A Pet’s Purpose in Caregiving

In His Care. Three simple words that I am struggling with right now. It has been a very difficult week after finding out that our precious Shelby, a seven-year-old golden retriever, has a fast-growing, inoperable cancer with a bad prognosis. It has made me think about the role our pet’s play in caregiving. My father was always a dog lover, and he had a special fondness for Shelby. Often, I would bring her along when I visited Mom and Dad, and they lit up around her. She brings pure joy to everyone she meets.

It’s no wonder that therapy dogs are so important in hospitals and nursing homes. Quite simply, they are good for the soul. They are similar to babies in that they bring happiness and smiles to people, along with relieving stress and pain. They have the ability to distract people from their problems. And that is what Shelby does for me.

Our sweet Shelby is a playful, spirited dog, but she always calms down around older people and children. After my parents died, Shelby was the one who could always cheer me up. Our pets are the perfect example of unconditional love, and I believe God has a special love for the beautiful animals that He created.

The first thing we learned about our rescue dog, Shelby, is that she is a “leaner,” meaning she leans into people petting her. We’ve had three goldens, but she is the first “leaner.” She just can’t contain her love.  Her amazing spirit got us kicked out of dog training school as she just couldn’t control her excitement about being around other people and animals.

She is a big dog who desperately wants to be a lap dog, and she climbs on the sofa trying to squeeze her way onto laps. It used to embarrass me how excited she got over anyone coming to our door, but now I see just how much she truly loves people. Each time we got to the vet, she makes new friends. Even the receptionist at our vet’s office started to cry when she saw Shelby’s pathology report.

And our pets can make us laugh. On our first outing to the dog park, she laid in the only mud puddle in the park, and she was so happy about it. I have come to love and appreciate her sense of fun.

She is so loved by our entire family. This story would not be complete without mentioning her best friend, Maisie, my daughter’s dog. When we go to Nashville to visit our two children, we take Shelby with us, and she and Maisie literally “go crazy” playing like little puppies. They are both happy and energetic playmates.

I am praying hard knowing that Shelby and I are in His care, but worries keep interrupting that thought. I am struggling with anticipatory grief, wondering how I will go on without her.  She is special, and I know I will never be able to replace her. I look at her amazing spirit and wonder if I could try to live each day as joyfully as she does. What an example she is.

When I was struggling with depression and anxiety several years ago, I could always wrap my arms around her and feel better immediately.  She is the best caregiver ever as she calms me down, even during panic attacks. Quite simply, I have received much more care from her than I have given to Shelby. I am forever in her debt.

Scripture Verses:

Genesis 1:21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 6:19 And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

Prayer

Dear Father, we believe that we are always in Your care. Thank You for the gift and example of our pets. They provide comfort, love, and joy. Although they don’t have long lives, help us to enjoy and appreciate the time we have with them. We simply can’t repay the love they give us during their short period on earth.

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Amazing Testimony of Blind Woman

Jean is simply an extraordinary individual, who has cared for herself throughout her life.  Blind since childhood, Jean decided she would never let blindness get in the way of what she wanted to do in life. She has been totally self-sufficient and has enjoyed a full career and social life.

Jean grew up in an alcoholic family environment, and although her mother loved her deeply, she struggled with raising two other sighted children as well as an over-bearing, alcoholic, and abusive husband. So, it was decided early on that Jean would do better in a state school for the blind, and indeed, she thrived. 

Jean graduated with high grades and along with her guide dog, she soon found herself in a corporate environment with a large international corporation. She had the help of state of the art (at that time) tools for the visually impaired along with her amazing self-determination. On her own, she travelled to and from work by bus, making bus changes with her dog. When she did end up in the wrong place, she would make a joke about it. She truly inspired her colleagues.

Her friend, Rosemary, who met her at work, said, “Jean is spunky. She never has let her blindness get her down. Plus, she has always had a great sense of humor and often posts her jokes on Facebook. She truly is a remarkable person.”

