Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Things Are Just....Scary

Those things we consider "normal" in life are generally easy to deal with. Most of us don't fret about buying groceries, insurance or purchasing new vehicles. But each of the daily typically easy things can become a much larger question when dealing with it through caregiver's eyes. There are so many things to consider.

I am moving today and I am really nervous. There has to be so many more players in a move when there is someone who is not very mobile. It can be completely overwhelming! The bed, lift and any other rented equipment has to be moved by the company and so it is done by appointment. It's no big deal really, but it just makes something that is already complicated (moving) even more complicated! And that doesn't eve touch all the worries about how (or if) they will adjust to new surroundings!

These are the times some of the old hymns come to mind... It is Well With My Soul...Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus - just to take Him at His word...Blessed Assurance...Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace... Sometimes they just say it best! When all the craziness is going on today I will be humming away!

It's funny to me how easy it can be to get back into His peace. Like He's just holding it out there waiting for us to run into it. It only takes a second to remember that Jesus gave us His peace (not as the world gives)...and all we have to do is turn and face it...and it will embrace us! So take a minute today to embrace His peace - He will hug you back!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What About the Dreams?

None of us were born caregivers. For many it was a traumatic experience of some sort that thrust us into it. Others a slow decline in a loved one gradually led us into caregiving. But we really do have a past. Each of us has experiences and lives that were lived hopefully to the fullest before we began to take care of another. We had plans, hopes and dreams of more things we wanted to do with our lives. Caregiving puts a hold on at least most of that - if not all. Where do the dreams go from here?

This is something I find myself sorting through. I wanted to travel and see the world and be a missionary of sorts. I'd love to go to Africa and many other places. Teaching is my thing and I could see myself traveling the US and the world just loving people and caring...and sharing His love. But that's all gone for now.

What does God do with all those aspirations we had before? Were they from Him? Were they only fabrications of our imagination? (an imagination that is of course God-inspired)...is there still hope of a life?

I wonder if Abraham ever wondered just when God would fulfil His promise. He waited something like 25 years for Isaac. And then God wanted him to put that seed on the altar! ...and he did...we must do the same before the Lord. No matter what dreams or visions He gave us before caregiving...they must be put back into His hands. He will restore. But we must trust Him to bring about all the things He promised. IF we make it happen it just won't be the same and it won't be restoration. Today my meditation will be on how faithful He is to His promises. I will encourage myself in the truth that He won't change His mind, and He cannot lie. And I will wait for Him...will you wait with me?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Door of Hope

Sometimes when we get lost in caregiving it seems as though we have lost our own dreams and hopes in the lives of those for whom we care. That's not a downer...it's just reality. It is difficult to plan anything because of all the great effort it requires. You have to ask others to come and stay with the one who is receiving care, plus show them all the things required for the day. It's usually the sigh I get before they say "yes" that I dread more than the answer itself.

It's interesting how we can do what we do 24/7 but somehow it's a serious inconvenience for another family member to take a Saturday morning so we can get a small break. And the sighs get heavier and more abundant when we need a couple days out! It can feel hopelessly heavy at times.

There's no doubt we love them; the one we are caring for. But sometimes it seems when tragedy or sickness dealt its blow not only were all their dreams shattered and sucked away into some huge vacuum - so were ours. In just one moment everything can change.

Hosea 2:15 says that He will make the valley of Achor as a door of hope. Achor means pain. How exactly He can do it is beyond me! But somehow He will turn the pain we experience into hope...and we will sing again. When I feel hopeless I remember that I am still breathing...then I take a big breath in and think...as long as I am breathing there is hope that He will bring more hope! As long as I am breathing I can trust that He will work all things for my good...because I love Him and trust Him. And as usual, He isn't sharing details! I must rest assured in the hope of His promises today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Total Trust

Just about the time I get totally underneath the load of caregiving and feel I have totally lost my life...my Bible reading program takes me to Job! I cannot even imagine what it must have felt like to receive all that news all in one day. Totally overcome by grief in every area of life has got to be more than anyone can bear. Yet he fell to his knees and worshiped God. I cannot say that's always (or ever) been my initial response.

Then Job gets physically ill on top of all his losses. When his friends came to visit (now that's an idea) they didn't even recognize him and sat with him speechless for days. There's really nothing to be said in the time of intense calamity is there?

