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Never Give Up. God Is With You.

15 Jan

It’s been a rough 72 hours. For me writing is therapeutic and allows me to step back and examine circumstances in a way that often leads me to answers and makes me get out of the way and let God be God. The most exhausting days are the ones where I must combat an issue that I don’t understand and seems to have no answer. The process looks something like this when I am dealing with an issue re. my mother’s health and wellbeing. For me prayer is not a last step, but a first and a continuous one. Talking with nurses and doctors who have no answers is frustrating. Searching the internet and finding 309,497,832,754 different solutions that make no sense or are inapplicable to someone in Mom’s condition is frustrating. Getting no sleep overnight night after night is exhausting. It is at these times that I think of the millions of caregivers who are going through similar experiences who feel alone, abandoned, isolated, and hopeless and then I feel God’s presence most. I become thankful for my circle. My understanding deepens of Dad repeatedly saying, “I am alive and grateful” and Mom repeatedly saying, “We’ll see what the Lord will do”.  I am filled with gratitude in the midst of the situation and reminded that God is bigger than anything I experience. That alone is enough to keep me going. I pray that God fills my fellow caregivers with wisdom, strength, support, the right people, the right information, and boldness to address whatever the day brings. I say this pray for all of us. God is with us and we must never give up. I usually follow this up with journaling in some form and then evaluating what I have written and searching for an insight that gives me what I need to move forward. Some circumstances require that I go through this cycle repeatedly and that’s OK. The thing that often plays over and over in my head throughout this process, Never Give Up. God is with me. As a caregiver, this is fundamental to my ability to keep going when I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, scared, confused, or whatever…and there are a lot of “whatever” moments!

NEVER GIVE UP. GOD IS WITH YOU! I pray that this also helps someone get through whatever life is throwing at them.

Sidenote: As I write this, my mother has had a much needed break from coughing and is sleeping. YAY!!!

We’ll See What the Lord Will Do

5 May

Whenever closing a conversation where the ultimate conclusion was yet to be determined, my mother was sure to say, “We’ll see what the Lord will do.” She said this so often that almost everyone who knows her ends up using this phrase from time to time. As we journey through the late stages of Alzheimer’s with Mom, I find myself saying it often.

I’m not sure how others move through this part of the journey but my family and I are fully leaning on God’s everlasting arms. We are doing our work and moving through these days knowing that ultimately, we will simply see what the Lord will do…and that’s the best and right thing.

Praying for all us on this journey…this winding road…this rollercoaster…this beast called Alzheimer’s.

You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail

Let’s Talk About TRUST, Part 2

17 Mar

Trust God

Are you brave enough to confess that you are afraid to trust God? Are you beat down enough to admit that you are afraid to trust God? Are you afraid to trust God? I confess that I have been, I am, and I am hoping to stop this cycle. Trust has been a major issue for me overall.  As I’ve stated before, my trust issues went into overdrive when my father died suddenly. I clung to the belief for YEARS that God had made an error and was simply too embarrassed to admit it. I can kinda laugh about that whole way of thinking now but there is still a part of me that is open to accept God’s apology for ruining my life! LOL  I let that pain fester and grow into a deep lack of trust for anything that made no sense to me, that could not be documented, or that materialized outside of what I found logical even if not my taste.  All along though I still acknowledged God, loved God, and kinda sorta served God (insert side-eye here).  There is no way to fully serve God without trusting God. There is actually no way to be engaged in a healthy loving relationship with ANYONE without trust.

Trusting God requires passion and commitment. I’m not just trusting God to hold my hand as I cross the street. I’m trusting God to BE THE PATH. I’m trusting God to reveal my future and guide me as I do what God says do. I’m trusting God to be my everything. The trick though is that I have to give up all of my notions of who and how I should be. THAT’S MAJOR! This must be why God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our example. This trusting God thing takes sacrifice and not just giving up Ben and Jerry’s for Lent. It requires giving up your life so that you can live. It requires seeing God in everyone. It requires knowing the will and Word of God. It requires embracing a love that is not always cuddly, but a love that disciplines, that corrects, that cuts to the bone, that sheds blood, that comes with HIGH accountability. That kind of love demands and breeds passion and commitment.  Now that I think about it, the question is not just will I TRUST God, it’s also do I LOVE God. Do I love God enough to TRULY surrender all of me to all of Him?

