Monday, December 9, 2013


I am writing this on Friday.

On Fridays, my mother goes out for the day.  She gets her hair done, and goes to the bank, and picks up medication, and does a host of other things I don't know about.  I don't question her too closely – she needs the chance to get away.

But my father cannot stay alone anymore.

So today it is my turn to babysit my dad.


Gotta be honest, I'm only about halfway into the day, and I am exhausted. It's a difficult, frustrating, sad, and pathetic situation.

I have spent most of the day reminding my dad who I am – and that, yes, I grew up with him.  I have heard (over and over) the whole routine with the sprinklers.  I have been showing him how to tell time on his watch – (he's lost this ability in just the last month).  I have discussed the little calendar he has next to his chair on his TV tray – the calendar on which we've written his appointments, and what child will be taking care of him on which daysdozens of times.

I have listened to him tell me I'm brilliant because I found out the Dow Jones average on my computer today – instead of watching the ticker tape on TV for an hour.

I have been shouting because one of the batteries on his hearing aid died – (Mom has not bought new ones yet) – and he can't hear me.  Of course, that hasn't stopped him from talking and asking me questions - questions that most of the time he can't hear the answer to.

I have watched him hobble around on two legs that look too skinny to walk on anymore.  I have chastised him to use his walker.  I have patiently responded to his curt retort with my caution that he will fall without it.

I have listened to him yell at me over something he thinks I said, but I didn't.  I have been a victim of his anger and sarcasm.  

It's so very sad.

My father used to be a brilliant man.  He graduated early from Cornell University because he exempted his finalshis grades were that good, straight A's.  He owned his own successful business for many years.  He was a leader in the church.

It saddens me greatly to see his decline.

It all seems so unfair.

Old age can be a bitter pill…

And I've been thinking today about it all.  

I've been thinking about how Jesus assures us that He understands everything we go through.

But I'm wondering this – Jesus never lived long enough to become an old man.  He died at a pretty young age. 

So how on earth can He understand what it's like to be old?

As I ponder this, I've come up with a few answers.

First of all, I realize that He knew some really old people.  Rumor has it that He was pretty close to Moses, a man who wasn't called to his purpose until he was 80 years old.  It's my clear understanding that the Lord knew Abraham, an elderly gentleman who laughed at the prospect of having a child.  I hear that He and the apostle John were best friends well into John's old age.

I'm thinking that Jesus just might have a soft spot in His heart for oldies but goodies.

Second, I'm wondering this – how could Jesus understand the physical complaints of the elderly?  Aching joints, tired bodies, foggy memories – what does Jesus know about that?  But then I think of all the walking He did – he had to have had moments of great physical pain and exhaustion.  With all the people who clamored after Him, His thoughts must have been overwhelming at times.  He must have suffered from insomnia and brain fog at times.

I'm thinking that Jesus just might have a soft spot in His heart for the failings of the flesh.

And lastly, I'm thinking this.  After Jesus returned to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit who inhabits every believer.  The Holy Spirit who has chosen to unite Himself with us.  Who has deigned to live in a human vessel.  So, in the same way that our spirits are held captive in this earthly and temporary tent we call a body, in some ways so is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, might He also then feel everything that we feel?  I'm thinking He does.  It's how He can utter the deepest groanings that our spirits cannot express.  

I'm thinking that Jesus just might have a soft spot in His heart for the tension between temporal and eternal.

So, I'm thinking that Jesus really does understand what my dad is going through.  

For I truly believe that Jesus came to redeem the lost and the hurting.  He came to reverse the inevitable deterioration and decay inherent in a broken world.  He came to rescue those whose lives are fragile.  He came to conquer death.  

He came to turn the clock back on Eden.

He came so that old age is only a temporary condition.  

Aching joints will one day run again – tired bodies will never need sleep again – foggy brains will be gloriously renewed.

And He, our High Priest, the One who understands it all, will stand at the pearly gates and smile.

