Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trying to See Past Today

One of the difficulties I've had as a caregiver is trying to plan the "future." It's just so uncertain - everyday is uncertain. You just never know what is going to unfold, what's going to work, break or who is or isn't going to show up. It's tough enough getting through each day one step at a time without giving consideration to the future too. In my devotions this morning I sort of stumbled across a scripture that helped me see just a little bit past today.

In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul explains that we have the treasure of Christ in this "earthen vessel," or our bodies. What's interesting to me is that after sharing this wonderful bit of information with us he goes on to discuss how much trouble we can face in this clay pot. Caregivers can relate to these situations I think - we are:

hard pressed - but not crushed
perplexed - but not in despair
persecuted - but not forsaken
struck down but not destroyed

Even though we can go through this wide range of emotions - our lives didn't stop when we became caregivers. We are still living lives that are full of Christ. He did not leave us (like some of our "friends") when the going got tough, or the picture got ugly. This is why we "don't lose heart" as Paul goes on to say in verse 16. Perhaps we are in a tight spot - life has dealt us a blow - but we can focus on what we are not: crushed, in despair, hopeless, forsaken or destroyed!


We can chose to look at the parts of the picture that are more enduring, more pleasant. You know what? We did not stop being like Christ when we laid down our lives to care for another. Actually, we started looking a whole lot more like Him.

Think about it. Even though we may feel frustrated, discouraged or tired - we've become more like Him. Don't believe me? The caregiver's life may not look like everyone else's - but we do start to look more like Him. Caregiving requires patience - beyond what I could have ever  dreamed! We are dedicated to the journey and we do what we do because of a deep love. That looks just like Him!

I was leaning over my son's bed one day, telling him I loved him. I realized it was my love for him that kept me on this journey with him. And then it dawned on me - it was the same love that held Christ to the cross. Just like Christ willingly gave up his life for us and love held Him to the cross - our love holds us in the caregiving role. You look a lot more like Him than you thought, huh?

Today I will chose to look past what I see in my life - and I will see Him. My meditation will be of His great love for me - and His dedication to see Himself in me - no matter what life throws my way. Will you join me?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hangin' Out at His House

Psalm 27 has been a long time favorite of mine and as I was reading it recently there were a few things that really stuck out to me. Verse 5 really rings true for me today: In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion.  I really like that for two reasons - the first one is that the psalmist says "in the time of trouble." This indicates that he experienced times of difficulty in his own life. It doesn't say "since God got me out of trouble" or "helped me avoid trouble," it says IN the time of trouble. There's not always a quick escape!

The second thing that sticks out to me is that during troublesome times- He hides me at His house. I really like that. He does not cast me aside or treat me like I am unworthy or meaningless - but He puts me up in His own house when I am experiencing trouble.

David indicates that he works hard to stay in God's house. His desire was to be in the Lord's presence and dwelling constantly with Him so that he could enjoy the beauty of the Lord. And God accommodates.

Verse 1 stands out to me right now too - the fact that HE  is the strength of my life.I do not have to be afraid of the situation or the circumstances and I do not have to give in beneath the load. (although I do have those days, don't you?) He will carry me and strengthen me for the journey and all it may pose along the way. He will not abandon me when the going gets tough - He'll stand beside me, give me His strength and help me make it through today. That's all we need to do anyway - is take it one day at a time.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is my strength - I don't have to conjure up my own; and that He lets me stay in His house - free of charge - until the storms of life pass by.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Never Disqualified

I've run a few races where certain actions can disqualify you. For instance, if you are not lined up at the start line when the gun goes off - you are disqualified. One race course in OKC goes through an affluent neighborhood and if you step on the grass you get disqualified. Sometimes it can feel like we got disqualified from living our lives when we became a caregiver. For me and many others lives not only changed drastically - they changed completely. It can take years to feel like you are "living" again.

Thankfully when it comes to God and His presence caregivers are not counted out!

This morning I was reading in Psalm 24 and verse three is taken right out of Psalm 15. It says:

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His Holy Place?

The psalmist answers his own question in verse 4:He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol.

We do not get cast away because we are caregivers even if our life doesn't quite look like others.We have the same criteria as everyone else who is living and breathing on this earth: clean hands, pure heart and no idols. Even though we live on uneven ground it seems we are all the same before God. He doesn't give us a break because we are caregivers, nor does He remove His requirements for caregivers. We still have to keep our hearts pure and our hands clean. We cannot have any idols in our lives but must live lives dedicated solely to Him.

It can feel like the church DQs us - because we don't fit in their box. It can seem like life DQs us since we live much differently than most. But God does not DQ us - we have the same access to His presence as everyone else. He welcomes us to come to Him, and to rest in Him.

Today I will meditate on the truth that I am welcome in His presence - even with all my "baggage"! I'll yield my thoughts to His acceptance of me and the fact that He chooses to be with me right here in this mess!