Saturday, February 23, 2008

Joel Osteen Unleashes Hope and Inspiration in Kansas City

Joel Osteen ministries unleashed hope and inspiration in Kansas City last night. Joel has the God-given talent to make millions believe in the premise of his books, “Live Your Best Life Now” and “Become a Better You.”

At Kansas City’s Night of Hope, a packed Kemper Arena learned the limited scope of Joel Osteen’s half-hour TV broadcast. During a longer worship service, the music is lively, uplifting, and the singers actually jump up and down while they sing. They must be young, or they would surely be out of breath.

Joel’s wife, Victoria, shares a message that is relevant for anyone dealing with Alzheimer’s. She speaks of unconditional love and how inner happiness begins with loving your own family. She says that to demonstrate your love for your family, celebrate daily moments instead of waiting for major events. Victoria drinks one cup of coffee in the morning and although he doesn’t drink coffee, Joel fixes coffee for her and sometimes brings it to her in bed. This small act of kindness shows his love for her.

I personally identify with Victoria’s coffee story. Always the early riser, Jim required a cup of coffee and no obstacle ever interfered with his morning ritual. Once he brewed a pot on our camp stove in a hospital parking lot, and another time, hiked across a busy St. Louis interstate to McDonald’s because the hotel coffee shop did not open until the ridiculously late hour of 6:00 a.m. All I had to do was snuggle beneath warm covers and he would bring me my first cup of coffee in bed, complete with creamer, just the way I liked it. It was just one of the ways Jim showed he loved me.

As dementia clouded Jim’s abilities, he became more dependent on me, and I was blessed to return some of the consideration and care he had always shown me. One time I went to the Alzheimer’s Association Public Policy Forum and was dismayed when I returned to find no one had shaved Jim during my absence. His mother told me Jim pushed away the nurses’ aide who tried to shave him and struggled through his voice-stealing aphasia to say, “No! Linda.” Shaving him was a small daily celebration of our love, and no nurses’ aide would pat Old Spice onto his smooth cheeks the same way I did.

When someone you love has Alzheimer’s you have daily opportunities to celebrate your unconditional love. If you face each breaking dawn with inner hope and a conviction that each day is too precious to waste, you will find a Joel Osteen type of inspiration to “Live Your Best Life Now.”

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