Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Perfect Storm

This morning as promised, I stayed in Mark 4. I've been thinking about what I read a lot since yesterday's devotional. I am wondering if caregiving isn't its own little world. And of course each caregiver and their situation is another unique world. Think about the caregivers you know and their situation has its own definitive circumstances. No two situations are exactly alike.

One one hand, we're quick to compare and contrast our situations with others. Yet on the other hand, there's no way to compare what each of us go through with another. We each deal with our own storm the best we can. The cool thing is that God's word doesn't change to match our situation - but it is applicable for each of us.

The first 24 verses of Mark 4 contains teachings of Jesus. He was discussing and describing the Kingdom of God. He talked about a farmer planting seed on different types of soil and how the seed (the message) responded in those situations. Then in verse 26 He described the Kingdom like a farmer planting the seed - from the seed's point of view.  It grows silently, secretly before the farmer's very eyes. And then He said the Kingdom was like a mustard seed - where something small grows into something huge unexpectedly; and provides shelter. (I'll be thinking more on these things!)

Then right after He finished, He and His disciples got in a boat to cross to the other side. But they ran into a strong storm. The disciples were terrified - that kind of scared that's beyond reason. They thought they were going to die. But when they turned to Jesus - He was asleep in the boat!

They yelled at Him, Don't You care we are about to die? He got up and calmed the storm. They were still in the boat. They were still in the water. Jesus was still in the boat. As caregiver's we stay in the water in the boat. And God stays there with us too. Jesus didn't get out of the boat.

Then He said to them Do you not still have faith in me?  In this same story, shared by Luke in chapter 8 this phrase was translated as Where is your faith? He did not rebuke them for their fear, even though He questioned it in Mark's account. He didn't berate them. He just asked them where their faith was.

Over the last few years, I must say my faith has been redefined, but as I read this I thought about His question to the disciples - Where is your faith? There have been times I have been angry that He was asleep! How dare He sleep while I'm going through? Right??? But my faith always comes back around to this deep-rooted trust in Him.

He is not worried about my situation - although He is concerned and connected. He knows there's a storm. He knows it's a strong storm. He also knows how to speak peace in the midst of the storm. Even though He speaks peace - it doesn't mean we get out of our boat! What I love is that God can speak peace into our situation right in the midst of it all. I am wound pretty tight, but when He speaks peace it's overwhelming. Sometimes I need to be reminded to embrace His peace in the storm. Let the world rock crazily out of control around me - but remember that He is in the boat - He did not crawl out or escape when the going got rough.

Today I will turn my thoughts away from the storm and to the peace He provides. John 14:27 says He gives us a peace that's not like what the world gives. Jesus also reminds us, don't be troubled or afraid. My meditation today will be on how I can focus on the peace He provides and how I can keep from being troubled or afraid. My thoughts will be on His peace - the peace that goes beyond our understanding. I will rejoice that He is still in the boat with me on life's troubled seas. He knew the storm was coming and didn't choose to not go along for the ride. I'll rest in the truth that He is with me - and that He gives peace,freely. And I will trust Him for one more day in the midst of the perfect storm. Will you join me?


Monday, November 7, 2016

Seeing Through the Caregiver's Fog

Other than the social isolation of caregiving, I think the wrestling with depression is one of the most difficult things I deal with. I can be fine, having a good day and some memory or small challenge can spark a deluge of emotions that send me off into la-la land. It doesn't take much, honestly. I'd like to say I'm alone in these emotional roller coaster rides, but from what reading I have done, it's common for the caregiver.

Over the last few weeks, the struggle has been so real as I'm sure it is for many. This morning I found myself trying once again to pull myself out of the caregiver's fog. I was actually thinking about storms and how natural storms pass. Caregiving does not. And for my situation I'm looking at a life that looks just like this for the rest of my life. It does get to me from time to time.

So, I went to the Word looking for the story of Jesus and His disciples facing the storm in the boat. I found it in Mark chapter 4. But the parable at the first of the chapter caught my attention. That means we'll still talk about the storm tomorrow! lol

Mark 4 starts with the parable of the sower who sowed the seeds in different types of soil. I know Jesus was giving us an analogy of the Kingdom of God and as He explains to His disciples later the seed is the message of the Kingdom which is sowed and the outcome depends on the condition of the soil. But as I read it I thought about the changes in my life on a day to day basis and my heart's response to the Word.

I can look at my days and see how some days are very fruitful. I have energy, I'm positive, my faith is high and things go generally well. Then other days are more like the thorny soil where every hope is choked out by thorns of caregiving or life in general. Some days the Word of God seems to speak to me personally and lifts me right out of the muck and mire as it sinks deeply into the soil of my heart. Other days God seems silent and I feel I'm left in a dry, rocky place to try and navigate on my own.

Of course there are lots of in-between days where there are series of ups and downs. I can go from laughing and enjoying the progress my son makes to weeping because the "picture" of his life is all messed up. Really. I should be rejoicing that he's marrying, having children, exploring his chosen career; not the fact that he regained head control or moved his right foot. Such mixed emotions - the storms of the caregiver's life.

Now the good part is that later on in this same chapter, Jesus explained the seed itself a little more fully. When the seed is sown there is not always an immediately recognizable growth spurt. As a matter of fact, it seems as if nothing is happening. As the farmer "goes about his days" the seed sprouts and grows without his direct knowledge.

So what does this mean for the caregiver? For me today? It means that God's word is enough.  It means that it is sown - it will grow. On the days I (or we - if you're with me) don't see it  - I'm not feelin' it - His word is still tucked away in my heart. It's not discarded. It's secretly growing and as I go about my caregiving tasks, it'll continue to grow and it will bear fruit in my life.

The caregiver doesn't get an exclusion in the Word. God didn't make ONE promise where He said "this is applicable for everyone but the caregiver."!

So today I will try to keep my focus. I will meditate on the fact that His word IS growing in me - whether I see it or not. I'll turn my thoughts to truths like - I didn't get kicked out of the Kingdom when I became a caregiver. My meditation will be on the truth that His word still stands and every promise is still true. I will shift my focus to those things I cannot see. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Those Who Mourn Get to Play Too!

The other night, I was headed to taekwondo and glanced over in time to see the sun rays escaping through the clouds. I thought of how dark the clouds had become, how close to earth and how just a tiny little break allowed sunlight to flow through and reach my line of sight. The sun is never gone, we just don't always see it.

On a cloudy day, we don't really forget about the sun, we don't consider that it might be burnt out or displaced. We have an understanding that it is right where it's supposed to be but we can't see it. I think sometimes for the caregiver, life can cloud our way and we can't see, feel or experience God like we'd like to.

There are some days between caregiving and working online I barely have time to breathe. But our God is always right here with us -whether we see Him, feel Him, know Him or not. And He is anxiously waiting for us to turn to Him. He's sort of like the sun - hiding behind the clouds waiting for just a slight break to make His grand entrance into our day.

I'm still in Isaiah 61 and this morning I noted that He is the one who gives to those who mourn in Zion. First of all, Zion is also called the dwelling of the Lord. What? I remember being shocked the first time I realized there was any mourning in Zion at all. How could Zion and mourning coexist? But right here in Isaiah 61:3 God says how He deals with those who are mourning in Zion. He says He will give them beauty for ashes, He will give joy instead of mourning, He will give praise instead of despair. Pretty amazing if you ask me!

