Thursday, July 30, 2015

Things Eternal

Following Paul's advice in Colossians 3:2 can be difficult for the caregiver; beneficial, but difficult. He told us to set your mind on things above - Our days are filled with tons of caregiving tasks to do and when life itself is blaring in your face it can be difficult to set our minds on things above.

Any given day our minds can be full and busy getting tasks associated with caregiving lined up and done. Take my week for example. It's the last week of the month and it seems like all the health professionals wait until the very last second to do their visits. Then they expect m to jump through hoops rearranging things to make room for them in an already tight schedule. Fortunately and unfortunately they are all doing them today. A new aide, the doctor and the case manager are all coming today. I don't see getting anything done today.

These kinds of busy days it can be difficult to get your mind on anything other than just surviving. How am I supposed to be able to set my mind on things above or keep my mind focused on eternity? Can we stay focused on Him and His kingdom when time seems like it's just being sucked away?

When the days get hectic beyond control it's important to remember that we remain hidden in Him. When our front door seems to be a swinging door at Grand Central Station, I have to remember that He is my peace. What we see doesn't really matter. I have to train my mind to stay on the things that last - the things that affect eternity.

Today I will try to stay focused on the state of my heart. I will turn my thoughts and heart to being hidden in Him even in the hectic times of life. My meditations will be on keeping Him as the focus of my life - and I will keep my heart always pointed in His direction. Will you join me?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Everything Changes - Nothing Changes

As a caregiver, we can play many roles and wear lots of hats all at the same time. People looking in often don't realize that there is a lot more to us than just caregiving - even though it consumes a lot of our lives. Sometimes I feel totally scattered; my thoughts and life feel like they are going in many different directions all at once. The caregiver can be caught in a very fractured life.

Colossians 2:10 says that we are complete in Him. Even though our lives can feel shattered or scattered, and we don't enjoy some of the "freedoms" others seem to have, we are not fractured. We are whole.

In many instances caregiving brought hurt and confusion into our lives and quite honestly, in many cases it never goes away we just learn to deal. I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that this is what my life looks like from here on out. And one of my biggest challenges is trying to prepare for when I'm gone. It's not a fun thought - but it has to be considered. But even though a caregiver's life may feel broken, scattered or fractured, our spirit/soul remains complete, full and whole in Him.

Becoming a caregiver doesn't change our status as a believer. His words (every single one of them) are still true. We still bear fruit, we are still hidden in Him - and we may have moved in just a little closer - He is still our rock, our source, our comfort, our strength and our song!

Our "completeness" or "wholeness" does not rely on any life status - it rests solely on Him. And He didn't change a bit when I became a caregiver. Colossians 2:1-15 is still true for caregivers or it's not true at all!

Today I will meditate on the truth that I am whole in Him - He completes me. I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He has still removed my sin- I have been baptized with Christ and raised with Him to live triumphantly. Today I will rejoice that I am whole and there is nothing that can make me un-whole. Nothing can take me out of Him - or Him out of me. Will you join me?

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Can Work with That

In many instances, caregivers can feel out of touch or out of sync with the "real" world simply because most of our lives are lived in a cave. We can tend to be on either side of the spectrum. One, we are trapped there; or two, we feel safer in our caregiver's cave even though we are alone. Personally, there have been periods of time when I didn't have the capability to get out and there have been times I've preferred being tucked away in mu cave. But God's word does not know any boundaries whether they exist only in our mind, or if they are an invisible barrier we put up ourselves.

God can reach all the way into the depths of despair. He can see past the walls we build to keep ourselves in, and others out. His love can reach all the way into our life-mangled hearts.

In Colossians 1:5-6, Paul is speaking to the Christian believers when he says that the Word of God bears fruit from the time we first hear it. And guess what! His word does not stop bearing fruit in us when we become a caregiver. It is constantly bearing fruit and is displayed in our lives as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, ,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5:22-23)

Once we allow His word to gain entrance into our hearts, it is always at work in us no matter what our circumstances are. He never says, "This is too much for me to handle" or "I can't work with that." Instead He draws near to those with a broken heart and says, "I can work with that." It's simply up to us to yield to the Word's work in our lives.

Today I will yield my heart to the work of the Word in me. I will embrace the changes His ever abiding presence brings to my heart and life. My meditations will be on allowing God in my space so that He can continue to work to bring forth fruit in my heart and life. Will you join me?


Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Most Basic Need

Philippians 4:19 is going to finish out our little journey through Philippians. My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory. Those of us who grew up in church know we learned this one early on. It was also used by our parents when we didn't get or couldn't have something we wanted. As we learn to be content in Him and with Him as we talked about in yesterday's devotion, our list of needs begin to shrink. I think some of that comes with age too as we learn to distinguish the things that have true value. We all have the same basic needs like food, shelter and love; but beyond that our needs can vary greatly. 1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain.

