REGIFTED GRACE: The Magazine (Issue Two – May 29, 2019)

Welcome to Issue Two of REGIFTED GRACE: The Magazine, written to strengthen those who encourage others. Are you a caregiver? Do you love someone with a terminal illness, including dementia?

CLICK HERE: http://pub.lucidpress.com/regiftedgraceissuetwo/

REGIFTED GRACE was launched to remind you that you’re not alone, to offer resources and research, and to let you know you are appreciated and loved. Most of the contributors have walked through times of loss, grief, caregiving, and more. In other words, we may have walked in your shoes and want to help you discover the value and collateral beauty in serving others.

Issue Number Two includes a son’s frustration with his dad’s disease, a mom’s pain through the loss of her infant daughter, how to experience grace, a daughter’s discovery of defining moments, a daughter’s touching realization in caregiving for her mom, a woman’s journey in growing her faith in God, and special devotion nuggets.

The grace is always greener on God’s side!

We would love to hear from you. We are accepting submissions for future issues, and please let us know if you have a topic or question that you’d like us to tackle in future issues. Be richly blessed.

REGIFTED GRACE: The Magazine (Issue One – April 20, 2019)

We’re so pleased to launch REGIFTED GRACE: The Magazine. Its mission is to encourage those who encourage others. In other words, the e-magazine is designed to encourage caregivers from a Christian faith view.

http://pub.lucidpress.com/regiftedgraceissue1/?fbclid=IwAR1u3cuQtMaY1iHGxwoG4Xi4wx2j3QwuoB5QG0Vtdb0K7cvGqmYfgujOkS8#OZ5XcyGjLBGf

Are you discouraged? Are you a caregiver? Caregivers, whether professional or family, are humble servants who carry a difficult yoke, often all by themselves. And I want to tell you THANK YOU!

The new e-magazine entitled “REGIFTED GRACE” is launched to encourage those who encourage others, to convey you’re not alone, to offer resources and research, and to let you know you are appreciated and loved.

Additionally, REGIFTED GRACE:The Magazine seeks to educate, encourage, and provide resources to those impacted by long-term illness, often from a vantage point of Alzheimer’s. We have walked in your shoes or are there right now. And we want to lead you to discover the collateral beauty in serving others and the belief that the grace is always greener on God’s side.

Welcome to Issue Number One!

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Blessings!

BECAUSE I CAREGAVE

It’s not easy to lose loved ones to Alzheimer’s. I lost both parents, a cousin, and an aunt. From June 30, 2009 to June 30, 2016, I had the blessing of being caregiver to both Mom and Dad. They will be forever in my heart, and I’m grateful that God gave me the opportunity to share my love with them through caregiving.

I miss the softness of your voice, because I listened.

I miss the softness of your hands, because I held them.

I miss the softness of your lips, because I kissed them.

I miss the softness of your eyes, because I gazed into them.

I miss the softness of your heart, because I knew it.

I miss the softness of your soul, because I felt it.

I miss the softness of your tears, because I wiped them away.

I miss the softness of your smile, because we laughed.

I miss the softness of your skin, because I stroked your face.

I miss the softness of your hugs, because we shared them.

I miss the softness of your love, because we shared it.

Excerpt from “UNDEFEATED INNOCENCE” (ch. 11, p. 193)

We shared special moments together.

Want to read more? Available at https://amzn.to/2WZBTEc


Please share your comments below in response to either or both of these two questions:

What do you miss, and what have you gained?

What do you want God to do for you?

© 2019 Regifted Grace® Ministry LLC

We help weary caregivers find the courage they need to regain hope and stop feeling alone, fearful and broken.

EMBRACING MEEKNESS

In caregiving, embracing meekness and purging spiritual toxins helped me locate flashes of peace in moments of turbulence. It brought me closer to Jesus because I became more like Jesus. What happens if we put too much air and pressure in a balloon? It pops. Without meekness, pressure builds up and we emotionally break. Embracing meekness (a fruit of the Spirit) deflates the pressure.

Happy Birthday Dad 2010

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

It’s okay to fight with a disease like Alzheimer’s or cancer–for a season. There were plenty of times I wanted to kick the daylights out of that foul disease for stealing both my parents. Instead, ultimately God wanted me to adorn myself with the virtue of meekness, moving forward with gentleness and resiliency. It is better to diffuse than to be right or to fight. I don’t want to inhibit others or myself from encountering intimacy with God.

People do detoxes to regain physical health and remove poisonous toxins which build up over time. Removing physical toxins can be harsh—with headaches, fatigue, intestinal issues, even depression. We feel lousy before we feel better.

Similarly, purging spiritual toxins like pride, self-gratification, jealousy, and unforgiveness is necessary to maintain spiritual health. These toxins drop into our spirit like a cat jumping on the countertop when no one is watching—we don’t see it happening, but we see the destruction left behind. Spiritual toxins hinder our ability to abide in God’s grace, and they must be continually purged. Like physical toxins, spiritual toxins accumulate without recognizing them until something is unhealthy or broken. A doctor shows us our physical toxins—God directs us to our spiritual ones.

