Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Invitation

I woke up tired this morning, but that's nothing new for caregivers, right? And honestly, right now caregiving isn't the hard part for me, I've become accustomed to this normal. The difficult part for me right now is trying to figure out how to manage my work schedule along with my caregiving duties. Of course, there are always complications - because we are caregivers. No two days are exactly the same and you never know what is going to pop up unexpectedly.

Unless you are a caregiver, you won't get some of the frustrations that go along with the blessing of being able to care for your loved one. My greatest one of late is the repeated rescheduling of my son's case manager. Evidently she has no idea how much it takes to rearrange our schedule 3 times a week to accommodate her.(But she will have a clue after her visit on Friday- if she makes that one.)

Just my mornings go something like this:

  • Alarm goes off at 5:30 - hit the snooze to about 6
  • Get up (run to the bathroom - weigh in for the day)
  • Make coffee
  • Get Chris' bolus and meds ready
  • Start coffee
  • Go change Chris (welcome to the real world) and get him comfortable - bolus him
  • Back to the kitchen to rinse out the syringe and bolus cup
  • Grab first cup of coffee
  • Head for the recliner with coffee, baby monitor and Bible in hand
Honestly, the little baby monitor is one of my greatest investments! But this is the first half hour or so of my day. Then I start devotions, or that's the goal anyway. 

This morning my frustrations were still high as not getting to go to the store yesterday as planned means I have to change up this mornings schedule as well - all because the CM decided not to come yesterday and come Friday instead. But as I sat in my recliner and sipped my coffee, my Bible fell open to Revelation 22 and my eyes went straight to verses 10 and I read to verse 17 where I landed. It says this:
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."
And let the one who hears say, "Come."
And let the one who is thirsty, come;
Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

I thought about that a bit...I'm thirsty for Him. I need the refreshing water of life. And I can get it for free just by wanting and taking it....

My "google" mind brought up another similar scripture found in Isaiah 55:2 and it goes like this:

Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,
And you who have no money -
come, buy and eat.
Come by wine and milk without money and without cost.

Wow- His refreshing waters are there for us to partake of - at any time - at no cost. Now I'm on my second cup of coffee- and I'm smiling. My mind went to another familiar scripture in one of my favorite go-to psalms: 46. It says: there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. "Dwelling places?" That would be us. His stream is running to us and through us already.

Let me see if I can pull all this together in my mind. There's this stream of living water and we are invited to drink anytime we want....the refreshing is free, we just have to come and get it. It may sound like it's far away - but it's actually running in our midst....the refreshing is there any time we need it, anytime we can just take a slow, deep breath and breathe Him in. He's here with us.

Today I will let His presence transform my frustration into refreshing. I will purposefully welcome the stream of God's presence to flow through my heart. My meditations will be on how He is just asking us to "come" to Him and be refreshed. I'll think about the rest of Psalm 46 - and how He is present and He is inviting me to come drink of Him. I will accept His invitation - will you join me?






Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You're Doing a Good Job

One of my goals for this year was to read more for enjoyment, and not only for work purposes. I finished my first book of the year over the weekend and am trying to squeeze in another one before this weekend before I go back to my scheduled reading list. I also read lots of other stuff like LinkedIn Pulse on my phone. Today it had a story by a lady and she was talking about writing web content. It caught my interest since that's been a lot of what I've done over the last few years.

She focused on a statement that really got my attention. It simply said: You're doing a good job! It wasn't even directed at me, but it made me feel good anyway. Sometimes as caregivers it's nice to hear that we are doing a good job. It's no easy task taking care of another whole person or having to make decisions on their behalf.

Maybe one reason we don't hear it more is some people really don't understand what we do all day long. I've heard  "it's nice you get to stay home all day." Haven't you? I'm like - I'll trade you one day... just for a day. (smile) And some of it is that we can't talk about some of the most difficult things we do. Our daily tasks may be very different depending on our loved one's needs. For my mom, I've had to start dealing with her as a child in many ways, but she doesn't need to be fed or bathed. But for my son, I have to feed him every single bite, transfer him, bathe him and change his briefs. But we don't talk about those things and when on those rare occasions someone comes to our house, or we go out - most people can't process those nitty gritty chores we get to do for those we love and care for. So how would they even know we need to hear You're doing a good job!?

