Monday, February 11, 2019

The Unexpected

I'm an organized person, really. I like structure, a schedule, and to know what is happening next. Too bad caregiving doesn't accommodate that. Ever. Each day there are tons of certainties. Obviously, I will feed, dress, transfer, and care for my son. But there are all these other forces that interrupt my new normal.

This weekend it was the flu. Chris nor I had it - but my granddaughter tested positive for both A & B flu. Who does that, seriously? That and the cold weather caused me to cancel a race I had planned for me and Chris. When I signed up, the forecast was sunny and 54 - perfect for taking Chris to the race. But the high temperatures continued to drop throughout the week until it was cloudy and barely in the low 40s. Not good for those who are fragile. So I canceled. Again.

It's times like these that I feel the losses most. I feel inconsistent and that goes against every fiber of my being. In my heart, I am a pleaser and I cannot stand to let people down. However, I know that my role as caregiver causes these situations and there is nothing I can do about it. I start sinking into the abyss of loneliness and social isolation. But honestly, it's getting more comfortable there and that's what scares me.

I'm learning a lot about both worshipping and being a warrior. When the unexpected happens and the bottom falls out we can get swept away in so many lies. Some I deal with as a caregiver include:
  • you're not worth anybody's time
  • no one wants to hang out with you
  • you've got nothing to offer society
  • you were made to live on the bottom
  • you don't deserve a social life
Maybe it's just me - but the emotional struggles are real for caregivers. It may wear a little different voice and say words a bit differently, but caregiving can attack our identity. We get lost in caring for our loved one and literally lose ourselves. But there is hope. (You knew there would be!)

Paul asked the Christians at Colossae a question. It's not in the same context, but he says why as though living in the world...we are not of this world. We are citizens of heaven and our identity is in Him. And the good news is that it doesn't change in response to any circumstances. Caregiving doesn't change our identity - we are His and we are still hidden in Him. Nothing in time can change who we are in eternity.

Today, in the midst of my crazy thoughts- I will stop and thank Him for saving me. For calling me His own. And I will be thankful that I'm still His - and nothing, not even caregiving can take me out of His hand. I'll turn my thoughts to who HE thinks I am and I'll remind myself that He is consistent in a life that is not. His love, His peace, His fellowship can be expected in a world where the unexpected is the norm. And I'll be content in Him today - will you join me?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Foundational Truth

Is it just me or does it feel like the world is warring against the soul constantly? Lately, I've stayed off Facebook because of the hostile environment it can be. For the first few years of my caregiving journey, it was my entertainment and social outlet. It's changed a lot - and so have I so I avoid it most of the time. I was thinking of the things we see go across there and the media this morning and it made me thankful for my caregiver's cave. I can hide away and not see the horrible state the world is in.

In my devotions this morning, I was reading 2 Timothy 3 about the last days. It describes where we are to a T. But while I was reading through there, my eyes landed on a verse I had marked on the other side of my Bible page. It's chapter 2, verse 13. It says this If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. I was glad I "found" it as it allowed my mind to travel a different avenue. I thought about this foundational truth - He can't deny us because we are part of Him. What? We are actually part of God? How can that be? Right here in our messy lives - those of us who are believers are part of Him. It's not possible to say we are not in Him, not part of Him.

But what I really liked was the part that says if we are faithless, He is faithful. I like it because sometimes I feel so faith-less. It's difficult to trust because of what I see - even though at gut level I know He'll always pull me out. Sometimes I need Him to just help me take one more breath. Some days I feel like the entire world has caved in on me, I'm swimming upstream in a swift current, and there's no "finish line." I couldn't feel more faith-less on days like that. But even in those times, He is faithful. What does that mean? (my mind asks)


  • Faithful to protect my soul
  • Faithful to keep my heart in His
  • Faithful to watch over His word
  • Faithful to provide (even when I can't see)
  • Faithful to lead me back to His heart
  • Faithful to sustain me and help me take.one.more.breath
As I reminded myself of His faith-full-ness even in my faith-less state, my eyes caught another verse. Verse 19 says this - nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands having this seal - He knows those who are His. And with that, I took a deep breath. His foundation is firm, His foundational truths do not change. My faith can feel like it goes through ebbs and flows - but His faithfulness is constant. Whether I am swimming upstream or down,  He is faith-full. I may feel tired. I may feel lost. I may feel alone. I may feel defeated. But if I will just lean in on Him a little harder - His heartbeat will sustain me and give me the strength to keep swimming.

