Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Peace of Integrity

I'm still reading Job and really enjoying it. One thing that is standing out in my mind is how his friends keep arguing that there is some sort of flaw in Job or he would not be in this terrible situation. I guess it stands out to me so much because I had people say these same types of things to me when I was very ill in 1986. (It's a long story I'll try to write somewhere else - but obviously I lived!) Job's "friends" attack his character each time they speak because they were trying to analyze it according to their own religious dogma. Yet all the way through Job maintains that he has not sinned to cause all the tragedy to come upon him. Isn't that among some of our first thoughts after a tragedy strikes and we try to settle into a new normal?

In Job 13:15 Job makes one of the most faith-filled statements that is contained in scriptures. He states that even if God slays him - he will still trust Him. Some versions say still hope in Him.  While this is a powerful viewpoint on life and Job is making the declaration that no matter what happens to him while journeying through life he will continue to trust and hope in God - the next statement is what caught my heart today.

In the last phrase of this verse, Job says Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him. He was not going to back down on the fact that he had integrity with himself and God. I think he trusted God enough to know that if he had done something wrong the Lord would have informed him of such.  David made a similar statement in Psalm 101:2  when he said I will live a life of integrity in my own home. How powerful is it to know that we have integrity with ourselves? Plus we know that we are pleasing Him in our actions.

I'll be the first to admit that I cannot say I am blameless...there are those days that I lose it. Aides don't show up, supplies are delayed, doctors do not return calls...I get frustrated. Don't we all? My peace is not found in my actions always being the purest...but in the fact that after I punch the punching bag a few times, run a couple of miles and mutter a couple of curse words...I do finally run to Him! And you know what? He's always right there - even when I am not "perfect"!

Today I will meditate on His ever abiding presence - even when I am frustrated. I will learn to turn to Him sooner when things get out of hand. And I will commit to having integrity in my own home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some Kind of Warrior

David was a warrior who faced many battles. The warrior side of him is seen even when he was a youth and went out to face Goliath who was many times his own size. In 1 Samuel 17:28, it says that even after Goliath's lofty threats, David ran out to meet him. David would face many battles after that monumental day. But there would also come a day when he would have to encourage himself in the Lord.

Sometimes it can seem like the caregiver's day is one battle after another; and like David, we must many times encourage ourselves in the Lord. It takes some kind of warrior to do that, don't you think? I know - most caregivers are not going to think of themselves as warriors! Our M.O. is more along the lines of well, we just do what we do. While that is true and we feel like we just put one foot in front of the other most of the time...we are doing much more than that. Let me explain.

As a caregiver I have battled depression and that is not uncommon for us. But how many times have you thought for sure that you were down for the count...when all of a sudden out of nowhere came encouragement? Maybe a phone call from a friend, a brief email or even a facebook status just said the right thing. Instead of being down for the count you felt yourself (almost involuntarily) pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps like the ole timer's used to say! That's because you are some kind of warrior! And because your heart is in what you are doing for your loved one as well as your heart being hidden in His - it's inevitable that you will eventually win out.

I've never thought of Job as an encouraging book but lately I have been reading it and finding great encouragement (may write a study guide for it later lol!). In Job 6:10 he said this to his "friends" but it is still my consolation, and I rejoice in unsparing pain that I have not denied the words of the Holy One. Job was a warrior just like you! Even in the midst of the pain and grief that can be an everyday thing, the heavy load many caregivers carry alone and the dark night of the soul...we continue to press on through the unsparing pain to hold on to His words. That's some kind of warrior!

Today I will meditate on the truth that He gives me the strength for the battle. I'll think about how David ran into battle with Goliath...and how he encouraged himself in the Lord. I will also think about what makes me a warrior...will you join me in holding on to His word for one more day?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Still Here

This week I decided to return to Job. It may sound odd to those most familiar with his story, but I was actually looking for some comfort. While his friends did not offer him much comfort or hope, my thinking was that by reading some of the things Job said I could gain a better perspective and find peace in dealing with the situation. So far, I haven't got past chapter 1. I hope we can take this journey through the book of Job together.

The first thing that caught my attention was that Job was blameless, a man of integrity, and he stayed away from evil. (You do know that Job wrote the book, right? *smile*) The second thing that caught my attention was further down when Satan confronted God about Job. He said that God protected Job, his family and all of his possessions from harm. He suggested that if Job lost everything, he would curse God to His face.

This is where I stopped for some inner reflections. As a caregiver, nothing is easy. Everything in our worlds have likely changed; and for me it has literally been everything. I have to look at myself and measure my own integrity - or lack of integrity. I certainly cannot honestly say that I have always said real pleasant things to God during this trial of faith; and I cannot say I have always had faith. But I can say that I have not cursed God or walked away from Him because of the tragedy, losses, or pain.

Losing everything is interesting because only then can you find out what you are truly holding on to. Only in the deepest trials of life do we find where our hope lies. Life doesn't lie. Instead, it reveals where our trust is, where our hope is and how we choose to make it through the dark night of the soul. We are still around. We are still seeking God; and He is still our provider and the keeper of our souls. Will I ever measure up to the patience or integrity of Job, not likely! lol. But I can say that even with a life of loss He is still my God!

Think about perspective today. Are we cursing Him for the storm? Or are we thankful He has chosen to walk through it with us? Let's be thankful today that He is still an ever-present God!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The God Who Sees

It is difficult to understand the life of caregiving unless you are a caregiver. And even then, each situation is so very unique we do not always have the capacity to understand each others' situations. Sometimes it hurts most when those we think are supposed to care do not seem to. That can be family, friends or health care professionals. It's really frustrating when they don't get it. You know?

Sometimes one of the most frustrating things about caregiving is the inability to have a schedule. We can keep a shell of one, but it seems there's always something that comes along to disrupt it. Our loved one has a bad day, aides don't show up, nurses decide to come during the only time you were going to have to yourself for the week....yes that really happened! And the load becomes heavier...not even because of the caregiving itself, but because of all the baggage that comes along with caregiving.

This morning has been one of those mornings for me; made up of those situations that make the regular load just a little bit heavier. But my mind went to Hagar. She's not usually one of our favorites by any means even though the situation was not totally her fault. In Genesis 16 she bears some of the blame since she was taunting Sarah. I suppose I found it comforting that God met her where she was even though she was not perfect. Most of us did nothing wrong to end up in a caregiving situation, so I guess it makes the possibility of God seeking us out more likely! lol.

Hagar was distraught and had run away from her mistress who was treating her harshly.  She was pregnant (thank God that's not a factor!), being treated badly because she mouthed off, and was stuck out in the desert with no one to see after her. But God found her. It's not the encounter I want to focus on though, it's what she said afterwards. In Genesis 16:13 Hagar said, the God Who sees me."  She existed to God and that mattered.

Today I will meditate on the fact that I am not out here alone. That God does indeed see me; that will carry me through this day. He sees me...