Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

Alzheimer Awareness – Forgiveness

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Thank you for sharing some memories this week.

I hope if you are or have been a care giver for someone with Alzheimer, you have found some comfort and hope and a safe place to process some of your own moments here on the Journey. 

While our family  didn’t do it perfectly, we did the best we could at the time and the years we spent being the caregivers to my parents and aunt are a blessing and a gift from God. 

One of the greatest treasures from those years happened fairly early on and sustained me.

It also taught me the power of forgiveness. 

After an eight week roller coaster of bringing them here, seeking the right facilities and medications that included having to visit my father in the Psychiatric unit of our local hospital in what was the absolute lowest point of the entire seven years; I finally got my dad settled into a nursing care facility under a director who loved him and advocated for him. 

My mother was still recuperating, so I visited alone at the start of his stay there. 

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The weather was warm and we would go sit out in the courtyard. I always let him lead the conversation. And I was comfortable when we just sat in silence.

One day, as we sat together,  he told me he remembered things in spots. I asked him what he meant and he pointed at me and said he remembered me and he pointed to a statue and a bench and said he remembered those.

Then he waved his hand vaguely around to some other parts of the enclosed area and said how he didn’t remember there…or there….or over there. 

I said that must be frustrating and confusing and he agreed and then he said he also felt like he may have said something to hurt me but he couldn’t remember what it was. 

My dad had what we call a “German temper” my whole life and when he got mad, he said a lot of things. But he never said he was sorry. 

He showed me he was sorry with his life. 

But he never said the words.

Until that day. 

That day when Alzheimer appeared to have stolen all that was good in him, my dad looked at me and told me he just knew he had said something to hurt me and he didn’t know what it was but he sure was sorry because he would never do anything that would harm me. 

When I say we took care of my father for seven years, I can tell you that the one moment on a bench in a sun drenched courtyard was worth every second. 

Years of hurt washed away that day. 

I learned the power of asking and receiving forgiveness. 

I learned that even when a disease as ugly as Alzheimer steals, we have a God who gives back more than we could ask or imagine. 

My prayer for you today…

whoever you are…

whatever pain you have endured at the hands of a person or because of a situation or circumstance…

whether it be Alzheimer or cancer or abuse or desertion or betrayal or anything that was meant to tear you away from God…is that you know the love of God, who redeems and restores and rescues and renews. 

The thief comes only to kill, to steal and to destroy….but Christ has come to give life, to restore, to build up. 

He is faithful <3

Only God!!! At this conference and I always pray where to sit. Today I sat by a young woman who writes a blog for guess what?????? Caregivers!!! Here is her site:

http://lifesferriswheel.com

You are very welcome!

Alzheimer Awareness – Humor

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We have covered a couple of rough days this week as I have shared some of my experiences with Alzheimer care.

We looked at fear and guilt, so today I want to lighten it a little and share another aspect of our journey that I believe is essential to your survival. 

Humor

My father’s father most likely had Alzheimer, but it wasn’t identified back then. 

I remember my aunt sharing stories about how, even though she lived next door and had been in their house a zillion times over the years, her dad would refer to her as “that lady you had over.”

My aunt had dancing eyes and a laugh that I would give a small fortune just to hear again…she had a rich voice like our Sarah girl and she would tell those stories and chuckle deep…she said you have to laugh or you will cry. 

Oh you will still cry…but you have to laugh.

You have to laugh til you cry and cry til you laugh and you have to do it with people you love. 

And we did laugh. 

There was the time we were standing in the lobby of the nursing home and Rachel said, as only she can…Uh…mom….look at that….

There was a list of phone numbers posted in big marker on a huge white piece of paper with numbers of calls made. 

Ours was up there in bold black at the top of the list with a ridiculous amount of calls. 

Apparently the nursing home had to pay for outside calls and some people were abusing the system. 

Yep. 

My dad, who couldn’t remember my name … who called our children his “nieces” (yes, even John was included in that) and had to be introduced to my husband on occasion…had managed to figure out the access code to the nurses station phone and made several hundred calls to our house that month. 