Want to read more? “UNDEFEATED INNOCENCE” (ch. 4, pp.46-47)

https://amzn.to/2WZBTEc

Is there HOPE at the end of your rope?

God didn’t create us to be bogged down by turbulence.

I loved spending the last years of my parents’ lives with them, but caregiving often left me at the end of my rope—the perception of not being able to take another step because my soul was numb from the heaviness. The end of the rope requires us to expend emotional energy solely on survival and the need to find something greater than ourselves to carry the load. That’s Jesus.

Jesus demonstrates abundant grace through the worst storms. But I must be willing to reach the end of myself, for when I get there, He’s there with an endless pitcher of grace to pour out. He has one with your name on it, too.

There are times when it seems like giving up is easier than dealing with a life that becomes a puzzle with half of the pieces missing. In those times, God wants me to call out for Him so He can bring heaven to me. He feels my tears. He wants me to experience the tidal wave of His protection.

Fortunately, I learned that when I’m poor in spirit and call out for God’s help, God won‘t say, “How can I break you?” Instead, He says, “How can I help you?” His offer of help welcomes me into His presence, and heaven becomes my permanent address.

Excerpt: UNDEFEATED INNOCENCE (ch. 1, pp.18-20)

Please share your comments below in response to either or both of these two questions:

What storm are you facing?

What do you want God to do for you?

© 2019 Regifted Grace® Ministry LLC

We help weary caregivers find the courage they need to regain hope and stop feeling alone, fearful and broken.

SO CRIES MY HEART

God desires my obedience, not a burnt offering of hardship and physical sacrifice. He is most pleased when I humbly lead others toward His grace. This devotion was published by The Christian Broadcasting Network on 11 December 2018.

I read their gut-wrenching words and pound my fists. I walked in their shoes, yet sit clueless how I should take away their agony. I despise “should” because it’s a word of shame. But that’s how I feel — ashamed that I can’t find words to help them. So goes another morning on a social media dementia support group.

Someone needs prayer because her loved one wandered away. Another aches because his loved one passed. Another regrets complaining how hard it was to be a caregiver — now all she wishes for is one more smile or “I love you.” Some feel their sacrifice is killing them and can’t wait until it’s over.

So, my heart cries.

Online support groups were a lifeline during my mom’s Alzheimer’s battle as I tried to balance her needs with mine. But balance is subjective. The disease caused my mom to weave from side to side as she walked down a hallway, and it caused me to emotionally weave from side to side when I responded to emergencies and balanced them with work, marriage, and sleep.

I stay in these support groups hoping to help them all — I was a caregiver! But on this morning, I was clueless. I was an eyewitness to this wretched disease twice. Yet I felt failure, which contradicted my belief that God called me to minister to caregivers.

So God took me for a walk — me, Him and the worship music playing in my ears. Coincidence that Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns played on my playlist? God knows when we feel like we tried again and failed. I heard the lies: I’m no good at ministry or writing, and I can’t help anybody. 

He reminded me that He calls us for His purpose (Romans 8:28). He didn’t choose me to do everything for everyone. That’s His job. Mine is to contribute in accordance with the calling He gives me. I can help some of the people some of the time, but I can’t help all of the people all of the time. Only God does that. He has called me to write, point caregivers to God’s grace, and encourage them to find collateral beauty instead of collateral damage. If they rebuke God’s grace, I move on. Even Jesus moved on.

God desires my obedience, not my sacrifices. Obedience is a response to a request to do something. Sacrifice causes or permits injury for the sake of something else. God said,

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, …” Hosea 6:6 (NIV)

and that we are to

“Walk in obedience to all I command you, …” Jeremiah 7:23 (NIV)

Caregiving is physically grueling, mentally exhausting, and spiritually depleting. I wasn’t asked to sacrifice my life for it, only be obedient. 

Sacrifice is Jesus — sent to earth alone to die broken and alone in order for us to receive eternal life. 

Obedience was Abraham’s willingness to kill his son, or Daniel’s concession to spend a night in the lion’s den because he was unwilling to stop praying, or my determination to take Mom’s frantic calls when she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing. Jesus said,

“… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

That’s collateral beauty. That’s obedience. 

God didn’t call me to help everyone, just lead them toward God’s grace. What I gave to my parents and Jesus was obedience (a living sacrifice), not a killing sacrifice (a burnt offering).

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

And the support groups? If God leads me to respond, I will. If God leads me to be quiet, I will. I will rest in obedience to the one who sacrificed it all and share God’s grace and mercy with them through my obedience to Him. 

Copyright © 3/2018 Cheryl Crofoot Knapp and Regifted Grace Ministry LLC.


