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Mary Tutterow and The Heart of The Caregiver

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
June 24, 2019 3:42 pm

Mary Tutterow and The Heart of The Caregiver

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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June 24, 2019 3:42 pm

"Our Circumstances May Not Be Able to Change, But We Can Change."  - Mary Tutterow, The Heart of the Caregiver

 Mary called the show to share her journey, insights, and her new book, The Heart of the Caregiver 

Mary and her husband Winn have two adult children and live in Charleston, South Carolina. Their daughter, Mary Addison, has cognitive and physical challenges and an active seizure disorder. They also cared for Winn’s mother through cancer and dementia. A former anchorwoman and marketing executive, Mary now writes, speaks and leads online and in-person small groups for caregivers.

Mary's new book: 





Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger

We're joined this morning by a friend of mine, Mary Tuttlerow from Charleston, South Carolina. And Mary's got a new Bible study out, a new book out, and I'd want to just share a little bit about her with you. She and her husband, Wynn, they have two adult children and live in Charleston, which is one of the absolute most beautiful cities in the country.

I grew up in upstate South Carolina, but have been to Charleston many times. Their daughter, Mary Addison, has cognitive and physical challenges. She's in her mid to late 20s, I think, but Mary will correct me here in a minute. And she has also an active seizure disorder. They also have dealt with cancer and dementia in their family.

They've been doing this for a long, long, long time. She's a former anchor woman and marketing executive and so forth and does all kinds of things. And she has rights and she speaks and she leads online in in-person small groups for caregivers. She's really invested in this and has done a lot of this for a long time.

And her new study is called The Heart of a Caregiver. So Mary, you, uh, uh, you with us this morning, Mary? Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. How are you feeling?

Chipper. It's raining here in Charleston, but, um, I figure if my husband can get up and go play golf, I can get up and get on the radio. Well, let's, let's not whine too much because it's a very early where I am. I'm two hours behind you. Uh, but it's, it's all right, Mary. I grew up on Eastern time zone.

Now I'm living in mountain time and it's a, it's a bit of adjustment, a bit of adjustment. I've been, uh, friends for a while and I've followed with great interest what you do. Tell us a little bit about your life, your journey as a caregiver, then we'll get into this new book you have.

Okay. Uh, my husband, when and I have two adult children, as you said, and one is up and out on his own and the other one is Mary Addison and she is mentally and physically challenged and has a active seizure disorder, seizing really pretty much many times every day. And during caring for her these 27 years, we also cared for his, my husband's mother.

He's an only child. We care for his mother through her cancer and dementia. And currently we are now caring for his dad. We're part of a caregiving team long distance. He doesn't live here with us, but, um, boy, we know a lot about caregiving and it's been, uh, one of these journeys that, uh, I, I might be able to talk about things today in a voice that, you know, 10, 15 years ago, I would have never dreamed I could be calm and peaceful about the things in my life. Cause just like you, um, upping and moving after 28 years in the same house, Peter, holy smokes, moving just into a brand new life. I got to tell you, I got to tell you, uh, we went through more drama, getting rid of stuff that I think that Gracie, I watched her struggle more getting rid of things we'd accumulated for all these years that I did watching her get rid of her legs.

I mean, it was that bad. It was like, it was like, Oh, come on, baby. But, uh, listen, we're going to take a quick break. We're going to be joined, uh, for the next segment here was Mary Tutterrow. She's going to talk about her journey and things she's learned along the way. 888-589-8840, 888-589-8840. This is hope for the caregiver.

This is the nation's number one show for you as a family caregiver. Be a part of it. Be a part of what we're doing. Understand that if you try to do this by yourself, it's not going to end real well, but you don't have to be. That's why we're here.

888-589-8840. We'll be right back. You want to hear a statement that'll cause you to think, listen up. God doesn't look for people he loves. He creates them. That means that God is doing that for you right now. Even if you don't know it, sometimes I'm shocked with my sin and wonder how God could possibly love me when it's dark. And I wonder, let me tell you what he says, son, I'm not finished yet.

