Welcome to the Christian Indie Authors Thanksgiving Blog Hop! Clicking on the image above will take you to links for the rest of the blogs for this hop. We'll be having all sorts of interesting things to say. And be sure to check out each blogger's site, as they are also great Christian authors. I bet you'll find something you'll like.
So now, here's my little thoughts for the day:
What are we NOT thankful for this year?
I was thinking about it, and we list so many things that we most certainly supposed to be thankful for. Many of us even manage to thank God for things we aren't so sure about...
The dog (who chews up our shoes and chair legs)
The noise the kids make (because that means our house is full)
I have a much harder time thanking God for the things I don't like. I mean in truth, I like the dog, I love my kids and husband, and our friends.
What about the things I don't like? I mean really truly don't like. Not the things you say you dislike because it's funny to say it.
The things that keep you up at night.
The worries and fears. The tragedies.
I know that's a tough one. Who wants to be thankful for a tragedy? For a heartache? None of us.
But God says to give thanks in EVERYthing. That's not easy. I mean I can type it all day long, doesn't mean I can now fall down in gratitude over that thing I was crying about last night, or the ache in my heart that just won't go away because someone left a hole that no one else can fill.
I mean really, we're supposed to GIVE thanks...that doesn't always mean we FEEL the thanks.
So what do we do? How are we supposed to give thanks for the things that really are tough? The things that make it hard to get up in the morning? Those trials, tragedies, heartaches that we don't even want to look at because that would mean they exist?
There's only one way I know how to do that. And that's to turn to God and ask Him to help us. It's when we're dealing with those impossibly difficult things that we can truly feel God's help in our lives in a concrete fashion.
When we're grateful for something, we are forced to look at it. We're forced to analyze it, even if it's just a little.
I think God wants us to ask Him for thankfulness. He wants us to rely on Him for even this - the ability to SAY thank you to Him, even if we don't yet FEEL grateful about it.
While it's hard, and might be the hardest thing you've ever done, just try it. Just try saying thank you to God for something that's gut-wrenchingly difficult.
I'm not saying it will be easy. But any time God asks us to do something hard, He promises He will make it worth the risk for us. Just through this season, let's try to be truly thankful for everything.
I Thessalonians 5:18
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
My favorite Thanksgiving recipe:
Apple Betty Pie
(I always try to use a variety of different apples for the pie, as that gives it a nice blend.)
The book linked below is a short story I wrote in order to share a piece my husband's great-grandmother wrote about 100 years ago.
The author, Sherry Chamblee, is also the full-time caregiver for her husband's grandmother. His great-grandmother (Granny's mom - Rachel Clark Kennedy) was an aspiring author when she wasn't being a nurse. Back in the early 1900s she wrote books - lots of them. She had at least one full-length novel, wrapped and sealed and sent to herself in the mail. Since the family saw it last, they'd lost track of it. The author got it into her head to look for this manuscript.
Back in February of this year (2014), we were looking for it (read 'searching frantically through an old shed') when we found a bin full of Granny's mother's things. In that bin was an old nurse's registration certificate belonging to Rachel Clark - Granny's mom. Paper-clipped to that certificate were several pages of typewriting paper - she'd written a short story, titled The Signal. Turns out it's about 3000 words long, but complete. The only complete story of hers that has been found, so far.
The certificate is dated December 2, 1914. One hundred years ago. It's safe to assume the story paper-clipped to it was written in the same year, or very close to it.
Her complete manuscript is included in 'Rachel's Story', just as she had it 100 years ago, in chapter 5, as it's being read to her own daughter.
This is a very short story at only a little over 8,000 words.
I have only edited the spelling in her part of this story, so as to keep her unique voice throughout. This is why readers may find a few grammatical errors in that chapter, and/or outdated words. This part was indeed written one hundred years ago, and is still an unpolished work, though still very enjoyable to read.