As technology evolved, so did Jean’s technical level as well as her income. Always a fan of County and Western music, Jean became an avid follower of Randy Travis and joined his fan club. This led to over 200 trips across the county alone to attend his concerts in the 1980’s and for the next twenty years. She eventually met him in person. He brought her up on stage at one of his concerts, and he gave her roses and a bone for her guide dog. Jean was thrilled to say the least. Many sighted people wouldn’t be so courageous to travel so far alone.

Rosemary says that Jean also plays the keyboard by ear and loves to entertain residents of nursing homes with this special gift. She is always giving back.

Currently, Jean, who is just 66 years old, is under hospice care with a diagnosis of “failure-to-thrive.” She got an infection in June, and became severely dehydrated. Now, her body seems to be shutting down, and she is thought to have suffered a stroke. Rosemary and another friend have been helping to care for her for the past two months.

Jean truly loves the Lord and has lived her exemplary life through her great faith. An inspiration to so many, she needs our prayers now as she declines.

What Helped:

  • Reading and quoting Scripture.
  • Listening to country music, especially Randy Travis.
  • Playing music by ear.
  • Her guide dogs have been precious to her.
  • Her “never give up” attitude and corporate career.
  • Her strong friendships.
  • Playing computer games with her blind friends.

Scripture Verse

Jean’s favorite saying is: “This too shall pass.”

Mathew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.

Prayer

What an inspiration Jean is. Dear Lord, she has such a very special relationship with You. It is through her great faith that she could be self-sufficient throughout her life. She will find her reward in Your everlasting arms.

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Caring for a Caregiver with Type 2 Diabetes

Robert was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 70 years-old, and it totally changed his life. In the beginning, he was very depressed about the diagnosis as he had other chronic health problems, too. However, this would be a game changer for him and his children who helped care for him. In his memory, his children wanted to tell his story to give hope to others in similar situations.

His daughter, Helen, says, “Diabetes is a terrible disease. Dad often had extremely high glucose levels even on medication. He had total neuropathy in his feet. Then to make everything worse, he had a foot wound and had to have weekly skin grafts for three months. Fortunately, it did finally heal. But during that time, is was so difficult for him to be off his feet.  We all pitched in, but Dad simply wouldn’t let go of his duties.”

Throughout these personal trials, he still cared for his wife, Jean, who was terminally ill.  His strong will helped get him through all of this. He truly neglected his own health to care for her. He even endured painful pancreatitis episodes with numerous hospital stays while caregiving.

Helen says, “It was so difficult to watch Dad suffer and never ask for much help. He took such amazing care of Mom, but we knew he was usually in pain himself. We tried to cook healthy meals for both of them, but he still found ways to sneak unhealthy food. Even his gerontologist, who saw him regularly, couldn’t get Robert to take better care of himself.”

Helen and her two siblings made sure that one of them was there daily to check on both parents as they still lived in their apartment. The siblings helped with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and doctor appointments. But the constant care Robert gave Jean never stopped, even though it was exhausting him.

When Jean died, he lost his will and reason to live, and he passed away nine months later. The siblings were glad that he was no longer suffering and was with the Lord. Caregivers like Robert desperately need our prayers and support. They are true examples of selflessness and faithfulness.

What Helped:

  • The family had a very strong faith.
  • The siblings worked together.
  • Robert’s strong will and persistence.
  • His gerontologist and other doctors.
  • The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of information about the disease.

Scripture Verses

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3  We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for the selfless caregivers who endure their own illnesses while caring for others.  You do give us Your constant strength when we are faced with such difficulties. We know that You rejoice in our faithfulness.

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The Power of Friendship While Caregiving

Ever since my parent’s burial in Ohio where I reconnected with my best friend from childhood, I’ve been thinking about the role friends play during the stresses of caregiving. I am so incredibly thankful to the many friends who helped me through my difficult journey. It would have been much harder without them. It seems to me that God put those friends on my path to help me scale the mountains ahead.

