Friday, October 24, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Never give up.

Oh, I am quite sure I will never tire telling stories of the lessons I've learned from the men and women I serve and love at Edgewood. Because these folks inspire me in ways too numerous to count.

I've told you before about B, the man who lives across the hall from the Activity Room. He's the one who used to be a preacher and has suffered two strokes - which have left him unable to communicate verbally (Except for saying yes, no, I don't know, and "For dinner, for dinner, for dinner".) and unable to use much of half his body.
The one thing we know for sure is, when B is yelling, "For dinner, for dinner, for dinner!" he wants or needs something. And when I hear him yelling that way, I often go across the hall to see if I can help his wife determine what he's trying to communicate. So, the other day I heard his familiar call and went over to see what I could do. Ooooo. That one was a toughie. Each of us felt like giving up several times, but we kept at it and finally figured out that B wanted a drink of water. And when his thirst was satisfied I suggested a sign he could make with his hand when he wanted a drink. Then he (we!) wouldn't have to get so frustrated trying to communicate. B seemed to like the idea, and I reminded him about it (and had him practice) a couple more times when I saw him that day.
After one of our practice sessions, our office manager asked me if I'd ever heard B sing. I smiled and started singing "It is Well with my Soul" and B joined in with gusto. It was beautiful. Then the office manager started singing "You are My Sunshine" and about four or five of us standing around all joined in. Including B, of course.
That was beautiful, too.
Then it was time to get back to work and I made my way back to my desk.
Moments later, I heard B coming down the hall. And it wasn't just his wheel chair I heard. It was his voice. B was singing "You Are My Sunshine" all by himself. Over and over again.
That was the most beautiful thing I'd heard all day!
And I called the office manager to share the moment with her. *smile*

But, wait. It gets better.

Not too long after I heard B singing on his own, I was back in the office for some reason, or another. The office manager handed me a piece of mail for B which hadn't been put into his mailbox because it didn't have his apartment number on it. She asked if I would take it to him when I went back down the hall. And I was happy to do it.
I knocked on the door and slowly opened it, to see B sitting in his chair, and U napping in the chair beside him. So I entered and explained what I had, and handed B the piece of mail. He said, "Thank you," I said, "You're welcome," and I turned and left the apartment.
As I was closing the door I thought to myself, Wait a minute. Did he just say, "Thank you" to me? That isn't one of his phrases. Is it? And I asked one of the ladies who was playing cards in the Activity Room, "Does B say, 'Thank you'?" She looked at me as if I were a little crazy and said, "No." And I said, "But he did! B just said, 'Thank you' to me!" And we had a little celebration there.
See, we've all been praying for B for quite some time. Asking God to restore his ability to communicate. Not just so he can express his needs and wants without frustration, but so he can proclaim the Name of Jesus again. And these new words which he had just spoken brought so much hope.
I quickly realized THAT was the most beautiful thing I'd heard all day.

I don't know if all the singing we'd been doing had anything to do with B's break-through, but you better believe I'm going to be singing with him on a regular basis. Yes, singing and praying, and trusting God to bring his words back.

Never give up.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Motivate a Teenage Boy

Buy him a car, with the understanding he cannot drive it until he gets a job and starts making car payments.

So, I mentioned Tuesday that Josh wants a car. Well, the scam one didn't pan out, but he found another great deal. It is presently sitting in our driveway.
Here's the story:
For several months, Josh has been talking about wanting to get a job. He has talked and talked and talked. Once, he even went out and filled out an application. But he didn't get that job.
More recently (the end of the summer) he looked into another opportunity. But that didn't work out.
Besides those two instances, Josh's job search has mostly been talk. And it has included talk about needing a car to get to said job. Because he can't doesn't want to walk to it.
The problem is, how does a boy buy a car when he doesn't have a job? And how is he supposed to get a job if he doesn't have a car? Oh, the dilemma!

*Here comes Dad, to save the day!*

As I said, Josh has been looking for the perfect vehicle for himself, and finally found it.
And Brian agreed to buy it for him.
HOWEVER, Josh is not allowed to drive it until he has a job and starts paying us back.
I'm telling you, I have never seen that boy so intent on anything before in my life. I got home from work and saw the Jeep in the driveway, and walked into the house to find Josh at the computer putting the final touches together for his application. Then he drove (Using my van, of course!) to the store to submit the application. And I'm willing to bet he'll make follow-up phone calls without being prompted to do so.

I have one very motivated teenager on my hands.
And I love it!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Under Conviction

Conviction by the Holy Spirit is such a wonderful thing to me.

Just knowing God knows what I need - and cares enough about me to make that need clear to my heart - fills me with gratitude.

But sometimes the conviction leaves me feeling a little silly. Like, Gee, God, I'm kind of embarrassed that You had to remind me about this concept. Again.
So, today I find myself eating a slice of heavenly humble pie. Again.

See, last week I began a new study with the Women's Group which is meeting Friday morning's at Edgewood. We're watching and discussing Jennifer Rothschild's DVD series, Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned in the Dark. The key concept from the introductory session is: "It can be well with my soul, even when it may not be well with my circumstance." I love that concept. I fully agree with it. And I loved the time we spent talking about it Friday morning. It is so good to remember the importance of keeping our focus on God, rather than our circumstance.
But then a funny thing happened. (OK. It isn't really "funny", except in the ironic sense. *ahem*) I got busy with my day - making final arrangements for the next day's festival, returning phone calls, following up on email, making plans, and carrying out activities. The day got so hectic, and I began to feel anxious. Running here and there, doing this and that, even getting help from a couple co-workers but not feeling like I was going to be able to get it all done.
And by the time the day was over (late!) my soul was not in a condition which I would describe as "well".

