Holiday Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

caregiving holiday

The holidays offer an extra level of stress for Alzheimer’s caregivers. The hustle and bustle of the season adds confusion to already challenging caregiving priorities.

The following tips can help minimize anxiety for your loved one with Alzheimer’s:

Minimize rearrangement of furniture to accommodate your Christmas tree and decorations.

Changing physical surroundings for those with dementia can cause confusion. Stacking gifts can create hazards for tripping. Even small decorations can be confused for candy or food and be eaten by someone with dementia. Brightly colored, twinkling lights can also cause confusion.

Keep the number of house guests to a minimum.

People love to help, so don’t be shy about asking friends to sit with your loved one so you can attend a special event. As much as you’d love to have Grandma at a special function, it might not be best for her to attend. Crowds and noise are very difficult for those with Alzheimer’s to handle; the confusion agitates them.

And if the event is in your home, keep the guest list to a minimum for your loved one’s sake.

Alter your loved one’s routine as little as possible.

People with Alzheimer’s thrive on routine. Sundowning is one of the most challenging symptoms of dementia–worsening of cognitive and physical challenges in late afternoon and evening hours. It was always a high priority for me to get my mother home before four in the afternoon. That was the time of day when she became most combative and uncooperative.

We may think our loved one might enjoy an evening Christmas pageant or lovely candlelight service. But the truth is that crowds, noise, lights, unfamiliar faces, and even multiple conversations can overwhelm those with demential and Alzheimer’s. Their brains can no longer handle complex processing.

Make time for simple things.

Plan for down time with your loved one. Read a book together. Sing carols. Enjoy an afternoon of holiday baking–even if it means using store-bought dough.

Make simple ornaments or cards or watch It’s a Wonderful Life and share a bowl of popcorn

Read the Christmas story or use the figures from a creche to talk about the events of the first Christmas.

Christmas will be more meaningful if you take time to slow down and soak in the true significance of love, sacrifice, mercy, and forgiveness.


I’d love to hear a favorite Christmas memory about your loved one.

Six Ways to Listen for God to Speak


For nearly a year, I’ve been praying for God’s clear direction.

Health problems have drastically changed my life in many ways–my physical and mental abilities, relationships, finances, sleeping and eating habits, how I shop, even whether or not I can leave my house to sit through a movie or go to a crowded restaurant,

It’s been a frustrating yet blessed year. I’ve waited month after month after month, praying for specific answers to specific questions about my “new” life.

Sometimes answers have come. Other times they have not.

These are a few simple things I’ve learned about listening and waiting for God to speak.

  • Read the Bible (Hebrews 8:10-11).

I can almost hear you saying, “Duh.” Everyone says, “Read the Bible.”

Maybe that’s because we don’t always do it–at least to hear what God wants to say to us and not to proof-text our opinion or rationalize our behavior.

When I was in college, the guy I’d been dating for more than a year broke up with me. In a very painful way. Like most college girls, I thought I was going to die. I dove into the Bible searching for all the reasons God should force my boyfriend to come back to me.

Even though he’d made a very obvious choice to move on.

Thank God, he doesn’t always give us what we ask for or force his opinion on us. Fast forward, and I’ve been married for nearly forty years to the greatest guy in the world. God didn’t give me what I wanted back in college. He had a better plan.

What he offered in Scripture was the promise that he was enough in the tough times of my life.

  • Seek counsel from people of God (Proverbs 11:14).

Wise people. People who’ve rode out the storms of life with God for many years.

God to church–no don’t just go, become part of a healthy, active, transparent body of believers. Root yourself in Bible study with them. Learn from their mistakes and their victories. Let them into your life and open your heart to their counsel. God created us for community.

  • Listen for the voice of the Spirit of God (I Thessalonians 5:19-21).

God wants to speak to each of us personally. He does this primarily through his Word and the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. The Spirit of God often moves through promptings, but his voice is always consistent with the Word of God. The moving of the Spirit will be confirmed by the Word of God, God’s people, and wisdom.

  • Wait for confirmation. (Matthew 18:16).

If respected fellow believers caution you against a decision, regard their counsel seriously. The Spirit of God oftenl confirms God’s direction in the lives of fellow believers.

  • Evaluate circumstances and timing (Acts 18:1-3).

The friendship between Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul became one of the most important relationships in the New Testament, Yet, it seems to have occurred because of random circumstances.

One of the most important relationships of my life came into being because of a miraculous convergence of circumstances. God often works behind the scenes. We need to be attentive and discerning.

