Thursday, September 29, 2011


I think it is so important to be WITH our Alzheimer's loved ones. They have a lonely journey if we are not there for them.  My husband wants to go WITH me on any and all errands.

I think of Sue who has stayed home WITH her hubby. He is now in the VA hospital and she can work part-time again. I saw her Wednesday and was able to hug her. We both know what we are going through when we hugged yesterday. That's the sort of hug that I give Sally when I see her. That's the sort of hug I want to give the other ladies who write/comment on this blog. I think I got the idea of HUG from Dolores.

For Pink Lady Dana who commented on the last post, I have a thought. SHADOWING. I don't know your situation there in California from here in Florida, but I would say go to the grocery store with Steve. I have read somewhere that Alzheimer's patients like to shadow their caregivers, like a puppy. Socialization helps them. We can either accept this, or we can get annoyed.  It doesn't matter if our husbands follow or if we go slowly and hold their hands. They are WITH us. Our lives have to slow down. We don't get the plan we think we need, but we get the fulfillment of being where the LORD wants us to be at this time. The Christian marriage is compared to Christ's love for His church, His bride. Christ desires to be WITH us, only we better be the puppy dog following Him, not the leader who demands He follow us.

Skye Jethani wrote a new book--With: Reimaging the Way You Relate to God.  I am thinking about his prepostions, OVER, UNDER, FROM, FOR and WITH:
  • Life OVER God. People can live without regard to God, maybe angry that God has brought Alzheimer's or some other situation into their life. They may take matters into their own hands like taking a substitute love as Barry Petersen did in Jan's Story that I wrote about here in a July book review several months ago.
  • Life UNDER God. This would be a life of duty WITHOUT the emphasis of fellowship. Legalism. These people bargain that their adherence to rules will mean that blessing must follow.
  • Life FROM God. Christians in this category go after His blessings and consumerism taints their relationship with our Father.
  • Life FOR God. People run around doing God's work and being nice. I wrote about that problem in Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill. But it isn't about what we can do for God that gives our life meaning, that pleases Him. Everything, even the mundane, is for His glory.
  • Life WITH God. Fellowship with God. In Acts 4 the members of the council saw that Peter and John, ordinary men, had been WITH Jesus.  Jethani calls believers  to be WITH Jesus.
Back to the subject of this post. How are we WITH our Alzheimer's loved ones? I am WITH my husband when we pray together and how exciting it is that the soul in an Alzheimer's patient will be there beyond when the mind goes. When I go off to teach, I insist my hubby and dog Ziggy wave goodbye and blow kisses at the window--our tradition that says we love each other. I call him when I get somewhere to say I have safely arrived. I just sat with him at the end of  a romantic movie, even though I had seen it before. I am in this journey WITH him. I just made myself unavailable to substitute one day a week so I can be WITH my husband. One day I will not be able to leave him alone at all.

Lord, give me the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23
--especially gentleness and self-control--
so I can be WITH my Alzhezimer's loved one,
in sickness and in health until death do us part.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saga Seventeen

This blog has over 10, 000 hits, according to the site meter. How does this happen? I speculate that the labels I provide at the bottom of the blog gets people here. Or I post on other Alzheimer's blogs and "NewKidontheBlogg" takes people here.

Last Monday I made myself unavailable to substitute teach so we could go to Sally and Jake's church for their monthly senior’s event. Everybody brought a bag lunch and a collectable hobby to share. Sally was in charge and so she had me do my "raps" for the group. Sally shared her antique trays, Jake—his bird houses, and hubby his toy horse collection. I shared four items from my ruby red glass collection.

Usually pills and breakfast will happen after I leave the house, when hubby gets his false teeth in. He needs to eat something when he takes those pills and three days last week he ate breakfast, but no pills while I had to leave to substitute teach, which I did Tuesday through Friday. Saturday when I was off to teach a first-time driver’s class, I had a plan for those pills. Put them on the plate with his breakfast, because putting the pill box by his breakfast doesn’t cut it. Great solution.

Alzheimer’s patients need socialization and hubby loves to get out. Wednesday night we went to Toastmasters, the club that I helped form at a church in Lakeland. I tend to talk too much there—go over my time limit, but when DH is called on for “Table Topics” at Toastmasters his verbal skills are excellent--often humorous and to the point for this extemporaneous response.

But are his verbal skills really excellent? I love his prayers, but I realize that he now uses limited vocabulary and concepts when he prays at night. He thanks God for the "good" day and goes on about the "good" day, without specifics of what happened, for maybe four or five sentences.

He can ask me questions successfully (many times it is the same question up to six times), but he cannot respond to my queries. For example, I spilled milk on the dining room carpet and wanted him to bring me towels quickly.

“What kind?” he wants to know. “Paper towels?”

“No. Hurry and get towels out of the basket on the pink trunk in our bedroom.” That was TMI (too much information) for him. I ended up getting the towels and as it was Sunday morning and we had to leave for church, I wouldn’t be able to clean that carpet.

What about his reading skills? He doesn’t always like to read the daily clipboard schedule I make for him. He has another pad that he writes on to supplement that daily schedule. He will then cross of the item after it has happened. He reads the bulletin and hymns in church, but doesn’t read so much during the week. There came a time when Dolores’s husband stopped reading—something he dearly loved to do. Hubby loves to watch videos and so far that is what he does while I am off supplementing our income to try to pay for my dental work and get our credit cards paid off for when I have to stay home full time as Dolores and Sue have had to do.

