Book Review: Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

The progressive loss of brain  function  in  Alzhiemer’s  disease  and     dementia is difficult to observe in a loved one.    My  mother’s  loss  of memory and physical skills has been gradually progressing. It would be wonderful to have a knowledgeable and experienced Christian doctor give guidance for both victim and the family.

Dr. John Dunlop does that in his book,  Finding Grace in the  Face  of  Dementia. He explains the disease in terms that non-medical people can understand.

As I read the book, pausing to take in the information in each chapter, I developed a better understanding of what is happening to my mother. (I wish that this book had been available four years ago; it is so helpful.)

Dr. Dunlop explains the progression of the disease along with suggestions for relating with the person with dementia. When the disease is well progressed an individual may not remember the past and have little interest in the future. But they can still enjoy moments in the present. He writes:

Dementia does not alter a person’s ability to experience pleasure. Victims of dementia may enjoy pleasing aromas and be put off by offensive ones. They may like good music and admire pretty scenes or pictures . . . They will often enjoy human touch. They may want their loved ones to hold their hands or put an arm around them . . .

He encourages both the victim and family members to turn to their faith in God. Prayer, Bible verses and hymns can all bring comfort. Being involved in the care of someone experiencing dementia can deepen our understanding of self-sacrificing love. Dr. Dunlop gives reference to Bible verses throughout the book.

In the last chapter of the book Dr. Dunlop discusses end of life issues. I greatly appreciate the explanation of decisions that may need to be made. He offers wise counsel and demonstrates his faith in God’s eternal plan.

I enjoy sharing books that have been a blessing to me. If you found this post helpful you might enjoy  my Facebook page  where I post articles  related to family and health.

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire,  Booknificent Thursday and Literacy Musing Monday

Our Common Condition & Hope

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday (#FMF) where bloggers write for five minutes about one word. The prompt for today is common. So here we go.

After a tumultuous and divisive election what do we as people have in common?

The Bible shows us these truths.

God loves us.

For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son. John 3:16

We have all sinned.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

We are all offered salvation.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

We have hope through the completed work of Jesus.

Through his grace and mercy we can live a life of love and purpose.

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak and Five Minute Friday

Pregnant Creation: We Have Much to Anticipate!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8: 19 ESV

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.
Romans 8: 19-25 The Message

This statement by the apostle Paul is both striking and encouraging. And it fits the time we are living in.

Over the summer I have been studying the epistle of 1 Peter.   Peter      describes Christians as sojourners and provides instruction for how we are to live. This fall our Pastor will be teaching from Romans and my precept Bible study is on the book of Romans. I am excited to be spending time learning from Paul the essentials of faith in a culture that is    hostile.

We need grounding from the Word of God and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Then we can shine the light of truth, pointing to Jesus.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday,  Thankful ThursdayChristian Blogger and Word of God Speak

Hope Shared by Women Around the World at TGCW16

Yellow Rose-Hope

What is better than singing praise to God with 7,200 women? The only thing I can think of, is praising God with all of the redeemed in heaven. It was so good to be at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last week. Women from all 50 states and 38 countries were in attendance.

Each of the speakers focused on a portion of 1 Peter. Over the course of three days they taught all the way through this epistle. Some of the terms that come up in this book are: sojourners,  exiles,  royal priesthood,  God’s people. One of the threads running through the book is suffering and persecution. The other is a living hope!

Peter begins his letter with these encouraging words:

According to God’s great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.    1 Peter 1: 3-5

God keeps us in his sight! I am memorizing these verses.

Throughout each day Keith and Krysten Getty led us in worship.  They introduced songs that are on their newly released CD,  Facing a Task      Unfinished. One of my favorite songs is, He Will Hold Me Fast. God is faithful and will keep His people in his care.

Jen Wilkin’s message touched a sweet spot. As Christians we are called to give the message of God’s love that offers new life. She compared our Christian role to that of midwife and lactation consultant. Our desire is to nurture growth in new believers.

Peter has instruction for women. And it includes the word submission. We may have trouble with this word, but the truth is that God gives us guidance for relationships. God provides order for healthy relationships. I was a little slow in learning this lesson. My husband and I have a good relationship, but it could have been better sooner.  We disagree and     argue from time to time but we communicate better when I show him respect.

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3: 5-6

At the conference I heard that last phrase and paused. Do not fear anything that is frightening. God invites us to trust him completely. I do not have to fear the outcome of the current election—but I will participate in the process as a citizen of this country.

The first epistle of Peter applies to the current time. I encourage you to read through 1 Peter. You can also listen to the messages given at the conference. The sessions are available on-line. Click here.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Word of God Speak,  Faith Filled Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  Whole Hearted Home  and  A Little R & R

Lily of the Valley and a Song on My Heart

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is blooming in my backyard. I saw the delicate bell shaped flowers when I returned from a visit with my mother. She was placed in a nursing home last week.