  • Don’t act until you experience God’s peace (Colossians 3:15). 

Just a few weeks ago, Dan and I were advised that I return to Mayo Clinic to carry out the next segment of my medical treatment. Doctors in my home town felt that the best and most appropriate care for my condition would be found at Mayo.

Dan and I refused the recommendation of my neurologist, and we’ve experienced God’s peace in our decision.

While Mayo Clinic may have been a good choice for others in my position, it was not a good decision for me. God has confirmed it in subsequent conversations, in timing in my being scheduled in an alternate clinic, in the counsel of others, and in the peace we’ve felt in our decision.

I’m overwhelmed that God desires to speak to me–personally–about the details in my life. He WANTS to talk to me. May I long more and more to listen for his whispers in my life.

What about you? Share you experience with us. We’d love to hear from you. 

Four Reasons Why I Don’t Blame God


Yesterday my dishswasher died.

I wasn’t surprised. As near as I can figure, my ancient Whirlpool was about the same age as Betty White but without the classic good looks. Because we’re frugal (another word for usually broke) my husband Dan and I never buy new appliances until they gasp, writhe, and spill their guts all over some part of our house.

Dan made a valiant attempt to fix our Whirlpool when it stopped whirling and the water only pooled in a murky blue sludge at the bottom of the machine. He ended up with a cut finger that bled through double bandages for three days while I worried that he’d need some new form of tetanus shot.

Long story short, no, his bloody attempt to fix the dishwasher was less than a success.

So we’ve been washing dishes in our household. Dishwashing is a tricky task to try to manage while holding cane and attempting to ignore the cramping in your legs and back.

I’ll admit I was a discouraged when I realized one more thing in our house was broken (not counting my body).

But the feeling passed. I don’t blame God for the demise of my dishwasher, and I haven’t blamed him for my health problems, relationship problems, financial problems, or even the abuse people I love and I have experienced in our past.


1. God created a perfect world for us, and we messed it up.

God created a perfect world and free access to Himself. Adam and Eve were given freedom of choice and chose sin. They chose to put themselves above God’s interests and best for them, and humanity has followed in their footsteps every day since. We are sinners by birth, choice, and generational curse.

We are responsible for the hurt, abuse, evil, and lack of stewardship of God’s creation that messed up the world.  

So when something breaks, don’t blame God. When someone hurts you, don’t blame God. He gives us the freedom to cooperate with His divine, perfect plans or not.

2. I can’t expect justice or fairness in this world. 

Scripture is clear that since Satan’s instigation of evil on earth, he is the “god” or “ruler” of this earth:  “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 14:30). His limited power is because of God’s permission, and for now Bad often wins over good. But Satan was defeated by Jesus’ victory on the cross. The final victory over sin and evil belongs to Him.

For this reason, I don’t have to fight for my rights here on earth. I don’t have to worry about getting what I think I deserve. Jesus has already won those things for me. I’ll even have the opportunity to crush Satan’s neck beneath our feet one day (Romans 16:20).

3. I must be committed to perspective.

This means, above all, a biblical perspective–aligning my attitude and desires with Scripture. Sure, I want a new dishwasher, and I’d really like one now. I can even conjure up lots of reasons why I deserve one (so-and-so has one, I’ve had a tough year, I have a stinky chronic illness, and media tells me I won’t be happy until I have what I want).

But really people, that’s a load of horse pucky. The truth is, Dan and I live on a budget, what others have has nothing to do with what I need, and I need to be a good steward of my resources.

Needs and desires are two different things. 

My son-in-law spent years as an abandoned child raising himself in a Jamaican jungle. Soon after authorities found him when he was eight, he was struck by a truck and taken to a public hospital where he was left without an advocate in despicable conditions. Yet he grew up to earn multiple degrees and become a caring husband and father.

When asked to go out for an to a movie in the U.S. that will cost $40, not counting gas and dinner, he looks at the expenditure differently than Americans. He recognizes that the cost of a single movie represents many meals to friends and relatives back in Jamaica. Or the price of school uniforms and shoes for children hoping to go to school.

My son-in-law has a different perspective on needs and desires, and his values shape his choices.

4, Our values as Christians must shape our choices. 

  • Gratitude that compels giving
  • Sacrifice that compels service.
  • Love that compels mercy.
  • Grace that compels beauty of spirit.

So today I’ll head to the sink to wash the dishes. I’ll look out the window at the beautiful field behind my house. I’ll listen to a little worship music or maybe pray for some of you. Dishwasher or no dishwasher, it will be a good day.

