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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

Failing health and other knicknacks

posted by Linda G. Howard

Sometimes I found myself wanting to treat my husband’s failing health as though it were a knicknack.  In that way, I could put it on a shelf and forget all about it.  I fought almost daily with this notion of detachment.  Psychologist call this “compartmentalization.”

In The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, there are three families in crisis at this moment.  Each story is unique.  Yet the bottom line is that parents are treating their failing health as though it were a knicknack that they can simply put on a shelf and ignore.

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Often there is a pattern that is followed that goes something like this narrative.  Diane’s family earnestly prepared for their deaths until the last ten years of their lives.  At that time, their younger daughter’s life fell apart and the parents needed to provide for her family.  They poured money and resources into her life and their grandchildren.  Diane’s sister became complacent, knowing that her parents would provide.  Then the savings and assets were gone; and the parents naively put  their failing health on a shelf as though it were a statuette that they could dust and ignore.  Diane was pushed into crisis mode when both parents died.

There is a constant debate within churches regarding this problem.  Pastors and their staff understand that there is little that can be done until we are asked.  When asked, however, we often jump with the speed of a gazelle. At Special Gathering, families may want their son or daughter to go and live in a group home.  Among pastors who minister in the  “normal”  communities, there is a running debate about nursing home care.  The cost of personal care giving has been considered the more expensive option.  However, it may be that personal care is now the more reasonable option.

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Nursing home care has become increasingly difficult as Medicare and Medicaid funds are continually being cut.  What may not be known by most people is that hospital workers and physicians are not able to give direction or advice because of legal consideration; but they can answer questions.  Therefore, whether you are reaching “that” age or your parents are becoming more feeble, you need to be prepared to ask the right questions and know what is available for good health care.  Here are six things which help.

  1. Establish a working relationship with the office personnel in your family’s physicians’ office.  These nursing and clerical staff can often give you more information that your doctor, who may be bound by more stringent legal restraints regarding the information they can freely give to you.
  2. Become familiar with the systems of support in your community and the community of your family members.  Each state is different.  In Florida, each district is unique and may handle a problems in a diverse manners.
  3. Make sure that your family members understand that you are there to help in the times of crisis.  Keep in touch with them often.  Then when they need you, they will know that you want to hear from them.
  4. Understand that most older individuals will cling to their independence too long.  Look for times and ways to lovingly intervene.
  5. Before the crisis, speak opening and honestly with your family about what they may face in the future.  This is a touchy subject and it requires tact on your part.  You may be able to get your point across in conversations that family members initiate regarding other families who have faced an emergency situation in the past.
  6. Reestablish broken family relationships.  This is usually easier than we think.  Come with humility and honesty.  Regret usually follows a death and regret is a bitter tasting pill that can never be fully swallowed when the person has died.

We have found that when there is a crisis, our phone number is frequently put on speed dial because families within the developmentally disabled community trust us.  They know that we care.

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Remember, there are no easy answers.  In a crisis you may find that there are no right answers, only unfortunate options.   “Too often,” Richard Stimson, our executive director,  has said, “there are also no good answers to bring the situation into resolution.”  We must choose between two or more bad solutions.

Failing health should never be treated as a nick-nack that goes on the shelf no matter how inconvenient it may be at the time.  Crisis seems to fall at the most inconvenient times and crises cannot be ignored.

What are some ways of the beneficial things you have learned in the middle of health crisis?  What other crisis events have crashed into your life?

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From a child to a mother

posted by Linda G. Howard

Shelly Demeree is a poet whose work appears in various venues

From a Child to a Mother

by Michelle Demeree

With mothers, there is a love so real

and so expected.

So expected that we forget how much

They love us.

They give great parts of their heart

To us.

We want to say, “Thank you, for your love.”

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Picking the strawberry fields

posted by Linda G. Howard

Spring in Central Florida means many delights; but one of the best is fresh strawberries.  When our children were young and early spring arrived, we would pack up a small lunch and some water.  Then we’d pile into a car with some friends; and we’d all head for the strawberry fields.  In the morning, while the dew was still on the berries, the children and I would pick enough strawberries to eat and freeze.

For anyone who has worked in the fields, you know that the exquisitely satisfying part of harvesting berries is sampling the luscious sweetness while bending over the fruit laden plants.  You don’t ever take home the largest, reddest and plumpest strawberries. Those are eaten in the fields.

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Last month, my daughter, Carol,  was speaking at a conference in Tampa.  She arranged to visit with us for a few days because she wanted to be with her ailing father.  As she and I traveled from Tampa to the East Coast, we passed a strawberry farm.  The harvesters’ large straw hats were the only part of their heads that was visible as they bend over the plants hurriedly picking the ripened fruit.

We spied the farm’s roadside stand. Quickly wheeling the van into the parking lot, we stopped to purchase a crate of berries.  When berries have slept in the fields the night before, you don’t get one or two quarts.  Twelve quarts are the minimum.

Giggling like two children who’d uncover a chest of gold nuggets, we climbed back into the vehicle, munching our treasure all the way home.  The juice ran down our fingers and onto our wrist.  We laughed, trying to lap up every escaping drop.

