Finally Home

When Dad left the hospital, not even a week ago, he told my sister-in-law that he was going to die in two weeks. He said God had told him so. Later he admitted to me that it was his own idea, but he thought it was a good one 🙂

He settled into the skilled nursing facility and started rehab. He seemed to be gaining strength, walking halfway back to his room as part of his Monday morning therapy. By the afternoon he was listless and “low.” He had become dehydrated in the cycle of fluid retention and diuretics. On Wednesday, the doctors started a slow drip IV. He rallied briefly, but his body began shutting down.

He spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day gradually declining and becoming less responsive. We opened gifts with our family Christmas morning and left to drive to Detroit. When we arrived he seemed to be noticing who was in the room and occasionally attempting to talk, though never quite managing. His breathing seems labored, though not uncomfortable.

The dying process is an exercise in waiting. At first, there were all the things you (and others) wanted to say. There were scriptures to read, songs to sing, and prayers to be prayed. Then came a long quiet night that was more sleep-like. I wanted to be nearby, to make sure someone was with him for that “moment” but found that the moment stretched into long hours of quiet, cat-naps, and visits from the nursing staff.

The hours have now stretched into days and the valley of the shadow of death seems hard. We are realizing how fortunate we were last year with Mom’s very brief hospice experience (and really glad that Dad did not have to watch his wife go through this or vice versa.)

There are so many sweet moments in this waiting period, but also some that are really, really hard. The hardest part is not being able to understand anything he whispers to us. He is able to say a clear “no” but we can’t know for sure what he is thinking or feeling. He seems agitated at times and we want so badly to help.

I also feel like I am tottering along a precipice. I know that there is great grief on the other side of this journey but though I cry at times, I can’t give in to grief just yet while my Dad still lives and breaths and clutches my hand. I want him to be released from this body, and yet I want to hold on to his presence. I want him to be home with his Savior (and my mom) and yet, I know how greatly he will be missed. The nurse in me accepts this as part of life to be embraced; the daughter in me cries out for relief. Faith sustains me and my heart is full of hope for the future; but the present reality is just so harsh.

Please pray for us.

I literally looked up from writing the last words and saw that my Dad had stopped breathing. There were a few more movements and then a simple peace. Dad is finally home. December 28, 2014, 12:50 AM

 

 

Blessed

I am feeling incredibly blessed tonight.

Dad steadily improved in the hospital and was discharged yesterday. We were able to settle him into the skilled nursing/rehab facility that is connected with his current independent living complex. We hope that he might be able to become strong enough to transition to the assisted living area, to regain at least a measure of his independence.

What could have been a hard, frustrating day, wasn’t. We were able to facilitate an early and simple discharge and Dad accepted his new residence with grace and gratitude. Last night when he prayed, he was in awe of how God had provided for him so well. I can tell you that is not a typical reaction to a nursing home admission.

Today Larry moved a little bit of his furniture to his new room, making it feel a little bit more like home and Connie and I labeled all his clothes with a couple of really cool little machines provided by the home. I sat with Dad through all his meals and spent most of the day quietly in his room.

He is still weak and unsteady, but moves slowly and carefully. During his last rehab he learned to use a wheelchair to move around and really does quite well, though best with someone there helping/coaching him. He was evaluated by PT and anxious to start working to gain strength.

After dinner he was so tired that he was ready for bed (6 pm.) He went into a deep hard sleep in his recliner, sleeping through Larry and Connie’s visit. When he eventually woke up, he got up and got dressed for bed but then wanted to sit up a bit longer. We started talking about his mother and his step-father. I’d spent time with my grandmother in her very late years and watched her age with much grace and an ardent desire “to go home.” I am seeing the same spirit in my Dad. He also talked about the ways God provided for him in sending Laurence Christie into their lives. We talked about Mom’s Swedish heritage. And we talked about the blessing of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And then I suggested that we pray for our family. After Dad started to pray, I briefly contemplated grabbing my I-Phone and recording it, but I did not. It was so sweet to listen to the heart of this old man who reminded God five or six times that he was ready to come home, but trusted God and thanked him for his care and provision. He thanked him for years (89) of care. “You are good. You are gracious. You are merciful.” I believe he prayed for about 20 minutes, as a man conversing with a good friend. He prayed backwards and forwards, appreciating God’s goodness in the past and looking for future answers as well.

