He STILL Sets The Captives Free…
The painting above has nothing to do with this post – it’s just there because this is a painting blog. There’s no way around it – this is going to be a long one. Go get a cup of coffee and sit down and let me tell you about what my Jesus did today and please forgive the many typos my proofer is busy. All I can say is that my cup overflowith. I got an e-mail from a friend with a list of opportunities to serve in the community last week. There were two that stood out to me and I responded to the easier of the two. I’ve been praying and looking for ways to look outward and serve instead of inward lately. So since this door opened I thought I would see if the Lord had anything “inside” for me. The opportunity was to go to an assisted living facility and paint nails – easy enough. So I e-mailed the contact person (Gayle) and told her I was interested in helping. Her reply was that she already had enough help. I went back and forth on if I should tell her I was interested in the second option. The second option was a call for a “special person” (sooooo not me!) to sit and read and talk to some Alzheimer’s patients in their final stages of Alzheimers. The patients are in the basement of this facility behind locked doors. Ugghh – not sure if this is for me or not – were my first thoughts – this may be too much for me – can I do this??? After praying I responded that I was interested in helping her on Fridays. She sent me a pretty detailed e-mail about what it consisted of and told me it was a position for someone who was called to do this. We e-mailed some more and decided I would meet her up there today and “test the waters”. I’ll be honest – I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I was up for it or not. But the door was still open and I thought I would go in and see if the Lord wanted me to stay. Gayle told me she spends a lot of time in prayer before she goes so that let me know I needed to do some serious praying before I went today too. For some reason this morning I wasn’t nervous at all. My prayers consisted of asking the Lord to give me His love for these people, to help me not turn back because of my flesh, and to be with me when I went into the “dungeon” (that’s what I was imaging it to be like). My first blessing was in the parking lot meeting Gayle. I knew this had to be a special lady if she was doing something like this. Come to find out she is Tina’s (the one who first sent me the e-mail) mother-in-law. As soon as I met her I knew I was going to like her – there was a kindred spirit. After we were led down the elevator and taken behind locked doors we met some of the ladies. We sat down and the only way I can describe what happened next is that the Spirit showed up. My throat started closing up, a large lump grew in my throat and my eyes turned into living wells. I lost it. For those who know me know this is not a normal thing for me – I’m not a weepy person. I got myself together quickly but I immediately loved these women. My heart hurt for them and went out to them. I couldn’t wait to love on them for this short hour (which turned into longer than that because we were having so much fun with them). It’s been a while since I’ve laughed so much. Our time with them started by Gayle pulling out her big bag of stuff she’d brought for us to do with them. Sarah (aka the resident thief – you’ll see why in a minute) shouted when Gayle pulled the bag out – she said something to the effects of – “there’s my bag! I knew it was somewhere” – she basically accused Gayle of stealing her bag. When Gayle proceeded to pull play-dough out of the bag Sarah said, “my bag had that in it too!!!” I guess to affirm that that was HER bag. Gayle then asked one of the ladies (I can’t remember her name but she was quite unforgettable) if she wanted to play with play-dough. The elderly lady shot Gayle a horrible look and said, “Did you just tell me to go to hell? Well you can go to hell too!” I lost it!!!! Gayle said, “no I didn’t say that!” One of the ladies walking by told her to not talk like that. She wanted to know why and I told her that can hurt people’s feelings when you talk to them like that. Gayle told her it also hurt Jesus’ heart. The lady replied with, “Did He tell you that?” Gayle said, “Why yes He did.” “Hmpph” was all the elderly lady replied. I knew the day was going to be interesting after that. The whole time was filled with one conversation after another like that. These ladies were a hoot! We had the best time with them. Irene was one of the ladies sitting by me. My heart is still hurting for her. She is bound up by fear. She’s like a scared little bird who jumps at everything. At one point she started to eat the play-dough and Gayle and I both told her NO at the same time. I considered going “in” after it but thought to myself that I was pretty sure you wouldn’t die from eating play-dough, well next thing I know Gayle IS GOING IN!!! I just knew she was going to loose a finger! She came out with all her fingers in tact thank goodness. If this post wasn’t so long I would tell you the funny stories about the baby doll Gayle brought and many other funny things. Well, the hour and a half flew by and it was time to clean-up and go home. Marianne (the sweetest and cutest little thing) couldn’t find her glasses so we started looking for them. Earlier Sarah had stolen them and we had to make her give them back – so I figured Sarah had taken them again. I went to Sarah and told her she needed to give Marianne’s glasses back. That didn’t work so Gayle told her we needed her help to find Marianne’s glasses. Next thing we know she was pulling them out of her pocket and gave them to Marianne. Sarah comes over to me and tells me she really doesn’t need them that much any ways and doesn’t it feel good when you can help someone who’s in need J. It was all too abundantly good. I am going to miss those sweet ladies until I see them next week. In an hour and a half my Father gave me His love for these sweet ladies and “set the captive free” if only for an hour and a half. These ladies were first held captive by the walls of their minds and now are held behind walls of brick and mortar. Only my Jesus can set them free from both and bring Light into the dark places. I can’t wait to meet with Him again next week in the “dungeon” – a place of forgotten captives who my Savior dearly loves and wants to bring joy into their dark world.
