Do You Have a Question for Grandma?

In my father’s final months and weeks of life, it was extremely helpful to have a resource page from our hospice care notebook that listed several common “end stage” actions or symptoms that most people go through. These included things from a decrease in appetite to a lessening or a loss of physical sensation to “picking” at clothing or at the sheets on the bed. One of the end-of-life indicators listed was a “surge of energy,” often called a “rally,” when the individual will talk clearly, have a clearer mind, and in general, seem to have a change for the better. With any of these, the timing can vary between patients, lasting from minutes to days.

My father had a “rally” one evening, and in that time, in gentle, relaxed, clear, soft tones, he spoke words of wisdom, advice, comfort, and encouragement. One thing he stated with great clarity, and it seemed to be the theme for all else that he said that evening: “Sometimes we have been fearful; sometimes we have been angry; but God has always been faithful.”

And from that moment forward, we claimed “the faithfulness of God” as the theme for his remaining days to his eventual passing away and then to the songs, verses, and messages given at his funeral. Because, after all, God is faithful!

Though I’ve long been a learner, that evening reminded me anew to glean wisdom and godly counsel from those who have walked and are walking their paths with hearts that seek, and therefore with lives that teach, God’s wisdom.

So I’m making an exciting announcement today! 

I asked my dear mother, Lorraine, if she would be willing and available to answer your questions via a regular post on this blog. Sometimes you wish you could have an easily accessible mentor, and though most of us sincerely long to follow the Titus 2:3-5 principle of the older women teaching the younger women, life is busy, and a weekly commitment to meet with someone doesn’t always work well in everyday life.

The “Ask Grandma” post will appear on a regular basis, and in it, Mom will answer your questions! Here’s how it will work:

  • Send your questions (currently, we will accept any appropriate subject matter) to: Grandma@PetalsfromtheBasket.com
  • Within 24 hours, you will receive a reply, informing you that we received your e-mail.
    • For everyone’s protection, we will only reply to genuine e-mails.
    • For everyone’s protection, we will only reply to e-mails from a verifiable e-mail address.
    • For everyone’s protection, we will only reply to e-mails with a real name used. (For example, “Help Me Grandma” is not a name; “Mary Smith” is—if your name is Mary Smith, that is!)
  • One letter will be chosen to be answered publicly in each “Ask Grandma” post. NO NAMES OR INITIALS WILL BE USED in the post. Your identity will remain confidential.*
So feel free to send a question for Grandma! The e-mail box is open!

Grandma@PetalsfromtheBasket.com

*Petals from the Basket, PetalsfromtheBasket.com, Brenda Strohbehn, and Lorraine Strohbehn accept no legal liability for the answers given in the “Ask Grandma” posts. We reserve the right to refuse inappropriate content and will deny access to false or contrived e-mail addresses. Additionally, should the e-mails we receive in conjunction with this site or this series of posts contain information regarding illegal activity or actions that would cause injury to the sender or to others, the required legal action and reporting will occur.

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Photo Credit: Minerva Studio, via Shutterstock.com

 

Both Sides of the Door

My father was a preacher, and for many years I’ve said that one of the highest compliments I could give him was to share that he was the same person in the pulpit that he was in our home: a godly, sincerely humble man, grateful for God’s grace, which he knew he needed and which he knew he could never “earn” on his own. So it was no surprise that as my family and I sat around the table the night before my father’s funeral earlier this week, I found a way to concisely share the one word or one statement that summarized something important I had learned from my dad:

“Be the same person on both sides of the door.”

There is great freedom in authenticity. I often think that it must be exhausting to be one person in front of one group and another person when with another group. No, we don’t know all people on the same level or for the same reason, so our conversations and levels of intimacy vary, depending on the relationships. But at the core of each relationship, the same person should exist within us.

We often find great comfort in the fact that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). Yet those words should also serve to remind us that right beside His love, mercy, kindness, and compassion that we long to reflect in our lives, His genuine “sameness,” a demonstration of His humility, should be seen in us—from both sides of the door.

Holding Hands

Do you remember it? His hand brushed up against yours, and you knew it was about to happen—your date was about to hold your hand. As his fingers intertwined with yours, a new degree of trust, security, and sincerity was displayed. It was as though in taking your hand, there was an added level of certainty to the relationship. It was an indication that things were moving forward—that your trust was safe.

