Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Everything Changes - Nothing Changes

As a caregiver, we can play many roles and wear lots of hats all at the same time. People looking in often don't realize that there is a lot more to us than just caregiving - even though it consumes a lot of our lives. Sometimes I feel totally scattered; my thoughts and life feel like they are going in many different directions all at once. The caregiver can be caught in a very fractured life.

Colossians 2:10 says that we are complete in Him. Even though our lives can feel shattered or scattered, and we don't enjoy some of the "freedoms" others seem to have, we are not fractured. We are whole.

In many instances caregiving brought hurt and confusion into our lives and quite honestly, in many cases it never goes away we just learn to deal. I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that this is what my life looks like from here on out. And one of my biggest challenges is trying to prepare for when I'm gone. It's not a fun thought - but it has to be considered. But even though a caregiver's life may feel broken, scattered or fractured, our spirit/soul remains complete, full and whole in Him.

Becoming a caregiver doesn't change our status as a believer. His words (every single one of them) are still true. We still bear fruit, we are still hidden in Him - and we may have moved in just a little closer - He is still our rock, our source, our comfort, our strength and our song!

Our "completeness" or "wholeness" does not rely on any life status - it rests solely on Him. And He didn't change a bit when I became a caregiver. Colossians 2:1-15 is still true for caregivers or it's not true at all!

Today I will meditate on the truth that I am whole in Him - He completes me. I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He has still removed my sin- I have been baptized with Christ and raised with Him to live triumphantly. Today I will rejoice that I am whole and there is nothing that can make me un-whole. Nothing can take me out of Him - or Him out of me. Will you join me?

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Can Work with That

In many instances, caregivers can feel out of touch or out of sync with the "real" world simply because most of our lives are lived in a cave. We can tend to be on either side of the spectrum. One, we are trapped there; or two, we feel safer in our caregiver's cave even though we are alone. Personally, there have been periods of time when I didn't have the capability to get out and there have been times I've preferred being tucked away in mu cave. But God's word does not know any boundaries whether they exist only in our mind, or if they are an invisible barrier we put up ourselves.

God can reach all the way into the depths of despair. He can see past the walls we build to keep ourselves in, and others out. His love can reach all the way into our life-mangled hearts.

In Colossians 1:5-6, Paul is speaking to the Christian believers when he says that the Word of God bears fruit from the time we first hear it. And guess what! His word does not stop bearing fruit in us when we become a caregiver. It is constantly bearing fruit and is displayed in our lives as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, ,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5:22-23)

Once we allow His word to gain entrance into our hearts, it is always at work in us no matter what our circumstances are. He never says, "This is too much for me to handle" or "I can't work with that." Instead He draws near to those with a broken heart and says, "I can work with that." It's simply up to us to yield to the Word's work in our lives.

Today I will yield my heart to the work of the Word in me. I will embrace the changes His ever abiding presence brings to my heart and life. My meditations will be on allowing God in my space so that He can continue to work to bring forth fruit in my heart and life. Will you join me?


Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Most Basic Need

Philippians 4:19 is going to finish out our little journey through Philippians. My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory. Those of us who grew up in church know we learned this one early on. It was also used by our parents when we didn't get or couldn't have something we wanted. As we learn to be content in Him and with Him as we talked about in yesterday's devotion, our list of needs begin to shrink. I think some of that comes with age too as we learn to distinguish the things that have true value. We all have the same basic needs like food, shelter and love; but beyond that our needs can vary greatly. 1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain.

I have to admit that during this caregiving journey I've had some very tight almost suffocating financial situations. Anxious thoughts try to take over my mind and infiltrate my life. But in those moments I stop and talk myself through it by saying things like I have food, shelter, electricity, and my cable is still on so I can work today. Once I realize I am not missing anything today I can function. It doesn't make any money drop out of the heavens but it allows me to get a grip on my emotions.

Since this caregiving journey started I have to say God has certainly provided all along the way. But I could say that about my whole life including BC (before caregiving). If any of us were asked today what our most pressing need was, what would we answer? We could have a lot of different responses based on our level of perceived needs. Our collaborative list might look something like this:


  • money
  • love
  • food
  • electric bill
  • cell phone bill
  • a friend
  • healing
  • newer vehicle
  • gas for our vehicle
We might present a list a mile long. Do you remember the scripture where God asked Solomon what he wanted and Solomon said wisdom? It was the most encapsulating answer anyone could give. It was like saying everything since wisdom is the key that unlocks all the doors! Well I think our answer to What do you need?  is just as encapsulating and all-inclusive. We simply need Him.

