Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When the Load Gets Heavy

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up tired. Oh yeah, that's pretty much every morning for caregivers! lol. Well, yesterday I was tired and then I woke up this morning too tired. Or two tired. Or through tired. Taking care of two extras is taking its toll, but we just hang in don't we? It's really not all that bad - but I always thought I pretty much had my hands full with Chris - and now with my aunt here and needing care, it makes what I had seem less complicated and like a relief. Funny how our perspectives can change, huh?

So I opened my Bible this morning to prepare for the online devotion I do for a Facebook group and found a nugget to help me get through this day. Just today. That's all I'm trying to deal with one day at a time. My aunt keeps asking questions about this or that - as she is anticipating a move to an assisted living facility. My answer is always - let's just take care of this first and we'll figure the rest out as we go. It's odd how we change isn't it? I'm the one who has to have the plan all laid out -everything in order, then allow for flexibility. But right now it is literally one step at a time, one day at a time one thing at a time.

I picked up the Bible closest to the computer this morning and it fell open to Psalm 145. Initially, I was going to just talk about the first 10 verses, they are so good. Then I decided I had time and went for the last 11 verses too. That's when I found verse 14. The NLT says it this way The Lord helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads. I said out loud - I'm grabbing this one for today!

We are making it - and we will make it - and we will get all this done - but at times I feel the weight of the load. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing. You know? At the appointment with the assisted living facility yesterday they said it could take at least 90 days to get it all cleared and all the paperwork done. I tried not to show any expression, but I was like what??? And to add to that - she has to pass this little test first - and I'm not sure if she can. With the future being unsure and not having any kind of timeline I can start bending beneath the load.

I'll take that as good news! Why? Because when I'm "bent beneath the load," I'm in the perfect position for Him to lift me up. Sometimes we start to think we are self-sufficient and fail to remember we live by and through His grace. Feeling the weight of the load is the perfect opportunity to trust Him more.

Today, I will remind myself that He is not only carrying the load - He's carrying me. I'll thank Him for lifting me up and setting my feet on solid ground. And with that, I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, May 21, 2018

There's Always a Way

I'm still doing double duty with my Aunt Polly staying here. We are looking at an assisted living facility today and all are hoping it's best for her and works out. Until she can find one and get all moved we are making it. I won't lie - it's difficult. I'm trying to think of a stronger word than that... lol

It's funny how you can handle more even when you are certain you can't add one more thing. Humans are resilient like that, aren't we? I am learning more about leaning in to Him more for strength if nothing else. He gives wisdom to face each day.

I'm reminded of Proverbs 2:6 that says the Lord gives wisdom, out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. There's no addendum there stating caregivers are the exception. He didn't say - the Lord gives wisdom to everyone except caregivers. My Bible doesn't read, out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding except for caregivers - I got nothin. This indicates to me that car can also ask God for wisdom. He will give us wisdom to know how to love those we are caring for. He'll give wisdom for us to handle each situation. And there is still knowledge and understanding in His mouth - in His word for the weary caregiver's soul.

He doesn't limit our access to Him, make exclusions to His promises or keep His presence from us. He pours out His life on us - sustains us and even carries us through the most difficult of days. He sits with us through those long nights. He rescues our soul from depression that tries to close in around us. He always provides a way. And for this - I am thankful.

Today, I'm going to think about that old song that says every promise in the book is mine. Because it is. He doesn't promise the lack of problems in life - but He does promise an ever-abiding presence. He does promise He'll walk with us and in us. He promised His peace for the mind stayed on Him. Today, I'll take Him up on all that! I'll rest in Him and thank Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dwelling Places

Yesterday, we a talked about how God is our dwelling place. He has been since Adam and will be until the end of time. But right after I posted it, I had another thought. Immediately I went to Psalm 84:1 which says, how lovely are your dwelling places O Lord. My head and my heart went wild!

Guess where His dwelling place is? It's us. No exclusions - anyone who makes Him welcome - He'll abide with. I think it's awesome that He planned it that way from the beginning. Before He said, "Let there be light" He had planned the way for us to get back to Him. I love it, it's like He fixed what was broken before it even broke. That's an intense desire to be with us, don't you think?

As caregivers, it often seems like people don't want to be around us. It's not just because we are caregivers, but sometimes it can make them uncomfortable. They may want to help, but are not sure how to do so. They may want to talk, but are unsure of what to say. I don't know about you, but I still like the same things I liked before caregiving. We still like having coffee, eating with friends and hanging out. It may look different, it may be more difficult to arrange meetings, but we still need it. For me, it's sparse, but every now and then it happens and it's sweet when it does.

