Monday, February 22, 2016

When Nothing Changes

This morning my devotions led me to Psalm 104. It's been a long time favorite of mine so I read through it slowly and tried to let some of it just sink in. I'm a huge nature buff - or at least was BC (before caregiving) so I love the description of nature and creation. My mind really gets going when I go through all the different ways He provides for animals - and for us.

One of my favorite verses is 19, the New Living says this: You made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun knows when to set. The sun never reaches high noon and then forgets which way to go! The things He set in order - are still working perfectly today.

As a caregiver, sometimes remembering these seemingly little things helps, and sometimes it doesn't. Change is a big part of the world, of nature, of caregiving. But it's not always those things that change that bothers us - it's the things that don't. For the most part our day-to-days don't change a lot; it's always chaotic. We get up and it's not really a new day - it's more like another day. These are the things I was thinking about while reading Psalms this morning.

When I got to the last three verses, I took time to really think about them. Verses 34 and 35 say this:

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live
I will praise my God to my last breath!
May He be pleased by all these thoughts about Him,
for I rejoice in the Lord. (NLT)

When my son was first injured, it's an understatement to say my world got turned upside down. But even during the 3+ weeks I spent living in the ICU waiting room - I knew God had not changed. Even though my heart was in turmoil and I was going to face a re-defining of my faith over the next few years - I knew my circumstances didn't dictate a thing to God. No trauma, problem, battle or life circumstance has any control over Him and nothing knocks Him off His throne. He remains sovereign when life doesn't make sense - and when absolutely nothing changes when we pray.

I want to be able to say I sang to the Lord from the back of the cave! I want to be able to say I praised Him until I drew my last breath - no matter what happens in between drawing the first and the last breaths. And I hope He is pleased with my thoughts. To be realistic - I am sure He is not. I've doubted, pouted, cried, cussed, ranted and raved. And He's been big enough to handle it. He didn't get His feelings hurt and walk away. He didn't throw His hands up in total exasperation. He just sits on His throne - unmoved.

Today I am going to think about how He remains calm, stable, and steady in the midst of my storm. My meditations will be on how nothing can budge Him. Whether life changes in an instant - with one phone call - or if it doesn't change at all no matter how hard we pray- He doesn't change - He is still on the throne. That's what I'll be thinking about today - I hope it pleases Him. And I hope you'll join me.

Friday, February 12, 2016

He Never Gives Up

As a caregiver, emotions can be all over the place. I find that one second I'm feeling okay about everything, I have a positive outlook and I am ready to take on the world. The next second for no apparent reason, I'm upset, mad at the world and ready to call it quits. On everything. One second I'm in love with God and so thankful that He continues to strengthen me to do what I need to do; the next second I'm angry with Him for letting this happen. This can all be in a matter of a few minutes, or seconds depending on the day.

But you know what? None of that scares God off. As to this date, He has never thrown up His hands, said I can't deal with this anymore and walked away. People have told me that "not everyone can handle a large dose of you." Seriously - I was told that, by my mentor. Add things like that to living a life so totally different from the rest of the world and it's easy to have an identity crisis.

One thing that caregivers have to deal with and face is the fact that not everyone can make the journey with us. And for me, my heart hurts for my son too. Why? Because friends can only be friends if nothing changes. On one hand - it's totally understandable - he can no longer "contribute" to the relationship, right? He can't laugh, play, tell jokes, make his deeply philosophical statements anymore. So there's nothing.

For the caregiver, our lives are different than everyone else's too. Maybe we can or can't freely do things the rest of the world does - and many walk away. Or my favorite - they watch our lives from a distance, totally disconnected.

On both counts there can be such a sense of abandonment and alone-ness that swallows us up whole. It's not an easy journey to make alone, or with someone else.

I say all this to share a scripture that came to mind this morning during my devotions. I actually was looking at Joshua 1:8 about being of good courage. I read it in my NASB, then looked it up in the Message. And here is what I found a few verses back:

I won't give up on you;
I won't leave you. (v.6)
Strength! Courage! 
Don't be timid; don't get discouraged.
God, your God is with you every step of the way. (v. 9)

While this whole passage spoke deeply to me this morning - that one phrase I won't give up on you is what really got my attention. No matter who observes from a distance, because they don't know what to do if they get closer; no matter who walks away from us or our situation - for whatever reason - God will not give up on us!  He is in it for the long haul; and that is exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

Today I'm going to meditate on His determination to be with me on this journey. I'll think about how He does not get too frustrated at me, never throws up His hands and never quits because I'm too much for Him to handle. My thoughts will be on how He is pleased with me, loves me and carries me even when I am being stubborn and resistant to His grace. He patiently waits for me to settle back down and come back to Him for peace. Today - I will be re-positioning myself in His lap; and settling in His embrace. Will you join me?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Where Did the Sun Go?

In my devotions yesterday I talked about purposefully looking for a way that nature displays His glory. Well, I didn't actually get out of the house as is common for me. Between caregiving and job responsibilities who has time to get out? But I did discover something about God through nature.