I remember driving around Scotland wanting to drink in the peace of the rolling green hills and pastoral scenes. (I had two small children at home at the time and wanted to store it up for the future.) I feel a little bit like that now, wanting to savor these moments with my father. I know that this is just a temporary stay of the inevitable, but it has been so sweet to sit by his bedside, to help him make this “overwhelming” transition, but especially to pray with him and listen to him pray.

I am truly blessed.

Déjà vu.

About a year ago, I was keeping vigil at my mother’s bedside, watching and waiting, and pondering end of life issues.

Today, I am sitting at another bedside with my father, wondering what the next days/weeks/months will hold. He is in the hospital for the third time this year, having fluid drained from his system (IV Lasix) and attempting to control his severe congestive heart failure with medications.

It is a tightrope walk between stressing his heart and stressing his kidneys and so far the balancing act has been a bit wobbly.

We are pretty sure that he can’t go back to his independent living apartment so we will have to be making decisions in the next few days if he is released from the hospital.

He really just wants to go “home” to heaven, but he also–with us–wants to trust God’s timing in the details.

It is a quiet, in-between time. It is restful and sweet and yet, unsettling because we can’t peak around the corner and know what’s up ahead. In the big picture, we do know. He is going to die and we are absolutely confident that he will be at home with his Lord and Savior. But in the meantime, there are a million questions while we wait.

He is not suffering. He is mostly sleeping and quiet. We talk but we don’t really have conversations. We ask and answer each others’ questions.

But every night, he and I pray together, trusting God for the night ahead and the steps ahead of us.

It’s kind of a sweet time in the midst of a usually frantic holiday season. I am grateful to my co-workers for allowing me to be away from work and for my family (husband) for giving me the freedom to be away from home.

But it is a little strange to be in the same hospital, in similar straits wondering how the next days will unfold.

Déjà vu.

God’s grace carried us through the events of last year and He will carry us through whatever lies ahead. That’s a good thing about déjà vu, which literally translates “already seen.” We have already seen God in the midst of death and we know that we will experience similar graces this time too.

Please pray for rest, peace, and grace in these days.

Faith…and a few other things.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I still have a teeny, tiny bit of hope, but no faith with regards to #thehobbitfancontest (which is probably a good idea.) After almost two weeks, Warner Bros finally put out a notice that they were still contacting/finalizing winners and would reveal the winners by the end of the month. That’s kind of interesting because those winners will need to be ready to board a plane just about then. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t win, but I would still like to see a report of actual people who did win. Somehow I’m feeling like this whole thing could be a hoax. Maybe that’s just sour grapes, but how hard can it be to finalize 12 winners from the United States out of more than 500 who are all dying to be chosen?

In the meantime, today is the last day of my 40 Day Jumpstart on The Daniel Plan. On September 1st, I started reading the book and implementing some of its ideas. I started by cutting out the obvious desserts, sugar, and my daily Refresher, and then fine-tuned the whole process as the month went on. Around Day 9 or 10, I started a 10-day detox of no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine, no sugar and no preservatives.

At the same time, I was reading–and enjoying–that book that I won: Bill Hybel’s Simplify. I read most books quickly the first time, and then read them again if they seem worthwhile. This book definitely deserves a re-read and maybe even a chapter-by-chapter study. Hybel’s calls believers of all ages to slow down and evaluate the crazy pace of our lives, making thoughtful decisions about the way we invest our time, energy, money, work, and relationships. We really can’t do it all and we need to take time to redirect our lives in order to make the most of our resources. Now that life has speeded back up to “normal” this is a message I need to hear and follow.

I’ve also been reading about food. Besides The Daniel Plan, I’ve read The Third Plate (Dan Barber) and I’m currently reading Michael Pollen’s Cooking. It’s pretty interesting to note the trends in eating, food and cooking that have occurred during my lifetime. I remember being taught in nursing school that if you ate a well-balanced diet, you didn’t need vitamins and supplements. That was probably true in the 50s and 60s, but over the past 40 years our food, our eating habits, and our “cooking” has changed so much that unless you choose wisely (and keep yourself somewhat educated) you probably aren’t getting all that you need from your diet.

