Peonies and Iris have a way of pointing my heart to the Creator of all that beauty. Let me share a few verses of a hymn that came to mind, along with a tiny bit of my little plot in God’s Creation
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.”
“Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.”
“He gave us eyes to see them,All Things Bright and Beautiful, hymn by Cecil F. Alexander
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.”
If you’re not familiar with this wonderful hymn, you may want to give this beautiful rendition by Julie Gaulke a listen.
My world has been relatively small the past few years, staying pretty close to home. Life has revolved very much around taking care of my mother as she battles Alzheimer’s. Over the years, I found myself growing weary and having to stop doing several things I love in order to be able to focus on her ever-increasing needs.
In late March, my sweet momma took up residence in a beautiful assisted living facility devoted to those with memory care needs. I still spend a few hours each day with her, but I can sleep throughout the WHOLE night in my own bed and am no longer fully responsible for her daily care. I’m beginning to feel more rested and able to resume some (but not all) of my former activities and ministries. I can take a little road-trip with my hubby, play in the dirt in my garden, or prepare a Sunday School lesson for the kids at church without interruption. It’s truly a blessing from God’s gracious hand.
With this new freedom, my world will enlarge even more in September when I accompany three of the men from our church (including my hubby) on a teaching trip to India. My responsibility during this trip will be to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to the students who will be gathering for the purpose of enjoying some seminary-level training. I have never taught ESL, so this will be a huge stretch for me – something which will also enlarge my world as I help this group of adults whose first language is Hindi in their continued quest to become more fluent in their conversational English.
This is my hubby Wayne’s second trip to India (he’s the handsome, white-bearded guy on the lower left of the group photo above), as he traveled with our pastor and another friend on a teaching trip last year. This fall’s trip is a giant leap for me, as I’ve never been out of the country. [Well, unless you count the time when my hubby and I were honeymooning 43 years ago in a rented recreational vehicle and we drove over the Canadian border in the days before a passport was required.] This trip to India will be my first trip overseas, passport, visa, shots, long international flight, and all the cultural adventure that will surely come with that experience.
In the meanwhile, I will need much prayer support as I prepare for my role as a teacher on the other side of the world.
This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Please come join us! https://fiveminutefriday.com/
Fridays are date-night at our house. I always look forward to this weekly time away from the responsibilities of taking care of my mom, who has Alzheimer’s. We are so blessed to have a wonderful caregiver who spends time with Momma while we’re away. Tonight, courtesy of a generous gift card, we dined at a fancier-than-usual restaurant called Tornado. Well, the place wasn’t that fancy, but the food, service and menu prices were.
Last Friday night we were enjoying a dinner together at a restaurant that we were giving a second chance. While we dined, Wayne asked me if I had any goals for the new year. It was a good question and a great conversation starter. I’m not very good at making resolutions, and even worse at keeping them, but I had given a little thought to some goals I would like to achieve. There were several areas where I wanted to do life better this year than last.
I didn’t mention the one thing that is always on my list of resolutions or goals – losing weight. I’ve taken steps in the right direction, but it still somehow eludes me. I’m going to still keep trying but, if I’ve learned anything in my years of chasing after that goal, it that there’s more to a better life than being the perfect weight.
Part way through my last decade of life, I realized that I like to write. I shared with my hubby that this year I want to get better at writing and be more intentional in the time I spend doing so. I have the aspiration of writing a book some day, but don’t have much of a plan for getting there.
I want to be a better gardener. In addition to spending more time with my hobby of cultivating a beautiful flower garden, I want to begin adding some nutritious veggies to my garden in 2019. Not enough that I would have to commit to canning or freezing, but enough to enjoy some fresh nutrition during the growing season.
I want to be a better grandmother. I feel as though my responsibilities in caring for my mother have sidelined (or at least diminished) my opportunities to spend time with my grand-blessings. I wanted us to be more intentional about carving out time for them. I’m thankful that Wayne has a similar goal this year, as this will be much easier to accomplish if we are like-minded in this endeavor.
My heart’s desire is to be a better student of God’s Word. Not just a daily devotional snacker, as has been my habit while caring for my mom, but an endeavor toward a deeper, life-changing study of God’s Word. I plan to review a favorite epistle – James), comparing it with the early chapters of Proverbs. I’ve discovered that James borrowed much from that book in his writing. I’m also going to delve into a book I have read, but never studied – Hosea. May the Lord give me a better understanding of His precious Word.
I know! I know! I’m late again! This slightly tardy post was brought to you courtesy of Kate Motaung’s blog Five Minute Friday and the word “better.” Wanna-be writers like me set the timer for five minutes and then free write on the posted word of the week. I think I wrote for about five minutes, but switched to a different Word Press editor (something about boxes or blocks). I sort of like it…but there is a definite formatting learning curve in it for me where it comes to adding pictures.
