Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Find it!

chris looking at himself in the mirror
No one likes suffering. At all. Actually, we spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid it altogether. We avoid relationships that might be hurtful, as well as circumstances that might cause us internal pain. Then caregiving happens and it can feel like everything is painful all the time. While it is the most rewarding "job" on the planet, the suffering endures, pain and grief are real and constant for many of us. Sometimes we might ask what good could possibly come from all this. It's a fair question.

This morning as I was preparing my video devotional for a FB group, I came across verse 71 in Psalm 119. I'm taking it a chunk at a time each morning - and boy has it been a great study! Well, at least I've enjoyed it. lol.

Verse 71 says this It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.(NASB) The New Living Translation (1996) says it this way The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles.There's nothing like a little suffering, a little pain or bump in the road to get us to turn our attention back to God. All of a sudden, we are searching the word for answers. Or we are reading through verses looking for specifics like hope, courage, peace or a present help in time of need.

Here's the thing though, if we wait for those rough spots, those bumps in the road to get familiar with the word, we are going to be lost. When we hide the word in our hearts, then something happens we start mentally thumbing through scriptures trying to find one that fits the situation. If we've stored it in our hearts - it's there when we need it.

Do you need hope today? Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom.15:13)
Do you need peace today? Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (1 Peter1:2)
Are you anxious today? When my anxious thoughts multiply in me, Your consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
Are you fearful? Do not fear for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you for I am your God.I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

No matter what we face from day to day - or moment to moment, God has an answer. He may not make it all go away and come riding in on a white horse to rescue us. But He will always, always, always ride through the storm with us and providing what we need to make it through. Take time to find what you need in the word today - there's always an answer there.

Today, I'm going to meditate on how the word has carried me through the tough times. I'll think about the scriptures I learned as a child and how they bring me comfort even in the trials of life. I will take time to thank Him for walking through time with me - for not abandoning me. I'll express gratitude for the way the word brings comfort and peace and reminds me that He is indeed always with me. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Floating Away to Lala Land?

I found this nugget this morning, I just wanted to share with you all. Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in being a caregiver we forget about simple stuff out of the word. For me, I stay in survival mode so much, there's not always room for much else. It takes everything we have, every ounce of strength to make it through the day sometimes, who can think of anything else, right?

Few can understand how full our proverbial plate really is. From daylight to dark, there is something, someone, some situation making a demand on us - on our energy. Lately, with both of us taking our rounds being sick, sleep has been lacking. That makes for long days and nights. But there is something (someone) in the midst of the storm holding it all together - and it's not me. lol.

Actually, I lose it easily. I may look like I have it all together, but on the inside, I'm a big mess. My emotions are all over the place, I have fears, anxiety, self-doubt and the whole nine yards. But just like Jesus promised, He fills me with a peace that is beyond my understanding. I do not understand how we make it sometimes, you know? There is so much making demands on our energy, mindfulness, faith, strength, etc... every.single.day. And we somehow keep going. Day after day. Night after long night.

He is faithful.

So this morning when I found this verse in the New Living Translation (1996) I had the missing piece of the picture. Psalm 119:61 says this: Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to Your law. It's not so much that there are "evil people" dragging me into sin, but circumstances are always digging at me, trying to separate me (us) from the truth of His word. Our situations can be a constant soul-pain forever chipping away at our faith - if we let it. That's where the second part of this comes in - I am firmly anchored to Your law - or I'd like to say to Your word. 

When we are anchored at the heart to His word, circumstance can't drag us under. When we hide His word in our hearts, it will come up and hold us, ground us, when we need it most. Those long nights when our loved ones are feverish and uncomfortable, the long days with no human interaction, the long evenings when it feels like there was so much more we needed to get done but didn't. When we are anchored to His word - it will sustain us. Ground us. Hold us down when our emotions are ready to float us away to lala land. (Maybe it's just me?)

Today, I will meditate on what it means to be firmly anchored to His word, and to Him. My thoughts will be about how He makes us immovable, grounds us in Himself and is faithful. I will look up the song, The Anchor Holds. And I will keep my thoughts on being anchored in His strength - rather than mine. My meditations will be on being anchored in His faithfulness and being grounded in His word. I'll be grateful for the word today as I trust Him for one more day anchored in Him. Will you join me?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Simple Act of Reflection

I'm still studying and sharing out of Psalm 119 in a Facebook group I work with. I had forgotten how much I loved this psalm.This morning, one verse, in particular,  stood out. Verse 55 says I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord, and I obey your law because of this. (NLT)

What I got out of that was reflecting, or thinking about who He is, keeps me on the straight and narrow. Because of who He is I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When I think about His power, His greatness, His majesty, His Lordship, His Kingship... and I could go on - I can't help but worship Him and obey Him. (These two are inseparable btw.)

