Notes From A Daughter Who Cares

pink roses in mason jar

Care Giving Journal - 

2/23/15

Last year my dad helped me plant two rosebushes in my backyard. Later, I planted another by myself.

My dad lives with us. He sleeps across the hall from my husband and me. The light he leaves on late into the night often wakes me even with my door closed. I’m a light sleeper; I’m a mother.

It’s awkward to mother your father. I don’t do it very well. When it comes to him, I feel I don’t do anything very well. Guilt. Shame. It’s life on a roller coaster. And I’m not a fan of roller coasters. I always regret the ride.

I tell myself, “This is just how it is. It must be normal to have these conflicting feelings.” Sometimes that helps for a bit. But then the ride dips and my equilibrium is disturbed. I am dizzy. Then I’m nauseous. I get sick. But the man in the booth does not stop the ride.

My husband tells me, “Breathe.” I do. He tells me my deep sighs are waking him up at night. Last week he woke me from a nightmare. I was in a dilapidated car with the windows busted out. It was dark and I was alone and scared. A dog rushed through an opening. He lunged at me encircling my wrist with his sharp teeth. I called for help as I tried to pry his teeth apart. My husband touched me. The nightmare over, I lay in the dark waiting for my heart beat to slow and my racing mind to calm.

My rose bushes are producing in abundance. I clip the blooms and fill mason jars and milk glass vases and put them throughout the house.

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Dear Heart

unwelcome mat

Be careful who you welcome through the front door of your life to speak into your life. Everyone has an opinion but don’t put out the “Welcome” mat for everyone’s two cents worth. Lately I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and in prayer I felt led to place a boundary in my own life – a type of guard on my heart.  In so doing, King Solomon’s words in the Proverbs spoke to me.

“Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 NKJV

Perhaps you, too, are in need of some heart keeping. If so, keep reading and let’s examine or, as the cool kids say, “unpack” this scripture.

Keep is to guard and protect. Heart in the verse above refers to the whole inner person. “Dilligence” in this passage is the Hebrew word “mishmar” which is defined as, “a place of confinement” or “observance” while “issues” literally means “outgoings.” And “life”? Well, that just means “life.”

Protect your inner “you” as though you are guarding treasure. Because, dear one, you are. And that treasure? It’s the support for your life. Listen. People mean well. They really do. They want to encourage and sometimes advise. But you must be very careful…diligent even, with the “Welcome Mat” to the inner you.

Here are three safeguards for who you invite to speak into your life.

  • Is she sensitive to the season you are in? This does not mean she has experienced an exact replica of your current season but is there a sensitivity, a genuine compassion for where you are at this time in your life?
  • Is he spiritually balanced in offering prayerful, biblical insight? Or is he simply spouting the latest and greatest feel-good phrase?
  • Is her life bearing the fruit of a mature Christian? Has she been through a few hard places of her own and still deeply trusts the work of God in her life as well as in yours?

Dear-heart, listen carefully. If you allow too many voices to cross the threshold into the inner you, you will put yourself – your heart, mind, emotions - your valuables at risk. Be very choosy with your “Welcome Mat.” For what goes into the deep places of your life springs out as well.

 

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Ransomed

"Ransomed By God"

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:5-6a). 

Ransomed -   a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity

He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out. This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth. – The Message Bible

"Ransomed By God" Mixed Media on 16 x 20 canvas {$50 includes shipping within U.S.}

“Ransomed By God”
Mixed Media on 16 x 20 Canvas 

Available for purchase in my Etsy Shop.

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Lately

I’ve been painting. Below are some pieces I’ve done in the past week. I guess you could say I’ve had a burst of creativity. That’s a very good thing. I need it to cope lately. The first and last ones sold pretty quickly which is always an affirming thing to happen. The others are available should you be interested. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in a comment.

"Here's My Heart, Lord" 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas {Sold}

“Here’s My Heart, Lord”
16 x 20 acrylic on canvas {Sold}

"Some Glad Morning" 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas $35 and free shipping within U.S.

“Some Glad Morning”
11 x 14 acrylic on canvas
$35 and free shipping within U.S.

11 x 14 mixed media on canvas

11 x 14 mixed media on canvas {$35 with free shipping in the U.S.)

