September 22, 2017

God in the Face of Alzheimer’s Disease by Alan Anderson


“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).


A few years ago while working as a chaplain in a care facility for people with complex care needs God showed up in a special way. Healthcare is a busy, stressful and bureaucratic system. Often time’s patients may be unconsciously overshadowed by the tasks at hand. There is always work to be done that is deemed necessary. There are also times where we may miss prompts from God that remind us of what really matters.

The facility I worked in was home to about one hundred mainly elderly people. This included a locked area housing people with Alzheimer’s. I spent about two hours each working day in the Alzheimer’s unit. It was a quiet area where music from a by-gone era played in the background through speakers in the ceiling.

Part of my routine was to sit with the residents during morning coffee time. We would sit together around a table. I enjoyed their company. Sometimes I would ask the folk simple questions like “how are you today?” The questions were usually followed by smiles or brief replies from the residents. Most of them no longer held conversations of any length. Needless to say, coffee table talk was minimal.

One morning while enjoying coffee and cookies with my tablemates a lady smiled at me from across the room. A nurse had informed me this lady loved to pray for people and liked to recite Scripture verses. This was all when she was able to communicate more often with people. I could see in her smile that she would still communicate from time to time.

Our introduction to each other came through a smile and a brief look in the eyes. Alzheimer’s had imprisoned her mind and she no longer conversed with anyone. It seemed most of the time she was in her own world. There were times where she was able to peek into the world once familiar to her. I was now about to share in one of these moments.

I walked over to her and said hello. Her name was Alice. I remembered what the nurse told me about the lady’s use of Scripture language. I said, “This is the day that the Lord has made…” She smiled yet again and said, “amen brother.” When I finished the line and said, “let us rejoice and be glad in it!” she said, “oh yes, yes, brother.” It was a brief connection. She then drifted off somewhere I couldn’t go. She smiled but her eyes turned from the sparkle I saw a few seconds ago to a look that did not seem to see me.

Teachers like Alice are real. Our teachers may impress on us the frailty yet beautiful gift of life. I hope I capture this in my writing.

If, one day I fall under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease and forget the world and those I love, I pray they will not forget me. I know God won’t. I can rest in that joy!

This brief interaction with Alice was an insightful reminder of the everlasting presence of God. It was amazing that when she spoke it was in the language of Scripture. In Scripture we are encouraged that God will never leave us or forsake us. Alice, as one of my teachers, impressed this promise on me. God never leaves us. Never! I will never forget Alice!

 

Blog: ScarredJoy@wordpress.com 
 

September 21, 2017

POLKA DOTS of JOY in the FABRIC of LIFE by Jocelyn Faire


In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.
Peter McWilliams

Jesus said, “You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all of this. You're at a dead end. If you won't believe I am who I say I am, you're at the dead end of sins.You're missing God in your lives.” John 8:23, 24 The Message

Serendipity the positive accidental occurrences that happen by “chance” from being in the right place at the right time. Some people call them miracles; I've called them God Moments and I'm guessing we have all had our share of them. I appreciated Michael Hyatt's reference to them being God's connecting points. I firmly believe that God does want to connect with us in our every day lives. The challenge for me is to be open to these points, to have my eyes in tune with chance happenings.To live on the serendipitous side of life can be a scary place. 

In the fall of 2008, four years after the great tragedy that divided my life into before and after, I moved to Australia. People thought I was very brave; I knew it was probably more desperation than courage. Without knowing a soul in the down under part of the world, I accepted a nursing job in a private hospital in Perth, Western Australia. One of my most frequent prayers at the time was Lord, let my paths cross with the people you want me to meet. That is an ongoing prayer. 

Several years ago, someone mocked my attributing some “miracle” to God, as he thought it was just a coincidence. To which I replied, well I know that when I pray about things, I do have more coincidences.


But, and it's a big But ... the randomness of tragedy is kind of the flip side of serendipity. The old song line says: If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all ... And on this note I am in North Africa on my posting date .... 