I have to admit that during this caregiving journey I've had some very tight almost suffocating financial situations. Anxious thoughts try to take over my mind and infiltrate my life. But in those moments I stop and talk myself through it by saying things like I have food, shelter, electricity, and my cable is still on so I can work today. Once I realize I am not missing anything today I can function. It doesn't make any money drop out of the heavens but it allows me to get a grip on my emotions.

Since this caregiving journey started I have to say God has certainly provided all along the way. But I could say that about my whole life including BC (before caregiving). If any of us were asked today what our most pressing need was, what would we answer? We could have a lot of different responses based on our level of perceived needs. Our collaborative list might look something like this:


  • money
  • love
  • food
  • electric bill
  • cell phone bill
  • a friend
  • healing
  • newer vehicle
  • gas for our vehicle
We might present a list a mile long. Do you remember the scripture where God asked Solomon what he wanted and Solomon said wisdom? It was the most encapsulating answer anyone could give. It was like saying everything since wisdom is the key that unlocks all the doors! Well I think our answer to What do you need?  is just as encapsulating and all-inclusive. We simply need Him.

Solomon said in Proverbs 3:32b - He is intimate with the upright. I was reading that this morning and it had a reference to Job 29:4 where Job said the friendship of God was over my tent. These are two very different views of needing Him. Here Solomon is sitting in the king's palace with the world at his fingertips; and Job is sitting in a pile of ashes having literally lost everything. Yet they both speak of intimacy with God. I must conclude that this is our most basic need.

As angry as I've been with God about allowing all this journey to happen; and as upsetting as the caregiving journey has been at times  - I always come back to my knees. I have to admit my desperate need for Him. He is my every need. The rest is irrelevant. Paul said that he counted all things as loss  in comparison to knowing Christ.

Today I will meditate on the truth that God is my most basic need. I will turn my thoughts toward Him and seek His intimacy. I will purposefully be aware that He is on this caregiving journey with me. I will be content with that. Will you join me? 



Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Can do "All" Things?

Caregiving is one of the hardest things I've ever done; and I've done a lot of "above average" things. I have started and ran my own freelance business, taught junior high math, hiked 10 mile wilderness trails and run a marathon. I also got rid of all my stuff at one point and picked up and moved half way across the country all by myself to stay with people I had never met. But as I read this familiar scripture one more time, it didn't seem to fit exactly like it did before.
In Philippians 4:13 Paul says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Paul wrote it while sitting in jail. He wrote it to encourage the Philippians. What did he really mean?

If we look at it contextually, it might not mean what we thought. We've used it for every tight spot in life and for an encouragement to get things done that we thought we couldn't do. While that might not be a bad thing, it doesn't seem to be the context of the verse.

Looking at the entire passage we will see that Paul is talking about being content. He's not really talking about doing.  In the preceding verse the apostle is speaking of having plenty and doing without. He was discussing learning a great lesson - that God is the same no matter what our situation is; and we can make it through any circumstances because Christ is in us strengthening us for the journey.

For the caregiver this means we can make it whether our friends walk it with us or not, whether we are in or out of a local church, and whether or not we have sleep. That's important to the caregiver - and many times it is a basic need we lack. No matter what a day or night throws our way - we have to learn to be content with it. It will make things go much smoother.

When my son was injured and I was catching a flight from Chicago back to Shreveport to be with him, I was stopped by security. I was targeted because I had one carry on bag, bought a one way ticket and purchased it just a couple hours prior to the flight.Not only did they thoroughly search me, they took everything out of my bag and spread it all out to ensure I didn't have any explosives. I was really in a state of shock or I might not have been so patient. They actually thanked me for my patience. Without even thinking I looked up and said, "Would it have made it go any faster had I been impatient?" They laughed and said, "not really." I told them with tears in my eyes that I was just trying to get to my son. They understood.

We can be as content or un-content as we want and it will not make the caregiving journey any easier. It's important to learn to deal with it the best we can, and be content in Him. Then we will find that we have the strength to endure. We will find that we can do all things through Christ as He gives us His strength for the journey.

Today I will meditate on His strength in me. I will think about being content with the journey; and being content with Him no matter where I am on the journey. My thoughts will be on the truth that in an ever changing situation, He remains constant. No matter what life throws at me today - He is still faithful. I'm content with that. Will you join me?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Think About It

I enjoy taking pictures of nature and BC (before caregiving) I used to enjoy hiking. One of the things I liked so much about being out in the wilderness area was when nature would surprise me with a burst of color. It was always amazing to me how I'd be in the deep woods miles from anything, maybe even climbing a relatively rough terrain scattered with rocks and out of nowhere would pop up the daintiest little flowers. It always made me smile.

