Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Begins

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I love this part of the Christmas season. I got so excited yesterday when I set the altar at the Arbor with the Advent wreath and placed all the candles around. Yeppers, Christmas is definitely off and running and once again I plan not to get caught up in the commercial side of the holiday...and I know I will...but for, November 29th....I will hold Christmas in my heart...because today is the true beginning...the first Sunday of Advent. Did you know that the word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history...for me it is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ, and becoming reconciled to God. I love the scripture readings dring Advent because they all reflect the emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.
Advent symbolizes for me the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power and it is my own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord my God with all my heart" and to "love my neighbor as myself." And you know...that is the other thing I love so about this time of year....people seem to love each other a little more and be a little more tolerant and kinder. I just wish it would carry over into the other days of the year....but for one special month of the is evident.

I love the lighting of the Advent wreath at church each Sunday. The special wreath is an increasingly popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year in many churches as well as homes. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Since the wreath is symbolic and a vehicle to tell the Christmas story, there are various ways to understand the symbolism. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is not as important as the story to which it invites us to listen, and participate. Did you know that the circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. "Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The colors of the candles vary with different traditions, but there are usually three purple or blue candles, corresponding to the sanctuary colors of Advent, and one pink or rose candle. One of the purple candles is lighted the first Sunday of Advent, a Scripture is read, a short devotional or reading is given, and a prayer offered. On subsequent Sundays, previous candles are relighted with an additional one lighted. The pink candle is usually lighted on the third Sunday of Advent." The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others (Isa 42:6). "The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of a Messiah that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history. As God’s people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and lulled into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, there arose a longing among some for God to raise up a new king who could show them how to be God’s people. They yearned for a return of God’s dynamic presence in their midst." "The remaining three candles of Advent may be associated with different aspects of the Advent story in different churches, or even in different years. Usually they are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season. So, the sequence for the remaining three Sundays might be Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels. Or Love, Joy, Peace. Or John the Baptist, Mary, the Magi. Or the Annunciation, Proclamation, Fulfillment. Whatever sequence is used, the Scripture readings, prayers, lighting of the candles, the participation of worshipers in the service, all are geared to telling the story of redemption through God’s grace in the Incarnation." The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ. It marks a shift from the more solemn tone of the first two Sundays of Advent that focus on Preparation and Hope, to a more joyous atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy. I hope we sing Joy to the World on that Sunday. It is one of my favorite Christmas songs. The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Day. However, since many Protestant churches do not have services on those days, many light it on the Sunday preceding Christmas, with all five candles continuing to be lighted in services through Epiphany (Jan 6). The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. so with that history lesson on Advent, from my house to yours and from my heart to yours I am hoping that your heart is full this time of year...and it carries on through the year. I am planning on having a Christmas heart all year. That is my Resolution for the beginning of my year. Yep...Christmas heart. I want to love like there is no tomorrow, dance in the rain, smile more...and have no regrets. Bless you all this day!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and I woke up not feeling really in a thankful mood. I woke feeling sorry for myself. My pity party lasted the entire time I was making sweet potato souffle for our lunch...I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into my self made pit of dispair when my nephew David's son, Wheeler came into the room with his daddy. He had on the cutest striped pajamas...and the sweetest sleepy smile and my depression just poofed away. I truly believe that God brought David and Suzanna with my precious Wheeler, and Ramona and Dustin with my precious Drew to Thanksgiving yesterday because He knew I would need them. Shortly after Wheeler appeared, Drew came up too...and my world was at peace. I love those babies. I love their parents...and to be honest...besides Kat never thought I could love anybody as much as I loved David and Ramona when they were growing up....but I do...I love me some Wheeler and Drew. Wheeler has this deep laugh, sweet smile, huge eyes, and looks just like his daddy did when he was little....precious! Drew...(a.k.a. Tomahawk Tommy)has the cutest grin, eyes you can get lost in, the cutest giggle, and looks just like his momma did...precious! The only one missing from my world yesterday was Kat and day would have been 100% perfect...but let me tell you it was darn near close. Before my day was over...I was thankful. I was thankful that for 55 years I got to have my father and mother with me. I was thankful that I come from a family who loves each other. I was thankful for the fact that my parents lived life to the fullest with no regrets and taught me to do the same thing...I know when my daddy entered the pearly gates on October 9th...he did not enter them carefully and tell St. Peter what a careful life he had lead...always being the safe one. Nope! Not my daddy! He entered the pearly gates wiped his brow and said..."Man, now that was quite a ride!"...and for that...I am thankful. My daddy taught me to live life so there are no regrets...and even with the past 4.5 years....with them living with me....I would not take a million dollars for any of it. I am thankful today...that I had that 4.5 years. So, if you are reading this today...and you have living parents...or brothers and sisters...tell them you love them...and hug them a little harder today...and be thankful they are there. God bless you all!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Symbolic Gifts

I was catching up on my blogger buddies posts today and found an awesome one that I want you to read. It is by my buddy over at Easy Giving 101. Her post is all about Symbolic giving and you must go there and read it. The gift that was my favorite was this one: "Butterflies are also symbolic of life metamorphosis, transformation, and hope. A good remembrance of how death is only our gateway to immortality, a transformation to a new way of living or existing. Butterflies are joyous because they represent resurrection and have such a happy, busy way of life." I will probably wear a butterfly everyday for the rest of my life. I have always loved them....and now...they are a connection with my father. Go read her blog...I promise you won't regret it.