He is replacing all the pain and filling it up with Himself. He doesn't ignore the pain and pretend it doesn't exist. Instead, He acknowledges that there are those in Zion - those in Him - who have ashes, are mourning and are in despair. Then He replaces it with the opposite.

They Then it goes on to say that HE planted them like strong oaks for His glory. Wow! I found this very encouraging - we are not abandoned to caregiving, we are the planting of the Lord. I just need to think about that for a little while.

When I'm done meditating on that truth, I want to look at verse 4. I like this verse because it's easy for caregivers to feel inactive as far as building the kingdom of God goes. But in verse 4 the prophet says those who are mourning in Zion are the same ones God is going to use.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
They will repair broken down cities
They will revive what was empty
They will be called "priests of the Lord"
They will be ministers of God

I find that simply an amazing promise to those who mourn. There is life after mourning. There is life after and during grief. He may not change anything about the situation - but He replaces and replenishes right in the midst of destruction and devastation. Remarkable. All is not lost - He visits the caregiver - right where we are and fills us up with Himself.

Today I'm going to look for ways He increases my joy, pours spiritual oil in my wounds, and lifts me out of the ashes of my life. My thoughts will be on how He can use me from here - not waiting to be somewhere else. I will meditate on His total acceptance of who I am and what I do - and His willingness to accept me and use me in the midst of the storm. I'll also do what I can to find that little part in the clouds where His light shines through - and I'll bask in it. I'm ready to trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Point of No Return

This morning I continued reading in Isaiah 61 and there are several things that keep leaping off the page and into my heart. Just for the record, I needed that right about now.

This passage is very familiar to us church-goers and we recognize it as the same passage that Jesus read when He first stood in the temple. It's easy for us to visualize Jesus saying The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed me to proclaim the good news. But it becomes difficult for us to read it for ourselves. I think that difficulty is magnified even more as caregivers.

Sometimes we can be made to feel as though we don't play a significant role in society. I know for me, at least at first, I felt like more of a drain on society, definitely not a benefit. We become absorbed into caregiving - we have to. This can make it hard to see beyond our little box. How can we influence a generation?  How can we proclaim the Kingdom of God? How can we share the good news? We demonstrate it.

Even though we may not be standing up behind a pulpit come Sunday morning because we'll still be doing the same caregiving tasks we were doing the rest of the week, doesn't mean we aren't proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Actually, all the while we are changing, bathing, feeding, clothing, transferring and other tasks associated with taking care of another whole person - we are proclaiming His love. His grace. His mercy. His kindness and His strength to the generations.

The obvious question now is how?  Right? First of all, we've discussed in previous posts how we demonstrate the true love of God by laying down our own lives to care for another. We show another side of the same love that held Jesus on the cross by surrendering our life on behalf of another. Each motion we make in taking care of our loved one is a demonstration of His love.

Secondly, proclaiming His kingdom doesn't always require words. How do I know this? Psalm 19:1 says this:

The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
Night after night they make Him known.

So far I have never heard the sun, moon or stars utter a word. We literally do not hear the voice of nature telling of His glory - but we see it demonstrated. Nature is cyclical and doesn't have an end. One plant yields more seeds and more plants grow - so there can be more seeds. The water cycle continues to circle around - the earth isn't making more water - it's a limited supply that goes around and around. Seasons run in a certain order every single year. Even though there can be some slight variations, they don't vary from the pre-designed course that He set into motion.

The same way we hear nature proclaiming His glory, others can see His kingdom demonstrated in the life of a caregiver. If they take time to look. Many don't want to look. It's not always pretty. But neither is nature if you look deeply enough. Every time we do something for our loved one, our actions are declaring His kingdom. Simply wiping the drool from my son's face says, I'll cover you. I'll protect your dignity.  And God does the same thing for us when He wipes away the things in our lives that are not appealing.

I think it's important for us to know, or at least I need to be reminded, that we were not displaced in His kingdom when we became a caregiver. He did not boot us out and call us unfit. We are still just as much a part of the Kingdom of God as a caregiver, as we were before. It has literally no bearing on our standing in His kingdom. We cannot earn His kingdom, we do not work to get into it - it's ours. Period. He doesn't stand there with a clipboard and a checklist asking what our profession is, what social class we are in, our income level or anything else. We are part of the Kingdom because we worship Him as our king. 

He took us from the kingdom of darkness and placed us in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). He did not prepare a way for us to go back. We are planted in Him, in His word, in His kingdom permanently. No tragedy is big enough to remove us!

Today I'm going to meditate on being in His hand, in His kingdom. I'll turn my thoughts to how He can cause my life as a caregiver to bring Him glory. He is the power source - and He is able to cause what feels like a very broken life to demonstrate and proclaim His kingdom. I have to trust Him to do what He says - I don't need to make Him. He's good for it. So I'll trust that He is big enough to keep me in the kingdom where He placed me - and He is powerful enough and smart enough to shape it so it brings Him glory. And with that, I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


Monday, October 24, 2016

Some Things Never Change

Change is inevitable, whether you are a caregiver or not, it's just a part of life. But for the caregiver, change can be the only constant in our lives. Even though every day can seem like we do the same things over and over again, there's always a new wrench or kink thrown in to disrupt, it seems. Frequently (sometimes daily) I have to stop, take a deep breath, and get a grip before proceeding to make a move or decision of some kind. This weekend I was thinking about how much life changes with caregiving.

There have certainly been some times when I wanted to throw in the proverbial towel - and throw anything else in "there" with it....I am typically very routine and living in a state of constant change not knowing what the next second is going to bring, has been difficult. Period.

But this morning I started thinking of what hasn't changed over the last 8 years. I was reading in Isaiah 61 about rebuilding the ancient ruins, and I thought of how my faith walk had lain in shambles, or at least I had perceived it that way. Ultimately, it was simply being redefined and rebuilt.

My thoughts started running along the lines of how God had never left me during the hottest days of the furnace. Even when my faith was shaken down to its core - He didn't abandon ship and toss me aside. He stayed right there. Even though my whole life changed - He did not. I changed. A lot. But He didn't change one iota.

I came up with a few things that have not changed even in the furnace. These are things that are NEVER going to change no matter what we face - what we do without - what choices we make...somethings never change:

The sun rises and sets every day
Weather patterns continue
Nature still cries out to the glory of God
Babies are born
People die
Rainbows come out after a rain
Floods and droughts still exist
Grass is still green
Plants still grow
The sky is still blue..and has clouds sometimes...

His righteousness still covers my sin
Jesus still died on the cross
I'm still forgiven
I'm still righteous
I'm still hidden in Him 
I'm holy in Him
His Word is still the standard
He is still my provider
He is still ever present

This list could go on and on...and in my high octane Google mind it did! I'm just so thankful today that even though my world was shattered nearly 8 years ago, God did not change. I know we usually shake our heads and say some things never change and it's more of a negative. But today - when I say some things never change - I'm thinking of all the things that are constant, have always been constant and will always be constant! As I took my son out for a run in his racing chair the other night we saw a beautiful sunrise, a wonderful reminder that what God puts in motion - will continue in motion....until HE says.

