Leanna’s Story: No Mistakes

As Leanna Sain watched her mother’s mind being stolen by Alzheimer’s, she needed words of encouragement. Our loving Lord chose to comfort to her…through her mother’s own words. This is Leanna’s story…

My mother lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in June 2018. It was painful to watch that horrible disease steal away my intelligent, creative mother; turning her into a stranger—someone who looked like her, but wasn’t; and at the same time, turning everyone into a stranger to her. It wasn’t just the lost memories, though. She lost her abilities: to brush her own teeth and hair, to talk, to walk, to swallow. Abilities I never thought about her losing. I hate Alzheimer’s more than I can express. It’s a disease straight from the pit of hell.

But in the midst of all the bad, I know God was with me. He promised me He’d never leave me or forsake me, and I felt His presence even during the worst times. He regularly gave me reminders in the form of “gift,” little nuggets of gold that I treasured. One of those nuggets was when we went to my parents’ house to celebrate my dad’s and husband’s shared birthday. This was in February, a year and a half before she died.

We’d finished eating supper and Mama was chattering with my husband—mostly nonsensical stuff, what I called “word salad,” because it was a bunch of random words tossed in that didn’t go together and didn’t make any sense, but in the midst of all that gibberish, she kept repeating, “Our God makes NO mistakes,” always emphasizing the word, “no.” The same five words, said fifty times or more. It was kind of bizarre, and at first, I was thinking, Yeah, right. A monster is stealing everything that makes you YOU, and you think it isn’t a mistake?

“Our God makes NO mistakes.” The words rang out again.

But this has to be a mistake. Why would God allow this in our family? Why would God put my Daddy through this? Watching the woman he’s loved for 60 years turn into a child? Aging him more than time ever could?

“Our God makes NO mistakes…”

The words echoed down the corridors of my mind, over and over. I didn’t really want to hear them.

Then suddenly, it’s as if there was a click or ding in my head, the proverbial “light bulb” or “Aha” moment.

God was speaking to me, using my Mama’s voice. He can do that, you know. He was reminding me that even when things feel hopeless, He is my hope, and He’s walking this journey with me, right through the valley that’s shadowed with death. He didn’t do this to Mama. It’s the result of sin, just like every other bad thing that happens. Yes, He allowed it. No, I don’t know why, and I may never know. My job is to trust Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things—yes, even Alzheimer’s—God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (NIV). God’s word is truth. I can rely on His word.

Another nugget from God was His giving me the story idea that became my new novel, Hush. Writing this book was therapy for me. It allowed me a way to work through some of the anger, pain, and confusion that was trying to crush me. He gave me the idea to make one of the characters have Alzheimer’s so I could use some of the actual things Mama said and did in the story. It was a way for me to honor her memory. This book is also a way for me to help find a cure for this horrible disease, since I’ve decided to donate a portion of its sales to Alzheimer’s research.

Mama is healed now. There are no more Alzheimer’s spider webs mucking up her new, glorified brain. I look forward to the day she greets me on Heaven’s golden streets. She’ll smile, hug me, remember me, and we’ll shout together, “OUR GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES!”

Sain, Leanna For more information or to contact Leanna, please visit: www.LeannaSain.com. A portion of the proceeds of Leanna’s book Hush will be donated to Alzheimer’s research:

“That’s Not Your Story”

20191108_082431 As my husband and I started to leave the library, I had to turn my eyes away from the “New Books” section situated by the door. On one of the shelves, prominently displayed, was the newest book of an author I know, a novelist who has been regularly putting out bestsellers for a couple of decades. As for me, not only had I never had a bestseller, but I hadn’t even put out a new book in six years.

I was tempted to envy. But as we stepped outside, I told myself—once again—“That’s not your story.” I wasn’t talking about her book. I was talking about my life.

~~~

My mother had a little rhyme she liked to quote, one she had learned from her mother. The words were a familiar part of my childhood: “As a rule, man’s a fool, when it’s hot he wants it cool, when it’s cool he wants it hot, he’s always wanting what is not.”

Or, in my case, she always wants to be what she’s not. Being myself was never good enough; I wanted to be someone else, someone with talent and intelligence, someone successful, someone who was capable of doing all that I would never be able to do.

~~~

It has taken me years to understand that this is a rotten way to live: maddening, counterproductive, and completely opposed to what the Lord desires for us.

It is also undoubtedly commonplace. I’d wager that many of us—if not most of us—wish to be someone we’re not, wish to live somebody’s story other than our own. Just look at the original disciples of Jesus, those earliest of saints who were so explicitly human. When Jesus told Peter about the role he was to play in the church, the first thing Peter did was point a finger at John and say, “What about him?”

To which Jesus essentially replied, “His story isn’t your business. You’ve got your own story. Keep your eyes straight ahead and follow me” (John 21:15-23).

~~~

Among the many roles God holds in our lives (savior, provider, sustainer, comforter) is that of author. He is the original author, painstakingly and lovingly plotting the story of each life, beginning with conception and ending—or, more accurately, not ending—with the physical death that ushers us into eternal life.

Even while he’s knitting us together in our mother’s womb, he’s planning the way in which the story will unfold. Psalm 139:16 offers this remarkable truth: “Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me when none of them as yet existed.”

I have to pause and consider these words with no small measure of amazement: God knew about all the days of my life before I was even born. That’s because he himself is writing my story. And that can mean only one thing: it’s a good story.

I look at others too—especially those bound to be most overlooked by the world—and see God’s hand at work there as well, writing something beautiful. Though the overarching story of this planet seems a mess, the plot one of grief and chaos, God is sovereign over all of it—the largest world events and the smallest individual steps. In the end, and always, his will is done.

~~~

Part of living my life as a love story with God is realizing and believing that I am who he wants me to be and my life is as he planned.

With that in mind, I look back over the years and notice something wonderful happening. The failures, losses and disappointments fall away while the goodness rises. I see the manifold blessings that have marked my path, even though it was a path I so often at the time didn’t want to take. But God guided me into the hard places so I could see his everlasting goodness dwelling there. It is a path both laid out by him and leading ever to him.

How often now the words of Psalm 16:6 come to me: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” With this thought, thankfulness fills me. This is my story and it is good, because it is being written by God. He makes my life a love story with him.