Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who's Chasing Who?

Of all the troubles we can face I think one of the hardest things to do is concentrate on Him. I know each day many times we are just trying to make it through, and some days are better than others! While some days seem like they will never end...

Somehow those overwhelming days seem a little shorter and a little lighter when I take a minute to concentrate on Him. If I take even a few minutes out of all the necessary activities that caregiving demands and meditate on Him - it helps to lighten the day's load.

This life is about relationships. Those who work enjoy their jobs when they can work among others with whom they have good relationships and rapport. Let the relations between coworkers become strained and a once loved job is a drudgery!

Serving God is not supposed to be a drudgery either. It can be a very enjoyable experience when we focus in on maintaining a relationship with Him. It's not a relationship if we are reading the Bible simply to survive (although that's better than nothing!). Relationship means we visit - religious people call it praying. We can share all of our stretched out emotions with Him - and allow Him to share His emotions with us. Then it becomes a working relationship with both parties actively participating.

Even though we need  Him - we caregivers know we cannot do what we do on our own - I want to do more than just need Him. I want to walk with Him, talk with Him and be like Him. When we are in love with someone we want to be with them all the time...that's how God feels about us and as we pursue Him we will feel the same way about Him! Take some time out for yourself today. Spend just 5 minutes listening to Him and begin to develop or redevelop that intimate relationship with Him.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to Basics

Emotions can run high for many caregivers. We keep them all stretched out all the time. When things like recent natural events like the tornadoes in Alabama occur it seems to stir them up even more than usual. For me - I cannot even watch real intense movies or TV shows because the emotions are simply too raw most of the time. The emotional strain of caregiving can be very overwhelming - and difficult to control. Then add in a terrible tragedy like the recent devastating tornadoes and they can be difficult to get it all balanced and manageable again.

During the times that emotions are running so high it can also be difficult to find something solid to cling to. We know the Lord is our rock, our refuge and our constant hiding place but when the world is falling apart we need something to hold on to while we are hiding in Him!

These are the times we may find it beneficial to go back to what I call the basics. The most basic truth we learn as Christians is God's unfailing love. No matter what type of trouble life brings us this is a steadfast truth that we must cling to. God loved Job even while going through his trial, He loved Paul and Silas - and Joseph even in their prison cells. He loved Noah in the ark - it could not have been easy to see the whole world destroyed before his very eyes...he was a person and probably very emotional. Think about how it would make you feel to be the only ones left during such destruction. It would not breed pride - but rather great humility... the point is God loves. Our situations are not strong enough to change His love. No trouble can bring a tide high enough or strong enough to wash away His love for us.

Jeremiah says of God's love - I have loved you with an everlasting love...
Romans 8 says that there is absolutely nothing  that can separate us from His love...

Take some time today to rest in His love. His love is sure and steadfast and everlasting no matter what we face...embrace His love for you today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking Care

As with any type of trial, caregiving has bad days and better days. Each day is filled with its own struggles and hopefully triumphs! But there are those days that there has to be  conscientious effort to lay our burdens on Him. And because we are superman in so many ways, this can be a difficult task. I mean face it, we are the ones expected to hold it all together...but what if we are falling apart? Oh trust me, we are good at this and we will hold it together to get our loved one through the day! Even if it means we sneak off to our room now and then to let it all out!

But those times when we are so totally overcome by exhaustion and emotionally wiped out there's only one thing to do. Lay it at His feet.

One of the scriptures we are taught at a very early age is 1 Peter 5:7. We are taught to cast all your care on Him, for He cares for you. And I think there are two ways to interpret this verse. One of course is that He is a loving, caring Father and we can give Him all our concerns and woes. The other way I look at it is that we can give Him all our worries, concerns and cares because He will do the caring for us.

Today, or the next time you are overwhelmed take a moment to give it to Him and let Him do the caring for you in both ways. He will take care of you and He can also do all the caring on your behalf! Even though we don't get a day off - take time today to give your emotions a break...and give it all to Him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Power of Seeking

The story of Gideon is one of my favorite Bible stories. He has been called a coward by many since he was technically in hiding working the wheat. And yes, I'll admit he was hiding from the Midianites but it's the why he was hiding that intrigues me. He was hiding from the enemy to preserve his family. I don't see cowardice as others have, but I see determination and courage.