WOW! You had QUITE a morning! Oh, and by the way – play-dough is non-toxic!
Yes, it was more than I was expecting in many ways! Glad to know Irene won’t die from the play-dough. I’ll let Gayle know she can keep her fingers out of the danger zone :).
I think you are one of the most beautiful young women that I don’t know! You have found the secret to eternal beauty! Your “insides” shine His glory and it comes out all over the paper and over the internet!
Keep shining! Amanda
Well, goodness Amanda what a comment! I have to admit though that the only good thing in me is Christ – the only shining you will see is Christ when I push the flesh away and let Him glimmer (unfortunately that’s not nearly as often as I’d like). Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read, look at my blog, and leave a comment!!!
I hear the shackles hit the floor as you dance in His Faithfulness! Thank you for being so transparent…I rejoice with you as you join Him where He is working in the dungeon…I expect a painting of these ladies soon!
Thank you Susan! There were some of the ladies I’m dying to paint – they were cute as can be! I could have taken several of them home with me! I am going to take my paints there one day and paint for them. Gayle thinks they may enjoy watching me paint. We’ll see what the Lord has in store.
Beautiful Story Sandi!
Thank you Melody! Thanks for having us over last night – we really enjoyed ourselves!
Sandi, My mom died of Alzheimers almost five years ago. Before my mom got ALZ, I thought of everyone that had it as crazy loons who must’ve never had it together in the first place. I guess if I took the time to think about it, that wouldn’t be quite right, but it just didn’t seem they could have ever been normal b’c they were so far gone.
Then MY momma got Alzheimers. MY momma. Before the disease she was wonderfully encouraging to us, a writer and editor (once for Lifeway), a gifted seamstress (she’d make the most beautiful smocked dresses for us as little girls, any outfit we picked out, and one of my prom dresses!), a BSF studier, and had all the mental faculties to keep three busy kids’ schedules straight! Then it all began to crumble.
The worst was when we got the diagnosis and she knew what was coming. She’d seen Alzheimer’s patients before and knew them and their antics. And she knew that’s what she would become. It was terrifying to know you would die a slow, miserable, and crazy death, and that there was no cure.
It started with losing things and putting things in strange places, leaving the oven on, and she was giving things in our house away. Then it progressed to her language skills. She couldn’t speak or really even understand what we were saying. That killed me the most to not have my momma talk to me. I guess it was a blessing in a way because she didn’t say a lot of the off the wall things to show how her brain was being ravaged.
And then the end. Waiting for the end. I think I was waiting for the end as soon as the disease began. I many times begged God to just take her because the misery she was going through (and us watching her) was seemingly too much to bear. But it stretched on and on. From assisted living to more advanced care facilities to Alive Hospice it stretched on. And on.
During the times that she was in the care facilities, I hated it. The people working there seemed not to realize that this was my momma – my momma who was previously very smart, talented, and such a loving momma. I wanted to scream to them that she was the exception to the other patients around her. Although then I would see their daughters and sons, the pain in their eyes, and I knew they must be the exceptions too.
I hated her living in those, but my parents were divorced. My sister and I were all in our twenties – my brother in his teens. We couldn’t care for her alone. We had no choice. So we trusted her caregivers to take care of her in these facilities, but I would worry. I would worry because we heard stories and saw things that we knew weren’t quite right. I think they did their best. But there were things that weren’t right. But we didn’t have any choice but to wait. And pray.
So kudos to you Sandi. And I know you aren’t doing it for that reason. But, it is NOT the easiest assignment, and I know you will be making a difference. Because the times when I was in the facilities and saw someone who truly had the light of Christ in their face, true compassion for my mom, and true joy taking care of her – those people to me were saints of sorts. They gave me peace of mind that my mother had someone who really cared for her. And, even though the patient’s minds are mere shells of what they once were, in my experience they can understand so much more than what you think. So thank you.