He isn't finished with you either. And trust me on this. You're going to like the finished product.

It will look well, sort of like Jesus. Meanwhile, don't get discouraged with the process, okay? I'm Steve Brown. You Think About That. Share what you just heard with a friend.

Go to Welcome back to the show, For Caregivers, About Caregivers, hosted by a caregiver. This is Hope for the Caregiver on American Family Radio.

We are glad that you're with us. I'm Peter Rosenberger. 888-589-8840.

888-589-8840. That song coming in, Because He Lives, that is my wife, Gracie, with her dear friend, Joni Eareckson-Tada. That is a beautiful version of what they did with that great hymn. And you can hear the whole thing or download it. It's available wherever you stream and download music and all that kind of stuff.

Amazon, iTunes, all that kind of stuff. And go out to our website, if you want to hear it and see. There's a video we put together with us.

It's really, really great. You can check that out and see about what we do in our ministry and be a part of what we do at, which is the presenting sponsor of this show. We're talking with Mary Tutterow, my friend from Charleston, South Carolina, friend and fellow caregiver. She has been doing this for a long time and I have found her to be a wellspring of great wisdom as she's journeying down the caregiving path for lo these many years. Mary, tell us a little bit more of your journey as a mom caregiver and what that's meant to you and some things you've learned. And then let's talk about the heart of a caregiver. Well, you know, Peter, when this whole journey started, I was quite a busy career woman and we had hired a nanny and swore that the birth of our first child wouldn't slow down our careers.

And, boy, did God have something else in mind, because along comes this baby having 500 seizures a day. And, you know, I had been a churchgoer, but I had never taken God up on His Word. I'd never really ever...

I was a member of a club. I wasn't a believer. And one night in the nursery, as I'm holding this baby who had been sent home to die in our arms, she's just seizing and the tears are just streaming down my face onto the baby. And for the first time in my life, I cried out, how did Mary, the mother of Jesus, watch her child suffer and die like I'm watching my child suffer and die? And that exploded this 27-year journey of, just like you said, Peter, at the beginning of the show, learning that my Lord speaks caregiver, that it's the very calling of Jesus. I had never, never seen parenting to be being a servant, compared to being a servant. And it changed everything in it. This whole journey has changed the way I have relationships, not only with my children but with my husband and with my friends and with my Lord. It's just changed everything. I'm going to swerve into a little bit of stuff that's going on in the political world and ask you a question about it.

There's no coordination between Mary and I on this because I try to not be coordinated in any way, fashion or form. I can't help but think about when you're talking about this, the comments of Governor Northam of Virginia and what that must... And this is one of the things that I have struggled with when he made those things, those comments, is that what are parents of special needs children listening to when they listen to this guy? How are they going to respond to this? And are believers able to counteract that and speak with more clarity and a better voice into those families like you were at point?

If he came along at a very vulnerable time with you, with your daughter, things may have turned out much different. And his voice, not just him, but just his voice of saying, it's okay to make a decision, quote unquote, about this child. And I'm just horrified at what's going on in our country and how we're devaluing life and caregivers of special needs children particularly who have reached the end of their rope. They don't know what to do. They don't know who to listen to. They don't know how to respond. And the world is offering... Well, look at what the world is offering. They're offering infanticide. And you come along as a mother of a child with special needs and you're pointing to the savior. Talk a little bit about that.

I know I swerved into that and I probably am surprising you with it, but I can't help but think about it because that's what's going on in the national discourse right now. Well, that's really interesting that you did form into it because my daughter was two years old, having half of her brain removed to try and quiet her seizures. And I was five months pregnant at the time and we were having surgery done on the West Coast. And my OBGYN calls me in California and my husband had just had to go back to the East Coast.

So it's all this convoluted thing. I'm getting somewhere with this, Peter. Alone in a waiting room with my daughter on the table, I get told that my son, from the testing we'd done, that we're having a boy but that he has Down syndrome and that I should abort him because what would our life be like with these two kids? So I immediately call my amazing, incredible husband who said, absolutely not. We're doing it with one.