Then I started thinking about if God ever told anyone they were doing a good job or not. The first scripture that came to mind was when John the Baptist was baptizing Jesus and the Spirit of God descended on Him and said, This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased. And then I went blank. I did a little searching and found the story of the ten talents. The ones who acted responsibly with their talents were told they did a good job.

I branched out to look at some different translations and found this one in the Message:
[Make the most of what God gives] After looking at the 
way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the
best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time,
and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life.
And that's about it. That's the human lot.
Yes, we should make the most out of what God gives,
both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it,
accepting what's given and delighting in the work.
It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

I thought about that for awhile. I like the "take care of yourself and have a good time" part. But I had some trouble with the finding joy in what I'm doing part. I'd like to ask the writer, do you know what I do? Some aspects of caregiving are anything but joyous; things we can't talk about like changing catheter bags, changing adult-poop filled pants, for example. But I can choose to take joy in my "job" if you want to call it that. 

It's my pleasure to help and take care of my son - and quite honestly - no one can do it better! And no one can do your caregiving "job" better than you either. So smile today and listen as the Father tells you, "You're doing a good job!" Oh - and believe Him.

Today I am going to rejoice in the fact that God is pleased that I chose to be a caregiver. I'm going to envision Him looking down on me and smiling as He sees me being his hands and heart to my son. I'm going to receive this "You're doing a great job!" as if it was directly from Him this morning. And then? I'm just going to smile.....because I look like Him. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

He Always Showed Up

I often refer to caregivers as furnace walkers because our lives are lived out in the furnace. This morning during my devotions, some thoughts left over from yesterday evening started rolling around in my head.

I first thought of the three Hebrew children as they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Then I thought about Daniel and the entire night he spent in the lion's den. In times past these stories were really frustrating to me as they all were delivered out of their trials while most caregivers faithfully face their furnace day after day. But today my mind took a different route.

For these two stories what stood out to me in my morning devotions was the fact that God showed up. Technically, He didn't deliver them out of the trial, but He walked through it with them. The king in both of these stories had delivered these men of God to their fate - and the king in both stories removed the men from their trials. But God showed up.

God was present in the fire with the three Hebrew children, but He was not visible once the king's men got them out. The Angel of the Lord came and shut the lion's mouths while Daniel spent the night in their den, but the king came and got him out the next morning when he with feeble faith said, O Daniel, was your God who you serve able to deliver you? Indeed He was! But God didn't open the mouth of the sealed den and let Daniel out, He spent the night there with him.

There are so many stories where God showed up to walk through trials with people of faith. I think of Hagar, who was leaving the mistreatment of Sarah. God showed up and prophesied about her son, Ishmael, but then told her to go back to Sarah and server her. He didn't whisk her away on a white horse.

What about Jeremiah? Some of believer's favorite words were penned by this prophet. I know the plans I have for you....But Jeremiah did not escape the captivity of his day. Instead, God walked through it with him. And all throughout scriptures in stories of great trials and tribulations we see God showing up. His presence hovered over the Children of Israel while they made their way, the long way, through the wilderness - but they still endured the wilderness.

He was with Joseph when he was sold by his brothers into a lifetime of slavery; and also with him when he was in prison for something he didn't do. Even though Joseph did some great things through God's direction - he never just went home. 

This morning I am encouraged by these stories of faith in the furnace. God doesn't always make the fire just go away - but He always shows up and walks through it with us giving us the strength and the courage to face each new day.

Today my thoughts will be on the ever abiding presence of God. I'm going to meditate on the fact that He's not afraid to walk through my furnace(s) with me. When it gets hotter - He gets nearer. Instead of always looking for that way out - I'm going to look for signs of His presence in the fire today. I'll listen for Him and look for Him. And when I sense Him, I'll lean in close to see what He has to say. Will you join me?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Speak Fast Lord, I've Got a Lot to Do!

Caregivers no doubt have a lot on their plate, I mean after all, we are taking care of another whole person's needs on varying levels. Some caregivers are taking care of even more than one. I don't know about you, but my morning can get outta hand hectic way too fast. My morning sets the order for my day - which is why I try to do my devotions first thing. If I don't, I may never get the chance again.

This morning I got up with all the things I had to get done today on my mind. I have work to do to keep the lights on, my son's case manager is coming by this afternoon, a new module opens in my class I'm enrolled in (and I haven't finished last week's module), and just all the normal caregiving stuff like bathing, pureeing, feeding, and the different therapies. I'm tired just thinking about it all!