All proceeds from this book will go to help in the care of Rachel's daughter, my husband's grandmother.
Recently in my family the subject came up of who we as Christians ought to have as friends.
Yes, friends are a great influence on us.
Who is the influence in your group?
Is the spiritual leading the group?
Or does the non-spiritual win out?
Is there a trend towards God?
Or away from God?
Back in the day, so many people say, well, Jesus hung out with sinners and publicans.
Yes, He did. And guess what - Jesus made friends with them.
Jesus was the greatest influence within His group of friends. He didn't let them lead Him...He was the leader. And I think that's the biggest indicator of whether or not your friendships are honoring God.
Is Christ the leader of your group?
When do we provide a refuge for our kids?
I know my answer as mom tends to be whenever the child feels threatened or afraid, or just bad. But is that the right answer?
This might shock you, but I'm going to say no, that isn't always the right answer.
I'm going to put it into context for us. A parent should not provide refuge for a child against discipline.
We might say, Well, of course....but let's look at it in a situation.
When dad disciplines your child, do you let the child run to mom for that comfort to get over the 'trauma' of discipline? Then you've just provided your child the wrong kind of refuge. If your child is running to the other parent after discipline, then they are looking to you for support AGAINST that discipline - it's basically a form of rebellion still, and whichever of you did the disciplining still has a job to do.
Of course I'm talking about the correct type of loving discipline, not harmful. If your spouse is harming your child and calling it 'discipline', then you need to protect yourself and the children, get out, and get counselling. But that situation is not what we're talking about here.
We're talking loving, correct discipline.
Let me add, too...if your child is still looking for comfort after discipline, then your discipline isn't finished. Correct discipline ends with the child being happier than they were before the discipline. Why? Because their relationship with that parent is restored. Correct discipline ends in forgiveness. They don't need comfort from the other parent when forgiveness and restoration has happened.
So what do you do if your child is running to you as the 'other' parent? You gently take them by the shoulders, point them at your spouse, and say they still have some business to attend to with that parent. They need to ask the disciplining parent for forgiveness. You aren't doing them any favors by loving and hugging on them right then yourself. You'd only cement in their mind that they were UNFAIRLY disciplined. Yes, that's what you're telling your child, and your child has just successfully pitted his parents against each other. Don't fall for it.
Don't be providing a refuge to your child against proper discipline.
Second, don't provide a refuge against natural consequences of disobedience (short of physical harm, of course.)
This also counts for me as the natural consequence of just impolite behavior.
So, let's look at this in light of the way we react to God.
When God allows something in our life that we don't understand, don't enjoy, something that gets us downright angry, what do we do? Do we look to other people for comfort (commiseration, justification of our actions, etc.)
Or do we go back to God, humble ourselves, and quietly ask what He'd have us to learn?
I know half the time I'm guilty of wandering around with questions in my head, or complaining to friends, when instead I should be doing just this - talking to God about it.
Let God be your refuge, even from the things He Himself has allowed in your life.
This is about Dementia - not flowers, sorry.
Dementia, in any form, is devastating to everyone touched. I know it is - for two years we took care of my husband's grandfather while he slowly deteriorated from this terrible thing.
I have relatives dealing with it even as we speak.
It's all-encompassing for anyone who is doing the care-giving, plus so emotionally taxing. Suddenly the parent that has always taken care of you, is needing you to take care of them, eventually in even the most basic of functions. You wake up one morning, and your parent has forgotten where they are, what day it is, why you're in the house, and eventually, even more devastating, they forget who you even are.
It's so stressful, it's like living in a pressure cooker all the time. Your loved one cannot be left alone in a room, because who knows what they'll do. You're reduced to treating them like they're two years old - when you've had a lifetime of being taught to treat them with respect and honor. There's stuff that goes on in this process that none of the rest of y'all want to know about - not criminal, mind you, just things that no one else wants to deal with, but it has to be done. So now you feel guilty on top of it all.