Today I'm going to meditate on the things that won't change. I'm going to rejoice in the fact that His love, mercy, grace, compassion and care is FOREVER and ever, and ever, and ever.....Rather than grieving over the past and the changes life has brought, I'll turn my thoughts to the power of His righteousness and other attributes that cannot be altered by time. And I will be glad in Him, I'll stay hidden in Him and I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day... Will you join me?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Office Hours?

Good Monday morning world! It's been a crazy place around here of late. I don't really know why I say that as caregiving makes for all days to be crazy! You know, just about the time you think you're holding your own, got the new norms all figured out and have settled in for the duration - everything changes.

How does that happen?

Why does that happen?

For the first time since my son's accident I somehow got signed up for home health. We only get so many days a year since there's no actual insurance involved and I usually save them for "just in case" situations. I've only had two instances where I felt their services were necessary. Well, when the doc was here last Monday - she decided we should let home health come change his feeding tube out. Evidently she signed us up. It's already taking quite the adjustment.

It may seem minor to those who are not caregivers - but even the things that seem the smallest and the simplest can turn everything topsy turvy. You know? (I know you know!) So last week they ended up coming for something every.single.day. I appreciate they got the tube replaced but sheesh. It might have been easier to take him in! lol

I'm not really used to having someone on call 24/7. Usually doctors are only available for calls inside certain hours so this is kind of weird. But I think I might like having more people involved in the decision making process if he does get ill. We shall see.

All this newness got me to thinking about how "on call" God is. Even when I don't feel like it, He is there when my heart cries out. I know some of you understand those midnight hours - two, three in the morning when you are spent physically, mentally, emotionally - and your loved one is sick. Those are the times I've gotten downright honest with God. I tell Him how I REALLY feel - lost, depressed, confused, angry, alone. And even in the midst of my outbursts - I know He is there.

I'm so glad He doesn't sleep. He doesn't take weekends off. He doesn't need a break. He's ALWAYS on call! And just because I don't feel like He answers - it doesn't mean He doesn't listen or care.

Today I'm going to be thankful that He walks in this furnace with me. He didn't leave me to navigate the fires alone. My meditations will be on His ever-abiding presence. I'm going to rejoice that He doesn't have office hours or answering services. I'm going to run to Him today with all my strength. I'm going to talk to Him like I know He's really listening - because He is. And I'm going to trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Exiting Crisis Mode

There can be many aspects of caregiving that are weighty. Even though each situation is unique and has it's own set of circumstances, it's never "over" and you're never "done." Tomorrow always awaits with mostly the same tasks today demanded. And even though the initial trauma or gravity that may have occurred at the onset of the caregiving experience are over - the situation usually means we may live in a sort of crisis mode. (Maybe it's just me.)

Two things have been on my mind over the weekend. One is the social isolation that is customary in a caregiving situation. The other is how people tend to act like you had a crisis in the past but they seem to think it's over now. I think this can contribute to the isolation many caregivers experience.

For instance, when we lived in the hospital for the first 4 months of our journey, we had visitors frequently. Not as much toward the end, but people still came to visit from time to time. We could usually expect someone at least on the weekends. When we came home - it felt almost like we were put on a shelf as if the crisis ended. But in reality - it was just a different level of crisis as we brought the hospital home with us.

Caregivers are resilient though. We bounce back. We adapt. We adjust to a new normal and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We do what we do and just keep doing it. With or without help. With or without interaction that seems to slowly subside over time.

Obviously, all is not lost. Our relationship with our heavenly Father deepens as we press more into Him. We adjust to our circumstances, partly because we just have to; and partly because we are too busy to really stop and think about it a lot. But for me, there are those times when I feel engulfed in loneliness and it makes it difficult to navigate spiritually.

The last couple of days have been that way for me. It leaves me feeling pain on every side. It is deep and intense and I feel like it is inflicted to make me lose focus and be counted out in the fight. It's okay to realize how deep the pain is - and how deeply our caregiving experience is affecting us. Living in crisis mode can affect us on every level.

So what are we to do? How do we get clarity in the middle of the fight? These were my questions over the weekend. I turned my heart to two different psalms. One I caught myself singing. It's Psalm 61. The heartfelt prayer of the psalmist cries out:

Hear my cry O Lord
Listen to my prayer
From the ends of the earth have I cried out to You.
For you have been my shelter from the storm
A high tower from the enemy.
When my heart is overwhelmed
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

I find myself singing/praying that during the times caregiving seems overwhelming. The other one is Psalm 13 where the psalmist talks cries out to the Lord and asks Him some very good questions. 

How long will You forget me...
How long will You look away...
How long do I have to struggle...
How Long will my enemy be winning...

But the last verse of Psalm 13 is key. In it the psalmist says this: 

But I will trust in Your unfailing love
I will rejoice because You rescued me
I will sing to the Lord
...because He has been so good to me.

And this is where I am again today. I see the turmoil around me. I feel the grip of living the caregiving lifestyle... and yet I see He has been so good to me in the midst of it all!

Today I will purposefully acknowledge His presence. I will trust Him, rejoice in all He's done and I will sing from my heart about His unfailing love and care. My meditations will be on what He has done and how He continues to work on my behalf rather than on what I see surrounding me. I will turn my heart to trust in Him... for one more day. And I will rest in Him - will you join me?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I Have Allies?

As usual, I was busy before I got up this morning! That's not really much of an exaggeration, either. I was up around one this morning with Chris - he was uncomfortable. Then at 4:30 my alarm was not a pleasant sound at all; but I got up and around eventually. I was barely moving but my head and heart were running a foot race to see how my morning was going to start.

I can't stress enough to never underestimate the power of a quiet spirit. I took some time to refocus and shift, worked a little bit and finally settled down into a be still moment. Boy, was it worth it!

I opened my Bible directly to Psalm 144 and read the first two verses as I had them underlined:

Bless the Lord Who is my rock.
He gives me strength for war and skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
My tower of safety, my deliverer.
He stands before me as a shield, and I take refuge in Him.
He subdues nations under me.


I spent a few minutes meditating on these verses and I love how David trusted in the power and strength of God. He knew God stood with Him. He believed God gave him both the skill and strength for the battle. He saw God as a safe place, a fortress and a shield. And David chose to take refuge in Him. A fortress can't protect you if you're not hidden inside. A shield offers no protection if you get out from behind it. God provides and protects - but we have to be behind Him and in Him - our position is important to the level of protection we receive.

David uses some strong words to describe the way the Lord protects him and fights with him. But nestled in the middle of all these powerful descriptions, David says God is my loving ally. That kind of caught me off guard this morning. And he didn't just say God is my ally - that would indicate an agreement between two parties to share resources against a common enemy with one's own best interest in mind. We might have an ally just for the sake of peace and protection - but David said God is his loving ally. That's more commitment than just saying I'll help you out if you need it - God is committed to the battle - committed to the journey.

Today my meditation will be on how I can remain calmly (that's a key) hidden behind Him and let Him shield me. I will focus on staying hidden IN Him and letting Him be the fortress surrounding me. I will purposefully place myself in Him for safe keeping and recognize Him as more than just being "on my side." I'll think about how He is my loving ally with my best interest at heart. And I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Time to Refocus?

