My Third Trip to Grand Rapids

This past Monday I made my third trip to Grand Rapids in two weeks. I sat at my mother’s bedside in the hospital through the day and through the night. She has dementia and the hospital stay was traumatic and disorienting. I am thankful that she has been released from the hospital and is back at the nursing home. Questions remain about whether her condition will stabilize.

She was encouraged by the presence of my sisters and me. I was glad to pray and sing for her. Driving home I enjoyed seeing the beginning of fall colors along Michigan highways.

It is hard to deal with end of life issues. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. When I arrived home I noticed the zinnias along the front walkway. They are continuing to bloom and have a certain majesty.

Majestic Zinnia

Beauty of creation and sorrow of approaching death. This is a great mystery that can only be resolved by God’s promises.

Then last night I sat on the floor with my 10-month-old grandson. He crawled around the family room eager to examine every item available to his touch. (Toys were not his first choice.)

I was delighted when he crawled over to me and smiled. As he tried to vocalize sounds I repeated what I heard. This brought joyful giggles. We were communicating and he was thrilled.

Zinnia

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is DISCOVERY.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Trying, Persisting and Communicating

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: TRY

During the past two weeks I had the wonderful experience of attending a family reunion in Finland. My maternal grandmother had come to the United States when she was nineteen years old. Two of her brothers were already here, but the remaining ten siblings stayed in Finland. She was never able to go back.

During the two weeks in Finland I had time with a number of our second cousins, third cousins, cousins once or twice removed. Some were fluent in English, some were not. But we found ways to communicate. I tried out the words that I knew in Finnish and then resorted to the app on my i-pad. My relatives tried out words in English and used the Finnish/English dictionary.

We were persistent in our efforts to communicate. I learned about my grandmother’s life in Finland and felt the kinship with my Finnish relatives. . . .

My thoughts have moved on to think about God’s persistent efforts to communicate with us. He has given us the Bible and his Son. In the gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word.   Through Jesus we have  been  given the ability to be in communication with God. Jesus instructed the disciples (and us) to pray, addressing God as our Father.   Our  prayers,   uttered in faith, are heard.

Come visit Five Minute Friday and share your perspective on TRY.

FMF try

The Joy of Family

It is Friday and time to join the writing community. Kate Motaung gives a prompt and for five minutes we write fast and free. Today’s prompt is: PLAY

God’s design for the family is good. Different generations come together.

I am blessed to be a grandmother. I am able to play with the grandchildren with a freedom that I didn’t have as a mom.

On the fourth of July the family was together—two sets of grandparents, my daughter and son-in-law, six children. The three-year-old grandson pulled me aside, away from his older sisters. He held up a box of crazy eight cards and said, “Will you play with me?”

So before our holiday supper he and I played our own version of crazy eights. He was satisfied, and our relationship grew a little.

Sometimes the grandchildren ask me to play hide and seek. Can you imagine grandma hiding behind a tree?

For more thoughts on PLAY or to join the writing community, visit Five Minute Friday.

The Lights Along the Shore

We laid my brother to rest.   For years he suffered with mental illness,    going from hospital to home, to hospital to group home.

In February I was with him during a two week time period, spending every day at the hospital. While I was at his bedside he began to sing the hymn, Let the Lower Lights be Burning.

Here are the lyrics:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning,send a gleam across the wave

Some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save

Glenn went to a nursing home from the hospital.

Glenn struggled with his situation. At times he was witty with interesting questions. He found enjoyment in music and appreciated good music. The years and medication took their toll on Glenn’s life.

The memory of our day together in May will linger. We took Glenn out from the nursing home. We had a wheelchair for him and wheeled him through a park. The sunshine was bright and the temperature was moderate—a perfect day to enjoy nature.  Glenn had his favorite meal, a hamburger and a milkshake.

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Days have passed since the funeral and the words to Let the Lower Lights Be Burning keep replaying in my thoughts. We can be the lights along the shore for someone that is struggling in life. I want to be more attentive to the people God places in my path.

