Mom's hands

     Mother’s Day is a time we make a special effort to let our moms know how much we love and appreciate them for all they do for us. I wish I could say those things to my mom, but she’s been gone from us for over a decade. I miss her more than I can say.

    This is a remembrance I wrote in my journal during her last days. I’d like to share it as a way to honor her, and to encourage any mom reading this to know how incredibly important your work is. The endless ways you serve your family are building love and security into your children’s lives, influencing them for all their days.

    When my mom was in rehab dealing with the after-effects of two strokes, I flew out to be with her and help spell other family members who had been with her for weeks by then. Though she slept most of the time, I sat at her bedside as much as possible, just praying, talking to her, loving her. It was a privilege to comb her hair, wash her face, read the Word to her, fuss over her, or just sit quietly. She couldn’t respond, but I prayed the Lord would help her to somehow understand my words.

The whole time, of course, was this devastating undercurrent in my heart that I was saying goodbye to her. Hoping that she knew I was there, that it was me, Wendy. Impotent to turn back time or change this hurtful thing for her, for us. And hardly able to imagine what the rest of our lives would look like without her loving and faithful presence with us.

Funny how certain things stick with you in a crisis, images you never forget. One of those images met me nearly every day when I arrived at her room. She would have been cleaned, dressed, and prepared for the day by then, sitting or laying quietly in her bed. If she was resting, there clutched in both hands was a little stuffed bear, its paws holding a red heart that read “Get Well Soon.” Mom seemed to enjoy the furry texture and cuddliness of it, her hands exploring it gently the whole time. My sister had gotten it for her when Mom was first in the hospital two months earlier, and that little bear was now a point of contact and comfort.

I can’t explain the poignancy of that scene. Those were the precious hands that had held me as a baby, braided my blonde hair as a schoolgirl, patted my cheeks, taught me how to cook and sew. Those dear hands cooked and lovingly served up countless meals, sewed and washed and ironed clothes, landscaped our yards, and made loving order out of our family life for decades. How many times I saw those hands kneading dough into her famous cinnamon rolls or setting an artful table. Those beautiful hands wrote hundreds of encouraging letters to her beloveds and friends over the years, always pointing us to the One who loved us.

Watching her hold that little bear through those quiet days made me love Mom all over again for all that she poured into my life. I wish I could thank her and let her know how vastly I appreciate the privilege of having been loved by her. How much her life continues to challenge me today to serve God and others with with my whole heart. But oh! the hope of our salvation! That’ll be one of my first joys of heaven—to hug her and hold those precious hands again.

So, mommas, reading this today—and all God’s wonderful ladies helping and loving others faithfully every day—

Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  ~ Galatians 6:9

Your work is more beautiful and powerful than you know. Thank you for all you do. I pray the Lord will fill you with fresh strength and joy as you serve Him by serving others. You are a blessing!


Ten things I learned (again) about God this year


    Even though I’ve known the Lord most of my life, it still amazes me how exceedingly, awesomely good he is. 2023 was a year of highs and lows for me, and now on this last day of it, I’ve been recalling his faithfulness. Many lessons of the year should have been old hat to me, but it seems it was important to learn them again.

Here’s what I learned (again) about God…

He answers prayer, specifically, at just the right time. We started the year having just lost my Dad and were under a time constraint to clean out his home and 60-year art career. It was daunting, but each day as we prayed for guidance and help, just the right answer or person would show up at just the right time. Truly, we were not on our own, and it all got done, on time.

He sees what’s coming and has a plan for it. From the time my Dad was hospitalized and throughout the ensuing months, it was just incredible to come to each situation, each need, and find that God had already gone before and arranged an answer—or a miracle. Why do I ever worry? He already has everything covered!

He heals my body. I suffered covid-related paralysis in one eye just before Christmas last year. It was terrifying, especially because the doctors couldn’t help. I had a Bible promise quickened to my heart from the Lord that I would recover—and I did! One day, a couple of weeks later, my eye opened and my sight began to return, fully restored not long after. Thank you, Lord!

His comfort is real. I miss my Dad and the loving presence he was in my life. Other things—changes in friendships, loss of relationships, things not happening when I thought they would, disappointments—God has been there to comfort and reassure me that his plan is good and purpose sure. 

