don’t really have to do much. I’ve got a God who’s got everything ready for me. He’s already been where I’m going and He will never leave me. With that thought in mind, I can be ready for anything.

I’m excited to see my old friends and classmates. I’m sure none of us are going to look old. It’s certain we are not nearly as antique as the 30 year alumni were back in 1984. THOSE people were ancient! I can’t wait to hear friends’ stories and catch up on our lives.
Ready or not, here I come!

Join us at Kate Motaung’s place for some Five-Minute Friday fun!

This I Know


lightening
Jesus loves me this I know.
I’ve always wanted the lightning strike, the booming thunder-voice to reverberate across my confusion and direct me in the way I should go. I’ve begged for God to yell, to force my path, to throw a boulder to block me into safety.

For the Bible tells me so. I’ve prayed for guidance on huge decisions and gotten the still, small voice that that was promised.

Little ones to Him belong. I didn’t want the still smallness. I wanted the giant kaboom. The giant crushing feel of His arms around me.

They are weak but He is strong. In the midst of my biggest sorrows and times of need, I get the whisper.

Yes Jesus loves me. At times I’ve been frustrated; I’ve lived my life under God’s guidance, why is He still whispering?

Yes, Jesus loves me. But in those quiet God moments, where love and promises filter through my troubled soul, I can look back over my own little personal history and see that God’s whispers have been gigantic.

Yes Jesus Loves me. The little whispers through my life have comforted, celebrated, encouraged and even directed.

The Bible tells me so. I believe I’m right where God wants me to be, doing what I should be doing, becoming who I need to become. A gentle loving whisper.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung for another fellowship-filled Five-minute Friday. Join us!

Come Away With Me

comeawayHave you listened to the lies so long that you fear they may be true—that you are lazy, unable to change and utterly hopeless? Have your heart and mind formed a new reality that feels like a dark prison cell, and escape seems impossible?

Jesus whispers hope. Have you listened lately? “My child, I’m in the business of setting captives free.”

Do you struggle with the mind movies from your past that haunt your every turn and interrupt all attempts at normal?

Jesus whispers words of transformation. “My child, I can turn red to the purest white. I can rewind and erase the power of the past.”

Does the rock of your anger rise more often than you want, choking out your rational thoughts and spewing words you wished unsaid on those you love the most?

Breathe deeply and listen for the whisper of the one who loves you most of all. “My child, give your anger to me, and I will set you free.”

Has life taught you that you must be all things to all people and you feel you’ve lost yourself bit by bit in an insane attempt to please everyone?

“Relax,” Jesus whispers to your weary soul, “come away with me, and learn what I want for you.”

Listen for the whispers in the wind, in the silence, in the thunder and the rain. Jesus whispers words of promise. Listen(click to tweet)

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung for another fellowship-filled Five-minute Friday.  Join us!

How do I Know?


dontbeafraidI’m not obsessed with hummingbirds. Really. Ok, wait, maybe my friends and family (and much to my chagrin, a perfect stranger in the Wal Mart bird feed aisle) have reached the limit on what they want to hear and see about these delightful creatures.

And I know this blog is primarily about being a caregiver, and the miracles God has brought into our lives, but part of recovering from my caregiver journey has been a foray into photography and a burgeoning fascinating with birds (some might call it an obsession).

But something about birds and the way the Creator carefully crafted them feather by feather in a startling array of beauty and precision engineering causes me to reach the same conclusion over and over again: God cares for ME. I have no need to be afraid.

After all, that’s what Jesus tells us. He assures us that not one sparrow (one of the plainest of all the birds) will fall to the ground outside the Father’s care (Matthew 10:28-30).

CAHUsfemaleJust consider the miracle of migration. Our Creator hardwired birds to travel thousands of miles each year—and along the way, birds arrive at just the right time to harvest just the right fruits or pollinate just the right flowers or eat the insects.

I know God cares about my comings and my goings and he’ll be with me in each journey I undertake. Continue reading

Room at the Feeder for Everyone


Feeder FightsThe excited chatter turns to an angry buzz and I hop out of my chair to see what caused the commotion. Tail spread and wings beating furiously, a female Rufous Hummingbird approaches and stabs her beak into the neck of the Black-chinned Hummingbird who peacefully feeds at the feeder hanging outside my window.

It seems as if they have an unwritten rules of engagement that only they understand. The Black-chinned Hummingbirds avoid conflict, for the most part. The Calliope Hummingbirds sneak in between the dash and clash of the Rufous Hummingbirds, while the mere high-pitched bell-like sound of a male Broad-tailed hummingbird will clear the feeders from fifty feet away.Broad-tailed Hummingbird

If fewer than eight hummers vie for space, a grumpy, territorial Rufous can easily keep them at bay—but not necessarily because she wants nectar—simply because she can. She’ll spend hours perched nearby, ready to swoop in and stab and poke and harass those who dare approach ‘her’ feeder.

Meanwhile, the glimmer usually zooms around the house and drinks their fill at the feeder hanging on the back deck—until Ms. Grumpy wonders why she has no one to argue with, and goes in search of the rest. The process then reverses itself.

community5Occasionally, someone bigger or smaller (but more intimidating) will put Ms. Grumpy in her place, and the hummers come in to the feeders and drink their fill in peace—usually politely taking turns.

A strange thing happens when the community grows. I’ve noticed that the more hummers that join the feeding frenzy, the less likely any one hummer will succeed at defending ‘her’ territory (don’t they understand that it’s all really MY territory—and that I want them all to get along and partake until they’re full?). A strange unity of purpose forms in the larger community around the feeder as they lap up nectar as quickly as they can in order to double their weight for their arduous migration.  Continue reading