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?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Taming a Hippopotamus

The account of creation in the final chapters of Job are among my favorite scriptures. To hear the account of creation from God's point of view is nothing less than powerful. All of a sudden, Job and his friends are silent as God begins to describe His handiwork in words they could understand. And as He gives us intimate details of His creation, that only the creator could know - I am awed once again by His power and wisdom.

This morning as I was reading the questions God was asking Job, I turned them around to statements of action. These are some restatements of the way God handled creation in my own words:

  • He calculated and measured earth's dimensions
  • He set boundaries for the waters of the earth and told them they could "go no further"
  • He commanded the morning to appear
  • He knows where light comes from...and where darkness goes when light appears
  • He knows where the seas "come from"
  • He ensures the proper sequence of the seasons
  • He placed the constellations - and they are still there 
  • He shouts to the clouds and makes it rain
  • He knows when the wild animals give birth
It is just so powerful  to hear the first-hand account of creation and its continuation from the One who instigated it all! I've read this passage numerous times and it reminds me of how huge and wise God really is, and how frail I really am. Yet He beckons me to come into fellowship with Him. He measured the waters of the earth out and put them right where He wanted them - and then told them to stay put. He spoke and light burst forth from somewhere - only He knows its origin. He set the earth on its axis at just the right angle, at just the right distance from the sun to sustain life. 

While I was in awe of all His mighty work and letting my imagination run wild with pictures of how glorious creation must have been, He shifts and asks Job to look at the hippopotamus. My mind is like what? It's such a funny animal. No one really wants a hippopotamus for a pet - it's not all cute-n-cuddly; it's massive and bulky. But God speaks of His creation rather fondly.

God says the hippopotamus is mighty and then He adds I made the hippopotamus just as I made you. (Job 40:15) He describes a powerful, muscular animal - that eats grass like an ox, or a cow. This massive beast doesn't tear animals limb from limb for sustenance - it eats grass. Yet nothing messes with a hippopotamus - He says Only its creator can threaten it. It lies down where it wants - it eats when and where it wants - it's not afraid of water - you can't catch it off guard and no one has tamed a hippopotamus! (Job 40:24) Sounds like one of our most ignored animal friends is well loved by the Creator. 

If God can care for a hippopotamus - and knows it in such intimate detail, how much more does He care for us and know what our days look like? Psalm 139 tells us He is acquainted with all our ways. He knows exactly what the caregiver's day looks like. He knows the struggles and triumphs, the emotions and lack of them, the tiredness and energy - all the minute by minute ebbs and flows that are associated with caregiving. He knows how much we trust, or don't trust Him. He is aware of our patience - or lack thereof! 

And in all this - He stands with heart and hands outstretched longing for us to come to Him and rest. I'm thinking if the hippopotamus can trust God for sustenance and care - so can I! If He knows all the actions of a hippopotamus, how much more does He know the ins and outs of our days? 

Today I will think about how intimately God knows me. I'll think about how He can see right into my heart and sense my deepest emotions - and I'm okay with that and so is He. I'll think about how He does not discard me when I get frustrated. He patiently waits for me. My meditations will be on how much effort He takes to communicate to me how much He loves me, how much He cares. I'll make today a deep breath day - and I will rest in him. Will you join me?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Forever is a Long Time

After yesterday's devotion, I continued to think about things about God that do not change. He is constant, ever-abiding and is not affected by the winds of life or our circumstances. I started making a list of some of the things I thought of and came up with quite a few things off the top of my head.

My list included His love, His mercy, His righteousness, His provision for us, the truth, salvation, His power, the power of Christ's sacrifice, His Word and His callings. This is just a very topical list of things that simply don't ever change.