Social Sunday Night. We get home from church activities about 4:30 and get ready for guests to come at 7 PM for another pool night at our home. I am glad the carpet doesn't smell from the spilled milk--yet. Three gentlemen and Sally and Jake's delightful ten year old granddaughter play pool while we wives play Mexican Dominos. The granddaughter starts enjoying our dog Ziggy, who also liked the attention and decides pool is more interesting than her Math computer game. DH and Jake sit in the family to watch TV while Bob goes to the den ready to play pool. Now hubby doesn’t realize as a host he needs to be playing pool. I remind him and like Archie Bunker in the old TV comedy, hubby shushes me up. About five minutes later the two Alzheimer’s husbands join Bob in the den where the granddaughter has fun playing with three old men.

“Lana,” I quip as we ladies play our domino game, “do you realize your granddaughter is learning to enjoy playing pool with men?” We ladies laugh.

It is so great that our two husbands are taking turns playing with two others who keep track of the game. Good week, but verbal skills are declining I realize.

The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.
from my devotions this morning--Isaiah 50:4 NLT

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who Keeps Promises?

This issue has been on the news this week. I addressed this with Jan's Story review on this blog on July 1 below.

When I wrote about Jan's Story, a comment was made that led me to McQuilken's book shown above. He writes on p. 23:
I have been startled by the response to the announcement of my resignation. Husbands and wives renewing marriage vows, pastors telling the story to their people. It was a mystery to me, until a distinguished oncologist, who lives constantly with dying people, told me, "Almost all women stand by their men; very few men stand by their women." Perhaps people sensed this contemporary tragedy and somehow were helped by a simple choice I considered the only option.
LORD, that you for my husband. I want to show love to him all my days, no matter how difficult it becomes. Help men and women caregivers who come across this blog to also keep those promises. Help me live longer than he does, if that is your will. Amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: The Organized Heart

In the past twenty-four hours I have read a short book. After church I had to tell ladies at church about it, and even one man is going to get it for his Kindle. Pure Excitement I have for this book by Staci Eastin--The Organized Heart: A Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos, published by and released in March of this year. This is the kind of excitement I get when I discover something in Scripture that speaks right to my heart. I have needed her book.

Periodically I blog organizing and de-cluttering on this blog. But on my way to organizing the clutter and chaos at home, we had that crash I wrote about last December. After that with sore back and painful hands I could do less about the clutter issues. I did want to. I admire Dolores and others who have their act together at home and they are able to be that caregiver to their husband with an orderly home. Now that I have been released by the chiropractor, I am going to the gym and doing more.

Mrs. Eastin puts heart and faith into what I needed to read. Where does she start? Mrs. Eastin's book is not about a system. She writes that she had a motivation problem--not a problem of whose system to use. Eastin in this short book deals with four idols. Here are some quotes:
The disorganization in my life was not due to lack of knowledge or skill and it was not due to a problem in my childhood. Rather, it's a broken belief system: a heart issue, a sin issue. At the end of the day, it's idolatry. . . . We never conquer sin by adding more rules. . . . My attempts to get organized always failed because I tried to change my habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life. (pp. 11, 12)
The Idol of Perfectionism
Perfectionism prevents us from living our lives. It prevents us from enjoying our families. It robs us of joy. And most of all, it prevents us from basking in God's grace and serving in the strength that only he can give. God knows our talents, our energy level, and our resources. He alone is perfect, and he can work mightily, so we can trust him. (p. 31)

 The Idol of Busyness
Just because you can do something doesn't mean God has called you to it. . . . Fear of man indicates that we find our worth in pleasing others rather than pleasing God. Instead of working to bring glory to God, we hope to bring glory to ourselves. . . . God is not sitting helplessly in the wings, hoping we'll come through and help him out.  (pp. 35, 36, 39)

My book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill,  deals with some of these issues of the fear of man and learning to give God the glory. Eastin puts it simply:  God is not glorified in the amount of things we get done, the number of spaces we fill on our calendar, or the length of our to-do lists. God is pleased when we serve him with sincere hearts. (p. 41)

 The Idol of Possessions
I have tried to study couponing. Eastin points out that it can all lead to hoarding. Mmmm. She writes: Excess possessions will rob you of your peace, add unnecessary stress to your life and hinder your ministry to others. (pp. 51)

The Idol of Leisure
When everyday life is a race from one urgent deadline to the next, we withdraw from open fellowship with God and submission to his will. . . . The procrastinator loves to hoard her time for herself rather than work diligently on the errands and tasks God gives her. . . . Many women are addicted to TV, social networking sites, shopping, reading, and other hobbies. While none of these activities are necessarily evil in and of themselves, if you indulge in them to the extent that they prevent you from doing what God has ordained for you to do, they are sin. . . . Are you a wise steward of your time? Do you prayerfully schedule your days for what God has called you to, including appropriate time for real rest?  (pp. 66-69)

In her chapter on difficult circumstances, she doesn't deal with the Alzheimer's caregiver. But the author does point out both our responsibility and God's sovereignty. God, the divine Caregiver, will work things out and we can therefore be content. Unlike FlyLady who has an elaborate system, Staci Eastin at the end of the book gives principles to use after the idols of your heart have been dealt with.

What has this short book done for me? It has freed me to not worry excessively about FlyLady's lists, couponing or another system from one of my books or magazine articles. If I can pray over my schedule, serve my husband in his lonely journey in Alzheimer's, serve others as well, and (without guilt) schedule time for my own leisure, then I can have peace and know I am bringing glory to God.

It has always been that one day in heaven, I want Him to say, "Well done, Carol. You knew you could trust Me as your divine Caregiver to take you through your earthly caregiving adventure."

Staci Eastin blogs at Writing and Living. I am going over to her blog now and thank her.