Can you see the problem?
Do you have an idea what the Holy Spirit was about to say to my heart?
I had just sat through a lesson about walking by faith. I know very well what it means to keep my focus on God. Goodness, I have led Bible studies and women's retreats on that very thing! And here I was, allowing my circumstance to steal my joy. It was not well with my soul because it was not well with my circumstance. And that correlation just should not be.
So gently, but with undeniable clarity, the Holy Spirit convicted me and I knew: It can be will with my soul, even when it may not be well with my circumstance. Eyes up, Karen. Eyes on Me!

Here I am now, sitting down to eat that heavenly humble pie - and get my focus adjusted.

Will someone pass me a fork, please?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Playing With an Internet Scammer

Josh is presently on the hunt for a car.
He has been busy searching the internet for just the right vehicle:
*not too old
*good condition
*at least 22mpg
*big enough to carry a canoe on top
*kinda sporty
and, of course,
*low cost.

And one evening last week...He thought he'd found it.
A 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee; 92,400 miles; body looked great in the photo; $2,500

It almost seemed too good to be true.
Brian began a conversation with him about that very real possibility. You know, perhaps the side of the vehicle NOT shown in the picture had a big dent in it. Or maybe the brakes were shot. Perhaps it had been totaled in an accident and given a cheap make-over. Matthew asked, "Are you sure it has an engine?"
So, Josh contacted the seller, and this is the response he received:
I'm emailing you about my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited I have for sale. It has all books, complete set of tools and keys and 92,400 miles. The price was reduced at $2,500 as I need to sell it before October 25th, when I'll be leaving with my unit back to Baghdad replacing the troops scheduled to come home...
The message went on to explain that the seller did not need to be present to complete the sale, the vehicle was located in Memphis, TN, it would be shipped to Josh in 2-3 days - at no additional charge, and everything would take place through Google wallet.
Needless to say, we saw lots and lots of red flags, but before he deleted the email, Josh decided to have some fun with it. This was his reply:
That sounds great! I'm 30 minutes away from Memphis right now. Give me an address please and I'd love to see it.
By the way, my dad was also in Baghdad. He unfortunately was declared missing in action. October 25 will be the one year anniversary. He had a jeep almost identical to this one and it would make me so happy to have this one!
When I saw your message I knew it was meant to be. Please respond as soon as possible, and thank you so much for serving our country. It shows I can really trust you. Best of luck in Baghdad, my prayers will be with you.
So, even though Josh was extremely disappointed (and a bit angry) that this deal of a lifetime was just a scam, we all had a good laugh as he constructed his response.
And his writer-mom was super proud of his creativity! *wink*


Monday, October 20, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Things aren't always as easy as they seem.

The fun part of this lesson came from a "Donut Eating Contest" we had Wednesday afternoon.
We tied donuts from the ceiling and challenged people to eat them from the string.
Without using their hands.
And, while at first many folks thought it a strange game, no one realized how difficult it would be.
It was kind of funny to hear audience members "coaching" the contestants.
Just bite it!
Use your tongue to grab the donut!

They had no idea.
When all was said and done, everyone had a great time - and enjoyed LOTS of laughter.
But the recurring phrase that afternoon was, "Wow! That was harder than I thought it would be!"

Like I said, that was the fun part of the lesson.

The not-fun part came earlier in the week.
I had the day off Monday so I could attend my uncle's memorial service, and when I came in Tuesday I had notes from Monday morning's staff meeting in my email. As I read through them I was surprised to read, "D moved out Sunday". I mean, I knew her move-out was coming. I knew I was going to have to say good-bye. And, while I wasn't happy about the prospect of it, I knew she needed to move. (We are going to be adding a memory-care facility to our property in the next year-or-so. But until that happens, I have to say good-bye to folks whose needs have gone beyond what we're able to do. *sad face*)
But I've seen people leave before.
And it's always been OK.
However, this time the actual move happened without my knowledge. And I didn't get to say good-bye. And I want to go give her one more hug. But D is having a difficult time adjusting to her new home, so for me to go over and see her really wouldn't be good. And the idea of just *bam!* ending the relationship breaks my heart.

This isn't as easy as I thought it would be.

And there's that lesson, again. Things aren't always as easy as they seem.
Thankfully, I have hope and trust in God. I know He is watching over my lovely D. And, although I cannot wrap my arms around her again and tell her I love her, I am praying for her. Believing God will wrap HIS arms around her and love her through this transition.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beauty and the Beau: Surprise! Edition

I had a little challenge last week.

I was in on two surprises, and it was difficult at times to keep the secrets.
In fact, I almost let it slip a time, or two.

The surprises started with Beauty. She was planning a visit to Beau for the weekend, to celebrate his 18th birthday. The plan - as far as Beau knew - was for Beauty to come into town after she finished classes on Friday. What he didn't know was that, since I was speaking Thursday in a town just minutes from Wheaton, I was picking up Beauty and bringing her to his house THURSDAY.
Beau was very unsuspecting when he came to answer the door.
And very happy.
The second surprise was one Beau had planned for Beauty.
He knew we were all coming to his birthday party Friday night, so he contacted Beauty's BFF and encouraged her to come along with us. M was as excited to see Beauty as the rest of us, and I was so happy for the surprise in store for my girl.
Because she'd just told me on Thursday how much she missed her BFF.
When we arrived at the party, Brian found Elizabeth and asked her to come with him to the van. (Where M was hiding.)
What a precious sight to see friends embrace.
But, honestly, the most precious thing to me was to see Beauty and Beau planning a surprise for one another. It was sweet to see them thinking of what would make the other happy, and then working out the details to make it happen.
I'm telling you, these two bless my heart!