Thursday, September 29, 2016

I Have Allies?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

Time to Refocus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am reminding myself of some unchanging truths:

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

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


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Disappearing Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

Help Us Remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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