Songs In the Night

sunset.JPG

It’s only natural to wonder why things happen the way they do. Some things can leave you in a state of confusion. Some things can leave you dumbfounded. You may not understand. You are lost in a sea of torment and wonder if you’ll ever find the way out.

All of us have experienced pain of all sorts. Pain of a broken pain. Of childbirth. Of a bee sting. But physical pain doesn’t hold a candle to the mental and emotional pain some of us find ourselves experiencing. The pain of divorce. The pain of watching someone you love suffer. The pain of a wayward child.

There is one pain I have never experienced and I pray that I will never have to. A pain that I can only imagine is so great, only the tender fingers of God can wipe the tears it produces. The pain of losing a child.

A year ago my son and daughter in-law moved from Oregon, where my husband and I live, back to Idaho in anticipation of a better job opportunity. It was a good move – for them. For me? I has spend the prior five and a half years watching my granddaughter every day, all day long and the last six months watching and caring for her little brother, my grandson. When my son and his wife moved, along with mygrandchildren, I truly meant it when I told them they had my blessing. What I wasn’t ready for was what it felt like to have them gone. I literally felt as if my heart had been torn out.

I have a dear friend who had her heart torn out almost two years ago this next February when her daughter was suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically killed. Many of you may have heard. Many most likely know whom I speak of.

Judy Hensley. Mother of Carol Michelle Hensley Singletary.

I have just finished reading Judy’s book, a memoir of sorts, of Carol’s life. A tribute to her spirit. The fire inside her. But as I read it, it became more than that. Throughout this past year, the times I have spoken with Judy, my heartbreak over my loss seemed menial. After all, my kids and grandkids merely moved away. They weren’t taken without my consent. I can visit them, talk to them on the phone, see them through Facetime. Judy can’t. Carol’s gone from this world – a hard fact Judy can’t change.

During our late night or wee hours of the morning chats, there have been tears. They have been prayers. There has been searching. One thing I remember thinking and may have said out loud, is that God is going to use this amazing woman for his glory. Through the pain, the searching for answers, the tears – the grief – he is going to use this woman.

He’s going to bring about something beautiful…

Life is full of messy. Messy relationships. Messy jobs. Messy diseases. Most of which we have no control over, but because sin is a part of life and always has been, life is and always has been messy. But I continue to learn that there is a reason for everything. I may not ever know what the reason is, but there is one. If you believer in an almighty, sovereign, omniscient God (I do), then you most likely believe that thought we may not understand, God allows things to happen. And sometimes those things are not welcome.

Like losing a child. No matter how old.

But, because life is continually messy – and has been since the Adam and Eve episode – there will always exist someone who has gone before us and ‘been there, done that’. Someone who never signed up for messy but was thrust into the heart of it and in the process had their heart torn apart.

Someone like Judy.

There is beauty in the broken and I have not seen it more evident than in her life. Broken, crushed in spirit – wondering and asking why – still she sings.

In her book about Carol, Judy shares a conversation she had with a friend who has gone through a similar experience. They reference the biblical account of when Paul and Silas are imprisoned and how at the midnight hour the two men are praying and singing praises to God. Judy and her friend talk about the verse that says, “…and the prisoners heard them.”

Somehow, the prisoners heard them… they were not simply singing like we might do in the shower. They were not singing a bar or two to themselves. For the other prisoners to hear, they had to have been singing with spirit (quite literally!). I am in awe not at the fact that the prisoners heard them, but that they were singing praises and most likely – singing them loudly.

In her own strength (and she will tell you this herself) Judy has not survived but it has been only by the merciful compassion of a heavenly Father working through His presence in her personally or through the outreach of others toward her. And it’s because of His relentless mercy that she is learning to sing in the night hours. The times that are so incredibly dark and the sun seems it will never shine again. You know – the times when you feel imprisoned to the pain of this world and it feels as if it will never let up. Songs in the night are miracles of praise because when you least feel like singing is when you need to do it most.

