Monday, February 28, 2011

The Unbelievable Day My Dad Died

Dad's home going and glory filled the skies

This is a letter to my heavenly Father about the day my earthly Dad stepped over into eternity.

My Dad had been on hospice and had Lewy Body dementia with Parkinsonism. Most recently he had fluid in his lungs, he had already stated he didn’t want any more tests or drugs.  He was skeletal and sometimes even unable to blow his own nose.  The hospice nurses were with him around the clock along with the nurses in the facility where he was living. He had been all excited about two weeks prior to getting so ill because he saw angels and was telling all the staff about them. Being a stoic German, this was quite out of character for my Dad, but all were enthralled with his recounting the event.

Dear Father in Heaven~
I thank You so very much for 6/5/02, the day of Dad’s home going. I thank you and I marvel that when I awoke (did You waken me?)  I felt impressed to go to the World Prayer Center at noon for worship, praise and to praise You over Dad, his circumstances and terrible health. None of this was a surprise to You. AMEN

I hadn’t been to World Prayer Center in several years.  It was the Day of Prayer at Every Home for Christ (where I worked) We were always encouraged to go to noon prayer at the Prayer Center especially on our day of prayer.  In our small groups that morning at work You led me to pray “thank You, Lord, for giving me Dad as a precious Father for 56 ½ years – now I give him back to you for all eternity.”

I went to the World Prayer Center  with a co-worker in our 2nd truck.  The truck I usually drove was in the shop and I had left my cell phone in that truck. The Prayer Center service was a glorious time of worship, complete with communion, as I was praising and thanking You for Dad.  I truly thought he’d go to be with You then.

When I got back to work my message light was on at my desk phone, “call hospice”. Dad was in renal failure, mottled and with a temp of 101.5, no voiding (urinating) in 15 hours, COME!, was the message.
My Mom had gone to Skyline, where she lived across town, that morning. I called Mick, my husband. He suggested I arrange for Mom, who had early dementia, to take a cab so I could go quickly and be with Dad.
Oh, Lord, I got to tell Dad how much I learned from him, starting with when he reached out to neighbors that no one else would associate with, Dad was no respecter of persons.

His mouth moved and he tried to talk when I mentioned the “Daddy Dragger” years. When I was three to five years old, he’d have me stand on his shoes and “dance” me all over the living room. When I wanted to dance I would look up at him and say “Daddy Dragger” and away we’d go. I got to tell him what a good Dad he had always been.

Later, or was it earlier, yes! Flip, the maintenance man came with the new cell phones that had been on order for over a month, it came that day. He suggested we call my sister and let her talk with Dad. Since my cell was in my truck that was in for service, this sounded wonderful!  My sister did speak with him and she told him not to wait for her – his lips moved again – we knew he heard Colette!

Mick came and spent time with Dad, this was so tender and touching since Mick’s own Dad had died when he was in high school. When we married, my Dad became his Dad, the father he felt he’d not had.
Lord, you worked more miracles.  Colette got a flight and not the $1600 one they first quoted her but one for $346, with 4 hours notice and a packed flight!

Mom was coming in the cab.  The cab got hit.  Had mom been in the front, where she typically sat to hear the driver better, she would have been hurt. Debris from the accident shattered the windshield on the passenger side. She was safe in the back seat.

You were holding our hands each step that day as we held Dad close till 7:30 PM, when he stepped into eternity with a smile. He hadn’t been able to smile in months prior to that final smile due to his disease and his Parkinson’s FROZEN face. What a blessing to see and, really, a miracle.

I was praising You all the way! And in my Quiet Time book, the one which is all scripture, that morning had been scriptures about our names in the book of life, faith and not works and it is all about YOU, dear Jesus. And you gave me more of a poem “Dad, You Are Our Hero” to share at his funeral and memorial!!
Best of all, we had assurance that our wonderful Dad was now safe in Your most capable hands.

He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (NIV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God….  (NIV)

Lord Jesus, he was in pain and had suffered so much and now he went to be with You forever, walking and leaping and praising You, Our Lord Jesus! THANK YOU!!!

Will we miss him? Oh, You best believe we will. But we have the promise of seeing him again and right now, just knowing he is whole and with You certainly helps to take away the sting of separation.  What do people do who have no hope in You?

