Monday, April 25, 2016

It's the "Little" Things

Solomon was right when he penned, It's the little foxes that spoil the vine. As caregivers we have lots and lots of "big" things that make our days more difficult than "normal" people's. And honestly, most days I have finally learned how to have a handle on those. It took awhile to find a new "normal" and adjust to a lifestyle that is anything BUT normal. But we are caregivers - we assess, adjust, and advance - on a daily, hourly or minute by minute bases as needed.

It's little things like this lady, who did have a handicap sticker by the way, who parked just a little bit too far in the loading area. It was just enough that I had to lift my son's chair up and over to get him on the lift.

I may or may not have said a bad word or two while I was trying to decide what to do. I thought about waiting until she came back out so I could giver her a piece of my mind. But I was afraid I might just punch her first. We were tired, ready to go home and both needed some rest so I decided to lift his chair up and over the lip on the lift so we could proceed. I got him in the van, buckled down, then I stored the lift and went around to get in just in time to hear some smarty pants on KLOVE say something about not letting things steal your joy.

Steal my joy? What joy? Did you see that inconsiderate blond lady who parked like that?  But deep down I knew the guy was probably right. I had had a wonderful evening with my family. We went to my daughter's church to hear my grandson sing in the choir, and then we came out to eat ice cream. It had been a fun, relaxing time with my daughter's family and my sister and brother-in-law and this short, blond chick had to park where it made it difficult to get Chris in the van. And just like that - the joy of the evening was snatched away.

As caregivers, we carry a lot - our day is so full of the things we get to do to care for our loved ones - but we walk around in a state of the proverbial "camel's back" and anything or everything can be that last straw. It really doesn't take much most days (maybe that's just me). The world is filled with inconsiderate people - it's our choice how they affect, or don't affect us. It's easy to say - difficult to do!

Today my meditation will be on Romans 15:13 - I pray that the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace because you believe in Him. I'll let Him restore the joy of my salvation  as I recall that absolutely none of these things have an effect on my salvation. It is secure whether there are considerate or inconsiderate people around is irrelevant. My soul, and my son's soul are safe in Him. I'll choose to rejoice in that fact today. Will you join me?

Monday, April 11, 2016

But Can I Forgive God?

Over the weekend, I was looking at the lives of Joseph and Daniel two extraordinary men in the Bible. The two have a lot in common such as interpreting dreams, great wisdom from God, and they were both in captivity. I was writing down some notes on these two when I realized something different about the two of them. They both had to come to the place where they forgave.

Daniel and Joseph were held captive against their wills. In Joseph's case, he had to forgive his brothers for betraying him first of all. Then he had to forgive Potiphar's wife for lying on him and putting him in prison for something he didn't do. He was kind of a double captive. Nonetheless, he had to come to a place to forgive.

For me, I chose to forgive the young man driving the vehicle who caused the wreck that injured my son. At first it was easier really. Then over time it became difficult and was just a choice, but not a true action of my heart. I've had times I was angry with him. He got to go on living, graduated college, playing the drums, getting married, teaching - like my son wanted to do. But unforgiveness doesn't bring my son back - nor does it make my life any easier. Day by day it's a choice to not carry bitterness or a grudge. I'll be the first to admit it ain't always easy.

But on top of forgiving the person at fault (if there was one) the caregiver has to forgive God. This may be one of our biggest hurdles. Ultimately, it's His fault we are caregiving, whether we are caring for a child, a parent or someone else. If we believe God is truly in control then at the bare minimum He let it happen. This was a very tough spot for me for a very long time.

Eventually though, I forgave God. I found that unless I forgive Him, it's very difficult to trust Him again. But you know what? If we can't quite find that spot on any given day - we can express it to Him. He is big enough to carry it. I usually tell Him exactly what I feel, how angry I am at Him, how frustrating life is, or how disappointed I am with how He orchestrated life. And so far - He hasn't fried me down to my toenails - and chances are He won't.

I believe He honors a heart that is honest with Him. He is strong enough to carry our loads; and us as well. He never kicks us to the curb, but patiently waits for us to pour out our hearts before Him. I'm sure Daniel and Joseph had their moments. They had to; they were in some very tough circumstances. Let us learn to pour our hearts out before our King in open honesty. When we trust Him with the worst - He amazingly fills us up with His grace.