We Built a Fairy House

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: VISIT

Today my three-year-old granddaughter came to visit.   She  had  just   arrived when she showed me a book she had been looking at.  It had fairy houses. “Grandma, will you help me make a fairy house?”

I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I suggested that we walk around the backyard. This sweet little girl began pointing out flowers and we picked a few. We talked and she stimulated my imagination. I collected a couple large pieces of bark—she was delighted to see a couple roly-poly bugs (also known as pill bugs) on the bark. She played with the bugs as I propped the bark over an empty little plant container.

Then her imagination took over, and as I handed her leaves and pieces of vine, she continued to build the “fairy house”.

A Fairy House

It was a special time. We talked about the wonderful variety in God’s creation.//

We looked at the currant bushes with abundant green berries. We picked a gooseberry, not quite ripe but pretty to look at.

Gooseberry

My granddaughter pointed out a yellow flower that had grown volunteer, maybe a calendula.

It is truly a gift to spend time with a child, seeing the world with her. I delighted in the imagination of my little granddaughter. In our time together I had an opportunity to share my thoughts about God.

Join the fun at Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

 

Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

I am joining the community at Five Minute Friday  and Faith on Fire with this post.

We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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Listening to the Children

It’s Five Minute Friday! I am joining Kate Motaung’s community where we gather to write like crazy for five minutes on the one word prompt. Today’s word is: sing

Our granddaughter’s school held a Spring Sing in their new gymnasium. People filled the seats, the bleachers and the space along the walls.

The Children

The children (first, second & third grade) sang with enthusiasm with motions that they performed in unison. The theme of the program was songs from countries around the world. The opening song was We Are the World. Here is the chorus:

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me.

The children are the future. We are blessed to be the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We have a sacred trust to guide, nurture and advocate for them.

We are imperfect but we can seek God’s help. We have the avenue of prayer.

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Searching for My Voice, Remembering to Vote

As I walked out of the post office an older gentleman was parking his car. When I got into my car he walked over to my window and tried to say something. His hair was white and he was a little bent over. I was a little surprised and wondered what he needed.

I rolled down my window and he asked,  “How does it feel to live  in  a    foreign country?”

I was flummoxed and finally asked, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to my shirt and said, “I noticed the map on your shirt.”

I was wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:

Michigan girl

“Oh, I see.” I smiled. “I think I have more of a voice in Michigan.”

He chuckled. I wondered if he recognized my frustration with Illinois politics.

We wished each other a good day.

My mind is on politics. My perspectives are quite different from the two Senators that represent me in Washington D.C. Earlier in the day I had tried expressing my thoughts to them in an e-mail,  hoping  that  Neil    Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wondered if the effort was worth it.

Perhaps I have a better chance to make my voice  heard  on  the  local   level. We are having an election for the school board and village trustees. I looked into the issues and candidates. I will vote.

Sometimes I am frustrated as I think about the problems in our country and the future for my grandchildren. We have complex social and health issues. What should we do? What is my role as a follower of Jesus?

In a way, the world is a foreign country. The Lord has chosen to place us here so that we can have an impact. He has given us the Word and asks our obedience.

Jesus prayed for his followers: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

This prayer is a comfort to me and I hope it gives comfort to you too. When we spend time in God’s word we will receive the guidance we need.

We are invited to pray. Jesus taught us to approach God in prayer as our Father in heaven.

As citizens of this country we have the opportunity to vote. It is a way to use our voice.

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A New Home for the Elephants & Family Day at the Zoo

We visited the Wichita Zoo with our daughter and granddaughter. We were delighted to see the new area, recently opened, that allows the elephants room to roam.

Elephants

Occasionally an elephant was in fairly close view.

Elephant

I was fascinated to see the elephants pick up sticks with their trunks and then strip the bark off with their mouth.

Elephants

The lion had a royal spot on a rock.

The flamingos provided a colorful scene.

Flamingos

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25

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