Kavanna House

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Sep
04

treasure hunt

 

Two days after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was scheduled to be a caregiver at a healing seminar. During caregiver orientation, I smiled at new faces, outwardly composed, inwardly sad and tired, trying to breathe in strength.

 

 

We were almost finished when someone said we’d go around the circle, all of us saying one word to describe how we were feeling.

 

 

Dang. Fake it? Everyone used words like excited, expectant, peaceful, hopeful. I could bluff. Except for the promise I’d made to myself ten years before to stop pretending.

 

 

My turn. “I feel … weak.” Tears flow.

 

 

Others move to my side, pray, wait. “How do you feel now?”

 

 

“My stomach is trembling.”

 

 

More prayer. More waiting. Peace comes.

 

 

The next day, the leader of the intercessory team lets me know that she cared for her dad during his Alzheimer’s journey … God’s banner over me during the seminar will be kindness … she will pray for me with understanding … and then: “You will find treasure in the midst of the journey.”

 

 

My breath catches. I hurry to my seat to write that down.

 

 

Near the end of the day, the teacher leading the seminar asks to pray with me. His mom has Alzheimer’s, too. No idea what he prayed, except this: “May Nita and her family find treasures along the way.”

 

 

I sob. And recognize God’s invitation to embark on a treasure hunt.

 

 

When I confided the treasure hunt invitation later to a friend, she said she already knew what the first treasure was: “You will walk this journey with an intact, loving family. Your caring will bring you even closer.”

 

 

I didn’t know three years ago how much that would be true. But I was reminded of that first treasure again recently.

 

 

Mom had begun tearing her hair out. Literally. Totally frustrated by her inability to style her hair in a way that disguises the bald spot at the crown of her head, she would comb and comb, spray and spray.

 

 

Then when her hand mirror revealed the return of the pesky bald spot, she would comb and comb again, yanking out the heavily sprayed hair that the comb wouldn’t slide through. Dad’s pleas for her to stop were sometimes honored but then forgotten a few moments later.

 

 

When Dad invited me to take his place with Mom at the hairdresser to do some problem solving, I texted my sisters for suggestions on a new style. The messages and photos flew back and forth before, during, and after Mom’s haircut. In the end, Mom was happy because her bald spot was disguised. And we were all happy because Mom looked “more like herself” again.

 

 

That texting thread has continued. Sisters who love each other dearly but haven’t managed a lot of communication between holiday family gatherings are texting about this and that. And it feels really great to connect more often.

 

 

That very first treasure of a caring family drawn closer is still unfolding, still shining.

 

 

Sometimes, walking Mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The train car carrying Mom bears the brunt of the destructive impact. The cars carrying the rest of us jackknife around her derailed car and suffer their own dents and twisting.

 

 

And sometimes, by the grace of God’s good invitation, it is like a treasure hunt.

 

 

Photo Credit: Nita Landis


 

Nita Landis loves laughing on rollercoasters, savoring ginger chews, and lifting her face to light rain. She finds joy in offering spiritual direction, healing care, and words that shed light and give life.

 

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Aug
27

love's back

 

Little Miss M and I spent a summer morning sharing conversation, the words simple for Miss M is seventeen months old  and playing with blocks and Mr. Potato Head. After lunch, her glassy-eyed stare and yawns indicated a nap was needed. Upstairs in the nursery, we said good-night to the toys, turned on the fan, closed the blinds and smothered her with kisses and “Grammy loves you.” With Nuk in her mouth and her fingers stroking her curls, I place her in the crib. Immediately, Miss M stands up lamenting, her plump little arms reaching for me as I walk out the door. 

 

Miss M sees my back.

 

Downstairs, I go to work tending to chores, always with an ear to the monitor. She bangs her legs on the crib, leans against the rail, flops down, gets up, and laments some more, fighting her much needed rest.  She throws her Nuk overboard and the cries become distressed. I return to the nursery, retrieve the Nuk, kiss her tousled head, tell her I love her and walk out the nursery door.

 

Miss M sees my back.

 

Moments later the cries quiet. The monitor shows my grandbaby flat on her belly and at rest.

