Monthly Archives: May 2014

Want to Feel Totally Inadequate? Try Being a Caregiver

Asleep in the Chair

Asleep in the Chair
Photo Credit: Timothy Krause

I’m a long-distance caregiver. I spend about a week a month at Mom’s, managing her medical care and just about anything else she needs. We return home tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I hurt all over. I’m discouraged. Oh, this is nothing new. It happens every time I’m here. It’s not that the work is so hard. In fact, this week was particularly light in terms of medical appointments, which was good news/bad news. We had fewer demands on our schedules, which made it easier for Mom. But it also meant more unscheduled time, which is hard because she and I don’t get along well. We don’t have a lot to talk about, and most of the time, I wear myself out to get her to make good decisions. Which she resents. She wants to do what she wants to do without bearing the consequences.

For example, she has had terrible neck pain for over a year. We’ve tried a variety of medical treatments and several alternative medicine treatments. They help for a while, and then she plateaus. She lives in constant pain. I feel bad for her, and try to get her to make wise choices. Like taking a nap during the day to give her body more time to heal. Like not falling asleep in her chair, which torques her neck, puts more stress on it, and reverses anything we’ve done medically. It seems so obvious to me, but to her, not so much. She wants to be able to do what she wants without being responsible. Or said differently, she wants the freedom to make bad choices and avoid the consequences.

I confess I get frustrated. I’ve spent a lot of time and money to be here, but she doesn’t appreciate that. And somehow, it’s my fault she doesn’t feel better. It’s very confusing. Very disempowering. Very demeaning. I feel inadequate. My own strength fails me.

That’s when I have to lean totally on Jesus. When I suffer insults, I suffer for the sake of Christ, not Mom. When I am weak, I am strong in Him (2 Cor. 12:10). I don’t have to defend myself. I serve. I do what I can. I accept that I will never be appreciated, praised, or acknowledged. I accept that nothing I do will ever be right or good enough. So I serve Mom as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). I look to Him for my reward. And I forgive quickly.

No, I’ll probably never get the thanks I think I deserve from Mom. But I know someone who is looking at me with great love and affection, and yes, great satisfaction. And for now, that is enough.

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Mothers’ Day — A Day of Redemption

Hats Off to You, Moms!

Hats Off to You, Moms!
Photo Credit: Peggy Reimchen

Hats off to all of you wonderful mothers out there. I always spend Mothers’ Day pondering that season I enjoyed, and now enjoying the fruits of my labors. I know that I have been blessed beyond measure with my dear son, his wife, and now our grandchildren. I feel as if I indeed reaped tenfold, maybe one hundredfold, on the investment I made. Like many of you, I remember the highlights. The good times. I know there were tough times, but they are foggier in my memory.

I also know that some of you struggle with Mothers’ Day. You feel you didn’t do enough. You’re sure you didn’t do it right. You grieve because your kids didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Let me encourage you. God isn’t finished with you yet, and if your children are still living, He isn’t finished with them yet either (Phil 1:6). We are only in Act I. There is still time for redemption, renewal, and restoration. So keep praying. Keep loving. Keep reaching out. Keep keeping the door open. Because God has a plan that he hasn’t revealed.

And for those of us who had less than perfect moms, today is a day to forgive and release. As I was praying this morning, I realized that I am still holding on to fragments of resentment over what I didn’t get. Over the humanness of my mom, which resulted in my not having the childhood I thought I deserved. But the reality is, God chose my parents and family before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). He put me in that family for His reasons. And as long as I cooperate with Him, with His plan, I can be a part of the redemptive process in my family. Who knows but that I was brought into this family for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14). Who knows how God plans on using you and me to bring a new level of wholeness and health to our families. And our imperfect mothers were part of that. I, in my own imperfection, am part of that.

So this morning, I spent some time releasing the hurts and grievances that still cling like barnacles to my soul, despite years of healing work. I spent some time forgiving and reconciling with my imperfect mother. Let me encourage you to do the same.

I love this video, which points out just how impossible this job is. Who would be foolish enough to sign up for it?

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong | Fiction Friday

Last week I reviewed Cathleen Armstrong’s debut novel, Welcome to Last Chance. This week, her second novel, One More Last Chance, launched. I’m delighted to share it with you.

One More Last Chance

One More Last Chance By Cathleen Armstrong

Chris Reed, the Dip ‘n Dine’s new owner, is determined to make changes in the menu, much to the frustration of Carlos, the cook. Sarah Cooley, Elizabeth’s granddaughter, has returned to Last Chance to teach. She, like many of the Last Chance townsfolk, doesn’t like change. And then there’s Olivia, who brings change to both of their lives in ways neither expected.

Once again, Cathleen has written a captivating and engaging novel. Not only are her characters likable and fully developed, but the town of Last Chance is itself a “character,” drawing the reader into the setting of rural New Mexico. As the plot twists and turns, we fall in love with both the characters and the town.

I know you’ll love the Last Chance series. It has a flavor unique among women’s fiction – grace with a side of chili.

Being Content in Who I Am | Motivated by a Holy Discontent

Dress Up

When I Grow Up…
Photo Credit Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities

I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering, even worrying, about what I’m going to be when I grow up. You see, I’ve always had high standards for myself. I’ve always believed that God created me for something big. But I’ve never I felt that I have accomplished half of what I was capable of, and that leads to a systemic discontent. I know. He loves me for who I am, not for what I do. But still, I long for more. But I always feel so … ordinary. I thought I was alone—the only one who hasn’t achieved her goals…. But maybe I’m not.

