Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mothers' Special Helpers

Today Mom, Grandma, my aunt, and I went to dinner. I enjoy hanging out with my aunt and grandma because they remind me of my mom and myself. 

My aunt's Down Syndrome doesn't stop her from helping her mother. She often gets her mother's purse or makes sure she has everything she needs. She also reminds her mother that my mother and I are waiting for her. When I ask my aunt, she will tell me about putting away her mother's groceries or helping with breakfast when she is at her mother's house for the weekend. 

Of course, my aunt has limits on how much she is able to help. Sometimes she gets impatient or wishes her mother would walk faster. It's hard on my aunt when her mother snaps at her more because she's in pain or frustrated rather than because my aunt did something wrong. I explained to my aunt on several occasions that  "Well, your mom is mad because she's in pain or because she can't do something. Not because you did something wrong." Sometimes she can be blunt when talking about her mother. Tonight she told me, "I'm going to tell my mom you're ready. She's slow." I cracked up once my aunt walked down the hallway to summon her mother. My aunt can say the darndest things because she has no verbal filter. Yet she thanked me when I helped her mother with her coat after dinner. 

I help my mother on a more sophisticated level by listening when she is upset (well, trying to), or doing things such as helping her around the house. However, I am limited in what I can do. I can't drive Mom around because, well, I can't drive :D Other times, my autism specrumness gets in the way. I can't understand why she has to think about a situation I solved in my head within moments. Sometimes I don't know whether what I said makes sense if she looks confused. And if Mom snaps at me out of frustration due to her own circumstances, it still hurts even though I am a 28 year old post-bachelor's paralegal student that's only home temporarily. 

Yet God has me in this role. Yes, I had an unhealthy emotionally enmeshed situation with my mom earlier in my life, but I think it's getting better. I can see that God is using my experiences to help my aunt cope with issues she faces with being her mom's 'little helper.' I understand the challenges of a parent sometimes needing to rely on me like a child, and more importantly, I understand what it feels like to help someone else even in spite of my own limitations. Whenever I share these things with my aunt, I am thankful that God gave me this role in all its joys and struggles. Because in doing so, He is allowing me to help someone else. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

100 Things I am thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving Blogsphere! 

I have not done a Thanksgiving blog post since November 2005. While reviewing that post, I noticed that I had done a 100 things I am thankful for as a Small Group Bible Study exercise. 

Here's a list of 22 things I am thankful for as of November 22, 2012 :) 

Katie is thankful for: 

  1. God saving me TEN YEARS AGO in 2002 in 264 Newsom Hall at Colorado State University!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
  2. That the formative years of my spiritual development (ages 0-7, especially 0-3) were spent around people who truly took the Bible to heart and lived it out. Thank you Summitview!! :) 
  3. For my college education that has helped me as I go into the paralegal program! 
  4. For Mom because she's awesome and she's letting me crash at her house rent free while I get my paralegal certificate! 
  5. For the rest of the Sutherland clan because they are crazy yet awesome! 
  6. For this computer because I use it a LOT! 
  7. For my jobs I've had in 2012 - my group home job and my job at CSU. 
  8. For my ROOMMATES I had in 2012! Roz and Jo! I LOVE YOU GIRLS!!! :) 
  9. For the others in the Quad that made me smile such as Kristina and Kim :) 
  10. That I am able to volunteer at Colorado Legal Services for experience and also to help them out :) 
  11. For the RTD bus system that is so much better than Transfort :) 
  12. That there's peace in the middle east for today (Thanks, Mom) 
  13. That Mom is thankful for stuff too and thankful to God for a lot of it and that wouldn't have happened 10 years ago! 
  14. I'm thankful for Hope Crossing Church my new peeps! 
  15. I'm thankful for freedom of speech and religion covered in the First Amendment to the Constitution :) 
  16. I'm thankful for my friends in the paralegal program that we can be paralegal nerds together! 
  17. I'm thankful for my friends from high school  and CSU that I still keep in touch with  :) 
  18. I'm thankful for squishy friends (stuffed animals). 
  19. That it's sunny out today and it was really nice out yesterday :) 
  20. That the news only has to report on the Macy's parade and not more urgent (bad) news. 
  21. That God has provided for me even in this recession and still has his hand of grace and provision over the United States (for now). 
  22. That I get to play with my cute second cousins at tonight's family gathering and that I will most likely get to eat pie :) WOO HOO! 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Middle East Issues, End Times, and Reminders

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be faminesand earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." Matthew 24:6-8 NIV1984
In case you all in the blogsphere didn't know, the Israel-Palestine conflict is heating up with the Israeli's countering missles fired into Tel-Aviv in the last few days. An analysis here explains it all. Whenever I hear about issues between Israel and Palestine, I am tempted to either think two things: Oh, it's just another skirmish we hear about on CNN or I think: 
It's the end of the world as we know it!!!!!!!!!!! 
(R.E.M. Video from YouTube)
And I don't necessarily feel fine. 