This morning when I was looking for some sort of picture to put here I had my choice between just 2 or 3 I'd taken from my small backyard. Then I had this thought, none of these flowers are there - not one of them exists today. It almost made me sad to think that they are just here for a short time and then they faded away. it can seem like our whole lives are that way at times.

Honestly, sometimes I feel really cheated by life. It can seem like I had several spots in my life where there were colorful bursts only to be denied my hopes and dreams. If I do not control my mind it can lead to depression and distress. I wonder if that is how Paul felt while he was sitting in prison writing Philippians 4:8. He told the believers to think about things that are:

true
honorable
just
pure 
lovely
of a good report

Well, I must admit, my mind wanders a bit from these kinds of thoughts. Okay, so it wanders a long ways away from these types of thoughts. Like the flowers, it can be there - and then gone. Paul is one who understood adversity - yet he instructs us to control our minds and keep them on good things. He had to understand how difficult that was sitting in his prison cell separated and isolated similar to us.

I first learned this verse as a little girl in Missionettes. It was along about the same time we were learning to embroider (because that's what girls were supposed to do). I was concentrating so hard because I found it a very difficult task, that I embroidered my hooped material to my skirt. Of course I didn't know it until I stood up! lol Such a fun memory now although I thought my world had ended that afternoon! 

Over the years I ended up teaching this scripture to my children and in a variety of church settings. And I have to say it still takes work - especially some days. But it is so worth it and makes our day and our attitude go so much better when we train our mind to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and of a good report.

Today I will purposefully keep my mind on things that are good. When my thoughts begin to wander and doubts try to take over I will crowd them out with honorable, pure thoughts. I will keep my mind on Him today with intention. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Not a Fair Trade at All

Be anxious for nothing. That's what Paul told the believers in Philippians 4:6. Obviously they didn't have a handicap van and people parking in the way of the lift in a clearly marked restricted area! (People wrongfully taking handicap spots is one of my pet peeves btw.)

As a caregiver you know how anxious life can be at times, or all the times sometimes. Surely Paul would rethink these instructions were he here today, or maybe he wouldn't. Every single day there are constant opportunities to be anxious, sometimes it even feels like we are living anxious. If we do not guard ourselves we can be one huge bundle of anxious as we walk through the day. And it can take the smallest thing to cause us to explode.

One of the strategies I use for dealing with anxious thoughts is to turn them into prayers. Sometimes, when I remember, I turn them into thankful prayers. Then not only do I have peace in my heart, but His peace invades it as well. And when I give Him these crazy, out of hand thoughts, He faithfully places His peace to guard my heart.

Sometimes these transitional prayers come easy, other times they are difficult. But I am learning to stop the thoughts before they run totally away with my peace of mind and heart. One of my friends told me one time that I have a "Google Mind." She said when someone starts talking or something happens I can take one little hint and my mind starts spitting out results, scenarios, etc. She's pretty much right too! My mind goes so fast and my thoughts can go so wrong so quickly. It's a constant struggle to keep my thoughts from getting totally out of hand. I do that by turning them into prayers and thanksgiving.

One issue for me has been finances. I'm sure no one else has that to worry about along with the other caregiving responsibilities! Right? When it gets too tight for my comfort, which is a lot lately, I start thinking of things to be thankful for. We have never missed a meal, our lights are still on, I am still able to work, etc. I find that when I turn my crazy thoughts into thankfulness His peace begins to shore up my mind. My hope, strength and peace do not come from being able to work (although I am thankful for that); but they come from Him to guard my mind. My work becomes keeping my mind on Him and seeing Him as my provider no matter what the bank account says!

You know what? He gets my anxiety.And He will take it if I will give it to Him. I have to let it go so that He can replace it with His peace. It's not a fair trade really - He takes my anxious thoughts, and I get His peace. I'm okay with that!

Today I will make a conscious effort to give Him my anxiety and allow His peace to reign in my heart and mind. When my thoughts start trying to run off with my life - I'll stop, pause and turn my thoughts to Him. My meditation will be on His ability to provide peace. I will choose to embrace it and walk in it today. Will you join me?

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Few "Forevers" to Help You Rejoice

When writing to the Christians in Philippi, Paul reminded them to rejoice in the Lord. He must have really wanted to emphasize it because he said it twice in Phil. 4:4 - rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. Many might think that as caregivers we do not have a lot to rejoice about or that we have a right to be sad or upset. After all, life "cheated" us. We really cannot afford to buy into that lie.