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with with proper credits.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Prayer to Jesus (A Dementia Story of Love)

The Lord's bouquet to me

Lord, I’m SAD and I don’t know why. We have so much to be thankful for.

I’d like to cook more, have my drawers straightened, have clean clothes in those drawers, visit the folks more when we could VISIT instead of “running through a list”.

I’d like quality time to get to know my Mick more and hug and kiss and dream….

I’d like to visit and help our friends in Youth With a Mission.

I’d like to sit at Your feet and know You more.

Yet those things screaming loudest and getting the most attention are not even the things I’d choose to do – if it weren’t for the noise of it all.


At least Mom and I had come to an agreement that she was not to call me at work unless it was a hospital type emergency.  She left voice mails at my home phone and I could collect them when I had a break time. At this point in time I was working 32 hours a week.  Mick and I were keeping up our home and the folk’s home which Mom wasn’t ready to sell yet AND visiting the folks at 2 different facilities.  Many mornings I went in to feed Dad his breakfast. Hum. If we’d have had kids when we first married they’d be teenagers by now…..maybe there is a reason I never got pregnant even though I never took the pill….

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV)

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Her Ultimate Day (A Dementia Story of Love)

Mom's with Jesus today

I took Mom to lunch. It was one of those chocolate cake and frosting all over fingers  and giggles lunches -she had dementia- then we to the World Prayer Center for their noon worship and praise service.  It was wonderful worship, grand piano and a gal and guy leading singing. Mom was standing clapping her hands in childlike excitement.  She was crying and I was praying that the Lord would overwhelm her with His presence.  She whispered "this is where I have wanted to be all my life!"

While we were worshipping I had my eyes shut and saw Dad, who went to be with the Lord 3 years ago and he looked like he did in his 60s, tan and with darker hair and smiling from ear to ear. I felt like he was watching us praise Jesus and was very happy.  I was impressed that he was saying "Marijo, you have NO idea” the implication was what he found heaven to be like and the things he now had answers for.  I don't usually have "visions" but it was touching.

Mom could actually see the overheads and sing the songs, sometimes she sat and prayed.  A lady came up afterwards and told me it was so good to see Mom worshipping and that her Mom had died 3 weeks ago.  She told Mom how pretty she looked in her lavender jacket earlier.

We went to the car and Mom was all excited and said she was going to move there.  I told her that it wasn't a place to live but to come and worship. She said no, she was going to live there, it was where she wanted to be all her life.  I told her they didn't have beds or food there and people came in the day and went home in the evenings to their homes.  "Well, where do I live then?"  I reminded her of her apartment on assisted living.

When I dropped her off she talked about packing to get ready to go.  I told the staff to watch that she didn't pack. She has packed before including taking down all her pictures etc. because she wanted to move.

The phone rang at 12:45 AM. It was Linda, the administrator of Mom's assisted living place.  Her voice was broken and she said "I have some bad news for you, Marijo, your Mom died..."  The girls went on rounds and saw Mom kneeling.  They went to see if she was ok and she had apparently been dead for awhile, kneeling!

I was of course, shocked.  Later, when I thought about our day I realized this is what Mom had prayed for, going quickly and in her sleep. O am not sure if she was sleeping first or praying AND praising the Lord!

She was buried in a beautiful country cemetery in Monument , next to Dad).  We had a simple family service.  It was supposed to snow that morning but the snow came through the night before and it was SO wonderful for the service, white trees, blue clouds and sunshine.

We need to be ready to go at any time.  Mom would tell you to please make sure that Jesus is your savior and Lord.  If He is, then she will see you again in Heaven!

