Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Changing Seasons

'In change, He remains.'

I've been absent since I last wrote a post. I didn't plan it that way but life has come hard and fast and furious over the past few weeks. There have been big changes with my dear, little mother.  Over the past few years we've been caring for her as dementia began to take it's toll. The changes have been hard to grasp and we often wondered what the next day would bring. My dear mother is still alert and the doctor doesn't believe she will ever reach the place where she doesn't know us but lost memories, confusion and unreality became a part of our everyday lives. It's hard to look at the person who is so dear to you, see them look 'normal' and forget that their words or behavior isn't really them. Nancy Reagan once called it 'the long goodbye'. Many of my peers are in the same place and it's sad to hear stories that are so familiar from more and more of us each day.

Three weeks ago my mother's doctor told her she can't continue to live alone much longer. She wasn't prepared to hear that news - it hit her like a bulldozer! Her immediate reaction was very negative and sad. That began a journey we never dreamed possible.  Over the next few days she changed drastically.  We could hardly believe the incredible changes in her and we felt helpless to deal with them. Many days and evenings were spent with her as we tried to 'pick up the pieces' and help her adjust to the idea that she could move to a lovely place where life as she knows it could pretty much continue on. The fears and delusions of dementia grew out of proportion and we were thrown into a world of chaos as we tried to deal with that. We had fantastic support from the doctor and experts in things like this. At times my mom seemed to be adjusting and accepting the changes to come and then went right back into the chaos again.

My dear mother is more calm at times these days. We aren't seeing the intensity of symptoms but we are not discussing anything controversial or overwhelming with her. At times it seems she is going backwards again. She is on the waiting list at two lovely assisted living places nearby but she insists she is not going to move - she is going to stay in her home!  You can't reason with a person with dementia so we are giving her space and time to rest but one of these days we won't be able to continue that any longer. She has changed in a major way. She has lost her vitality and has decided she's tired of doing things she once enjoyed so she has chosen to let them go. That should have happened long ago. 

So, dear friends, we need prayer for wisdom and direction and strength as we walk this road. My sweetheart and I have joined a family caregiver support group that is an incredible help. We hear the stories of others who are walking this path, we shed tears together and we give support to each other. Our group met today and one dear man whose wife is quickly fading away said something we each need to grasp. His words reached deep into my heart - a much-needed reminder. 'Each day is a gift!'  There are days when it's hard to find 'the gift' in the day but he urged us to look up and observe the cloud formations, study the changing colors of the season, listen to the sounds of nature around us and realize what a gift they are to us in the middle of our worlds that are constantly changing.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Choosing To Be Content

I have learned in whatever situation I am, to be content.
Philippians 4:11 ESV

In his book Money: A User's Manual, Bob Russell describes a farmer who once grew discontent with his farm.  He griped about the lake on his property always needing to be stocked and managed. . . .And those fat cows lumbered through his pasture.  All the fencing and feeding - what a headache!

He called a Realtor and made plans to list the farm.  A few days later the agent phoned wanting approval for the advertisement she intended to place in the local paper.  She read the ad to the farmer.  It described a lovely farm in an ideal location - quiet and peaceful, contoured with rolling hills, carpeted with soft meadows, nourished by a fresh lake, and blessed with well-bred livestock.  The farmer said, "Read that to me again."

After hearing it a second time, he decided, "I've changed my mind I'm not going to sell.  I've been looking for a place like that all my life."

Written by Max Lucado in Cure For The Common Life

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I Will Praise You In This Storm

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
And raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You?

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Listen to this song here
Songwriters: John Mark Hall and Bernie Herms
Sung and Recorded by: Casting Crowns

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Missing: one blog.
Goes by the name 'With A Grateful Heart'!
Owner values the years of life shared and the friends found through said blog.
If found, please return to ME!

My blog went missing in action (again - third time) for the last couple of weeks. The last two times required hard work to find sufficient support staff to resolve the problem. We have a lot going on in life right now and as time went by I felt sad. I didn't realize how much my blog meant to me. I felt I had lost a good friend! Over several days and after finally connecting with Help support staff and many unsuccessful attempt to access my account - and a very patient and determined support staff gal named Stela - access was regained.  My blog is back!