Today I will think less about feeling faith-less, and more about His sustaining faith-full-ness. I'll try to lean in to His heart where I can hear it beating for me (and you). My meditations will be on how He carries me through rough waters safely to the other side. So, I will let Him do the carrying today as I trust Him for one more day. Will  you join me?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

For His Glory

Did you ever stop to think about what brings God glory? It's been the theme of my thoughts this morning. I've been working on setting goals and making progress in different areas of my life and I came to the conclusion that bringing Him glory is what it's all about.

I look at my caregiver's life. I think about my random, sometimes angry or frustrated thoughts. But it really comes down to bringing Him glory. Am I living life (as abnormal as it may be) in a way that glorifies Him? This my ultimate goal.

As I was pondering these things this morning, I thought of a familiar, maybe a little too used scripture about Jabez. Books have been written from the one mention he gets in scripture. But that verse was on my mind during my prayers this morning. It says ....his mother named him Jabez saying, Because I bore him with pain. Now Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your right hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me. And God granted him what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:9)

His name means, he makes sorrowful. What a name, huh? How would you like it if everyone thought of sadness, sorrow, and pain each time your name was called? No one wants to carry that. Yet sometimes I feel like my story is a sad one. That's one reason for the social isolation so many caregivers experience. Our stories make people sad and they don't know what to do with those emotions so they avoid. That leaves us stranded relationship-wise as well as emotionally. And that's where I am, and why I'm thinking along these lines.

These thoughts turned me to pray that my life, broken though it may be, would somehow bring glory to Him. The psalmist said in Psalm 89:17 You are their glorious strength. It pleases You to make us strong. May it please Him to make us strong today! In Psalm 104:31, the psalmist says, May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made!  Again, my prayer is that He will take pleasure in His creation - in me.

I'm thinking that one thing that brings Him glory, that He takes pleasure in - is consistent trust in who He is. I think when He looks at us in a life that feels like we are constantly rowing against the tide, He is pleased that we are still rowing toward His heart. I think that brings Him glory - no matter how strong the storms we fight against.

Today, I'm just going to do what I've been doing, trust Him. No matter how easy - or how difficult today is I can still trust that I haven't fallen out of His hand or His heart. It may be that He pulls us a little closer to His heart as we trust in adverse conditions. I like to think that anyway. My thoughts will be on what pleases Him - and I'll keep my trust and confidence in His strength not my own. I'll trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Tight Grip

This morning I just feel creative - or maybe it's more of a need to just create. I'm not really sure what it is, but I felt like breathing some life into an old blog I used to keep. I started From the Furnace just as a place to put my emotions. It let me put them there and walk away. As time went on I stopped for one reason or another. But today I was talking about the grip of grief and just needed to get some things out.

Sometimes, caregiving comes with a living grief. It doesn't go away and it is very real. I've been carrying it for a few days now. I grieve because I haven't heard my son's voice in 10 years. I grieve because I see his friends marrying and having families. I grieve over the loss day after day. Grief seems to have a tight grip on my heart - so tight sometimes I am not sure I can breathe.

I've never been quite sure about what to do with the living grief. Some condemn it as a lack of faith. But I think it's quite the opposite. Especially as I press past the grieving to the grace. It takes a lot of faith to honestly tell God how you feel at any given moment. It speaks of a high level of trust to pull raw emotions out and become vulnerable before Him, knowing He's not going to take the grief away - but give me the grace to stand in the midst of it. This faith is not too different than the three Hebrew children standing before the king saying - We know God can deliver us - but if He doesn't - we still aren't going to bow. That's the kind of grip grace has on us. Our situations may or may not change - but our trust in Him remains the same no matter what. That's true faith, y'all. That demonstrates a grip of grace that will carry us through.

