Monday, July 22, 2013

This Kansas Road

Three years ago, when I started keeping a journal about our dance with Alzheimer's here, one of the purposes was to inform and encourage those of you walking the same or similar road. In my writing, I have tried to simultaneously be authentic and delicate; surprisingly difficult when you are talking about the raw effects of a disease.

July 19th, 2013, marked the one year anniversary of Mama being placed in St. John's psychiatric ward. Recently, Dad and I traveled to MS, and we did what Dad and I do best together; solve the world's problems. In between solving the world's problem, we reminisced about this time last year. Today, I would like to gently tread on some of those life altering moments.

We all had done our Alzheimer’s research. We all knew in some way shape or form what was coming. We knew that paranoia, personality alterations, schedule changes, physical and mental decline, and the slow fading of sweet Mama, were a guaranteed part of our journey. But ain’t nobody have a New York best seller that can prepare you for that segment of the storm.

At the beginning of the summer of 2012, things began to down spiral for Mama. She was sleeping less and less; fear, paranoia, and panic were at on all time high. Daddy and Jonathan were like two parents caring for an infant. Mama rarely slept at night and needed constant care and attention during the day. Exhausted does not even begin to describe the mental, emotional, and physical state they were in. Mama’s mind rapidly began to betray her, the mental disease began to engulf her every moment, and glimpses of the real Val were getting rarer and rarer to behold. The Alzheimer's was all consuming. And it was as all the books had told us, hell on earth; yelling, crying, anger, uncontrollable weeping, confusion, and heart wrenching panic.

July 19th, 2012, for Mama’s safety and well being, for the safety and well being of Dad, Jonathan, and the entire family, we took Mama to the emergency room. As a family, we had dried up every possible ounce of energy and ability to care for Mama in a healthy manner, to care for her in a way that she was worthy of being cared for. We needed help!! *Small soap box moment* There is absolutely NO SHAME in asking for help when caring for someone with needs that extend beyond your abilities. So often there is guilt associated with placing someone in a assisted living, a nursing home, or having help come into your home, and believe you me, we all struggled with the demons of guilt this time last year, but the bottom line was we loved Mama so deeply that turning over the reigns of her care to someone else was more sacrificial and more painful than any other decisions we had made as a family. Watching my Daddy do what was absolutely the best thing for Mama, irrespective of his own heart bursting into a million pieces inside his body, was one of the greatest moments of love I have ever experienced.

Sometimes love means leaving your wife as she is calling after you, begging you to turn around and rescue her from the living hell she is walking through. Sometimes love means walking down a long, white hallway and hearing the doors behind you snap into lock down mode, you on one side of the door, your mother, the woman who brought you into this world, on the other. Sometimes love means waking up in the middle of the night sobbing in total helplessness, envisioning someone you love more than yourself, being all alone in an unfamiliar place.

The Notebook had nothing on us.

That day sucked.

Memories of that day still haunt all of us.

Nothing but raw, bleeding, sadness.

After walking thru that experience, her death seemed like a glorious gift.

In the middle of that hell, we were so blessed by the people who took care of our Mama. There are not enough meaty words to describe what they did for us and our unsettled, numb hearts. We called at all hours of the day and night. They were patient, gentle, and some of the best health care professionals I have EVER encountered. These people stabilized Mama and made it possible for her to live her final days more comfortably, without the disease suffocating her to the end.

Psychiatric nurses and doctors, cheers to y’all!!

To those coming behind us, when we say, “we understand” we really do! When pray for you, we pray out of this raw place of knowing and remembering.

What a season. What a journey. What a road.

I took this picture the other day and put in on facebook, I said, "sometimes we just need a hand to hold!"

