Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Excitement By the Wayside

old chest of drawers
Yesterday while I was out on my run I found this discarded chest of drawers. It was outside the fence at an apartment complex, just next to a dumpster. I took a picture and sent it to my daughter and asked yeah or nay. We decided it was a yes, so I brought it home.

The more I thought about this discarded piece, the more excited I became. Lots of thoughts ran through my head about how to fix it up. I could strip it down and restain it, or paint it as it is. Finally, I decided to strip it down and paint it cream. The indentions and knobs will be green and then my daughter can do her fancy artwork and paint some vining leaves along the edges. In my head - it's beautiful! I can't wait!

Then, I started thinking about where I'm going to put this beautiful piece once I've redone it a bit. I got so excited thinking of all the places it will fit right in.

On a personal note, this morning I was down. I'm tired. No, exhausted. No, fatigued... which is worse? That's what I am. lol.I'm stressed out over numerous things... Depression was trying to swallow me up when I looked out my patio door this morning and saw this chest.

You know what? God is more excited about His plans for us than we can imagine.

When I look at this discarded chest, I don't see it as such. I see the potential. I see all the places I can use it - all the ways I can enjoy it. When He looks at us, He doesn't see a discarded piece either. He is so excited about having us in His house. Just like I am thinking of all the places I can put this chest and all the ways I can use it and all the ways I can enjoy it - that's how He thinks of us.

He is filled with excitement about what is to come even if we feel discarded by the wayside. He's making plans on where to put us in His house. And He can't wait to enjoy us.

Today, I'm going to turn my thoughts to how overjoyed He is when He looks at us. My meditations will be on His excitement about what is to come. I won't consider my short-sightedness. I'll think about His wonderful plans for me. My focus will not be on my feelings of loneliness, despair or exhaustion. Instead, I'll think on His hope and plans for a good future for me. And I'll just rest right there  - will you join me?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Where Words Don't Live

I'm a word-smith, a writer, a poet, a psalmist. But there are times like the last few days where I have no words. While caregiving is a blessing and rewarding, it can also be taxing and weighty. That is where I've been until this weekend.

I've read the passage in Genesis 16 lots of times. Hagar was overwhelmed by God seeing her situation. I don't think I got it until now. My thoughts have been more along the lines of yeah, that's great but I already know God sees... what's the big deal? I need Him to do.

Over the weekend it all just got to me and it felt like the load was too heavy to deal with. As I was taking the dog out for a walk I put some music in my earbuds and used the few minutes for a bit of an escape. I don't recall the song, but it talked about God seeing us and feeling the weight of our load. And in that moment, I knew that I knew that I knew - He felt me.

Now I've felt Him a lot. I often sense His presence - but this was more Him sensing my presence and my situation. It seemed like He was walking through me - in the deepest recesses of my heart and being. He was so deep inside me that I had no words. And it was okay with me.

Suddenly, it was okay for Him to see me. It felt like He could really see me - all of me - and He was okay with it and so was I. He sensed my burden - and even though I came back into the house carrying the same load I went out with - it was better because I shared it with Him.

What are you carrying today? He really does want to share the load with you. Let down your guard for one minute and let Him see you - the real you. He can handle it - and so can you. He can see the parts of you that there are no words to share. While nothing may change immediately, knowing He is walking through the deepest, darkest parts of my being gave me light and strength.

Today, I'm going to meditate on taking it all to Him again. I'm going to try to be okay without words, and I'll think about how He knows my thoughts and words before they are formed - just like He knew me before I was formed. I'll trust Him for one more day - in that place with no words. Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Realist's Faith

Chris standing well
I'm not sure we can deal with any situation, caregiving or otherwise until we acknowledge it. We can try to confess it away, quote scriptures over it all day, and pray - I do this a lot. It doesn't always change the situation. I have no doubt that God heals and will continue to perform miracles. But until He does - we must deal with the situations that are right in our face.
It's not faithless to face our situation head on each day. There is no way to be a caregiver and ignore what we are going through as our actions or inactions directly affect other persons. A realist can stand in faith too because faith is not exactly what we've made it out to be all these years.

I have a very well-meaning relative who is always telling Chris to "get outta that chair" so he can go fishing. It breaks my heart. The first time he said it, I said, "they have handicap fishing spots if you want to take him fishing." I got no response. The last time he said it, I just let it go as my heart shattered into a million pieces. I love my son just like he is. Would I be overjoyed if he took off walking or starting talking or moving anything? Absolutely. But I love him just like he is too. I sing "You are so Beautiful" to him pretty much every day, two or three times a day.