We can do it with two. And I thank God every day for the power of the Holy Spirit and speaking through my husband to this very broken, terrified young wife and mother. So we have faced that kind of conversation being delivered to us from the medical community being told, you need to have an abortion.

I'm in a state of absolute weakness and terror, but we were two years along with our daughter. I'd already had that experience with crying out to God. I had already witnessed the power of the truth behind where we are the weakest. He's the most powerful because through this little broken baby, he was absolutely turning the tables on these two self-centered, materialistic, up-and-coming, driven yuppies.

He had just shattered everything we had understood about what it means to be human and was rebuilding us from a foundation of love. And so I know firsthand how it feels to be one of these young moms that's being told, this is a choice you have and probably a choice you need to make. The world would be better off with less, quote-unquote, disabled people. And yet, I – By the way, that's a prevailing thought in our culture, in our world now. That is what the world offers.

Let's get rid of anything that is undesirable. And we were in that same position too when Gracie was pregnant with our second son. And they said the same kind of thing to us. And Gracie was just – I looked back with just amazement. She went off every bit of medication, cold-turkeyed it, and protected that life inside her. And I struggled.

I embarrassingly and grievously struggled because I'm thinking, okay, I'm already taking care of one person who's disabled. And now they're saying our child's going to be born with significant brain damage. And the doctor was absolutely wrong, 100 percent wrong. And not only born with a healthy brain and a healthy body, this kid's brilliant. And I look at the medical community and they are just so quick, so many of them, that share this kind of worldview.

Let's just get rid of it. I had a friend on my show that has a Down syndrome son, 40 years old. And he said the most at-risk individual in this country is a baby with Down syndrome in the womb. Yeah, amen. But thank you, Lord.

My son, like yours, completely stumped the medical world and is a brilliant young man. He's perfectly fine. Well, and I would suggest that these children that God brings into our life are perfectly fine however He brings them in. It's just we're not perfectly fine with sometimes the things that God does. And that's what He works on.

That's what He's worked on with me. And I realize that I'm not perfectly fine. I have messed up. And I've seen this. And this is what I think that you have shown in your own life is that you realize that this was God chiseling away at things in your own life. And He uses things that the world just is baffled by. He uses the foolishness of the world to reveal His glory. As Scripture says, and His wisdom. And so this is what has led you to this whole ministry you have of the heart of a caregiver.

And talk about that. You know, Peter, if it hadn't been for having a mother-in-law who was a believer who then put the Scripture, put the material, gave me the time for prayer, took me to church, did those things, I don't know that the journey would have ended up the same. And this is what my passion is, Peter, is that when a family's at this crossroads, you and I both know, the doors of isolation begin to close. And you're so much time in a hospital, so much time in a sick bed, so much time with a child that can't go here, can't go there, that you begin to isolate.

And the more you get isolated, the more ugly thoughts take over. And this is what I'm absolutely passionate about, is I believe this is a mission field of people right here under our noses, that the church needs to realize who they are, and what they need, and have the tools to be able to put them in their hands. And that's what the heart of the caregiver's all about, is it's not about autism, it's not about a child with special needs, it's not about Alzheimer's, it's not about cancer, it's about the person who is having to lay down their life for someone else with a disease or disability, and just flat out serve. Well, this is why I like having you around, and having you come on the show, because you kind of have to have done this for a long time to understand what the core needs are. I think so many times, if you do this for a couple of years, you're wrapped up into the disability and the dysfunction, and then when you do this for a couple of decades, you start to realize, oh, wait a minute, this is a sanctification process.

This is God speaking in a way that I didn't recognize before. This is really about my own dysfunction and my own need. It's not about making sure I learn everything there is, like you said, about autism, or in my case, amputation and trauma and all that stuff. Those are important things, but it's our journey as caregivers of understanding God's provision in it. What you just said, I'm going to throw out a statement here.

