'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CAREGIVER DIARIES

I was awake earlier than I expected, considering what time I fell asleep. I would pick last night to see what was going on with my hair. It, like me, could use a little relaxation. But, like me, I haven't done it...but I will...relax that is...me...not my hair...I like it's natural state. It's all over the place, but it's strong. I want to feel stronger, too.
 
Even though it was chilly and rainy, and I was going to a funeral, it was nice to get out this morning. (I love the way the air smells when it's raining.) 
I've come to expect that there will be a message just for me from everyone I meet when my schedule is suddenly impacted, and I have a reason to be out of the house. 
I dialed in to a conference call and the speaker was saying, 
"If you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride." Even my Lyft drivers and a clerk at a store I went to spoke of the importance of remaining cheerful and positive.

Clinton Sherrod's eulogy for my friend Stephanie's mom, was definitely for the living, and particularly encouraging for me. 
I heard:

"People are going to mistreat you. You don't have the energy, or the time to treat them like they treat you. Giving is not a burden...Love is the only thing that can cause us to advance. You can not put a limit on Love... If you need help, I'm STILL going to help you...You can't love people when you're in fear... Love with all your heart, whether they receive it or not...It's just who you are...If there is any hope of the world ever changing, there have to be good examples on Earth. Everybody can't be a crook...
You wake up in the morning and before you know it its evening. Time is moving fast."

It surely is.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

FOR ALL THAT YOU SHARED

 The one day you don't 
They forget all the times that you did
The one day you won't 
They forget all the times you said "Yes"
The one day you can't
They forget all the times 
You abandoned your plans
And ran to their sides
Then one day you should 
But you think of the times that 
Your good deeds were punished 
Your caring was tarnished
You salvage your pride
You fear that you've wasted your time

Then one day you're gone--
That's when the true test begins
That's when they learn 
There won't be someone else stepping in
That's when the evidence of what you gave
Comes to bear
And everything grinds to a halt 
Because no one is there 

Weeds grow where flowers bloomed
Filth covers what once was clean
Brown patches now form 
In spaces, once luscious and green
There was a time when 
You answered each beck and call
Now days are spent in lament
Over no help at all
No trace of your sacrifice
No sign of the time you put in
"No" is what you'll utter next time 
You're asked to step in
"No" to mistreatment
When you could be living in peace
All bets are off when
Inconsideration won't cease

Then one day you're free and
That's when the true test begins
That's when you vow
You won't ignore your own needs again
That's when the evidence of what you gave
Comes to bear
And when you reach out--
Remember that you, too, need care

So much will greet you
And perhaps, will reward you
So much will heal you
Countless lessons to teach you--
Renew you 
Give your life back to you
For all that you shared--
For all of the years, toil, and tears,
Heart, and soul that you shared

 vrw©2017


Saturday, March 25, 2017

CAREGIVER DIARIES

Caregivers do a lot in a day. They take multitasking to dizzying heights, and develop skill sets they, perhaps didn't know they had. Studying people may be one of them.

In the interest of a loved one who desires to remain in his or her own home, a caregiver's discernment becomes keen. Give care for any period of time, and it is easy to see where each person stands in the life of the aged or ailing person. You will know who the real friends are, and who they aren't. Those real friends are like angels.

When you see some people drive up, or see their names on the caller ID you're either relieved and happy, or disgusted and annoyed. Don't fret, though. As time passes, like snow, eventually, those whose presence has never truly been authentic, will slowly disappear, while others step up to the plate and consistently swing. To some, aged and ailing people translate "hard work". People who used to declare how they'd be there through thick and thin, suddenly thin out when health fails, eyes dim, and steps become slow. 

As a caregiver, you quickly learn who the genuine people are in the life of your loved one. You find out who demonstrates concern and faithfulness, as opposed to nosiness and opportunistic tendencies. Some people are good at phoning. That is is no way a criticism, unless of course, the topic of their conversations are consistently morbid, divisive, critical, antagonistic, or counterproductive. Some people phone to interrogate. Others phone to cheer and encourage. Ailing and aged individuals need contact; they need good, pleasant conversation that keeps them engaged. Some people are adept at that. You can tell by the mood of your loved one when certain calls end. 

Other people are good at showing up. Yes, they have responsibilities of their own, but they make time for their aging or ailing friends. Before they show up, they call. They even ask if you need anything. They ask how you are. They're not too familiar. They are respectful of your presence and position. They don't treat you like some peon or slave. They understand the gravity and necessity of your presence. They are a friend of your loved one, and don't dare assume that means they are an instant friend of yours. But by virtue of their friendship; by virtue of the fact that you are caring for their friend, they in turn, are concerned about you and your well-being. You can't help but appreciate a person like that. You're not surprised when you begin to call them friend, too...and thank God for their attentiveness and kindness...and hope He blesses them and their loved ones.

