Hope Falters

She was a lovely woman and an expert in her field – the stager sent by the realtor to prepare my house for sale. At the outset, she warned me, “I’m not here to offend anyone. I just want you to get the most money for your house.”

I was prepared for her to move things around and give me some decorating ideas, but I was emotionally blindsided by the number of my treasures she declared, “This has to go.” Basically, she dismantled my house and my personal stuff.Debris of move

She left piles of things in every room to get rid of in order to most effectively sell the house. She was very good at her job, and I learned so many things about spacing, color, lighting, even the size of pictures as they become a statement beside a bed or on a wall.

Buyers will be looking for the feeling of space and for a neutral territory where they can set up their home. Anything personal of mine will interrupt that neutral feeling, so it cannot be in sight.

The stager showed me how to hide certain things, such as the litter box, so buyers are unaware the house once was ruled by a cat. Betsey, aka Gabriel, would disagree, but she will find her box and discreetly do her business – a bit perturbed that her abode has been disturbed.

I learned how important my stuff is to me. Most of my things are the early attic variety, garage sale finds or something I have restored that another person threw away. Nothing has great intrinsic value – except in my soul.

While I know we are not defined by our stuff, in a way – yes, we are.

Quilts, a cradle, an antique telephone – all carry sentimental value for me. The quilt my grandmother and her sisters made for my wedding – a creamy yellow, with butterflies made from the scraps of their lives, babies’ bonnets, a favorite shirt.

The cradle, fashioned by my dad, held my newborn son as we rocked him to sleep that first Christmas. The fire blazed and kept my baby warm. Dad woke up every thirty minutes to check on the heat emanating off the logs. A sweet memory, a grief rekindled.

The old telephone my parents pieced together by visiting scores of flea markets and antique shops, then proudly gave to me one Christmas – long before Alzheimers invaded our lives and stole that precious memory.

Yet none of these treasures made the cut. “Get rid of them or find a place to store them – out of the way,” the stager instructed.

How can I shove my lifetime out of the way?

As she finished her work, the stager and I learned a bit more about each other. Both of us write. Both of us have journeyed through divorce and experienced pre-judgement by the established church. Both of us love cats.

When she left, we hugged and I was glad for a new friend, for her many suggestions which I know on some level are right and will help me sell the house.

But somehow, I also felt violated and discouraged, certain my life was going to change, wondering how I could decide what to let go.

The piles of my life’s debris reminded me how mortal we are and how fleeting is life – a mere breath – a candle that should be given away to bring another person joy, a sofa table so out of date no one would want it even if it was free.

My son was shocked and upset by the suggestions made for how we needed to purge more and more and more. As we talked through our emotions, he finally said, “Change is hard for me, Mom. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.” 

A wise young man. I admire his honesty.

Although the purging pains my soul, my journal entries speak the truth. This duplex has never been home for me; it was only a place to settle while I worked in this town.

Now that all my pictures have been stripped off the walls, my mantel decoration has been condemned and the detritus of my life lies in piles on the floor – it feels even less like the place where I can freely write, create stories and be my authentic self.

So my son and I are trusting God to provide something wonderful for us again, just as he has done through every step of the post-divorce journey. If we have to stay in this duplex, then we’ll be grateful for a roof over our heads. And it will be cleaner, sans the stuff we no longer need.

In “Jesus Calling” Sarah Young writes, “Anticipate coming face-to-face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle…When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to God! Allow him to fight for you. Watch him working on your behalf.”

So that’s where I am this day – purging, mourning the loss of stuff, and waiting for next steps – clinging to God and trying to find hope.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Releases

Woman-celebratingWe learn to release in tiny increments, although those steps represent monumental heart blips in life.

When we help our five year-olds zip up their new backpacks, then watch them walk away from us toward the kindergarten room. They feel excitement as they begin the educational journey. With tears, we pray for strength to let them go. We release them to the system, to the process of learning, to embracing social skills and finding their direction in life.

Release continues: the first time they drive alone, first dates, first college visit. Then 18 short years after we push them through the birth canal, we release them as they launch toward college or the workplace.


Release carries with it the stretching grief of necessary growth.

During this season, I work on releasing Mom into the final stages of Alzheimers, knowing what the end result will be – what it must be.

Release for her will result in a glorious heavenly welcome while it spontaneously leaves us missing her and longing for our own release. The hope of a future release and the relief of eternity with God.

Last week, I posted about the prayers I have whispered and my place in God’s waiting room.

For a life-long planner like me, it is difficult to make the plan a reality when I cannot hear the answer and do not know the direction. Waiting requires a type of release – letting God work his miracle timing and trust that he knows – always – the best ending for my questionings.

The prophet Isaiah foreshadowed our need for release. “These things you carry about are loaded as burdens on the weary beasts” (Isaiah 46:1).

We can choose to carry the burdens – to sacrifice peace by loading our hearts with worry and fear.

Or we can release our prayers, visions and dreams into the capable hands of a wise God who knows the end from the beginning.

My task is to speak God’s truth, write his words, then release everything to his care.