So many friends were there for me – taking me to lunch and just letting me talk, sending cards and emails, and calling to check on me. It was my Bible Study friends who encouraged me to write this blog in the first place. I was so blessed that so many friends attended my parents’ funerals and comforted me.

The memory of my Mom with the very genuine friends she had reminds me to cling to those genuine friends I know. Mom was never influenced by money or status; rather, her friends were “the salt of the earth.” When you became a friend of hers, you were a friend for life. She reminds me of what type of friend I want to be. Mom was always loving and prayerful and she never gossiped, so she is my beautiful role model. I think of her daily and strive to become more like her.

Friends help us physically and emotionally. I have two great friends with whom I have lunch often. We call that time “our spiritual therapy.” I always leave feeling good when I’ve been with them. Even little things like a phone call or an email meant so much during difficult days with my folks. My friendships grew so much deeper then, and now I try to remember to tell those friends how much I love them. I’ve also learned how to become a better friend to others.

What Helped:

  • I love the phrase, “Friends are the family you choose.”
  • Knowing that friends were praying for me made such a difference.
  • The ability to share my deepest worries with my special girlfriends.
  • Friends who made me laugh.

Click here for seven ways to support others during difficult times.

Scripture Verses

John 15:12-15 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

Colossians 3:12-14 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

Several Beautiful Quotes About Friendship:

“The steady discipline of intimate friendship with Jesus results in men becoming like Him.” By Harry Emerson Fosdick

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” By Albert Schweitzer

“A rule I have had for years is to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.” By  D.L. Moody

Prayer

Dear Father, we thank You for the many friends You put on our path to help guide us through difficult times. They are a beacon of Your light to lead us on our journey. You are our ultimate friend, and through You, we learn how to treat our friends with Your love.

Please click here for this song that is a beautiful reminder of the friend we have in Jesus. 

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Caring for Everyone Throughout Her Life

Tamika is the utter definition of an amazing caregiver.  She is the oldest granddaughter in her family and was raised by her grandmother because her mother was a drug addict. At a young age, she started caregiving for her younger cousins and later in life, her grandmother and mother.  It was a pattern that would continue throughout her life.  But she had no idea how that road would twist and turn.

Her 30’s were a very difficult time. She and her husband tried for eight years to get pregnant, even going to a fertility physician.  Tamika became pregnant, but the joy was short-lived as she lost the baby 35 weeks into the pregnancy.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.  She says, “Words cannot explain the hurt I felt when I lost my child.  I did not know what God was trying to tell me.”  

She started to see another fertility physician with no success.  During this time, Tamika said her faith was tested, and she became angry with God.  Finally, they decided to stop and think about adoption.  Almost 2 1/2 years later, at age 36, she got pregnant again with a baby girl.  Then she had a big surprise later that same year, as Tamika got pregnant again with triplets, two boys and a girl.  She had four babies in one year, one in January and the triplets in November.  However, the joy was tinged with pain as going from no children to four in one year caused a lot of stress.  It was overwhelming, and she and her husband began to have marital problems.  Her husband became so overwhelmed that he left when the triplets were still infants.

While he was gone, Tamika said she was sleepwalking through life. She explains, “I needed help, but I wasn’t good at asking for it.  I knew I had to be strong just like my grandmother taught me. I was taught to never let anyone see you cry.”  She soldiered through and went back to work in order to care for her family.  

Her husband returned after almost a year, and they went to counseling and learned life lessons.  Tamika says, “We learned that when two imperfect people come together, we cannot expect perfection.  Marriage is like a plate.  Through the years, you keep adding to the plate and when things happen, it breaks.  Things in life fall everywhere.  It becomes a mess.  Then it’s up to us to glue the plate back together making it even stronger, so it can hold the same things as before plus more.”  

Today they are much happier.  They have four beautiful, healthy children, ages 5 and 4.  They have learned to be thankful for even the smallest things.  God has helped them overcome so many struggles.  Tamika says, “We have learned to love each other as God loves us.”

