Category Archives: Biblical insights

Running the Race

Back in the days of one flavor of Gatorade, I was a high school and college athlete.  Those were the days when orange Gatorade was the greatest thing out there, trainers at high school sports were non existent, college coaches wrote hand written letters to recruits, and we wore really cool polyester sweat pants to practice.

Yep I played soccer and ran track back in those days.  Actually for my elementary years I was the only girl in the boys soccer league.  Yep that was the 70′s before the days of Title IX.  I remember the thrill of getting to play on my first all girls soccer team in 9th grade!

But my main sport back in the day was track.  I ran the 100, 200 and 400 (ok back in the day it was the 100, 220, and 440).  And the race I remember the most was the grueling 400.  It was a sprint, one lap around the track.  But honestly how can you sprint one lap?  So you had to train and come up with a strategy on how to attack that race.  Go out hard, stride the back stretch, keep good form, and finish strong coming out of the last turn.   It was the finish strong part that was the hardest.  How can you finish strong when your legs felt like jello!

track team soph year

The biggest part to finishing strong was training hard.  Running 100 and 200s to work on speed and running 450′s and 600′s to work on that endurance piece.  I remember training so hard at times that I actually threw up once after a race and once during practice.

 

But the thing  I keep thinking about lately is in order to finish well, I had to train hard.

 

And train hard, and work hard……it wasn’t easy at times (um, remember the puking after practice!).  There were many times I didn’t feel like going to practice or running that 6th 200 of practice or 4 400′s then a break then 4 more.  I was dying out there…..but I kept pressing on, I kept working hard.

Over the years I qualified for the state track meet several times and I still vividly remember the finish line at that meet.  I remember coming out of that last turn with my eyes squarely  focused on THAT finish line.  It was at that moment with my eyes focused on the finish line, I would find out if all my hard work paid off….did I finish well?!?!

state ribbons 

I am drawn to the memory of that finish line a lot lately.

 

I am drawn to the memory of working hard to finish well

 

I am drawn to the memory of how hard it was at times, how I didn’t feel like working hard some days!

 

I am reminded about being weary and tired yet continuing to press on.

 

I am reminded of this bible verse, that I memorized in college shortly after I stopped running after tearing my ACL.


Hebrews 12:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am not going to lie, it’s been a rough year!  A rough school year for this tired teacher, a long winter, and a year filled with many unexpected challenges and frustrations, along with Curt’s ongoing digression with Alzheimer’s.  Just this week, Curt asked me if I had a boyfriend?  He had no idea we were married.  He wants to “go home” at night, and gets so mad at me when I don’t take him home.  It’s hard.

But…….I am running the race, working hard, training hard and persevering.  I am fixing my eyes on Jesus. 

And my eyes are fixed on the finish line, because when all is said and done, how we run this race for Jesus is all that really matters.  The race may be hard, but may we all finish well!

Pressing on………..

family Easter

 

 

 

 

 

So where have you been?

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Well thanks Sandy for FINALLY sitting down to  chat with me.  You have totally deserted me the last month or so! Where have you been?

Sandy- Well thank for contacting me JDC, and setting up this interview.  I know I have been MIA the last month and  a half.  My goal is to update this great blog, once a month…..but yea that didn’t happen in February!

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Was February a real stressful month for you?

Sandy – Well no, not more than the average chaos and stress…..actually I pretty much call chaos and stress normal.  Let’s see….. a  water pipe burst in my garage, my heating unit in the house was down for a day and a half, I had a minor woman surgery with pre-op appointments and follow ups (fun times!), we found out Tyler has a herniated disc in his back and I shoveled the driveway a lot with all the crazy winter storms.  But really it seems the stresses of life don’t phase me as much anymore.  If I had a normal, stress free life I think I would get bored!  But I do miss having Curt along my side to help with running the household and the decisions of the day.  I miss his wisdom and insight.

C and I

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Well it does sound like February was an interesting month for you.  How is Curt doing these days?

Sandy – Well……… I have been slowly watching him slip away for 3 years now.  You would think it would get easier to handle when he continues to falter and struggle.  But it doesn’t.  Just the other day he asked me what my name was.  And last night when we got home fairly late from Madi’s lacrosse game, he wondered what “this place” is?  It was our house, our house that we have lived in for 19 years….and to him, it was just another unfamiliar place.  It’s an ongoing grieving process……Nancy Reagan said years ago when referring to the late President Reagan and his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, “it truly is the long goodbye.”

C enjoying HC

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Oh you are right, it is a slow, demoralizing good-by.  Well changing the subject a bit, What is up with Tyler’s back?

