Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mind Will and EmoTioNs

This morning, I revisited Psalm 31. There is so much packed into those 24 verses. I've begun work on a devotional called 31 Days in Psalm 31. It's so rich. In my reading this morning, I stopped once again in verse 7 where David says, You have known my soul in adversities. I love that part of the verse. The soul is the innermost seat in us - it houses our mind, will, and emotions. I'm not telling fellow caregivers anything new when I say our emotions and our minds can be all over the place. We can go from extreme happiness to debilitating depression in a matter of minutes. Our highs and lows can be triggered by a photo, a hope, a loss, or a single word. Sometimes, nothing in particular can cause us to fall off the edge - we live on it. But God keeps up with it all and never misses a thing.

So I let my mind camp there for a bit and consider how God keeps up with the daily adversities of caregiving. In Psalm 139:23, David prays for God to know his anxious thoughts. I'm not sure he needed to pray that - God sees. He knows how crazy our emotions and thoughts can be - and how they can be all over the place. He understands us when no one else can - or when we don't even understand ourselves. And it doesn't scare Him away.

So, as I was meditating on all these things, I found myself looking at Psalm 139:23-24 again. David is again bringing his anxious thoughts before the Lord. It seems like he does that often. Maybe that helps me not feel so bad about it. He finishes out 139 with this prayer:

Search me O God and know my heart
Try me and know my anxieties
See if there is any wicked way in me
and lead me in the way everlasting.

I like that David is bringing his anxieties before the Lord and I love the completeness of this prayer. He specifically asks God to search his heart - to know his heart and to try him. It demonstrates a high level of trust to be comfortable asking God to walk around in your heart. But to be vulnerable enough before Him and asking Him to take a look at your anxious thoughts - that's pure worship. But David goes further. He asks God to search him, to try him - and then to lead him. May we be that yielded before God in our caregiving today.

Today, I will trust God enough to pour out my anxious thoughts before Him. My meditations will be on how He can search me, try me, and know me - and still love me passionately. (People can't always do that.) I'll think about how He doesn't look the other way at my fears, dashed hopes, losses or worries. He pulls me close and tells me it is okay. And I will sit right there with Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, June 17, 2019

When You Find Yourself Alone

As caregivers, we can often be surrounded by a sea of people and still feel all alone. Our day to days are so different, we can't engage in some conversations. Long vacations, weeks off to do nothing, or retirement are out of our league. Others can't understand caregiving talk either - if they haven't walked it. It can be difficult to know where to put the emotions associated with such social isolation and alone-ness.

Late last week I was working through these kinds of feelings and emotions when I thought about the scripture that says, David encouraged himself in the Lord. I found it in 1 Samuel 30:6. As I was meditating on it a thought occurred to me.  David was alone. Perhaps he was in the most alone spot in his life.  The Philistines had rejected his offer to join their efforts. He returned "home" to Ziklag to find it ransacked and all his goods, women, children and other stuff - gone! It says he was greatly distressed since all the people were talking of stoning him - they blamed him.

Although I have reminded myself of this scripture oftentimes, I never realized it was written about a time David felt so alone. David encouraged himself, strengthened himself in the Lord - in one of the darkest moments of his life. What does that even mean? So I did a bit of research and found that it's probable that David penned Psalm 16 during this time. I loved it. It's so applicable and perfect.

It seems to have more significance when David pens:


  • O my soul - you have said to the Lord, "You are my Lord..."
  • O Lord, YOU are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot...
  • My flesh will rest in hope - 
  • In Your presence is fullness of joy...
I encourage you to read Psalm 16 with new eyes, from the point of view of a man who has literally lost everything. Think about the raw emotions he was feeling when he said things like "You are my Lord" - and "My flesh will rest in hope" - or the proclamation "Because the Lord is at my right hand - I will not be moved!"

Today, I will meditate on this psalm and read it a few more times. It will be my meditation today. My proclamation will be "my flesh will rest in hope..." I will rejoice that the Lord is still my portion, he "maintains my lot." I will trust that "I have set the Lord always before me - and because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved." And my flesh will rest right there today as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Waiting on Us to Wait

Yesterday, I talked about quietly searching for Him and today I wanted to take it a bit further. As I finished up yesterday's blog, I thought of another passage meaningfully a part of the discussion.

You'll find it in Isaiah 30:15. God is talking into a particular situation when He says through the prophet Isaiah: Only in returning and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. I've learned that a confident person doesn't have to talk about it a lot. They are quiet and sure of what they know. This is unlike someone who needs to prove to everyone else they are "all that and a bag of chips." They spout and talk and wear everyone out with their words. But someone who is sure - can be quiet about it. They don't brag or flaunt, or act like they have anything to prove. When we are confident in the Lord - quietness comes.