And there's no relief.
They can't be taken to a senior daycare, because those facilities don't manage people who can't remember to take themselves to the bathroom. Not to mention the fact that often added activity makes their dementia worse for that day, sometimes a couple days after, as well.
You might not be able to afford in home care - we had a nurse come in for a little while each day, but it became so expensive we finally had to let her go. We probably could have afforded someone who wasn't a nurse, but we decided to take on the care ourselves. The money just wasn't there to afford outside, long-term help.
It was absolutely exhausting, and took our entire family pitching in. There was myself, my mother-in-law, my husband, and our two oldest daughters helped with the watching part. In the past I've been a registered CNA, so I understand daily personal care-giving. My mother-in-law is a registered nurse, so she had quality healthcare training. I cannot imagine what people are going through who have no formal care-giving training. And believe me, I DO understand what I mean when I say I canNOT imagine. I know there's a whole other level of fear, trepidation, worry, stress, and outright terror involved if you come into this situation without feeling adequately prepared.
And in it all, there's no one else who can help.
Each time something new happened with grandpa we'd realize that we had to step it up a level.
Grandpa had these collections of penknives - we eventually had to hide them all. Each time we turned around he'd have another one, and he'd be trying to cut something up - usually the tops off his socks. We don't know why he'd do that, but we couldn't just let him continue. I remember we'd follow him around watching like a hawk until he put that penknife down, then grab it when he wasn't looking and hide it from him. We finally had to scour every drawer, shelf, and cubbyhole in the house looking for those penknives because he seemed able to pull them out of thin air. It would have been comical if it weren't so terribly tragic.
Once he got hold of the handset of the phone, and would not release it to anyone. He hit the talk button, too, so no one could call in to the house for a few hours. When he finally let it go, we realized we had to start putting the handset out of his reach.
It was at this point that all sharp objects were put in a back area that he couldn't get to. All forks, knives of any sort, kitchen or otherwise, letter-openers, everything. The area of the house that he could access had to be completely childproofed - and that's a ton of work in a house they'd been living in for fifty years.
For awhile there he realized he was missing things, he knew we were hiding things from him, and it got him angry.
This man had spent a lifetime being unfailingly kind, even-tempered, the one his family could rely on to be their rock, the one that could handle any task he put his hands to. But it got to the point where he could no longer remember how to control his own emotions. It was devastating for him, it was devastating for us. He wasn't always kind anymore. He sometimes said things we hadn't thought would ever come out of his mouth. And we had to let it all roll off our backs - each day, all day.
It's not easy to write about this, not easy to think about, not easy to deal with. Let me tell you though, it's much, much harder to live with it in your house, day in, day out, night in, night out, every second. No one wants to come over, because no one else wants to see this loved one in this state, either. You can't go out, because they can't be left alone, and too much extra activity wears him out, and makes his dementia worse that day - and probably for a couple days afterward.
But I'm not writing this just to vent. I'm writing this in the hopes that it encourages someone, even one person, to reach beyond yourself for a little while.
The people you know dealing with this right now need your help.
You might say that you don't know how to deal with someone like that. Well, the ones living with it didn't know how to deal with it either, but they are in a situation that they cannot get out of, and they feel guilty for WANTING to get out of it.
Volunteer to go over there and sit with their loved one for a little while. They'll probably refuse the first time or two that you offer. Keep offering, and if you're a real close friend of the family, or another relative, just show up. Let them know you understand their sweet loved one might cuss them out until they're blue in the face. Let them know you understand you might have to clean up a mess. Let them know you understand that you might have to keep yourself out of arm's reach, because the grip on that fragile-looking senior citizen is INCREDIBLE, and you do not want to have to extricate yourself from it.