To me Gideon's heart was set on not  letting the enemy have his wheat. He took all the necessary measures to make sure that they would not get it and his family would! He was risking losing it all, but here he was working away when the angel found him and hailed him a mighty man of valor. Notice that Gideon didn't take issue with whether he was a couragous warrior or not, but began asking where God was.

What the angel said to him has given me much to think about. In response to Gideon's question  if God is with us why has all this happened? The angel said - go in this your strength.  Gideon's intense quest for God was actually his strength. When we continue to seek the Lord even in adversity - our strength really develops.

Isaiah 55 says seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. As we continue seeking Him our strength will continue to increase. He is not challenged by our questions and He never loses heart or says a question is too difficult for Him to take on. He won't wring His hands in dispair wondering what He's going to do with our sincere questions. And as we seek Him - we will grow in Him.

If you are a caregiver - and you are still seeking Him - you won! You didn't give up - you are a mighty man (or woman) of valor who is determined to not let the enemy have your stuff (or faith). So don't stop now - keep seeking the Lord as He truly is our strength.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everyday Pressures

One of the things that others don't understand is the day to day pressures that we deal with. Even on the best good days we have there is so much to deal with. And really, when we are experiencing a good day any simple thing can wreck our emotions and we have to sweep them up for the rest of the day! Honestly, I'm not sure why that is except that we run so tight all the time. Our emotions can be stretched between pleasant and unpleasant emotions so tightly we are like the proverbial taut rubber band. So tight, in fact that any simple motion can set it off.

We all deal with the emotions of being a caregiver in different ways. Some of us may find a place and cry it out, others get angry and some just hold it all in. No matter how you deal with the huge responsibilities and load of being a primary caregiver we all know we must have Him to carry us through. When we can admit we really cannot do it on our own - He can step in and lift us up.

Lamentations 3:19-24 offers us great hope. Jeremiah starts out in verse 19 about his affliction and life's bitterness. This "Bible hero," a prophet of the Lord speaks of being bowed down within. Can we relate to that or what? Then Jeremiah shares how he encouraged himself in the Lord. He said that he reminds himself of how  the Lord's mercies never cease, and His compassions never fail. He recalled how these compassions, His mercies are new every morning. And that's how he remembered that he had hope!

So today let us remind ourselves of the mercies of God. Take a minute or two when things get heavy today to remember things that God has specifically done for you. Or think of a time when you know He had to carry you through! - renew your hope in Him today! It's a new day - here, it's still morning - so He has a brand new set of mercies and compassions ready to carry you through the day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Faith and Stuff Like That

A day can bring so many various moods and emotional swings. For some it means rejoicing one moment in small progresses and then grieving over the things lost. As Christians how are we to deal with these emotional swings? Many try to tell the caregiver that they lack faith or trust...but I believe the fact that we keep going in the face of adversity speaks of a much higher faith than many possess. We simply trust Him.

Who holds on as long as a caregiver? If there is one tiny ray of light, one single glimmer of hope we will go until there is no more strength...and then some. Each day our loved one is breathing - there is hope. And we will hold on to that as we lift it up to God and pray for strength to make the day while we pray He answers our heart's deepest cry and helps our loved one. That's faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We keep trusting in Him whether we ever literally see any substance or not! That's faith in its simplest and purest form. Some days, it is faith to just hold on. Other days are bright and it seems that faith comes up effortlessly.

Today just remember that you have faith or you wouldn't even be a caregiver. You would have given up a long time ago if you lacked faith and trust. Encourage yourself by reminding yourself that you do have great faith. We continue keeping our eyes on the Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith  so that we do not lose heart.(Hebrews 12:2) Trust me on this one - you have more faith than you realize...just smile!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Songs of Deliverance

David talked about God encompassing us with songs of deliverance. Sometimes this can take on a very real look in our lives. On those days when we just don't feel like we can put one foot in front of the other He may do just this in some very unusual ways.

