Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Living in His House

The last few mornings in my study time, I've been hanging out in Psalms 50 to about 55. I just keep reading them over and over because there's so much in them. This morning, I was reading in the New Living Translation. I read Psalm 52 over and over.

David had been betrayed by Doeg the Edomite, so he had some not-so-nice words for him at the first of the psalm. As caregivers, we can be betrayed by friends - and even family we were counting on for support. Sometimes, it can feel like life itself has betrayed us and left us to deal with the un-normal lifestyle of caregiving. We've all experienced betrayal on some level. Just like David, we get frustrated, hurt, even angry. Our faith doesn't keep these things from happening- it just helps us navigate through them easier.... mostly. :-)

I'd like to focus on the end of the psalm today, though. The last two verses hold some solid truths we can embrace. In verse eight, David states But I am like a green olive tree thriving in the house of God. I will trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever.  First, he says he's like an olive tree - and he's in God's house. He is refuting what life has thrown his way by stating who he is and where he is. He is planted firmly in God's house - holding tightly to God and His word. But an olive tree? We used to sing this verse and it never made sense. But this morning- it did.

An olive tree bears fruit. But that fruit is beneficial for eating, anointing, soothing, and healing. Get this though - only after it's crushed. The olive must be crushed to get the benefit of the oil. And the tree just keeps producing fruit - that keeps getting crushed so it can be used. In the crucible of caregiving we often find who we really are.

 Like David was, we are fighting for our lives - for our very existence too. And that's precisely the reason we need to remain in God's house. And I do NOT mean a church - Let God be your covering. Let God be your confidant. Let God be your caregiver. Remain hidden in Him - and you'll bear fruit. And when that fruit is crushed (the tree isn't crushed btw), there will be benefits for many to enjoy.

Today, I'll turn my thoughts to thriving in His house. I will meditate on what it's like to live in Him- to reside in His house - forever. In my heart, I will see if there are ripe areas ready for the crushing, for the pouring out to others. I want to listen and be sensitive to Holy Spirit so this crushed, bruised, life can be used to minister to the needs of others as I yield my brokenness to Him. Will you join me?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Yet Still...

There is a lot going on - but what caregiver do you know who doesn't have a lot going on? lol. Every day is full, just some are fuller than others. But let me say this - my days are full, but it's not all bad. It's not all hard. It's not all insurmountable and all the odds are not stacked against us. Most of them are, but not all. (smile!)

If you've read any of my blogs at all, you know my thoughts are 900 a minute, or more. If you are new to my writings and musings, you'll get used to it eventually. As usual, my thoughts are full.I love the verse in Psalm 94:19. The KJV translates it as in the multitude of thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul. The NASB says When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Some versions use the term worry, cares of my heart, and even doubt. I don't really care what we call it - whatever name we want to give to it His comfort is still our delight. He is still our joy. And I will continue to trust Him no matter how crazy my thoughts get.

Isn't that what each day of caregiving comes down to? At the end of the day, the question is But do you still trust Me? Some days I've really wanted to say a flat out NO! But my heart won't ever let me. I remember one day I prayed God, don't give me one more thing. And His blunt answer was Or what?

Seriously, one more thing or not - I will trust Him yet still...

As caregivers, we really don't know what a day will bring. Our easiest days are still filled with difficulties many may never embrace. Decisions are more complicated when we are making them for someone else. There are a LOT of days where it does feel like we cannot take one more thing - small or large. But at the end of those days, we continue to trust Him. And it starts with a committment in the morning, doesn't it? Each morning as we rise - we declare we will trust Him no matter what the day brings.

So today - I declare I will trust Him yet still. No matter how hectic the day gets, what goes wrong or what goes right- I will yet still - trust Him. Will you join me today in trusting Him with it all?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Fly Away!

I have always loved the psalms. Most people find them comforting. On one hand, I do too. But that's not what draws me back again and again. I like the raw emotions, the honesty and the accuracy of them. Yesterday, I was reading Psalm 55. David says in verse 2 that he is restless and he moans noisily. Later in verse 4, he says his heart is severely pained. I so appreciate his candid approach to his feelings and emotions. I too have felt all of these.