The transition to the nursing home is a huge change. New environment. New people. Changing shifts for caregivers. Physical therapy. Occupational therapy. It is not surprising that she is exhausted.

On Sunday morning I wheeled her to the hymn sing taking place in the activity room. We joined a circle of wheel chairs. Favorite hymns were played on the sound system and the words to the lyrics appeared on a large screen. At first Mom was nodding off.

I took her hand and clasped it in mine. Her hand was cool and soft. Gradually she returned the clasp. She looked up and began to softly song the words to hymns that she remembered. One of the hymns was “The Lily of the Valley” by Charles W. Fry (1881).

I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

I have a vase filled with stems of lily of the valley on my kitchen table. This song continues to play in my heart as I pray for Mom.

lily-of-the-valley-arrangement

These verses in Revelation give hope and comfort. Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star.

Behold, I am coming soon . . .
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. Revelation 22: 12a, 16

Linking with Thought Provoking Thursday,  Us, Coffee & Jesus,  Let Us Grow,  Word of God Speak,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Wednesday

Hope of the Gospel Overcomes Shipwreck

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

 I am finishing up my study of the book of Acts,  and I can see how    Isaiah’s declaration applies to Paul.    Several times in Acts, Luke      describes Paul’s call to Rome—and his determination to go there to testify. After being imprisoned in Caesarea for two years he is finally on his way to Rome, by ship. They are traveling in a season not favorable for sailing. He and the 275 other people on board the ship are shipwrecked.  God protects them and they are treated well by the  people of Malta. They wait out the winter there. Luke, the physician, was with Paul and recorded the journey to Rome in the 27th chapter of Acts.

Shipwreck
Painting by Bonaventura Peeters

Matthew Henry comments on chapter 27 with these words:

No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help, always at hand.

The work that God had prepared beforehand for Paul was to proclaim the message of the gospel.  Acts 9:15 states this about Paul:   he is a  chosen instrument of mine [of God] to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul was called to proclaim the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in Rome. He was to tell people about God’s offer of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get distracted by world events and by tragedies in our    nation. Why are Christians being beheaded?  How did we ever get to the point that medical research seeks baby parts from abortion      clinics? Why did Justice Scalia die now? In some sense our nation is in a shipwreck.

The words from Isaiah and the example of Paul are a great encouragement. Paul was not deterred by the execution of James and or by his own imprisonments.

Even though storms come up, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. God’s word will not return empty. I may stumble but He is faithful to help. We live with a precious hope. May we bring God glory.

ID-100158346

Linking with Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Lovely Aroma in a World of Conflict

A Sweet Aroma
Last rose in my garden

Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.

Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.

It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth.  Every life is valuable.  God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.

As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of            salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.      Acts 4:12

The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.       Act 4:29

Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our    attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has     given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to       embrace these practices.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the        knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are     perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.

Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayWholeHearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every SeasonWords with Winter,  Sharing His Beauty,  Sunday Stillness,  Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

Beauty in His Grip Button

Gardens of Hope

Phlox

During the past week I returned to Detroit. (The first 12 years of my life I lived in Detroit.) I was shocked to drive though a community with abandoned and burned out houses. And yet there is hope and a passion for life here.

I visited Brightmoor and I was treated to a walking tour of the community gardens. Amid abandoned homes the gardens are a vibrant sign of hope. As I talked with people that work on the gardens, I learned a little more. I tasted the salad herb, purslane, and ground cherries.

One family was putting in a rain garden in their front yard. The plants and flowers have deep roots that can absorb a lot of water from saturated soil, preventing overflow in the sewage system. The people of Brightmoor are enthusiastic about protecting and restoring the neighborhood. Perseverence. Passion. Hope.

I had much to think about on my way home. It was a nice break in driving to  stop at a farm market. I bought some blueberries, peaches and tomatoes. (Michigan is a great place to get blueberries!)

At home I have flowers, berry bushes, herbs and a few vegetables—and weeds. We have had a lot of rain this year which has been great for my plants and also for the weeds. When I go out to work on my garden patches I lose track of time. As I work I have time to sort out my thoughts. I have been thinking about gardens.

We have a deep place in our heart that receives refreshment from a garden. God has created us that way.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. Genesis 2: 8 -9a

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy the refreshment of one. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take a walk at a botanical garden. It provides a great opportunity to learn about plants. When I visit a city on vacation I look for their botanical garden. Chicago, Phoenix AZ and Albuquerque NM have wonderful gardens.
  2. Spend a morning at a local farmer’s market, seeing all the produce. Sometimes they have flowers, too. Talk with the farmers. You never know what you might learn.
  3. Plan a garden for next year.

Pink PhloxLinking with Thought Provoking ThursdayA Little R & R,  Wildcrafting WednesdayWords with Winter, Roses of Inspiration,  Sunday Stillness,  Friendship Friday and Grace & Truth