 

I’ve been thinking about suffering. How we are forced to endure pain, loss, disappointments and distress. The list of causes long: broken relationships, infertility, death, disease, poverty, racism, hope deferred, a failed business and so many more.  Sufferings as unique as individuals. No need to compare sufferings, thinking some harder than others to bear, because the one enduring just hurts. In our pain we might think God has abandoned us, is punishing us or perhaps, even more depressing, we just aren’t one of the favored ones.

 

We see God’s back.

 

As I remember Miss M and me, light shines through a crack in my brokenness and into my enduring heart. God does not turn away from me or our world in all of its distress. When my stomach knots over the pain in my life or yours, I see the image of Miss M at rest, safe in her crib, her Grammy at work and watching over her.

 

In my questions, fears and suffering, God invites me to surrender to love and rest. All the while, God works and watches over me. We are under God’s blessing and God is at work for me and you.

 

Two hours later a call sounds from the nursery. I bound up the stairs and see her face turned towards the door expectantly. She sees my face and her arms reach out. Scooping her up with hugs and kisses, we go downstairs.  Her hands point to the door and she says “Buzzzz.” Outside we go to watch the bees drinking nectar from the butterfly bushes and try catching elusive butterflies, wisely escaping a toddler’s hands.

 

I cannot explain the suffering I see and experience. Still, when the tendrils of despair curl around my soul, this invitation now follows, “Rest, dear one. God is at work in and with you.”

 

Photo Credit: Melanie Hornig


Melanie Horning is a brand-new Grammy looking at life with fresh lenses through a baby’s eyes. She enjoys books, a good laugh, running with her husband and soft-serve ice cream. God is redeeming her perfectionism and control issues. She counts it a privilege to be a companion to people through spiritual direction and friendship.

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Aug
20

why is the wrong question

 

Several years ago I had a personal crisis, one that made me want to run away, one that came with weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I wanted to die.  Not physically, I told myself – we’re not talking suicide here—but I decided I’d stop living.  Oh, I’d still go to work, go to church, clean the house, but something inside was so broken I didn’t feel I could live with any kind of passion or enthusiasm again.  So don’t invite me to Christmas or to your pool party – dead people don’t do such things.

 

 

I began to question.  I questioned what had I done to cause this and how I could have done things differently.  I didn’t know the answers to that.  I became angry, but not so much at God as at myself.  I’m strong and stoic and I didn’t have room for self-pity.  I asked God WHY?  God did not provide any answers.  In fact, there was silence.  In one of my sobbing fits I said, “Send an angel or a prophet with a word for me, a stranger even, walking up to me and saying ‘Hey, God wants me to tell you something’.”  Tell me in a dream, tell me out loud – I didn’t care, just tell me.  I felt He was hiding the roadmap.

 

 

During this time I screamed at the devil; I quoted Scripture promises out loud and over my problem.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?  Gradually, within His silence, I grew more silent.  Maybe I just couldn’t hear the message that was being offered.

 

 

About 6 months later, I realized that somehow God moved me from a place of pain and wanting to die, to learning how to live again in a place of trust.  I wasn’t sure how that happened.  Did the problem go away?  No, in fact it doubled and grew worse.  But without saying a word, He gently brought me to a new level.  It was slow, slower than I thought I could handle.

 

 

Maybe in a sense I did die.  Maybe my area of pain was a place in my soul where God was trying to teach me something about myself and more about Him.  That altar called my heart was a place where I needed to die to self and surrender to Him.  I needed to surrender my idea of how things ought to be.

 

 

In some areas the struggle remains – the crisis was never resolved.  Certain days the pain still reaches up and touches my tender, wounded heart.  But I have learned that WHY was always the wrong question.  The question is really what.  What did God want to show me?  The question is also how?  How can I trust Him more deeply?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Deb Turnow

 


 

 

Kim Yinger is a wife, mother of two, and an HR manager.  She is a contemplative who also loves nature and writing Haikus.  Touching other peoples’ lives with her musings, and glorifying the Lord with the offerings are her greatest desire.  “When people read my poems, I’d like them to say, ‘hmmmm…… pause and calmly think about that.’  [Selah].”

 

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