Happy Thanksgiving

Holidays are hard. If you are in active care giving you are already exhausted. Thoughts of having friends and family over for a huge dinner can overwhelm you. My mom used to have a large gathering on Thanksgiving. Family, friends, it didn’t matter. As Macy’s parade was playing in the background my mom would be preparing the turkey, pealing potatoes and setting the table with the good china and silver. Later we would sit down to the full Thanksgiving meal including the yams, succotash, homemade cranberry relish and several different homemade pies. We would always have 10+ persons over. You don’t have to do the whole shebang. I have some suggestions.

Don’t have the dinner. If you have family close, let them do the dinner. Offer to bring a side if you must do something. Communicate to your family that hosting the dinner just is too much. After experiencing the Thanksgivings in my family I decided that wasn’t my mom and had much simpler dinners. One year it was just our family and we had spaghetti! We also went to other relatives homes on some years. Once Joseph started his journey we kept up this tradition.

If you don’t have family close (we don’t) then perhaps your church or community may have a large Thanksgiving meal you can attend. You should have some family or friends surround you on this holiday, because that is what this holiday is about.

Have the Thanksgiving meal sometime in the weekend after. That is what we are doing this year since my daughter-in-law and my younger son work over Thanksgiving. We will have a small meal (turkey is on the menu) Saturday or Sunday; we haven’t decided yet.

What is important during this holiday is that you are thankful for your blessings that come from our Lord. We should be thankful that we wake up for each and everyday and that we have shelter and food to eat. Be sure to include your thanks to the Lord this holiday.

Advertisement

Take Care…

On this blog I’ve been saying that it is important for caregivers to take care of themselves. I want to let you know that I didn’t come out of my time of care giving in good shape. Too late, I’ve realized that I really didn’t follow the advice that I’ve been giving you. For years I put taking care of me in the background so that I could take care of others. I’m now starting to reap what I’ve sown. This is why I stress it so much.

I thought that once I retired I would be able to bounce back to where I was sometime in the past, meaning my energy levels and my mental and emotional state. Actually, I thought the same thing would happen after Joe died, and it did for a bit. But I was still working full time and going through the grind of the office everyday and all of the stress that causes. Now that I have retired I thought I would have more energy and be more mentally alert. This didn’t happen. Instead, for the past six months, I’ve been tired, sleepy and bored but with no energy to do anything about it. At first I told myself to be easy on myself and just recover. Take it easy. I started getting caught up on my own doctor check ups and found that there are some things I’m going to have to do.

I’ve run myself down into a rut. I’m very “out of shape” so to speak. Nothing major is going on, I’ve just been extremely hard on my physical self. I’ve done this for years, not taking breaks, just trying to get through the stress of living and taking care of Joe. I did do small things like going to a counselor and taking a couple of hours a week to take a walk. But nothing regular, nothing planned. I didn’t do social things, so now I have no friends to contact and the friends that I did have I haven’t talked to in ages. I’ve backed myself into a corner but I’ve decided to fight my way out.

I go to an exercise class twice a week at the local YMCA. Check them out, they have some wonderful programs especially if you’re a senior. I also started to attend church regularly and I go to a large Women’s Bible Study once a week. I’m doing these things to be more “social”. I’m an introvert and it’s very hard for me to start friendships, so I’m forcing myself out of my house to meet people.

I know that if you are actively care giving at this time it is really hard to leave the house, but if you can, please do activities that will lift your spirits or give you some fresh air and exercise. If you can’t leave your home I’ve found tons of Bible Study’s and teachings online, mostly on YouTube and most churches have an online option. If you are a senior, look into the “Silver Sneakers” website and they have a YouTube channel as well.

I messed myself up. I would hate to see anyone follow my footsteps. Take care of yourself because there is only one of you.

Growing

When I started this blog, it was mainly written for people who were doing medical care for others with a terminal diagnosis. I had done this for years with my husband and I realized all of the emotions that came out of that and how I responded. I’ve grown through those experiences; made some big changes in my life. Whenever you go through a life changing event, you will change. Whether the change is for good or bad is up to you.

I personally grew my faith in Jesus, learning to trust in that faith in all situations. This is one thing that I would want for my readers of this blog. To learn how to take each challenge that gets thrown your way and give it to the Lord, keeping your faith, not only intact, but increased. Was it easy? Absolutely not. I would struggle with problems that came up and then found that the Lord always had a solution that I didn’t figure out.

A good example of this would be when Joe was reaching the end of his life. I had kept him home as long as I could, but the demands of taking care of him with the increasing medical problems was getting to be too much, not only for me, but for the aides that came to my house to help take care of him.

A nursing home seemed to be the only answer to the problem. Joe was so against this, it took a while for me to convince him that it was the answer. He had ended up in some rehabilitation centers after surgeries that were just plain nasty. I could see his hesitation and so embarked on finding a decent place that wasn’t too far away. I found that most nursing homes had waiting lists and there were certain protocols that needed to be followed. The waiting lists were usually six months to one year long. I knew we didn’t have that long.

I left it up to the Lord, but I continued to contact places and my son and I would take tours. We made a list of the ones we liked and hoped that an opening would happen. If not, then we would continue as we were. It was the Lord’s choice; no opening, Joe died at home; if there was an opening, then he would go to the nursing home. I didn’t stress over the decision, just put in applications and just kept on as we were.

