On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Posts tagged ‘Family’

Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Sunday Dinner |by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 23, 2019:

mad hatter tea partyOn Sundays, David and I usually go home after church and have a light lunch, usually leftovers, but this week Don and Carol asked David if we wanted to go out to eat with them. It sounded like fun to me, so when we pulled out of the parking lot, he turned right instead of left. Everyone must have had the same idea, because the parking lot at Sidekicks was so full we had to park at the flower shop. Don and Carol were already seated at a table for four, but Paul had joined them. When Carol saw us, she said, “Oh, David said he wasn’t sure.” Then, she nodded at the empty table for six behind her, and everybody shifted. It was a little like the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland  – “clean cup, clean cup, move down, move down.” (more…)

Images of Moms | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 7, 2019:

Last month, I participated in a photo challenge with some of my Facebook family and friends. We were given a topic for each day of the month and were supposed to post a picture related to that topic. It was especially challenging for me since I usually think in verbal images rather than visual ones. Some of my pictures were just something to check off the list, some were pretty good, and a few were almost inspired. It was fun, but it was also a bit of relief when it was over. I guess I’m still thinking in visual images, though. Sunday morning I saw the perfect image for the topic “mom.”

We have a number of young couples in our church and lots of children. In fact, you have to be careful in the halls not to step on a little one or knock over a toddler who’s just getting his legs under him. I’m way out of that circle, but based on Facebook posts and other evidence, I think there are lots of play dates and sleepovers among our kids. There’s also a lot of seat swapping in church – you never know which kids will be sitting with which family. (more…)

All Roads Lead to Emory | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 30, 2019:

All roads lead to Rome“All roads lead to Rome” is a proverb of unknown origin that has come to mean that everything you do and everywhere you go will eventually lead you to the center of things. In the days of the Roman Empire, this was true because all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city.

In present day consumer-driven American society where trends come and go at the speed of teenage whimsy, it’s almost impossible to determine where the center of things lies from moment to moment. However, I believe I have verifiable evidence that, at least during this past week, this small town was that center and that, indeed, all roads did lead to Emory. (more…)

Get the picture? |by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 9, 2019:

Wedding scrapbookPhotography is a favorite pastime with many members of my family, especially my sister-in-law, JoLynn. She’s very good with a camera, and in the pre-digital days, she filmed many memorable events including mine and David’s wedding. She has gifted many of us with beautiful scrapbooks, and she has become the unofficial family historian.

Since the advent of digital imagery, JoLynn has spent countless hours scanning and cataloging photographs which she can access on request – and I have made a number of requests. She continues to snap photos and make scrapbooks, making use of new technology to create hardback coffee table books of family reunions and trips, special occasions like landmark birthdays and anniversaries, and the lives of her three sons and eight grandchildren. (more…)

Living in community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 26, 2019:

Christopher Knight's CampAt the most recent meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club, we discussed the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” It’s the story of Christopher Knight who walked into the woods when he was 20 years old and lived there until he was captured 27 years later.

Our initial discussions centered around what a hermit actually is and whether Knight met those requirements. We couldn’t come to a consensus on that issue, so we moved on to the morality of how he supported himself – by stealing from vacation homes and a summer camp facility near his woodland home. Most of us agreed that theft is wrong regardless of the need and the self-imposed limitations on what is taken, although there was one dissenter who thought his actions were acceptable. The majority of our time, though, was spent on the subject of being alone. What was the longest period of time any of us had been alone with no contact or interaction with another person? Most of us had never spent more than 24-48 hours in solitude, much less 27 years – and most of us had no desire to do so. (more…)

Alzheimer’s was… | by Linda Brendle

Alzheimer’s was the evil plaque in Dad’s brain that changed him from a hard-working, easy-going man into a cranky, ill-tempered couch potato.

Alzheimer’s was a thief. It stole Mom away a piece at a time and left me to grieve a loss that went on for years.

Alzheimer’s was a twisted comedian that made me laugh at the ridiculous things Mom did while I cried inside because of the reason behind her antics.

Alzheimer’s was the demon in my head that made me impatient with situations that were no one’s fault and angry at an opponent I couldn’t defeat.

Alzheimer’s was the monster in the closet or under the bed that changed our lives forever once the doctor spoke its name.

But Alzheimer’s was also the loser.

In spite of his difficult final years, Dad left a legacy of peace and love that lives on in the family he left behind.

While Mom’s past disappeared along with her memories, she also forgot the social anxieties and fears that had plagued her all her life and became a real party girl.

The wardrobe mishaps and other silly incidents often led to shared laughter and hugs that made life feel almost normal if only for a moment.

As the good days became fewer, I learned to cherish them when they came.

When Mom’s vocabulary was down to only a few words, one of those words was Jesus; and even to the end, she always responded to music.

Both Mom and Dad passed from this life without a struggle and with peaceful smiles on their faces as they looked into the face of the One who cares for the least of these.

I have found solace in knowing that my task of caregiving was completed not perfectly but well, and I have found comfort in sharing our story with others who are going through the same thing.

Read more about my family’s fight with Alzheimer’s in Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort released by Anaiah Press on March 12, 2019. Ebook now available at Amazon; print format available soon.

Blessings,

Linda

MLG_Final

Buy it at Amazon

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