I Surrender All  – Judson W. Van DeVenter 1896

  1. All to Jesus I surrender,
    All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.

    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
  2. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Humbly at His feet I bow;
    Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
    Take me, Jesus, take me now.
  3. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
    Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
    Truly know that Thou art mine.
  4. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Lord, I give myself to Thee;
    Fill me with Thy love and power,
    Let Thy blessing fall on me.
  5. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Now I feel the sacred flame;
    Oh, the joy of full salvation!
    Glory, glory, to His Name!

Those are some POWERFUL lyrics! In my heart I want these words to be more than a plea. I want them to be a testimony. I want my love for and trust in God to be a complete surrender.  Let’s just marinate there for now

Let’s Talk about TRUST

16 Mar

Trust me

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. There are many reasons for that but we can discuss those later. Today I just wanna talk and hopefully hear back from you.

This whole exploration of trust started here. There is a note in my mother’s medical file that states: “Failure to thrive”…3 little words…just 3 little words. Her doctor mentioned the possibility of cancer being the reason she is failing to thrive. If I didn’t have a tight budget I would have SMASHED my phone to make her and her words disappear. PLEASE NOTE: To those of you reading this who know my mother this is not a confirmed diagnosis. At this point it’s just an exploration of what is causing her “failure to thrive.” The tears came quickly…tears of anger, confusion and fear all at the same time. Have you ever been there? It’s a painful place to be. It’s a lonely place to be. It’s also an easy place to get off track in every way possible. This question quickly came to mind, “Who and what will I trust?” I am a Christian so that question more specifically for me is will I trust God to be God?

THAT IS A HUGE QUESTION!!!

I knew that I needed to run to God but it was more like confront God. I was angry. I wanted to let God know a thing or two about the way my journey is playing out. My prayer time was not focused on miraculous healing for my mother. I have laid her at the altar before God and I am caring for her to the best of my abilities. There is nothing more that I can do than that. God is a healer and that remains true no matter what. I heard or read this recently, “Everyone who God heals also eventually dies!” With that in mind, I was ready to let God have it. Unexpectedly though, my prayer time was not focused on my anger or my list of grievances against God. My prayer time was focused on trust.

The question I wrestled and am wrestling with is will I trust God no matter what? This is not some undefined trust. I’m talking about a trust that shows up as an unconditional yes to whatever God asks of me. A trust that shows up as unconditional and full surrender to God over what I want. A trust that shows up as obedience to God. A trust that shows up as complete, irrevocable, absolute submission to God. I am clear that I’m using words that many like to steer clear of these days. I’m in my 50’s now. My need for popularity and to be one of the cool kids ended a LONG time ago! I want an intimate and powerful relationship with God…a relationship that gives God glory. I want to be a disciple of God. Those  goals require trusting God.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of embracing reality. Today’s challenge was to embrace the reality that God’s will can be and at times will be painful for me. This pain is in direct correlation to my desire to have what I want, the way  want it, when I want it. God’s will is my joy only if I die daily and in Him alone live, breathe and have my being. We get to heavy blowing, running, shouting, dancing, speaking in tongues and whatnot when we declare that. The truth of the strength and courage of  this conviction though is revealed when life smacks you in the face with a brick or your own choices lead you to run at full speed into a brick wall. Well I’ve been smacked and I got angry with God. That anger surprised me. I went all the way back to things that happened in high school and went down the list of the times I felt that God had disappointed me, forgotten me, abandoned me. When I stepped into the Prayer Room today the anger left and I was left to struggle with trusting God. I cried…and I’m still crying. I recited scripture. I talked with God. I heard from God. I listened to music. I sang. I cried some more. The thing that I am most clear about is that my mother will be fine. The work I have to focus on is me and my relationship with God.

It’s not over. I’m still processing. What gets you through your battles in life? How do you let go of anger? How do you turn life’s circumstances into opportunities to grow closer to God? Do you trust God to be God? What does that question mean to you? Let’s pray for each other as we navigate through this thing called life. Let’s talk about trust.

