Take Heart

In this world you will have trials. But take heart. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Notice Jesus said “trials.” That means more than one. So, one week after the lightning strike, I was back in a good place with power restored and work being done to repair my house, when I had to face another trial. This time I began to question the command to “Count it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Count it pure joy. Really? How do I do that?

Once again, Rusty and I were returning from our noon day walk when a large German Shepherd dog started following us home. A neighbor, who was walking his small dogs toward us, saw the German Shepherd following us and turned around to head in the opposite direction.

When we got close to our property line, Rusty stopped to face the German Shepherd. When I tried to hold him back, a tussle ensued, and I got yanked off my feet. My neighbor heard me yell as I hit the pavement and came to my rescue.

With my left arm split wide open, my neighbor, who just happened to be a physician, helped me to my feet, walked me home, cleaned and pulled the sides of the wound back together with butterfly clips to hold it until I could get to Advanced Wound Care. You see, God always sends His best to be there to help us when we fall. That’s just the way God works. He knows ahead of time what’s going to happen, and He always has the right people in place to help us in our time of need.

Because we live in a fallen world, trials stalk us much like the German Shepherd stalked us. But take heart. God will help us overcome our trials and troubles. And that’s the only reason we can count our trials pure joy.

When Faith Waits…

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Rusty, my boxer mix, and I were heading home from our midday walk when I thought, Lord, You have me in a really good place right now. I feel good; I have wonderful neighbors; and I’m even playing really good golf right now. Thank You, Lord. Life is good.

Then I thought, but life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, and after the sunshine into each life a little rain must fall. I know something is coming. I just don’t know what.

The next evening at dusk, not a little rain, but a huge storm came through. With the sound of a sonic boom, lightning hit my house. Electrical outlets flew out of the wall five feet from where Rusty and I sat and ripped through the house and both garages blowing up almost everything that was plugged in.

In the pouring down rain, three of my neighbors came to see if I was all right. They knew lightning had hit close by because it shook the earth as far as two miles away. They checked every room and both garages for fire and the smell of smoke and offered their homes for us to spend the night. The electric company came and turned off all power to the house but replaced my street-light for safety. When I was assured that nothing was smoldering or on fire, I opted to stay in the house.

While friends asked, “Why did this happen,” I knew that “God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). He knew that He would get the glory from this seeming disaster.

The next morning, my insurance agent spent four hours examining the house, inside and out, plus everything in the yard. His software program pinpointed where the lightning struck: two tall trees in the back yard and the back left corner of my house.

Lightning blew out the floodlight, soffit, and its corner then ran down the downspout and destroyed the foundational bricks. It destroyed my HVAC system, a row of vinyl siding and the foundational wooden frame underneath and ran along the top of my fence and blew up each fence post in its way. It also dismantled the meter on the side of the house and all cables running to the house from the transformer, tore a hole in the second garage roof, and shattered my fly rod.

Remember the wonderful neighbors I mentioned? They brought their generator the following morning and filled it with gas every morning and evening for the four days we were without power. They took the contents of my freezers to theirs so I wouldn’t lose anything. They brought me food and helped in the search for an electrician. And they sat on the porch with me and asked how I could stay so calm when finding an electrician seemed impossible because they were all busy working at the booming Twin Creeks Village.

My response was simple. “God’s got this. He allowed it to happen, and He will fix it. I’m just waiting on the Lord.”

Meanwhile, all of us called the electricians we knew, and we followed every lead. I talked to four on the phone the first day and none had time to come.

Late on the second day, two came to assess the damage. One looked at the power panel and said, “You’re in a mess. It will take a minimum of five days to do all the electrical repair work and probably a month to rewire your house, and I can’t get to it any time soon.” The other one said, “If it were my house, I’d rip out all the sheet rock and rewire the whole house, but I retired and let my license expire.”

Still, we waited. I needed an electrician before we could tell what worked and what didn’t and before the HVAC, TV and Internet people could be called. Meanwhile, Rusty and I camped out in the house with flashlights and battery-powered lanterns.

From my neighbor’s generator, we ran one power cord to my fridge, one of the few things that was still functional, and moved the extra power cord from the microwave to the toaster; but my coffee maker had to be replaced.

On the third day…the restorer of all power appeared at my door and knocked. Oh yes, I invited him in. He was not only an electrician, but a Christian contractor who could oversee all the needed the repairs. That saved me from having to hire individual contractors for each area of work. And he brought his buddy along, a NASA engineer, to consult on the project. They worked till 7:30 that night assessing the damage with their high-tech diagnostic tools and returned at 7:30 the next morning to repair, rewire, and replace all plugs, outlets, and power panel. When God provides, He sends the best.

With electricity restored, my computer guru discovered my desktop’s power supply melted along with the processor and motherboard, but miraculously he retrieved and backed up all data. A month later I’m up and running again with a new desktop.

While most HVAC systems were on backorder and floating on barges in some California harbor, mine was replaced the following week. Comcast rewired the house, replaced the router boxes, and programmed two new TVs.

