I recently asked my dear friend, Cynthia Fantasia, to tell us the steps she has taken as she walks on her bold journey. This post was originally published in March, 2016. Be sure to read all the way to the end for an update from Cynthia. #BeBoldGirl
Retirement! The word itself conjured up all sorts of amazing dreams and plans: travel, lots of grandkids time, long walks on the beach (in Maine, of course), leisurely breakfasts with my husband, cleaning out the cellar, and a myriad of other “when I have time” things. Just thinking about “when” brought a smile to my face.
Alzheimer’s Disease! These two little words came like a race car careening out of control – crashing into my life, my dreams, my plans.
It’s been two years since Bob’s diagnosis, my retirement, and the readjustment to a very uncertain future.
Two years for an extroverted, Type A personality, loves to be busy woman to learn some really hard lessons and to take some really bold steps in order to embrace what I am learning and what He is teaching me.
In the beginning, I felt like I was on one of those twirly rides at Disney World – lots of fun at the amusement park – not so much in real life. “Just hang on for dear life and eventually the spinning will stop,” I told myself.
Hang on, I did, and the spinning did slow down to a pace where I could decide that NO, I was not going to let the locusts eat this season. God would restore this time in His own way and my job was to follow Him one step at a time. That’s all He asks of me. My daily prayer is:
God, You got me into this and I know that You will get me through it.
He has, He is, and I know that He will.
There are several life lessons that have emerged – lessons that I need to learn over and over.
It takes a village…
Caregiving is a tough job. The hours are long and the work is steady. One of the hardest lessons has been learning to make that bold “ask” for help. I continue to remind myself of the words from James 4:2
“You do not have because you do not ask.”(NKJV)
So, I took those bold steps and Bob now has walking companions, lunch buddies, and coffee “dates” giving me a bit of a break, and “Team Bob” actually thanks me for the opportunity to help!
I don’t live in Kansas anymore
Everything in my life has changed, and if I am going to survive I need to roll with the changes. Those long walks on Maine beaches are now short walks around our neighborhood. We have met neighbors we never knew, admire gardens so unlike ours, and made pals with several dogs. There is life outside of “Kansas.”
A soft answer turns away wrath
It does no good to argue with Bob, so I “climb” into his world and his story. I don’t have to be right all the time, don’t have to correct every little thing, and sometimes his tales are far more exciting that the original.
Love isn’t what you get, it’s what you give
I am NOT alone
There are some women who have become very close friends. We have been drawn together through the unlikely circumstances that have placed us on the same journey. We “get” each other. One special friend sent me a link to Fernando Ortega’s “Take Heart My Friend.” It truly describes the need for a traveling companion along this hard journey filled with bold lessons:
“Take heart my friend, we’ll go together
This uncertain road that lies ahead
Our faithful God has always gone before us
And He will lead the way once again
Take heart my friend, we can walk together
And if our burdens become too great
We can hold up and help one another
In God’s love, in God’s grace.”
We remind one another of words from the chorus that He is “our assurance every morning, our defender in the night.”
And so I continue to take shaky, but bold, steps along this hard journey, walking in holy confidence and humble obedience, assured that He will continue to walk with me teaching me even more lessons along the way.
June, 2017 Update
I find it very interesting that I have written about being bold. I looked up the definition of “bold” and it reads as follows:
showing an ability to take risks; confident; courageous.
The risks that I have experienced, the “art” of being bold, have not been my choice. My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in January 2014, and after a valiant battle, Bob changed his address from earth to heaven October 18, 2016.
Coming together in a perfect storm, I had to take bold steps by selling our home of 40 years, moving into my son’s home for the foreseeable future, planning a memorial service, and learning that my life was now “I” not “we”, “me” not “us”, “my” not “our”, and a variety of other new truths that took me by surprise.
I previously wrote about being bold and learning lessons along the way. During the last two weeks of my husband’s earthly life the Lord taught me lessons I never imagined possible. I learned that He is sufficient for ALL journeys, that He is provider, that He is loving, and that is an amazing guide.
When I re-read my original entry I smiled as I read my words
“My job is to follow God one step at a time. That’s all He asks of me.”
So very true! One step at a time He led me to a grief mingled with gratitude, to a place of trust for all the days to come, and to an understanding of joy in the midst of sadness.
He continues to surprise me with incredible bold opportunities: at this time I am writing a book for NavPress about Bob’s and my journey through Alzheimer’s. My hope is to honor Bob and offer care and comfort to caregivers still on this journey. Bold – you bet! Nervous – you bet! Excited – you bet! Humbled – absolutely! Not the book I ever planned to write but He asks me to follow Him one step at a time – and I will.
Cynthia Fantasia served as Pastor of Service and Women at Grace Chapel, Lexington MA. She has lectured at a weekly Bible study, and speaks at conferences and retreats nationally and internationally. Cynthia passionately presents the Word in a relevant, practical, and often humorous way. A contributing author in Mothers Have Angel Wings by Carol Kent, and 30 Ways to Embrace Life by Lucinda McDowell, Cynthia has also written several Bible studies that are used in churches across the country. Ordained in 2007, she received her Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. She was one of 15 pastors in North America selected to join a cohort, through a Templeton Grant, investigating the relationship between science and faith. Cynthia was the co-founder of GCScience – which now has an international internet following of over half million.