Sometimes having a chronic illness leaves you feeling imprisoned, broken, and grief-stricken in its own messy way. But there have been those who have ‘been there, done that’ and are a bit further ahead on the journey and will come alongside of us in order to encourage and teach us how to learn to sing in the dark of the night.

Judy has been nothing short of a illuminating light in the midst of a horrendous storm. She has been proof that while we may never understand why God allows certain things to come about as He does, He does not nor will not abandon His children in their time of need. She is proof that praise is possible in the darkest of times because the light that had already been shining in her life is even brighter now.

If you want to be uplifted, encouraged, and given a renewed sense of hope in a great God,, her book, Carol’s Smile, is available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble stores. And no, she didn’t pay me to write this. She’s sending me Oreos instead.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. …you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:1-5

We Are Not Home Yet

wpid-Photo-Jul-27-2013-1256-PM.jpg

Today it is raining here in Oregon, the state where everyone thinks it rains all the time. But, you know what’s good about so much rain? Everything stays green. All year. Sometimes, I know – it can seem (and can be for some) depressing. But not today. Today it’s raining and… it’s a beautiful day.

  • The birds are still singing. Nothing stops them. Even in the rain, they find something to sing about.
  • There are jillions of puddles to jump in. And that’s exactly what Boo does. And loves it. She even gets Grammy to do it, too.
  • The leaves on the trees and bushes are always a bright, spring green clean.
  • The air smells fresh (they who can smell), they say.
  • The flower’s roots are always refreshed.

I remember a time when there was no rain. I lived in Northern California and it was the year(s) of the big drought. You could only water grass/landscape once a week or on certain, specified days. You couldn’t wash your car. Residents were asked to cut back on laundry washing and shorten showers. Energy saving faucets were stocked in hardware stores and signs that said, ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down’ were selling like hotcakes. Drought tolerant landscape was in big demand. People were trying to conserve water everywhere they could. And in that conservation, things began to die. Lawns and shrubbery were replaced by often less colorful species, guaranteed to survive the heat with less water. Kids were disheartened when summer sprinkler fun ceased. Guys with an obsession to wash their trucks weekly were frustrated by the new policies set in place.

No rain meant saying no to many other things. River rafting. Skiing was affected. The list could go on and on. We longed for the days when rain would come. We prayed for days on end for the rain to fall.

One day, the skies clouded over and there was a hint of hope. The hope turned to joy when the drops began to fall from the heavens. People opened their front doors and walked out into the uncommon liquid sunshine and danced (at least I and one other person I know of did). The rain fell, a wet welcome to a thirsty and dry community.

The past “winter of life” seems to have hung around for many in many different ways…

  • The wet is becoming intolerable. But let’s face it – before long the popular complaint will be that it’s intolerably hot.
  • Medications that once worked wonders, aren’t so wonderful anymore.
  • Falls are more frequent and frustration is growing over what else will begin to increase in this debilitating disease – whatever it is.
  • Concentration levels are failing, your speech is getting more difficult to understand, and you can’t remember anything.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? It is raining, but a new day is coming. It may, for some, feel like a drought infested summer deep within their spirits, where they long for a refreshing, cleansing rain. Take heart… A day is coming when there will be no more pain. No more tears. No more sorrow. A new day when we will run with new feet, hug with new arms and smell the beautiful roses with brand new noses. A day is coming when we will see that these days of discontent will have been okay because we were never made for this world anyway.

We are taught to be content in all things and well, for the most part, we should be. However, to have a hint of discontentment can also be good – if you believe there is something better and the best is yet to be. I don’t want to get so settled here, that I forget to remember there is something better coming. I don’t want to get so comfortable that I forget this earth is not my final resting place. I want to remember that at any moment, my Prince is going to ride in on a white horse and take me Home. My discontentment and sorrow will be that I didn’t share that hope when it was raining or hopelessly dry in someone’s life. Because without that hope, there really isn’t anything more to this life than living and dying and that hope then, becomes hopelessness.

It’s raining here today, but in the past week, my hope has been restored in many ways and the sunshine is burning bright and warm within me. God has not forgotten. He has not failed us.

