Saturday, December 28, 2019

Just Keep Praying!

I am in the process of emerging from a nearly three year struggle with what I now understand has been depression.  I didn't recognize my trouble as depression when I was in the midst of it. All I knew was that I was suffused by grief, a sense of helplessness, and a feeling that nothing would be right again.  Nearly 16 years of accompanying my my mother through her Alzheimer's journey certainly played a part in my sorrows, but other things happened as well (they always do).

 Someone who is depressed will probably alienate loved ones because of the human tendency to blame others: "If only he/she would (or wouldn't) have done thus or so, then I wouldn't be in this situation."  When living with someone who has this attitude, we have to rest upon the commitment we have made to one another in the Lord in order to continue in prayer and compassion for them. I have done my share of casting blame and am grateful for the Lord's steadfast love, as well as for my friends and loved ones who stuck with me even when I was not supportive of them.  

The only consistent element that has emerged as being truly helpful both in my own depression and in dealing with that of others, is prayer.  Praying for someone who is not acting as they ought is not an automatic response; we are much more prone to distance ourselves from them. But God's word doesn't say to pray for others only when they are acting like they ought to act and doing what they ought to do.  The verses that end this post make it clear that we are to pray for one another even when we feel more as though we are enemies than friends with those for whom we pray.  

In the end, our most effective work is prayer.  If you are suffused by sorrows, keep crying out to the Lord.  If you are living with someone who is struggling, pray for them and don't stop.  To paraphrase Dory's line from Finding Nemo: Just keep praying, just keep praying, just keep praying!  


 "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" Deuteronomy,” 33:27. 

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work Oswald Chambers.

“Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God” (Isaiah 49:4). 

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:19-21).  

 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).  

Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people (Ephesians 6:18 CEV).  

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).  

I include this last verse from the Contemporary English Version with a smile, because although none of us are truly innocent, we often feel ourselves to be so.  When we  have been wronged and did not deserve it, but nevertheless pray for those who have hurt us, our prayers truly can help a lot: 

"...pray for one another and be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot"  James 5:16 CEV

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Protect Our Hearts, Minds, Bodies ...

The background of this meme is a detail from a painting by my mother, completed a few years prior to her Alzheimer's diagnosis.  

A friend and fellow caregiver wrote me a kind email today. She began with almost humorous but heartrendingly accurate words of empathy, and ended with a touching prayer. Here are her words of empathy and encouragement for caregivers: 

"It is my assumption that the Lord leaves the elderly and infirm with us that we may grow in mercy, grace, wisdom and basically not be giant, selfish jerks. I get it. But I DO NOT LIKE IT. It certainly pushes my trust button over and over and over again...." 

"Lord Jesus, may we love and serve our loved ones to the end with faithfulness, mercy, and grace. May you, dear Lord, protect our hearts and our minds and our bodies. Strengthen us and bless the gift of love we imperfectly offer our loved ones . Heal them with heaven in your time. Amen"

Friday, November 22, 2019

At my mother's nursing home I recently saw two couples sitting in the lobby, good and kind people that I've known for years. The wives have both recently been placed into nursing home care, the husbands visit daily. Both husbands were holding their wives' hands. I know enough of caregiving to understand that kind of love; it is formed of loyalty, duty, compassion, a commitment to stick together through difficult times, the culmination of a lifetime of sharing...and more. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I am continually blessed to see how the Lord provides for those He loves during the best and worst of times, and all the seasons in between.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

God's Role in Alzheimer's

In any crisis, we are safe to assume the Lord will be our compassionate healer, friend, advocate, and guide. We don't need to grapple with things we can't comprehend, such as why a loving God would allow us pain.

I have what I think may be an understanding in the right direction: pain entered the world because of sin; sin does not originate with God, and thus pain is not His idea for us even though in omnipotent power He is able to work all things for our good.  But that's just my "in a mirror but darkly," limited, understanding. The Almighty God doesn't need me to defend Him; He only asks for our love and obedience. 

A popular Christian song has the line "When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart."*  We don't need to understand in order to trust. 