You know the drill. A normal day for the caregiver is full of all sorts of challenges that other families don't have to think about. It's full of transfers, feeding and just general care giving specific to the needs of the loved one. And many forget that on top of all the things that caregiving demands we still have to do the normal day to day things too like cook, clean and laundry.Add to our daily regime a sickness or anything else and it can be overwhelming. And that's not even giving considerations to financial aspects! Let's face it, we need His song!

Last night in a dream I actually had a friend singing me a song "she wrote." Now she is not a song writer or even a singer and the song was one I'd never heard (that's why she was teaching it to me lol!). All I can remember is trying to play it on the keyboard and her singing to me about His mercy! When I woke up I felt like this psalm was so true for me today that He had given me a song in the night, and surrounded me with songs of deliverance.

But the other truth that I captured in the night was that His mercies are new every morning. Now He had to have put that in there just for us humans. He doesn't have a "morning" - it's always day, today for Him. We are the ones who need the mornings and the fresh starts! So today think about these scriptures - He surrounds us with songs of deliverance and His mercies are new every morning. That means that this morning we can see His renewed mercies in our lives, and each day they will be brand new mercies to carry us through another day.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Waiting on Patience...

I know patience is  virtue. It is also a fruit mentioned in Galatians 5. This just means that it won't happen overnight and we will have to be patient while waiting on patience to develop in our lives! And the waiting is the hard part, of course!

The caregiver waits for everything, or that's how it seems to me. We wait for supplies each month, for doctor's reports, prescriptions, We wait for help to arrive, for visitors and for pain or fever to subside...you would think we'd be the most virtuous, or patient, people on earth! I don't see it in myself at all! ...maybe it's just well disguised!

The good thing about waiting is that even when we don't see it we are gaining strength. Isaiah 40:31 talks about those who wait on the Lord renewing their strength. I am convinced that this strength is what gives us the ability to wait once again on Him. It's a wonderful cycle actually. We wait on Him and He gives us strength to wait on Him some more!

Be encouraged if you find you are waiting a lot, because it is Him renewing His strength in you! Isn't that what we are waiting for  in the first place? Today, enjoy the waiting as it is working patience, strength and endurance for the rest of the journey!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fuel for the Journey

Did you ever have one of those days where you wish you could find the off switch? Or think about the luxury of crawling back in the bed for the day? We know the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation, and don't you just love it when someone starts going down the list of all the really bad things that can be caused by not getting enough sleep? Like we can do anything about it! It's the same as if we went to an impoverished country where they didn't have enough food available and tried to tell them they need to eat a balanced diet!

There are just those days when caregivers give out. It won't last too long though because there's simply too much to do to even get to sit and think about it for more than a minute. And if we have more than a minute to sit it's likely we'd nod off! lol!

Where does the strength to carry on come from? -the Lord is the obvious answer! I have found that when I really cannot go on putting one foot in front of the other He will carry me if need be! One of my favorite scriptures on this in found in Psalm 29. I write about it, sing  about it and have taught it for years!

The first verse tells us to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe simple means to give. So right up it tells us to give Him our strength. Then the last verse says May the Lord give strength to His people. Situated between these two verses are all sorts of descriptions of His strength and His sound (or voice) and the effects it has on those who hear it. This powerful God wants to trade strength with us.  We'll give Him all ours and then He will give us all His...doesn't seem like too much of a fair trade huh? But since I'm on this end of it I like it!

Today think about giving Him all your strength...and receiving all of His strength - it's fuel for the journey!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That Was Some Fight

Today's daily reading was in Joshua. It was this really awesome story about how the sun stood still so the Israelites could fight their enemies. And some of the story was where God rained hailstones out of the sky on the enemy's army and wiped out a bunch of them. All through chapter 10 it talks about how the Lord fought for them.

I cannot imagine seeing huge hailstones fall from the sky - and quite honestly would not want to. But when I imagine this scene I think about how vehemently God was fighting for His people. The thing that I got from it is that we are still His people and He still pursues and protects us with the same passion as He did back then. He never changes...