Sandy – When he was home for Christmas break we thought we were treating a hamstring injury.  But as the hammy started to heal, we realized what he was also feeling was nerve pain and tingling in the leg.  We figured it out and took him to our chiropractor.  But he had to return to school 5 days later.  The trainer and the staff at college treated him right away with PT, traction table, chiropractic care etc.  But one night, while simply brushing his teeth, everything went from bad to worse.  He is currently getting epidural steroid injections in his back.  He just received a second two weeks ago and is schedule for a third on Wednesday this week.

JDC – Well that is a total bummer for Tyler.  How is he handling it and how are you dealing?

Sandy – Tyler is bummed and really misses playing baseball, but he is a Morris and continues to stay positive and is truly seeking God’s wisdom and direction in this. Me, well that is another story.  I miss watching him play!  I feel like our normal life these days is stressful and emotional, and watching him play provides a moment of escape from the worries of the day.  Does that make sense???

JDC – Yes it does make sense.  Well all of this sounds pretty discouraging,  I mean just listening to you, things  sound pretty depressing!

Sandy – Well my friend (oh I mean my blog),  it has been pretty depressing!  But that is the beauty of it all!

JDC – Oh I missed that life lesson, there is beauty in discouragement??  I am not really with you on this one!!??

Sandy – Well trust me, I was really missing it too.  But then one, FRIGID night when I was out walking the dog, and  praying.  The tears rolled down my cheeks and nearly turned to ice and  God spoke to my heart about Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  In ALL your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (NIV)

I have heard those verses probably thousands of times over the years and had become rather numb to it’s meaning.  But on that night it was the part Lean Not on Your Own Understanding, that really punctured my soul and spoke to my heart.  In my own understanding Curt having Alzhiemer’s, Tyler having a herniated disc in his back his freshman year of college on a baseball scholarship…… make NO SENSE!  You can’t help but ask, Why does this stuff happen to us. 

But the verse says, Lean Not on Your Own Understanding, it may not make sense to us.  But the Bible still tells us to trust.  And let me tell you THAT is hard!  Real hard for this mom.   But in these discouraging, depressing times, I am truly surviving on God’s strength alone and in that I am learning to trust.  To trust that He has a plan in all of this, and I don’t have to like it! 

Yes, Trust, God is in charge, He never said I will see how this is all working for some good, but I TRUST that it will.  Yes I trust, despite my tendency to kind of think I have a better plan than God’s plan…….  :)

I am learning to try to stop carrying the burdens alone and to Trust the Lord for them.  Madi had the flu  this past week and was  down and out for the past SIX days! But once again I am reminded to trust the Lord with the burden/worries of the day!  It’s not always easy…….

JDC – Oh that Trust thing can be tough, Trust me I really don’t get it! :)

Sandy – Well JDC I am just starting to get it, I have a feeling it’s a process.  But I am thankful to be at this place on this crazy journey!

JDC- So how can friends pray for your family?

Sandy – Well do pray for WISDOM with decisions as we move forward with Curt.  I need to start deciding on how to proceed with care for him.  I am good through the rest of the school year, but it’s next school year and even this summer I am worried about. Our wonderful community help to raise almost $10,000 for our family through Alzheimer’s Awareness nights at our high school basketball game.  This money has allowed me to contact an agency to help provide much needed personal care for Curt.  I am so thankful for the support from our community.  But I just need some direction as we move forward.

photo

Also pray for Tyler’s back, the kid breaks 2 different ankles last year during basketball season and a mere year later he is dealing with a large herniated disc in his back.  He gets one more epidural steroid injection, if it does nothing we will have to consider surgery.  So please pray for wisdom and healing for him!

Athletics Headshots portraits. December 4, 2013. (photo by Les Schofer)

And it’s spring sports season.  That means life gets a little busier for Curt.  We will be sitting outside at Madi’s lacrosse games.  Those kind of outings are just getting harder for Curt to endure.

photo[2]

And just pray for me……….

JDC – Well thanks for getting back in touch with me your favorite blog!! Now go enjoy some dark chocolate and a cup of coffee!  Stay in touch!

 

State of the Union, Alzhiemer’s update

Trust me I am not feeling very Presidential at the moment, but the President always addresses the country each January on the current state of affairs so I figured I would do the same!  Many of you ask how Curt is doing these days…..so be prepared for lots of details.

I have hesitated many times to post so many details on how he is doing.  I want people to remember Curt as a strong, confident, humorous man with strong Godly convictions.  A fun, engaging conversationalist who could talk sports and drums for hours. Not the passive, struggling man that Alzheimer’s has engulfed and transformed.  I feel by giving so many details that I am exposing his struggles and leaving his dignity behind.

C with a big smile

However, I also want people to understand that Alzheimer’s can grab you and knock you down even in your 40′s! It slowly steals away your personality and being.  The Curt we see now is a reflection of a disease that is holding him captive. And so many of the things we think of that relate to Alzheimer’s is not really what Curt is dealing with.  It really looks different in everyone.

