Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Aren't you glad we don't have a screen on our foreheads displaying our every thought? Sometimes it might be useful, but I know there are lots of things that run through my mind every day that I would not want anyone to know about.

Caregiver's thoughts are busy - they have to be because we have so many things to work out every single day. Many times I've condemned myself for my own thoughts not realizing it really is the way we work through stuff. But there are lots of thoughts that simply cannot be shared with others. For the caregiver there can be lots of things that we choose not to share.

When I first brought my son home from the nursing home and started working with him full time, I realized how difficult life was for him. He struggles to do anything. I had some thoughts many would find unacceptable. The only one I dare share is that my thoughts were that it would've been better for him to die in the wreck rather than live this way. Immediately I condemned myself for thinking that only to do some research and find that it was totally normal to have those thoughts and emotions; they go with the grieving process. They are normal to have - but not normal to share.

I started thinking about this because this weekend during my personal devotions I found myself in Luke 7, a passage I've read probably thousands of times. But this time, I saw something different. It reads like this:

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him (Jesus) saw this,
he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know
who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, 
that she is a sinner."
And Jesus answered him,

I stopped there because that's what grabbed me. The Pharisee was upset that Jesus was letting this "sinner" wash His feet and had these judgmental thoughts. They were just thoughts - but Jesus answered them. If He knows the thoughts of the Pharisee, don't you think He knows the heart and thoughts of those who love Him?

Psalm 139:3 says He is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He knows my thoughts, actions and even the intents of my heart. Verse 1 of this psalm says He understands my thoughts.  I will rest in that today - knowing that He knows my thoughts - the good, the bad and the ugly - and He understands them. He understands me, the caregiver.

Today I will rest in the fact that God understands me - He gets me; and He offers no condemnation. I will rejoice in the fact that He is intimately acquainted with all my ways and knows me inside out. I'm okay with that. My goal for today will be to relax and not try  futilely to  hide my thoughts. I'm going to let Him run around in my thoughts and heart all day unrestrained and yield to His presence in my life. Will you join me?

Monday, June 29, 2015

So Great a Love

One of the best things I have purchased as a caregiver is a baby monitor. I found I was not getting up as much throughout the night because if I heard my son I could glance at the monitor and just see if he needed me or was just moving around a bit. It also allowed me to go outside for my coffee and Bible study but still be able to keep an eye on him and hear him. This is very helpful especially on the mornings he chooses to sleep in a little bit.

As a caregiver for someone who needs help with just about everything but breathing I have to watch and listen for him constantly. There are not many breaks and this little monitor lets me hear and see him in a way that gives me a little bit of freedom too.

Just like I keep an eye on my son and an ear open for his every sound, God is always leaning in our direction. He always has His eye on us; and He is always listening for our voice. 2 Chronicles 16:9 states that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. He is always looking for that opportunity to be strong in us and for us.

1 Peter 3:12 tells us that the ears of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. He listens for us. In my imagination I see Him standing in the heavenlies leaning over with his ear cupped with his hand listening for the faintest cry of the heart that is turned toward Him.

Just like we get tuned in to our loved ones and are anticipating their cry, moan, or any noises at all; and just like we watch over them day and night to help them when it's needed - God watches over us intently. Why? Because we are His children.

1 John 3:1 tells us that He loves us so much He calls us his children. He loves us and holds us by His side. In the same loving way we care for our loved ones He loves us and cares for us. I've said many times that I learned about His love by being a caregiver. Love keeps me by my son's side - just like love held Jesus to the cross for our sake.

Today I will meditate on how much He loves us. I'll think about the love I feel when I hold my son close and realize that He feels that same way about me. I will allow Him to hold me close today as I turn my thoughts to accepting the love He pours out on us, His children. Will you join me?

Friday, June 26, 2015

On this Journey

Ever have one of those days when you just need to be reminded that He is with you? I've had a few. He can send subtle reminders that He is near through a beautiful sunset, a rainbow stretched across the sky or the laughter of a child. Somehow these little lights in our day can help us remember that He is with us and He has not placed us on this earth and forgotten about us.