Brick masons repaired the foundation; roofers replaced the damaged garage roof; the soffit and flood light are replaced; and a new motor for the garage door was installed by specialists who also synced the remotes to my car. The only things left to be replaced or repaired are the downspouts, gutters, and fenceposts.

And once again, life is good, and God has me in a good place.

Lesson Learned: When faith waits, God sends His best.

Surprise!

At some point in our lives most of us will be called upon to care for a loved one. If you are called to be a caregiver, here are three surprises I faced that you might discover along the way, too.

  • The biggest surprise to me was the disconnect between the world’s view of caregiving and God’s view. From the world’s view, many people, even healthcare professionals, told me that I didn’t need to visit Mama in the nursing home every day. They even said, “Nobody does that.” But they do. So, you keep on visiting your loved one. Visit every day and pop in at different times other than your usual time. If the staff knows you’re coming, your loved one will look well cared for. But if you visit at random times, you’ll get the real story. When you find your loved one in a mess or in an uncomfortable position, be sure to call in the Charge Nurse and CNAs to see how you found them. Tell them you expect better care and hold them accountable. Of course, if they are doing a great job in caring for your loved one, be sure to thank them for that, too.
  • I think you might be surprised to know that the mandate to care for our aging parents came from God. He expects us to take care our aging parents and our grandparents as well, because they took care of us at the beginning of our lives when we couldn’t take care of ourselves. (1 Timothy 5:4)
  • But for me personally, it might surprise you to know that caregiving provided me with a season of tremendous Spiritual growth as I followed God’s lead, doing what He led me to do and setting myself aside for the benefit of my mother. If you lean on God and His wisdom during this difficult time in your life as a caregiver, you will grow in your relationship with God, too.

Because we live in a fallen world and must meet head-on the trouble Jesus promised we would have, remember: Jesus is the Way. He’s the Only One Who can lead us through that maze of eldercare with grace. He showed me how to set myself aside for the benefit of my mother, to put her needs before my own, and how to smooth the path before us, and lead Mama safely through the maze of eldercare. He’ll do the same for you if you ask.

For other surprises that may await you on the road to glory, be sure to read The Road to Glory: Walking Mama Home available on Amazon.

Called to Do Good Works

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

God had planned all along for me to take care of Mama. And in His good and perfect timing, He revealed His plan when my daddy, on his deathbed, told me it was time. I would have to take care of mama.

First Timothy 5:4 tells us it is pleasing to God if we take care of our parents and grandparents because they took care of us when we were growing up.

Now when your earthly daddy and your Heavenly Father are on the same page and tell you it’s time to do what we called you to do, you do it! You except the calling because it pleases them.

But what if you don’t accept the calling? What if you run from it instead? Well, remember Jonah? He ran from God, got thrown overboard, swallowed by a whale and then decided to follow God’s calling. Now, chances are you probably won’t get swallowed by a whale, but there are other consequences you will suffer for your disobedience. You see, you can run from God, but you cannot hide from Him. He knows where you are and what it will take to bring you back to His calling for you.

In general, the work we are called to do is to love and care for others as Jesus did. What does that look like in a nursing home setting?

We can take a minute to talk to the lonely voices calling out, “Take me now, Lord. When are you going to take me?” We can take the hand and walk with those walking aimlessly up and down the halls. We can glance into each room as we walk by and report any problems we see.

It’s our job to “Live a life worthy of the calling we received…to be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1).

Ask God what He prepared in advance for you to do, then do it. You’ll experience the peace that passes all understanding as you follow God’s will for your life.

To see what it looks like to accept God’s calling and follow His will in the many situations Mama and I encountered on the last leg of her journey, read The Road to Glory: Walking Mama Home. It’s available on Amazon.

Perils and Pearls

PERILS

As believers, we are all on the road to glory: a road that is littered with perils.

Jesus called the perils we face troubles or trials when He promised, “In this world you will have troubles. But take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Perils, troubles, trials, whatever you want to call them, are the devil’s playground. In Mama’s case they included some bad “caregivers” who just sat and watched TV, who were just pulling a paycheck or looking for something of value to steal; and those who, when asked to help out, chose to walk out instead.

Perils, troubles, and trials also come in the form of good people, sometimes professional people, who are simply having a bad day or not having a full understanding of the situation and all it entails. For instance, they didn’t know how to deal with Mama’s blindness. As a result, Mama lost 16 pounds in assisted living when no one fed her or put her breakfast or lunch within her reach or told her where it was; and in the nursing home, she became dehydrated because no one handed her a glass of water or told her where it was knowing that eight 8 ounce glasses of liquid is a daily living requirement.

PEARLS

Thankfully, the road to glory is also sprinkled with pearls of God’s wisdom, mercy, and grace. Pearls are spiritual truths that are available to those who ask for them.

Our all-knowing God knew all that we would face, and in His wisdom, He was the only One Who could guide us safely through the maze of eldercare.

God illustrated His mercy toward me so that when I made mistakes or didn’t think to ask for His help, the results were more humorous than disastrous.