As someone who just spent a year of my life fighting a hormone-receptor positive cancer, I’m pretty leery of eating meat that comes from animals pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and fattened for market as quickly as possible. We’ve gradually been moving in this direction, but now I’m starting to look at my food as “medicine” as well as fuel. We Americans have spent millions of dollars on healthcare for diseases that have been largely caused by our diets. (In my case, nearly $100K has already been handed over by my insurance company.) Maybe less convenience and better food isn’t too big a price to pay for better health. My plan is to eat less but better meat. And to bite the bullet and cook more. I’d love to grow more food too, but I’m not sure I’m quite that industrious.

The bottom line of The Daniel Plan is to eat real food that is grown as close to home as possible. It is not just about food though, as it is a plan to have a healthy lifestyle that balances faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The message Saddleback Church has offered fits fairly well with Hybel’s Simplicity. Both books have been enhanced by the larger message of The Third Plate and Cooking.

In the last 40 days, I’ve lost about six pounds but more importantly, have broken some of my junk food habits. After several months of daily Refreshers from Starbucks, I treated myself to one yesterday on my birthday and realized that it didn’t do that much for me. I’ve actually learned to drink water. (Just think of the $$ savings right there.) I can pass up most desserts and bread (except in Italian restaurants.) I’ve figured out that I am not gluten or lactose intolerant, so I can probably still enjoy cheese and whole wheat, maybe just less of it. I’m still trying to figure out fitness, especially as the temperatures drop. I love walking but only in sunshine. I have considered a goal of actually running again–a 5K at next years Run for Hunger–but I haven’t committed to it yet. That life verse–Isaiah 40:31–is supposed to be a challenge/promise to me on that score. Could I really “run and not be weary?”

I have hope, but not faith 🙂 on that one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoping Hard

Hoping.

The last few days have given me somewhat unique experience of hope. Not hope in the Lord (though I wasn’t above asking for his assistance behind the scenes.) I was hoping to get an email from Peter Jackson telling me that I’d been chosen as one of the winners of #thehobbitfan contest. They said about ten days, and Thursday was day ten. I re-read the contest rules to see how they planned to make their announcements and scanned Google, FB and finally Twitter. Twitter seemed the most informative, though it seemed more like a rumor mill than anything. I suppose that even if they informed the winners, it will take another couple of days for them to respond and the final winners to be announced. Hmmmmmmm?

I finally looked at several videos and that actually increased my hope because I didn’t think any of them were much better than mine. (I’m not saying none of them were better; just commenting on the ten or so that I randomly watched.)

Still, I would like some closure. Just announce the winners. Because there is still a part of me that keeps hoping. Me and a few hundred hopeful contestants.

But the real subject of this blog is hope. For me it was a wavering between my brain and my heart. I knew it wasn’t realistic to think I’d win, but my heart so wanted it that I’d let go of my natural pessimism and start making plans for my trip.

And it really wasn’t all about hoping to win. It would be fun and cool to win, no doubt about that, but what I really hoped for was a chance to see Anne. I thought it would be such poetic justice to be gifted with what would be a whirlwind week with her, right about the time of her planned November wedding. And it would make this year-plus-long hiatus when we won’t see her at all just a little more palatable.

All along, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope and faith. They are not the same thing but it a little difficult to figure out where hope ends and faith begins. What is hope vs faith? I think Mike Hamel demonstrates it best when he writes extensively about the struggles he has had with faith over the past years and then concludes: I’m still hanging on to hope. “As my faith has wavered under close scrutiny I’ve come to lean more heavily on hope to keep doubt from debilitating me completely. I’m not alone in this regard. Many have questioned the faith of their youth but are reluctant to lose hope.” (We Will Be Landing Shortly)

Faith might be a little bit more about the “head” part of our Christianity, the “I believe in Jesus Christ…” of our creeds. Hope seems like the heart. It actually feels like the heart at this moment when I’m hoping for a particular prize. My head doesn’t ache with longing, but my heart seems to contract a little more deeply; my pulse races with the excitement at the thought of winning.

