monday gifts

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Thankful for…

yet another safe drive across Nebraska.

fun times digging up old memories with my fam.

the fact that I am a paper hoarder. A hoarder of paper. It is not good.

Starbucks and peanut M&M’s.

Burger King & laughing to the pain with my brothers.

when doing laundry becomes unavoidable.

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friends and family who basically encourage me to be a mooch.

friends & couches & blankets & Poirot.

brothers who take selfies like none other. :)

that God placed me in a family of really odd, crazy, hilarious people. I don’t know if I could have handled a normal upbringing.

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opportunities for great joy, aka troubles. I am not loving every moment.

all the people who have shown me patience over the years, when I was/am immature and/or self-important and/or “smart” and/or using confusing/excessive punctuation.

sunsets to follow west, tumbleweeds to follow east.

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monday gifts

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Thankful for…

sunsets in January.

coffee, beautiful coffee.

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near-perfect Saturdays.

babies wearing adult-sized gloves. It’s hilarious.

how satisfying it is to chuck big sticks into partially-frozen creeks.

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stories.

family to take care of me when I’m sick.

Grace for the Good Girl. I am going to read it again soon. The way I keep coming back to it in my mind and in conversations over the past few years, tells me 1) it was extremely impactful in my life and 2) maybe I have more to learn.

schemes and inspiration.

how hard it is that R doesn’t really know who I am anymore when I visit. My head says, you know this was coming. My heart says, it’s harder to accept it when you love them and their BIG, fun, fancy, outrageous and loving personality.. which is fading away.

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this counting gifts habit and how it keeps changing me.

monday gifts

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Thankful for…

brunch with the women of my church. The huge pile of boots & shoes by the door made me smile.

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when I make up funny games for the enjoyment of all. Or at least, I enjoy them and think I am funny! :)

old men drinking coffee and arguing about politics and football early in the morning at restaurants. They are like a security blanket. Society will still be OK as long as you can find packs of these men in towns across the country.

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my butter stockpile.

anything involving friends + food.

candles and new books.

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good conversations.

when I wish I was done learning something, but apparently I’m not.

work & rest.

monday gifts

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Thankful for…

safe travels to & from Jamaica. (P.S. going to Jamaica via Venango, Nebraska- where I met up with two of my traveling companions- is very strange.) 

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each opportunity to spend time with students. It is so fun to do Bible Quizzing with them.

my poor brain, confused as to my whereabouts, the weather, etc. On the plane home I had the thought, “It’s taking us a long time to get to the school… oh wait, I’m not in the van… I’m in an airplane heading home.”  

breakfasts at The Pelican.

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my buddy Mr. Francis. We were so excited to see each other!

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when you have joy but also, your heart is breaking at the same time.

when things do not turn out how we want.

mornings everywhere.

pineapple juice.

all the wonderful people who send me and pray for me and help me along the way.

including Miss Velma, a truly one-of-a-kind woman, who died last week.

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silly faces & big smiles with our girl Kayla!

her daddy, the best van driver in Jamaica. And one of the wisest, most caring people I know. I’m proud to call him my friend.

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Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens!
-Psalm 113:2-4 ESV

monday gifts

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Thankful for…

brunch for twelve (consumed by five).

making felt flowers, playing with the baby, and talking I mean, watching Husker football games.

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soundtracks.

babysitting.

aldi.

how my life has been shaped by giving.

green tea.

when it is just a very minor car accident.. when it is your family involved you think of what it could have been.

carpet tack strips to tear up.

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silly old texts with my brother. He thinks he’s funny. Fortunately I have plenty of Lassie comebacks ready and waiting.

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when I come home with a bag of leftover rotisserie chicken, socks, a sweater for Goodwill, and (another) handmade floral decoration. Life of a caregiver!

monday gifts

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Thankful for…

my John Wayne blanket.
small town stories.
Saturday mornings with Han & Val.
how easy it is to memorize verses doing the first letter of each word thing.
allergy drugs.
when faith is extra essential. (And guilt is not.)
dinner at Deidra’s.
Grace for the Good Girl. (The e-book is 99 cents right now!) 
sweet potato biscuits.
snow.

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traditions involving friends & food!

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the fun part of decorating beforehand. The fun part of being slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of humans and crock pots and deliciousness in my home. The fun part of cleaning up afterward. (It is all fun.)

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Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Ephesians 5:19-20

monday gifts

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thankful for… 

time to get away with the women in my church and be refreshed, prayed over, and encouraged.

a well-stocked snack bar complete with a “tree” of apples, a fancy apple slicer and caramel.

laughing at youtube videos with my cousins.

homemade bread & store bought soup.

how I can always draw near to God.

black and white pictures of baby miniature donkeys.

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monday gifts

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Thankful for…

people I can learn from.

the Bloom book club.

one day at a time.

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Your strength when I am weak. 

all of the free things I “own.” When I look around and see “that was a gift, that was a hand-me-down, that was free, that was a gift, gift, gift, gift” I get all these reminders of how I rely on You. 

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when I can have quality conversations and paint acorns at the same time.

opportunities to trust and grow. Not easy or fun. But good.

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friends. feast. fellowship. and a cute baby in a dinosaur costume.

Valerie’s roasted veggies. I believe they deserve a line of their own.

tea. blankets. naps.

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how I’ll never run out of good books to read.

after crossing the bridge

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Being a companion to those crossing bridges at the end of life does mean that eventually, I will have gone with my client as far as I can go.

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My first two long-term clients died within a few weeks of each other. I was with Miss Trish right up until the end. For her, it was difficult, she was not at all peaceful until the last day. She had major anxiety, panic attacks, delusions.

Being with her through her final weeks was a special experience. I was thankful for my previous hospice training, although this situation was much more personal, as Miss Trish and I had developed a deep bond over the years.

I didn’t realize how draining or heavy it all was until afterwards.

I wondered: How would I take the loss? Would I still want to be a caregiver?

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I had some time off, and much-needed quiet.

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I took naps and walks. I made bread. I went through pictures & notes. I cried. (I still cry sometimes.) I went to the funeral. I got hugs from her other caregivers and her daughter.

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And then a few days later, because this is just how God’s timing worked out, I went to Jamaica on my missions trip.

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Sunshine, children, the ocean, funny teenagers, winning card games, and heaps of fresh pineapple will do a lot to cheer a person up, I have to say.

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When I came back, I had three highly unique characters waiting for me to take over as their caregiver. It happened so seamlessly, as they had been my roommate’s clients before she got a new job. I just took over for her and already knew them a little bit.

I did enter in with open eyes, knowing that I would go through pain again. I also entered in with an open heart, deciding that the pain is worth it and that love is greater than loss. Yes, I still wanted to be a caregiver.

(Part I: crossing the bridge)

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