Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some Things Never Change

This morning I was reading Romans 8 about the different callings in the body of Christ. My mind took off on some adventurous thoughts about how that works from here. Our thinking can become very clouded by circumstances. This is only because we tend to view our callings and our gifts from the setting inside the modern church. This can be detrimental in many ways...our gifts and callings did not disappear when tragedy came our way- it's in our spiritual DNA.

Think for a few minutes about Joseph - one of our heroes! He had dreams as a child. I am sure they seemed far away from the prison cell he was being unjustly held in. But God never changed His mind. Honestly dealing with the callings on my life has been one of the most difficult things to deal with - me trying to figure out how God was going to pull it off. But He can use adversity to His advantage and for His purpose. Turmoil and trouble do not interrupt His plan or purpose. It may just look differently than we thought it would.

Joseph was still instrumental in getting the Children of Israel to Egypt in the first place. Sure, his planning and administrative gifts were beneficial and saved lives. But ultimately the children of Israel ended up in captivity as a result many years down the road. But one thing that Joseph said should have kept the light of hope alive in their hearts...when God gets you outta here take my bones with you.! However, great victory does not come without a great battle or struggle.

So here we are captives in our own homes; in our own lives. But God has not changed anything He has said about us. He is not discouraged nor distracted by our present situation.The callings on our lives do not change based on our situations - good or bad. It just may not look like what we thought. We are still an integral part of the body of Christ. What we were before crisis struck - we still are.

We are still teachers, leaders, encouragers, etc. We just have a different platform to do it from. Take a minute to look around you today and see how you may still be functioning in the giftings that He placed in you. Think about the opportunities you may have- aides, friends or family who come by. Maybe you have the capacity and the connections to set up a Bible study in your home; or maybe you can use one of the many different online resources to video teaching sessions or music sessions. Perhaps you can make one simple phone call a day to help encourage someone else who is going through a trail...the possibilities are still endless- but they did not end. If you were a foot or a hand, an nose or an eye in the body of Christ before crisis struck - you still are. Allow God to show you any opportunities He has placed before you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Did You Say?

Do the days all start to feel the same sometimes? Each day has the same list of tasks that the caregiver has to perform. I see people glad it's Friday, or can't wait until the weekend. But most of the time one day is just like another for the caregiver and the chores really do not change much from day to day. Weekends or holidays are pretty much the same except maybe there will be no aide to help. If we are not careful we can slip into this boring existence and can live on the edge (or in the middle of) burnout. That's when we must be extra careful about what we say.

I remember when I was younger I would go visit my grandmother in the nursing home and all she would do is gripe about how we didn't come to see her often enough. Although I knew that was true it always made for a very unpleasant experience and I dreaded going to see her and sadly even avoided it when I could. Personally, I do not want to become that person. If we are not careful we can get so caught up in our cave-dwelling existence that we do not make others visits or phone calls pleasant ones.We must guard our mouths and choose to speak about pleasant things even when our hearts are hurting or lonely.

Proverbs 21:23 says this: he who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles. For the caregiver who may not even get to visit with others too frequently this means that whether we do actually have a visitor or not we have to watch our mouths to protect our hearts. What we allow ourselves to say can determine if our heart becomes bitter or remains tender toward God and man.

Today I will find pleasant things to speak. I'll talk about His goodness rather than my pain. I'll speak thankful words for all He has done and is doing in our lives. My heart will guard my heart today as I determine to speak peaceful words of praise. While speaking "all the right words" may not help the painful situation to go away - it can mean my journey through life's turmoil is a much more pleasant one.Today let us speak words of peace. Find someone else to encourage today - it will change your own heart.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Where Did the Kingdom Go?