And He extended His grace to me, His unmerited and undeserved favor, when He covered me with His calm assurance that in His strength appropriated to me, I would be able to handle whatever came our way because He was always present.

To see how God led the way in the many battles we faced, click the link below for your copy of The Road to Glory: Walking Mama Home.

Did you know?

Did you know that more than 1 in 5 adults — a total of 53 million adult Americans — are now unpaid family caregivers? 

Did you know that boomers, ages 55 to 75, who were once taking care of friends and loved ones are now the ones needing care?

Did you know that their children (Generation X-ers) and grandchildren (Millennials) are now stepping into the role of caregiver?

(The above information is from National Alliance for Caregiving).

So, what does it take to be a good caregiver?

First of all, to be a good caregiver we must care. That means we must be vigilant intercessors for our loved ones just like they were for us when we were growing up. That means putting their needs before our own, doing everything we can to keep them comfortable and safe, and loving them patiently through this challenging time in their lives.

What does that look like? Here’s a short list of things we can do.

  • As they downsize their lives, help them navigate and adjust to a variety of living conditions while always keeping their safety and comfort in mind.
  • Act as a buffer to protect and defend them at all times; even when dealing with healthcare professionals.
  • Keep a list of their medicines and make sure they follow your loved one through all levels of care.
  • Make sure your loved one stays hydrated. Eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquid daily.
  • Keep all snacks in sealed containers to avoid an army of ants.
  • If they are bed-ridden, inspect their bed to make sure they aren’t lying on sharp objects and help them adjust their position to be more comfortable.
  • Make sure they have on clean bedclothes at all times.

When Jesus told Peter, “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:16), Peter passed that message along to us. He wrote, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be…eager to serve” (1 Peter 5:2).

For more information on what it looks like to be a vigilant intercessor, read The Road to Glory: Walking Mama Home available on Amazon.

The Road to Glory Joins Happy Tails

Happy Tails is all about the rescue, restoration, and adoption of Mac and Bo into our family and their forever home the same way God rescues, restores, and adopts us into His family and our eternal home.

The Road to Glory is all about the rescue of Mama from helplessness and hopelessness, restoring her to feelings of contentment, and walking her safely through the trials of eldercare to her eternal home.

In both books, you’ll laugh, cry, and celebrate their triumphant journeys through their time here on earth.

Both are available on Amazon.

After the Votes Are Counted

 

trump-and-hillary

Did you know that it was God who ordained government? Romans 13:1 says, “… there is no authority except that which God has established.”

Sometimes we don’t understand His thinking; and sometimes we just plain don’t agree with His choice of leaders, so we must remind ourselves that even in the tough times God is still sovereign over all.

Whether this election goes your way or not, let’s remember that…
God is still in control.
Jesus is still His Son.
The Holy Spirit still comforts.
The Bible is still true.
Heaven still awaits all believers.

And, even though…
We still have flaws;
We still fall short of God’s glory;
We still need forgiveness, and
We still need a savior…

We can rest assured that God still loves us and patiently waits for us to come to Him so He can shower us with His love, grace, and mercy. When we do, He will show us how to extend His love to others…regardless of how they voted.

After the Votes Are Counted

trump-and-hillary

Did you know that it was God who ordained government? Romans 13:1 says, “… there is no authority except that which God has established.”

Sometimes we don’t understand His thinking; and sometimes we just plain don’t agree with His choice of leaders, so we must remind ourselves that even in the tough times God is still sovereign over all.

Whether this election goes our way or not, let’s remember that…

God is still in control.
Jesus is still His Son.
The Holy Spirit still comforts.
The Bible is still true.
Heaven still awaits all believers.

And, even though…
We still have flaws;
We still fall short of God’s glory;
We still need forgiveness, and
We still need a Savior…

We can rest assured that God still loves us and patiently waits for us to come to Him so He can shower us with His love, grace, and mercy. When we do, He will show us how to extend His love to others…regardless of how they voted.

The Wisdom of the Election Process

Voted

“Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20.

The election process has turned into one big fat mess. I first noticed something was slightly awry when I voted in the primary.

The “how to make my selections electronically” were explained to me before entering the voting booth. But once in there, I realized that I had to vote for delegates for my candidate–people I’d never heard of–and out of the gazillion delegates listed, I could only vote for 19 of them. What??? If I were voting for one candidate wouldn’t I want him or her to get all the delegates?

That just didn’t seem right to me. Now both parties are up in arms over the delegate count. Who gets what and how many, and how you can win the popular vote and lose the state. None of it makes sense when you consider that whoever designed that process also added into the rules that if the party doesn’t like the candidate who wins the popular vote they can change the rules at the last minute. What???

Foolish me for thinking that each of us has one vote for one candidate, and that one vote added to other like votes would go to one person. But that’s not how it works. We vote for delegates. I wonder why they don’t call it the delegate election. Hmmm. But then again, maybe they will since they can change the rules to suit themselves.

God has indeed made foolish the wisdom of the election process.