I hope that this song ministers to you as it has to me and countless others…

This Alzheimer’s Journey

13 May

winding mountain path

It has been way too long since my last post. I have let the stresses of being a caregiver get the best of me lately. I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been working out less often. I’ve been eating poorly. I haven’t been sleeping well. My moods have been running amok. It’s time to pull it in.  This is going to be a long one and will be all over the place. Just hold on and go for the ride… 🙂

There is this sense that one should be quiet about Alzheimer’s. There is a stigma or shame that many attach to Alzheimer’s. It is very reminiscent of how we use to whisper the word “cancer” back in the day or just not speak the words “AIDS” or “HIV” (many conversations about AIDS and HIV are still laced with homophobia and judgement but we’ll talk about that in another post).  I REJECT ALL OF THAT COMPLETELY! I refuse to add the weight of  shame and silence to an already overwhelming journey though Alzheimer’s. My mother has a disease that impacts her and everyone involved in her life. There is nothing shameful about this. I am grateful for family and friends who still answer my calls, reply to my texts, wipe my tears, and understand when my silence or harsh words are really a cry for help. I am even grateful for those who don’t really get it, but hang in there with me anyway. Mostly, I am grateful for those who hold me accountable for my words, actions, silence, lack of action and push me to do better, be better, to operate at a higher level and live a life that speaks to my greatness.

For any number of reasons there is also an isolation that comes with Alzheimer’s. This isolation is shared by the patient and the caregiver. It is worsened by this sense that we just shouldn’t talk about it. I believe that not talking about it will kill us. Internalizing and not processing the stress, grief, myriad emotions, frustrations, challenges, joys, triumphs, tears, laughter, and more will kill those of us serving as caregivers before our loved one dies.

Not knowing the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s and the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer’s is another reason why many get diagnosed until advanced phases. For my family, we attributed Mom’s early indicators to aging and her ever evolving broken-heartedness over the loss of her soul-mate.  I embrace that we could not have prevented her from developing Alzheimer’s while also embracing that there are some things we could have done early on in terms of planning and preparing though. (I told you that this was going to be all over the place. LOL)

It was not until I shared the information about my mother’s diagnosis that I learned about the number of people in my life who also had loved ones, spouses, siblings, co-workers, friends, etc. with Alzheimer’s. We never talked about it. If we did talk about it, I was not listening…AT ALL…and I regret that.

Everyday with Mom was baffling in the beginning. I simply wanted her to eat well, recover from knee replacement surgery, and get back to being herself. My delusions may have been bigger than her’s at that point! Then I got angry and that anger led to me getting focused (that’s just what I do when I get angry). I started doing research, reaching out to the Alzheimer’s Association, reading books and articles, subscribing to blogs, following different folks on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, posting on social media, and connecting with other caregivers. I clung and still cling to anything that gives me a sense of control while on this out-of-control journey through Alzheimer’s. Being informed gives me that sense of control that I desperately need. There is a whole world of information, resources, support, and inspiration out there and I try to take in as much as possible. I hope that you do too. We do not have to be uninformed or isolated and we shouldn’t be. I also had to do some things to help me let go and embrace the complete lack of control I have over what is happening to my mother. Faith and trust in God have been a major part of my journey.  Attending church, strengthening my prayer life, meditating regularly, and studying the bible and other writings have been key. Information and Spirituality are my yin yang.

You still with me?  It’ll be over soon. You’ve gotta check out Seth Rogan’s testimony before the Senate too though. I hope you like it as much as I do. 

This Alzheimer’s Journey has taken me through some emotional hills and valleys and lots of twists and turns. It has led and continues to lead to the reexamination and redefinition of relationships, especially my relationship with my mother. As I wrote about earlier, it has also solidified my status as a “daddy’s girl.” I have chosen to let this journey alter the trajectory of my life, career, and finances. My health and fitness journey was kick-started by me realizing I needed to be much healthier if I was going to serve as my mother’s caregiver. This journey has led me to pursue a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. This journey has put me in touch with my anger and helped me heal. This Alzheimer’s journey is profound for the patient, the family, the caregiver(s) and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. It has impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined.

I hope that this post motivates a caregiver to reach out for help on his/her journey. We need help.  We need support. We need each other. This Alzheimer’s journey…

Whew, you survived the ride. Thanks for hanging in there to the end. :-*  I’ll be more focused on my next post…promise.

Delmarie at CMBC's Alzheimer's Awareness Day 2014

My church has started a support group for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s (isn’ t that cool!). We have also started a team for the 2014 Walk To End Alzheimer’s – PG County, MD. Please go to: http://act.alz.org/goto/DelmarieHines to learn more about the walk and to make a tax-deductible donation. All contributions are appreciated. My goal is to raise $5,000 to support patients, caregivers, research, and to find a cure. The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with You and Me!