I know I have mentioned this before but it continues to be the spatial issues of life that are causing such digression for Curt.  He really can’t even get into his own bed at night on his own.  He needs guidance as to where his side of the bed is, then I guide him toward the top of the bed and tell him to get in.  He starts the process but can’t finish it, so I need to pull his arm from under him, to get him onto his back and then position him in bed each night.  I then put all the covers on him since spatially he can’t pull them up over him anymore.  He then usually falls asleep pretty quickly and stays in that same position all night!  If he needs to get up at night to use the bathroom, he can’t get out from under those covers with out help and no longer understands the concept of going pee.  He will tell me, “the water” or “the pressure is killing me.”  But when I say, “do you need to go pee?” He will now tell me he doesn’t know what that is.

Each morning when I get him out from under those never ending sea of covers (as he sees it).  We head to the bathroom for his morning routine. With out going into too many details, I will tell ya I need to help with all aspects of the morning routine, going to the bathroom, shaving, brushing teeth, spraying the man with some nice cologne and getting him dressed.

As soon as he is dressed, I tell him everyday, “Now you are ready to go and conquer your day for Jesus!”  That usually brings a smile to his face.  I then help him down the stairs ( this is a new problem, the steps) and have him sit down in “his seat” and pour him a bowl of cereal, pour plenty of sugar on it for him ( really he might as well live on the edge and enjoy his cereal with lots of sugar!) and turn on his beloved Sports Center.  He sits in his chair using a TV tray to eat his cereal. But when he is done, he can’t always move the TV tray to get up from the chair……that is another spatial issue that leaves him so disabled.  But as I get ready to head out the door for school each morning he ALWAYS tells me he loves me and reminds me to have a good day.

He still knows people every where we go, he will see old friends when we are out and he always initiates greeting them.  He loves to watch old movies, and enjoys listening to people read to him.  He can no longer read since he spatially can’t follow a sentences to the next line.  He can’t play drums, but can still play a simple beat on the snare and bangs out beats on his legs all day long! :)

college roomates

Visit from Curt’s college roommates!

One of the most frustrating things is his declining use of language.  He knows what he wants to say, but it does not come out the way he wants it to.  His words are broken, and he often stutters, or mumbles the words together.  It may take him up to 10 minutes to simply convey the thought he wants to. He has lost the meaning of simple words and does not know how to use them in the right context anymore. 

Things like, “going to our place” will mean he wants to go to bed.  Or, “go to that place down there” usually means he needs to go to the bathroom.  Or sometimes he may give a slang name for an object, TV became boob tube the other day and shower became watering hole. 

He has also started getting more lost in our house.  I used to be able to say “go upstairs to get ready for bed.”  Now if I say that to him he has no idea where upstairs is. 

So many changes as he continues his fall into the grasps of  a monster called Alzheimer’s.  I savor those moments when we do catch a glimpse of the old Curt, and allow myself a chance to take take it in and reflect on the Godly, fun loving hubs I married.

So, that is Alzheimer’s a disease, it continues to take hold of people of all ages.  An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.  In 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $203 billion. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression!!!!!!!!  Yes it’s not a pretty picture is it???  But that is the state of Alzheimer’s in our house and in many houses across the United States.

C and T before college

Taken right before Tyler left to return to college

So while our situation can look rather grim and depressing at times, I seem to cling to this quote (borrowed from the blog of a dear woman who has had unbelievable struggles in the last several years, from her hubs with constant reoccurring benign brain tumors and seizures to her dear daughter (one of their 6 kids) who was just seriously injured after being hit by a car while walking on a sidewalk outside her school!)

In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times. We can choose to serve God just because he is God. In the darkest moments we feel we are getting absolutely nothing out of God or out of our relationship to him. But what if THEN-when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all-you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others? If we do that-we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.
And when the darkness lifts or lessens, we will find that our dependence on other things besides God for our happiness has shrunk, and that we have new strength and contentment in God himself. We’ll find a new fortitude, unflappability, poise, and peace in the face of difficulty. 

~Tim Keller from the book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering~

C at pretzel hut

Enjoying a milkshake at one of his fave places

Yes, we all have a choice in good times and hard times……it is our choice, and our decision on how we choose to handle things, with despair and discouragement or with our eyes focused on the big picture of a life lived to honor God.

~Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!~  II Corinthians 4 16-18

Thanks friends for walking this journey WITH us!

christmas family pic

And so it begins…..

Every year at this time I get a bit sentimental………This makes my third year of starting back to school with out Curt.  Last week I brought Curt along with me while I was going to work in my classroom.  As I was finishing up I asked Curt if he wanted to walk down and see his old classroom.  He said, “not really, I don’t know where it is.”  I suggested we just walk down his old hallway, just for the heck of it.  He complied and as we walked together, he turned to me with this little glimmer of familiarity and said, “this is my place” and then as we continued down the hallway he walked right up to the door of his old classroom.   HIS old classroom, the place where he spent 15 years teaching HS students. 

c-at-school-1

Curt loved his job!  He would always be so excited as the lazy days of summer began to wane and the leaves in our woods began to fall, knowing the first day of school would soon be here!  I on the other hand would shudder and complain about going back, he would smile and remind me, that we should be thankful for the jobs God has given us! :)  I still complained……….