What about you? What advice can you share with us about not blaming God?


Gratitude in Suffering


For more than fifteen years, I’ve experienced dizziness, nausea, pain, headaches, weakness, along with dozens of other symptoms. I’ve seen well over fifty doctors in hospitals all over the country. I’ve developed multiple lesions in my brain stem that have rendered me unable to walk, sit up, or stand. This past December I had brain surgery.

Even the doctors at Mayo Clinic declared me to be a neurological puzzle.

This week I received a diagnosis. The emotion was overwhelming.

I couldn’t have made it through these years of frustration without the support of many people.

People who never wavered or stepped away from my side for a moment. People who never questioned the reality of my symptoms. People who didn’t shame me for slowing down and stepping back.

People who sat beside me, wept with me, held my hand, cleaned up my vomit, brought meals, helped with our bills, prayed with us, asked the right questions at the right times and were sensitive enough to know when silence was a gift.

Friends who did not judge, but allowed me and continue to allow me to work through sorrow, grief, confusion, pain, and suffering as a lifetime journey with illness.

  • Thank you to Dan, who supported me every moment and never wavered. You are the most amazing husband in the world.
  • Thank you to my children and their spouses, who loved and supported me unflinchingly.
  • Thank you to my dear friend Wanda, who has helped with household chores, cooking, and sat beside me in the pain.
  • Thank you to those who have sacrificed, given, prayed, cooked, and done so much to support me. Thank you, Blythefield family. I don’t have words to express my gratitude for my church.

This journey has been hard. I have cried many tears, and I’m sure there will be more ahead. At times I have felt abandoned, angry, and confused. Even Jesus cried out to God in His suffering. Faith doesn’t require emotionless stoicism.

God’s goodness still overwhelms me.

My mind will never be able to comprehend His goodness and love. Love so great that He allowed all of humanity–including me–to heap our sins upon His Son. Love so intimate that He is with me snd never leaves my side in my suffering.

I pray I never forget to be grateful, that I never cease to see the Love that envelopes my life, even in sickness, suffering, and pain. And that I never stop pointing people to God’s goodness and greatness.

But gratitude does not come automatically–especially when everything inside us screams out, “Why me?”

  • So I choose my focus.I must stay grounded in the Word of God by choice, not because my emotions lead me there or my body wants to get up earlier in the morning for my devotional time. This choice requires discipline and commitment.
  • I choose my attitude. I check my self-talk and stinkin’ thinking, then repent. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of repentance that is followed by walking in grace. The two are linked in a daily cycle.
  • I choose my words. I’m called to look like Jesus to those around me–the phlebotomist who is trying for the sixth time to place an IV in my painful arm or the telemarketer who woke me up. I also choose the self-talk I allow because my thoughts are the control center of my mind and heart.


What about you? How do you find gratitude in suffering? 

The Golden Rule: Moving from Hurt to Healing


Over the past five years or so, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside bullying expert Brooks Gibbs. Brooks’ approach to bullying centers around The Golden Rule, a biblical principle for conflict resolution. Simply stated,

Treat people who hurt you the way you’d like to be treated when you mess up.

With grace and mercy.

Sounds simple, but living out The Golden Rule can be the hardest thing we ever do.

Our first reaction is to hurt people back when they hurt us. (Or to fixate on ways we’d like them to suffer, often while we try continue to act spiritual). Like the time somebody slid into my dad’s parking space, so he waited for them to go into the store, then let the air out of their tires.

My dad.The church board chairman.

We all fight the desire to be air-letter-outers. We’re all the same: self-centered sinners.

Over the past few months, I’ve been deeply hurt by friends. I’ve wanted to hurt back, but that emotion is always my first clue that I need to look at my motives, my goals, and truly be conformed to the image of Jesus. Faith alone won’t make me like Jesus, 2 Peter 1:3-8 describes the process: faith + knowledge (not information, but a piercing of my heart that changes my behavior) + virtue (I partake in Jesus’ divine nature) + steadfastness + godliness = brotherly affection and love.

When I seek God’s kingdom first, my heart is compelled by His grace and mercy.

On Sunday I ran into one of the friends I felt had hurt me. I hadn’t spoken to her in months. I’m sure she felt I’d hurt her as strongly as I felt she’d hurt me.

She brushed my arm as she passed me. I turned to her and told her I loved her and missed her, which was so very true.

Treating others the way we want to be treated when we’re hurt compels us to act lovingly.

