Thursday, December 24, 2015

Points for Breathing

Do you ever wake up some mornings and think you should get some bonus points just for breathing? I did this morning, there's just so much to get done and a short time to do it. The caregiver's day is full already with our normal stuff, but add in even a small bit of holiday planning and personally, I can go over the edge.

When I'm on overload like that my response is to go into shut down mode. Today I will fight that since there really is a lot to do. Many don't realize how difficult it can be to plan holiday shopping even just for groceries for the caregiver.

The aide will be here for about 3 hours today and I have to exchange a gift and get groceries for the holiday; plus stock up on a few things for the approaching winter storm. Later today everything will be closed - tomorrow is a holiday and Saturday we are having a family Christmas get together just before (hopefully) the winter storm hits. Honestly, I get all stressed out thinking about trying to get all that done in such a limited time frame. Besides the fact that I am one of the only women I know who really doesn't like shopping of any kind to begin with. I really am content with online shopping. I could never go out of the house and that would be fine.

Caregiving on its own is hectic, without the added holiday demands. I really would prefer to just live in the cave like I did for so long; but others tell me it's not healthy, even though it's comfortable! So I will venture out during this holiday season to do what I need to do. Reluctantly. I need extra points for breathing.

During these times when an already overladen lifestyle is complicated by additional responsibilities it's hard to not just shut down. My normal way of handling this and any other difficulty is by going straight to the scriptures. Even though there are not any directly related to finding comfort while facing the holiday traffic (without cussing I hope), there are several that come to mind to help me refocus on what is important and make it through this time of year.

One of my favorites for when things get so hectic is found in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Another one I will rely on today is in John 14:27 where He says, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Hint: the world ain't got no peace - especially at Christmas time!

During this most generous time of the year the caregiver and the shut-in can be the most overlooked as people go about their hectic lives. But God never  overlooks us - He never ignores us because He thinks something else is more important. He continues to invest in us.

Today I will meditate on the fact that the holidays do not get so hectic that God forgets about us. I'll turn my thoughts to His ever abiding presence that remains with us - and in us - through the darkest, loneliest, most difficult days. He never packs up and says it's too much for Him. He patiently walks with me through each moment of each day; and today I'll put His patience with me at the forefront of my mind and try to be patient as well. Will you join me?







Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Worth the Wait

When my son was first injured, it took awhile for emotions to settle down. I remember spending lots of energy grasping for answers as to why this tragedy had happened and just trying to pick up all the broken pieces of my life. Just picking them all up was enough for awhile without any thought as to how I might start putting them back together.

There really are not words to describe the rush of emotions that occurred during those first few weeks, or for that matter the years to follow.

I can't even begin to imagine what Job felt like when in a very short time he lost all of his children. He also lost all of his income and wealth and then of course eventually his health was also affected. Honestly, I can say I did not have a response like Job. Oh, I wish I could say I feel to my knees in worship declaring Blessed be the name of the Lord, but I cannot. I was angry, frustrated and felt cheated out of life. And if I'm totally honest - those emotions still run around inside me even after 7+ years.

It took a long time for me to find my song again and to be able to enjoy music at all. Some of this is due to the fact that my son and I shared music together. We were both song writers and musicians and it was often a topic for discussion as was worship.

Job responded to his tragedy by worshiping; I did not. And honestly, I didn't care. My life had been stripped away in a very cruel fashion and it took me a long time to even want to recover. Eventually, I did work back around to total surrender to God but it was a long process for me. And you know what? God was okay with that. Psalm 78:39 says He remembered they were just flesh....He knows our weaknesses and what makes us soul tired. He knows what wears away at our sanity; and what it takes for us to recover. He knows....

I think one thing that helped bring me back to a place where I could worship and trust Him again was realizing that He was okay with my response even though it was unlike Job's. I spent a lot of time with a good for you Job, but I'm just not there attitude. Knowing that God understood that - and wasn't going to fry me down to my toenails with a bolt of lightning - helped me work through the emotions until I could find it in my heart to pray again...to sing again...to worship Him again.

He patiently waits for us - He doesn't push, doesn't condemn... He just waits and understands when we need to work through the process. Perhaps it was this kindness that made the difference. God can handle our questions, they don't scare Him. He can handle our sadness and our frustrations, He won't walk away. He offers His hand and then He waits....for us.

Today I'm going to try to refocus on worship. I'm going to spend some time meditating on the truth that my situation has not changed God one little bit. My thoughts will be on how He patiently waits for me because He loves me; and He thinks I'm worth the wait. That makes me smile. I'll keep my thoughts right there today - will you join me?








Monday, December 21, 2015

The Power of Singular

We ended last week in Psalm 34 and I want to start out this week with it. Last week I shared several points that stood out to me but one particular verse really stuck with me. The first part of verse 7 says this: the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him....

What really got my attention was that "angel" is singular and not plural. In my mind when I've seen, read or heard this verse I've interpreted it as the "angels of the Lord" were camped all around me.

I actually had a visual of me sitting by a nice, cozy fire in the middle and thousands of angels surrounding me on all sides. So when I was reading this Psalm last week the fact that it is just the "angel of the Lord" really grabbed my attention. It honestly messed up my picture I had saved in my mind. Just one angel?  Is that because I am not important enough for a whole troop? (lol) Or is it because the angel is so powerful - we only have need of one? (Think about that for a bit!)

As I sat here meditating on the solitary angel He as camped around me -- Wait...what? He has one angel - count them - or count it....the angel of the Lord is encamped around me. Let that sink in for a minute - it took me awhile. Once I got rid of the picture of thousands of angels around me - and focused on the fact that there is only one needed....I got a whole new visual.

My campsite disappeared and I tried to picture myself being surrounded by an angel. Seems kinda white and cloud-like fluffy to me! lol -- then I realized my picture had transformed until I could imagine myself in His lap. Think about how you held a small child. You pull them in close to you and wrap your arms around - tucking them into yourself so they are safe and secure. That's how He surrounds us.

Here with His presence surrounding us we find comfort, protection, love, and compassion to make it through the difficult time. Maybe when David wrote this he was very troubled about being chased by Saul and hiding from cave to cave in order to stay alive. Knowing that God was surrounding Him helped him feel safe. He was in a day to day battle with Saul in constant pursuit. It had to wear on him physically and emotionally. He had no where to call "home" and he could not rest anywhere for very long - always moving and trying to stay one step ahead of the one who was trying to kill him.

I think sometimes the caregiver feels like we are caught in that vicious cycle too. David was not in control. As caregivers we have some control but even on the good days we know any little thing can mean a huge mix up. Like David we are trying to stay one step ahead of falling apart, being emotionally distraught, or feeling like we're losing it altogether. On the good days - we stay further ahead than on the bad days.

In the midst of what had to be a very emotional time for David, a time when he was constantly on the run with never a time to relax, he knew the importance of being wrapped in His presence. David was most likely always on guard, always high energy and intense. But he knew how to find the presence of God and worship.

Today I will purposefully stop my fast-paced heart and mind to wait on His presence. My meditation will be on the truth that He surrounds me - encamps all around me - and I will be content with that. (Whether I feel it or not!) On this crazy Monday I will find time to worship, give Him praise - if even for a minute I will focus on Him and realize that He is in my situation with me - around me. Will you join me?


Friday, December 18, 2015

Just What I Needed to Hear!