Where my thoughts went with this verse was to the fact (truth) that nothing here on earth changes Him one iota. Whether we face good days or bad - He's still King on the throne. His throne was not moved by my tragedy. His power was not weakened by my battle. His position on the throne did not shift in any manner because of anything I may have faced. No matter how good - or how bad life may be, it does not change Him. Nothing on earth affects who He is. He remains unchanged. And this keeps me on the straight and narrow.

Today, I'm going to meditate on this verse and reflect on who He is. My meditations will be on how He remains. He stays the same. He is still faithful. He is still all-knowing and all-powerful and life doesn't have the power to change Him or diminish Him in any way. He's still the God I trusted in my youth and as I face older ages He will remain the same. I'll be thankful for that today. Will you join me?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I Trust God

If you've read this devotion much you know I love the Psalms. Lately, I've been in Psalm 119. Sometimes, it's nice to read it slow and just digest it. This psalm is of course long, but it's broken up into little bite-size pieces. I've been taking it a chunk at a time. It's easy to tell David had a love for the word of God.

As the psalm unfolds, David continues to talk about the word and how he meditates on it, thinks about it, searches for it, and just generally loves it. Today I focused on verses 41 to 48. But my mind settled on the first two verses this morning.

May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word. (vs 41-42)

These two stood out because they stirred up some memories of my past. I recalled a time I was reproached for being ill. A woman literally sat by my bed telling me all the things I was doing wrong. She told me my sin held me in the sick bed and until I repented, I would not be well. I was so weak. I could barely speak. But I would whisper, I trust God.

During that time I held on to Psalm 57:1 and to His promise in Psalm 103 that He would renew my youth like the eagle. I clung to those two verses. I confessed them. Meditated on them and made them my focus. And just like He promised, He raised me up from the deathbed. My mom had planned my funeral - it looked like there was no hope. But He chose to take away my reproach. I had no answer but that I was trusting in God.

Recently, my son's situation, my situation, my family's situation as caregivers was a reproach to some. Later, they said it was just a misunderstanding and they tried to dismiss it as such. But some hurtful things were said to my daughter. A friend's son suffered a brain injury in a terrible accident. My daughter was told to not contact them. The implication was that we obviously didn't have the faith for Chris to be healed so don't contact them or we might make them doubt or cause them fear. Once again I felt that reproach. The emotions of that moment I do not want to relive. Yet, I will still say I trust God. 

Some reproach caregivers. They have no idea. It's been an amazing journey. Of faith. Of hope. Of love. Of self-discovery and God-discovery. But it's not a reproach. I trust He continues to give me answers to those who would bring reproach, those who look down on our situations as if there is no hope. Really. We are filled with hope - His hope carries us through each moment of each day. After nearly 10 years of disappointments, trials, struggles.. I can still say I trust God.

Today, I make that my declaration again - I trust God. No matter what today brings - I will continue to trust Him. I'll meditate on his faithfulness as I continue to trust. I trust God - today and every day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

4 More Rocks

As we gradually get better, the fog clears a bit. lol - Who am I kidding? The caregiver's fog is a forever thing, I think. Some days are better than others, yet even what seems to be a simple thing can be complex for caregivers. I will say the last couple of weeks have been very challenging, first with my own illness and then with Chris' Sigh. I think (hope) we are through the worst of it now and can start the recovery process.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been discouraged. I've been way down... trying to dig out of the deep, dark fog... down. I'm not sure discouraged can even describe the way I felt, especially last week. But it'll have to do for now.

One of the scriptures that came to mind as I was trying to crawl out of the foggy pit, is 1 Samuel 30:6. It says David encouraged himself in the Lord. David was in a very difficult spot. He and his warriors had just returned from battle to find Ziklag plundered and burned to the ground. Their stuff, their wives, their kids - all gone. The city was destroyed.

Verse four describes their heartbreak by saying, Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. I can honestly say I've been in that emotional spot where there literally wasn't strength to weep anymore. It's rare for me - but it happens.

So, I wondered just how David encouraged himself in the Lord. Did he think back about Goliath? Did he consider how God led him to take down that giant with a single stone? He knew it had been God's hand that delivered Goliath into his hand. In 1 Samuel 17:37, David stated that the Lord who had delivered him from bears and lions - would also deliver him from the hand of the Philistine. There was no doubt. I wonder, is this what David was thinking about as he encouraged himself in the Lord?

When David went out to face Goliath, he stopped at the spring and picked up 5 smooth stones. Did you ever wonder why? It may have been one of any number of reasons - but I heard one time that it was because Goliath had 4 brothers and maybe David thought - if I take out one - the other four are gonna show up too. Maybe he was preparing for an onslaught. He knew if God gave him one - He could give him the other four too.