Which explained all the hangups on our answering machine. 

There was the time I tried to get him new shoes and after bringing three possibles in and struggling to get them on his feet and zero worked…I put his old pair back on him in exasperation, knowing I now had to return all three to different stores and start over. 

As I crammed them in their boxes, he held up his feet and wiggled them around in those filthy, worn out, old shoes.

He smiled at me with great joy and said…

“Well, these fit perfectly! Thank you!”

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So today my prayer is for laughter…for joy…for a lighter spirit and a garment of praise.

Heavenly Father, in our weariness we can lose our ability to laugh.

I think of Jesus and I think he must have had a wonderful sense of humor for a flock of fisherman to tag along with Him and enjoy His company on the daily. 

I picture how He is not worried about things and how His humor is good-natured because He is good.

And so I pray today for light moments each day for care givers. 

I pray they will give themselves permission to laugh and smile and find humor in some of the moments. 

I pray for those times when tears are so heavy that You would lead them to those who can cry with them but can also then help them laugh again…smile again…find joy in living again. 

Father, I know you have a sense of humor…You made me.

In laughter I find I can take myself less seriously and I can sense Your love and healing in those moments. 

As surely as You sing over us, You must also laugh and cry with us, and in this Holy Communion may we grow closer to Your heart. 

I ask in Jesus’ Name <3

Alzheimer Awareness – Guilt

I have to come clean on something here.

Yes, we have a team put together and yes, I am raising money for the Walk on Saturday here in town.

And yes, I have invited friends and family and total strangers to walk with us. 

But no, I am not personally walking.

Because when we agreed to set up a team and support the local Walk to Remember, I forgot I had signed up for a conference that weekend in Dallas. 

Irony.

Russ will be walking for both of us and it would be wonderful if local friends could join him. 

And I am given fresh material for my second topic of this week:

Caregiver Guilt

Because the truth is, you cannot be all things to all people all the time…but the lie will tell you, you could if you tried harder.

www.laurareimer.net

As I mentioned yesterday, the care of my father, mother and aunt all fell on us in a very busy season of life.

Having parents forty years old at my birth, I was myself in my forty’s when their health began to deteriorate and we had to bring them here to arrange the various levels of care needed for each one.

My aunt had dementia and my father had Alzheimers and I am often asked the difference.

My unscientific, non-physician trained answer is..my aunt forgot things but when you told her she could process and remember for a little while. 

My father’s condition was a whole new playing field. 

Basically he often couldn’t understand what he was being told. He lived in a strange world made up of his past and present all jammed together into something he tried to make sense of. 

His natural tendency to have a temper was enhanced by the frustration of his illness and there were days I prayed he would forget who I was so that he would no longer be angry at me for keeping him there “in that place”…as he called it.

But now, from the safe distance of eight years of healing, I often thank God that the last time he looked at me…even though he could no longer speak…his eyes knew me as his youngest daughter. 

He didn’t know my name. 

But he knew I was his youngest daughter to the end. 

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And for this I thank God. 

As I mentioned yesterday, our caregiver years for aging parents were also our final years with our children in our home. 

I knew my father, in his right mind, would have told me to care for my family and not worry about him. My dad lived his life caring for his family and he would have been truly angry with me if I had neglected my own.

I knew that the way to honor my father was to not let our three children spend their last years in our home without the full attention of their mom to the best of her frazzled abilities. 

I also knew that it didn’t matter how much time I spent with my dad, when I got home the phone would be ringing and he would be angrily asking me why he was there and no one was coming to see him. 

My mom lived five years after we brought them here and I would drive her over to see him once a week.

Sometimes I went in and sometimes I shooed her out of the car, reminding her she was the one who had made the “for better or worse vows,” not me. 

She would say she had a feeling she would die before he did and I agreed and told her I would hunt her down and drag her back, but we both knew when she was gone, I would be the one to go see him once a week. 