In my personal devotions this morning I was just skipping around through the psalms. I love the psalms as they are open and honest about emotions and the psalmists have unique ways of expressing how they really feel. Today I was honestly looking for some sort of connection to try and sort through some of my own emotions and stumbled on Psalm 34.

This particular psalm was written by King David. The background of Psalm 34 helps me remember that our Bible heroes did not have fairy tale lives. Most of them are our heroes because of their situations and because of how they faced their fears and foes. This one is no different.

The history behind Psalm 34 is found in 1 Samuel 21. David is running from Saul and had been for some time. We can read about his flight from Saul in a matter of a few minutes without giving thought to the fact that this went on for years. He slept many nights in camps and caves before he ever made it to the castle. He runs to Achish the king of Gath only to be identified by one of the king's servants as the man Saul hated and was chasing.

Verse 12 says that when David heard what the servant said, he greatly feared Achish. So he did what any of us would do, right? He began to act crazily insane as if he had lost his mind! He let spit run down into his beard and I love this - he scribbled on the doors of the gate. The king got angry and asked why they had brought a madman into his house...and David was free. That's ingenious!

This fearful time was what was behind the writing of Psalm 34. David is obviously praising God for the close call and his deliverance. There's so much in this Psalm from honest praise to prophecies about Jesus' crucifixion. But as someone this morning who is ready to feign madness (lol) I picked out a few things that my soul really wanted to hear. Here are the caregiver's nuggets I chose for today:


  • v.7- the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him
  • v. 14 - seek peace - and pursue it
  • v. 15 - the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears are open to their cry
  • v. 18 - the Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
  • v. 22 - the Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
This morning I found this psalm full of all sorts of good stuff - but these are the things that stood out to me - the things I need to hold on to today.I needed to be reminded that He is near me, He hears me, and He protects my soul...the part of me that makes me - me.

Today my meditations will be on these 5 things. I will remind myself that His camp surrounds me because I fear Him. That His eyes are toward me and He is listening. That He is near and saves my spirit while guarding my soul. I will not be ashamed for taking refuge in Him. I will keep these things in the forefront of my mind as I go about my day today. Will you join me?












Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Whatever You Do...

For my personal devotions this morning I was reading in Colossians and stopped in chapter three to ponder a few things. As usual, some things stood out and led me to start asking myself and God a lot of questions. (It's okay - He's used to it! lol) But eventually I worked my way through the whole chapter and began to focus on something that caught my attention for today.

Verses 17 and 23 both start with the phrase: Whatever you do. While verse 17 focuses on words and deeds, verse 23 focuses on work. If I think about these three things - they really cover a lot.

 To me, Paul seems to be encouraging the believers to put a lot more effort and thought into every single thing they do - and to make sure it is all done for the Lord. Now as a caregiver, I think we do what we do for our loved ones because of our love for them - who they are in our lives - what they mean to us; and that's totally acceptable and applaudable. Nothing wrong with it - it comes from our hearts because of our love for them. But what if we did our whatevers for God as well?

I think in many ways as Christians we already do this. Sadly, during the months we spent in a variety of facilities from hospitals to nursing homes and rehab units I've seen families who were not involved with their loved one's care. They walked away. But we did not. We are held at our loved one's side by pure love. I get tired, I get frustrated, I miss my son the way he was - greatly. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other because I love him and want the best for him. I assume you feel similar emotions.

God put His love in our hearts. Earlier in chapter three of Colossians it talks about our lives being hidden with Christ in God. Since this is true, maybe we didn't have our own lives even before caregiving. Before we were a caregiver, we were hidden in Him - now that we are a caregiver - we are hidden in Him. Our status as believers hasn't changed and so our motivation to serve Him shouldn't either.

So when Paul says to the believers in Colossae - Whatever you do - we can figure it's for us as well. I've said it before that we look like Him as we care for our loved one and the same love that held Jesus to that old rugged cross is the same love that holds us by our loved ones side. We look like Him. And all of our words, deeds and work should look like Him as well. As we perform our day to day tasks - and there are many of them - an overwhelming amount on many days - our focus can be on doing them for Him. Or doing them with Him in the forefront of our minds.


If I'm totally honest with you and with myself, I get caught up in the doing and forget about the whys. I think of all the things I have (or get) to do just to care for my son and everything is done from a pure love for him. But my focus should be on God and pleasing Him. I also get bogged down with my work which has to be done to make money (I have this nasty habit - I like to eat!) - but I forget to perform my work tasks as unto the Lord. This shifts all the focus from my situation - from me - to Him. And that's a different world.

Today I will meditate on the truth that as a believer my life is hidden in His. I'm going to turn my thoughts to the truths that do not change when we become caregivers. We are still believers, we are still hidden in Him, His Spirit still lives in us, He still loves us....our spirit didn't change when tragedy struck. I will rest in that today; and I will purposefully think about how I can perform all my tasks, speak all my words, and do all my deeds as unto Him. Will you join me?









Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Handled with Grace

Sometimes I catch myself being very frustrated - at well, everything. For caregivers there's not usually a simple or even what we might call a normal way to do the normal things of life. It seems that everything is so much more complicated as we adjust to our new normals.

Even the most basic of our everyday tasks are so much more complicated than anyone can imagine unless they've been there or done it. For me, and many of us, it's like having a 150 pound baby all.the.time. And recently, my mom who is in the early stages of dementia stayed with me and I had my son who has a TBI and can do nothing for himself, plus my mom who can still do things for herself, but is like having a small child around who has to be watched constantly. So I'm getting a glimpse into some of the other types of caregiving.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a pretty high strung individual - mostly high energy, hyper and probably ADD but never diagnosed. lol Think about it - on my day "off" I run races - that's my "away" time. Being high strung just means I have to deal with high levels of frustration too. It's easy to get irritated at small stuff. On a personal note, I am working right now on settling down and not stressing out at the small stuff....I have a long ways to go.

One example (and only one of many) is the handicap parking space the apartment manager created in the front of our apartment. I won't even talk about how ugly I get when someone who doesn't have a placard parks in it - and I'm thinking about trying to find repentance for some of the things I've done to the poor souls. (smile) But what I am working on is this. As I approach the complex I find myself getting tense not knowing what I'm going to find. Now most of the time my neighbors won't park in the spot- and for the most part they won't even park in the spot next to the van giving me plenty of room for the lift. But sometimes there is either someone in the handicap spot or someone parked next to it - it's a free spot and nothing at all wrong with parking in it - it just makes it very inconvenient for loading or unloading.

I share this to say I'm working on not getting all out of sorts over these "little" things we have to deal with. There's always a way to get it done- it's not always easy, not always convenient, not always fun..but there's always a way to get it done. On my end- I'm working on trying to relax and not take those things personal.

It can be easy to feel deprived as a caregiver because even all the simple things many people take for granted can be super complicated for us to pull off. It can feel like everything is a struggle; hence the higher frustration level with even the small things in life. So here is where I am on all this - working on my own attitude and how I handle unpleasant (for me) situations with grace, kindness and truth.