He would get up early that first week of school and be there by 6 am each day.  He wanted to have time to get work done when there were no students around.  He would say, “after school time is not time to get work done, that is time to help students.”  He would often come home late from school after hanging out after school talking to students, helping with assignments, or just giving advice.  I would often have to call him at school and say, “DINNER IS READY can you please come home!!”  I would get so mad…….now I would give anything for him to arrive home late for dinner.

c-the-cheerleader

Curt being a cheerleader and a trooper on a Father/Daughter night for the cheerleaders, this girl’s dad couldn’t be there so she asked her fav teacher to fill in.

He cared for his students, he worked hard to get them involved in each class, he engaged students with his witty sense of humor, and taught with a passion. 

He was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Oct. 1st 2010, I remember I was making a quick stop at a local store for some much needed school clothes the next day.  The clerk who checked me out noticed my last name and asked if my husband taught at our local high school.  When I said I was his wife, she gushed on and on about how he was her favorite teacher, and even though she didn’t like World History she loved his class!

  I didn’t have the heart to tell her about his diagnosis and thanked her and went in the car and cried!

Yes this time of year I reflect so much upon Curt’s teaching days.  Just the other day we were out at a local restaurant and when the waitress brought our check, she smiled at us and said, “A former student paid for your check tonight!”  That was not the first time that has happened, it happened another time at a local Applebee’s restaurant. 

1998 Yearbook pic

1998 Yearbook Picture of this nice married couple that taught at the same high school :)

One man’s life does matter, and it does impact others.  I know, it sounds like a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. :)

Curt was always a fan of Oswald Chambers, I found this quote in one of Curt’s books recently

“We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.” ~Oswald Chambers

Yes Curt lived in the ordinary things of everyday life and in those ordinary, daily moments he worked hard to live a life that would always honor God, and reflect a life lived with passion and integrity. 

I am thankful for the model he served to me to live that life. 

It is with that inspiration that I start my school year this year! 

Alzheimer’s and life with Teens

I  said to Curt while getting out of the car in the 90 degree heat at a lacrosse tourney, “Well honey you win the award for being the most active guy with Alzheimer’s!”  He got up 2 days in a row at 6am, I got him dressed and we headed out the door for an early 8am game in the heat.  He hung out in the heat watching two games on Sat., used the nasty outhouses, (which provided a nice challenge for me since he needs a bit of help these days…… and then I was so paranoid he would somehow lock himself in the outhouse, oh can you imagine the horror of being locked in one of those!.) And he reeled in the commotion of the two games close together.  He would get so confused as to what was going on, but would continue to go along with whatever I told him.  Sunday,  Madi had an 8am game and then not again until 3pm.  We had time to kill between games, including a long chilling out time at IHOP!  And then some shopping, which we know how much Curt loves! And then a short 1/2 hour nap in the hot van for him and then back to the last game. More time in the heat and then the 5 hour drive home.

Madi lax

Really, it’s a lot for a guy in the late moderate stages of Alzheimer’s to deal with.  But He is a trooper, he sits patiently in the heat, and really doesn’t complain.

morning walk on the beach

People often ask me how he does with these kind of things…..overall he does well.  He would keep getting confused with when Madi is playing and how long the game lasts etc.  But he would hang tough and sit out in the sun drinking lots of water and seemed pretty content.

C pool

He also LOVED our family vacation!  He wanted to be part of everything.  Really once again he was a trooper!! Got up early, stayed up late, enjoyed chatting with my extended family.  We rented a beach house with my family, it was a ton of fun.  Curt had always enjoyed the ocean.  He and the kids would be out there for hours………..now when he wanted to go out in ocean we were all nervous!

Curt in ocean

But he was pretty insistent about wanting to go in.  So Tyler was the first to get him out there, and we all quickly joined him out there.  Due to the spatial issues, he had trouble judging when the wave would break, and at one point Tyler literally picked him up to carry him out so the wave would not break on him.  So,Tyler, Madi and I, and my two surfer, boogie board riding brothers, kept a careful watch over Curt while he was in the ocean.  But as it is in the ocean, inevitably the “big wave” came, and despite our efforts, we all got toppled.  We all quickly pop out of the what feels like the wash cycle of the washing machine, all looking for Curt.  For that brief second no one sees him, and then suddenly his head pops up and he loudly proclaims, “That was AWESOME!!” And that expression seemed to capture our entire vacation for Curt.  He really enjoyed the long conversation with family, the pool, the beach and just some time away.

curt beach

hanging on the front porch

But the lazy days of summer are beginning to wane as we take Tyler to college to start his freshman year TOMORROW!  And I have some back to school commitments coming up as well as looking for people to stay with Curt in the fall.  Honestly I am not looking forward to the busy, crazy, stressful life again.  I  find myself getting a little battle weary…..maybe I am just getting older, maybe it’s that fun woman hormone craziness, maybe it’s Tyler leaving……….it’s probably all of it combined.

