Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life's Back Burner

Well here we are facing another day. Caregiver's days are full of uncertainty. For instance, today I have some errands that have to be run. There's no waiting at this point, I have to go get some things today. It usually never fails that when I've put something off and really need to do it now, the aide doesn't show up. To preempt my possible frustration - I already have a backup plan in place.

Sometimes just living with this type of uncertainty is frustrating I mean, why can't we just go to the store and get what we need, right? Sometimes it feels like it takes most of my energy just figuring out how to get things done, let alone the actual doing it. Maybe it's just me.

By the time I work through all that, I'm too tired to get it done. lol Sometimes it can wait for another day, but sometimes I just have to "pull myself up by my own bootstraps" and get it done anyway. My feelings are irrelevant. At least that is how I feel much of the time. The needs of our loved ones far surpass our own. And sometimes we can find ourselves taking care of ourselves only for the sake of taking care of them. 

But you know what? It's okay, and not selfish, to love ourselves. As a matter of fact, we are to love others as we love ourselves. I always thought that was an interesting scripture. We clothe ourselves, feed ourselves and give ourselves chocolate or pizza when "ourselves" want it! Right? It's okay to take care of us too. At the same time I so understand how we live our lives on the back burner.

Our needs are back on that burner and we only allow them to surface after our loved one is seen to and taken care of. Let someone tell us differently and we'll give them a "what for"! Sometimes we can feel like we are on God's back burner. But you know what? We are not.  Actually, we are in the forefront of His mind and heart. He understands our situation, probably more than we realize. He understands what it means and what it takes to lay down your life for another.

I'm way past thinking He's going to come in on His white horse and whisk me away. And I'm past asking Him to remove "this cup" I must drink. Jesus didn't see the cross as pleasant either. He asked if  it could be removed, but submitted to the Father's plan because He saw we needed a savoir more than He needed to be saved from the pain.

Even Paul prayed for his thorn in his flesh to be removed. Three times to be exact. But what did God tell Paul? My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. And what was Paul's response? My interpretation of what Paul said is this: Wait! Power is perfected in weakness? Then I will boast in my weakness so that Christ's power can live in me. I'm so content to be weak! I'll take all life's insults! I'll take all the distress! I'll drink the cup of difficulties, gladly. Because in this weak state - I am strong in Him. I'll sit on this back burner just to be filled with His strength and grace!

Today, I will choose to be glad that life has me in a difficult spot, on a back burner. I will rejoice because I feel so weak. I'll meditate on how He is strong right here in my weakness. My thoughts will be on strength being perfected (matured) in me as I learn to wait on Him. I'll think about how He's carried me to this point and He's not putting me down now! I'll rest in His strength and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grace for One More Day

This morning, I just woke up tired. I hate it when that happens, and I admit I've been burning the candle on both ends for quite some time now. One of my primary goals right now is to find a way to organize my time better. What am I thinking?  How in the world can caregivers organize anything? Even if we do get all organized, something will happen, right? Maybe it's just me.

It was actually easier when I first brought my son home because he slept a lot. Part of the recovery process though is constant changes. I've said before that change is about the only thing that is constant in the caregiver's life! Right? Just about the time we get a "schedule" ironed out and in place, thinking it will work perfect for our needs as well as for our loved ones, what happens? Something. Anything. We can be catapulted into chaos at any moment of any day or night. I have not-so-quietly tried to give in to it and just work with whatever life and Chris gives me each day. All of this within a very modifiable-as-we-go type of schedule. It drives the orderly part of me crazy! But I adjust, figure out the next step and proceed. Don't we all? Caregivers are resilient! We just keep going kinda like the energizer bunny! (Mostly because we have to - no one else is going to do it and I haven't had any volunteers to take anything off my plate.)

So upon rising this morning, I found myself exhausted. Again. I worked a bit but then fell back asleep only to be awakened by my alarm that tells me it's time for the morning devotions I lead in a Facebook group. Oh how I wanted to sleep. But I got up and tried to get my body and my mind dressed for the occasion. My honest thought was what do I need to hear?

My thoughts went immediately to Isaiah 40. I thought I'm so tired, but He never gets weary. There's a difference between tired and weary. Weary is tired to the bone - to the soul. I looked up the chapter and looked down to verse 28:

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.

I wondered why He made us have a need for sleep - when He never sleeps. But I thought about how I run to Him all.the.time. And He doesn't even get tired of that. He doesn't grow weary of us coming to Him with all our stuff. He picks us up, dusts us off, and gives us strength and grace. Grace to make another day.

Today, I will be thankful that He doesn't get tired of me coming to Him. My thoughts will be on how He gives us grace - all sufficient grace. I'll make grace my meditation today. Will you join me?


Monday, October 16, 2017

Still at Work!!


Lately, I've been giving more time to studying the word. One reason is I'm getting to do a little more teaching from time to time. Being a teacher at heart, means I'm also a good student. The word is invaluable! When I was in my early teens I decided I wanted to know what it said for myself. I've been a diligent student ever since. I just didn't want others telling me what it said. This desire led to a lifelong habit of putting the word at the forefront of my life.