I really do see why caregivers develop a hard shell as we age and continue to carry on. But this morning as I was meditating and studying I thought of this verse in Proverbs 3:3-4 - Don't let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

We are not exempt from the requirements God has on every single believer. We may have more to work through to find and generate peace - but He still requires us to live in and share His peace with others. We still have to guard our tongues and not speak evil of others (doesn't seem fair does it? lol). We still need to embrace kindness and truth and share it with others. You see - it's easy to rejoice in the fact that we are still partakers of His nature - still children of God with all the benefits He has bestowed and caregiving didn't change a thing in the spiritual realm. We still have everything He's given us. But on the other side of that coin are all the requirements He has for His kids - and we still have to live up to those as well.

Today my meditations will be on how He has given us grace for the journey. I will turn my thoughts to His kindness toward me - so I can show kindness to others (even if they take my spot!). I'm going to look for someone to be kind to on purpose - just for practice. My prayer will be that He teaches me to handle this life of caregiving with grace and gentleness - just like He handles me. Will you join me?











Thursday, December 10, 2015

Not What I Wanted to Hear!

Earlier this week I mentioned that Paul was in the darkest place of his life when he wrote 2 Corinthians. He gives a rather detailed list in chapter 11 of the many things he suffered as well as the load of his responsibilities concerning the church. Moving on to chapter 12 we get a small glimpse of some type of physical ailment he was suffering. He says he had a thorn in the flesh most historians agree it was some sort of physical difficulty. It must have been lingering and nagging as Paul says he asked God three times to be relieved of it. I'm like, three times? That's it?  Maybe he gave up on asking and maybe he was content with the answer he shares with his readers in the verses following.


As caregivers it's tricky emotionally asking God for relief. It's not that we mind taking care of our loved ones - we are honored to do so and we are fueled by love for them much the same way as the force of love held Jesus to the cross for us our love holds us by their sides. When we get into that overload mode and know we need a break but no break is in sight - we don't even know how to articulate a prayer that makes any sense. But our heavy heart cries out before our God seeking refuge in Him. And we likely get the same answer as God gave Paul: My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness.

My first question of course, is how does that work?  How can power be perfected or matured in the midst of weakness. Do you often have people tell you they admire your strength? I have sometimes and it's usually at my lowest most wiped out moments. I feel anything but strong. Well, it's not our power that matures in our weakness - it's when we are weak that we get out of the way and His power can work in us and for us. Paul goes on to explain in verse 10 that when I am weak, then I am strong. On one hand, that makes no sense at all - how can I be strong because I'm weak?

When I become so weak I cannot carry on - He carries me. Our own weakness gets us out of the way so His strength can manifest in us. In verse 9 Paul says I will rather boast in my weaknesses (notice that is plural) so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. As caregivers we soon find out we don't have time or strength to waste putting on a show for God or man. Our weakness strips us down to who we really are; to our bare reality. And then God's strength has full reign because we are out of the way.

Many days, okay most days, I need Him to carry me. But some days I think I am big enough and bad enough to do it on my own. (I'm sure that's just me, right?) But even on our weakest days caregivers are found just rolling up our sleeves and getting in there to get things done. The need for caregiving doesn't take a break - when you are caring for someone else you can't say I'm not doing this or that today - I just don't feel like it. So we can slip right into zombie mode where we continue to get things done but really aren't feeling it.

These times are when He undergirds us with His strength and carries us through - our weakness has gottten us out of the way so His power can work in and through us.So today - instead of waiting until I can't take another step - I'm just going to admit I'm weak. Like Paul I'm going to boast (or be proud if you will) in the fact that I really cannot do it without Him. My meditations will be on how His Spirit puts strength in me today - and I am empowered simply because He lives in me. (Ephesians 3:16) Today I'll be glad I am weak - so others can see His strength at work in me. This will be my meditation for today. Will you join me?






Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When Life Conflicts with Faith

Do you ever feel like your life is in direct conflict with your faith? I have had those times when it sure seemed like it. I wonder if Paul felt that way when he was held captive because of his faith. Early on this caregiving journey I had to sort through a lot of those feelings and came to realize that my faith had to be redefined. I've talked about it a lot - how faith doesn't prevent "bad" things from happening - it's what carries us through. 
I think Paul was in one of those conflicting moments as he penned 2 Corinthians. Some days I totally relate to chapter 7 where he says they experienced conflicts without and fears within. 

Actually, that sums up many days as a caregiver. I have battled so many fears in my thoughts. We've discussed some of them like what does the future look like? Will I be able to care for my loved one as I get older? How long can I physically provide for my son? What happens if I get sick, hurt, ect.? These thoughts can run rampant in my mind and I have to settle myself down occasionally and remind myself to just deal with today.  That's just the "fears within" part!

What about the "conflicts without" part? To many our lives may look like they are not faith filled. At first I felt so defeated by my circumstances and the fact that this tragedy ever occurred. I thought if I had enough faith I wouldn't be in this - or it would have never happened. And of course along the way, well meaning church folk have made comments that try to reinforce those thoughts. But it's simply not true. And I won't go off on that - but if faith kept us out of troubles - we would not even have most of the Bible we love, respect and enjoy today. There would be no faith-building stories - no lion's den, no crossing of the Red Sea, no fiery furnace, and Jesus would have never faced the cross!

Back to 2 Corinthians where Paul is open and frank about fears and conflicts. He soon follows it with this in verse 6 But God, who comforts the depressed.... Now I have to admit I have battled depression and I think it's a common struggle for many caregivers. While I can appreciate that fact - I think there's another way to look at it. What if depressed actually could be translated humble?

What if it's really just a matter of us taking our whole being before the God we serve, dumping it all at His feet and pouring out our hearts before Him with an - I can't handle this alone attitude? I think that then, and only then can He step in and fill up the gaps in our lives. Once we lay aside our pride and acknowledge that we really cannot walk this road without Him - He steps in. We have to be humble enough to present ourselves to Him. This can be difficult for the caregiver. We are so used to being "all that" - you know? It can be hard for us to acknowledge we need help - we psyche ourselves up by telling ourselves we can do this - we can handle it.....then we forget - we need to take it to Him and let Him carry it for us. A life that is in constant conflict with our faith - that's what we live.

But once we give our all to Him (on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis) He brings in the comfort we need. When we empty our hands and hearts for just a moment- and humble ourselves before Him, He fills us with the grace we need to make the day. The conflict is erased and we have comfort and peace.

Today I am going to purposefully pour it all out before Him. I'm not going to hold any tiny spot back for me to handle on my own - I'm going to meditate on being truly humble before Him. My thoughts will be on the comfort He provides and I will work on lining my life up with true faith - the faith that says He will remain with me in the fire, in the storm. I will think about the truth that He doesn't not go into "overload" like I do - and He won't shut down on me! I will purposefully turn my heart to trust Him more. Will you join me?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Just Keepin' it Honest

We seem to get used to the way the psalms are frank and honest about emotions and feelings. Somehow it's perfectly okay for a psalmist to say they were overwhelmed, feeling oppressed or forgotten and generally without hope. I find myself in the psalms a lot just because of the openness about emotions. But I really didn't expect it from Paul!
Over the weekend I read 2 Corinthians and just let it soak in. One thing that really stuck out this time was how open and honest Paul was about his feelings.

In the eighth verse of chapter one, Paul uses three phrases to describe their "affliction" while they were in Asia:

burdened excessively
beyond our strength
despaired even of life

While our days as caregivers are challenging, and that's putting it mildly - I don't normally have all three of these feelings at one time. Oh, trust me, there are those times when we are totally overwhelmed and we feel these three and can add some more to the list! 

