Sunday, May 29, 2016

Songs by Night

This whole phenomenon of my Alzheimer's Mom wanting to cause me harm is difficult to understand, and more difficult to bear.  Mom's current episodes of vindictive anger are counterbalanced by periods of peace during which she prays aloud for God's help, reads her devotional, and thanks me for the care I've provided her. But the devastation Alzheimer's has caused in her brain is causing her times of discontent to increase.

The error a dementia patient makes is one to which we are all prone: "If I feel this way, someone caused it." Mom doesn't recognize that her increasing sense of isolation flows from inability to follow conversation or TV dialogue, along with failing hearing and vision. Childlike, she believes I know of her discomforts even when she hasn't told me of them. If she is too warm or too cold, she assumes I know and have purposely left her to suffer discomfort. These misperceptions test her Christian charity to the degree that she can't keep her temper with me. And so the actions and words I perceive as expressing vindictive dislike are actually Mom's responses to what she perceives as lack of care.

This is, as my grandma used to say, a fine kettle of fish.

Or, as Mom used to say, "We are between a rock and a hard place."

This is one of the most uncomfortable times of my life. I spent most of yesterday in agonized prayer and I want to share with you the resulting confidence I feel that the Lord is in control, He has our future--both Mom's and mine--in His hands, He hasn't forgotten me, and He has seen my labor and has compassion for my tears. Even as I cry out to Him for deliverance from this hard time, I also cry out for protection for my mother. I can't imagine how this can all work out but the Lord is in the future as well as in our past and present, and I trust Him when He says all will be well.

This snippet from a favorite poem by Freda Hanbury Allen says it well:

Trust were not trust if thou couldst see the ending of the way,
Nor could thou learn his songs by night, were life one radiant day.   

Our sense of well being or lack of it during every difficult time of life comes down to whether we trust God's goodness--or not. When my responses are governed by lack of trust I suffer insomnia and have to double up on the antacids.  What a blessed relief to remember that the Lord is sculpting the future so that by the time it reaches me, it will have assumed His perfect form. He will make us a way through this difficult time. 

I pray to honor Him with my responses now so that when this particular life battle is in our past, I won't have to feel embarrassed shame over how I panicked.  Lord I place my trust in thee!  

The Love of God 
by Freda Hanbury Allen

The love of God a perfect plan
Is planning now for thee,
It holds a "future and a hope,"
Which yet thou canst not see. 

Though for a season, in the dark,
He asks thy perfect trust,
E'en that thou in surrender 
"lay Thy treasure in the dust," 

Yet He is planning all the while,
Unerringly He guides
The life of him, who holds His will
More dear than all besides. 

Trust were not trust if thou couldst see
The ending of the way,
Nor couldst thou learn His songs by night,
Were life one radiant day. 

Amid the shadows here He works
The plan designed above,
"A future and a hope" for thee
In His exceeding love. 

"A future" -- abiding fruit,
With loving kindness crowned;
"A hope"-- which shall thine own transcend,
As Heaven the earth around. 

Though veiled as yet, one day thine eyes
Shall see His plan unfold,
And clouds that darkened once the path
hall shine with Heaven's gold. 

Enriched to all eternity
The steadfast soul shall stand,
That, "unoffended", trusted Him
Who all life's pathway planned. 

I have an heritage of bliss,
Which yet I may not see;
The Hand that bled to make it mine,
Is keeping it for me.

Here are Biblegateway links to the Scripture references Allen used in her poem:
Jeremiah 29:11
Job 22:24
Matthew 11:6


  1. I try to imagine your life as if it were my own mother who was going through these changes. Even then it's impossible to imagine the wide range of emotions you must experience on a daily basis. "Dear Father... please increase Your grace to this family! That they may find their resting place in You alone."

    1. Oh how I appreciate you and this prayer. Thank you, Georgene. You know, I perhaps need to write more of God's grace in this trial than of the trial itself, and will try to do so, because His grace is sufficient. Here in the midst of this struggle, He is so present with us with His enabling presence and facilitating power that we walk along with less of agony and more of peace than one would imagine. I write so graphically because I hope to minister to those who are experiencing similar trials...pray with me that my posts find those folks and that through them they can participate in the comfort with which we have been comforted! Again, thank you for this prayer.

  2. Thank you for that poem. I had not come across it before.

    I was thinking this morning of this verse which applies so well to your situation: "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." (2 Corinthians 12:15).

    My own m-i-l does not have Alzheimer's but does experience dementia occasionally. But over the last couple of years, she is mostly silent. Sometimes you can tell by her eyes and expression that she's tracking with you, but other times not. This might sound odd, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not just caring for a body, but that there is a person still in there, even though she seems closed off so much. But in many ways her situation is a picture of unconditional love: God loves me even though I can't "do" anything to earn His love or "pay Him back." I pray and strive to serve with His kind of love and not just feel weighed down by the situation.

    1. Thank you for this verse, Barbara. Your mother-in-law is so blessed to have you.