Help and Encouragement for Spousal Caregivers

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Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth Shulman. She shares her personal story about caring for a spouse with mental illness. While caring for him, she met others caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and learned that many of the challenges are similar. She eventually wrote a Bible study addressing those challenges.

Please click on the book image (left) to learn more about Elizabeth’s Bible study. “Sanctuary in the Midst of Alzheimer’s” is the only Bible study specifically designed to help churches provide support to now the largest group of dementia caregivers – spouses. Experiencing scripture through the lens of personal stories, participants get to ‘walk in the shoes’ of husbands and wives caring for a spouse with dementia. The result is a greater understanding of the caregiver’s role and a deeper empathy upon which an effective ministry can be built. You may visit Elizabeth’s website here.

And now, Elizabeth’s story . . .

I was married for 20 years to a brilliant, kind and loving man who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 12 years into our marriage. The depression related to trying to manage my husband’s behavior and adherence to his medication regime, along with raising four children under the age of 8 was overwhelming. I had sought help from support groups such as those sponsored by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness); however, I did not meet other spouses in these groups, only siblings and parents of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, and their issues and concerns were not the same as mine. My concerns centered on the commitment of marriage, questioning God’s presence in the midst of my turmoil and finding meaning in a relationship where my husband’s ability to function as a spouse, father and professor was dependent upon medication that he would repeatedly discontinue taking because in his mind, “he was fine and did not need it.”

A few years after his diagnosis, I realized we could not depend on his employment at the university as a guarantee for income, and I went back to work as a healthcare chaplain. I eventually became the pastoral care director for a 600-bed skilled nursing facility, and that is where I found my purpose in life that has directed my work the past 14 years.

What inspired me during this time was observing the husbands and wives who came to the nursing home where I worked to visit their spouses in the Alzheimer’s unit. Just to differentiate: Alzheimer’s and many other forms of dementia are a brain disease, whereas, schizophrenia is a mental illness; however, many of the symptoms such as disoriented thinking and speaking, paranoia, personality changes and forgetfulness manifest similarly, and so caregivers of both types of patients may experience comparable circumstances – which is why I identified so strongly with these dementia caregivers!

I will never forget Frank, a husband who visited his wife in the Alzheimer’s unit every day. One day he walked in and found his wife sitting on the couch holding hands with another man, and as Frank walked over to her and introduced himself (she had long since forgotten who he was), she smiled and introduced Frank to “her husband.” I could tell Frank was taken aback from this, but he quickly recovered and when I asked him about this encounter later, he said, “this disease may be robbing my wife of how she is, but it can never take away who she is: my wife and God’s child.”

Frank was just one of many spouses that I met while working in the nursing home. After some time, I began working in hospice and also encountered caregivers whose loved ones still lived at home. Their struggles were often compounded by the physical challenges of caregiving. I discovered that spouses’ approach to caregiving was as diverse as the caregiver. However, most struggled with coming to terms with how they viewed their commitment to marriage and all expressed profound feelings of isolation.

It was during this time that I decided to go back to school for my doctorate. My dissertation was on the experience of marriage for Alzheimer’s patients during which time I reviewed literature and interviewed spousal caregivers. As with the spouses I met in hospice, the theme of isolation came up in every interview, and – probably because I lived in the Bible belt of Tennessee – feeling isolated from their church in particular was a significant issue. In talking with pastors about this, it became obvious that church members wanted to help, but they didn’t know how. So, I used the findings from my research and wrote Sanctuary in the Midst of Alzheimer’s: A Ministry for Husband and Wives Caring for a Spouse with Dementia.

This book can be used many different ways. It is a written in the format of a Bible study using personal stories to guide discussion.  Anyone can lead it because the directions are embedded within the lessons. It is made up of two parts, one section for spouses and the other section for those who want to “walk in the shoes” of spousal caregivers to better understand their needs and discover ways they can provide support. In a church setting, a congregation ideally conducts this weekly program with both groups running simultaneously for 4 weeks, and then in the 5th week both groups come together to create a dementia ministry for their church using information gathered during the previous four weeks.

However, I have found that the parts of the book can be separated and used as either discussion guides for dementia support groups or educational programs for assisted living facilities or other communities that want to provide education as a form of outreach with a spiritual component. Additionally, spouses can go through the spousal section on their own, using it as a personal workbook to help them process their feelings and hopefully, find inspiration.