He really is my Shepherd. There have been days I’ve been tired, discouraged, frustrated, or overwhelmed. But so often God intervened to cancel events, or have a friend text with an encouraging word, or he gave me the perfect, right word from the Bible to lift my spirits. He knows when I need rest and quietness and has scheduled the stops along the way. It’s been wonderful to know such care.

When I don’t know what to do, he does. For some reason, this year has been the year of challenging tech—computer problems, new programs, steep learning curves with complex processes (virtual conferences, anyone?)…you know how it goes. But over and over, he’s directed me to the right information or helped me figure something out. There’s just nothing like his wisdom.

He defends me. This year brought some targeted persecution because of my faith, and at one point, I just had to cry out to the Lord to intervene. Suddenly, it ended and I knew he had done it. I truly felt he had moved between me and the attack, standing as my Defender. He said, “Enough!” and it was.

When he asks me to wait, it doesn’t mean no, it means wait. As a type A, ducks-in-a-row person, I usually see little reason to wait if I’ve got things figured out. Seize the day! But a very keen lesson the Lord has been revisiting this year has been the importance of waiting on him. Most things with him are a process and I’ve needed to surrender my heart and thoughts daily to his Lordship. His timetable is different than mine—and his results are always better.

His Word is true. The theme God gave me at the beginning of the year was, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV). In the craziness of the world and its darkness, God’s Word is the unchangeable rock of Truth I can count on. I’ve learned again that if I believe what he promises, he will do what he says.

Jesus loves me, this I know. In a million ways this year, I’ve seen his tender, personal love. It has reduced me to tears many times just knowing I’m that cared for. This is the God we belong to, the One who calls us his own and has held nothing back to save and bless us.

I’m sure you have your own list of God’s blessings on your life this year; I wish I could hear them all! May we take these fresh reminders into 2024 and by them, learn to trust him more. 

A happy—and blessed—New Year!

Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash


How to stay at peace

I rolled over in the dark and looked at the clock. 3:30. I sighed. Likely I would lay there wide awake for a couple more hours, longing for sleep. Then, right on cue, my mind started down the grim track of the calamitous and terrifying state of world affairs...the political mess...family troubles…disappointments…memories of difficult times (why can’t those stay in the past?!)...

Familiar? I’m sure you’ve had your own troubled nights when you feel the dark weight of despair and fear grip your heart. Why are things always worse in the night? The new day doesn’t always bring improvement and it’s hard to shake off the cloud of gloom.

It tells us in the book of Daniel that in the end times the enemy will ‘wear out the saints’ (Daniel 7:25). Pretty well describes it, don’t you think? We get worn down from the battles, and long for clean, simple times of peace.

So what do we do? I’m reminded of David in the Bible. It tells us that when things were dark and dire, he ‘encouraged himself in the Lord’ (1 Samuel 30:6). Pretty amazing considering his whole army was ready to kill him and he needed an answer right now.

So in my quiet time this morning, I realized I had to take myself in hand and get back to what was true. Get myself refocused on the Lord and use the tools he’s given me to stay in his peace. 

Here’s what he reminded me:
to fear not 
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
to trust Him
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
to keep my mind focused on Him  
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
to rejoice
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NLT)
to thank Him
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)
to pray
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
to know that today will be filled with new mercies
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

If you’re struggling to find peace today, take these wonderful promises as God’s personal word to you. Encourage yourself in the Lord with them, and I think you’ll find fresh strength and a renewed perspective. It’s his promise!

Image by sun flower from Pixabay


New look, new vision

If there’s anything sure in life, change is one of them. Just when you think you have it figured out, it’s on to the next thing. Part of the adventure of living, isn’t it?


You may have noticed that my blog has taken on a new look—and a new focus. I’ve loved the message of God’s ‘still waters’ to me these last few years; it was much needed. I could picture that quiet, green retreat by a stream and refocus my heart on his peace. That was this blog’s focus.


But…time for a change!

When I really began following Jesus in my young adult years, I fell in love with his Word. There I found answers and wisdom I desperately needed to navigate the challenges before me. As each season unfolded—single life, the work world, relationships, marriage, motherhood, homeschooling, eldercare—I discovered how alive and practical the Bible was. The principles I read each day truly changed my life. What a gift he’s given us!


