Monday, April 5, 2010

I may need to borrow some mountain climbing gear.

Last week brought some hard news. My mom, who has been struggling with short-term memory issues for well over a year now, received a diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies.

I had never heard of the disease, but apparently it is not rare and is the 2nd leading cause of dementia behind Alzheimer's. Lewy body dementia (LBD) is like a combination of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with progressive degradation of cognitive and motor abilities. There is no cure.

My mom is fairly young for such a disease at age 60. Currently her symptoms are mostly mild (although she has been unable to work for a year due to them), and we hope that the disease will progress slowly for her, but there is no way to know. The average survival rate is 5 to 7 years after symptoms develop with most patients being unable to care for themselves in the last few years.

I spent the first hours after hearing her diagnosis grieving over what may become of my mom's mind and body, grieving over what she has already lost, and fearing the day she will be unable to care for herself.

After the grief came the "I don't want to." And that's basically what I told God. "You know God I'm hearing that you want to lead me down this path with my mom's diagnosis, but I don't want to go!" Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, my mom struggled off and on with manic depression which led her to bouts of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse, so I told God, "You know I think I've paid my dues caring for my mom." "And I have young kids, Lord. I don't want to be a part of the 'Sandwich Generation' caring for both a parent and kids."

But then something else began to wash over me. God allowed me to remember a Beth Moore Bible study I'd done ages ago (Believing God, maybe, sorry I did several of her studies during a 3 year period and am not sure which it came from). She talked about Matthew 17:20, where Jesus says, "if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you." Beth Moore's message was that when God gives you mountains in life sometimes you say "move" and He does, but sometimes He doesn't move it and He wants you to climb that mountain and see Jesus transfigured (as the disciples did in Matt 17:1-21) on top of it!

When I was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) nearly 6 years ago, I definitely went through the "I don't want to" phase and began referring to it as my "reluctant journey" with cancer. But during all the tests and waiting on results and then waiting to repeat the tests over 3 months to see just how bad it was, I got to a peace, a place with God where I could honestly say, "Okay, God, if you want me to climb this mountain, I will, but I am anticipating that I will see you transfigured on the top of it."

As it turned out, God moved that mountain before I even began treatment! He moved it so far off the horizon, in fact, that I don't even have to go in for check-ups with the hematologist.

I am well aware that God can move this Lewy Body Dementia so far from my mom that she, her husband, my brother, and I never have to deal with its ugliness.

But, I also know He may want us to climb that mountain instead, so He can reveal Himself in a huge new way.
Either way I'm trusting Him.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
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  1. your faith is and will continue to help others to see. thank you for holding fast to it and to Him.

  2. Oh...thanks...What beautiful thoughts!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis. But your strength through God is truly inspiring me this morning.

  4. God is faithful and awesome in any circumstance. I'm joining you in praying for healing for your mom; and peace and endurance for all of you.

  5. Your words encourage me today. Deeply.

    He makes Good out of bad. He is a Redeemer.

    I'm so sorry for what your mom and your family are facing.

  6. I am sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis. I do think though that you are soo right though. God CAN move that mountain if He so choses and remove the burden of the journey from you all. But if He doesn't, He will walk with you (pulling when necessary, or even carrying you at times) until you eventually reach the top and the lessons along the way will change you forever. And in the meantime, I love that He understands our desire NOT to make this particular journey. I will definitely lift this all in prayer. Have a GOOD day. Hugs, Debbie

  7. So sorry about the diagnosis, so impressed with your steadfast faith!

  8. You are an amazing woman. Your words have touched me today and your faith is an example for all of us.

  9. Beautiful. And difficult. And scary. When you said, "After the grief came the "I don't want to", I thought, oh yes, I remember that. That was me, the Sunday morning after my daughter was born. I woke up with the weight of grief and fear of what the years might hold for a child with Down syndrome, and I said, "God, I don't want to do this!" But that was a very healing morning. I had a private cry that lasted about an hour before the nurse came in. And it cleansed me, and got me ready for the journey.

    I will pray for you.

  10. I am so sorry to hear of your mother's diagnosis. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers. This was a beautiful post with so much perspective. In fact, it was exactly what I needed to hear in regards to a situation going on in our own family. Thank you for that.