Sometimes I have to admit when someone who I think lives in an ivory castle so to speak tells me to rejoice or be thankful, I would like to just punch them. They don't understand real life. Many appear to live a highly protected life free from a lot of the struggles we have to face everyday. And it is true that they are not dealing with our situation. But even among caregivers each of our situations has very different features and circumstances. No two journeys are alike even though we are caregivers. It can be easy to compare ourselves among ourselves and see how we have an "easier" road or a more difficult road to walk. There are no easy roads in caregiving. But there are ways to rejoice in every situation.

Caregiving is tough period and it can seem that there is nothing to be thankful for and nothing to rejoice in. It's really a matter of attitude and choice. If we look hard enough and long enough we will find something to rejoice about. And we can find things to be thankful about every single day. It changes our perspective and helps us deal with our situation in a more positive light.

Our day can cloud up rather quickly and it can be difficult to see from a positive point of view. Caregivers do a lot and there is little or no reward. Sometimes finding things to be thankful for and rejoice about  comes easy - other times it is difficult to find anything to rejoice in. Here are a few forevers to rejoice in no matter what the day looks like:

  • His undending mercy
  • His unchanging unconditional love
  • His ever abiding presence
  • His careful watch over our souls
  • His unchanging truth
Finding something to rejoice about can effectively change our perspective even if we don't feel like it. It can change the outcome of the day.

Today I will meditate on the things about God that do not change. I will purposefully set my mind on the truth that He is with me, loves me and He gives me mercy and grace for the journey. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Life's Not Fair - But He Is

One of the things I prayed when I started this caregiving journey was that it would not make me bitter. I didn't want to grow old and angry at life. My prayer was that God would use the pressurized situation to make me a softer person and that it would temper me into a vessel He could use.

But let's face it, we have a lot we could complain about. After all, life has dealt us what many would call an unfair blow; our lives will never be considered "normal" again. But I can't complain; or can I?

Paul told the Philippians to do all things without grumbling or complaining. (Phil. 2:14) Why did he have to say "all"? There's not much leeway there - and absolutely no exceptions or disclaimers. But... the caregiver might argue - we have a lot to complain about:


  • we gave up our lives for our loved ones...and we miss it!
  • our helpers didn't show up today
  • medical professionals are not listening to us
  • we've called the doctor 3 times and they aren't returning our calls
  • we're tired
  • we're lonely
  • family isn't helping us like they promised
  • money is short
  • our friends disappeared......
All things Paul said. Why? Why aren't we as caregivers exempt from this one? Because we are the picture of the humility of Christ. We are not running this race to gain a thing; but just to get to the end. When we face our Lord in the end we will know we did not run in vain. We are running for Him; and not for what we can get out of life. Ultimately we live, run, work, and caregive to look like Him.

Isn't looking like Him the goal of every Christian? Remember Paul said we are predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29) We did not lose our religion when we became a caregiver and our goals as believers really didn't change. Our goal has always been to look like Him and to represent Him here on earth. The good news is that we can attain this goal!  The bad news is - it's really difficult and takes a lot of work on our part. 

Life may be not fair at times, but our goal of conforming to His image is fair. As believers we all have to do it. No matter what life throws at us, where we work, who we take care of, how rich or poor we are- ultimately our goal is to look like Him. No one is exempt and there are no exclusions. That's fair. God gave us an even playing field and it's the same for everyone. 

Today I will meditate on what it means to look like Him and what types of adjustments I might need to make in my attitude. My meditations will be on yielding to Him with my whole heart and letting Him shape me into His image. Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grace for the Journey

"Humble" is not a word many use to describe me! I'm rambunctious, loud, crazy and full of energy. (I run half marathons for fun on my "days off"! lol) Humility or the action of being humble has been misinterpreted. Moses wrote in Numbers 12:3 that Moses was very humble, more than any man on the face of the earth. But by our definition, writing about being humble is in direct contradiction to humility.

Humility really means knowing who you are. For the Christian it means knowing who we are in Christ and who God has called us to be; then just walking in it.

In Philippians the second chapter, Paul gives us a picture of Christ-like humility. A Christian, one who is Christ-like will:

  • do nothing out of selfishness
  • regard others more important than themselves
  • not look out solely for their own interests
Paul goes on to say in verse 5 that these are the attributes of Christ. This just lets us know that as caregivers, we look like Him as we have discussed many times before. Verse 7 says that He emptied Himself and that he took the form of a servant in order to take the form of a man.These are the attributes of humility and I believe we see them demonstrated in the life of a caregiver as well.