Sometimes it seems like we can be so cut off from the rest of the world. We just have to face it - our lives are different. We cannot always come and go like others. It's not always possible to just jump up and run to the store just because a necessary item is running low. Trust me - it even takes careful planning to not run out of toilet paper and trash bags! Many times the caregiver may feel like we live in a cave and totally separate from the rest of the world. For many, going to church regularly, or even at all, is out of the question. This morning I was reading Romans 14 and came to verse 17 which says this: the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I found this very comforting.

We are not missing out on the Kingdom of God just because we live separate lives. Actually, we may be closer to the Kingdom than many common church goers. These three things righteousness, peace and joy are ours because we not only live in the Kingdom - but the Kingdom is  in  us as believers. No matter what our lives look like to ourselves or to others the Kingdom is near  us - the Kingdom is in  us.

We have His righteousness which covers us and this is how we appear before God. As caregivers we can understand living in His peace- as ours was robbed long ago. And when joy seems far removed and pain seems so near - we can rejoice that we are His. It's interesting that these three characteristics of the Kingdom of God remain when the rest of our world has been so shaken. The Kingdom of God is still within us. It is a choice whether we walk in it or not each day. Today let us dwell on these three aspects.

Let's meditate on the truth that His righteousness covers us no matter what life throws our way. And dwell on the truth that His peace fills our hearts even in the midst of this present turmoil.Then let us rejoice that there is nothing in time that can take these away- nothing that can reduce the level of righteousness He covers with, nothing that can remove us from His kingdom - we are permanent residents! The Kingdom is in us - let us rejoice!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's Rest?

For years I have taught about entering into His rest. I've said that striving to enter His rest is the only work we should be doing.Lately it seems that this topic keeps coming back up. But for those of us who live in a world without natural rest - how are we supposed to enter His rest?

For the caregiver there is barely time to turn around. Many of us live with a constant soul pain because the internal pains associated with the level of loss just do not cease. Plus there are the day to day struggles that just plain caregiving brings. How are we supposed to enter His rest from here?

I love Hebrews 4 on this topic. And specifically, verse 7 sticks out in my mind today. It says that He fixed a day - today. He was pleading for His children to enter into His rest on that fixed today way back in Exodus 17; and then repeated the "today"in Psalm 95. And now it's another today here in Hebrews4. He fixed today so that it is always the today we are looking for. so today determine to figure it out! determine to rest from your works of trying to please Him. You see, we do not have to do anything to please Him. Jesus did it all. And when we can rest in that truth - we will find rest for our souls.

As caregivers we work all the time. But today let's stop working to try to please Him. It's time to rest in the work Christ did on the cross. Let us follow verse 16's calling to draw near to His throne of grace so that we can find mercy to help in our time of need. This is accomplished when we stop striving to please Him. He is pleased with us...when He looks at us He sees Christ. I know that is hard to understand because of the way we look at ourselves. But let us take a rest today from the way we look at ourselves. He sees us covered, righteous and beloved. Let us rest in this truth today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who is He?

When my son had his vehicle accident he was in ICU for about 3.5 weeks. Since I was from out of town I just set up camp in the ICU waiting room.One morning when I was there alone for some reason Psalm 121 came to mind. I realized that although my son was at the time getting very good medical care, the medical staff was not where my help was coming from. The nurses or doctors were not my source of help but the Lord was my helper.

Psalm 121:2 says my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. It goes on to say that He is always on watch - never sleeps. And furthermore He is also our keeper (v.5) and even our protector (v.7) However, it says He is the protector and keeper of our soul...He keeps and protects that part of us that makes us - us.

When life around us seems to be in turmoil - He will keep us. It's comforting to someone like me who messes up a lot that He will not throw us away. No situation gets so out-of-hand that He walks away. He will continue to keep, protect and help us. Our job is simply to not look anywhere else for our source but to continue looking to Him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rest for the Soul

We have no need to rehearse any or all of the reasons that caregivers become tired. After months of cargiving there can be a weariness that sets in. It's more than the body simply being tired - it's a soul tired. That covers the mind, will and emotions. Sometimes we can be too tired to feel, too tired to think and we just go on functioning because we're breathing basically. There seems to be no where to take a breath or a break; and the daily duties certainly won't wait for us to stop for any amount of time. What do you do when you get soul tired?

