Monthly Archives: July 2014

Do You Have Hezekiah Syndrome? | Protecting the Next Generation

Head in Sand

Do You Have Your Head in the Sand?
Photo Credit: John VanderHaagen

War in Israel. Christian genocide in Iraq. Children flooding our borders. A flaccid economy. Ebola in Africa. Every day our senses are assaulted with trauma in our world. It’s terrible, and yet I confess that all too often I find myself wondering if things will hold together for another 30 years? Another 20 years? I read this week that the Medicare trust fund is calculated to survive until 2030 – 15 years. I found myself calculating my age and wondering if I’d still be alive.

I have to fight this tendency to look out for myself. I have to deliberately force myself to stop and pray for my kids and grandkids. I call this the Hezekiah Syndrome, from 2 Kings 20. The dying Hezekiah had just been granted a stay of execution from the Lord. Another 15 years. But in his excitement, he showed the Babylonian emissaries all the treasures of his storehouses, boasting of his great wealth.

This didn’t please the prophet Isaiah, who then issued this dire sentence:  “Hear the word of the LORD: Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” (2 Kings 20:16-18)

Think about it! Hezekiah had just been told that not only his wealth, but also his own sons, would be taken into captivity! And what was his response? “Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?’” (2Kings 20:19)

Seriously? He had just seen the Lord answer a pretty serious prayer for healing, but now he’s willing to allow his sons—who, by the way, were innocent in his sin—bear the brunt of this punishment! I’m appalled, but hey, I do almost the same thing when I wonder (and even whisper a prayer) that the world will hold together through my lifetime. Then I need to repent and pray all the more diligently for my kids, my grandkids, and the world that I am at least a little bit complicit in messing up.

Folks, we are the matriarchal/patriarchal generation. The responsibility is ours. We must pray and never, ever, give in to the temptation of short-term gain with the risk of long-term loss. Will you join me in praying for the world we are leaving to our kids?

What’s Your Aging IQ?

Take the Aging IQ Quiz

Take the Aging IQ Quiz

How much do you know about aging? Probably more than you think you do. You can test your knowledge on a 29-question National Institute of Aging quiz.  It walks you through a variety of topics related to aging, while offering a bit of education camouflaged as information. It’s fun. Stop by and take the test, then post your score here. I got 27.


Paying for Long Term Care


Living in the Present

Many clocks

How do you manage to live in the present?
Photo Credit: Nick

This year has been a steep learning curve for me. If I thought I was busy before, this year, with medical issues for three people (including myself), has taken my schedule to a whole new level. Plus grad school and work. And trying to be a human being. And with the increased busyness has come an increased level of stress. I have more details to remember and juggle. More appointments to squeeze into fewer days at Mom’s. More calls to make. As I’ve faced this, I’ve watched Mom increase in her worry and fretfulness, to the point where I want to scream. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m busier so she frets… This, of course, is a sign of the fuzzy boundaries she’s always had, now on steroids, as she feels less in control about the rest of her life.

But as frustrating as it’s been, I’m using the opportunity to learn some new skills. The most important of these is what I call “living in the present.” While I do have to do some pretty fancy juggling, the reality is that I only have to touch one ball at a time. I only have to attend one appointment, make one phone call, solve one crisis at a time. I may have to move fast and be creative, but I only have to do one at a time. I’ve learned that to the extent that I can keep this in mind, to that extent I can live in the present rather than the future.

The thing that keeps Mom exhausted is trying to keep everything in her mind at the same time. She literally lives in the past, the present, and the future at the same time. No wonder she’s tired!

How do you cope with multiple demands? What techniques do you use to live in the present? And what happens when you don’t?


Becoming the Old Woman I Will Be

Sometimes You Just Need to Rest | How to Manage Extreme Fatigue

Need Help Juggling Your Many Roles?



Developing an Adult Relationship with Your Adult Kids

Mother Scolding Child

Do you treat your kidults like kids?
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

How do you relate to your twenty-something kids? Do you have a parent-child relationship or an adult-adult relationship?

I think that parenting after high school is even harder than parenting during the teen years. Our kids are maturing, separating, and figuring out who they are, yet they still need skilled parenting. But we now operate from a position of relationship rather than one of authority. The ten years between 18 and 28 (or so) are critical for our relationship for the rest of our lives. So how do we transition from parent-child to adult-adult?

We only had one child, so I admit I have limited experience. We had a pretty good relationship with him during his growing up years, but the transition to adulthood was still challenging. Even after he got married. Sometimes we’d talk for hours and it felt like we were peers. Other times, it felt strained.