Tamika says that God put others, especially an aunt, neighbor, and coach, in her life at an early age to reveal God’s love for her and show her a different way of life. She says, “They helped me see that God loves me. He is a healer. I learned that life will be better if I just keep God first.”

Tamika is still working full-time, but she is fully conscious of her life now and feels wonderful.  She feels that God has prepared her to minister to others who may be going through similar situations.  Just as others helped her envision a different life, so will she inspire others.

What Helped:

  • Her true and constant faith.
  • Her church and work communities.
  • The book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

Scripture Verses:

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.

Prayer

God, you do give us the strength to soldier on when our lives feel impossible. You are a never-ending source of help. When we pass through these difficulties, we become stronger and more able to empathize with others who are struggling. Use us to minister to others in similar situations and show others Your peace and strength.

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When a Young Mother Suffers from Depression

Jane struggled with depression and anxiety throughout her teens and now at the age of 28, this terrible disease has really taken her down once again. She just had her first child and currently suffers from post-partum depression. While she truly loves her newborn, she is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for her. She has watched her friends with newborns experience so much joy, and she feels guilty that she isn’t feeling the same response.

Her doctor and psychiatrist are working together to help her, and she is in counseling.  Jane knows that she is fortunate to have so much support. Her husband has been a godsend, and her mother, Julie, has been there daily to help care for the baby.

Julie has helped in every way she knows throughout the years. “It is so very difficult to watch your child struggle with this devastating disease,” she says. “And now with a new baby here, it is even sadder since this should be a happy time.” Jane is fortunate to have a very supportive family.

Jane has had several nervous breakdowns. The first of which happened at the age of 19 when she was in college. Jane was in a verbally abusive relationship for a year, which caused her to have horrible insomnia that made the depression worse. At this young age, she really didn’t know what was happening to her. Finally, she did see a psychiatrist, who prescribed an antidepressant and medication to help her sleep. At last, her despair lifted, and she was able to make a clear decision to end the relationship. She worked with a psychologist to understand both the disease and the reasons why she chose abusive men. It was a long and arduous road. Also, she discovered that depression has a strong genetic component – depression was prevalent in her father’s family. She has two siblings who have also experienced mild depression.

“After watching my father’s relatives suffer from this disease when I was young, I prayed that I would never struggle with it,” said Jane. “Looking back I realized that I was an anxious child. I was just really good at hiding my feelings. At first I kept it a secret even from most of my friends. Actually, group therapy really helped as I finally found some people my age who were struggling too.”

Jane is working hard to overcome her current depression and become the mother she wants to be. She feels confident that with help from God and her family, she will get through this. She likes this quote from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: “What I require of you is to stay connected to Me living in trusting dependence on My limitless resources. When you face unexpected demands, there is no need to panic. Remember that I am with you. Talk with Me, and listen while I talk you through each challenging situation. I am not a careless God. When I allow difficulties to come into your life, I equip you fully to handle them. Relax in My Presence, trusting in My Strength.” 1

What Has Helped:

  • The support and love of her parents and siblings.
  • Understanding the disease.
  • The work she did and is doing with her counselor.
  • Medication has helped.

Scripture Verse:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes our struggles seem insurmountable, but even in our darkest moments You are always there. See us through these dark periods as we put all our trust in You. You will set us on Your perfect path.

 1 Young, Sarah (2004). Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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Caring for a Parent Struggling With Alcoholism

Karen had a difficult childhood growing up with her father, John, who was an alcoholic. According to Karen, she was always walking on eggshells as she never knew what would happen next. The family tried everything, including an intervention, but he simply could not stop drinking. He died at the age of 70 from alcoholism. There is a strong genetic factor to the disease as his father was also an alcoholic, who abandoned the family when John was young.