Jesus’ words, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) has been my foundation as I work with spouses to find meaning in their marriage and to help them make sense of a situation that often makes little sense. I have found that when spousal caregivers are honest about their feelings and their goals for caregiving, it allows them to express their love in the most honest way possible. (For example, when making decisions that they know is best for them and their spouse even if their children or friends disagree.) My hope is that Sanctuary in the Midst of Alzheimer’s will help guide spouses through the difficult terrain of dementia caregiving while also educating others on how they can best support these caregivers. When we are able to love openly, honestly and completely, we truly do experience the freedom that Jesus promises.

Keeping an Eternal Perspective in a Temporal World

This post courtesy of JesusOnLine. I encourage you to visit their site to read other posts and learn more about their ministry.


One of the greatest challenges for Christians is maintaining an eternal perspective.

Life goes by so quickly. And yet we often get caught up in the day to day tasks and forget that we are not promised tomorrow.

James 4:14 refers to the human life as a vapor: it appears for a while and then vanishes.

Perhaps if we remembered this truth we would have an easier time also remembering our purpose on earth.

Life isn’t about accumulating money, power, or fame. Life’s about fulfilling God’s purpose for us. We must focus, therefore, on His eternal perspective.

Colossians 3:2 tell us, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

Although we live in time now, God created us for eternity. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “[God] has also put eternity in their hearts.” We may live in time, but eternity must be the backdrop of our life. We must learn to live for eternal purposes.

So what is this eternal perspective? What is God’s way? His thoughts that are higher than ours?

An eternal perspective affects our priorities and actions. Here are some of the ways believing and relying on God’s eternal truths will affect your life:

– You will realize that suffering on earth is momentary. 2 Corinthians 4:17 tells us that our afflictions here on earth are “light and momentary” and are “achieving for us an eternal glory” that will far outweigh anything else. In other words, the things we experience here on earth are shaping us and preparing us for eternal life.

– You will find it easier to love others. Every soul is eternal, and each is in desperate need of knowing God and his mercy. When this is at the forefront of our mind it helps us extend love and mercy to those around us. The way we relate to others is inevitably influenced when we believe that eternal closeness or separation from God hangs in the balance.

– You will not be fearful. People are afraid of many things, and especially of death. But 1 John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love and that perfect love drives out fear. We have perfect love from our Savior. It was through his perfect act of love on the cross that sin, suffering, and death was defeated (1 Cor. 15:55-57). He has made available to us eternal life. This means we no longer have to be fearful of anything, not even death. God wants us to embrace and embody the love he has extended to us.

In what ways can you reflect on God’s eternal truths today? How will it change how you think and act? Remember, though heaven and earth pass away, God’s truth will never disappear (Matt. 24:35).

Are You Hopeful or Hopeless?

Are You Hopeful or Hopeless?

Guest blogger: Mark Goodman

In a song from Les Miserables, Fantine mourns her shattered dream.  Weeping, she sings:

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

And later:

Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Everyone reading this has lost a dream to the strangling grasp of life.  What dream did you bury?  What dream do you continue to exhume?

On a now-famous day in August of 1963, a man well-familiar with personal pain and shattered dreams stood before a crowd of thousands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared his dream.  Later he still held to that dream as he evidenced in the words from 1967 that we now hear:

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.  And so today I still have a dream.

This week marks the beginning of the Advent season, a time of expectant waiting.  We imagine what it was like for the Hebrew people awaiting the Messiah’s arrival and we experience our own wait for the Lord’s return.  Today we focus on the Hope of Advent. 

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so beautifully stated, hope is indeed “that courage to be.”

I want to point you in the right direction in which you can choose to travel and to the journey along which you will discover the sources of Hope from which come strength as you tap into them.

Like the Oz-bound brainless Scarecrow pointing in all directions, shared opinions, spoken philosophies, and a plethora of spiritual teachers will steer you toward a hope found in self-actualization and/or the true fulfillment of your inner being.  For the follower of Christ, however, the only true guidance comes from Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  This Christ spoke all things into being, including the Word of God as found in the New and Old Testaments.  Let us, then, turn to the Old Testament to find the map for our journey toward Hope.

1 Hear my prayer, LORD;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
3 For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
5 In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.

