Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The measure of a man

It's been a week. So in the last seven days, alzheimers dad has become very violent, hallucinating frequently, combative and cranky. He's thrown his cup at the wall, hit people, tried to strangle a nurse (she's fine), yanked out IVs, and is constantly chattering to these very small children he sees running all around his room. He has been checked in to a geriatric psych ward for a full evaluation...medical, mental, emotional, etc...he's been on quite a roller-coaster ride this week. It has not been pretty.

But, this is not my dad.

My dad is a big cowboy. He's a glassblower and a fabulous cook. He can fix anything, make anything and can tell the best stories because he's been a Boy Scout all his life. He loves to hunt and fish, go camping, go anywhere really. He is a generous man, willing to help anyone that will ask or anyone that is in need.

He was always great with teenagers. They loved him! He'd sing silly songs, he chaperon trips, he was always up for an adventure.

We were never rich, far from it, but I never knew as a kid that we were poor. We always had people around, we were the fun party house. Not the liquor kind of party, the turn your house into an amusement park for Halloween kind of house.

So here is what I've decided. I will remember my dad. My memories of him are built from a lifetime with him, not a disease that has claimed him and changed him. I am sorry the people who now care for him will never truly know him, but I know him.

So this year, I'm walking in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk on October 24. I want to walk and remember. I want to walk and share. I want to shake my fist in the face of this awful, life-altering disease and say You Will Not Win. And I want you to help me.

I've come up with an idea. I love giving flowers to people. I refuse to only send them to funerals. So...print out this flower, do whatever you want to it, send it to me (address below) and I'll wear it while I walk. Flowers for Jim, my dad. If I get thousands, that would be awesome. I promise, there will be pictures!

Here's our team. We'd love your support, and thanks!

S&S Productions Team

Alzheimer's Association

And I will remember.


Flowers for Jim
PO Box 8793
Edmond, OK 73083

Friday, September 18, 2009

The cost of Alzheimer's

There are all kinds of facts and figures about Alzheimer's. I've posted some of them below, taken from the Alzheimer's Association website.

But the facts and figures don't really tell you the cost. My dad has alzheimer's. He was diagnosed at age 65. Until he was 67, he didn't let us help. He thought he was in control, the "brain thing" was just something he needed a pill for, like his diabetes. He was being scammed by a man named Bubba. We were unable to protect him. Taken for every cent he had, agreeing to thousands of dollars in debt, he was in a financial hell hole when he called us.

"Bubba's gone, I can't do this alone any more, I want to move to Oklahoma" was all he said when he called in the Fall of 2006. We had no idea how bad it was. But we helped, we moved, we put our lives on hold to get him here. He's our dad.

For 3 years, we've managed. We've seen small slips, some larger than others, but manageable with help. Until this summer. We felt he was becoming a danger to himself, he was just not managing any more. So we made the decision to put him in a nursing home. He has taken a huge downward slide. He is no longer really himself.

This week, I was on vacation. Every day, we received a call. Every day, it was worse. He's incontinent, he isn't eating, he has difficulty walking, he threw a pitcher, he hit a nurse, he threatened an aid. I went to see him and he was more occupied with the "children and animals" in his room than he was in interacting with me. I'm not convinced he knew me.

Today, they are admitting him to the psych ward in a hospital to evaluate him. Mentally, physically, medicinally, the whole kit-n-kaboodle. We don't know the steps ahead or the costs. We are observers of this life for which we also feel responsible. With no financial resources, we are also at the mercy of the system our government has in place to care for the elderly and indigent. Such a maze.

I don't know how to anticipate or prepare, so I can't. But I can wait up on the Lord and He will renew my strenghth. I can pray that the peace that passes all understanding will be present. I can trust that many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's plan that prevails. And I will.

We must find a cure for this disease. The devastation is not an isolated, individual thing. It affects everyone touched by it.

The financial costs are well documented, staggering and growing at an astronomical pace.

The emotional costs are without measure.

Here are some of the statistics from the Alzheimer's Association.

• As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer's and dementia triple healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and older.

• Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer's is the seventh-leading cause of death.

• The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year.
These are just a few of the facts in our new report, 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. The report is a comprehensive statistical abstract of U.S. data on Alzheimer’s disease that includes:

• prevalence
• mortality
• the costs of Alzheimer care
• caregiving
• a special report on Mild Cognitive Impairment and early-stage Alzheimer's

As the deer pants for the water so my souls longs for God. He is my strong tower, my safe harbour, my strength and my song. I will rest in Him and wait on Him. I will pray.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm a closet beauty queen

I have always loved all things beauty pageant. I remember as a kid being allowed to stay up for the Miss America pageant. I almost always fell asleep before the end, but if I could have stayed awake, I had permission. 10:30 was late for me then...really, not that much has changed...hmmm.