So how do we this?

  1. Focus on God’s love for us.
  2. Remind ourselves of our goal: to become like Jesus.
  3. Submit to the Word of God and the moving of the Spirit.
  4. Commit to small steps.
  5. Move when the Spirit of God speaks to us.

Living out 2 Peter 1: 3-8 and The Golden Rule helped me move from hurt to healing,

But it required me to lay down my stubborn pride, lean into a hug and tell an old friend I loved and missed her. It meant looking into her eyes and meaning what I said. It meant giving up the lie that I had a right to carry a grudge because I don’t?

What about you? What helps you move from hurt to healing?



Porn, Pastors, and Cultural Needs in the Church

med-1044-depressionAccording to a report filed by Mira Oberman for Yahoo News on September 11, 2015, a U.S. pastor committed suicide six days after his name was exposed by hackers of the Ashley Madison website.

Unfortunately, this tragic news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who understands the realities of an imperfect church.

Reverend Jonathan Pearson, Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church and co-creator of,  states:

“Pornography is the most pervasive and destructive issue facing our generation today.”

We live in a society saturated with sensual images. These images have invaded our homes through print media such as newspapers, magazines, the Internet, cable TV, and  network TV. Advancements in technology have led to pornography being more accessible today than it has ever been. Porn can be accessed easily by any web enabled cell phone.

Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of men and 25% of women within the church are addicted to Internet pornography. This includes, pastors, who are afraid to bring their secret into the light for fear of being fired from their positions or shamed as failures.

But churches need to be places where we can share our brokenness and find restoration, accountability, and healing.

1. People, including staff, should publicly talk about brokenness and how they found healing and restoration.

2. Pastors can create cultures of transparency by talking about their own lives.

3. Pastors should preach about sex and sexually related topics.

4. The church should equip parents to talk to their kids about sex and how to teach their kids about sex. This goes far beyond the “sex talk” and should begin before kids hit ten. Sex education today must include culturally relevant topics like sexual identity in an era of sexual confusion.

5. Pastors should encourage accountability and use of Internet filters, such as Covenant Eyes.

6. Pastors should encourage counseling, and whenever possible, include qualified Christian counselors a part of church staff.

7. The church should encourage spouses to share passwords to all computers, tablets, phones, etc.

For seven steps on how to integrate teaching on sex in your church, CLICK HERE.

Tributes to John Gibson poured in from students and faculty who remembered him as a kind, generous man who repaired students’ vehicles in his spare time.

“John was a popular member of our the college faculty,” seminary president Chuck Kelley said in an obituary posted on the school’s blog.

“He was particularly known for his acts of kindness to the seminary family. He was the quintessential good neighbor.”

Into the Light Miistries offers resources, including seminars and  for those within the church who are struggling with porn addiction. For more information contact also offers resources such as She’s Somebody’s Daughter, a music video that addresses the topic of pornography. Watch a clip HERE.

Simple Ways to Make Someone’s Day

make today countI just spent three days in the hospital. Not my favorite thing to do.

But I had a choice about what to talk about and the attitude I could take.

We all do–every day–no matter where we are.

I love to catch other people off guard, make them smile, or bless them in some small way.

It’s free–doesn’t  cost me a thing. And I find myself blessed by the smiles and thanks I receive in return.

Here are my five favorite ways to make someone’s day:

1. Tell someone how wonderful they look, what a beautiful smile they have, or comment on their eyes or their hair.

I love doing this because people so seldom receive positive comments from total strangers who just want to encourage them.

2. Share five dollars or a great meal with a homeless person.

I live in Michigan, and in the winter months, I like to stock my back seat with gloves, socks, blankets, and sandwiches to hand out as I’m driving through town. I also occasionally hand out cash or fast food gift cards.

3. Pay for some’s gas or meal or… something.

I was standing in a pharmacy one day in a facility that serviced many people who are homeless in our community. The man in line in front of me needed heart medication. The total cost was less than $50, but he didn’t have it. I overheard him ask the clerk if he could purchase two pills or three for a few dollars.

I stepped up to the counter. $42 wasn’t going to change my life, but it had the potential to save this man’s life and give him a bit of breathing room. I handed over the cash and thanked God I was paying attention.

We need to pay better attention to hurting people around us.

They’re everywhere–not just on the streets but sitting beside us in board meetings and in front of us in church. It’s our job to look, to listen, and to reach out.

To have eyes that see like Jesus and hearts that beat as His.

What have you done to encourage someone? We’d love to hear from you.