This morning I was thinking about these things as I was reading Colossians 3. Verse 16 says  to Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. And right before that, Paul tells the reader to Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. I think that little word "let" has a really big implication.

My question was the application of these two scriptures. Mostly, I was thinking about letting the word dwell in us richly. My thoughts were back and forth in scriptures wondering how I could let it rule. In the Old Testament, Moses instructed the Israelites to write the word everywhere. (Duet. 6) The point being it was to be at the forefront of every conversation, every meal, every get together etc. Perhaps Paul is thinking along the same lines as he pens these words to the new believers.

For me, when I became a caregiver, sometimes the simplest scriptures and instructions got complicated. One example is how Jesus gives us the commission to go - but I couldn't do that. I loved living Him in the streets and taking the gospel to the nations. But how was that going to be possible as a caregiver? Well, this verse in Colossians is just as applicable on the street, or in the jungles of Africa as it is in our living room. Just let the word of God do it's (or His) thing in us.

Now here's the cool part - His word is at work in us. There is no place where the word stops working. Life doesn't become to complicated or hectic for His word to say - that's it I quit. There's no line drawn in the sand where the word says I'm not going that far. Nope. His word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and that doesn't exclude us caregivers. The word is powerful enough to cut through our circumstances and bring change in our hearts and lives.

Isn't it great to know that the word still works? We don't have to qualify for participation! Hebrews says He wrote His word in our hearts - and it's up to us to do the letting - letting the word have free course in our lives, letting it light our path, letting it fill our hearts, and letting it be in first place in our hearts and minds. His word has the first and last word in my life.

Today I am just going to be thankful for His word. I'll turn my thoughts to how it's brought comfort in my distress, it's brought healing to my soul, it's been peace in the storm. My meditations will be on how His word - spoken and written - has strengthened me and kept me sane! I will be concentrating on the "letting" part of "let His word dwell in you richly" today. Will you join me?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Availability

Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking with a fellow caregiver. It was so refreshing and rewarding to spend the time in conversation! Even though our circumstances differ, we found much in common. I love connecting with other caregivers like that, it is quite inspiring. Caregivers are awesome.

Some of the simplest things can be complicated by caregiving. It took us a couple of tries to find a time that worked for both of us to make that call. No big deal for either of us, we adjusted what we needed to so it would work. One of my earliest frustrations was having difficulty scheduling things. Even yesterday, I was trying to explain my situation to a client. He wanted to give me a "full-time" position with set hours. He couldn't understand why I couldn't commit to it. I explained I could commit to a certain number of hours but not specific hours I could put in.

I tried to carefully explain that if I said I was going to work 1 to 4 each afternoon, something would come up. Nurses, case managers, doctors and supplies come whenever they want! lol. And of course, as sure as we commit to something we are sure we can manage something goes wrong. Our loved one gets sick or any number of things.

The hard part about not being able to keep a specific schedule outside of caregiving is that people stop inviting. They think we don't want to have coffee, go to the movie, etc. The truth is we would love to do those things. But we never know when something pressing will come up. It can feel isolating at best. Eventually, we adapt and for those patient souls, we figure out how to make it work.

The cool thing is that God is always on hand. He doesn't have office hours that He tries to make us adapt to. He longs to be with us whenever we can do it. He's on-call whether it's 2 in the morning, or 11 at night. He is available.

Now here's the catch, He wants us to be available too. When He calls, can we answer? On one hand, it can seem unfair. Why should He want us to be available, doesn't He know how much we have to do? I have to say that I love it when He tugs on my heart. Maybe I have a song of praise that rises up, or a prayer on my heart for a friend. But when He nudges, I choose to meet Him there. The cool thing is that that He still wants us to be with Him. How awesome is that? He doesn't ignore us or stop inviting because the schedule is too tight. He continues to draw us to Himself. He still wants us to experience His love.

Today, I will make it a point to think about how He wants to be with me. My thoughts and meditations will be on how He loves me and how He doesn't abandon. My schedule is never too hectic for Him to care and reach in for me. And I'll meet Him when He calls, and I will let Him hold me as I trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Faithless are Faith-Filled

I was reading in Galatians this morning about the fruit of the spirit and the deeds of the flesh. My thoughts ran along the lines of how whatever fruit we exhibit shows everyone what we've been trusting, following and believing. That doesn't seem fair for the caregiver I don't think.

Seriously, I know we are still accountable - but it's like life is stacked against us. I'm speaking somewhat in jest - but does God really expect us to be patient?  And then it's tested on a daily basis - aides don't come or call, supplies are on back order again, chair malfunctions, or our loved one is just cranky and we can't fix it. It all adds up and it can keep us on the edge all the time.

Love? Everyone? Personally, forgiving the young man who caused the wreck (and it was a true accident) is a daily thing sometimes. He virtually took my son away and yet it is my spiritual responsibility to forgive and restore. That's not easy - but it's do-able.