Daddy’s Girl

6 Jan

Today marks 19 years since my father died. I still mark it as THE WORST day of my life…and my life has not been a bed of roses.

I have never been ashamed to own the label “daddy’s girl” even now in my late 40’s. My role as a daddy’s girl is as present today as it was 19 years ago. My devotion to my father is the driving force behind my decision to serve as my mother’s caregiver. He loved her passionately and completely. As a daddy’s girl, it is my duty, since he is not here to do it himself, to take care of the woman he adored. I recently shared this thought with a friend of mine. At the time, I felt ashamed of feeling this way. Shouldn’t I be taking care of my mother just because she is my mother? Well, the problem with that premise is that Alzheimer’s has basically erased her role as mother from her mind. She knows my name, but RARELY knows that she is my mother. I am most often the lady that takes care of things around the house. At this point, it is at times painful for me to think of her as the woman that raised me. That woman had a bright and quick mind. That woman could juggle the priorities, needs, and wants of a husband, 4 children, a demanding career as a hospital administrator, and the many duties of being a pastor’s wife…Sam Hines’s wife. The woman I am caring for cannot do any of that. What she is, was and always will be though, is my father’s sweetheart. For that reason, even when she is agitated by the mere mention of the fact that she has children, she is treated with great love and care.  It is also powerful that in the midst of every thing that Alzheimer’s steals from my mother it has not put a dent in these three knowings for her: 1) God is real; 2) She loved her husband; 3) Her husband loved her.

Here is the painful part. My mother is at a point where I need to recommit to my commitment to take care of her, even if that means letting go of my role as her primary caregiver. I see this as also the final act of really letting go of my father. THAT’S THE PAINFUL PART. My grief, anger about my father’s death, and love of my father have defined me for almost 20 years. I am aware that being this lost in grief and anger is not what my father would want for me. This is not the way he would want my love for him to play out. He always wanted me to live my best life – a life submitted to God; a life in service to others; a life full of love, joy, laughter, and sacrifice; a life that allowed me to experience how big and great God is; a life where my gifts and talents are known, developed, and demonstrated. That is the ultimate life of a daddy’s girl…if your daddy was Samuel George Hines.

Here are some of his favorite sayings:

1. Reconciliation is not cheap
2. We are Ambassadors for Christ
3. Jesus Christ is Lord
4. We are Image Bearers
5. If you can’t find a role model, BE ONE
6. Still Under Construction
7. Alive and Grateful
I want to end this with the same words that were the last words I spoke to my father before he died. I LOVE YOU, DADDY.

Dads Birthday Collage

Samuel George Hines
April 19, 1929 – January 6, 1995

Putting It Bluntly

22 Oct

It is rare that I wake up at 4:30a and am hyped to go workout (my boot camp, BNFIT, meets at 5:30a – Monday-Friday). It’s the truth and I’m not going to deny it.  At this time of year, it’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s often raining. Not the ideal situation for getting out of my cushy bed, off of my comfy pillows, and from under my warm sheets, blanket, and comforter.  I know I’m not the only one but here’s the thing. I want the results. I want the body. I want the great numbers: BMI, muscle mass, body fat ratio, weight, measurements, cholesterol level, blood pressure, glucose level, resting heart rate, dress size, etc. I want it all to be GREAT!  Pills, powders, surgeries do not bring the long lasting results I’m looking for because the results I want go beyond numbers. I want a better life, a healthier body, a healthy relationship with food, a disciplined relationship with money, and deeper intimacy in my spiritual life.  You just can’t find any of that in a bottle of any kind. I know. I’ve tried. The results I want are the outcome of work, HARD WORK. So here is the truth…the cold hard truth. 

I can’t blame genetics

I cant blame my family, significant other, friends, society, or history

I can’t blame the stresses in my life…and they are numerous.

If I want change, I must suck it up

I must stop eating trash and eat food that nourishes my body

I must drink water…lots of water

I must workout hard…every day

I must sweat…every day

I must push until it hurts and then keep pushing

I must be focused and knowledgeable in my career, my passion for justice, and my pursuit of financial security

I must spend time with God everyday in prayer and meditation

I must read the bible and other books that deepen my knowledge of who God is and who I am.

I’ve got to put in the work to yield the results. That is putting it bluntly.

It’s better to tell yourself the truth, than to have life slam the truth in your face! 

Gotta Keep Working!

HardWork