The long goodbye?

Special moments in life are few and far between, so when something special is thrown your way, grab it, hold onto it, breathe it in and wrap yourself around it so when that moment passes you have the memory to sustain you.

Special moments have nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. I was given special moments with my parents and my sister and her family this weekend.

Holidays can be a bittersweet time and filled with sadness for families of a parent with Alzheimer’s. This holiday was starkly different than the home-grown holidays of the past in my family. It is a different time in everyone’s life and though my mom and dad are different now, they are still my parents, they still love me and I still love them.

The  one thing that has not changed is the way they love their children.  I know they love it when I come to visit but I feel like I am the real winner here because the love is unconditional here, the love is not withheld and the love is spoken honestly.

In Ephesians 6:2 it says to “honor you Father and Mother” It doesn’t say honor thy Father and Mother when times are good, when their bodies and minds are not failing them and when it is convenient for you. It says “Honor they Father and Mother”, period.

It is interesting to me that it says honor and not obedience, to honor is  to give them respect and having an attitude of esteem for them. Honor means to revere, prize and value. I give them respect not because I have to but because they are who they are and they love me.

I hear “your Dad just isn’t who he used to be” when I walk into the manor where my parents live. Well, I respectfully disagree with that statement. He is exactly who he used to be. His situation has changed, his health has changed and his temperament has changed because of the disease but he is still the same Dad who I have always loved.

Each time I visit home I find my parents changed. The changes tend to be startling and obvious and it would be easy to think they are not the same parents I once knew so well. However, they are still the same parents, my parents.

If anyone deserves sainthood it is my Mom for what she does for Dad even in the nursing home setting, She never has a moments peace except late at night.

She has found ways to cope with the changes in their lives, she sews. She actually has set herself up a little cottage industry of which I am incredibly proud of her for. She took the situation at hand and found a way to cope with it.

The incredible thing is her physical health is far worse than my Dad’s, yet she fights for her independence and wins!

I cannot think that this is what she dreamed her retirement would be, who would? Hopes and dreams of travel, good health and leisurely retirement are suddenly not what they are living. But what I admire and respect is how she took the situation and made it bearable. There is a lot to learn from this wise woman. If my Dad has a cowboy spirit (and he does) my Mom has a wonderful put one foot in front of the other , fighter spirit that cannot be broken.

She is the little lady in the wheelchair buzzing around the manor spreading joy, a smile and respect  to the other residents here. She doesn’t let them forget they are people worthy of recognition, worthy of a hello and a conversation. That makes me smile and makes me more than a little proud of her.

The other person that deserves much respect is my sister who spends more time caring for our parents than anyone else. She never complains, she always does it with a smile and at this moment she is my hero.

So although I call the holiday bittersweet upon reflection it is a wonderful holiday because I get to celebrate it with people who love me and who I love more than anything in this world.

I thank God that I have this time to spend with my family and I will be here to help them celebrate the holiday’s in a fashion that makes them smile.

They say Alzheimer’s is indeed a long goodbye………………….but isn’t that just life, whether you have a disease or not?

Thank you God for this holiday that I got to spend with my family. I think I shall make sure my Mom and Dad know this time with them is precious to me and for my sister…………………well, I  think we will just go shopping!

 

Dottie

 

Advertisements

Spiritual Journey

This was a 4,000 mile vacation, I was riding two-up with my husband Earl on his Harley Davidson Heritage Classic instead of taking my own Heritage and we were riding with 6 other people on three bikes and one vehicle.

Riding two- up may be second nature to some couples but to Earl and me, it was a challenge. Two people, both control freaks on one bike could spell disaster. It was totally out of character for me to want to ride pillion but I felt compelled.  That does not mean that I didn’t have trouble with it, I don’t know if the point was not riding my own bike as much as it was I was leaving my fate in the hands of another.

Traveling Companions

Vickie G. is a very good friend of mine and has traveled with us before. She met a man online some months earlier that she had been talking with and they decided to meet for the first time during our journey.

