Hope for the Unknown

“Mom, what’s so funny?” I asked as she walked down the hallway to rejoin us. Having exited the bathroom, I anticipated a variety of funny scenarios.

“I’m wearing two pairs of pants! Isn’t that silly?” Her laughter was contagious and I joined in, but all the while thinking, This isn’t funny.

I caught my sister’s eye. Our laughter couldn’t mask our deep concern and growing suspicions.

When Mom began forgetting to take her medicine, we thought it was just old age settling in. When she got lost driving home on a familiar road, we excused it as too dark to see the road signs clearly.

But the day she wore two pair of pants we couldn’t find an excuse. It was something more than silly.

How can someone put on a second pair of pants and not realize it?

The answer to that question wasn’t funny at all. It’s called Alzheimer’s.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind. What caused this? What can be done to stop it?
How long before she doesn’t remember me?

The unknown answer to that last question haunted me. I begged God to be merciful and allow Mom to always remember me. Her condition was the focus of many prayers. Her physical health was in steady decline. Diabetes had left her legally blind and with unpredictable blood sugar levels extremely hard to regulate. Mini strokes required hospital stays, weakening her ability to care for herself. Growing more forgetful and confused necessitated 24 hour care.

I pleaded with God to take her home before she had to experience her biggest fear – a nursing home.

Although my mother was a woman of faith, sometimes anxiety got the best of her. I inherited that tendency. I was anxious about her health and fearful she would forget me.

One day while crying out in prayer, I felt God answer in a surprising way. Forming as thoughts in my mind, I felt as if God said, “You’re praying like you have Alzheimer’s… spiritual Alzheimers.

This realization hit me hard. I had been praying like I’d forgotten all God had done for our family in the past. Reminders of his faithfulness flooded my mind.

I recalled:

…unexpected monetary gifts to match a need
…return of a wayward child
…protection of my in-laws attacked in their home
…depression lifting after months of suffering

…broken relationships restored
…comfort when loved ones died
…emotional and physical healing
…guidance in parenting

As the list grew in my mind so did my resolve to trust God. Recalling his faithfulness infused me with hope.

Alzheimer’s was definitely a journey into the unknown. As I began to trust God, I no longer worried about my mom forgetting me. I found peace despite the temptation to be anxious. Fresh hope even found joy as we walked together into the unknown.

©2017 Cindy Richardson for GateWay of Hope

Cindy Richardson seeks to encourage, challenge and inspire women in their journey of hope through Bible studies, speaking and writing. Cindy weaves God’s truth and shares her faith with kindergartners at St. Joseph Christian School.

Residing in St. Joseph, Missouri with her husband, Tom, she enjoys the friendship of her three grown daughters and loves being Nana to six grandchildren.
For more inspiration, visit cindyrichardson.org.

When the Road Leads to Grief

I never heard the phone ring, but my husband’s voice jolted me awake. “Cindy, Cindy, wake up. Answer the phone! Cindy, answer the phone!”

It was 1:30 a.m. Was I dreaming? I wished I was. The message would alter my life forever.bend in the road quote

My oldest sister had just been killed in a car accident. Disbelief, shock and fear entered my mind as unwelcomed guests. What do you do with sudden tragic news?

Questions flooded my mind but I had no answers. How did this happen? Was she really dead or maybe just hurt? Why would God let this happen? The hours that followed were filled with unbelievable sadness and heartache.

I recalled seeing a billboard along a highway: “If I never tell you why, will you still trust me?

Would I still trust God? Could I still trust him? Trust Him to be loving and good in the midst of such pain?

My sister was a breast cancer survivor. As an oncology nurse she had been driving home from a “Seven Levels of Healing” class she was teaching to other cancer patients. She had been married only seven weeks to a man she affectionately referred to as her “Boaz”; the man who had captured and redeemed her heart to love again after her 23-year marriage came to an unwanted, abrupt end.

She was the happiest I had ever seen her. Then it hit me. She died happy. She was cancer free. She had healed from her divorce, renewed old friendships and married a college sweetheart. Not many of us live happy, let alone die happy.

She had a favorite sign that read, “The bend in the road isn’t the end of the road, unless you refuse to take the turn.”

My sister took the turn to trust God with her cancer diagnosis, through her divorce, and in her choice to forgive.

Because of her example, I was able to take the turn to trust God in the midst of my grief.

The morning after her death, I read Psalm 27. Verse 13 gave me hope to trust in the goodness of God despite my painful circumstance. “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Although I cried many tears, I would not grieve as those who have no hope. As Christians, we have the hope of heaven. As sisters, I have precious memories. As her friend, I will be forever grateful she left a legacy of love, forgiveness and trust.

She showed us all how to trust God with the bends in the road.

©2015 Cindy Richardson
For over 20 years, Cindy Richardson has been guiding little kindergarten hearts to love Jesus while mentoring and teaching women’s hearts through Bible study, retreats and speaking engagements. Her desire is to encourage, challenge and inspire women to trust the Father’s heart.

Image courtesy of SearchQuotes.com

Sisterhood

Sometimes internet posts contain solid information and sometimes they make us think. The following poem was submitted to us this week – author unknown.

Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Hearts break.
Parents die.
Careers end.

But sisters are there no matter how much time and how many miles are between us.
A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley,
The women in your life will be on the valley’s rim
Cheering you on,
Praying for you,
Pulling for you,
Intervening on your behalf,
And waiting with open arms at the valley’s end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you
Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters,
Daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,
Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family
All bless our lives.

The world wouldn’t be the same without women.
When we began this adventure called Womanhood,
We had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead
Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.
Women help make our lives meaningful.

Women’s History Month – Part 1

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we remember all the Christian women who made a difference. These were women of courage and foresight who marched against the traditions of their culture in order to follow their Lord. But who were some of these women?

We have, of course, the biblical histories of Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus who provided a place where he could rest. Legend tells us that Martha was a wealthy widow and the homeowner who provided for her brother, Lazarus, and her sister, Mary. Martha organized the work, supervised her servants and – as scripture implies – used her type A personality to get things done. We need the Martha’s of our world, just as much as we need the Mary’s.
Other biblical women who exercised leadership and earned their way to biblical records include Lydia, Priscilla, Deborah, Abigail, Rahab, Jael, Mary Magdalene, Suzanna, Ruth, Joanna and of course, Mary – the mother of Jesus.

But what of the women beyond these biblical characters? Many Christian women of history are listed as martyrs, those ladies who gave their all for the love of their Lord. Some of these noble warriors included Blandina (177 AD) from France, Perpetua and Felicitas (203AD), Faltonia (4th century AD) and Anne Askew (1546) an English Protestant martyr. Many others may not be recorded here, but they are definitely written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Tim Lambert has compiled a history of Christian women. Many historical women were noted missionaries, who moved alone to another country and brought other people groups to Christ. To become a missionary in those days meant extreme hardship. These women truly left father, mother and homeland for the sake of the Gospel (Mark 10:29).

Some of these brave women include:
• Ann Lee (1736-1784: a Quaker missionary)
• Ann Judson (1789-1826: missionary to Burma)
• Lottie Moon (1840-1912: missionary to China)
• Mary Slessor (1848-1915: missionary to Africa)
• Ida Scudder (1870-1960: missionary to India)
• Evelyn Brand (1879-1974: missionary to India)
• Gladys Aylward (1903-1970: missionary to China)
• Elisabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint who helped reach the hearts of the Auca Indians in the 1950’s-60’s.

During Women’s History Month, we salute these brave women who left a legacy of faithfulness to Christ. As their sisters, we step forward to serve our Lord in whatever field He leads us to – for the glory of the One who created us to be His.