This morning I was busily working around the house. I started getting up between 4 and 5 in the morning to get some work done on my jobs. This helps me get in a few hours before the day gets out of hand. Well, that's the plan anyway - I can't say as it is actually working or not yet. 

Since I have an aide now (thankfully!!!), I have to separate our laundry out again - I'd been doing it together but the aide doesn't need to mess with my stuff so I divided it out - and found I needed lots done and got started on it early this morning. I needed to get it done before the aide comes early this afternoon.

I was trying to knock out the laundry, put some bread on in the bread machine, fix breakfast and Chris' early morning supplemental bolus. Felt like a busy little bee hurrying around to get things done. Soon though, I realized I was getting tense, upset and stressed out trying to get everything done. My mind was shifting into high gear.

But underneath this turmoil, I could hear a song in my heart. It was Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. I heard myself singing along with the lyrics in my heart: 

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

As I heard my heart singing along with these lyrics it caught me off guard. I was so stressed, so hurried, why was I hearing music? Then I wondered why am I hearing that song? So I thought about the words... You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.... 

I took just a couple of seconds to shift my focus. I started thinking about how huge and powerful God is, I thought about creation and one of my favorite scriptures in Psalm 104:19 that says: You made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun that knows when to set. That always makes me smile because I think about how the sun never comes up and forgets to set. The seasons never forget what order they come in.....I shifted my thoughts back to His majesty.... and my day, my struggles seemed so small in comparison. 

Frequently, I remind myself that my situations, my circumstances do not change Him one bit. He may come a little closer, He may hold me tighter in His heart but he is still all-powerful, all-knowing, all-consuming and His throne didn't shift when I hit life's rough waters. 

Today I am reminding myself of some unchanging truths:

His word is still true
His power has not waned
His love still captures my heart
He is still all merciful and compassionate toward His children
He is still on the throne
He is immovable

Today, these will be my meditation as I go through the day. I'll make my mind focus on the attributes of God rather than the things that get thrown at me in time. My heart will rejoice in Him and I will focus on praising Him in the song today. I will rest in Him for one more day - will you join me?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Disappearing Words

A caregiver's day is full; and that's an understatement. Many days I find myself running to Him to unload it all. It's scriptural. Paul said, or actually instructed us to bring all our cares to Him. For caregivers, that's quite a load. Some days it can also be hourly. Maybe that's just me.

It's easy for our heart to be simply overwhelmed with caregiving itself. I touch on the daily tasks a lot - but they are many and can be expansive depending on the health and status of the loved one we are taking care of.

For me it's the basic stuff - bathing, clothing, pureeing foods, cooking, feeding, changing, exercising...basically everything I might do for myself I do for my son. That's double daily tasks from the get-go. That just all the outside stuff. While those can keep me busy, it's the emotional stuff that can get me down. That's the real baggage and memories can tug on my heart. Personally, I deal with what is called living grief. My son is gone - but he's still here. And when it overwhelms, I can only run to Him.

Yesterday I sat down with my guitar. I'm trying to have quiet time everyday. More than anything else, I need to be quiet and I need to listen. As I sat down to focus on Him for a few minutes I started singing a chorus I'd written several years ago. I was strumming and singing and realized how focusing on Him had washed away all my fears, all my raw emotions.. and all my words.

I had come to Him with my gauge on "full" only to have Him take it away - as I focused on His holiness. Words disappeared when I focused on Him. Here's the words to the chorus I was singing:

Words run like rivers through my head
So many things I felt need to be said
But when I'm in Your presence, Lord
My words are few
My lips fall silent 
As I gaze at You...

My heart cries Holy is my King.
Holy is our God.

With just one gaze, His holiness washed away all my words. My heart was full of Him instead of the cares of the day. I was refreshed. I was a new person. Oh if I can remember to take the time to focus on Him instead of letting my words run away with my head. I have to remind myself that my situation does not change His holiness, His faithfulness, His Kingship, His Strength...He did not get off His throne when my little world fell apart. He is still God.

Today I am going to get outside my head. I will shift my focus to how constant He is in my shaky world. My thoughts will be on His holiness, His strength and His unending love for me..right where I am. And I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Help Us Remember

This morning I skimmed through the story of Joshua and the Children of Israel. I wanted to refresh my mind on how God provided for them throughout their years of traveling in the wilderness.

As I was glancing through chapter after chapter I realized how much they had to fight to get where God promised them they could be. I'm thinking it would have been a lot easier for them and God had He just picked them up and put them where He wanted them. But would they have grown?

I read over how they faced struggle after struggle in many different ways. They marched around Jericho and saw it's walls crumble right before their eyes. The crossed the Jordan river, which sounds simple - but it's not. Because of Achan's sin they were defeated at Ai; but eventually came back and won the territory.The sun stood still as they fought at Gilgal. And the list goes on until they reached the promised land, divided it up and began to settle in.

The Children of Israel faced so many ups and downs, struggles and victories over their journey. But God provided everything they needed along the way. Recently, I did some reflection on how He has provided for my son and I on our long journey too.

We can look at the history of the Israelites and see how God took care of them. He rained manna and quail down from heaven, provided fresh water from a rock, carried them across two seas, and put up with all their whining and moaning and groaning all along the way.

The more I think about it, it seems to parallel my life as a caregiver - at least the whining part! lol.

Where my thoughts settled after refreshing my memory on all this was in Joshua chapter 22. Yes, they had been complaining over the years, yes they had made mistakes. The earth literally ate the sons of Korah, Achan sinned at Ai, they created and worshiped a golden calf - idolatry and unfaithfulness was rampant all the way through. Yet here in chapter 22 of Joshua we find one of my favorite (yet little known) characters in the Bible, Phinehas.

Reuben's bunch built an altar and the priests questioned if it was acceptable or not. It wasn't protocol. Phinehas led the charge against Reuben's crew. How dare you build an altar to another god! Phinehas charged. But Reuben explained that they built it to remember what God had done for them. And so that when future generations asked about it they could be told of how God provided and cared for them over the long journey.

The two things that stand out to me are these. One, Phinehas' passionate protection of worship. He was adamant that they were not going to worship anyone but God. Secondly, Reuben's worship of God. He set up the altar so they could remember all God had done - not so they would remember all the bad stuff.

The caregiving journey is not an easy one. There are battles and struggles all the way and on many fronts. We face giants and Jerichos pretty much every day. Our own thoughts can attack us until it can be hard to stay the course. I want to be like Phinehas in the sense that I protect my heart from setting up an altar to anything other than God. And I want to be like Reuben who only remembers the struggles as a way to focus on all God has done.

In the most difficult circumstances, God has provided quite literally more than I could have ever imagined. I will be the first to say it's a difficult way to walk - but I'll also be the first to shout how God has taken down the giants that were in the way. And I have to admit, I've been a lot like the children of Israel, fussing and crying and moaning and complaining all the way out. But God has been faithful and I want to remember like Reuben all His works and how He's brought us to a good place in Him even though it took many battles to get there.