Other relatives living in the area? Be available! Show up and just start cleaning the house. Believe me, they need it. Don't judge when the house smells bad - because sometimes it will. Just help. Take out the trash. Sweep the floor. Clean the toilet. Clean out the refrigerator. Dust something. Go BUY GROCERIES. Oh goodness - some of these basic things just no longer showed up on our radar, and they'd get forgotten, and then there's something else to feel guilty about, making us feel like we'd failed.
When we were going through this with Grandpa, we had one relative that committed to taking him to his doctor's appointments for us. What a blessing this was! And just one example of a creative way to help a family that desperately needed help.
Oh how I wish everyone understood these things. I can't tell you how many times I've heard stories of people in this sort of situation, and there's other family nearby - like within a five or six minute drive from the house - and the other relatives almost never show up. I know it's usually not out of malice, or intentionally being neglectful - they aren't trying to ignore, they just have their own lives and their own things they do. It's not like they're sitting at home doing nothing - usually. Most often, these other relatives feel as if they CAN'T handle what's going on. They believe they are not ABLE to help, that they don't know what to do.
What they forget, I think, is that the family living in the house often feel the exact same way. They feel they are out of their element, all of this is beyond their capability, above what they can handle. They don't know what they're doing either. All they need is someone else to take a little bit of some of it off their shoulders. To stand next to them, maybe hold their hand, pray with them, talk to them, remember who they are.
Think about it.....these families are YOUR family. The ones living there in the house with the loved one afflicted with dementia are hurting. They are in desperate need of a respite - and respite care doesn't take on the intensive type watchcare that most of these people need. Not to mention the fact that respite care is not cheap - in any way, shape, or form.
They are in desperate need of being able to get out of the house, with the knowledge that their loved one is being watched lovingly, by another responsible person. Or maybe they just need to go in their own room and take a nap. Seriously - nap time is important!
Give them an hour or two of your time. Don't isolate them. Be a support. I know you're busy. I know you have legitimate things that you have to take care of or your own household will fall apart. I get that. Your family gets that. But find some slot of time you can give this hurting, desperate family of your relatives.
Show them you love them.
Show that you care.
To those living in this situation - you ARE understood. There ARE others who have gone through the same thing. There IS help. When someone offers you help, take them up on it. Don't be so independent that you think no one else can do what you're doing. They CAN. Let them.
AND cookies for everyone who actually read all the way through this long long blog post.
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I see this so often in our Christian circles - 'Stay out of politics - it doesn't matter in the long run.'
Do you know what happens when Christians stay out of politics?
I'm not saying that Christians caused the Holocaust, no. Hitler caused it, and those in his regime who refused to stop him...including those civilians in the area who helped the regime. They caused it.
When I was going through the Holocaust museum in DC a couple weeks ago, I couldn't help but wonder - where were all the Christians then? Where was the outrage? Where was the political push to do the right thing earlier? How could thousands of Christians stand by and watch while God's chosen people were crushed? (And others, mind you - the Jewish people were not the only ones persecuted.)
Innocent lives were being not just taken - that sounds so sterile... Innocent lives were being violently and horrifically ripped apart.
And many Christians stood by and watched.
Do you know why? Because of this same attitude I see today.
"Just stay out of it."
"It's not our business."
"This world's politics don't make any difference in the long run."
I have friends who believe this way...and I'm sorry, but I believe they are wrong in this. We are left on earth for one reason - to glorify God. And if we aren't being the salt and light in the world around us, then we aren't glorifying God, are we?
Christians have abandoned certain parts of our duties...and politics is one of them. We've told kids for at least a couple generations now that going into politics is somehow compromising. That it's something that Christians have no business being in.
Then we sit back and shake our heads at the state our government is in. We wonder where all the 'sane' people went. We cluck our tongues and say, 'Lord come quickly' when we hear of some of the things our government is deciding.
Think again, my friends. I beg of you. Think again. Christians have a duty to bring Christ wherever we are. If Christians abandon politics, Christ won't be in it anymore. And that's not God's fault. It's not anyone else's fault but ours.