A man I greatly admire, John Mark Reynolds, wrote a great post today. In it, he addresses not only my pondering over what I’m going to be when I grow up, but also several other ponderings. Like, why do hubby and I ignore our need for exit planning? Why do I talk so much? Why do I keep trying to look 40? Why can’t I be fully engaged in simply being who God created me to be today rather than constantly comparing myself with others? He doesn’t offer answers, other than to stop the behavior. But he did make me realize that within each of us is a holy discontent that can either motivate us or discourage us.

What is your holy discontent and what does it motivate you to do?

Living the Daring Adventure | Guest Blogger Marci Seither

I’m pleased to welcome my friend, Marci Seither, author of Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight.

Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Our Kids Take Flight

Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Our Kids Take Flight by Marci Seither

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” 
-Helen Keller

My daughter, Amy, and I spent a Saturday helping my mom serve lunch at a gathering of women I had never met. There was a baker’s dozen who flew in from different states or drove to my parent’s home. Some had kept in touch since they graduated 50 years earlier, some hadn’t seen each other for decades.

The women hugged and greeted each other with laughter, often shaking their heads as if to wonder how time had slipped away, like sand through their fingers. In those moments of familiarity, glimpses of adolescent girls giggling over playground crushes, high school prom dresses and bad hairdos rose to the surface. They referred back to a time when their life was simple, and youthful ambition untarnished by life’s detours.

At lunch, they all sat down and pulled thin strips of paper from a basket. Each paper held a one-sentence story they had written for others to guess the source. The stories were as unique as the women sharing them. Elephant rides in India, a chance meeting with famous people, sailing the Sea of Cortez and being stuck in a sand dune were some of the tales shared. The women were smart, funny, and articulate, and but the one word that I came away with was adventurous.

They knew full well what it was to be “Strong and Courageous.” I looked at Amy, who sat mesmerized, and wondered if the word “Adventure” would hold the same meaning for her generation.

“Live life to the fullest!” is something that we often tell our kids. We set them on training wheel equipped bikes after making sure their helmets, mouth guards, knee pads and wrist braces are properly fastened. Okay, maybe the mouth guard is a bit extreme. But, gone are the days of seeing the countryside from the back of a pick-up truck, playing outside until the streetlights turn on and enjoying games that don’t require batteries or internet access.

Don’t get me wrong. I think safety equipment is great and being cautious is important but sometimes I think we are teaching the next generation to take all the risk out of living. How can we expect our kids and grandkids to be bold for Christ when want them to stay tethered to what we think is safe and controlled. It concerns me that the younger generations zest for life is quickly being replaced by immediate gratification of entertainment that can be experienced from the comfort of our Lazy Boy recliners.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Corinthians 16:13

The Bible is full of great stories about risk taking people, like Caleb, Ruth, and Esther. We need to share those stories along with a few of our own so the younger generation will have positive role models to look up to when they get ready to stand on their own.

What adventures have you lived lately? What stories have you shared with the next generation?

 

 

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong | Fiction Friday

Occasionally I like to review fiction, especially when it’s written by someone I know. Being an ordinary woman, I do love to relax with a good novel from time to time. I call this feature Fiction Friday. It won’t happen every Friday, but every now and then, I want to encourage you to take a few hours off and snuggle in with a good book. Today’s book is Welcome to Last Chance: A Novel (A Place to Call Home)by my friend, Cathleen Armstrong.

Welcome to Last Chance

Welcome to Last Chance Cathleen Armstrong

The last thing Lainie Davis expected on her exodus from her life in California was to end up in the podunk town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but her car had a different idea. It limped as far as the parking lot of the local saloon before dying completely. But with characteristic small town friendliness, the residents of Last Chance stepped up to make her feel welcome.

Cathleen Armstrong has created real, likable characters and a real, loveable town. Last Chance reminds me of the town I grew up in many years ago. A place where strangers were welcomed without a lot of questions. A place where neighbors pitched in to help where needed. A place where change happens when you aren’t looking. I was filled with nostalgia as I got acquainted with the folks and setting of Last Chance.

If you enjoy women’s fiction with a little romance, a little intrigue, and a little tension, you’ll love Welcome to Last Chance. And the sequel launches next week. Stay tuned for my review of it.

Disclaimer: I was privileged to be part of Cathy’s critique group as she wrote this book. It’s better than I remember.

 

Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight

Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Our Kids Take Flight

Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Our Kids Take Flight by Marci Seither

The dreaded empty nest! I still haven’t recovered, and my kid left for college twelve years ago! I only had one child and I home schooled him for eighteen years, so when he left, we didn’t have an empty nest. We had an cavernous empty pit. A deep one. How I wish I would have had my friend Marci Seither’s newest book, Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight. As the mother of six, Marci has had a lot more practice with leave-taking than I have, and in this book she shares not only her experience, but also the experiences of many other parents.

Written in a chatty, informal, and delightfully humorous style peppered with lots of stories and insights, Marci covers just about every aspect of helping your kids take flight while keeping your own sanity. She covers just about every type of family situation: single parents, military kids, sibling relationships, your relationship as a couple, and even the boomerang kid. She offers more examples than advice and faith rather than fear (my favorite chapter). Reading this book was like enjoying a coffee and conversation with an old friend. If you have a child about to take flight, I highly recommend Empty Nest.

And here’s a bonus. Tomorrow I welcome Marci as a guest blogger. Be sure to come back and read her thought-provoking insights.