CrossRiver Media Author Hunt – Stop # 1

Welcome to Stop # 1 on the CrossRiver Author HuntCR Author Hunt Pic

After you read my blog post I wrote just for you today, feel free to peruse my site and get to know me a bit, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the blog post. Join my email list at www.RJThesman.net  and answer the question I’ll give you below and you will receive a PDF of the “7 Tips for Caregivers.”

Before you head over to the next stop, collect the clue at the bottom of the post. You’ll need it to enter the drawing for CrossRiver Media’s giveaway.

Grand Prize:

One winner will receive a Kindle, loaded with CrossRiver books! The winner will be chosen randomly from among those who enter the correct phrase.

Other Prizes:

Four winners will receive hard copies of 3 different CrossRiver books, signed by the author !


My blog started several years ago as a way to encourage people who were going through a tough time. Then my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the life of our family changed.

As I blogged through my feelings, my blog became a bit more focused on providing encouragement to caregivers. But all of my original readers weren’t dealing with Alzheimer’s, so I decided to focus on the topic of “Finding Hope When Life Unravels.”

You’ll find posts about Alzheimer’s here as well as other encouragements and some of my own personal journey.

During November, which is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I’m posting about the topic: “What Alzheimer’s Cannot Do.”

I hope you’ll join me here and sign up for my monthly newsletter which features my writing life and my speaking events centered around the Reverend G trilogy. These novels are published by CrossRiver Media and include:

For my part in this Scavenger Hunt, I would love to send you a PDF version of the “7 Tips for Caregivers.” This is one of my speaking topics and an example of something you could share with a caregiver.

So how do you get this informative PDF? Sign up for my newsletter at www.RJThesman.net.

Then…in the comments section of this post, answer this question: How do you encourage caregivers, especially those who deal with an Alzheimer’s patient?

If you already subscribe to my newsletter, make a note in your comment. After the CrossRiver Author Hunt, I will be sending out a special edition of my newsletter, containing the  free PDF for all those who leave a comment.


 Thank you for stopping by during the CrossRiver Author Hunt!

Before you go to the next stop, collect your clue below. You’ll need this to enter the giveaway on the CrossRiver website.

“God”

Next stop on the CrossRiver Author Hunt: MelodyBalthaser.com

Have you stumbled onto the Author Hunt or forgotten what you’re supposed to do next?

  • Visit every author’s site that is part of the hunt
  • Collect the clue provided at each author blog
  • Sign up for each author’s email list / newsletter for extra chances at fun giveaways
  • Stop back at the CrossRiver Media’s website after you visit the last blog in the hunt and enter your clues for a chance to win the grand prize
  • Click here for a complete list of the rules

Happy Hunting!

Advertisements

A Valentine for Reverend G

“Wear your walkin’ shoes,” Chris spoke over the phone line. “I’ll be there in about 15.”

How was I so lucky to have a friend like Chris who recently graduated into a boyfriend? Was it appropriate to call a man in his early sixties a “boy”friend? I suppose I wasn’t a “girl”friend either, with my long white braid that hung over my shoulder and my early-onset Alzheimer’s that hung over what was left of my mind.

But here he was, dressed in bright blue sweats that contrasted nicely with his own white hair and the blue specks in his eyes. My guy friend, holding open the door for me, his Valentine date.valentine heart

We drove in his Caddie to downtown Lawton Springs and parked in one of the special lots that gave us at least two hours to roam. Downtown attracted tourists as well as the college students and locals, even on a warmer-than-average day in February.

Funky boutiques blended in with the national franchises. Starbucks next to Fannie Mae’s Linens, Minsky’s Pizza right across from the sparkly Gallery on the Glow. Even as close as Lawton Springs sat in latitude and longitude to Kansas City Metro, hundreds of people shopped in our city. It was, as the newspaper often quoted, “America’s Greatest Little Town.”

As we walked hand-in-hand along the sidewalk, we saw young people from the college and heard the dialects of international tourists with their Samsung cameras slung over their shoulders.

“Hi, Doctor Jacobs,” called one kid as he passed us on the street. Chris waved his hello, then told me, “One of my students from Theology 101.”

