Psalms and Peonies

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for I trust in you. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

Psalm 143:8

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Psalm 145:8

“Prove me, O Lord, and try me, test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”

Psalm 26:2-3

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.”

Psalm 59:16a

“O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”

Psalm 59:17

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”

Psalm 63:3-4

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me….”

Psalm 86:12, 13a

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the work of your hands I sing for joy.”

Psalm 92:1-4

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

Psalm 33:20-22

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”

Psalm 33:4-5

“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

Psalm 94:18-19

“For the Lord is good, his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

Our Mailbox Garden

Our curbside mailbox is surrounded by a cute little flowerbed. It somehow survives the piles of snow heaped upon it by the snowplows every winter, shrugging off the melting snow’s road salt and sand.

It started as a little circle cutout around the mailbox, but this sliver of a garden expands a wee bit every five or six years to accommodate the flowers that always seem to find their way into my shopping cart at garden centers.

Tulips and daffodils usher in the first hint of spring, followed by petite ‘Blue Denim’ irises playing with grape hyacinth muscari at the garden’s edges.

A clematis scrambles up the back and over the top of the mailbox. Some years, by summer’s end, its purplicious beauty threatens to swallow the mailbox whole.

There are so many gorgeous flowers tucked into that tiny mailbox bed which cause those passing by to pause and enjoy. This time of year, however, Peony ‘Gold Standard’ is the hands-down show-stopper of the front yard. My hubby captured a few photos in morning’s light.

Mid-summer’s splendored thing will be the daylily. Well, daylilies plural. They’re a favorite flower of mine that always seem to make themselves at home in all but the shadiest flowerbeds.

Stay tuned…

My Top 3 Reasons for Choosing Assisted Living Memory Care

Someone recently asked me how I decided when it was time for my mom to be cared for in a nursing home or assisted living memory care. I’ve written about that decision a time or two, but decided I should write about it again.

Before I share my personal “Top 3” list, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage) and listen to this video by Dr. Natali Edmonds — someone who has been a virtual mentor for me as I’ve learned about being a caregiver.

Dr. Natali Edmonds

“People who place their loved ones in nursing homes are not horrible people. They don’t love their loved ones any less than people who care for their loved ones at home. In fact, sometimes placing a loved one in a nursing home is the best thing for your loved one.”

Dr. Natali Edmonds

Now, here are my Top 3 Reasons

Reason #1: Sleep

Not mom’s sleep. My sleep. I wasn’t getting enough of it and it was beginning to affect everything. Long-term sleep deprivation is brutal. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, it was creating “excessive caregiver stress” and it was showing up in all of the areas of my life that mattered the most to me. It was harming my closest relationships — my time in God’s Word, my marriage, my opportunities to spend quality time with my grandchildren, my friendships. I was a tired and distracted employee and my job performance suffered. I loved teaching Sunday School, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t able to focus on preparation for my ministry and wasn’t as creative in my teaching as I once was. Those in my circle of friends were beginning to comment about how tired I looked.

Reason #2: Personal hygiene needs

Mom’s resistance to help with personal hygiene, to put it politely; bowel incontinence, to be specific. When my mom’s brain could no longer register the “urge to go” with the need to do something about that, life got a lot messier. Literally. Between multiple clothing and bedding changes, multiple loads of laundry, and floor and bathroom cleanup, daily life was getting too hard for one or two people to handle. Mom needed more hands on care and a bathroom that was designed with disabilities in mind.

Reason #3: Safety & Mobility issues

In the later stages of dementia, mom was beginning to forget how to walk. There were days when she needed coaching to put one foot in front of the other. Her legs were growing weak, making her a greater risk for falls. Using a walker helped, but not always. Sometimes she’d forget the walker in another room. Other times, she’d drag it behind her. On a few occasions, she couldn’t figure out what it was, so stuck it outside of her room so it wouldn’t be in the way. My house wasn’t designed for using a walker or a wheelchair. All of the bedrooms and full bathrooms were inaccessible to mom since they were located on the second floor.

We made the best possible use of this half-bath space to accommodate mom’s growing needs, including taking the door off the hinges so we could have more room to maneuver and help her.

