I have so many thoughts and feelings going on in me with the events of this past week that I was praying for what to share and God did that thing with me that He does. He dumped a little story right in my lap a few minutes ago.
I am at work and one of our sweet lady customers is the source of my thoughts to share.
She is one of the most gentle and considerate of women and is always so polite when she comes in. As she entered today, she asked if there was anyone in the store. No, just us. She said she is trying to be very careful and would have to leave if others came in. She quickly gathered the few things she came for just as two new customers walked in.
I asked if she wanted to step outside and I would complete her purchase and bring to her but she said no, it was okay. She was obviously trying to stay away from me and them and she kept apologizing for being silly. Finally she explained she cares for her elderly mother and her young granddaughter and she is trying to make sure she doesn’t expose these two vulnerable loved ones to the virus.
Why does she have to feel she is being foolish by being careful? I told her repeatedly she is not being silly, and she isn’t. Even though I do not go to the level of precaution she is taking, I wanted to validate her concern as genuine and important.
She is so kind and I am sure somewhere along this past few months has been made to feel she is wrong to wear her mask and avoid contact with people. How have we come to this place?
Some are being cautious, some are not. Some think the whole thing is ridiculous, some are deeply concerned. I have my thoughts and yet, I want to respect all who are thoughtfully…please note…thoughtfully doing what is best for themselves and those they love.
Caution should be respected instead of ridiculed. It may not be fear that motivates someone but love for others.
We as Christians should be encouraging and supporting one another rather than dismissing someone because we have differentiations in our viewpoint.
Let all that we do and say be first motivated by love for the one to or about whom we are speaking.. I know I need to remember this in other areas as well as the one I saw today.
God bless each of you. We will get through this with God and together. Let’s let the world be loud and noisy and opinionated while we follow His example of meekness, humility and compassion.
Remember …. “They” (the world) will know we are Christians by our love.
September is designated as Alzheimer’s Awareness month and I have almost let it slip by. Yesterday our sermon was woven around the movie “Still Alice” which documents the story of a woman’s diagnosis and battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
While my father’s story was different, it was a reminder of the pain as I watched the man who commanded anyone and anything within his sphere of influence with skill and confidence become someone I had to tell to change his clothes so we could go to the dentist in clean garb and yes, had to help him button his shirt because “my fingers just don’t know how to work right today.”
As the child of someone who suffered this disease, I still panic when I forget something like a password I use daily or an event that I was clearly aware of. I lay my hand on my head and pray for God to make all the wiring work and if by His design it doesn’t some day, I pray that the pain that will come for my family will only serve to draw them close to Him.
This post that follows is a repost from September 26th last year. It is one of my most tender and precious gifts of mercy and grace that I carried out of the fire of that season in our lives. I pray it blesses and encourages you. God is always good and always kind, even when what we are walking through is very hard and lonely.
I have a lot of decorations around our house that were crafted by children we love.
Painted paper pumpkins and thumbprints dipped in fall colors and dotting a bare tree…a coffee can painted black with a pumpkin and a green stem…all make me smile because I think of the sweet little hands of children and grandchildren.
But this slightly garish decoration tugs at a place in my heart where deep grooves were worn by the ravages of Alzheimers on my dad and the scars left on us as we walked a journey many people know all too well.
I am no hero in this story.
I did what I could and let nurses and aids deal with the worst of it on a daily basis as we continued to get kids to ball games and school and through college and weddings and life.
I wrote this several years ago and have shared before but I share again today because on October 5th many local families will walk in honor of or in memory of loved ones.
It really is the end.
A wheelchair replaces the bow-legged walk down the hall. Sweat pants and sweat shirt replace the soiled pants and button down shirt with the inevitable pocket to keep his notebook in.
He isn’t angry, but he isn’t really happy either. Just in a fog.
I think he knows me, but hard to tell.
Trying to make conversation, his words are nonsense. He is embarrassed because he couldn’t swallow his medicine and now it is a wet spot on his shirt.
He looks at me, but doesn’t see.
It isn’t like I wish he was the way he was before. That wasn’t any better. Just a different kind of awful.
I don’t feel sorry for me.
It hurts more than anyone can know, but I don’t feel sorry for me.
I don’t feel sorry for him either. It’s just another part of life for both of us. Another part that is hard and seems cruel, but it’s just another part.
In it are sweet things. Things like a fall pumpkin he made in crafts. It’s obvious he had a lot of help, but still he thinks he made it.
When I tell him it is beautiful, and I really mean it because it is, he thanks me in his own way. Though the words make no sense, I can tell by the way he moves his head what he is saying.
When I think of how my mom was spared the pain of this, I can’t stop thanking God. I can’t think of anything but how thankful I am to Him that she never had to see this. I am thankful it is not my sister. I am thankful it is me.
When I told him I love him, he said “me too”.
I asked him if he meant he loves me or he loves himself.
I am going to believe he got the joke and it made him laugh.
The laugh and the pumpkin are enough for today.
God’s grace poured out for one more visit, tangible in a fall decoration on the seat next to me.
Tomorrow will bring another dose of grace for that day.
Tonight the tears flow from my tiredness.
Tomorrow will bring new mercies.
For those of you who are in this season still, may God hold your hearts together when you feel you can’t face another trip into that room.
For those of you remembering your own season, may He give you comfort and peace that you loved as well as you could each time.