For the most part, as caregivers we get nothing for our work. There is no pay, no compensation, and many times no help at all. But in James 4:6 the Bible says that He gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:34 states that He gives grace to the afflicted. He is going to give us the grace to make it through the trials and stresses of each day.

He is giving us the grace to be able to survive each day of caregiving. As we demonstrate Christ-like humility to our loved ones, and to the world who is looking in - He offers us grace to make it. Because we humbled ourselves and took on the form of a servant, we have grace to survive. Our lives have been lost in the giving of care for our loved ones. It is an act of humility to lay our life and self aside in order to serve someone else. In the process we paint a picture of Christ-like love for the world to see.

Today I am going to meditate on how Jesus gave Himself as an act of humility. As I serve my loved one today I will think about how I look like Him. I will consider how He gives grace for this journey and I will be thankful on purpose for His humility. Will you join me?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Making Plans

Making plans can be difficult when you are a caregiver. Whether you are taking your loved one out for the afternoon, on a longer trip or going out yourself and leaving a sitter with them, it's a lot of work. There can be so many things that have to be thought out and arranged. And then because there are so many unexpected things that can happen in the caregiving situation, plans can easily be thwarted. Having plans interrupted can be particularly frustrating, especially for those who are not able to get out much to begin with. But it happens all the time.

Philippians 1:6 is a reminder that God never has his plans interrupted. It simply states He who began a good work in you will complete it.  BC (before caregiving) I had dreams and actual plans of traveling internationally. I was headed to Africa in a few short months and had a heart to reach many nations. My plans were dropped when I received word my son was medi-flighted from the scene of an accident. For awhile it remained a source of confusion and anger actually. Why didn't I get to do what God put in my heart?  I worked through some very negative emotions to just be okay with the fact my dreams were not going to happen. My biggest questions came because I thought they were God-given dreams that were never going to happen.

As time went on I found ways to work online. I ended up teaching for three different international English schools and hung a world map over my computer so I could visually connect with where my students were located in the world. I have had students in China,the  Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Russia, and Germany. My writing clients have also come from all over the world. I also connected with Christians in Pakistan and have actually taught classes at a school there on more than one occasion via Skype. I started putting pins in my world map to mark the nations I traveled to via the internet. One day I looked up and realized I've "been" a lot of places...the dream did come true -just not exactly the way I had planned for it to.

Caregiving and life in general do not change God's plans. He will do what He said and life can't change it. Of course my big question for Him is Is that all you had planned for my son? But his story is still reaching many lives and they are getting chances to hear his music and read his words so Chris' story is still out there. Even though he can't talk - people are hearing his voice and what his life said. My point? God still has a plan. He never looks up and says Wait. How did that happen. Or I didn't see that coming. He has a plan and it will happen. What He says still goes.

Today I will meditate on the truth that His plans for me were not interrupted by caregiving - they just look different. I will think about how God's plans are solid and done. I will rest today in the fact that I can rest in Him as He brings them to pass in my life; and in my son's life. I will not let the circumstances talk me out of believing everything God has said. I will meditate on His faithfulness today. Will you join me?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Caregiver's University

As caregivers we are able to get in there and get things done. It sort of comes with the territory. No matter what our basic personality is, in just a short time of caregiving is good schooling on this topic. We learn rather quickly that in many cases, advocating for our loved one means rolling up our sleeves and getting 'er done.

Too bad there's not a Caregivers University where we can go to learn the skills needed. We could get a diploma once we learned it all and of course passed our internship where we learned all the ropes using a hands-on approach. Of course I am speaking tongue-in-cheek as it would be impossible for someone to teach us what we've learned.

Of course there is no such school and we are not going to get a diploma for our learning. But we do a lot of learning about a lot of things once we become a caregiver, including things about ourselves. Even though I'm pretty high strung and hyper most of the time I let a lot of things slide as a person. I wouldn't get in there and fight for stuff - I'd just take the wrong and walk away in most instances. Early on in the caregiving journey I learned that this approach was not going to work, People do not just do their jobs - they want to do as little as possible and still get paid. That can lead to some frustration for us. Until we learn how to fight.

During the four months we stayed in the hospital after my son's initial head injury, I learned that something Madea said was true. She said you only have to go crazy up in here one time. And I did that. It was premeditated I will admit. And I purposefully went out into the hall to throw my fit to get everyone's attention. I threw a good fit too and they came running! They took care of a very serious situation with my son that was having to wait until they were done with break. Suddenly every RN up there knew how to take out an infected, clogged catheter.

But as tough as we become or learn to be there is still an underlying humility, or there should be. Let's face it, there are parts of our job that others are not willing to do. We don't go around talking about those midnight messes we have to clean up and things like that. How can you not be humble when you are meeting the very basic personal needs of another person. Things others won't think of stooping to do? Humility comes with the package too, just like tenacity. They work together to make us stronger, better individuals.

