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Glimpses of Grace

Facing the New Year

In Glimpses of Grace

By Dorothy Horne
Jan. 20, 2017 at 2:09 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2017 at 2:09 p.m.

We've all been telling each other happy new year. But I will admit the dread that sometimes lingers in the recesses of my mind emerges and I worry what the new year will bring.
I know in all likelihood Byron's Alzheimer's will continue to progress rapidly. I feel a sense of urgency to do something, except there is nothing to be done but pray. In my worry, I sometimes forget prayer is the best thing — the only thing. I know so many people are praying for us and that is a huge comfort. We are not in this alone.
Our 40th anniversary was this past Sunday. I never dreamed that at this milestone my husband would occasionally be asking me, "Do you know where Dorothy is?" Knowing where I am is always on Byron's mind, and I understand. He wants me by his side because I am his point of orientation — his connection to a world that is confusing and overwhelming to him.
I was recently reminded that although his mind may not remember, his heart does not forget. We were at our daughter's house and Byron came into the room. At first, he walked past me without recognition, then suddenly turned around and exclaimed, "There you are! I've loved you before!"
I shared this with a friend and she said, "That's so sad." I told her no, it was so joyful. I consider it a touchstone of his deep love, and one of the best gifts I have ever received from him. I will place it in my heart along with his other gifts. My heart overflows.
All is well with Byron when I am with him, especially when we are holding hands. He is most content during those moments, as I am. When he tells me he loves me, his whole countenance changes. His eyes shine and he is fully present  yet another gift. Our love has grown stronger while walking through the fire of Alzheimer’s. It has helped loosen our hold on things that don’t really matter; living with the disease has put everything into perspective. Even in the fire, the heart is able to transcend the flames.

The Rev. Beau Sullivan, associate pastor at Evangelical Presbyterian Church, preached on suffering recently. His message hit home. “God is at work in our afflictions so that as we receive comfort, we are able to comfort others.” I had never thought about it quite like that. Byron is an example. He has given much comfort to others by demonstrating how to live with Alzheimer's disease with dignity, acceptance and courage. His heart and spirit shine brightly through the darkness. He walks in the assurance that his story – our story, is part of God’s larger plan.

Several months ago, I walked into the den and found him transfixed by a song on the radio, "In Christ Alone.” He explained, "I'm listening to what God has for me." In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song … here in the power of Christ I stand.
It was a holy moment. Truly, it is in Christ alone that Byron can face his disease unafraid. His faith serves as a reminder for us to do the same  fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, as we “...listen to what God has for us.”

Only then can we face this new year with joy and hope instead of fear.

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)



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