Sometimes the cares of caregiving seem to press in on all sides. David describes so many of these feelings like being pressed, fear and trembling, and being overwhelmed. In the church circles I used to run with these honest feelings had no room for expression and yet here they are mentioned in the Bible by none other than David, the man after God's own heart. Emotions and feelings must not be outlawed by God. He can embrace us in such a precious way when we are being crushed in teh crucible of life.

The reason I was in Psalm 55 in the first place was that I was looking for verse 6. I said, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.' How often I've longed to "fly away and be at rest" but alas, it never comes. I'm stuck in the drudgery of caregiving and choosing to make the best I can of it!

David goes on to describe a number of situations he was facing. Like caregivers, there are often LOTS of them - and like caregivers, many of the wounds don't come from strangers - but those of our own family and friends. But I like the conclusion David came to. In verse 16, he says but as for me, I will call upon the Lord! I want to stand up and say, "Me too!" No matter what comes our way (and there's always a lot!) - we can choose to call on God. We can always turn it around as a prayer and remember He is our source of peace, contentment, and hope.

After David decided his recourse would be to call on God, he finished out the psalm with this: Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
And that is where I am now - after wanting to just fly away and be at rest - I'm content in His sustaining power and His ability to keep me from being shaken.

Today, my meditation will be on the Lord the sustainer of my soul. I'll think about how He holds me and keeps my soul from being taken or shaken. I declare like David - I will call on the Lord! And then, I will trust Him for today. Will you join me?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Beauty Among the Thorns

The last couple of weeks have been an emotional journey for me. I'll spare you the details (you're welcome!), but suffice it to say I've had more on top of more emotionally charging situations to work through. As if caregiving wasn't a rough enough journey on the emotions as it is, right?

What I have learned though, is that if I look - I can find beauty. Sometimes it's in the oddest places. Like this beautiful yellow flower. It's in the backyard where I stay. I'm sure most would label it a weed, and it'll soon be dug up and tossed out. Which is really sad because if my research is correct,  it's a type of thistle with a plethora of health benefits. But it's often labeled a weed.

Of course, the flower is what caught my eye, but as I looked further I saw all the thorns. If we look for it, we can find beauty among the thorns. Isn't it too easy to get distracted by the thorns and forget all about the beautiful flower that's unfolded before us? Being a caregiver is stressful. It's hard. It's emotional. Let me say that again - It's emotional. It can also be very ugly. But if we look for beauty where we can, and enjoy it while we can - our lives are enriched in a very surprising way.

I cannot get out much anymore, but early mornings, if I go early enough, I can get a run in. This morning, as I welcomed the sunrise, watching the skies be painted with beautiful colors, was warming to my eyes and my soul. Once again, I found a spot of beauty that helped me through the day. It's amazing how healing nature can be on the soul.

As I have purposefully sought out these types of spots of beauty, I realized I could find beauty among the thorns of life. Soon, my thoughts turned around and I realized that in all the "ugliness" of life God purposefully searches out those beautiful places. Places where I am growing and blooming in the midst of thorns. Places where there is beauty when it's not expected. And I just imagined that it was a beautiful thing to Him and made His heart smile too.

Today, I'm going to continue to look for beauty in adverse circumstances. I'll meditate on the truth that He sees the beauty in me and around me, even when I cannot. I will remain thankful that He sees past circumstances and understands my heart and can find those sometimes well-hidden beautiful spaces. And I will trust Him for this one more day. Will you beautiful people join me?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

My Polite Journal

This morning I took some time to pour my heart out in my journal. My heart has been heavy for some time now. There are many things going on - but I'll spare you the details. (You're welcome!) If you haven't tried journaling, it can be a good strategy for stress relief. It's a safe place to let it all hang out! I had stopped for a while but this year I have picked it back up. Let me just say that I put more than my woes in my journal. I usually end with a prayer - or I write what God is showing me, what I am learning - and all those deep philosophical questions that rarely have answers. It's a polite catch-all for my sundry, sometimes crazy thoughts.