Building an Adult-Adult Relationship

I remember the day when we were finally able to put language to our experience. We were traveling with our son and his wife. They were late meeting us, and that made us late for the next event. I said something about it, and they reacted like teens. Then it hit me. We were traveling as two adult couples, but they were reacting as if we were parents and they were children. I found that by putting the issue on the table and clarifying it, it moved us to a new place in the relationship. We talked about how we communicate with our adult friends, and how we negotiate differences without one person or couple being dominant. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. We had to have the conversation several times over the next several years and we had to deliberately learn how to be adult friends rather than “mom and dad.” But in the end, it paid off. We are almost always on an adult-adult relationship now, and it’s a delight. So don’t be afraid to clarify your relationship with your kidults. The sooner the better.

Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers

Are you a caregiver? Or perhaps you know one. If so, Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers is a delightful little book by two caregivers: Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk. Cec has been caring for his wife with chronic illness since their marriage more than 50 years ago. Twila’s husband was diagnosed with a progressive rare muscle disease called “inclusion body myostitis” several years ago. They weave their faith-filled stories through 48 short pages of beautiful prose and photography.

I love the heart of both authors as they share their love for their spouses. As a burned out caregiver, I found hope and courage as I savored their stories. They gave me new ideas and new vocabulary for serving those I care for. Full of gentle wisdom, their personal stories of caregiving will help you face some of the ups and downs of your journey, including:

  • Feeling guilty for doing too much, too little, or nothing at all
  • Answering other’s well-meaning but insensitive questions
  • Watching someone you dearly love suffer or die

This is a wonderful gift book for the caregiver in your life. Maybe even for you.

Paying for Long Term Care


Nursing Home

How Will You Pay for Long-Term Care?
Photo Credit: Derrick Tyson

Whether for yourself, your spouse, or your aging parents, chances are, you’re going to need to think about long term care and how to pay for it. I consider the finances among the most essential aspects of caregiving. Without good planning, your caregiving duties will be monumentally more complex.

Unfortunately, few Americans are prepared to deal with this risk: only seven to eight percent of people have long-term care insurance and only ten percent of Americans have long-term care insurance in place. A recent article by Jamie Hopkins at points out that this lack of planning is especially troubling because long-term care is a very real and expensive risk. Nearly 70% of people will need long-term care at some point in their lives and the cost of one year in a semi-private nursing home can range from $95,000 to almost $160,000 in some markets. Do you have that kind of money?

The need for long term care planning is real. Back in the late ‘90s, I became concerned that my parents were becoming frailer. Despite their resistance, I insisted they buy long term care insurance. I knew that neither they nor any of their kids could afford long-term care, should it be necessary. I wanted to be a responsible adult child, but let’s face it. Resources are limited and at that time we still had a son at home. Good thing I insisted. Despite their resistance to paying the annual premiums, both of them have maxed out the limited coverage we were able to buy. My mom will start paying out of pocket this summer.

Long-term care insurance is only one option. The Forbes article discusses several. This is a good time to talk to your financial adviser and make plans for not only your parents but also for yourself since nearly half of those needing paid long term care are under age 65.


Becoming the Old Woman I Will Be |Watching my Attitude


Enjoying Life

Enjoying Life
Photo Credit: K. Kendall

How do you want to be remembered? Who are you becoming as you age? In my “career” as a caregiver, I’ve  met so many bitter old women and have determined I don’t want to be one. (Bitter that is, not old…)

I was thinking recently of Lila Lee, my mom’s best friend from childhood. She and Mom played together as children in Kansas and they remained best friends for over 80 years, even though they hadn’t lived near one another since high school. I only met Lila Lee a few times over the years, but each visit was a delight. A kindergarten teacher, she was single until her 40s. She wore brightly colored, flamboyant clothes and found joy in everything. She was fun.

In her last 20 years, she developed multiple sclerosis. She struggled on as long as she could, but for the last few years was bed ridden in a second floor condo. Her husband died in the next room and there was nothing she could do. She had caregivers who came in for a few hours per day. Otherwise, she was alone. And yet, she always had a positive outlook. Always had joy. Always was positive. Never complained, no matter how difficult her life was, no matter how much pain she was in.

When our son was married several years ago, we were able to take Mom for a visit to Lila Lee. We were happy to battle the southern California traffic to make sure they got time together. Because of her care constraints, they only had a couple of hours together, but they yakked non-stop, knowing it would be their last visit. I’m so glad we were able to give them that time together.

I’ve always admired Lila Lee’s joyful attitude in her good years and her bad years. So many older women facing such limitations whine and complain about their lot in life. They live in dread and misery, and make everyone around them miserable in the process. Not Lila Lee. She lived joyfully until the day she died.

While most people are governed by their feelings, the reality is, we can choose our behavior and our feelings will follow. Lila Lee pursued joy, trusted God, and found contentment in whatever circumstance she was in. One of my wise friends reminds me that we are now becoming the old women we will be. I want to follow Lila Lee’s example. I want to be a delightful old woman.