Best Place to Start is the Beginning

A Guest Post Authored by Judith A. Levy, EdM, OTR

A special thanks to Judith Levy for offering this guest post filled with practical advice when faced with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

The dilemma of writing an educational article on Alzheimer’s Dementia is, where do I begin?  Do I remain objective as I relate my professional background as an Occupational Therapist who could leave problems behind at the end of the day?  Do I start with the issues that I encountered as my parent and I navigated the medical system, the home care agencies, the caregivers with their varied personalities and the costs?  Do I start with my own frustrations as I assumed more and more of the care which lasted for a decade?

The direction that I’ve ended up choosing is as varied and as subjective as each individual affected by or dealing with this disease.  But being the concrete thinker that I am, this is what I decided:  I’ve found that the best place to start is to be objective and put pen to paper.  Here goes . . .

Write down what you see that is off with your loved one.  What’s changed?  Do you think it’s medical?  What are your concerns? What are your questions?  What was it that happened that made you first begin to question the difference?  List everything that you think might be important.  Then make an appointment with your loved one’s physician.  Don’t forget to bring these questions with you and try to get them all answered.

Do some preparation before your appointment.  List all the medications that your parent is taking.  Specify the dosage and what time of day they take them.  Have they been forgetting to take them?  Are they being taken correctly?  Could there an interaction between their medications or with the foods that they are eating?   Has your parent had physical changes that you’ve noticed: lost weight; balance issues; vision changes; inappropriate behavior and/or forgetfulness?  Write down all of this.

When you go to the appointment, try to have another person go with you.  That way if you need to meet privately with the doctor, your parent can be attended to in the waiting room.  Take notes during your visit.  You can refer back to them later.

Once you have a diagnosis, evaluate how you will proceed.  There is a myriad of support groups available to you. Your state’s Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to start.  Check if your church/synagogue has a program in place which will benefit you.  Consider looking for a geriatric care manager who can help you navigate the system.  Don’t forget to ask your physician.  Importantly, ask your friends.  So many families are dealing with this issue that they may have already found out about local services.  Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Something to consider are your parent’s legal forms.  Are they up-to-date?  Do you have the Medical Power of Attorney, Advanced Directive, Will, Medicare/Medicaid numbers, Social Security numbers?  Are they current?  Where are they kept?  If possible, consider taking a picture of them with your phone so you have access to them when you need them.  Don’t forget to photograph a list of important phone numbers, medications, and dosages; keep all this information together.

Once you’ve gotten your framework in place, put it aside.  Things will work out and you will deal with issues as they come up.  Then take a giant step back and breathe.  Live in the moment.  Laugh in the moment.  Enjoy your parent and be thankful for your time together.

Judith A. Levy, EdM, OTR, is the author of “Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia” (Amazon).  A graduate of Boston University’s Sargent College with a degree in Occupational Therapy, she also received a Master’s Degree in Allied Health Education from Rutgers University.  Mrs. Levy has been a practicing Occupational Therapist specializing in adult rehabilitation for over forty years. For the past ten years, she was the carer for her mother who suffered with Alzheimer’s Dementia.

 

Please share your comments below in response to either or both of these two questions:

Who is a part of your care team?

What do you want God to do for you?

 

© 2018 Regifted Grace® Ministry LLC

We help weary caregivers find the courage they need to regain hope and stop feeling alone, fearful and broken.

 

Buy UNDEFEATED INNOCENCE at Amazon

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IN AWE OF GOD TONIGHT

What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

“God, I’m in awe of you tonight.” My words were soft and filled with gratitude.

I gazed at the unfamiliar sparkle on the lake and the crisp azure sky that met it at the horizon. The trees were dressed in their sharpest array of greens, and even their uniquely shaped knotholes were exotically enticing. My whole world changed in 36 hours. Cataract surgery in my right eye replaced my triple vision with a crisp 20/20. And I was in awe of what I could see in a way I had never seen before, for peace, and for answered prayer.

I’ve worn glasses since third grade, and squinted at least since age 3 (picture above). Many prescriptions later, my right eye could no longer be restored without surgery. What I wasn’t expecting from surgery is that I can now see better than I had ever seen in my entire life. Six decades of various levels of blurry vision was gone. At least in my right eye. And everything looks different. (more…)

Mama, This One’s For You

How the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference 2018 Changed Me

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” Jesus said (Mark 6:31 NIV). For the last two years, my annual quiet place to get some rest has been at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. This year was more powerful than the last in many respects, and I can only give you a bird’s eye view of how it changed me.

(DiAnn Mills, Cheryl Crofoot Knapp, and Edie Melson; photo by Mary Denman, Photographer)

Why do I need to find a place for quiet and rest? First, I’m still working through the loss of my parents to Alzheimer’s and learning how to recover from that “thing” called caregiving, which was filled with collateral beauty, but I wouldn’t call it a place for quiet and rest. I’m still weary, I still grieve, and I still need rest. Second, my passion to stretch my arms out wide to encourage caregivers through writing and speaking gained legs at this year’s conference. (more…)