I want you to bounce off of this. I have felt sometimes that caregivers can feel isolated in a crowded room, and caregivers can feel isolated on a crowded pew. Talk about that.

Absolutely. Well, even if you were able to get to the pew, that's our biggest issue. Well, that's true. Because we always have a seizure walking out the door to church.

Yeah, it is. Yes, you can feel so isolated, because mentally, you've gone into a place of, this isn't what I expected. This isn't what I had planned. So how do I get on with my life? Because the world is telling you, you need to get on with your life and still maintain some of your own life, and you need to get a bubble bath and lunch with friends and blah, blah, blah, and stuff like that, and have some me time. Well, what I've discovered is God's going, I'm sorry, you weren't created for you. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back. Hold that thought, Mary.

This is hope for the caregiver. We'll be right back. Don't go away. Hi, this is Jim Stanley, general manager of American Family Radio, here to tell you that change is on the air. Excuse me, Jim. I believe the saying would be changes in the air.

Well, that's true, too. We've got some big changes coming up, and you'll hear them on the air. Oh, right, boss. Go ahead. As I was saying, changes are coming, and you'll hear them on the air beginning Monday, June 24th, here on American Family Radio.

So do they affect me? I mean, are we cool here? I mean, we're cool, right? Today's culture is opting for entertainment rather than biblical enlightenment. For those who resist that trend, Friends of Israel shows listeners why loving the Jewish people and supporting Israel is important to the Christian faith. Friends of Israel shares biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, and promotes solidarity with the Jewish people. This is Chris Katolka of the Friends of Israel Today radio program, heard each weekend on this station, and here's what's happening in Israel.

Friends of Israel, Saturday afternoon at 2, here on American Family Radio. I'm Peter Rosenberger, and this is your caregiver minute. Noise bombards us every day from 24 hour cable news to traffic to our mobile devices. We are inundated with a wall of noise that seemed to keep so many of us in a state of agitation. For caregivers, taking a moment to sit quietly and settle our hearts down seems nearly impossible, but it's critical for us to do just that. You see, if we don't take time for stillness, we're going to have to make time for illness. That constant state of anxiety, stress, and sensory overload we experience as caregivers will eventually make us sick.

Stress kills. The way we push back on this is to carve out some time where we can just be still and quiet. Prayer, meditation, or just clearing our frenetic thoughts, it all helps reboot our minds and hearts and allows us to be a little calmer in the caregiver storm we navigate. This has been your caregiver minute with Peter Rosenberger, brought to you by Standing with Hope, a ministry for the wounded and those who care for them. There's more information at Welcome back to the show for caregivers, about caregivers hosted by a caregiver.

I am Peter Rosenberger. This is Hope for the Caregiver on American Family Radio. We are the nation's largest radio program exclusively for the family caregiver. For those of you who are pushing the wheelchair, have a special needs child, dealing with aging parents, have a spouse that has traumatic issues, amputation, autism, addiction. If you've got somebody in your family, in your orbit who is an alcoholic or has some type of addiction issue, you're functioning as a caregiver.

Make no mistake about it. We are one of the few people, if not the only ones, that are doing this on a national level to weave in that whole addiction issue into this because that's a chronic impairment. If there's a chronic impairment, there's a caregiver. How are you feeling? How are you doing?

That's what this show is all about, is helping you get to a place of safety, backing you away from that cliff and getting you to a place of safety. 888-589-8840. 888-589-8840. We are on the phone here with Mary Tutterow from Charleston, South Carolina. Just an amazing individual who has mined those deep places where the heart of a caregiver is at risk, is incredibly vulnerable, and she has been able to go into those deep places herself as a caregiver for many, many, many years through a very difficult set of circumstances and see the hand of God in ways that she never expected. Mary, I'm sorry I had to cut you off when we went to the break there, but talk a little bit more about what you were doing there because you delved into that isolation component that affects so many of us.