When tragedy struck my trust factor was really messed up because I had trusted that the Lord would protect my children from harm and he hadn't, at least not the way I wanted Him to. But as the days turned into weeks and weeks into months...and now years...I realize He protects that part of us that is eternal. That's the part He's fighting for -- our heart and soul.

He is so passionate about us that He arranged for our return to Him before He actually created the world. It's not that He won't protect our flesh and blood (that's the part we are most protective of - and concerned about ) but He protects that part of us that will never die. That's a lot bigger picture than just caring for our bodies. His plans were to care for our spirits while we take care of our bodies. So that core of our being - is completely protected and covered by His grace so that we cannot lose that fight. We just need to keep trusting Him with eternity in mind.

When I think of Joshua's battle that day I think, wow, that was some fight! But then I think of how God is still pursuing the eternal part of us - our being - the real us - the part that cannot die...and in His relentless pursuit He will not give up until He wins! And I have the same thoughts...wow that is some fight! It brings me some comfort to know that He is still fighting for me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

When We Feel Alone

The lack of socialization can really hit the caregiver hard. For some of us, there basically isn't any. Perhaps an occasional family outing or someone stopping by. But really, when it comes to our emotional health, family doesn't count! We need friends. But where do they come from when you cannot get out like others do to meet them? The times we are consumed with this alone-ness is when we must be reminded that He will not leave us but is always with us. The journey doesn't get too long for Him!

Scriptures are full of times He was with people. He showed Moses He was with him in the burning bush, and then told Joshua that he was going to be with him just like He was with Moses. psalm 46 says two or three times that the God of Jakob is with us.

Jesus told His followers that He would not leave them alone and Hebrews 13:5 quotes the promise He gave Moses and Joshua - He said He would never leave or forsake us. But sometimes when it's quiet I need to be reminded that He is with me...don't you?

So today be encouraged and lift up your head. You are important enough for Him to be with you today! And He has no where else to go! So take it to heart and let His presence be with you today!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our Heart Contains the Directions for Using the Mouth!

The scriptures in James about taming the tongue have always been interesting to me. Not that I have mastered the content! lol! That's way beyond me now...as my frustration level can be high on any (or every) given day I find it difficult to not say things out of anger or frustration. I'm mostly alone here anyway - who will hear?

The frustrations come for caregivers because our plate is so full all the time! It just seems sometimes that it gets piled higher and higher and nothing ever goes away. That's how it feels some days...most days. Then any little thing is like more than what can be handled in the moment... and it can be something pretty insignificant but because of the already heavy load we carry it sends angry words off the tip of the tongue. (maybe that's just me?)

But as I was reading this morning I saw in Joshua 1:8 ( a very familiar scripture) in a new light. God told Joshua to not let the Book of the Law depart from his mouth.. to me that means he was to talk about it all the time basically. I think the next phrase tells him how: but you shall meditate on it day and night. According to James we cannot tame the tongue but since the mouth speaks from what's in the heart - we can set our heart to meditate on Him more and (hopefully in my case) it will have a wonderful effect on our tongues!

So when things get rocky today (or tomorrow), or when we get tired and want to give up or give in...find a scripture to set the heart upon and meditate it until it becomes part of you. My first scripture response is always Psalm 57:1 - the last part says I will stay in the shadow of His wings until calamity is past. I meditated on it in 1986 when I was very ill for a long time. And now it's part of me...

I encourage you today to find such a scripture that you can meditate on and let it become a part of you. It will change your heart and your vocabulary!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Comfort is...In My Affliction...

I know  I sort of left that hanging there...but it's from Psalm 119:50. The entire verse says something like This is my comfort in my affliction - that Your word has quickened me! I love that verse. I am really glad it didn't read finally, after the battle was over Your word gave me life...

Even though God did not keep the trouble from happening - He didn't stop the affliction from occurring, but in it  His word brought life. And that is a comforting thought to me. Here we are in some of life's toughest situations yet His word still brings encouragement and life. And to me that is very comforting!

I always thought it was sort of odd when Jesus was telling Peter that he was going to be sifted like wheat, that He didn't tell him - but I will make it pass quickly; or I won't let it happen at all! But rather, Jesus told Peter that he was going to go through and that He would pray for him that his faith wouldn't fail. I was always like, sheesh, why not pray it won't happen at all! But then where would Peter's faith be?