His role is to work it all out so that others will be drawn to his love and ultimately find their final release in his home.

Still waiting and staying in hope, but trusting that release will usher in the answers.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Stage 2 of Alzheimer’s – Questions

As told by Reverend G … Stage 2 - Alz

Such a subtle change, but scary nonetheless. I wonder what is happening to me but don’t feel the need to check with Doc Sanders.

Tiny signs. A forgotten phrase during the Lord’s Prayer. A trip to the grocery store, then realize I forgot my list and can’t remember anything I need.

Surely it’s only stress or maybe a weird virus where neurons stop firing together. Maybe a simultaneous mix of allergies that somehow have attacked my memory bank.

Why God? Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? I can’t stand it.

Again, you send me to the book of Isaiah – this brave prophet who carried your message so faithfully.

Today I read from Isaiah 48:1-2, “Hear me, my people, you swear allegiance to the Lord…and brag about depending on the God of Israel.”


So if I believe in God’s power to keep me safe and if I depend on him for everything, then I need to live it out.


When I forget my own birthday, rely on God to help me.

When I miss a line in the Lord’s Prayer or the Doxology in front of my entire congregation and I am so embarrassed, trust that God will cover me with grace. He is never too embarrassed to love me.

When I don’t understand what’s happening to me, depend on God’s wisdom.

If, as his follower, I believe I belong to him…if I boast that he is faithful…then I must continue to walk down this road, believing he will walk with me.

I am afraid. I do not understand and yet – I am held in the palm of his mighty hand.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books – http://bit.ly/1RH27AT

4 Treasures in Dark Places

Today I welcome a writer who shares the same publisher with me, Cross River Media. Angela D. Meyer is the author of “Where Hope Starts,” a story about God’s redemption in the middle of a crumbling marriage. Angela lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of more than 22 years. She home-schools their daughter and recently graduated their son who is now off to the Marines. She has taught Bible classes for over 35 years and served for almost three years on the leadership team of her local Christian writers’ group. Angels loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea. 

 “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 43:3 (NIV)

I worked in the kitchen and attempted to bury my emotions. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I do remember feeling sorry for myself. I tried to dump chicken bones into a garbage bag, but spilled them onto my freshly cleaned floor. Angela Meyer

Past overwhelmed, I bent to clean up the mess and began to cry out to God. His peace crept into my heart.

God used a moment of despair to bring me to my knees: the place I needed to go to find my strength. I couldn’t help but laugh. The method was not my favorite. Who wants to clean up old chicken bones? 

God’s ways may not be conventional or expected, but He does redeem our seasons in the valley. Some of the blessings I have uncovered when I turned to God during the dark times include:

Strength. When we stop trying to do everything ourselves, God steps in and supplies the strength we need. He is stronger than anything we face.

Peace. Once we experience His presence with us through the dark places, trust comes a bit easier. We can rest assured that no matter the circumstance, He keeps us in the palm of his hand.

Wisdom. Experiencing God’s provision first hand gives us an understanding of His character. This translates into other situations and teaches us how to behave in a way that brings glory to God.

Gratefulness. When we intentionally take notice of all that God is doing around us, even in the middle of a trial, it helps us pull our head out of the muck and be grateful.

The times I need Him the most seem to be the most difficult to let go of my will. But it’s worth it to allow Him to fill my heart with blessings.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

 What blessings have you found in the dark places of your life?

Long Distance Caregiving – Pray

Throughout this series about the LDC, I often alluded to the importance of prayer. Praying_Hands

My personal intercessory team lifts me up in prayer before every trip to Oklahoma.

My siblings know people in their churches, their cell groups and their networks who pray for them.

Certainly, we all pray for Mom. I pray that she won’t have to suffer a long time with Alzheimers and yes—I know what that means. I know that I’m asking God to take her home where she can be with Jesus, with Dad and with her parents.

What’s the point of pretending? Mom is a strong believer. Her faith is intact even if her brain is scrambled. I pray that God will release her to go home.

Every night and sometimes during the daytime hours, I pray for my sister. I’ve seen how her health has been affected. Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies, so I pray for my sister to find relief from the pain, to sleep well and to find the joy of living.

I pray for my brother as he juggles work on the farm along with his other job, his family and the dynamics all of that brings. I pray for him special grace because he works hard, and I ask God to bless him day after day.

Then I pray for me, that I will live with grace, even as the long distance caregiver. I ask God to keep me from trying to find comfort in things of this world or an over-abundance of chocolate.

I pray that as we live through this experience, I’ll be able to write books and blog posts such as this one, to encourage my group on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/15XgKN4), to speak at churches and other groups about how to find hope when life unravels.

Because in the end, Alzheimer’s does not win. What really counts is how we deal with our family dynamics and how we stay close to each other—even when we live far apart.

What matters is how we share what we have learned. Because that is why we are here. To love God, to make a difference and to leave well.

Part of that leaving well is a legacy of wisdom and experience for those who come behind us. To let them know that even within the journey of Alzheimers, prayer is still the best thing we can do.