Throughout the day I meditated on these and a few others on the list I had compiled.  Then I decided to look up the word forever just to see what I found. I used Bible Gateway and searched just the NASB and came up with these little nuggets:

The Lord will reign forever -Ex. 15:18
The Lord abides forever  - Ps. 9:18; Ps 102:12
The Lord is King forever - Ps. 10:16; Ps. 29:10
In His right hand are pleasures forever - Ps. 16:11
The Counsel of the Lord stands forever - Ps. 33:11
The blameless have a forever inheritance - Ps 37:27
His godly ones are preserved forever - Ps. 37:28
He sets us in His presence forever - Ps. 41:12
His throne and scepter are forever - Ps. 45:6
He is God forever - Ps. 48:14
He rules by His might forever - Ps. 66:7
He established the earth so it will not totter forever - Ps. 104:5
He has ordained His covenant forever - Ps. 111;19
His righteousness endures forever - Ps. 112:9
He surrounds His people forever - Ps. 125:2
The word of God stands forever - Isaiah 40:8
His righteousness will be forever - Isaiah 51:6-8
He lives forever and has an everlasting dominion - Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26
His kingdom and reign is forever - Luke 1:33
The Holy Spirit is with us forever - John 14:16
He saves forever and intercedes forever - Heb. 7:25
He is the same forever! - Heb. 13:8

These are just a few I decided to highlight and used only one translation. Honestly, it gets a bit redundant as if God is trying to drive home the point that He does not change. His compassion, mercy and watchful care over us never changes. He is diligent about being present in our lives. His provision, salvation, word, promises, and righteousness will stand the test of time. Not one thing about Him changes due to any circumstances we face or any status of our lives that changes. There are no stipulations on His forevers. Not one of them was followed with an if or an as long as....They simply stand.

When I started thinking about all He has done and how enduring His work in our lives is - I got a little bit excited. He is faithful - forever. Faithful to empower us, indwell us and even carry us through the next trial. Life never gets too hard for Him. I need that stability in my life, how about you?

Today I am going to continue to meditate on His faithfulness. My thoughts will be on how He is not changed by life's circumstances. I'll think about how He still wants to be with us - no matter what life has thrown our way; and about how long forever really is. Because He loves me -forever. I will think about His steadfastness and faithfulness - and I'll relax and smile as I choose to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

But First I'll Have Coffee

For quite some time now I've said I have attention deficit problems. I'm a very high strung, energetic, gotta-keep-going type of person. So much so that more than one doctor wants to medicate me to help me "settle down." I kindly refuse as I don't think I need to be like everyone else. There's nothing wrong with having loads of energy in my opinion. However, it does come with some areas that have to be dealt with or they get out of hand. One of these is dealing with distractions, partly because everything can be a distraction.

A friend and I were talking about distractions over the weekend and so my thoughts have been on this topic this week. As an individual, everything is distracting. I can go in the kitchen for something specific but make coffee because that sounds good and then totally forget why I went in there to begin with. On my way to the bathroom I can stop to fold laundry, check the mail or do any number of other things that grab my attention along the way. And cleaning house is a nightmare because I start in one place and end up doing 12 other things.

Caregiving can be its own distraction from life. It commands and deserves the bulk of our time. There's nothing wrong with that at all, it's just a fact that it is time consuming. For many of us who are full-time caregivers we have to do double everything. For those who are part-time caregivers, it still takes large portions of time. We have to be creative in how we get other things done sometimes because a chunk of our day is spent tending to other's needs. That's not a problem - this is when we look the most like Him!

The challenge is in keeping our eyes focused on God and His kingdom in the midst of caregiving. For me, at first it was really hard to even think about the Kingdom of God and how it related to life after caregiving. So much appeared to be less applicable than it was BC (before caregiving). But this is not true. Everything in the Kingdom of God that was true and pertinent BC is just as applicable as a caregiver. Actually, that is what brings me peace many days. That's realizing that His kingdom did not change one iota when my life situation was rearranged. Everything He promised me BC was and is still mine after. His love did not weaken and His purpose for me did not change. I've had some adapting to do - but not one of His promises have changed - caregiving did not distract God and it should not distract me.

Proverbs 4: 25-27 says this: Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. (NLT) It can be so difficult to focus while taking care of another whole person. We can quickly be overcome by daily tasks that quite frankly have to be completed.

Over the last few weeks, I've purposefully been taking time to refocus on Him and the Word. No matter how cluttered and crazy my world has been, I've taken a few minutes each day to refocus on Him; and it's made a huge difference. I'd like to encourage you today to take just 5 minutes to slow down, put aside everything in your mind, let your task list wait and meditate on His love or anything else that didn't change when you became a caregiver.