Developing A Great Relationship with Your Daughter-in-Law


Family by Choice

Family by Choice
Photo Credit: (c) Joshua Sikora

How’s your relationship with your daughter-in-law (DIL)? Or is that too touchy of a subject? I think a lot of moms of sons are surprised by the challenges of adding a new woman to the family, especially if we have a close relationship with our sons.

I was blessed with a friend who was years ahead of me in the mother-in-law (MIL) business. She was so diligent in maintaining a good relationship with her DIL. She pointed out that when a young man marries, the new wife often sees the MIL as competition. At first that didn’t make sense. Don’t we both love the same man? But that’s precisely the point. And to complicate the matter, most families don’t seem to put words or even cognition to that dilemma, so other conflicts arise to express it. Since they aren’t the real issue, they often don’t get resolved. Hurt feelings abound. And the man we love is caught in the middle. Another thing that happens is making the transition from child to adult and developing an adult relationship with your son and his wife rather than a parent/child relationship. If you’ve been close, that’s a hard transition for both parents and son. And here, the new wife gets caught in the middle.

Deb DeArmond has written a wonderful book about this issue.  Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships (Kregel Publications, 2013) talks to both mothers of sons and wives of those sons, addressing the most common glitches in this vital relationship.  It’s helpful to see both sides of the issue, as well as the side of what she calls “the man in the middle”—your son. The book is easy to read and features questions and personal evaluations at the end of each chapter to help you be more honest with yourself. And who wouldn’t want the goal: a better relationship with the wife of your son and the mother of your grandchildren.

If you’ve felt that your only option in dealing with your adult son and his wife is to “wear beige and keep your mouth shut,” the book is for you. If you’ve had misunderstandings with your DIL, there’s hope for reconciliation. And if you have a good relationship, you’ll learn ways to make it great.

I’m so thankful for the wonderful relationship we have with our DIL. She’s a treasure, and we tell her that regularly. It hasn’t always been easy, and still isn’t. But we’ve both worked hard and continue to find ways to make our family work. I feel like I’ve given and changed a lot, but I’ve also been very aware of the many concessions she has made to include and honor us. And ultimately, that’s what this relationship is about. Each party respecting the other and creating a delightful, God-honoring extended family.


Thank God for Independence! Thank God for Freedom!

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Presenting the Declaration of Independence to Congress, John Trumbull

Two hundred and thirty eight years ago in Philadelphia, a small band of statesmen drafted and signed a document outlining a list of grievances against the British crown and declaring the independence of the colonies from the tyrannical government of Great Britain. In doing so, they pledged to one another and the new nation their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And for many, it cost them everything. But the result was the freest, most prosperous nation on earth. Of course, that result didn’t come without years of war, hardship, and pain. But led by principle, integrity and Divine Providence, these men led the new nation to freedom.

Eleven years later, on September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was adopted in its original form by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, PA, and later ratified by the people in conventions in each state as the supreme law of the land—the United States of America.

Over the past 238 years, we’ve had many occasions to defend our freedom. Today we are in another such battle—a battle against terrorists from the outside and America haters on the inside, all of whom wish to eradicate our way of life. Different in nature, but similar in purpose. We must highly resolve to understand our freedom and be willing to defend it. We need to pray for statesmen who will do the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing.

On this Independence Day, I encourage you to take a few minutes and read the Declaration of Independence, the document that established the underlying principles of our government. And to thank God for our freedom.

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

777 Call to Prayer for Our Nation

Urgent Call to Prayer

Urgent Call to Prayer
Photo Credit:

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, has invited American Christians to join in seven days of prayer and repentance for the nation, starting today. You can see her invitation here and sign up to receive prayer alerts every day. On the 7th day, we will fast and pray for breakthrough. I invite you to join the chorus as we humble ourselves before our Lord.

The first prayer alert is posted here. Be sure to sign up to receive the next six in your inbox. And will you pray? Despite all the good things happening in the world, and we rejoice for those, our nation is at a crossroads. It’s time for the Church to be the Church, to humble ourselves, turn from our own wicked ways, and seek God’s mercy. (2 Chron. 7:14).

When I was with my family last month, including my newest granddaughter, I found myself in constant intercession for them and the world they are inheriting. I prayed that they would enjoy the freedoms we have enjoyed, especially the freedom of belief and thought. I prayed that they would not face national poverty and persecution, that their nation would not become a third world has-been. I prayed that they would be able to live well for Jesus, advancing His kingdom here on earth. And frankly, in the midst of the joy, my heart was breaking for them. And I repented for how my generation has squandered that which we inherited. It’s not too late, friends. Our God is a God of mercy as well as justice. I’m crying out for His mercy and examining my life. Will you join me?