Job made a statement though that I have thought for a long time exhibits total trust. The faith-ers of the 70's gave Job a bum rap and said he lacked faith. However, I think the one phrase is full of more faith than I have seen anywhere in my lifetime. Job said, though God slay me - yet I will trust Him. It seems so contrary to faith to think that God would indeed slay us - wipe us out -- you know? But Job said pretty much no matter what God does - I will trust Him in and through it all!

I don't even hope to come close to that kind of faith. I have whined, cried, fussed and even feuded with God during my ordeal. However, I can always come back to the basics. He is God, and I am not. For the Christian there really is no other choice but to trust Him with whatever is allowed. That's not an easy thing to work through - however, once the choice is made, I can feel Him helping me carry the load. So let's trust Him together today with whatever life brings!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When We Are Tired...

Ever have one of those days where you just wake up tired? Caregivers don't always have the option of getting a day to "sleep in." And many of us don't get a full night's sleep...ever! Top that off with all the transfers and physical moving we have to do and you can have a tired, sore body upon waking in the morning. And what do we do about it? We just go about another day! That's because there is no other option. Caregivers can't decide to just take Saturday off because it's the weekend. Many of us know nothing different about any day they are all the same to us!

So what do you do when you are tired? I know, you suck it up and push through the day anyway! Our loved ones have to be cared for whether we are tired, weary, have a cold or virus - those things do not change their daily needs! So we keep going.

There are different kinds of tired. Of course I am speaking here of being physically tired. We know that there is also en emotional tired, mental tired, and even a spiritual side of tiredness. Physically, emotionally and mentally tired can be helped out by increasing our spiritual strength. Maybe that means taking an extra 5 or 10 minutes if you have it to spend with Him. Perhaps you can put on some praise music in the background today.

In 1 Samuel 30 David returned from battle to find that the enemy had come into Ziklag and wiped them out! The soldiers took all their possessions and even their wives and children. On top of that worry all the people with him were talking about stoning him because they blamed him! Verse 6 says he was greatly distressed! But at the end of the verse it says that David encouraged himself in the Lord. Look, let's face it - if we sit around and wait for someone to come by to encourage us... well let's say we may just as well get used to being even more tired! lol!

Today encourage yourself in the Lord. Post some sticky notes around of scriptures that will help to put His strength in your heart and mind. Put them on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, by the computer. Post a few around and change them out every few days to help keep them fresh. Here are two or three to start with -- be encouraged!!

That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory
to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man...
Ephesians 3:16

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding
will keep(guard)  your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4:7

For we have this (His) treasure in earthen vessels
so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God
and not from ourselves
2 Corinthians 4:7

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Days N Bad Days

Life is made up of a series of good and bad days. Without either one it would be one boring journey. Think about your life if every day offered exactly the same emotions, feelings and happenings as the last. There was a movie about one day repeating itself over and over one time!

It's no different for the caregiver. Each day brings events that may range all the way from exhilarating to depressing. The irony of it is that we have to deal with that whole range of emotions, sometimes all in one day, while still fulfilling our roles as caregivers!

Our favorite Bible characters were no different. The Bible doesn't contain stories of super human people, some more progressive race of people. It is all about people just like you and me who dealt with their everyday lives just like we do today. But it tells us of how many of them stood through life as they endured their series of good and bad days.

I don't think Gideon was thinking about how good of a day he was having while having to hide to thrash wheat to provide for his family. David didn't seem to be having all good days while he was running from cave to cave hiding from Saul. We have to remember that God spared the three Hebrew children in the fire  not from it! Daniel did get thrown in the lion's den not kept out of it.

Our Bible heroes went through  something - or there would be no story to tell. The marvel isn't that they were spared hardship but rather that the stood in the midst of the trial. I'm not sure my story would be as faith-filled as theirs, but I do want the end to be that I stood through the storm rather than bending beneath the load. Today, remind yourself of your favorite Bible story and character. Think about what they went through that makes their story of faith so intriguing. Rest in the arms of the same God who carried them through as you realize He will carry you through (not always around) just as well as He carried them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's In the Bible?

Sometimes as caregivers emotions can just run away with us. At least mine can! There are so many decisions that have to be made all on someone else's behalf. And for me that means no feedback. That can send my emotions into this turmoil and I can't seem to get it back. (that's when I need chocolate!)