“Kingdom Keys” comes from a devotional book I’m writing for kids and parents to do together. Kingdom Keys for Kids introduces Bible truths about God and his Kingdom to build children’s lives on. My heart is especially to share with women who are seeking to grow in the Lord and know him better, whatever season they’re in. He gives us an amazing promise as we learn:


Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.    
~ Joshua 1:8 NLT


Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll join in the conversation and come back again.


The best devotional book ever

Many years ago, I was challenged to read one chapter of the book of Proverbs in the Bible each day. Conveniently, God set it up so there’s 31 chapters, one for each day of the month! A perfect way to start my morning quiet time with Him.

At the time I was new to the things of the Lord and trying to figure out what it meant to be a Christian in everyday life. But oh, the challenges! I read in Proverbs you should ‘get wisdom,’ but how did you do that?

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.  Proverbs 4:7 (ESV)

As I started to do my daily Proverbs reading, I discovered that literally every issue of life was addressed there. Practical, doable wisdom, guidance for the murky spots. 

When I had problems at work, I learned it was wise to hold my tongue and let God defend me. When I struggled with money, I learned God’s financial principles included tithing and giving generously. I learned that my words were very powerful—to hurt or help, tear down or build up. 

And most important of all, I learned that God promised His blessings if I sought His wisdom first and then obeyed what I read. 

It’s been many years since I started my daily Proverbs reading, and the amazing thing is, He was right! Absorbing those truths day after day, month after month, gave me understanding how to respond to the daily challenges of life. I learned to make right choices that bore good fruit and how to avoid those that would lead to trouble. He was answering my quest to find wisdom, one day at a time!

I still start my daily time with God reading the day’s Proverbs chapter, always looking to see what specific truths for the day He'll speak to me. If you haven't yet discovered the treasures of wisdom in Proverbs, give it a try. We're at the beginning of a new month, a perfect time to begin. 

God wrote the best devotional ever!

Image by Meghan Glaze from Pixabay


Remember the lonely!


The holidays are upon us once again! A season filled with Christmas on every hand—music and lights, gifts and family, excitement and joy.

But not for everyone.

Just as the virus is pandemic in our world, so is loneliness. Some are facing devastating personal loss, some are navigating the painful waters of bereavement. Divorce, singleness, and broken relationships all bring their own brand of desperate aloneness. Young people and children have found themselves trying to cope with new models of isolation with varying success. We’ve all heard the stories.

And if that weren’t enough, we now have masks to hide our smiles and rules to keep us safely apart. Don’t touch! Don’t get too close! Protect yourself! And sometimes we even use these as an excuse to not get into the uncomfortable world of someone else’s pain.

Jesus understands our pain

I remember a season of loneliness in my single days that threatened to undo me. I had moved to a new town, hadn’t made friends yet, and looked hopefully to my new little church to fill some of the emptiness. But week after week, people smiled, said hi—and went their way after service. I  desperately wanted someone to say, “Hey, come on home with us for lunch.” But it never happened. One particular Sunday I remember crying my way through the afternoon, fairly certain I could drop dead in the church aisle and no one would even notice.

A bit dramatic, I know. But the pain was real. Eventually God brought good friends my way and life mellowed out. But it was a lesson I never wanted to forget—remember the lonely!

Jesus understood this kind of pain and went to lengths to reach out with tender love and understanding to such sufferers. He healed lepers who knew the excruciating loneliness and isolation that awful disease brought. He reached out personally to all manner of those whose conditions had plunged them into despair and hopelessness.

He charged His followers to do the same.

Jesus taught that reaching out to the lonely is tied up with our eternal inheritance in the Kingdom. He told us to bring strangers into our homes, to care for each other’s needs, and visit those in prison. When we do that, He said, we are actually doing it to Him. (Matthew 25:34-40)

Wow, what a pressing truth! We can go to church every Sunday and not see the grieving widow or struggling single, greet them with a quick “Hi, how are you?” and be on our way. What would it mean to them to take a few minutes, really find out how they are, listen, pray for them—and follow up next week? Even in a crowd, we can be lonely. The reality is, we want to be seen and known.

What can we do?

This holiday season, as never before, opportunities to reach out to the lonely are legion. How can we do a better job of that? 