Today I'm going to rejoice in the fact that I don't have to hide my true feelings from God. I can talk to Him one-on-one. I can pour out all the bad, and good, things in my heart before Him and He will refresh me as I wait on Him. My efforts today will be to be bluntly honest with God. I'll turn my thoughts to the grace He supplies when I really pour it all out before Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Makes a Conqueror?

This photo is from an obstacle race I did a couple years ago. It doesn't show it, but I had climbed up on a wall of hay bales. If you notice, I'm covered in mud because I'd just come through the deep, thick mud pit. Then I reached the very tall wall built solely out of large bales of hay. I climbed to the top and felt like I'd won even though I had a few feet left to go.

Why did I feel so victorious? Because I had come through lots of obstacles already. I knew I was nearing the end and was going to get a finisher's medal. At that point in time, I was a conqueror! I had beat all the obstacles but just needed to walk across the finish line.

What made me feel like a winner? I certainly wasn't, and never will be, the first person across the finish line. I was literally on top of the world because of what I had just come through.

This morning in my devotions, I stopped to think about a scripture I came across in Proverbs. The New Living Translation put chapter 14 verses 26 and 27 like this: Those who fear the Lord are secure; He will be a place of refuge for their children. Fear of the Lord is a life giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death. I thought about these two scriptures quite a while, and here's what I came up with.

Verse 26 talks about being secure because of the fear of the Lord. As a caregiver, I first question this as God didn't save me from caregiving. But then it says He is a refuge for my children. What I took away from that is when my daughter sees me relying fully on God - she learns to trust too. It can be the same with spiritual children and other onlookers as well. Our testimony isn't that we escaped the obstacles - it's that we are daily overcoming them to continue to trust in Him! Others see that and realize when they face struggles - He can be their refuge too.

Verse 27 speaks of fearing God being a life-giving fountain. I could stay on that for awhile, but the last part of the verse is what stood out to me. We are saved from the snares of death - not the snares or trials or pitfalls of life - but snares of death. Our eternity is secure no matter what we face in life. We face absolutely no fear in death - our souls are secured in Him.

Today I will meditate on how He is the keeper of my soul. I'll see my struggles today as obstacles I must go through so I can be a conqueror. I will think about how He can use them to make me and my faith stronger. And I'm going to think about how great it felt to be on top of the hay stacks - covered with mud- because I had overcome the obstacles - not gone around them. My thoughts will be on how He makes me an overcomer in everything I face. And I will be grateful for His presence in my life today. Will you join me?





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Huge Sigh!

This morning as I was trying to focus during my devotions and prayer, my head was going 900 miles per hour. That's not much of an exaggeration, either. I was running through my mental list of all I have to get done as well as the roadblocks I know of, like not getting all of my son's supplies this month and tying to figure out when and how to go make those purchases.

As caregivers, we already have so much on our plate on any given day and these seemingly "little" problems can be huge. So my mind is going over finances and our schedule to see how to fit these additional items in, plus having to figure out how to work with less time available for the afternoon.. My mind was racing through all these tasks and chores when I heard myself heave a huge sigh. I felt so overwhelmed.

Of course I'm overwhelmed, I'm a caregiver, lol! It's not imagined - there really is a lot going on and there are no easy tasks. Lately I've found I go to bed tired - and wake up tired. I was thinking about all this and all the things I need to get done today when this very familiar scripture was triggered by my thoughts. I know you know it too:

Give all your worries and cares to God,
For He cares about what happens to you.
(1Peter 5:7 NLT)

I know I know this scripture - but this simple reminder helped me catch up to myself this morning. Not one thing got taken off my list of things to do. And as a matter of fact, I headed out the back door to my little backyard and worked in my wanna-be garden for a while. In the process, I emptied myself out before the Lord and I gave Him the whole shebang. I poured out my heart and let Him fill it back up. This waiting on Him is really hard work. But I'm finding when we purposefully wait on Him - He takes up that slack and fills up our empty spots with more of Him. And with that - I will face this day.

Today while I am scurrying about to finish tasks, I will take time to breathe Him in. My thoughts and deep meditations will be on how He strengthens me and offers wisdom to those who ask. Today I'll be asking Him for wisdom and waiting for His strength - will you join me?