In preparation of closing this season of our lives in KS, I think it goes without saying, that walking hand in hand with my family these last two years has been this unspeakable gift of blessing, healing, comfort, and this joy that makes your heart swell. I wouldn't trade our time here for ANYTHING. I wouldn't trade that awful day last summer, or any of the other awful days before then or since then, for anything less than it was or is; raw. Beautifully, painfully, wonderfully, raw. Because things are just sweeter and a little less awful when you have someone, or a lot of someone's hands to hold. For this journey, for this Kansas Road, I am utterly grateful.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Petri Dish

If there are any psychology majors, marriage and family therapy majors, counselors in training, those studying cortisol levels, newlyweds, or those of you who need a good reminder of why we are called to abstinence before marriage; I welcome you with open arms into our home right now to conduct your own personal "petri dish" study regarding how moving effects the very nucleus of a family of six.

I have a fairly high EQ (emotional quotient) so when walking through circumstances like a cross country move I try to pay attention to the subtle messages my children are sending me about the move, through their actions, words, body language, or lack of obedience ;) I cannot count the number of meltdowns we have had this week. Anderson cried from the moment he woke up yesterday til the moment he went back to bed. Julia and Lucy are fighting like vicious barn cats, and sweet Katie is asking a lot of questions, (this is her way of processing a big change). This is the place I omit how Mark and I are processing the change, it MIGHT include an embarrassing fight in front of company AND *maybe* a $200 bill at TJ's. *omission*

Change is hard. Moving is even harder. It is not even the 'touching every single item in your entire house' and boxing it that is stressful, it is all the details and emotions in between. Mark was telling me about listening to Tony Evans and his wife Lois, speak on the radio this week on the way to work. One of the things Lois encouraged her listeners to do is before getting out of bed each morning reaching your hands up to the heavens and telling the Lord that this is HIS day, and while we all have our individual plans for the day that HIS plans would prevail.

The last few days I have not necessarily lifted my hands to the heavens, (let's be real, I don't have that kind of energy before my cup of coffee, ;) but I have whispered, "This is YOUR day, precious Father!"

The last few days have BLOWN.UP!! Unpredictable changes, delays in MS, cranky kids, cranky Mama, unexpected bills, etc, etc,.... line it up people. BUT the whole time I have this unmoved sense of peace in my heart. And the Lord has whispered over and over in my quivering spirit, "I KNOW the plans I have for you, this move, and your yet to be home and life in MS!" PERIOD. The first two words always get me choked up, "I KNOW!" I love that He knows, even when I am stirring in a petri dish of unknowns and 'what ifs'. Not only does He know all the details and changes and delays and stresses; He knows ME, my hubby, and my babies. He knows the ache in our hearts, the excitement, the nervousness, the hesitations, and second thoughts we wake up too in the middle of the night.

He knows.

I trust Him. Unreservedly.

He is good. Always good.

And His plans are far, far, richer and more life giving than any plans I can muster up on my own.

So, here is to a day that is permeated by HIS plans, not mine.

Enjoy some pics of our final days in KS.

Chick Fil A Day with cousins

Sweet friends

Last date night in KS

Where we were engaged 12 1/2 years ago

Lucy lost her first tooth yesterday! *SOB*

Church friends

God always provides amazing friends for us to do real life with wherever we go. Not just acquaintances, but people who get in our lives and get covered in our junk and our goodness, and vice versa. We are so, so thankful for the Coopers, who have blessed us with their friendship, their lives, and their MANY gifts!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I am a brat!

I am very much a fan of the 'name it and claim it' camp.. not necessarily when it comes to religious philosophy, but most definitely when it comes to my junk. I try so hard to write on this blog when I am mostly balanced and stable. If you do life with me, you know that I am never 100% balanced and stable, how boring would THAT be? ;) All that to say, I try not to write when I am depressed, so that I am not like the next Mrs. Eeyore roaming the earth, and I try not to write when things are just peachy, because often times others read into that as if I am trying to communicate I have a perfect life. NEWS FLASH: I do not have a perfect life!! Hence, the reason I try to be well rounded in my writing.

Friday I failed you. Failed me.

When I write, typically there is only one person on this earth whose response I am looking for; Mark's. I can receive wonderful accolades from across the globe, but it is NOT until I hear the words come from his mouth, "Great blog today, babe."  "Laughed so hard I spit across the room!" "Sobbed like a baby in my office!" etc..etc.. Then I can dust my hands off and rest after a good day's work. But Friday, I could see it in his eyes when he walked in the door and said, "Today's blog wasn't your typical M.O., everything ok?"