The others riding with us were John and Faye M. from our local Harley Owners Group and Bob and Deb Welch from our Christian Motorcyclists Association.Image

A faith left behind

I wanted to get lots of photos, but more importantly I wanted to devote my undivided attention to figuring out why I had let my relationship with God slide almost into non-existence. So I climbed on behind Earl and off we went.

I didn’t lose faith through a crisis or a major life changing event, it just slipped away a little at a time when I wasn’t paying attention.

I really had no idea how to embark on the journey back to God. I didn’t know where I was going on this spiritual journey, I didn’t know how to get there and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to arrive at my destination but God had been gently knocking and it was a journey I felt compelled to complete.

 

Mishaps, random or not

For a while it seemed like this vacation was a series of random mishaps, a near miss with a pickup, two deer running out in front of us at two separate times, going to hot into a corner almost losing control and crashing, but looking back on it I know it was much more than that.

On the first day of our journey our route took us from Gillette over Chief Joseph Highway (WY 296) and Bear Tooth Pass (US 212) to Red Lodge Montana.  If there really is a God’s Country, this is it. The scenery was majestic and the riding was magnificent.

I got lots of photos but was having trouble catching a glimpse of God. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough; maybe I was looking for fireworks and big neon signs.

Group Prayer and a near miss

We stopped in Livingston MT for gas and as we were all standing around talking, a gentleman walked up to us telling us he saw Bob and Debbie’s CMA colors and walked over to say hello and offer a prayer for safe travel. It turns out he knew Bob and Debbie but we found a new friend also.

I completely missed the significance that the prayer for safety would have on our lives shortly.

We continued with our travels and rode from Red Lodge to Butte MT, then onto Missoula MT and over Lolo Pass (US Highway 12). Unparalleled riding.

When we were leaving Missoula we were cruising along as lead bike of our group of four bikes when a pickup pulled over into our lane and almost hit us. It was close enough to make my husband cuss and my heart race. I didn’t spend much time thinking about the fact that we didn’t get hit and we were lucky to be able to continue on our vacation though I did say a small thank you to God for keeping us safe.

We took US Highway 12 over Lolo Pass. Located in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains, this is an amazing motorcycling road that presents riders with 99 miles of motorcycling utopia.  {Photo 99miles} It is one of those “Holy Cow that was fun” roads. I was being blessed but I didn’t realize it and certainly didn’t appreciate it.

Things are starting to happen

Somewhere after Lolo Pass but before we got to Lewiston ID (US Highway 12) we had the defining moment of the trip for me, it was from this moment on that everything changed.

We were in mountainous terrain and the road was twisty and curvy. Earl knew that Bob and Deb needed gas but so far we had not come upon any stations. Suddenly, on a curve, we came upon a gas station. Earl decided we needed to stop but we were going too fast and we were almost past the entrance.

Earl admitted later that as fast as we were going he should have never tried to make that turn. As soon as we left the highway and hit the gravel our back tire locked up and we both thought that we were going to crash. I was preparing myself to die. Earl told me later that in his mind there was no way we weren’t going to crash.

Earl used everything he had, everything he had ever learned about handling a bike until he had no more to give. Our right foot pad was dragging in the gravel, we were certain we were going down, in the next instance we felt the bike straighten up as if by magic. We could physically feel a force correct our bike and guide is to safety. Was it Divine intervention? I have no doubt that God put His hand on us and guided us to safety. However, the thing is He guided more than just our bike to safety. He was showing me the way home, I felt it,

Sleeping on the ground has a certain charm

We traveled from Idaho to Washington on State Highway 14, stopping at The Dalles OR for the night. Earl and I, John and Faye and Vickie all got motel rooms each night but Bob and Deb continued to stay in campgrounds.

At first I thought they were a special kind of crazy to spend 16 nights in a tent on the hard ground but soon the stories that they shared with us had me thinking differently. I was a little jealous as I began to look at what they were receiving in exchange for sleeping on the ground. {Photo Bob and Debbie}

God’s love showcased through CMA

This is where I first saw on a national scale the power of the CMA fellowship.