I recently snapped this photo while I was holding hands with my father at his bedside one evening. His end-stage Parkinson’s kept his hands busy that night as he tried to get out of the bed to which he is confined. Yet, when I took his hand, he gently wrapped the other around mine, and he became calm. He knew someone was there. He knew he was going to be safe, and he knew that he wasn’t alone.

I’m here for you. I love you. Stick with me. I’ll protect you. Let me show you the way. I like being with you. I’m near. These are only a few of the implied meanings from the simple act of holding hands.

Isaiah 41:13 has become one of our favorite verses in these days of counting breaths and treasuring those that are counted:

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”

The security, joy, safety, and comfort that come from an almighty God telling me that our relationship is secure, that I’m not alone, and that I can find safety with Him because He is holding my hand causes me to reach out my hand to Him in faith, longing for and anticipating the help He has promised.

Reach out your hand to Him, sweet reader-friend. He is there.

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You can read 52 of some of the favorite blog posts from this site in my new book,

Petals from the Basket: Devotional Thoughts for Women

New Devotional Book!

The baskets of our lives are filled with petals from work, family, special events, hobbies, and much more! I believe that each petal—even the wilted ones—can represent blessings that God gives us through each season of life. My desire is that as I open my heart and transparently share ideas and resources for everyday Christian living, I will be able to point to the fact that the baskets of our lives are lovingly woven with the Weaver’s touch! 

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

When I started my blog in 2012, I thought that it would be a short-term solution for sharing updates with my family and friends regarding my journey through a major life change. Gradually, the readership began to grow outside the sphere of that initial group, and the purpose, scope, and reach of the blog grew as well.

My new book, Petals from the Basket: Devotional Thoughts for Women, is comprised of some of the favorite devotional blog posts from this site. The posts are in no specific order, because life happens in that same way: we can’t categorize everything into neat little compartments; and as much as we would like to, we don’t always move forward.

Each devotional (52 in all) is followed by a few blank lines on which you may wish to write your own thoughts on the subject or to write out your own prayer of response. However, if you’re a perfectionist like I am, you will feel the need to fill every line and to use perfectly shaped handwriting to do so. But I’m giving you permission to leave some (or all) of the lines blank and to simply use them if and when you wish to write in your own thoughts! If I’ve learned anything from writing these blog posts, it’s that nothing is accomplished when it’s merely done to “appear perfect.” Without sincerity and the freedom to acknowledge our weaknesses, it’s difficult to grow stronger.

So as you read through these devotionals, you’ll see that I posted them at various times of the year, from different locations, and for different reasons. But my heart’s desire is that the thoughts that point you to the unchanging, reliable, consistent truth of God’s Word will encourage you, strengthen you, comfort you, teach you, and meet a need that you have at that given moment.

Thank you for walking this journey with me! [Click the cover photo to read more about the book and to order your copies!]

(I would be honored and grateful if you would share this post with your friends and family by using the “share” buttons below!)

 

Just in Time for Christmas!

Petals from the Basket: Devotional Thoughts for Women is comprised of 52 of the favorite blog posts from Petals from the Basket. Each devotional is followed by a few blank lines on which you may wish to write your own thoughts on the subject or to write out your own prayer of response.

Available now on Amazon (130 pages, paperback)! (Click photo to see more information and to order your copy!)

Who I Am

I was reading a short devotional this morning as part of my God-and-I Time, and the final phrase stuck out to me: “May who I am glorify You!” It wouldn’t leave my mind, and it has, in these few short hours, become the prayer of my heart.

“May who I am glorify You.” Not who I was or who I wish I were or who I plan to be—but who I am. Each day, each thought, each action—who I am.

Not when I’m retired, when I’m financially settled, or when I’m married—who I am.

When I’m famous, when I have time, when I achieve a desired status? No—who I am.

When I’m thinner, when I’m able to control my desires, when I’m able to live a disciplined life? Again: no—who I am.

Lord, hear and help me to live out the sincerity behind this prayer: “May who I am glorify You.”

So He Made It Over

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jeremiah 18:4, NIV)

The Amplified Bible says, “So He made it over.”

“So He made it over.” I am not disposable to God! He has placed a value on me (through the blood of Christ) that will never diminish! So when I am  ”marred,” He chooses to remake me: perhaps for a different use or purpose or with an updated design or function, but He doesn’t dispose of me!