In our time of trouble and right in the midst of the struggle His word is here to comfort us and give us life and strength for the battles. The cool thing is to me that even though we are in the daily struggle and grind...we are still seeking Him! And He is still answering us with strength, hope and courage! So be comforted today that His word is still bringing life into your being! Enjoy His word!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

God is Working

Yesterday the scripture we discussed allowed us to see God as the giver of encouragement and endurance. Today we'll take a short look at James 1:3. It states that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. I don't know about other caregivers, but lots of times I feel anything but steadfast.

My head swims with tons of questions and whys. My heart weakens as I wonder if the rest of my life will always look like this...and trying to adjust to it...without accepting it as finality. Our emotions can be a real maze to work through some days.

But you know what? Caregivers are amazing...they just keep on going. Of course, if it's called to our attention we will say something like we have no other choice. But you know what - if we take a good hard look at all we do for another and how we don't get a real day off...and we just keep on believing no matter when the medical profession or others have given up on our situations...we have to admit that He really is working out his endurance in us. And as we trudge through the good days and the bad our faith really is fulfilling this scripture in James and He is producing His steadfastness in us.

Caregivers are amazing people! It's okay to get a pat on the back now and then or to give your self a "thumbs up you did a good job" now and then. (sometimes no one else is going to! lol) Enjoy your successes today - it really is okay as He is working His pleasure in us. Start with the fact that you haven't quit yet - or if you are like me - you've actually removed that from your vocabulary! He is at work in us - even where we are. His love knows no bounds and His plans recognizes no settings or setbacks...He's in us at work even today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The God of Endurance and Encouragement

Here we go, ready to face another day and take all the challenges that will be thrown at us straight up! That's what caregivers do - like Benaiah who ran into the snowy pit to kill the lion - we take on each day full force and straight in! (2Samuel 23:20-21) And we are here ready to take on our most challenging battles too!

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to go back to having normal days? Days without mobility issues, incontinent issues or feeding someone else? It's not that we mind the caretaking, it's what we do! Remember the days when we used to get up to go to work - and complain about that instead? lol! Hindsight makes us long for the things we used to dread! huh?

One of the questions that arises in my heart is will the rest of my life look like this? It can be haunting to think I will live out the next however many years simply caring for my son. It's not that I mind and can make the mental adjustments but it's like is this all there is? And that's when I need help.

I stumbled on Romans 15 this week.The subject is totally on something else but the first part of verse 5 stood out to me. Paul was praying for the Christians in Rome to walk in unity but he used this phrase that captured my attention: May the God of endurance and encouragement...after that I wasn't too much concerned about the prayer that follows.

 I spent some time thinking about that phrase - that the Lord is the God of both of these things that we, as caregivers, must rely on every day. He gives us the endurance to complete each task and the encouragement to hang in there! So as you go about your day today think about the ways and the extremes He goes to just to make sure that you don't lose hope. Think about the various ways He sends encouragement each day - and don't limit those possibilities. Sometimes it's as simple as catching a funny movie or commercial that makes you laugh out loud! He is the God of encouragement and endurance...and He is our God...He will see us through today's challenges!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can We Swallow Our Pride?

Have you ever been tired just by getting up? All the things that have to be done for the day are already nagging at your mind and it seems overwhelming. As a caregiver there's not an "off" button or and I'll-do-it-later clause. We have to keep moving putting one foot in front of the other.

Personally, my son is quite a bit larger than I am and I am a pretty small framed woman. Some of my friends admitted later that they had all sorts of doubts when I said I wanted to bring him home from the nursing home. I was scared too. And sometimes all those thoughts can still be rather overwhelming.

But as we face each day with even what seems like insurmountable tasks we can rest in the truth that the Lord is my help. Isaiah 50:9 states exactly that Behold the Lord God helps me...Most of us are pretty quick to recognize that without His help we could not do what we do!