Within two weeks I was called by one of the better nursing homes, saying that they had space for Joe. I was floored. This particular one stressed that they had a huge waiting list and it was doubtful that Joe would be admitted there. They seemed to make a point of saying that. We moved Joe in as soon as we were able and he did die after about two months of moving in. They were wonderful with both him and me as the caregiver, keeping me up to date on his condition as it worsened. It was one stress off of my life that I badly needed. I knew he was being taken care of.

Giving the decision to the Lord was less stressful for me and Joe ended up in a good place that took excellent care of him. Leaving decisions up to the Lord was a hard lesson to learn, but I have never regretted it. As I walk through my life today I still hold on to this faith and look to the Lord when decisions are to be made.

…Who Is My Neighbor?

In my previous blog I quoted Mark 12:30-31 where Jesus says to Love God with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus was asked the question in my heading and he came back with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of us have heard this parable and could give a quick synopsis of it, but there are some interesting things that I’ve learned about this parable that brings it right into our time.

Do you know who Samaritans were in Jesus’s day? They were the hated, the outcasts the “dregs” of Jewish society. There was a long history between the Jews and the Samaritans, that will not go into. In the first century, Jews who were traveling from Galilee (where Jesus was based in Capernaum) to Jerusalem, they would go miles out of their way to go around Samaria. It wasn’t considered safe to travel though Samaria.

With this information in mind, let’s look at the rest of the parable. A man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho (about a days walk, through some rough land) and was beaten, stripped of his clothing and robbed of all his possessions. A priest (Jewish priest from the temple) happened by but didn’t stop to help the man. A Levite (a person who served in the temple) passed by but didn’t help the man. Both of these men would have been highly esteemed by the general public in Jesus’s day. They certainly knew of the directives from God to help others that were in trouble. But they didn’t stop. I have read some commentaries regarding this and one thing that they may have been worried about was becoming “unclean”. If a jew happened to get blood on their bodies anywhere they were considered “unclean” and would have to go through the purification process before they could work in the temple. They might have not wanted to “defile” themselves by helping this person.

A Samaritan comes along and “took pity” on the man. He bandaged his wounds (using oil and wine, fairly expensive stuff) and then put the man on his own donkey. Now, think about this; this is a Samaritan with a beat-up Jew on his donkey. He could have been yelled at, or worse, if any one around him saw what he was doing. The man really had no business in helping the hurting man, but helped him anyway.

The Samaritan took the man to an inn and continued to take care of him. Just taking this man to an inn was hard for this man; the inn may have not even served Samaritans. The man needed to continue on his journey and gave the innkeeper “two denarii” to take care of him. A denarius (single) was about one days pay in Jesus’s time, so the man gave the innkeeper about two days pay. Then tells the innkeeper that when he comes back he will reimburse him for any additional charges. The Samaritan not only took care of the man, but paid to have someone to continue to help him. This was out of his pocket with no expectation of return.

We are to be like the Samaritan. Helping others without expecting anything back. Doing good things for others. Going out of our way to help someone. Loving them, regardless of who they are, what they believe or what they look like. This is what “Loving your Neighbor” looks like.

Giving Care

I’m now noticing that when I was in the middle of caregiving that I didn’t have much time or energy to help others. I was very selfish and drawn in on myself. I was worried about getting through each day and I didn’t worry much about my neighbor.

Now I’m trying to take this attitude and turn it around, so that I can look at others and see if I can help to meet their needs. This is so hard when all I’ve ever thought about was my needs. Yes, I extended that to my husband and my children, but never outside of that circle.

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

As Christians we are commanded to love our God with everything that is within us and to extend that love to others. As Christians we are not only to take care of ourselves and family, but to also extend care to others. What does this look like? I’m not sure, but I know that my giving care will look different from yours. We are all called to do this. We should pray and ask what caregiving we can to today for others.

March for Life…

The March for Life was yesterday and it brings about memories of my life. I’ve been through more things then just a caregiver for my husband. As Christians, we are to care about all life and the March for Life and the Women’s March brings out that we are to care for all life.

Back in 2017, I was a part of another blog, the Lutheran Ladies Connection. This is a blog that I posted about the March for Life. We not only have to think about children losing their lives, but what about the women that get sucked into the rhetoric that abortion is OK? What happens to them in the aftermath of taking a life? In my case, I thought my life was over. I had done a horrible thing and I felt that the Lord would never love me again.

As you read this, please think about others in your life who have done horrible things. They deserve our compassion. Yes, they have sinned, but haven’t we all?

To a Fear-Free New Year

My co-workers gave me a birthday card at the end of last year that totally surprised me. As I looked at the front of this card I was so taken back. You can see the card’s cover on this blog. When I saw the card I thought, somebody sees me. The real me that I’m trying to present to the world.

You see, I’ve been trying to be as fearless as possible in this Covid world that we live in. I see so many persons that live in fear now, and it isn’t healthy to live that way. Yes, we can be cautious. Yes, we should be careful, however that looks to you. Wear a mask in public and don’t go to large gatherings if you have reason to fear getting the virus. But you still can’t live in fear. As I have said before in a previous post that I used to be afraid that I would bring home a flu virus to Joseph every flu season because I work at a college and come in contact with students and staff. I’ve had students cough and sneeze while they were talking to me and I’d be so afraid for Joseph. After several years of this I couldn’t stand the strain and put it in God’s hands. Yes, I took precautions. We had a disinfectant spray that I would use after some students, and I always tried to keep my distance, even before this “social distancing” was a thing.

Fear is an internal feeling. No one can make you feel fear, you can get fearful without anyone’s help. We are not to live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I’m definitely trying to live this verse out in my life and it’s wonderful to get confirmation that I’m doing it right!