Assateague

But I have also come to understand Matthew 11:28 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Jesus gives the invitation to Come, but it is us who must get up and GO!!  We must Go the Lord, and give him these burdens.  Trying to carry them on our own just doesn’t seem to work real well! :)  So I am working more on Going to the Lord with the burdens of the day, I often try to carry them on my own. Working on that more for this Fall….Going to the Lord and LEAVING those burdens of the day there.

Going………….

Thanks again for your ongoing LOVE and prayers for our family!!

Morris fam

Dashing through the………

Dashing through the chaos

in a big blue mini van

Out to the activities we will go

Praying all the way

Oh…….Always on my cell, always on my cell, busy all the way.

Yes that is how I feel lately!  I really was hoping for more of a Silent Night type of Christmas  but for now I have the Jingle Bells chaos.

And that is what life is throwing at us right now.  As I write Madi has been sick with a bad cough and fever and was just diagnosed with the flu. I have not slept well listening to her cough all night and Curt snoring all night. :)  My big, just turned 18, young man, broke his ankle in a basketball scrimmage on the first day of December. The poor guy is SO disappointed to miss a big part of his senior basketball season!

ty crutches

And poor Curt really started falling apart the 2nd week of December.  He threw up one afternoon and for almost 4 days would barely eat anything and was so confused.  After consulting with his Dr.  we took him off his two Alzheimer’s meds, since they are also known to cause stomach issues.  And guess what…….he has starting eating again.  He is fully addicted to Snicker’s Ice Cream bars, eating 2-3 a day!   But I am thankful for that, compared to the NOTHING he was eating for about a week.  And since being off of the Alz meds, we have really seen NO difference at all in his Alzheimer’s symptoms.  The meds are made to stop the forgetfulness, and other Alz symptoms, but will do nothing to stop the onslaught/progression of the disease. 

Curt and I

So December has been ROUGH, I am not going to lie.  Throw in normal Christmas busyness and shopping, and activities, Tyler’s 18th birthday, Madi’s cookie party, indoor Lax games for Madi, basketball for Tyler, Dr. appointments for Tyler’s ankle and PT, our Fresh Air young man coming for Christmas, school stuff……  I was struggling……..

But as I ponder Christmas and the Christmas story I found myself thinking about Mary the other day.  Mary pregnant as can be, riding on some large, uncomfortable donkey to Bethlehem.  I can  imagine, that was ROUGH!!  Giving birth in a small, smelly stable, ROUGH.  No epidural, ROUGH!   Yet, as a result of those ROUGH times something really good, purposeful and life changing resulted. A tiny baby who could change the world!

And so in that moment I think to myself that our life may be a bit rough right now, but it is some how ALL part of God’s plan and purpose.  And in that I find such comfort and peace this December.  Even in the rough times we cling to a Hope born in a stable so long ago!  And the promise of the Hope in Jesus is truly what keeps us going!

Merry Christmas one and all from our house to yours!!!

50th Anniversary

My entire family gathering for my parents 50th Anniversary!

photo[1]

Someone from our church got our wood stove working again……so thankful!

madi christmas

My sweet and lovely 15 year old! 

cookie party

10th annual cooking baking party!!!  Always fun!

Tyler07

One of his senior pictures!!

Curt and I #2

Alzheimer’s and Marriage

I have wanted to write a post like this for some time now, but it very personal.  I just wasn’t sure if this is something I wanted to put out there.  But it’s Alzheimer’s, it’s this disease and it’s what I work through every morning when I wake up for school and leave Curt sound asleep at home and head off to school with out him.

Yes with out him!

That is what is so hard these days, we are married, we are a partnership, we are friends…..but as of late there are so many decisions, events, happenings…just life that I am living with out his input or involvement.

That partnership is dissolving and I am forging on ahead with out my sweet husband!

He becomes more and more oblivious to what is happening with in our household, he is more apathetic, and spends most of the day at the computer or occasionally watching the news or sports events.  He seems to relish time to himself and peace and quiet.

I try to get him involved with activities, he will linger for a bit, but finds more comfort in his daily, simple routine.

It’s a slow, grieving process, that each day seems to chip away a bit of our marriage.  I am painfully aware that he is not with us when we go places and that we are losing dear Curt as he slips more and more into the big black hole of Alzheimer’s.  He may be physically with us for something, but I can assure you the Curt that is with us, is not the same fun loving, active, involved, Curt that I have known for 22 years now.