Today, I will meditate on all the works of God I've seen as on the caregiving walk. My focus will be on His faithfulness, His patience, His provision and His focus on caring for me. As I reflect on this journey and His faithfulness, I will express my gratitude to Him for all He has done. I'll smile. And I'll rest in Him knowing He's got me for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, August 22, 2016

As Honest as a Psalmist

I was working on a project over the weekend and found myself enjoying the depth of the Psalms once again. I know I spend a lot of time in these chapters, but I've always enjoyed them. Maybe it's because I am a songwriter, a poet or always running from a lion. (lol)

For whatever reason, my love for the psalms and identifying with the psalmists who wrote them have grown over the years. The candidness about their true feelings and how they turn the related emotions around into pure worship amazes me.

This morning I found myself back in Psalm 37, one of my long-time favorites. Although the entire chapter is wonderful, my focus remained on the last two verses where David says:

The Lord saves the godly;
He is their fortress in times of trouble.
The Lord helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in Him.

I zeroed in on two or three things that stuck out to me. First of all, not once, but twice, David mentions the Lord saving the godly. He saves them - He is their fortress. He saves them - He is their shelter. I'm not sure what the technical difference is between the two, but to me a fortress is a shelter, but a shelter is not necessarily a fortress. Whether He is our shelter or our fortress (I'm thinking a fortress is bigger and stronger and more stable than a shelter) we needed saving. Either way I figure, He's got us covered!

The second thing that grabbed my attention was the phrase: in times of trouble. We don't need "saving" from nothing. I live in Oklahoma and we only go to the cellar when there is a storm, but we don't live there all the time. God is our fortress in times of trouble. For the caregiver, I think this is an ongoing thing. Maybe it's just me - but it seems every day I am faced with discouragement, raw emotions, struggles, fears and uncertainty. I find I need Him every second of every day.

If I am as honest as a psalmist - I'd tell you how my thoughts and emotions have tried to run away with me this weekend. I'd tell you my soul was in despair.  If I was as honest as a psalmist I'd say my emotions tried to carry me away on a stream of fear. I'd tell you I've told God I don't know if I trust You anymore. If I was as honest as a psalmist I'd tell you I've questioned everything. 

But if I were as honest as a psalmist I'd also tell you I've learned to rely on God for everything. I'd tell you I have clung to Him more tightly and every doubt, fear and moment of uncertainty have ended up in deepened praise, raw worship and utter amazement at the glory of God.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to His glory rather than my story. I will on-purpose run to Him with my raw emotions and crazy thoughts and I will give them all to Him. I will back up and live out verse five of this psalm. I will commit everything I do to Him, and trust Him to help me. And as my life is poured out in this act of worship, I will rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One More Day

Did you ever feel like you're a bit schizo? I'm not making light of a legit condition, but as a caregiver it's so easy to be up one minute and bottom out the next. And on some days it seems like it takes very little to have those extremes.

In my situation personally, I've found myself bottoming out lately. I see all the things my son's friends are now doing and I wonder where he would be if the accident had not occurred. I know it's futile - but the mind still goes there. It fills with questions about would he be married? Have children? Be a famous drummer? Would he have achieved his goals? Where would he have lived? How would he have interacted with his sister's kiddos? The list could go on I know for a fact because questions like these can wreak havoc in my head and heart.

I'm sure it's not the same for every caregiver, but we each deal with our own set of questions. So this morning for my devotions, I turned to an old favorite, Psalm 42. I knew that's where I'd find this verse:

Why am I discouraged?
Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God.

I took the time to look back over this familiar psalm written by Korah's sons. The psalm starts with longing for God, and an intense desire to be with Him. And then immediately the thoughts of the enemy enter in the mind - where is your God? What caregiver hasn't asked that? It's too easy to look at situations and wonder where God is, as if He isn't already in the situation. Trust me - He's invested in each of our situations. He's right here - no matter what we feel or don't feel.

The psalmist goes on to express his broken heart as he looks back over how it used to be. He used to  lead worship. He used to  sing and give thanks and celebrate the Lord as a worshiper. I can relate to this as BC (Before the Crash) I led worship in the church setting too. The past can haunt us if we let it.

Then in verse 6, the psalmist says Now I am deeply discouraged...he states openly and honestly just how he feels. It's the next word that is pivotal. But...I will... I will remember Your kindness. And then his tone changes. Instead of thinking about the past and what he felt he had lost, the psalmist is now experiencing waves of God's love.

The writer of Psalm 77 does something similar. He basically says, Lord, I can't see a thing you are doing right now, but I will think about all you've done. Sometimes we just can't see what He is doing and working in our lives in the present moment. But that does not mean He's not working at all. God is always working for His good pleasure. He is always working things out for good - for His good. We may not see a thing and it may seem like He's moved far away - but He has not.

Today I will do just what these two psalmist have modeled, I will turn my thoughts to all God has  done already. I'll meditate on His faithfulness, how He has been a comfort, a stronghold, my protector and provider. My thoughts will be on all He has brought me through. I won't look at what I'm going through right now - I'll tell my soul to look to Him. And then, I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Impresses God?

I've been watching the Olympics this week and thoroughly enjoying them. I guess working from home does have some benefits! I am amazed over and over again by the many athletes. I admire their dedication, tenacity and endurance. Even on some of the sports I don't normally watch I am glued to the TV in awe of these elite athletes.

During my devotions this morning I was reading in Psalm 147 where it says The strength of the horse does not impress Him; how puny in His sight is the strength of man. I kind of smiled at the thought of God not really being all that impressed with our strongest athletes. While they are wonderful, strong and way above the cut as far as we humans are concerned, their strength is basically nothing in comparison to God's.

One of my favorite passages includes the last few chapters of Job where God describes creation from His point of view. It reminds us of how strong He is, how weak we are and how much we need Him! While we are admiring the strongest among us, God is probably just shaking His head.

Psalm 147 goes on to say in verse 11 Rather, the Lord's delight is in those who honor Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love. He doesn't admire our physical strength - it really does not impress Him. What does impress God then? He is impressed by our trust in Him and our fear of Him.

I did a brief search through Bible Gateway and looked at just Psalm 147:11 in all the English translations. This verse has lots of interpretations. Basically it boils down to the fact that He takes pleasure or even enjoys those who wait for Him and those who trust in His love, mercy or unfailing love.

He is impressed when we trust fully in Him. I believe He smiles when we lean a little closer in to Him and it brings joy to His heart for us to rest in Him and find our hope Him. And like a proud father, maybe His heart beats just a little harder - hard enough for us to hear it if we lean in close. Sometimes, the day of a caregiver is so loud, hurried, busy and loud we have a difficult time hearing His heart. It requires our quietness.

Today I will quiet my heart, soul and mind as I lean in a little closer to hear His heart. My meditations will be on how I can cultivate the hope and trust He is impressed with. My thoughts will be on His unchanging love and dedication to us - His children. And I will rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What is normal anyway?

One of the difficult things for caregivers (or at least for me) is the emptiness and sense of loss we can deal with on a daily basis. For me, when I look at all the cool things other runners get to do and how they travel and participate in some of the most creative or scenic races - while I sit here in flat Oklahoma and don't get to play....it can get discouraging. Seeing all the things I don't get to do can wear on me and I can battle lots of negative emotions. 

But when I came across Psalm 119:5-6 this morning it helped me refocus. It says this:

Oh that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!
Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with Your commands.