One blogger made these comparisons: “Faith originates in the understanding, hope rises in the will…By faith we begin, by hope we continue….Faith is a judge. It judges errors. Hope is a soldier; it fights against tribulations, the cross, despondency, despair, and waits for better things to come in the midst of evil…Faith concentrates on the truth; hope looks to the goodness of God.” Every Glimpse is Grace blog.

Of course, real hope is “in the Lord”. This contest is but a blip on the radar of my life (or a spike on rhythm an EKG.)

What does it mean to hope in the Lord? Is it hope for the afterlife, a future home in heaven? Hope that God will orchestrate my life for his purposes and my benefit (I wanted to say comfort, but I’m pretty sure that is wrongheaded)? Hope for meaning for this life, both the “good” and the “bad”? Whatever it means, I’m pretty sure that the Lord is the source of what we’re hoping. God is the one who will bring to fruition all that he has promised, both now and in the future (as He has in the past.) Isaiah 40:30-31 uses both “wait” and “hope” depending on the translation. We wait. We hope…in the the Lord.

 

 

 

The Next Thing

Years ago, I heard Elisabeth Elliot talk about a good way to get through overwhelming times–as well as everyday life. Her prescription was simple: Just “do the next thing.” 

It’s been how I’ve been living my life for the last several weeks:

Stormy Lake. Check.
Lizi’s Housewarming Party. Check.
Work. Check. Check. Check.

It didn’t feel right. I felt like I was in a big race, but not sure where I was/am headed. I kept thinking of that long list of things I wanted to be doing and felt frustrated.

But maybe Elliot was right. Maybe all I need to do is focus on that next thing on my calendar or “to do” list, and be satisfied with that. Maybe getting through this busy season is all I have to do, all I ought to be doing.

There are several “next things” in my life that are coming up:

1) I’m looking forward to a week in Michigan, September 20-27. Our church is doing a domestic mission trip in Detroit. When I first heard the location, I thought I should sign up since I grew up just outside the city. I am going to go early and stay with my dad during the week and travel to the work site every morning. I’m looking forward to both parts of the trip–a longer period of time with my Dad and working with this team of hard working, compassionate folks from my church.

2) Before the trip, I have a day of appointments at Rush: a follow-up mammogram and a visit to the ENT surgeon. Early in October I spend another day or two re-visiting my other two surgeons for follow up and a pre-operative check. I think there are a few more appointments that I need to complete in order to stay on top of all the post-cancer treatment. It’s been nice to have the summer off from medical appointments.

3) I am tentatively planning to do the last part of my reconstruction on October 21, not yet sure what that will involve, especially in terms of recovery. I have the following ten days off and then will likely work triage for several weeks.

4) And then, the holidays will be pressing upon me.

Just. Do. The. Next. Thing.

P.S. I picked a Life verse (or at least one for this season of life) and it seems particularly appropriate in light of what lies ahead. Also note the word “hope” (KJV) rather than the usual “wait” in this familiar verse:

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and wear and young men stumble and fall,

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not be weary;

they will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31.

An Anchor for My Soul

Hope has been on my mind most of this month. I didn’t plan it. It was kind of a whim to ask an open-ended question and then it seemed appropriate to keep writing about hope. I think I could probably do that for a whole year and still not plumb the depths of what it means to have hope in this life and for the next.

I thought of asking how “faith” changed you, but I was really working to make my question really open-ended and thought the word hope accomplished that. Most people that answered the question could have used either word, but I knew that some readers would find “hope” a more palatable word. Everybody entertains some hope; not everybody has faith.

As with the word “love,” we use the word hope pretty freely. We hope for a lot of trivial things, hang on to hope about a few really important matters, and then, there are those deep longings that stir our hearts to Hope.

