Hope, Keeping it Real

When Everything Stops and Doesn’t Stop All at Once

It’s been a while. It’s been a year and it has been five minutes and it has been a hellacious couple of weeks. In the middle of this, I sure hope you find some encouragement.

Labor Day 5:39-ish p.m. (September 7, 2020) my whole world as I knew it tipped upside down. The phone calls began. The searching began. The calm mixed with panic began. The expecting the worst and praying for the best began. 

What do you do when you find out that your mother is lost, delusional and doesn’t really want to cooperate in being located? You drive. Like a bat out of hell. You talk on the phone, text and break all the rules while you communicate with your sister and two different police dispatchers in two different towns. 

That night, everything I knew stopped and did not stop. Since then, it has been a nightmare and a blessing all mixed up in one. 

We just found out the hard way that my mom has dementia with behavioral disturbances. We just found out she knew something was going on and hid it from everyone. We just found out her financial condition, the condition of her home and health and her mind all at once. To say it has been an overwhelming experience is a total understatement. 

A few weeks before things really blew up, I had written her a letter. From the phone calls that I was getting from my sister and all of the things happening, it was clear that something was not right. It was there, and yet we were in denial. But I was not in denial about the fact that after 4.5 years of estrangement, I was now in a place that I needed my mom to know I loved her despite all that had happened between us. If the worst was happening, I did not want her to disappear from our lives feeling or thinking that I did not love, admire and forgive her over and over again. She received that letter, and she knew how I felt and received everything I needed to say to her and all that she needed to hear. What an awesome thing God did to allow that to happen at just the right time. No matter what happens now, she knows.

I have spent more time in my car and eating on the road than I have in my own home over the last two weeks. I have driven a minimum of 125 miles a day, moved her belongings, seen her face every single day, and talked to her multiple times a day in between. And the doctors. And the lawyers. And the family. And the friends. 

I have received the incredible blessing of love and support in hugs, gift cards, prayers, texts, phone calls and all sorts of ways. That family of friends that has been my lifeline is right with me holding me up. Holding us up. HE is holding us up. 

We have been told by one memory care home that they would love to have her, then decided against it in the same 24-hour period leaving us to scramble to find something else because she was soon to be discharged from where she was being taken care of. She clearly cannot fully take care of herself, and that stubborn, independent, adventurous part of her is still very much there but in a very delusional and unsafe way. I have a lot to say about the care she received before arriving at the place she will call home now. I have a lot to say about the lack of care and compassion and concern and the disgusting truth about some of what has been experienced. I have a lot of funny/not funny stories about what she has said and done mixed in with the terrifying facts and experiences and what-could-have-been as well. All of these things I will wait to tell you about if I ever do. All that matters right now is she is safe, that I have a whole new perspective on many things, and that I am so incredibly sad for the families that don’t have the same supports or information that ours currently does. 

I have learned how awesome the brain is and how memories get mixed up and what dementia looks like from the inside out so far. All of this, with my sister and best friend right next to me, and my brother just a phone call away. I have laughed, cried, grieved, mourned, been angry, and been detached all at once. Being all of these things all at one time is so freaking exhausting. 

But God. He has provided the exact amount of financial support that I need to have food and gas. He knew this was coming.  He has provided financial assistance to carry us through her first month of VERY expensive care while we jump through all of the hoops to get her situated. 

He has provided a safe place for her with LOVING people that understand the impact of dementia on families as well as the impact of the stupid effing pandemic that keeps us apart from each other. I have been able to settle her into her new home (mostly) and see her face-to-face without a window, for as long as we want to sit together, and they look the other way when she forgets that she cannot hug her kids right now. 

He knew it was coming because there are countless people in my life that have experienced or are experiencing this. We/I have support and people that have gone before to help answer questions. A lot of it. He knew what we would need far before we asked for it. 

I tell you what, if I told you all the ways that He has shown up you just would hardly believe it. But I do, because He has. 

So, I don’t apologize for not writing or creating. I have been merely surviving and waddling through each day the best I can. The best we can. This has been a team effort for sure. Some of you have been part of this and I don’t have words right now to tell you what that has meant. Thank you is not sufficient. 

