Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a Move

I don't know anyone who really likes to move. Maybe you do, but I really don't like it at all. But when we do have to move from one location to another don't we take all of our possessions with us? We may discard a few items that we have learned we can live without - but as a general rule the basic concept of moving is taking all of our stuff from point A to point B.

In John 14:23, Jesus said If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. When we make a move we take all our stuff and so does God. We did not get just a little piece of God - when He moves in He brings it all! Paul says that we have the great treasure of Christ in this earthen vessel.

Earlier in John 14, Jesus said that He would give us the Spirit of Truth and that He would be in us. Not just walking alongside, which is good - He lives in us. He is a part of us and we are a part of Him. I love verse 20 of that chapter that says In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me and I in you. Talk about a package deal!

As caregivers it can seem that life has shortchanged us so to speak. But God does not do that. When He comes to make His abode in a person He brings all of Himself and does not hold anything back. Our theme this week has been about how He is with us and in us. Today I will meditate on how He brings all of Himself when He moves in. I'll consider how He lives in me and I live in Him. I want to think about how He does not hold anything back and has absolutely no reservation to giving me all of Himself. I'm going to let that overwhelm me today! He trusts me enough to give me everything.

This will be my meditation today - will you join me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where did He Go?

I'm taking comfort today from the fact that God is not only with me - but He cannot leave me. If we are honest, as caregivers we do experience those times that we feel like He has abandoned us altogether. But today I have been thinking about the fact that it is literally impossible for Him to leave us. After all, where would He go? We can at least understand the basic concept of His omnipresence with our finite minds. This means that He is literally everywhere so that leaves nowhere for Him to go. He really cannot leave us so there are no truer words spoken than Hebrews 13:5b - I will never leave or forsake you.

But these words go back way before the author of Hebrews reiterated them. They were spoken to Moses in Deuteronomy 31. And then God reminded Joshua in the first chapter that He would not leave. Today this means a lot to me. On one hand I can understand that God cannot leave me - it's an impossibility. On the other His words to his children in Deuteronomy, Joshua and Hebrews to me mean that even if He could He would not leave! He's committed to us for the long haul.

Today my meditation will be not so much on the fact that He is with me - as the truth that He chooses to be with me. There is a stark difference between someone who is just committed to being with you and sticks it out because of that commitment and one who chooses to be with you for good no matter what might come.

This day I will recall to mind God's unchangeable presence that is walking with me through this storm and continues to abide with me. Today I'm going to rest in Him and enjoy His presence. Will you join me?

Monday, January 27, 2014

God don't live at Church

Despite how we may feel at times, we are never alone. One thing that I realized this weekend was how the traditional "church" can make a caregiver feel when they cannot attend meetings. On our end, it can be discouraging because the fellowship is really valuable. But it's important for us (at least for me) to remember that God don't live at church.

Yesterday morning one of the groups that I had joined on facebook had a post for everyone to share what they learned at church. Well, I cannot go to church - and the church certainly does not come to me! That got me to thinking and I set up an account with blog talk radio and did the first broadcast yesterday called God don't live at church. Honestly, once I got started I really encouraged myself. You can hear it if you want:  Coffee with Caregivers

As I was sharing, it really hit me how this enormous, powerful and creative God lives right here inside of me. I was in awe. I read Isaiah 40 and how the prophet describes how God holds all the water in the world in the palm of His hand. That's an amazing chapter. But I also really like God's own account of creation that is in Job 38 and 39. They can simply leave you speechless. But so can the fact that we have all of God inside this human vessel. That we are His choice of habitation. And at the same time He is literally everywhere - and has nowhere to go! He's inside us period! And that's to be the theme of this week's devotions.

My first scripture selection is Ephesians 3:16 - that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Gain strength today by acknowledging that His Spirit is inside you. And you don't have a separate Holy Spirit since you can't "go to church," nor do you have less of Him due to the circumstances. The fact that we are caregivers have no influence whatsoever on the package deal we get with the Holy Spirit. We have all of Him inside our being.

Actually, if you are hurting you are mentioned specifically in scripture. The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18); He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Now that's some good stuff right there!