Today I'm going to turn my thoughts to all the things that did not change with my situation. His love. His patience. His longing for me. The hope of salvation. The truth that He is my righteousness. I'll be meditating on these types of things today - as a matter of fact I might just start a list of the things that did not change. And then - I'll rest in His unchanging love. Will you turn off the distractions for a day and join me?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

All I Have

This morning as I picked up my Bible, I noticed my notepad and pen were holding a place in Exodus 34. That's where I'd left off last time I used this particular Bible. One of my favorite verses (I have lots of them) is in this chapter.

Verse 14 in the New Living Translation says You must worship no other gods, but only the Lord, for He is a God who is passionate about His relationship to you. I remember when I first discovered this scripture, I meditated on it for weeks and then held it close to my heart. It was so refreshing to see God in that light - as someone who is passionately chasing after us and longing for a close relationship. He still is that God, no matter what life may have thrown our way.

I continued reading and got stuck in verse 20. The last part says No one is allowed to appear before Me without a gift. I kind of stumbled on that scripture as I feel like I don't really have a gift to offer Him. I mean seriously, what could I possibly have to present to the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords?

My mind went through a list of what I could offer. Money? Time? Anything I give Him has to be abstract since I can't physically offer Him an offering. Micah must have had similar questions when he penned:

Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer Him thousands of rams and tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Would that please the Lord?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for the sins of our souls?
Would that make Him glad?

But then he answers his own questions with this:

No, O people, the Lord already told you what is good
and this is what He requires:
to do what is right
to love mercy
to walk humbly with our God.
Micah 6:7-8

I sit here empty handed feeling like I don't have anything to bring to God. I can't even do the normal religious stuff like teach a Sunday School class or lead a song service for Him. But is that really the types of things He wants? I think ultimately, He just wants our hearts. Whether we are a caregiver, a CEO, a daycare worker, teacher, or a fast food server He still wants the same thing from us. whether we are a millionaire, a pauper or somewhere in between He still wants the same thing from us. He wants our hearts. So when I think I don't have anything to offer Him - I actually have exactly what He wants: my whole heart dedicated to relationship with Him. I can do that from any position in life.

Today I will meditate on how He persistently and relentlessly pursues our hearts. I'll think about ways I can give Him more of my heart - maybe even pray He sheds some light on areas where I've held back from Him because I didn't feel I had anything to offer. I'll turn my thoughts to what it looks like to fully surrender everything to Him once again. Today I will give up myself to Him once again and I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Still Seeking

Over the weekend, I heard a phrase in a song, "You are perfect in all of Your ways." I knew it was a scripture but couldn't remember where it was located.  This morning I looked it up and it is in Deuteronomy 32 at the beginning of the Song of Moses.

I read the whole chapter a time or two and went back to meditate on the phrase for a bit. I closed my eyes and thought about how perfect God is and how right and just every decision He makes is. When I opened my eyes, they fell on a scripture on the opposite page - I had marked it sometime ago. It is in chapter 30, verse 4.

Though you are at the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will go and find you and bring you back again. 

I thought about that for awhile and read it in context. Moses is encouraging the Children of Israel to return to the Lord. He is calling them to come back to Him with their whole heart and seek Him fully. But this verse to me is God reaching for them. He continues to seek a relationship with His people no matter what their situation is. Just because we became caregivers doesn't mean He has abandoned His pursuit of relationship. Actually, He is still seeking.

Exodus 34:14 in the New Living Translation reminds us that God is a God who is passionate about His relationship with us. He is always seeking for our heart because He actually wants to be with us. He longs for us to have two-way conversation, not just us asking for things in what we call prayer. He longs to have an intimate connection with us.

I'll be the first to admit I've had trouble in this arena particularly since my son's accident. I felt like God had abandoned me. Even though I needed His touch even more, it became difficult for me to seek Him. But He was still seeking me. He is relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. He doesn't stop desiring to be with us when life gets difficult or ugly. He doesn't walk away wringing His hands like many of our friends have done. When they are not really sure what to do with us or our situation, He is still waiting on us to come to Him. To be accepted. To be cared for. To be loved. Being with us - is His very heartbeat. And so He waits.....and seeks....

These scriptures were recorded by Moses who was leading the Children of Israel through the wilderness. They were argumentative, faithless, complaining and just plain ugly sometimes. Yet God continues to communicate His love for them and His desire to be with them. He feels the same way about us - whether life is beautiful or not, whether we have it all together or not, whether we feel faithful or faithless, whether we are waiting on Him or not - He is waiting on us, longing for us to come to Him.