I talk about all caregivers suffer from three I's. We lose our identity, we lose our independence, we become isolated, and in that isolation, dark thoughts can take over. If we're not hearing, in those isolation, when those dark thoughts hear, if we're not hearing hope in life, we're going to be listening to those dark thoughts, and unfortunately the world as modeled by the governor of Virginia and the state of New York and all these other people are speaking with great loudness. I mean, just these dark thoughts themselves into this, but we as the church have a responsibility to speak life into this and to speak the hope of the gospel in it, and the hope of the gospel is the only tangible thing you can grab a hold of in this. Talk a little bit more about that, Mary.

Yeah, it really is the only tangible thing. That's exactly right, and the gospel, you can do a lot of things to get peace and to get quiet, but if the church isn't there to help put the caregiver hand back in the hand of Jesus, nobody needs Mary Tutterow. I love you, Peter, but nobody really needs Peter. We all need the Lord. He was the ultimate servant, he was the ultimate caregiver, and I believe with all my heart it is time for the church to step up to answer the questions that are being raised by the Raised Family Caregiver Act and things like that that are going on. This is the time for the church to shine, because the Lord and how to serve and changing your perspective on, we're not here to build a big job, a big house, big car, big life, big trip.

We are here because we're His, and He created us with a purpose to do, and whatever your role in life is, we are here for each other. It doesn't necessarily have to be a child with special needs or a parent with Alzheimer's, but we were created as a body to be here for each other, to love and serve one another, and we've forgotten how to do that. We know how to help people in foreign countries, but we've forgotten how to take care of the people that we rub elbows with, and I believe that this is what God is calling us to through this movement of so many people being weak and wounded, the elderly people.

One in six children are born today with some kind of disabling condition. Isn't that just staggering? And I believe that the experience is just like what we found with our child, and I know you found with Gracie, is loving and serving gets us right back to the heart of our Lord, and it gets us right back to a balance of why we're here and who we are, and gets us off the gerbil wheel of competition and accumulation, and all those things. That's the blessing that we have. We've received so much freedom from this journey to just say, what the world is dealing out is not what we have to deal with. I'm going to throw out a statement, and I want you to respond to this statement. I said this a while back, and it just kind of popped out of my head, but I said, there's nothing like doing this, taking care of somebody with a chronic impairment for a couple of decades to expose the funk in your own life. Does that resonate with you, Mary? Well, yeah, and let me just put it on another level. I was raised in the South, and I was taught that.

I recognize the accent. I was taught that, well, anybody, anywhere, but I was taught, you go to a private school, you get a fine education, you go to a college or university, you earn a degree, you have a career, then you get married, and you have children, and your children have to be perfect and you keep your figure. All these things, you make great meals, you do all this stuff, and along comes a child, my daughter, preparing my life for my daughter, and she's born, and overnight I realize from her profound challenges, she'll never have any of those things.

Never. And it made me completely re-shift my perspective on what it must mean to be human, because clearly God didn't go, you're disqualified from having a meaningful life because she couldn't do any of those things that the world had told us you have to do. And she absolutely shook our world to the core.

Everything was shifting sand. There was no solid ground because we built everything on what other people thought and on money and on smarts and on everything, and the Lord absolutely stripped us down to love, period. And there's nothing else but that to hang onto, so it's just, I saw that in my own life, and I had all these ambitions and all these dreams, and when you're caring for somebody, a family moves at the speed of their slowest member, and I usually run around at about 900 miles an hour with my hair on fire, and Gracie and I have learned that, no, that's not the way it's going to work. We cannot move faster than this thing, and we're going to have to deal with it as it is, and it's hard to make those long-term career plans. It's hard to do those things, but as we, like in this move right here, we've kind of reduced everything down to the bare minimum of our life because that's how we have to live, and that's how we live as a caregiver. Real quick, in just the last couple minutes, talk about your new book, The Heart of a Caregiver. Well, I believe The Heart of a Caregiver is a tool in the hands of the church to reach these hurting people. The Heart of a Caregiver isn't just a book, it's a ministry.

