Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When We Wake Up Tired

Some mornings I just wake up tired. Perhaps it's because I overdid it yesterday, or maybe it's because I'm looking ahead at what I have to do today. Either way there are these mornings when I feel like I am scraping myself off the bed to get about the day.

I've heard people say that it is so nice you can stay home. I try not to laugh too loudly. I think they have no idea what that actually looks like. Just today I have the nurse coming at 10 for her monthly visit, then I have to get my son fed, changed and loaded to go to therapy by 1:30. That takes the whole afternoon (not at all a complaint - just a fact!), then I'll have to get him back home and fed and in bed for a short rest before we start our evening schedule and then hopefully at some point back to bed late tonight. AND somewhere in all that I have clients who are waiting on work and of course they all need it right now!  whew! No wonder I was tired when I woke up this morning.

It is very hard for me, and many caregivers, to admit to being tired. If we acknowledge its presence, we might succumb to it; and we really don't have time for that!

This morning I did my usual morning routine (after scraping myself up at 6:30 which is late for me!). It goes like this: prepare Chris' meds and bolus, start the coffee pot, change Chris and get him comfortable, bolus him and then grab a fresh cup and head for the recliner for my devotions. all the while the day before me is running through my mind: call the apartment office at 9 - the air still isn't working, have Chris bathed and up by about 9:30, the nurse will be here at 10 or 10:30 (she wasn't sure), after she leaves he has to be fed and dry by 12:15 to load in the van and head to OKC......And then I start running through the clients who want work TODAY! I've been up for an hour - and I really wish I could go back to bed!

But as caregivers we really don't have that option. We will push through the day functioning as well as possible and hope nothing falls apart! There's no time to stop, rest, recover or put broken things back together.

As I am rehearsing and organizing my day in my head (yes - I'm a type A - it is ALL  rehearsed and scheduled!) for a brief moment I allow myself to think I'm really tired.  And immediately I think of the familiar passage in Isaiah 40. It's as if God showed me a snapshot of that page in my Bible. almost like He was asking me the question:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, 
and vigorous young men stumble badly
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

I let out a huge sigh as I found it comforting somehow that God acknowledged my weariness. It's not like He doesn't know. So today while I am scurrying about getting done as much as I can - and letting go of the rest (we are only human you know!) I will on purpose - wait for Him. I'll trust Him for strength today and smile because He never gets tired. He's always there to lift me up and strengthen me.

Today I will purposefully acknowledge that I need His strength and I will let Him carry me. My meditation will be on waiting on Him instead of relying on myself. I will wait for Him. I will rest in Him. And I will make it! Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Yet He Remains Faithful

Last night as I was going through our bedtime rituals. I just stopped and looked at my son. He was lying down, resting and soon to fall asleep. I think all mothers like to watch their kids sleep. I just stood there by his bed and let my mind wander a bit. I thought about our journey and all we've come through to this point.  And I rehearsed some of my fears of what may happen when I get my ticket out of this place called time - or I get too old to care for him. The thought of him being left in a home made me shutter.

I thought of the people we met along the way and the ones I saw literally, just walk away. It's never been in me to do that. I thought of how much I love my son and how that holds me at his side no matter what.

I felt the bond between us strengthen as I grabbed hold tighter with my heart. It made me more determined to be sure things are in order so he doesn't ever have to feel abandoned. I can't imagine putting him somewhere and walking away. In that deep emotional moment it was like I felt God was saying the same thing about me; about us, His children.

He has that same intense desire to be with us. He will not abandon us. The scripture that came to my mind at that point was 2 Timothy 2:13 the passage (v. 11-13) reads this way in the NASB:

It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him
we will also live with Him
If we endure
we will also reign with Him
If we deny Him
He cannot deny us
If we are faithless
He remains faithful
for He cannot deny Himself

Two things ran through my mind He is faithful and He cannot deny Himself. Just like I can't stand even the thought of leaving my son's side - God cannot bear the thought of being separated from us. He remains faithful. Add to those thoughts verse 19 of the same chapter - The Lord knows those who are His and you have a win-win combination. He knows us - and He ain't going anywhere!

Today I will meditate on His faithfulness. My thoughts will be on the truth that He knows me. I will turn my thoughts to accepting the truth that He loves me and that love binds our hearts together and He is not going to leave...for any reason. Will you join me?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reminding Ourselves

As I was reading through Psalm 71 in my morning devotions I recalled an old hymn called, Remind Me Dear Lord. I only remember a few of the phrases of that old song but sometimes it's really how I feel. At times I really need Him to remind me that I am still His child, He still loves me and He is still with me. Other times I need to remind myself of these solid truths.

I assume that David wrote Psalm 71 but it doesn't say that for sure - just that it is a prayer of an old man. Sometimes caregiving wears us down until we can just feel old. This Psalm was a great reminder for me this morning.