There are times (a lot of them) when we need to be quiet and let our confidence be in Him. Actually, He's waiting on that. If you look on down to verse 18, it says The Lord still waits for you to come to Him... He waits for us to get it together enough to come to Him and wait on Him. And He's not waiting there with a big stick so He can smack some sense into us either. He's waiting so He can show you His love and compassion. (Isaiah 30:15, 18 NLT)

He's not waiting on us to run to Him so He can say "I told you so." He just wants us to be still enough to accept His grace and love. Psalm 103:11-14 says this about it:

For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him
is as great at the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts as far away
from us as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to His children;
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
For He understands how weak we are;
He knows we are only dust. NLT

I find confidence in the truth that He understands how weak we are - yet He still bids us to come. He has unfailing love for us knowing we are just dust. And He still loves us! He still beckons us. He still wants to pour out His love and compassion on us. I can have confidence in that  - when there's no confidence in anything else.

Today I will remind myself that God is a God who loves. His tender mercies never fail. He is always waiting on us to wait on Him. And that is my intention for today - to quietly, confidently wait on Him. Will you join me?




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Quiet Search

Lately, I've been searching for something. On one hand, I have looked for it in music, like what I have currently is missing a piece. I am not sure what it is I am looking for, but I've tried downloading new music and listening to my old albums too. It's nowhere yet - but perhaps I'll find it soon.

As a caregiver, it feels I am on a search too. Sometimes, I am looking for God's hand in the day-to-day which, by the way, is anything but mundane. It may be lonely. But there's never a dull moment. There are times when God steps in and kisses my day and I am so aware of His presence. Then there are long strings of days where I honestly don't feel Him at all and must continue to trust that He is near as He promised in His word.

Either way, it's like my soul is quietly searching for His interaction in my day, in my world, in my life. Even in my darkest moments when I wasn't sure where He was or what I believed any more - as He was redefining my faith, my soul continued its quiet search for Him.

These are some of my thoughts that started to take shape as I read through Psalm 9. When my world fell apart in 2008 and I started learning about the caregiving role, my soul was still searching for Him. I wanted God (and still do) to invade everything, and not just to "make everything right" but to just be there. Although I was blinded by the incident I wanted and needed to know He was near.

It's like when I began seeking Him as a child, a button got pushed. It can't be un-pushed. My soul continues a quiet search for Him no matter what life has or has not brought my way. At 6 years old my soul began to cry out - I just need to know God. My mission hasn't changed.

In Psalm 9:10, the psalmist says, Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for You. Jeremiah 29:13-14 says it this way If you look for Me in earnest, you will find Me when you seek Me. I will be found by you. I have said it before - God doesn't play hide-n-seek. If we seek Him - He says - Here I am!

So I think it's a good thing for our souls to continue on their quiet search for Him in our circumstances. He didn't say He'd be found by us unless we were caregivers. He put no stipulation except that we seek in earnest.

Today, I will continue my quiet search to find Him in my day. Maybe we will find it in the way we touch our loved one's brow, wipe their mouths, or comb their hair. But I bet, when we look - we'll find Him. I'll keep searching - will you join me?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Exemption Cards Please!

My Bible sort of fell open to 2 Chronicles this morning and I read through a few stories of kings. It was interesting how one king would serve God and the next would not. After a few chapters, I thought - it really is a matter of the heart. It's a choice we all have to make whether to serve him or not, whether we are kings or peasants. In 2 Chronicles 28 Ahaz became king. but his heart wasn't right with God, scriptures say he was unfaithful. Verse 22 stood out to me this morning - it says this And when trouble came to King Ahaz, he became even more unfaithful to the Lord. (NLT)

I'm not really sure why that verse struck me so this morning. You see, for most of us, trouble leads us back to Him. For many, it's the only time they pray. lol. As caregivers, every day brings "trouble." It can be something that seems as simple as fears. For me - I fear not being enough, not making the right decisions for those I care for, or not being able to take care of them. Trouble comes in many forms from fear, to financial burdens, or illness. Hopefully, it's not the only time we talk to the Lord, not the only times we seek Him, but it's better than nothing! What I don't understand is why King Ahaz would be more unfaithful in trouble.

I've said for years that it is important to get to know God when there isn't trouble. When you are seeking Him as a shelter it works a lot better for you if you already know Him. But it really is better late than never. If we pursue Him when there isn't trouble it's much easier to trust Him in the midst of it. The disciples in the boat in the storm come to mind. 

In Matthew 14, Jesus sent His disciples off in a boat to the other side of the lake. It was the middle of the night and a storm came up. There's a lot in that right there. I would think being out on the lake at night would be scary enough - but then heavy waves came up too. Caregiving is like that I think. It can be very dark at times, heavy enough without added winds and waves of a storm. You would think we would get an exemption card from the rest of life, but we don't. 