 

"Dreamer" mixed media on 10 x 10 canvas {$25 with free shipping within the U.S.}

“Dreamer”
mixed media on 10 x 10 canvas
{$25 with free shipping within the U.S.}

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"In A Mirror Dimly" This is an acrylic on 10 x 10 canvas with the verse from 1 Cor. 13:12 handwritten along the side, "For now we see through a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  {$25 with free shipping within the U.S.}

“In A Mirror Dimly” {Sold}
This is an acrylic on 10 x 10 canvas with the verse from 1 Cor. 13:12 handwritten along the side, “For now we see through a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. 

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A Father’s Heart For The Father-less Places

beach overcast january

A few days ago I withdrew to a place of solitude. It was much later that I recalled this was a habit of Jesus.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”(Luke 5:16 NIV). 

As his popularity grew among the people, the greater the crowds pressing against Him grew. The Bible records they came to “hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” I don’t have a crowd of people pressing against me but I do have a crowd of responsibility in my current lifestyle. And there are days when I must withdraw to a lonely place so I might pray and hear from Heaven.

January on the beach is a good lonely. Only a few other souls have the time or the desire to walk along the tide’s edge under a gray sky, the wind driving across the water to whip exposed skin. 

I walked with hands stuffed in pockets, zipper broken and jacket flapping until my racing heart and mind slowed to a manageable jog. I focused on breathing. In through the nose on a count of four. Hold for a count of seven. Release through the mouth on a count of eight. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I walked and watched the waves roll in forming foamy bubbles at the feet of seagulls on alert for lunch.

Somewhere at mile three, I sat with an empty page, pulled a pen from my pocket and waited. He spoke. I wrote.

I heard the word “separate.” You must separate yourself from one thing to be set apart for another. I scribbled away. An asterisk here and an arrow there.

He spoke to me about missing pieces. Where there are missing pieces, there is brokenness. Tears burned my eyes.

journal page from beach solitude

My Father spoke to me about my dad and soothed my soul with compassion. 

My Father’s heart is big. He has room there for every hurt his children hold. Because even those who grew up with fathers in the home have father-less places in their hearts. But God sees. God knows. Because He is a father, his heart is moved with compassion for the father-less places in our childhood. Those times our hearts needed something we did not get. We needed more but we got less

God, our Father, has a heart to redeem the past, to secure the future and to bless the present. But his children must make room in their hearts for those things. It means we might need to separate ourselves from past hurts and unmet expectations in order to live free in the present with hope for the future. We must make room for God to be the Father to the father-less places within us.

Do you want to make room?

I do.

 

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Whose Strength?

weightI’ve just about had it with the notion of “being strong.” It’s a description that some seem to take pride in – their strength.

For the record, I do not consider myself a strong woman. I have a set of weaknesses and at times I feel quite overwhelmed with the struggles and trials in this life. And I’ve had a few. So have you.

I am not a strong woman but I am an honest woman. Perhaps at times, I am too honest. Too open. Too forthcoming.

I am not a strong woman but I am not afraid to allow others to see my weaknesses. I used to be but when my son was diagnosed with cancer and died less than four months later, I could no longer manage the facade of personal strength and self-confidence. Matters of life and death tend to change a person.

Any strength you may perceive in me is not mine. It is the Divine Helper in me. I, like the Apostle Paul, have often pleaded with the Lord (far more than Brother Paul’s three times) to take away a thorn. To remove trial or temptation or to roll back the storm clouds and quiet the waves.

I’m sure that if I were to thoroughly examine the past, I would see where He has done those very things. But just as sure, I also see where He’s not removed the thorn, times He’s allowed the storm to rage much longer than I liked and left the temptation for me to resist.

But here’s the thing I know just as surely as I know that I am not a strong woman.

I. Don’t. Have. To. Be.

I don’t have to muster up strength or some kind of exterior hardness to show the world that I’m One Tough Mother.

Here’s something else. I occasionally get depressed. Does that make me weak? Does that mean the person who says, “I’m not prone to depression,” is STRONG?

I think not. However you’re welcome to your own opinion. As am I.

What I know for sure is this. Any good you see in me, any strength you perceive in me is not mine. It’s God’s grace in my life. I do not deserve it. I do not earn it. I cannot claim it as my own.

I am not a strong woman. But I don’t have to be. And I don’t want to pretend to be.

In my weakness, God’s strength is made visible in me. That means He gets the glory and not I. That means I know who I am – a woman in need of the divine grace that strengthens me.