Oh the blessed intermingling of grace and hope!

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Christmas is Coming!

What better Christmas idea to go with today’s challenge than a pottery wheel for kids. Order early and help/let your children make their own handcrafted pottery for relatives, teachers, and friends! No baking necessary!

Click here to view Discovery Kids Motorized Pottery Wheel

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Survey Prize Winners – And a Surprise!

This was too much fun! I couldn’t wait! So I’m announcing the winners today! But first, I am sending many, many, many of you a huge shout out for taking time to participate in the survey this past week. The number of responses far exceeded my expectations and hopes!

It was good for me to see that while some readers dislike certain elements, the majority said that they like those same elements. In other cases, the majority didn’t favor some elements, while others wanted more of them! But that’s what made it worthwhile! Your comments and ideas were helpful and insightful, and I will take them to heart as I continue to focus on sharing my heart, my failures, my blessings, my life, and my God through Petals from the Basket. So thank you!

The winners were completely selected through a random drawing process through a third party. (In other words, I had no input on selecting the winners!) Oh how I wish I were able to give every survey taker a prize, but alas, I am not. And yes, I have once again used the word alas in a blog post! So let me announce the winners forthwith (that one was for you, my Friday night friends)!

Grand Prize – EMMY P.
1 But God necklace (purchased from The Vintage Pearl) and
5 copies of the But God Bible study
Value: $84.95

First Prize – ANITA C.
1 But God necklace (purchased from The Vintage Pearl) – value: $45.00

Second Prize – DAR S.
5 copies of the But God Bible study – value: $39.95

Third Prize – ELIZABETH K.
1 copy of The Best Yes, by Lysa Teurkeurst – value: $15.95

Fourth Prize – JEAN H.
1 copy of the But God Bible study – value: $7.99

*Total value of all prizes (not including shipping and handling, which we will pay): $193.84

CONGRATULATIONS!

E-mails have been sent to the prize winners. Please contact us via reply e-mail us before November 30, 2014 with your shipping address!

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And now for a big SURPRISE!

I have contacted several of the companies whose items I will be sharing as Christmas ideas this month, and there will be
more giveaways (no surveys this time) during the months of November and December! I’m tickled pink! This is way too much fun! Stay tuned!

 

Why I Schedule Time with God

“The first day, God knows. The second day, you know. By the third day, everybody knows.” I would cringe nearly every time my mom shared this with me—which was often—because I knew she was right. And few of us like to readily admit that “mama knows best!” Yet, the older we get, the more we realize that she actually did know best!

Neglecting to spend time in Bible study, prayer, heavenward meditation, or a combination of any or all of these doesn’t go unnoticed. Now be careful, because it’s not about placing a check mark on your “I’m a good Christian because I do these things” list. ["It" being "devotions," "personal Bible study," "God-and-I time," etc.] It’s a choice to talk to and learn from the Creator of the universe who willingly sent His only Son to die in my stead (because of my sin, present since birth, that causes me to fall short of God’s glory) because of an unconditional love that never fails. (Can I get a hallelujah on that sentence alone? Wow!)

It’s more like having the privilege to place a check mark on your “Because of all He’s done, I want to do this (‘this’ being equivalent to the “it” above) so that I can be a better Christian—be more like Christ!”

So I daily choose to place an allotted time on my calendar for “God-and-I time” (GAIT). I call it that because I view it as an appointment I need to keep, a meeting I need to attend, and a commitment I need to honor. You are probably much better than I am about “just doing it,” but I find that if I don’t literally schedule it into my day, I neglect that time because I allow other things to so easily crowd their way into my schedule, usually because the evil ick tells me those things matter more (as if!).

How much time? That varies. I would encourage you not to set a specific time range [i.e., 30 minutes or 60 minutes]. Just listen as you read, reply in prayer, and let each day’s lesson guide you through and strengthen you for that day’s journey. It’s an appointment worth keeping!

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“Prime”-ing the Pump for Christmas

[Note: several of the Christmas suggestions will contain "affiliate links," meaning that, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission from the company whose information I am sharing with you. ALL affiliate income (100%) earned in the months of November and December will be donated to Soles for Jesus, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that distributes shoes to those in regions where shoes are not readily available and yet are a vital part of the region's health and well-being.]