Just over one year ago I wrote, “Honoring Your Parents: Nursing Home or Your Home?” (I invite you to read it here.) In that piece I endeavored to describe the process which had guided my decision-making related to caring for my mother as she slipped further and further into the horrible world of memory loss. Countless decisions have been made since moving my mother from Milwaukee to our home in Fitchburg. Each decision to be made along the way was generally preceded by some sort of adversity which required a change. We prayed about each change, each process, and each decision. Our faithful God always answered, shedding light on each uncertain step.
Change is in the air once again.
Mom’s advancing Alzheimer’s and a few recent difficulties have made it abundantly clear that we need to prepare for what the next level in mom’s care might be. There have been many “nudges” toward planning for the possibility of mom’s future care taking place outside of our home setting. But three things in particular:
- A gentle nudge in the form of a well-timed question from Diane, mom’s palliative care nurse practitioner. “So, have you considered what the next step in your mom’s care might look like?” We had a good chat about that, and she gave me several helpful suggestions.
- My hubby’s trip to India. I had to ask myself what I would do if something happened to him and he could no longer help me. Even though my family and friends rallied to help me out during his trip, it became very clear that caring for mom on my own would be at too great a risk to my own health and welfare.
- My own frailty. I took a fall down a short flight of stairs in my own home. Aside from a scrape to my leg, a few sore muscles and toes, the greatest injury I sustained was to my own pride. The fall served as a wake-up call causing me to consider how Wayne would care for mom if something happened to me.
In the past year, I’ve looked at the websites of many assisted living places, have talked with a few representatives on the phone, traded emails with yet a few more, and even toured three that I liked and thought might be able to at least provide some respite care. In each case, I could not imagine my mother living there. After my little chat with Diane, I looked into a newer one she suggested and rated very highly. BeeHive is a 16-unit specialized memory care facility designed to look and feel very home-like. It is ideally located in Oregon just a few miles down the road from us, and about a mile from the nursing home where my brother resides.
Wayne and I scheduled a visit in early September before his trip to India. I was favorably impressed as I watched staff interact with residents. Compassion and respect were palpably present. We met Gina and Andy, two of the owners, and felt their pride of ownership and desire to serve their residents.
Standing on the sidelines, I watched one sweet lady receiving a hand massage. As the aide gently applied lotion and stroked her delicate hands, she looked into this resident’s eyes and spoke with her like she was a familiar friend. I knew in my heart this was the right place. A puzzle was in the works at a nearby table and I could hear one resident talking to another in friendly banter. Yes, I could definitely picture my dear Momma sitting at one of the tables, working on a puzzle and telling (or re-telling) one of her many tales.
After some discussion and prayer, we decided we would put down a deposit to reserve a place for mom. She is currently number four on their wait list. While it is still my heart’s desire to keep my mom at home with me until God calls her to her heavenly Home, I have great peace knowing I have another level of care reserved for her. My greatest comfort comes in knowing the One who is guarding our steps as He walks before us paving the way for whatever our future holds.
I know in my heart that my dear mother would skip along to heaven tonight if she could. Nearly every day she tells me so. Momma’s greatest comfort comes in knowing that Jesus promised He has a placed reserved for her in heaven.
Like last week, we awoke again this morning to a thin layer of fresh snow covering the yard – and a promise of more to come. In between snowfalls, we had two days where the temps hovered near 40 degrees. I managed to get those daffodil and tulip bulbs in the ground, but had to tuck them in close to the house where the ground was warmer.
The sunshine lured me outdoors this afternoon while Momma took a little catnap. Drinking in the fresh, clean air, I took a little stroll through the yard and snapped a few photos of things that caught my eye.
Do you think this garden bench would look pretty painted a grape-y shade of purple? I’m toying with the idea. Or should I leave it to weather as is? What say ye?
Hubby found this discarded ladder a couple of summers ago and painted it a lovely shade of green to serve as a trellis and whimsical piece of yard art with my painted bird houses perched on top. The garden ladder supports a clematis vine I snagged from my mother’s garden before I sold her Milwaukee home. I’m so glad that I was able to dig a few of her pretty flowers to make the move with her. I’m not entirely sure what pruning type this clematis is, but decided to take a chance and prune it back today to make the area look tidy. My mom can see it from her usual spot at the kitchen table and often comments about how the gardener really should clean that up.
Hubby added the rope to assist little climbers after he cut off one of the lower branches they used to hoist themselves up into the crab apple tree. One of my favorite memories is of my granddaughter Violet sitting up there perched as high as she dared singing praises to Jesus and thanking God for this tree to climb.
Friday night is date night at our house. We pay a caregiver to come and hang out with my sweet Momma while we go out to dinner, see a movie, or do some shopping. Last night we found ourselves at Menard’s where we replenished our birdseed for our feathered friends. I also replaced my worn out garden gloves with some brand new hot-pink ones…hopefully won’t lose them next year.
