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One of the markedly different experience I have had with my mom during this 9-month journey of caregiving is the way our relationship changed. Many of you will relate to this, but I became the parent and she became the child. I can almost identify the moment it happened and it rattled my world. NOW, I can identify another moment. But this time it was with my youngest son, Dawson Dawson is a "man of few words" unlike his mom. When he speaks, his words tend to be measured and meaningful. He is thoughtful and ponders long before he speaks-again, unlike his mom. 

Dawson and his family went out of town on vacation at the beach with all of Kathryn's family the day my mom died. The second time we talked after it had happened we were talking about the funeral details, etc. Dawson paused. His tone changed and with great tenderness said, "I have been praying for you. Tell me, how are YOU doing?" His tender inquiry sucked my breath away. His prayerful concern for his mom meant more to me than he will ever know in this life. The husky tone of his sincere question-heavily weighed with emotion-struck a chord deep in this momma's heart. Suddenly I was held in a moment when the CHILD HAD BECOME LIKE THE PARENT and I had become like the child. As a mom, it has been MY job to pray for him and ask him how he is doing. For years I had said this same line to him. But suddenly, just for moment, we experienced a role reversal-his concern for my well-being in the midst of this season of grief and sorrow was like that of a brokenhearted father for his troubled child. Dawson, this is a memory I will forever hold in my heart and treasure forever. Thanks, Son, you are a gift to you mom!
Posted: 5/23/2012 8:57:16 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

My mom was hospitalized on April 12. On April 20 we found out she had pancreatic cancer that was inoperable and terminal. Her doctor recommended residental hospice care. We were blessed to have mom go to the Baptist Trinity Hospice Care on April 24. This wonderful facility is located in the Collierville area.

On April 30th mom had a seizure on and it seemed to be a huge set-back for her. Although she used a tiny bit of medicine to combat the effects on Monday, she did not take anything else during the week. (In case you don't know, my mom would not even take Tylenol or aspirin!) At any rate, she slept almost all week long without medication-which is a blessing. However, we knew the state of sleep signaled another step in her decline. I sat with her each day and read long passages of Scripture to her. A faint smile would cross her lips occasionally but she kept her eyes closed and said very few words all week long. Before I would leave, I would pray for her and she would also hold my hand. On Tuesday she was so very weak and barely responsive. When I said I was going to pray for her, there was this very slow movement under the covers as she painstakingly drew her hand up to hold mine.

I had been invited to speak at Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC. over a year ago. They host the East Coast Women's Conference and I was asked to teach at it along with Donna Gaines. As the days unfolded, I felt a perfect peace to continue with my plans to go. Craig and I talked about it and felt impressed of the Lord for me to travel and teach at the conference Friday and Saturday regardless of my mom's condition, which we both knew could change quickly. Furthermore, we were trusting in God's soverignty to accomplish His plans and order our steps. (Many of you may remember we faced this same issue with his mom. We are scheduled to travel to India to teach. His mom broke her back and made a steady decline. However, she was not expected to die soon and we continued on with our plans to go. The night before we left Craig felt strongly that the Lord would take her home while we were gone although medically there were no indications of that. Craig prayed over her and pronounced the blessings out of Numbers over her. Two days before we returned, the Lord took her home.) 

On Thursday I sat with my mom and read God's Word to her. God granted me my 1 petition considering her-she confirmed her faith in Christ alone for her salvation. Thank you, Jesus. As I sat at her bedside I had a strong impression of the Lord that He was going to take my mom before I returned from my speaking engagement. I prayed for her before I left. She did not open her eyes but she took my hand and I committed her into the Lord's hands. As I turned away, she said something to me. Speaking had become extremely difficult but with great effort she said, "Give the kids a hug from me." Her tender request made me laugh out loud and she smiled at my response. I told her I loved her and left, believing we would not see each other until we met at the Throne of glory. 

When I got home I told Craig that I believed God would take my mom home this weekend while I was gone and that I had told her good-bye and was at perfect peace. I flew to Rocky Mount Friday morning with Donna Gaines. The prayer team at Rocky Mount had been faithfully praying for me and my mom. On Friday my sister drove up from Baton Rouge and Craig went to sit with my mom after work. He texted me that my mom had had a good day-much better than what she had had all week. She wanted coffee and was able to eat a tiny bit. How that encouraged my heart! I consider it a love gift from the Lord - a kiss from the King! The ladies at the conference cheered when they heard that report on my mom. So many had been praying for her. On Friday night Donna and I both taught 1x and on Saturday Donna we both taught twice ending with an invitation to receive Jesus. 