I've not been blogging much lately. Life has been coming fast and furious. Inspite of that, I wanted to 'come back' - wanted to share photos and stories again. Every time I saw something interesting or took another photo I thought how much I'd like to share it here with you. I did a lot of thinking and I had a plan incase this blog was never to be again. Thoughts of changes and ideas for the future abound. There's comfort just knowing that's possible again.

So, With A Grateful Heart is here again. I'm glad. When I saw it open again this morning I just smiled. Sat and smiled as if an old friend has just walked in the room - because it's true. I'll never take this part of my life for granted again. Honestly, I won't!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Here Again!

It may seem that I've been hiding - but that's not what happened to me!  Life just seems to keep coming faster and faster.  And, then, Spring and Summer came along and I'm positive life picked up speed and went even faster than before! So - here's a bit of what I have been doing while I was away.

Around the first of May my vintage trailer, Daffodil, came out of her winter spot in the corner of the backyard.  She hadn't fared as well as planned through the winter months.  Winter wasn't totally kind to her and there was a bit of work that needed to be done to make things right again. (We know what we will do different next winter!)  Before the work was completed my sweetheart gave her a good 'bath' so I could take her to a girlfriends' camp-out in the mountains between home and the coast.  We had fun and, as always, I learned a few more lessons about life with a trailer.  It seems there's always something that doesn't go quite as planned but that gives me opportunities to experience new things I need to know about life with Daffodil.  Things really began to change shortly after she and I came home from that camp-out.  We took out almost everything that wasn't fastened down and got to work.  Miss Daffodil is getting a makeover!  We had to deal with the issues caused by winter storage.  That gave way to some beautiful changes inside!  We're putting things back together this week and soon - very soon - her new look will revealed.  While she was already the cutest, little trailer you could imagine, soon she will be everything I originally dreamed she could be.  I can't wait to show you what's new!  And I'll share a bit about our camp-out, too.
Around here you never know what's going to happen when you leave the room!  One morning not long ago I got up early.  I let Joey, my little dog, out of his crate where he sleeps at night.  We went through our morning routine - a short trip out to the backyard for him, opening curtains and blinds to welcome the new day for me and then a bit of quiet time to start the day in the living room before activities of the day begin.  I returned to our bedroom to get something and I could hardly believe my eyes!  Someone (!) had put Joey on our bed and that little rascal had made himself right at home in the very spot where I had been sleeping a short time before!
Someone commented on my Facebook page that my sweetheart and I go away from home more than anyone they know!  It may seem that way at first glance but, if you know what our lives involve right now, you know that we are overseeing everything for the care of my dear, little ninety-three-year-old mother.  Her needs are increasing and the load gets heavier as time goes by.  It would be very easy for 'us' to get lost in the demands of the days.  My sweetheart and I believe it's very important to keep that from happening so we take time here and there to get away and spend time together.  One of those times took us on a recent day trip to explore an area not too far from home - an area where we thought we might like to go for a few days of vacation.  We headed south a ways and then turned east toward the mountains.  Around lunch time we passed through a little town part way to our destination.  We decided to stop and eat at a little place along the highway.  We could tell by the full parking lot that it must be a good place for lunch.  Before we could get in the building I spied something I just had to see!  This is the tiniest vintage trailer I have ever seen.  The owner walked by and offered to let us look inside.  It's a guy place so I decided not to take pictures inside.  I could imagine what I would do if it were mine!  It's smaller than Daffodil but absolutely darling. He added an extra long 'tongue' on the front so he can carry two motorcycles.  Certainly not something I would do! 

After lunch we continued on to our destination.  Last year I showed you a 'lake' that had been devastated by drought.  It looked like this when I shared it with you.  It was just a river off in the distance!
This is what it looks like this year.  This was taken from the same spot as last year's photo but not zoomed in as much - and it was a cloudy day so the mountain was hiding.
There's a saying here in Oregon - 'If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!'  Our trip home from the lake was testimony to the truth of that statement.
 A few minutes later and a few miles farther north.
We did return to the lake for a few days of vacation last week.  I'll share more of that time with you on another day.  My sweetheart spent time early each morning searching for fish!  Although he wasn't as successful as he hoped to be we did bring home fish that went into the freezer for a few future meals.  We had a beautiful campsite and the weather was perfect.  Every evening after dinner my sweetheart took Joey and me for a boat ride on the lake.  We all wore our life jackets - even Joey.
Time on the lake was so refreshing and all the cares of the day that tried to fill my mind just seemed to vanish.  I told my sweetheart, 'This is what life should be!'  I'm totally convinced we should buy a house on a lake so we can take evening rides after dinner every night!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Little Bits of Stuff