The ideas are endless, but it begins with awareness of those around us. We can start a conversation or make a phone call. Invite someone out to eat or to your home for a meal. Sit with them, listen with engagement and patience and heart. Introduce them to others. Include them in a family activity or service project. Follow up later or next week, let them see that someone cares. 

Visit the elderly or shut-ins if it is allowed. When we're in the store or workplace, give an offer of help, or make a point to give a word of encouragement and appreciation. Those moments of personal interest might be the lifeline someone needs that day. 

And, if course, pray. We are privileged to be partnering with God in His passionate concern for people. I pray He will direct and bless each of our efforts. It might be that your outreach will change a life!

(Photo by Alex Green, Pexels)


Someone is watching you

As we settled ourselves in the church pew that Sunday morning, the faces around me mirrored the barely controlled emotions and teary eyes I was struggling with. The unbelievable had happened: Kim, the pastor's daughter—our worship leader and my dear friend—had suddenly passed away the previous Wednesday, leaving behind a loving husband and five school-aged children. She had overcome cancer earlier, but we did not know it had recurred. 

Here we were only four days out from her passing, and there was her father, Pastor Jack, quietly greeting everyone at the door with his never-failing gentle smile. His wife, Mary, was there too, hugging us, giving the little children's Bible lesson at the beginning of service as though their lives had not just been cleaved in two. 

How do they do it? I wondered. This was not just a brave show of emotional control. They were truly at peace. In their rawest moment, the bedrock of their faith in Jesus Christ held them strong. They knew where Kim was. They had work to do, people who needed them. The imponderables of this devastating loss were left in God's hands. Their wounded hearts were obviously not the primary thing, the Kingdom was. 

That's what I saw. It was stunning and deeply affecting to me. When grief had visited my doorstep in past years, I pulled in, closed off, and wrestled with God. It had taken me many long months to come to peace and renewed trust, and with a later perspective I wondered why I had struggled so. It seemed a discredit somehow to my Lord and His love for me. 

I watched them through the following difficult months as they closed ranks and carried on. Mary picked up the kids’ homeschooling with another friend, and the many ministry hats Kim had worn settled on other heads. Each day brought fresh challenges in lives that were reshaped by such a loss. Yet, in all that time, I never heard a word of complaint. Rather, Mary’s cheerful and loving smile continued to greet us, and she met the daily challenges with unflagging courage and faith. 

I cannot overstate the impact that experience had on my life. God allowed me to see up close what Christian faith looks like under fire. When I saw how Mary trusted the Lord through that deep time of loss, and kept on doing the right thing in worship and trust and love for the Lord, it became a reference point to me: how could I do any less in my own difficulties? Her example became my new benchmark of faith. I asked the Lord to help me walk out my own trials with similar grace, that I too could be a help and not a hindrance to someone else's faith. 

We never know who is watching us. They see how we handle crises, if what we say we believe agrees with what they see. What I saw in Jack and Mary’s lives was the quiet, unshakable faith that had come through a lifetime of knowing Jesus. Theirs was a Kingdom view that not only helped keep them steady, but set an incredible example for those of us who watched. 

(Photo by Priscilla Dupreez on Unsplash )


Why Do I Have Hope?


 I've posted this before here, but with the pandemic crisis and all the fear it has brought, it is good to remember what God has promised us. He offers us His peace and hope, no matter what is going on around us!

 I have hope because...

...God loves me:
        For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)
...I am chosen:
        ...but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.   (I Peter 2:9)

... when the world seems to have gone crazy, He is still God:
    In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.   (John 16:33)

...when I fear for my future, He says:
    Fear not! For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

...no evil purpose can stand against me:
    The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.   (II Timothy 4:18)

...the testing of my faith has great purpose:
    These [trials] have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.   (I Peter 1:7)

...when I pray, I get answers:
    I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   (John 16:23)

...when my body suffers, I can know His healing:
    ...[He] healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (Matthew 8:17)

...when I'm tired, He gives me strength:
    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   (Matthew 11:28)

...when I don't know what to do, He gives me His wisdom:
    If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.   (James 1:5)

...when my heart is breaking, He wraps me in His arms:
    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   (Psalm 147:8)

...when I stumble and sin, He forgives me:
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   (I John 1:9)

...when I've been wronged, He is my Defender:
    I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.   (Psalm 140:12)

...when the money doesn't stretch, He provides for me:
    And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 4:19)

...when I'm worried and anxious, He promises peace:
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 4:6-7)

...when things are falling apart, He has a plan:
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   (Romans 8:28)

...when I fear for my family, I can trust His care:
    ...because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.   (II Timothy 1:12)

...when conflicting voices confuse me, He shows me the right way:
    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.   (John 16:13)

Why do I have hope?