Helping really is a ministry. Some people are incredibly gifted at it. They are patient and gracious. "I'd like to help you help him (or her)". Those words are music to a caregiver's ears.  

Too often, people on the outside looking in, think live-in caregivers have it made, and spend their days lounging and sitting as if some woodland fairy is flying in at night with a woodland fairy clean-up crew. Maybe caregivers make care giving look too easy. Maybe some people can't get over the fact that the dynamics in the home of their friend has changed, and they can't do what they used to do, or have the unlimited  access they used to have. Maybe they don't think that there's anything about you that they're bound to respect. Maybe some people don't think they should have to regard a caregiver, so they get mad and make themselves scarce. Maybe caregivers haven't asked for help, or don't know who to trust. I don't know. What I do know is that one of the greatest gifts to a caregiver is the knowledge that there are people who understand--often by virtue of the fact that they have either been caregivers, or needed care themselves. 
Caregivers don't need busybodies, micro-managers, instigators, gossips, or inspectors. They don't need people with agendas. Caregivers need care, and sometimes that manifests indirectly. 

For someone to volunteer to take your loved one on an outing isn't just a beneficial thing for your loved one. It's good for you as a caregiver, too. Not just any someone, however. I've experienced some people who had an uncanny way of including a trip to a bank in every outing. I'm not talking about jokers like that. I'm talking about genuine, empathetic, compassionate people of integrity, who not only have your loved one's best interest at heart, but recognize your need to rest and recharge, too.

Friday, March 24, 2017

PURPOSE

I was working on some logo ideas for my sister when my laptop screen went black. I hadn't noticed the battery icon flashing. When I looked to see if the cord had detached, I didn't see the telltale blue light that indicated it was charging. I unplugged it from the back of the laptop, then plugged it in again. The light came on, but as soon as I moved my hand, it went off again. I hadn't anticipated working while holding on to the cord, besides, the wires had been hanging on for dear life for a few days. I figured it was probably time for a new one. I logged on to Amazon and ordered a new power cord. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I'd have it soon, but I still had work to do that couldn't wait for the new cord to arrive. 
In the meantime, I found some tape. (Tape is your friend.) It wasn't a good look, but it worked. It merged the wires for about 15 minutes, then the screen went dark again. I jiggled the cord and the light came on again. I restarted the computer and the battery icon was frantically flickering on and off. I knew I had to do at least three things: Rely on electricity to sustain the weak battery, keep the cord still, and prop it so that it fed directly into the outlet. 

I looked around and saw my pencil sharpener on the dresser. 

I could almost hear it say, "Oh no. No. NO...Wait...What? Hold up! Excuse me! Don't even think about it! Do you know who I am? I sharpen pencils--MAC pencils! Faber Castell pencils! I do NOT prop up broke-down computer cords! That is nowhere in my job description!"
The sharpener had been excellent in its sharpening ministry. It hadn't chewed up a single pencil, cracked, or become dull, but it was going to be able to boast a new skill.
I slid the pencil sharpener under the cord and it was as if it had been designed for the space. It was just the right size and stabilized the cord. The sharpener spoke again. "Well, would you look at that! The light came back on. Did I do that?" 
I smiled, and imagined it was a little bit proud of itself. I was proud of whatever spirit led me to grab it in the first place. No. It wasn't doing what it was designed to do; maybe some would think it was being misused or taken advantage of. Of course, there is a specific tool for every job, but enlisting the sharpener to serve another, albeit odd purpose, surely was a big help to me. It didn't shift or move out of that space. The light remained on, and I was able to finish my work.

In that moment I wondered how many times we reject, decline or walk away from opportunities to be of assistance because we limit our skill set to one thing, aren't flexible, or underestimate our abilities or qualifications. How often do we miss out on being a blessing because we think we're too good, busy, exclusive, special, or over-qualified for one task or another? Helping in meaningful ways, especially in emergencies, is never a waste of time and is always appreciated.




Perhaps who, and what you are, and what your primary purpose may be, is obvious, or widely known, but don't ever let that deter you from helping when, and where you can. Don't be offended or feel diminished if tasked to do something different or outside of your comfort zone. 
You may be just the right fit for the job...: )

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

D.E.W.REFRESHMENT CALL: JUST KEEP GOING



"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings" ~Psalm 17:8


 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

~Psalm 139-14


 "Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom..." ~Isaiah 40:11


"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

~1 Peter 2:9-10


 Those passages really come in handy when and if, for whatever reason, you're not exactly feeling good about yourself or doubting yourself. Maybe you're questioning your effectiveness, value, accomplishments, or abilities because of what someone else said or did.