My prayer requests are that we get to have our mom with us as long as possible; that my brother would get his butt on a plane and get down here before she does not know who he is; that the neurologists would have a clear answer and path for what happens next; and that the path would be wide and smooth for the paperwork and things that have to be put in place in order to provide her the best care possible in the months ahead. 

Everything stopped and didn’t stop all at once. Chances are the progression of the disease is going to move forward, not backward. Chances are this is going to be a long road for a long time. Chances are that mom will know that she is loved, cared for and pampered with pretty much whatever her heart desires along the way. 

Hope, Keeping it Real

The If/Then Equation

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our Father God is a relational, loving God. This scripture is found in the Bible after the first temple in Jerusalem has been completed and King Solomon threw a week-long party. That party led to a walk of shame.

Perhaps what He is saying is that He doesn’t want a fancy building or our constant efforts (works) to impress, serve, or get close to Him. He wants our hearts. He wants our trust. He wants to hear from His children. 

He wants us to not call ourselves Christ followers but to be Christ followers. And notice that this scripture points out the if/then equation. Notice that He lines it out very simply.

If we humble ourselves (admit our need for the Savior), seek Him (crave His face, guidance and goodness), and repent (stop doing, saying, thinking and believing the things that lead to our own walks of shame) and call to Him THEN He promises to hear us, forgive us and heal our land.

That’s a sure deal. A sure bet. A guaranteed promise. 

Throughout the Bible, He tells us the recipe for a healthy life-a healthy land is to believe and receive. When He speaks about healthy land He is asking us to get right with Him, with others and to share His goodness with the people that don’t know Him. We have the opportunity to do His work alongside Him. 

We make that far more complicated through our limited understanding and the things that we have experienced or witnessed in the name of Christianity. Even at that, if we repent (the 5-dollar Bible word for turning from our old compulsive behaviors and actions)  He is dancing and celebrating simply hearing our words. 

Every promise and prophecy in the Bible has been fulfilled in and through Jesus. His timing may not be the same as ours, but He does what He says He will do. Every time.

We get things so out of order sometimes. We think we have to get our act together or be better or do better to experience the relentless and reckless love of God. That’s religion.

Jesus calls us into relationship just as we are. In and through Him, we will experience healing. In and through Him we will experience the fulfillment of the if/then equation. Humility isn’t the same as weakness. Humility is surrender and right-sized thinking. 

Thoughts for the day: How have you already experienced the if/then equation with Jesus? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing?

Prayer: Father God-thank You that you that You understand our tendency to do the wrong thing. Thank You that You fulfill every promise You ever make. Forgive me for making that so complicated. Help me to let go of the chains of shame and begin to hold up my end of the deal. I humbly admit my need for You today and every day. Amen

Keeping it Real

Permission without Pretending

The other day I said something to my person, my best friend, and it seemed inappropriate and random at the time, but it has really stuck with me for a few days.

I said, “If I stay pissed off and pretend I am mad, then it keeps the feelings of insecurity and all of that away so I am choosing to stay mad about it.” 

She laughed at me and with me, and then said to me, “I get it. I am on your team, and I am not going anywhere. If that’s what you need to do for yourself, then okay.” 

I am in a bit of a headspace right now where I am fighting feelings of insecurity and wanting to kick myself in the ass for risking vulnerability and not sure I can trust my own judgement while waiting on some sort of change or judgement or course-correction to come down. 

There are so many hard things happening around us. Good Lord, this is turning out to be the absolute longest year of my life. While so many awesome things have happened and are still happening, I am literally emotionally exhausted. I think we all are for one reason or another. 

I am going through the list of comparison, disillusionment, what-if, over-thinking and still somehow choosing to manage to get up and show up. I so badly want to make the best of a shitty situation and somehow keep living. Everything is so freaking complicated at this point and it is wearing me down. 

I do want to stay mad. But I have a rule about that. I tell myself that I am allowed to feel what I feel, rational or not, for a day. Maybe two. We can get happy in the same pants we got grumpy in. 

But this time, I am feeling like I just want to stay there. I want to stay guarded, stay walled up, stay protected and not risk anything other than finding out who is with me in the middle of this and who isn’t. And then, I don’t actually care because I can function in lone-ranger mode if I need to. Well, I do care and I don’t want to actually be in lone-ranger mode but I tell myself I do so I can feel better for a minute. 