Just as biblical “agape” is considered the highest kind of love, I believe that biblical hope is greater than all other types of hope. The songwriters of Psalms frequently remind us to hope in God, in the Lord, in his Word, in his unfailing love. Psalm 62 might say it best: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Hope in God is key. It is not about my beliefs, my faith, my understanding or worldview. It certainly isn’t about me being right in matters of faith. In fact, it isn’t about me at all, but about God.

Hebrews 6:19 offers a great picture: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” A song keeps running through my head as I think about hope as an anchor for my soul. It turns out that many songs have been written using this phrase, but the one I like best is by Chris Tomlin: “There’s a peace I’ve come to know; though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul; I can say, “It is well.”

Hope in God gives me that mooring, that sense of safety and security when the tempest blows, when the waves threaten to overwhelm me. If I were merely to hope for “the best” or for material things, I’m pretty sure I’d be seriously discouraged. Even hoping for good things like marriage, family, friendships or even church fellowship is bound to disappoint. By keeping my hope centered on a personal God who reveals himself to be good, I can (almost) always look up no matter how dismal the circumstances. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (13:15.) It doesn’t mean that I never doubt or wonder if my faith is misguided. It doesn’t mean that I’m certain about every doctrinal point (large or small.) It simply means that I’m betting on God with my life and with my future.

An anchor for my soul.

P.S. It’s the last day of August, but never too late to comment. What does “hope” mean to you?

 

 

 

When Hope is Lost

Why are you so downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

When the news broke that Robin Williams had died, I was sad and surprised like everybody else. It wasn’t long before the it was reported that he had killed himself and over the next days more facts have trickled out. He had battled depression and addiction; he had bipolar disorder; and had been recently diagnosed with early stage Parkinsons.

A year or so ago, Rick and Karen Warren lost their son to suicide. He had battled mental illness for 27 years. At a recent conference addressing Mental Health and the Church, Warren said, “I am not an authority on mental illness, but I am an authority on living with mental illness.” I’m not sure I would claim to be an authority, but I sure know a lot about living with mental illness.

We have lived with mental illness for at least 13 years. In 2001, our son John was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. He’d previously been treated for ADD and depression. In 1999, he went through an outpatient Hazelden program, followed by 64 days in the desert at Redcliff Ascent, a program for troubled teens. In 2008, he spent three months at Spring Lake Ranch, a farm-based treatment facility in Vermont. He has had two brief hospitalizations and a two-year stint with MICAP of DuPage County.

At 32, he still lives at home and still rides up and down the roller coaster of bipolar moods. Winters are difficult due to depression brought on by the short days and challenging cold. Summers are not much better because manic cycling upsets his days and nights. He takes an array of prescription medicine but also self-medicates regularly. He has many interests and abilities, but lacks the ability to focus on any one thing long enough to make it is calling. He is currently volunteering with two inner-city hockey programs as an assistant coach. He enjoys woodwork and carving. He dreams of writing a graphic novel and creating a story-game. He knows a lot about sustainable gardening (but alas, no garden to show for it.) He would love to backpack in the mountains, travel, dance, have a girlfriend. He prays often for friends and for God to help him and sometimes attends church with us. He is crabby, angry, tearful, and sometimes “pressured.” He is also kind, generous, and great with kids.

We’ve attended classes, read books, counseled, and talked with many others. Everyone seems to have a story—some that “worked” and others that have dragged on in similar patterns, up and down, backwards and forwards. We’ve been called “enablers” and we’ve tried “tough love.” The one thing we haven’t done, is kick him out of our house—to join thousands of other mentally ill, homeless folks on the streets of our country and in our prisons.

We’ve considered the whole range of treatment options, and the underlying paradigms of diagnosis and understanding. Is mental illness a biochemical disturbance, similar to diabetes, requiring the right combination of drugs to improve neurotransmission in the brain? Is it primarily behavioral, a problem with addictions, best helped by 12-step programs and “recovery?” Or, is it a spiritual problem, beset by strongholds and demons bent on destroying God’s work in the world? Lastly, is it sociological, the result of our crazy world and lifestyles? My guess that the answer is: E) All of the above.

But what I really want to write about is hope in the context of mental illness. I once heard suicide defined as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Recently, someone commented, “When hope is lost, despair enslaves the soul.” I just want to say this: Living with mental illness is hard. It is hard for the families of the mentally ill and it is even harder for the person living with it. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes something even more to love and support a person with mental illness.