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mom's Last Christmas

We didn't have snow that day but this is the siding we worked on

Nine degrees, blustering north winds and me, on a scaffold helping Mick with log siding. Not only was I skittish about heights, but I was trying to fix Christmas dinner and keep track of Mom.
The log cabin was about 8 weeks away from being ready to move in.  We had three folding tables and some chairs set up. The plumbing was working and so were we. That’s part of the “blood, sweat and tears” equity you get when married to a builder.
“Honey, can you see Mom in the window?” I asked shifting the 16 footer up to get a better grip.
“Oh, oh, I don’t see her there anymore. You need to go and check on her?”
Mom, who was really no longer Mom since dementia had claimed her, needed careful watching.
“Hold everything and I will be right back.”
I got off the platform, down the ladder, into the garage and though the house to the master bedroom. There was all the Christmas food, microwave, gifts in packages and empty chairs, but no Mom.
“Mom, where are you?” I nervously called out.
I found her in the living room gripping two plastic bags, “These are mine and nobody can have them”, was her terse reply.
“Well, let me see what you have, Mom let’s put these towels back in the kitchen. What else do you have? Ahh, tangerines, you know I’d give you anything I have but citrus always totally upsets your tummy.  Hey, look what I found, your Christmas presents!” I deftly exchanged her bags for ones containing her little gifts.
“Let’s go back to the window so you can watch us do a few more pieces of siding, then we can eat.” I said as I steered her back to the bedroom.
She was amazed by the color in the paper and ribbons on her gifts, not to mention the chocolate.  I hoped that would keep her occupied for a few minutes.
Grabbing my jacket, gloves and hat I hurried back outside to the scaffold, Mick and the log siding. It was gorgeous with the mountains, evergreens and snow frosted landscaping. It would have been even more beautiful in front of the fireplace inside.
“Hon, we just have about 3 more pieces and then I can get the rest myself,” said Mick seeing my concern about Mom and the scaffolding I was climbing.
“OK, there she is,” I waved to my aging Mom.
We placed another large piece of the log siding and used the nail gun. I looked down again to see an empty chair.
“Honey, she’d gone again, be right back!”
I went into the house, hoping everything was ok with Mom.
“Mom, where are you?” I rushed through the laundry, kitchen, hallway, living room and no Mom.  Then I heard noise coming from the bathroom. I knocked on the yet handle less door.
“Yes?” said the small voice inside.
“Mom, are you ok?” I went in despite years of giving her privacy.
She was wetting toilet paper in the toilet bowl and washing herself all over.
“Ah, Mom, let’s go over here to the sink and get you washed up,” I said while flushing the toilet.
“Why, I do this all the time, what’s the matter with you?” was her indignant reply.
I got her washed as best I could and decided maybe it was time to have turkey and open gifts.
Mick must have come to the same conclusion as he was just coming in from the unforgiving weather, to the warm house, when we got to the kitchen.
The dinner that I had cooked at 6:00 AM in the other house over 60 miles away was well worth the packing and driving. It was delicious.
The gifts were nothing really, but to see Mom’s eyes light up as she tore open little bag after little bag of chocolate and cookies, was so worth the effort.
We found out not too much later that she took the precious Christmas chocolate and hid it between her mattress and box spring and then announced to all that someone stole her gifts.
This was one of the most unusual Christmas Days we had ever spent as a family. It was definitely a memorable celebration. This was the last Christmas Mom had with us before she went to be with her Jesus.
I marveled at what must have been going through her head that day. I praise God that she is now safely with Him.

Child, it is coming autumn, a season of apparent dying without but a time of fortification/strengthening within.

It is a beautiful season for roots to go deep, even into the Rock and it is not impossible.

It is not a season of blooms, blossoms or fruit. But without the autumn preparation there would be no resurrection or bursting forth season.

Rest and allow Jesus to deepen your roots, yield.

Be not frenzied, nor dismayed.

Absorb the crisp air, delight in the color and relax in Your Lord. He is able.

Stretch your roots and He will bring forth the increase. Fear not.

You stay put and grow in Him. It is a season of quiet depth and internal growth, a season of strengthening. Selah.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Dementia’s Christmas (A Dementia Story of Love)

Mom and our dear Friend Samvel from Armenia - Mom in Armenian garb

Hum, somebody said Marijo, but that lady has white in her hair and MY Marijo is a little girl…. This lady’s coming to my table and she called me mom..... but that just is not right, is it?
Now she’s asking me what we are eating for lunch.  It is right there on the table, can she see it or doesn’t she really know? I don’t understand. Maybe she is testing me?
The other lady’s pin says Jane, RN.  I am an RN and maybe I am supposed to help instead of sitting here eating…..
The Marijo lady is giving me a box, let me peek. Ohhhh, those round things – they smell so good.  I remember something. The girls were little and we always made these. Hum, girls, yes, my daughters.  I don’t see them here.
And right here in the dining room is that pretty green thing with the lights, they sparkle and shine. I forgot what they call it. And there is straw and a mommy and daddy and that baby.  I REMEMBER Him. He came. HE forgave me.  Oh, I am clean and free! I DO remember that.
What, there is another box. CHOCOLATE – it smells wonderful and we made those too at…. um…. Oh what was His name? It was for His birthday.
Who are they talking about, that lady with the white in her hair and the Jane RN?
“She’s eating well and sometimes knows her name?”
I know MY name! I’m, I’m…..No, maybe that’s my sister’s name. I really just wish they’d let me eat chocolate and those cinnamon-y things instead of this noodle chicken stuff. Why does that lady look like me?
Oh, no, I knocked over my cup. That spoon doesn’t work but my fingers do. Oh, now that lady is wiping my hands on a rag. She’s telling me I need to wear a skirt or pants but not both at the same time and that I need to change my pajama top.