God is always available to us. I see no exclusionary statements in Psalm 84:1. He didn't say he wanted to dwell among everyone except caregivers. There's no note in Psalm 84 that all His dwelling places are lovely and none of them are caregivers. Actually, he is near the brokenhearted according to Psalm 34:18. He is also close to those who trust Him and a strong refuge to those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7) If He makes any "exceptions" then he draws closer to the caregiver, carries the burdens we allow Him to and carries us when we can't take another step.

If there were any exceptions they'd be for us - more grace, more mercy, more peace, more provision, more of His presence to make each day. He is our dwelling place, and we are His dwelling place - so intertwined we are inseparable. I love that image of being in Him and He in us. I love it that we are not left out or abandoned because He doesn't know what to do with us like it feels people do.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is my dwelling place - and I am His. I'm going to relish the thought that he desires to be with me. My thoughts will be on getting close to Him and staying there. I'll let Him pull me in a little bit closer, a little bit tighter; and I'll let Him hold me. Will you join me?

Monday, May 14, 2018

All Generations

It was a full Mother's Day here. My daughter and SIL helped me load up Chris and my aunt to go be with my mom for MD. Talk about a sight! We got Aunt Polly in one car and loaded Chris and his chair in the other. I teased about having a mobile nursing home. lol But it was worth it to see my mom and her sister together. We also got some 4-generation pictures I may share later.

After we got home last night, my aunt and I discussed some of the hard decisions she and I are having to make. It's such a delicate subject, but so a part of caregiving. I'm glad to have her input, but I'm not sure we can do it like she wants. We will see.

I was pretty stressed out - but I think I'm also learning a lot about life, faith, caregiving and myself with this new perspective on caregiving. After we talked awhile, I reminded her of Psalm 90:1 where Moses wrote, Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. The four generations represented at the celebration today all trust Him. It thrills my heart to see the younger ones continuing in ministry - they are the 14th generation of ministry in our family. God has been our dwelling place - He is now our dwelling place and He will continue to be our dwelling place as future generations continue to know and trust Him.

While that ministered to me a lot, it also got me to thinking. (I know - that really surprises you, right? lol) Moses wrote this psalm. Moses came on the scene in the first parts of Exodus. There had been many generations already who knew and trusted God. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jakob, Joseph..... when Moses wrote it though, I wonder if he had a clue that here in 2018 we'd be reading it with many thousands of generations between us...and we're still acknowledging Him as our dwelling place. When we say "He has been our dwelling place in all generations" we cover a LOT more territory than when Moses first wrote it.

I look at the oldest family member, Aunt Polly at 85 (don't tell her I told you her age), and the youngest at the reunion yesterday, my great-niece Emma at nearly 2 and I think - throughout all our generations He continues to be our dwelling place. We've been through so many things like all the other families out there, but He continues to carry, shelter, protect and provide.

Today I will just be grateful that He didn't jump out when I hit the scene. I'll thank Him that He didn't look at my double-caregiving situation and say He'd reached His limit. He continues to carry, to hold, to protect and provide. He is still my dwelling place - and He isn't going to change that. He presented Himself to the world as a hiding place and a shelter before He ever said, "Let there be light." That just blows my mind. And I'll just let it as I crawl up next to His heart today - and dwell in Him as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Boxed In

My Aunt and me in the car
There are lots of reasons for caregivers to be tired. Sometimes, we stay tired. It takes all our strength to keep putting one foot in front of another to make a day. Lately, I've had times it feels like it takes everything I've got to just to breathe.  I kinda hope I'm all alone on that - and kinda hope someone understands at the same time.

In the photo with me is my dear Aunt Polly. She's been living in a home provided by a wonderful ministry that takes care of widows. However, at this point, her care needs have exceeded the scope of their capacity. I went to pick her up last week. She's staying with me until "we" whoever that is, can figure out a plan for her care. What an honor it is to be trusted with both her and my son's care. My heart is full - but so are my hands!

In the complexity of the situation and the overwhelming emotions, stress, and thinking, I've reached a conclusion that may seem unrelated. I want to live outside this box. Of course, I'm not talking about changing the "box" life's situations have put me in. What I mean is I don't want to be self-consumed with the things I deal with. It's so easy to do - and it's even fair. As caregivers, we have TONS on our plate. It can so easily become all about me.

Being given, or forced into, this situation lol - has me thinking. It's too easy to become self-absorbed with what's on our plate. In one way, it's natural. But I want to see past my box. Somehow, I want to touch other's lives with the gospel of peace. We can still be the light. There is always someone watching. In my deep contemplations, I've decided to find ways to minister to others. I refuse to be boxed in.