When life gets tumultuous I usually run straight to the Psalms. So this morning I opened to Psalm 77.It is a familiar one. Asaph, the psalmist, is making his prayer to the Lord. In the end of verse 2 Asaph says my soul refused to be comforted.  Have you ever felt that way?

But it's the next verse that caught my attention When I remember God I am disturbed...disturbed? I am sure that blows some big theological thinking up somewhere! Aren't we supposed to feel peace when we think of God? But here Asaph is totally disturbed...wondering where God is, does God hear, and does He still care. And it's right here in the Bible!

In verse 7 Asaph is wondering if God even remembers him...verse 9 wondering if God is still gracious. Is that thought allowed? We tend to forget that the writers of the Bible were human...real flesh and blood containing real emotions that go along with life.

Verses 10-11 have been a mainstay in my life for years now. Verse 10 Asaph is wondering if God's hand has changed toward him.. but verse 11 he makes a decision. I will remember the works of the Lord. During troubling times, when we cannot see God doing something right here and now...just begin to recall all He has done.

I have found this process to be quite the load-lifter! Maybe I do not see God acting on my behalf, maybe it seems like He doesn't hear, perhaps it seems like He moved far away. That's when I chose to remind myself of the times that I know He has acted and moved in my behalf before...

Today's load may not change dramatically, but it will seem lighter when we remember the other times that He has carried us through.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jeremiah 29:11...Really?

For much of my adult life I have quoted this scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11. You probably have heard it thousands of times yourself. He  has good thoughts about us, plans for a future and a hope. But sometimes  when tragic things happen we struggle to figure out what's so good about it.

Caregiving can be so stressful on our entire being, physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. It's really hard sometimes to see the good things that He has planned for us. And actually at times, it is impossible!

But then you have to remember the audience. God was telling this to people who had been taken captive. They were basically overtaken by another king and their city was captured and destroyed. Yet here we have God telling them all about the good plans He has for them. Just interesting to me!

The thing is for me that it is so easy to get my eyes on the immediate surroundings. I have all the responsibilities of caregiving, PLUS trying to figure out how to make money on line, and being somewhat trapped in the house..etc..you know the drill! How can God still have good plans for me?

We must try desperately to look past what we see right in front of us. Yes, I have to plan my future while sitting in the present and trying to forget the pleasant past when things were different. But it's all relative to eternity. We must see that we are eternal beings and that's the part of us that God keeps; and nothing can get to that part of us. That's the real us - that's the real part of the person we are caring for as well. That part of our being cannot be damaged by tragedy or trials. The inner core of our being is totally in God's care no matter what surrounds. That's where I know I will always have good, because I will always have His presence to help carry me through what this flesh is enduring.

Trust Him today for the good of your soul - the real you! He's carrying you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And Boy Do I Need the Help!

This morning I came across a scripture in Hebrews 13:6. It is actually a quote out of Psalms. It simply says The Lord is my helper I will no be afraid, what can man do to me. I didn't so much think about what effect other people may have on me as I really am worrying about that less and less. But I focused on the first part of the verse...the Lord is my helper.

 I can think of a couple of other verses about that just off the top of my head. Psalm 121 says I will look to the Lord where my help comes from. And then in Psalm 30:10 is a plea for help Lord, be my helper! It's not that I am so Bible smart - it's just that I've needed lots of help! lol!

I am to the place in this walk that I really do not know how to go on without His help. A caregiver runs on overload all the time. There isn't a "break" actually. Because if you're like me, even if you sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee you feel guilty because surely there's something you need to be doing for your loved one!

He is my strength and I say gladly that I cannot walk through this fire without His help! So today I will rest in Him as I realize that He alone is my help! And He alone can give me strength to stand...and strength to walk through one more day of this journey.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Starting the Day Tired

Do you ever just get up tired? And even if you got a few hours sleep (which is rare for me all in a row!) just the thoughts about the things that must be done in general caregiving can be overwhelming. There is just so much to do in a day, and it's easy to be tired just thinking about it!

The thing is with being a caregiver we cannot just give ourselves a day off! It's just not an option as everything still has to be done no matter how we feel physically, mentally or emotionally.

These are the days I go back to one of my favorite scriptures. We used to sing it when I was a kid:

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings of eagles
They shall run and not grow weary
They shall walk and not faint

The verses immediately preceding this favorite are all about how God does hear and see. He does not get tired of us getting tired and running to Him! So if you are tired today (and even if you're not) run to Him and allow Him to fill you with His strength for today!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We Are Not Alone

I just finished up a chat with a lady in a caregiver support group. She was so saddened that the church and friends had left her alone. She had experiences that are not unique to these types of situation. Lots of people are there when tragedy strikes but as it drags on into months and even years people drop off little by little.

