I Love You with All My . . . Mind?

Photo 105440082 / Dementia © Atthapon Raksthaput | Dreamstime.com

She stands there, wrings her hands, and taps the spot where her watch is supposed to be. She paces, back and forth, between the basket that should hold the watch when she’s not wearing it and the chest of drawers where she hid it. 

Mom has dementia. 

She’d been living in Wichita Falls, and only this spring did my sister and I realize how much the disease had progressed. Mom’s in DFW now, and we’re all adjusting to the change. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 has taken on new meaning, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

Mom’s in the messy middle of the disease. She’s aware enough to know something is horribly wrong. To be ashamed and embarrassed. To grieve the loss of her faculties.

But she’s deep enough into the disease that she finds it difficult to manage her thoughts.

And it torments her.

Verse 5 above says trust God and stop trying to figure it out. So, we challenge Mom to turn her face to His. To ask Him when she can’t find something. To be thankful we walk beside her. To know this season will be short in light of a healthy and whole eternity. 

Many times, what I think dictates how I feel and what I choose. In Mark 12:30, Jesus commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

These connect. Each one affects the other. 

What does it look like for me to love God with my mind?

And what does it mean for Mom to love Him as her mind fails?

In Mom’s case, the mind’s physical ability to work properly is impaired. Because her short-term memory no longer functions, her mind hyper-focuses. She sees the empty spot on her wrist. I can’t find my watch. But faulty thinking leaps to an illogical conclusion. Someone stole it. So I try to steer her thoughts back to God. Worship music. Scripture cards (link below). To fix her eyes, and hopefully her mind, on Him and the peace only He gives.

In my case, though my mind’s physical abilities function well (I think), my mind is faulty too, colored by my broken sin nature. God’s Word must serve as my filter. My grid. If not, my mind will lead me astray. My thoughts can be just as illogical as Mom’s when I am in the flesh.

So, what does it look like for me to love God with my mind?

And what does it mean for Mom to love Him with her mind even as dementia steals it?

I think it looks a lot like Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

For Mom.

And for me.

Loving God with Your Mind – Activities

1. Psalm 101:3a reads, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” What are you watching? Reading? Listening to?

2. Romans 12:2a says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Remember Playdoh? Talk about the difference between conforming and transforming. What molds does the world offer? How does it present those molds? How does it pressure us to conform? What does Jesus offer instead? How?

3. What’s your state of mind? Romans 8:5-6 reads, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Where do you land?

Life/Peace ——————————————————————————————-Death

Scripture cards: Here’s a link for Mary DeMuth’s art on Etsy. I love, love, love her Scripture cards.

I want to bring your attention to Glenys Nellist’s new illustrated children’s Bible, I Wonder: Exploring God’s Grand Story. Here’s the link for two activity packs that accompany the book. I was eager to read Glenys Nellist’s I Wonder for several reasons. One, the author is such a delight. Two, our theologies differ slightly. I found I Wonder to be, frankly, wonderful. Nellist stays true to the biblical accounts of the passages she includes and her chapter questions reflect many of the questions of my own heart. Her questions will make sense to kids because they’ve asked the same ones. The illustrations are gorgeous. What a treasure! Don’t wait until Christmas to buy this one. You’ll want it now.

God’s Track Record

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My husband and I love sports stories, stories where, in spite of great obstacles, the athlete triumphs. Netflix is full of them. However, in Deuteronomy, we find the opposite: great deeds met with distrust and rejection.

 “In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 1:32 NIV

“This” is the list of miracles God performed, from the plagues in Egypt to providing manna and water in the wilderness. I look at God’s track record and think, what was their problem? Yet, I find myself in their sandals—until. 

Until I remember my own list, God’s track record of faithfulness to me. 

Do you have one?  A list? If you’re keeping God’s track record of personal goodness in your head, please write it down. For your sake. For your kids’ sake. It will anchor you when the next storm hits. 

When I look at God’s track record of faithfulness to me, I thank Him. 

For His faithfulness in times past. For His goodness. For His presence with me. Thank You, Lord. When I’m thankful, I find it hard to complain. Gratitude grounds me in His grace.

When I look at God’s track record of faithfulness to me in thanks, I refocus. 

May it be said of us, “Because of this, we trusted in the Lord our God.” Allow your faith to move you into action. Trust Him. What’s your next step?

Record-keeping keeps me trusting. 

Trusting allows me to record more God-moments.

Suggested Activity:

  • If you and yours don’t journal, I encourage you to do so. I don’t journal daily, but when God brings something to my attention, answers a prayer, or gives specific direction, I jot it down and date it. 
  • Share with your family one time God proved faithful that has helped you to trust Him in the future. 

Tips for Surviving the 2020 Pandemic

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Here are some tips for surviving the 2020 pandemic—with a spiritual twist.