It has been a crazy week here. Short on sleep most nights and long on trying to keep mom awake and occupied during the daytime when she’d really rather sleep. Sometimes I’m just so tired that I give in and let her nap. Today is one of the days when I did my best to keep her awake, thus putting off my contribution to Six on Saturday. It’s still Saturday and here it is.
If you would like to join in with this fun weekly meme started over at The Propagator, take a look here.
It’s hard to believe in less than a week hubby and I will be gathered with our kids and their families celebrating Thanksgiving. I’m personally looking forward to time away from caregiving (thankful for my sister who will care for mom while we take a little break), time with my grandkids, a little uninterrupted sleep, good food cooked by my kids and a few of their kids with a little help from me (When did THAT happen? Used to be the other way around!), and everything else that goes with spending time with family reflecting on God’s goodness to all of us.
I’m linking up for the first time with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community. Five minutes of free write on a weekly word prompt. Today’s word is one. Here’s the first thing that came to my mind.
Just ONE thing
I have so many things on my always growing “to-do list”. In my world of being a full-time caregiver for a mother with Alzheimer’s, there are days when I may as well throw my to-do list in the trash, as Momma’s needs trump my would-like-to-get-done checklist.
One thing has helped. Simply focusing on one thing at a time.
“One bucket of weeds” is doable. I can certainly grab a 5-gallon pail during one of mom’s catnaps and do a quick cleanup of one area of my garden. That one bucket often leads to two…or maybe even more.
“One load of laundry” is much more attainable than devoting an entire day to the job. It’s an on-going job that is never truly accomplished anyway…so just do ONE load now. The rest will follow.
Sometimes it does help to break my big job up into lots of little “ones”. Spending time in the garden is one of those things I love to do, but also one of the things that is HARD to do while taking care of my sweet Mom. But, truth be told, even on the worst of days, I can get ONE thing done if I create a few bite-size chunks.
- Trim back the red peony and bag the leaves
- Dig out the aggressive lamium
- Divide the red iris
- Plant a piece of the red iris on the other end of the flower bed
- Trim back the clematis to 1 foot
- Spread compost
- Plant the tulip bulbs
- Repaint the birdhouse (a rainy day project)
Very few of those jobs take longer than 10 minutes to accomplish. A little here and a little there. One small bite at a time. Each little job accomplished leads to the satisfaction of being able to cross the big job off the list.
There you have it. My ONE contribution.
Now, I’m going to fold ONE load of laundry before a much needed night out with my ONE guy.
It’s November already and my garden “to-do list” has included the following tasks on it for what seems like forever:
Cut back peonies
Cut back hosta plants
Plant tulip and daffodil bulbs
I’m making progress as I traipse around in my muddy flowerbeds. But, as hard as I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to get those items crossed off my list. It has been such a wet fall! This is what gardening looked like this week.
We have a locust tree with a nasty habit of dropping messy seed pods for several weeks out of the year. We pay our grandsons to pick up ‘tree poop’ (named for its shape…and because little boys relish gross names). We give the boys 5-gallon pails and pay a goodly sum for each filled pail. As I type, the tree continues to drop seed pods on the ground, thus ensuring these boys a college education over time.
The two youngest grandsons recently spent the night. The aforementioned job is so much more fun under the cover of darkness when glow sticks and flashlights are involved.
I’m a little weary for wear today, having been up quite a bit last night taking care of my Momma. But I know that the fresh air does me good, so I spent a little more time cleaning out flowerbeds this morning. Making progress, but what a muddy mess. More rain is in the forecast…and cold too. I know what that means.
The snow will soon fly and soon blanket the flowerbeds in the sleep of winter. What doesn’t get done now will wait until spring when we will start the whole beautiful process once again.
There you have it – my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener and friend I’ve never met. Since joining up with The Propogator and other “sixers” all over the world, I learn something new every week from the participating gardeners…and get to enjoy glimpses of their gardens too. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in. It’s hard to imagine there will be anything much to photograph in the coming weeks, but I’m up for the challenge.
How about you? Do you have a favorite garden cleanup method or tool? I’d sure love it if you’d leave your favorite tip in the comments below.
As I surveyed my gardens this morning, searching for beauty I could share, my eyes at first only saw the work that needed to be done…like pulling all of this frosted hosta.
In focusing on the mess, I nearly missed this lime-green bit of beautifulness.
And the little snapdragon faces smiling at me on the front porch.
I might never have explored the lacy layers of fungus growing on our neighbor’s tree stump and woodpile. Fascinating.
It makes me wonder how many other beautiful things I would see in life if I would just stop to look.
And there you have it — my Six on Saturday. For more glimpses of gardens all around the world, head on over to the Six on Saturday host site at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/category/six-on-saturday/.