Why am I comparing myself with others? What if I compared myself with the word? Can we find ourselves in these ancient pages? I think so.

I have shared before that as we lay down our lives day after day for our loved ones - we look like Him. I'm reminded of the scripture no greater love....and we demonstrate that daily. Maybe you can see yourself in David - daily facing Goliaths that stand in your way. Or perhaps you identify with Daniel - and feel your faith is tested in a den of lions. We might identify with any one of our Bible heroes. Maybe we demonstrate how patient God is with us by working patiently with our loved ones. 

Maybe as caregivers we are tenacious like Benaiah. He was one of David's Mighty Men. He chased a lion into a snowy pit, fought him and killed him. He stood up against all odds - weaponless against a lion, and killed him while trying to keep his footing in the snow.(2 Sam. 23:20) This could go so many directions - but it boils down to finding ourselves in those pages. I believe we can.

As caregivers we really can't compare our lives to what most would call normal, because we have our own normal. We rarely see ourselves in the entertainment world - no one talks about us. They really don't know what to do with us and our individual situations can elicit emotions in them that they don't know how to process. So we don't see a caregiver's class - we are politely ignored by society. We cannot compare ourselves to that. But we can measure our lives and our hearts by the word. Isn't that the true standard anyway?

Today I am going to shift my focus to what is happening in the word instead of what is happening in the world. I'll make God's attributes my meditations and set my mind on whatsoever things are honest just, pure, lovely and good report. I'll think about what I look like to Him rather than what I think I look like to everybody else. And I will curl up in His lap - let Him hold me - and I will rest in Him for one more day.Will you join me?



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Freedom is in the Wait

I got up this morning with the tasks of the day wearing on my mind. Do you have mornings like that? It seems like the alarm not only wakes up your body, but it wakes up the mind and signals it to start running (or thinking) a marathon. That's what it was like for me this morning.

Over the years, I have learned a few strategies that help with that a bit. I write down what I have to do for the day now and prioritize what has to be done first. It seems like it helps me get more organized and get more accomplished in a day. But it doesn't help slow my mind down one bit. Actually, it seems like it frees it up to run other races.

My usual morning goes something like this:

  • push snooze 3-4 times when the alarm goes off at 5:30
  • drag out of bed around 6
  • put on coffee
  • change and bolus Chris
  • get coffee, Bible, notebooks and laptop and head for the recliner
  • stare at wall sipping coffee while my mind goes through daily tasks at 100 mph
  • open Bible......try to make sense of what God is trying to say......
That's about it - every morning.

This morning my Bible fell open to Psalm 119 and the first verse I saw was 45 which says I will walk in freedom for I have devoted myself to your commandments. And off went my mind in a hurried rush. As the question queen I had about 100 of them rolling out of my mind immediately. I thought about how David must not have been a caregiver because freedom is something we definitely don't have. It's something we gave up to be able to care for our loved one. Our lives seem to be anything but free. 

My mind starting racing about true definition of freedom and how my freedom isn't measured in the natural - but in the spirit. Jesus said it is the truth that makes us free. BC (before caregiving) I participated in prison ministry and one of the most touching songs I heard was written by a prisoner who wrote about being free in Christ even though he was living a life behind bars. As caregivers it can feel like life has us on restrictions. That can be difficult to sort through.

But what did the psalmist know about freedom? Or what did he know about the lack of freedom?And why did he throw it in here - in the middle of this psalm? I think he saw God's word as a liberating factor in his life. David had spent years running from Saul, waiting for the promise of kingship. He never raised his hand against Saul even though he could have rightfully taken the throne God had promised him. Instead, he waited.

There's that four-letter word wait again. It keeps coming up doesn't it? Is it just me or does it feel like every day is spent waiting on Him anymore? What are we waiting on Him to do? In truth - He's waiting on us too - He just wants us to bring it all to Him. All of it. All our fears. All our doubts. All our frustrations. All our anxiety. He says to bring it all to Him - and He'll take it as a trade-in for rest. 

That's what Paul said. He said to give Him all your cares -  Why? So He can do the caring for you! So we can walk this life free from fear, guilt, frustration, doubt....and that's what our freedom is all about. It's not about being able to come and go as we want (although that would be nice). It's about not having life burden us down - being free in Him.

Today I am going to explore this freedom. My thoughts will be on how truly free I am no matter what my situation looks like. I will meditate on how free my spirit is; and I'll turn my thoughts to how He will take all my cares. He'll take everything I give Him - but nothing I withhold. And today I'll find it in myself to figure out a way to let go - and let God. I'll let Him do the work as I just rest in Him. Will you join me?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Whether or Not You "Need" It

The last few days have been more hectic than usual around my house. I've had friends and family in and out to celebrate my birthday in one way or another. It's been a wonderful weekend and I'm all birthday-ed out. As we go into a new week, I think about how I'll deal with the alone-ness that is surely to creep back up on me.

I think one of the things we have to deal with as caregivers is being alone. As a single caregiver, I can spend a lot of time all alone and since my son is non-verbal I used to go days without even hearing other's voices except on TV.

Thankfully, my online jobs have changed that and I see and talk to people via video calls frequently. I have also had my health coaching classes I watch via video. It's certainly not as good as in-person, real discussions - but it's been better than nothing. Oddly enough, sometimes if I have a lot of outside contact now - I actually deal with over stimulation. I have to chuckle at that, but it's true. When you live in a caregiver's cave the world can be an overwhelming place.

The good thing is that I've had a wonderful few days filled with phone calls, visits and even an outing. But now we are back to the grind. I'm already feeling like I'm in back to the cave mode as I adjust to the many hours alone once again. It was a nice break.

So what's a caregiver to do as the solitude threatens to swallow them up? For me, I'll slide right back into that place I've found in Him. In Psalm 73:28, the psalmist said this But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (NLT)

The caregiving journey is similar to any other journey through time - we have the choice whether or not we make Him our shelter. On the rough days I am certainly glad to run to Him and hide from the harshness caregiving can dish out. On the nicer days, I still need the calm of being in His presence and letting Him shelter me.

Today I will be meditating on how He is the ever-present shelter. He protects my spirit and soul from being overcome by the complicated daily routine of caregiving, even when I'm overwhelmed. I will make Him my shelter today (and everyday), and any chance I get to tell someone about how His grace sustains me on this journey - is going to get an earful. But I am going to start with myself. Yes, today I will remind myself of how He has been carrying me for this 8 year (so far) journey. And I will tell myself how He will carry me for another day today. I will rest in him one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Small Enough

Over the weekend I found myself going through my Yahoo email. I have been neglecting its upkeep and had tons of emails. I decided to go through it and delete the ones that no longer mattered. I did not realize I had emails from as far back as 2005!

I had two or three from my son, which had obviously been sent prior to his accident in 2008. Among them I found a jewel of an email. In it, he thanked me for being a cool mom, and for all I did for him, specifically in his pursuit of God.

Yes, my eyes did sweat just a bit as I read over the words he typed long ago. I read them as if he meant them today. But past that, he made a statement that I shared on Facebook and I can't seem to shake it. He said this: I'm in God's hands and I'm too small to get out.