And in 2014, in America, that village does not exist, at least for us. We tend to avoid hospitalizations because they have been harrowing experiences with little or no long term help. Treatment is available, expensive and has its own limitations. Most deal with recovery but not the underlying mental illness, even if they tout “dual diagnosis.” Psychiatrists (of which we’ve had a few good ones) are limited–partly by the insurance industry–to 20 minute consultations, managing medications (and their side effects.)

In offering John our home, we feel that we can provide a safe place for him. But we can’t guarantee his safety, we can only hold it out to him. He leaves home to pursue his different interests and we have no say over what happens when he is out there, or what problems he carries back home with him. He goes with our prayers and sometimes our worry. We are constantly having to hand him back to the Lord, never quite knowing how the story will turn out, or what challenge may be around the next corner.

Hope sustains us. Hope that he will get better some day, that he will seek (and find) help, that he will be healed and helped. I hope more than anything, that we can hold out hope to him, to keep believing that God is in this in some way, and that we will “yet praise him” for how He works in Johnny’s life.

The rest of Psalm 42 mirrors some of what we feel and a lot of what life inside bipolar disorder is like for Johnny. We know that we only partially get what he goes through.

As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for the living God…

My tears have been my food day and night,

while men say all day long ‘where is your God?’

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me,

therefore I will remember you…

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love;

at night his songs are with me–

a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock, ‘why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’ My bones suffer mortal agony…

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Hope is not the cure, it is not an antidote for depression (though it may help.) Hope is what we hang on to in the middle of our lives, in the center of our stories. And hope is what we have to offer one another.

Hopes and Dreams

I’ve hoped for a lot of things: a new kitchen; retirement; trips to Scotland (Shetland Islands), Sweden and, of course, New Zealand; a built-in swimming pool; a cottage in Michigan; an empty nest 😉

This week we took one step closer to that last hope when Lizi moved into her first apartment with her friend, Siobhan. Even though we’ve been planning it for a couple of years, it never really dawned on me that my dream might be realized. The house feels spacious and empty with one less person. (Though I think she has visited us nearly every day since she moved.)

Lizphoto 3i and Siobhan met in 6th grade and have remained friends for all those years. They met in a special education class, but Siobhan went on to complete a high school and four years of college (including a summer internship in New Zealand.) She works full-time at Loyola’s Animal Lab. For the past two years, she and Lizi have gone out once or twice a week, usually dinner-and-a-movie.

Two summers ago, Lizi texted Siobhan and asked if she wanted to get an apartment. It’s been a process, but it all came together this summer and they finally settled in on Sunday night. They are about 1.5 miles from our house, 2 blocks from the grocery store, 4 blocks from downtown Elmhurst (and my work) and about 500 feet from the train tracks. They are still adjusting to sleeping through the sound of trains going by in the middle of the night.

And they’ve already planned their Housewarming Party.

photo 1

photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

Some hopes are realized, some dreams come true.

 

Hope Beyond

If there is one place that you want hope, it is in a cemetery. “Hope beyond the grave” is a cornerstone of our faith. Hope at a grave is bittersweet.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is like to visit a cemetery (other than for genealogical reasons) without the buffer of hope. I’ve said “goodbye” to a number of friends and family members, but always with the hope of them being in heaven and of seeing them again someday. I can’t imagine how it would be to grieve without hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13 ESV)

Yet, even if you hope for heaven, there is a starkness about a new grave and a marker.

photoMy mom’s marker was placed this past week and Dad and I went to see it on Friday. How sweet to watch my Dad kneel, pull away some of the weeds and grass cuttings, and talk aloud with his God. He let Him know that he was “ready” at any time to come home as well and then he prayed for all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be together in heaven someday. While he had questions about life on earth, he had no doubt about the hope of glory.

Throughout the month of August, I am going to post short comments, good quotes, and whatever else strikes my fancy—all on the subject of hope. Please read each one as a subtle form of nagging. I’m listening for your side of the conversation. After all, it is August.