Many times caregiving is a walk alone. There is a loneliness when you don't have the freedom to go grab a cup of coffee at leisure, or run to the store to grab a couple of items. You have to make a list and wait for the aid to come! Really your life was somewhat lost in the caregiving. There isn't the freedom to go out with friends, or even make new friends easily...it can be a very alone place.

But we have to remember that God said in Hebrews 13:5 that He would never leave or forsake us.  And actually, that is a quote from Deuteronomy 31:6! The feelings of alone-ness are real, being alone is not. However, it does help if we can occasionally talk to someone who really has skin on!

My daughter had a head on collision in 2001. She wasn't injured seriously but when I came upon the wreck since I was following shortly behind her...I didn't know that. After a short hospital stay I brought her home. I felt so alone. The church I was going to actually called me on Wednesday and asked me to do the service - music and teaching since they didn't feel well! Wow - that's crazy to me now! But during that time of not knowing if she was okay or not I wrote a song. Below are the lyrics... I hope they help us all remember today that we are not alone...

God can hear your heart  
when there's nothing left to say
He can hear your cry
when there's nothing left to pray

You are not alone
All hope is not gone
There's One you can call on
You are not alone...

God can hear your heart
When all that's left is a sigh
He can hear your cry
When all your tears are dry

You are not alone
All hope is not gone
There's One you can call on
You are not alone....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Honesty - Really is The Best Policy

Anger can come so easily when you are consumed with caregiving. Don't let people tell you it's a sin to be angry. Paul didn't say to never be angry; he simply said don't sin when you are angry. Actually there are several references to this falsely accused emotion in the Bible. And Jesus' anger at seeing the house of prayer turning into a public marketplace where sacrifices were being bought and sold is only one such example.

When I am angry, I just tell God why. It's not like He doesn't know. He knows what upset me to begin with, he knows how the emotions can rage, He understands me through and through. It's not like if I squelch it completely like it isn't there it will be unnoticeable to Him, is it?

I may be totally off, but I am thinking that when I get on overload I can tell Him all about it. It's not like it surprises Him and He's going to say, "I had no idea you felt that way."!

Psalm 51:6 says Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts. Honesty is still the best policy. God is the safest place to vent all our emotions. My daughter used to write letters to God. I think she still has notebooks filled with these letters. I find I write out a lot of my emotions. Putting them on paper and walking away is sometimes a good place to leave them.

Today, just be brutally honest with God. Tell Him exactly how you feel, what you thinking - or even if you don't know how to think! Pour it out before Him. This is how healing begins.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just Read The Red Words!

Usually when I purchase a new Bible I make sure it has the words of Christ in red. Sometimes I like to just read the red words. I want to know what was important to Him. We tend to talk about the things that are important to us. Think about that a little. Trust me, I won't be long in a discussion on ballet, baseball or bacteria! I don't care and I won't have much to say at all. But if you start talking about football, the Bible or grandbabies  you got my attention and my input! So the red words tell us what was important to Him.

One of the first scriptures I learned on purpose is John 14:27. Jesus is talking to His followers about how He is living in them and how Holy Spirit will teach them and help them remember the things He said to them. Then he makes this statement that I have held on to for years Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

I love that He gives us His peace - not the cheap or "peace with a hook" the world may offer. Just plain and simple we have His peace. And we do not have to be troubled even in adversity, because we have His peace! His peace has overridden my fears many times on this caregiving journey. Only He can wash away a long worrisome night and place peace there instead. So today - read the red words! And rest in His peace.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Am More Than A Caregiver

Sometimes people forget that we are more than just a caregiver. They don't take the time to get to know us. They only see the surface, and choose to only know us on that level simply as a caregiver.

But we are still real people! Some of our own dreams are even still in tact. We still like to socialize and have a cup of coffee or tea with a friend. Maybe we write, read, cry and laugh just like everyone else. There is so much more to us than just caregiving. Actually there's a whole inside structure that even caused us to be a caregiver to a loved one to begin with.

We still enjoy all the finer things of life that we did before our lives changed. But people don't really always know quite what to do with us. And many times do not take the time to find out! I'm not making a negative here - it's mostly true that they are not sure quite what to do with us! And not so much don't want to..