Did I Do That?

Oh Lord! My mom has a new trick. She has been most entertaining at the Dadeville Healthcare Center. She sets the door alarms off several times during the day and the little aids, CNAs, nurses, staff...whoever is around ahs to go and get her away from the door and keep her from going outside. She has become a high flight risk. Poor momma. She is just like an incorrigible child. I called on Saturday to see if we could come and see her....the nurse sighed....and said, "she is still asleep....please don't make us wake her us." I realized it had been a long night and thought I would call back later...I did only to find out that she was pacing in warp speed. I called on Sunday only to find out about her new trick. She sets off fire alarms. While I was on the phone she set it off....and the nurse sighed audibly on the phone. I don't know who I feel sorrier mom for being there....or the nurses she deals with on a daily basis. I know it cannot be easy for either of them. Anyways....she is coming to Adam's on the Dadeville help....will be able to breathe easy....Everytime my mom makes an alarm go off....she looks at whoever comes to make it stop and says, "Did I do that?" This is very funny to mischievous. She would never have tolerated this behavior from either my brother or from me...and yet here she is....driving her caregivers nuts. I remember once she told me that when someone takes the easy way makes more work for someone else....I wonder was that a lesson I was supposed to learn...or did she believe it...because you would never know it by her actions....but then...will the real Wilma Sasser please stand up. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sundowners - What is That?

When I was younger I loved the croonings of Gordon Lightfoot. One of my favorite songs of his was called "Sundown." I loved the harmony, the haunting melody, and his voice. Today I am fascinated by another title of "Sundown." You see my mom has Sundowners Syndrome, also known as sundowning. It is a condition often associated with the early stages of Alzheimer's, although a definitive connection has not been made. Sundowners syndrome can also be considered a mood disorder or even a sleep disorder. Sufferers experience periods of extreme agitation and confusion during the late afternoon or early evening hours, leading to irritability towards caregivers or hospital staff. It was once believed that sundowners syndrome was a result of missed day/night light cues, hence the sudden onset at sundown. My mom worked for Wal-mart for over 20 years. She worked third shift. I am so curious as to how many third shift workers experience sundowners in their later years. If I were a researcher I would take this up as a challenge. Caregivers and nursing home staff members can often anticipate an elderly patient's bout of sundowners syndrome. A period of irrational thoughts and irritable behavior might begin after the last meal of the day and last until bedtime, for example. One theory concerning sundowners syndrome is that the constant daily mental processes for normal living can become overwhelming for the elderly during evening hours. They simply have too much incoming information and their restricted cognitive abilities become overloaded. The result is a period of irritability and negative thoughts. In my mothers case the Dadeville Healthcare Center is too stimulating. There is too much activity going on and by evening it sets her off royally. She and her roomie both are sundowners and high elopement risks...but they are not good for each other at night because one won't go to sleep until the other one does. So I can see the wheels turning and you are asking yourself...ok...your mom is a sundowner...what can be done about this to help her lead a normal life? Well therein lies the problem.
Treatment for sundowners syndrome is generally limited to the underlying condition which triggers it, such as Alzheimer's or clinical depression. Anti-depressants may lessen the severity of the confusion, while drugs like Aricept may improve cognitive function. Since sundowners syndrome is also closely associated with sleep disorders and fatigue, sedatives and other sleeping aids may also help. Experienced caregivers suggest encouraging the patient to take several naps throughout the day and limit stimulating activities to the morning hours. All this has been mom has been given enough sleep enhancing drugs to stop a stampeeding herd of cattle...and none of it has worked to date. That is where another problem exists because there are other conditions which closely resemble sundowners syndrome, especially in unfamiliar hospital settings. Some elderly patients may become confused or irritable as a result of the anesthetics used during their surgeries. Others who spend time in the ICU or are connected to noisy medical equipment may experience a condition called hospital psychosis, which may also be especially noticeable during evening hours. But hospital psychosis can affect any age group, while sundowners syndrome is generally limited to the elderly population. she is a classic sundowners. As far as dementia is just one of many stages she will go through...hopefully. This to shall pass they say...worst case won't. Understanding the sundowners concept though has explained a lot of things that my mom did before my dad died and while they were living with me. I believe she has been a sundowners for a while. It is good to know....but does it make me feel any better? Nope...Not be just makes me feel worse for my mom...she has been suffering for so long...and was so good at bluffing...I missed the cues completely. This woman should be playing poker in Vegas....she is good! Happy Hump Day! Hug your momma if you can. If not...hug somebody else's momma. It will make their day!