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?