He will celebrate the culmination of the purpose of the Cross – He will rejoice at the revelation of His resurrection power.

He will glory in the gift of eternal LIFE!

So, how on earth can He understand?

Because He came – HERE – on earth.

Emmanuel – God with us.

Yes, He's with my dad and with every old person who walks through the valley of the shadow of death.

He is with every old person who never, ever walks alone…

…and He is also with those who walk alongside them.

Like me.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses... 

(Above photo is of my little church in the mountains - see the Cross?!)

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:15-16, NLT)

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." (Romans 8:26, NLT)

"Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10, NASB)

How does God help you in your weakness?

Linked today with:

Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. I know exactly what you are feeling, Sharon. I went through it all with my father in his last couple of years of life. He became someone I simply did not know; nothing like the man I knew as my loving daddy. It is heartbreaking. Had it not been for the love and mercy of the Lord my family and I would not have been able to bear all that came about during those difficult last years of my dad's life.
    I start to worry about you when I read the beginning of your posts then as I read on I see you are going to be just fine. You have the Lord and you love Him and know that He loves you. That will carry us through all the hardships of this earthly existence until we reach our eternal home.
    My prayers are with you and yours.

  2. Wow, Sharon...what a beautiful post. Both of my parents are gone now and both lived long, healthy lives....Dad was almost 91 and Mom was nearly 98. On the other hand, my sweet MIL had Alzheimer's and she died in her 70's. It does seem unfair sometimes when we think about the quality of life...or the lack there of that many are left with. God is not a respecter of persons is He? But because He is who He is, He understands it all. Thank you for this reminder...every road that any of us walk, no matter what age, has already been traveled by our Savior...and He knows ALL about it.

  3. God helps me with every step I make. When I go to my mom's, like I'm going today, I pray as I walk up the steps in her building. I pray for His wisdom and patience and thank Him for walking beside me. I get so tired when I'm visiting my mom, but I know that God is giving me strength. When I come home, I often don't want to talk with anyone for a while because I'm all talked out - like you, I need to explain and re-explain things over and over. However, recently, there has been a break through and my patience with this has increased! I'm thanking God as I know that can only come from Him! I know this is a difficult time, Sharon. But remember, you are not alone! God is with you and as you wrote, He knows how you feel! He'll give you exactly what you need when you need it for whatever you face today! Blessings to you for a peaceful and joyful Christmas season!!

    In His grip, Joan

  4. Without my weakness I would be tempted to think I could do everything ALL BY MYSELF. Weakness reminds me that I can't, it puts me a position of need, it reminds me where my strength really comes from, it helps me turn my eyes toward him.

  5. Oh my Sharon how heartbreaking! Tears and some smiles and sighs (mostly gratitude that I'm not there yet). Continuing to pray for you, your dad and mom and other loved ones. This was a tough one to read through ... but I appreciate you sharing so honestly and how often I have thought the same about Jesus and old age (so glad you cleared that up so beautifully). I could not believe that you had a spiritual point in this but love each one especially about the Holy Spirit!

    Also love your photo or this house. Is that their house or yours? Beautiful!!!

    I ached through each of the descriptions of your dear old dad and pray I do not have to witness this or walk through this. That truly would be my test of all my weaknesses. "When I am weak, HE is strong." how often I say this without realizing "how God does help me in my weaknesses. Truthfully, I seem to crumble and easily be broken, so I'm not sure at what point He does rescue me, yet I know HE does, HE has and I pray HE will continue to strengthen me for my battle(s) ahead. I'm such a needy person. That seems to be the most humbling for me. I know that I can't make it or do it with HIM, without that stirring of His sweet Holy Spirit ... and my, how those groanings you made point of are so true! How else? I'm marveling at your words and strength even in your exhausted state, (ya' know it doesn't help ya' that you have not been well and are replenishing your own physical self, must be that spiritual strength coming through). Hold on! I guess, when I am weak, God leads me through the battle by His Words in our chats and quiet times, in the voice of the music and others encouraging me and remembering that He has taken me through before and He does not fail. (speaking of "chats", I have not heard from you, sent an important email to you and need to know ASAP). You are a winner in more ways than you feel or can see right now when you feel weary and disappointed and discouraged. You are brilliant and you are strong! May God's strength reignite your love and help you to persevere. I'm trusting that God will pour into you more of Him to see you through. I'm so sorry! God will carry you, in this I know and have seen so let's just believe. Much love, many blessings, strength and peace,
    Peggy (((hugs))) prayers and I'm waiting (or actually the author is) to hear from you so I can pass on your info. Thanks!