I’m kicking off my Christmas shopping ideas with what I think might be the most important one of all: Amazon Prime. Here are five reasons why I think it’s worth every penny—including how you can enroll in the program (for a brief time) absolutely free!

1. It’s a one-time payment for all your shipping charges from Amazon for one full year! When you purchase on Amazon, your shipping choice will default to your Free Amazon Prime method, which is two-day shipping! (No it’s not free after the first 30 days, you pay a yearly fee, but if you order much from Amazon at all, it doesn’t take long to start getting it free!)

2. Amazon Prime also earns you free books to download for Kindle, Kindle for PC, or Kindle for Mac.

3. Amazon Prime also gives you the opportunity to watch TV shows and movies at little to no cost!

4. Amazon Prime allows you to use “one-click” shopping, saving you hours of time over the course of a year.

5. Amazon Prime is perfect for Christmas shopping because you can click “this is a gift,” and Amazon will include a gift note for the recipient—and send it for free!

But here’s the best part of all, you get a 30-day FREE TRIAL! So now is the PERFECT time to enroll. If you love it and realize how much you save, enroll in the program and pay the annual fee; if not, just cancel (and they, unlike many companies, make it easy to cancel).

You’ll thank me. :)

Click here to get your free trial of Amazon Prime and/or enroll in the program!

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Be sure to stop by the Health Updates page for the latest news on Dad’s end-stage Parkinsons and Mom’s eye conditions.

From Crud, Crying, and Cringing to Christmas Shopping!

It’s been a “But God” week for me. And that’s not a shameless plug for the book; it’s a fact!

The Crud

I don’t know if I had “the crud” or a massive migraine, but last Saturday (dawn to dusk and every minute in between) I was as sick as a dog. (It just hit me: dogs must get pretty sick because we use that expression to mean really, really sick—but I digress.) I’m not a good sick person. It’s such a waste of time that I get really depressed thinking of all the time I’m wasting or missing out on or the work that’s not getting done, and I end up feeling sicker. Enter biblical principle #1: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22, NLT). It’s true. And I’m thankful that whatever I had was gone by midmorning on Sunday.

Crying

Did I happen to mention that it’s truly been a “But God” week for me? My dad (you can read about his journey with end-stage Parkinsons here) had a rough week, and I found myself tired and using that lame excuse to make impatient decisions, to foster selfish thoughts, and to make wrong choices.

No, my tears were not because I wasn’t getting my way or because life was seemingly difficult. I humbly confess that my tears flowed freely one evening when I stopped to read God’s Word (the solid rock I have to run to when storms hit) and read two of my favorite verses (Lamentations 3:22-23), and then I continued reading the next three verses, with eyes and heart wide open: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:22-26, NIV). Wow. Just wow. Tears flowing again just typing those truths. Enter biblical principle #2: His mercies are undoubtedly new every morning because He knows we need them daily.

Cringing

I cringed when I hit the “Publish” button on yesterday’s blog post. Getting feedback is so vital, so necessary, so helpful—and so scary. Enter biblical principle #3: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV). You are the advisory board for this blog. That’s why your input matters to me. And because your input matters, I really, really want you to take the Reader Survey (which you can do by clicking here). I even threw in almost $200.00 in prizes just because I value what you have to say.

Christmas Shopping

I like things, sure, but I’m not into “stuff” anymore. Buying gifts just to buy them or fulfilling a quota for how much money I spend on someone is just not the way I want to do it at this point. Bless your hearts, don’t let this scare you, but a lot of you are just like I am! But that means you may also feel like I do: wondering where to find quality gifts (many of them with a life-impacting focus) for a good value.

So for the rest of November (and a little bit beyond), I’m going to share some of my favorite things and favorite sites. Some of these will be “affiliate links” (i.e., I get a small commission for any purchases made through the links—at NO extra cost to you), but don’t let that make you think I’m only sharing it for that reason. In fact, I’m donating 100% of ALL affiliate commission in November and December to Soles for Jesus, a Milwaukee-based organization that provides shoes for those who so desperately need them. (You can click here to read a previous article about this organization.)

These are simply recommendations, but I’m only sharing the ones I believe in, trust, think are worth the cost, and think you (and your gift recipients) would like! These will start on Monday and will be at the bottom of that day’s biblical challenge or thoughts.

And of course, one final C: the Conclusion

In spite of the crud, crying, and worrisome cringing, praise God we can end with biblical principle #4: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, NIV)!