Today I am going to turn my thoughts to how much He wants to be with me - no matter what life looks like. I will stop all the crazy thoughts in my head today and focus on being with Him. I'll pour out my heart before Him and wait for Him to pour His heart into mine. My meditations will be on his love and pursuit of me. I'll think about how He waits for me to come to Him. And I will wait on Him today. Will you join me?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Who knew that was there?

Over the years I've come to enjoy the Psalms and find myself reading there a lot. I'm not sure why they are so intriguing to me, but I seem to enjoy them more and more. This morning I found myself in Psalm 77 which is one of my go-to passages, but this morning I saw something totally new.

I'm reading along and stopping at key scriptures I've learned to rely on, and I hit verse 16. It's like I've never read it before. Maybe I stop too many times at verse 11 which I run to frequently, but verses 16-20 just stood out to me this morning.

In verse 16, the Psalmist, who happens to be Asaph, describes how the Red Sea felt as Moses and the Children of Israel approached on their exodus from Egypt. The scripture says the Red Sea trembled and quaked to its very depths. I love nature and its response to God, and I know in Psalm 19 it speaks of how nature's voice is constantly declaring God's glory. But I never thought about how the Red Sea trembled once it was in God's line of sight. One look and the huge sea began to roll back and make way for His people.

If you read on down to verse 19, you'll find what really grabbed my heart this morning. It says Your road led through the sea, Your pathway through the mighty waters -- a pathway no one knew was there. Moses had just led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and the first thing that happens is they run smack dab into the Red Sea and Pharaoh's armies are closing in on them from behind. It was not a good place to be in - if you look at it from their point of view. But God had a different point of view.

He did not look at the Red Sea and think, "Oh no!" He looked at the Red Sea, man's road block, and saw a path no one knew was there. He just led His people on through like a flock of sheep.

As caregivers, we can run up on lots of road blocks and from our point of view many times we can feel boxed in. But God has a different point of view. He does not see us boxed in. Even if we are overwhelmed and retreat to the caregiver's cave and try to hide - He sees it differently. We may feel we are shivering and reeling from life's battering, but He sees the opportunity to tuck us in tightly to His heart and hold us close. He always has a path to the other side. It may be hidden under a sea, but it's there. All we have to do is follow His direction instead of our own.

Our lives can be so hectic - even on the calmer days. I used to get all bent out of shape when something didn't go as planned. (Okay so sometimes I still do....) But I'm finding that there are these hidden pathways that can lead to something brand new. That's what God does - He makes a way - no, He sees and makes a way where there doesn't appear to be one. His pathway is already there - we just have to discover it.

Today I will turn my thoughts to how God has hidden pathways I just don't see yet. I'll rest in Him and trust Him to lead me through life's obstacles even when I can't see. My meditations will be on His provision, His power and His pathways, and I will pursue them instead of my own. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Nothing Changes - And That's a Good Thing!

There have been several major changes in my life over the last week or so. Some were small changes while others were large; some I've chosen and others have been forced on me.

It's been everything from taking Chris to races with me instead of hiring a sitter, to more responsibilities at work to my biological father passing away. At the same time, I've been making some personal changes as well. I've been de-cluttering my house, started actually working on a couple of my projects (and making progress!!), and changing up my schedule a bit so I can give myself a break - sort of. That's a lot for a Type A! :-)

This morning, I was sipping my coffee and thinking about how the landscape of my life has been changing and how I'm trying to be more comfortable with it. But then I started thinking about the things that don't change. The second I became a caregiver, my whole life changed drastically. But some things literally can't change - and those are the important things.

My status in the Kingdom of God doesn't change one iota. I am forever a child of the King. No matter what I do, don't do, or what life wants to throw at me that cannot and will not be changed. His love is never ending, never changing and cannot be destroyed by any power on earth, above or below. The truth is going to stand for all eternity as the truth. It will not be altered by time, or eternity. His word will not change to accommodate my situation - it will not fade or waver in the storms of life.
He will always be with me. He does not say enough! and pack it all up and take it home. Nothing I can do will make Him deny me; He cannot deny Himself 2 Timothy 2:13. 

