Through the Windowpane

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part;
but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

I’m Not His Wife!

Grandpa says, “You are to love honor, respect and obey me . . . I’m you’re father!”

“Um, actually dad, that doesn’t apply anymore . . . I’m not your wife!” I tell him.

“Well, I’m just telling you what the Bible says,” he says . . . “

This is all because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday and made a demand that just wasn’t going to be fulfilled. First thing he did was to tell Bob that he wanted to go to a “good” nursing home.

The man who wrote a book called: Trapped in a Nursing Home: What They’re Really Like and Why You Should Avoid Them at All Costs! 

We’ve had this request at least two times in four years of taking care of dad. I have no idea what prompted it other than I had a publishing deadline to meet and Grandpa’s radar was out.

As usual . . . Grandpa struck again!

And as usual, today he’s all hugs and kisses . . .

It’s really hard when someone throws the Bible at you, but you know what, I’ve become pretty good at throwing it back!

November 25, 2013


His Everything – Almost!

Grandpa has been pretty good lately because he’s been taken off most of the medicine he was on when we got him. That’s right, praise God, Grandpa is almost drug free. He’s just on three pills now, so he is completely lucid and for the most part very reasonable.

Besides being very close to the Lord, which is so necessary for fighting off depression in old age, Grandpa looks to me to meet his emotional needs. This is normal for someone who is 93. It goes with the territory of being his daughter and caregiver. His radar is always out and looking for “Jill!” Whenever he comes in the room, he says, “There she is!”

I don’t mind being his main emotional support most of the time, but I’m also, from past experience, keenly aware of being manipulated.

So today when Grandpa came down to eat lunch, I continued working on my project which is getting Claire’s Pebbly Brook Farm Stories ready to go to print. These really should have been published a decade ago in paperback (we did an audio), but who’s keeping track.

My back is turned to Grandpa because my computer is next to the windows across from the dining room table. I didn’t turn around to say “hi” because I was in the middle of looking up punctuation on Grammar Girl to make sure that I was using the ellipses right (you know those three little . . . that you find in stories and emails and Facebook posts?).

Anyway, Grandpa comments, “You’re always working!” and he giggles that nervous little laugh he makes when he’s being naughty.

“Yes, I’m always working, Grandpa!” I say. “The opposite of working is being dead. Which do you prefer?” I ask.

“That’s true,” he admits.

Grandpa goes back to eating . . . Suddenly he begins to choke.

“I need a knife,” he says. “I need to cut this sandwich up. The bread is hard!”

In-between editing, I made Grandpa his lunch and the only bread we had left was some sandwich thins which had been in the freezer for a while. I figured he would have a little trouble eating them because he wears dentures, so I slathered them with mayonnaise and added tomato hoping it would soften them up at little. They were semi-soft at best, but not soft enough.

I got up and got Grandpa a knife, and asked him if he wanted me to cut his sandwich up.

“Oh, you’re too busy!” he said testily.

Just then, my manipulation alarm went off!

“If I was too busy, I wouldn’t be taking care of of you!” I replied.

“That’s true,” he said.

“Listen dad, you’re eating lunch in my office (even though it’s the kitchen, dining room, and living room all in one). If you want, I can come down to your bedroom and eat three meals a day while you’re working on your book and tell you you’re too busy!”

Bingo! The dawn of recognition! I see it register in Grandpa’s eyes . . .

“I used to be too busy before I got you Dad. You slowed me down quite a bit, and I’m glad!”

I turned back to the computer and begin reading Grammar Girl again.

Grandpa finished his lunch, and as he always says before he leaves the room, “I’ll see you later!”

“I’ll see you later, Grandpa,” I returned.

I told grandpa before he left the room, I don’t want to talk about work anymore. “It’s off limits!” I said.

“Okay,” he agreed.

I’m still not sure if I’m using these darn ellipses right . . . but I think I got my point across!

Just for Fun?

I’m still recovering from Eric and Hannah’s wedding, and The Hopeful Farm Foundation Mother’s Retreat when Grandpa yelled down the hallway from his bedroom:

“Hey, Jill, are we going out sometime?”

