Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who Cares?

It can be easy for caregivers to think that no one cares. But in most instances, we know people do - they just do not know how to express it or show it. I remember when my son was first injured and how many caring people came through the SICU to see him. After 3 weeks we moved to an isolation room on a regular floor and still there were quite a few visitors that came through. As the hospital stay alone turned into a 4 month journey I knew that visitors would continue to taper off. I didn't take it personal; it's just the way it is. Sometimes this can feel like people do not care. But that's not really true it's just that they do not know what to do with the situation over the long haul.

Very few people have what it takes to continue walking an extended journey with you. But that does not mean that their intentions are bad. Folks just don't know what to do when the battle continues on. A lot of people are very good at being there for someone who is in "fix it up" mode; but have no clue what to do past the initial shock and trauma. They get to return to their normal lives while you are left to try and figure out how to get used to your new "normal" which is anything but normal. In most cases everything has changed including the friends you had. And it can be easy to slip into thinking that no one cares. Most people really do care - they just don't know what to do about it...so they ignore you.

2 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all your care on Him, for He cares for you. I look at this last phrase "He cares for you" in two different ways. On one hand we can think of it as He cares for us - or is concerned about our needs, pains, and wants. He cares what goes on in our lives and offers us peace and comfort. The other way to look at it is that He does the caring for us - so we don't have to. For me, either one of these can be very comforting!

Have you ever had times that you felt like He didn't care? Honestly, I have. When life gets hectic and feels out of control it can be easy to wonder where He went and if He really cared why all of "this" (whatever your "this" is) ever had to happen in the first place. But remember all our favorite stories in the Bible - it is likely that they are our favorites because of how the person overcame adversity not escaped it altogether. We gain courage when we think about how David killed Goliath, Daniel was rescued from the lion's den, or Moses took the Children of Israel across the Red Sea. He was with them caring for them in their trouble.

Today I will meditate on the truth that God is with me and that He is going to do all the caring today! I'll think about how He cares for me by providing for my every need, comforts me and watches over my soul. Will you join me in letting Him care for us today?

Friday, February 7, 2014

When There's No End in Sight

Most of the crises in life have an end. Something happens, we work through it; we live through it and move on. I've received notes from individuals who were even in a caregiver's role for a short time due to an accident or illness. But for many caregivers there is not necessarily any end in sight. For some of us the rest of our lives looks like this...whatever "this" is to you. That can be a difficult thing to swallow.

This morning I was thinking about Isaiah 43 and how the Lord promised that we would face the fire and the flood; and that He'd be with us through them. But even these scriptures indicate we'll get through  them at some point. But for some that either looks impossible or very far away at best. What do you do when there's no end in sight? How do you cope when there is no promise that this trial will be over soon? You hold on.

Eternity will come; but it can be difficult to set our gaze on eternity when our pain is so in our face. Can eternity help us get through today? Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that He put eternity in our hearts. We are already in eternity - but we anxiously await for the day our "faith becomes sight" as it was so eloquently put in the hymn It is Well With my Soul. And we must remember that the writer of this treasured hymn wrote it in a moment of extreme soulful pain. He had lost his family in a tragedy - not something that can be erased even though you move on.

Eternity reminds us that we have this treasure in an earthen vessel.(2 Corinthians 4:7) And that this earthen vessel which houses the Holy Spirit of the living God is not exempt from affliction, persecution, or distress. The Apostle Paul explained to the Roman church that God can work everything out for our good when we trust Him - that does not mean that pain goes away or our trial ends speedily - but that there will be good come from it. Sometimes it's the changes in ourselves. We learn to trust Him more and that has value in eternity.

In the latter part of 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says that we have the treasure of Christ in this clay pot - so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. No one understands better how powerless we are than the caregiver. But today I will rest in the truth that He is inside of me carrying me (and sometimes dragging me ) along. I will gain strength by acknowledging that He is my strength and that He has put His eternal Spirit inside of me to walk with me through the fire and the flood. And He does not get weary like I do.

