Serenity

My father was a recovering alcoholic and he spent a good portion of his time later in life attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. He never cared about his “anonymous” status and would tell anyone that he was a drunk, just one drink from a bender.

From his recovery in AA, I came to know the Serenity Prayer. Every meeting is started with this prayer (at least they used to!) and it is (or was) a staple of life recovering from alcoholism.

One day, I took a really good look at this prayer. Oh, I knew it, could recite the first four lines by heart. That is all of the prayer that AA used, but they are powerful. This prayer kept me sane while I was taking care of Joe and I came to depend on it.

God, Grant Me The Serenity… who doesn’t want serenity? Have you ever had the kind of peace and serenity that only God can give? I have, several times, and each time I know it’s not me that caused the total and utter peace within.

Early in Joe’s medical history, he had a pretty serious surgery. He would end up having three extremely major surgeries, all of them lasting 10 hours or more. This was the first of those surgeries. He was to have a craniotomy and a biopsy done on a small tumor that showed up in a really bad place. It was in the place in your brain where all of your nerves gather to form the spinal column. Tricky surgery. Then, once the neurosurgeon was finished he was going to be passed on to the plastic surgeon to try to fix some of the scalp and skull that was rotting before our eyes. Yup, Joe was going to get a “twofer”.

Of course we had to get to the hospital before sunrise. I kissed Joe and off he went. I was very nervous about this surgery. Little did I know at the time that I would become a champ at sitting in waiting rooms. I was feeling really nerved up, so I went outside to walk around the hospital campus. While I was outside I was just praying for Joe and the doctors and nurses taking care of him. Suddenly, in my “minds eye” so to speak, I saw an operating room with someone on the operating table and doctors and nurses all around. I couldn’t see faces, but I knew it was Joe on that table. At each corner of the room was an angel. Then I realized that angels were watching over the operation…. I was floored and a peace came over me. My anxiety just kind of floated away.

I know the kind of Serenity that this prayer is mentioning. There are many times in my life I have called on God and requested this Serenity and usually He will bless me with peace.

More on the Serenity Prayer next time….

Breaking up with Fear

I’m sorry I haven’t posted lately. I’ve been taking care of me, navigating the medical community while everyone is still under the Covid-19 restrictions. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like if Joe was still living and we had to navigate all of his medical appointments and visiting nurses and all that with the restrictions we have today. My hat is off you those of you who are trying your hardest to take care of your person and still keep your cool. I know I’ve been tempted to just chuck it all and hang it up and that is just from me trying to navigate alone.

I still see a lot of fear out there, but the “atmosphere” is much better than it used to be. Francesca Battistelli put out this song in 2018, but it’s gotten a lot of play lately. It’s such a cute song with a powerful message. You can listen to it below, The Breakup Song:

Find Some Help

When Joe’s condition worsened and he really needed someone to stay with him during the day I was starting to panic. I couldn’t stop working because at that time I was supporting not only Joe and myself, but also my son and his family. They helped with Joe and kept an eye on him, however, they had two young children that were autistic. This mix worked for the most part. My son and Joe didn’t always get along and the grandchildren were, well, children. They were noisy and messy. This caused some friction, but we got through it. My son and his wife were not really up to giving Joe a shower, for example.

After one of Joe’s hospitalizations the social worker at the hospital made an appointment to come over with a Department of Aging person. Now, Joe died at 58 so he wasn’t elderly, but, the Department of Aging also works with the disabled population. We live in Pennsylvania and I found out that PA loves her elderly and disabled. Through this talk I found out that we were eligible for home care aides and even a chair lift for the steps. Since they went by Joe’s income and not mine, we qualified. We received a chair lift (custom made for our steps) and daily aides that came in to take care of Joe’s daily needs. Joe wasn’t always happy with the aides (see previous post) but I was so relieved that I could count on someone to always be with him.

The help that these agencies can give you is different in each state. As I said, PA loves it’s aging and disabled but not all states do. One good place to start would be at your person’s doctor. See if they can refer you to a Department of Aging or other resource in your area. Just getting on the computer and doing a little research can help. In just a few moments I found Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care on the Department of Health and Human Services page. Networking isn’t as strange as it sounds. You know, that friend of a friend that knows someone that received help from an agency. Keep your ears open and ask your friends and acquaintances if they know of an agency. If you are a member of a church, let them know of your need and someone there may know of a resource.

If you are in need of help, let someone know; a doctor, counselor, a good friend. Don’t keep struggling on your own. There are places you can go for help.

Blessings

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I was a young christian I thought if I believed in God, then all my troubles will be taken away and life would be wonderful all the time. So when trouble did come (and it seemed to come a lot!) I thought I didn’t have enough faith or I was doing something wrong. When I got married I thought our life would be easy, wonderful, you know, the white picket fence, wholesome, beautiful family life. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Life has been so hard, so tough. There have been many times I’ve just wanted to give up and walk away. But as I look back, I can see that those tough times are what have made me the person I am today. People have told me that I’m a “strong” person to have weathered all that I’ve been through. I’d like to think that I’ve been teachable. I learned that when you face hard times is when when you grow, if you allow it.

Did you know that Jesus said we’d have trouble? It’s right there in John 16. He also says to take heart because He has overcome the world. Let your troubles be blessings.

This song, which came out quite a few years ago, still touches me. Laura Story wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, and all the stress and strife that would go along with that. All the changes (personality and otherwise) that happened. He is still living and thriving, but their lives have been changed by the diagnosis. I hope that this song will touch you as well.

Anxious about Tomorrow?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:28-34

We worry about many things in life and our worry causes us problems both physical and mental. I found this verse and took it as my own many years ago. The key in this portion of the scripture is the part in bold. If we are seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness then everything else becomes secondary.

Easy? Oh, no…. Our society is so material driven that just to say that you don’t worry about things can have others look at you like you’ve grown 3 heads. In the past, especially when I was taking care of my husband, we were taken care of. I worked full time and didn’t know how I would be able to take care of my husband as his health worsened and continue working. I brought in the paycheck, what we lived on. It seemed like it was impossible. Then through no thought or research of my own I found that we could get Home Health Aides at no cost to us. REALLY? What a relief! God really does look after us.