Friday, December 30, 2016

Year's End


Photo courtesy of Wayne Watson

     Another year is ending, and it seems like it just began.  There have been so many things this year that have sent me to my knees, unsure of what the Lord was doing or how things would turn out.  

     On this New Year's Eve, I was reminded of something given to me a number of years ago:



We will face the new year as we have the last: on our knees and trusting in the Sovereignty of Almighty God.


     Stay on your knees, Caregiver, and keep looking up as Our God is still in control in this coming year ... just as He has been in each of the past ones.

       Shared in love, 
                                   Chris

   


 










Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Away From Home - memories shared by Wayne Watson

Wayne Watson, taken "somewhere" in Viet Nam

Christmas is a time of memories: sharing favorite ones and making new ones.  In that spirit, I am posting here a story my husband shared with us at our family Christmas Eve Dinner several years ago.  It's a good reminder that you never know how a simple thing can impact someone's life.  Chris 


*

  It was December, 1969; Christmas in Viet Nam was coming.  First Christmas away from home and the ones I loved.  Missions were running as usual – the Viet Cong and the North Viet Nam Army were preparing for T.E.T. and most of us were a little tense to say the least.

Everyone was getting "care packages" from home and just like the rest, I received one, too.  And of all the things to get, it was a Christmas tree!  But not just a Christmas Tree – this one came complete with "SNOW"!  The little tree had tiny Styrofoam balls that blew up through the center of the tree and then fall gently onto and through the branches.  The "snow" was collected in the base and then it was blown back up through the center of the tree to make a continuous "snow fall".  It was the coolest thing any of us had seen in a long time!  It was unlike anything the rest of the guys received and we all really enjoyed it.

The most precious lady in the world cared enough for this 19 year old Marine, far away from home, to send something as special as this!  We set it up in the middle of the hooch (living quarter) and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.  Everyone asked if Mom had sent it and I told them, "No, it came from someone very special."  

But even I didn't realize then just how special she really was or that someday she would become my wife.  And a very special one she has been since our wedding day on November 28, 1970.  

Over this 46 year trip, I've been privileged to learn that acts of kindness like the one in 1969 were simply a way of life for her, and I thank God that she became my precious wife.

     Shared in Love,

                             Wayne 



Note:  The little Christmas tree is still a part of our traditions.  It's tiny, paper ornaments have been given an "upgrade"!  




Merry Christmas!  
                                    Chris   










Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It’s All About Our Focus



     In my last post, I shared about my stresses and lack of faith in my situations.  My Pastor’s wife, Mrs. Brothers, shared with me what keeps her going in the trying times of her life.  Those Bible verses and her advice have tremendously helped me.

     What has also helped is a recent Devotion reading from Dr. Charles Stanley with “In Touch Ministries”.  Dr. Stanley says that what we focus on is what our heart will seek.  He says that our fear and stress come from focusing on the situation rather than on the Lord.  In his devotion, he retold the story from the Bible when the Disciples were in a boat headed to another town.  Before they could reach shore, a storm came up.  In the midst of the storm, they saw Jesus walking on the water coming toward them.  Peter spoke up and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”  And Jesus did, and Peter stepped out and walked to Him – on the water!  

     The storm was still raging, but Peter was walking on the water, he walking to his Lord!  But then he began to sink into the waves.  Why?  Because he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm raging around him.  While he was focused on Jesus, he was fine.  But when he took his eyes off of the Lord, he sank.

     I’ve realized after meditating on what Mrs. Brothers had shared with me and Dr. Stanley wrote, that is what has been happened to me: I have my eyes off of my Lord and am focusing on my storms.  Where my focus is that is where my heart is: in the dark waters of fear and stress.

     It’s all about focus.  What we focus on is what our heart fills with and what our emotions believe.  So focus is vital, especially to our spiritual well-being.  And that, too, is a choice: we must choose what to focus on.  And sometimes it takes a conscious, deliberate decision to change what we are focusing on.  

     My friend and fellow blog writer, Tracey Brewer, shared the following quote on her blog just recently.  It sums this up really well:




     In that story of Peter walking on the water, the most precious thing to me is that when Peter cried out, Jesus was right there, took him by the hand and lifted him up.  Then the TWO of them walked back to the boat together.  Peter just needed to look to Jesus and call out to Him and he was rescued.  Jesus was to Peter and is to us today just a heart’s cry away.  And He will reach down and pull us up out of the raging waters, too.  And by focusing on how much our Lord loves and cares for us, our world will be properly ordered and our daily walk will be restored.

     Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  And my focus needs to be on how blessed I am:

          1.  My husband’s surgery went great!  The doctor had to do more than he expected but it all went well and we are now in the slow but steady recovery.  What a blessing!

          2.  The presidential election is over.  From a secular standpoint, only history will tell if the choice was a good one.  But the Bible tells us that the Lord puts down one and raises up another.  He is in control.  He is still King of Kings.  We are blessed.

          3.  There are still family situations that are not resolved and which I have no control over.  But I can pray for them and trust the Holy Spirit to move in their lives.  This is a privilege.

          4.  Mom’s health will never improve, but she is not in pain and her mind is clear.  We have her with us today and we have the privilege of caring for her.  We are blessed. 


     When I focus on the good things and the truth of the Lord that He is in control and involved in the day to day details of my life, the circumstances I deal with are not the “end of the world” that my emotions can make me feel like they are.  My focus must be on the strength and faithfulness of our Lord Jesus.  And that is Bible truth, regardless of what my raging storm of emotions tries to make me believe.

     Caregiver, you, like me, are blessed to be in the situation you are in – even if it doesn’t feel like it at times.  We choose what we focus on.  This Thanksgiving, let’s choose to focus on what we do have - for we have so much!  We are truly blessed.
  
          Shared in love, 


                                                                 Chris









       

   

Monday, October 31, 2016

Going On Isn't A Choice

Photo by CE Watson


     As I've posted here before, fall is my favorite season of the year.  But this fall hasn't given me the pleasure and peace I usually enjoy.  There has been just too many stressors: Mom's continued decline in her health, my husband's upcoming back surgery, problems within the homes of some of our family members, all the chaos and unrest loudly broadcast on the evening news, and of course, the current Presidential campaign -- which grieves me to no end!   Yes!  Way too many stressors!

     I know I'm a Christian, yet I have been feeling almost overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.  I just couldn't seem to get my head above the black water and focus on the Lord, no matter how hard I tried.  After church Sunday, I talked with our Pastor's wife, Mrs. Brothers.  I've been at our church a long time and I know that during the 40+ years of their ministry there, Pastor and Mrs. Brothers have gone thru a great deal and now she is dealing with her husband's very serious health situation.  Yet, she is still a gracious lady with a gentle and easy smile.  And Sunday, in spite of all that she has going on in her life, she wanted to know how I was doing.   

     Mrs. Brothers talked with me for a while, letting me share my fear and anxiety.  She agreed that we live in stressful times and they trouble her, too.  Then I asked her how she did it, how she kept going.  She gave me that gentle smile and said, "Going on isn't a choice.  How we go on is."  She shares some Bible verses with me that strengthen her and then she said, "I remind myself that God is good ... always.  He knows, He cares, He's with us through it all.."

     I have a print on my wall that my sister-in-law, Martha, gave me.  She wanted me to have it because it is of a horse (my favorite animal!) and a Bible verse.  The verse is "Be strong and very courageous..." from Joshua 1:7.  I see that print every time I come thru my living room and I read it either consciously or unconsciously every time I see it.  But I don't feel strong nor courageous.  And after talking with my Pastor's wife, I thought about that verse and remembered that the Lord was telling Joshua more than just to be strong.  The best part of what the Lord was saying to him is in verse 9 which repeats a variation of the phrase from verse 7,: "...Be strong and of a good courage; ..." and then gives the reason he could be, "... be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."  

     "Going on is not a choice.  How we go on is."  Going on with the Lord is the only safe and secure path we have because He already knows the end from the beginning, He has a plan and a purpose, and He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

     I have a choice: but not about going on – that is a given, and I must get up every day and go on, too.  But how I go on is a choice.  I want to go on with the Lord, to see His strong and mighty hand making a path where there is no path; to see His Warrior Angels protecting us and bringing us thru; to see His plan for us ... for me ... fulfilled.  So I told the Lord that, confessed that I'm weak and can't do this myself, that I need Him and His strength to handle all this.  I know I'm on solid ground here because in the Bible, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "... for when I am weak, then am I strong." 

     The line from a favorite hymn that says "Oh, for grace to trust thee more" is now the prayer I whisper more and more. And at least for now, the Lord has eased the anxiety and fear and given me again a touch of His peace.  

