We Are Not Home Yet

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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

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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.

 

Psalm 23 for A Person with A Chronic Illness

I am your shepherd, walking with you, guiding and directing your steps.

You will not need anything that I won't be able to provide, for I will give you what is required to give your best in this battle against this disease.

I want you taking the time to lie down in beautiful, lush green pastures, resting in my care and my peace, simply because sometimes you’re just tired and you're so weary and you don’t take the rest that you desperately need.

I am restoring your soul and giving you the strength to endure through the tiredness, the weakness, and the pain you must live with for now. I will always be building you back up so that you may run the race before you with endurance (or most likely – the race you are walking!).

I am guiding you in the path of righteousness because of who I have said I am, for I know the the battle you fight often causes despair and I will not ever allow this path of disease to destroy you emotionally or mentally, but will use it for growing and perfecting you in Me and being an encouragement for others along the same or a similar journey.

Even though you often feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death – those valleys of grief over what was and what may never be and what often is now – do not fear! You need not ever be afraid of the uncertainties before you, because I am with you. I will not leave you ever.

My rod and My staff, these instruments of protection and safety, I use them to bring comfort and protection to you. They bring a peace that surpasses all understanding and displace the fears that vie for your well-being.

I am preparing a feast you, waiting for you to come and enjoy all I have for you, and together we will show this Little Monster who has the victory over this disease. Our disease. Remember, what you go through, I go through it with you.

I am anointing your head with oil; your cup is going to overflow! In the aches and the pains, even when it doesn't feel like it – I am blessing you! Remember when I said, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit?' Then remember also that the poor in spirit receive the my kingdom – and that's you! Remember when I said, 'Blessed are the ones that mourn?' I hear your cries, your sorrow, your loss and you will be comforted!

My goodness and love are following you around, each and every day of your life, even if that means the future I have planned for you may bring progression of your disease – still you will experience goodness and love.

The best news? You are going to dwell in My house forever – tremor free, pain free, stiffness free, with a clear mind and a new body.

What do you say, my child? Are you with me in this?

We are not given promises that life will be a bowl of cherries, but we are given an irrepressible hope in a God that cares and will walk with us through this valley – if we will just believe and trust Him.

Journeying with you ~ sherri

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