James 4:6 says that God gives grace to the humble. When I was in the church scene sometimes we were indirectly taught that we could take a scripture and wave it around in God's face long enough to get Him to do what we wanted. It wasn't on purpose but we were sort of taught to be full of pride and come to God like I did in the hallway at that hospital in Shreveport. Screaming and yelling and telling them all what-for! But God acts on true humility.

In the next verses it says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. We don't have to act up to get His attention, we already have it. Micah 6:8 says that all God requires is for us to walk humbly  with Him. True humility has us walking alongside Him, but never out in front. Never with our fists raised in the air (although I have thrown a few fits with God too....they didn't work.) but with humility.

It takes true strength to lose ourselves enough to be humble with Him. Humility is not weakness, although it is often mistaken for it. Humility says I yield to You and Your work in my life. We become the sheep, and let Him be the Shepherd. That can be difficult for caregivers, especially since we are so used to getting things done. 

Today I will slow down and walk humbly with Him. Not out front, not lagging behind; but alongside Him so I can be with Him on this journey. My meditation will be in Psalm 100 - I will think about how I am one of His people and a sheep in His pasture. I willingly submit my will to His today and let Him shepherd me. I will ask Him questions - and then wait for His answers. Will you join me? 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Present Continuous Action

At the end of the day, we have to be honest with ourselves about everything. I have to look back and wonder if I fully trusted Him or if I tried to take the control of situations on myself.

Yesterday, we discussed Psalm 91 and today I want to look at one little phrase: I am trusting Him. It's found in the last part of verse 2. It demonstrates the present continuous tense. It means, I am trusting Him right now - and I will continue to do so into the future.

There are so many things in the caregiver's day/life that are unpredictable. We never know when our loved one might become ill, or suffer a fall even though we are careful and take the necessary precautions. Shipments of supplies often get lost and we have to make purchases to make up the difference; or aides don't show up at their scheduled time. I've had case managers and nurses call to come by at the drop of a hat. And in my instance, I never know exactly how my son is going to take any given day. Some days he's compliant and relaxed and others he is uptight and resistant for no apparent reason. After a while it can all start stacking up into a very unpredictable mess. We can find ourselves in a state of constant change trying to keep up with the craziness of each day. (Just a personal note - for us "Type A's" this can be very difficult! ) (smile)

No matter what a day brings all I know is that every day we continue to trust Him. When this caregiving journey began, Psalm 121 became very real to me. Verse 2 says My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. I knew that we had excellent doctors and medical professionals working with my son - but they were not my help. Only the Lord could help. As the caregiving journey has continued, the depth of trust has deepened. I am trusting Him. I have been trusting Him, continue to trust Him today and the action of trusting will continue on into the future. I'm not looking for any other options.

While my son was in ICU his friend lent me a guitar. I wrote a simple song based out of Psalm 121 using basically the same words. You can watch it via my Facebook page if you'd like using this link. I recorded it in my son's hospital room. It's my declaration that I will continue to trust Him no matter what a day or life throws at me.

Today I will meditate on how He is my help whether I have human "help"' or not! I will turn my thoughts to how He watches over our souls and protects us from the inside out. My mind will be set on His ever-abiding presence and I will rest in Him. Will you join me as we continue to trust Him?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What do you need that for?

Something as simple as a flower can be a bright spot in a day. When we walk through the park behind our apartments, we often find wild flowers growing sporadically along the side of the trail. It's been my practice for many years to simply enjoy this random beauty and allow it to lighten my heart. If that's the only reason God made wild flowers, then I am thankful. He usually has a reason or purpose for just about everything, we just don't always discover it right off.

This morning I was reading through a psalm that I grew up knowing. My mom read it to me when I was scared or troubled. As an adult I read it to my children as well. Psalm 91 I believe has been misinterpreted over the years to mean that nothing is going to happen to us if we stay hidden in Him. On one hand, I agree with the concept - our soul (being) is safe in Him. It is safe from any type of harm. Our body on the other hand, is susceptible to life.

As I was reading this familiar passage I paused to think. It starts out with Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, He is my fortress; He is my God and I am trusting Him. 

There are a few things that stood out to me in these verses today. First of all, you don't need a shelter if there is no danger. Secondly, you don't need a refuge if there isn't a storm. Thirdly, you don't need a fortress if there isn't an enemy. The caregiver lives in a storm - so He's got us covered!

