Small Steps in the Same Direction

The famed Maroon Bells of Aspen, Colorado – one of our Beth-E’s favorite sites in the world

Last year, when I began this website, I had some very straightforward ideas about what I wanted it to be.

I had an idea in my head of how I wanted things to go; but life happened.

That forward momentum was often marred by the confusion of daily circumstances, and my head and goals going in way too many directions at once.

Last week, I was reminded that having faithfulness to take small steps in the same direction can lead to big results.

I Need to Keep Walking

As I sit here typing, I think of caring for my mom, and how determined she was to keep walking. Whether it was at the Botanical Gardens, in the neighborhood to keep up with her grandkids, or just the long journey to the other end of the house to use the restroom, she wanted to keep walking for as long as she could.

As her cognitive function began to fail, she was still determined to stand up; but sometimes instead of moving forward, she’d begin to flail, feeling like she was falling forward, when really, she was leaning way back. There were times when she seemed to have the arm capacity of an octopus – grasping ahold of anything she could out of insecurity. It took a lot of coaxing to convince her that she was okay, that we had her, that she could let go of objects, and just hold onto us and take another step.

We made so much more progress when she’d put aside her fear and put one foot in front of the other.

That’s a picture of how I’ve felt with life.

The long and winding road to the Maroon Bells

I’ve known and seen clearly that God has His everlasting arms holding me up; but a lot of times I’m grasping for other things to cling to, thinking those will make my life seem more secure.

Planning My Website

As I’ve been praying about how to proceed with this website (or whether to do it at all), the plans I’ve set aside so many times are still looming ahead, beckoning me to move closer. I’ve gone through all sorts of stages of frustration and feeling helpless; but have finally come to the conclusion that I just need to move forward one direction at a time, rather than trying to do everything at once.

Caregiving and clearing out my parents’ house (which had been filling up for forty-eight years) took a real toll on my health. I have had to hit pause for a while on my personal (and do I even dare say “professional”) plans, so I could have time to recover. Right now, I’m looking back at my To Do Lists, formed oh so long ago, and trying to use them as a road map on which route to take.

In a lot of ways, I’ve been wanting to move away from writing about my mom; but as I’ve listened to people who have read the stories I shared about her, I’m wondering if I should take some time to fill in details, or at least make our experience more accessible for people who are facing the road we went down.

I’m thinking photo credit for this one probably goes to my sister, Erica

In a lot of ways, I’d like to leave it far behind and press on toward other places; but I think I need to pause and lay down some road markers. Who knows, I may be back on this same path myself sometime and need the reminder of God’s faithfulness to see me through.

Why Sharing a Patient Story on the Internet is Difficult to Do

As I’ve been studying the ins and outs of having a website, I’ve come across two acronyms I’ve been unfamiliar with in the past. YMYL and EAT. Having a mom for a nurse, I’ve grown used to ignoring blips in conversation when she’d casually string letters together, as if I knew the meaning.

What is YMYL?

YMYL stands for your money or your life. Essentially, it’s the internet’s attempt to protect people from bad advice – be it in health or finances.

This makes sharing about my mom’s journey a little more complicated. Even just in my CaringBridge posts, I got misunderstood quite a few times and accused of not wanting my mom to seek treatment or giving up on her by encouraging her to choose Hospice. To share her story with total strangers puts me at risk of coming across like I’m giving advice.

I am absolutely not attempting to give anyone advice; but to simply share my story from the perspective of a daughter who was a caregiver during her mom’s battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Maroon Bells – a sweeping view from afar

I don’t purport to have the knowledge to tell anyone what they ought to do, if they find themselves in similar circumstances. My hope is that I can offer encouragement by sharing my story.

I know that it helped me feel less alone when I found people who had been on a path like mine. I listened to their experience and asked questions – and saw that somehow, they’d made it through the pain, and come forth stronger on the other side.

All that to say, I’m not trying to tell anybody what to do with their lives, I’m simply wanting to hold up a map depicting where we walked, talk about why we chose a particular course at various junctures, and give hope to people who feel like they will never make it through.