The more of a problem “Reason #2” became for us, the more I knew she needed a safer place to live.

I applaud and encourage the many who have made “at home until the end” work. You are amazing caregivers! Please understand, however, that you will still be an amazing caregiver if you make the hard choice to reach out for help in caring for your loved one. You do not cease to be a caregiver by changing the location of where that care is given or who helps you provide that care.

I’d like to leave you with a little slideshow with just a few photos depicting how happy and content my mom was in this abode where opportunities were many, friendships were sweet, and help was always on hand.

“The best place for your loved one with dementia to live and grow old depends upon several things, including: what help they receive, their willingness to receive help, their physical abilities, and the specific dementia symptoms they have. Not everybody with dementia requires the same level of care.”

Dr. Natali Edmonds

The Merry Month of May

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think winter is finally losing its grip and spring has sprung.

I took a barefoot stroll around a few of my flowerbeds this afternoon. The stroll was brief because the grass beneath my feet was wet and very cold. Even so, a warm feeling of peace washed over me. I could almost feel my winter-weary heart filling with the joy of spring as I meandered from one flowerbed to another inspecting the colorful spring blossoms.

Nothing beats the bright yellow of a daffodil in spring-time cheerfulness!

One of the first signs of spring in my Wisconsin garden is the very early blossoms of Pulmonaria, whose very unfortunate common name is lungwort. If it were not a tad bit prone to powdery mildew, I would say I love everything about this plant. It grows in the shadier areas of my garden, thriving well on the north or east side of my house, but blooms best if it gets at least a splash of sun and plenty of moisture. The leaves can’t seem to make up their mind as to whether they will be lance or heart-shaped, but each fuzzy leaf sports sweet silvery spots. To me, the leaves are incredibly cool, but it is said that the common name of ‘lungwort’ came about because their appearance reminded some botanist of a diseased lung. It has a habit of reseeding itself in the garden, but does so very politely. I have several cultivar in my garden, but the one pictured is a pass-along from another gardener, so I’m unsure as to its cultivar name. Based upon its beautiful blue, pink and lavender bells, it’s likely ‘Mrs. Moon’.

The demure pink and blue blossoms of Lungwort in an old crystal salt shaker

Winter has been slow in releasing its grip, and May is off to a chilly and rainy start, but the promise of warmer weather is in the forecast for the weekend. In previous years, the daffodils and some tulips were finishing their spring engagement in the garden; this year, they are just getting started. While it would be nice to have more sunshine, we need the rain. Another ‘upside’ is that the chillier temps will keep the daffs and tulips strutting their stuff a little while longer.

Raindrops on tulips just outside my front door

These beautiful tulips have charmed me out of a writing slump. My friend Wendy aptly described them as a “pretty sunshiny yellow,” although they take on a soft, orange-sherbet glow in certain light. Either way, they are incredibly sweet.

Well that’s my “Six on Saturday” – thanks for joining me on a little photographic spring tour of my early floral arrivals. And a special thanks to “The Propagator” for hosting “Six on Saturday” each week. If you check out Jon’s “comments” section, you can visit a whole bunch of lovely gardens, gather ideas and suggestions for your own, or have a go at posting your own six.

Another gorgeous harbinger of spring…magnolias!

“Jesus, Help Me!”

Barefoot Lily Lady

Even as my sweet mother’s memory slowly fades, one thing remains strongly present. Her faith in Jesus. Many times during the day (and night), I will hear her pray, “Jesus, help me.” She prays it as she walks from her bed to the bathroom, or as she tries to get her knees to cooperate with her as she travels from the kitchen back to her bed.

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This Too Will Pass

I had lunch with a dear friend today. My heart is richly blessed for having spent time with Maureen. It was fun catching up on what was going on in each of our lives since we last saw one another. We’ve both had ups and downs, both thoroughly enjoy spending time with our kids and grandkids (but wish we could have more time with them). Last time Maureen and I caught up with one another, the sting of death was still fresh in my heart, having lost my mother to Alzheimer’s during that year. Now, it was my friend’s turn to say goodbye to her mother under similar circumstances in this past year. We talked a little bit about being in a new season of life — a season which may hold challenges, health and otherwise, but new opportunities for growth in Christ too. Our time on earth will pass before we know it; but, for the present, God is not finished with us yet.