Anyway, the girls were pretty, the dresses amazing, the talent-well some were really talented and the others tried hard. I could imagine being just like them. I have owned tiaras and boas. Except I am not, nor have I ever really been a girlie girl. But just like my barbies, it was nice to dream.

These days I'm drawn to shows like Toddlers & Tiaras. But for very different reasons. It's like a train wreck in tiaras. Are these really the kind of lives my remembered Miss Americas must have had? Oh gee...that really scares me. I know it's all for the kids and they LOVE doing it ***cough,gag,cough***. Really? How do they know?

I am amazed at the primping, pushing, training, sculpting, and the money that goes into these children's pageants. Do these kids have any idea of the world outside of manis & pedis? Is their $3500 dress...(sorry, I didn't spend that on my wedding dress...wait, I didn't spend that on my WHOLE wedding)...necessary?

I have 2 daughters, we've watched pageants. It never occurred to me to begin this process in their lives. I hope the parents of these little girls and boys remember that childhood is fleeting. It lasts only a short time and there is so much for these little souls to absorb before they are grown. I hope this is not all there is to what they are passing on to their kids. I hope the TV representation of these homes, parents, & kids has been edited for good TV, I get that, I've done interviews. They take 30 minutes of video and cut the 30 seconds they want to use and it says what they want it to say. Some of the facts however, are just the facts.

Here was the quote of the week for me. Coach to contestant..."Honey, you just can't get 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound bag." Well, coach, you can, but it's not pretty.

So here's to all the contestants, we love to watch, we cheer with you and cry with you. When the day is over, go play!!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Reflecting on 9-11

I think as an Oklahoman, I feel a special connection to the people of NYC. They helped us during dark and unsure days after the Murrah Building bombing in OKC. I remember feeling great compassion as the days and weeks unfolded after 9-11. Knowing the pain, sorrow, joy and confusion that were all wrapped together for the people and survivors. I prayed this for them then and I pray it now.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Lord God,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.



Thursday, September 10, 2009


Have you ever thought about how you respond to encouragement? I hadn't really until today.

I am sometimes embarrassed by encouragement. I am sometimes a little overwhelmed by it. Sometimes, I miss it because no one noticed. Mostly, I try to share encouraging words with other people because I love to encourage others.

I love to say good job, you look great, I appreciate you. I love to tell my kids I'm proud of them, they are so great, they are so smart, so beautiful, such great people.

I love to tell my husband he is my hero, my best friend, my support. I love telling him I'm proud of him. I love how hard he works and what good care he takes of me.

I don't know why receiving compliments or encouragement is so difficult. I feel so warm when I do receive it. I think I believe it, I think I even like it.

Today I was told I was talented and creative. Immediately, in my head, I said "oh sure, anyone can do what I do. I'm really not that special, he's just being nice." and then I thought "I believe him on everything else, why doubt he's being sincere now" and in the 2.5 seconds it took for all these thoughts to run through my head, I also remembered to say "thank you, that means a lot to me" out loud. As the words left my mouth, I wondered if I actually believed them. I took a little time to let them sink in. You know what, I do believe them. I am talented and creative. Other people can do what I do and some of them, even better. But that doesn't lessen the truth that I also do them well. I have been blessed by God with certain gifts and talents, I will use them to bring him glory and to feel his joy.

So here goes. I will be more encouraging and I will learn to receive encouragement in a more gracious, accepting way.

How about you? Thanks for reading my blog. I hope it's a blessing to you.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

To those of us born between 1930 and 1979

A good friend sent me this email. I don't know who wrote it, but it reminded me of the simple days of childhood. I hope it makes you smile.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight. WHY? Because we were always outside playing...that's why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were O.K..

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo' s and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We played in the street, fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were NO lawsuits from these ACCIDENTS. YES real ACCIDENTS.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of them? CONGRATULATIONS!

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I believe

I love this story. I saw it happen. I just wanted to share it with you.

Something Strange Happened On The Way To The Mosque...Closed Mouth & Open Eyes!

Saturday August 8th marked the second of the three days dedicated to conducting Open Air Meetings in the predominately Muslim areas around Mombasa, Kenya. We had already seen almost 2,000 people come to Christ as Savior. However, no one on the project – Nationals or US Team members were expecting what was about to happen.