The answer, of course, is to Come to Him. Jesus offered strength for the soul when we come to Him. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus offers this rest. He bids us who are weary  and those who are heavy laden (burdened) to come to Him for rest.Then He goes on to speak of how gentle and humble He is. Somehow there is comfort in trusting in His gentleness and humility. And from His gentle and humble state He offers us rest for our souls. He did not say we would find physical rest - but rest for the soul. A place where our mind, will and emotions can be peaceful and calm. The scripture that comes to mind here is casting all your care on Him for He cares for you.When we can quiet ourselves before Him He will bring peace to the turmoil of our minds and emotions. It takes an act of our will just to come to Him - but in that place is peace.

Think about Peter when he hopped out of the boat in the middle of a raging storm. He wasn't sure it was Jesus out there to begin with. But he said, "If it's You, bid me to come." Perhaps Peter knew that he would recognize the One who had bid him to come before. He knew how it touched his heart when Jesus initially asked Peter to come, follow Me. And even in the storm Peter knew the nature of Jesus' bidding. Can you hear Him today in your storm? He is continually asking us to come. Will you take a few minutes to quiet your will and come to Him today? He has true peace for your soul. Rest in Him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Do We Have the Time?

Do you ever feel like others don't have the time to deal with you? I know the world is a busy place and it is no different for the caregiver; but wouldn't it be nice if someone had a few minutes to share a cup of coffee with you?  Aides do not come even though they are scheduled because they had something more important  to do. They do not say it that way - but that's the raw truth. And getting someone to sit for a couple hours here and there (even for pay) can be difficult because it seems that everyone already has plans. Many times it adds to the solitude of the cave - that feeling that you can't get out - And yet at the same time it's easier to just adjust to being in the cave than it is to try to find someone to help...because it seems no one has time.

 There are days where it seems like we ourselves do not have time to turn around twice. The chores and tasks associated with caregiving can easily suck a day away. We must feed, bathe, and transfer our loved one throughout the day. Maybe we have to do therapy, range of motion or other mobility exercises. If we are not careful we can look up and an entire day has passed. Maybe we don't have time either.

Do we have time to spend with Him? It is very important for us to take time to spend with our Father. Just as we can sense that no one has time for us - perhaps God "feels" like He is not important enough to us for a small amount of our time. Maybe He is waiting for us to just come to Him. In Isaiah 55, the prophet bids us to Come to Him. Jesus also said for those who are weary to come to Him and find rest. (Matthew 11:28) Let us find a few moments today to just come to Him and present ourselves before Him in humility. He is waiting on us to come...let us find rest for our souls in Him today.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Through the Pain

Trying to view God through the pain everyday brings can be so very difficult for the caregiver. This is partly due to the fact that the pain we are in never really goes away. Our hearts are always crying as we see our loved ones as they are...and not how, or even who, they used to be. It's heart wrenching and there is no rest from the pain. If we are not careful this can cloud our view of God; and foster many questions. lots of whys...

Job managed to see God through the pain and in the midst of heart wrenching circumstances. When at first all of his children were snatched away in just one day he fell to his knees and cried out to God in worship. I do not think he sang any of our nice little choruses we have today, nor did he sing a hymn. The turning to God in the pain  was the act of worship. It's so easy to do the opposite sometimes.

Then later in Job when his own body was in intense pain and agony he made a statement that baffles me. He said even though God slays me - I will yet trust Him. Is that trust? Is that faith? Perhaps it is the depth of worship. No song, no offering, no stained glass windows... just a heart so pliable in the hands of God that life itself does not even matter.

No matter how intense, deep or constant the pain in our hearts (and bodies) may be today let us turn our affection to Him...praise Him for Who He is...this is worship.