God’s love and power was showcased through that yellow patch on the back of a leather jacket.

A chance meeting with a CMA member in a parking lot that ended in a group prayer. 

Coincidental meetings with CMA members in almost every campground they stayed in. 

A motorcycle broke down on the side of the road brought to restoration. 

Two people of God (that we barely knew) joining us on this journey.

A crash averted, twice.

It is amazing indeed.CMA Colors

Bridges, Clam Chowder and a broken bike

We continued on Us Highway30 along the Columbia River Gorge. This was beautiful country and the riding was amazing. We crossed back over to Washington side and ended up at the Pacific Coast and Astoria OR.

Beautiful bridges were plentiful in the area we rode through, Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks OR and the astounding Astoria-Megler Bridge in Astoria OR were both breathtaking.

Bridge

On the coast we ate more clam chowder than I thought humanly possible. We found the most unlikely fish and chips restaurant in Astoria. It was an old (and I do mean old) boat, moored on a grassy lot. They cook the fish on the boat and you eat it at three picnic tables outside under a lone tree. The menu consisted of two items. A whole order of fish and chips or a half order of fish and chips. It was the most delicious albacore tuna, (breaded and deep fried) that I have ever eaten.

We followed Highway 101 south down the coast to Crescent City and finally Eureka CA where we ended the coastal part of our journey.

 

Homeward bound in more ways than one

Milt G. (Vickie’s new beau) met up with us in Crescent City CA.  He traveled in an SUV with us on the remainder of our journey.

Milt and Vickie, John and Faye and Earl and I all continued to get nightly motel rooms.  Even with ocean views at our coastal motels I still felt somewhat jealous of what Bob and Deb kept reporting was happening when they were camping. I truly think that God made it possible for all of us to be traveling in the same group at the same time.

 Though they have no idea, in a quiet, unobtrusive and non-judgmental way I believe that Bob and Debbie helped me to find my way back to God. There is a spark that explodes into fire within them that is all about Jesus.

They proudly wore their CMA colors every day and I must say the response was overwhelming. I believe this couple of God seeks to find where God is working and they go there. They have a passion to reach out to those who are seeking and the tools from their involvement in CMA allow them to be effective.

As we turned in an easterly direction toward home we meandered through Oregon seeing Crater Lake National Park, Hells Canyon and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

Crater Lake is a caldera lake in south-central Oregon (off highway 62) and is famous for its deep blue color and the clarity of the water. It was strikingly beautiful and if there is any question that God is Creator of this great earth, this place surely puts those doubts to rest.

Busted but not broken

From Crater Lake we headed to Baker City OR intending to make our way to McCall ID through Hells Canyon. It was a sweltering hot day and about twenty miles outside of Baker City we noticed that Bob, Debbie and Milt were no longer following us.

We went back and found that Bob and Debbie’s bike had broken down and they were stranded along the side of the road beside the only tree for dozens of miles.

Debbie says that God really didn’t want them going into Hells Canyon!

Milt and Debbie traveled back to Baker City (which was amazing since Milt had just met them a couple days earlier, I am sensing a future CMA member!) to find parts for the bike.

Is it an accident that on this blistering hot day that their bike broke down beside the only tree for miles and miles? I doubt it. Bob had stayed with the bike and took advantage of the God given shade to study the Word and wait for Debbie and Milt to return.

Unfortunately, not knowing the area Debbie and Milt were taken advantage of by an unscrupulous motorcycle shop owner. Not one to let circumstances get her down Debbie put a call for help out on Facebook to fellow CMA members. Before the day was over Bob and Debbie had been reunited, their bike had been towed, a loaner truck secured, and the tent was pitched in a cool, shady campground, all because of their involvement with CMA.

 It was amazing (but not unplanned) for me to watch this unfold, for there was peace of mind in Bob and Debbie that with God in control all would be ok.