It was a typical mid August Mombasa afternoon – temperatures were in the mid 70’s. The sun was shining, and the streets were teeming with people. The teams were at various locations preparing to preach the Gospel. This particular afternoon was a life changing afternoon for one special young man – Husein.

Husein woke up early Saturday morning – this was his routine. He had a very important task to accomplish – it was his responsibility to call his fellow Muslims to prayer. All over Kenya – you can hear the call to prayer as the speakers blast the invitation several times a day. When Husein got to his assignment however, he could not speak. He knew he was supposed to call the people to prayer – and he tried again – but nothing would come from his mouth. So – he just started walking the streets. In the early afternoon, Husein could hear someone preaching about Jesus. He started walking in the direction of the preaching. While he was on his way to the meeting, he encountered one of the Leadership Development Institute participants. It was in this one-on-one witnessing encounter that Husein came face to face with Jesus. Husein accompanied the LDI participant to the Open Air Meeting – Elias was giving the invitation, as the meeting was coming to a close. Husein made a public profession of faith at that Open Air Meeting. After the service, Elias was spending some time doing follow-up and gave Husein the admonition to go home and tell his family, especially his father that he had accepted Christ. Husein knew that this decision would be a costly decision in terms of his earthly family and life to this point.

Husein heeded the instruction of Elias and went home to tell his father. His father met him as he came to his house. Husein's father began plaguing him with questions about why he had not called the people to prayer, and why he had not participated in the prayers throughout the day. Husein then told his father very clearly that he had been saved – that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. His father had the expected reaction – he was infuriated. Husein's father insisted “If this is for real. If this is what you have really done, then you need to call the leader of the Mosque.” Husein did just that – he called the leader of the Mosque, with his father watching and listening and told him the account of his conversion to Christ. His father then told him – “We don’t eat dogs, and we don’t eat pigs…you need to go.” This father had just called his own son a dog or pig – and since they don’t eat those animals they had no use for their own son.

Husein waited until the time came for the 10PM prayers. Knowing that his father would be away from the house Husein made his way home for the last time. He planned to pack his things to start his new life with Christ. When he got home again, he found his sister there. His sister told him that all of his things had been burned except for a shirt and a pair of jeans that she had been washing – she had saved them for Husein. Husein spent that night all alone on the streets of Mombasa – but not really alone – for he was in better company than he had ever been – he was living in the presence of Almighty God.

When Husein awoke on Sunday August 9th he made his way to the church that was near the Open Air Meeting he had attended the day before. He participated in the worship service and when the invitation was given for anyone who had received Christ the day before at the Open Air Meeting to come forward for a time of prayer – Husein moved from his seat to the altar.

That afternoon, Sunday Aug. 9th (less than 24 hours after his conversion experience), Husein attended another Open Air Meeting. During the meeting, Husein approached Elias and asked if he could share his testimony. Husein was no stranger to these kinds of meetings – in fact a second part of his former life as a Muslim had been to attend these meetings and be a detractor and to hold meetings in which he would openly criticize Christ and the Christian faith. This time, he took the stage with a totally different – delivered – message. He stood before the crowd in the public market place in his own neighborhood, a predominately Muslim neighborhood, and said, “I want to tell you that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He died and He rose again. I was against that. But I tell you it is true…I met Him.” Husein had met Jesus Christ!

That evening as over 325 participants in the Leadership Development Institute and 39 members of the US Team listened; Husein gave a vivid testimony of his conversion and faith in Jesus Christ. Later that night the national pastors rallied together to take a small offering that was used to buy Husein some much needed clothes. Our key national leaders met, and agreed upon a place for Husein to be taken to be cared for and discipled.

On Sunday August 16th, Husein attended church in his new community. Word had already spread about the converted Muslim that had moved to town. Every seat in the church was filled and there were many who were standing outside listening through the opened windows. Husein stood again before a mass of people he had never met and shared the same testimony “I want to tell you that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He died and He rose again. I was against that. But I tell you it is the truth…I met Him.”

When God shut Husein's mouth – He opened His eyes. Husein now has eyes of faith – he has a Message to share. He is a life that was forever changed through the faithful witness of one man. Husein is one of over 3,800 that gave their life to Jesus Christ during our three days of Open Air Meetings. Husein is one that matters to God and one through whom God in mighty ways. Husein is one that you have prayed for, invested in, and ministered to as you have strategically partnered with Reaching Souls International.

He is one and if he'd been the only one, the whole trip would have still been worth it. I love my job!