I'm checking in again to let you know that I'm still around these parts. I've had a bit of a problem getting photos on my blog so I haven't done any posts recently. My new laptop seems to think everything belongs on 'the cloud' and it kept telling me that's where my photos belong! Well - excuse me - those are my photos and you can't have them Mister Cloud.  I seem to have figured out how to get them back. It worked this time - here's hoping I can soon share more. Since I upgraded to Windows Ten I can't use Windows Live Writer to draft my blog posts so the formatting doesn't turn out the way I want it. Blogger has problems with formatting and it's frustrating when it won't do what it's supposed to do.  I've considered changing to another blog service - and I may do that one of these days. In the meantime, it is what it is!

My sweetheart and I have been busy. As always. Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods and there's yard work and projects galore. Our list of things that must be done before winter returns seems endless but we're working on them. Progress is always a good thing!

We've taken some time off and gone away from home, too. One of my Facebook friends made a comment that we go away more than anyone she knows. I replied and told her that's how we keep our sanity in the middle of everything that life brings our way.  We're retired, after all! We took a day trip to the Oregon Coast not long ago. It was a gray, cloudy day when we arrived.
It wasn't long before the sun came, the day warmed up and we spent time walking on the beach without our coats.
Last week we spent a few days in Central Oregon.  My sweetheart's family gathered at his brother's home with family visiting from out of state. We had a great time together and it was such fun to relax and catch up with each other. We took our big home-on-wheels and spent a couple of extra days in a wooded campground nearby. One evening we had dinner guests come by. A mama deer and her twins came right up with the side of the trailer. The mama knew we were there - she watched us most of the time they were there.
Part of my growing up years were spent in Central Oregon so I always feel at home when I return. I never get tired of the mountain views - I can't get enough of them.
Joey loves it best when we travel with the big trailer because we have to take my sweetheart's pickup. The front seat has room for all three of us and he is one happy dog when he can be sit between us. He loves to look out the window but it's absolutely perfect when he can snuggle down on his blanket and take a nap with the two of us beside him. He's a contented little guy at nap time. It means miles and miles of sweet dreams!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hanging Out With My Friends

If you wonder where I've been and what I've been doing - I've been hanging out with my friends.  It's a habit that started many years ago when I was a young girl.  Proof is in the photo albums my dear mother so lovingly assembled and kept.  That's me in the picture - a very happy, six-year-old girl - with my friends.  I loved my dolls and animals!  I can tell you stories about almost every one of them - and would you believe I still have some that are in the photo? 

Oops, pardon me - I got side-tracked.  It took me a long time to get over the horrible 'bug' that made me sick earlier this year.  It took antibiotics and cough pills for daytime and cough syrup for nighttime and then - viola! - I started to feel better in time to enjoy a visit with one of my very best friends.  We've been friends since college days and we've stayed in touch since then.  We try to get together and do something special every year or so.  This time she flew up here for a week's visit.  During that week we drove to the Oregon Coast to attend a wonderful ladies' retreat.  We had a beachfront lodge room and gorgeous weather.  Add to that a hundred and fifty other ladies to spend time with.  Great speaker - good food - sweet friends, new and 'old'.  What a special time we two had together.

I was there - honest, I was.  You can tell because those are my shoes!  I was enjoying some quiet time out on the patio of the lodge.  Time alone, in the sun, just putting my feet up and relaxing.

Shortly after my friend left to go home I met another dear friend for lunch.  She used to live close by before they moved to Georgia.  She comes often to visit her daughter and we get together when she's here.  Lunch at a new-to-me place in Portland and lots of good catching up made for a very special time.  I took this picture on my way to meet her that day.  Only in Portland would you find a chicken playing a violin on the corner of a busy intersection!
I had such a good time with my friends but I couldn't leave this post without saying that my very best-ever friend and I left town for a few days last month.  My sweetheart and I (and Joey) took our home-away-from-home-on-wheels to the beach for a few days of rest.  We stayed in a new-to-us place and had a quiet space at the end of road in an 'adults only' side of the RV resort.  It was a new experience for us and we had a good time.  Most of the reason we had a good time was because we were away.  Together!

(my sweetheart and Joey walking on the beach)

Other things have been happening around here but those will have to wait for another day.