God never looks at us and says, I sure wish you'd get better so I could fellowship with you. I know He doesn't. He loves us just like we are - even though He sees far better things for us. He puts no requirements on us - He just says come. He wipes my tears. He picks me up. He loves me - even when I'm dirty by my own doing. He takes us just like we are with no hesitation, no questions, no shaking of His head in disgust.

Today, I will meditate on how He loves me just like I am, with all my imperfections. My thoughts will be on how He longs to be with me so much He'll come to me if I can't walk, He speaks to me when I can't talk and He holds me when I can't hold Him. I'll think about how much He loves us as the crazy messed up caregivers we can be! lol And I'll thank Him for loving me right where I am, just as I am as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When the Load Gets Heavy

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up tired. Oh yeah, that's pretty much every morning for caregivers! lol. Well, yesterday I was tired and then I woke up this morning too tired. Or two tired. Or through tired. Taking care of two extras is taking its toll, but we just hang in don't we? It's really not all that bad - but I always thought I pretty much had my hands full with Chris - and now with my aunt here and needing care, it makes what I had seem less complicated and like a relief. Funny how our perspectives can change, huh?

So I opened my Bible this morning to prepare for the online devotion I do for a Facebook group and found a nugget to help me get through this day. Just today. That's all I'm trying to deal with one day at a time. My aunt keeps asking questions about this or that - as she is anticipating a move to an assisted living facility. My answer is always - let's just take care of this first and we'll figure the rest out as we go. It's odd how we change isn't it? I'm the one who has to have the plan all laid out -everything in order, then allow for flexibility. But right now it is literally one step at a time, one day at a time one thing at a time.

I picked up the Bible closest to the computer this morning and it fell open to Psalm 145. Initially, I was going to just talk about the first 10 verses, they are so good. Then I decided I had time and went for the last 11 verses too. That's when I found verse 14. The NLT says it this way The Lord helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads. I said out loud - I'm grabbing this one for today!

We are making it - and we will make it - and we will get all this done - but at times I feel the weight of the load. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing. You know? At the appointment with the assisted living facility yesterday they said it could take at least 90 days to get it all cleared and all the paperwork done. I tried not to show any expression, but I was like what??? And to add to that - she has to pass this little test first - and I'm not sure if she can. With the future being unsure and not having any kind of timeline I can start bending beneath the load.

I'll take that as good news! Why? Because when I'm "bent beneath the load," I'm in the perfect position for Him to lift me up. Sometimes we start to think we are self-sufficient and fail to remember we live by and through His grace. Feeling the weight of the load is the perfect opportunity to trust Him more.

Today, I will remind myself that He is not only carrying the load - He's carrying me. I'll thank Him for lifting me up and setting my feet on solid ground. And with that, I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, May 21, 2018

There's Always a Way

I'm still doing double duty with my Aunt Polly staying here. We are looking at an assisted living facility today and all are hoping it's best for her and works out. Until she can find one and get all moved we are making it. I won't lie - it's difficult. I'm trying to think of a stronger word than that... lol

It's funny how you can handle more even when you are certain you can't add one more thing. Humans are resilient like that, aren't we? I am learning more about leaning in to Him more for strength if nothing else. He gives wisdom to face each day.

I'm reminded of Proverbs 2:6 that says the Lord gives wisdom, out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. There's no addendum there stating caregivers are the exception. He didn't say - the Lord gives wisdom to everyone except caregivers. My Bible doesn't read, out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding except for caregivers - I got nothin. This indicates to me that car can also ask God for wisdom. He will give us wisdom to know how to love those we are caring for. He'll give wisdom for us to handle each situation. And there is still knowledge and understanding in His mouth - in His word for the weary caregiver's soul.

He doesn't limit our access to Him, make exclusions to His promises or keep His presence from us. He pours out His life on us - sustains us and even carries us through the most difficult of days. He sits with us through those long nights. He rescues our soul from depression that tries to close in around us. He always provides a way. And for this - I am thankful.