Psalm 121 comes to mind too. In it the psalmist asks, where does my help come from?  Then he answers his own question with the stark realization that my help comes from the Lord. Sometimes we have to move over a little, and maybe eve swallow a little pride now and then - and let Him help us. Today my meditation will be on the Lord, my helper. I will try to recognize today and meditate on all the ways He helps me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tender Nurturing

Being a full time caregiver is a tough job. There are many days we may only hear our own voice. Some days we can get out - but many days we are sitting staring at the same four walls. Sure, whenever our personal "tragedy" happened (whatever form it took) there were tons of people around. All or most of them assuring us they would walk it with us. But gradually, they all go about their lives and leave us to suffer in ours.

I don't blame anyone for that...they meant well and probably genuinely cared. But then when it came to the reality of the circumstances they didn't know how to incorporate us back into their lives as everything had changed. Well, it does hurt some - but no reason to be angry or take it personal. From what I understand it's just the way it is. It's always happened this way for everyone! So we are not so special! lol...

The psalmist cited in Psalm 27:10 that even though my father and mother forsake me ...the Lord will take me up. And what's He going to do with us? Isaiah 40:11 - He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. I'd like to think of caregivers as nursing ewes. That is the nurturing side of us. I had never seen myself as a gentle nurturer before my son's accident. But I recognize those qualities now. And God is doing the same for us that we are doing for someone else...that's amazing! He is tenderly caring for us in our most painful situations...that's just too cool...I can rest in that!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There Are No Days "Off"

Did you ever just wake up tired? It's a tired that goes beyond physical.  The kind of tired I am talking about is physical, emotional, mental...you name it just tired through and through. We will never be able to sleep that tired away! It is simply too deep!

I was putting my son back in the bed this morning and I told him he could lay down early and we'd take it a little easier  today. I said, "We don't really get a day off, but we can make a day a little lighter." So we are...today. But then when we try to relax, as caregivers, their is the guilt that is associated with it. Thoughts start coming like, I'm not doing enough to care for my loved one.....or...I am not taking good care of him... these can just nag away at our mind and soul - if we let them.

Even when we take a day somewhat easy - there's not any time to be off. We can't just not do  all the things that need to be done. They have to be changed, tube fed, turned in the bed, entertained...and so forth whether we feel like it or not! And that's why we are tired...

In thinking about how tired we can become I thought of an interesting scripture. It's in Isaiah 40:28 and it goes like this:  Have you not known? Have you not hard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.

 I am so glad God doesn't get tired of us! And I know I can whine a lot -- but it will never make Him weary. Actually Jesus beckoned us to come and give Him our burdens and be yoked up with Him. Paul told us to cast all your care on the Lord...He really does understand; He really does listen and care-- and He never tires of caring for us and giving us strength!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Who's Gonna Carry Me?

Recently I watched a very inspiring video. A college student hit her first ever home run but tore something in her knee and couldn't make it past first base. The other runners ran for home but she was stranded on first. Her team couldn't help her because it would forfeit the run and make it only a two run single. A couple of young ladies on the other team picked her up and carried her across the rest of the bases to home plate! I was so inspired...then I started thinking about it...I've been in this pain (which can be immobilizing at time for the cargiver) for 2 and a half years. What if I cannot get past a "first base" that may come up in our lives? Who would carry me to the goal?

In the video it was the opposing team's members who carried her. Now you know, our opponent is Satan and he ain't gonna help us out in the least! lol! But when I am wounded, or hurting, or can't go on...Who's gonna carry me?

The church disappeared a short way into this journey of caregiving. So I cannot really count on them. I have a few friends here...but will they carry me?

So I began a short search for scriptures and found one most interesting. Deuteronomy 1:30-31 states this The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.

 Somehow it was a very comforting thought that He intentionally went after His people who were bound in Egypt, set them free, then carried them through the wilderness to safety. He certainly didn't make all their problems and obstacles disappear (that would of course be my choice!) but He did not abandon them to the wilderness either! He will carry us through when the pain is too much to bear. I love the thought of Him carrying me like a father gently carries his son!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Challenges are...Well...Challenging!

Many times caregivers are faced with huge challenges. It can sometimes simply be trying to make it through a particularly rough day. These are different for each of us. For my situation it's been transfers. That's not the only one of course - but that was the scariest part of bringing my son home.