That's when I  realize that even though grief has a tight grip on me - His grace has a tighter grip. God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. God also promised to never leave us or forsake us. If I can put these two thoughts together, I have a grace that holds me tighter than the grief. It outlasts the grief since the grief can come and go on wave after emotional wave. But His grace - His all-sufficient grace steadfastly carries me over those waves. When I realize that and acknowledge that - peace seems to take over the turmoil.

Today, right in the midst of suffocating grief - I will trust His grace to carry me. Like the 3 facing the fiery furnace, I'll say -I'm not bowing to life's situations. I refuse to give in. I will bow to the grace of God though. My thoughts will be on letting His grace carry me and living in total surrender to His will, His grace, and His love. I'll focus my meditations on the truth that He doesn't leave me in the grip of grief or sadness, but He does extend His grace and His hand to lift me up. I'll stand in that grace and trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sound Like a Warrior?

I'm presently working on a project about David - the worshipper and the warrior. I am learning so much!. He's one of my favorite Bible characters, and I've always enjoyed the psalms. As I was reading through so many of the psalms this morning, I found several verses that made me stop and scratch my head and wonder.

First, remember that David has slain giants. He walked right up to Goliath and prophesied he was going to take off his head. Then he did it. He ran from Saul, raised up armies, and fought and won many battles.

But here is this verse in Psalm 6:7 (NLT) where he says, I am worn out from sobbing. Every night I drench my bed; my pillow is wet from weeping. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of my enemies. That doesn't sound like "warrior talk" to me. Yet, we know David was a mighty warrior.

The caregiver carries a huge load day in and day out, with very little relief. Our vision - and view of life can so easily become blurred by grief. We've talked about living grief a few times. We're are grieving over the what-could-have-beens. Maybe our loved one is still "with us" technically, but not who we used to know. This can bring on unsurmountable daily grief. Even though I don't technically cry very often, I can relate a bit to David's feeling of being overwhelmed and overtaken.

Caregivers may not face physical enemies that are trying to take away our goods. But we do face physical weakness, fatigue, and illness that sidelines us or makes it that much harder to take care of our loved one. We face financial worries, fears, and doubts that war at our mind and soul wearing us down day after day. There's probably not too many caregivers who, if we are honest, will not say we haven't found ourselves at some point, with our faces buried in our pillows crying out for God to intervene and have mercy on us because it feels like life has sabotaged us.

But then just like David, the warrior, we get up, pick up our swords, and head right back into the daily battle (and joy) of caregiving. It's not all bad, right? We do what we do because we love our caregivee. It's what drives us to continue when we feel weak or discouraged. That same love that drove Jesus to the cross on our behalf - is the same love we have when we "lay our lives down" on behalf of those we care for.

David didn't stop at this psalm. He wasn't quitting. He was venting - and venting can be good! Being totally honest and vulnerable with God can let off enough steam to get us through the next course. You see, earlier in this same psalm, David says, Have compassion on me for I am weak and I am sick at heart. Even though he admitted how he really felt to God in prayer - it didn't take him out of the battle. Being close enough to God to tell Him the truth is what gives us the strength to get back up and go at it again.

Today, I will focus on being open, honest, and vulnerable with God. I'll remember it's my safe place and I can say anything. He won't condemn, judge, or cast me away. He listens, then gives His strength to the weary. My meditation will be on how He remains with me - and doesn't leave when my life looks ugly or gets hard. I'll rejoice in that truth as I trust Him and rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Surrounded

There were times when David felt as if he was surrounded by his enemies. In the third psalm, he says I have so many enemies. In Psalm 17, he mentions his deadly enemies that surround. One thing I appreciate about David is that he acknowledges his enemies. He doesn't try to act like they don't exist. He doesn't try to imagine they are gone. And, he doesn't try to "faith" his way out of his circumstances. What he does do, though, is declare the truth in the midst of his surroundings.