First of all, I noticed the things the psalmist reminded himself of regarding how he had reacted to God. He said things like:

  • In You I have taken refuge
  • Be to me a rock - to which I can continually come...
  • My mouth is filled with Your praise
  • I will hope continually; I will praise you more
  • I will make mention of Your righteousness - Yours alone
  • I will praise you with the harp
  • I will sing praises with the lyre
  • My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You
  • My tongue will utter Your righteousness all day long
That's a lot of determination, hope and courage right there! Maybe he can say these things because they are mixed in with a variety of declarations he makes regarding his relationship with God. He says things like:

  • You are my refuge
  • You are my rock and fortress
  • You are my hope
  • By You I've been sustained since birth
  • You took me from my mother's womb
  • You are my strong refuge
  • You have taught me from my youth
These are all powerful statements of faith, I think. He is declaring his absolute trust and confidence in God and reminding himself of all God has done over the years of his life. As caregivers it can be easy to feel like God and life have forsaken us and left us to drown in day to day responsibilities. These are some wonderful declarations we can make that help us remember who He is to us - and help us remind ourselves that we will continue to trust and stand.

But here's the other thing I noticed in this Psalm: the psalmist sheer desperation. Right in the middle of trusting Him and hoping in Him the writer lets us see the pain that's in his heart. He says things like:

  • Listen to me and save me
  •  Rescue me from the hand of the wicked
  • Do not cast me off 
  • Do not forsake me when my strength fails
  • Do not be far from me
  • Do not forsake me
For some reason this really encouraged me today- to see that the psalmist was in a state of despair with trouble all around and yet he did what was important and needful. He called on God for help, ran to him for refuge and continued to declare his trust in Him.

Today my meditation will not be on surrounding troubles or on the struggles we face as caregivers. My thoughts will be on the fact that I'm gong to continue to trust Him no matter what a day brings. I will sing. I will praise. I will continue to run to Him. I'll take some time today to think about all I have seen Him do in my life and in the lives of those I love; and I will be thankful. Will you join me?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Does "Everything" Mean Everything?

Sometimes as a caregiver it can feel like we are "missing out" on life. There are many times we just can't do what we used to do because of our responsibilities of taking care of another. It may mean that we cut some of our favorite activities to try and lighten our load, or it might even mean we lack any sort of social life at all.

For a long time I felt like I lived in a caregiver's cave. There was almost no social interactions and even now that we can get out and about even on a limited basis I am leery of scheduling outings. We just never know what a day is going to look like. It can be difficult to plan since we don't know what kind of day our loved one is going to have; and this can keep us from many activities.

Even now that my son and I can get out more, I'm very limited on how long I can spend out. I have to get back home to change him or to feed him. And honestly, sometimes the fear of what might happen while we are out keeps us home. There are tons of what ifs.

These can make us feel like we don't have "a life" like others. We can feel like life has shorted us somewhat. But I have found that God didn't short us a bit.

2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Everything - means everything. He didn't say that because we are a caregiver and have what appears to others as "less" of a life - we don't get all of His Holy Spirit. He does not exclude us from His spirit living in us. We have no less of Him than any other believer. The big-name TV preachers don't have more of Him than we do. Pastors don't have more of God or more access to Him than we do; and neither does any other leader in or out of the church.

Ephesians 3:16 says that we have the power of His spirit in our inner man It's a package deal. No one has a partial Christ. Even when a child comes to know Him - there is no junior Holy Spirit. As believers the Holy Spirit of God lives in us. We get no less of Him as a caregiver than anyone else. We all have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us working to transform us into His image.

We are partakers of his divine nature according to 2 Peter. And we demonstrate His love by taking care of our loved ones. We can offer the world a picture of His grace that they cannot see anywhere else. His spirit fully equips us for that.

Today I will meditate on the truth that I have full access to God and that I am not limited by being a caregiver. I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He did not withhold anything from me but my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I did not get short-changed when it comes to having the fullness of God. That makes me smile....Today I will rejoice in this - that the fullness of God lives in me! Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What? No White Horse?

I know I've shared before that when my son was first injured I honestly thought that at any moment God was going to come riding on a white horse right into the ICU waiting area and swoop us all away. After 3 plus weeks in ICU and over 4 months total at the hospital I kinda started to figure out that was not going to happen. Yeah, I'm a slow learner! lol

I still believe that God does not cause these things to happen, but I also believe he does allow life to bring them. However, I also believe that He does not waste them. What I mean by that is that while we are in any of life's situations - He's going to use it.

1 Peter 5:10 says this: After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. Honestly, I'm not rejoicing over that when I first read it. I'd rather it said that God is going to look down and see us suffering and come riding in and pull us out of the fire, rescue us, save us and take away our pain. It didn't say that though.

While I don't think God rejoices when we go through struggles or trials, I do think He uses what life brings to form us. Our natural man may be going through the toughest days of our lives, but He is working on our spiritual man. There's nothing like caregiving to reveal our own character to us. Sometimes (many times) I don't like what I see...occasionally, I do.