Then a former parishioner whose name I forgot because my Sometimer’s took over. Fortunately, he remembered my name as he tipped his KC Royals baseball cap and said, “Afternoon, Reverend G. God is good all the time.”

“Indeed,” I answered. Good all the time. God was good to give me this sunshiny and slightly brisk day with Chris, as we strolled along like two kids in their first waves of puppy love, knowing all the while that my days of any type of remembrance were numbered.

But hey – live each moment and in each moment. Wasn’t that what I always told my congregation? I think that’s what I said. It had been a while since I stood in front of them and preached something practical yet biblical. Months…days…years…I don’t know.

Chris steered me into the Brownie Bomb, another local franchise that served absolutely scrumptious ice cream with all natural ingredients. Little red tables and chairs invited us to sit while Chris gave the lady behind the counter our orders.

I knew they didn’t stock my usual Chunky Monkey, but Chris ordered my second favorite: the actual Brownie Bomb – bits of brownie batter with extra chocolate chips and a dollop of marshmallow crème on the top. Chris was more of a cherry and nuts man, so he ordered the Cherry Whiz with pecans all over it. Then he filled little Dixie cups with water and brought them to our table. In a few minutes, the lady brought us our ice cream, spoons and napkins.

We dug in, each of us doing our “Yum” sounds as we enjoyed the sugary treats. Then Chris reached into his back pocket and pulled out a red envelope.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Tru,” he said, pushing the envelope toward me.

“Well, thanks, Big Guy. I forgot to get you one, but you know…Sometimer’s and all.”

Chris nodded, and his eyes sparkled as I focused on his face. I slowly opened the envelope, then laughed as several of those candy hearts dropped out. “U R my Sugar” was stamped on one of them. Another one said, “Honey Bun.”

Chris and I took turns eating them, then he said, “Aren’t you going to open the card and read it?”

“Oh, sure.”

Inside, the pretty scroll writing said, “Be mine,” and beside it, in the block letters of Chris’s handwriting, “Please.” Below was a bigger candy heart taped to the card with the letters, “Marry Me” stamped on it.

I pulled the tape off and dunked the heart into my ice cream, then plopped it into my mouth. Chris waited while I chewed, then he took my hand and kissed my fingers, one by one.

“So what do you say, Tru?” he finally asked. “Will you be mine? Won’t you say ‘yes’ and marry me?”

Everything in me wanted to jump across the table and into his arms, repeating “Yes, yes, yes” a thousand times. But one wall still remained before I could make that leap. My fear of marrying a man I might soon forget. My knowledge that the dementia and Alzheimer’s that even now crackled inside my brain might one day change my personality to the point that this incredible guy sitting across from me would actually grow to hate the wife I would become.

I swallowed the last crumbles of the heart, then reached for a drink from my Dixie cup. “Chris, you know I love you. I just can’t marry you yet, not until I have absolute peace about it and my fear is gone. Can you give me just a little more time?”

Chris stood up and leaned over the table. He kissed me on the forehead, then cradled my face in his hands. “My darling Tru, I want you to be certain about this decision. And I’ll wait until you are absolutely sure, but in the meantime….” This time, a kiss right on the mouth. “In the meantime, you’re my Valentine, forever and ever.”

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Christmas with Reverend G

Christmas-CrossSome of my readers have wondered what Reverend G does for Christmas. So I asked her, and she said:

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, and even with my Alzheimer’s I remember so many past memories. My beloved Jacob in his Lone Ranger pajamas, tearing into his presents and so excited to find a toy replica of Silver. He ran all over the house shouting, “Hi- ho, Silver…Away.” The neighbors probably wondered how a minister raised such a wild kid.

The orange slices I piled into Jacob’s stocking, knowing that in a couple of months we would visit Mort, the town dentist and hear him say, “Reverend G, I’ll bet this boy of yours has been eatin’ more of them orange slices. Worst dang things for teeth.”

Of course, as a minister, my first priority was to make sure my parishioners understood the beauty and meaning behind Christmas. I worked for weeks on those sermons, and always surprised my congregation with a message about some of the more unknown characters. One year, I preached about the shepherds.

