Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'll Take That as a Challenge!

Benaiah got a whole 4 verses in the Bible, but this dude was a warrior of warriors. He actually earned himself the position of being over King David's bodyguard. How? Well in just this short passage we find out that he did several phenomenal things. He killed 2 of Moab's best warriors. He also went into hand-to-hand with an Egyptian warrior; the thing was that Benaiah only had a club and the Egyptian warrior had a sword. I guess Benaiah decided he'd rather fight with the sword so he took the sword away from the Egyptian and used it to kill him. There's no disgrace like being killed with your own sword!

But the thing that I find most intriguing about Benaiah is that he killed a lion. That is enough when you think about the lack of technological and tactical weaponry back then. But he had other factors. Not only was he facing a lion (the king of the jungle!) he was in a pit; and besides that it was snowy which means no place for a good foothold. That's all admirable enough. But here's the one little phrase that keeps running through my mind this morning he chased a lion down into a pit...He then caught  the lion and killed it. Did you get that? He chased the lion into the pit...he wasn't simply defending himself from the lion and just happened to survive - he chased that kitty down there and killed it on purpose!

That's how I want to tackle today. Surmounting challenges start piling up and thoughts of defeat run rampant. Caregivers have so many daily challenges and in so many different arenas it can be tempting to give up and become a victim of circumstances. But not today! Today let us take on the attitude of a warrior. Let's chase our lions into snowy pits and kill them instead of sitting down and letting it have us for lunch! Take today - it's yours. You are still breathing, trusting, living...don't give up - don't give in. I will choose today to forget about passivity and live with purpose and passion. I may not be able to chase down a lion but I can chase down and kill out fear, doubt and any other thing that tries to take the peace He gives me and replace it with fear. Not on my watch! Not today! I'm challenging life back today - will you join me?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Keeper

Psalm 121 is a wonderful reminder of how He keeps us. It is not the health professionals who are our helper or keeper - it is the Lord. They can perform some wonderful services, but it is and will always be God who keeps us. As I reread this psalm yesterday I thought of my caregiving journey. As many, it had a traumatic start and has been a rather long one so far. But my thoughts went to how He has not failed to carry me.

There have certainly been times that I have been angry at God; times when my faith faltered greatly. But He has not failed to hold me even when my faith didn't hold up. He is the keeper of my soul. There is absolutely nothing that can harm the eternal part of me - He will hold me and keep me hidden in Himself.

These types of circumstances that makes caregivers out of us can definitely try our faith. There can be so many questions from the start - and really no answers to be found. This can be so very frustrating especially at a time when you feel your "life" has been jerked out from under you. We fumble around trying to make sense of a world that has suddenly changed only to find that our "world" now revolves around caring for someone else. Faith can seem so very foreign...

But the Keeper - just keeps on keeping us! He does not let go of our hearts no matter what we face in this life. He doesn't let go because our faith falters, He won't let go when we ask thousands of questions and doubt that He even exists. He will not turn us loose in those moments of great anger or deep grief. He just keeps keeping us.

Find comfort today in whatever you may be facing - He will not let you go. Today I am thanking Him for keeping me - no matter how I feel or what I face - He continues to keep...let Him keep you today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Serving Christ First

I am so glad that we have a consistent God. He does not change with the winds of time; He never lacks strength or gets tired!...on the other hand - I do get tired, change and lack strength. Some nights I am ready to go to bed long before there is any chance of getting there. Other nights I am still up into the wee hours of the morning working on a project or something.  God is constant. That is such a comfort to me in a world where everything can change in a second.

This is why I was so excited when I came across Colossians 3 in my readings this morning. Toward the end of the chapter Paul is talking about family and work relations. He is not talking to "church workers." Verse 23 he admonished the Christians to do their work heartily for the Lord, instead of for men. And goes on at the end of verse 24 to say that no matter what type of "work" we are doing - it is Christ that we serve.

Today as you go about the normal (if there is anything "normal" in your life!) activities of caregiving think about how you are serving Christ. For me, this brings great humility of heart. As I am caring for my son who is total assist, and can do nothing on his own yet, I think about how he is Christ's. God did not give my son away the day he had the wreck. His blood purchased my son and there is nothing that can change that. So when we care for our loved ones, we are serving Christ by taking care of His loved one as well. Let us serve Christ today in our hearts, attitudes and minds as we go about our many caregiving duties.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adversity Fit For A King

In 1 Samuel 30 the psalmist king David had found himself in a terrible spot. He had been running from Saul for years and had joined up with the Philistines. Remember them? They are the ones who sent out Goliath way back when David was just a kid. And now David found himself on their side of the field.Funny how ironic life can be. 

The trouble was that because of David's history of killing their giants and such, he was not to be trusted; or so they thought. Imagine this: they are on the verge of a historic battle and the warrior David has a hand itching that wants to grab a sword and go help them out. But their leadership told him that he could not go. Not so much because they didn't trust him; but the other soldiers might feel like they needed to watch their back with him on the battle field. They were still scared of him. They were also concerned that he would not be able to fight against his own people. They knew his heart.

So David begins his journey back to Ziklag. He and the men with him found that their homes had been burned to the ground and an enemy had come in and captured their families. Think of this picture that is given in verse 4 of chapter 30. David and all the men with him wept until they had no strength. Have you ever wept like that? I know I have.