Maybe you're feeling like you've been abandoned, rejected or dropped. 


"Dropped". It's so harsh, abrupt and sometimes, negative and insensitive. "Drop". It's so deliberate. Drop the ball. Drop out of school. Drop kick. Drop a dime. Drop a bomb. Tear drop.  Either way something fell, or failed, or was

released from its place; it hit bottom, or was discarded. It went from height to depth. Something was handled carelessly, and perhaps damaged in a way that it couldn't be repaired.  Something or someone was let go. Something was considered no longer useful or appealing; no longer able to stay or be sustained or supported where it was. Once something is dropped, it experiences potentially drastic change-- unless it is flexible, invincible, resourceful, unbreakable. "You've been dropped". Ouch. "I'm dropping you". Double ouch. They're not nice phrases to hear, but hearing them doesn't jump start Armageddon either. It's not the end of civilization. What you ought not, should not, will not do, is stop. Don't drop yourself.

(You do know it's not always your own stuff that can negatively impact you and cause you to be detached from vital connections. Sometimes we absorb stuff. We go around picking up crosses that aren't ours to carry.)

I've been dropped before in more ways than one. But I'm still here to either tell about it if I want, or testify just by my existence that I survived--and that I don't look like what I've experienced.  


I was chatting a while back with a music industry friend who shared that a number of recording artists had been "dropped" from their record labels. The reason given was the rather  disappointing sales of their projects. "The project was great", he said of one artist," but they only sold 5,000 units!" (He said it with such disdain, it only multiplied the notion that everything good is not necessarily financially profitable.) It is puzzling that even though 5,000 people willingly spent money to acquire music and actually liked it, that meant nothing to a certain segment of the population that values revenue more than people. Somewhere 5,000 consumers were perhaps, being encouraged, blessed, edified, even entertained. In the music industry, 5000 may as well have been 2.

His words made me consider that we have to learn to disconnect our self-worth from certain things, so that when the thing ends or is discarded, we don't see ourselves as useless, worthless, or ineffective--so much so, that we stop trying. So many have paralyzed themselves, quit, and given up when there's so much more in them to share.


It's funny how numbers can be great or small depending on the situation:

Five thousand dollars. I could use that right now, and it would handle a multitude of things!

Five thousand free minutes was a big deal before the advent of unlimited data.

Five thousand shares of stock. Who wouldn't want that if the company was profitable?

Five thousand square feet. I read somewhere that a couple turned a 5000 sq. ft. barn into a dream home! That's a lot of  space!

Five thousand miles. That's a long way that makes you thank God for commercial aviation!

Five thousand years. That's a long, long time!

Five thousand seats. That's a very nice audience!

Five thousand troops. That should put a little fear into an enemy.

Five thousand screaming fans. That would make a celebrity happy!

Five thousand casualties. The thought of that sends everyone into mourning-- even if they didn't personally lose anyone.

Five thousand units of blood. The Red Cross would be so grateful!

Five thousand units of affordable housing. Think of the difference that would make in the fight against homelessness!

Five thousand fabulous pairs of shoes. Okay, can we just get a "Woo hoo!" for the thought of that


But In the music industry, however, the number 5,000 of anything shipped and or sold has no shock value. It's kind of embarrassing, actually. It's nothing to applaud. Five thousand, contrary to what every 5 year old thinks, is suddenly not a large number. Five thousand has no significance. Five thousand, spells failure and a poor investment. It's just not good enough and can get a performer--even a good one-- dropped like a hot potato.



There is one other place, however, where 5,000 is a big deal. Five thousand is forever etched in our minds as the number of hungry men, who sufficiently dined in a desert, after Jesus said grace. Read Mark 6. The number of people was great, but it's what Jesus had to work with that makes for such an amazing story. What one child had to offer, placed in the right, capable, caring, competent hands, satisfied a multitude. Since the apostles got the ingredients for the feast from a kid, we have to assume there were women and children who weren't counted. Even after the meal was served there were 12 baskets of leftovers- maybe the precursor of the Happy Meal-- for the apostles who never would have witnessed the miracle had they gotten their way. They had been working and maybe they were hot, tired, and hungry. They wanted Jesus to get rid of the crowd that was following him. Maybe they thought they'd already done too much work. Maybe they felt that too little attention was being paid to their needs. Well-intentioned or not, they had their share of out-of-order moments, especially when they were trying to get Jesus--the biggest people person of all time--to get rid of people. (I guess if you're hanging out with Jesus you might be a little selfish and over-protective and want to keep all that anointing to yourself- but that would be YOUR plan- not his. Removing his plan from any equation is a sure sign of impending failure. It's vitally important to operate according to his principles, stick to the vision He gives, and not get confused and attempt to assimilate our agendas into His.)



