Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some days just stink!

Today is tough! I haven't had one of these stupid days in a long time!

I know it's because I took my family to worship! I thanked God today for HIS path my family is on! Satan hates that!  He wants me to blame God!  Satan is fighting of course unfairly today. He is using Kirk's disease to get at me. Kirk uttered the words "I hate you" today. This is the dreaded moment that the doctor warned me about. I prayed and prayed that God would not let me see this side of the disease.  But HIS plan is not my plan. I know it is the disease talking not my Kirk. Not sure right now my heart knows that........

Today Scott Brown talked to us about faith. Man, as soon as I heard what he was going to speak on I knew the waterworks would come. This is a topic so near to my heart. He reminded me of God's promises, God's love and God's perfect plan. God knew I needed to hear this message today, because he knew before It even happened that Kirk would become angry today and say things from the depth of this horrible disease not from the depth of his own heart.

Please, as you lay your head down tonight say a prayer for strength and thick skin for us all during this time. I'm not sure what lies ahead of us. I AM sure that God has gone before us and prepared the way. HIS perfect way.......

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Call.....

Whooooo! My household is exhausted! We have celebrated Christmas and IT has left it's mark in our hearts for another year.  We have had so much fun visiting with family, staying up late, dancing to some "Just Dance", playing Ping Pong and some Heads Up! (my new favorite game).  We laughed until we cried, shopped and loved on all our nieces and nephews. My two year old niece, Remy quickly found out that Uncle Kirk was the "go to guy" for whatever she wanted.

Every year "Santa Claus" AKA Uncle Kirk calls all of our nieces and nephews and extended family. This has been a tradition for the past 15 years.  Even the older ones still look forward to this cherished tradition.
But this year was different.......we all knew it would be. As Christmas Eve approached I shed a few tears for the loss of those special moments that we shared each Christmas. I was not the only one that mourned this beloved tradition. My 14 year old niece, Gracie wrote her thoughts about the call from "Santa" in her journal. I was honored when she told me I could share it with you guys.  She will never know how much her Uncle Kirk loves and adores her......... His Crazy Gracie Castleberry!

Christmas, you grow up learning of Santa Claus and his crazy adventures on the night of Christmas Eve.  One holiday tradition could mean the world to a little brown eyed, black haired girl.  Anxiously awaiting  the call.  The call to confirm the official Christmas list and to tell the big man you have been the best you can be.  I didn't realize growing up it could be one of the most precious puzzle pieces I could never receive back.  Last year my parents broke the Christmas news to me. To be completely honest I still believe.  One question didn't complete the puzzle though. "Who called me on Christmas Eve?"  It was my Uncle Kirk! The one who called me "Crazy Gracie Castleberry" with one of the biggest smiles upon his face.  He took minutes out of his day to just keep my hopes alive one more year.  Here recently he has been diagnosed with dementia.  Which means he couldn't call this year.  Which means I won't get to confirm that I've tried my best to be the good person.  I won't get to tell him I still believe. Which crushes me because I don't get to tell him that he is the reason I still believe in Christmas. The call that kept my hopes alive every year. Now all I want is to have a phone call where we can just talk like we use to.  I love him more than he will ever know.  Bad things happen to the best of people.  He still gives me hope though. Seeing the smile on his face as he opens a present. When I look at my Aunt Stacey, I see a woman who has been so strong for so long. The way she looks at him with the brightest smile even when things are going the complete opposite as expected.  I hope that when I find that special someone I will look at him the same way.  It was that one smile, that one call that could change a Christmas.  But one thing can make up for any missed call when you get to spend some time with the people you love.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

When Do We Open Presents?

Kirk probably asks me at least 5 times a day, "when do we open presents?" After hearing this question over and over I looked a little deeper into his question.........

I don't know about you guys but I am like a kid on Christmas morning. I am positive I get on my kid's nerves! Camera flashing before they open their eyes. This Christmas is going to be bittersweet for our family. It will most likely be the last Christmas Kirk will be aware.  I pray God has a different plan, but like I said bittersweet.

My best friend took Kirk Christmas shopping for me. He was so excited! He wrapped his gift to me and put it under the tree. He will walk by the tree and say, "you are going to be so suprised!"  I wish I could bottle his excitement and smile!

I can't help but think about God's gift of His Son. The amazing things that happen in our lives, the gift of hope, peace and eternal love.  Kirk's question has me thinking, why do I not wake up every morning asking God if I can open the gifts He has for me. They are always right there waiting for me to open.

Today Kirk was watching TV in our room and from the kitchen I can see the outside door to our bedroom. I looked up and the door was open and Kirk was nowhere in sight. Few minutes later I hear him, "Stacey, Stacey come see." I follow him to the garage and he had found all of Drew and Jessica's trophies.  He said, "Look I found all of MY trophies!" He told me the story of each trophy...... 28 trophies:)  As I have said before we live in his world. I went right along with him............Again I wish I could bottle up his excitement.

Everyday I wake up next to Kirk is a gift. "When do we get to open presents?" Every morning Sweety, every morning.

Merry Christmas from The Russells

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Love is......