“Did you know, folks, that these same shepherds watched over the flock of sheep that were used in the temple sacrifices? Imagine that! These men and probably some of their sons heard the angels in heaven proclaim the news about Jesus. These shepherds, who guarded the sacrificial lambs, were the first to come and worship the Lamb of God.”

But as sweet as those memories, the present Christmas with my loved ones may prove to be one of the best. I still know all their faces and names as we sit in my living room, exchanging gifts and listening to Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” once again.

In the years to come, this stupid Alzheimer’s will steal my loved ones away from me. Christmas will be just another day on the calendar as I wait to die.

Oh God, oh God. Help me enjoy my loved ones now. Cache every memory of their faces, their smells, their voices into the deepest caverns of my soul. My brain might fail me, but my heart will always carry love for Jacob, Jessie, Chris and my blessed grandchild.

We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Chris and I danced around the living room while George and Mary did the Charleston on TV in the high school gym. Jessie cried when George Bailey found his way home and embraced his children after that infernal newel post came loose again.

Jacob sat on the sofa and petted Gabriel. Jacob is more into “The Grinch Stole Christmas.” He doesn’t like sentimental movies, although I’ve seen his eyes mist over when Cindy Lou Who peeks around the corner at the Santa Grinch.

Thankfully, Gabriel stayed in my apartment during Christmas week. Nobody transferred to heaven, so he didn’t have to work. You know, of course, about Gabriel and his special gift if you’ve read the book.

Jacob and Jessie gave me a new angel ornament to hang on my tree, the little tree that Chris and I decorated one afternoon. Then Chris and I put the nativity characters together while Jacob set up the little hand-made stable. I think one of my parishioners made that for me years ago. Can’t remember which one, but that doesn’t matter now. God knows who it was, and someday He’ll make sure that person receives a special thank you.

The funniest thing, though. Gabriel really loves the ceramic Baby Jesus. He leaves all the other characters alone, but he keeps carting off Baby Jesus. I walked into the living room and there were the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph – all staring into an empty manger. Gabriel scarfed the baby again.

So I searched under the sofa, under my bed, even in the litter box (gross!). Usually I find Baby Jesus in some of Gabriel’s favorite places – in a corner of the sofa, on the window seat where the sun is warmest, even next to Gabriel’s water dish. I guess he wants Baby Jesus to stay close to him and share his favorite parts of life.

Maybe that’s what we all need to do at Christmas and throughout the year. Let Jesus share in the favorite parts of our lives. We seem to always invite Him to share our sorrows, because it makes us feel better to have Him with us.

But I think He likes to laugh with us, enjoy a warm beam of sunshine or a soft corner on the sofa. I think Jesus just wants to hang out with us.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

Reverend G Strikes Again

With the release of “Intermission for Reverend G” and the signed contract for the third book in the series, I thought the petite minister with Alzheimer’s might slip out of my subconscious. I’m already ten chapters into another novel, a completely different type of book where nobody struggles with Alzheimer’s – yet.

Intermission 3D Cover-1You never know what a character might do.

So the other night, I was minding my own business and just finished reading a Psalm before I laid down. I fluffed my pillows, petted the cat and checked to make sure the alarm clock was set.

Then I started my prayers, but there she was – interrupting my prayers no less. This sweet little woman minister as clear as a bell in my head, visited me again and demanded to be heard.

So I listened. Reverend G stood somewhere in that place in the brain where characters live – her long white braid slung over her shoulder and Gabriel in her arms. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, I wondered what she could possibly tell me.

Maybe another phrase I could use in the rewrite of the third book in the series? Maybe a clue about one of the other characters – somebody she wanted to converse with? Or maybe she had some wonderful spiritual nugget she wanted to share, something that might help a reader and also might add value to my soul.

I listened carefully to my beloved main character and could hardly believe what happened. Maybe it was the Alzheimer’s pulling a trick on both of us. I don’t know.

But as clear as a bell, Reverend G sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run….”

The rest of Kenny Rogers’ hit song faded in the background as Reverend G turned around and carried Gabriel to – wherever characters go to wait until they visit the subconscious of the writer again.