*Trust His Heart by Babbie Mason 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

He is Sovereign, He is God

This is just an acknowledgement on this Sabbath day of the sovereignty of God; He is sovereign over everything that touches us, He is with us through the difficult times, and He always makes us a way through; blessed be His Name! The background of this meme is a painting by my mom, completed a few years prior to her Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Prayer for Difficult Days

Lord, we trust You, please increase our faith. Father, we praise You, thank You for Your love. Holy Spirit, we are grateful for Your abiding presence with us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hope for the Future

As my mother's only child, my life has been profoundly impacted by the turmoil and stresses of her Alzheimer's disease. 

A promise I received and have clung to regarding my mother's illness was given through an attorney who helped us find our way through our initial, panic-tinged decisions on Mom's behalf. This kind woman looked me in the eye and said, "Linda, there will be life for you after your mother's Alzheimer's disease."  

I received these words as truth, but during these later stages of my mother's disease I'm increasingly aware that if I'm to survive this 15-year-and-counting journey with enough strength to face a future of promised renewal, then I have some forgiving and releasing to do.  

Our Lord speaks of new wine for new wineskins, but also states that the old wine tastes sweeter (see Luke 5:36-39).  If the old wine is the memory of God's goodness to us in the past, our challenge is to find and focus upon the sweetness that has been provided us even in the midst of our trials. Apart from this change of focus from all the ways we've suffered to all the ways we've been blessed, we find ourselves unable to fit any new status quo into the old perspective of belief that we have been irreparably damaged by life events that have caused us pain.   

If my perspective is tainted by unforgiveness toward my mother or, worse, toward the Lord for the trials He has allowed, every memory of these past 15 years will be tinged with bitterness. The new wineskin is a willingness to release the past into God's hands and to receive the hope of blessings to come.

The strong memory of the sweetness of the Lord's abiding presence through all that we've faced is the old wine that is sweeter even than the new. This is the perspective that will allow us to move forward with gratitude of heart over all the ways God has richly blessed us in the past, and with hope for the future.  


You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing (Genesis 50:20 CEV).  

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV).  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Favorite Matthew Henry Quote

"The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve thy soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labor in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in, It is a protection for life." Matthew Henry

Thursday, September 26, 2019


As caregivers we will receive heart blows from our loved ones whose perceptions are compromised because of dementia. Forgiveness becomes important for the sake of both caregiver and care recipient.  

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Standing Firm

My mom's Alzheimer's diagnosis came in April of 2004, and for the past three years she has been in nursing home care. Sometimes Mom is sweet and loving, just as I remember her from pre-Alzheimer's days.  But at other times, the enemy uses the vehicle of her disease to gain inroads to her heart and mind so that, when she becomes locked into delusions that have their source at a place I can't reach, she believes me to be her enemy.  Worse, during these times, she seems at the mercy of emotions that have their source in evil; she has on occasion called down curses, expressed hatred, and wished me harm.  Trying to describe these events in words is difficult; there is a frightening aspect to them because of the strength of venom that flows.  During these times, I have rarely been successful in pulling my precious mom away from the darkness of the powers that hold her focus in a relentless grip. 

Our faith tells us that we have victory in Jesus.  Ephesians 1:19 speaks of the incomparably great power that is ours by right, because we believe.  Luke 10:19 tells us that we have been given authority over the power of the enemy, and in Isaiah 52:1-2, we are exhorted to rise up and walk in the power God has given us.

But what about the times when our efforts to face down the enemy's strategies against us fail?

The devil preys upon the weak.  When our loved ones become compromised, spiritual forces of evil are likely to come against us through them.  This is a terrible shock at first, and I have many times been unable to face down the forces that have used my mother's voice and words to deliver hatred and threats.

Here is what I have learned from these repeated defeats:

  • My mom is locked in the prison cell of her disease, and my prayers and care ease her burden.  I may need to leave the room, but I always need to come back. If I can't be in her line of sight without raising her ire, I can still go over her medications list, brainstorm strategies to help, conference with her caregivers, and pray.  I can always pray.  
  • Sometimes, maybe most times, it is best not to go head to head with the evil.  Dementia patients cannot generally be talked out of a crooked perspective.  
  • But...don't give up too easily.  If the Lord says to stand firm, stand firm.  I continually have to remind myself to toughen up a bit.  
  • Prayer is powerful, especially powerful when I let my own puny human love for my mom lead me to pray in God's love for her.  
  • Corporate prayer (lots of people praying at once) is REALLY powerful.  