 After finishing their home assignment time, my daughter and her family returned early September. They had not even arrived in their home town. In the midst of their three day mini holiday/return to North Africa transition she called to ask my husband for signs of appendicitis ... she had been having unusual pains, moving to her low back as well. Harold asked her if she could stand up straight. So far she could. She feigned optimism. 
 A few hours later, she called again, she could not stand up straight ... she knew she had to go into an emergency to be seen. My daughter has delivered her youngest two children in Morocco and has helped many women in the N African hospitals, and has a healthy fear about being there. Why had this not happened four days earlier when she could have had surgery in a “safe” Canadian hospital? 
She calls again to ask if they would have time to drive the six hours required to get to their home. She read the white blood count, and Harold (a physician) gives them the travel go ahead. Besides it was now 11pm in their zone, and he wondered if they would gather a team to do surgery in the middle of the night. And so, she is given pain medication, and my son-in-law with three jet lagged children in the back seat, one appendicitis pained wife in the front seat, heads out on the dark African roads at night, while somewhat anxious families back in Canada lift prayers that they will find open gas stations along the road and no wandering camels. 

I do not sleep much that night ... but feel as though I must and can trust the Father to look after my daughter and her family. 

Nothing comes as a surprise to God. 

The surgery is successful. and the call from my daughter ... could I come for a short period to help with back to school week and surgery recovery. My mother heart knows immediately what my answer is. And truly I am fortunate to be able to find the time, find the flights ... and so as you read this, I know I will be experiencing God moments across the ocean.

Isn't life interesting. The song lines that came to mind as I write is from the old hymn: This is My Father's World. (a link follows) Don't we serve an amazing God?






photo from the north African country my grand children live in. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEE5MvoT3oI

September 20, 2017

IMPACT by Joylene M Bailey




I was 23 and seven months pregnant with my firstborn when God or His angels stepped in between the car I was in and the one heading straight for me.

I can still see the grill of that vehicle racing through a red light, aimed right at the passenger door where I was sitting. Time seemed to slow down as I closed my eyes and braced for the impact.

Instead, I heard WHOOOOSH and felt an intense gust of wind blow against my door. I opened my eyes to see that by some strange occurrence we were on the other side of the intersection. I twisted in my seat, as much as my pregnant belly would allow, to look for the car that had almost hit us. It was nowhere to be seen. The whole event had happened in the blink of an eye.

My husband hadn’t heard the whoosh, hadn’t felt the gust of wind. He had swerved but not enough to evade a collision. It was as though we had skipped ahead in time and that the event I KNOW happened, had not occurred at all. The memory is so vivid to me. Even after all these years I can’t explain it, but I know without a doubt that God intervened that day.

I believe it was because He still had plans for me, for the baby I carried, and for two more yet to be born. He intended for me to raise three strong, independent girls to women who would impact their world and the Kingdom. He intended for them to raise children of their own, to impact the Kingdom and their future world. This is no small thing.

There have been countless times in my life when God’s strategic providences were evident. Not all of them have been as time-warping as this one. But each event has added a brick to my wall of faith, making it stronger every time, so that when life takes a dive into the muck I can trust that He sees the Big Picture from His vantage point. And I can keep slogging it out in the sludge below, knowing He will help me through in His own timing.

He can be trusted.



He can be trusted with my writing too.

On those days when I wonder why in the world I think I’m a writer (which, to be honest, is most days), I can trust that there must be some reason He gave me this passion. He must need my voice for something. So I will write, and trust Him with whatever He wants to do with it.


Maybe, just maybe, God intervened that day so that I would be around to write this post. To give Him glory for the unimaginable yet very real impact He has on all of us who are privileged to call Him Father.


**********




Joylene writes from her home in Edmonton where she lives with her Cowboy, her third strong, independent daughter, and a cat named Calvin. She writes at 





Photos by Pixabay.

September 19, 2017

God Moments by Eunice Matchett


Every day, all around us, small insignificant events take place. Most go unnoticed,  but others are life changing. God moments, I call them. My interpretation of "be still and know that I am God." 


Ten years ago, my husband, Alex, was diagnosed with cancer and given five months to live. Shock waves shot through our family, neighborhood, and church.


Alex shared his time and resources with everyone. He had a marvelous sense of humor that lightened even the heaviest situations. So many people wanted to say goodbye and spend time with him. The phone rang constantly. Our front entrance became a revolving door. Our daughter came home to help me with Alex’s care.