I guess it just surprised me that God allowed this kind of language in the Bible. I am saying that facetiously of course as we actually see it throughout. It's just that the faith-ers have forbidden this kind of honesty about what we really  feel. We are not allowed to say these and others like what we see in the psalms particularly because it's a lack of faith. But somehow - lying about how we feel demonstrates faith? I get confused! lol

For over seven years now I've been riding the emotional roller coaster called Caregiving. I have learned the best way to battle all the crazy emotions is to be totally and brutally honest about how I really feel. I cannot deal with anything I will not acknowledge. It's not lack of faith to state how we feel on any given day - when presenting it to God - it's actually total trust. 

Most of us have encountered "church people" who condemn our thoughts - which we must often work through to find a resolve. We are not allowed to say things like:

I'm really discouraged right now
This is so frustrating
I'm so tired I can't even think
I feel hopeless 
I am at a loss
My life is a shambles
I can't go on...

There are so many things we really cannot express without having it thrown back in our face by people who don't even have a clue. And of course, some of our thoughts cannot be shared out of fear someone will think we are unable to take care of our loved ones. People might think we were really crazy if they heard all our thoughts - or maybe that's just me!

But here we have Paul just laying out there - open and honest about how he felt when they were in Asia. He goes on to thank the Corinthian saints for joining them and for helping them through prayers. I can say there have been times when I knew someone was praying for us and that was what was carrying me through. 

It's okay to say how we feel. I absolutely think God is okay with our honesty and despises our lack of it. His shoulders are big enough to carry our true thoughts and His heart is big enough to allow us to work through them as we figure out our own crazy emotions. And I really think He prefers an honest heart over one that is trying to hide its true feelings. Even Jesus said in Matthew 26:38 - My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; and in the next verse He said Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me. It's no sin to be honest. It's a sign of absolute trust.

While we can't tell other people how we really feel, we can tell God. He does not condemn. He does not detest or despise us - He accepts us. I think He understands. And even though He doesn't always change the circumstances, He continues to walk with us through them. He continues to hold our hands and our hearts in His as we navigate our way through caregiving. 

Today I'm going to meditate on His total acceptance of who I am and where I am on this journey of life. My thoughts will be on the fact that He is with me - as crazy as I can be - and He's as committed to the journey as I am to the caregiving journey; and He's got no plans of leaving me...ever! I'm going to rest in the fact that He's content to stay by my side when many have walked away - and I'm just going to lean in to Him just a little closer today and let my heart rest in the fact that He's still there. Will you join me?










Monday, December 7, 2015

Living in the Land of Giants

One thing I try to guard against is negativity. We know as caregivers, some days are more difficult than others - but every day is a challenge. It's like we don't have just one Goliath story - we have several of them and sometimes more than one giant to take out every single day - as if we were living in the land of giants. 

After 7 years I have grown somewhat accustomed to this new normal. I'm not so self conscious about taking Chris out - even feeding him in public is becoming easier. I hate to admit it - but I will to you - but I have all these pre-prepared speeches ready to go if anyone dares to say a word! lol

Even though we can battle constantly with "negative" emotions like frustrations or depression - it's not like we are all wallowing around crying and moaning about our situations all the time. Yes, we have a very different  life than most others. And for those of us who can take our loved ones and get out more - it's just not the same. It's taken me 2 years to be able to plan outings time wise. I learned how to allow time for getting Chris in the van and his chair strapped in properly - then of course time for taking him out once we get where we are going -- these types of things are finally easier and manageable. But most  people do not have to think about that sort of thing. They don't have to worry about carrying extra rags around to keep drool cleaned up; or what you are going to do with that rag once it's soaked.... you know? It's a whole different set of challenges from here -- and I won't even mention those unspeakables we have to deal with on a daily basis... you know! I will just say we have a lot going on and unless someone rolls up there sleeves and marches into our worlds - they will never know! We face many giants every day....and we keep on moving.

Thinking about all we have gone through to get where we are - and all we have yet to go through to make it to the end of each day - we can use a little comfort. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that God comforts us in all our affliction. And Paul would have a clue since he wrote 2 Corinthians in one of the darkest moments of his soul. This means God's got us covered and does not measure out just enough comfort for part of our struggles, but all. 

He goes on to say in verse 5: For just as the sufferings of Chris are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant in Christ. For me that says that there are equal measures - we get enough comfort to cover our affliction. It's kind of like His grace is sufficient - God knows how to measure out grace, comfort and peace so that they match whatever we are going through. When we have rougher days - He measures out more comfort to match it. He's not going to leave us hanging unbalanced with more affliction, trouble, frustration or anguish than we can handle. He will measure out the perfect amount of grace and comfort to cover us.

In my mind I see God sitting in the heavenlies holding a huge ladle. As He sees the worry-meter go up as we face today's giants, He just pours out more grace and comfort to match. There's no gap, no lack. So today I am going to meditate on this phrase: His grace is sufficient for me. It's sufficient for everyone else too - but I am going to keep my thoughts on the fact that He has the right amount of grace to help me make it from point A to point B today. My meditations will be on His comfort and how He is watching me closely in order to make sure it matches what I face today. To me - this means He is up-close-and-personal in my life and conscious of my every move and thought; and I will rest in that truth. Will you join me? 





Friday, December 4, 2015

Good Morning!

Today was one of those mornings when I woke up tired. I sat with coffee cup in hand and became even more tired just thinking about all that has to be done today and over the next few days. Caregiving alone can tax a body, you know? And then add in other issues that go along with life and it can be double overwhelming.

This morning I came across an old time favorite scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23 which says: The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

One of my recurring thoughts about this scripture is that it's never morning for God. He lives in a perpetual state of day. There is no darkness in Him - no night. So how could His mercies be new every morning? We are the ones waking up to a new day - He remains constant. This can only mean that they are new for us - on purpose. On His purpose. He purposefully pushes the "refresh" key and holds it down so it's always being renewed. Why? Because He knows we need a fresh dose of mercy and lovingkindness to face each new day.

The other thing I always notice about this scripture is that lovingkindnesses -  is plural. It's not just lovingkindness that is new for each of our new days....it's a full package deal filled with everything we need to make it through our 24 hour slot. His compassions and lovingkindnesses will never fail - will never stop being enough - will never say "I give up." He just keeps pouring them out on us day after day, hour after hour, and moment after moment.


Today my meditation will be on the richness of his mercy which envelopes me on this journey. I will turn my thoughts to how His lovingkindness and compassion are carrying me. I will let His arms hold me up as I embark on a new day - empowered by Him. Will you join me?


Thursday, December 3, 2015

He Knows

So much can happen in the day of a caregiver. Not only do we have all our regular tasks and chores necessary to taking care of our loved ones - we have life too. In some ways we are just like everybody else. We have bills to pay, errands to run, houses to clean, family situations to deal with and occasionally a friend or two to catch up with. But let one little thing get outta kilter and boy is it more than chaotic. (Maybe that's just me! smile)

The thing is for caregivers that many of the "normal" occurrences of life are on top of an already heavy load. Aging parents, sick relatives, other tragedies and stuff.... life...still happens. It doesn't stop just because we are caregivers. It can be overwhelming sometimes. It is important to note though - that good things happen too - we still have grandchildren, a phone call from an old friend, unexpected gifts or even the kindness of a stranger - can brighten our day too. The point is that life simply does not pause and wait for us....it continues on - with us.