Really. You just never know what a character is going to do.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Excerpt from “Intermission for Reverend G”

Intermission Rev G Cover“I’d like to see your mother gain a little weight. She’s a bit below the charts.” Jacob sat beside me in one of the chairs in Doc’s old office while the new doctor in town flipped through my chart and made a notation.

I watched him scribble whatever orders or medicines he thought might improve my health. His gorgeous dark skin contrasted totally with his white lab coat. Perfect spoken English, obviously from India.

I glanced at his certificate on the wall, framed in dark mahogany; “On the recommendation of the faculty of the Harvard School of Medicine, the trustees have conferred on Kumar Anjee the degree of Doctor of Medicine.”

Jacob crossed his legs and reached for my hand. “Doctor Anjee, my mother eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly. She walks every day. We were wondering if perhaps any new drugs or supplements might help with the memory loss.”

Doctor Anjee closed my chart and leaned forward to address Jacob. “That is good. Walking is the best possible exercise, but of course you know – all indications are that the brain continues to wither, especially the temporal lobes.”

Wither. What a disgusting word! Old withering Reverend G. Withering like a rotten tomato on the vine, left too long in the Kansas sun. Withering brain cells drying up and disappearing into the sunset of life. Withering old lady with dried up temporal lobes.

I can’t stand it, God. I’m withering like a plum that morphs into a prune. Is there a Bible verse that talks about withering? How am I supposed to deal with this? How am I supposed to age gracefully if I’m withering? And why won’t this doctor look at me? Doc Sanders never treated me like this.

The doctor continued, “You also might begin to notice another type of regression, almost a personality shift. Your mother may exhibit more of the behavioral characteristics of an adolescent; such as arguing, becoming more interested in childish things, maybe even a desire for toys.”

Great! Not only was my brain withering but I also lived in a time warp. What happens next? Zits?

My stomach growled, and Doctor Anjee glanced at me. Must have heard the rumbling. He made another notation in my chart. Probably something like “Withering old lady has a loud stomach especially when sitting in office chair.”

“Can you tell me your name and your birth date?” he asked without looking up.

“Yes.” Idiot man. Of course I could tell him my name and my birth date. I just chose not to.

Jacob laughed. “Well, sir, she did answer your question.”

Not even a snicker from the doctor. He made a checkmark on my chart then asked, “What day is this?”

I was ready for this one. I practiced it all morning, because I knew the doctor always asked that question. “It’s the day after yesterday and the day before tomorrow.” So there, big shot doctor who never looks at his withering patients.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Why Book Signings are So Important

Many authors, especially the more famous ones, avoid book signings. They feel that the amount of work required to put into a book signing doesn’t equal the sales returned. The ROI doesn’t calculate in favor of the author.

But I disagree. Book signings are some of my favorite events.book sign - 2nd book

With my most recent book signing, I was billed as a native of Enid, Oklahoma. The Hastings store in my home town hosted the signing and helped me advertise it.

What makes a successful book signing? Some authors believe selling 10-50 copies constitutes a success. But for me, the success of the event centers around the people who attend.

For example, in Enid, the following people visited my table:

• A prayer partner – a woman who faithfully prays for my ministry as writer, life coach and program director at GateWay of Hope. She also prays for my personal concerns and the cares of my family.

• My former piano teacher – the woman who taught me how to follow the notes but also how to play with my soul. She is still teaching me because every time we visit, I am awed and inspired by her gracious personality and her godly character.

• A high school and college friend – this woman has taught me about the importance of faith, especially when life unravels in different directions. She encourages me through social media and by attending the events that are important to me. She is an example of the believers in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith.

• The sister of another high school friend – she came to buy each of the books so that she could read them and then send them on to her sister. Every time I see her at church, I am struck by the peace of God that rests on her, and I feel blessed.

• A friend of our family who continues to meet weekly with my mother, walks around the mall with her and drives her to Braum’s so they can have biscuits and gravy together. I have known her all my life and appreciated her kindness to our family.

• My own sister who buys books for six of her friends, filling her Christmas list early and encouraging me in the process. She interrupts her own schedule to fill my needs.

• A pastor and his wife who show loyalty to the family of their parishioners and continue to encourage me in my writing journey.