I got up, got my coffee (I never miss that part), sat in my recliner, opened my Bible and thought You gotta speak fast Lord, I only have 'til 7. And then I stopped. Did I really say that to God? Those were my thoughts to the One who puts more into my life than any person on this planet? I don't say that to the cardiologist - I want him to take his time to listen to me and explain everything fully. I don't say that to my son's health care providers; I want them to be thorough and thoughtful. I don't say that to the teachers of my health coaching classes - I don't want to miss anything. I don't say that to my boss on my job or any of my clients.  I tried to cram the thoughtless prayer back into my head but it had already crept out.

I started to feel badly about it for a minute, but then I felt His gentle nudge. My mind went immediately to Isaiah 30:18 that goes something like this: The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long (or wait) for Him.

My next thought was a scripture out of Jeremiah 29:13 - you will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.

That's really want I want. My desire is to seek him and to have a heart that is constantly reaching out to Him, not just looking to be rescued from the fiery furnace, but knowing He is walking through it with me, holding me; and carrying me when necessary.

Today I purpose to slow myself down and focus on listening to Him. Even though my list of things to get done today is long, much like yours I'm sure, I will turn my heart and my ears to listen for His gentle nudges today. I won't crowd Him out with all my busy-ness. I'll make room for Him to speak to me today; and I will listen. Will you join me?


Monday, January 18, 2016

He Knows When We Stop By

There's not really any easy days for caregivers, I don't think; but some days are more difficult than others. It was difficult for me to adjust to the new normals when I first stepped into the role and it eventually became second nature, but boy did it take awhile. And that still doesn't mean it's easy.

One thing that keeps me going every day is knowing I have a place to hide if I need it. If I start feeling overwhelmed (more so than usual), or like I can't handle it any more, or just get tired - there's a place I can go.

Nahum 1:7 offers me great comfort in saying: The Lord is good, He is a stronghold in the day of  trouble; and He knows those who take refuge in Him. There are three very distinct and encouraging points in this verse and for me each truth holds a deep meaning and gives me strength.

God is Good. I love this phrase even though I feel like it's misused a lot. Usually, we hear it when a person gets what they want. They get a new car: God is good. After a promotion or raise at work: God is good. They were sick and feel better: God is good. What's interesting to me is I don't hear it, or say it myself, when something doesn't go my way. We never hear, my car broke down, God is good. Or something like I got an unfavorable report from the doctor, God is good. It seems to be used only when something went our way. But I propose that God is always good - His goodness does not change with the winds of our situations. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it on my other blog From the Furnace. The fact that He is good - even when life is not - helps me stay grounded because He doesn't change with my situation - He's still good - and He's still God.

He is a Stronghold in the day of Trouble.  Another favorite of mine is Psalm 46:1 which says God is our refuge and strength a very present help in time of need. He is a safe place to run to when life throws us a curve ball. His door is always open to us and He anxiously awaits our arrival so He can pour His peace into our hearts. He is my hiding place - my refuge when it all gets too big for me to carry. I love the fact that I can go running to Him anytime of any day - and you know what? I always found Him waiting for me. Now that's comfort.

He knows those who take refuge in Him. Not only does He wait for our arrival - He knows us. He knew we were coming, which is comforting. But He went past that and knows us. He knows what makes us tick, what sets us over the edge, what gives us peace. Psalm 139 is a great passage that talks about how He knows us inside and out; and He's still not scared to hang out with us! :-)
 Actually He greatly anticipates our arrival and welcomes us with open arms. He knows those of us who take refuge in Him.

Today I will meditate on how He knows me - and still likes me! My thoughtss will be on how He is good all the time, I can run to Him all the time, and He knows me all the time. Knowing any one of these is comforting - but getting a grasp of all three of them is strengthening. I will focus my thoughts on His goodness which surrounds and protects my heart as I seek Him for refuge.Will you join me?

Friday, January 15, 2016

From a Distance

One of the coolest things about living in this day and age is that we are all much more connected through the internet. We can check up on any of our friends around the world; or make new friends in distant places. As a caregiver, I've found it has made a huge difference and for awhile social media provided my only "social" outlet. There were some days having some connections via online resources meant the difference in my sanity.