In a time where nothing and everything makes sense, and it just seems like one plot-twist after another, I don’t want the plot twists that they always have been. I would rather avoid that. The reality is, that risking a different outcome takes a different approach and a bigger trust and confidence that it will all work out the way it is meant to. 

I want it to be certain. I am exhausted from uncertainty. I am exhausted from being in the middle of plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

I still give myself permission to choose how I want to or need to respond. I am still choosing to do what I need to do to survive and am hopeful that choosing to survive will be turned back into choosing to thrive.

Joy Junkie

Be well! Get honest and real with that one or two people that you are not afraid to risk vulnerability with and hold nothing back. If we can manage that today, then we are moving in the right direction. Maybe it doesn’t look or feel like the next right thing, but I am telling you that we have to continue to give ourselves permission to be right where we are whether that is gloriously undignified and irrational or not. Eventually, one day at a time, we can move from there to the next right thing. 

Where you are, what you are feeling and what you are thinking right now is okay. It doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate but give yourself permission to go through that story of what you are telling yourself and then talk about it. Talk about it when it makes no sense, it isn’t pretty or appropriate or polished.  

The people that aren’t going anywhere can help you unbullshitify the story. 

Hope, Keeping it Real, Struggle Bus

Rising Above Rejection

I have been wrestling with some ideas and thoughts for a little while about rejection and how to rise above it. In the middle of that process, I have begun to recognize how easy it is to become more about routine than relational. 

I personally realize that some of the things I have done or been doing are taking me further away from the intended destination than I even recognized. When and where things have become so routine that I am further away from my purpose and contentment, and damn it if there is not a sense of people pleasing in the middle of it all. 

But God, as I know and understand Him, has continued to show me about rising above rejection. Even so, how things that have served me so well are now becoming routine and not reaching me as deeply as they once did. Having been one that has compromised self-worth, dignity and self-care for the sake of others while sick and deep in codependency I hoped that I would not do the same things again. In a sense, I think I am. I think I could be compromising and rejecting parts of myself that there is absolutely nothing wrong with but are hidden out of sight because I thought it was what I had to do in order to belong, in order to do what was right, honorable, Godly and approved of. Approved of by who is the question. 

For me, I am recognizing how I have compromised by continuing to do what I have always done at the cost of losing myself again. Not in the same ways that I would and did before recovery and before Jesus, but compromising just the same. 

I am fairly confident that God as I know Him says I am fully known and fully loved. In fact, I know that is true. I think deeply, pray, read, research and review from different angles quite frequently. I have to ask myself, and people that I trust to tell me the truth, if I am in denial at all or just a little bit or not at all just to be sure. We all know how easy it is to rationalize. 

For hell’s sake it makes me so freaking mad when I see the patterns that I thought were long broken sneaking in. I hate how my past tendencies to hide and not talk about what I am really thinking or feeling sneaks in there. It really frustrates this recovering perfectionist knowing that I know better, and yet find myself doing it again. Still. 

Friends, here’s the thing. We get to decide. We get to choose. We get to turn away from those old patterns again and again and again. We get to deepen our relationship with God as we understand Him and don’t need to do the same things over and over again just because it is routine or safe or comfortable. Nothing big happens when we hold back. 

So, as I become increasingly aware of just how individualized and special that relationship between He and I is, I would encourage you to fight to rise above rejection. Do the healing work, do the new things, and be not afraid to rise above rejection experienced in the past and experienced by our own doing and understanding. 

Just because it is safe and comfortable, doesn’t mean it is right. Thank God I have people to remind me of that from time to time. I don’t grow when I get too comfortable. And in a time where God keeps whispering, “Move, loved one.” I am beginning to see more of what that means. Honestly, He keeps telling me in many ways, and I am moving. I am moving ever so slowly towards what He has been trying to get me see in all arenas of my life, not just the ones that I thought.

How are you capitalizing on the time you are in, the time that you have to work at rising above rejection? Are you setting boundaries and/or letting go of things that have served their purpose and time? Are you ready to move into a new time of rising above rejection after finding that you have been invited and reminded to stop rejecting your whole self?