Today, I'm going to think about that old song that says every promise in the book is mine. Because it is. He doesn't promise the lack of problems in life - but He does promise an ever-abiding presence. He does promise He'll walk with us and in us. He promised His peace for the mind stayed on Him. Today, I'll take Him up on all that! I'll rest in Him and thank Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dwelling Places

Yesterday, we a talked about how God is our dwelling place. He has been since Adam and will be until the end of time. But right after I posted it, I had another thought. Immediately I went to Psalm 84:1 which says, how lovely are your dwelling places O Lord. My head and my heart went wild!

Guess where His dwelling place is? It's us. No exclusions - anyone who makes Him welcome - He'll abide with. I think it's awesome that He planned it that way from the beginning. Before He said, "Let there be light" He had planned the way for us to get back to Him. I love it, it's like He fixed what was broken before it even broke. That's an intense desire to be with us, don't you think?

As caregivers, it often seems like people don't want to be around us. It's not just because we are caregivers, but sometimes it can make them uncomfortable. They may want to help, but are not sure how to do so. They may want to talk, but are unsure of what to say. I don't know about you, but I still like the same things I liked before caregiving. We still like having coffee, eating with friends and hanging out. It may look different, it may be more difficult to arrange meetings, but we still need it. For me, it's sparse, but every now and then it happens and it's sweet when it does.

God is always available to us. I see no exclusionary statements in Psalm 84:1. He didn't say he wanted to dwell among everyone except caregivers. There's no note in Psalm 84 that all His dwelling places are lovely and none of them are caregivers. Actually, he is near the brokenhearted according to Psalm 34:18. He is also close to those who trust Him and a strong refuge to those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7) If He makes any "exceptions" then he draws closer to the caregiver, carries the burdens we allow Him to and carries us when we can't take another step.

If there were any exceptions they'd be for us - more grace, more mercy, more peace, more provision, more of His presence to make each day. He is our dwelling place, and we are His dwelling place - so intertwined we are inseparable. I love that image of being in Him and He in us. I love it that we are not left out or abandoned because He doesn't know what to do with us like it feels people do.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is my dwelling place - and I am His. I'm going to relish the thought that he desires to be with me. My thoughts will be on getting close to Him and staying there. I'll let Him pull me in a little bit closer, a little bit tighter; and I'll let Him hold me. Will you join me?

Monday, May 14, 2018

All Generations

It was a full Mother's Day here. My daughter and SIL helped me load up Chris and my aunt to go be with my mom for MD. Talk about a sight! We got Aunt Polly in one car and loaded Chris and his chair in the other. I teased about having a mobile nursing home. lol But it was worth it to see my mom and her sister together. We also got some 4-generation pictures I may share later.

After we got home last night, my aunt and I discussed some of the hard decisions she and I are having to make. It's such a delicate subject, but so a part of caregiving. I'm glad to have her input, but I'm not sure we can do it like she wants. We will see.

I was pretty stressed out - but I think I'm also learning a lot about life, faith, caregiving and myself with this new perspective on caregiving. After we talked awhile, I reminded her of Psalm 90:1 where Moses wrote, Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. The four generations represented at the celebration today all trust Him. It thrills my heart to see the younger ones continuing in ministry - they are the 14th generation of ministry in our family. God has been our dwelling place - He is now our dwelling place and He will continue to be our dwelling place as future generations continue to know and trust Him.

While that ministered to me a lot, it also got me to thinking. (I know - that really surprises you, right? lol) Moses wrote this psalm. Moses came on the scene in the first parts of Exodus. There had been many generations already who knew and trusted God. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jakob, Joseph..... when Moses wrote it though, I wonder if he had a clue that here in 2018 we'd be reading it with many thousands of generations between us...and we're still acknowledging Him as our dwelling place. When we say "He has been our dwelling place in all generations" we cover a LOT more territory than when Moses first wrote it.

I look at the oldest family member, Aunt Polly at 85 (don't tell her I told you her age), and the youngest at the reunion yesterday, my great-niece Emma at nearly 2 and I think - throughout all our generations He continues to be our dwelling place. We've been through so many things like all the other families out there, but He continues to carry, shelter, protect and provide.

Today I will just be grateful that He didn't jump out when I hit the scene. I'll thank Him that He didn't look at my double-caregiving situation and say He'd reached His limit. He continues to carry, to hold, to protect and provide. He is still my dwelling place - and He isn't going to change that. He presented Himself to the world as a hiding place and a shelter before He ever said, "Let there be light." That just blows my mind. And I'll just let it as I crawl up next to His heart today - and dwell in Him as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?