Are You Happy?

I was feeding my mom a meal the other day and I asked her, “Mama, are you happy?”

She turned her head to face me and looked me directly in the eyes and then abruptly and very loudly shouted, “NO-OOO!”

I couldn’t help laughing in the moment, at her bold, startling reaction. But now I feel like shouting the same thing. Though we’ve had some sweet blessings lately, it has been a very stressful time. And we don’t see anything changing for the better soon. In fact we mostly see dark clouds that hint at worse things to come.

And if anyone asked me right now if I was happy, and if I answered them frankly, I would want to shout with Mama, “NO-OOO!”

No, I’m not happy. This is such a hard time. I feel like life is heavy right now, and news from many directions is depressing. I know I have so much to be grateful for, but life is changing, and more sacrifices are required. And I’m so tired.

I know I have more help than so many people. And I feel guilty complaining. And I wonder where my faith is. And I ask God what He is teaching me.

I open up my Bible and read…

I pour our my complaint before Him; I declare Him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. (Psalm 142:2-3, NKJV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:3-5, NKJV)

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147:11, NKJV)

And I find comfort. Because I have a Lord I can pour out my complaints and troubles to. He knows when I’m overwhelmed. He knows the paths I’m on and the ones to come, and He will be there with me. Guiding me. Guiding us.

We have a Lord that is compassionate and heals the brokenhearted. A God so mighty that He knows the name of each star He created, and the name of each wounded servant of His on earth. And He binds our wounds.

And as we look to Him with trust and hope, He is pleased that we are depending on Him. He is pleased when we hope in Him for mercy and grace for each day. He is pleased when we realize we can not get through this on our own, but have faith that He is with us and that He will preserve us and keep us and sustain us.

And someday when this hard time is over, because we know this too shall pass, we will be stronger for having lived through it. And we can declare His truth and love with greater boldness for having been held up by it in the storms.

Earlier today my daughter showed me a video she had made of Mama some time back. She asked Mom, “Are you happy?”

And with a very grouchy voice and tone, Mom had shouted, “Yes, I’m happy!”

Annie asked again, “Grandma, are you happy?”

And with a slightly less grim tone Mama shouted, “I’m happy…all the day!”

I can’t honestly say that I’m happy all the day. This is a tough time of life. But I KNOW that Jesus is with me all the day. And I know that He won’t leave me. And I know that He will give grace and mercy enough for each moment as I hope in Him.

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Someday, Not Today

Sometimes Mama says such profound things that I can hardly believe it. Especially since she has so little vocabulary left and her sentences are generally very short.

Today my daughter and I were discussing summer hopes and dreams and vacations. And logistics. Because Mama needs so much help transferring now, and many of us have strength and back limitations, we have become dependent on a few for moving Mama. And sometimes the strong backs are the ones who need the vacations.

So we were discussing these things and figuring out alternate schedules that might work, so Mama still got some moving and changes of scenery, and a chance to stretch her legs a bit.

Later Annie went over to Mama’s to feed her supper. And she came back and said, “Do you know what Grandma said, Mom? She said, ‘Someday, not today, things will be different.’

And Annie and my husband and I all looked at each other amazed. One, because this is a long sentence for Mama to say at this point. And two, because there is so much meaning in that sentence.”

Because someday things will be different. Someday, only God knows how soon, we won’t need to plan around Mama’s care to go on vacation. Someday we won’t need to go over every few hours to feed Mama and change her and move her. Someday we won’t hear her yelling anymore. Someday we won’t be counting out her pills or talking to the nurse or bathing her skin. Someday we won’t be brushing her hair or helping her brush her teeth as she yells and bites the brush.

Someday, not today, things will be different.

Someday I won’t be able to feel her baby soft skin. Someday I won’t be able to smooth back her silvery hair and look into her blue eyes. Someday I won’t be able to hold her arthritic hand and feel her close her fingers around mine. Someday I won’t get to snuggle next to her at nap time and feel her put her arm around me and pat my arm and back. Someday I won’t hear the comments she makes and be amazed.