Then there's joy. Really? Yes. Because our joy is rooted in what He has done for us spiritually, we can still have it even in the most adverse circumstances. His is a joy that remains. His joy will carry us through.

If anyone is longsuffering though, it's the caregiver. We know how to stick with it even when sticking isn't fun or joyful. We won't give up on our loved ones because of the deep love we have for them. We will literally fight tooth and nail to protect them and get what they need. We'll stick with it no matter how long we have to, how much paperwork we get stuck filling out, or whose office we need to storm - all for our loved ones.

You know what's cool about all that? That's exactly how God feels about His kids. He sees us in our pain, in our inadequacies (whether perceived or real), in our frustrations, tiredness, and any other state we as caregivers find ourselves in. He still loves us. He still cares for us. He still carries us - even if we are fussing and cussing the whole way. (Yes, I have done that....)

In my mind I can see Him scooping me up in His arms while I'm still griping; and He just carries me along until I can stand and begin to make forward process once again. He is so patient, gentle and loving with us. Our fatigue doesn't scare Him. Our frustrations don't force Him to quit. His grace remains extended throughout our longest days and darkest nights. Our confusion doesn't baffle Him and He doesn't even condemn us for it. He just waits for us. He carries us when we need it. He knows us. He even knows when we lie about being tired.

Nahum 1:7 says this: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. He knows those of us who are quite alright with Him picking us up before we hit the ground. He knows those of us who are trusting in Him as our refuge. He knows those of us who are gonna gripe first, and snuggle in later. He picks us up when we call His name. He knows we are going to continue to trust Him. Even if we falter, get frustrated or feel like we are faithless He will carry us. We are never faithless - because He is faith-full; and we have Him. He has us.

Today I'm going to think about this visual of me in His arms. I will let Him carry me. I will let Him heal the deepest wounds life inflicts. My thoughts will be on His care for me. My meditations will be on His faithfulness. And in His faithful arms I will rest and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Moving Day!

I hate the thought of moving - so thankfully, I don't have to worry about it right now. Probably at some point, I'll be moving from this apartment and boy do I dread that day. Today's blog title is about a different kind of moving.

This morning I was studying in John 14 and 15. These chapters along with 16 and 17 are some of my favorite passages. They are just rich and you can pick about any verse and dive into the topic and be there all day. Today, though I got stuck in verse 23 of chapter 14.

The verse reads this way in the NASB: 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. Translated to me means this: if we love Him and keep His word - He's moving in!

Now I don't know about you, but when I do move - I take all my stuff with me. I load everything in a truck and take it all. I take my clothes, my bedroom furnishings, my workout equipment, appliances, my BOOKS! And I move everything to my new abode. I take all of me and all my stuff.

When God says He will make His abode with us - He brings all He is and all He has too. He moves all-in. Once again we see no exclusionary statements - He moves all in unless..... This means the caregiver gets just as much of Him as anyone else. We get all of God when we keep His word too. He doesn't love us any less nor does He withhold anything from us because of our situation - we have equal rights and equal access just like all His other children.

Today, I'm going to think about how He moved in and has no reason to leave us. My meditation will be on how I have all of Him - He holds nothing back. My thoughts will be about what might be in me that would inhibit Him from consuming every space in me. I trust Him to live inside me and make any arrangements that need to be made. I'll trust Him for one more day, will you join me?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Strength Upon Strength

As usual, my thoughts are all over the place. But it seems they have landed in a good spot, Psalm 29. I love this psalm and have read and taught from it numerous times. I like the fact that it starts with me giving God strength and ends with him giving me His strength. Not a fair trade for Him, but it sure works for me.

There can be many things that sap the caregiver's strength throughout a day. Because we live so on the edge of our emotions it doesn't even take much. As a teacher I used a term "reinvent myself" for what I had to do every day before I went back into the classroom. I knew that each day I had to be fresh, new and energetic for my students to receive from me. I think we have to reinvent and regenerate ourselves as caregivers all day every day. Then the littlest thing topples us off the edge.

We carry such a load, any straw can be THAT straw - the one that breaks the camel's back. The funny thing is though - no one will know it. We figure it out. Like yesterday when the aide didn't call or show - I just shifted into get 'er done mode and started completing all his tasks. It's no big deal - just exhausting to keep reinventing ourselves over and over. Or maybe a better way to say it is we keep reaching down inside deeper and deeper and finding more to work with. Because we have to. We do it numbly and don't even realize it most of the time.... or maybe that's just me.

So today as I was reading this psalm it meant a little more to me. I really don't have the strength in myself, but I find it in Him. He strengthens my hands for battle - and for caregivers, life can be a battlefield. That applies to just about everything from finances to emotions to our physical being. But He will make us victorious as we give it to Him and accept His strength in us.

Today, I'm going to think about how He strengthens me day to day. My thoughts will be on how He fills me with Himself and doesn't take anything back. I'll meditate on Ephesians 3:16 that says we are strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner man. And I will just let Him be my strength today I won't try to do it on my own. Will you join me on that?