I try to remind myself that we have the promise that He will never leave or forsake us. That is found in Hebrews 13:5 but it's actually a quote from Deuteronomy 31. In this chapter Moses is prepping the Children of Israel for a shift in leadership. He first tells the people that God is not leaving or forsaking them. Then he turns to Joshua and tells him that God is going with him and will never leave or forsake him.

Then in Joshua 1:5 when God gives Joshua his charge He specifically tells Joshua again that He will never leave or forsake him on the journey. Hebrews is just a re-quote of what God told Joshua and the Children of Israel as they were preparing to go on into the promised land.

Something else that is in all three of these passages is the reminders to be strong and courageous; and to not be afraid. Since God has our back, what is there to fear? He is with us, no matter where we are in life's journey and therefore there is nothing to fear. We as caregivers can be forced to face many fears from what being able to provide for our loved ones, to providing proper care to what will happen when we are gone. But no matter what kinds of crazy thoughts (and even rational ones) go through our minds He is with us on this journey. You know, God is omnipresent; He is everywhere - He has to be with us - He has no where to go! (smile)

I just need to be reminded that He is with me right here, right now. I'll close out today with the words to a song I wrote many years ago - they seem appropriate.

How could such a great God dwell among us?
This mighty One of Israel
God of power and of all might
yet in our hearts He longs to dwell.

I can't comprehend His great presence
as heaven and earth He does fill
But His choice of habitation
is in a heart that is still.

Today my meditation will be on how God could be and live anywhere  but He chooses to live in me. I will meditate on the truth that He is with me because He wants to be; I will allow my heart to smile at His presence. Will you join me?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Attitude Latitude

One thing that I have learned as a caregiver is how much attitude comes into play. I think it really helps to choose to have a positive attitude. But sometimes our latitude or position as an advocate makes it difficult on our attitude. We are many times in positions where it takes some true grit to endure and to get things done on behalf of our loved ones.

Many would say that because of our latitude we have a "right" to let some things get out of control. I have to admit that there are days when it's a very big struggle to try and keep my attitude in line with Christian values. There are many emotions accompanying the caregiving package. We do get angry sometimes, sad at other times and emotions can just be all over the place some days. There's a lot on our plate every single day. But our attitude has a lot to do with how we handle an overloaded plate.

Running on overload does not excuse poor decisions or bad behaviors. We are still accountable for every word we say and responsible for where our thoughts roam Our attitude has a lot to do with how we live our days. I can get really down and have battled depression as a caregiver (some say it's part of the package too), but overall I tend to try to keep a positive attitude. It makes the day go somewhat smoother.

Psalm 57 is a passage that has a special place in my heart as I discovered it when battling a mystery illness in 1986. It described my emotions to a T as I felt like I was being swallowed up by sickness. Those around me thought I was dying. During that struggle this psalm brought me great comfort.

It's the second part of the psalm that stands out to me now. David says I will several times depending on the version you are reading. These are attitudinal declarations; he said:

I will sing and give praise
I will wake early
I will praise You
I will sing to You

Many times I've said that as caregivers we live in the furnace. We are constantly in the fires of life and they don't often let up. And even though it seems like it would be fair for us to be exempt in some areas, our attitude is still our choice, and we can't let our latitude determine it for us.

Today I will turn my thoughts to praising Him for what He has done. I will purposefully delight myself in Him. I'm going to guard my mouth a little more closely and work a little harder at staying positive in the fight. My thoughts will be on His goodness rather than the situation; and my meditations of Him will be sweet. Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who's Waiting on Who?

Caregivers often wake up tired, do you ever do that? It seems that if we are in bed for any length of time we should wake up refreshed and ready to go. 

We deal with so many different areas and are pulled in numerous directions everyday that it's easy to get and stay tired. Just because we became a caregiver doesn't mean that we stopped being everything else. Besides caregivers we are often also: grandparents, teachers, parents, sisters, children, siblings, athletes, homemakers, writers, and the list could go on. To be a caregiver we didn't have to stop being in all these other roles because as we learned real quick - life does go on.


Besides all the tasks associated with a normal life, we have caregiving chores too. And to be totally honest sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I stay tired too! (smile) I get tired of dealing with politics and health care stuff. 