Because Jesus came, and...
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)


Things I wish I had known about eldercare

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. I pray often, "Lord, thank You that You promised to give me both to will and do Your good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

There are over 40 million caregivers of the elderly in the U.S. today, most of whom are caring for aging relatives. You might be one of those caregivers. If you are, I daresay there is much I could learn from you!  And if you're not now, you might one day find yourself in that role. I'd like to share a few things we've learned that might help you not 'go blind' into that experience.

What you need to know as a caregiver:

  • This is not an isolated incident, it's a season and life-style change.  If you don't make that mental adjustment at the beginning, you can set yourself up for resentment, frustration, and a host of detrimental and debilitating emotions.
  • You need a support network! This includes prayer partners, helpers of any kind who offer to bring food or come in to give you a couple of hours off, etc. There's a wealth of good helps of every kind on the Internet, and often there are local caregiver support groups. Don't be afraid to let others know if you have a need; sometimes they can help, and if not, that listening ear can often diffuse the emotions and frustrations you feel. My sister was a huge help to me--she'd walked this out before me and gave wonderful advice, tips, and loving understanding. 
  • Patience, patience, patience. Eldercare demands a lot of grace and patience—your loved one might move more slowly, take longer to make decisions, forget things, repeat things, or find they sometimes can’t do even the smallest tasks. (I might add that you’ll need a lot of patience in dealing with doctors, hospitals, care centers, etc. The wheels of the medical community often grind very slowly.) I pray a lot!
  • Find out what services are available in your area. It's good to know who can provide:
    • In-home care:  This can just be a few hours a week for help with personal care, up to full-time. This is a wonderful option to provide time for shopping, appointments, and down-time.
    • Respite care:  Some assisted-living places provide short-term care to give caregivers a true break, time for travel, etc., while giving your loved one quality care in a safe environment.
    • Specialized care centers that offer rehabilitation, Alzheimer's/dementia care, etc.
    • Hospice care:  We have been so amazed at the wonderful level of care and services they provide (funded through Medicare), and thankful for this amazing gift of support. Our community provides hospice respite care a few days a month at a special facility, designed to give top-notch care to your loved one while you can take a much-needed break from the caregiving responsibility.
    • Legal services, such as trust and will preparation, property issues, and others:  DON'T WAIT TO MAKE THESE ARRANGEMENTS! A crisis can happen in a moment and that's not the time to be scrambling to find paperwork and making huge decisions. 
  • Who in the family is acting as trustee, Power of Attorney, and the executor of the estate? Has your loved one designated medical power of attorney? Is there a will? Where is it? Do they have a living will? What about accounts and policies?
  • Caregiver burnout is a real issue. It's good to plan regular breaks or mini-vacations if possible to give yourself the physical and mental refreshment you need for the long haul. Just say yes to offers of help, and try to keep up with whatever your own interests are to provide you with emotional balance. I love to read good historical fiction and have found that a book can take me 'away' in mind if I can't get there bodily. A couple of hours out to shop by yourself or have coffee with a friend can siphon off overwhelm.
  • Your life will change. Caregiving adds not only a new level of work and responsibility, but limits your outside life. Instead of focusing on all you're not able to do anymore, try instead to enjoy the quality of what you can do. It's really a good time to savor the little things of life and let them feed your inner person. One of the blessings I'll always treasure about this season for me is the times my daughter and I have headed off "after hours" to watch our favorite British period dramas.

