Come Quickly to Help Me

O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. Psalm 38:21-22

Today’s Psalm passage closes out the 38th Psalm in a very unusual manner. King David had just prayed, “I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.” Now David cries out to God in an almost panicked voice to come quickly to his aid and not forsake Him. What happened to his patient waiting upon the Lord?

I suppose even David had human tendencies and at times felt the pressing need to remind God to hurry up! Have you ever felt like King David? By that I mean, you mouth speaks the words, “I wait for you Lord and I know you will answer” but your heart is saying, “Come quickly to my aid and do not forsake me!”

I’ve certainly been there in my life many times but nothing like the past month. You see, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer about four weeks ago. There were lots of procedures, lots of praying, and lots of waiting for results. Finally, the word came; they caught the cancer early and my wife would only have a lumpectomy. The surgery was swift and sure as they removed the cancerous invader from my wife’s body. We now await the decision on the length of radiation treatments and DNA test results which will determine if chemotherapy is required.

I, like David, cried out to God to come quickly to the aid of my wife. However, I knew deep within my heart God was in control of all things. All I needed to do was wait on His perfect timing for my selfish heartfelt requests. As I waited, the stress and anxiety made the impacts of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease even more prevalent (stress often exacerbates the symptoms of the disease). But thankfully, God stepped in to ease the stress and calm my anxiety. All I needed to do was take time to be still before Him, read His Word, talk with Him, and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort me.

If the stress of worldly worries are wearing you down and you are wondering why God isn’t coming quickly to your aid, then simply slow down, spend time reading His Word, and partake in purposeful prayer with God about your worries. You will find God is right beside you, He has not forsaken you, His Holy Spirit is working tirelessly to comfort you, and His strength is more than sufficient to carry you through. Remember, He loves you dearly and He does come quickly to help you!

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Waiting Patiently in the Fog

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

Waiting gets such a bad rap in today’s society. Most people hate to wait for anything. If we are stalled in the drive-thru lane at a fast food restaurant and have to wait more than a minute, we become impatient and irritable. If we have to wait in the checkout line at the grocery, we become upset because our precious time is being wasted. Now days, “wait” is considered a four letter word which often leads to a string of four letter words emanating from the mouths of impatient people.

God has a completely different perspective on waiting. God uses a time of waiting to build patience, perseverance, piety, and purpose. When we are forced to wait, our faith is put to the test. If we patiently persevere, then our faith is strengthened as we seek the Lord’s wisdom and await His answer. Perhaps this is what King David was thinking about when he wrote today’s passage. In fact, the Psalms are filled with passages that reference waiting upon the Lord.

Last week was perhaps one of the worst weeks I’ve experienced since my diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I had a run of five straight days of consistent fogginess. As I waited patiently for the fog to lift, I learned a great deal about God’s perfect strength in my weakness. His strength enable me to still function, continue to write, complete most activities on my daily schedule, and still enjoy life in the haze.

It was truly a relief to finally come out of the fog! However, my life was still blessed in spite of the haziness. As I waited for the fog to lift, God’s answer was clear; I can do all things through Him who gives me strength! It was a lesson I needed to learn.

If you are struggling through the fogginess of dementia, wait patiently for the Lord as you persevere through the fog. Even in the haze, God is with you and He will not forsake you. As you wait, seek His wisdom and ask what He might be trying to teach you. Remember, there is always a lesson in the waiting! You see, God uses all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, like King David, seek His wisdom, trust in His timing, and lean on Him as you wait today.

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Held Up by His Hand

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

Sometimes, Facebook is an absolutely wonderful experience! I have many friends who post some of the most amazing quotes and sayings. The other day, a dear Christian Brother posted a beautiful poster from GodTube that simply stated, “Believe that no matter what you are going through, God is with you!”

This was exactly what I needed to hear and take to heart because I’ve had a long string of foggy days. During this long stints of fogginess, I thought I was walking alone because nothing seemed to break through the fogginess. But nothing could be further from the truth; God was with me throughout this difficult time!

Today’s passage from the Psalms stands as a vivid reminder that God is always there for the man or woman in whom God delights. King David new better than anyone else that if the Lord delights in you, He will make your steps firm. By a firm faith fostered by God, David knew the Lord upheld him with His mighty right hand.

Does this mean you won’t have difficult days or occasionally stumble in life? Absolutely not! However, God will be there with you and if you falter He will reach out His mighty hand to hold you up.

This is exactly what happened in my life over the past few days. Although there were difficult days, I did not falter because God kept me from doing activities that might have been unsafe. His firm Hand upheld me and His gentle spirit guided me to safer activities like reading the Bible, studying the Scriptures, writing about His goodness in my life, calling fellow Christians to encourage them, meditating on Scriptures He placed on my heart, and the simple activities on my daily schedule. He certainly held me up during these difficult days.

If you are struggling today because of the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, think about today’s passage and remember how God is with you all the time. Open up your life and begin to do the things that delight God. Read His Holy Word, spend time in conversation with Him, prayerfully praise Him for all He has done and continues to do in your life, and walk in obedience and love toward Him. As you do the things that delight the Lord, He will most certainly hold you up with His firm but gentle hand.