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God gave me this scripture this morning. He knows my struggles. I thought he was reminding me of the love he blessed Kirk and I with....... after reading each word I began to second guess myself. Is he scolding me? See, I don't always have the patience of JOB. LOL! I get frustrated and overwhelmed! I have my "girl, you need to hide your crazy moments". I thought, "OK God I get it I need to do better", but again He knows my struggles. He is reminding me of His love for me this morning. 

We are coming up on the 8th month of living with Alzheimer's. I guess we can call it what it is. I had not read anything on Alzheimer's until yesterday. I think I was not ready to give this disease that disrupted our lives this name. I read this disease has seven stages to monitor the progression by. Kirk is somewhere between stages 5 and 6.  I have scheduled for an Alzheimer counselor/specialist to come visit with me and the kids on Thursday. Hoping to learn some tips, what to expect, etc. 

Yesterday I took Kirk shopping. He and Jessica have a memory that I wanted to preserve for Parker. "The Glove"  When Jessica was little they hung out at the Old ballpark in Arlington. They would watch the Ranger's practice. This was back in the late 80's. Being the cutie pie she was:) she caught the eye of the entire team with her tiny baseball glove in hand. One of the players scooped her up in his arms and signed her glove leading the way for the rest of the team. I tell this story like I was there. I have heard Kirk tell it a thousand times and every time he beams with excitement. Facebook pics tonight of how we preserved this memory for Parker.  This kid has already stolen his Pops' heart! 

I am so blessed to be given the opportunity to stay home with Kirk during this time. I treasure each day. We curl up on the couch and take naps, we watch movies, we take walks, etc. There are not a lot of deep conversations going on those are few and far between, but a touch, a smile, a kiss and I love you are the most treasured these days. He is so precious, I can't imagine my life without him. 

Love always protects, it always trusts, it always gives hope, it always perseveres........ My prayer is that I am staying true to this scripture for Kirk. I will protect him, I will trust God, I will always have hope, I will persevere now and the hard days to come.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not mad, just determined.......

We have settled back in from our trip. Kirk seems to be relaxing more. It's very difficult for him to get out of a routine, it causes him to be agitated and nervous.  We are finding a rhythm.

Tonight I was looking at all the pictures from our trip, I had forgotten about a video I took of Kirk and the kids. I'll post it to Fb. Look at his smile and hear his laugh! On this trip we sang at the tops of our lungs, we laughed until our guts hurt, we played in knee deep snow, we played some lethal Xbox connect, we hugged, and we cried. We lived and had a blast!

I walked away from this trip with a refreshed attitude. I had taken Kirk off of artificial sweeteners, cut him back on sugars and soft drinks , etc. Basically taken all the enjoyable stuff away. I received an email from his doctor while we were on the road....... PET scan results were in. Alzheimer's has won the Dx.  Although I am not convinced that's it, that is the name it shall bear for now. Anyway back to my refreshed attitude:)  I had to stop and think, am I seriously worried about his caffeine, sugar and artificial sweetener intake?  Needless to say Kirk Russell gets all the Coke, caffeine, chocolate he wants. I want him to love life and savor every bit! We are not going to live in a bubble or let it dictate our every step.  I will watch and wait for every glimpse of Kirk I get. I will endure the Alzheimer's with him and fight for him. We probably won't win, but that's OK. But Kirk is going to know that I stood up to this disease and we endured it together! For every step backwards this disease causes us to take, I am kicking and screaming to get it back. If tonight I sound ticked off, it's just determination. I am determined to rely on God for strength. I am determined to find laughter among my tears.

I want to dedicate this blog to Haley and her mom Hollie and all the friends and families they left behind........don't let their lives be forgotten.....choose to live in every moment, love big those who are around you and always forgive everything. Honor them through your lives, through the choices you make. Praying God's peace over each of you.

Monday, December 9, 2013


My plan was to blog every night! I wanted everything fresh when I tapped the keys on my Mac........
That didn't happen.

My plan was to take my family to the Grand Canyon. Kirk and I always wanted to visit this amazing place! We have heard so much about how overwhelmingly beautiful it is.
That didn't happen.

"My plans"...... to hear those two words come out of my mouth make me laugh now! We spend our childhood years planning for our teenage years. We spend our teenage years planning for our college  (freedom from mom and dad) years. We spend our college years planning for adulthood( the real world). We spend adulthood planning for our golden years.  I wonder what would happen if we stopped planning and let God lead us. Could we really do this? I am sure some could, but I would have to bet the majority could not.

God showed me a thing or two about plans on this trip.  See "plans" are once again, me taking control of what I want the outcome to look like.  I forget that I never had control to begin with.  From the beginning God had a different plan for this trip, he had a different outcome in mind.  Graciously I stepped aside and did not grumble or grunt when "my plans" turned into "His plans".

HIS plans allowed our kids to play with their dad in knee deep snow, throw snowballs until their hands were frozen.  HIS plans gave us uninterrupted family time. How many of us get that?

I have so much to share, but tonight I am certain that God wants me to share the importance of HIS plan not our own agenda. I left on this journey with my family with a frazzled spirit.  Today I return with a peaceful spirit, knowing that I am not nor was I ever in control of my life.  Spirit lead! Spirit filled! Thank You God for the evidence of your love when you know I need it!