May…LOTS of Somethings

My online friend Heather hosts a monthly link up, helping us to gather our thoughts, remember, and (for me evaluate) something loved, something read, something treasured, and something ahead.

I have participated almost every month in 2021…which is stunning. I find that I am very grateful for the moments of pause it requires…the chance to think about what I want my life to actually be. I am grateful to you, Heather.

May was a full and wonderful month.

SOMETHING LOVED

I am in a season I refer to as STUPID SELF CARE. I call it that, tongue in cheek, because I am naturally a person that would rather avoid all that “nonsense”. I would prefer to just gut out the hard times and move on.

But that is not how life works. Also, as my kids are engaging in the world as adults, I find I really want them to practice good self care, so I have to act as though it matters. And, as it turns out, it does actually matter.

In that spirit, because this season with my parents is HARD–not just for me but also for the people who care for them day in and day out–I hosted a SPA/SELF CARE DAY for my parents’ caregivers.

I coordinated with the establishment where I do yoga and counseling. We had a custom Restorative Yoga session, then each woman received a one hour massage and 1/2 hour NuCalm session.

I had food and drinks and gifts set up for them to enjoy in between sessions.

Living Well has a lovely pool area where we hung out, soaking in the beauty.

One precious woman told me, “This was the very best day of my life.”

Here’s the thing: I suspected that if I handed out gift certificates many would go unused.

Caregiving is hard and holy work, and the kind of people who do caregiving are often the kind of people who put themselves last. That practice (of putting yourself last) is actually not in my parents’ best interest, I explained.

“I cannot offer you job security,” I confessed. “My parents are old and ill. But I can promise to appreciate you while we are in this together.”

I could offer it to them because I was familiar with the location by practicing self care myself. I loved this day. It was a wise thing to do for my parents, because taking care of the people who take care of them makes for much better days for everyone.

SOMETHING READ

May was a good “reading” month. On Audio I finished Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It, which I absolutely loved. Ryan and I also finished a couple of Penderwick stories…getting her to appreciate audiobooks as much as I do is a process that is not going as well as I would like.

In addition to these, I also read Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights, which was very entertaining.

The format for The Dept. of Speculation was wonderful. Was it a novel? Is it her memoir? I am not exactly certain.

That Sounds Fun, by Annie F. Downs was okay. It’s a very easy read with some great parts, but I didn’t necessarily leave the book dying to dig in to All Things Annie F., if you know what I mean.

I always love Lysa TerkHeurst, but my by far favorite was Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, by Lori Gottlieb. When she wrote, “Yes, I’m seeking objectivity, but only because I think objectivity will rule in my favor,” on page 38, I was a fan for life.

By the time I reached page 70, I ordered a copy for a dear friend in California, and had it shipped to her. It is incredibly entertaining with great nuggets of wisdom tucked in.

Something Treasured

This is an easy one: My mother/daughter trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In my prayer journal I often beg the Lord to help me create a life I love, in the midst of the life I have.

Reagan was at a new school, with a new major (hopping from a writing major to a Biology major/Chemistry minor at a school 5 times the size of her first college is not for the faint of heart), in the middle of a global pandemic, with a huge class load. It was the toughest semester she’d ever had.

Because I am in the aforementioned Stupid Self Care Season, I told her that when one is in the midst of a temporarily stressful time, it is wise to schedule in a break. “Help yourself recover,” I told her.

Sun, sand, and good food are helpful in that quest. I wanted to try someplace we had never been before, so Gulf Shores got the nod. Reagan flew from Vermont to Pensacola, and I drove to pick her up so we could spend a few days together.

We went on a dolphin watching cruise.

She told me she has taken to bird watching and has an app on her phone which helps her identify species and keep count of sightings. So, I handed her my camera, and told her to have fun.

Everywhere we ate had delicious food. We devoured peach French toast and Eggs Benedict; Burgers, fries and milkshakes; delicious steaks and scrumptious seafood. She can get on the thin side when she’s stressed, so I loved feeding her whatever she wanted.

We read books, rested, and talked.

I think she is so beautiful.

I treasured every single minute.

Something Ahead

Summer.

It’s my very favorite. I will keep homeschooling because it is going well, but the afternoons at the pool and FINALLY trekking to the water park are always a delight.

We are visiting a local town for the 4th of July, which we are looking forward to, and I am meeting my BREAKFAST CLUB friends from California in Ft. Lauderdale soon after.

And I look forward to reflecting on my Four Somethings in June, grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Marching Four-Ward

Ohhhh…Bless Heather for her diligence and faithfulness. Each month she hosts a link-up highlighting Four Somethings: Something loved; Something Read; Something Treasured; Something Ahead. It’s a great writing exercise, and a kind-of center base for life. Taking the time to reflect is always a good practice…

Something Loved

Can we chat for a minute? I mean really, as though we were having coffee together.

This month I have loved good counseling. I found a delightful woman to spend an hour with each week, and an insightful gentleman to spend an hour with my hubby and me each week.

We have a lot on our plates. Many, many (most) couples with special needs kids don’t make it. Our daughter is an utter delight, but she definitely has special needs.

My mom has a terrible disease. In the various online forums for people with the disease, or with family members who have the disease, there is a lot of talk about assisted suicide. It’s that kind of a diagnosis. My dad is not the man he once was, and falls all the time. Last week, after having already been to the ER or doctor’s appointments on 4 separate days and not wanting to go again, I let him shout as I pulled staples, from his last fall, out of his head. I gently tugged out fifteen staples in total, with only 4 good yells. That was not a bad ratio.

***Several months ago I had to take my mother and father to the doctor’s office because they each had staples that needed to be taken out. We are very well known in the doctor’s office so it was no real surprise when the Physician’s Assistant looked at me, handed me the staple remover, and said, “You really should have one of your own.”