Even now, Caregiver Guilt, rears its ugly head because I feel compelled to explain why we didn’t go more often. 

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Sure some families go every day.

Some daughters and some wives and some sons stop and make sure their loved one has company to eat with and to visit every day or several times a week. 

But for us….more frequent visits meant a change in routine.

It meant more behaviors…more Ativan…another trip to the ER because he became uncontrollable. 

So we stuck to a routine. 

Our visits were consistent and short. 

And we held back our tears on the days he waved to us from the window of the lobby until we pulled out of the parking lot. 

Other days, we cried full on as we tried to forget what he had said about us as he stormed off down the hall.

And either way, we left feeling like the worst people ever. 

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Then my mom died and it was just me. 

In the sanctuary of the car, hot tears would fall and I would find myself in the strangest place of asking God to take my dad home. Please. For an end to the pain and an end to the heartache and an end to the suffering. For him, for me, for all of us.  

So today I offer a prayer for the ache in your heart if this kind of visit is a memory or if you are still living it today.

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Heavenly Father God,  You know our hearts.

As we try to do what is best for those we love who no longer have their right minds, You alone know the tears and guilt we bear as we leave them in some facility or under someone’s care and go on out in our world and our lives. 

Lord, I pray for those who are in this setting now to be able to understand and remember that being an advocate for someone who is unable to make daily life decisions often means we must place them in care facilities that can provide in ways we simply are not equipped to do.

Father God, I thank you for the men and women who willingly and lovingly provide care for our loved ones in these places. I thank you for the daily kindness they extend to our family and I plead Your mercy and grace for the abusive words they receive at times from those they care for.

Lord, I thank you for your love and for holding us when we are broken down and hurting. I thank You that if we ask, You to help us know where we need to be. You will guide us each and every day.

Help us to trust You.

While You can be everywhere all at once, we cannot. We can only be in one place at one time. Help us to know each day where our one place is and help us to release to Your care the people and situations we are unable to attend to.

Lord I ask for sweet moments for both the caregiver and the loved one.

I pray for connections that soothe the woundings of harder times and I pray God, You would remind those who are in the trenches that You are not condemning them. You are not judging them.

You see the weight of the burden they carry, and Jesus Himself is shouldering it with each one.

Bless them Lord with rest and peace and strength.

I ask in Jesus’ Name <3

From one blood…He made us <3

www.laurareimer.net

Last night our Rachel texted me with news that a small plane had made an emergency landing along the edge of one of our local interstates. It clipped a car in landing, but no injuries and whew…but still…

What the heck?

And all of this knowing Russ had just buckled himself into the seat of a much larger plane for the flight from O’Hare to Springfield. 

Life comes rapid fire these days, doesn’t it?

And for me I am often left sitting on the sidelines of the latest surge of chaos, trying to sort through all the thoughts that run through my head as I try to make sense of much that will never really make sense in this fallen world.

I keep going over a conversation I had last week with a guy who cleans windows for downtown merchants. 

As he does frequently on his stops in our store, he walked in the door talking to me like I was the owner. 

True to the pattern of his visits, it wasn’t until he was standing right on the other side of the counter and we had talked for several minutes that he said…”Oh, you aren’t her.”

And then he told me how he knows “you all” think we look alike, but we think the same thing about you.

“You all” being white people.

Awkward pause, right?

Because this gentleman is black and as he stands and makes observations and assumptions about how I think, I flounder with thoughts that I don’t know how to express.

Let me give you the three simultaneous ones that rose up in my head quickly, but thank God did not fly out my mouth last week.

  1. I don’t think all black people look a like…however I do get some black, some white and some of all races mixed up when I don’t know them well and they have any combination of similarities in their size or facial shape or personality or haircut or whatever.
  1. I wonder if I were to have said that to him, if he would have perceived me as racist and offensive  and what are the ground rules for who can say what?
  1. What else does he assume about me just because of my race, gender and age?

I was curious and perplexed and have mulled this whole thing over since it happened.