Karen and her two siblings saw their father when he was at his lowest. During that time, he passed out several times at home, and fortunately, her brother found him. John’s wife, Jean, was literally at her wits end. She turned to her priest, who suggested an intervention. Everyone in the family wrote letters, and a social worker facilitated the conversation. Karen says the letters were heartfelt, and everyone described their bottom line. At this point, Karen had three children, and she wrote that she would no longer bring her children to the family home as she could not trust her father alone with the children for safety reasons.

After the intervention, John went to a treatment center for six weeks, but his sobriety didn’t last long. It was a disease that would haunt him the rest of his life. Even with the support of his faithful wife and three children, he could not stop drinking. Eventually he lost his job as he could no longer function at work. Karen says the loss of his job was the “perfect storm” for him sinking further into the abyss.

Jean and the family attended Al-Anon meetings regularly and educated themselves about the disease, even though John did not attend AA meetings himself. They prayed fervently even when it seemed that their prayers were unanswered. It was such a difficult time for the entire family, and they often felt helpless. After his death, John’s children spoke openly about the disease. Even today, they watch the grandchildren’s behavior closely to recognize any signs of alcoholism early on.

It is important to remember that it is an illness. The modern disease theory of alcoholism states that problem drinking is sometimes caused by a disease of the brain, characterized by altered brain structure and function. The American Medical Association declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956.

Karen says, “This is truly a horrible disease that affects the entire family. It eventually cost my father everything, including his job and health. It greatly affected our family’s relationships. It is so difficult to care for someone who won’t stop drinking.” Although Karen and her family saw first-hand how totally devastating this illness can be, their prayers never stopped. In their case, it made their family closer.

What Helped:

  • Faith and fervent prayers.
  • Their priest and the social worker who helped with the intervention.
  • Al-Anon meetings.

Scripture Verses:

Psalm 69:13 But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord; answer me, God, at a time you choose. Answer me because of your great love, because you keep your promise to save.

Psalm 143:1 Lord, hear my prayer! In your righteousness listen to my plea; answer me in your faithfulness!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, sometimes it does seem that there isn’t an answer to our prayers. Help us to keep discouragement at bay and await Your glorious intervention. You are always in control, so we continue to turn to You with open and thankful hearts. We trust that You will not abandon us in our time of need.

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Going Home

I just returned from the burial of my parents in Wauseon, Ohio where I lived for a while as a child. They were buried next to my baby sister, Martha, who died at 18 months of age. It turned out to be a perfect day – beautiful and sunny.  All of my Michigan cousins came, along with my childhood best friend from Ohio and her family. Although I was apprehensive about this day, it turned out to be lovely. It helped tremendously to be surrounded by others who loved Mom and Dad so much. We had a touching burial service, followed by lunch as a big group. Everyone had memories to share, and we laughed a lot.

I have my own special memories of my childhood in Ohio.  My best friend, Jane, and I reminisced about constantly dressing up as movie stars by borrowing her mother’s clothes and heels when we were young. We performed very dramatic imitations of Sandra Dee and Annette Funicello. We actually pretended that telephone poles were our boyfriends, and we were often found hugging and kissing the poles. Jane’s mother and sisters still get a good laugh from those memories. Jane is the type of friend with whom you pick right back up. If she lived closer, we would be the best of friends again. I am grateful to know her and her wonderful family of five girls. My Mom and Dad considered her parents their best friends, and they stayed in close touch for over 60 years.

This is the end of an era for both my Mom and Dad.  All of their siblings on Mom’s side are gone, and Dad was an only child. Two of my cousins created beautiful DVDs of the lives of my parents and relatives. We watched these DVDs for hours one afternoon, and are so thankful for the effort that took. There were so many memories of the fun times with our special cousins growing up along with the many trips we took. We looked forward to those trips planned every summer by our parents. Since I hadn’t seen these cousins in 20 years, it was so wonderful to catch up and to reminisce. They are as fun and funny as ever. While we shed some tears, we laughed more, putting even the difficult times in perspective. I am so appreciative of their love and sense of fun throughout my life.

