Trusting in God When Mountains Crumble

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Sometimes when mountains crumble it is good to be still and know that God is God…

I’m reminding myself of this again, as I see my mother-in-law struggling to remember. She’s almost 95, and has been living with us for about two and a half years because of her dementia. She struggles daily now to know who we are, where her bed is, and what she just did. She was a very intelligent woman, and now so often she shakes her head, and puts her hand to her forehead, and says, “I’m all mixed up. I’m so confused.”

It’s so hard to see her go through this. But it was even more emotional going through it with my own mother. Each new loss wrenched my heart. I still remember the day my heart crumbled…

I had been visiting a few minutes with Mom when she looked at me, as she often did, and asked that familiar question, “Who are you?”

“I’m Cheryl,” I replied.  Usually this answer would cause her to smile and say, “Oh, Cheryl.” Or to ask “Cheryl Lynn?” with some recognition.

But that day she said, for the first time, “Cheryl…Who’s Cheryl?”

“I’m your daughter.”

“Oh,” she answered blankly.  And then politely added, “It’s nice you came.”

I said, “I love you, Mama.”

 “Oh, you do?”

“I do!”

“Okay,” she replied.

I told her about her four children and named all of them. She bit her fingernails and seemed uninterested.  I told her she was a good mama to us and took good care of us all the time. And she answered, as if I was speaking of strangers, “Is that right?”

And I was sitting with Mom in the same living room where she watched over me when I was a little girl, where she threw me birthday parties, where she handed out Christmas presents with joy, where we read our family devotions every night, where she rocked her grandchildren with love…and she was asking me who I was.  And wondering who Cheryl was.

And my heart crumbled and I fought tears.

I took a small Bible out of my purse and asked Mom if I could read to her and she agreed. I opened to the Psalms and read from chapter 46 (NLT)…”God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea…”  And a little later in the chapter…“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Alzheimer’s is a changing world.  It keeps quaking and shifting.  And things we thought were strong and forever, like mountains and like a mother’s love, crumble away and slide into the sea.

There is no safe place in Alzheimer’s. You can never expect things to be better tomorrow. In fact you can be pretty confident they will be worse.

There is no safety or security in Alzheimer’s.  But there is in God’s arms. He is our refuge and strength.  He is our help. He didn’t say we would get through it all without tears.  But He says we can do it without fear.

I can trust Him and be still and know that He is God.

I can’t control this disease.  I can’t make my mother-in-law’s mind remember anything. But I can know that God is with us and that He will help us today and through it all. And I can know that in the end we will be with Him for eternity and all will be restored.

So today I will rest in that.  And I will be still, as the mountain crumbles.  And I will know that He is God.

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15 comments

  1. My mom’s dementia is getting worse and it’s so hard to see thus once vibrant, lively woman disappear a little more.each day. Thank you for sharing as it helps to know that I’m not alone with these feelings.

    1. I’m so sorry, Alice. I understand how hard it is to see the mom you knew disappearing. You are not alone. Praying that God will comfort you and give you grace for the journey. ~Cheryl

  2. I understand all of this, my mom, sister and brother have all died with Alzheimers. I enjoy reading your posts because you put into words what caregivers feel but can’t express. I can remember so clearly the first time my mother didn’t know me, it is and was heart breaking, you cannot really understand Alzheimers until you have someone you have it

    1. Thank you, Martha. I’m grateful to hear my posts are meaningful to you! I’m so sorry you’ve lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s. We share in the heartbreak of it. May God comfort you. ~Cheryl

  3. Today my sweet Momma couldn’t remember her own name. Most of the time she knows I’m her daughter, but, lately, I’m the person who is in charge of this place (our home, which she now views as a facility where she is a resident). I am writing about my journey with my mother over at barefootlilylady and have shared a link to your blog today. Like Martha says in the comment above, “you put into words what caregivers feel but can’t express.” Thank you.

    1. I understand totally. My mother-in-law often thinks we are the people in charge here. Sometimes she asks who she should pay for her meal even. I appreciate your post and thanks for sharing. May God continue to give you grace for your journey. ~Cheryl

  4. Someone posted your link on Facebook and I am so touched by your writings. My husband had Lewy Body Dementia before he died almost three years ago. Caring for him was his last gift to me. He taught me unconditional love. ( I like to write poetry and my daughter set up a blog for me. If you’re interested it is mending.weebly .com.) Each one of your stories just tugs at my heart and I say, “Yes! Yes!”

    1. Your comments so touch me, Dorothy! Thank you so much! I love how you say, “Caring for him was his last gift to me.” That’s beautiful! It rings true with me and my mom, too. It was very difficult, and yet there was such a sweet tenderness, and lessons, and God’s grace, too! Thanks again for your encouragement, and may God bless. And thanks for sharing your blog– I look forward to reading it! ~Cheryl

  5. God bless you! Dementia and Alzheimer’s are so hard to watch. I was the main caregiver for my grandmother from the time I was in high school until the end of her life on Earth. It was so sad to watch her body and mind slowly deteriorate. I scheduled my wedding at a time that I thought she would be healthy enough to be there. Unfortunately, she was not. She was bed ridden at the time of my wedding and her health was dropping quickly. Three days after the wedding, she passed away. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. That was May 30, 2016 and it still bothers me everyday. The only thing that makes me feel better is having a recordable story book that I had her make for me before her dementia got too bad, it is my most treasured item.

    1. Oh God bless you for taking care of your grandmother. My college age daughter was the main caregiver for my mother the last year of her life. I was very involved too, and understand how hard it is. I’m so sorry she wasn’t able to be at your wedding, and that she passed so close to your special day.
      What a brilliant idea to have your grandmother make a recordable book! What a priceless treasure for sure! May God give you comfort and grace . ~Cheryl

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