Linking up with Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Jaime Weibel at #SittingAmongFriends, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart and Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart
What a story God is writing for you. I am sorry for all you have gone through, but I thank you for letting your wisdom and experience touch others’ lives.
Revisiting your story and update (and reading my previous comment) brings tears because I am reminded how the Lord was preparing me for my own journey by reading yours. In the fall of 2016, he moved me from Colorado to California and guided me from single to married caregiver to widow over the span of a few months. Your words ring true to my story! What a blessing to read this again with the hindsight I now have. Thank you. — Sarah
Sarah, I am so glad Cynthia’s story could ring true to your own journey and situation. Stay strong and bold.
I “climb” into his world and his story. I don’t have to be right all the time, don’t have to correct every little thing, and sometimes his tales are far more exciting that the original. – I felt like God wanted me to realize this same truth even though I am not in a care giving capacity. Thank you so much for sharing, Cynthia! I pray that our Lord continues to support and encourage your beautiful heart.
Thank you for sharing Cynthia with us…Cynthia, thank you for your wisdom learned in your journey. I took care of my aunt who had a long battle with Alzheimers…it’s an insidious illness, but God can bring beauty even from these ashes. Praying for you and lifting you up right now. May you be richly blessed.
ps. Rachel, thanks for stopping by our website and your compassion!
Wow, Bev-blessings to you for caring for your aunt. I so agree – this disease is insidious and so cruel. May God continue to bless your life in many wonderful ways. So appreciate your encouragement – like oxygen to my soul!!
What a powerful post and testimony of God’s grace and provision in this season so unlike you had hoped and dreamed. Thanks for sharing it. I think it is a good reminder to all of us that in this life there are not a lot of guarantees. At any age, our health can suddenly take a turn, but especially when we finally reach that retirement season we have been so much anticipating. I retired not quite two years ago after several busy careers, the last of which was a staff pastor and counselor for 13 years. I am grateful that at this point my husband and I are doing well, but we have a two close couples who have entered hard seasons. In one, the husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and in the other the wife had a stroke about 2 months ago. Your story and these two closer ones remind my husband and me to savor each day as the gift it is and to make the most of it, not out of fear of the future but from the truth that we cannot know what lays ahead. Many blessings be yours! I discovered you as the neighbor of Rachel on the Linkup of Coffee for Your Heart.
Thanks so much for your reply, Pam. It is so true-life is unpredictable. So glad you are savoring each day you have – may you and your husband enjoy many many more. And blessings to you as you minister to your friends – whether giving or receiving care, it is a gift from our faithful Father.
Cynthia, thank you for caring enough to share your heart. These bold lessons can help us all in our various ‘hard’ journeys. I’ll be praying for you for continued strength and trust in this difficult season. May God continually lift you up.
Your message is very encouraging, Carlie. Thanks for your prayers. We need to all stand together as we receive and give care. The seasons of life are so unpredictable but our Heavenly Father is so faithful.
Cynthia,Thank you for sharing your precious heart.
Eight years ago, My husband and I moved from Colorado where our 4 grown children, 3 grandchildren live to take care of my 92 year old father who lives here. My dad has dementia.
I am here for you! Jamie
Rachel has my number.
My face book page is “Joyfully Fit”
Hi Jamie-so nice to hear from you. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I drive by your house often on my way to Wilson Farms and remember our visit together at Nancy and Tom’s house back in the fall. We will connect!!
Wow Cynthia what a testimony! I feel like I am reading a post by my mother! I am going to send her a link to your post. We don’t know why God changes our plans but He is not surprised by anything. You are right where He wants you. It has been beyond difficult for my mother in dealing with my father’s Alzheimer’s disease. I pray for them daily asking for special grace and strength for my mother especially. I know her heart is breaking inside as they just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 1st. Thank you for sharing your heart. May God continue to richly bless you and yours.
Horace, thanks so much for your tender and heartfelt response. May God continue to bless you as you seek to please Him in your life.
These are such powerful points Cynthia! I pray that God would continue to lead you and guide you in your situation. Thank you for sharing your heart today. I will use these practical lessons in my own life!
Thanks for writing Alisa, So glad my experience will help someone else. It takes a village…! Appreciate your comments and your encouragement
Thank you for these words of wisdom and encouragement. Applicable not only to those on a similar caregiver’s journey…they are for me!
Hi Sarah-so nice to hear from you. Thanks for writing and thanks for your encouragement. Hope you are doing well – remembering our days at Grace. Many blessings to, and much gratitude for, you.
Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It is so hard to be the caregiver. But, it is a great thing to let/ask others to help for all the reasons you mentioned. It is a blessing and help for everyone!
Thanks for writing, Debbie. Caregiving is not for the faint of heart but encouragement like yours is truly SO appreciated. My prayer is that people will learn from my experience and thus help themselves or help others. Blessings to you!