During my mom's last dark spell I could make no headway at all in helping her away from her anger and gave up pretty quickly, perhaps too quickly. It is scary to come up against virulent hatred where you know the person expressing the negative emotions is not in her right mind.  I went home, posted a prayer request on Facebook, and when I returned to her the next day, my mother was herself once more.  I hugged her and said, "I sure love you, Mom"

And she said, "You're the best."

Now that's my mama.

It is frightening and depressing to see a loved one held in the captivity of disease.  It is soul-withering to try and fail to help them during dark times.  I continue to pray for courage to keep on trying and not to turn tail and run too easily.  But when I do go creeping off in defeat as I did this last time Mom was struggling, the Lord still makes a way. About 40 people came together to pray for my mom this time around, and their precious willingness to help to bear our burdens lifted the darkness from her heart and mind.


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sunday, August 18, 2019

When Things Are Awful

My mom has suffered another compression fracture in her back from osteoporosis, and she now has pain when she moves or coughs, and sometimes for no reason at all.  The pain isn't constant, and for that I'm grateful.  She is able to rest, but she is often uncomfortable.  She is 95, has been in nursing home care for 3 years, and is in her 15th year as an Alzheimer patient. 

I've struggled this afternoon with grief and tears for Mom and for myself. When I asked the Lord how I could trust when things are so uncomfortable for us now and have been for a good long time, the answer came that I can be at peace because I know Him. I pause, I remember He is present with me, I feel His smile, I know He does not ever leave me. 

When I focus upon how God loves us, I remember Jesus, that He has withheld nothing from us, not even His own life. I remember that He suffered so that we can join Him in eternity. In the face of His love, we can rest in the knowledge that He sends us no place that He has not been ahead of us, preparing the way.   

There isn’t a way to soften the truth of suffering in this world.  When people try to do that, they come up with platitudes that at best, do not help, and at worse, deepen despair. But there is Christ with us, our hope, our peace, our comfort and help.  

Things may be awful right now, but He is with us in the awful things; He is right there in the middle of them with us.  God loves us.  We are not alone. Jesus has made a way out of the hard things we face, and He is there with us in the middle of our trials.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Faith and Mom's Alzheimer's

My mother's Alzheimer's has stretched over 15 years of time, and as her only child, my life has been heavily impacted.  I was her primary caregiver for 12 years, and since her nursing home placement, I have been her patient advocate and continue to carry responsibility for her finances. These are roles that have been more taxing than I anticipated.  I thought things would be easier, at least emotionally, once she was in nursing home care, but I haven't found it so.  The physical burden of providing her care has lightened, but these past three years have brought new challenges.

I'm within a dozen or so years of the age my mother was when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and I have risk factors that she did not.  And so I have been struggling with fear of the future.

Yesterday morning my Scripture reading included Hebrews 11:1:  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  KJV

Here's that same verse from the Contemporary English Version:  Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.  CEV

Proof.  So often when I'm up at 3 a.m. grappling with anxiety over what the future may bring, I would like proof.  But as I pondered Hebrews 11:1 today, I had a new-to-me thought: faith is the proof, the present reality, a symbol and evidence of unseen truth:  “This is the victory that overcometh the world; even our faith...”  (1 John 5:4).

It seemed a huge revelation to me today that faith brings victory... (all the angels and witnesses around me are doing a collective forehead slap right now). Faith isn’t just a component of victory, it is the victory.  It doesn’t just spur us to actions that win the battles waged against us, faith itself wins the battle.

My faith in the risen Christ is the current reality that douses the fires of my fears for the future; I can  be encouraged by the fact of my own faith.  Do I love Jesus?  I do!  Am I grateful for what He has done for me at the Cross, forging a path for me into eternity with Him?  I am!  Can I praise His Holy Name even when my own circumstances seem bleak?  I can, I really can, because I trust that He has a plan, and that it is a good plan, and that He loves and provides for me.

I am not talking about emotion.  I don't ask myself how I feel.  Faith has more to do with knowledge than feelings. What have I learned of the Lord?  Have I decided to believe what He says?  Have I made the choice to trust in Him?  Yes, I have.  I have made a confession of faith.  I believe.