I've thought about that phrase and even though it is a few short words, it is power-packed. He said so much by saying so little. Since I read it, I've been thinking about it a lot. I think about the fact of being in God's hands - and being okay with that. My life is not in my own hands even though it is largely governed by the decisions I make. I'm in His hand. In my mind, I picture a huge hand... and I'm cradled gently inside.

But it's really the second part I'm too small to get out that my mind can't let go of. It says to me - It is futile for me to try and get out of God's hand. I'm not big enough, strong enough, or smart enough to figure out how to worm away from His grasp. But it also speaks of surrender. If I realize my own humanness and frailty - I'm not going to even try. I surrender to His hand.

To me, it means I surrender to His protection, provision, and power in and over my life. It means I let  Him hold me, I'm not fighting to get away or trying to get out of His grasp anymore. One scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 95:7 and it says We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. I always thought that was an odd scripture. Shouldn't we be the sheep of His pasture? And the people of His hand? I used to think the psalmist had it backwards. But we are not just sheep out in the pasture - we are in His hand and in His heart.

Psalm 95:6-7 is a song we used to sing back in the day. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Being in God's hand - and realizing we are too small to even try to get out - is not only an act of surrender - but of worship. One of trust. I'm content in His hand - because I do not need to be anywhere else.

Today I am going to think about total surrender to Him. My thoughts will be on trusting Him enough to quit wriggling and squirming around in His hand - and just resting. My efforts will be on finding that place where my soul totally surrenders to Him. And I will be content - and I will rest. Will you join me?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Like A Hamster in a Wheel

This morning I woke up overwhelmed. Ever have one of those days? Before my feet hit the floor my mind was sorting out what seems like thousands of thoughts. My son didn't sleep well, he coughed off and on throughout the night - so I didn't sleep well, I worked all day yesterday and felt like I got nothing done, there's so much to do and lots of it has to be done today, and on and on my mind goes like a hamster in a spinning wheel. Ever have a morning like that? 

Some days are like this where it feels like there are so many things that have to be done now, or needed to be done yesterday. In reality, they are no different than all the same things that I did yesterday and will need to be done tomorrow. :-) Some mornings I wake up in what I call the caregiver's fog; other mornings, like today, I wake up on this hamster wheel realizing all it takes to make it through a day. I'm tired, and I've not even started. Haha, I'm sure I'm the only one, right!?

We are familiar with Psalm 139:23 which says Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. And then there is Psalm 94:19 that says When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. I am so glad He not only knows about my crazy thoughts, but He also has the answers. Just one word from Him calms my soul and brings in a wellspring of peace.

While I'm looking at this scripture in Psalm 94, my eyes fall on one that seems to stand out across the page. Psalm 95:6 - Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.  I love singing that little chorus, and it might just hold the answer to the craziness of my day.

If we can stop the deluge of thoughts and concerns and just worship for a bit and acknowledge that He is still our God in the midst of the storm - He really can calm the raging storm. It won't change one thing that I have to get done today - but He will give us the strength to face this day. We do not have to have a choir, high ceiling, or a padded pew to acknowledge His presence in our lives. All we have to do is stop, whisper a prayer, tell God how wonderful He is and thank Him for bringing us this far - wherever that is for you; and He will strengthen our hands and encourage our hearts.

Today I'm going to make it a point to let Him carry me away instead of my thoughts and tasks. I will turn my thoughts to how He has been carrying me - and will continue to carry me on this journey. My meditations will be on acknowledging Him as God in my life and on all the things I know He has already done. And I will purposefully rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What's the Difference?

It seems kind of funny for a caregiver to be exploring this being quiet thing since our lives are pretty much anything but that, doesn't it? I mean, come on, most of us get up before the sun to get our daily stuff started and we retire long after the rest of the world is down for the night. There's just a lot to do, period. Add to the "regular" stuff the fact that this is the last week of the month and all the "regular" people like nurses and case managers want to get their visits in all at the same time - and you've got anything but a quiet week!

How in the world is the caregiver supposed to calm their souls when the world around them is constantly in a topsy turvy  state? Some days I'd give a million bucks for 5 seconds of sit-down-and-be-quiet-ness. Wouldn't you?

I do think it is entirely possible to quiet our souls while the world around us, in our own homes nonetheless, is crazed and spiraling. There's a place we can hide in Him where there is contentment and peace even after it seems our world has fallen apart. The true struggle is in finding it - and staying there.

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most popular passages in the Bible and you'll even hear pieces of it quoted even by non believers and in odd places like movies. Let's focus on verse 2 He leads me beside quiet waters. (NASB) Why quiet, or still waters? What does it really matter if we get a drink, right?

There is a place only He can take us to; and we can only go there when we quiet our souls before Him and follow Him like a sheep follows the shepherd. And in that place - the waters flow peacefully and quietly. There's a reason He takes us to quiet or still waters - not just any water will do.

Sheep will not drink from troubled waters. They won't get near a place where the waves are lapping at the bank. But a gently flowing stream they will drink from. Still waters are not threatening; they are refreshing, relaxing and offer a drink for the weary soul. And that's the point to begin with.

The Shepherd of our souls will purposefully lead us beside still and quiet waters to refresh our souls. I love that He is my provider and makes sure I have what I need - all the way down to my soul. He will gently lead us to that peaceful state in Him - the living water that brings refreshment and revitalizes the weary soul. As long as we follow Him - we will find it.

Since I'm honest about my feelings and the caregiving journey, I have to admit there's been seasons along the way when I didn't follow to good. I was angry. Frustrated. Tired and sometimes didn't give a dime. And I didn't care that I didn't care. Life had thrown me a curve ball and I struck out. At least that's how I felt. But as I have returned to Him I've found Him ready, willing and able to lead me back to those still waters where my soul can be refreshed and renewed. He's so faithful - even when I'm not.

Today I will turn my thoughts to His faithfulness and patience with me. I'll meditate on how He longs to refresh my soul and is constantly trying to lead me to still and quiet waters, and how patiently He waits for me to get myself together enough to follow. I'll be looking for those spots of refreshing today as I concentrate on keeping my soul quiet before Him. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Waiting Expertise

I'm pretty much known for voicing my opinion. As you can imagine, I've found myself in many predicaments because I've said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. My mouth was the reason I took frequent trips to the principal's office during my years in school.
I am also not a good waiter. Oh, I can wait tables - but I'm not good at waiting for stuff, or people either for that matter.

All of this was going through my head as I read Isaiah 30:15 this morning. It's a given that we are going to have times in life when we are just going to have to wait. So it's not really so much about the wait itself - but more about how we wait.

That's where being impatient and mouthy are a bad combination. Now, I have to say I have calmed down a lot over the last few years, but I've not gotten much better at being patient.

Isaiah 30:15 has always stuck out to me for a couple of reasons. So it's no wonder as I was studying about being still over the weekend that it was one of the first to come to mind.

In this scripture, God is calling His people to return to Him and rest. He says Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. Then it goes on to explain how His people would have none of it. They wanted to seek out their strength from man and his "wisdom" instead. Then on down in verse 18, it says basically that God just continues to wait on them to come back to Him so He can love them. He is so faithful.