While my husband and I drove around Wauseon, we discussed how different my life would have been if I had stayed there. The people in Wauseon were literally the salt of the earth. The corn fields throughout the town are still there, as they were in our backyard at our home. The town square is so much smaller than I remember. The homes are smaller too with people sitting out on their front porches enjoying the day. It felt like a much simpler life than mine here in Dallas. I know my parents were truly happy living there and had many amazing life-long friends. Those friends were there in happy times and sad, especially when Martha died. Mom and Dad remained close to them even taking trips with these couples over the years.

As I watch so many new lives coming into the world through new grandchildren, I feel like the circle of life is complete. Mom and Dad had good, long lives and are enjoying everlasting life with the Lord. Things are as they should be, and I am at peace.

What Helped:

  • Our belief in everlasting life.
  • Our wonderful cousins and friends.
  • The faith and values that our parents taught us.

Scripture Verse:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gifts you have given us, especially the gift of our parent’s love. Their burial was a beautiful and joyful reminder of how much they were loved by so many. Thank you for the absolute peace and joy of that day.

Click here to listen to a beautiful song about remembering our loved ones.

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Caring for Triplets Plus One

Haley and Zach are the parents of four beautiful children – triplets aged two and a one year old. They consider Joshua, Hannah, Charlie Fay, and Phoebe to be their greatest blessings. Haley and Zach walked the path of infertility for three and a half years before successfully becoming pregnant with their triplets. They always knew they were meant to be parents. Throughout the multiple Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) medical fertility treatments, they prayed together each step of the way. 

During quiet prayer times, Haley felt the Lord impress the number “3” upon her mind and heart; “3, 3, 3” everywhere. Her eye would catch and pause at three flowers growing in her yard; three cupcakes on her birthday card. Even silly things would pop in her head like “the three amigos!” She was not sure of the purpose and significance of it, but she journaled it all and prayed. 

Haley and Zach finally came to the point where they felt ready for Invitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is much more physically, emotionally and financially difficult to undergo than all the previous treatments. 

Haley says, “God works in your life during hard times. Just ask Him and He will be with you.” Haley and Zach read Scripture and listened and asked for God’s will to be done. 

The first IVF procedure failed. The two embryos that were transferred did not implant. In early June of 2015, Zach and Haley once again returned for a second round. Their patience and faith were rewarded. They had three embryos this time.

On the day of transfer, the doctor recommended that they only transfer two embryos and freeze the third for later. This is typical protocol. Medically, it is riskier to transfer more than two embryos. But all Haley and Zach could think of was the months and months of “3, 3, 3.” That still, small voice said, ” I want all three.” There was no question; all three had to be transferred together. 

With Zach by her side, the room was abuzz. On Haley’s left hand side, she could see the camera magnifying her three embryos. They actually formed a small triangle. “It’s a little cheerleading pyramid!” declared one doctor. “Never seen that before,” said another doctor. Several weeks later, Haley and Zach saw and heard the three beating hearts of their babies at their first sonogram. They were born at 33 weeks and 3 days. (More threes!) 

When the triplets were eight months old, Haley and Zach got the surprise of their lives. They were pregnant! Phoebe was born 16 months after the triplets. She is truly a blessing, and Haley reports she is an easy-going baby. Haley says, “She is a demonstration of who God is. He loves to bless his children more than we can imagine.”

Haley and Zach definitely grew in their marriage and faith before the births, and it prepared them for raising their four children. Even now they schedule date nights and were able to have one getaway weekend this year. 

They are blessed with a very supportive family who live close by and have been a tremendous help. Also, Haley said the international and non-denominational Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Group has been a Godsend. 

Today, Haley continues to pray for, and now with, her children each day.  She has a special verse for each child, and prays aloud over them along with teaching them to pray. She also journals her prayers.

“Although I can’t be there as much as I could for one child, God can be with them when I can’t,” says Haley. She loves taking the babies on walks and enjoys the opportunity to share Christ on her walks. Haley and Zach truly live their faith and are a beautiful example of God’s blessings. 