Even when our faith is small, it is powerful.  Even when we must pray, "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief,"  He is quick to comfort and strengthen (Mark 9:24).

It's never wrong to bring our fears to the Lord who loves us.  Fear itself is not a sin; it is a weakness.  We have a choice of whether we will take our eyes from our fears and place them upon the Lord who loves us, or not.  Choosing faith over fear brings peace, because faith brings us closer to what is true both now and for the world to come.


Many websites offer instruction for receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Remember that belief in Christ as the risen Savior is the victory itself; after your confession of faith, any list of "things to do" should be considered guidelines, not rules. Here's a reliable source: Find Peace With God ( 

Sunday, July 14, 2019


I've had a summer cold for nine...count them, NINE days.  I ran a fever.  I was miserable.  I huddled in bed too sick to read or watch TV and just prayed to feel better soon...and I do.  I really do.  It is a blessing to have a sickness that is of short duration.  Due to my journey with my mother through her Alzheimer's,  I know enough about chronic diseases to recognize that I am blessed.

I walked around the yard this morning and snapped the images below with my old iPhone 5.  Nothing like a brief illness to help one see the world with fresh eyes.

Perspective is important.  In the middle of even a brief illness, it seems as though we'll never feel better again.  We have to remind ourselves "This too shall pass."  My mom used to say that all the time.

It's good to feel better.

This photo is taken in a direct line with those below--I just walked straight ahead to get the closeups (no, I didn't trip over those pots of flowers). 

All details of the same scene--left,: light filtering through the red leaf plum formed rainbow rays; middle: plum leaf detail; right:  closeup of a spider web; this is one of those photos that can be viewed two ways; the strands can look either concave or convex.

Friday, June 28, 2019

When We Are Stressed...

Stress is a fact of a caregiver's life. 

The Fourth of July was my parents' holiday.  Dad always barbequed chicken and Mom would make the rest of the meal, consisting of summertime favorites; homemade potato salad, watermelon, baked beans, and some sort of berry or fruit pie with homemade ice cream for dessert.  I miss my parents during Fourth of July festivities more than any other time of the year.  To make matters more uncomfortable, responsibilities to other family members will keep me from visiting my mom this weekend as our little community celebrates the holiday a few days early. 

The Lord is with Mom, and the Lord is with me.  I remind myself that He is sufficient for our needs, that warm memories from the past do not preclude new memories being made, and the Lord is all we need in every present moment.  He is with us. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Martha Versus Mary Again

I do not think of myself as being addicted to service.  

I learned a long time ago that my physical strength doesn't hold if I fill my days with volunteerism and scheduled activities.  In fact, my lack of active service in support of our small community contributes to my ongoing battle against a sense of inadequacy.

However, I am very committed to service to my loved ones; I am determined to give them my first and best strength.  My assigned role as caregiver for my mother has been an ongoing fact of my life for the past 15 years.  Furthermore, I am grandmother of four, and in part because of fear that my children or grandchildren may have to someday provide care to me as I have to my own mother, I feel self-assigned pressure to support them now in any way that I am able. 

During my devotion time this morning I felt a call to a fast from service.  My response was a classic, "Huh?"  This just didn't compute for me. 

The explanation seems to be that this sort of fast is needed because my sense of commitment and duty to human beings has taken priority over my focus upon and expression of love for God.  

When will I ever learn that sitting at Jesus' feet is the better portion?  
Mary has chosen the better portion, and it will not be taken from her...(Luke 10:42).  

I took a deep breath.  I felt drawn to step outside, and I wandered around my yard.  Birdsong soothed, cottonwood fluff drifted past my face, but before I had entered fully into the peace of God's presence, my mind wandered to my "things to do" list. I began to feel lonely for human companionship, and decided to invite my grandsons to come to my house for the noon meal.  In response to this thought, I heard the Lord say, "Share with them the love you’ve found, but do not make them the source of your need for love."  

I realized that much of my self-appointed service comes from my failure to spend focused time in what my mother used to call "soak" before the Lord.  I haven't spent enough time with  Him to receive the needed reassurance of His love and unfailing presence.  This realignment to the truth of God's great love for us is a necessary daily discipline.  It's the old adage that we can't fill others unless we are filled ourselves

So I'm fasting today from visiting my mother at the nursing home or preparing
 superfluous meals for my grandkids (their mom already had their lunch prepared).  I'm sitting at Jesus' feet.  It's a sweet place to be; blessed be His Name. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Why Does God Allow Alzheimer's?