I know this is long, but I just wanted to try and give you a face and story with the disease. I’m sure you have your own as well.
Oh Sarah, that sounds like such a hard thing to go through! The wife of one of the alzheimers patients lives upstairs so she can be close to her husband and she stopped by to tell us how much she appreciated what we were doing. She said no one visits them. Ugh! I’m also hoping Gayle and I can minister to the staff there and help them see the treasures that are before them. It was very interesting how they looked at us yesterday – it was like they were looking in on something – like we were enjoying something and finding joy in something that has been right before them all along. I’m praying that we can tell them about Christ and help them see that they are doing a very important job and to treasure these little ones in their care. Please pray for us on Fridays if you think of us.
I used to do pharmacy consulting for nursing home facilities. The Alzheimer units were some of my favorite places to be. Those patients are just precious precious people. There was never a dull moment. I took a break one time, only to come back and find my lunch bag, coat and keys missing. I found them a bit later….the lady was wearing my coat and had my lunch bag strapped over the arm rest of her wheel chair. She was pretty sure that my keys were her house keys! Love those patients.
My grandmother died w/Alzheimer’s 7 years ago and now my mom is starting to show a few signs as well….so scary. Like Sarah described above it is so SAD to see your loved one becoming someone so different from whom you’ve known and loved for so long. It’s like they become a totally different person. It becomes so hard to relate to them anymore and our natural tendancy is to pull away out of fear. So thank you Sandi for allowing God to take away your fear and go in their “dungeon” with HIM. They are and forever will be HIS princesses whom HE loves and wants to set free from their dark “dungeon.” Thank you for bringing HIS “light” into their darkness. Love you sweet sister!
Christy, it’s SO good to hear from you – we have got to get together girl and catch up! I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother and now your mom – hard stuff!! I love you too sweet sister!
What an incredible story, Sandi! I too hurt in my heart for these women and am so very glad that you and Gayle were there with them for a time. I will so look forward to hearing of your times with these women. And by the way, I think the painting is absolutely fabulous!!!
Thank you autumnleaves (you must leave me your name :)!) – thank you for listening to my story. I do pray there are more each week to share as we submit to Him and pick-up the towel and “wash” these ladies “feet”. Thank you for the sweet comment about the painting. I wish I had had room to talk about it – it’s a favorite of mine – but I could hardly take up space about a painting after what my Jesus did that day.
I love your story! I also love how you are willing to be still and listen to what God wants you to do. It’s so hard to be obedient when something goes against our nature. Isn’t it wonderful how He prepares us for what he wants w/o us even knowing it?
Hey Tara! Thank you for the kind AND encouraging comment!
LOL; my name is Sherry. Sandi, I would like to ask you to pray for a friend of mine named Dan. He is a wonderful Christian man with a wife, three kids, and grandchildren too. He is undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma (his blog site is on my blog if you are interested). He had one stem cell treatment from his twin brother and fortunately did go into remission. Unfortunately, as a twin, the brother’s new stem cells eventually were treated as Dan’s own and the MM came back with a vengeance. He has recently undergone two stem cell treatments from another brother. It hasn’t taken over the bad cells as well this time. He continues numerous treatments. He is, and always has been, a wonderful teacher of God’s word. He is also a good man, good husband, good father, good friend. Thank you, darlin’.
Great to put a name with the comments 🙂 Sherry! Ugh, I hate to hear about your friend Dan – I will pray for him. Sherry, send me your blog address – for some reason I’m thinking I should be able to get to it from your comments but all I can find is how to get your e-mail address. Would you mind leaving it for me in a comment?
Hey Sandi: Good to read your story. I was touched. I work with ladies like that in the ER and it is very hard. I understand some of what you felt.
I went and painted nails yesterday and God blessed me as well. He definitely will leave an imprint on your heart when we obey his command to reach out. Funny, the times I do “think” I am making an attempt to minister and love on people in the name of Jesus, I am always the one who gets ministered to. God is great, I love him……
Thanks for sharing your lovely story. I am so glad you made the choice to go.
Lynn, did you go paint nails with Gayle? She’s got a group doing that on Wednesday’s some place. You are SO right about in ministering to others most often times we are the ones most blessed.
[…] pin point when the fullness started – it was the week I said yes to go volunteer with the Alzheimer’s patients. For some reason God’s word catches me off guard sometimes when it actually proves true. […]