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:

Kevin’s Story: Leaves

My friend Kevin Spencer knows what it is to face the daily dreariness, and sometimes horror, of a life behind bars. Beginning in 1987, he spent seven years in the Florida Department of Corrections. From that dark time he has many stories to share, but one sticks out to me as a beautiful example of the profound simplicity of God’s presence in one man’s place of pain. Here is Kevin’s story…

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I stood in a long shuffling line of inmates that slowly approached the prison mail room. The mail room was actually a separate building on the grounds of the Florida Department of Corrections. We were lined up in front of a small window where the officer assigned to handle our mail read, censored, and dispensed our contacts with the outside the world.

I was in prison, a victim of my own stupidity. It was Fall, the season which throughout my life had been my favorite time of year. Now, my spirits were at rock bottom. I had been here a little over a year, and despite my Lord’s promise to me that I would go home, I could see no end to my incarceration. I was stuck here. I missed home. I missed the changing of the seasons.

In central Florida, the seasons don’t change. Okay, that’s unkind. There actually are two seasons in Florida: The brutally hot green leaf season, and the not so warm brown leaf season. Here at the prison, we were currently in the transition between the two. I so missed seeing the leaves change color. It was bad enough seeing the outside world through a double chain-link fence topped with barbed razor wire, but to watch the distant Ocala National Forest just slowly turn from green to olive to brown was even more depressing.

My heart was empty. I didn’t think God was listening to me anymore, but as I stood in the line, I silently prayed again: “Please Father, I just want to go home. Please.”

Finally, I got to the mail window. I was fortunate in that my dad wrote to me almost every day. Sometimes just a couple of lines. Usually some clippings from the local paper about life at home in Raleigh, and later Lincolnton, North Carolina. Dad was great at writing. And the result was that I was in the mail line every day, and the mail officer knew me perhaps better than she knew some of the other inmates.

She looked up as I approached, and I saw something in her face as she saw me. She motioned me to step to the side door. This had never happened before, but I did as I was told.

She opened the side door, and told me: “I can’t let you have this, but I’m going to let you see it.” She handed me a large manila envelope. It was from my dad. When I opened it, out slid a handful of red, yellow, and orange leaves that Dad had evidently picked up in the yard. Knowing how much I missed the seasons, he had decided to send them to me. My eyes welled up as I fingered the leaves for a second, and I smiled at the thought of my dad walking through the yard picking them up like a little boy.

“I’m sorry I can’t let you have them,” the officer said. I struggled to keep back the tears and mumbled something about it being okay. And fingering the leaves one last time, I handed them back.

“Thank you,” I told her.

“You’re welcome,” she replied. And then, as she shut the door, she said, “Watch your feet.”

Glancing down automatically as the door clicked shut, I saw at my feet a bright scarlet Sugar Maple leaf. She had dropped it there for me. A small kindness. I scooped it up and stashed it in my Bible. I didn’t get to go home that day, but God had brought a small piece of home to me. I carried that leaf in my Bible until the day I was finally released. It served as a reminder that God’s love was with me even there in prison, and that He was listening to my prayers always.