Today I will meditate on the fact that God is near me, with me, and His Spirit is inside me. I will carry on today in the strength I gain from Him making me His home. Will you join me?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Out of Obscurity

Most of the caregiver's world can be lived in obscurity. Many times our ability to get out is limited by the level of mobility of the one we care for, or the availability of those who relieve us. For most of us, much of our time is spent living in the quietness of our homes and we are obscured from the rest of the world who does not understand us or know what to do with us. (smile- it's okay and we aren't contagious!)

I started thinking about this during my morning devotions. When I picked up my Bible this morning it was opened to 1 Samuel. I started reading about Samuel who happens to be one of my favorite OT prophets. God told him to go anoint one of Jesse's sons as the next king to replace Saul who had been rejected. Jesse didn't even bother to bring David out. Samuel looked at each of Jesse's other sons and knew they were not the one to be anointed as king and finally he asked Jesse if there were any more sons. Jesse said, "well there's the youngest who is out keeping the sheep." They summoned David from his obscure post and Samuel said - yup, that's the one! And right there the ruddy young man was anointed as king. Then he went back to keeping the sheep.

What I really found interesting is that in this same chapter just  a few verses down, King Saul is found being tormented by evil spirits. When they start looking for a psalmist that can minister God's peace here comes David again; out of obscurity. So two times in this chapter (sadly we have no way of knowing how much time had lapsed) he is called out of his obscurity where he was alone and minding his own business. Once to be anointed as the next king and second to play his harp for the king that he is to replace.

It seems that David remained very unassuming during this time period. He kept himself humble before God and man. I mean what are the chances that the same kid the prophet sought out to anoint is then sought out to play the harp for the king he is to replace? Of course Saul has no clue and loved David at first. But we know that eventually he became jealous and the road to the throne for David became a rocky one - even though he was anointed for it.

My encouragement this morning is found in this passage. Our roads as caregivers are anything but smooth no matter what types of circumstances surround. But that does not mean we are any "less" anointed or appointed for what God had in mind to start with. Even though the road may be bumpy and uncomfortable, what God says still stands. He never promised it would be easy getting to where He called us to be - He only assures us that what He has said about us is always in tact. He never changes His mind.

Today I will meditate on the things God says about me. Psalm 139:17 says how precious are Your thoughts toward me O Lord! How vast is the sum of them. No matter how obscure our lives have become we are not hidden from His sight. I will meditate on the truth that He has not forgotten me, and He still has His eye on me. I will rest in that truth today - will you join me?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Can I do that?

Every day for the caregiver is not unpleasant, but it is tough. We have our moments when things are bright. For me it is when my son seems to connect and shares a spontaneous smile, or does something new that he had not been able to do before. There are days that go by with no great incidents - I like those days. So even though it is a stressful position to be in doesn't mean it's always heavy to bear. There are small moments of relief here and there that help keep us moving on.

Caregivers are unique people in that they are taking care of the needs of others, usually before their own. As a caregiver we can be sort of a refuge by providing a safe place for our loved ones to rest, recuperate, recover or just live. Actually, we go to great lengths to try and make them as comfortable as possible in the present situation. We don't want them to suffer any more than is absolutely necessary - and any is too much at all. Our homes are a haven where we provide protection and provisions. We are tougher than nails- we have to be! We don't take nothing off a nobody! Seriously, caregivers don't have time for a lot of foolishness and sometimes people think we are harsh or uncaring but the opposite is true. We are just trying to protect our own. But who's going to protect us?

Psalm 34:8 says O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Two things I want to point out. One is that we are blessed when we take refuge in Him. He has provided a safe place for us. He knows when we sob ourselves to sleep at night. He sees us when the load does become heavy to bear and when we feel like our loved ones have fallen through the system's cracks; or we feel overlooked by church and society. He knows and offers us a safe place.

The second point is that the responsibility of action lies on us. We are blessed when we take refuge in Him. We must run to Him and to the safety of His arms. He will not pull us away from our worries if we choose to embrace them...He patiently waits for us to take action. We have to seek Him and His refuge and strength. It's sort of like having a huge meal prepared and set before you - but no one can eat it for you! He cannot take refuge for you- it's a choice and action that is in your power.

