Book Review: Coffee With Mom

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During my time on campus at Welch College, I was introduced to Kairos, a college ministry at Brentwood Baptist Church. Honestly, I had not been introduced to many other forms of music, other than hymnody and southern gospel. I had a couple of Rascal Flatts CDs in my car, but I had never really listened to any sort of contemporary Christian music, nor any type of new praise and worship songs that were being written. Kairos was the first place to indeed introduce me to contemporary music in congregational singing done well. Also, it was the first place I would hear Mike Glenn, the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church speak. Mike is a phenomenal communicator of biblical truth. He was very open about his weaknesses and vulnerable when it came to his personal life. It was something I really had never experienced.

One of how Pastor Mike was truly vulnerable was the struggles of his health and dealings he experienced with his parents. At the time, his dad was very ill and was having to be taken to doctors appointments. Also, not to mention, Brother Mike had his own stent with cancer within all of this. However, after I moved away from Nashville, I continued to follow his ministry and life through social media.

And one of the leading social media outlets Brother Mike has used lately has been twitter – specifically, the tweets of “Coffee With Mom.”

The product of these tweets – this book.

Review and Analysis

The book is filled with twenty-one chapters of Mike’s story as the caregiver of a parent who is experiencing Alzheimers and Dementia. The vulnerability I mentioned earlier in the post is typical Mike Glenn, and it is contained within this book. He begins in chapters 1-4 with giving his readers the backstory of how all of this came to be. Mike’s dad became ill some six to seven years ago with congestive heart failure. This health risk gave his mother the role of caregiver for Mike’s dad. This caretaking, if you don’t already know, can take a toll on a person – physically, spiritually and, especially, emotionally.

This is what happened with Mrs. Barbara, Mike’s mom. Barbara Glenn was a caregiver to her husband, John, for over two years. John’s health would even become so bad that Mrs. Glenn would only be able to sleep on the couch when he did not need her to do something for her. Mike writes, from a son’s perspective, just how strong his mother indeed was. She was one that never would back down from anything. She viewed backing down as weakness. Therefore, it was tough for her once her husband died – she had nothing to do and did not know what to do. Mike notes that this event in time is when they all started to notice that something was wrong with his mother. [1]

Chapters five through twenty are the vulnerable chapters where Mike simply pours out his thoughts and experience for us. And while I could recount every chapter, I believe a few quotes would be more appropriate:

“I wanted to do the right thing, but what was the right thing?”

“She wasn’t just losing her memory. She was losing her.”

“We can’t find healing until we remember, understand, and draw some kind of meaning from what happened. With Alzheimer’s and related illnesses, it’s impossible ot find this kind of coherence in your life.”

(Mike’s mom never forgot how to play the piano and he wrote this🙂 “This song [Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior] takes on a different meaning when the person playing is lost in the fog and isn’t a sinner, but a saint held captive by Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

“Love not lived isn’t love at all. Love doesn’t give you the option to do nothing.”

I’ll never forget the moments I spent with my mom and her four siblings beside the bed of my Granny when she was suffering from dementia also. I told my mom that I wish this book had come out before Granny died because they could’ve been given some comfort. One moment, about two weeks before Granny died, I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Granny had gradually been getting worse, and fluid had begun to build up around her lungs so much that she could not breathe well. In fact, she could only breathe if she pushed through the fluid, and we could hear it all. However, because she was so weak from her illnesses, she could often not muster up the strength to cough it up or even take a breath. And I’ll never forget my mom and Aunt B looking at me under their tears and their breath and asking: “What do we do?” I replied, “I don’t know.”

Brother Mike’s book, Coffee With Mom, is a wonderfully written account from a son’s/caregiver’s perspective. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing such issues, but also to those who would like more knowledge on what to do and how to do it in caring for those they love.

About the Author:

mike-glenn

Mike Glenn is the Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. Under his leadership since 1991, the church has grown to a church with eight campuses and a membership of over 11,000. He graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Glenn has written two books, In Real Time and The Gospel of Yes, and writes frequently on his blog, MikeGlennOnline.com, and for Patheos.com. He is married to Jeannie, his wife and best friend of 37 years. They have twin sons, Chris (Deb) and Craig (Nan), and three granddaughters, Mackenzie, Rowen, and Brooklyn.


[1] Mike Glenn. Coffee With Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia (Nashville: B&H, 2019), 31.