Tag Archives: patience

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 12)

13 Oct

Have you ever had the sense someone was watching you – even in your sleep?  I don’t think I will ever forget the night I woke with a start to a ninety some year old woman standing at the side of my bed at 3:30 a.m. peering down at me! Did I ever jump!!!

Why was she up in the middle of the night? What was she doing? Where else had she been?

 As time progressed with Great Aunt, one of her most common activities was packing her belongings.  For some reason, she continually thought she was moving. I would walk into her area of the house to find the pictures off the walls, blankets – folded and stacked, books, photo albums, jewelry… absolutely everything she could find piled or stashed away into drawers.  I would unpack each treasure, rehang the pictures, and reassure her that she was not moving. This was her home. This was her family.

Remarkably, by the time I came back to check on her, the process would be repeated! How did she do it? What stamina! She was able to pack all of her things several times a day!

Pack – unpack. Pack – unpack. Pack – unpack.

I may be a bit slow, but it didn’t take too long before I realized we needed to make some changes.  She needed less to pack, and I needed to unpack less!

We converted part of Great Aunt’s living area into a master bedroom accomplishing two things. One, she needed less space and fewer things deal with. Two, we were closer to her, providing better and much needed oversight.

The decision had been a very difficult one for me.  In no way did I want to limit her; or worse, move in to her very own abode.  Would she or the extended family think we were selfishly taking her space?

She adapted so well, we wondered why we hadn’t made the change sooner.  The large amount of space had clearly become too much for her.

In a large family such as ours, seldom was Great Aunt left alone. Although Sunday mornings and a few other occasions, she had the house to herself.  She had done well, until… we started coming home to tissue paper stuffed into the gas fire place (with the gas on), the stove top turned on high, water faucets left running.  She was rapidly loosing the ability to function safely without supervision. It was after the episode in the middle of the night,  it became clear that we needed to install a lock on her bedroom door, on the outside.

If I thought reducing her living space was difficult, the thought of locking Great Aunt’s door was worse!

We could no longer trust her judgement.  We did not want to put Great Aunt or the household at risk. We did not want to send her back to the “home-for-the-elderly”. Our desire was to lovingly care for her as long as we were able.

The lock was installed.  Because it was seldom used, it wasn’t an issue.  She had declined enough that it was not offensive to her.  In fact, when moving about her new more limited space, upon trying the door- she would just politely knock on the door, and close by, we would come to her attention. Once again, I was able to sleep without worrying about what the night might bring.

~lessons in grace~

loving when the loving is tough

pulling back when the desire is to give

restraining for ones own benefit

…all while honoring a life well lived


the need to practice kindness and patience

30 Sep

Agreeing to watch a friend’s young children for the day, I inquired about sleeping arrangements for nap time. I would need a playpen and their favorite blankets.  In response, the father told me to simply lay the two girls next to each other on a bed, and put a pillow on each side.  Considering their young ages, 15 months and 3 years, I was a little skeptical butI decided to trust him.

After lunch, it was time to find out if the dad knew what he was talking about.

 The 3 year old’s matter of fact view of nap time was impressive.  She was obviously quite used to this routine and eagerly picked her spot on the bed.  Her younger sister was a bit more hesitant and cried for a minute or less, being comforted by the kind touch and gentle words of the elder sibling.

Soon, they were both sound asleep.

How did the parents teach this? I know many parents that would love to experience this nap time routine!

I remembered my last post…

 It is love…  that causes us, as parents, not only be patient and kind with our children,

but to teach them to be patient and speak kindly to each other.

Yesterday, I saw this love in action.

We have this type of love in our home.

I see examples of it every day, but in addition, I also see our lack.

Do we always speak with kindness, in a way that puts the other at ease… ?

Are we patient with each other?

As I was helping my six year old with math, I felt my patience wearing thin.  How many times and different ways does it take to explain the same thing before it actually sinks in?  I felt like saying to him, “Where is your brain?  Think!”

Fortunately, as I looked at my sweet little boy, I remembered what it feels like to not understand.  How often have I had things explained and still felt in the dark.  Patiently, we worked together as he gained understanding.

Hopefully, he felt my patience.

But what if I had blown it?  The situation could have been different.

What happens if I loose my temper?

All is not lost!

The lessons learned from our failures are invaluable.  They provide a unique platform from which to teach.  Obviously we as parents should acknowledge our errors and seek forgiveness, but this is only part of the lesson.  In addition, our goal is to teach the children to be kind even when we are not.

Anyone can be kind when someone is being kind to them.

Only a person of strong character is able to patiently return volatile remarks with kindness.

1. Be an example to your children. Practice speaking with patience and kindness.

2. Praise your children when you see them being patient and kind.

3. Do not allow impatience and harsh words to go unattended.  This means consistent and firm oversight!

4. Failures, whether it be the children’s or our own, should be used as a platform for instruction.

When the parents returned to pick up their little girls, I asked them how they taught their children to be such good little  nappers.  As I suspected, it was out of necessity and practice.

Out of necessity and desire, we will continue in our home to practice…

love and patience.

It is love…

23 Sep

 It is love…  that causes us, as parents, not only be patient and kind with our children,

but to teach them to be patient and speak kindly to each other.

