Loving Beyond

Loving Beyond

Have you had the experience of going way beyond what you imagined you could?

When I was in High School I played Volleyball🏐 and I will never forget the workouts. My Freshman year I was sure I would die. No joke.

We ran, threw up and ran some more.  I adored my coach but she pushed me physically beyond what I could ever imagine I could do.

How about you?  Have you thought you found the end of your physical ability only to be pushed beyond that place?

I look back on those days and remember I would have given up and never learned the extent to which I could push myself. I gave 💯% and then some and I did make it!  My coach knew I would.

I often think of the time I spent caring for my dad in the same way. There were many weeks that I was tired and just wanted to stay home or I was so frustrated, I wasn’t sure how to keep providing the best care for him. 

BUT I was able to keep showing up and loving him.

💕 Love was the most important thing I needed to bring to him in each and every interaction

The journey of caregiving was longer than I first imagined but I’m thankful for the time I had to show Love to my dad when he needed it the most.

At times even Loving him beyond what I thought was possible!

4 Tips for Embracing Goodbyes and Fresh Starts

January is the time of fresh starts.  Many people enjoy a fresh start, I’m not sure that I am one of them. 

To me a fresh start means letting go of what has been normal or at least the known, it might not have been great, or bad, or good, maybe just somewhere in between but it was known and I like that.

Starting things new always leaves me feeling concerned.  Will I be able to do it?  Will I like it as well as the old way?  Will I miss what I have done before?  These are just a few questions that lead to my concern.

I have learned strategies to help me leave the concerns behind and embrace the new:

1. Watch my question/thinking-

The questions we ask ourselves can determine what direction our thoughts go so we need to be aware of those questions. (See Question Thinking for more

When I am feeling concerned about changes I ask myself questions that will help me to see all the possibilities in the new situation.  I also make sure that I don’t allow myself to dwell on the questions that lead down the path of what if.  Stay in the here and now so as not to get stuck in a pit of despair.

2.  Have a Thankful Heart-

We know from brain research that we see more of what we are looking for.  When our focus is on all the blessings in our lives we see even more of them.  They are there whether we are looking for them or not. 
So during a change, I try to take the time to be even more intentional in focusing on all I have to be thankful for. 

If you need some help with this one check out my Review by Rayna on The Kindness Challenge.  It is a great read.

3.  Consult Wise Counsel-

Proverbs 11:14 tells us “Without good direction, people lose their way;  the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” (The Message)

I’m so thankful for friendships and mentor relationships that poor into my life!  I encourage you to take a look at the relationships in your life that pour into you.  Be sure you have a council of wise souls to walk with you through life and especially change.

4.  Prayer. 

Yep, you probably knew this would be on the list.  When I take the time to listen in prayer then I am always more ready to embrace new. 

The Lord is faithful to meet us where we are and guide us to where He has for us to go.  Seeking His counsel is most important and impactful in my life.

So change is here
A new season has dawned my childhood home is being sold. 
The place I spent 43 years calling home. 
The place I grew up. 
The place I played dolls, studied my spelling words, shot baskets and mowed the grass.
The place I spent hours with my Mom listening to music and caring for her. 
The place I enjoyed ping pong, baseball and loving my Dad well until his last breath will soon be someone else’s home. 
When I think about another family making great memories in our home it makes me smile. 

I am so thankful for all that 18605 E 28th Street South meant to me and my family and I pray it will be a blessing to them also.

As I am grieving this one more loss, I am trying to stay focused on the blessings of now!  I have wonderful memories of a great childhood, lots of hugs and kisses, and a home that has been there for a really long time.  More importantly, I have a home with Farmer, filled with love, laughter, and many memories as well. 

I will never forget the old but I am focusing forward on all the blessings yet to come. 

Goodbyes are not easy no matter what kind they are but they do open up room for Hellos! 

So I’m moving on in anticipation of what 2019 will bring- thanks to thinking right, being grateful, and consulting wise friends and of course my Lord.

 

What things have you found are helpful for you to embrace goodbyes and new beginnings?  Share your comments below. Thanks! 

Caregiving During the Holidays

Being a family caregiver during the holidays might mean long time traditions have to change.  As both my parents Alzheimer’s disease progressed, we found they were unable to celebrate the holidays in the same ways that our family had in the past.

Mom became anxious when she was around a lot of people, so we found we had to stay home more.  Dad still enjoyed people just wasn’t able to go and do the things he used to on his own.  During my time caring for Dad, I was blessed to be able to join him in one of his traditions.

Each year Dad was able to attend a special performance of Kansas City Symphony.  He loved to see all the people, enjoy the holiday spirit and especially join in the carol sing-along they held at the very end of the concert.  Since I was there most Saturdays, I got the opportunity to make this a new tradition as well.