Only one life, so soon will pass. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Barefoot Lily Lady

I am fondly remembering when my children were small. So much energy and love went into making sure they were dressed, well fed, clean and safe. I mothered my children back in the days before baby monitors and wifi cameras helped monitor the safety of a sleeping child. I remember hesitating to even walk outside into the backyard to hang my laundry on the clothesline to dry, always wanting to be within listening distance of my sleeping babies.

Mealtimes with my little ones could be fun but, if I turned my back for an instant in our teeny-tiny kitchen, one of my children could spread his meal all over himself and the floor beneath before I could count to three. The other child made highchair sitting into a baby Olympic event going from being seated in her highchair to standing on the tray in record time.

Little stinkers.

I remember…

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Are You the One in Charge Here?

A newer resident at the assisted living memory care home where I work said something today which reminded me of a sweet memory of my mom. I’ll call the sweet lady ‘Lillian’, so as to shield her true identity. As I walked in the building Lillian’s face visibly brightened. With wide-eyed amazement, she greeted me and exclaimed, “Oh, you’re here, Grandma!” As I got a little closer to her, with a deflated note of disappointment in her voice, Lillian murmured, “Oh, you’re not my grandma, are you?” To which I replied, “No, I’m your new friend Cindie and I just have one of those familiar faces that reminds people of someone else.” Lillian pondered my face for a few seconds and then said, “Yes, your face is kind. Just like my grandma’s.”

Oh, my. That warmed my heart. I spent a few more minutes chatting with my new friend Lillian, then went about my work, with memories of my own sweet momma on my mind. In the later years of Mom’s life with Alzheimer’s, in her mind, I was rarely her daughter. Sometimes I got to be her sister, her mother, or her friend. I’d like to share one of those memories with you . . .

Barefoot Lily Lady

Lately, my sweet mother has been more than a bit confused about her living accommodations, referring to our home as “this facility” and “this place.” Not long ago, she swept her hand out in gesture as if encompassing her living space and said, “Are you the one in charge of this place?” I told her yes it was our home and that Wayne and I both welcome her to live here. “Oh,” she replied, “are my meals and laundry included?” I assured her that they were. To which she replied, “Well, they haven’t fed me all day, and I think they’re stealing my laundry. I can’t find it anywhere.”

Not long ago, she was telling Wayne that “someone who works here” had given her some pills. She wasn’t sure who it was, but figured they knew what they were doing, so she took them. It was Tylenol, and it was…

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Uncropped Memories

Join me for a photo-inspired trip down memory lane.

A whole flood of memories washed over me when I paused to look at this scanned photo today. While so many of my generation “cropped” their photos to put them into elaborate scrapbooks, I’m glad I wasn’t artsy-crafty enough to enjoy that sort of activity and this photo survived totally intact. I’m reminded of so many special things from this era of my life as I look at all of the elements in this slightly fuzzy old photo. Join me as I play a little game of ‘I Spy With My Little Eye’ with this photo.