  6. (((Sharon))) I know its got to be hard on you seeing your dad like this. It is good you give your mom a day to herself so to speak, knowing that she is there the other times dealing with what you deal with "just for the day" (but I know its always in your heart). It is always so reassuring to know God is walking right alongside of us, no matter what age we are or what we are going through. I think we need to, like you are doing, cling to that and to his promises while you are walking this journey with your dad in this season of his life.


  7. This is your testimony & there is something holy about it. It encourages me greatly, as I go through the hard but blessed, in my life! Thank you for taking the time to share it! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  8. Prayers for you and your loved ones, Sharon. Alzheimer's is such a challenging and painful journey. It is wonderful that you are willing to go and help out your mom. In situations like your dad's, family members really need each other.

  9. Sharon,

    I can't imagine the frustration of dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's. It's certainly a cruel illness that robs our loved ones with a loss of memory, it takes away that special connection we have. Kinda of reminds me of 50 First Dates, and I can see it with a purpose that you get an opportunity to meet your dad again in a different way each time you connect. Looking forward to that time where these things will truly be a vapor to all of us.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  10. I am sorry he has AD and I think it is one of the most wicked diseases known to man. Hugs and prayers. sandie

  11. Sharon, I do understand the frustration of a parent not recognizing who you are and the changes they go through at this stage of life. You are a sweet jewel to give your mother a day off and some quality time to herself. Yes, Jesus does understand and knows that our frame is but dust. Thank you for sharing at "Tell Me a Story."

  12. Oh, Sharon, I so relate to all that you said here. Last November, my dear father (at the age of 85) fell off the roof while hanging Christmas lights. Never mind that we'd begged him to stop doing that for at least a dozen years, he always did (and does) things his way. After suffering a terrible open break to his ankle, being hospitalized for two weeks, undergoing a couple of surgeries, my husband and I went over to become a helper to mom in caring for Dad during his three-month rehabilitation, in which he was not allowed to put weight on his injured foot.

    It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, but I wouldn't take anything for the time we spent there, even the times that were so hard I cried myself to sleep. It's a miracle that he's walking again, and I'm most grateful, but life is uncertain and tomorrow may hold new trials and more caregiving. I pray not, but old age is, as you say, a bitter pill to swallow. God will give us strength should that day come again.

    I am praying that you will be strengthened in the difficult times, because I know how difficult they can be, and that you will continue leaning on the Lord, as He truly does know and understand every phase of life, for He created it all.

    Bless you, and bless your mom. Hugs across the miles.

  13. Bless your heart for being such a faithful daughter. My husband's dad struggles with some of these issues and it is such a hard journey. And yes, Jesus is with us throughout all of our lives...Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas...

  14. Hi Dear! My heart goes out to you, it really does. We are now in that 'sandwich generation'. Kids are somewhat independent, while our parents get more dependent.
    I lived with my Dad for a month after his shoulder surgery. He couldn't dress, bathe, take his meds...anything like that. But at least he didn't get angry with me, or accuse me of things I didn't do. That would be so hard Sharon. This is your father, a leader of the church. The turnaround must be stunning. So hard to comprehend.