This entire psalm speaks of things that life might throw at us. Many circles misinterpret it to mean that if you trust God then nothing bad is going to happen. I think it is quite different than that. First of all, verse 8 implies that we are safe from the judgment of God and only the wicked will see it. But the long list of protective forces needed in this psalm indicate that there are things happening all the time; things we need to be protected from. It's not that we will never see difficulties or struggles - but that God is protecting us through them.

Verse 5 tells us that we will not be afraid of:
the terror by night
the arrow that flies by day
the pestilence stalking in darkness
the destruction that lies in wait at noon...

But it's all out there. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend "bad things" do not exist. Life is full of trials, tests, and tribulations. That's why we need a shelter. He is always right here. No matter where here is - He's got it covered; He's got us covered. All we have to do is run to Him.

Today I will meditate on His divine protection of my soul. I will allow Him to bathe my mind, will and emotions in His peace and protection. I will rest in Him today and allow Him to be my protector and my shield. I will let Him take care of me today - He is my caregiver. Will you join me?

Monday, July 6, 2015

When the journey gets Long

The hospital is a familiar place for many caregivers. We lived there for over 4 months after my son's accident. And then there are times when it seems like we make so many trips they should offer us rewards like frequent flyer miles or something. (smile) Feeding tubes fall out, O2 levels drop below 90, falls or any number of things specific to an individual's care can send you running right back up there. Initially we had tons of friends coming to sit with us. But when the journey got longer they seemed to start disappearing quickly.

After the hospital stay we were in two nursing homes and a couple of rehab facilities before we were able to settle in at home. Even though our lives were still changing and evolving everyone seemed to make the assumption that we were home, so everything was okay. They thought things were returning to normal. But in reality we were just trying to find a new normal. And of course, caregiving is a whole different world.

Friends seemed to disappear even though a few are still in contact. Becoming a caregiver can be difficult on friends. It's like they think it changes you. And in some ways it definitely does over time just like life itself. But just because you became a caregiver doesn't mean the core of you changed. You still have the same sense of humor (necessary for caregiving!), like your coffee the same way and still enjoy doing some of the same things - if there is time.

Having friends who walk away can feel like betrayal. And that's what we find in Micah 7. The prophet is describing a very rough time and a time of betrayal by even family members, which happens a lot too. In many cases it's just that people no longer know what to do with us. Our journey as we step into a caregiving role becomes longer and more difficult than they can handle. And in many cases they don't know what to say, how to help or how to make it better so they do and say nothing. It feels like betrayal.

We make a lot of jokes about Job's friends in his Biblical account. And even though they got pretty rough with him later on - early in his journey they were prime examples of true friends. When they heard he was ill and was going through a horrible time - they came and sat. They had no words; but they sat with him in silent mourning for 7 days. What a picture of true heart-felt compassion for a friend. There wasn't anything they could do to make it better but they were present for his journey.

I have friends who are present on this journey of caregiving. But I've also had some for whom the journey got too long, too difficult and they walked away. During those times when the feelings of betrayal seem to saturate our souls, we can say what Micah did in chapter 7 verse 7: But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 

When our friends can't hear us - God can. When our friends are not present for our journey - God is. When we face days all alone - God is with us and can hear us. He hears our weeping in the night hours when friends and family are not around. He hears and He can endure the journey.

Today I will meditate on the truth that God has not bailed ship. He is still walking on this caregiving journey with me. It hasn't gotten too long or too difficult for Him. I will rejoice in the truth that He ain't going nowhere! He will remain on this journey with me. I will turn my thoughts to His ever abiding, patient presence in my life today. Will you join me?


Friday, July 3, 2015

When the Word uses Words

Many people think the life of the caregiver is one full of constant distress. In one way this is true in that there is never a dull moment and always something or someone to tend to. But once the initial shock is over, and we accept our role and find a new normal, life just goes on like it does for everybody else.

That's of course not to say that the caregiver's life is an easy one or that we are not concerned and busy with many different tasks....daily. Even though our minds and bodies go a hundred miles an hour all of our waking hours, there can still be an underlying heart peace.


John 14:27 tells us that God gives us a peace that is not like the world's version of peace, which is not peace at all. I have to be the first one to say that not letting my heart be troubled and not letting  my heart be afraid are not easy tasks and it takes a lot of effort on my part.

He gives us His peace; a peace that is way beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7.It is up to us whether or not we yield our hearts to His peace. It's there - He gave it. But it's on us to tap into it, relax with it and enjoy it.

One of my favorite people is Tyler Perry who writes and plays the character Madea in plays and movies. In Diary of a Mad Woman, Madea shares a word of wisdom straight from Tyler Perry's heart. In this scene Madea is talking about the story where the disciples were in the boat with Jesus and a storm arose and Jesus stood up and said three simple words, Peace be still.