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Bountiful Blessings

The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. Psalm 37:18-19

Today’s passage from the Psalms is perhaps a bit perplexing. What in the world did King David mean when he wrote, “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord?” Was this just a simple set of spiritual words King David linked together to pacify the masses when things were dismal? Of course not! These words have a much deeper meaning.

King David was assuring the righteous people of Israel that God was involved in their daily lives. He was concerned about their prosperity, positivity, piousness, and preservation. God cared about them as a righteous people and deeply desired that their future generations would prosper by continuing to live in faithful obedience to Him. David was assuring Israel God would keep them from withering on the vine and therefore enjoy plenty in times of disaster and famine provided they focused on Him.

Psalm 37 was written so righteous people could take a long look at their lives and focus in on the true purpose of life: to live a righteous and faithful life trusting in the perfect provisions of the Lord. In my daily struggles with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I’ve learned to take a long look at things and I’ve come to realize God continues to allow me to enjoy plenty in the midst of this famine of dementia.

I enjoy His bountiful blessing every day here at the Hornback Homestead. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, books to write, devotions to post, Scripture to read, medications to help my symptoms, activities to keep my mind focused, fruitful work in the gardens and other areas on the farm, and a loving wife who is fully devoted to me. What more could a man want? Absolutely nothing! The Lord has generously provided all I need and want because of His glorious grace and riches.

If you are struggling with the impacts of dementia, I encourage you to take a long look at your life and make a list of all your blessings. Try not to focus on the things that trouble you or things you can no longer do. Instead, focus on the things you have and the pleasurable activities you can still enjoy. You’ll discover that God has richly blessed you with a plethora of good things. Thank Him for His generosity and then enjoy His bountiful blessings as you go about your day living in plenty.

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St. Patrick’s Day Prayer

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to post a version of the prayer that has its origin from the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. I hope that this St. Patrick’s Day prayer will be a source of encouragement, strength, hope, and peace as you prepare to face the challenges of another day.

As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen.

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Avoid Fretting

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. Psalm 37:8

My son is a Military Policeman (MP) in the Army and while stationed in South Korea he posted a picture of himself in uniform with an interesting acronym sewn on the underside of his utility shirt lapel. The acronym was KCCO which his unit interpreted as “Keep Calm and Chive On.” For an MP in South Korea, this expression simply meant to remain calm and continue forward when facing the difficult situations they encountered daily.

The KCCO acronym actually has its origins in WWII when the Germans were conducting daily bombing runs on England’s major cities and manufacturing areas. Churchill started the use of KCCO which meant Keep Calm and Carry On. He employed this expression to encourage people to remain calm during the bombing raids and then to carry on with life after they were over. It is still used today and is a great message for those of us suffering with dementia.

In today’s passage, King David does something very similar to KCCO. He advises the children of Israel to remain calm. By remaining calm, they were more likely to refrain from anger, turn from wrath, and not to fret. Why was this so important? Because these negative emotions often led to evil which separated them from God’s merciful grace and protection.

King David’s advice has been especially comforting to me as I struggle with the daily demands of dementia. When I’m having a difficult day, I read some of my favorite passages from the Book of Psalms. These passages keep my calm, help me not to fret, and enable me to carry on with many of my daily activities. You see, I trust that God is still in control of my disease and my life. Therefore, I should keep calm and carry on no matter what Satan may throw my way!

If you are struggling with the daily demands of dementia, do not fret and do your best to remain calm. Remember, God is in control and He cares greatly for you. When the demands of dementia become too great to handle, do like King David instructed; refrain from anger, turn from wrath, remain calm, and do not fret for these actions lead to evil which only makes matters worse for you and your caregiver. When difficult days arise, as the surely will, just remember not to fret and always “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

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Delivered from Fear

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I still remember the day I got my official diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My doctor sat down with me to say there was no need for furthers testing because he had all the test results he needed to make his diagnosis. Everything indicated it was Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (since I was only 55). I would need to start making definitive plans for the future, probably retire early than expected, and focus hard on reducing stress in my life since stress exacerbates the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He then prescribed another medication called Namenda since I’d been on Excelon for about six months.

I remember driving home and asking God to save and deliver me from the horrible impacts of this devastating disease. I was so fearful about the future and I didn’t want my fears to ruin the good times I had remaining. It has been 7 years since my diagnosis, I still delight myself in the Lord, and God has graciously given me the desires of my heart just like today’s passage purports.

You see, God delivered me from the fears I had about this disease. I no longer worry about the future, I’ve come to grips with giving up driving, I’ve arranged my finances, and most importantly, I’m at peace with my disease. All this happened because of the great mercy of my Heavenly Father. His unfailing love has brought about an amazing change that I can’t fully understand or explain. All I know is that He is with me, we walk this road together, and I no longer fear the future.