My meditation today will be on how my body houses an eternal God. I'll think about how He lives in me and gives me strength even when there is no end in sight. I'll let Him work His works in me today - He did not change His goals when I became a caregiver or when tragedy struck. He is with me - through the fire - through the flood. And I will allow Him to carry me today - will you join me?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Doing Our Part

When I started with the theme about being still this week I really didn't know it was so much work (see yesterday's post!). But as I went through the different scriptures I realized there is a lot resting on our shoulders to be still. Exodus 14:14 is one I have heard all my life and it says: The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. (NASB) The context is Moses and the Children of Israel standing on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army pressing in from behind. In verse 13, Moses tells them that they are going to see the Lord's salvation and God's going to take care of the oppressor. Verse 14 then goes on to say He will fight for them. However, they have to do their part as well - keep silent.

I let my mind form the picture of what is happening here as if I was standing there listening to Moses. I have an army of people who really do not like me and I do not know if they want to take me back into slavery or just kill me. Then in front of me is  a raging river that is impassable. And Moses wants me to keep silent? He instructs me to wait on the Lord and let Him do all the work? Doesn't Moses know I'm a caregiver and I know how to get things done? I'm used to doing it all myself!

As caregivers we have learned to adjust to just about any situation that presents itself. We are one of the most adaptable people around and we tend to have to fight in just about every arena just to survive. We have to argue with health care workers to just simply do their job, delivery people who can't seem to do what they said, the system to get proper supplies, and the list goes on and on and on. But He wants us to keep silent or be still? Only if we want Him to fight for us!

Now I understand that there are things we cannot let go and it can be a fight to get things done. We cannot give up in that arena. God's not going to call FedEx or DHS for us. There are things we have to take care of and I'm not talking about sitting down and just seeing what He can get done in the natural realm today. I'm talking about settling our souls down and getting our minds and hearts to a place of stillness so that His peace can overtake us and He can fight the battles of life for us. 1 Peter 5:7 says for us to cast all of our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us. That's what I'm talking about - I think you'll find when you let Him carry you spiritually, the natural will be much easier to deal with.

Today I'm going to meditate on being still, and keeping silent. My goal is to not complain (tall order I know!) about where I am in life. I'll give every anxiety over to Him as He enables me to handle everything that life chooses to throw. I'll do my part of finding my rest and peace in Him - will you join me?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Being Still is Hard Work

Last week I thought a lot about God's presence and how it is always with us so we are never really alone. That led my thinking to Psalm 46:10 which says Be still and know that I am God. This was the theme for yesterday's broadcast Actions Required. On one hand being still before our wonderful God seems like it would be a very simple thing. But it's not really about just getting quiet, which can be very difficult for the caregiver to begin with. That little conjunction "and" indicates to me that further action is required. Be still and know He is God.

Being still goes beyond finding a quiet place to read and study, or simply stilling our souls to meditate on Him, although that is part of it. Finding time may be a more difficult task in that the caregiver's day can be filled with activity. In many cases we hit the floor running long before dawn and don't stop until late at night. We live a hectic life even if we are mostly contained in our homes. But it is very important to take time to quiet ourselves down and simply acknowledge His lordship in our lives. Not only must we be still we must also know He is God.

When we take the time to purposefully quiet ourselves before Him, we are acknowledging Him as the most important thing in our lives (no matter how hectic they may be). We may say for the moment:  Lord, there is nothing more important in this moment than to acknowledge you are my God. This is the beginning of learning to rest in Him and trust Him for our strength. I love those moments when I can put all of the crazy parts of life on hold and just sit with Him awhile. Not only can purposefully taking this posture before God help make your day better - it can improve the rest of your life!

Today I will meditate on laying aside all the "crazy parts" of life and acknowledging His lordship in my life. I will concentrate on how I am fully His and there is really nothing else that matters. As I acknowledge that He is my God, I will trust Him for one more day - and purposefully lay my heart at His feet in worship. Will you join me?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a Move

I don't know anyone who really likes to move. Maybe you do, but I really don't like it at all. But when we do have to move from one location to another don't we take all of our possessions with us? We may discard a few items that we have learned we can live without - but as a general rule the basic concept of moving is taking all of our stuff from point A to point B.