Why is she getting my coat and telling me we are going for a ride to buy a sweater?  Oh, my brain…
“Hi, you look familiar, do I know you? You look kind of like me but I think you are older.”
Why is she calling me mom? I can’t possibly be that old. She seems like a really nice lady so I guess I can go with her for a ride.
Someone called her Marijo again.  I DO have a Marijo, but she is much, much younger than this lady.  I remember it was just last month we made those cinnamon-y things, wasn’t it?
I wonder why she has tears in her eyes and is giving me such a big hug? The least I can do is hug her back! Those boxes she handed me smell wonderful!

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remembering Mom (A Dementia Story of Love)

Reflections on my Mom in her sunset years
Oh, Lord, I think the most difficult thing about Mom becoming like a toddler was the learning. With a toddler they do something and then learn – they grab the oven door and it is HOT. Maybe next time they will not grab it. With a “dementia toddler” they do toddler things, but do not learn. What was “safe” last week, might have changed again this week and they are in trouble. The safety issues never stop.

I remember the time, in the midst of more MD appointments, you spoke softly and encouraged me to “quit with the testing” and ENJOY mom while I could. Oh, the RN in me fought that one. Not go to the neurologist and find out what kind of dementia? Not have that tag or label for our family medical history? HELP!
I was able to let go of that. Instead of countless doctor appointments we had lunch at Red Lobster and Golden Corral.  The wait staff knew her by name and even what she would order. Some days she had CHOCOLATE and ate desert only. Why not? When you are 86 there ought to be some privileges.
Some days she danced in the foyer as we waited for a table. And some days she even remembered her savior and offered to pray for people we met. “Like a little child and of such is the kingdom of heaven” took on a new meaning. There were also the temper tantrum days. On those days, the Lord showed me how well “toddler diversion tactics” usually worked. Change the subject and get her focus on something else…wallah!
We made some beautiful memories. Her fingers, grabbing at the cake, because the fork wasn’t working and was not fast enough for CHOCOLATE. Then my trying to wash her with the water glass water and napkin, I knew if she tried to stand up the chair would be a new color CHOCOLATE. We’d leave a terrible mess for the wait staff.
I was able to cease being embarrassed and laugh with her. It was a joyful time for the most part.
There were times when she motioned for the manager to come over. A rather plump young man arrived at our table. Mom proceeded to grab his elbow and tell him how very handsome he was. As he turned vivid shades of red, I turned so she couldn’t see and mouthed “dementia” to him and thanked him for coming to our table while assuring him that the food was really good.
She had prayed for years that she would go to be with the Lord very quickly. Her prayers became more fervent after she watched my Dad suffer so much before he passed on.
She couldn’t always remember the words she wanted to use, and “you know” became her favorite pass time. “You know what I mean” with those around her then playing a guessing game to fill in the word or phrase for her. Although she often didn’t remember names (her own included) she never failed to greet me and my sister with a very excited “YES! You’re HERE! Oh, I am so glad to see you!!!”
One day we left her assisted living facility for the restaurant. It became clear that she did not know who I was even after I called her mom.
“Who do you think I am?” I queried.
She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t know.
“Mom,” I asked, “Why in the world did you get into this car with me, if you didn’t know who I was?” I was aghast at the potential safely issues this presented.
Her reply was that I seemed like a really nice lady and she didn’t think that was a problem.
We then had a little discussion about going somewhere with strangers. I was very thankful she was in a locked facility and no one could come or go without the code or the staff letting them through the door. This facility had dedicated and incredible staff.
We never found out which specific dementia she had. We found one med that helped her anxiety and paranoia but not her cognitive processes. The family enjoyed her, building a treasure house of memories her last months on this earth.
The Lord answered her prayer. On the day we had praised Him at World Prayer Center, had a fingers-in-the-chocolate-cake giggle day and she had danced instead of walking, she went to meet her Lord.
They found her in the middle of her room on her knees.
The nurse in me still wonders. I know when someone dies the muscles stop working and the body slumps.  Not Mom. She had left her “shell” quite awhile before the girls did rounds and found her in prayer position with no support. She’d gone to be with her Jesus.
No more pain. No more sickness. No more sorrow. No more tears, and eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We miss you, Mom. But we will see you again!
I will be forever thankful, Lord, that I “quit with the doctor appointments”. Please give her a big hug from us and let her know we miss her and are even a little bit envious.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A 3rd “Dementia Day” Snapshot (A Dementia Story of Love)

Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary in 1991with Mom, Colette, Ken, Dad, Mick Marijo and grandson Paul

By this time we were more aware of Mom and her dementia process but we were still being knocked off our feet by actions and reactions, never knowing what next. Since I was a geriatric RN, this wasn’t a total surprise, but it was a shock. With patients I knew them NOW. With Mom, I knew her THEN and NOW – it was totally different .You do lose perspective when it is your own family member. They taught us this in training, but now I had, regrettably, the perfect living example.

Mom was in a facility with apartments, assisted living and they were soon to open a skilled nursing floor. My sister had found out this information as Mom was still “foxy” enough not to tell me about the supposed move she planned for Dad.

I called to find out about the staffing ratio. I felt it was, well, basically criminal. Two CNA’s for nineteen residents on DAY SHIFT. That was worse than any facility I had ever heard of in two different states.

I spoke with Dad. "Marijo, I don't WANT to move."

“Well, maybe you can tell Mom this tomorrow when she visits you?"

"No, no, she makes me scared, I CAN'T tell her - maybe you can get legal custody of me?"

My poor, dear father, was making more sense at this time than mom ever could.  How could I get legal custody of my "on the air" father? I had power of attorney for health care but legally, mom could still move him. I didn't think any judge would declare Dad "unfit" mentally and we didn't have the time or funds to find out.

We hoped most of this was dementia talking through Mom and that she’d forget. Lord have mercy. For some reason she always remembered those things we hoped she’d forget and she forgot most all else.

“Mom, Dad is getting really good care where he is and I don’t think we are going to move him. He just got settled in and likes being there. I phoned to see about staffing in your new place and it just would not allow for good care. Love you Mom and we can talk more later,” was the message I left for her.

I got an awful phone call from Mom, “You, you are terrible and, and messed EVERYTHING up,” she gasped out between sobs and then hung up on my machine.

Oh, boy.  

There are times when I don’t even know what to say.

John 21:18
I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. (NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV)

Isaiah 42:6
"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand…… (NIV)

Everyone in our family was holding on, very tightly, to the Lord's hand.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Nostalgia Tripping

Marijo Age 5
Marijo 1980 Shore Acres Gardens Oregon
Mickey grade school photo
Marijo and Mick 1989

Another Day in the Life of Early Dementia (A Dementia Story of Love Series)

At least Mom and I had come to an agreement that she was not to call me at work unless it was a hospital type emergency.  She left voice mails at my home phone and I could collect them when I had a break time. At this point in time I was working 32 hours a week.  Mick and I were keeping up our home and the folk’s home which Mom wasn’t ready to sell yet AND visiting the folks at 2 different facilities.  Many mornings I went in to feed Dad his breakfast. Hum. If we’d have had kids when we first married they’d be teenagers by now…..maybe there is a reason I never got pregnant and we didn’t have children.

Voice mail from Mom wanting to move Dad to the facility he’d been in before NOW.

Lord, help us!

Ah, Lord God, nothing is too difficult for You – melt/meld Mick and me together in Your love….

Touch Mom and Dad….Help me with a regular quiet time, praise, prayer and sitting at Your feet….

The weekend with Mom was terrible wanting to move Dad, because a dog came into his room after she left the door open? She is not listening to reason. I was in tears and she said she’d no longer be responsible if anything happened.