Madea's point is this. Jesus is the word according to John 1:1. And in this story the Word is using words. When the Word speaks words He speaks them in past, present and future tense. So when Jesus said Peace be still.  Peace was already still. So according to Madea (Tyler Perry) peace was still, peace is still and peace is still being still! While Madea's method is a little unorthodox, what she says in this scene is revelatory.

Peace is eternal it is up to us to tap into the source. Then the next task is to keep our hearts there and allow His peace to reign in our hearts. (Colossians 3:15)

Today I will make a conscious effort to allow the peace He gives to rule in my heart. I will fight off anything that comes to disrupt this peace. My meditation will be on how His peace is eternal and never goes away. Today I will rest in His peace. Will you join me?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rest? Who Needs Rest?

When I first brought my son home I soon realized that a good night's sleep was a thing of the past. It was like having an infant again where even if they sleep well, you wake up with every little sound they make. I finally adjusted and relaxed a bit until now I do get some sleep.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm pretty high strung and very active inside and out. I hate to sleep - I know I need it but it seems like such a waste of time. Do you know what all I could get done in that 6 hours? Yes, 6 hours, that's what I try to give myself because I just can't stand to sleep away one-third of the day.


Actually, sleep and rest are two different things and as I have battled my own medical conditions of late (perhaps brought on by lack of sleep? *smile*) I have learned the importance of sleeping and resting. Sleep is the way we rest our bodies so they remain strong and fight off disease. But rest is an inside thing. Maybe that's why Jesus said in Matthew 11:29 that He would give us rest for our souls.  Our mind, will and emotions need to find that place of rest more than our bodies do. If our minds are going too fast or our emotions run high there is no good sleep anyway. Our mind and emotions can rob our bodies of necessary rest.

God understands the caregiver's need for rest; and He is gentle with us. There are days when we think we cannot move one more step. And then have to take our loved one to urgent care or the ER. We step up and do what needs to be done knowing that when we do get back home it's going to be a long night. We can go without sleep, and many of us do much of the time; but He can give us rest for our souls.

There is a place in Him where our souls can be comforted on the most difficult of days. Hebrews 4:9 tells us that there remains a Sabbath rest for His people. Even though the caregiver's life is far from normal to others and it can be very hectic - there is a rest we can walk in. Remember Matthew 11:29? Jesus prefaced that by saying Come to me. Even though the church tends to ignore the caregiver, Jesus does not shun us because we look different and live differently than others. He reaches into our chaotic, painful world and gently says, "Come to me and I will give you rest."

Today I will make a conscious effort to come to Him. My meditation will be on the truth that He loves me and cares for me. I will turn my thoughts to working at resting in Him. Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Un-sacrificial Sacrifice

There is no picture perfect view of a caregiver as each situation is unique. Some caregivers spend time looking in on a loved one and checking to make sure things are going along smoothly while others provide total care for their loved one. No matter where we fit on that scale caregivers give up some portion of their lives to take care of another.

In 2008 I was perched to explore the world. I had gotten rid of everything, moved to Chicago and was scheduled to go to South Africa the following January with a Bible school. Those hopes and dreams faded after I received the phone call about my son's wreck. Instead of flying to Africa, I was headed back to Louisiana to be with my son. Although it was quite the process to work through- It doesn't feel like a sacrifice; it's just what needed to be done.

In Philippians 3:7-10 Paul talks about how he gave up everything to know Christ. Verse 10 states he was conformed to His death. As a caregiver we allow ourselves to "die" in order to provide for our loved ones. We give up something on some level to be able to do what we do to care for someone else. We are acquainted with sacrifice; and we look like Him. 

Earlier in Philippians 2:6-7, Paul stated that Jesus emptied Himself He made Himself nothing, humbled Himself and became like us. Why? Hebrews 12:2 says that He did it for the joy set before Him. He did not consider the cross in His death - but He considered us.

While caregivers may or may not feel  like we are sacrificing anything, there are times we realize we really lost our lives in the shuffle.  As difficult as it is sometimes there is a joy and a satisfaction that comes from caring for a loved one. I'll be the first to stand up and say it is a difficult journey and a battle everyday. But I count that all as nothing because of the love for my son.

Jesus felt the same way about us. He willingly gave it all up and laid it all down and counted it as joy; not a sacrifice.  When we lay down our lives to any extent for our loved ones, we look a lot like Him.

Today I will think about how great a love God has for us - that He prepared a way for us to get back to Him before He ever said, "Let there be light." I will meditate on what value He must place on us to love and care for us that much. I will smile today in light of His unsacrificial sacrifice and I will rejoice that He loves us as much as we love the ones we care for. Will you join me?