Today I will meditate on taking refuge in Him. I will choose to embrace Him and the strength, peace and comfort that He provides rather than the worries and problems that are present. I will purposefully and actively take refuge in Him today. Will you join me?

Monday, January 13, 2014

You Can't Order that Online!

In many cases the caregiver is not able to get out of the house much, or at least not very easily. Because of this, over the last few years I've learned you can order almost anything online. I order toilet paper, cleaning supplies, clothes, household goods, furniture, electronic devices, books, music, movies, medical supplies and that's just all I can think of off the top of my head. I even order frozen foods! There are some places that ship fresh fruit - but so far I haven't found it to be cost effective. But I've also learned that there are a few things that simply cannot be ordered online. Things like milk and butter, hair cuts, manicures, massages and dog grooming just cannot be ordered online!

I have found that in most instances caregivers are very frugal and creative; they have this knack for problem solving and figuring out how to get the impossible done. Whether we ask for help, order it online or find some other way to get it done - nearly everything is possible. But perhaps the most crucial need of the caregiver cannot be ordered online, or fulfilled by anyone else. We have to be able to encourage ourselves. As we face a barrage of decisions and situations each day we can either succumb to the pressure and allow ourselves to be depressed - or we can encourage ourselves in the Lord.

David found himself in a very sticky situation in 1 Samuel 30. He and his men came back to Ziklag to find it ransacked and their wives and children taken captive. Everyone blamed him and were talking of killing him; and he was greatly distressed (v.6). But as he stood there with nothing - it says David encouraged himself in the Lord. There are times when the caregiver has to make the choice to be crushed or encouraged; and sometimes (most times) we have to do it ourselves. Even if someone brings an encouraging message we must choose to embrace it - or stay underneath the load.

Today I am going to choose to take my courage and strength from the Holy Spirit. No matter what types of difficulties I may face today I will not let them take me under and suck me into the "caregiver's fog." I think of all the times throughout the Psalms when David used the phrase "I will" or "My soul will" and I really think he was making a conscious choice to trust, worship, praise, etc. Today I will do this same thing- My choice is to trust Him for this one more day and lean on Him for strength to make it through. I will meditate on His greatness and I will be encouraged in Him today - will you join me?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ishmael? - That's a good name!

Growing up in the Western church I always heard about Ishmael in a negative light. He was "Abraham's mistake." It's not Ishmael's fault he was born! I've met a few people named Ishmael over the years and wondered why anyone would choose the name of a "banished vagabond" as a name for their child. Even though I understand the prophecies the Lord gave Hagar about Ishmael, I see it a little differently today.

As I awakened to start my crazy day at 5 AM like I do every day of the week, I was already tired. It's difficult to start out the day tired, but caregivers understand that things just have to be done, tired or not. My early morning thoughts were about Hagar at the well and how she was elated that God could see her and her unborn son. So I opened up my Bible to Genesis 16 and scanned through the chapter.

Hagar ended up in this position because of an injustice. Her master was Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Hagar was given to Abraham for the purpose of bearing a child to begin with. That was the goal. This was due to Sarah's impatience while waiting on the promised of God. We know two women in one house are not going to get along. Verse 4 says that Hagar looked down on Sarah because she had conceived but I have a suspicion that Sarah might have had a little jealousy herself. Anyway the two parted ways under not-so-pleasant circumstances.

Pregnant Hagar is driven away after being "treated harshly." Could it get any worse for her? Here's where it gets good. Verse 7 says now the angel of the Lord found her  by a spring of water in the wilderness. If he found her, he was looking for her! The angle sent her back (never quite understood that) but before he did, he told her to name the child Ishmael - God hears. Then in verse 13, Hagar realized that God saw her there at the well. She said, You are the God who sees.

There are three points that brought me comfort this weary morning. One was that God found Hagar - He was seeking her out. The second thing is that God hears - even though there was no mention of prayer. And the third thing is that God sees. He has found me! He hears the deepest unspoken cries of my heart! And He sees exactly where I am!

Today I will meditate on the truth that He does know me, He sees me and He hears me. Call me Ishmael!