All these people uplifted me because they took the time on a busy Saturday to drive across town and buy one or more of my books. I know they will read the books and probably tell someone else about them. They will pray for me and that will build up my coverage in heaven for this wordsmithing I do.

But then – just as I began to pack my remaining books away – another person approached the table, picked up a book and asked, “What’s it about?”

“A woman minister,” I said, “who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She lives in assisted living and meets a whole group of interesting characters.”

“Perfect,” she said. “My mother’s best friend just went to live in assisted living. Mom doesn’t know what to do to help her, and she misses her so much – the things they used to do together.”

We talked for a while about how life changes so rapidly and how difficult Alzheimer’s and dementia can be for the caregivers. She bought the first book, “The Unraveling of Reverend G” and slipped a bookmark for the second book, “Intermission for Reverend G” into her purse. She picked up a business card, “So I can follow you online,” she said, “and buy the second book on Amazon.”

Then she moved toward the register, and I continued to pack up my books, grateful that I waited a few more minutes so that I could share hope with this lovely woman.

All my book signings have been successful – that is – I’ve sold more than 10 books. But the best part of the entire process is that I get to meet face to face the people who read the words God has given me. I get to thank them for coming and hopefully bless them with a hug or a handshake.

I meet people who will be encouraged by the story of this brave little minister with Alzheimer’s Disease, people who are caregivers, who experience the 36-hour day and know firsthand how it feels to live with a loved one who sometimes forgets.

Book signings are another way to share the message that no matter how dire life gets – God is still good and he never stops loving us.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

What Jacob Thinks About Alzheimer’s

When I write a novel, I do quite a bit of pre-writing on character sketches. Some writers focus on plots, but I believe that if you really know your characters, they will write the book through you. So lately I’ve wondered, how is Jacob doing these days? How is he dealing with his mom’s Alzheimer’s and the affect it has on him? Below is his answer.

Mom is sleeping now so these quiet moments give me time to write a few thoughts. The facilitator of our Alzheimer’s support group said it was helpful to journal about our feelings.Alz awareness

At first, I had a hard time writing about it. I hate this disease that is taking my mother away from me, piece by piece. In fact, my first journal entry only included the words “I hate Alzheimer’s” – plastered on the page about 50 times.

But gradually, since Chris, Jess and I have been attending the support group, it’s become easier for me to write about it. Jess say I’m becoming more “open,” whatever that means.

I still can’t believe this horrible thing has happened to my mom. She spent her life helping others yet now, she can’t help herself. Today, she’s having trouble even focusing on the chapter in the Bible she tried to read.

As a devoted mom, she never forgot about me in the process of serving her church and community. She cleared her schedule to attend my ballgames and several times, I heard her yelling encouragements to me from the bleachers.

“Atta’ boy, Jacob. Nice catch. Way to go.”

One time, she forgot her title was Reverend, and she yelled at the ump. To be fair, he made a bad call, but he was slightly blinded by the dirt that flew up when my buddy, Tommy, slid into third base.

Mom hollered, “Are you nuts, Ump? He was safe by a mile. Go get your eyes checked – now!”

She did apologize after the game, and the ump tipped his hat toward her. He was either being nice about it or recognized her as Reverend G and gave her some grace.

Even now, I can hear Mom’s voice, although she hasn’t spoken clearly to us for several days.

“Expressive aphasia,” the speech therapist calls it.

“Exasperating,” is how I label it.

I can predict when Mom tries to communicate. Her forehead scrunches up and she fiddles with her long white braid. Sometimes a clear word or two slips out, but usually it’s a nonsense type of sentence. Then when we can’t understand her, Mom gets frustrated. One time last week, she threw a coffee cup across the room. It must be so terrible to want to speak and not be able to connect with anybody else in the room.

Mom just opened one eye and peered at me. She tried to say something, but quit when only a squeak came out.

Instead she reached out her hand to me and I held it in my own. She has tiny hands and now, she’s lost so much weight, I can see almost every vein.

But I’ll sit here as long as I can, until she falls asleep again. I’ll wait and hold her hand, because I know a day will come when she’ll no longer reach for me.

I hate Alzheimer’s.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1