Psalm 102:1-7
 (1984 NIV)

Withered heart, vanishing days, no appetite for food – the situation appears hopeless.  Yet (oh yes, yet), the afflicted man dares raise his eyes to take in the wider view of life.  There his eyes or, perhaps more so, his spirit found a profoundly delightful focus.  God came near.

25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”

Psalm 102:25-28
 (1984 NIV)

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, wrote:
“Hope is hope for infinite Hope.”

Notice the capitalization of the last “H” in the sentence.

To push “shift” as one types that last word’s first letter, is to recognize that hope, in order to last, must claim God as its source, motivation and destination.

In 1626, from the pulpit of the immense and magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the English poet and pastor John Donne proclaimed the following words about death on Christmas Day, of all times.  I am glad he did.

Others die as martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr.  He found Golgotha (where he was crucified) even in Bethlehem where he was born.  For to his tenderness then, even the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as his cross at last.  His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day.  (Hendrix 53)

While I am quite sure that Jesus the newborn child did not formulate thoughts of the cross while still in the manger, I do know that when the soldiers led Him up to Golgotha, it was no surprise to Him.

Ultimately and immediately, you will discover Hope if you will look forward to the Lord’s return and will look backward to see His willingness to die.

Works Cited
Hendrix, John. Celebrate Advent Worship and Learning Resources. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1999.

_______________________________________________

Many thanks to guest blogger Mark Goodman. You may visit his blog here. He shared this about himself and his family:

 

I have served in Christian Ministry for over 25 years in Texas and Alaska. Since 2008, I have been living in Anchorage, Alaska and serving as the Senior Pastor of Rabbit Creek Church. As a pastor and teacher, my passion is guiding people and helping them in their journey with Christ. I was raised in Arlington, Texas. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from Baylor University and my Master’s Degree from George W. Truett Theological Seminary. I earned my Doctor of Ministry degree from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. My wife, Vonda Kay, and I have three children. All of us love Alaska!

A Must-Read

f3261d54cf0850326b5f38344e90d9feI am on Hal Lindsey’s mail list and receive this email this week. It’s a great overview of prophecy fulfilled in 2018. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it.


January 11th, 2019

At the beginning of each year, it is my practice on “The Hal Lindsey Report” to review the previous year and highlight both major and minor events or developments that I believe have prophetic significance.

This week, I’ll present Part One of “2018: The Prophetic Year in Review.”

At the beginning of his masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

Wow! He could have been writing about the United States of America in 2018. All we ever hear is that it is the worst of times. Reality says that, in many ways, it has been the best of times.

Off-the-charts employment — for all racial groups — and increasing wages. A booming economy as manufacturing returns to the US. “Merry Christmas!” is back. We regularly hear God’s name invoked in public by our top leaders. There has been a resurgence of respect for America’s strength and leadership around the world. In many ways, it seems like America is becoming America again.

Yet 2018 was also a year of constant rage. Especially in the media. There was an uptick in the number of mass killings. Protests turned violent. Political rhetoric burned red-hot. Accusations of harassment, rape, racism, even murder, were flung willy-nilly, often without a hint of real proof. Lives were turned upside down, or ruined, for political gain. America’s moral foundation continued to crumble. Censorship and persecution emerged from the shadows.

But these things were not just limited to the United States. It is happening all over the world. There were record levels of drug use and record numbers of suicides. Political turmoil has become the norm, not the exception, in nations across the world.

In some ways, these developments could describe past years, but there seems to be an increased sense of urgency and anxiety across the world as 2019 dawns. But then, we know to expect that. Jesus warned us that it would be this way as the time of His return to earth approached.

On this week’s program, I will discuss some of those things — many of them downplayed in the media — that contribute to this sense that the world is spinning out of control. I will look at the sinister collusion of the world’s most famous and powerful technology firms as they lay the groundwork for the coming Antichrist.

Two of them, Facebook and Apple, were exposed by the media for their deceptive practices and their collusion with foreign communist and repressive dictatorships. As a result, both of these firms lost massive amounts of value — mind-boggling sums — and have brought the world to the brink of financial catastrophe. Yet the upper leadership of neither firm has been held accountable for those actions. (Probably because they are closely allied with the Left in America and the globalist forces worldwide.)

Jesus warned of increased “pestilence” near the end of this Age of Grace. Throughout the year, I reported on the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” but 2018 also saw an increase in another form of pestilence: computer viruses and cyber warfare malware. And just like a physical virus, they spread exponentially and with increasing speed until stopped. And with the world’s increased — and in some case near total — dependence on computers, these viruses literally put billions of lives at stake.