(I just had to post this OLD pic of Curt, but as you can see he was such a fun loving, goofball Dad!!  He let the kids duct tape him to a tree!!!!)

As I was pondering much of this in my heart, I read the words below at a dear friend’s blog.  Her husband has had numerous surgeries for a brain tumor that has also caused endless seizures.  Her thoughts seem to reflect much of what I have been feeling.  So  I am going to borrow Helen words from Mom of Six 

” There is peace in my heart, we have times of laughter, I am thankful to God for so many things but life is not as it once was and it’s not as it should be.  God created Adam and Eve in that garden as perfect humans.  There was not cancer, pain, sadness, sin.  But when sin entered the world all of that changed.

And yes, I believe God is sovereign over all.  I believe that He uses ALL things for our good, even brain tumors, BUT they are a result of the fall and one day…oh one day…it will be different.  

Rev. 21: 1, 3-4 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…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.”  

Amen.

Phew, thanks Helen for helping me put some order to my scattered thoughts and ever shifting emotions!  We press on for there is Hope in knowing there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, and Curt will be made new and whole again!

I do have a big prayer request to mention.  Curt still struggles with the anger issue, it really has not gotten any better, I think I have just grown more numb to it all and have not let it consume me as it once did.  But we must find him a local neurologist.  We had planned to see an excellent neurologist in Hershey, but his practice is moving to NY.  Thus I am back to starting over.  So please pray that I can find someone local ( I do have a few names to call), that Curt will be willing to go, and that we can get in soon!! (I am afraid that will be the hard part!!)  Curt really needs some kind of med to help with the anger.  The things he says is just NOT HIM and I am the one he blames for everything.  I am glad it’s not the kids, but I do grow weary of it.  Tough to listen to!

Thanks friends and readers, I can not tell you how blessed we are by so many of you!!!  Can I just tell you how stinkin nice the people of this community are!  We have been blessed with meals and so many little acts of kindness!!  <3  We are thankful!

I also have a fun praise that I will post soon…….it’s a story of God’s providence for us through a lawn mower! :)  But that will have to wait for another day.

~Sandy

Calm before Spring

I can see it coming.  Pictures like this tell me it’s near. I see it on the horizon of our life.

Yep spring will be here before we know it.   I LOVE spring!  I love flowers, and truly relish seeing them begin to rise from the earth and bloom into something so beautiful.  It’s one of those little things in life I enjoy! :)

But this spring looks to be a bit crazy.  Madi is playing lacrosse and Tyler will have baseball.  When putting the sports schedule on calendar last week, I see there are some weeks when they have games the same day/same time and some  when someone has a game every day in that week.

To be honest it’s all a bit overwhelming.

Sports, household duties, some financial things we are taking care of right now, dealing with that anger issue that still lingers, rearing it’s ugly head at unexpected random moments, spring yard work, tons of paperwork to complete at school etc etc etc………

Curt is now so limited in terms of what he can contribute to the running of the household that it pretty much all falls on me.  So if you see me and I forget something you told me, just smile and remind me it’s ok. :)  I have forgotten some key things lately, simply because my brain is too full! But I am ok with that…it is how it is these days!


But as I am frequently reminded…take each day as it comes, don’t worry about the future.  Which I must admit can be hard.

But this devotion I read recently really hit home for me.  It’s from the devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sara Young. Um, yea you can see the section I starred in my book! :)

Keep your focus on My Presence in the present!  Yep, great point and a powerful reminder for me!

I am really choosing to focus on what is good not the struggles. 

Alzheimer’s is a wretched disease that we all confront as a family daily….but there are also some great things that happen to us also.  I am going to end this post with some of those good things.

This little gem sure has made my life easier!  I love the reminder app, I am constantly typing in little reminders for myself.  I am sure while you are chatting with me sometime you will hear my little reminder alert go off.  Just smile :)

Curt’s brother came for a long visit a few weekends ago.  It was a welcome diversion!

Oh and I must mention I devoured an entire box of these in 2 days! Not exactly a proud moment, but a good moment! :)

Thanks friends for your continued prayers and support!

~Sandy

Silent Night

When I was a kid my all time favorite Christmas carol was, “Silent Night.”  I loved the magic of singing it on Christmas Eve as I carefully lifted my just lit candle during the Christmas Eve candlelight service. 

But as I grew up, I realized I cherished the “moment”, but had really never “listened” to the lyrics and captured their true meaning.  Recently I have been focusing on those words penned back in the 1800′s by Joseph Mohr.  The man was born in 1792, yet his words still speak to my heart today!

My thoughts have been all over the place as of late, I may break down crying randomly while shopping at Target when I hear a dad talking to his son about buying a baseball bat.  Or when watching Curt play drums at church for the last time. Also when I hear Curt all excited about wanting to see Tyler play college baseball…..I just wonder if he will be able to.   Those tears seem to well up pretty easily as of late.

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.

Then, thankfully, there are some things that warm my heart lately, like I said my mind is all over the place.  Tyler got a baseball scholarship to Liberty University in Va…..that soothes my overworked brain and blesses this momma’s heart!  Tyler also just celebrated his 17th birthday with being “Player of the Week” in basketball and scoring 14 pts and grabbing 8 rebounds in a winning effort last week.  Those kind of things are such a welcome distraction!

  My girl Madi continues to get straight A’s as a ninth grader, she is so independent and organized, it brings me such relief to not have to worry about her grades and work ethic!  We also had a blast at Madi’s 9th annual cookie party a few weeks ago.

Ummmm, yes the girls have frosting on their faces.  Who knew it was a new trend!! :)

The kids lives do provide a welcome distraction from the stress of living daily with a monster named Alzheimer’s.  For that distraction I am so thankful!

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Some days I get so overwhelmed with all the cares of life I just curl up on the couch and want to do nothing.  I have so many things to tend to, I don’t know what to do first…. so sometimes I just do nothing.  Where do I even begin I ponder all the time.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

I seem to fear the future the most……I just don’t know how it’s all going work out for us.  Curt will require long term care, my kids may be in college at the time, they might not be….who knows how long this disease will take on it’s unruly course of demise.  I am a planner, the future is so unknown.  Curt now struggles daily with his reasoning ability…oh how I miss his wisdom!

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Oh but then there is that song again………it continues to replay in my thoughts frequently.

All is calm all is bright……………..

Christ the Savior is born!……………………

………….With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus Lord at Thy birth!

In the chaos of the day, Jesus was born in a simple stable, on a peaceful night with so little fan fare.   Somehow, the thought of the Almighty coming to earth in such a simple manner, calms my weary heart and mind. There in the storm of life at that time, Jesus steps onto the scene…..in a barn of all places.

All was calm, and suddenly the future got real bright for all of mankind! Our future is bright, not thanks to Alzheimer’s and my worries, but thanks to the redeeming grace of that precious baby born oh so long ago.  Yes our future my be tough at times, but it is bright.  The message is so simple that sometimes I can overlook it!  Jesus Lord, at Thy birth! 

And that Hope brings a calming smile to my face. :)

Yes ALL is calm, and ALL is bright at our household this Christmas!

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.

Homerun and A Heavenly Home

Tyler trotted around the bases during his Varsity baseball season this year with excitement, eventually tagging home plate as the team erupted into an impromptu celebration. It was his his first high school home run.

Reaching home as a sophomore was a reason to celebrate!

We traveled a ton this summer, new cities, new hotels, baseball games, lots of excitement.  But  I can tell you there was always such anticipation, joy and relief when I walked through the door of our home after days in a hotel coupled with lots of driving.  Dorothy’s words from The Wizard of Oz really took on new meaning.  “There is NO place like HOME, there is no place like home……”  I still recall the great relief I felt as I slowly sank into my favorite chair at home after a long road trip.  I LOVE MY HOME , I love my home……I would think to myself!

I must say I did not indulge in Black Friday shopping this year, I was too immersed in the Thanksgiving fun at my brother’s house to bother with it. Somehow shopping for hours on Friday after Thanksgiving really had no appeal to me.  I really enjoyed having FUN at my brothers house so much more than frantic shopping!  Uncle Scott’s go kart is always more fun than shopping for more stuff. :)

So the question is, what do Black Friday shopping, my desire to be at home and Tyler’s home run all have in common?  Yes we answer the big questions of life here at Jesus and Dark Chocolate! :)

I had such a strong  desire to go home after being on the road so much this summer.  Home to my refuge, my place rest, and peace and comfort.  And as we all did with Tyler’s home run, going home is also a reason to celebrate!! 

  ………..I am learning a lot these days about going Home…..about the importance of Home!  And I am not talking about my physical home here on earth,  I am talking about a heavenly Home.

With Curt’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease I see a whole focus shift for him.  His eyes are heavenly.  When I routinely asked him what he wants for Christmas……he replied “besides a few Eagles (football team) shirts, really nothing.”  He knows those things are not going with him to heaven.  And that is what they are….things, stuff, they have NO real eternal value.  He is buying and preparing for Heaven not for earth.

And as even I hate to admit this, my new, lovely Keurig coffee machine that I truly worship each morning, really has no lasting value.  Sure it brings me joy each morning as I put that little k cup in, and behold, with in moments my morning addiction awaits me. But it really has no eternal value.

HOME, yes our heavenly HOME is so much greater than Ty’s home run.  My heavenly HOME is so much greater than my cozy, refuge I currently call home.  And all those great deals you got on Black Friday and my sweet Keurig coffee machine truly have little to no lasting value. 

Yes I am thankful for Curt’s perspective.  It’s a wonderful reminder to me this Holiday season of the things that truly matter. 