...tired of dealing with social workers
...tired of dealing with aides that don't want to work
...tired of dealing with paperwork 
(the same paperwork over and over and over)
...tired of dealing with the system 
...tired of dealing with doctors who don't call back

I'm sure we each have our own items to add and our own lists. Sometimes it's not the actual caregiving that wears us out - it's all the stuff we have to put up with to do it. 

This morning I got up thankful that God does not get tired. I love the passage in Isaiah 40 that says this:
Have you never heard or understood?
Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of all the earth?
He never grows faint or weary.
No one can measure the depths of His understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out
He offers strength to the weak. (NLT)

That's just what I needed to hear this morning. He does not get tired. That means He doesn't get tired or weary of me getting tired and weary. He doesn't roll His eyes when I start whining again, or pouting. He just waits for me to come back around. He's not tired of me - He's not tired of my situation, He's not tired of me being tired. He gives me power when I an tired and worn out!


Today my meditation will be on His never ending strength and the fact that He waits for me to wait on Him so He can pour it into me. My thoughts will be on how He is the everlasting God  who does not get tired but gives strength and power to me. I will admit my weakness, and focus on His strength. Will you join me?


Monday, June 22, 2015

Reminders that Life is Fragile

As if caregiving by itself was not enough of a reminder of the fragility of life, there are plenty of new ones. Just Saturday I learned of three deaths. One was a long time family friend who actually named my daughter, another was a Facebook friend who brightened every day with humor, and the other was a local sportscaster tragically killed in an accident. These all left huge holes in my heart and reminded me that we cannot take a single day with our loved ones for granted.

As a caregiver, every day can be lived in pain - sometimes it's like everything hurts and even the small things are magnified. But when it's big things like watching your mom in the beginning stages of dementia or losing a close friend, it can be more difficult to handle.

Times are tough and emotions are high when you are a caregiver. Many days it takes everything we've got just to keep ourselves together to perform all the associated duties. Let one little (or big) unexpected thing happen and it can throw a wrench into everything and make it difficult to get gathered back up and composed. But yet, we do it again and again because life doesn't give any exemptions to caregivers. We have to keep on with our caregiving responsibilities and deal with the other things life wants to throw at us. Never mind considering our own frailty and fragility - but it is in the back of our mind. And life's reminders make me think of the fears I've shoved back where I don't have to think about them like what would happen to my son and parents if something happened to me?

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He fills us up with what we need to make another day. I think the trick is in acknowledging that life is fragile and so are we. That's the only way we can allow ourselves to become totally dependent on Him instead of on our own strength. We are caregivers - we know how to suck it up and keep moving. But we also know that if we don't do that - we might collapse into a bundle of nothingness. And just about the time we get it all together something like the sudden death of a friend or acquaintance knocks our props out from under us. It's actually the perfect set-up for us to remind ourselves that we must rely on Him instead of our own strength.

I will miss my friends, but I will remind myself that life is not a given. I know how just one phone call can change everything.

Today I will live with gratitude. I'll turn my thoughts to being thankful for my friends and family. My meditations will be on how I trust Him to give me everything needed to live life well and in Him. I will purposefully spend today thanking Him for the good things in life and shift my focus to the positives - and will not allow the negatives to steal from me today. I will turn my thoughts to His peace and comfort and allow them to rule in my heart and mind today. Will you join me?


Friday, June 19, 2015

Is it Okay to Sing Again?

As caregivers we know that days are full of lots of things. We can easily run on high all day long and still feel like we got nothing done at the end of the day. Perhaps part of this is due to the fact that we do the same things over and over and over day after day after day. This is the way it is when you are caring for another person. It can be a life of repetition with the caregiver doing everything for their loved ones and then those same things for themselves. It's endless, isn't it?

Sometimes I wonder just when it's all going to end. It feels like never. And if I am not carefully guarded, I can slip into a very depressed state and whine a lot. Not that it helps.

BC (Before Caregiving) I was a worship leader in the church. I stayed up on the latest trends in worship music and learned the newest songs. Tragedy has a way of robbing you of the things you love. For me one thing I loved was music. Actually, because my son was a musician prior to the accident, I couldn't even listen to music for a long time. It simply broke my heart. One down beat on the drum and I was a basket case fighting back tears. Over time I learned to suck it up as I made music a large part of his therapy. He responds well to it still, especially his music. I do still leave the room during some of the songs he wrote.