I was watching some videos for my classes to be come a health coach and the speaker said something about the sun. He said something to the effect of "the sun doesn't stop shining if the flower doesn't respond by opening up." That's all my high-speed mind needed to run away. I took that thought and meditated on it for some time yesterday.

The sun doesn't get upset if plants don't respond by growing, blooming or bearing fruit. Day after day the sun "comes up" and does its job; but it can't make the plants respond. I have shared openly about my anger with God when my son became injured. I didn't (and still don't) understand how God could allow someone so full of passion, drive and music to suffer a brain injury. I went through my times of not talking to God and ignoring Him. But His mercy did not stop just because I did not respond.

Every morning the sun "comes up" and every evening it "sets." It continues to do its job no matter how the elements of the earth respond. Psalm 104:19 says the sun knows when to set. It never rises to the full day and then forgets which way to go, or what to do. What a picture of God the sun gives us each day.

He is constantly pouring forth His mercy whether we recognize and accept it or not. He doesn't waver or shut off His mercy, love, and care if we refuse or fail to respond. Like the flower that has to reach up to the sun to receive its nutrients, we have to reach up to our Father to receive life. But He is constantly pouring it out for us - on us. The flower doesn't have a choice - it automatically responds to the sunshine; and automatically opens up to receive all the sun has to offer. Unlike the flower, God gave us a will and the power to choose. I have to say that for a long time, I chose to ignore God. I was angry because my life was snatched away with one single phone call. My dreams were gone, my hope was gone - and I honestly didn't have the desire or energy to pursue them, or Him for a long time.

But what I have found is if we will relax and open up like that flower responds to the sun, He is still pouring out His love, mercy and grace. He didn't stop just because I stopped receiving. As a caregiver, I need Him more than ever before. The really cool thing about God is that He is always right there. Wherever we left Him - whatever that frustration point was (or is) that made us throw up our hands and walk away - He's still there. Like the sun - He is consistent in His intentions for us. We have to choose to be intentional with Him.

Today I am going to think about how God has not changed one iota with my circumstances. My meditations will be how He has remained reigning on the throne through my darkest seasons. I'll turn my thoughts to how His mercy never runs out - and the light is always on  even when I can't see it because of the night. My choice today is to respond to Him - even if I can't hear Him. Like the plant cannot hear the sun but opens up in response - so will I open my heart to respond to Him today. Will you join me?

Monday, February 1, 2016

What Was I Thinking?

If you know me at all whether in real life or through writing or Facebook, you know I'm an over-thinker. My mind races at 90+ miles per hour and I'm not even sure it slows down when my body sleeps. As a caregiver, this can be beneficial in that I will pursue something until I find an answer - or something that will work. Others have found it real annoying - but there's no "off" switch; or I haven't found one yet.

So this morning as soon as my feet hit the floor my mind takes off with all the things I have to accomplish today. I let my son rest some over the weekend and today is back to our regular schedule of therapy and work. Thus, the 100 mile an hour race going on in my head when my alarm went off at 5 this morning. Lately, it's been racing so much when my alarm goes off I'm off to the races and there isn't as much "snoozing" as there used to be... leads to a more productive day ultimately; but also an extra afternoon nap when possible.

So with my mind racing this morning it was hard for God to get any insight, thoughts or direction squeezed in between. Until I slowed down a bit, and focused on His word for just a moment. That sounds easy - but for caregivers, there honestly is not always time to take for slowing down to pause or think. Some days are just plain crazy with caregiving duties - and other days - they are just crazier!

But as I made myself slow down this morning and purposefully opened the Word, He faithfully spoke to my heart. I found my eyes resting on Psalm 19. I learned the first few verses as a child and how all of  creation continues to sing His praise. There is no where that the voice of nature is not heard singing of God's glory. As an adult I learned to cherish verses 7-11 which patiently describe the impact of His Word on our daily lives. And the final verse of this chapter, verse 14 we used to sing back in the old school days when the new thing to do in church was sing "choruses" instead of full blown songs. We sang scriptures over, and over and over again. I can appreciate it now because they really got lodged in my heart and give me something to hold on to through all these crazy days.

Verse 14 says this: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. I thought about how my mind had been racing all morning since 5 AM, and wondered if my crazy thoughts and weekly goal setting were all things that were pleasing, or acceptable to Him. Were my conversations this weekend pleasing to Him? Can He even keep up with all these thoughts playing in my head? Or does He have a mental capacity DVR so He can pause it now and then and run it back if He missed something? lol

I know our days as caregivers can be extremely busy; and so can our thoughts. But today I will purposefully slow myself down and meditate on Him. I don't know how yet, but I'm going to find a way to discover something new about nature. I want to see a display of  nature demonstrating His glory.

Today I will guard my heart and mind in Him. I will purposefully monitor my thoughts and kick out anything that does not match what He says about me or my situation. I'll be watching for the demonstration of His glory in His creation today. And I will keep my mind and thoughts moving toward Him. Will you join me?