But there are some downfalls to having connections only through the internet. My computer has never laughed with me, had coffee with me, or hugged me; and we can still be lacking physical interaction.

There have been a few friends who stepped across that invisible barrier and we talk on the phone, have coffee now and then or even share conversation via skype. But I've found for the vast majority my connections can stay distant. Caregivers don't have the picture perfect lives and sometimes people really don't know how to make a difference, or they don't know what to do. So they keep their distance.

This morning I was reading through a few chapters in Genesis and reread a large portion of Joseph's story. I had to back up though because Judah kept popping up. He was the one who talked the other brothers into sparing Joseph's life and selling him into slavery instead. He also stepped up to protect Benjamin. Did you ever wonder how Joseph must have felt when he saw Judah take up for Benjamin? Judah was talked about a lot in these few chapters but he always seemed to be at a distance and never fully involved until it came down to life or death.

A few years (or decades) back, there was a popular song  by Bette Midler,  it was called "From a Distance" and a key phrase, and probably the only lyric I remember is God is watching - from a distance. That's what it seemed like Judah was doing - always involved but always staying away.

As a caregiver I've discovered there are some people who really care - but they prefer to not be up-close-and-personal. It's "safer" for them to stay somewhat disconnected from us; and the internet accommodates that real well. But God isn't that way. He is not just watching from a distance and trying to stay as connected as possible without investing Himself  into the situation. He is not uncomfortable being around us. As a matter of fact, He wants to be with us; our lives are not too ugly for Him! Rather than watching from a distance, He is fully invested in walking it through with us.

Today I'm going to rejoice in the fact that God does not keep His distance. My thoughts will be on how He chooses to walk this tough road with us - rather than apart from us. I'll meditate on how He is fully vested in my life and is dedicated to helping me be whole - body, soul and spirit - even in a difficult situation. My goal for today is to open my eyes and look around to find Him. He's not watching from a distance, He is right here-right now and I will not hold Him at a distance. I will welcome Him into this crazy caregiver lifestyle with open arms. I will let Him be a willing participant today. Will you join me?


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Be Quiet AND Wait?

A favorite scripture of mine is Isaiah 40:31. I learned it at an early age and we used to sing it in church when I was a teenager. It says this: They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. 

On one hand it makes you wonder if we get weary if we are truly waiting on Him. On the other hand, anyone who wonders that about us is free to spend a day doing what we do.

On the other hand, we have to question what waiting on God might really mean. When my son first had the accident, I waited in the ICU waiting room for God to ride in on His white horse and rescue us from this tragedy. He did not. But I waited.

But then of course this scripture doesn't say those who wait on the Lord will see Him come riding through on His white horse to rescue them from life, does it? Actually, it says when we wait we will find new strength. Maybe Psalm 62 can shed a little light on waiting.

In this psalm, David makes his declaration in the first verse when he says: My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.  That's a powerful declaration. I think it's interesting that David is not only waiting on God, but makes it a point to say he's waiting in silence. 

But guess what caught my eye? Verse 5. He repeats the first few verses but it's a bit different. In the first verse he is declaring that he is waiting on God. By verse 5 he speaks to his soul - to himself and says directly: my soul, wait in silence for God only.

So what are we waiting on? Sometimes I feel like waiting is not silent nor done in patience. I feel more like a kid sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what God's going to come up with next. Makes me think of a phrase we use a lot - I can't wait - for this or that. But it is important that we wait silently - and patiently.

Isaiah 30:15 states Only in returning to Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. It seems we should wait for Him - and do so in a quiet confidence. We are confident that our redeemer lives. We are confident that He is guarding our souls. We are confident that He hasn't abandoned us - nor will He. We are confident that He is our refuge in any time of trouble....add your own points in here as He is our all in all. ( I am confident that God.....)

Today I will go forward in a quiet confidence knowing that He is with me and He will strengthen me for whatever I might face today. I will rest in the truth that He is in this for the long haul, and His mercies are constantly being renewed. I will purposefully quiet my soul and wait for His strength to be renewed in me. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The In-Betweens

This morning during my quiet time I was thinking about some of my favorite Bible characters and the obstacles they overcame. Of course, it's the fact that they overcame that makes them heroes of our faith. I was trying to think if I could find some distant way to identify with any one of them. But I'm not sure anyone was a caregiver or could relate to our world today in that way. David took care of Jonathan's son Mephibosheth who was crippled, but other than that I pretty much came up empty.

