Slice of Peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 ESV

Journal – September 26

I am still navigating how to live life without my ladybug. The week we were in hospice with Mom my brother told my sister-in-law that I was so busy taking care of everybody else that I hadn’t thought about how I was going to handle it when she left us. He was right. I jumped right from hospice into making arrangements into helping my dad take care of business and I didn’t really process everything. On some level, I knew I was avoiding dealing with my grief. However, I just kept doing the next thing that needed to be done and pushing everything else to the back of my mind. I’m back home now with time to think and it’s hitting me a little hard today. I’ve been allowing the tears to flow and I’ve been talking to God. Both are necessary. Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed.

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In my post on Day two, I mentioned that I knew the day would come when the floodgates would open and I’d have to start dealing with my grief.  I remember September 26 very well.  It was one of the few days that I had had to myself since Mom passed away.  I was exhausted and on my own. The tears came along with a deluge of memories. The grief was almost too much to handle.  I cried and prayed.  I shared the above thoughts and a picture of Mom on Instagram and then I just sat for a few minutes.

I almost didn’t notice the slice of peace that began to penetrate my heart, a peace that I hadn’t been sure I’d feel again.  It was a start.  A few days later I knew I was supposed to write about my grief and share it here.  I’m glad I did.  It has been tremendously helpful.

I’m still not sure how I’ll handle all the grief going forward, but I trust the one who does know. We are not promised easy in life but we are promised that God will be with us and that He will give us a peace that passes understanding.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Weekend Blessing

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 KJV

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Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

I remember a song from my childhood youth group based on Isaiah 40:31, Teach Me, Lord.  It was one of the songs that I sang to Mom.  It was one of her favorite scriptures.  I watched her live out this scripture.  She was a doer, but in living life, she learned to wait on the Lord.  She had tremendous faith in his provision for everything including strength for the weary.  She was a prayer warrior and knowing she was praying for me was a great encouragement because I knew her prayers were accompanied by an unrelenting faith that God would answer in his time.

I witnessed her faith in praying for healing, salvation, safety and many other things on behalf of her children as well as others.  She had an expectation that God would hear and that he would provide. Even as the Alzheimers ravaged her, she still clung to her faith.  She would sometimes tell me she wanted to see Jesus and now she has.

She prayed many prayers and even though she is now in heaven, I believe that her prayers are still relevant. God remembers her prayers and he knows which ones still need to be answered and they will be in his time.

My prayer for you is that you will wait upon the Lord for renewed strength; that he will raise you on Eagles wings and that you won’t become weary in doing life but trust in his timing for all things.

Grace and Strength for the journey,

Teresa

PS – I hope you don’t mind that I combined Saturday and Sunday this week.  I am a little weary this weekend and need some extra rest.  Looking forward to the day when I can walk and not faint.

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Mom at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit, Michigan on a trip she and Dad took. She thought it would be fun to “ride” the bike. She was always up for a little adventure.

 

Come back Monday for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Simple Pleasures

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalm 23:1

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picture of a fence post on a country road near Shelbyville, KY. I have a thing for fence posts.

Today was for living and finding memories in everyday moments.

I mentioned on Day 9 that I thought I’d find an Apple Orchard and buy a bag of Apples in memory of my Mom.  I did just that today.  They did not have Cortland’s but there was a nice variety and we did a mixed bag of Jonagold, Winesap and Ruby Mac.  We came home and did a taste test.  The Ruby Mac was our favorite and reminded me slightly of the Cortland’s that Mom used to buy. Tart with a hint of sweet, kind of like Mom herself. She would have loved being part of the tasting.

Part of the joy in finding an Orchard was getting to drive in the country.  One of our favorite things as a family was taking drives.  We’d roam all the back roads happy as larks. I know Mom would have loved our adventure on the way to Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Next, on our out and about excursion we stopped in at Goodwill to see if we could find a bargain.  We found a couple pair of slacks for Rocky.  Shopping at the Goodwill also brings back memories of Mom because she loved a good bargain.  She could spot the good stuff. One of my favorite outfits as a kid came from the Goodwill, the cutest brown white and blue plaid skirt with suspender straps.  Of course, as a child, I didn’t want to tell anyone that it came from Goodwill.  Now, if I find a bargain at Goodwill I want pats on the back! Remind me once this series is over to tell you about the beautiful Scottish plaid jacket we found for Rocky (haha, can’t wait to share).

After our stint in Goodwill, I stopped in at Hobby Lobby to find a pretty binder and protector sheets for Mom’s handwritten poetry.  I want to type all of her poems and make copies for the family, but I also want to preserve her original copies as well as other snippets of writing that I have found.  We are lucky to have her poetry as we thought they had been lost.