Knowing, acknowledging, and recognizing who Jesus was, and who sent Him was the difference between life and death, healing and sickness, freedom and bondage, forgiveness and condemnation for so many people. Imagine the weight of remorse of those near the cross when it finally occurred to them who they'd just murdered. "This man really was the Son of God. Look how we treated him". Some folk really didn't comprehend who He was quickly enough. They were too busy with their own plans to know who they had in their presence. Some were too wrapped up in their own importance. Others were too fixed on how they could profit. Yet others were bent on manipulating him.

He was despised for no good reason.

WHY can't we see that we have an advocate who genuinely understands what we deal with?

When Jesus didn't conform, and meant to be about the task God assigned him, people turned on him--- including those closest to him. Had they really known who he was, they wouldn't have tried to trip him up with religious nonsense. They wouldn't have insulted his intelligence and omniscience. They wouldn't have tried to turn him into someone he wasn't, paint him in an unfavorable light, or diminish his power. They wouldn't have  hoped he'd be pompous and arrogant like an earthly king so they could have an excuse to be pompous, too. They wouldn't have tried to misuse his gifts for material gain, or turn his ministry into a circus.



The enemy wanted Jesus to perform tricks. The thief on the cross wanted him to put on a show. The rich young ruler thought Jesus would be impressed with his considerable wealth. Had they really known who he was, and what he was about, they wouldn't have tried to hurt him, get rid of him, discredit him, or slander him. Had they known, they wouldn't have killed him. Therein lies the irony of the Gospel. Somebody had to die so everybody else could live. Somebody had to be dropped. Somebody had to be rejected so everybody else could be accepted. Somebody had to be let go so others could be elevated. Somebody had to be made an example. Jesus asked God to forgive the very people who used, abused, and despised him. The very people who praised Him in an impromptu parade one week, and cheered him like he was a rock star? Those same people insisted on his death the very next week.



Wow. If you've been rejected, dumped, dropped, kicked to the curb or any of the other euphemisms associated with the end of relationships, be encouraged. IT DOES NOT DIMINISH WHO YOU ARE! It doesn't abort your purpose! KEEP GOING!!!! Forget the naysayers! Forget the numbers! Remember what God says about you!



Understanding your place in Christ is vital. In the 2nd chapter of his first letter, Peter was trying hard to encourage some folk who were really down in the dumps. He wasn't blowing smoke. He really wanted them to know who they were. Self-worth and personal identity can be boosted by the opinions and attitudes of others, but they cannot be established and maintained by others. Inadequacy, doubt, and a host of other destructive attitudes are right around the corner if one's sense of self and purpose is entangled in the thoughts and impressions, acceptance or rejection of other people.



 Christ was never confused about who he was, or what his purpose was. Your circumstance is undoubtedly a far cry from being falsely accused, blindfolded, spat upon, whipped all night long, emaciated, or nailed to a cross. Depending on the situation, it may feel like the same thing for a while, but keep looking up. God won't let you fall. He's got you. He is still very much alive, awake, well, in control, and still opening doors. 
Keep going...: )


"He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment." ~Isaiah 40:11


"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." ~Zephaniah 3:17

(The Lord sings!!!!!! How cool is that? )


#JustKeepGoing

#DEW4U

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

I SING

Singing Series , Digital Art Vanessa Renee Williams 2017



How easy to hide

And hold on to the ease of it

But who would grow?

Who could find the peace I found

When some soul was brave enough to share their voice with me?

So,

In spite of what is most unsettling

I sing



How easy to run away

And hold on to the joy of it

But who would know?

Who could find the key I found

When some soul was brave enough to share their voice with me?

So

In spite of what is most discouraging

I sing



I thought it was just for me

A little bit of hope

A bigger dose of free therapy

Nothing else, except maybe my pencils and paint

Even came close

To allowing all the me there was in me

To cry, to speak, to laugh, to scream

I thought it was my own

The healing, happy part of

The great grace my God had shown

How generous He was

How did he know?



So, with eyes closed

I fought to keep a handle on my battered heart

Protect the only untouched part

And in spite of what is most devastating,

I sing

And sing

And sing