3 Things I’m Learning About Me by Caring for My Dad
13 years ago my dad called me while I was at work. He said, “Rayna, I’m worried. I think something is wrong with my memory.” My response was, “Oh dad, don’t worry about it. We don’t’ know what normal aging looks like. I’m sure you’re fine.”
He lost his parents before the age of 60 and my mom at the age of 65 after 12 years of Alzheimer’s. I went on to tell him to go ahead and see a doctor just to be assured that things are fine.
In some ways, it seems like that was a timeline ago and in other ways it feels like yesterday. As his disease has progressed so has his need for 24-hour care. 3 and half years ago I became one of those who provides that care so that he can stay in his home as he asked.
It would be a lot easier if I lived close by but it is 220 miles one way to stay with him and care for him. For the first couple of years, I made the drive weekly but thankfully I have been able to cut back to every other weekend now.
As I reflect on this experience of caring for my dad’s needs as he lives with this disease 3 things stood out that I have learned about me.
I am a control freak.
This is not a new revelation but until this experience I think I was doing better at trying not to try to control everything. Now I battle with feeling that I have to control everything to keep him safe.
I can see where being a control freak has served me well in some ways. Controlling many of the trivial things in dad’s environment makes life easier and safer for him. It is amazing how something as small as putting his baseball cap on can make him ready to go out the door, no matter what time of day or night it is. Knowing this means the cap is always stored out of site.
But my desire to control everything can also bring him and me unnecessary stress. For example, I would love for Dad to go to bed at the same time every night in order to help him get up easier in the morning but how do you tell your 84-year-old person it is bed time? I do it gently but many times that doesn’t matter. Dad has been an adult a long time and he wants to go to bed when he wants to not when I think he should.
There are too many other things for me to list that I would like to control and can’t in this situation. When I forget to bring all of them to God then I get STRESSED, sad and upset. Talking to the Lord about how hard the situation is brings comfort unlike anything else.
I know God is building my trust in Him through this so I just have to keep focused on Him and reminding myself God does truly control it all.
Farmer and I had been married for 5 years when he looked at me and said you need to take care of your dad, even if that means you need to move here and live with him. Seriously, it was his idea.
I am so thankful for how well he has loved me as I have spent 50% of the week away from him week in and week out for almost 3 years. No, he is not perfect just like I’m not, but his love and support has meant the world to me.
I am also deeply loved by my Lord. His grace to live this day in and day out has blessed me beyond words. His desire for me to love my daddy well has been whispered to me when dad is being difficult. His desire for me to share His light and love with the others who are caring for my dad too has been a mission He has laid on my heart. His love and forgiveness when I have not fulfilled this calling well has been there waiting for the asking.
Loving is easy when life is easy, it is much harder when things are difficult but living knowing you are Loved is the Best!
I am only human and this hurt.
It hurts to see your strong, smart, compassionate and loving daddy fade in and out. I wish that I could figure out a way to serve him without it hurting so much but I am only human and it is supposed to hurt.
As a teenager when I experienced losing my mom I closed off my heart for a while. The pain of what was happening just seemed too much. When I finally broke down and allowed the Lord to talk with me about it He said if you feel no pain then you feel no joy either. Rayna, I have both pain and joy for you. Open your heart, I will help you carry the pain and bask in the joy.
There are times I feel overwhelmed with the sorrow and pain of watching dad struggle in this confusion and frustration. That is when I realize I have been holding it in and not taking it to my heavenly Father for Him to carry it with me.
With all my heart, I wish God would just take it away but that’s what He has seen fit to do and most often that is not how this fallen world works. Jesus said in John 16:33“ I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Yep, that’s where Take Heart Coaching got its name.)
So, there they are, 3 things that I am learning from taking care of my daddy during this time in our lives.
Have you taken time to reflect on the lessons you have learned from your Dad? This weekend might be an appropriate time to do that. Life is not easy and your relationship with your dad might be a tough one but with prayer and reflection I’m sure there are some things you have learned from him.
I would love to hear what you have realized you have learned from your dad. Comment below!
Get Real with God through Lament
Ending the Pretending
It’s Sunday morning and you like me are headed into church. Each person passed offers a courteous greeting like, “Good Morning!” “Hi! How are you?” “Good thanks and you?” or “Fine, thanks!”
The truth is you just had a fight with your spouse or you recently found out about another friend who is diagnosed with cancer. You are not fine but what else are you going to say.
Life is hard and it is filled with many disappointments and heartaches. Telling acquaintances about our stuff is not likely to happen.
So what about family? How often do you share the real stuff with friends and family? Many of us even struggle with this as well.
To be honest, I am more likely to get real with God than I am with anyone else. I think this is one reason for the deep and many people have said, unusual walk I have with my Lord.
Through the many heartaches of life I have had great friends and family to support me but my number one go to is the Lord. From an early age I started reading a Psalm a day. From those readings I found a God who could handle anything I had to say to him, so I did.
When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I poured out the heartache of losing her while I was still a teenager.