In 2010 she came to stay with me after surgery and she brought her poetry with her.  We were going to type up her poems, but life got in the way and we didn’t.  After she went back home I never saw her poetry again until last year. For seven years we had no clue where they were and Mom couldn’t remember where she put them.  Last summer we started going through her crates of school papers and there they were buried in with worksheets and notebooks where she had evidently hidden them for safekeeping. I put them in a safe place with intentions of finally typing them up. That is my next project once the 31-day writing challenge is over.

When we arrived home at the end of our day, we ate a bowl of chili.  This too reminds me of Mom because when I was about ten years old she taught me how to make chili.  It is the first thing I remember cooking and to this day I make it pretty much the way she taught me.

In a little while, I will eat a bowl of ice cream and be reminded of all the times Mom and I would sneak off to Dairy Queen without telling Dad and Rocky.  We’d go through the drive-through then find a pleasant spot to park the car and enjoy our treat.

Today was exactly the kind of day that Mom would have enjoyed.  I think I’ll add an extra scoop of ice cream just for her!

Simple pleasures are best.

Alan Bradley

 

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Sisters and Memories

A sister is someone who owns part of what you own: a house, perhaps, or a less tangible legacy, like memories of your childhood and the experience of your family.

Deborah Tannen

My grandmother bore 15 children and had one miscarriage.  My mom was child number 11, born in a leap year and teased about it all her life. Of the 15 children, only 11 lived beyond the age of two. In that line-up, Mom was number eight. There were four years between her and the youngest of her older siblings and three years between her and the oldest of her younger siblings.  She was caught in the middle and was somewhat of a loner.

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Mary Esther, the last baby was born dead when my Mother was eight years old. She vividly recalled this occasion. Everybody said that Mary Esther looked like Mom. She remembered seeing Mary Esther wrapped in a blanket lying in an armchair.  She said she was beautiful. I don’t think she ever got over losing Mary Esther. Because she was a loner and because Mary Esther looked like her somehow that impacted her and she felt a strong connection to Mary Esther even though she didn’t live.

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The house in Wallingford, Kentucky where Mom lived as a child.

 

The house they lived in at the time was a two-story house in Wallingford, Kentucky.  We drove by a few years ago and took pictures.  Mom loved that house, partly because she loved houses in general, but mostly I think because of the memory of Mary Esther.

Every time I look at pictures of my Mom as a child and young woman, I wonder about Mary Esther and if they would have been best friends growing up. Would Mary Esther’s pictures look like duplicates of Mom’s?  I’m sure Mom would have looked out for her and protected her.

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They are reunited now and I am certain that Mom is regaling Mary Esther with memories of her childhood, the house in Wallingford, growing up in a large family and how pleased she was that Mary Esther looked just like her.

Sisters are wonderful blessings and I too have a sister named Mari.  I was seven when Mari Beth was born and I got to choose her name from a list of Mom’s final two choices. We share so many memories of Mom and growing up in the final house that Mom loved.

I am so thankful that I have a sister to treasure and that we “own memories together.”

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Mom, Mari Beth and I after Beth was born. Clearly, I was delighted with her.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you

Philippians 1:3

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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The Rainbow

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Journal – Thoughts from September 26, 2018:

The day we took Mom to hospice my cousin Patsy was with us.  She was a great support to us, not just during hospice, but from the beginning of the Alzheimer’s journey.  She is still in our corner and I am thankful for her.  We tell her she is the oldest child, Mom’s first child as Mom helped care for her when she was a baby.  She calls to check on us and she has come down to spend time with my father.  I don’t think we could handle this journey without her.

Patsy had a place in Mom’s heart long before she had her own children. Which is why I tell Patsy she is the older sister.

Patsy stayed with Mom that first night in Hospice while I took Dad home.  It had rained earlier and as we were driving home there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.  A reminder of God’s faithfulness.  I knew it was a message for us that all would be well. I remember going to bed that night praying for God to be with Mom and for his will to be done.  I was hoping for some kind of miracle; hoping that the x-ray they were taking would show nothing broken even though we’d already been told that it was more than likely. Still, I was finding hope in a rainbow.

The next morning when we arrived back at hospice the doctor came in and confirmed our worst fears, that she was, in fact, suffering from a terminal injury.  I remember letting the news sink in and going a little numb.  No matter how much you are told in advance, you are never truly prepared for the moment when you have to face the inevitable.  We made calls to the family and prepared to stay by her side for as long as she was with us.

That second evening my Dad planned to stay and Patsy was going to go back home with me.  Before we left we ran out to get dinner for my dad.  On the way to the restaurant once again there was a rainbow in the sky.  Another promise.  This time I knew the promise did not hold a miracle this side of heaven but instead was a reminder that God is faithful, even in death. It was something to hold on to. He would give us new mercies.

