Today’s guest on Faith Notes is a fellow Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author, Sandra Merville Hart. Sandra is a walking trove of historical facts which comes in handy as she writes award-winning historical fiction. She even offers historical recipes on her website at sandramervillehart.wordpress.com. How fun is that!
Sandra shares about the heartache and helplessness that occurs when a parent has Alzheimer’s. I know many who have suffered this same desperation. I pray that you will find hope, understanding, and encouragement from the words of Sandra’s heart.
Describe a time when you felt abandoned by God.
My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. She watched my pre-school, and then elementary-school aged daughter, with my dad’s help. But then her Alzheimer’s took a very dark turn. She first saw people who weren’t there. They didn’t speak. They wouldn’t leave when she asked them to go. These (unseen by everyone else) unwanted visitors brought their children and then didn’t supervise them. My mother was not impressed.
Then Mom started carrying on conversations with the invisible visitors. These were mostly men. They threatened her, her husband, and her family. They stared at her as she slept. They tried to rob her. One man threatened to stab her sleeping husband. She grabbed his hand, forcing the knife away. My mother lived in terror. Most of the details she locked deep inside to protect us.
Family members often went through the motions of tossing the “visitors” out of the house. This worked a few times. My mom laughed to watch them leave. They stayed away for three or four days. But they always returned.
As her family who loved her, we were powerless to save her from what she alone could see.
My tormented father would have thrown himself under a bus to save her, but there was nothing he could do.
During this time, how was your faith-walk impacted? Were you angry? Fearful? Numb? Doubtful? Did you turn your back on God for a while, or cling desperately to what you know to be true, even though your emotions told you otherwise?
The Alzheimer’s was bad enough without this terrorizing turn.
I felt powerless to ease my mother’s fears, my father’s torment. I prayed for their protection, for the visions to cease, for their peace of mind. Months passed. Then a year and longer. Still no answer from God. Everything only escalated.
I didn’t understand why God seemed silent. I believe in powerful prayers. I prayed them for my parents. Didn’t God hear our fervent pleas? Why didn’t He rescue my mom from the torment in her mind? Only He could.
I didn’t turn my back on God or my faith. but it was difficult to watch a good, faithful woman go through such agony that was as real to her as the chair she sat on.
What happened to resolve your faith crisis? How did God reveal Himself to you during this time? With extraordinary comfort? Reassurance? Peace that passes understanding? Quiet knowing?
My mother struggled with these violent visions. They broke her spirit. They broke her heart. They terrified her. We didn’t tell her it didn’t happen because, to her, it did. Finally, she stopped talking about them. Over time, she relaxed, no longer living in fear.
God did answer those mighty prayers, but she lived a nightmare for many months. It wrung at my heart. I will never forget my father’s tortured eyes as he strived daily to ease her fears.
God restored my mom’s peace, but didn’t heal her Alzheimer’s. Having endured the journey with her, I praised God for her peaceful spirit. The Alzheimer’s was the lesser of the two evils to me.
It’s not easy to see God working in a situation when the snowball builds as it rolls downhill. But He was there the whole time, hurting with her and with us.
What scripture became a sure place for you?
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated upon the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~ Revelation 21:1-5 (NIV)
Did praise play a part of your faith restoration? What about thankfulness? Is praise a big part of your faith-walk now?
Yes, I praise God for listening, for His answers, for His patience. There is something to be learned along every journey, even if it’s just how to help someone else struggling with the same issue.
This traumatic event and others have taught me to cling to God’s hand, not toss it away. I’ve learned that He hurts when we hurt.
How do you find God’s peace when you are troubled?
I am a big believer in the power of prayer. If I wanted to talk to the President of the United States, I’d have to endure scrutiny and background checks. When I want to talk with God, I just close my eyes and pray. Jesus already paved the way. So I talk to God about what is troubling me or my loved ones. I search familiar scriptures for new insights. And I try to shut up, turn off the TV and other distractions, and let Him direct my thoughts.
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Lord and why?
Omnipresent. He’s always there. I’ve endured a lot of lonely times. He has always been with me even when others turn away.
Would you offer some encouraging words for those who may be seeking the Lord, those wanting to draw closer to Him and trust Him more, especially during a painful season?
Talk with God honestly about what is going on, how it makes you feel. An honest discussion can clear the air between you and God.
More About Sandra:
Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at sandramervillehart.wordpress.com.
A Rebel in My House
When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.
Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.
Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?
Amazon buy link: A Rebel in My House