When I wonder if the end of the world is coming, I think about how that might mess up my own plans: my career path, my dream of maybe meeting prince-charming and living in a castle (house somewhere) and otherwise just living an ordinary American life suddenly seem less predictable. 
If I think the end of the world is coming, I often wonder if I will wake up and see this:  
"AVENGE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 

Ahem... anyway, I must ask myself this question: So what do I think is truly real and the most important? Do I think my (potential) paralegal career is important? Do I think my Mom and my family is important? What about my dreams for the future? In every day life, I think these are the most important thing. But when I hear about world events that might change things, I am forced to draw back and see the bigger picture. 

God's story, His-story is the most important thing and all these smaller variables are a small part of it. Being an to Christ example to my Mom, doing my paralegal program stuff, and doing whatever else God has planned in my life are a sub-plot within the main plot of God's plan for the whole world. If my little sub-plot falls right before the end-times or still 100 years before the end times, I don't know. What I do know is that each generation is called to be obedient and faithful to God. That is what I see as I read 2 Chronicles. Each king had the choice to be obedient and faithful to God. Yes, the history of Judah was affected as these were heads of state, but individually every leader had to chose God each day. 

In my own small world, I am reminded to chose God each day and influence my little circle for Him. In the larger scheme of things, I should not neglect to pray for the rest of the world - for our leaders and for the nations. Prayer and material support for missions work is always needed no matter what part of history we are in. 

The reminder that God, as the sovereign ruler of this universe, could allow events that change the geopolitical landscape of the world in an instant reminds me to focus on what is truly important which is to love God and love the world for Him. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Careviging Hierarchy

I will probably address this more as I go along in the blog, but currently my aunt and my mom have seen a significant increase in the tasks they are required to do for my 92 year old grandmother who is living at home but with 20-30 hours a week of some form of outside help. 

Today Mom was supposed to take my grandmother on a scheduled outing. We realized the keys for granny's car were in our condo where the steps were currently under construction (and thus inaccessable). Mom called Grandma and turns out Grandma didn't know where her car keys went and didn't know for a few days. 

That was a problem because Mom needed the keys to take Grandma to the outing because Grandma's car is a 4 door car and could hold the stuff she needs better than Mom's 2 door car. 

So Mom and I had to brainstorm and find a solution. We found someone else to take Grandma, but it stressed both of us out. Mom was stressed because she felt like it was her fault. I tried not to stress when the solutions I brought up weren't being met with the response I was expecting. 

My mom and my aunt have most of the caregiving responsibility. I have read in the HDFS literature that informal or family caregivers need support. Currently I am experiencing being that support to Mom. 

If I were to outline a caregiving hierarchy, it would look something like this: 

Grandma (client) 

  • Supported by Aunt 1 (with driving her to appointments and keeping records of care as well as other administrative tasks. She's seen as "lead staff" 
    • Supported by her husband who helps her emotionally and helps her do projects around Grandma's house. 
    • Supported emotionally by her two adult children. 
  • Supported by: Mom (with driving her to events, managing medications) 
    • Supported by me who does small tasks around Grandma's help either by myself or as a helper to Mom. Mom is also supported emotionally by me and I also brainstorm ideas Mom can share with Aunt 1. 
  • Supported by Uncle 1 who comes up from Colorado Springs bi-weekly to do yard work and "manly" tasks as well as for other support tasks. 
  • Supported by paid house-cleaners that clean floors and the kitchen on a bi-weekly basis. 

I have to remember that without Christ, this caregiving hierarchy will collapse. If I do not support Mom with the love of Christ, she will loose her support and that will affect the rest of this structure. 

Firstly I will have to pray that my family comes to know Christ if they haven't already. If they know Christ, CHRIST is their ultimate support as they help my grandma. Secondly, I just have to remember that God sees all of this and common grace He gives is strength for each day. Grace He gives those of us that are Christian are Christ working through us. We just have to keep letting Him as more needs are added to the caregiving hierarchy. 

A little vay-cay a three minute bus ride away

Yeah! So,  Mom and I are hanging out at the Holiday Inn literally a 3 minute bus ride away from our house. My cousin is redoing the stairs that lead up to our front door. We live on the second floor and unless we can beam ourselves up a floor using "The Force" we have no other way to get to the condo. 

Hence we are staying in a hotel. I have a Queen size bed and FOUR SQUISHY PILLOWS!!! I also feel like a business traveler with all my paralegal books and my laptop. I'm currently writing this blog entry in the hotel right now. It's sorta weird being so close to home but yet away. I'm on a bus line that gets me to the light rail to classes, so that's nice :D 

The hotel also has a HOT TUB! After I studied, I dipped my little feet (and the rest of me) in the hot tub :D YAY! I met this girl from Iowa who's a senior in high school. She wants to study English, but she didn't know what to do with it. I put in a plug for paralegal school due to job security :D I feel like a nerd. Oh well. 

Having a short little vay-cay is sort of refreshing, but there's no place like home. I'll look forward to being in my own room and not ten feet away from my snoring mom :D However, I'm glad I could keep Mom company when we've been here :)