When we knew that Mom would not be coming home again and that we’d need to be making arrangements for a service, Dad said he wanted one of Mom’s poems to be put on the memorial card and read at her service.  While looking through her poetry I came across one she’d written in 1974 called, The Rainbow.  It was the only choice because God had already pointed it out to us in the sky.

The Rainbow - Bernice Tackett. take 2. edited

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Rainbow picture credit: Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Apples and Wings

Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:8 NIV

When someone says you are the apple of their eye it means they love you very much and may even dote on you a little. I like the image of being the apple of God’s eyes, but I love being in the shadow of his wings even more.  The past few days I have felt a renewed sense of peace and knowing that God is watching over me.  Writing about my grief and sharing memories of Mom has helped me see things from a better perspective.  God has been faithful in this process and my desire is for my words to honor him.

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Photo by Elizabeth Tr. Armstrong on Pexels.com

This is harvest time and that means apples.  I can’t think of a better image for this time of year than sitting under the shadow of an apple tree eating a crisp, juicy apple knowing that God sees me as the apple of his eye and hides me under his wings.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who was on her way to the Apple Orchard.  It brought back memories of Mom.  I remember when she would go to the Orchard and bring home a bag of Apples.  More often than not it was a bag of Courtland Apples, which was one of our favorites.  I can taste one now a perfect blend of sweet and tart. Deep red skin and pristine white flesh.

Mom loved apples.  She kept them around and they were a go-to snack.  In recent years Dad made sure he kept apples for her.  Sometimes knowing what she’d eat or could eat was a challenge,  but we could pretty much count on apples.  When she no longer seemed to enjoy eating them we switched to Apple juice which she loved.

One of the challenges with Alzheimer’s is knowing if they are eating enough.  Some foods become more difficult and at some point feeding themselves is more of a challenge.  So we tried to keep finger foods that we thought Mom would enjoy and when necessary we fed her.  Towards the last of her journey, she needed more help with eating.  She had a wonderful caregiver who came in a couple days a week.  She would feed Mom and spoil her a little bit.  But we didn’t mind. One of the last things I did for my mom was to feed her a meal I had cooked.  She mmmm’d appreciatively, which is how we knew she really liked something. I was happy to feed her and she was happy to eat.

I  remember seeing Mom walk down my back sidewalk many times, on her way to my house, apple in hand, munching contentedly, or standing on her back porch eating an apple staring into the yard thinking her own thoughts.

She won’t be going to the orchard this year, but I imagine God has plenty of Apple trees in his backyard. My Dad remarked that he figured one of the first things she did when she got to Heaven was pick an apple to eat.  I’m sure she did right after she ran into Jesus’s arms.

Maybe I’ll find an orchard this weekend, buy a bag of apples, and eat one in memory of my sweet Ladybug. I’ll rejoice that she is indeed The apple of God’s eye and that she has found healing under his wings.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Come Away

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Today has been a quiet, rest day as most Monday’s are.  Several years ago when I was still working public work, the company I worked for moved us to four day weeks and my day off was Monday.  So, I developed a habit of Monday being my chill day.  We eventually went back to five days, but now that I’m no longer working I’ve once again made Monday my day to catch up on rest.

My husband is in ministry so Sunday’s are very busy days for us and not the sabbath rest so sorely needed. I’m usually exhausted after the weekend, so Monday to the rescue. In the spirit of resting, I’ve laid aside some of the deep thinking and sorting for later.  I have a list of things I want to share with you.  Some things I’ve made notes about, but the time for sharing is not yet. I’m living this in real time, so I have to respect each day as it comes.

After committing to the thirty-one-day writing challenge, A Journey Through Grief, I am more convinced than ever that it was the right thing to do. The writing I have shared and some that I have not shared yet has been therapeutic.  Writing down my thoughts helps me see a clearer picture of where things stand. It helps me gauge how I’m doing.

Talking to people is also therapeutic and last night my writer’s group at church gave me a safe place to pour out my heart.  It reaffirmed some of the writing and helped me put things in perspective. It was a safe place to share some of my deepest grief.  I can’t urge you enough to find a safe person or group to share your grief with.  We thrive so much better in community than we do alone.

My first instinct is always to close the door, curl up in the fetal position and hide under the covers and for a time that might work.  But not for the long haul.  For the long haul, we need friends who support us and will come along beside us.  They don’t have to fix us or make us understand, that is not their job. Their job is to listen when needed and give hugs when necessary.  I’ve been blessed with friends who have done just that.  Sometimes in person, sometimes via text or phone conversation and always through their prayers. And most recently, you dear reader have let me know you hear me and that has made me glad to share with you. I hope my sharing has been a service to you and helped you in some way.

Hoping that Monday has been kind to you and that you too find time during the week to rest and allow your soul to be filled with His peace.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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