But as my mind was strolling through some of the great OT stories, it landed on Moses; and that's where I settled. We know at God's word he charged in and faced an obstinate king only to find out that God's chosen people were just as obstinate. Moses really had his hands full trying to provide for a nation of people. There was a lot happening between Exodus chapter 3 and chapter 19.

In chapter 3, Moses is standing on the mount and God tells him that he'd return to that spot to worship Him. And just as God promised, in chapter 19 - Moses has returned with the nation of Israel with him. how amazing is that? But -- it's the in between that Moses had to endure that I want to focus on.

Before Moses gets back to that worship site, he faced Pharaoh and went through the 10 plagues. THEN once they got out of Egypt, they ran smack dab into the Red Sea. For me - I'd have fallen apart right there and thought I must have missed God. But not Moses - he asked God what to do (that's a novel idea) and then they went across on dry land and Pharaoh's army was drowned. That's when the celebration started and in chapter 15 we get a glimpse of their song of victory as their enemies were washed away.

But it's  not over yet.

Just a short trek from the Red Sea - they run out of water! The water they found was bitter - I can relate to that as sometimes everything (even good things) can have a bitter taste. God provides fresh water and then what? The natives are restless and start fussing about their food source. No problem though, right? God rains down manna on them every day for them to eat. But that's not good enough for these grumpy people - they want meat. And Moses gets an ear full again! No problem - God drives quail by the dozens into the camp so they can satisfy their longing for meat.

Everything is nice and comfy in the wilderness now and they enjoy a beautiful Sabbath celebration. Until.....they ran out of water again in chapter 17. Moses prayed once again and God provided.Then in chapter 18 we see how Moses is burdened by trying to keep peace in the camp. He was working daylight to dark quite literally trying to solve problems. I'm pretty sure this was not a peaceful trip for this fearless leader.

But finally in chapter 19 Moses gets to stand on the mountain once again and rejoice in God's promises. It seems it wasn't the promises that Moses had to worry about - but the in-between that gave him fits.

As caregivers just one day can feel like this kind of emotional roller coaster ride - and sometimes it's hour by hour. We are up and in have it all together mode and some little something sends us down the deep dark tunnel of depression. It's okay - we'll be back up in a few minutes only to plummet down again... it can be a vicious cycle. The mountain tops are great - but there can be a lot in between.

It's those struggles in between where our faith is tested, refined and defined. In those times the glory of the mountain top can fade. We just have to remember that it will return. Sometimes it's as easy as finding a quiet place and choosing to worship - other times life chips away at every bit of sanity we have left. During those times - we learn to wait on Him. And that's actually powerful stuff. It's the waiting during the in-betweens that builds our strength, tests our courage (and patience I might add). Faith is fertilized in the field of waiting....and materializes on the mountain top as we commune with Him in worship.

We cannot do away with either - the mountain or the wilderness. They both play a role in defining our relationship with God and strengthening it too.

Today, I want to think about how both the mountain and the wilderness can yield way to worship. I'll meditate on how God does not change during the in-betweens. He remains faithful and constant no matter if we are looking to Him to provide our basic daily needs or worshiping Him on the mountain tops of life. And while I wait for Him - I'll praise and thank Him for always being with me - in all the in-between spots of life. And I'll rest in that thought. Will you join me?












Monday, January 11, 2016

All I Need is One Forever

The caregiver's life is not considered to be normal by most people's standards, because is anything but normal. We do find our new norms and through experimentation find out what works, and does not work for our particular situation; and each one of our situations is totally unique.

While we are all so different in the things we deal with each day, we still share many commonalities. A caregiver's life no matter what can tend to be: hectic, frustrating, endless, tiring, and overall crazy most of the time! (maybe that's just me!)

Our days are definitely not normal. It might be normal for us to keep a bag packed and ready to go in case there's  midnight (or anytime) run to the ER. All our doctor's numbers are on speed dial - and yes there are more than one. We plan our grocery shopping around aides, if we have a good one. We learn how to order everything online - and I mean everything. We also learn to do a lot of medically related tasks that we would have never dreamed of like tube feeding, giving enemas (yes, I said it), administering medicines or even shots, breathing treatments, checking O2 levels and counting respirations. These may be a part of our days- and many people never even think about these types of things, let alone have to do them. And of course, I left a lot out.