As he has improved and I have improved my techniques it has become quite easy - or at least I don't dread it as much. I used to sit and contemplate each transfer and worry about it. Then after it was done I'd be relaxed and reward myself with a cup of coffee! Now it is just part of the day...

We start to get used to our own surrounding no matter what type of challenges they present to us. And maybe it doesn't get any easier, we just get more accustomed to doing them. We adapt to inadequacies and learn how to do what we have to do. Face it - we really have no other choice - it has to be done!

I've often wondered if God looks at us in our own frail state and contemplates how He is going to transfer us. You know, He has to move us from point A to point B even in our circumstance. As we learn to listen to Him and lean on Him I think those transfers get a little easier. sometimes He must lift us more than others and sometimes we can help out a lot!

I am not going to give up on caregiving no matter how challenging it is or it becomes. And God is not going to give up on us either. As a matter of fact one of my all time favorite scriptures is Romans 8:38-39. It says that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love... nothing! It's also interesting to note that earlier in the same chapter Paul wrote the sufferings of this present time cannot even be compared with the glory to come. I think my trouble is that I concentrate on the trouble of the present time  more than I think about the glory to come!

So today - my meditations will be on the glory to come...and I have a sense that when I place my thoughts and heart on His glory - the present pain and trouble will fade into it...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Through the Storm

There are many ups and downs in the life of a caregiver. One minute (literally) there can be excitement and the very next emotions can totally bottom out. Believe me - this is no indication of sanity or the lack thereof! We know days, moments, and seconds can go up and down. There are good days and bad days.

Some days it seems easy to keep a handle on things (ie - things are going well!). Other days it seems like life has passed us by and there is so much on our plate and it's just difficult to handle even the little things. Days like that make it difficult to remember that He directs our steps. Actually, when things are difficult it's easy (at least for me) to become angry with God because the steps of life have taken this direction into full time caregiving...

He never promised us that everything would be easy or simple. He did not even create the earth as one great plain with no ups and downs. He created the mountain heights as well as the valleys low. And it all balances out into one perfectly functioning ecosystem.

Proverbs 15:19 states: the way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway. Now, if you are a caregiver I can assure you that you are no sluggard! There's no room for laziness when someone else's daily living rests in your care. Our promise here is that He will level it all out.

He brings peace when it doesn't even make any sense. He provides every necessary thing to live a godly life. (2Peter 1:3) Look that one up - because He says that His divine power has given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him...and there's no exclusion there for the caregiver! He will provide even in the storm. That's something that we can grab ahold of each moment of the day...His hope will carry us through. His nature will sustain us! Cling to Him today and rest in His hope and strength.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just Capture A Moment

So I was meditating on the topic of John the Baptist and different prophets in the Bible. I was thinking about how each one was called. This was my mental preparation for the weekly newsletter that I send out through my ministry. (Dove's Fire) As I thought about John the Baptist I thought there is no record of his calling into ministry. He just appears out of the wilderness full of the fire of God!
Then the thought occurred to me that his mom was Elizabeth. And when she conceived John the Baptist instead of publicly celebrating the removal of her reproach, she hid  herself away to celebrate with God. And now here's her son who we know nothing about except his birth and short-lived ministry. He appeared out of the wilderness...and I wondered if he did the same thing his mama did. Did he feel that urge to be with God and go spend time with Him until he was prepared? I think it's a safe assumption although I cannot prove it in scripture (yet...).

There is a lot to finding that quiet place alone with God. But for the caregiver it is not always an easy task. There is so much to do to take care of our loved one that too many times there is no time left for ourselves. And for me personally, if I don't get a few minutes to myself to be with Him in the morning - the day is quickly so hectic that I can never capture a quiet moment again!

But it is important for two reasons. We really need to do something for ourselves - why not? We do everything we can for someone else but many times do not allow ourselves even the luxury of sitting quietly for a few minutes.  We deserve that few minutes of quiet meditation on the word. And really - we need it. We need to hear from Him, feel His touch, hear His breath...sometimes that is what will carry us through the day of caregiving. So take time - some time during your day for you to spend with God. You will find that you are refreshed - and like John the Baptist - filled with His fire once again. He will give you the strength to carry on!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

O What A Savior!