Back in 2011 I wrote a post entitled Where is God in Alzheimer's, and it remains a frequently visited selection all these years later.  We are blindsided by grief when something as devastating as an Alzheimer's diagnosis rocks our lives.

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's fifteen years ago, and is still living. The comfort and encouragement I have to offer to those who are facing a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's for themselves or for a loved one is that God will make you a way through. Look for His path of comfort, provision, and encouragement, because it is there.  In any devastating event, He is present with us, and He makes us a way.

Today I've added a postscript to that 2011 post that I will also share here:  
The Lord is not the author of evil, and, in my comprehension, Alzheimer's disease is a great evil.  But I know without a doubt that in every challenge we face, even during the most difficult time, God  has made a path through it, and He is with us in it. With my limited and flawed understanding, I think that when God created the music of time and creation, He knew the melody must be allowed to play during this short segment during which human beings are allowed the choice of whether to come to Him as His children--or not.  We are not automatons and Satan exists, and so for this age, evil is present.  But God makes us a way through; He always makes us a way through, and from our Lord’s perspective, these present sorrows represent a very temporary situation.  He truly will bring everything together under the banner of His love; the process is underway now as all things are being drawn into His perfect will. Meantime, we are alright because we have confidence that someday He will make things all right, and He strengthens and sustains us in our here and now.  The Bible is full of promises that every tear will be wiped away and all things will, at the end of this age, come under the dominion of our God. 
I don’t think that Alzheimer's (or any other horrible thing) is caused exclusively by human free will and sin.  Evil is the culprit, evil is in the world, and, as Scripture says, God is allowing the wheat and the weeds to grow up together during this season.  Evil is a fact for now (and Alzheimer's is, in my book, a great evil) but at the end of all things God's perfect plan will be completed on earth as it is in Heaven, and all things will be brought together under one head; Christ (Ephesians 1:10).  And while we wait for that blessed day, we have the promise of His presence and provision in our here and now.  He will always make a way. 

...I will make a pathway through the wilderness... 
--from Isaiah 43:13, NLT--

Sunday, May 5, 2019

It Will Be Worth it All

I had a difficult visit to my mother at the nursing home today.  She's had an upper respiratory infection and has become withdrawn, irritable, and unresponsive to my attempts to soothe and encourage.  For some reason, watching her receive a breathing treatment upset me greatly; the mask over her face, her uncombed hair, and the lines of suffering on her face were nearly unbearable to see.  I was suffused with impatience, anger, resentment, grief; you name it, I felt it. It is not the intensity of these recent, relatively minor trials that caused me such distress today; we have certainly experienced worse.  It is the duration of this journey through my mother's Alzheimer's: fifteen years and counting.

I have no grounds for complaint.  I am sincere in my assertion that the Lord has provided for us every step of the way.  There can be no "but" to the astounding truth that God is with us, God has gone ahead of us, and God is behind us; His dynamic, creative, virtuosity allows Him to sculpt our past, present, and future in ways we can't comprehend.  Past hurtful memories are softened and backlit by grace, we are strengthened for present challenges, and even as the future hurtles toward us He sculpts it and prepares us so that every hard thing comes equipped with a path that has been prepared in advance for our weary feet to follow.  He sees us through.  As Matthew Henry says, "The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest." 

I have found it so.  We tend to ignore God's provision and complain loudly when our life's paths take us through unpleasant places.  But as I left the nursing home today it came to me that although I would not have chosen this long season of service to my mother, I have been strengthened and blessed through it.  

The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve the soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labor in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in. It is a protection for life.
[i]Matthew Henry

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Psalm 121, public domain

Sunday, April 14, 2019

God With Us

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. 
Hebrews 13:5

... I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  
Matthew 28:20

Friday, April 5, 2019

Even to Our Old Age...

This detail from a painting by my mother looks like my dream retirement home!  The beauty and peace of this scene reminds me that we have the promise of lifelong care from the caregiver who will never let us down.  Even when we are old, we are still His children, and He will not forget us.