It is love… that does not give way for prideful boasting,

rather looks to build each other up.

It is love…   that motivates  us to instruct the siblings to consider others first,

not demanding their own way.

It is love… that reminds us to humbly recognize our own personal failures

and helps our children see theirs,  seeking forgiveness from each other.

It is love…  that  not only bears,

but learns to appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies.

It is love… that helps us to believe in and encourage each other

and endures through the difficult times.

True love never fails.

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 10)

31 Jul

Struggling with Grace

Taking care of Great Aunt brought an increased awareness to my own personal lack of grace. If I thought I had gained strides through being a wife and mother; this period of my life took the ongoing refining of my character to a whole new level.  The daily struggle to patiently love and selflessly serve, tested me far beyond where I been.  This was 24 hour, 7 day a week care.

…it was a somewhat typical busy day for our young large family.  I had a very new baby, the children had chicken  pox, Mark’s back was out and he was limited to bed rest. The day was cut out for me;  meals needed to be made, sick children tended, laundry done, baby fed and changed…  Great Aunt had eaten her breakfast and was appearing to enjoy the sunny sitting area in her room.

She beckoned me to bring her a glass of cold water. In between the continuous needs and questions of the children, I came back with a glass of cold water. Her response was less than happy. I had failed to put ice in the glass. Walking back to the kitchen meant being available to the children; their questions and needs quickly resumed. I was distracted. One had itchy pox, another’s fever was on the rise, baby was crying… when suddenly I remembered, Great Aunt wanted ice water!

Quickly I filled her glass with many chunks of ice and attempted again to cheerfully serve her.   With a sharp angry voice she replied, “Well, what took you so long?” I tried to defend myself, “Please be patient with me. Mark’s back is out, the kids are all sick, and I just had a baby and need to move slowly.” The response I received literally did me in. “Humph!” she crossly stated, “It’s not my fault you had a baby!” In a knee jerk reaction, I threw the ice water all over Great Aunt.

I quickly went outside and sat on the front step. What had I done!? I was ashamed and in tears.

Humbly I called my mother-in-law (Great Aunt’s niece) and confessed.

The unexpected grace I experienced that day, is one I will never forget.

“Becky, Great Aunt is living and breathing.  You have given her years of life she would not have had.  She hangs laundry, she plays with the children.  She has relationships with all of you. That is what relationships are – laughing, loving, and even getting angry, and making up.”

I regained my composure and faced Great Aunt again, with a fresh glass of ice water. Carefully, I handed it to her, apologizing for my behavior.  If she even remembered the incident, she never let on, but her disposition remained much sweeter for the rest of that day.

I want to treat others – I want to treat my family with the grace I received from my mother-in-law that day.

Lessons in Grace with “Great Aunt” (part 4)

9 May

Stolen Lip Stick and Undergarments

Stopping in at one’s home for a visit, merely gives a window into a life.  I don’t think we were prepared for what all was truly going on in Great Aunt’s mind.  Looking back, we could see hints during those visits that we just hadn’t picked up on.

Often our day would begin in a normal manner.  I would wake Great Aunt and encourage her to get up and dressed before breakfast. Sometimes I would find her already up, dressed, and ready to go.  What took me off guard was the day she began accusing my daughters of stealing her lipstick and undergarments.  Shocked that she would even think such a thing, my “protective mother instincts” rapidly came to life! I quickly corrected her and defended my daughters.  Not only were the children not to wander in Great Aunt’s space without invitation, I knew their young hearts and was confident they would not steal and especially not lip stick and undergarments!.  Yet, her mind was made up, there was no reasoning. They were guilty. I was horrified she would think such a thing.

I had prepared myself for extra work and challenges, but not for an attack on my children.  Why could she not see?  She simply would not listen to reason or logic. I was offended.  I was upset.

Getting another person’s view is usually a good call.  Wanting to gain council and understanding, I relayed the heated conversation to my dear hubby.  It was not long before his  “protective father instinct” had come to life, maybe even stronger than mine!

What Mark and I had not realized, was that Great Aunt was not in her right mind.  Sometimes she was, while other times – not. We never had warning.  Often engaged in a seemingly rational conversation it would suddenly turn on a dime. I found myself becoming easily frustrated, not only with Great Aunt, but with myself.  Rather than patiently understanding, I would be caught off guard and become undone.  So many things I had learned through working at a health care facility (as a teenager), years of marriage, raising children… why was it so hard to apply in this situation?

It may have been during this time the phrase – “Be a duck…” became well used in our home.  As a duck repels water droplets off its back, I learned to let Great Aunt’s hurtful comments roll.  Regretfully I confess, it took time. It took years. To my advantage, Great Aunt seldom remembered the harsh words she spoke nor my reply, whether good or bad. Yet, I knew. I daily sought God for His ultimate grace to flow through me.

The lipstick and undergarments turned up later. Sometimes our searches took days, while others were short, but without fail, the “stolen” items were found.  She had no memory of stashing her things away and continued to feel the need to blame someone else for what she had lost. That never changed. What did change was my ability to let her make her accusations and receive them with understanding.  Rather than blaming the children, the thief  was given a ficticious name  and remained in the house until Great Aunt’s final days.