     So I stay on my knees and I keep looking up.

                                             Shared in love, 

                                                              Chris


Here are some of the Bible verses that were shared with me:

... for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ... Hebrews 13:5

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.:  Isaiah 41:10

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  Psalm 56:3

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.  Psalm 118:8

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Proverbs 3: 5-6

... whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.  Proverbs 29:25






               

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Days Pass Fast ... The Years Faster




Brantley, Mom Evans, and Dawson
Photo shared by Chris 

Brantley when he was a newborn
Photo shared by Jackie

Dawson when he was a newborn
Photo shared by Chris 

     Mom has a brand-new great-grandson!  We took her to meet him and it was a delightful and very special time.  

     Seeing Mom and the baby together reminded me of when this little guy's big brother was born.  That was 4 years ago and this week he started pre-school!  That seems almost impossible!  Wasn't it just a few short days ago that he was a newborn, too?  

     The days I've been helping care for Mom have been fast, too ... and these 6 years have gone faster than the days have!  Her doctor told me recently that Mom's lungs are worse but that was something I already knew from watching her breathing become more difficult and take all of her energy.  She wants to do things, but the effort to breath makes the effort too great.  Mom was always the one up and doing for others, so I know this physical situation she deals with is mentally and emotionally hard for her.  I encourage her to do anything she wants to do or feels like doing, but, like her new great-grand-son with his mother, Mom sleeps a lot more now and just lets me do more things for her.  

     I don't mind anything that I do providing for her care, nothing is too much --  and I don't share that to get a complement or a pat on the back.  In the time I've had the privilege of caring for Mom, I've learned more about myself than anything else.  And I've learned this is something I not only want to do but actually need to do.  Caring for her gives me focus and a different kind of purpose in life – when I tell Mom this, she shakes her head and tells me she doesn't see how.  Truthfully, I don't fully understand that, either; all I know is that our Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed and daily makes a way for me to do this –  and I thank Him and praise Him for this season of my life.

     The days that belong to these two little boys that we spent the afternoon will go fast, too, and they will disappear into men much too soon.  Their parents are wise to make the most of these days, to influence them for eternity, and to make wonderful memories with them.   

     As these fast days turn into even faster years, I'm trying to use the same wisdom and not take for granted the time I have with my Mom and my husband.  I want the memories I'm someday left with to be just as precious, just as good, and most of all ... comforting.

     Caregiver, remember that you, too, are doing things every day that not only bless the one you are caring for but bless you, too.  It is a gift that you cannot give without getting back, even if it doesn't seem that way right now.  So stay on you knees and keep looking up -- we aren't home yet.

          Shared in love, 

                                                                 Chris







       

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness


Source unknown


     I have shared other posts here on acts of kindness because I have been the recipient of them and I know first-hand how uplifting they can be.  It seems the Lord will touch someone's heart to send me a card or give me a note, or even a hug at church with a kind word just at the moment I needed it most – and they were totally unaware of my need!

     My youngest brother, Doug, recently shared an situation he was involved in.  It blessed me tremendously because my brother has experienced some relationships that have made him very, very reluctant to be open.  So when he called the other evening to share his experience, it not only meant so much that he was willing to be open with me but what he did blessed my heart tremendously.

     Doug told me that he stopped by the grocery store near his home to pick up a few things.  When he went to check out, there was an elderly African-American woman with two young children checking out ahead of him.  She didn't have but a few things and to Doug it looked like the things she was purchasing would probably be what she would fix for them for dinner.  When the clerk gave her the total, she didn't have enough cash to pay for it all and had him take several of the cans of vegetables off, which he did, and she was able to pay for the other items.
     
     Doug said he stood there trying to decide what to do because he felt he really wanted to help her but was afraid that she would be offended if he did.  Then he remembered hearing someone say that when in doubt, do the kindest thing.  So he told the clerk to put the cans into her bag and he would pay for them.  

     What Doug wasn't prepared for, he said, was how grateful the woman was.  She kept thanking him and saying, "God Bless you."  He said he was a little overwhelming because it only costs him about $2.50 to help her, and yet it apparently meant so much to this woman.  He just smiled and told her he was glad he was able to help.