We are not home yet. Thank God – we are not home yet.

It’s A Wrap: Bringing Parkinson’s Awareness Month to A Close

image

Even though Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month will be coming to a close as of today’s end, we can still continue to spread the word. To celebrate the last 30 days of an attempt to educate, inspire, and bring awareness to this little monster and its ability to change the course of one’s life, here are my top 3 favorite awareness items from the month by three different sources: Sheryle Klingelhofer, Beth Bjerke, and PJ’s most popular “Top Ten”. 

 

 

PRICELESS! 

This one’s from Sheryl Klingelhofer, Facebook page “A Life with Parkinson’s”:

OK, MOST folks talk about the support they get from friends and family with their Parkinson’s and dystonia difficulties…however I hear of some who say that after their diagnosis, they are often rather abandoned or even get griped at over the disorder. And while we HOPE that insight and education through gentle sharing would work, well, it often doesn’t.

It may be from a movie, but if you get bugged by insecure or unfeeling individuals, try this little quote…it sums it up for them nicely!

 

 

Next, we have the popular

THE TEN THINGS PARKINSON’S PATIENTS WANT,

(sort of)


1.  To feel good.


2.  To smell (what’s baking in the oven).

 

3.  To have people believe that the person with PD isn’t pretending to have a chronic disease.                                Really. We have better things to do.


4.  For others to understand that although they can’t see all of the effects, the disease is real.

 

5.  More dopamine. We gotta have more cow bell dopamine.

 

6.  To not shake all the time. It would be so nice to stir our coffee because we want to.

 

7.  For others to be aware of the struggles and invisible symptoms people with Parkinson’s face so that they are better able to understand the fervency and urgency of a cure.

 

8.  To find a drug that doesn’t knock you out for half the day, but instead, knocks out PD.

 

9.  A plastic bat to hit others over the head when they make thoughtless comments.

 

10.  A cure



and then last, but not at all least, a plea from Beth Bjerke:

“Last week I changed my profile picture [on Facebook] from what was a symbol of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, to a picture of myself. As nice as the comments were, I was taken by surprise by how many took the time to say something nice. Yyet on the other hand, I’ve posted something about Parkinson’s [most everday this month] and it [seems] to go unnoticed. I, like so many others, am fighting a progressive disease that has no cure.

There are many three- or four-little-words sentences we all like hearing: “You look nice…” or “I love you…” or “Have a nice day…” 

However, there is also another four-word sentence I so hope to hear, not only for myself but for those inflicted with the disease and those yet to come.

Four simple, yet complicated words…

THERE IS A CURE.”

I do believe that one day Parkinson’s disease will only be a memory. That is called having hope. Without that hope, what do any of us really have?

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. We are at the end an I am reaching out to all – take a moment and help bring awareness to Parkinson’s disease. Please let me know you’re behind me, that you truly care, and that I’m not just another face.

Beth”


How about you? Is there something YOU can do?


Apathy in Parkinson’s Disease

Day 26 – Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month continues…

I posted an infographic the other day about Parkinson’s disease. It didn’t have the non-motor symptoms listed on it and it was brought to my attention. For a list of non-motor symptoms, check this out. For today, I am going to focus on one non-motor symptom: apathy

Just what does apathy mean? Some say that the opposite of hate isn’t love, but apathy – an attitude of not caring. Miriam Webster defines it as showing little or no feeling or emotion. Spiritless. There’s little or no intereste or concern. You feel 

  • indifferent
  • complacent
  • disinterested
  • unconcerned
You are
  • lukewarm
  • aloof 
  • cold 
  • numb
  • unemootional
  • detached
  • unfeeling
  • insensitive
  • unattentive

Ever feel that way? I highlighted the word spiritless above, because I think that sums up the whole mess. 

