Heart Full of Thanks — Counting One Thousand Gifts (#357-364)

I read Ann Voskamp‘s post yesterday (March 5, 2012) about “getting out of your comfort zone.”  This could mean a lot of things to many people, and it stopped me dead in my tracks.  My husband and I had just returned from a week of ministering to his brother and sister-in-law.  Jim and Helen are coping, most days, with Jim’s Parkinson’s.  But it’s not as simple as having Parkinson’s — Jim has a rare form known as Parkinson’s with Lewy body dementia.  And the dementia is the worst part of his disease.

We see them about once a month or more often as they’re five hours from us.  Each time we see distinctive changes in Jim’s cognition and behavior.  We are losing him, slowly we’re losing him.  The person he has always been to us is disappearing.  Here’s where Ann’s post grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me.

A night or two this past week I sat up with Jim.  His sleep is so disrupted that sometimes he’s up as many as six times an hour.  During this time, he slept some but also wanted comfort.  I’ve never held my brother-in-law’s hands.  That night I realized how much they are like my husband’s hands.

It occurred to me that this insidious disease could have come to my husband, and it could have been him I was caring for.  My thoughts circled around that it would be easier to care for and comfort my husband — it just seemed more natural.

But obviously God has decided to draw me outside my comfort zone and give comfort and care to those with whom I haven’t been quite so intimate.  I’m learning through prayer and meditation to see myself as Jim’s sister, not sister-in-law, and it helps.

So many gifts to lift gratitude for:

357.  Jim’s life as we have known it previously.
358.  The doctors specializing in his illness and providing care.
359.  Helen’s commitment to Jim and his care.
360.  The love I see passing between my husband and his brother.
361.  Acceptance as one who can give Jim care and comfort.
362.  God’s Word to shore us all up.
363.  Prayers of many good friends.
364.  Safe travel to and from Jim and Helen’s.

I hope you’ll join us at A Holy Experience to count God’s gifts to you.  We’ll be watching for you.

Photo credit:  www.careconfidently.com

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4 thoughts on “Heart Full of Thanks — Counting One Thousand Gifts (#357-364)

  1. Oh my gosh, Sherrey. That is exactly the "disease" my beloved brother-in-law, my age, had. He died at age 67. Then a year and a half later his wife, my beloved YOUNGER and ONLY sister passed away from complications of a blog clot that then involved her lungs and her diagnosis was pulmonary hypertension. Don't know what happened to the long-life genes in our family that I inherited and she obviously didn't. But I do believe there is A Plan for each one of us. She, too, like your brother-in-law's wife, ministered to her husband through his trial; and then a daughter (one of her eight children) ministered to HER. Like you, I can make a list of blessings regarding all of this. God bless you and your family! (p.s. I just sent you an email regarding a guest post.)Ann Best, Memoir Author of In the Mirror & Imprisoned

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  2. Ann, thanks so much for sharing your own family's experience with this disease. How tragic that your brother-in-law died so young, and that your sister didn't live very long afterwards. Very often caregivers ignore their own health in favor of caring for their loved one. My husband's family is long-lived, and mine moderately so. I agree there is A Plan for each of us. And I send God's blessings to you and yours.

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  3. Sherrey I pray that out of the ashes of disease and brokenness will rise beauty fashioned by God's hands. It's miraculous to me how God can work out his love and nature in human hearts, how he asks us to partner with him in amazing acts of service. I pray that caring for you brother-in-law will be holy ground.

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  4. Beck, thank you for that prayer. We are committed to doing God's will in this situation, and your prayer for beauty and holy ground will certainly keep us focused in that direction.

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