We do a lot of online small groups and webinars and things like this, but it's not my story, it's God's story. It's the words He spoke to me over ten years of journaling and then ten years of teaching this to small groups in my church. It's the words that absolutely transform the heart of a caregiver to be able to have a servant's heart and allow the Lord in to do this work through you so that you can have peace and find joy and fulfillment in doing this very hard work. But it's a gift. It's not a curse, it's a gift.

It really is. The Heart of a Caregiver and the second book coming out this Christmas, The Peaceful Caregiver, are part of a series of study guides to get people back into God's Word, to get people back connected to each other, not in the conversation of the disease or disability, but in the conversation of our Lord and Savior and who He is as a servant. Where can people get this?

Anywhere books are sold and my website is, but any bookstore and it's on Amazon and Christian books and all that stuff. Do you go out and speak a good bit outside of the Charleston area? I know that logistically that's hard to do. I get that. But do you do that? I will. I can. But like you said, I am in the trenches, just like you are.

I'm doing it right now. A lot of my stuff comes from, I do a lot from home, just like what we're doing right now. Well, and that's the beauty of this world that we're living in now is that we can, through technology, engage each other. What used to be was we were condemned to isolation and now we're not. That's why we do this radio show, because we know that this can go into places where other people, they just can't get out.

That isolation is crippling and we're pushing back on that and so are you. I love what you do, Mary, and I've been getting texts and people following on Facebook just saying, what an amazing guest you are. You're going to have to come back and we're going to continue talking about this more. You're welcome to call back anytime, because I think that those of us who've been doing this for a long time, we need to hear these things and reminders. We understand where the real issues are. And I encourage everyone to learn as much as you can about your loved one's impairment.

I really do. That is so important as a caregiver. But I also encourage you to learn as much as you can about your own impairment. That's where the battle is for us as caregivers, because as long as we're focused on someone else's stuff, we don't have to deal with our own. I can't speak for all of you all, but I can speak for myself. I've got plenty of stuff that's way apart from Gracie's journey.

I've got a lot of stuff that I've got to deal with. It's basically sanctification. Let's just be blunt about it.

It is. Our salvation occurred immediately at the cross when Jesus said it is finished. That's when salvation occurs, the moment we are saved in Christ. Our glorification will happen when we step into His eternal kingdom permanently, and it'll just boom right there instantly. But our sanctification, now that takes a lifetime, but that's a little bit more of a bloody business through our lifetime. And God uses these things.

I don't know how many minutes I have left, but I do want to say this. You're the only person you can change. Our circumstances may not be able to change, but we can change. And when we make the choice to do the hard inner work and the inner healing to function out of love instead of fear, to function from a place of love and support from our Savior instead of trying to do it alone, here it not only changes us, and we can go on to have a healthy, joyful, peaceful life in doing this, but by golly, it changes people around us. It changes the person we care for.

It changes our other relationships, and we become a sign of hope to a hurting world. Because I know you know, not only have you been given a microphone and a spotlight through this radio program and all the other wonderful work you do, but every day when you're out in the world with Gracie and loving and serving with the peace and love that you do. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger, and in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me, but over time, my questions changed, and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs led me to establish Standing With Hope. For more than a dozen years, we've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people.

On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies, and with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit to learn more and participate in lifting others up. That's I'm Gracie, and I am standing with hope. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver, the nation's number one show for the family caregiver. Mary, I'm sorry I had to go to a hard break there, and I cut you off there, but I appreciate what you were saying that we do get to model this, if we're willing to trust God in the midst of this craziness. I think when we rail against God, all it does is just delay our own sense of well-being and our own sense of calmness that's available to us through Christ.

We're as miserable or as happy as we choose to be, so your words were well said. Mary, I didn't want to just send you packing into the commercial, but thank you for being a part of this show. I'm going to put this out on the podcast a little bit later. One more time on the website, Mary. The heart of the caregiver dot com. The heart of the caregiver dot com. Download some videos and stuff there. If you were.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-22 11:01:42 / 2024-01-22 11:15:05 / 13

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