In John 14:23, Jesus said If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. When we make a move we take all our stuff and so does God. We did not get just a little piece of God - when He moves in He brings it all! Paul says that we have the great treasure of Christ in this earthen vessel.

Earlier in John 14, Jesus said that He would give us the Spirit of Truth and that He would be in us. Not just walking alongside, which is good - He lives in us. He is a part of us and we are a part of Him. I love verse 20 of that chapter that says In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me and I in you. Talk about a package deal!

As caregivers it can seem that life has shortchanged us so to speak. But God does not do that. When He comes to make His abode in a person He brings all of Himself and does not hold anything back. Our theme this week has been about how He is with us and in us. Today I will meditate on how He brings all of Himself when He moves in. I'll consider how He lives in me and I live in Him. I want to think about how He does not hold anything back and has absolutely no reservation to giving me all of Himself. I'm going to let that overwhelm me today! He trusts me enough to give me everything.

This will be my meditation today - will you join me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where did He Go?

I'm taking comfort today from the fact that God is not only with me - but He cannot leave me. If we are honest, as caregivers we do experience those times that we feel like He has abandoned us altogether. But today I have been thinking about the fact that it is literally impossible for Him to leave us. After all, where would He go? We can at least understand the basic concept of His omnipresence with our finite minds. This means that He is literally everywhere so that leaves nowhere for Him to go. He really cannot leave us so there are no truer words spoken than Hebrews 13:5b - I will never leave or forsake you.

But these words go back way before the author of Hebrews reiterated them. They were spoken to Moses in Deuteronomy 31. And then God reminded Joshua in the first chapter that He would not leave. Today this means a lot to me. On one hand I can understand that God cannot leave me - it's an impossibility. On the other His words to his children in Deuteronomy, Joshua and Hebrews to me mean that even if He could He would not leave! He's committed to us for the long haul.

Today my meditation will be not so much on the fact that He is with me - as the truth that He chooses to be with me. There is a stark difference between someone who is just committed to being with you and sticks it out because of that commitment and one who chooses to be with you for good no matter what might come.

This day I will recall to mind God's unchangeable presence that is walking with me through this storm and continues to abide with me. Today I'm going to rest in Him and enjoy His presence. Will you join me?

Monday, January 27, 2014

God don't live at Church

Despite how we may feel at times, we are never alone. One thing that I realized this weekend was how the traditional "church" can make a caregiver feel when they cannot attend meetings. On our end, it can be discouraging because the fellowship is really valuable. But it's important for us (at least for me) to remember that God don't live at church.

Yesterday morning one of the groups that I had joined on facebook had a post for everyone to share what they learned at church. Well, I cannot go to church - and the church certainly does not come to me! That got me to thinking and I set up an account with blog talk radio and did the first broadcast yesterday called God don't live at church. Honestly, once I got started I really encouraged myself. You can hear it if you want:  Coffee with Caregivers

As I was sharing, it really hit me how this enormous, powerful and creative God lives right here inside of me. I was in awe. I read Isaiah 40 and how the prophet describes how God holds all the water in the world in the palm of His hand. That's an amazing chapter. But I also really like God's own account of creation that is in Job 38 and 39. They can simply leave you speechless. But so can the fact that we have all of God inside this human vessel. That we are His choice of habitation. And at the same time He is literally everywhere - and has nowhere to go! He's inside us period! And that's to be the theme of this week's devotions.

My first scripture selection is Ephesians 3:16 - that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Gain strength today by acknowledging that His Spirit is inside you. And you don't have a separate Holy Spirit since you can't "go to church," nor do you have less of Him due to the circumstances. The fact that we are caregivers have no influence whatsoever on the package deal we get with the Holy Spirit. We have all of Him inside our being.

Actually, if you are hurting you are mentioned specifically in scripture. The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18); He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Now that's some good stuff right there!

Today I will meditate on the fact that God is near me, with me, and His Spirit is inside me. I will carry on today in the strength I gain from Him making me His home. Will you join me?