Welcome, Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers

grass hd wallpaper lake landscape
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My mother has dementia, and I’m her caregiver. These three years have been challenging yet rewarding. Sometimes, I can relate with King David in the book of Psalms when he alternates between desperation and optimism. Mom’s ailment has caused me to seek God while passing through the “Valley of Death” and lift my eyes to the hills from where my help comes. When overwhelmed on tough, cloud-covered days, I stare at my shoes. But other times, I smile into the sun’s warm rays.
I share my thoughts in “real time” as if writing a journal. Each curve on this long, roller coaster experience, offers new insights and spiritual lessons for me. Trying to guide my speeding, twisting car, I study physiology, psychology, pharmacology, gerontology, and caregiving tips. Though not an expert on these topics, no one knows much about Alzheimer’s Disease. Even the most knowledgeable doctor can’t diagnose it with certainty until autopsy. Neurologists don’t cure its victims, and psychologists won’t help the confused patient remember their children’s names.
Professionals teach me to cope with my mother’s illness. They fight the scourge the best they can, and I applaud their efforts.

But, not only do I seek direction from medical experts but from God, too. His scriptures are a great source of comfort for me. His Spirit is a balm for my soul.
I’m learning much on this journey through the Valley of Dementia, which will end in the death of my mother. Until then, we travel between the mountains enjoying the green grass and the babbling brooks.

© Ronald Milburn 2018

The Provider

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In the early 1980s, I attended a church with a lady in Little Rock, Arkansas. Myrtis was a mother and grandmother when I met her, and she shared a remarkable story.
When a young wife with six children, her husband died. She was a homemaker with no employable skills, so she went to college to become a teacher. With no income, how could this happen?

The woman prayed and leaned on God. Soon, she found a gift in her mailbox from a nearby church, which met her needs for a month. Though the young widow started school without money, Myrtis had a purse stuffed with faith.

The next month, the mailman delivered another bank draft, but it was from another congregation. Again, it provided for the essentials. Then, each month for a year, funds arrived from differing churches. She rejoiced because those twelve churches had sustained her family for the first half of her education.

The cycle continued throughout the next school year until she completed her studies. Then, the grateful mother loaded her boys and girls in a horse-drawn wagon and visited each church to thank them. She praised the pastor for joining with the other twelve congregations to meet her needs. Imagine her reaction when she heard the same shocking news from each preacher.

They hadn’t coordinated to give her a check each month. God had impressed each reverend to collect an offering and send it to Myrtis — twice in two years. The ministers were unaware of the other gifts, and they were as amazed as she was.

I confirmed her story with her son, whom I had known for a long time. He further elaborated with a similar event of his childhood. One evening they had no food in the house, but his mom placed plates on the table. His brothers and sisters joined their mother to say grace for the food they were to receive. Before they finished, there was a knock on the door. On the porch was a neighbor with two arms full of groceries. My friend claimed such things often happened during their twenty-four months of need. He’d learned faith firsthand while saying grace over an empty plate.

It is in our neediest hour when we allow God to show us his power. Many caregivers are struggling, especially with finances. Myrtis’ story should be an inspiration for us. Here’s another, but this one is from the Bible.

Scripture II Kings 4: 1-7 NASB
Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.” So, she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her, and she poured. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not one vessel more.” And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

There are at least two lessons we learn from these accounts. First, God can help us in our time of want if we go to him in prayer. Second, God uses people to answer prayers. In Myrtis’ story, God used obedient pastors and neighbors to fulfill His purpose.

We should go to God in prayer in our darkest hours, but let’s listen as the Spirit leads, so we can help others.