We continued homeward bound with Milt catching up to us the next day. It took a couple days for Bob and Debbie to get the bike fixed and they weren’t able to join us the rest of the trip, apparently their work was done. I am grateful and will never forget the time they did spend with us on this trip. God worked through them in an amazing way.

The conclusion but not the end.

I think that God put me on the back of my husband’s bike for very good reasons. I really was powerless back there and I had lots of time to reflect on the events that unfolded over the miles.

Our 4000 mile journey was indeed epic, the scenery was spectacular, the riding was legendary and the people we rode with became fast friends but that is not where the beauty of this trip was found. God showed Himself to me through CMA and through Bob and Debbie Welch.

I found my way back home to God.

 That is where the true beauty lies.

Dottie at Pacific Coast

Spiritual Journey

God, the Great Simplifier

Whoa, what am I doing and why can’t I get control of my life?

It seems I am right back where I have been a hundred times before.

What brings me to this place?

Work- lets just say that I am earning every bit of my salary lately. Bittersweet is the best word for work right now. There are very good things happening at work and we are heading in a good direction. These changes mean amazing things for the future of our program, however, as usual, bad always accompanies the good. A change in the direction of the road to the vision of success usually means construction. Building towards the future means letting go of the past.

School- I am entering crunch time in my Master’s Program. I have two more assignments and my capstone thesis (and defense) and I am done, I will have my Masters Degree. This brings a whole set of pressures for the next six months or so that are stressful in their own way.

My parent’s are critically ill and 8 hours away, my kids told me of plans in the works that mean changes that make me uncomfortable. I am happy for them but it is another bittersweet moment in life.

When work, family and school take all my attention, other parts of my life fall out of balance and get left behind. My poor husband gets neglected, study time, prayer time, time with God is put on the back burner, sleep schedules are all messed up,  the house is a wreck and healthy eating and exercise, well forget it. Top that off with the fact that we are entering the season of sweets and temptation, my name for Thanksgiving and Christmas and put them all together and you end up where I am right now.

I am feeling sorry for myself, physically I am feeling (and probably looking) lumpy for lack of a better term, out of sorts, unbalanced and unfocused. This mood and feeling is probably best described as “ICKY”.

So I am back in the  place I have been a hundred other times and I started  doing exactly what I have done those other times. I sit down and make a big long elaborate plan that involves a commitment for the next 6 weeks to live healthier, eat healthier, go to the gym every day for those six weeks, etc and so forth. The more I looked at that overwhelming plan I had made for myself, (yet again) the more depressed I got.

A plan like that never worked before,I was never able to stick to it, why did I think it was going to work now?

So you know what I always end up doing………………nothing.

And do you know what changes when you do nothing………………..nothing changes if nothing changes. So how can I change this pattern and get back on the road to a balanced life?

Well the first thing is to ask for help and get my support team in place. Psalm 32: says God will instruct me and teach me the way I should go. Sometimes just making the decision to do something is the biggest part of the battle.

Maybe I do not need a detailed minute by minute plan for the next six weeks, that is overwhelming to thing about, let alone carry out. Maybe I only need a plan for today and the strength to get through the next fifteen minutes. God,will you do that for me, help me make it through this day in a healthy manner. We will worry about tomorrow , tomorrow.

The wisdom of Psalm 37 is very apparent to me this morning. When I commit everything I do to God and trust Him, He will help me. He doesn’t promise me a detailed guided tour, only a guided tour. I don’t need a six week plan, I need a plan for today.

I guess what I am trying to say here is I have a plan for today, that is as far ahead as I am capable of looking right now I have trust and faith that God will get me through that and together, when tomorrow comes, we will start the day together and make tomorrow’s plans at that time.

Dottie

Image

To change the way we act in the workplace is hard. It doesn’t matter if you are the boss like I am or an employee, before God we all have certain responsibilities in the workplace.