That old hymn just was running through my head. O what a Savior, O hallelujah! I guess that's because of the verse I was meditating on earlier this morning. In my reading I found Joel 3:16. The latter portion of the verse says The Lord is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel. It is one of those times when something just kinda reaches out and grabs ya!

I thought of all the things my 50 years has seen and how He has indeed been that refuge. He has been there all the time. When I was ill with the mystery illness that doctors never found - He was there. When I was in a wreck with a bus and was thrown out of the vehicle - He was there. When I went through a divorce and raised my children as a single parent -He was there. And now that I am a full time caregiver for my son who was injured in an automobile accident -He is still there. He will always be my refuge - my safe place to run and hide from the storm.

Dennis Jernigan is one of my favorite psalmists and he sings a song taken from the Psalms - Hide me in the cleft of the rock.... And that is exactly what God does when we run to Him. There is a hiding place in Him where nothing can touch us. Today let's meditate on God our refuge - not that He keeps the storm from happening - but that He gives us a shelter - a refuge - The Rock!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hidden With Him

This morning I was researching a topic when my devotions led me to Luke 1. One little phrase caught my attention; it had to do with Elizabeth. She was older and barren but the scripture says that she and Zechariah were both righteous before God. (v 6 ESV) That's an interesting point in itself as many probably thought it was God's judgment that didn't allow them to have children. That's just the way it was back then. If you had children you were blessed and if not then you were cursed, at least that's the way the culture leaned.

So that's point number one. Many people think because something we deem as bad has happened to us that it is God's way of cursing us. There can even be accusations from "Christians" to the extent that they say we are in sin since God didn't protect us from something terrible happening to us. Elizabeth was barren - but she was righteous! Just because we cannot live our lives like the "rest of the world" does not mean that we are barren or cursed - we just have a different set of circumstances to deal with in our daily lives. Being a caregiver has nothing to do with if we are righteous or not. And if we cannot get out and go to church - we can be looked on like Elizabeth - as if we are barren...but we are not - and this brings me to the second point I saw in this passage.

Point number two is that once God touched Elizabeth and she conceived - she kept herself hidden for 5 months! I'm like What? If all my neighbors were heaping reproach on me and the reason for it was removed - I'd be singing and dancing and letting everyone know! But Elizabeth hid herself for the first 5 months - and rejoiced in God's blessing alone. Wow, what intimacy with Him! (v 24-25)

Just because we are caregivers and can walk for many hours, days or weeks basically alone does not mean that God has abandoned us. To others it may look like we have a barren life. But if we can sort through the emotions and loneliness we can have a very fruitful existence hidden away with Him. He does not put any reproach on us; and He has not abandoned us to our circumstances. He is here with us to create fruitfulness in our lives - it just doesn't look like everyone else's process...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

God's Little Smile

Moving can be a huge task no matter what the circumstances. But as a caregiver (and a single one at that) it is more than overwhelming. All the decisions you are making for someone else and making sure it will all work for you and them. There are so many questions wondering how the daily tasks will be carried out and can wheelchairs and other necessary equipment will fit with ease... just so many things to consider on top of the regular moving worries.

Then for me, there's all this second guessing after the decision is made. Will he adjust well, be comfortable and accept a new place. You know how stressful it can be!

The day after I signed papers on the new apartment I came by to take a quick look before the real moving began. I went out to the patio because the tiny backyard was a plus! And there smiling up at me was a beautiful tulip! It was not even visible the day I viewed the apartment and there is was so colorful and majestic in its own way. It may sound weird but it actually brought a tear to my eyes...it was a small thing but stuck out beautifully! It was like God's smiled and it gave me the energy to tackle the move!

Look around today and notice the little things. God doesn't always speak using rolling thunder and lightning dancing across the sky. For Elijah it was a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:9-18) Sometimes we look for God to shake the earth when He speaks to us; but many times it's in very small things and happenings. Take time to find His smile today...