“Yes, Grandpa,” I yelled back.

As soon as I recover from the last six months of my life, I thought to myself . . . (personally, I could stay home forever).

But really,where do you take a 93 year old man just for fun?

Wesley Village in Wilmore, KY of course. This performance looks right up Grandpa’s alley: “Smiling Memories and Melodies of 1920” Direct from Cypress, TX, John Korsgaard returns with another magical musical presentation of popular tunes and celebrities of the past.

But it’s not until the 28th. It will give Grandpa something to look forward to!

Making Changes Gently

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ~Galatians 1:10

In the spring, I started  most of the plants we wanted to grow in our garden from seed. It was quite a chore to keep them watered, and for the lack of a watering can, I found myself using just about anything to get the job done.

At first I tried to use a large glass of water to nourish the newly forming shoots, but as I aimed it at the individual cups, the water came out too fast and splashed everywhere. So, I grabbed a small pitcher that was sitting on a nearby shelf and used it instead. I was amazed at the difference the contoured spout made. Depending on how I tipped it, it would produce a dribble or a gentle stream of water compared to the deluge of the glass with the larger rim.

That’s when the Lord spoke clearly to my heart about the difference between a gentle, steady stream of encouragement and the destructive floodgates of condemnation.

Have you ever exclaimed to your family, “I’m making changes now!” Have you ever, out of frustration come across as a  bit of a tyrant?

I have.

Sometimes we moms can pour change to our families like a flash flood, suddenly and with little warning! Usually after reading an inspiring book or blog post that offers good advice (i.e. the prescribed number of steps to reach success) our hearts become conflicted between our personal reality and the ideal family life we hope to achieve. A critical voice rushes in to say: My kids aren’t where they need to be. They can’t do anything right! When is my husband going to act like the other spiritual leaders I read about? I feel like a failure compared to…

We become overwhelmed by all the changes we think our family members need to make (or we want to make for them), and a suffocating feeling rises up in our chests, and we panic!

So we go on a campaign of sweeping change. Like an AAA member cleansing the house of every last bottle of alcohol or a dieter tossing an unopened bag of cookies in the garbage, we try to rid our kids of bad habits or sinful attitudes and our husband of all of his shortcomings in one fell swoop, only to embitter their hearts in the process.

But comparison only produces fed-up mamas, exasperated children, and clueless husbands.

I have known many wives and mothers, who because of the spirit of comparison have heaped an impossible load of expectations on their families only to find that they have instead planted seeds of discouragement and bitterness.

In my younger years of mothering, I was one of them.

When I reflect on some of the reasons I failed to introduce change gently, fear seems to be a big factor: fear of the future, fear of failure, and fear that my children might make the same mistakes I made when I was their age. But fear is a poor impetus for the spirit-led change that brings life and liberty!

The word of God tells us that comparison is not only foolish but futile. Not every model of family life we see presented out there in the big beautiful blogosphere is meant to be our model–at all. Not every path explored is the path we are to personally follow. It takes a discerning spirit to sift through all the advice, the bulleted points, and the endless stream of helpful suggestions.

The motivation behind making changes for our families deserves a period of evaluation–weighing decisions against the word of God, seeking to be in agreement with our husbands, and praying and asking, “Lord, is this the direction you want our family to go?”

Psalm 25:12 says, “Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

The Hebrew word for instruct (yarah) is such a beautiful word. It’s like the flow of water or a gentle rain. But it’s also purposeful like an archer taking aim at a target. The word Choose denotes taking a keen look at your options based upon thorough examination and not an arbitrary whim. In choosing, we are to thoroughly examine the way in which we should go.

Isaiah 30:20-21 say, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

The Holy Spirit speaks comfortingly to us on a daily basis, instructing us in the way we should go. We are to lead our children in the same way. I pray that God will council us mamas and give us wisdom in the secret place of our hearts, and that we will contemplate making changes, not on a whim or suddenly for shock value to whip our families into shape, but in encouraging, gentle ways that will be refreshing and nourishing to their souls–like a steady stream of gentle rain from the hand of God.

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Content Copyright Jill Novak 2009-2015