It is pretty easy to get sucked up in the drama at work and forget a couple pretty important facts. #1 We are to “work enthusiastically and whole heartedly as if we are serving Christ, not men” and #2 we need to ask (not demand) for help.

I will say it again, to change the way we act in the workplace is hard. Ephesians 6:7 says to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” I try my very best to be fair and honest and a boss they can trust but where that gets a little prickly for me and hard to do at times, I’ll admit it, is treating all staff with the same respect and dignity.  no matter their attitude or how they are treating me or others. I am still held to a certain standard. We are after all, “one in Christ” Galatians 3:28.

I am certainly there for the families we serve, I love the people they are and the people they become through our program, but the bottom line is I am serving God, first and foremost, in my work, and at my workplace.

There is one answer to this. Being on my knees (in prayer) enables me to stand. For I know and I hold it dear  the fact that God indeed does work , in all things, for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28. I wrap this around me like a warm, comforting blanket and rest in that knowledge, safe and secure.

Like David, I ask you God, for your guidance. I ask you to “show me your ways, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and always, always help me remember that my hope, the only real and true hope, is in  you.

Dottie

Image

To change the way we act in the workplace is hard………………

Be Thankful!

Be Thankful

We all have so many things to be thankful for. Our families, our kids, our parents, our cozy homes, nice vehicles, good jobs, great friends. Those are things that jump right out at you and let you know life is good. There is so much more to be thankful for though, the things that don’t jump out at you, the things we take for granted.

I have to give a huge shout out to my sister Cindy Fischer. She is one of the silent heroes of our society and I don’t know where I would be without her. She is the main caretaker of my Mom and Dad both who are critically ill.
She takes care of them with courage, grace and dedication and never, ever have I heard her complain. Believe me, being a caretaker to aging parents is a thankless job but to her I am grateful.

I am thankful to my parents for giving me the kind of childhood that most only dream of. When trying to think of one thing bad about my childhood years, there aren’t many. But there are lots of special memories. My childhood was all about family, a rural, country school, 4-H, selling sweet corn to have spending money, the county fair, being on the school volleyball and basketball team because it was fun, taking turns spending the night at schoolmates houses, riding my motorcycle over to see the neighbor boys, lol, chores in the morning and evening, church on Sunday then a Sunday drive, swimming in Holyoke because there was a heated pool there and stopping at the “Sweet Shop” for ice cream on the way home. . Those are memories I am thankful for.

My parents made holiday’s special, magical even. Santa was always celebrated in our house, there were presents under the tree, meals were huge, (chili, chicken noodle soup and oyster stew for Christmas Eve and turkey all the trimmings for Christmas dinner, and the whole family was always there. There were celerations at the school where the whole school, parents, grandparents, everyone showed up, brought covered dishes and box suppers to be auctioned. Santa was always present at school also, we got sacks of apples, oranges and hard Christmas candy. The students showed their talents in a skit or by singing for the parents and grandparents. To say I am grateful for these memories would be understating it.

Summers in Ashland with my grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncle hold many, many special memories for which I am thankful.

I have the greatest staff in the world at work. They have stood behind me through some tough, tough times, always giving the extra 1000% that is needed and doing it with a smile on their faces. Without them we would not have survived the last year. To say thank you hardly seems adequate.

Do you know how amazing it is to have a job that isn’t just a job. It is who we are and what we do. To be able to be involved with the incredible families we are involved with everyday is the most incredible experience ever.

The immeasurable comfort of having true friends that live with truth, honesty, courage and dignity as a way of life.

A marriage that is based on God’s truth and a husband I adore with every ounce of my being, kids that I love with my whole heart.

So God, to you I give the glory. You have blessed me in ways that cannot be counted and I forget to say thank you.

Dottie

Be Thankful
~ Author Unknown ~
Thanks for not having
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Thanks for lacking knowledge
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Thanks for difficult times
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Thanks for limitations
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Thanks for challenges
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Thanks for mistakes made
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Thanks for exhaustion
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made the effort.

Thanks for setbacks
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Thanks for troubles
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

Now what?