Caregiving is one of those life events that pulls the best and the worst out of us. For me, it's helped pull out being able to stand up and say what I think. Unfortunately, sometimes this also means that a few unacceptable terms are used to express what I'm really feeling. (I'm working on that.) Just being honest here. Instead of God swooping us away, stopping the pain and grief and returning us to a "normal" life (whatever that is), He uses the situation we are in to temper us.

He perfects or matures us; and confirms, strengthens and establishes us.  The New Living Translation says He will restore, support, strengthen and place you on a firm foundation. So even though sometimes it feels like caregiving is chipping away out our heart and life - God is in the background girding us up and working to strengthen our spirit man. Even though He isn't working to save our physical man - He's got us covered spiritually. In fact He's working overtime to see to it that we remain established and growing in Him.

Today I will meditate on the work He's doing in my heart, even though I don't see what He's doing all the time. My thoughts will be once again on how He put His Spirit in me - and that's what gives me strength to go on. (Eph 3:10) I will fight off the thoughts of abandonment with thoughts of how much attention He is giving to developing my character; and how He is still perfecting His image in me. Will you join me?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lulled into Complacency

Caregiving has a way of lulling us into complacency. There's so many things that are the same as yesterday, things that don't change or go away.  Just my morning routine consists of getting Chris up, stripping his bed, starting his laundry, taking out his trash, pureeing his breakfast and feeding him. It's the same every single morning and then other routines take over after that. All of these mini-routines build up into one huge day of doing the same things over and over. For me, even runs to the urgent care or ER are routine any more. I know just what needs to be in the bag and I can throw it all together and be out of the door in a matter of minutes!

Even though the caregiver's schedule is hectic even at its most peaceful times, it has a way of lulling us into complacency. We know what to expect and when to expect it and basically nothing surprises us anymore. There's not a lot of spontaneity in the caregiver's life because there's a whole series of events that must occur to just go somewhere. It can take massive amounts of planning to just wiggle something like a movie into the schedule. Sometimes it's easier to just stay home instead of undertaking all the work necessary just to go get necessities. Complacent.

1 Peter 1:13 gives believers a stern warning  regarding becoming complacent in our faith. Peter tells them to prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on His grace. This verse is full of action that the believer must perform in order to keep from being complacent in our faith. As caregivers, our body gets tired and emotions can run thin and we can easily chill out and "turn off life." We can stop fighting for our faith mostly because we are just too tired body, soul and spirit. But it's important for us to remain diligent about keeping our minds sober and our hope fixed on His grace. We can't be distracted from Him by our crazy lives as caregivers.

Sometimes I think I'm too tired to be diligent; or I just want to rest from it all. I would love an emotional break - forget an actual physical vacation (what is that? lol) I'd just love for my emotions to be settled down and my mind to slow down and let my spirit man catch his breath! But while the caregiver may be thinking all of that, there is a good reason for us to keep ourselves in tip-top shape spiritually.

1 Peter 5:8 gives us the reason we have to be diligent even though we are tired. Our adversary, the devil, is seeking to destroy us. He doesn't want to destroy us physically - he wants our faith. When we allow caregiving to lull us into a complacent state spiritually - we become easy prey. So as difficult as it can be to stay focused on spiritual things through the distractions of caregiving - it is necessary for our spiritual being that we maintain our spirit man.

Today I am going to focus on how the Spirit of God lives in me to give me life. I'm going to purposefully feed my spirit His word instead of feeding my mind. My meditations will be on how I can remain diligent about pursuing Him and letting His peace reign in my heart and mind. Will you join me?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Holding on to What Does Not Fade

My latest personal devotions have been spent in 1 Peter. The epistles are among my favorite scriptures because they are just so rich! This morning I got stuck on 1 Peter 1:4. This passage is wonderful, but a few words in this scripture demanded my attention this morning.

Verse 4 says we obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, and undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. The words which I bolded are the ones which grabbed my attention. Our inheritance in the Lord cannot fade away, be defiled or perish.

That might not seem like too big of a deal to a lot of people, but for me as a caregiver sometimes I start to feel like a second class citizen all the way around. I feel the loss of a "normal" life, and feel like I can't get out and do things like so many get to enjoy. When my son was first injured, my life stopped and in many aspects it's never begun again. It's changed; but it's anything but "normal."

Many days I grieve the loss of my son, even though he is still here. I grieve the loss of my life too. It is so good to know that what we have in Christ, and who we are in Him cannot perish, cannot be stolen from us and will not ever fade away. Our life is hidden with Christ in God our Father and being a caregiver doesn't cause our standing in Him to change or waver one bit. Nothing in our spirit man changed when we became a caregiver.

This really touched me this morning during my devotions because when everything else in our lives changes, God's hold on us remains constant. Today I am going to grab hold on this truth and rest in Him. My meditation will be on His constancy - and His perseverance to hold on to me through life's struggles. I will turn my thoughts to His unchanging love for me. And I will rejoice in the fact that what He has put in me will not and cannot be damaged by life's roaring tides! Will you join me?