All that to say, this gal needs help. And counseling is a really good idea.

Something Read (Or, in this case, Said)

Several of the other joiners in Four Somethings are prolific readers. They inspire me to read more…next month.

I started The Road Back To You and Searching for Sunday but haven’t finished either.

I had a friend message me on Facebook, looking for help. He has a precious young (kind of like a) daughter, who struggles with the role of women to submit, and asked if I could help talk to her about it. I am always happy to try, knowing I may fail. I will write much, much, MUCH more about this in the future, but this is what I said:

We have done society an enormous disservice by centering this conversation around the woman’s obligation to submit when the heart of it succeeding is the responsibility of the man to serve and lead. In the two primary places this is discussed–the home and the church–if the man is fulfilling his obligation before the Lord, the context is far less controversial.

If a robber comes into a home with one bullet in the gun, it the husband/father’s responsibility to take the bullet. The “submissive” act is to stand behind him and allow him to honor his responsibility (to lay down his life for his family) before the Lord, as the leader of the family. In God’s formula, the husband always looks to his family’s best interests first. Submitting to the best interests of everyone involved is not an act of weakness, or being less than…

Just because many most men are failing at this, it does not mean God got the formula wrong or we have somehow misunderstood. It just means men can be dumb.

And this is why I need counseling…I, too, have some heart issues that need hammering out.

Something Treasured

Good caregivers.

I cannot say enough. 2021 got off to a really rough start caregiving wise.

My son moved from Virginia to East Texas to help, and I could not have gotten through without him. We have used 3 different companies since December 1st: One I fired. One dropped us. And one still remains. (I feel like the Goldilocks of daughters…”Too hot!” “Too cold!” “Just right!”)

I hired several private caregivers I thought would be wonderful and they, too, are gone. My parents are a LOT of work, but I am happy to say, now I think we’ve got it! In addition to the 24-hour care they require, I have people for saunas, showers, massages, exercise, outings, trips to the fitness center, and house cleaners. We are planning outings and hoping for improvements. I am so, so grateful. (And grateful my parents did well financially so I can pay for it all.)

For those of you in this season of life, or heading into this season of life, I humbly acknowledge that there are family members genuinely dissatisfied with the care my parents have. They regularly share their dissatisfaction. “[This person] clearly thinks they (my parents) are being mistreated,” is something I have heard several times. There are seasons in life when knowing you are doing your very best before the Lord is enough, and other people’s opinions can’t register.

That is also something I treasure.

Something Ahead

Well…getting more centered in my own life feels like it is on the horizon.

I now have quartz countertops, which makes my kitchen functional! I am cleaning more, homeschooling better, getting the right help in several areas, and summer (my favorite season) is coming.

There is hope. And a lot, a lot, A LOT of work to get there.

5 Reasons to Thank You on Father’s Day

5 Reasons to Thank You on Father’s Day

Not everyone would want our life. I am certain we are not the envy of many.

But I wouldn’t trade it.

The years together have softened us. Our mid sections are reflections of our souls…a bit gentler to the touch.

The days of our lives in this particular season are indelibly marked by being a parent and having parents; therapies and home schooling of our kids, memory care units and bridge games with our parents define much of our priority list. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. Again I am linking up with the spectacular Kelly at Mrs. Disciple to chat about Father’s Day…

Thank you for living life knowing church wasn’t a question, but a fact. I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade we have missed church for no reason. We may not do as many sappy, devotions around the table, missions trips as a family as I imagine perfect families do, but our life is anchored by faith. Our kids know it. They have spent their entire lives watching us live life with Jesus with imperfect consistency. No matter what they choose as adults, they know what is true for us because they have seen it.

Thank you for believing in stay home moms. We have made enormous financial sacrifices over the years and our non-existent savings account is meager, but life with a special needs child and teenager requires presence. You have given that to us. Your hard work and creativity have served us well. I am so grateful for the hours and hours of quiet and crazy time that have been invested in our kids.

Thank you for being a dreamer. I am so sorry I am not always a great sport about it, but watching our teenager develop a passion for becoming a pilot (like you)–seeing her confidence blossom as she gains this incredible skill–is a direct reflection of you tenaciously holding onto your dreams when the odds (and your wife’s patience) were stacked against you.

Thank you for being the example to your kids. You can fix anything. You can figure it all out. You create solutions from scratch when there are problems to be solved. I ached with pride when our son explained why he was taking a semester off of school to work construction. “I want to be like Dad,” he said. “I want to have rentals someday, and know I can fix anything that goes wrong.” Yep. That is just like your father.

Thank you for helping me keep things simple. I often say I married my boundaries. That is true. Without you, my life would be a chaotic jumble of exhaustion. I would not see the difference between problems I can and cannot fix; nor would I respect as deeply that people make their own choices. You helped me channel that side of me into a productive and thriving ministry. Without you, there would be no Brighten A Corner Ministry.

Don’t ever let the lists I make and plans I write out make you feel as though today isn’t a gift. It is. Our life is sticky and messy and complicated but we are owning this thing together, you and I. We fight less. We hold hands more. When the wheels come off the bus, as they inevitably will, we can get them back on faster…and doggone it if it doesn’t sometimes make things EVEN BETTER than they were before.

Do you know how lucky that makes us?

Yeah. I know. We don’t believe in luck. Even though I run a ministry and teach Bible Study, and you have gone to more Lutheran camps than you can count and make sure we never miss church, we have never become people for whom the word blessed  rolls off our tongues. If we do, indeed, move to the south in a few years, that might need to change. But for now, I’ll just call us lucky.