Recently I've been able to come back to enjoy music and particularly praise and worship. I have even returned to writing some music. I actually have the radio on in the van when we are traveling now. There's a song I had to get the words and chords to and have sat down to learn to play. It's amazing how a simple song can lift the heart when we are willing to be lifted.

Matt Redman is just one of the songwriters/lead worshipers I enjoy listening to. One of his latest songs is "Bless the Lord O My Soul." The song is well written in my opinion but the first verse is what stands out to me and it's become my prayer for today. It goes like this:

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
let me be singing with the evening comes.

As rough as the life of the caregiver can get I pray we can always sing bless the Lord O my soul! I like this verse because one phone call changed my entire life just about 7 years ago. I would like to say that I reacted with Job-like acts of worship, but that is simply not true. I tend to throw fits, scream and yell, punch the air and cuss a little (sometimes a lot) before I finally hit my knees. Finding a place to worship is not easy for the caregiver, but it can soften the heart. And this song reminds us that no matter what we face - we can still lift our hearts to God.

Today I will remind myself that God's position on His throne did not change when I became a caregiver. He is forever God no matter what happens on this earth - good or bad. My meditation will be of His endless lovingkindness, mercy and love toward us. I will let my heart return to worship today. Will you join me?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Remembering the Promises

This weekend I went to the Dallas area to run a half marathon. On the night before I took time to take a walk and got back to my room just in time for the rain to start. After it was over this beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky and I had a perfect view of the whole thing. It was wonderful - nearly breathtaking from the 9th floor.

As I sat and watched the rainbow unfold and deepen in color I thought about the first rainbow. The one God painted in the sky after the flood, then told Noah it was the symbol of His covenant with man and the seal of His promise to never destroy man and earth by flood again.


I wonder if Noah and his family were nervous the next time it rained. Did they glance in the direction of the ark and wonder if they should seek safety? Or did they fully trust God's promise to them? Could they rest in His promises? Rest is the key word there for me today. A friend of mine has reminded me of how important it is to rest in Him. She suggested I take some quiet time every day. Those who know me know that I am not a quiet person! My mind and heart go 100 miles an hour 24/7.

BC (before caregiving) I planned my day around my quiet time. No matter what time I had to be somewhere I planned my mornings around getting up in time to have my quiet time before the day got too busy and loud. After caregiving I just hope to get up with a sound mind and I've lain aside that practice. A quiet moment might or might not happen through the day. But I am repentant today and making the needed changes to embrace this habit once again.

I have to go back to a favorite scripture that says Be still and know I am God. (Psalm 46:10) During those times when we quiet our minds and submit it to His word, we remind ourselves that He is still God. Caregiving doesn't change His position on the throne. No matter what occurs on this earth - an earlier verse in Psalm 46 says even though the earth be removed He is still God. Sometimes a simple rainbow can remind us of His eternal promises that are still extended to us today.

For many of us, caregiving consumes the majority of the day (and night sometimes!). But our heart, mind and soul need us to quiet down and be reminded that He is still God. No matter what is swirling around us, and no matter how crazy our day becomes - He is still our God. He is still on the throne and He will remain forever. Somehow for me today just knowing He's still right there brings comfort.

Today I will take time to acknowledge His presence in my life. I will quiet my heart and mind in all I have to get done - and rest in the truth that His promises are eternal and that He hasn't changed a bit since I became a caregiver. My meditations today will be on the truth that He is still God and absolutely nothing can change that. Will you join me?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I'm Not Super-Human?

Caregiving can consume us so much that others and ourselves forget we have other things going on in our lives. Since I started on this caregiving journey I've become a runner, a writer and a grandma! I have another adult child who can really feel like she lost her mom in the deal. And what's frustrating to me about it is that I can't do a thing to change it.

We have started having a mother/daughter weekend every year around her birthday; and we got to make a trip to Indianapolis recently to attend a good friend's wedding. She helps me out a lot and I watch the grandkids sometimes to help her out.

Today she's having a surgical procedure and I can't be there with her. It is certainly not because I don't want to be there for her, it's because there's no one to sit with my son during the week. Even the help I do have (paid or not) have other responsibilities and jobs. Of course, I don't even have an aide right now (one of our chief frustrations). And so today my heart is torn in two wanting to be there for her but being stuck in what can feel like a prison at times.