Obviously, I can't "go" to the mission field like my heart's desires were to do, but I can find ways to reach outside my box. I invited my neighbor over for coffee and forged a friendship with her. I really want to make baskets and take them to ICU waiting rooms. I'll fill them with items that we often don't have there like toothbrushes, small hand lotions, q-tips, snacks, etc. That's something that's been on my heart for a long time. It's time to do it - because I refuse to focus on myself. I want to focus on Him and His children. I'm going to live outside this box - even though I'm boxed in.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for my box. Seriously. I'm going to be thankful that I know Him in a capacity I might have never known had life never placed me in this box. I'll thank Him for His mercy, His grace to make it, His patience with me and then I'll thank Him again for being patient with me! lol I'll nestle right up next to His heart and listen for His breath as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

He Speaks

chris with a shy grin
I was looking for a particular scripture this morning. I knew it said that nothing was impossible with God, and I knew it was in Jeremiah. Well, I found it but it didn't use the exact words I thought it did. It was okay though since I found a small treasure there I want to share with you today.

In Jeremiah 32, the prophet has been imprisoned for saying God's words. The kind didn't like that Jeremiah prophesied his doom because of an unrepentant heart. So he locked Jeremiah up in the prison. It can be easy for us to "lock up" words God speaks when we don't like them or if they don't agree or support our own theologies. That's an important truth I might expound on in some other writings, but what I want to focus on is found in verse 6.

Jeremiah 32:6 NLT says this: at that time God sent me a message. God came to Jeremiah and gave him some specific instructions. What stood out to me was that Jeremiah is in prison through no fault of his own, and God spoke. I can't say for sure what types of possibilities were going through the prophet's mind, but I'm sure the future didn't look too pleasant to him. there were a lot of really bad and really good outcomes possible. But God did not regard his situation as done. He didn't see Jeremiah too far gone, He didn't give up on the situation or judge by the circumstances. He reached down and spoke to Jeremiah right where He was.

This morning, I was greatly comforted by this passage. God really does see us. He knows our situation. He doesn't judge our hearts by the circumstances we have found ourselves in. He doesn't restrain His voice or restrict His promises because caregiving is beyond his sphere of influence. Nope! He reaches right into the very heart of the matter and He speaks.

That puts it back on us to not be so encumbered by our situations that we cannot hear Him. Hey, it can happen. Caregiving requires a lot out of us - no one doubts that. But it doesn't have to make our ears dull when it comes to hearing the gentle voice of God speak into our hearts.

Today, I'll be listening intently for His voice to speak into my "prison" cell. Maybe it's only those areas of my life and heart that I've locked up and away to keep them safe from life. My meditations will be on any closed in areas I'm protecting - and how I can turn my ear to His heart once again. I'll listen for Him to speak as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


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Monday, April 30, 2018

Faith-Full


I was completely refreshed this morning while reading in Lamentations. In church circles this Old Testament book isn't referred to very much. Jeremiah wrote it as he was in a deep state of grief over the captivity of his nation and people. He most likely shed many tears as he processed through the painful losses he watched. We don't often talk about grief or pain in Christian circles as those who experience and endure such things are considered faithless or substandard. It might be spoken out loud with words, but it is frequently communicated by actions and indirectly.

Many caregivers deal with some level of grief on a day to day basis. Jeremiah often called the "weeping prophet" gave in to his grief with tears and writing. In chapter 3 his prayer is: remember my affliction and y wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me.  He is open and honest about how he feels - his memories weighed down his soul. I relate. Memories can be a wonderful blessing and soul agonizing at the same time.

Jeremiah goes on in verse 21 to say: this I call to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. they are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. It's so good to remember He is faithful. Whether we are faithless, or full of faith- He stays at the always full of faith mark!

Jeremiah goes on to say, the Lord is my portion, therefore I have hope in Him." I for one am so thankful that He is my portion and He never gets tired of me and says - enough. One time I had a mentor who told me that people "couldn't handle" a lot of me. It didn't really hurt my feelings until later when I realized what she meant. lol.. I'm a bit slow sometimes. Father God never tells me that He doesn't have the patience to deal with me or my issues. He never says it's just too much for Him. Never has He said He was at the capacity of cares He could carry for a day... I will place my hope in Him - the One who carries it all - who carries us all and I will trust in Him.

Today, I will put all my efforts into trusting in His strength and not my own. I will rest in His faithful love and mercy and trust Him to carry me and all my "stuff" for one more day. Will you join me?