I will admit to being overwhelming tired as I started this trip. The months of caregiving have taken a toll on me and I don't "do stress" very well. Just before I spoke on Friday, Craig texted me that he had been impressed that we were about to see an unusual move of God at the conference. He believed God was up to something big, despite my fatigue and distraction. Each time I taught, i sensed an unusual anointing of the Holy Spirit. And I believe He moved among the women with distinctly strong power through the teaching of the Word. From the beginning the audience was very connected to both Donna and myself-leaning in and drinking up. They were a verbal crowd-with amens and applause-as the Lord Jesus was lifted up. And you KNOW how I like to teach in that kind of environment! Donna and I had to leave literally "from the pulpit" to make our flight and did not get to speak personally to the ladies at the end of the conference. We had come to love this group in a unique way. I felt unusually connected to them for the investment of prayers they had offered on behalf of my mom and sensed they had walked very close with me through this chapter of my life, although we did not know each other personally. So much so that I wept as I left them. 

Donna and I headed to the airport with our new sweet friends who acted as our hosts all weekend-Vicki and Shelby and we discussed how I had left thinking the Lord would take my mom in my absence. I had asked Craig to call me when it happened and not try to protect me during the conference. We arrived in Memphis and gathered out luggage. Craig met me at the curb and asked me to share a bit about the conference and my visit with Donna as we pulled away from the airport. I told him about the strong move of the Lord and the unusual anointing I had sensed. Then I asked how my mom was. A long pause followed before he said, "She is healed and she is home." At 5:30 pm she had quietly slipped away while Craig and my sister were with her. Absent from the body. Present with the Lord. My God does all things well!

Thanks for the incredible outpouring of love and prayer support during these difficult days. Heaven seems more real to me and Jesus is Lord of all!
Posted: 5/23/2012 8:45:02 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

For a few years now I have referred to myself as what I call "a woman of a certain age." It seems that no matter what was wrong with me, my doctor would say something to the effect, "Well, when women become a certain age . . . " Seriously?!!?

A woman of a certain age. I am not sure how that happened but that's who I have become. Okay, I get that. But now I have joined another secret society called "The Sandwich Generation." That is, the group caught between caring for aging parents AND for an active family. I am obviously at the upper age requirement of this phenomenon because I do not currently have children at home. My nest is empty. But the issues this season of my life have created have been HUGE for me. The demands of caring for my mom has been daunting. Many of you can relate to the internal tension and no small amount of stress that is produced by the need to become a caregiver for an aging parent WHILE spinning the plates of your own family needs and your life in general.

I am the only child living near my mom and I am actually about 1 hour away from my mom. I so have a sibling who lives out of town. She has certainly done her part to come up and help, and for that I am grateful. But the harsh reality of this season of my life is that the majority of the daily responsibilities for mom's care giving has fallen to me for the last 9 months. I work full time in my ministry, Standing Near the Cross. I am a Christian author and Bible teacher. For the last ten years or so, I have spend my days studying the Scriptures, writing Bible studies for women, and producing teaching DVDS. Most weeks, I teach one or two times and often travel to speak at women's conferences and retreats on the weekends. I have a precious husband, 2 grown sons married to darling Christian women, and 3 baby grands with 2 more on the way. I have a life. A very busy and satisfying life. Visiting with my mom, who was quite independent and lived alone, was a part of that life. All that changed in August 2012 when she picked up her microwave and was diagnosed with 2 compression fractures in her back. Suddenly, with one phone call, my life changed and I was called to care for my aging mother.

This is not my first time to be in this role. I helped care for my dad during his yearlong sickness that resulted in his death in 2000. During that year, his mom (my grandmother) lived with them and I helped care for her until her death in 1999. Craig's mom also lived in Memphis. In 2006 a fall in her home led to a 10-week period of care giving up until she passed away. So this is not a new season in my life. But this is the first time I have felt compelled to share my own God journey in this forum, for the purpose of encouraging others who have found themselves thrust into this role of caring for an aging parent. 

If you are a new reader to my blog or my Facebook page, you may not know that I am a committed Christian, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a devoted student of the Word of God. Whether I would do right by my mom was never in question. I KNEW I would do whatever God required of me in order to take care of my mom with grace and dignity. But knowing exactly HOW TO do that and HOW TO balance my own reality and responsibilities has been a challenge. Can I get a witness?

In Ephesians 6:2-3 the Bible says, "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." We are given a mandate to honor our parents as a child living under their roof and parental authority AND as an adult who has been freed from their parental authority. According to Strong's the word translated "honor" means to estimate, fix the value, for the value of something belonging to one's self, to revere, vernerate. The need for an adult Christian child to care for aging parents is implied. The difficulty of fulfilling this command is not mentioned.