Each year we got dressed up in our holiday attire and ventured out to the concert.  After the concert, we would stop for a special treat of ice cream!  This year I will not be able to attend but I am enjoying the memories he and I were able to share!

If you find yourself at a point where the holidays are not what they once were due to the need to adjust to your Loved One’s changing abilities, take heart.  This season of caring will not last forever, but the new memories created will.

My prayer for you and your loved one is that you will find a way to make an intentional effort to make some new traditions or the very least new memories this holiday season!

Saying Goodbye to My Daddy

Saying Goodbye to My Daddy

I had been praying for over a year now that when it was time for Dad to say Good-bye I would be able to stop fighting for him and let him go.

I’m a fighter you know, I have always been that way, I’m convinced God made me that way.  I wanted to be ready to let Dad go so I would not bring him undue pain and fight a fight that wasn’t mine.

I knew he would not live forever but I never expected that I would be saying goodbye now.  I knew he was sick, but I never dreamed June 25, 2018, would be the day I would say goodbye to my Daddy.

Dad had surgery for a blood clot on May 20th. He did surprisingly well with the surgery and started on the bumpy road to recovery.  We had to place him in a rehab facility to get his strength and mobility back but the day he was released to go home he seemed to be improving.

Since he couldn’t safely navigate the stairs in his raised ranch home we did a quick update of the basement and moved him in.  He seemed to know he was home and relax into the new routine.  It did my heart good to see him home.

He continued therapy and was in good spirits, but his recovery soon started to slow down.  The wound on his leg wasn’t healing and he didn’t seem to want to eat much.  I continued to pray for wisdom and strength to care for him at home with my sister and our caregiver team.  It was a much bigger job than I expected.

I was exhausted emotionally and physically from the long days.  I continued to spend time with the Lord, asking for wisdom and grace.  There was a lot of stress and I can’t say I handled every moment of every day well, but God is Good and provided all I needed.

Thursday morning, I awoke early and went to Dad’s bedside as I had the 5 mornings before, but this day Dad seemed different.  He was in less pain, he was more affectionate, and he seemed to radiate peace. He wasn’t interested in eating, he just wanted to hold my hand.

I sat with him and I prayed silently as I had each morning, praying for Dad’s healing, for my heart and for me to love all those around me well.

As I talked with the Lord about Dad’s healing that morning He reminded me of my prayer throughout the last year to know when the right time was to stop fighting and to gracefully let him go.

He went on to whisper to my heart it was time, it was time to make the shift.  I said really, Lord?  He said yes.  I said really?  He said yes.  Help me do that Lord, I’m not ready.  But as I looked at Dad I knew he was.

Later that day for the first time the home health nurse told us Dad was dying.  His body was tired, and he was not going to pull through.  It was difficult to hear but I already knew it in my heart, the Lord had prepared me.

I will not say that the next 3 days were easy nor was watching my Dad pass away an easy experience but what I can say is that our God is Good and faithful!  On one of the most difficult days of my life, I felt loved, cherished and strengthened by the Lord.

I’m so thankful for all the days I had to share with my dad.  I’m thankful for the relationship with my Lord that allowed the struggles of caring for Dad to be more than just struggles but also opportunities to grow in my relationship with Him, with Dad, my sister and the many caregivers who touched our lives.

This month has been a difficult one.  I am just starting the transition of life without my Daddy.  I am so thankful that I have experienced the truth of Isaiah 41:10 and I will continue to calm the truth of His promise in the days to come.

“So, do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41

Review by Rayna: Daring to Hope

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and Beautiful is an amazing and encouraging read.  I was so blessed by Katie Majors’ amazing commitment and obedience to the Lord.

 

As a teenager, Katie went on a mission trip to Uganda which changed her life forever.  When she returned to the states her desire to follow the dreams she had before she went we completely gone.  She decided to make the move to Uganda permanently rather than to head to college.

 

In Uganda, she started a nonprofit called Amazima Ministries.  Her mission is Helping to educate and empower the people of Uganda with God’s love.

 

She is passionate about helping people, in this book she shares how she works with woman and families to find the love of the Lord and improve their lives in any way she can.

 

She is active in fostering orphans, providing lay health care, helping families be united after the death as well as adoption. This book is filled with stories of raising those beautiful girls and the challenges of loving and losing.

 

I was so encouraged and blessed by her open heart and home.  She shares how looking for blessings in even the small ways helped to heal her broken heart when one of her girls has to be returned to her mom after 4 years of being hers.

 

The wisdom shared in this book will bless and challenge you as you look to live out your life loving and serving as God has called you to, in your life, right where you are!

3 Things I’m Learning About Me by Caring for My Dad

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.

Unfortunately, he was right, there was a problem.  The diagnosis was Mild Cognitive Impairment which later progressed to Alzheimer’s.

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.

I am deeply Loved.

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!

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