So what is a caregiver to do when they feel their heart is being torn in two? For me it's run right to the Psalms. This morning when I woke up I started out praying for my daughter and her family. Immediately my heart started singing a psalm we had put to music years ago. It goes like this:

Hear my cry O Lord
Attend unto my prayer
From the ends of the earth
Will I cry unto to You
And when my heart is overwhelmed
Lead me to the rock 
That is higher than I - that is higher than I.

Today I need to be led to the rock that is higher, stronger and wiser than I am! The odd thing is that it's not the caregiving that weighs the heart in situations like this. It's the other life-things that make the journey so difficult. There have been many such situations over the years where I've felt trapped by caregiving. But we adjust, remind ourselves we are not super-human, we cannot be everywhere all at once; and move on.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He holds my heart in His hands. I will think about how He will strengthen me and keep me through this bump in the road. My thoughts will turn to resting in Him and letting Him fill me with peace; and I will wait on him one more time. Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

At Day's End

Caregiver's tasks are endless and almost every evening I have this sinking feeling like I didn't get enough done. It doesn't matter how much I did get done in a day, I feel like I fell far short of all I needed  to get done. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

We already have enough on our plate just in taking care of another whole person or two. I say this as I not only take care of my son who is total assist, but am shifting into a caregiving role with my parents as well. My son can do absolutely nothing on his own but breathe. I not only have to puree all of his food or blend up shakes to put in his tube, but I also have to take the time to feed him. Each day I bathe him, dress him, get him up, stretch him, stand him, entertain him, etc. It starts early in the morning and goes until late at night. Even when he's in the bed early mornings or late evening he has to be bolused, changed, turned, and kept comfortable. It's my pleasure.

Add to the daily chores of caregiving all the other things that must be done and every single one of us have a full load.  I can't speak for anyone else but I know we all have laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and all sorts of cleaning to do daily. Many caregivers have other children to provide care for or hold down a job. In my situation I work from home as a freelance writer; this can tie up quite a bit of time, especially if I start running behind. I have deadlines I have to meet and I can get pretty stressed out at times. I am learning strategies for keeping up and that it helping some.

Let's just take yesterday for example. I did all my caretaking responsibilities for Chris keeping him, fed, moving and comfortable, providing stimulation and ROM activities plus I completed 3 projects for clients and then went to taekwondo to complete my requirements for belt testing. But when I got home and got my son in bed, all I could think about was how much I had left to do. Even though I did quite a bit for a day- I felt so inadequate at the day's end. This is my typical late night activity. I look back over the day and think about what I did. Most of the time I feel disappointed and like I need to do so much more. It's a vicious cycle.

I turned to the wisdom of King Solomon for some direction and help. In Ecclesiastes 2:20 the wise king says So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. Interesting, huh? He tried working hard and then he tried hardly working and came to this conclusion he shares in verse 24: So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? God gives wisdom, knowledge and joy to those who please Him.

Caregivers do not have life easy no matter what their situation is. It can feel like life has dealt us an unfair blow and we just can't live life like everyone else. But we can be satisfied in our work, and we can be satisfied in our God! I really believe that God is pleased with our caregiving efforts and that we bring Him pleasure because we look like Him. 

Today I am going to smile and give myself a break. Even though I may feel like I always fall short - my efforts are pleasing to Him. I will embrace the truth that He is pleased with my actions as a caregiver and I will relax in Him today. My thoughts will be on how much He does for me - and how He takes care of me (that's a full time job too) and I will allow myself to be content with whatever I can reasonably get done in a day. I will let it all go and let Him be my joy for today. Will you join me?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Aged to Perfection

After a very busy weekend away, I sat down with my coffee this morning and opened my Bible. The Bible I've been using is still packed in my bag, so I grabbed the closest one and it fell open to Isaiah 26. I read through the entire chapter but my eyes and my mind went back and settled on  verse 3. My mom taught me this verse as a child. It says: You will keep him in perfect peace all who trust You.