What Has Helped:

  • Their faith and prayer life.
  • Their parents’ help.
  • The support of their community.
  • The following books:

        –  A seed of Hope: God’s Promises of Fertility by Evangeline Brown Colbert.

        – Waiting in Wonder: Growing Faith While You’re Expecting, A Devotional Journal by                        Catherine Claire Larson.

  • Moms in the Making – Online Support Group, click here   

Scripture Verse: 

Habakkuk 2: 1-3 I will stand at my watch and station myself upon the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain upon tables, so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for the blessing of these four children to parents who had faith and trusted that you would provide. You knew the plan all along. We pray that all of us can learn from Haley and Zach’s example. Only You know when the time is right. We just need to keep the faith; regardless how difficult the journey is. You never let us down.

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A Season for Everything

It has been a season of bittersweet endings and new beginnings for me and my siblings. As you know, we lost both parents in a three-month time span. One of the endings was closing their home. For the past 25 years, my parents lived in an apartment on Brookhaven Golf Course with a beautiful view. The apartment was full of things that they treasured. Many of those things were hard to part with during the estate sale.  As we packed up their remaining things, I looked outside and realized that, most likely I won’t be there again. It’s hard to describe the strange feeling of being in that empty apartment where there was once so much love and caring along with the pain. While I truly rejoice that my parents are in heaven, I know that I will always miss them.

Little things make me pause like seeing the Mother’s and Father’s Day cards at the store. And Mom’s birthday is coming up.  Even grocery shopping feels odd as I no longer must shop for them. Everyone tells me that those feelings are normal and will crop up often in my new life without them. Also, I have much more time on my hands now and need to decide how to fill it.

It is a season of healing for my siblings and me. We are all adjusting to our “new normal.” We had a wonderful Easter celebration with my siblings. My husband and I stayed and talked after the big group left.  It was very relaxing and fun, as in the past we would have been concerned about getting Mom and Dad home early.  

Our estate sale was a big undertaking, and we all worked together on it. Little things would turn up like a box of my mother’s blessed medals in a little box we almost sold. My daughter, Laura, found a leather travelling bag of Dad’s. Since they shared a love of travelling, she felt that the bag was meant for her. And my son, Ryan, kept a collection of vases from Mom and some furniture from Dad.  It was very touching to watch the grandchildren go through their grandparents’ things with such reverence.

Now we are preparing for their burial in Ohio. It was their desire to be buried next to Martha, Mary’s twin, who died at 18 months of age. It will be quite a celebration with my Michigan cousins coming. We had so much fun with these cousins growing up.  A special treat for me is having Jane, my best childhood friend from our time in Ohio, come with her mother and several sisters. I have so many fond memories of Jane and her wonderful family. Her parents and mine were the best of friends, and both homes were full of fun.

I know it will be emotional for me to see Martha’s grave again. I was in college the last time we travelled to Ohio. I knelt on her grave and sobbed. I was seven years old when she died, and I remember her well. She was a calm, sweet baby, and I loved to play with her. While she has been my guardian angel throughout my life, I still grieve for her. It will be fitting, but difficult to bury my parents right next to her.

I looked up the stages of grieving, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The research says that they are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live without our loved ones. These tools help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Now, I consider myself to be somewhere between depression and acceptance. It helps tremendously that they lived long lives, and both were ready to be with the Lord.

What Has Helped:

  • Our faith in eternal life.
  • Working together as a family.
  • Videos of our family made by our wonderful cousins.

Scripture Verse

Ecclesiastes 3: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of my parents’ lives. They were each beautiful examples of caregiving. When Mom started to decline five years ago, my father stepped in and truly willed her to live. Those last five years were very difficult for him, but he never wavered in his care for her. And my sweet mom thanked him for each and every thing he did for her. We rejoice that they are reunited with their daughter and are enjoying their new eternal life. Help us to honor the memories we had as a family, and trust that we will see them again in heaven.

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