Good and bad happen all the time in the world and maybe it's just me but I can be emotionally exhausted at any point during the day. Let's face it - caregivers live high octane lives. There is always something...isn't there? What would a real day off look like? Who would even know?

I was actually thinking about all of you yesterday and praying for those who have made contact with me through Facebook or this blog. All of our stories are similar and yet very different. No matter what our caregiving journey looks like it can wear away at our souls and we can get tired. As I was praying I just had this thought that God knows.

Now on one hand, just the fact that God knows is comforting. By my crazy mind says if God knows, why doesn't He do something? I meditated on that and mulled it around all day yesterday. And I'm okay with it today. There are several scriptures about God knowing exactly what we are facing here's a couple of them:

Psalm 44:21-For He knows the secrets of the heart
Jeremiah 12:3 - You know me Lord, You see me...
Luke 16:15 - but God knows your hearts
John 10:14 - "I know my own and My own know Me"
2 Timothy 2:19 - The Lord knows those who are His...

Somehow it was a comfort to me yesterday just to know that He knows all about my crazy life and thought processes. He knows the fears I have of the future, He knows when my days are overwhelming - and He knows that in my heart I trust Him even when I don't understand. He knows those days I never say a word but would really like to just give up and quit....does anyone relate?

He knows.....me.

He is fully aware of all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that lie in the deep recesses of my heart and mind....and He loves me anyway. It does not make Him repel me - it makes Him pull me close to Him. 

Today I will meditate on the truth that He sees my heart - and still chooses to hang around. I'll meditate on how He really does understand me - when I don't understand myself. I will turn my thoughts toward His heart which watches over mine... I will trust Him for one more day - I will rest in Him on purpose and I will remember to breathe. Will you join me?







Monday, November 30, 2015

Has God Changed?

I'm late getting today's devotion up because I'm doing double duty this week. My mom is here with me and my son since she can no longer stay by herself. The best thing my siblings and I could come up with was for her to stay here with me until my daddy returns from a funeral out of state.

At first I was a little stressed. As caregivers you know how full our days are and how much it takes to take care of one other whole person - but two? My mom is showing early signs of dementia and at least can take care of herself. So this morning I was a little more overwhelmed than usual and it took me a little while longer to get myself together.

It was time to get Chris up but he was sound asleep so I let him sleep, picked up my guitar and started playing along with my mom. We did tons of older hymns and choruses from days gone by. In the midst of the struggle I started thanking God for my heritage and history in Him.

What came to mind was Psalm 77. The psalmist starts out calling out to God in despair. In verse 7 he was asking if God had rejected him forever. And by verse 10, the writer asked if God had changed.  Will He ever look favorably on me again?  I love this psalm because these are the types of things I say when I am totally overwhelmed.

But in the next verse, the psalmist says that He is going to remember the things God had done in the past. I have a loooong list of things He's done in the past. And this morning for just a few minutes I took a little trip back down memory lane and it seemed to lighten the load of the day just a bit.

I'll be the first to admit that some days I'm so frustrated I don't care what He's done in the past - I need Him now!  Have you ever felt that way? But this morning I let the focus shift from my immediate need to review the journeys in life that He's carried me through. It was just enough for me to know He could carry me one more day.

Today I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He is carrying me through this part of the journey. Whatever comes He is with me and has not left me. His hand has not changed. His love for me has not changed no matter what a day looks like. And so for today I'm going to purposefully consider His ever abiding presence in my life - and I'll let Him carry me today. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Different Kind of Finish Line

I've run quite a few races somewhere around 122 now over the 6 years since I started running. I've crossed every single finish line of every race I started. I've crossed some feeling like I could take on the world, and crossed some in so much pain I though I've never run again. Some races are good and some are endured. This photo is the first race I ever took my son to. I am working on being able to take him to more - just working out some chair issues.

I started running just after I became a caregiver as it was a way to work out frustrations and stress. No matter how I have crossed each finish line the point for me is that I've showed up - and kept going. I'm not fast but I don't have to be. I just have to be in the moment.

Here's why I was thinking about running this morning. My thoughts first started in Psalm 61 as it's my go-to psalm when I feel totally overwhelmed like I do today. My emotions are all over the place and my thoughts seem so random. Some of that is due to the holiday. I thought of all the people who don't have normal  Thanksgivings. Caregivers are one type of people  who find holidays less rewarding in many ways. But there are lots more out there who suffer through holidays such as families who just lost a loved one, those dealing with terminal illnesses, elderly with no family, single people who live in a "couples" world, etc. This list could go on forever - everyone doesn't have a picture perfect Thanksgiving.

I think what put me on overload was thinking about all I have to get done to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I still have my workload as I don't get actual days off;  and there's caregiving which never takes a break. These combined today and I just felt overwhelmed. So I ran to my favorite psalm for these types of days, Psalm 61. If I could loosely combine the New Living Translation and the Message's to form my own interpretation just for today it might read something like this:

Oh God! Listen to my cry and my prayer!
I am crying to you because my heart, mind and emotions 
are overwhelmed in this moment.
I am down to my last gasp of air -
but with it I cry out to You:
Lead me to the rock....

You alone are my safe place
You are my fortress
You have given me a lifetime pass to Your safe-house
You have offered me an open invitation to be Your guest.
You take me seriously, and welcome me 
as one who knows You and loves You...

So in this moment where I feel so fragile, I remind myself to run to Him. That's the finish line I am looking for today. This finish line ends with me calling it quits to my own way of dealing with emotions and the craziness of the day - and has me end up in His arms, in His safe house, where I am always welcome and have that lifetime pass. That's the finish line I'm looking for at the end of the day.

Today I'm going to try to calm my mind and heart down enough to hear Him breathe. I'm going to make it my goal to run to Him - and cross that finish line - the one that leads me to crawl up in His lap and allow Him to keep my soul safe. I'm going to run to Him  and not  away from Him today. And I'm going to listen for His heartbeat. I'll give Him all my anxiety and frustration and be thankful He is still with me - and waiting for me. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Big Picture

One of the things I've dealt with all my life is rejection. Finding myself in a caregiving position made those feelings go a little deeper as I actually felt rejected by life. I didn't feel like I was part of the "big picture" and the rest of the world was passing me by as I sat in my comfy caregiver's cave.

My first reaction to feelings of insignificance always takes my thoughts to Psalm 139. I like how it describes God seeing us being formed in the womb and how He is knows us literally inside and out.

But then the psalm goes on to say that He wrote all the days ordained for us in His book before we ever lived one. On one hand I fall to my knees and exclaim how special that is - that the creator has literally walked all my days before me. That's really cool if you think about it for a bit.

But then on the other hand, I'm like, Really? This is what you wrote for me? This is it? There can be so many whys for the caregiver and scriptures that used to bring comfort can just generate  questions. These questions are somewhat answered in Romans 9:20 that says Who are you O son of man who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'why did You make me like this' will it? 

And immediately I'm humbled right back into my spot. I repent for being haughty and begin to ask Him for help to make it through one more day with my faith intact. Whether or not I feel significant in the big picture is irrelevant because I am significant to Him. He knows my every breath and thought... and still hangs around. Plus - we touch many more people than we imagine. Therapists, aides, nurses, doctors, delivery people, church people, equipment staff, and many other people walk in and out of our lives on pretty much a daily basis. How do they perceive us? Maybe I should ask How do they perceive Him in us?