Now to make matters worse the people who are with David are blaming him and talking about stoning him! (v6) He didn't quite look like the king God had promised...yet. It says David was greatly distressed. But David encouraged himself in the Lord. Quite honestly, there wasn't anyone else there willing to do it! I really cannot imagine being in this type of position. However, as caregivers it is very likely that we have seen much distress. And many times we end up walking much of the journey alone. This translates to no one being there to encourage us when we get discouraged. (At least no one is talking of stoning us...yet!)

There are days we must as the old saying goes pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and keep caregiving. It's not going to take a break just because we need one! Today - if there is no one else there with you to encourage you - be strong. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Remind yourself that He is still with you. Be reminded that it is God that gives us heart-strength to carry on each day. Hum a song of praise, read a few scriptures, or say a prayer of thanksgiving - I assure you there is something to be thankful for each day. Whatever your method...take a few moments to encourage yourself in Him today - you're doing a great job!

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where do you put it?

Some days it seems we can have it all together. Everything is going along good, emotions are intact, and the day overall just isn't bad. And then outta nowhere....someone says something about faith that makes it sound like you don't have any since you are in adverse circumstances. Is it just me, or does it happen to you too? I'm beginning to think that faith is a little like courage; if there isn't some challenge to address it doesn't really count.  

When the statement occurred I was flooded with questions and hopelessness tried to swallow me up. Because if it all relies on me - what I believe - what I say - what I can change with my attitude - then what is my faith in: myself. True faith believes period. The fact that we are still clinging on to Him even when everything around us does not seem to make any sense at all, or doesn't seem to be changing at all is the deepest faith - not the lack of faith. I must say that I do not have any confidence in myself - I cannot change my circumstances. I can only change my attitude in them.

Joseph could have confessed and recited his dreams all he wanted in that unjust prison cell...but until it was God's time...nothing was going to happen. What Joseph did have to guard was his heart. He had to keep his heart and trust in God in the midst of the circumstance. Job could have quoted every healing scripture there was...but until it was God's time...nothing changed. Abraham could not make Isaac (the promise) arrive any sooner - he tried, remember? He ended up with an Ishmael.

These are some of our faith heroes...faith did not change their circumstances nor was it measured by them! Do no measure your faith by your circumstances!!! Are you still clinging to Him? Do you still trust Him? Are you still waiting on Him? ...that's faith.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Strong?

Yesterday we looked at Ephesians where Paul told the Christians to stand. Today let's check out Psalm 31:24. The psalmist says this: be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord. I think this will be my motto today: I will be strong. That really sounds funny to me as a caregiver - like there's really an option! lol!

It seems like there's a choice being given here: be strong - or don't. The understood subject is "you" - you be strong. That's just the first part of the psalmist's instructions. He goes on to say let your heart take courage. This implies another choice. We can let our heart take courage or reject it.

Today we must trust that He is giving us His strength to walk this journey; and He will encourage our hearts - if we let Him. Think about allowing His strength and courage to take over the space in your heart today.Allow His peace to walk you through whatever you may face today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fully Armed

When we wake up in the morning we never know what a day is going to bring. Each day is filled with much uncertainty. Some days it feels like everything is a fight. You know? Trying to get aides who come on time - or show up period, dealing with government agencies and various types of health care providers can be draining. And of course all of that is on top of the difficulty of taking care of another.

Do you ever just get tired of fighting? I know I do. It can feel like we are struggling uphill simply trying to get others to do their jobs so we can do ours. Sorry I do not have a check list of how to make those sorts of things go smoother or faster! (Don't you know I wish I did!!?) But here's what I am thinking today.

If you get tired of fighting and struggling; just stand. In Ephesians 6 the apostle Paul told the church to stand. He did not tell them to progress, to struggle, to fight or to do anything else at all. He just said when you have done all , stand firm. (Eph 6:13b) Now tell me something - if you see someone standing fully armed having on all their fighting gear and armor - does it make sense to attack them? No way! When we are standing in God's armor (which is much stronger than our own...) we are fully armed for any attack or scheme the enemy of our souls might bring our way.

Today - meditate on standing in His full armor. Don't even think about fighting.. just think about standing there with the confidence that He has provided. You know we cannot lose this in the end, right? Today - Just stand!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No "Delete" Buttons?

Do you ever wish life had a "delete" button? Maybe even a "do over" button would be nice occasionally. There are times I feel like if I could do some things over I would either change the way I did them or not do them at all! Isn't it amazing that God does not feel that way...ever!

He never wishes He did something differently; and never hopes for do-overs. He knew everything would happen the way it has. He knew my faith would falter when great tragedy struck. He also knew of the times I would be angry with Him and silent before Him. He even knew I would question His existence. Actually, He knew every single question and doubt that would enter my heart and mind in the face of tragedy...but He did not give up on me! He did not cast me away and mutter words of disgust. He simply waited until I came back to the point where I could not live without His touch in my life.

Caregiving can place different levels of demand on us depending on the particular situation. However, no matter how involved it is - from total care to minimal assist - we must admit that our lives look nothing now like they did before. Romans 10:29 reminds us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. He does not have a "delete" button. He will never stop loving us, caring for us and reaching toward us. Even when we are not sure what we believe about Him - He is constantly, consistently desiring to live in us, with us and through us!

So be encouraged today by the fact that God is not going to delete anything! His love and care will never wane...and He's not wanting any "do-overs" - He's simply waiting on you to walk with Him from wherever you are today.