David had real, physical enemies with flesh and blood and oftentimes in his writings he mentions the words his enemy uses against him. He always refutes it with what God says about him. I like that. David may share how he is being overcome by the deep waters of tribulation, but he always counters it with a declaration about God and a but I'm still swimming statement.

As much as David felt like his enemies surrounded him, he also notes God surrounds him. He wasn't confused. He knew God was nearer when the enemy pressed in. He made references to the enemy surrounding him:


  • my deadly enemies surround me (Psalm 17:9)
  • the cords of Sheol surrounded me (Psalm 18:5)
  • many bulls have surrounded me - strong bulls! (Psalm 22:12)
  • dogs have surrounded me - a band of evildoers encompassed me (Psalm 22:16)
  • evils beyond number have surrounded me (Psalm 40:12)
Even though he often felt surrounded by enemies of varying types, he declared in the face of his enemy that he was surrounded by God. His references are amazing:

  • O Lord You surround him (the righteous man) with favor (Psalm 5:12)
  • You surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7)
  • he who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness will surround him. (Psalm 32:10)
  • the Lord surrounds His people (Psalm 125:1)
As caregivers we may not have physical giants and enemies that stand before us. However, we have giants that war at our hearts - through our head. So many things can try to surround us and overtake us. Fears of the future. Financial concerns. Physical ailments or the possibility of not being able to care for our loved ones. Doubts try to crowd in our mind and erode our faith and trust in Him. For many of us, it's a constant struggle even if we remain on top of it. It wears away at our hearts. But like David, we are still swimming in life's flood waters.

What's your declaration today? David usually turned his fears, doubts, and concerns into a declaration he could hold on to. They usually started with an I will

  • I will lie down in peace and sleep for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8)
  • I will sing praises to the name of the Lord Most High... (Psalm 7:17)
  • I will declare the wonder of Your name... I will praise You among the people (Psalm 22:22)
  • I will trust in Your unfailing love (Psalm 13:5)
Even if you feel surrounded today by doubts, fears, what-ifs, what-not-ifs, or are just submerged in your own thoughts, there is a way out. 

Today, I will gladly make my declaration that I will trust Him for one more day. I will bless His name today. My heart will praise Him in the midst of the storm - and I will keep swimming! I figure if my enemies are going to surround me - they are going to have to listen to me praise my God who keeps my soul safe in the midst of trouble. How about you? Will you join me?






Monday, January 21, 2019

Change of Focus

Caregiving is no easy road by itself and it gets overly complicated when life happens. Recently I've dealt with sickness, deaths of those I loved and life decisions on top of caregiving. As if caregiving itself isn't hard enough, right? (smile)

It's pretty easy for us to get overloaded and overwhelmed as we pretty much live in that state. The "right answer" is of course to find a spot in your day to be still and know I am God. (Psalm 46:10) We know that - but it can be difficult in the midst of all we need to do. Sometimes, we must find that spot within our heart, even if we cannot physically find a place to be still and quiet. That's where I seem to be right now.

This morning though I thought of Psalm 103. David seems to be talking to himself when he says, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. One version says all that I am praise the Lord, everything in me praise His holy name. I'm not quite sure if he's making a declaration that he's going to bless God, or if he's commanding his mind, will, and emotions to bless God. Either way he's making a conscious decision about his day. He's saying, no matter what I face today - no matter what comes my way - it's a day I will bless God with all my heart.

I think that's one of the things about caregiving that so easily throws us off. We never know what might come our way. But we can always make the choice to bless Him while we walk it out no matter how difficult it becomes.

Today, I will remind my soul to bless God. My intent will be to bless Him, praise Him with every breath, thought, and word. I'll tell my soul (mind, will and emotions) that this is a day He has given me - a day to bless Him in all I do for my son and for those around me. I pray that all we do today will bring Him glory. Today I will purposefully turn my focus to Him and off myself and my situation- I will bless Him. Will you join me?