So this week we're crazy busy getting everything ready...for the Chamblee's Great American Road Trip - 8000 miles of Awesome.
Yes, we're naming our trip - it's not weird.
So these pics are just a little intro to where we come from - namely our front yard. The house, however, there's no pics of that, because right now it's in that stage where it looks terrible right before it looks all better. I'm sure everyone else understands that stage...that's not weird either.
During our trip we plan to take lots of pics, sing around campfires and share videos, tell funny things the kids say, and have a special 'picture tour' to see if anyone can spot the Pickle.
(The Big Giant Pickle, so it shouldn't be a problem.)
By the way, I can't promise that there won't be at least one version of a Frozen song being sung - but I can promise I won't share it unless it's really good.
(Also not weird)
So while we go on this crazy adventure, starting Monday, follow along, and share your thoughts with us as we go.
Ok, yes that title sounds weird, but we've got your attention, right?
Honestly, that's the name of my husband's new children's book. I have so many special memories surrounding this story. Our kids would sit in the back seat, yelling at the top of their lungs, 'No, no! You mustn't grow! No, no, you mustn't roll!" (In order to understand that, you have to read the story.)
Here's a little intro to my husband and his awesome story, The Big Giant Pickle!
Richard Chamblee tells stories to his six children every chance he gets.
This one was created back when the kids were very young, to entertain them on long car rides.
The kids loved it, and joined in the storytelling until he had it perfected.
The Big Giant Pickle rolls and grows, and grows and rolls, and does not care what gets in its way.
Join the fun and check out this book! Kids love it, adults will have a blast reading it to them.
It can be bought on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B00M4S2YLE
Is also currently available in print through CreateSpace:
The Big Giant Pickle in Paperback!
Illustrations by Penny Booher-Jones
Other works by this artist can be found here: http://pennyjonesart.blogspot.com
How many times do we forgive?
This question was asked in a recent message being preached at my church. The preacher pointed out that the Pharisees taught the people they only had to forgive three times. We all sort of laughed at this thought. Religious leaders telling their people three times was the most you had to do? Only three? How silly were they...I thought in my head.
But then, I realized something.
How many times do we actually forgive someone in our day to day life? How many times can someone come up to you (or me) asking forgiveness for the SAME thing, before we write that person off as not worth our time anymore?
I think if you look back on reality, you'll see it's about three times. That's about as tolerant as we get - no seriously, don't get defensive, look at how we each really react to each other. After three times we proverbially wipe our hands of that person. This is the point where some of us put up those memes about there being a point beyond which someone just can no longer be tolerated, or we make a long Facebook post about people taking advantage of us, or misusing us and how we just don't have time for that sort of people.
Guess what? We're all Pharisees.
Peter said seven times...do I forgive seven times...and we laugh again. Yet in reality, Peter was pushing it beyond where most of us would draw the line, and I'm telling you, seven times forgiving the same offense? It's way beyond what most of us would ever be willing to do.
Now remember, forgiving someone doesn't mean putting it in the back of your mind and ignoring it. That's where fungus grows - in a warm dark spot where you try to ignore it. That's not where forgiveness grows.
If you're still thinking about it, stewing over it...counting it...then you have not forgiven. If that offense is brought up in your presence, and it immediately throws you into a bad mood, or brings all of it back up in your heart again, then you have not forgiven. No, you haven't. You've buried it. Not the same as forgiving. An unforgiven offense will resurrect itself over and over again, like a recurring character in The Walking Dead.
So looking at myself realistically, we don't even do as good as the Pharisees did, much less what Peter tried to say. I daresay none of us come close to attaining Jesus' standard - of 70 times 7...for the same offense, mind you.
Remember, true forgiveness means NOT washing your hands of the person who has offended you. In the very least, you can pray for them.
So today, just starting with today, forgive until you lose count.
Forgive like it was the first time.
Forgive like it'll be the last time you'll need to forgive it.