Racial tension and the offensive/defensive postures it creates is a huge elephant in the living room of our culture today.

While I do not understand the violence and the anger, I have to acknowledge and accept the truth I have not experienced the issues which have created the turmoil.

I do cringe when I look at old text books and even encyclopedias that feature eager young students and see only one race represented. Mine.

I notice things like photos from events in the history of a company or even vintage greeting cards feature only white people.

I watch a documentary on Jackie Robinson and hear the ugly words and realize this all happened a short decade before I was born and I feel ill.

I see film of the activities of the Klan and I die a thousand deaths of fear and pain that such hatred existed and to know it still exists. 

I remember that it was only forty short years ago people still thought it was okay to segregate between races…at water fountains, on buses, in the military, in schools…in ways we must hang our heads over. 

I have heard the crude comments of others who are the same skin color as me, but I have also seen the manipulation of those who would use racial tension as a means to their political ends and the brokenness of all of it leaves me feeling helpless.

I wonder how we embrace the concept that our country was founded on the principle  all men are created equal, and yet realize the flaws in the thinking of those who penned those words. 

And it leaves me knowing that the richness of my belief that God created us male and female…that He made all the tribes and all the nations…it is in this context that I relate to people, all people, as individuals. 

I have  to admit I do harbor prejudices based on experience, and understand others have prejudices based on experience, as well.

But when I strive to view each and every person as one created by God, in His image, and ask Him for His mind and heart regarding the encounters of each and every day…when I confront the subtle patterns of the worldview I have been programmed to accept in myself, when I extend grace because I don’t know the experiences that have shaped another person’s viewpoint…and when I realize I am ignorant and I will make mistakes…I become a vessel the Lord can shape and mold and transform. 

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.

Acts 17:26

In these times of conflict between so many, when a spirit of offense would cause us to seek shelter in a “them versus us” stalemate…may we be people of the Cross.

People who seek the Lord, groping for Him in the midst of these desperate times. 

We have been placed in this time and this place to seek Him and we can know with great assurance, no one race…no one person…is left out of this great promise of Him who created us all. 

Lessons from a child…<3

In the band of brothers…

this one…

has added some interesting dimensions to the spectrum of personality.

Little man has a smile that covers over a multitude of dynamo energy and third child antics…

But the weekend before Easter, his mommy discovered what appeared to be an abscess on his gum.

Seems that sweet little mouthful of teeth had taken one too many tumbles…

pc Rachel Maxwell

and as much as we all loved that gap-toothed Joelybear smile…it was not going to make it to Kindergarten as we had once assumed it would.

A visit to the dentist proved the tooth was no longer living and would cause problems to the permanent tooth still incubating up above the long root.

So our brave little toaster and his equally brave parents scheduled the procedure.

He did great and his parents made it through as well, but for a long while after it was pulled, he kind of kept it private.

Didn’t really want to talk about it and…

if you asked him about it, he pulled his lip down and just covered the empty place.

But time heals all wounds…and now…

pc Rachel Maxwell

he not only shows it to you…he is willing to share the story.

Any mention of it and he looks you straight in the eye and proclaims loudly…

GAVE SHOT HERE! as he motions to his mouth

PULLED TOOTH! as his hand does a huge yanking motion for extra effect

GONE!!!!  as he asserts with a firm nod of his head and decisive sweep of his hand …

before he moves on to tell someone else.

It’s his testimony.

He has survived.

He is thriving.

And he wants everyone to know.

The whole thing didn’t defeat him.

It’s part of his story and he is making the most of it.

Oh man…come on…tell me that doesn’t preach to your heart like it does mine.

I look at that little bundle of snuggleness and my Lola heart is encouraged right down to the core.

My soul knows…stuff happens…

but God heals and when we are ready to tell our story…

let’s do it with joy and faith and hope…

as we journey onward surrounded by the love and support of the brother and sisterhood of our family that stood with us through it all  <3

pc Rachel Maxwell