But I am thankful that God still sees our heart. Psalm 139 says that He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. He takes the time to know us through and through. When people are not sure what to do with us - He is sure! He knows everything about us down to what makes us tick and even our every thought! He's big enough to love us - carry us - and still want to know us! He knows how much more there is inside this packaged caregiver! Let Him enjoy you today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Through the Fire

Psalm 46 is full of all sorts of encouragement. Twice it mentions that God is with us. There is some comfort in just realizing that the Lord, the Creator of everything is walking through this fire with me. It doesn't always help me understand the purpose of the fire or why He didn't stop it from happening...but it is comforting to know that He will work His good pleasure in me even through the fire.

But verse one has always been a favorite for me. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. 
Today, when I am overwhelmed, I will run to Him for refuge.
When I have decisions to be made, I will ask Him for wisdom.
If I feel I cannot carry the load,  I will seek His strength.
If I think I cannot take one more step, I'll make the next one toward Him...

He is our refuge and strength, I really do not know any other place where I can find strength for the care giving journey. I have to have His wisdom to know how to make all the decisions that must be made, medical and otherwise. I need Him and I will run to Him today when I feel overwhelmed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Step At A Time

In my running blog I talked about just staying in the race and doing the best we can with what we have each day. Boy, is that just as true for us care givers. We never know what a day will bring. All we can do is the best we can with what we are given.

There are decisions to be made, some easy and some difficult. There are many things that may have to be fought through. Medical personnel, medicaid resources, rehab and so many things that are incorporated in a day. For me, most of these areas really are a fight many (most) days. WE have to try to get supplies (that are supposed to be sent anyway), make money to buy lacking supplies, beg doctors for prescriptions and just try to make ends meet - physically and emotionally! How do we run this race? One step at a time!

If I anticipate tomorrow - today can get me down. All I can do is the best I can with each day as it is given to me. Jesus said something along these lines, He said:

So do not worry about tomorrow;
for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So today I propose to myself to just live today the best I can and not worry about tomorrow! Today has enough to deal with and as He carries me through today - He will prepare the way for tomorrow!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Whose Gonna Carry Me?

Sometimes caregiving can just simply be overwhelming. Nothing in particular has to be happening, the tired just comes. We don't get a "weekend" away from our job. While the rest of the world celebrates and enjoys paid vacation days and holidays our days all look the same. Then comes the tired.

The caregiver can't put in for a day off, who would they ask? And taking a day to at least relax the schedule a bit can bring a fear that you're not caregiving enough. Sometimes there's just no break! Sometimes we need to be carried.

Sometimes it can see very far away, however, God is the caregiver's caregiver! On days when I need to be carried through (for no reason in particular) He will take care of me! Isaiah 40:11 says it this way:

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather lambs
and carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Maybe you don't need to be carried today, if not stick this verse on your fridge so you'll have it on the days you will need to be reminded that He carries us! Make this your resting spot today - He is your caregiver; He will carry you through.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quiet Trust

Isaiah 30:15 has been a longtime favorite verse. The prophet is addressing Judah and is trying to encourage their return to the Lord. In this verse Isaiah says: In returning (to the Lord) and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength. The next part of the verse states that Judah was not willing to do so but ran from God instead.

In the most intense pain you would think it would be easier to run to Him, but it's not always the way it works. For me at times I wanted Him to ride in on a white horse and rescue me from the situation and make my son whole...obviously that's not going to happen. But when I can quiet my soul and turn it back to Him (returning) and allow Him to help me deal with the pain and the chores of everyday care giving, then I can find that rest in Him.

And as I begin to trust Him with all the "no-matter-whats" I find a rest that cannot be explained. Yes, there is still the bathing, feeding, transferring that interrupt the "normal" parts of my life...but there is rest and peace in the midst of the storm.

Today let us turn to Him, quiet our souls...and find rest.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Perfect Peace

I must admit that I do not always walk in perfect peace! The strains of being a caregiver can be enormous. But then on top of that are still the demands of every day life. I still have to cook, do laundry and clean house. Add to that finding adequate work on line and I can be a stressed out mess before you know it! Sometimes just simple every day (I call them "normal") events can trigger major emotional upheaval.

But when we can take ourselves back to the Lord, meditate on Him and wait for His direction there is always peace. My own level of contention determines how long it takes me to get back to it!