Just because we feel like we are not as much a part of "the real world" doesn't relieve us from our duties as believers to be a light in the darkness. We spread the light to everyone we come in contact with -where it goes from there quite frankly is none of our business. He does with it as He desires. He does with us as He desires.

So today I will rest in the fact that He is up close and personal with me...right here in the cave. I will trust once again that He has not left me - and I am not sitting in the dark. I'll remind myself that I am still a light in a very dark world and He is still using me to touch lives. I'm going to yield to Him today and look at life outside my cave. It really comes all the way back around to trusting Him for one more day - and remembering that He is still intimately acquainted with all my ways. I'll trust Him for that for today. Will you join me?






Monday, November 23, 2015

Famine of the Soul

Have you ever had those days where you feel like life is dragging you into the deep dark mire of depression? You can feel its grip tightening with every breath and it's reflecting in every sluggish move. I have to admit I feel that way today. I can't blame it on any one thing - but a series of events have had this effect on me and honestly I don't always know how to get out or break its grip.

As I opened my Bible this morning, mostly out of habit to be truthful, my eyes fell on a couple of verses out of Psalm 32. Verses 7 says this: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. 

This is what I call a "two-way" psalm because between verse 7 and 8 it changes from second person to first person - like God is answering the psalmist. These are cool to me because it's like God interrupts the psalmist mid stream to get His thoughts in. Because verse 8 just pops out of nowhere with: I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

So that got my attention and I thought about it a bit and then turned a page and saw this in Psalm 33:16-18:

The king is not saved by a mighty army
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its strength.
Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
and to keep them alive in famine.

I think the biggest issues of being a caregiver are not physical but emotional which is our soul. We can live in a sort of famine of the soul where our emotions stay raw and open. Even though becoming a caregiver bringing about some physical changes, it's the soul that is ravaged by grief. Our soul gets its workout everyday just trying to navigate through all the emotions. But God will keep us alive in this famine of the soul.

Both of these psalms speak of His eyes being on us. I have to trust that no matter what I feel or face He is watching over me. I have to trust that He will instruct me - and I will hear Him. I have to trust that He is always watching, always listening and always ready to step in when I can't bear anymore. Well, I don't usually really give it all to Him until I get to that point. So today - I'm at that point! (smile) So I choose to give it to the One who is watching over me...one more time.

Today I'm going to try to consciously give Him my grief, pain, tears and struggles. I can't see Him watching over my soul and I can't feel Him rescuing my soul from famine; but I'll trust Him anyway. I will choose to trust Him to heal and protect my soul today. I'll lean in to Him with just a little more effort and trust He sees all, He knows all, and He's got my back today. Will you join me?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let Me Hear

This morning during my devotions I came across this one little phrase in Psalm 142:8. It sort of just jumped out at me really and it says: Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You.

My eyes were just drawn to it and I began meditating on it, and it became my prayer. You see this morning, like most mornings, I woke up with my huge "to do" list running full speed in my head. As usual I got up, made coffee, changed and bolused Chris, then sat down at the computer trying to figure out where I was going to start on the long list of work I have to do for clients.

Then I thought about just skipping devotions since I have so much to do today. Chris has therapy, I started a new class and I have tons of work to get done. I'm tired already, *sigh*. But I decided to take the time to put first things first and this scripture all but jumped off the page at me. I really do need to hear His lovingkindness. But how do you hear lovingkindness, especially when your heart and head wakes up in fast gear?

I paused to think about what the psalmist must have meant by hearing His lovingkindness. Maybe it's going to be different for each person, but for me, hearing His lovingkindness in the morning means knowing and acknowledging that He is giving me what I need in the morning to make it the whole day through. And then the next phrase for I trust in You.

So this morning, I pause to intentionally hear Him. I listen to His heart telling me His mercy and lovingkindness are here with me today to help carry me through all I have to get done. And then once I really hear that in my heart -  I accept it because I trust Him. And all of a sudden, I don't feel so alone or overwhelmed - because I trust that no matter what I do today, or where we go, His lovingkindness will be carrying me.

Today I will keep my mind on his lovingkindness. I'll rejoice that He is with me on this journey and never leaves me. I'll remind myself that He is just as committed to the journey with me - as I am to the journey with my son. and I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Anticipating the Need

My son is non-verbal which can make it difficult sometimes to figure out what he is wanting or why he is uncomfortable. I usually say I'm pretty good at playing "guess and check" where I guess what to fix and then see if that's what makes him happy. It seems like I'm right most of the time but of course I never really know.

Sometimes I wish he could just tell me he needs some Tylenol; or that he's ready to go lie down. But he can't. I've had to figure out his silent signals and interpret what he needs or desires. On one hand, it seems like we've been working on that for some time - but actually it sort of came naturally. Probably because we are connected at the heart.

I think when it comes to communicating with God as our caregiver it can be similar, not that we can't tell Him what we need, but that sometimes we don't really know what we need. He can interpret our silent pleas for help. Along the journey there have been times I've had too many words (meaning I've said things to God I should not have said); but there have also been times of extreme pain when I didn't know what to say. And He's okay with either one.

For me - I have to anticipate my son's needs; but God already knows what I need. In Matthew 6:8 Jesus said that the Father knows what you need before you ask. He is not anticipating our needs - He already knows them. I think sometimes it's more about us learning how to receive His help. He knows and has already provided peace, comfort, joy and everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) He listens to our verbal cries and hears our silent cries for help - and has already met the need.

It's up to us to learn how to rest in Him and how to receive peace, comfort and whatever else we need from Him. He's already extended it to us because He anticipated the need long before it existed. There's something very calming to me about acknowledging that.

Today I will meditate on how He provides everything I need. I'm going to take some time to look back over this caregiving journey and acknowledge how He's been with me all along and how He has provided what was needed all along. I'll meditate on how He knows  my need and has already provided for it. Will you join me?

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Caregiver's Caregiver

Last week while I was writing one of the devotions I made some sort of statement about how God is our ultimate caregiver. So this week I will be taking a closer look at how He caregives for us....

We've talked many times about how we look like Him when we care for our loved ones. We exhibit several qualities when we demonstrate our love for our loved ones by taking care of their needs. We are up-close-and-personal with our loved one and totally engaged in making sure their needs are met - usually long before we ever even acknowledge any of our own needs...that's just the way it is.

One of the characteristics of a caregiver is as provider. I do everything in my power to provide whatever my son needs. As a caregiver - their needs are of the utmost importance. Sometimes that means just covering the basic stuff like food, shelter and love. But we also do whatever else is necessary like range of motion, creating social outlets, shopping, just about anything needed that is in our power to do. When my son gets his therapy days (15 sessions in each discipline each year) I rearrange our whole schedule to accommodate so he gets what he needs. It's the nature of a caregiver....because it is just like His nature to care for us.

When I started on this caregiving journey I started looking online for work. I had no idea what was out there but I knew I wanted to be able to take care of Chris. I knew I'd need to be flexible so I could work from anywhere. I was willing to do whatever I needed to make sure his needs were met. God feels the same way about us? Need an example?