One day, a month after his diagnosis, our daughter left for the day to spend time with her brother.  By mid afternoon, several friends dropped by, and our daughter phoned, saying she was spending the night at her brother’s. Unusual, I thought, but realized siblings can comfort each other in a way no one else can. I pushed the "unusual" from my mind.


I was exhausted, and deep shadows on Alex’s face bore witness to his weariness. With much effort, he pushed out of his recliner saying, I’m going to lie down. Please come with me. I glanced at all the dirty dishes in the kitchen, left behind by constant company, and opened my mouth to ask for fifteen minutes. But my words stopped.


Since it was too painful for Alex to lie down, I collected pillows from the beds around the house and made our bed into a giant recliner. As we snuggled together, warmth flowed through us, much like an electric blanket on a cold winter night, and nothing around us existed. Alex’s pain ebbed. We talked about the fun things we’d done, the places we’d been, the people we’d met, the mistakes we’d made. We laughed about the shenanigans our children had done. The wonderful adults they’d grown to be. Evening turned into night. Still we talked and laughed. With no warning, Alex’s mind softened and he returned to Bosnia, where he’d served as a military engineer years ago. I held him until he calmed, then we drifted off to sleep.


The following day, Alex’s pain returned and he was admitted to the hospital. Within hours he was gone, but stories pierced my darkness.


The night before, Alex’s cousins were coming from Edmonton to visit him, but a tire on their car went flat. By the time AMA changed it, it was too late. Friends were coming from Calgary, but a sudden blizzard closed the highway between Calgary and Red Deer. And our daughter chose to spend the night at our son’s home.


Wonderment filled me. God used blizzards and flat tires and sibling love to give Alex and I that last evening by ourselves, to lie down in green pastures. Even now, ten years later, when I find myself in darkness and see no way out, I remember that night and am filled with hope for tomorrow.

September 18, 2017

Dandelions from Heaven - Gloria Guest


This month I'd like to share another one of my columns written for the Moose Jaw Express (2011) and also shared on my blog.  I have had many God  moments in my life both as an individual and as a writer but this particular God moment was and is so poignant for me that I like to share it where I can and this months topic is perfect for it. I loved writing my column and hope to write one again someday; I found it to be the perfect intersecting of those God moments in my life both big and small with my love of writing, giving me the opportunity to share with others. It has been a huge learning curve to learn what to share and what not to, yet with this group, I feel free share to the circumstances surrounding the following crisis and so have made changes that reflect that trust. :) 


She was just a little girl of five out in a field full of dandelions. My younger sister used to spend countless hours picking the bright yellow-topped 'weeds' which she would then proudly present to our mother, who would of course place them in a cup full of water to be placed prominently on the table.

Brenda passed away from suicide on a beautiful, spring, sunny day in June of 2004 (on a perfect dandelion picking day) and we, her remaining three sisters, included this memory in her eulogy. To this day I cannot see a field of dandelions without thinking of her and on occasion have been known to pick a fistful for my own table in her memory.

During the grieving period there are many memories that re-surface, some good, some not so good, but all needing to be turned over and over in our minds, before we can finally lay them to rest. It can be a long, emotional journey with many twists and turns in the road, but one that is necessary.

Brenda at five years old
My family was no different. There have been all the typical questions of “why?” There were questions about whether she was truly at peace. Questions that often only God sees us struggling with and only He can answer.

One such question was answered for us in a beautiful way one warm, sunny day just a few days after our sister's funeral. My youngest sister was sitting in the stands watching her son play soccer when she noticed a little girl who she had never seen there before, running around. She appeared to be about five years of age and had long, auburn coloured hair, very much like Brenda's used to be. All of a sudden and for no apparent reason the little girl ran up to my sister with a fistful of dandelions, plopped them directly on the bench beside her and ran away.



That was it. It was such a simple, innocent act of a child yet full of meaning for us; dandelions sent from heaven to let us know that she was okay. God knew exactly what we needed and why. Through that incident and others, God has proved to me that He is there around the corners of life. He is there even before I get there and He knows exactly what I am going to need to get through it....even if it’s simply a fistful of dandelions.




Gloria Guest writes from her little log home on the prairies in Caron, Sk., on the subjects of Hope & Faith & Endurance with the aim of encouraging others. You can find her blog at www.gloriaguest.wordpress.com