As I am walking through life and the road it is taking me down I am finding there is not one thing I am going through that God doesn’t have an answer for. Recently there have been some very hurtful things happening and they just seem to keep coming. I am going to try to wade through this today. Hang on and I hope the road doesn’t twist and turn so much you get lost. Here we go…………

Matthew 12:36, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

Wow, that puts a whole different light on gossip doesn’t it? How would my actions and words change if I really stopped to think that everything I do, both good and bad, is being recorded by God, not only recorded but that I am going to have to account for my words and actions. So God gives us some instructions.
Colossians 4:4 says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Let you conversation be always full of grace seems pretty self explanatory but seasoned with salt we have to be a little careful with. To me seasoned with salt means a couple of things, it should be “tasty” as salt enhances flavor but salt also makes one thirsty and wanting more. So to recap, to season a conversation with salt means it is tasty and leaves us wanting more. The problem lies in the fact that we are human and the conversations that we find tasty and wanting more of are not always encouraging to others, in fact sometimes those conversations are downright hurtful and destructive. It can be gossip, tearing down of character or of a more evil nature, sabotage either overt or covert.

Gossip runs rampant in our society at all levels, we all know that. A little gossip here and there can very easily turn into a way of life. But what about when you find out someone is purposely doing things that are not in your best interest (trying to be politically correct). What if you do not find this out from a friend, or a co-worker or a loved one, what if you find this out from an authority figure in your life. What then?

Well when I turned on my phone this morning and went to my devotional app, the verse of the day was Luke 6: 27-28, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you”

SAY WHAT??????? Now certain parts of that I can swallow, “pray for those who hurt you” yes I can do that, but love , bless and do good to them too? How am I supposed to do that? I think it sounds easier to take just a part of the scripture, the part I like and is easy, and call it good. Well, despite worldly appearances I don’t think it is supposed to work that way.

I know I have a tattoo that I got long ago of Isaiah 40:29-31. He gives me promises that I can hold near, like a life jacket, I can wrap those promises around me and stay afloat as I walk on with dignity, grace and determination.

He will give me power and strength to weather the story, wisdom to make the right choices and dignity and grace to glorify Him with those choices.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Dottie

Devotional verses this morning were Psalms 107:1, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever, and the armor of God scriptures, Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power……………

This might not sound significant to you but believe me with what is going on in my life right now, those scriptures are exactly what I need and the timing, as usual, is perfect. This morning I have answered prayer to be thankful for and the armor of God to rely on when necessary.

Let me regress just a bit, when researching the armor of God one thing stands clear, Satan does wage a spiritual battle whether we choose to believe it or not. It seems that we sometimes like to ignore the fact that in fact, there is a war going on and that makes us easy prey. I also think that the true nature of Satan and the lengths he will go to in this war are total

The same could be said of Satan, and those whom he opposes. Many of his victims do not even know there is a war going on. They make easy prey. Christians should know that we are in the midst of a great spiritual struggle, although many seem not to believe it. And even more distressing is the fact that many who consider themselves “in the war” do not understand the nature or viciousness  of Satan’s schemes, of the weapons which he employs, or of the weapons which God has provided for our defense.

It is one thing to read about God’s power, it is quite another to rely on it. Oh here we are back to this trust thing, go figure. Satan has one goal, to defeat those who love God. When we turn to God, we automatically and definitely gain an enemy, Satan. It is not a battle we can avoid or run from, but it is a battle we are given the means to stand and fight, if we choose to. It won’t do any good to hide our heads in the sand or ignore this war, it rages whether we believe it, ignore it or run from it. Yes, we are assured of certain victory but just as certain we are assured of struggles on this earth. I chose to stand on Christ my rock. So I guess this didn’t go anywhere near where I was planning to go when I started writing, as is often the case. Though I am thankful beyond words for some reason this is what flowed out of me this morning. More to come…………DottieChrist my rock

Not where I was planning to go but this is what flowed out of me this morning……………