In Psalm 139, David asked the Lord to try my anxious thoughts. That can be our prayer today as we go about the loved-filled work of care giving. And when we keep our minds on Him (Isaiah 26:3) He will give us His perfect peace.

It is my intention to stay in that peace today. Will you join me?

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Refuge From the Storm

I have often wondered what people do who do not know Him. Where do they run when trouble comes? How do you go through things without running to Him? Today may not be a rough day in care giving, but I still love to refresh my mind with the truth that He is there when it does get tough.

The thing about care giving is the morning can go calm as planned and then from out of nowhere some sort of trouble can hit. It could be as simple as a worker not fulfilling their responsibility to turn in paperwork. But those things can weigh so much more when you are running on overload.

So before anything happens today I want to remind myself that He is my shelter. Especially since all the aspects of life do not stop just because we became full time caregivers.

Isaiah 25:4 is my scripture for today:
For You have been a defense for the helpless
A defense for the needy in his distress
A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat

When I think of all He has walked through with me - sometimes literally carrying me - it's easy to give thanks today!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wearing Many Hats

As a caregiver I find I must wear many hats. Some of them are more comfortable, or natural, than others. Since the one I am taking care of is my son, I am also a parent. But I also have another child so I must continue to wear the parent hat! I also have a grandson so I gratefully wear that hat as well! Then of course there are the sibling, daughter, niece and aunt hats.

Some hats are not as natural to me, for instance I have never had any desire to do anything in the nursing field so that hat is very uncomfortable for me. I also must now be a therapist. These are very uncommon arenas for me. These are where I really have to rely on God to give me ideas that work best for my son, since there is no help from man available.

I am sure if we each think a few minutes we can find several hats that we each must wear daily. But no matter what hat we must don He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. (Psalm 139:3) He knows every area that I am strong in and the ones I feel totally inadequate to fill. I am so thankful that He knows me inside out!

Today let our meditation be on how He is aware of our entire situations. He knows and He strengthens us for this day to live in Him. Let Him know you today...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Lord is My Song

I used to sing a lot and I believe there are some healing qualities in music. But a song is hard to come by when times get too stressful. While sitting in ICU waiting to see if my son would live or die I'm sorry but I just didn't have an appropriate song to sing.

As the months and years have gone on slowly the music has returned. Yesterday we even listened to "oldies" for a little while! Slowly my song has been restored. Of course I really believe that praise and worship music brings some healing qualities to our spirits. But even just singing some fun songs yesterday was somewhat refreshing.

This morning during my devotions I came across Isaiah 12:2 it says:

Behold God is my salvation
I will trust and not be afraid
For the Lord is my strength and my song
and He has become my salvation.

This will be my meditation today, that the Lord is my song. I will fix my heart and mind on Him and sing. As I care for my son today I will even sing to him! That might wake him up! Take some time today to sing, sing anything, childhood nursery rhymes your favorite oldies, hymns or choruses. But as you take some time to sing today your heart will be lightened by it. Make sure to take some time to sing to Him - the giver of music.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Circumstance and Faith

It is way too easy to measure our personal faith level by our circumstances. Many would make it sound like if we are going through a tough situation then we lack faith. I firmly believe that it is just the opposite. Faith doesn't mean that I can make every unpleasant situation simply disappear. Faith means I can keep walking through adversity.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 the apostle Paul laid out some pretty grim circumstances. He said that even when we are perplexed, we are not in despair; when we are afflicted, we are not totally crushed. If adverse situations like the reasons we care give (illness, traumatic brain injury, physical limitations, etc) are a sign of no faith then Paul had no faith. A further study into 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 will show that Paul went through all kinds of trouble - yet we do not consider him to be faithless.

Be encouraged today that faith isn't a magic potion to make trouble disappear; it is the substance that will carry you through today. Faith says I trust God no matter what. Faith sees adversity put pushes on anyway. I think caregivers must be people of great faith as we see the adversity and embrace it. We cannot make it go away, but we can do what we can to help. That requires faith, hope and love.

So press on O ye of great faith!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Lord of Hosts Is With Us

You know as well I as do that there are good days and then there are bad days. I suppose that in the end they all even out. But no matter what we may be going through emotionally, mentally and even physically care giving must go on. It's not like you can just say I think I will take today off. That just cannot happen in this setting.