So in the topsy-turvey life of caregiving where one day you have an aide - and one day you don't; one month you get supplies - and the next you don't; one minute you have a friend the next you're all alone, it's good to know that there is a solid foundation to build your life on that will not falter, will not change and will not decay over time.

Today I will be meditating on the one Constant in my life - my God. I will turn my thoughts to how He is my foundation and I'll build everything in life on Him and I'll be careful not to switch that process around backwards. I will keep my mind on how His love and care for me never changes - just like my love and care for my son doesn't change. I'll focus on these immoveables in my life: His love, care and presence. And I will rest in Him while I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, July 4, 2016

No Day Off

Today is a holiday, and for the US it's a wonderful day of celebration. Most of the real world has the day off. There won't be any financial transactions, no mail delivered and most places are closed for the day. But there are no days off  for the caregiver. If you are fortunate enough to have an aide, they will probably have the day off too. And they should have the opportunity to relax and spend time with family and friends. But our day doesn't change much - there are no days off.

When we get up and around this morning, it's highly likely it will look pretty much like any other day. That's not a complaint - it's a statement of fact. As I was thinking about the holiday this morning and trying to decide if I wanted to attempt anything outside our box, I thought of one particular scripture.

Isaiah 40:28 says this: Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. Not only does He never get tired, Psalm 121:4 says He who watches over Israel never tires nor sleeps. Basically, God never gets a "day off"!

At the same time, He is constantly pouring His strength out to us - those of us who are weary will gain new strength. If you read further in Isaiah 40, it says He offers strength to the weak and He gives power to those who are worn out. (NLT) Some days, I wake up worn out. (Maybe it's just me!)

So while the world enjoys a day off today (and rightly so) I'm going to be running to Him for strength.

Today I will turn all my thoughts and affections toward Him. I will rest in Him and allow Him to pour His strength and power into me. My thoughts will be on how He carries me and He doesn't get tired of it. I'll turn my heart to thanksgiving for His ever abiding presence, His patience and His gentle touch in a rough-around-the-edges kind of life. And I will purposefully thank Him today for never giving up on me, for always being present and for giving me strength for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, July 1, 2016

So Far So Good

Yesterday I lost a family member and somehow I think grieving losses like that are maybe not "more difficult" as a caregiver, but more complicated. If that makes sense.

Many caregivers, myself included, live with what is called a living grief. That basically means we grieve the loss of our loved one - but they didn't die. They are here - but they are not here. It's a grief that doesn't allow for any closure and it's ongoing. Then when you add any more grief on top of that - it's a very heavy load to carry. Fortunately, I know the Lord and I can take all my cares to Him and drop them off! (I know, that's not KJV!)

This morning I was sitting, drinking coffee and staring at the wall as it was all sinking in. I thought about not doing a devotion - I needed on myself. lol. I opened up an email and saw this scripture which was exactly what I needed to hear today. It's 1 Samuel 7:12. Samuel has just become judge in Israel and the Children of Israel had just torn down all the idols and returned to the Lord with a whole heart.

The Philistines approached and were hoping for a quick slaughter. But God had other ideas. Now Samuel was a judge and a prophet, but he did not know natural warfare. He could not lead the charge. God knew this - but I believe He saw the hearts of the people turning wholly to Him, and He applauded. Only to the Philistines it sounded like thunder and they got all confused. In the confusion, God and the Israelites wiped them out that day!

Then comes verse 12. Samuel sets up a large stone and named it "Ebenezer" which means stone of help. And then he said, up to this point - God has helped us. That just clicked with me this morning. Up to this point in my life, God has been my help. And as I face another day of caregiving and a season of grieving - He will still be my help.

My loose translation of that is so far - so good!  God has been my help, He is my help and He will continue being my help. Now that I can hold on to for today as I turn my heart wholly to Him and do the real work - resting in Him.

Today I will remind myself of God's ever abiding presence. I will acknowledge His help throughout my journey and use it to remind myself that He's still here for the rest of the journey as well. So far God has helped me - and He has no other intentions just because my world got rocked again. My thoughts will be on how I can rest in Him and how I can let Him be my help, my source, my everything. And just like all the other days - I'll trust Him. I'll wait for Him. I'll rest in Him. Will you join me?