As a Christian I struggled to know what to do. My mom's medical issues and failing memory forced me to begin to step into a role I was not prepared for and did not want. I found myself becoming "the parent," forcing my mom into the role of "the child." But, unlike when I raised my own children, I did not have authortiy over my mom! As the designated caregiver (I also had POA) I was required to accept responsiblity for her without having any authority over her to make her cooperate. She was quickly becoming unable to make wise decisions in the realm of her safety and/or medical care. Based on the advise and counsel of her physicians I was making decisions based on what was best for her. Her fiercely private nature and independent streak (which had served her well for many years) suddenly put us at odds. This dilemina reared its ugly head multiple times as I attended to navigate the delicate balance of caring for her without being drawn into conflict with her! 

This became my guiding principle. Psalm 37:3-7 says, "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulnessDelight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you thedesires of your heartCommit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noondayRest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him." As I learned to walk by faith in the role of caregiver I became able to lean on Jesus in this new season of life but it has not been easy.

If you are in this place or have walked this way, please share your God story in the comment section. We would all benefit from hearing about it. Blessings.



Posted: 5/23/2012 7:31:19 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

 I am still relishing this Facebook note I got from one of my precious MOMS in Uganda. She wrote this precious note to me: "Jean, i fell i fell in love with u when u came to Uganda and am always read are stories because there is never sadnesss in them, u sure a one happy girl! hope mum gets well real quick. keep up the good cheer."

Her message was sent to me after I posted the story of borrowing my friend's (Candice Pashby) husband's (Jason) clothes so I could spend the night at the hospital with mom and not have to sleep in my "church clothes". If this doesn't make sense to you, either stop reading my random rambling right now and move to another facebooker that does not jump from one topic to another all willy-nilly OR scroll back a couple of posts and read the whole story. 

My friendship with Yvonne Mubbala is such a God thing and I want to share how God connected the dots between this Memphis mom with a sweet momma in Uganda 

Back in 2009 I met Rian Bogere from Uganda. She works for Samaritan's Purse and was assigned to accompany and interpret for a young Ugandan mom and her 1-year to Memphis for 6 weeks to undergo surgery at LeBonheur to repair a life-threatening heart issue. Craig and I attended the Steve Marcum Life Group (love them!) at the time (now we teach a Young Married LG). Our class "hosted" them. The surgery went miraculously well and Bill and Toni Powell and Joe and Sandra Rowell opened their homes to lodge our Ugandan guests. Several of us signed up to take meals. On the night I took my meal to Toni's home, Toni met me at the door and said she had just been telling Rian about my ministry to MOMS. I have been teaching MOMS at my home church, Bellevue Baptist Church for 22 years. And I have been writing my own Bible studies, publishing them, and producing accompanying 10-week DVDs so small group discipleships or churches can offer a ministry to MOMS. Toni said we just had to find a way to get my resources to Uganda. Rian was very interested in the Bible studies I write and the ministry to MOMS. Rian and husband Richard are very involved in a large multi-campus church in Kampala Uganda called Watoto (If you are a Chris Tomlin fan you will recognize the name of this church. He produced a song, "Hello Love" with their children's choir!). So as not to delay their dinner, Rian and I arranged to meet at a later date to share the things of the Lord and the ministries we were both involved in. 

Several days later I met with Rian at Sandra's house. I took some of my Bible studies and CDs and DVDs to send back with her. We shared the same heart to teach women how to study the Word and I found out her husband was on staff at a seminary in Kampala.

We prayed together and I left, assuming our paths would not cross again until we met at the Throne!!

In 2011 Craig and I were planning a Pioneer Evangelism trip to Tanzania and Uganda. Our dear friend, Barbara Akin (Thomas Wade Akins wrote the PE program and he and his wife, Barbara, have taught it all over the world!) knew about my meeting with Rian. She called and said that I might want to look into traveling to Kampala while we were in Uganda teaching in Ginja. She said it was a short flight from Entebbe to Kampala. We would already be flying out of Entebbe on our return flight. We had a couple of extra days built into the trip for some down time and/or sightseeing. If we opted not to use those days for resting between our 2 training sessions, and if we could swing the additional cost of flying and staying in Kampala, we could connect with Rian. Even typing this now, it seems like a bizarre idea but Barbara and Wade have traveled extensively and are used to living radically for the Lord! Believe it or not, I facebooked Rian in Uganda and told her Craig and I would be in Uganda in February and wondered if we might just fly over and visit!!! Well, she immediately wrote back and wanted to know if Craig and I would be willing to do some teaching sessions with the MOMS and their husbands. Yea, baby! Next thing we know, we were privileged to teach 2 sessions of Pioneer Evangelism in Tanzania and Uganda to several hundred pastors AND teach MOMS and DADS in Uganda. God does love the details!! 