     After she and the children left, the young clerk looked at him and said, "That was awesome!  I've never seen anybody do that, man!  That was awesome!"
     Knowing my brother, by this time he was quite embarrassed!  He said he told the clerk, "That's the way I was raised."  Then he paid for his things and left.

     Yes, that was the way we were raised.  Our parents showed us by their actions to help when possible, to never look down on people, and to always be grateful.  Sometimes I'm sure they thought we were too hard-headed to get it, but apparently we did -- it just took us maturing to bring it out!

     As I listened to my brother, I was so proud of him and wanted to burst into tears!  He was totally out of his comfort zone in what he did and then in telling me about it!  Then I realized that what he did had created ripples that he would probably never see himself: his simple act had impacted at least five lives:  

              First, he helped the elderly lady at her point of need, both financial and materially.

              Second (and third) he showed her two young grandchildren an act of kindness from a total stranger, someone who expected nothing from them in return.

          Forth, the clerk, who happened to also be an African-American.  Here was my brother, a Caucasian, helping an African-American family and showing that  compassion knows no boundaries.

              And then there was the other man in line behind my brother, who witnessed it all and had his life touched even if he wasn't consciously aware of it.

     Random acts of kindness.  A little thing that can be a big thing to someone.  We never know who the Lord will bring across our path, nor how we will be able to bless them ... or be blessed by them.

          Shared in love, 


                                                                 Chris







       











       











   

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Remembering our Dad on Father's Day.

My Dad.  He loved to fish!!  

Dad and my brother, Bill Evans, Sr.  Both are now in Heaven.  Both are tremendously missed. 
Photos shared by CE Watson


       My Dad, Douglas C. Evans, Sr., who went to Heaven in November, 1976.  He had lung cancer and only lived 75 days from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died.  My Mom, my brothers, my husband, and I took turns staying at the hospital day and night so that he wouldn't be alone, and so we could be with him every minute that we could. 

       The last thing Dad and I said to each other at the hospital that night when he died  was me asking him if I could get him anything, and he told me that he had all he needed.  I had no way of knowing that just a few minutes later, he would draw his last breath and would be gone from me.  I tried to tell him that I loved him, but his soul had already gone to be with the Lord.  Being with him when he dried was  the best and the hardest thing I ever did.  

       Even today, almost 40 years later, I so miss his easy smile and his dry sense of humor.  And I often long to just be his little girl again.  I realize now that I took that SO for granted when he was alive!  It embarrassed me to have him pull out my 2nd grade school photo and show it to his friends - especially when I was 18!  I never understood that he did it because it was his way of saying he loved me.

        Dad's influence on us continues on.  Recently, my husband made reference to him while we were working on our deck.  Dad was a craftsman, precise and correct in everything he did.  He was intelligent and a very good problem solver.  He did his best in every thing he did, and expected that from us kids, too!  I didn't understand then that he was preparing us to succeed in the real world.

      Dad lives on in our memories and in our hearts.  Just wish I had had more time with him and that he could have known us, his kids, as adults - after we had obtained some degree of sense! 

       The broken heart and sorrow we feel is a tribute to the relationship we had with the one that has died.  The emptiness we feel in their passing from here makes Heaven more real.  Sometimes the hardest thing about the death of a loved one or a friend is to realize that the sun comes up tomorrow, and life goes on.  We never stop missing them; we always remember them; and on those days when we can touch their memory, those memories are precious and comforting. 

       On this Father's Day weekend, I remember my Dad.  I love my Dad.  I still miss my Dad.

          Shared in love, 

                                                                 Chris






       










Sunday, May 29, 2016

Make Memories While You Can

Photo shared by Kelli Swinney


     As a caregiver, I find myself focusing so much on the physical care of Mom that I sometimes don’t take into account what it does to her to be the care receiver.  She is my Mother and has always been the one taking care of everyone else.  It was something she did out of that great heart of love that she has.  Recently, we had a situation where I had to take care of her physical needs and clean up her up.  The Lord taught me early on the importance of what I am doing and I have never felt that doing the custodial duties is something that is beneath me to do.  So when I finished helping Mom that day, she rather tearfully apologized for what happened and thanked me for taking care of her.  Fortunately for me, it was one of those times when I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading and I told her that what I wanted more than anything was to make her better, but since I couldn’t do that then I will do everything I can to make her comfortable.  