Apathy can be pretty pathetic and discouraging when you come across it in someone. Most people who are apathetic cause you to feel frustrated by their seemingly sense of detachment and unfeeling attitude toward life. However, in a person wwith Parkinson’s disease, often beknownest to them what is truly happening, they don’t want to feel this way. They don’t want to feel numb, lifeless, spiritless

Some tend to believe that apathy and depression are one of the same. According to the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, “Apathy is defined as diminished motivation not attributable to decreased level of consciousness, cognitive impairment, or emotional distress. Depression involves considerable emotional distress, evidenced by tearfulness, sadness, anxiety, agitation, insomnia, anorexia, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and recurrent thoughts of death.” In a study conducted several years ago, doctors concluded that in Parkinson’s disease, apathy is present, but depression is more consistent with the disease. So do we ignore the sometimes and shoot for the consistent? No. It all needs to be addressed. So where do you start?

I have struggled with both aspects of these two specific non-motor symptoms. Apathy has robbed me of time. Opportunities. So has depression. Whereas apathy has left me feeling unemotional and numb, depression has left me in darkness, despair and desperation. When they have coincided with one another, it has felt like a ticking time bomb in my head and spirit. It is a scarey place to be and it is real.

For me, part of thee apathetic feeling I had came from feeling like I didn’t know what to do next. Feeling stuck in those ‘off’ moments. Keeping a list of things I want to accomplish or need to accomplish, no matter how simple or mundane it may seem, helps to bring things back into focus. Here are some practical suggestions for those moments when you feel bound in the land of apathy (and they help for depression mode, too):

  • Get up, take a shower, get dressed. Don’t think about it. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Do it. Laying out your clothes the night before may sound childish, but who cares? It makes your life easier.
  • Get some exercise. Stretch. Walk. Go for a swim. If you can’t motivate yourself, ask someone to help you/keep you accountable. To pull you out of the house if they must, and drag you along until you’re going along because you now see just how good you feel.
  • Take your medications on time. This involves sorting them ahead of time and having them ready to pop in your mouth when you are taking a handful each time. When you’re feeling apathetic or depressed, it is easy to just forget it becasuse unscrewing five child-proof prescription bottle caps four times a day isn’t something you’re going to feel like doing and you’ll pay for it within the hour. 
  • When you have things you really shouldn’t put off, do the things you hate first. That will make accomplishing your goals easier.
  • Talk to a friend. Have someone pray with you and/or for you. Having another person to share life’s struggles makes the struggle bearable.
  • Talk to your doctor. There are treatments for apathy and depression for people with Parkinson’s disease who find themselves fighting to stay sane. This disease already takes enough from us. Don’t let it have your joy and happiness, too.

 

 

A Metamorphosis Miracle

Metamorphosis.

The description of the life transformation of a hairy and/or squishy little caterpillar as he becomes a soft, beautiful butterfly.

The chrysalis stage of metamorphosis: the spunky, squashy little critter forms a cocoon and while hidden inside, undergoes miraculous changes in secret and emerges as that soft, beautiful butterfly.

The process:

Here he comes, little Clyde, a short, chunky, furry sort, lumbering along on the branch of transformation. He’s pretty tuckered out, having already shed his skin several times in his lifetime (depending on what kind of little guy he is), becoming stronger and stronger, bigger and bigger, macho-er and macho-er with each turn he makes. A regular body builder among the caterpillar clan, his friends say.

Now, Clyde has an agenda. He has a job to do and eventually he finds the perfect spot for his work to begin. He doesn’t know how to explain why he’s about to do what he’s about to do, after all, we all know that caterpillar’s can’t talk. However, he just has this ‘feeling’ that he must find the perfect leaf on which to do what he knows he needs to do. And for Clyde, this truly is the first day of the rest of his life.

No more will he be trying to hide from inquisitive children who find him fascinating and hold him much too tight. No more will he barely miss the soles of heavy feet as he tries to lumber across the blazing hot sidewalks that burn his belly.

Yes – today is the beginning of a new life for Clyde because today Clyde is going to begin to be transformed.

As Clyde decides the large, green maple leaf tucked near the curve of a branch (beyond the reach of a curious child) is a rather cozy home, he makes himself comfortable. Quite talented, Clyde hangs upside down on the leaf and begins to spin himself into an amazing cocoon, his soft, silky abode for the next two weeks or so.