At the end of 2 weeks of teaching PE, Craig and I jumped on a plane and flew to Kampala. The reunion with Rian, who I never dreamed I would get to see again this side of glory, was SWEET. We sat up long and late sharing about what God was doing on our respective sides of the world. Reluctantly we went to the hotel Rian had arranged for us. Oh my-what a gorgeous place. I will post some pictures in a later post but it was one of my all time favorite places I have ever gotten to stay! In the morning Craig and I spent the day teaching my Ugandan MOMS and their sweet husbands!!! Only God could have connected these dots between Memphis and Kampala-tying the heart strings of 2 ordinary mommas together with the scarlet thread that runs through the whole of God's Word!

In the audience that day on the other side of the world was Yvonne Mubbala! And that dark night of the soul when I was so worried about my mom's increasing health crisis, when I was sitting in a rented room wearing borrowed clothes, when I was suffering with the excruciating pain of a migraine headache, who do I hear is praying for me? Yvonne Mubbala in Uganda!!! Do the math. Connect the dots. You will see the blood line of Jesus Christ stretching between 2 mommas all the way from America to Africa!! Gotta love it!
Posted: 5/23/2012 12:03:03 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Now this is the last story cause I have tons to do today. While I was at the hospital with my mom, my Facebook account was hacked. Inappropriate pictures were sent out with my name attached. Thanks so much, hacker dude - whoever you are. Your little stunt was just one more test in my faith walk, giving me yet another opportunity to "cast down vain imaginations" (2 Cor. 10:5-6) of what I might like to say to you if I was willing to step in the flesh and let it fly. But I digress.

I will remind all you bloggy friends and all you dear facebook faith family friends that the Bible says Satan is "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2). Satan is a powerful enemy. He is running rampant using the internet to promote his wickedly scandelous images and God-less philosophies. While we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, we are often the target of his wrath and his wickedness impacts our daily lives in multiple ways. Social networking is not immune from his reach, even when we-who know the Lord-are using it for the purpose of building on-line Christian community. Satan is powerful. But he is not ALL POWERFUL. I serve the ONE who is!

Keep that in mind as you continue to read. During my mom's hospitalization in April, she had an episode that drove her blood pressure up dangerously high. I felt I needed to spend the night in town, nearby in case another crisis happened. (Craig and I live about 1 hour away from the hospital.) I decided to check in the Hampton Inn next to Baptist Hospital. It was about 11:30 p.m. by the time the shuttle dropped me off at the hotel.  I was mentally and emotionally spent. I felt physically exhausted. I had a migraine headache that had threatening but was now starting in earnest.

I went to my room and put on my borrowed clothes. (See previous post for an explaination.) I piled up lots of pillows, texted Craig R. to let him know I was safely tucked in, wrote on facebook to tell my funny story about wearing borrowed clothes, and then plugged in my phone to charge. I turned out the light (migraines produce terrible light sensitivity) and dropped into the bed. My head hurt so badly that I laid in the dark and held my head, trying to endure the pain and avoid the accompanying nausea. Even with my eyes closed I could tell a light was flickering in my room. I cracked one eye 
open to find the light source. I immediately spied the source of the flickering light. My iPhone was rapidly lighting up with multiple hits on my recent post concerning my mom's health crisis and the funny story that accompanied it. Many of you in my faith family were sending encouraging words on my Facebook post and pledging prayer support!!

Use your sanctified imagination with me for a moment. Here is the word picture - imagine being in a dark cave without even one glimmer of light. Pitch blackness. So dark you are not sure if you eyes are open or not. Got the picture? Great. Now imagine if hundreds of fire-flys suddenly swarmed around you, randomly blinking their lights. That is what it was like.

As I lay in bed, holding my head to steady it against the pain, I chuckled out loud. Although I decided to wait until the morning to read the comments, my heart was strangely warmed by the flickering light. My resolve to press on in the strength of the Lord was strengthened. My sagging soul was uplifted. The family of faith was responding to my pain with prayer. As I drifted off to sleep, I was comforted knowing I was being prayed for by faithful friends. Gotta love that! God was touching the hearts of believers and calling them to prayer on my families' behalf. And God gently reminded me - breaking through my befuddled brain - that even the Lord Himself, who ever lives to make intercession for us, was intently praying for me! In the dark night of my soul - literally and figuratively - God revealed Himself to me through the internet. Through Facebook, for heaven sake! Through the kindness of His people. God spoke to His troubled child through gracious comments and kind words sent via a few keyboard taps and transmitted to me through those internet squiggly thingys! WHO KNEW?!??!

Satan may be "the prince of the power of the air." He may use human hands as his pawns with access to computers in general and my Facebook account in particular. He is a powerful foe. But his power is limited. He is a defeated enemy. One day - when Jesus takes His rightful place on the Throne - Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire. And every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess, "Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God!!" Yeah, He is! Until that time, I intend to use every avenue available to me - including my blog and my Facebook page - to proclaim the kingdom of Christ!

What Satan meant for evil, God uses for good. 

So ponder that for a while!
Posted: 5/22/2012 11:38:51 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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