Perhaps you are struggling with your diagnosis today. Spend some time in prayer and ask God to deliver you from your deepest fears. Perhaps you are afraid you will have to stop driving, lose some of your independence, give up your cherished career, change your perfect plans for the future, or even go into assisted living. Whatever your fears may be, pour out your heart to Him and tell him your frustrations. Ask for His help, delight yourself in Him, and place your trust totally in Him. He loves you dearly and He will be with you every step of the way!

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Be Still Before the Lord

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:5-7

The final Best Practice is what I call practicing spiritual disciplines. The Alzheimer’s Association refers to it as spiritual health. It isn’t important what term is used to describe this particular “Best Practice” but what is important is maintaining an active spiritual life. I do this through the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, meditation, worship, and service to others.

These spiritual disciplines help me commit my way to the Lord just like today’s passage from the Psalms instructs. When I am “still before the Lord” I can focus on His ways rather than worry about my situation. When I am “still before the Lord” I learn to trust in Him rather than my own power and abilities. When I am “still before the Lord” I learn to be patient rather than anxious about the future. When I am “still before the Lord” I hear His words through Scripture and know that He is in complete control.

Practicing these spiritual disciplines has made a world of difference in how I deal with the daily demands of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Because these spiritual disciplines strengthen my faith, I am better able to cope with all the changes brought on by my disease. I place my trust in God and continue to enjoy the things I’m able to do rather than lament about the things I can no longer do safely on my own.

If you are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t give up on your spiritual disciplines. Keep your spiritual life rich and active by integrating daily prayer, Bible study, meditation, worship, and service. Your outlook will improve, your faith will grow stronger, your relationship with the Lord will be deeper, and living with the disease will be so much easier.

God wants only the best for you because He loves you dearly. Like today’s passage says, He will make your righteousness shine but first you must commit your ways to Him. So practice your spiritual disciplines and be still before the Lord today!

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Be a Body in Motion

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

Last week we discussed eating a Mediterranean diet which has the potential to help slow cognitive decline and aid in executive functioning. Today’s Best Practice is to exercise vigorously every day. Vigorous exercise is absolutely essential for improved brain health because it forces more blood into your brain. The worst thing you can do when diagnosed with dementia is to become a couch potato! Exercise is the fountain of life when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

God has provided each of us with a body and brain that work best when exercise is incorporated into our daily routines. I exercise vigorously every day and I’ve included it on my daily agenda so that I don’t forget to do it. I try to vary my exercise regime so I alternate between aerobics, Tai Chi, and walking. This way I don’t get bored with just one exercise routine.

If it is raining outside, I do aerobics and Tai Chi. If the weather is clear I walk 2-3 miles and do Tai Chi. If I’m feeling bad or under the weather, I just do Tai Chi. No matter what the weather or how I feel, I do some form of vigorous exercise every day. These particular exercises get my body moving, improve my balance (a real issue in the later stages of dementia), and get more blood flowing into my brain. Exercise has truly been my fountain of life and according to my neurologist, it has helped slow my cognitive decline.

If you have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t become a couch potato. Begin some type of exercise routine. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Try to get to a level of at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. It will improve your mood, your balance, and your brain health.

God graciously gave us the ability to exercise; use it as God’s fountain of life as you continue in your battle against dementia. Remember, a body in motion stays in motion while a body at rest stays at rest. Be a body in motion today!

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Eat Like a Mediterranean

They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from the river of your delights. Psalm 36:8

A few months ago I began a series on the Best Practices. These are recommended guidelines to follow when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and include:

  • Take your medicine daily
  • Socialize frequently
  • Do mentally challenging activities every day
  • Adhere to a Mediterranean diet
  • Exercise vigorously
  • Practice spiritual disciplines.

We discussed the first three items but failed to talk about the last three; perhaps in part because of my forgetfulness due to Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and because there didn’t seem to be any Psalm passages that aligned with the topics. So today I’m revisiting the Best Practices to focus on eating a Mediterranean diet.

A Mediterranean diet is a nutritious diet high in fruit, vegetables, and unsaturated fatty acids; moderate to high in fish and cereals; low to moderate in dairy intake; and low in saturated fatty acids, meat, and poultry with moderate alcohol consumption. This is in direct contrast with a Western diet which is generally high in red meat, processed foods, refined grains, potatoes, and fatty dairy products. Research indicates the Mediterranean diet may reduce cognitive decline and help in executive functioning both of which are impacted radically by dementia.

Although a Mediterranean diet won’t stop dementia, it may help slow its progress. Therefore, it may be prudent to follow this diet if you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or mild cognitive impairment. The diet is actually very delicious and easy to follow. My wife keeps me on the diet by making delicious soups, stews, and meals with lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and poultry. As a result, I feast abundantly just like today’s passage from the Psalms implies.

God has provided so many nutritious and healthy foods for us to choose from so it should be easy to find foods you’ll enjoy and that align with a Mediterranean diet. There are many websites that specialize in Mediterranean diet cooking. Look them up and begin to follow this highly recommended diet. I’ve been using it for over 6 years now and, coupled with the other Best Practices, my cognitive decline has been very gradual. God loves us dearly and wants only the best for each of us. Join me by making an informed decision to follow the Best Practices and a Mediterranean diet.

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