How about this: God knew man was going to fall. He knew Adam and Eve were going to screw this whole thing up. So what did He do? He made a way for us to get back to Him before He ever said, "Let there be light."  How do I know that? Revelation says He was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That says to me that long before God ever started creating the earth- He made sure there was a way for us to get back to Him. He provided a way.

I've seen His provision all along the way too. He has always opened just the right doors to ensure all of our needs are met. Abraham said He was our provider. He provided a raven to feed the prophet, He had water gush our of the rock, He provided manna that fell down from heaven...and He is still our provider today. Just like we do all we can to provide for our loved one - He continues to provide for us.

Today I will make an effort to thank Him for the ways I see Him providing for us. And I'll try to be more conscious of the different ways He uses to make sure our needs are met. My meditation will be on God as my provider, and I'll rest in Him today as I let my heart be thankful for all He has done and continues to do. Will you join me?






Friday, November 13, 2015

The Power of Silence

Last night I was reading up on a new blog and it was talking about the power of being silent. The writer was discussing pain and adversity and how sometimes there is simply nothing to say and it's okay. This got me to thinking about Job's friends and how when they heard of his distress they came and just sat with him. They didn't say a thing, which we learn later was a good thing! But they just sat and mourned with him in his time of loss.

When my son was first in the hospital I had a friend who did just that. She flew in and came and just sat. I was staying in his room with him as he was in isolation there was room for a couple of chairs. She just sat with me for 4 days. There really wasn't anything to say to make it better....but she was there.

What caregivers find out way too soon is how fast people can just disappear from their lives. When they don't know what to say, or don't know how to make it better, they silently walk away. But it's quite alright to just be there - even if you're silent.

As I was reading I started thinking about a couple of scriptures that match up with this thought. The first one of course is Psalm 46:10 that says Be still (or quiet) and know I am God. And the other one is Deuteronomy  6:4 that says Hear O Israel, the Lord is out God, the Lord alone. In my mind (I haven't researched it yet) Be still  and hear are the same. They are both saying - stop what you are doing for just one minute and listen. 

As caregivers our lives can be so hectic; a single day is filled with all sorts of related tasks we barely have the time to breathe sometimes. If we can get our insides quiet - we can hear Him. He's still there. He's still waiting for us to come to Him - like always. He still loves us. He still wants to hold us - we just have to be still.

Did you ever try to hold a toddler who had other ideas? They wanted to go get this toy, or grab that snack. You can barely keep a wriggling toddler in your lap for just a short bit before they are off to something more exciting. I wonder if caregivers are like toddlers in that we forget to just be. We have so much to do (but we do for real!) that even if we try to be still for a minute our mind is racing about all the things we have yet to do. But there's power in being silent and still.

Isaiah 30:15 says that in quietness and confidence our strength. I'm picturing myself like a little kid all crawled up and snuggled into His lap right now.

Today I will purposefully quiet my soul before Him. I'll let Him hold me and heal my soul. My meditations will be on His peace and His caregiving of me. I will direct my thoughts to how He continues to love, listen, and care for me. And I will be silent as I let His confidence and strength fill my being. Will you join me?





Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is there a scripture for that?

One of the things I do that drives other people simply mad is needing a scripture for almost everything. But as we know from life in general, as well as caregiving, there's not always a scripture to match a particular situation.

When I am afraid, I can run to Psalms and find passages to help calm my fears. If I come up on financial struggles, I can find scriptures pertaining to God as our provider. Even when I am sick, I can run to our standard group of healing scriptures. And if I don't find immediate relief in any of these circumstances, finding a scripture or passage that is related helps give me something to stand on. Even when the tasks associated with caregiving become overwhelming I have a set of Psalms handy to remind me where to take a heavy or burdened heart - right back to Him.

But it can be difficult to find a scripture that pertains to everything - caregiving or not. There are tons of little things that we don't talk about but that can nag at us. I'm mostly over it now, but for a long time it really bothered me when my son drooled when we were out in public. He does hold his head up better now so it's not quite so bad - but there's just something less than classy (not that I have any class to begin with! lol) about having to wipe drool off the mouth of my grown son... do you know what I mean? I don't mind doing it - I'm not exactly embarrassed by it - but there are times it can get to you.

And then of course there are those unmentionables.  I'm talking about the things we don't mention because we can't. I'll try to be discreet! But when there are incontinence issues there can be embarrassing situations when out in public. We deal with them the best we can- like placing a jacket over the lap if a soiled spot appears. One time I had to leave an appointment at a physician's office because we had a stinky situation. There's no scripture to look up for that one!

What do we do? In most of life's situations we can find a scripture that relates, or at least one that parallels what we are going through. But in these types of what can be awkward situations, where's the scripture for that?

As I was thinking along these lines this morning I think I found one. Isaiah 61:2 says He comforts all who mourn. I think this covers all types of mourning - or loss. And it covers all those things we cannot talk about freely. (But if we could - we'd have some stories to share!!lol) I think when I saw this scripture this morning - I just felt like God was trying to tell me that He's got us covered. No matter what we are dealing with today - and for the caregiver that can be a wide range of possibilities -  He's got us.

Today I will meditate on and accept the comfort God offers. I'm going to meditate on how He has me covered today. Whenever anything comes up in my mind that wants to trouble me today - I'm just going to remind myself that He has me and He's not going to let me go. Will you join me?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why Does He Sing?

One of the biggest things I had to work through when I became a caregiver was music. I have played the guitar since I was about 13 (won't say how many years that has been!) and I've played the keyboard now for about 20 or so years. I also wrote poetry - started that sometime during my teen years and didn't even realize it for a long time. I don't know why.

Over time the two began to blend together and I wrote music, mostly worship songs. Right after my son's wreck I penned a few songs from a raw emotional state. And then I stopped. Music died. I didn't even want to listen to music much. My son had been a drummer and a song writer and an accomplished musician. It broke my heart to hear music of any kind; and sometimes it made me downright mad.

But over the last few months I have begun to return to that part of my heart and have a look around. I miss my son's music, but I was also missing my own. And I missed hearing Him sing over me.
Zephaniah 3:16 says this:

Cheer up, Zion! Don't be afraid!
For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you!
He is a mighty savior - He will rejoice over you with great gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will exult over you by singing a happy song. (NLT)

I have loved this verse ever since I first read it! We do not have to be afraid because God lives among us. And for the caregiver there are many fears - the church might condemn us for that and say they are lack of faith - but let them. We wonder about each day as well as the future. One of my greatest fears is how my son will be taken care of when I die. This verse says to not be afraid but also says He will calm our fears - with His love. Many time I need my fears calmed. Sometimes I need it many times a day...every day.

And then the last part says He will exult over us by singing a happy song. I love the picture that paints in my mind. I see myself on my knees - as I hold my son stretched out across my lap; and the Lord standing over me singing to me a song of peace. As He sings of His love for me and my son - my heart is filled with joyful peace and comfort. 

He is pleased with us as caregivers. We had to take on His very nature to be a caregiver (in my humble opinion). I honestly think He looks down at us and it puts a twinkle in His eye - because we look like Him. And when He sees us filled with His compassion, His care, His love for another - it makes His heart sing and He just can't hold it back!

Today I will listen for His song. I might find it in the most unusual places, but I'm going to listen for His heart today. My meditations will be focused on pressing in to His heart - and listening for Him instead of trying to get Him to listen to me today. I'll be reshifting my focus to hearing the steady beat of His heart for me.... will you join me?