I grew up with the old King James Bible being the "only" Bible and it states the last portion as whose mind is stayed on thee. The verse has significance to me because my mother had what was called a "complete nervous breakdown" just after I was born. She spent months in a mental hospital all drugged up and endured the maximum number of shock treatments. That was the treatment of choice back in the early 60s. So I grew up listening to her quote this scripture as part of her testimony of how God had brought her out and healed her; and I learned to meditate on scriptures to find peace in my own heart and mind.

As I thought about this scripture this morning I kept rolling the phrase "perfect peace" around in my head. It led me to thinking about another place in scriptures where "perfect" is used. It's in 1 John 4:18 and it says Perfect love casts out all fear. In years past, I've done teachings on "perfect love" and talked about how imperfect we are - but that perfect means mature. To be mature would mean it's been through some stuff and made it.

Caregivers have been and are still going through some stuff. We are by no means perfect; or at least I'm not! When my son first had his accident and I was sitting there with him, I often wondered what I had done wrong to cause this to happen. It took me months to come to any sense of peace in the matter - maybe even more like years. I had anything but  peace. My life was disrupted and put on hold. I was doing what I thought God had called me to do and if I was following Him and (at least what I thought was ) His plan - how could this happen?  What did I do wrong?

It took me a long time to sort through to peace and to anything that even remotely resembled trust again. But as my trust in Him aged and came to maturity it grew deeper rather than being discarded. I didn't do anything wrong -- life just happened. I learned to trust once again and I learned to let His peace rule in my heart and mind once again.

Trusting Him is a big part of caregiving. After all, He is our caregiver - He watches over us and dotes over us like we do our loved ones. He is constantly watching and protecting us. He advocates for our peace of mind. As we mature in Him and learn to trust Him even more our peace matures; and so does our love for Him. One might say that our peace and love are aged to perfection like a good wine. Over time, when we train our minds to remain on Him and His word instead of our situations, we gain more peace; and we are able to trust Him more - again.

Today I will meditate on His peace and His love that protect me. I'll turn my thoughts to how they guard my heart and my mind. I will purposefully trust Him more for the strength and wisdom to make it through today. Will you join me?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

No Walking Out

I wear a little fitness band by Withings. It tracks my steps each day and at night I can set it to monitor my sleep. Yesterday this is what my sleep looked like! I got in bed late and had some restless sleep and then my son spiked a fever and we headed to the hospital. It ended up not being anything serious - but with him, as with many you just never know. We were back home in just a couple of hours but there are times under similar conditions when we've been admitted and faced a hospital stay. We just never know.

Over time as caregivers we don't really get used to these trips, but we do adjust to them being just part of our lives. fortunately these trips do not occur as often as they have in the past, but they sure wear me out when they do.

Days like today I have to think about my go-to scripture in Isaiah 40:28 that says The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. I sure would like to know how that feels. How can He not get tired? Not only does He deal with millions of people everyday He never sleeps! It makes me wonder why He made us need to sleep. It's always seemed like such a waste of time to me to spend nearly one-third of our day in a horizontal position. I've always tried to get 6 hours of sleep so I'm not wasting so much time.

Since we know God is not sleeping or taking a break, we can rest assured that He is always watching over us. He sees us when we make those 3 AM runs to the hospital. He hears us fussing at Him about how we need more strength and asking Him to help us make through the night. He knows how frustrated we can get with the system. But He never gets tired. He never comes to the end of Himself like I do.

He never shakes His head and walks away. Sometimes I can get the feeling that people get tired of the caregiver's situation. It may be because they really don't know what to do to help or make it better. Since they can't fix anything for us they walk away. God never does that - He just keeps on walking it out with us day after day.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He will not leave me. I'm going to think about how He doesn't get tired of me, He doesn't get frustrated, shake His head and walk out. I will think about how He is the only constant in my life and today I will lean on Him. Will you join me?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mighty Warrior

Have you ever had someone tell you they admire you and how they think you, as a caregiver, are so strong? It happens all the time - but I really don't feel strong at all. It feels like I am just surviving and not doing that very well some days. And then sometimes, like this weekend while on our first big walking adventure - I notice people looking at us with such sympathy - like they feel so sorry for us and our situation. How people see a caregiver relies a lot on the types of life experiences they have had themselves.