When my husband was unfaithful, I called out to the God who knows what it is like to love a people who are unfaithful over and over again.
When I miscarried my precious babies, He was the one who I cried more tears to than I thought I had.
Like David, in the Psalms, my prayers are often a journey to the place of heartache, disappointment, confusion and even anger.
Have you ever prayed like this? Have you learned to bear your heartache and questions to the Lord?
I was excited to find a book that talks about how to bring an ending to the pretending with God. I think this is such a great resource I want you to join me in a Book Chat.
Do you ever struggle with how to get real with God? Do you find yourself staying busy just so you don’t have to think about past heartaches and disappointments?
No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece is a call to end the pretending. It is Esther’s journey to healing through the prayer of lament. Lament is the gut-level, honest prayer that God never ignores, never silences, and never wastes.
As I look at my prayer life I realize the times that I have been able to embrace God’s will even when I didn’t understand the what or the why of something or it was not at all what I wanted I was praying laments.
I would love for you to join me in learning more about the prayer of lament.
A Book Chat is just the opportunity to read through a book together. Discussing what the Lord is doing in your life with the new realizations you are experiencing through the book through an online community.
Click here to learn more:
Since transition is never far from my mind I was recently talking with Jesus about transitions and He helped me to think about what a major transition His birth here on earth must have been.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38.
Imagine the enormity of that transition!
Here are 2 truths, I realized about how Jesus handled this transition.
He remained Confident in His identity~ When Jesus became a man though His outward appearance probably changed completely He did not lose himself.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! Matt 16:15-17
This scripture follows Jesus asking His disciples who do people say that I am? They reported what people said about him and who He was. Most did not see or understand who He was while He walked on this earth but He always knew and lived the truth of who He was. God. Man. Lover of His creation. Truth. Life. Sacrificial Lamb.
For me just going from married to divorcee, from business owner to farm wife was challenging. Identity in the world today is often tied to our job or family so when there are big transitions in either of these areas it can really knock you off your feet.
Each time I have found myself needing to dig into my identity with the Lord to find my new normal. I am, still Loved. Adopted. Cherished. Forgiven. Gifted. Called.
Obedient even unto death~ Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. Not only did He have to take on the limitations of man but He had to die a terrible death as a man. Yes, He knew the Big picture and willingly died on the cross for your and my sins but it was not easy.
The Bible is clear is was a very difficult time leading up to the crucifixion.
Matthew 26:39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.“
Each transition in my life has taken me to a place of bowing my will to His in obedience. When we closed Sylvan in 2011 it was the result of a long struggle. I knew I would not always work and have a home 90 miles from the farm but I loved what I did. Working with families to help their kids be more successful in school felt like it was what I was created to do.
When I stopped struggling, willing submitted to God, He made it clear, that season of my life was to come to an end. The families seeking the service hit an all-time low, the corporation continued to move away from what I felt was best for my students, it was time. In obedience, the business was closed and my home was sold in 6 short weeks. Not as I will, but as You will Father.
I’m so thankful that I was able to see Jesus in light of how He lived out a difficult transition. Though I can see that I have demonstrated these same traits in my life transitions I am also challenged to get there quicker in future transitions.
Focusing on my identity and realizing that NOTHING in this world can change who I am or whose I am, is the bedrock of weather the changes of transitions.
Then because I know whose I am I can also embrace His will open hearted and open minded.
I know the opportunity to live these two lessons out again will come, I just pray I will be more ready, willing and able to bring honor and glory to the Lord in the midst of it.
Have you found that knowing your identity in Christ and obeying Him has helped you embrace transitions in your life?
Choose to THRIVE is a challenging book written for high-achieving women. Debbie’s style of direct and to the point communication style is refreshing. She openly shares her challenges and life experience in order to encourage her reader to address her own issues.
In the book Debbie shares 9 character qualities most high-achieving women possess and how they can cause problems in our lives. I found myself relating to many of the qualities as I am sure you will too.
I enjoyed the style of Debbie’s book. She points out the qualities, how they can cause a problem when unbalanced and then shares how she found balance in her own life. Each chapter ends with questions to help you examine yourself and begin the process of working on finding your balance.
The chapter that impacted me the most was the one one perfectionism. I have known that I have this character quality all my life and I have worked hard to put people before perfection but I often still find myself struggling it and not even realizing I’m doing it. Here is an excerpt from Debbie’s chapter addressing perfectionism.
It takes a conscious effort to step back and look at what we are asking for. Does it leave room for people, including ourselves, to do what they do best? Or does it pigeonhole them into doing things the way we think is best? Do people believe they have the latitude to take calculated risks without harsh repercussions? Do you give yourself grace when you mess up? Do you give your child grace when they don’t do as well as you think they should have? Are we leaving room for God to work?
Perfectionism is something I have been aware of in my life for a long time. I was challenged and encouraged by the way Debbie addressed her struggle with perfectionism. If you consider yourself a high-achiever I’m sure that you will benefit from reading Choose to THRIVE and examining some of the inner conflicts you face.