    Thank you for giving your Mom a break. She needs it! I used to give my mother-in-law's caregiver a few hours every week. She practically flew out that door, believe me. Your Mom lives under a lot of stress. You are a wonderful daughter. Maybe that thought doesn't help much, but it's the truth. You are a life saver to both your Mom and Dad. I know you'll be blessed.

    Prayers to you always,

  15. Oh I do so understand this one Sharon. It hurts, a lot. I was in your shoes with my own parents awhile back, and there is not much to do other than to go through it. as with all of life, He already knows the pain of this chapter. He is the one sustaining you. One day... no more of any of the pain and heartache. In the meantime, hang on, even on the hardest days. Only God can turn the night into light, and He will.

    You are one of His special lights in this world.


  16. Just beautiful...the grace with which you are living is inspiring. Much love to you...

  17. As I watch family members and church family members age, it is a hard thing. Your words are beautiful.

    Thanks for linking with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. God bless!

  18. Similar bit and piece a number of years ago ... 30 in November ... with a short time with my dad. I lived in OK and he lived in Tacoma, WA, so I was out there for a short T-giving visit knowing he would be dying anytime soon. He went to heaven in May, 6 months later. I'll enjoy the time with him there. Sometimes can hardly wait....

  19. Stopping by from Bonnie's today.
    I can relate as my grandmother suffered Alzheimer's disease. She passed in 2007. I saw how hard it was on my mom and my aunt as they watched her slip away into the fog.
    I loved the bible verse in Corinthians you shared! Its one of my favorites.:)

  20. This was a great post Sharon...What a blessing you are to your parents...and this blesses the Lord!
    This answered a question I have asked also: How can Jesus know what it's like to be a woman?"...His spirit inhabits the bodies of women too!
    Blessings and love~ Lisa

  21. Sharon, I am thankful that Jesus has a soft spot in His heart for messed up me, and that His strength literally carries me.

    Prayed for your family today. We are in the beginning stages of this journey with my sweet grandmother, and it is painful. May God give you courage and comfort and wisdom and grace.

    So glad you linked up at Thought-Provoking Thursday! You have encouraged my spirit today.

    Hugs :)

  22. He sends friends like you to encourage me and give me strength and wisdom for the next steps in life as the seasons change.
    Blessings, Janis

  23. A very moving post. This must be very painful for you Sharon. My father-in-law has terminal cancer and it seems that this yesterday the decision was made to not continue with chemo that had the chance of giving him a year of pain free life. This was due to confusion that he is suffering as a result of the chemo and other associated drugs. We lost him at one point due to this confusion and this was especially hard for my mother in law and husband. Illness is so hard for loved ones to witness, especially when the person you once knew gets lost in a haze of confusion. I pray that God strengthens you and your mum throughout this hard time and you know His comfort.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  24. Reading your words Sharon brings to mind days my family walked through similar episodes with my both my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather. Not easy at all for families but God is with us.

  25. We went through similar with my husband's father and my mother. I had to remember something that my husband's mother used to frequently say - It will come to pass. I almost got to hate her saying it about every situation but then I realised I needed to grasp that for myself.

  26. I hate this situation. I love how you tell it, so true and beautifully. How you honor your dad.

    Visiting from Sandy's today.

  27. Sharon, I am praying for you today. Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully.

  28. So many in our age range are caring for parents with similar issues. Today I'm thinking about Billy Graham and one of his recent books that talks about how hard it is growing old and reconciling the heart to the aging process. Apparently, he's reaching the end of his earthly tenure.

    I'm so glad for you and your mother's care for your father. I imagine the strength it requires. Praying God gives you both a special measure of it as you continue to love your father in this season.

  29. It is not easy to watch our parents grow old. It is so sad. I will pray for you, Sharon, that you have grace to help your dad and encourage your mom. This must not be easy for her either. You have a wonderful attitude and I liked the analogy you gave. Thanks for sharing this.


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)