We were hiking and the Lord showed me Moses (Dad) and Aaron and Hur (Colette and me and our husbands and our prayer back up) And how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms and he had victory. AND that Mom was released from responsibility and it was being transferred to us. My sister, Colette
Had gotten the same illustration from the Lord and had shared it with Mom unbeknownst to me.

When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (NIV)

I was the one in closest proximity so I was the one who got “I AM the WIFE, you are the daughter, I am in charge…”

It was then I had to gently tell her (she and I are both old RNs) that Dad didn’t even have a bedsore though he was in diapers and that I did not think he should be moved and neither did my sister. He was getting excellent care there and didn’t want to move again.

“If something BAD happens, it is your fault….”

I could only draw her close and give her a big hug and tell her that I loved her.

I got a call the following day from Two Men and a Truck telling me that Mom told them I’d write a check and they had just finished moving her. Dad was safe in the facility where he was getting such good care.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with with proper credits.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Day in the Life of Early Dementia (A Dementia Story of Love Series)

Mom, Dad and Marijo 2000

( I will eventually be posting a series of pieces about dementia and my parents through the eyes of this RN who was their daughter - those having family members with dementia will relate I am sure!)

This day was before the family realized the extent on Mom’s dementia.  Yes, she wanted to MOVE rather than face issues and get things straightened out.  Yes, she was sometimes irrational (but she according to her MD she was bi-polar and couldn’t take the meds most of her adult life so we never knew what to attribute to what) Yes, she was thinking many people were out to get her.  But neither we nor the nursing staff had realized to what extent her dementia was affecting her thought processes at this point.

Mom left a phone message, she’s had it where she is living with Dad in a wonderful assisted living facility. She called a local moving company and was going to another facility all the way across town (she doesn’t drive and never has since rolling her boyfriend’s car at age 18) AND she wants to move Dad back to another facility he used to be in. She hung up on me when I was trying logic and scripture with her.

Help me, Lord, to honor my parents yet BACK OFF and wait. Speak to Mom, Lord and encourage Dad.

 My sister, Colette, in Iowa (better perspective from a distance for sure) had marvelous insights: me logical and Mom emotion driven but she can sure get me hooked.

Ahh, Lord God Thou hast made the heavens and the earth with thy great power, nothing is too difficult for Thee – can You speak to my mom and have her hear and obey? Give me wisdom and strength!

 I talked with Dad, he agreed that he was getting great care where he was and he did not want to move again (Mom had moved them around 10 times in two years – sometimes together and sometimes in separate facilities)

Thank You, Lord, for an excellent talk with my excellent Dad! Bless him. Please speak to Mom.

"Honor your father and your mother so that you will live a long time in the land that the Lord your God is going to give you.(NIV)
honor your father and mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself. (NIV)

The command says, "Honor your father and mother." This is the first command that has a promise with it— (NIV)
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snowflake, A Smile

My brave tulips in the snow

Merry snowflake swirling around
Dizzily drifting dreamily down
Smile encompassing all
Snowflake is a smile
Smile gathering in the sky
Happy, happy, happy I.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Sunset from our front porch - God's artistry!

Through a series of events that God had put together, this atheist of nine years found herself praying.  I was praying to the god I was not sure was really there.  Life was a mess. I was hurting those I professed to love. Drinking too much and making terrible choices.