I think I don't want Him to have to wait any more. That's the returning part. The waiting - in quietness - is more difficult. I can wait - if I have to. But I'm not real quiet about it. I'm not even very good at waiting in line at the store. I'll fidget and fuss. But you know what, it doesn't make the line move any faster. More recently, I've taken the opportunity to talk with others who are waiting too.

I've had lovely conversations with Veterans, elderly ladies and young mothers who were struggling. Found out, I can learn a lot while I wait in line if I am more observant of what is going on around me. And that just might be the key to waiting.

We already said the first step is to return to Him. Once we are at His feet, waiting is much more pleasant if we just watch what is going on around us. Here in this place where we quiet our souls at the foot of His throne we are going to more clearly see the workings of His grace. Not only around us - but in us. When we get ourselves quieted before Him we can more clearly see what He is doing. When we make a lot of noise we cloud our own view.

Today I am going to concentrate on waiting for Him at His feet. My efforts will be to return my soul to that state of quietly waiting on Him. It's a posture really. My meditations will be on His great grace and love for us and His unrelenting pursuit of us (of me). Today - I will let Him catch me. I will rest quietly in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, July 25, 2016

God's Choices

I'm from Oklahoma and we have a lot of storms and during storm season we have more than our share of tornadoes. Fortunately, I've only seen a few and that is usually from a distance. They are powerful and quite noisy.

One of the oddest feelings in the world is to know there is a tornado out there, but feel the more than just proverbial calm before the storm. It can be so still, absolutely nothing moving or making any noise. No wind. No rain. Absolute calm - but you know that any second the wind is going to whip up and you're going to either run for cover - or run for the camera so you don't miss anything! (I usually do that latter.)

There really aren't a lot of words I can use to describe that kind of eerie stillness. It's kind of like a quiet explosion as your hair stands on end waiting for the excitement that's about to occur. I think it's that quiet kind of anticipation God was looking for when He told the psalmist, Be still and know I am God.

Our whole being can be still and absorbed into recognizing Him as God, while we anticipate His next great move. Of course, it's not an eerie stillness like before a tornado; but it is the same anticipatory excitement to know He is about to move!

I have meditated on Psalm 46:10 a lot. Some times I'm simply waiting on God and other times I'm needing to silence my soul and return to Him like a shivering child. But when I take the time to quiet myself and acknowledge that He is still my God, He never disappoints. It's amazing to me that the God who created and governs the universe can sense my quietness and meet me there. Of all the noise in the world and beyond - it's the quiet soul that gets His attention. That thought overwhelms me.

A few years ago I wrote my own pslam, or song. It goes like this:

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 wants to dwell.

I can't comprehend His vast presence
As heaven and earth He does fill
Yet His choice of habitation
Is in a heart that is still.

So be still my heart and know He is God.
Be still my heart and know He is God.

I just can't get over the fact that of all the places God could choose to dwell - He wants to live in and among us. That alone brings a quiet, worship to my soul. It's not about how big I can be (in my own eyes or the eyes of others) but how small I can be in my own eyes. As I quiet myself before our Creator, and think about how He wants to be with me (with us), I'm overwhelmed by His grace and love. That'll carry me through today!

So today, I will keep my thoughts on how He chose me for habitation. I'll meditate on how He wants to walk this journey with me. He didn't leave me alone to try and navigate the world of caregiving. He chooses to walk it with me - in me. I'll think about His ever-abiding presence today and I will rest and find comfort in His greatness. Will you join me?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's Summertime!

Yesterday my daughter came to sit with my son so I could use her car to go get some groceries. We've been limited to what I can carry on my back while pushing him in his chair since the van is broke down...again.

Since it's summertime here in Oklahoma and many days have heat advisories issued, so I have to wait until late in the evening before we go. So I was very appreciative of a vehicle with air conditioning to run my errands.

As I was driving along, the afternoon sun was bearing down and the little air conditioner was doing all it could to keep the car cooled off. I noticed as I drove, when I would pass under shaded areas there was an immediate relief as the shade provided a shield from the weight of the overbearing heat. I remembered there was a scripture that talked about the Lord being our shade.

When I got home, I looked it up and found it in two different place. Psalm 121:5 says the Lord is your shade on your right hand. It's also found in Isaiah 25:4 which says For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat.

We've all had days where it feels like life is bearing down on us and it's going to suffocate us. We can feel overcome by caregiving on some days, but quite honestly, sometimes it's the other parts of life that are the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. Caregiving is a blessing, but other life events like marriages, births and even deaths can begin the suffocating squeeze.

I began to meditate on how the Lord provides that shade for us. Sometimes it's just enough of a break to let us breathe Him in. It can be an immediate relief emotionally and even physically. Not only does He provide us a refuge from the storm, but He is a relief from the heat.

Today I'm going to meditate on how He is my relief - from heat, storms, emotional upheaval, and anything else that winds up on my plate. I'm going to picture Him hovering over me to provide the break I need like a huge shade tree hovers over an area. I'm going to crawl up in His lap and think of it as a hammock providing a place of shelter from the storms and pressure of life; and I will once again rest in Him. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No More Bulls!

This train of thought started yesterday morning. I was bathing and dressing my son to get him up for the day and I could hear some birds in the backyard. They were chirping away as if nothing was wrong. I started thinking about what Jesus said in Matthew 7:25-27. He basically said He provides for birds and you don't see them out there worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

I smiled as I continued to listen to their constant, cheerful chirping; and I encouraged myself in the fact that they were not worried about at thing - nothing at all. As long as they are still singing, He must still be providing.

So this morning I looked for birds in the Bible using Biblegateway and somehow I ended up in Psalm 50. Asaph is credited as writing this psalm and in verse 7 he begins with more of a prophetic word to God's people. He starts out explaining that He accepts the sacrifices people are bringing to Him. He said, I have no complaint. But in verse 9, He says I want no more bulls from your barns; I want no more goats from your pens.

Then God explains that all the birds are His! And all the cattle are His! He said if He was hungry - He wouldn't tell us! And then the next couple of verses got me. After explaining what He didn't want - God states what He does want. Here is what He desires from us:


  • true thanks
  • fulfill our vows to Him
  • trust Him in times of trouble
I read that two or three times; but I got stuck on verse 15 which says in the NLT Trust Me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. To be quite honest, I'm not sure God and my definition of I will rescue you is the same, but I totally get the other part. I do know He doesn't always take us out of the trouble - but He most certainly rescues our soul. He pulls us close to Him and keeps our souls safe during trouble.

What did stick out to me was that when I trust Him in trouble and He walks with me through it, and keeps me in peace - He gets glory. Sometimes as a caregiver I've had thoughts about and wondered how in the world I could bring Him glory from here. He has gently unfolded the answer over the years. He gets glory when we stand in faith. He gets glory when the world crumbles around us and we still point to Him as our source for everything. He gets glory when we continue to stand in faith no matter what we see. When my soul (mind, will and emotions) are tucked away in Him and He rescues me from falling apart from dealing with this world's system - It glorifies Him.

Today I will be thinking about how He has sustained me through the caregiving years. My meditations will be on how He has provided for us each step of the way (It's an amazing story - really!), on how He comforts like no other, and on how His watchful eye never misses a thing on the journey. I'll think about how it glorifies Him when I continue to trust Him through the storm and furnace. And once again - I'll rest in Him...and smile. Will you join me?