So here are the disciples in a doubly scary place and Jesus comes walking on the water. Of course, this looked like a third fear-factor! But Jesus told them "It's alright. I am here! Don't be afraid." (Matthew 14:27) Peter, like me, is unsure - if it's you, Lord, tell me to come to you on the water.  Jesus tells him to come on. Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on the water, at night, in a storm. Why? Because he knew Jesus outside the dark and outside the storm.

I pray the storm makes me more faithful to Him

Today, I'm going to think about how Jesus came to the disciples in their storm when He could have stayed safely tucked in on the shore. My meditations will be on how He comes to me when life seems dark, and when I feel tossed by the storm. Even with thoughts of fear running through my head - my heart will say I trust Him. And that I will do for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Under the Shelter

I chose this picture today for our look at God being our shelter because we were taking shelter under a tree to avoid the hot sun! I'm still meditating in Psalm 62:5-6. I'm looking at how David said God is our rock, shelter, and fortress and how each of these provides a different level of protection. Yesterday, we looked at the rock - which can be beneficial to hide behind or get on top to see what the enemy is up to and which way he's coming from. Today, we'll look at how God is our shelter.

A shelter protects us differently than a rock or fortress can. Job 24:8 says this: they are wet with the mountain rains and hug the rock for want of a shelter. In other words, whoever "they" is in this reference didn't have a shelter and hugging a rock won't protect you from getting wet. lol It also won't protect you from the heat of the sun when it bears down on you. But a shelter will.

A shelter is something you get up under. I've been in the woods when drenching rains came through and tried to shelter up under the trees to keep from getting too wet. If you've ever watched survival shows like Bear Grylls, you know he talks about how to make a shelter in different settings. Why is that? It protects you from sunstroke in the heat and from getting soaked in the rain or snow.

Two scriptures come to mind when I think about how God provides a shelter. The first is Psalm 91:1-4 which says,



He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

I love that one! It's an old favorite. But notice it doesn't guarantee trouble won't come. It does say He will cover us. Our souls won't die from the heat or drown in the rain that life brings our way when we stay hidden under His wings. Psalm 57:1 is my other favorite:

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings, I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
Notice again there are no promises that trouble won't come. Just that when it does come - we have a safe place for our souls to hide. This does require that we stay under His protection, that we stay put under His wings.

Today, I'm going to be thankful that my soul has a place to hide in Him. My meditation will be on how I can stay put under His shelter when the day gets out of hand or I get discouraged. I'll turn my thoughts to how He protects my soul willingly and all I have to do is trust and stay there, hidden in Him. I plan on staying put under His shelter will you join me?






Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Value of a Rock

This is not a rock in the picture - it's actually a stack of hay that was about 2-3 stories tall. I climbed it during an obstacle course run one weekend. I felt like I had conquered all from up there! Honestly, I'm just using it because I can't find a picture of me on a rock. :-)

I'm going to break down the three positions in Him I pointed out in yesterday's devotion. After I posted it, I started thinking about each of the ways God protects us as listed in Psalm 62:6. He can be our rock - our shelter - our fortress.

Let's think about a rock - a BIG rock first. I can hide behind it. If it's big enough I can crouch down and my enemy will never be able to see me. I am safely hidden from approaching harm. I can't really get under a rock - but I can position myself behind it so that it is all my enemy sees as he approaches. We can hide behind Him - He protects us from direct onslaughts of the enemy.

But here's a cool thing about a rock. I can also get on top of it. One of my favorite views is found in Wilburton, Oklahoma at Robbers Cave State Park. There's an abandoned cave - the state closed the cave to keep people from getting inside long ago. But you can go up the side on a rocky trail to get to the top. I love standing there taking in the view as you can see for miles in almost every direction. Pine trees create a natural picture frame around the picturesque landscape. It's beautiful. I love to climb up there and imagine how the bad cowboys back in the day used it as their lookout.

I think it's fair to draw a parallel there too. We can get up on our rock  - and see ahead. He will alert us to what is coming if we pay close attention. I can hide behind Him - or I can be held up high by Him. Psalm 18:48 says, He delivers me from my enemies - and lifts me up above those who rise up against me. He can be a protective layer from our enemies or He can lift us up above fear, doubt, confusion, exhaustion....(the caregiver's enemies).

Today, I'm going to think about how He is that rock for me. A place to hide - and when that's not quite good enough - He will lift me above the caregiver's fog - and set me on the rock. My meditation will be on how He is my protector and He has my best interest at heart - His heart. I'll trust Him today whether I am lifted high or hidden behind His glory. Will you join me?