Caregiving seems to be like that sometimes. It's not just one thing. It's a whole lot of things stacked one on top of the other over and over again. We have to face each day, not with just one stone to take out a single giant, but with many stones as there are many giants in the land. It wars at our souls, and digs at our emotions. Caregiving can be discouraging, disheartening and debilitating. But there is hope.

How can we encourage ourselves in the Lord even in the midst of an unchanging situation? It might take four more stones on top of four more stones and then just four more stones. That's really not an exaggeration. We have to remind ourselves that God is still in the business of felling giants. And He knows we have many of them to deal with. But, He let us take out one - so He'll equip us to take out the rest.

Ziklag was just one dark moment in David's journey. He'd had many before, He'd have more after. Today is not our end-all either. There have been good and bad moments- and there will continue to be good and bad moments. We just need to remember that God is there to help us overcome each and everyone. He always makes a way to escape.

Today I'm going to think about those other four stones in David's pouch. My thoughts will be on how he took out Goliath with one stone - and how one solid word of truth can take out any giant I face today. But then, I'm going to think about how there are still four more in reserve. My meditations will be on how there will always be enough to take out Goliath and his four brothers. I'll remind myself that God will always make a way. Just like David recovered from Ziklag God has a recovery plan for me too. I'll lean in to Him today so I can hear Him more clearly. I'll wait for Him and trust Him to deliver me from the giants of today. Will you join me?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Crazy Days of Caregiving

Forgive me for my absence. Chris and I have both been sick with whatever viruses are running rampant right now. It's no fun being sick yourself, or watching your loved one feel ill. But I know you understand how difficult it is to care for someone else when you are not feeling up to par. As caregivers, we don't even get time to be sick. What can you do, right? Our loved one still needs to be bathed, changed, fed, gotten up, etc. Who has time to lay in bed and recover? lol

Add to that this frustration. I get up. I'm tired. I'm sick. I can barely get myself out of bed. I think, the aid will be here at 9. He can help me get Chris up. Guess who doesn't show up? And guess who hasn't shown up for nearly 2 weeks now? Yup. A glimpse at the life of a caregiver. We have to laugh to keep from crying.

Well, no matter what, I am upright once again and the doctor is coming to check Chris out today. Maybe we are on the mend, finally. As I get back around and try to get back to the normal crazy days of caregiving, I'm reminded of a scripture from Psalm 119. Verse 50 says this This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me. The old KJV says that your word has quickened me. Put life in me - made me feel something again. And that is where I am right now in life.

The word continues to quicken me, put life in my tired old body. I can be as tired as all get out, exhausted from either being sick or taking care of Chris, and the right word at the right time can rejuvenate me. One verse can just pop out at me and change my perspective about my day. May it always be that His word puts life in me like that! As long as His word quickens me - pours supernatural energy in my soul - touches my heart... I will be comforted. I'll know I'm okay. If the word no longer touches our hearts  - it's time to do some deep soul searching to find out why.

It's amazing to me how the entrance of His word brings light into the dark night of the soul. His word can just march right into the depths of my hurting heart and touch just the right spot, add a spark of life and bring comfort to my soul. It's amazing to watch it work. My part is to always position myself so that His word has room to change me. May caregiving ever become a distraction to His word. May my heart never be so burdened with the cares of caregiving that I can't be touched by His presence. May I always be tender enough toward Him that just reading His word quickens my soul.

Today, I will meditate on His word and I will purposefully position myself to hear Him. My thoughts will be on how I can keep myself in a place of humility - ready to receive from Him. I'll remind myself He is still here, He hasn't left, He hasn't moved, He isn't going to. And I'll rest in that today as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, January 5, 2018

No Response

What's on my mind this morning is not something new, I've talked about it a lot. You know as caregivers, we learn so much about caregiving, about life, about ourselves on this journey. I'm still learning about the depth of the love of God.

I've said it before, but it bears saying again that I understand just a small piece of God's unfailing love for us. I remember standing by my son's bed one day and realizing it was a deep, intense love that held me there. I understood that it was that same love that held Christ on the cross for me, for you.

Some may question it - and I don't think it will ever be understood. I'm talking about how we can love someone who cannot reciprocate openly. Maybe they cannot express it, but you know they love you. In some cases, those who have dementia or other issues like my mom become different. Often they are combative or very NOT loving. But we love anyway.

I think about the way God loves us even when we can't reciprocate. Even if we act out - He loves us. If we can't express a love for Him - or don't even know we love Him - He still loves. He loves not to get something back - but because it's true love.

May we take today and meditate on His great love for us - whether life is ugly or pretty, we are acting out, depressed, unsure of the future... or anything else that can be on the caregiver's emotional plate. He continues to love beyond our lack of response - or even through an inadequate or inappropriate response - He just loves.

Today I will make His love for us my meditation. I'll continue to think about how much He loves me even when I act ugly, or life gets ugly. I'll take some time today to be grateful for His unending unwaning love for me - for us. Will you join me?