Story Time with Daddy – circa 1980

My ‘I Spy’ Memories

  • This photo was taken in our very first home on 49th Street in Milwaukee.
  • It was a tiny 2-bedroom, 1-bath bungalow-style house boasting about 600 square feet of living space. I’ve seen a more recent Zillow listing for this house stating it has 1,487 square feet. Unless they put on an addition, they must have counted the basement and the tiny rear entryway.
  • Wayne still had a Garfunkel-ish mop of curly hair. He would tell you that the hair on top of his head has migrated to his chin over the years.
  • I remember how much our kids loved it when their daddy would read a book to them because he made all the necessary silly voices for each character.
  • That classic sofa was a hand-me-down from my best friend’s mom. Betty Banner’s gift of her used sofa was a fancy-schmancy step up for us in the world of living room furniture, replacing a freebie imitation leather futon which threatened to slide you off onto the floor whenever you tried to sit on it.
  • The sewing machine was a birthday gift from my husband two months after we were married. [Note: I tell the story about this sewing machine here.]
  • I used that sewing machine to make the heart-shaped pillows on my sofa (definitely an 80’s thing), farm-themed curtains for the kids’ bedroom, and clothing for myself. You wouldn’t know it by looking at this photo, but I also made shirts for Wayne and Matt…and cute little dresses for Beth, who apparently wasn’t into wearing clothes on this particular day.
  • Money was tight, but Wayne and I splurged and bought the maple writing desk so I would have someplace other than the kitchen table where I could set up my sewing machine. I think that desk has since taken on a new life in our daughter’s house.
  • That coffee table is actually a toy box we bought at an unfinished furniture store. Wayne and I finished it together and now, more than 40 years later, it sits in front of a sunny window in our home with lots of houseplants on top. Sadly, I have only a vague recollection of what is in it.
  • That purse on the coffee table was a favorite. It rarely had money in it, but my greatest earthly treasures were sitting right there on that sofa.
  • The afghan on the sofa back was crocheted for me by my Grandma Peet. I remember her asking me what the colors were in my new home. I told her “earthtones,” because that was the trendy thing in the 70’s.
  • The ball-fringe curtains on the windows were purchased by my grandma too. I remember feeling like a wealthy woman because I had curtains from Country Curtains on my windows.
  • Wayne and I painted that table lamp together. It was one of two plaster casting-type lamps that we painted for our abode. The lamp tables were Wayne’s stereo speakers. I remember we spent more for the lampshades than we did for the lamps.
  • That avocado green carpeting was straight out of the 60’s and it butted up to the burnt orange vinyl tile flooring in the itty-bitty kitchen. Yeh, we were that cool.
  • That rocking chair was gifted to me by my husband after the birth of Matt. There was a heat vent on the floor right in front of that rocker. I would put my feet on that vent and the warm air would whoosh under my bathrobe as I rocked my fussy baby to sleep on cold nights. Memories of rocking both of my babies in that chair have kept me from parting with it as I now seek to “downsize”.

Thanks for joining me for my little reminisce down Memory Lane. I’m thankful for this nostalgic moment captured on film 40+ years ago.

4823 N. 49th Street – Milwaukee, WI

49 Days ’til Spring

Gardens are still snugly nestled beneath a lovely quilt of white snow in Wisconsin. It’s hard to capture in a photo, but, if you squint your eyes as you look at this photo of my backyard, you might be able to spy where bunnies and critters have created many intersecting paths in the snow — reminding me very much of quilting stitches, especially when viewed from a second-story window.

Critter quilting stitches

Standing just outside a side entrance to our home is this little metal sunflower sticking out of a little bank of snow. The rusty patina of the artsy sunflower against the similarly colored backdrop of last season’s Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ lends a bit of rustic beauty and charm.

This just makes me smile!

Following the snow-covered pathway through the arbor entrance, now naked without its summertime covering of clematis, I happily traipse around in our backyard for a few brisk minutes. If I were a young girl, one of my parents would surely be leaning out of our home’s backdoor yelling, “Cynthia Lynn! Where’s your coat?”

It was certainly chilly without a coat, but there was more to see.

August and January Beauty

To my admiring eyes, the paper-thin beauty of spent hydrangea blossoms still speaks of their Creator even in the hushed silence of winter.

Tucked in the northwest corner of our yard, the swelling buds of the magnolia tree speak to the promise of beauty in the Spring.

Winter’s Promise of Blossoms in Spring

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stroll along with me in my winter wonderland for a little ‘Six on Saturday’ tour (SOS for short). SOS is a virtual gathering of gardeners who like to write about their gardens. My posts are a bit sporadic, but I do quite enjoy the eclectic mix of gardeners who gather on Saturdays to write and give a six photo tour of what’s going on in their gardens.  Click here if you want to learn more about SOS from our host, The Propagator.

Indoor Tubing Fun!

Count me in if I’m ever in a fun assisted living place like this . . .

May be an image of 2 people, people sitting, people standing and indoor
This could be me in 10 years…
May be an image of 1 person, sitting and indoor
But I’m pretty sure this will be more like it!

I’m down for it! But I’m not sure how you’ll get me back up once I’m down for it!

Here’s a super cute video if you’d like to see these senior funsters in action at StoryPoint Saline Retirement and Assisted Living Facility: https://fb.watch/aPbNjKuOTB/

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