That means that even in my weaknesses, I can depend upon God’s grace to strengthen me to rise up and be a woman who simply relies on His Spirit to overcome every trial, storm and temptation.

In other words, any good I do and any hardship I endure is not done in my own strength nor by my own power but by the Spirit of God who enables me, graces me and lavishes his love upon me.

I’m not such a ding dong (the word “ding dong” in the Greek means “ding dong”) that I don’t understand the concept and possitivity of “strong woman.” My One Word for 2014 was strength. I just know that for myself, “my” strength comes from God, otherwise I’d already be a goner.

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Behind A Locked Door

morning and coffeeMy husband came back in the bedroom this morning before leaving for work, kissed me and said, “I love you.”

“I love you,” I replied. He told me he was wearing the new sweater I got him for Christmas.

“Turn the light on so I can see,” I said.

He did and added, “It’s cold today. Not supposed to get out of the 50′s.”

(Don’t laugh! That is cold for us.)

With a “Have a good day,” he left.

“You, too.”

I sighed and burrowed deeper in the covers. I had been awake long before his alarm rang. Thinking. Because it’s what I do. Incessantly.

The front door squeaked closed and I slipped from the warmth of my bed. I opened my door and then breathed a sigh of relief. The door across the hallway was firmly shut. There was silence from the other side – unlike when I made my way to bed at eleven-thirty the night before. The TV was blaring and I worried that the noise would disturb my son who had to leave the house at 6:30 to make an 8:00 class. Around 1:00 a.m. a light shining through the edge of my bedroom door awakened me.

“Uh-oh.”

I got up and opened my door to the blinding light from the bedroom across the hall and no sign of my dad. The bathroom door further down the hall was open but the light was off. I hesitated a moment and hearing nothing alarming, I closed my door, retreated to bed, pulled the sheet over my eyes to shield them from the light and exhaled.

Now at nearly 8:00 I am loathe to start my day. Softly I steal from my room to the kitchen, the floor tiles cold under my bare feet. I make a cup of coffee and stealthily return to my bedroom, lock my door and wrap myself in a blanket. I sit propped against pillows, drink my coffee and try not to think. Behind a locked door, again I exhale. I lock the door not because I need to. No one will disturb me and walk in without knocking. I lock my door because it gives me a sense of sanctuary in my own home.

Behind a locked door, I can breathe…at least for a little while.

Behind a locked door, I can push away the responsibilities of care giving – the role of managing the life of another adult – at least for a little while.

Behind a locked door, I can put off the day…at least for a little while.

 

 

 

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My Super Power

Child loss and the ensuing grief has changed every relationship I have. Since losing my son five years ago, I’ve gained some friends. I’ve lost some friends. My marriage is stronger and the bond with my children is greater. Even when my faith has faltered, my trust in God’s plan and His love for me has grown deeper.

God’s grace is my strength. 

I guess when you go through the loss that a parent “can’t even imagine,” there is bound to be some fallout.

There has been.

Recently I’ve had some confusing and hurtful responses from family members and I don’t even know why.

When I think of them and feel the hurt, I breathe a prayer of grace over them.

In addition to the trauma of child loss and finding a new way of doing life, I am the primary caregiver for my dad whom we had to relocate from another state to our home on November 1st. This is a challenge you cannot understand unless you’ve been in this position – kind of like grieving over the loss of a child. Unless you’ve walked the path, you can sympathize but not empathize.

I am in an online support group for bereaved parents – a caring and understanding community. I am also in a support group for caregivers which helps me breathe on days when my stress is through the roof.  Support groups are invaluable because I have found it best to be very guarded about who you open up to regarding child loss and grief AND about care giving for a parent.

No one wants to be misunderstood or harshly judged when they are doing the best they know to do under their unique set of circumstances. Yet it happens. So what do you do when it does?

There is a time to reach out in reconciliation. At times that has been where my heart has led me. I reached out. There is also a time to do nothing. At this time, that is where my heart feels peace. I feel the Lord leading me to do nothing. 

Do nothing but pray and release the hurt, confusion and sadness to Him.

I can only conclude that friends and family who cut another off must be overwhelmed and stressed themselves and it is a protective move on their part. So be it.

I choose grace. Grace for others. Grace for myself. 

I am not strong enough on my own to do life in this broken world. But I don’t have to be. When I am weak, God’s divine strength is greater than my human weakness.

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG

 

god's grace is my superpower

In fact, God’s grace has become my super power!

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