In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a new generation of nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed missiles. With almost unlimited range and frightening speed, these new missiles ratcheted up the existential threat that Russia poses to the world. Though the initial tests were unsuccessful, near the end of the year, it appears the Russians may have figured out their problems.

Many analysts and military experts are predicting that this may ignite a new Cold War. Undeniably, a new global arms race.

That includes the European Union where its two most powerful leaders are calling for the creation of an Army of Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is promoting the idea so that Europe can protect itself from Russia, China, and… the United States. Apparently, we’ve moved from friend to foe in Macron’s globalist imagination.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. Bible prophecy indicates that the Antichrist will emerge from Europe and, of course, he’ll need his own powerful military machine. As we say each week at the top of the Report: “Yesterday’s prophecies. Today’s headlines.”

In 2018, President Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdrew the United States from the insidious Iran nuclear deal. Of course, the mainstream media (along with former Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama) howled that Trump’s action would ignite a global catastrophe. Further, he had cast aspersions on the integrity of our trusted co-signer to the deal, Iran.

A few months later, Israel validated the wisdom of President Trump’s decision. Israeli agents had discovered the existence of Iran’s “Atomic Archive” in a nondescript warehouse in Tehran. It was a hidden cache of information and documentation of Iran’s attempts to create nuclear weapons.

So they stole it. And hauled it back to Jerusalem. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed it to the United Nations and the world.

The archive confirmed what we all knew, but the Obama administration ignored. Iran’s leaders have been lying all the time. And by agreeing to the deal, we cleared Iran’s path to nuclear weapons and, in a bizarre twist, provided substantial funding. Iran has been exposed to the world and their intentions cannot be denied.

2018 saw the continued coalescing of the three powers that the Bible predicts will someday launch an attack on Israel: Iran, Turkey, and Russia. All three now have a military presence in Syria, on Israel’s northern doorstep.

China has the second largest military budget in the world. Five times greater than the United Kingdom. They are feverishly working to perfect a “railgun.” Using electromagnetism rather than gunpowder or cordite to propel its projectiles, a railgun’s range is significantly greater than conventional artillery. Its projectile travels at five times the speed of sound.

China is also on the cusp of having a working HD1 supersonic, anti-ship missile. It is often described as the “aircraft carrier killer.”

Since the beginning of 2019, China has landed a probe on the dark side of the moon. This indicates that China is deadly serious about its space program. I say “deadly” because China’s paramount purpose for its space program is to destroy US satellites. And the most powerful military machine in the world — the US armed forces — is dangerously dependent on its satellites.

But, as I often observe, Bible prophecy does not appear to indicate a role for the United States in the cataclysmic events leading up to Jesus Christ’s return to this earth. That’s why every threat to America, be it economic, moral, political, or military, must be viewed as prophetically significant.

I’ll discuss all of these developments and more on this week’s broadcast.

Folks, I know I say this often, but things really are heating up! If you’ve not been serious about getting ready to leave this world when Jesus comes back for us, don’t waste another moment! No prophecies remain to be fulfilled before that day happens. He could come at any moment. Get ready!

I’ll continue “2018: The Prophetic Year in Review” next week with Part Two.

Don’t miss this week’s Report on TBN, Daystar, CPM Network, various local stations,www.hallindsey.com or www.hischannel.com. Check your local listings.

God Bless,
Hal Lindsey


mail: HLMM, P.O. Box 470470, Tulsa, OK 74147
email: comments@hallindsey.com

What If?

What if this happens?

What if they do that?

What if I fail?

What if? What if? What if?

God is helping me overcome the “what if’s.” I have a tendency to wonder about the future and picture what I would do “if.” But this is not pleasing to God. He wants me to focus on today. Listen to Him today. Trust that He is already in the tomorrows.

We do not need to fear the future because Jesus is already there. He has it all covered. And when we do the “what if’s” we are not trusting Him. We are looking for ways to handle things ourselves. Instead, we need to remember that God has already taken care of it.

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Walking through the Hallway

2018-10-2How often do we spend today focused on tomorrow? The next job. The next relationship. The next opportunity. And by doing so we miss today. Today’s blessings. Today’s opportunities to make a difference. I think this image says it well.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT