Monday, December 11, 2017

The Anyways Factor

Don't you hate sayings like time heals all wounds? Or my new (sarcastic) favorite, nothing lasts forever. Yeah right. This too shall pass - maybe, maybe not. I'm learning a lot of these cliches just don't cut it and they don't offer the consolation or comfort they are intended to provide.

I must admit, the life of a caregiver can be less than ideal. It's not perfect. No one sets the goal of being a caregiver when they grow up. It's not on the list of careers to choose from. We inherit it. And we carry it well. And while I would not have chosen this life, I'm here now and I must say there are some distinct rewards that come from caring for a loved one. There are also some things about myself, and others, that I might not have discovered without caregiving. So I can honestly say I have no regrets.

I will not say the transition was easy. Nor will I make like there isn't pain involved. I admit there is daily grief. But I will say that I think I have a deeper faith, more intense trust and have grown in my knowledge of Him over this journey. Each day presents its own set of difficulties - and blessings.

A few weeks back I was thinking about my journey as a caregiver and I came to some conclusions. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is painful. Yes, no one understands us. Yes, there seems to be no end in sight. Yes, I battle fears. But.... there is the "anyways' factor.

You see, I determined that no matter what my situation is - I will praise Him anyways....

The anyways factor has changed my perspective. It takes the focus off my self and my situation and puts the life-emphasis back on Him.

I'm going to praise Him anyways...
I'm going to sing about His glory anyways...
I'm going to remember His deeds anyways...
I will meditate on His word anyways...
I will rejoice in Him anyways...
I will worship and bow down anyways...

I could continue, but I think we get the idea of the anyways factor. I've said so many times that our situations good or bad, do not change Him, do not affect His love for us, and do not change His intense, passionate longing to be with us. He still loves. He still cares. He still is God anyways....

Today, I will set my mind on things above. My thoughts will be on His mercy that is toward us always and anyways.... I'll meditate on His unfailing love that doesn't change due to my circumstances. My focus is going to be reset on His unchange-ableness in a constantly changing world of caregiving. I'll set my thoughts on His peace, grace and love that is toward us anyways... and I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me as I praise Him anyways.....








Monday, December 4, 2017

Right Smack Dab in the Middle

Last Saturday I ran a 10K. I hadn't done that distance in a while, so I was excited to get out there and do it. I also hadn't had any kind of a break since Chris was in the hospital last month. I knew the course was going to be my friend. When you're  out in the open like that, there's a lot of soul-searching and praying that can go on. That was actually my goal for this race, to pour out my heart and leave it all on the course so to speak. And that's what I did.

As soon as the race started I began emptying my heart before Him. After a little while, I told Siri to start some Natalie Grant. My prayers turned to praise and then to worship. The phrase in one song stood out above the rest as she sang You're restoring me piece by piece. The realization hit me that over the last few months, He's been doing that. My thoughts shifted to some of the things God has been doing for and in me personally this year. I realized the restoration process wasn't dead.

As tears rolled gently down my cheeks I found myself overcome with emotions. I realized that He has been restoring me in the midst of the storm. His promises do not wait for the storm clouds to pass. He works in and through us right smack dab in the middle of the toughest parts of our lives. Aren't you glad?

As a child, many of us learned Psalm 23. Think about this one part - He restores my soul. Isn't it interesting that the psalmist said God restores our soul? Not our body. Not our spirit, but our soul. Our soul as we understand it is comprised of our mind, will and emotions. He reaches into the very depth of who we are to bring His restoration. He doesn't wait until we have it all together to restore us. He comes right smack dab in the midst of whatever is going on and touches our souls.

Today I am going to meditate on His restoring power. My thoughts will be on how God is able to strengthen my whole being. He takes care of my body, soul and spirit. He doesn't leave any part of me undone. I'll thank Him for walking through this storm of life with me, willingly. I'll trust Him with my soul today. Will you join me?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

When I Don't Understand

I am resolved that there are just some things I will never understand. The last three weeks have been very rough. Two friends have died and gone on to their eternal reward, my son's botched surgery, near death and hospital stay and Thanksgiving without family have all taken a toll on my emotions.

Last night I was reading a post by someone whose son suffered a brain injury just a few weeks ago and he's making a remarkable recovery. I'm very happy for the family. But I have all these whys? Why does one recover and get to go on with life and another doesn't? this just added to my frustrations and perplexities.

I saw phrases that kind of made me mad. People say God is good.  And then they say God was with him. Those phrases we tend to only use when things go our way or when we get what we wanted. Are they saying God wasn't with my son? I know they don't mean it - but since I didn't get the same wonderful results is God not good? Was he not with Chris that day?

The obvious answers are of course that He was also with my son, and He is still good. I'm not upset at the rejoicing for those who recover quickly - I rejoice too. I wouldn't want anyone to have to walk this walk, you know? But God is no less good when I don't see Him move on my behalf like I want and expect Him too. He did not abandon my son that day just because we got different results.

We cannot measure His goodness by what we see. He is good. Period. No matter what life throws at us, no matter what fire or flood we walk through - His goodness is forever. His presence never weakens, He never abandons whether life is good at the moment or bad at the moment. He is with us when we are happy and things look great, and He's with us when we are at our bottom and our emotions are spent.

Philippians 4 helps me in times like these.Verse 4 starts out with rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Wow. I cannot say I always exemplify a gentle spirit. Sometimes I think I'm more like a wild mustang tearing through fences and fields or an ugly bull tearing down the proverbial China shop. lol

But Paul goes on in the next verse to give us this tidbit: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God. And then what happens? We get what we wanted? All our problems are solved? Our emotions are no longer raw? Life's fire stops burning? The flood stops rolling? Nope. But.....

Then the peace of God which passes our understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. His peace is enough when I don't understand. He can guard my heart through the rough spots. I can always take it back to the comfort I find in the phrase in verse 5 - he is near. When I don't understand when I am running on high octane emotions; when my heart is broken, when I am too tired to be tired..... He is near.

Today I will rest in the truth that He is near, specifically near the brokenhearted - so I know He's near today. My thoughts will be on His nearness and His perpetual goodness. A goodness that doesn't wane and wax with the turns of the days. I'll think of His constant love and kindness today. And I will rest in that. I'll let Him carry me today - will you join me?


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Finding the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

Finding the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

Caregivers usually need to juggle a wide array of responsibilities. In addition to their caregiving responsibilities, they may hold down a full-time job and take care of young children. Mix in the daily anxieties associated with normal life, and the caregiver constantly juggles stressful situations where they rarely have time to relax. So how can you find the perfect gift for caregivers during the holiday season? Here are some tips to help!

Spa Treatment

Anyone who works hard each day taking care of an elderly parent will appreciate some pampering at a spa. Set up an appointment for the caregiver, and pick up the tab! At a spa, caregivers have the opportunity to recharge and relax through a variety of specialized services. Typical spa services include massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and body treatments.

Going Out

One gift that won’t cost you a penny is providing respite. Caregivers rarely get to go out to the movies or to a restaurant. Their lives revolve around taking care of the ailing family member. Give them the gift of time by offering to watch their elderly parents. Whether it’s going to the cinema, heading to the library or buying a cappuccino at the coffee shop, they’ll cherish their time away from their responsibilities.

Subscriptions

If the caregivers you know enjoy reading a particular magazine, buy them a subscription so they can enjoy it all year. Do they enjoy watching TV shows but don’t have time to watch them? Purchase a subscription to a company that streams movies and TV programs. They can catch up on their favorite shows, binge watching whenever they have a couple of free hours.

Maid Service

Caregivers have so much to do as they care for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s hard to keep the house neat and clean when you’re busy tending to the family member’s needs. If you really want to give a useful gift to caregivers, purchase house cleaning services for them. It’s a priceless gift that saves them time and energy.

Household Chores

Sure, it’s nice to have a professionally-cleaned house, but a caregiver will really appreciate your thoughtfulness if you offer to do chores around the house. Doing laundry, mowing the lawn or cooking a meal are just some of the household tasks you can do for them.

Gift Cards

Not sure what to buy caregivers who spend their days and nights caring for others? You can’t go wrong with a gift card to the caregiver’s favorite restaurant or store. But don’t just give them gift cards! Give them time to go shopping too. Offer to watch the elderly parent so that the caregiver can enjoy a stress-free day of shopping.

E-readers, iPads and Tablets

Caregivers love practical gifts that are also fun to use. Buy them an iPad, tablet or e-reader if they love to read books so they can use the devices to catch up on their favorite stories. They can also use them to conduct internet research, play games or do some online shopping.

Hobbies and Interests

When you’re a caregiver, your own hobbies often fall by the wayside. You don’t have time to pursue your favorite hobbies because you’re too busy taking care of sick loved ones. To encourage caregivers to take time for themselves, buy them gifts that relate to their interests. Do they love to sew? Pay for them to attend a sewing class once a week and offer to watch the elderly parent while they attend the class. Do they enjoy dancing? Sign them up for some dance classes. Again, make sure you arrange your schedule so you can take over the caregiving duties for the night or find someone who can do it for you.

Mental Health

Caregivers easily burn out if they don’t have time for themselves. Feeling depressed isn’t uncommon because they’re constantly dealing with an elderly loved one who needs round-the-clock care. It’s important to remind caregivers to take time for themselves and nurture their mental health. Help them find time for hobbies and rest so they feel refreshed despite the difficult job they have to do. Encouraging a beloved caregiver to focus on their own wellness for a change can truly be one of the best gifts they receive this holiday season.

Help the caregivers you know by giving them gifts that make their lives a little bit easier. By giving the gift of time and providing them with much-needed assistance, you’ll provide caregivers with opportunities to do the things that help them relax so they can return to their responsibilities with renewed vigor.

Photo via Pixabay

Recalculating

I think the only constant in life is the fact that change is constant. Just about the time we get where we are figured out and we settle in for the long haul, one little thing shifts. That catapults us into a new dimension it seems and we have to recalculate to proceed.

I think about the GPS and when we make a wrong turn or miss an exit it so nicely says recalculating route. Lol. Some days it feels like I do that every hour or so. I really thrive in structure, but that was one of the first things to go when I became a caregiver. Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make. Each day brings totally different circumstances to be recalculated.

Although it's been difficult, I've found a way to adapt to the constant changes. Like now. I'm writing the blog a bit later today and allowing Chris to sleep. That's so hard for me, but I overslept. Since we've come home from the hospital last week we've both been exhausted. Maybe I'm just old, or plain tired,  but it seems to be harder to recover these days. Every day can be a series of recalculations. This is usually walked out through a series of thoughts that pretty much sound like this:


  • Where am I now?
  • What time is it?
  • What do I have to get done?
  • What can wait until tomorrow?
  • What's most pressing?
  • Do I have enough coffee? :-)
Caregiving days are made up of questions like these and many times have a different answer every time. We honestly do not know what a day may bring, as I found out so quickly last week. I thought I was watching my son breathe his last. Then when the EMT told me they were going lights and sirens, I knew it was life or death. My daughter and I had to face the decision of if we wanted life support as it was the next step. I didn't see that coming. We cannot take anything for granted, not even caregiving.

Now here's the thing. Our GPS may need to recalculate based on our actions. I may have to recalculate my days based on what is happening. But God never recalculates. He has seen in advance and already made preparations. I was reading in Psalm 139 this morning. It says he is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He doesn't recalculate His love - it is constant. As a matter of fact - he pre-calculated and decided we were worth His efforts! He made the way for us to get back to Him before the fall and He's not changing His mind. He's not recalculating that one. We are still worth it!

My eyes slipped on down to verse 4 - even before there is a word on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it all. What? As fast as my mind can toss out questions, answers and ideas and He knows all that first? And He still loves me!

He knew we would be caregivers. He knew we would see rough days. He knew in advance we'd choose to trust Him through some very difficult decisions and circumstances. He knew we would always add it back up to trusting Him - no matter how we might calculate and recalculate. But He never has to recalculate His love for us or His mercy toward us. It stands through it all.

Today I am going rejoice in His constant mercy, love, and watchfulness over us as His children. He won't recalculate and decide we are not worth it. We will always be worth it to Him. My thoughts will be on how He walked through this moment in time before I got here - and He placed His grace here to carry me through it. I will be thankful for His constant watching, and His pre-watching. I'll be grateful for His lack of desire to recalculate His love. Today I will rest in the truth that He never changes His mind about us. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Because He Is

A conversation I had with some people yesterday turned my thoughts toward prayer, so I was looking at the model prayer Jesus gave His disciples. It starts out with Our Father, in heaven. And that's where I stopped. For a few minutes, my thoughts tried to wrap around just that seemingly little point. Just think about it for a bit - our God, our Father - is in heaven. He exists. He is.

I flipped over to Psalm 95. In verse six, the psalmist says, come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker, for He is our God. We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. He is. And He is our God. That's a good reason to take a posture of worship at His throne - in the heavenlies.

If we back up to the first of that psalm, David says this:

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods.
In His hands are the depths of the earth.
the peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it.
And His hands formed the dry land.

He made the sea - and the land. He holds both the depths of the earth and the heights of the earth in His hand. And you know what? He holds us in His hand as well. Again - He is.

Hebrews 11:6 says - without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is. When we come to Him - it's because we truly believe He is. Sometimes, we come to Him and bring our frustrations, our concerns, hopes, and fears. But it is powerful to come to Him just because He is. And because He is our God. We come, not because we need anything, just open-handed and open-hearted to say He is our God.

Today, I'm going to move my thoughts from myself and my situation. I'll meditate on His existence. I'll think about how He is and how that is simply enough. I'll worship Him because He is today. And I'll come to Him - not because I want or need a thing - but just because He is. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Some Things Never Change - And that's a Good Thing!

This morning I kept thinking about an old song. I like to hear my sister, Kenella sing it. It's called The Anchor Holds. It talks about a ship that is battered and torn but that it's held sure by the anchor. No matter what the storm does to the ship - the anchor holds secure.

Since I had the anchor on my mind, I decided to look it up in a concordance. One scripture stood out to me. It's Hebrews 6:19 and it says this hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast. I like to read verses in context, so I backed up and read the entire chapter.

It's talking about Abraham and how he hoped against hope and held to the promise of God.If you back up a couple of verses, you'll see that God simply wants to show us the promise of the unchangeableness of His purpose. It can be so easy for His purpose to get lost in caregiving. However, it's only lost to us - we just can't see it. But His purpose is never lost, never wasted and remains even in caregiving.

God wants to draw us to Himself. He wants to be up-close-and-personal with each of us - and His desire to walk life out with us (in us) doesn't change just because we became a caregiver. His promises still hold true - they never change. He still promises us peace - in the midst of the storm. He still promises us joy. He still promises to provide. These never change - neither does His purpose for us.

Philippians 1:6 reminds us that He who began a good work in you  - will complete it! He never abandons ship because life got difficult. It never takes a turn He did not expect. This is our anchor - that He is both sure and steadfast. He never lets us go. He never changes His mind. His purpose for us is still the same. He still lives in us - and didn't move out because we hit a rough spot.

Today I will be thankful that His purpose still stands. I'll meditate on the truth that He longs for fellowship with us - no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. I will give thanks that life doesn't get too complicated for Him - He is not perplexed and He will not change His mind. And so today, I will rest in the truth that the hope of His purpose is still the anchor that holds my soul. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?