Someday, not today, things will be different.

Annie finished feeding Mama supper tonight and was saying good-bye to Dad and Mom. Dad said, “Good-bye, Annie.”

But Mama started saying, “Hello! Hello!”

Which makes me think, that the moment we say good-bye to Mama on this earth, she will be saying “Hi!” to Jesus in Heaven! Mama knew Jesus and trusted in Him when her mind was strong, so she will be with Him for eternity. And there with Him her mind will be healthy and clear again.

And I can picture her greeting family and friends. I can see her hugging her own mama. I see her smiling and laughing again. And never in pain ever, ever again. And I know someday I will see her again. And I wonder what our first words to each other will be.

Someday, not today, things will be different.

So today I will treasure up the sweet moments…the shared meals, the hand holding, the cuddling, the singing, and the words Mama says. Today I will hug Mama close and know that she is here and I am blessed to care for her and love her. Today I will kiss her wrinkled cheek and tell her that I love her.

And with God’s help I will serve faithfully on this holy ground He has given me as my mission now.

And I will remember…someday, not today, things will be different.

 

 

 

Be Happy

I tried to talk to Mama as I fed her the Easter dinner I’d brought over. But she’d mostly either holler or speak gibberish.

It reminded me of the time we’d just had with my six-month old granddaughter. She seemed to have whole conversations with my husband as she stood in his lap and very expressively spoke garbled words.

And Mama would do that, too. She’d look at me and speak. Often I could tell she was asking questions, but I couldn’t decipher enough of the words to guess at what she meant.

Except for a few exceptions. “I hate you!” still came out clearly. I answered Mama, “But I love you. Do you love me?”

“No,” she answered.

And yet we had a couple sweet moments. My daughter and husband came over to help me get Mom up from her nap, because her walking is so bad these days. My daughter and I changed her and got her in a fresh dress. Then my husband came in and helped us get her into the wheel chair.

As I was rolling her out of the bedroom Mama said, “Thank you.” Which is pretty much unheard of these days.

I was so pleased and said, “Mom, that’s so nice that you said thank you!”

“Yes, it is,” Mama answered. And I chuckled.

And then later, as I was cleaning up the dishes, after Mama’s meal, she said, “Be happy. Be happy.”

And that made me smile.

Alzheimer’s is such a tough road. There is so much to be burdened and sad and stressed about.

But today I can rejoice that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and because of that all who believe can be forgiven and have a relationship with God and eternity with Him in heaven.

And today I can take joy in the time I had with my children and granddaughter. And I can smile because Mama said thank you.

Today I can be happy, because my mama told me to be. And those sweet words bring tears to my eyes. Happy tears.

I hope you have some today, too.

He is risen!

 

 

You Do?

Mama cuddles up next to me on the love seat. “I love you, Mama,” I say.

Mom turns her head and looks up at me with delight and surprise, “You do?” she asks.

“Yes, I really do.”

“Goody!” Mama exclaims cheerily. And I chuckle as she promptly dozes off to sleep.

Mama doesn’t know who I am, which is why she’s so surprised to hear I love her. But she seems happy to know that I do and is accepting of my love.

And it makes me think, how God loves all His children. But people don’t know who He is, so they don’t comprehend His love.

And even people who do know Him, can’t truly grasp His love. In Ephesians 3:19 Paul says he’s praying for the church there to “…know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…”

Jesus love us more than we can understand. His love passes knowledge. Passes knowledge. Imagine a love so great that knowledge can’t contain it or explain it. It is beyond what we know. It is bigger and deeper and more powerful than we can read or write or paint or sing about! It passes knowledge!

And that’s the kind of love Jesus has for us. For each of us. And all we have to do is believe in Him and accept His love. Accept it with delight and with joy. And then stay close to Him, follow Him, and rest in His love.

Because He loves you.

He really does.