So what keeps us together in our own hectic normal? Well, just like each of our normals are different, and we all deal with situations differently because we are still unique individuals, it can vary. What makes it all tick for each of us can also vary from day to day, or even moment to moment. You may find a scripture comforting and peace-giving one day; and only find it frustrating the next. (Maybe that's just me....)

Today what I found comforting is in the last few verses of Psalm 73. Verses 23-26 go like this:

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.

Several things seemed to grab me and soothe me at the same time during my devotions this morning. First, the psalmist says, "I am continually with You." I found that odd, because we usually say that 
He is with us - not that we are with Him. There is comfort in realizing that He is with us - but if I position myself with Him it's gotta be a choice. To know that I'm with God - and He's walking the journey with me and holding my hand...brings peace to my heart.

But I also really heard verses 25 and 26 - Verse 25 to me states that we have that hope of spending eternity with Him - but we also have the desire to be with Him now, on earth. And here on this earth my heart and my flesh may fail....we can get tired; and be tired of being tired and then get tired of that too! But God.....

He is the strength of my heart - He pours His strength into me when I am not sure I can take on one more thing. And it seems one more things just keep coming sometimes. (maybe that's just me too..) He is the strength of my heart - His presence in and with me gives me the courage to keep on going...one step in front of another no matter what responsibilities we face on behalf of our loved ones. And not only is He going pour His strength into our hearts to lift us up - He is my portion forever. I like that He is all I need forever. 

He provides everything we need to survive today; and He'll do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next,......and the next...... forever. He won't get tired and leave us stranded. He's our portion - our lot - our inheritance - our strength - forever!

Today I am going to meditate on His strength rather than my lack of strength. I will allow Him to fill me up with all He is. I'm going to turn my thoughts to his forever-ness. He is with me forever. He is my strength forever. He is my God forever. He is my peace forever. There's not a lot of forevers....there's only one. But one forever - is all I need.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Where God Dwells

The last few days I've been camped out in Psalm 69, and I found myself a few nuggets I've been chewing on. It seems David was in quite a state of distress again. If you think we as caregivers go back and forth on our emotions - take a look at the Psalms David wrote. His thoughts and emotions were all over the place and often in a single psalm he can go from high praise to the pit. That pretty much sums up any of my days. One minute I'm singing and playing the guitar and the next I feel like I'm emotional stuck in a mud pit. (I know it's just me......)

I think for me it has come down to verse 6 of this psalm. It says: May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord God of hosts; May those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel. That's been my prayer not just for my life since I've become a caregiver - but BC (before caregiving) too. I've wanted my life to bring God glory - and still do.

Every caregiver has their own situation, but for me it was a sudden thing when my son, Chris, was in an accident. I have shared how I felt faith had failed me and because of my associations with the faith-ers movement I felt like if I had had faith this tragedy would not have happened. I also felt like my trust in God had failed. After all, I had trusted Him to take care of my kids and He let me down. The feelings associated with a perceived failed faith - are devastating.

Over time, I've learned that faith did not fail me - it sustained me. I am not needy, I am not weak,  I am not lacking in faith, I am no less the Christian because it seems my life stopped to deal with this situation - I'm actually right where God dwells. And I like that.

On down in verse 35 of this same psalm David says this: God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah. First of all, I don't need saving so I wasn't sure how to apply this to my life.

Psalm 9:11 says Sing praise to the Lord - Who dwells in Zion. And Judah has always symbolized praise. Let me see if I can get my thoughts right here. God lives in Zion - a symbol of the NT church and we are His dwelling place as believers. So God lives in us. He lives with us - we are Zion.

The second part of this verse says God will build the cities of Judah. My interpretation (loose though it may be) is - He will establish praise where He lives. And He lives - in us. Right here, right now wherever we are - He is establishing praise in us. This means that as we are crushed in the crucible of life the sweet fragrance of His presence which dwells in us - will bring Him praise. Those who see us struggle with life's issues will be encouraged. Our lives don't bring Him shame - we bring Him honor.

Today I will meditate on trusting Him. I'm going to turn my thoughts to how He dwells with me - and in me. I will think about how everything I do for my son brings Him praise. I'll purposefully look for how He establishes praise in my life as a caregiver. I won't fight the song - I'll let it arise today. Will you join me?