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That road trip was the beginning of what has become a sorrowful but surprisingly joyful adventure for our family.  The day before, I learned that my husband’s diagnosis was “adult failure to thrive.”  In short, his body had moved from terminally ill into the dying process.  All of the family has come now to say good-bye to their father and grandfather.

He has suffered from dementia for about 15 years.  We became accustomed to his forgetful ways.  Yet, during these precious, holy days, he has slowly slipped closer to eternity.  This morning when I went into his room, I knew that he didn’t recognize me.  Because his aide was there, I didn’t ask him questions.  I left the house at 7am for my work and I didn’t return until 7pm.

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After his caregiver had left, I tiptoed into his room and kissed him hello.  Again, the vacant, yet, confused and slightly frightened look stared at me.  I smiled and asked in a chipper voice, “You don’t know who I am, do you?”

The fear melted and he shook his head, “No.”

“I’m your wife of almost 50 years and you really should remember me,”  I said, laughing.

With his eyes closed, he returned my laughter with his own.

I continued to tease him, “I have pictures to prove that we are married.  We have three wonderful children and four amazing grandchildren.  Guess you don’t remember them either.”

He opened his eyes grinning with pleasure but he shook his head, ‘No.”

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“You are an engineer, who worked for NASA.  You had five inventions and you designed a lot of the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen piping on the shuttle.  You helped put the men on the moon and no one can take that away from you.  In short, you are a pretty amazing man.”  He smiled.

“Do you remember Jesus?”  I probed deeper.

Again, he smiled, but with a broader grin. “Oh, yes, I do,” he whispered to me.

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“That’s the only person you need to remember,”  I said, taking his hand in mine.  He tried to smile as he traveled back into his semi-conscious state.  When I returned to his room about an hour later, he was smiling.

On the afternoon we bought the strawberries, before the fruit could go bad, I prepared several quarts of the berries to freeze.  They sit in my freezer at the top of the fruit section.  Each time I open the freezer they sit waiting for me, still red and inviting.

I’ll eat those berries while they are still frozen in a few days or a week or month from now.  I’ll taste the ripe goodness locked in by the cold.  I won’t eat them in one session but one berry each night.  I’ll make them last as long as I can and I’ll remember this lovely time.  But I’m waiting now–waiting until this adventure is over and my husband has gone home to be with the Jesus he still remembers.

 

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Hope in the middle of despair

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received from a friend who is actively involved within the mentally challenged community.  She has worked as a professional.  Her family is deeply involved in the professional community.  She is a volunteer with Special Gathering.  Currently, she is part of the management team for a US Congressman.  While this Word was specifically given to members of the mentally challenged community, these principles apply to every crisis in our lives.

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Please feel free to pass the below along to people who will pray for people who are going through any crisis.

CRISIS PRAYER

If you believe God is sovereign, then every circumstance of your life including crisis is UNDER HIS CONTROL.

You know that God can eliminate a crisis or problem instantaneously.  If he hasn’t done that, then you need to be looking for more than just deliverance from it.

It takes real spiritual maturity to seek God for something other than deliverance in a crisis.

Do not ask for deliverance from the situation, but rather for BOLDNESS (not rescue) in face of this threat.

Set aside your desire for personal protection and fling yourself out before God as a vessel to be used in this crisis.

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  • When faced with the lions’ den, if Daniel prayed simply for the crisis to disappear, the chance for God to be exalted before the King would disappear.
  • Daniel didn’t pray for the crisis to go way.  He prayed for God to do something miraculous through it.

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN

  • Discern all that is at stake besides my comfort
  • You will find God exalting himself in every aspect of your life.
    • Jesus did this when he faced the cross.  He asked God for deliverance coupled with a prayer for submission.  His willingness to walk the path of God’s will and bring glory to His name came with a price.  JESUS DIED FOR US.

ASK FOR PRAYER

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WE NEED THE BODY OF CHRIST TO PRAY FOR US; WE ARE IN CRISIS.

We won’t have the strength, except for the prayers of God’s people.

PRAY THIS WAY

  • I boldly submit to the work of God I cannot see.
  • I do not cut God short by praying for the easiest way out, but pray that God’s holy name will be glorified.
  • I yield to his ways even if it means that our deliverance is delayed.
  • I pray God gives  us strength (not deliverance) to carry out this difficult assignment.
  • I pray for Grace to prevail through the storm rather than to be rescued from it.
  • I ask for specific deliverance, but along with it, I ask God to resolve the crisis in a way that honors him and allows for the greatest display of his POWER, LOVE AND MERCY.
    • Jesus prayed for an end to the crisis (being crucified on the cross) that would exalt God the most.
  • Ask for God to be honored in how the conflict is handled.
  • Ask God to be glorified in our faith.
  • Pray for God to make Himself famous and show himself strong in this crisis.
  • Lord, do something miraculous here!

QUESTIONS FOR GOD

  1. God,  what are you trying to accomplish?
  2. God,  what are you wanting to do in me through this crisis?
  3. God,  how can your name be glorified here?

AMEN

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