Tip #1: Wash up. As you wash your hands with soap and water, wash your spirit with the Word. God says, “Fear not.” Meditate and pray through Psalm 91 (below).

Tip #2: Keep your distance. Distance yourself from fear, anxiety, and stress. God is bigger than the coronavirus and the stock market. Rest in His sovereignty. 

Tip #3: Disinfect. Use the down time for extra time with God. Confess. Worship. Pray. 

Tip #4: Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Smother any negativity. Spread goodness, kindness, faithfulness. Support family businesses that may be struggling. Look for the good God will bring in the midst of such sickness. Ask Him how you can help.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Workout for the Week: Tips for Surviving the 2020 Pandemic

Memory Verse: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1

Meditation Passage: Psalm 91

Do It: Fear not.

Lessons in Leadership—For Followers

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Sheep dog trials serve as my favorite event at the Fort Worth Stock Show. Sheep dog trials are a timed event during which the dog must maneuver three sheep around the pen and two different barrels, through a narrow shoot, and then into the pen while the shepherd gives commands. Shepherd and sheep dog teams have a five-minute time limit.  I don’t know which provide more entertainment, the dogs or the sheep.

You can tell the novice pups from the experienced dogs. Novices rush the sheep. They sprint when they should trot. They walk when they should wait. The sheep get antsy and often bolt—in the wrong direction. Seasoned dogs take their time, position the sheep for success, and nudge them in that direction. 

Still, I’ve seen wonderfully experienced dogs who missed the time cutoff because of a stubborn sheep. Skittish and flighty, sheep tend to bunch up but can break in every direction at any moment. Stubborn as well, they can stand by an open gate and refuse to budge as precious time ticks away. 

Here are some leadership lessons from the stock show for us sheepy people who need to follow:

1. The Shepherd leads you. At the stock show, the dog does all the legwork while the shepherd gives commands from a set place by the pen. Scripture tells us Jesus leads from the front. 

“When he [shepherd/Jesus] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 NIV

Your Shepherd promises to lead you. Anything that comes against you must go through Him first. Will you follow?

2. The sheep dog directs from behind. 

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

The word picture in this verse comes from the military and actually depicts how an army would chase down its enemy. Yet here, David used the picture to show God’s unrelenting loving chase after us. The sheep dogs of Goodness and Love follow us, guiding us from behind. Will you receive their direction? 

3. God goes before and behind you.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

The sheep dogs, Goodness and Love, are an extension of the Shepherd himself. You cannot take a step apart from His presence. Forward. Backward. Sideways. Our God has positioned Himself next to you. Will you bolt or will you trust Him?

4. Sheep and Shepherd have a bond. 

“‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—’” John 10:14

At the stock show, the sheep are randomly selected. They have no connection to the shepherd or the sheep dog. That’s not the case with us. Though the flock of believers appears vast, Scripture says our Shepherd knows us—by name. 

So, follow. Simply follow. You’re more than a number to your Shepherd. The Shepherd surrounds you with Goodness and Love as He leads from the front. So follow Him.

Workout of the Week: Lessons in Leadership for Followers

Memory Verse: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

Meditation Passage: Psalm 23, John 10

Do It: Follow Him.

He’s Got It—and You—Covered

Trusting God

He's Got It--And You--Covered

Recently a friend asked for prayer. She’s working on her masters and knew an internship was part of the degree plan. What she didn’t know was that she had two weeks to find one! She confessed her stress and asked for prayer.

This comment sprang from my mouth, “God created the world in six days. You’ve got two weeks. He’s got it covered.” Not sure where that came from, but I knew it was something I needed to hear too, because sometimes, trusting God is hard.

I forget how big God is. How capable. How caring.

So often, the gig God gives me is a long-term one. A marathon. Lots of training. Lots of running. With no finish line in sight. I forget I’m not running alone.

So, here are a few reminders, just in case you need help trusting God too:

  • “And God said, . . .” (Genesis 1:3 NIV) When God speaks, things happen.
  • “See, I have chosen Bezalel . . . and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge . . .” (Exodus 31:2-3) God equips His chosen for the task.
  • “In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12) God is your strength. He places you where He chooses.
  • “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) His plans are too big for us to know more than one step at a time.
  • “ . . . You know me . . . You hem me in—behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. “ (Psalm 139:1, 5) God knows you. He knows you!
  • “ And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) Every one of them. How’s that for attention to detail?

Though the hand may be unseen, His guidance is clear. Take His hand. Keep walking. Keep trusting.

Workout for the Week: He’s Got It—and You—Covered

Memory Verse: Choose one from the list above.

Meditation Passage: Psalm 139

Just Do It: Rest in the knowledge that He’s got it!