My younger sister has changed tremendously.  I had to ask questions. I scoffed and poked fun at her but underneath that tough exterior I was thoughtful. As soon as I put her on the plane, I found myself at the Christian bookstore getting the book on Bible prophesy she recommended.
Three weeks after reading the book, my husband and I had gone for a walk in a nearby park.  I was crying but instead of release, the tears felt muddy as they dribbled down my face. Life was a tangled snarl and I was even more tangled..
Later that day, I found myself getting ready for work, taking a bath and talking out loud, to god, IF he was there.  I needed help.
“I’ve made a wreck of my life.  If you’re there, I need you to forgive me and to have you take over….” This went on for some time. I am not sure what I expected, but nothing “weird” happened.  I felt calm and peaceful, like a huge bounder in a backpack was lifted off my shoulders.
“Hey, JO, are you ok in there, you’ve been in there an hour and a half now?” questioned my husband.
It was then I realized I was sitting in a bathtub filled with stone cold water. But I felt free for the first time ever in my life.
There was a born again nurse’s aide at work. I spoke with her much.  I began to read the Bible.  I still had so many questions:  How did I know this was really the literal Word of God? How could I believe every word? What was just “good stories” and what was real?
Did you really inspire these writers? Is every word literal? Can I trust this book?
I found myself reading in the Old Testament and came across Isaiah 40:22:
“It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in….” (RSV)
Then it “popped into my head” that when we studied history “in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue” they all thought if he went too far, he’d sail OFF the edge of the earth… this scripture was written way before Columbus.  Yet, whoever inspired this writing knew the earth was a circle and it sounded like he was sitting above that circle.
Next I found Psalms 103:11-12: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is his great steadfast love towards those who fear him, as far as the east in from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (RSV)
I started thinking about this. If you go north pretty soon you are going south because the earth spins on its axis which is from north to south…
However, if you go east you keep going east forever and never go west. The lights were coming on just like the sun rises each and every morning.  The person who inspired this knew that the earth was a circle and rotated on an axis. Who but God?
Shortly after this I was reading in the New Testament and found two scriptures regarding end times: Matthew 24:40-41 “Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.” And Luke 17:34-35 (speaking of the same end times event) Í tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.” (RSV)
I mentally checked this out too – too early in time for electricity in the fields, no night lights so those in the field and grinding had to be in the daytime.  And those asleep, looked like it was nighttime.  Showing the concept of an earth with part of it in day and the rest in night when this event happened.
Again, who but the Lord God knew about this at the time in history when these scriptures were written.
Thank you, Lord God, for caring enough to help me with my “issues” about the Bible.  Thank you for looking upon my converted atheist’s  heart and showing me, answering my questions and giving me much to think about in the years that followed.
I no longer wondered which parts of the Bible were “just good stories” and which were literal. I knew from that day on I could rely on what was written within those incredible and wonderful pages. And I knew that I would have these examples to share with anyone else who was questioning like I was.
How much more could I be loved?  How much more personable could my Lord and savior be? I came to find out that this was just the beginning, the very beginning. All these years later I am still learning and growing and daily thanking my incredible raboni, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Choosing Life on Your Behalf

It is the most bedraggled little thing – laying here waterlogged and soggy like a half drown kitten. Hair matted to its head, gasping for breath.

As I gaze upon it all I could think was ohhhh. Every instinct within me wants to pick it up and “fix” whatever is wrong. This little creature could die. Would I dare allow my emotions and love to get entwined with someone fragile once again? Would it respond to me? Would it live? I don’t even know if this is a “boy” or a “girl”.

I can’t help myself as I reach out to touch this little life. Of course I can’t turn away.  I pick up the little one and hear a soft mewling cry. At least it is alive right now. Will it eat? What should I feed it? How did I come to find it just at this time? Ah, it is a girl!

Do I have time and energy and money for a commitment like this? It would be an incredible commitment, I do realize that….

I see those tiny blue eyes looking up at me and the minute fingers grasping at mine. If I don’t, who will?
Why are you here in this utility room? Who put you here in the dark, ignoring your very life and leaving you exposed to die?

Where is the mother who bore you, the father who brought you into being? The doctor and medical staff who pledged to support life? How could they take this terrible turn in their minds twisting things into what this has become? How can they rationalize being part of killing a human baby, innocent and never having had a chance. You are not a choice. You are a human being made in the image of God, with a life before you not to be snuffed out moments after your abrupt birth.

How can I not help? How can I possibly walk away knowing what would happen if I did. What incredible circumstances would make me NOT choose life? I don’t even want to know.

“Hey, you, what are you doing in this utility room?”
“Ah, ohhh!”

Ezekiel 16:5-8 (New King James Version)
5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.
6 “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. 
8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD. 

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tiny Tornado

Tika Marika Thunderpaws
Was tearing  ‘round the house,
Tika Pasqueaka Thunderpaws
Was batting a cap nip mouse

Thud, thunk, tumbling down
You should see her hit home base
Sliding here, careening there
At her hyperactive pace

Tika Marika Fat-Cat
Was fluffy as can be
Running here, running  there
Chasing after me

Behind the couch
Upon the sill
Faster and faster
Running still

She trounced that mouse
And ditched me too
Like it was really
Easy to do

Tika Marika Thunderpaws
Where, oh where would we be
Without the fluffy Fat-Cat
Whirlwind  for us to see.