As I finished up the entry this morning, I ended with a couple of statements which became the first two lines of this poem:

Lord, hold me and hide me
Let me know You are beside me
As life's turbulent tides
Roll over and over me - 
Comfort me - pull me close
and help me see
There's more to life than the pain I feel
There's more to life than what
seems so real
Whisper to my soul that You won't abandon
But that You'll swoop me up
Out of the depths of this emotional canyon 
Remind me  can trust You even though
I am battle-worn
Let me know You've still got me
even though I'm bloody and torn
For in You I find my soul's true healing balm
Remind me I am not alone even though 
I look up and everyone's gone
You are there to speak and bring calm
Restore my joy, Restore my peace,
Restore my song
Help me remember You are with me and
You are for me all along

After I finished writing that I glanced at my open Bible and read from Psalm 119. Verse 132 says, Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name. He is always merciful, always faithful, always graceful toward us who continue to come back to Him because we love His name. 

Today, I will remember He alone has the healing balm for life. I'll meditate on His mercy that is new every morning and is rich toward us who love His name. I'll tie my heart to His - and listen to His beat over mine.. as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Hope in Tribulation

Sorry for the long absence. These hospital stays wear on me these days and take me longer to recover both emotionally and physically. I'm almost rested back up to the caregiver's normal!  lol. I'm still working on getting my little bookstore up online and last night I finished up another small study guide. I thought I would read back through some of the scriptures as I typed it all up. That is why this morning, I opened my Bible to Romans 5.

This particular Bible study guide is called the Garden Connection It ties the fall and redemption together so we get a big picture of what the fall of Adam and Eve did to mankind. But then it ties it in with the New Testament and the impact of what Christ did, and how he reversed the chain reaction set in motion in the garden. Anyway, I opened Romans 5 this morning for a reread. I'm looking for the garden connection and the work of Christ but found myself stuck in the first few verses.

Paul says, Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that - but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

There it was right in front of me in black and white once again. Despite the current, sometimes undercurrent of belief that we are free from trouble if we have faith - again the Word assures us tribulation and trouble exist in the believer's life. Paul reminds us to "glory" in our tribulations. Not because they are fun. But because of the outcome they bring in our hearts and lives. If I am honest, and I usually am, I don't care too much about perseverance. I don't even care too much about character. But hope. Now that's something I have to have. Hope  - which won't disappoint. It's not that our situations will turn out rosy. But it's that our heart will endure - because of His love that has been poured out in our hearts. The heart endures when the body is tired. The heart endures when the brain can't think. The heart endures.... hope endures.

I'm reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 - now these things remain - faith, hope, love.

Today I will hold my heart closer to His as my meditation will be on faith, hope, and love. I'll turn my thoughts to what hope really means - the eternal meaning - not the superficial I hope all this gets better kind of hope. I want to make sure all my hope is in Him. That's my journey for today - will you join me?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Darn Those Rough Spots

Every day is challenging for caregivers. Period. Even our better days are filled with things others may never even have to deal with or think about. I don't know the specifics of your daily drills - but mine include transfers, tube feedings, changings, dressing, range of motion, and feeding.. for starters. Of course, there are tons of other things that come up in the midst of the caregiver's norms. We do tend to adjust, don't we? And we just keep putting one foot in front of another. Other people might call these the "rough spots." But I call the extra bumps - like making decisions on behalf of another person or dealing with extra emotional baggage the rougher spots.

What are we to do when things go from rough to rougher? Personally, I'm just sad lately. I'm sad Chris can't walk, talk, or do anything for himself. I think a lot about who he was - and all he did. That creates a rough spot emotionally. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a way to tunnel under it or climb over it and it's far too wide to try and get around.

I remind myself that the psalmist said, He is near the brokenhearted....and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) I guess this isn't the type of broken I always wanted to be. You know? I want to be broken before Him  - as in humble. But not broken before Him as in lots of pieces. But I'm pretty sure He is near me either way. And I still must remain humble before Him - life tends to have a way of humbling us doesn't it?

So here I am trying to gather up all those broken pieces so I can bring them to the foot of the cross. Then I realize He is right beside me helping me pick them up. He's already carrying them for me. I have but to be humble before Him and not worry about the pieces of my heart... of my life....

Today, if all we can do is trust that He is near - that's enough. There is no striving - it's not work. It's not one more thing on top of everything else we already carry - it's not a chore. So, today, I will close my eyes, release my grip on my broken life, and trust. I'll trust that He is near - that He hears - He sees - and He cares. That's going to make my day go much easier. How about you?