Friday, November 6, 2015

Behind the Wheelchair

There were a lot of things that changed about my life when I became a caregiver. I used to run on "go" all the time, loved to be in a crowd, and enjoyed hiking, a lot.

The social isolation has been one of the most difficult aspects of caregiving for me. But I didn't really change that much as "me" - I just had to change a lot of what I did. I was still the same person who loved the same things I did before caregiving became my lot in life. I just had to stop many of the things I was doing because something more important needed to be taken care of, my son.

Even though I've always been a very (and I mean very) social and personable person, it's more difficult to develop relationships now for me. I know one reason is that we can't do some of the things others do to build relationships. You know, there's no meeting up for a movie, a cup of coffee or a walk in the park. Even if we do schedule it we have to be willing to drop our plans at the last minute because our loved one is not up to it, they (or we) become sick or any number of crazy things that can happen.

And sometimes it's because people don't see anything past our caregiving. They forget we are a real person behind the wheelchair. Maybe they don't think about getting past the caregiving to the person we are inside, maybe they don't know how. And maybe we don't know how to get out of the box either.

Even though caregiving has brought about many character and lifestyle changes in me, I'm still me. I still like music, I love a good game, I'm all up into sports and I still like my coffee, a good funny movie and my guitar. Sometimes I feel very alone because people don't look past the wheelchair at this person....a caregiver is still a person. It can be a very lonely place.

I'm so thankful that God is intimately acquainted  with me. He knows me inside and out - and he's not afraid of the wheelchair. Psalm 139 gives us a glimpse of how closely He lives to us. He knows my thoughts (cuss words included) and He's not scared away. He feels me and still presses in to be intimately acquainted with me. I love this verse in Exodus 34:14 it says:

You must worship no other gods,
but only the Lord,
For He is a God who is 
passionate about His relationship with you. (NLT)

So even though it feels like those around us don't "push past" who we are and the role we play as caregivers, God is not too scared to be passionate about a relationship. He still wants to know us inside and out. He didn't put any disclaimers on this or any other verse that says, unless you are a caregiver. He still loves us, cares for us, and wants to be in a close relationship with us.

Today I am going to purposefully rejoice that He wants to be with me, even when I can't understand why. I will turn my thoughts to the truth that He passionately pursues me... me.. the caregiver. And I will bask in the fact that He isn't looking for a way out of an "uncomfortable" situation. He doesn't feel awkward talking to me or being with me. I will turn my heart to Him to welcome Him into my world today. Will you join me?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

When in Doubt

When I woke up this morning I was having lots of trouble adjusting my attitude. I'm sure that's foreign to many of you - but after a night of tossing and turning it just happens. When sleep evades me - attitudes abound.

Did you ever just doubt it all? I doubt He loves me, doubt He cares for me, doubt He is with me, doubt He protects me... and the list goes on and on. My mind goes fast so in a matter of seconds I can have every area "covered" in doubt and frustration.

My thoughts run along lines like if He loves me and truly cares for me why has this happened to me? Is this what He really thinks about me and my son? I'm sure I'm the only one who has these little switches that get flipped and then a barrage of questions are hurled out all at one time. It seems worse during times of illness whether it is me or my son.

This morning I got my son bolused and situated and then brought my coffee to my recliner kicked my feet up and started trying to sort through all these questions. For some reason, I'd like to think God led me to it - I thought of the old hymn The Anchor Holds. It remains a favorite in my family. I thought in particular of the part that says:

The anchor holds
though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I've faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
in spite of the storm...

It doesn't seem to matter to God how much I doubt and pout - He always has an answer. Immediately my mind went to Paul's shipwreck in Acts 27. He basically told them I told you not to take this journey to start with and this damage wouldn't have occurred then he says keep up the courage and he told that to them two or three times more. 

I figure since they were warned by God to NOT go on the journey and went anyway - and God gave them courage to deal with the situation- He can give us courage too. We are here by no fault of our own. These guys barely made it from the boat to land. Many of them floated on whatever pieces they could find. I feel that way sometimes; like I'm clinging to anything solid I can find. Just let me make it to land.....just for today.

So then another scripture comes to mind. Someone shared it with me the other day and I've read it about every day since. It's from the Message Bible and it says this:

Don't for a minute let this Book of the Revelation be out of mind.
Ponder and meditate on it day and night,
making sure you practice everything written in in.
Then you'll get where you are going;
then you'll succeed.
Haven't I commanded you?
Strength! Courage!
Don't be timid, don't get discouraged.
God, your God is with you every step of the way.

I have to say that caregivers in general are not a timid breed. We've taken life by the horns and bulled our way through. We can be some pretty tough critters when we need to be. But we do get discouraged, tired, weary and worn. We have to reach out there and fight for all sorts of things as we advocate for our loved ones. Today we can also take something else - Let's take courage. 

God hasn't abandoned us. He hasn't forgotten us. He is still with us. Faith is knowing that when we definitely don't feel it.

Today I will encourage myself with these scriptures and I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He is with me every step of the way. I don't get to skip any steps - and they may all feel like they are uphill... but He has not left my side. I'm going to grab hold of what little bit of faith I feel I have left and trust Him for one more day's worth of strength and courage. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When God Looks at Me

Sometimes I wonder just what God sees when He looks at me. Just like everyone else I wear many hats and play many roles in life and being a caregiver is just one of them. But when He looks at me, does He just see a caregiver? Does He see a mother caring for her child? Or perhaps He sees me as a grandmother playing with her grandchildren.

Maybe He sees me as a sister, or as a child caring for her aging parents. Or that crazy aunt everyone needs in their lives! lol

Does He look at me and see a runner? A blue belt in taekwondo?

He put the gift of music in my heart - maybe he sees a guitar player or a keyboardist. Does He see a songwriter or a singer? Maybe He sees me as a writer or a poet....

While I was meditating on this the other day this little poem popped out.

I see all the things you do...
I appreciate every part of you.
I see all the ways you spend your time
But when I look at you....
I see you are mine.

We are His. We belong to Him and He calls us His own. He doesn't just see us as a caregiver or any other role we play - He sees us as His precious possession. We are His. 

With these thoughts running around in my head I thought of a childhood experience. I had a doll when I was about 6 and my cousin J.R. loved that doll. He was a couple of years younger than me and we were rivals resembling that of siblings. I would not give J.R. my doll and would hide it from him when he came to my house because I didn't want him to carry it around and try to take it home with him.

His parents finally bought him a doll just like mine and I was relieved. That poor doll though. He carried it under his arm everywhere he went. I had given my doll up and gone on to more important things in life and J.R. was still toting that dirty, limp doll every where he went. One day the body detached from the head. But J.R. didn't let go - he just kept carrying that head around with him everywhere he went. Why? Because it was his. It belonged to him.

Even in our most broken state - God will not let go. He loves us far beyond J.R.'s love of that doll. But he loves us and carries us with just as much passion. We are His! When He looks at us - He sees us and says, "that one is mine!" He claims us - even when family or friends won't - He is not ashamed to call us His own.


Today I will meditate on the truth that I belong to Him. My thoughts will be on Isaiah 43:1 where God says, "I have called you by name; You are mine." No matter what comes today - I will hold on to the truth that He gladly calls me his own. Will you join me?