  11. Thank you for sharing. I think we have all been at the foot of the mountain praying for it to go away. Thank you for the beautiful perspective of when it doesn't. May God Bless your mom and her family.

  12. yes, thank you for sharing this.

    i think of the lyrics to a song that say "God move, or move me" i pray His will for you life, and that he is glorified.

  13. your perspective is utterly refreshing. i pray He does miracles in your (and your mom's) life, whether they be of the mountain-moving or the transfiguration variety.

  14. So well put. Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of your journey. Blessings on that mountain...moving or not He'll carry you!

  15. Allison, I'm so sorry to hear that about your mom...and I didn't know about your cancer either! Wow- that's a lot of stuff you've gone through. This is a beautifully worded reflection on the choices we face when challenges and difficulties present themselves. Thank your for your honesty and transparency and for the encouragement in the midst of it all.

  16. You are right, that is from the Believing God study (I know because that study was life changing for me). Early onset dementia's are cruel and unfair but you are right, God is bigger and has the strength for all of you to get through this. Praying for you and your mom!

  17. Sorry for your difficult situation, but you're blessed with the wisdom of where to place your trust no matter where the journey leads ahead.

    When my husband was just getting started in his masters degree in a new town we moved in with and aided in the care of an elderly woman with Alzheimer's for a year.

    She had two children that were dedicated to keeping her in her familiar home for as long as possible. They offered us free rent to have our own space on the 2nd floor as well as a monthly salary. We were the 2nd of 3 couples that lived in her home with her over the span of 5-6 years.

    She had a retired nurse that stayed with her during the day 3 days a week, went to a special Alzheimer's daytime care center the other two days. We were on duty starting at 5pm - 8am the next day. Her son, daughter (both with grown children) and us were on rotation for caring for her on the weekends.

    It was a really neat set-up and I share it with you to give you a glimpse of what is possible with a little creativity if need be.

  18. Oh strength to you , you may indeed need boots. You are very brave and your honesty is refreshing. Lots of love.

  19. I pray that God will strengthen you and give you and your mom courage for the journey ahead. I think I've been reluctant on almost all the journeys that God has sent me on...but as I stepped out in faith it always got easier. Much love to you!

  20. What a sad and difficult time for your family. It is so good to know He has a plan-- a way-- a good thing for you because of this. Praying with you that this mountain will be one of miracles and unexpected blessings for you.

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  22. You have certainly had your mountains to climb, haven't you?

    Lewy body is a roller coaster ride for sure. When the Drs finally diagnose my husband with it 2 1/2 years ago it felt like someone stole all my breath away.

    If you haven't found them on your own I have a few links to support and information on Lewy Body.

    Hang in there. I will add you to my prayer list. Only God WILL get us through. Pushing, pulling or carrying.


  23. "What is there left to fear? Fear has died.
    There's only Your power Lord and Your peace inside.
    What is there left to fear? Fear is gone.
    There's only Your perfect love - it goes on and on.
    This jar of clay, this piece of earth may fall, may fade,
    I can't hold on.
    But somehow through the night I'm letting go of what was already gone.
    The old things fade away,
    And when the morning comes here I am,
    the Lord will bless you and keep you as you put your trust in Him. thank you for your transparency.

  24. Thinking of you, praying for you

  25. I was going to say that I felt the something like it but Kathleen said it so well! God always is there to get you through the rough spots! I thank God everyday that I have with my son (who just happens to have DS).

  26. Sounds like a smart decision to me. I will keep you in my prayers.

  27. You are so right that He can reveal Himself to you in a whole new way. I love that about trials. Ugh, but the trials are so hard. Praying for you and your mom as you deal with this new diagnosis.

  28. I am so sorry you and your family are having to go through this. My mom was 57 when she started having problems and in her early 60s when she was diagnosed with LBD.

    Hang tight to Jesus. He will see you through.

  29. My husband was diagnosed Parkinsons in 1997 when he was 60. In 2005 they diagnosed LBD. He was cared for at home for 11 years, and is now in a nursing home. He still knows recognizes famiy and friends although he has short term memory loss. I also was told it would be 5-9 years, but it's been 13 years. It's a difficult illness.


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