Solomon said in Proverbs 3:32b - He is intimate with the upright. I was reading that this morning and it had a reference to Job 29:4 where Job said the friendship of God was over my tent. These are two very different views of needing Him. Here Solomon is sitting in the king's palace with the world at his fingertips; and Job is sitting in a pile of ashes having literally lost everything. Yet they both speak of intimacy with God. I must conclude that this is our most basic need.

As angry as I've been with God about allowing all this journey to happen; and as upsetting as the caregiving journey has been at times  - I always come back to my knees. I have to admit my desperate need for Him. He is my every need. The rest is irrelevant. Paul said that he counted all things as loss  in comparison to knowing Christ.

Today I will meditate on the truth that God is my most basic need. I will turn my thoughts toward Him and seek His intimacy. I will purposefully be aware that He is on this caregiving journey with me. I will be content with that. Will you join me? 



Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Can do "All" Things?

Caregiving is one of the hardest things I've ever done; and I've done a lot of "above average" things. I have started and ran my own freelance business, taught junior high math, hiked 10 mile wilderness trails and run a marathon. I also got rid of all my stuff at one point and picked up and moved half way across the country all by myself to stay with people I had never met. But as I read this familiar scripture one more time, it didn't seem to fit exactly like it did before.
In Philippians 4:13 Paul says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Paul wrote it while sitting in jail. He wrote it to encourage the Philippians. What did he really mean?

If we look at it contextually, it might not mean what we thought. We've used it for every tight spot in life and for an encouragement to get things done that we thought we couldn't do. While that might not be a bad thing, it doesn't seem to be the context of the verse.

Looking at the entire passage we will see that Paul is talking about being content. He's not really talking about doing.  In the preceding verse the apostle is speaking of having plenty and doing without. He was discussing learning a great lesson - that God is the same no matter what our situation is; and we can make it through any circumstances because Christ is in us strengthening us for the journey.

For the caregiver this means we can make it whether our friends walk it with us or not, whether we are in or out of a local church, and whether or not we have sleep. That's important to the caregiver - and many times it is a basic need we lack. No matter what a day or night throws our way - we have to learn to be content with it. It will make things go much smoother.

When my son was injured and I was catching a flight from Chicago back to Shreveport to be with him, I was stopped by security. I was targeted because I had one carry on bag, bought a one way ticket and purchased it just a couple hours prior to the flight.Not only did they thoroughly search me, they took everything out of my bag and spread it all out to ensure I didn't have any explosives. I was really in a state of shock or I might not have been so patient. They actually thanked me for my patience. Without even thinking I looked up and said, "Would it have made it go any faster had I been impatient?" They laughed and said, "not really." I told them with tears in my eyes that I was just trying to get to my son. They understood.

We can be as content or un-content as we want and it will not make the caregiving journey any easier. It's important to learn to deal with it the best we can, and be content in Him. Then we will find that we have the strength to endure. We will find that we can do all things through Christ as He gives us His strength for the journey.

Today I will meditate on His strength in me. I will think about being content with the journey; and being content with Him no matter where I am on the journey. My thoughts will be on the truth that in an ever changing situation, He remains constant. No matter what life throws at me today - He is still faithful. I'm content with that. Will you join me?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Think About It

I enjoy taking pictures of nature and BC (before caregiving) I used to enjoy hiking. One of the things I liked so much about being out in the wilderness area was when nature would surprise me with a burst of color. It was always amazing to me how I'd be in the deep woods miles from anything, maybe even climbing a relatively rough terrain scattered with rocks and out of nowhere would pop up the daintiest little flowers. It always made me smile.

This morning when I was looking for some sort of picture to put here I had my choice between just 2 or 3 I'd taken from my small backyard. Then I had this thought, none of these flowers are there - not one of them exists today. It almost made me sad to think that they are just here for a short time and then they faded away. it can seem like our whole lives are that way at times.

Honestly, sometimes I feel really cheated by life. It can seem like I had several spots in my life where there were colorful bursts only to be denied my hopes and dreams. If I do not control my mind it can lead to depression and distress. I wonder if that is how Paul felt while he was sitting in prison writing Philippians 4:8. He told the believers to think about things that are:

true
honorable
just
pure 
lovely
of a good report

Well, I must admit, my mind wanders a bit from these kinds of thoughts. Okay, so it wanders a long ways away from these types of thoughts. Like the flowers, it can be there - and then gone. Paul is one who understood adversity - yet he instructs us to control our minds and keep them on good things. He had to understand how difficult that was sitting in his prison cell separated and isolated similar to us.

I first learned this verse as a little girl in Missionettes. It was along about the same time we were learning to embroider (because that's what girls were supposed to do). I was concentrating so hard because I found it a very difficult task, that I embroidered my hooped material to my skirt. Of course I didn't know it until I stood up! lol Such a fun memory now although I thought my world had ended that afternoon! 