I have come to realize that I am caring for God's child. He is my son and I love him, but he belongs to God. So that makes me a minister. I am serving my son, who belongs to God! Surely God is with us as we care for His children.

Psalm 46 has been a long time favorite of mine. I meditate on the first few verses on a regular basis. And many of us have seen our worlds shaken! But today my eyes and heart are on verses 7 and 11. It's interesting that he made the same statement two times in this short psalm. But today this will be my meditation:

The Lord of hosts is with us (caregivers)
The Lord of Jacob is our stronghold.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Take Care of Yourself

Today I had someone sit with my son so I could run a 10K. Then I spent the afternoon with my daughter. It was very refreshing and much needed. I am learning that to be a good caregiver I have to find a way to take care of myself as well.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. God lives in us. To be able to take care of others we must keep this body God gave us in shape and feeling well. My problem has been that it is very difficult for me to ask others to help. Silly, I know - but difficult. I am learning.

Please take time to care for the body He gave you - it's the only one you get and to be able to take good care of others we must take care of ourselves first. It is not selfish to enjoy things and outings every now and then! So take some time soon - God is our caregiver, as we care for our loved ones. But we must remember that He desires us to care for ourselves as well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

God's Unchangeable Purpose

I am presently reading the Bible through alphabetically. (don't ask - I'm just weird like that!) Today I was reading through Hebrews and found this phrase: the unchangeableness of His purpose. Nowt he passage is talking about how He brought us hope in Christ and has never changed His mind. But I believe it gives us some insight into Who He is and what He is like.

He is not a God who sits in the heavens and changes His mind. That would be a huge thing to try to redirect! He is constant and sure - even if life is unstable and unpredictible. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is our constant (and consistent) rock that we can stand on, hide in or run to when we are troubled.

I am so glad that the circumstances of my life do not dictate His stability! He is sure and He is with us today as we care for our loved ones.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who's Helping Who?

I'm sure as a caregiver you can look back over your journey and see that there have been many players, many helpers. At some point there have been hospital staff or home health personnel who have helped in any one of a wide variety of ways.  And of course somewhere in the mix is a physician and a pharmacist. All these have worked together for the benefit of the patient whether or not they've actually had direct contact with one another.

But with all the "help" there is avaialable through the medical system, none of them is "my helper." Psalm 121 says my help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth. When I realize that and meditate on it - it can make today's load a little lighter.

He created everything! All the oceans, seas, mountains, caves, forests, valleys and hills are the work of His hand. By His word the sun and the moon do their job and the earth maintains its route in orbit. That God is my help! - sheesh! I guess that sort of makes HIm our caregiver. So while I am caring for my son today - He is caring for me! I think I can relax and rest in that thought for awhile.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Facing Goliath

As a caregiver even small things can seem huge becasuse of the strain we are under. The tiniest thing (even if we know it is tiny) can set us off into lala land with our emotions. And the bigger things - there's no description for those emotions...and many times no words.

Today I encouraged myself with the story of David. He faced Goliath. He had never faced a giant before. Actually, there's no indication that he faced any person before that day - not in the heat of battle. He wasn't old enough to be a soldier. But he had faced similar odds.

He had faced a lion and a bear. They had come to steal the sheep he was keeping and he didn't have anything but the strength of his hands and the help of God! And he tore them apart!

My meditations are on things today that I may or may not have any control over. Situations come up that perhaps I have not been through. But because of what I have seen God carry me through in the past I can stand in His strength and face them.

David had this mentality. God had given him the strength to take out the bear and the lion and he had no doubt He would take the giant down as well. So I don't kow what your today looks like - but remind yourself of the things you've seen God bring you through in the past. It will help to bring some light to today - and the future as well - becasue we know that He will never leave us or forsake us!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day to Day Life...

As a caregiver we really never know what a day will bring. For me the days my son does well I find my emotions much easier to handle. When he is alert and more active my day is just better. And somedays it is just hectic no matter how things are going, emotions and thoughts are all over the place.

Those are the times when I must remind myself of Psalm 46:10 Be still and know I am God. That takes a conscious effort on my part. My mind and heart have to slow dow and become still. That's not always an easy task! But once I get my spirit under control and am still and just concentrate on Him, His greatness consumes me.

Isaiah 26:3 says I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Me. So take some time to quiet yourself before our great God today. Think about His greatness and His mercy. It takes His strength to carry us through many of these days. But as always His grace is sufficient.

Today let's rest in Him.