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

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!

Finding HOPE While Living with Loss

Finding HOPE While Living with Loss   

 Loss has visited close to home recently.  From a good friend who lost her mom to a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer.  Loss is difficult for everyone.

How do we find hope in the midst of loss is a difficult question to struggle with?  I have experienced hope during loss in a couple of different ways.

Sometimes there is hope even after loss when there is also new life.

The birth of my grandkids brought some hope even in the season of grieving the loss of my own children through miscarriage.

Their little lives brought joy and laughter even through the time of sadness.  I have also had a new a new dog bring hope and comfort when I have lost my best dog friend.

Most often I have experienced hope after loss through encounters with my Loving Father.  Some of the greatest losses in my life have been followed by hope filled experiences with God’s love.

When my mom passed away, though she had been sick for 12 years, it seemed like a shock.  I was not ready to let her go.

She died on a Saturday evening and the next morning while worshiping and grieving during church service, God blessed me with the reminder that Mom was worshiping that morning too.

She had been nonverbal for at least the last 8 years of her life (due to Alzheimer’s disease) so the thought of her standing at the feet of Jesus singing praises to Him face to face brought amazing comfort and joy.

The grief was made more bearable with the reminder of where she was that morning and for eternity yet to come.

The second time I experienced God’s great comfort was just a couple of years ago, when I was still struggling with the grief of losing my only children by miscarriage.

It was a difficult struggle for years, there were so many unanswered questions.  Why would the Lord let me get pregnant only to lose my children before they ever got to take their first breath and experience my love for them.

I had so many hopes and dreams.  Being a mom had been the desire of my heart for as long as I could remember.

Again, the Lord graciously reminded me that their death was not the end of their life.  They were safe with Him and my Mom in heaven.  When that truth came to me the overwhelming peace that followed was beyond description.

I had struggled for so long with questions and confusion regarding this loss but all of that became unimportant.  They were ok and I would meet them someday, peace & hope replaced all the anger and confusion that had just been there.

Today as I grieve the passing of my friend and grieve the disappearing of my dad, I find hope in the character of God.  I know that God is Good.

I know that God loves me no matter what happens in this life, and that truth motivates me to hold on to HOPE today and the many days to come.

 

How do you find Hope, even in the midst of grief?  

How does what you believe change your everyday life?

How does what you believe change your everyday life?

Do you believe in Santa Claus?   Do you believe in happily ever after?   Do you believe in God’s word?

How you answer each of these questions will change the way you live. 

If you believe in Santa you will get better gifts, or so I hear.  If you believe in happily ever after you might work harder to invest your marriage so it is happy.  If you believe in God’s word you will know His character and how He feels about you and that will change everything.

Believe has two different definitions: one means to accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of something the second on is to hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose. Even how you believe something will change your life.

Believing something is truth versus an opinion are worlds apart. 

Sometimes experiencing hard times can mess with your believing.  Things have been difficult with Dad lately.

He is experiencing some new physical issues that have left him very tired and often even more confused.  Sadly, with those feelings he is very agitated and can be unkind.  My dad has always been a gentleman, kind and respectful.  It is very difficult to see him like this, not to mention being the person he is unkind to.

My heart has been saddened and heavy.  As I spilled my heart out to God about how hard this season with Dad is, He asked me, “Rayna, do you still believe I am good?”

This was a question I struggled with years ago when my first marriage came to an end.  It was so hard to understand how I could be experiencing this when it was the last thing I wanted.

How could God let this happen?Psalm 33:4-5

With this question came some exploring of God’s character.  Was it about Him letting this happen or was it really, could God still be good if this is His will for my life?

Struggling with this core belief has changed how I live.

Being rooted in the truth that God is Good helps me to respond to hard times with hope and peace.

When our house burned down, God is Good.

When my dog dies, God is Good.

When I get an, “I love you, Graham.” from Owen, God is Good.

When the harvest is abundant, God is Good.

When the crops are destroyed by flood, God is Good.

When my Dad is struggling and not nice, God is still Good.

What are you believing about God that needs a closer look?  How can you move your belief from opinion to truth?


If you are not sure where to start, I can help.  Coaching might be just what you need to make that shift.   Learn more about coaching here or contact me to talk about what coaching with me would look like for you!

 


“If you wish to know God, you must know his Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by his Word. If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

The Loving Arms of God

The Loving Arms of God

   I started my week with some sad news.  One of my best friends from college, Tammy, lost her dad Sunday night.  He passed away after suffering from the horrifying disease, Alzheimer’s.  

Deu 33:7 a I don’t think it had been 2 full years since Tammy called me in tears when he was diagnosed.  She knew I could relate on a deeper level since I lost my mom years ago this disease and my dad was diagnosed almost 10 years ago now.  

Hearing of Tammy’s loss broke my heart and hit me hard.  It caused me think about my crazy life and to be thankful for my dad.

It is so hard for me to think of losing my dad.  As I journey with him through his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s it’s on my mind a lot that the craziness of traveling 220 miles one-way week in and week out, being away from my husband and family 3 days at a time will not be forever. Things are not easy and I am often tired but I am also thankful to be able to help take care of my dad.

This week my heart was also overjoyed with the love of a very special kiddo.

Tuesdays are Owen days.  Owen is my 23-month old grandson and he is a blast!  We have spent Tuesday’s together since he was 6 weeks old.  We very rarely miss our time together. But last week was he was out of town at his other grandma’s house and I missed my Owen day.

So when this Tuesday came around I just couldn’t wait to spend time with him, to just focus on him and do whatever he wanted to do.  It is funny to me that one of his favorite things to do is to climb on top of a chair or the playschool slide (we have in our living room when he visits) and stand there, look around pretending like he’s not looking at me and then just fall into my arms. Graha, & Owen

This week he added the wonderful sound of his sweet voice saying, “Graham” (which is what he calls me.)  as he fell!  It just melts my heart to have him fall into my arms, calling out my name, laughing, looking for a hug, maybe even a kiss or two, followed by some tickles too.

Spending the day with my Owen was just what I needed!

After my day with Owen I was praying for Tammy and her family.  Letting go is so hard to do.  As I prayed for them the Lord brought the image of my Owen to mind.

Owen falling forward with all confidence into my arms lovingly calling out my name with a smile and a giggle and no doubts that I would be there to catch him.

What a beautiful picture of trust!

With that image came a challenge from the Lord, do you trust me, like he trusts you?  Are you trusting me with your daddy and his health?

To be honest my answer is it depends on the day.  Some days it is easier to trust than others. When dad has an off day or he struggles with a caregiver I want to step in and fight for him.  Tell the doctors to change medications, or find new people to help with his care.  And though these might be things I need to do, what God reminded me that day was that first of all I need to jump into His arms and let him love on me and then go do what it is asked of me.

I am trying to remember to do that each day.  Turn to Him first in trust and then go take care of the things life requires.

I still dread the thought of my dad’s passing but I am trusting that when it is time to let go of my dad I will be able to just fall face first into my Heavenly Father arms and trust him to take me through the saying goodbye part of this journey too.  I don’t look forward to it, I know it won’t be easy but I also know that my Heavenly daddy will always catch me and I will be ok.

   I’m so thankful for the reminder God gave me of His love for me through my Owen!  How does God show his love for you?

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