Now, Clyde the caterpillar isn’t aware of all the mumbo-jumbo it takes to explain such as what is happening with him, but now inside his comfy, cozy and protective 'cubby', known as the pupa or chrysalis – Clyde is going to transform into something amazing. This is sort of like a very long magic show.

Clyde will lose his stubby little legs and trade them in for two long, slender ones. His bulging biceps will somehow become delicate wings that will enable him to float and flitter about, taking him to unimaginable new heights among his familiar world. He will develop a long tongue that drinks of a flower’s nectar – a proboscis. He will scour for bright, showy flowers in which, while at one time in his past he used to merely chew them up, he will now partake of their fragrant juices. Two antennae from which he will use for smelling things will emerge from his head where before there were two microscopic 'smellers' instead.

***

It has been almost two weeks. The cocoon shakes. Clyde has awakened and is stretching. He has finished his work and is now ready to reappear.

He flexes his muscles. They have disappeared! He is soft and weak. Only by repeatedly beating his new-found wings will he become stronger. As he flaps and flutters those new-found wings in a flurry of excitement, his senses acclimatize themselves to the surroundings into which he has emerged and blood and oxygen begin to fill his system so that he is able to function properly. Clyde keeps at this ritual for about an hour, at which time he is then ready to leave his little little home and begin his new life.

 

What does all that have to do with Parkinson’s disease? Chronic and terminal illnesses?

A popular Christian recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, wrote a song with these words:


“And there’s more to this life, than living and dying

More than just trying to make it through the day.

More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see

And there’s more than this life alone can be.”

 

Truly, there is more to this life. But sometimes, you just don't feel like it.

Those who struggle with different aspects of having a chronic disease can often wonder what that ‘more’ is. Some days it’s all you can do to make it through this day and on to the next one. Maybe it’s the physical aspect – the slowing down, the falling, the intense pain, the shaking, the cane, the wheelchair. Maybe it’s the mental – the forgetfulness, the slurred speech, the effects of the medication on the other parts of our brain. Or maybe it’s the emotional – the ups and downs, the what-ifs, the fears.

There is more. While we flounder in our faith, we desperately hold onto hope, because we are desperate to hold on! We cling to and trust in a mighty God who keeps His promises.

  • Promises that we can claim for the constant companionship of One to walk with us. One who knows all too well what suffering is really about: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Promises that claim His sovereignty in a chaotic world: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • Promises that claim His strength in our weakness: “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses… in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

You see, it is in the waiting – in the chrysalis stages of living – where we are changed. In the pain and through it. In the heartache over having a disease. It is in this stage where we realize that when we are fragile, frail, weak, and weary – this is the place where we are made strong. It is the place where we don’t give up hope and we fight to live. We flap our wings and while we may not fly to new heights physically, we are renewed in our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

When we start out in life, we are much like Clyde, just lumbering along, minding our own business and then bam! We kinda get squished. Someone delivers some bad news, a friend passes away, we’re told we have Parkinson’s disease or a loved one has Alzheimer’s, we lose our job…

Those places are the perfect places in which to wrap up in the Lord’s cocoon – in his protection – and rest in Him. When we stay close and allow Him to protect and cover us, He transforms us into something much, much more beautiful. The result is worth the wait, even if the twelve days turn into twelve months which could even turn into twelve years. Through the process, we can come out perfected if we will choose to trust during the transformation.

If you're reading this, I want to encourage you to not give up. To not give in. There really is more to this life than living and feeling as if you’re dying. You have a large part in the living. You may not believe it, you may not feel it – but you do. A very important part. As you walk through this time of ‘chrysalis-ness’, a time of transformation, of trusting Him to be there, to guide, to carry and hold you – just hang in there – like Clyde did. It won’t be long before this transformation is complete and you will have emerged a beautiful and strong new creation, flitting about with new wings. I know. I've seen it happen.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...