Jesus sent to earth as a tiny baby, He grew to be the Savior of the world. 

HOME, our heavenly HOME, that perspective from Curt, is a wonderful Gift this Christmas season!

Thanks friends for all your encouragement, prayers and hugs!

~Sandy

Flood Fun

So we got a little rain around these parts.  Ok, a lot of rain, 8-12 in. worth.  Don’t believe me…..well here is one of my favorite places to ride bike.
Yep….see what I mean.  A.L.O.T of water! :)  So what do you do when your Governor declares a state of emergency, school is closed for 2 days, and endless friends have basements full of water.
You help out your friends and strive to make the best of it!  I came home from my first day of school tired and weary.  It was a long day.  My kids of course came home excited and full of energy.
Our creek had flooded and they wanted to tube down it!!
WHAT?????  I pondered?  You have got to be kidding.
Before I knew it, they were pumping up our inner tubes and gathering the neighborhood kids, I knew they meant business.
And as any decent mom does, I worried about the dangers of entering the wild current of the overflowing creek.  So I hiked back with the kids into the jungle of our rainforest looking for the Nile River to tube down…..a.k.a our creek.
We found the Nile,  and I soon found myself up to my knees in the angry waters taking pictures.  I trekked for what seemed like miles in the rain with the kids, watching them tube down the creek.
And before I knew it, I realized I was having FUN!  It had been years since I had been stream stomping! :)  Despite being so reluctant at first to go anywhere except to a couch with a blanket and a soft pillow, I was now prancing through an overflowing, wild stream like I did in my youth!

I guess that is how my attitude always is, I try to make the best of any situation.  If I don’t like something, or it seems to hard, I see it as a challenge and go after it.
That was me….until Oct. 1st, 2010, when Early Onset Alzheimer’s entered our world.
This situation with Curt has been a tough one to make the best of.  My usual positive, optimist attitude doesn’t always comply with my volatile emotions.  It seems almost daily I rise to the challenges of living with this disease….and living with 2 teens. :)  But some days I don’t rise to well, there are days I am beaten down, frustrated and overwhelmed!  My feisty fighter attitude seems to have been washed down the stream in the flood.
I miss my husband.
I miss the competent, leader that he was for our family.
Actually, There is so much that I miss about him.
I am sad for our future.
HOWEVER…..my story doesn’t end here. :)
There is HOPE in this storm of life. And that is what carries me on this journey.
It’s words like this:

“I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  Psalm 91:15

Do you see the word in?  Troubles will come and God will be with us in troubles!
It’s also songs like this one that inspire and strengthen me on this journey, in these troubles.


Sure it’s hard, but as Curt often says for those who know Christ and seek after Him, the journey ends well! :)  Yes……there is Hope, Goodness, and Love on this journey. For Almighty God is with us IN our frustrations and difficulties.  There is a Godly peace in the storm of life.
We may be beaten down and frustrated, but we do not despair.  For there is Hope!
  And that is something that  brings out the optimist side of me. :)

Thanks for your ongoing care and prayers for our family,

~Sandy

I don’t know……….

I thought to myself today that I should update my blog since it’s been awhile…………… our days have been filled with these 2 sports.

But aside from being consumed with sports, I have just been feeling pretty “I don’t knowish.” 

I know you are probably thinking wow, Sandy is so profound and expresses herself so eloquently!

But I just don’t know what to think…………

I don’t know about the future or what it holds for us

I don’t know how long it will be until Curt will get worse

I don’t know if I have any more patience left with in me on certain days

I don’t know what to make for dinner

I don’t know how to fix Alzheimer’s and just make it all better

I don’t know how to encourage Curt on some days

I don’t know how to file taxes

I don’t know how to use a chain saw to cut up the tree that fell in our woods

I don’t know how to stop feeling so overwhelmed some days

I don’t know how to plan for the future

I don’t know…….I don’t know what to think about even next year….how much different will it be

I don’t know if Aricept is really working

I don’t know if I am doing the right thing with all of our legal paperwork

I don’t know how to throw a lax ball with a lax stick

I don’t know how to start the whole recruiting process for Tyler for baseball

I don’t know how to encourage my kids on how to walk this journey

I don’t know if I can smile and answer for the 5th or 6th time as to who the game is against today.

BUT… I do KNOW this

I know who holds my unknown future.

Matthew 6:34 reminds me…….

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.

Matthew 28:20

Surely, I am with you always!

The Lord IS my shepherd ~ Psalm 23:1

Hudson Taylor once wrote

“~Not was, not may be, not will be, THE LORD IS my shepherd.  He is on Sunday, He is on Monday and through every day of the week.  He is in January, in December ( and during the busy spring sports season), and every month of the year.  He is when I am at home and in China. He is during peace or war and in times of abundance or poverty~”

Yes, I do KNOW something after all…………:)