We are moving, and that is not an excuse. But for those who have moved before you know that when you add 'moving' to the equation of life the whole thing is an unbalanced mess. Friday was a mess. I was a mess. Broken, sensitive, hurting, aching, unsure, unpredictable, just the most unpleasant peach to be around EVER. Ask my children, Mark and my KK.

When I sat down to write I was so self absorbed I had the audacity to complain about a smart phone. FOR REAL? A smart phone. *now everyone is frantically looking for Friday's post* I deleted it because it was not me. It wasn't anything extreme, just me being a first world brat with a first world complaint about my iphone. GIVE.ME.A.BREAK!

There are so many other things that I want to write about in this space concerning far more valuable areas.  Areas that enrich your time spent on this blog and my time spent writing. Complaining is not how I want to spend my time or your time.

If you happened to come across the blog on Friday, please forgive my selfishness.

When I regrouped and put my "world view" glasses back on I was ashamed, literally, ashamed, of how I often get wrapped up in my first world ridiculousness, when others have nothing. NOTHING.

Tonight I am grateful for gentle husbands, amazing cousins, large margaritas, delete buttons, and buckets of forgiveness that my heart abundantly needs.

Thanks for continuing to read from the hand of this very broken writer!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't Build Your House on the Sandy Land...

Who knew one could get so excited over seeing some red Mississippi clay all over one's land? We are thrilled because this means our house, which will soon be our home, is just days away from being placed.

When I was little we sang a Psalty the Singing Song Book song called, "Don't Build Your House on the Sandy Land"...

Double wide house planting 101; you cannot place sand underneath your house. It must be a firm dirt or clay. Otherwise you will sink. "Oh, it might be kind of nice, but you'll have to build it twice, oh you'll have to build your house once more!"

Last Monday, we prayed over our house as we left it sitting on the lot, our heart's prayer, "Lord, make this house a home that will be a safe haven not only for our immediate family, but for any one who passes through. May our home reflect the unique characteristics of our family dynamics and put all at ease who enter. May incorrect assumptions regarding passed stigmas of the type of home we have chosen for our family, cease to exist. May the walls of our home testify that even in private we want Jesus, that His Lordship guides our home. May the relationships that we build and sustain under this very roof glorify our Maker. Protect the hearts in this home, as real brokenness is contained in every fiber of our being. May it never be said of us that, "we did not know the Lord nor the work which He has done" (Judges 2:10). This very home is a testimony of a very alive and active God, who pursues sweet things for His people and blesses them. We are humbled! May our home be foretaste of everlasting fellowship divine. Amen!"

"As for us and our double wide, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!" Joshua 24:15 (double wide version ;)

Thank you Jesus, for abundant blessings!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Major Happenings!!

Oh wow. Not even sure where to begin! 
We had such an eventful week that one blog post might not cover it all.

First, our two big girls were privileged to experience Camp of the Rising Son for the first time as campers. This is the camp that Mark and I first met each other at 15 years ago. Their Uncle Zach, and the entire staff ensured that these two girls would bleed camp some day like their parents. Thank you CRS for a fantastic first over night camp experience! One we will not soon forget. 

Second, on Monday we bought our home. Ya know, just a typical Monday ;)

Kitchen looking into Family Room

Family room into Kitchen

Master Bathroom (notice Lucy's face)


Living Room

Family Room

More Master Bath

These two had a fantastic week being only children!

The beautiful piece of land that will soon be home!

What Anderson thinks life in MS will look like.

The new neighborhood

Mark building stairs because he has what it takes :)

And these two still smiling!

Then finally, we got our MS tags, registered to vote, picked our address, dug for a water meter, and joined the rest of the world with smart phones. However, Mark will not get his until we move back to MS because he is waiting on the Samsung 4s, because Apple was not good enough for him :)

All in a all a great week. Only thing left.... pack our life up in 18 days and brace ourselves to let Kansas go. Nothing short of a miracle.