What is E-A-T?

It stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

From what I can understand, search engines pick sites that are consistent about showing specific kinds of content. I don’t claim to have expertise or authoritativeness in the realm of pancreatic cancer – that’s not what my More on My Mom site is about. I’m just hoping to link my mom’s patient experience together to give a picture of what we walked through.

Having a consistent posting plan makes that content more available – but don’t totally trust my trustworthiness on that explanation – I’m just going by what I read on the internet, too. 🙂

Why Disclosing My “Plan for Future Content” is a Scary Step

I think of people who announce big goals and the embarrassment that tends to follow when they don’t get them done, and it makes me not want to say a word about where I want to head with this website.

A few years ago, Erica and I made last minute plans to ski up to this glorious view of the Maroon Bells at sunset – The life lessons I learned getting back down in the dark will have to be saved for a different post

I think of the Bible verse from Proverbs that says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

I realize that all my plans are subject to change.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

I’ve certainly had my share of unforeseen circumstances and want to hold my course with open hands, trusting God’s sovereignty and omniscience to get me on the right path when my plans aren’t His.

Finding Peace in Making Plans

I am a natural-born hesitator – decidedly indecisive.

Hemming and hawing and wondering what way to go.

I suffer from the paralysis of over-analysis.

Different seasons are a chance to display different colors; but the Maroon Bells mostly stay the same

One particular scripture that gives me peace to proceed is found in James 4:13-15, which says, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James 4:13-15

I believe the Lord calls us to make plans; but also, to surrender them to His lead.

It is okay for me to make To Do Lists; but I need to recognize those may be subject to change.

My Plans for Next Steps with This Website

In an effort to not reach out in too many directions at once, my plan is to backtrack a bit through old content and link the stories about my mom together to make them easier to navigate through for people heading down a similar path – that should help me meet the E-A-T requirements a little more consistently.

There are also some stories that I meant to share, because I thought they would bless those of you who knew and loved my mom. During her care and after her death I didn’t have the time or energy to post all that I wanted to.

One of the things that has ministered to me the most as I have faced loss is getting the chance to share memories with people and having them share theirs with me. I’d like to expand on that theme here.

Moving closer to the mountains

Some of the areas I’d like to elaborate on are:

Through the end of December, I’m hoping to write sixteen more posts in the More on My Mom category. After that, I will probably share about her more sporadically and turn my writing focus towards other things.

I’ve been focusing heavily on fine tuning a manuscript that I hope to publish soon; trying to expand my editing services; attempting to encourage other writers; doing a little caregiving; and finishing out my cargo trailer for the purpose of more simplified living. I’d like to share my journey in each of those arenas here on this site – but realize I need to just walk in one direction at a time.

My Prayer for the Future and My Plans

Elisabeth Elliot is an author who I have long admired. She has shared numerous times about a certain prayer that had a great impact on her life, prayed by a woman named Betty Scott Stam, who went on to be a martyr.

This is Betty’s prayer, which I have made my own: “LORD, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit, use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”

When the goal of what you’ve been walking toward finally comes into focus

LORD, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit, use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.

Betty Scott Stam

I’m holding my plans with an open hand; but I am decidedly making plans again. Before, it felt too discouraging to even do that, because everything I tried felt blocked in all directions.

I think it’s time to dust myself off, and start moving forward, even if it means trudging through some rough spots.

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

My mom’s favorite scripture was Psalm 23. As I wrap up this post, I’m reminded of the words of David recorded in verse four: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

It strikes me that to refuse to take a step forward is to stay in the valley of the shadow of death.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

For the past five years, I have watched one friend or family member after another slip away. It has very much felt like I have been in the valley of the shadow of death.

A lot of times, I’m tempted to just sit down and stay; but like a good Shepherd, God keeps nudging me forward. He gives me opportunities to rest and weep for a time; but after a bit, His rod and His staff remind me that it’s time to take another step.

It feels like there is a mountain before me; but that doesn’t mean there is no moving forward.

Even in a valley, we can take heart by fixing our eyes on the hope of beauty before us – and keep moving forward

Jody

I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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