     I focus so much on taking care of the physical and emotional needs of my mother that I tend to forget that this time, this Season of life, is as much for me as it is for her.  The Lord gave me a lesson in this the other day.
     A friend of mine, Kelli Swinney, and I were talking about her father who is in the advanced stages of Alzhimers.  Kelli shared with me how hard it is for her to see her father being confined to a wheelchair and look at her with no recognition of who she is.  But she knows who he is, and that helps her as she does what she can for him.

     That is also what prompted Kelli to make a trip with her son, Zeb, to spend time with her father.  Zeb is currently serving in the Army Reserves as well as being a full-time college student and his grandfather is an Army veteran who served in the Army Signal Corp.  Zeb wanted to show his grandfather his own Army uniform and his Signal Corps patch; he wanted the grandfather he grew up with to be as proud of him and his accomplishments as he always has been of him.

     After they returned from the trip, I asked Zeb how the visit went.  He told me it was hard, that he wasn’t expecting his grandfather to be so advanced.  He said he told his grandfather about his boot camp, his training, his Army experience, but his grandfather just smiled at him and made no response.  

     Listening to Zeb talk, I realized that the trip and the time spent at the nursing home wasn’t for Grandfather ... the time was for Zeb.  Even though Grandfather will not remember that day, Zeb will always remember it and he was the one that needed to make this memory for himself.

     Later that day, I realized that with all I do for my Mom, I need, too, to just “visit” with her and be with her and let her share her thoughts and memories and what is on her mind.  I need to do this not just for her, but for myself so that I don’t forget.

     If the time does come when Mom looks at me with no recognition of who I am, I will continue to do for her what I am doing.  It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know; what is important is that I know.  

     Some days feel very long but they are passing much to quickly.  This Season of Life will change, so I pray the Lord will give me great wisdom to make the most of this time so that I don’t look back and say, “I wish I had....”  That would be the greatest regret of all.

     Caregiver, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love, and that you are never alone.  Stay on you knees and keep looking up.

                                                                 Chris






       









Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Helping Us Focus - A Spiritual Journal

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


     Almost every day, I try to have a time with Mom where we read from the Bible together and have a devotion time.  Since I am always encouraged by the teaching of Dr. Charles Stanley, we use his monthly devotional booklet in our daily reading.  A recent devotional reading meant a lot to me and I share a part of it here with the prayer that it will help and encourage you, too.

          "When adversity strikes, we sometimes forget our knowledge of God, too.  We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, specific guidance provided by the Holy Spirit, and lessons learned in prior crises.  Only the present situation seems real.  As our minds spin with future implications, troubled emotions can inhibit clear thinking.

          "Reading Scripture regularly is a key to remembering biblical truths.  Another importance resource is a SPIRITUAL JOURNAL (emphasis added).  As a written record of your pilgrimage with the Lord, it will contain the specifics of how He has previously worked in your life.  It serves as a map to trace where you've been and how He has helped you along the way.  While your current rial may be a new one, you can look back to see the Lord's unchangeable nature over the years.

          "As Christians, we have an enemy who wants our focus diverted from the Lord Jesus ..."

     I am such a big promoter of keeping a journal of the events of one's life.  During these days that I am caring for my Mom, I have found that keeping a journal is such a tremendous way to work through the emotional aspects of the Caregiving journey I am on.  Something about putting the frustration, hopeless anxiety, and fear into words on a page defuses the emotions.  It also helps me to direct my praying to focusing on what I am experiencing.  

     A friend also suggested taking that journal with those written down emotions and writing a relevant Bible verse reference next to them as a way to re-focus.  The one that has been my comfort recently is what I wrote next to a particular situation I recently gone through that left me particularly fearful: Isaiah 41:10 which says "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."  Having the verse there next to my emotional struggle re-focuses me on my Lord who is higher, stronger, and wiser than I.  It gives me comfort and helps me to continue on.  

  Caregiver, even if you are caring for your loved one by yourself, please remember that you are not alone in this journey.  Our Lord promises to never leave us nor forsake us and He is just a prayer away.  

                                                                   Chris


Dr. Charles Stanley's quote is from the April, 2016, issue of "In Touch Daily Readings".
       






       














Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sharing Some Of My Favorite Resurrection Week Posts from facebook





     Some really meaningful Resurrection Week post were shared on facebook.  I wanted to share a few of my favorites here.  

     May our Lord's peace and love fill your heart and home! 

     Love in Christ,

                         Chris 

































But this one explains it the best of all.