God holds all the pieces when everything is falling apart.
Rest in Him.
Be thankful for His grace and mercies over you and in you <3
On Friday I shared about the obituary we saw of someone we knew only through casual encounters in her place of employment and how she impacted our lives.
Today I am asking you to bear with me as I share the passing of another woman this past week who changed the trajectory of our family’s life.
When John was in 7th grade we felt the stirrings to consider the possibility of enrolling our third child in private school for a variety of reasons. Thus began a series of visits to the school, athletic events and much prayerful discussions. It was also during this year that we had moved my Alzheimer-stricken father, my dementia-ridden aunt and my exhausted mother to various facilities in Decatur from their home in Kentucky.
I was an emotional mess as we navigated having children ranging from college to 7th grade and three elderly people suddenly needing me as their advocate. It was in this state of being stretched thin that I first met Mary Dickey. Actually the day I met her, I had Sarah in tow as we were considering changing her to attend Decatur Christian School as well.
Thus I found myself in the front office of Decatur Christian School one afternoon when Sarah had a half day from public school. DCS was in session so arranged a visit to their school which was holding classes. It was early fall and I remember she was wearing shorts but we had thrown a pair of pants in the back seat in case they asked her to dress according to their code. Mrs. Dickey kindly requested that we do change in respect to the other students.
What I am about to tell you is one of my high-ranking most embarrassing moments of all time. I was nervous anyway and trying to make a good impression. I was fresh off of daily visits to my mom and dad that would involve my volatile father giving me a good vent of his frustration that we were not taking them home and believe me, the man could use some colorful language. I am not blame free of using a choice word now and again, but I do feel my guard was particularly down as I was now hearing it on the daily and I was worn out. That’s my excuse but I take full blame for what happened.
There I stood in this small reception area, apologizing for not having had her change before we got there and suddenly out of my mouth came these words: “But I figured what the hell, maybe it will be okay to wear shorts.”
I am not sure whose eyes flew open wider, Sarah or the secretary behind the tall desk, but Mrs. Dickey didn’t even blink or flinch. I immediately stammered my apology to which she graciously said she didn’t know what I was talking about, hadn’t heard what I said…and this way to the little bathroom where Sarah could change.
And that was the way she always was to me. Over the years I had opportunity to do large and small volunteer projects, teach a few classes and coach cheerleading under her leadership. The latter job was one I would never have taken in a million years if she hadn’t looked at me one day and asked me to pray about something and would I consider doing this. I never was a cheerleader, nor did I ever want to be one. It was John’s senior year and I knew most of the girls already. But I did it only because she asked me and God laid on my heart to say yes.
It was challenging in so many ways, and I certainly earned the little bit of salary that came with it. I was blessed by the young women I got to know, but the greatest gift of all was the times I sat in her office while she taught me how to lead. There have been so many times in my life as a mother, wife, employee, teacher and writer where her calm voice has come to my memory dispensing some wise advice.
Because of Mrs. Dickey I learned to avoid “pot-stirrers” and make the “peace-makers” my closest associates. I learned about loving and supporting and being firm with young people. I learned that it is not my goal to be popular with them, because they don’t need me as a friend. What they need is a responsible adult in their lives who cares deeply about the character of their hearts and is willing to be unpopular out of that love for them.
One of my favorite chats with her was the day she told me I was spinning too many plates. As in all of her advice, she came to it from lessons she had learned the hard way. She was so kind as I sat, worn out and weary, in the chair across from her desk. She shared about her own seasons when she was like the old circus act, running from stick to stick to keep the plate above from falling and crashing. And then she prayed for me. Prayed for me to know what was mine to do and what I needed to delegate and what I needed to let go of.
She loved our son and appreciated his humor. Not all teachers had along the way, but she recognized it as a gift and allowed him to use it to emcee the chapels in his last few years at DCS. She also appreciated his intelligence and heart.
She came to all the games and events and without fanfare allowed the kids to be who they were while holding them to a high standard for Jesus.
One of the best examples of her transparency and integrity is an interesting story that I will close with. One year I had paid some fee for John, but kept getting notices that we hadn’t paid. I wrote another check and moved on. Much later, in fact I think it was maybe even the next year, she called me into her office to tell me she was going through files and she found the check and apologized that it had been her fault. I thanked her as I took the check and then I told her how much I admired her because she could have just destroyed it, but instead she had wanted to make sure I knew it was her error.
I can still see her looking across her desk at me for a minute. She shook her head a little and she said she needed me to know that the very thought had crossed her mind. But she had resisted the temptation and had done the right thing. I realized that she had faced two temptations and had not given in to either. She could have destroyed the check and she could have accepted my praise and skipped me knowing what had transpired briefly in her heart.
That confession impacted me probably as much or more that anything she ever did. I realized the importance of acknowledging our temptations to each other and I do believe the reason she was so gracious was because she knew the grace of God so tangibly in her life. I know that her example led me to be transparent in my own life and to desire truth over what others might think of me.
Yesterday at her funeral I spoke with a former student who claimed her as mentor. We listened to a eulogy from a man about our age who worked alongside her for many years who referred to her as his mentor. I claim her as one of my great mentors. My guess is that many teachers, staff and students claim her as mentor. And we all know that she mentored us out of the time she spent in prayer, study and conversation with God.