What your loved one needs:

  • Patience and love, lots of it. It helps to imagine yourself in their shoes and how much you need to be understood and have others be patient with you. Impatience with them actually can make a situation worse--it just feeds agitation and depression. Hugs reassure them that they’re not alone.
  • Simplicity in everything. Often their mental processes have slowed down, so keep a simple schedule, keep explanations short and sweet, give two choices instead of several, etc. Don’t try to explain very much; they might not get it.
  • Similarly, try to keep a routine as much as possible. It works well for everyone if things happen the same time every day. 
  • Exercise limitations, not too much of anything at one time. Space out activities and visitors so they (and you!) don’t get overtired.
  • Positive encouragement! Positive and cheerful words! Smiles! 
  • Recognize that they won’t be restored to their former selves. This is a hard one because we knew them full of life and competent, and it’s hard to accept their decline. But for their good and yours, you have to keep a clear and honest mind about the situation. God will help you do and say what you have to.
  • And along that same line, recognize that they need to talk about their fears and end-of-life questions. If you need help with this, a pastor or chaplain can visit, pray, and talk.

And here are a few helpful tips:

  • Keep visitors' time on the short side. Though nice, talking can be very fatiguing to your loved one. Let visitors know ahead of time what their 'window' is--they'll appreciate the heads-up.
  • Tell visitors please don't bring plants...bring cut flowers. The caregiver is left with the responsibility of watering, pruning, transplanting, etc.  They don't need more work!
  • Pick your battles. The ones you need to prevail in have to do with safety and well-being, not the optional stuff. You can get tied in a million knots of frustration if you try to control every little thing, even if you're 'right.'  With an elderly loved one, remember they've often lost much, if not all, control of their lives. If you honor their wants on the negotiables, it can go a long way to easing their angst over this difficult season.
  • Keep a caregiving journal and/or calendar. (This is a biggie.) Record things like diet, sleep and nap times, health issues, medications, notes from doctors' appointments, etc. Since you become your loved one's health advocate, it's a huge help to have this record to share with medical staff or to help you recognize patterns or issues.

Probably most caregivers would say that this kind of responsibility is a mixed bag—a challenge and a blessing both. A few years into it now, I’m grateful to God for all the lessons I’ve learned. You will find if you walk through this journey with Him, you’ll discover how very faithful He is.

What about you?  Do you have any helps you could share with us about elder care?


Death and hope

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 feared, but “see you later, Mom.” It was painful but peaceful and has been as real to me to this day.

It’s true! I will see her later! Jesus was her Lord and she’s safe with Him. I know Him, too, so this is just a temporary separation. My friend is there, too, and one day I’ll join her and Mom and all the others who belonged to Him—and oh, what a party that will be!

If you’re walking through deep loss, I pray you’ll experience God’s true peace and this amazing comfort. Remember, “joy comes in the morning”!


Getting ready for the answer

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 often in the Bible, God would have people do some sort of act of faith BEFORE the answer to their prayer came. They did something that showed they believed their request was already a done deal and on its way. Then the answer would come.

So when the time came for my next grocery shopping trip, instead of going to my usual neighborhood store, I drove to the one up on our chosen hill. "Lord, this is MY store now. This is where I'm going to shop because I believe it's close to where our new home will be. Thank You!"

In reality it might not have been that close; the area was large and it could be our new home would be a bit of a drive from this store. But this was right where we wanted to be and I figured it didn't hurt to be specific with the Lord.

I felt a little sheepish driving there every week, but no one cared so it didn't matter. What did matter was that God knew this was an act of faith to show that I believed He would give us the desires of our hearts. I kept up that weekly trek for some weeks, feeling a growing excitement to see what God would do.

And wouldn't you know, He did one of His above-and-beyond answers for us. We had our realtor looking in an area of homes we could afford a mile or two from my store. Nothing was right. Then one day my husband saw an ad in the paper for an open house that afternoon on a street two blocks from my store. It was an area we thought we couldn't afford, but it turned out to be our house. God gave us an amazing deal in every way, and in short order we were moving in to our wonderful answer-to-prayer home.

We discovered we had an incredible array of neighbors, a 'village' of warm and lovely people who became dear friends over the years. And, not only could I walk two blocks to my store, a two-block walk in the other direction took me to another store--take my pick! I had to laugh at God's 'double portion' design for us.

The whole experience was such a lesson in faith to me, my part and God's part. He promises specific answers to specific prayers and shows Himself mighty on our behalf when we give Him something to work with. I sensed His delight in responding to my silly act of faith, and it gave me new understanding of His loving heart and delight to bless.

So if you’re praying about a need, consider some kind of act of faith—and get ready for the answer!