Maybe they have had their shot at caregiving and they feel like it takes an enormous amount of strength. Or maybe some have never been in the position and think there's no way they could do it. (I was in that class BC -before caregiving.) The truth is we may not feel strong at all - but others likely see us that way.

We know as caregivers that we have moments where we can take on the world. These usually occur after winning a loooong fight with a health care professional who doesn't understand our situation or an aide who doesn't want to do their job or a person without a disability who took a handicap parking spot! These I-can-take-on-the-world-and-win!  moments are sparse and short-lived as in a matter of minutes we can go from this high back to the harsh reality of not knowing how to face the next moment of the day.

Sometimes we are zooming along full speed and everything is going well - again a rare moment for many of us! - and WHAM! outta nowhere comes something that knocks us off our  feet. Maybe we get a horrifying call from an insurance company who threatens to drop us or our loved one, our handicap vehicle breaks down after a doctor's visit or our loved one's tube just pops out! (All of these have happened to me! lol) We don't even take time to think about having or finding strength we just kick into gear and get 'er done - whatever it takes! Then we promptly collapse into a pile of tears and exhaustion when we are done... experience speaking. That doesn't seem all that strong to me.

I had someone in one of my support groups say something that made me think of it she said, "She's shown us all a thing or two about digging down deep and getting things done." I just stared at that text on the screen and thought Is that how she sees me? To me - I'm flailing around trying to survive! How people see us is not usually how we feel about ourselves.

God doesn't see us like we see ourselves either. It makes me think of the story of Gideon in Judges 6. He was hiding from the enemy and the angel of the Lord came to him and said, hail, mighty man of valour! Really? He's hiding and God sees him as a mighty warrior?

Sometimes it's easier for the caregiver to try and hide in the caregiver's cave than it is to deal with the world outside - and even though we may see ourselves as a bit shaky, or frightened or weak - He sees us as He intended and He sees us as filled with the power of Christ.

Today I will meditate on the strength He has put inside of me instead of my own weakness. I will turn my thoughts to how He fills me with Himself until there's nothing left of me. And I will think about His mighty indwelling presence and how strong I am in Him. Will you join me?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rainy Days and Mondays

I'm a 70's child and I remember when "Rainy Days and Mondays" was popular on the radio.It's got such a smooth sound it can get stuck in your head. For the caregiver "Mondays" doesn't mean too much really, since everyday  can look pretty much the same.

We get up on Monday mornings with just as much to do as we had when we got up on Sunday morning. The caregiver's responsibilities don't change much, if any, from day to day. I usually try to make some small variances on the weekends, like letting my son sleep in just a little bit longer; but the primary responsibilities do not change with the day of the week. When you are caring for another whole person these do not change much. There's still bathing, pureeing foods, feeding, transferring, dressing, and lots of other things that have to be done every single day. If we are blue because it's Monday, we are likely blue every day of the week!

I went in search of one of the scriptures we, as good church people, learn as a child. This is the day the Lord has made - we will rejoice and be glad in it.  I found it in Psalm 118:24. For the caregiver everyday is the same - for all of us - everyday is the day the Lord has made and has given us. Our attitude determines how we handle the situations we will face on any given day; and we will face them! There's always something! Aides who don't show up (if you're lucky enough to have one at all), supplies are not delivered on time, an appliance breaks, you run out of briefs or wipes, any one of a thousand things can happen in a caregiver's day - and usually does. It's our attitude that determines our day - not the day of the week. Mondays are just like Fridays which are just like Tuesdays and Wednesdays....they are all days He has given us with our loved ones.

Rather than thinking about how today is Monday and it's supposed to be rough, I'm going to shift my thinking to the fact that each day is a gift from Him. The psalm that contains this verse is full of praise to the Lord for all He has done. At the very beginning the psalmist lists a few things He's done like:

  • He is good and His mercy endures forever
  • I called on the Lord and He answered me
  • The Lord is on my side
  • The Lord is for me
Having a rough day? Just pick one of these to meditate on today. Let it mold our attitudes into one of thankfulness for all He has done. It's all about focus.

Today I will meditate on how God is on my side - and  He is for me! As I go about the caregiving tasks that are necessary I will think about how He gives me the strength to carry on. My thoughts will be on how He really is for me and not against me; and He is for me when it feels like life is against me! I will be thankful today that He is with me. Will you join me?