Over the years I ended up teaching this scripture to my children and in a variety of church settings. And I have to say it still takes work - especially some days. But it is so worth it and makes our day and our attitude go so much better when we train our mind to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and of a good report.

Today I will purposefully keep my mind on things that are good. When my thoughts begin to wander and doubts try to take over I will crowd them out with honorable, pure thoughts. I will keep my mind on Him today with intention. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Not a Fair Trade at All

Be anxious for nothing. That's what Paul told the believers in Philippians 4:6. Obviously they didn't have a handicap van and people parking in the way of the lift in a clearly marked restricted area! (People wrongfully taking handicap spots is one of my pet peeves btw.)

As a caregiver you know how anxious life can be at times, or all the times sometimes. Surely Paul would rethink these instructions were he here today, or maybe he wouldn't. Every single day there are constant opportunities to be anxious, sometimes it even feels like we are living anxious. If we do not guard ourselves we can be one huge bundle of anxious as we walk through the day. And it can take the smallest thing to cause us to explode.

One of the strategies I use for dealing with anxious thoughts is to turn them into prayers. Sometimes, when I remember, I turn them into thankful prayers. Then not only do I have peace in my heart, but His peace invades it as well. And when I give Him these crazy, out of hand thoughts, He faithfully places His peace to guard my heart.

Sometimes these transitional prayers come easy, other times they are difficult. But I am learning to stop the thoughts before they run totally away with my peace of mind and heart. One of my friends told me one time that I have a "Google Mind." She said when someone starts talking or something happens I can take one little hint and my mind starts spitting out results, scenarios, etc. She's pretty much right too! My mind goes so fast and my thoughts can go so wrong so quickly. It's a constant struggle to keep my thoughts from getting totally out of hand. I do that by turning them into prayers and thanksgiving.

One issue for me has been finances. I'm sure no one else has that to worry about along with the other caregiving responsibilities! Right? When it gets too tight for my comfort, which is a lot lately, I start thinking of things to be thankful for. We have never missed a meal, our lights are still on, I am still able to work, etc. I find that when I turn my crazy thoughts into thankfulness His peace begins to shore up my mind. My hope, strength and peace do not come from being able to work (although I am thankful for that); but they come from Him to guard my mind. My work becomes keeping my mind on Him and seeing Him as my provider no matter what the bank account says!

You know what? He gets my anxiety.And He will take it if I will give it to Him. I have to let it go so that He can replace it with His peace. It's not a fair trade really - He takes my anxious thoughts, and I get His peace. I'm okay with that!

Today I will make a conscious effort to give Him my anxiety and allow His peace to reign in my heart and mind. When my thoughts start trying to run off with my life - I'll stop, pause and turn my thoughts to Him. My meditation will be on His ability to provide peace. I will choose to embrace it and walk in it today. Will you join me?

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Few "Forevers" to Help You Rejoice

When writing to the Christians in Philippi, Paul reminded them to rejoice in the Lord. He must have really wanted to emphasize it because he said it twice in Phil. 4:4 - rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. Many might think that as caregivers we do not have a lot to rejoice about or that we have a right to be sad or upset. After all, life "cheated" us. We really cannot afford to buy into that lie.

Sometimes I have to admit when someone who I think lives in an ivory castle so to speak tells me to rejoice or be thankful, I would like to just punch them. They don't understand real life. Many appear to live a highly protected life free from a lot of the struggles we have to face everyday. And it is true that they are not dealing with our situation. But even among caregivers each of our situations has very different features and circumstances. No two journeys are alike even though we are caregivers. It can be easy to compare ourselves among ourselves and see how we have an "easier" road or a more difficult road to walk. There are no easy roads in caregiving. But there are ways to rejoice in every situation.

Caregiving is tough period and it can seem that there is nothing to be thankful for and nothing to rejoice in. It's really a matter of attitude and choice. If we look hard enough and long enough we will find something to rejoice about. And we can find things to be thankful about every single day. It changes our perspective and helps us deal with our situation in a more positive light.

Our day can cloud up rather quickly and it can be difficult to see from a positive point of view. Caregivers do a lot and there is little or no reward. Sometimes finding things to be thankful for and rejoice about  comes easy - other times it is difficult to find anything to rejoice in. Here are a few forevers to rejoice in no matter what the day looks like:

  • His undending mercy
  • His unchanging unconditional love
  • His ever abiding presence
  • His careful watch over our souls
  • His unchanging truth
Finding something to rejoice about can effectively change our perspective even if we don't feel like it. It can change the outcome of the day.

Today I will meditate on the things about God that do not change. I will purposefully set my mind on the truth that He is with me, loves me and He gives me mercy and grace for the journey. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?