Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Perfect Storm

This morning as promised, I stayed in Mark 4. I've been thinking about what I read a lot since yesterday's devotional. I am wondering if caregiving isn't its own little world. And of course each caregiver and their situation is another unique world. Think about the caregivers you know and their situation has its own definitive circumstances. No two situations are exactly alike.

One one hand, we're quick to compare and contrast our situations with others. Yet on the other hand, there's no way to compare what each of us go through with another. We each deal with our own storm the best we can. The cool thing is that God's word doesn't change to match our situation - but it is applicable for each of us.

The first 24 verses of Mark 4 contains teachings of Jesus. He was discussing and describing the Kingdom of God. He talked about a farmer planting seed on different types of soil and how the seed (the message) responded in those situations. Then in verse 26 He described the Kingdom like a farmer planting the seed - from the seed's point of view.  It grows silently, secretly before the farmer's very eyes. And then He said the Kingdom was like a mustard seed - where something small grows into something huge unexpectedly; and provides shelter. (I'll be thinking more on these things!)

Then right after He finished, He and His disciples got in a boat to cross to the other side. But they ran into a strong storm. The disciples were terrified - that kind of scared that's beyond reason. They thought they were going to die. But when they turned to Jesus - He was asleep in the boat!

They yelled at Him, Don't You care we are about to die? He got up and calmed the storm. They were still in the boat. They were still in the water. Jesus was still in the boat. As caregiver's we stay in the water in the boat. And God stays there with us too. Jesus didn't get out of the boat.

Then He said to them Do you not still have faith in me?  In this same story, shared by Luke in chapter 8 this phrase was translated as Where is your faith? He did not rebuke them for their fear, even though He questioned it in Mark's account. He didn't berate them. He just asked them where their faith was.

Over the last few years, I must say my faith has been redefined, but as I read this I thought about His question to the disciples - Where is your faith? There have been times I have been angry that He was asleep! How dare He sleep while I'm going through? Right??? But my faith always comes back around to this deep-rooted trust in Him.

He is not worried about my situation - although He is concerned and connected. He knows there's a storm. He knows it's a strong storm. He also knows how to speak peace in the midst of the storm. Even though He speaks peace - it doesn't mean we get out of our boat! What I love is that God can speak peace into our situation right in the midst of it all. I am wound pretty tight, but when He speaks peace it's overwhelming. Sometimes I need to be reminded to embrace His peace in the storm. Let the world rock crazily out of control around me - but remember that He is in the boat - He did not crawl out or escape when the going got rough.

Today I will turn my thoughts away from the storm and to the peace He provides. John 14:27 says He gives us a peace that's not like what the world gives. Jesus also reminds us, don't be troubled or afraid. My meditation today will be on how I can focus on the peace He provides and how I can keep from being troubled or afraid. My thoughts will be on His peace - the peace that goes beyond our understanding. I will rejoice that He is still in the boat with me on life's troubled seas. He knew the storm was coming and didn't choose to not go along for the ride. I'll rest in the truth that He is with me - and that He gives peace,freely. And I will trust Him for one more day in the midst of the perfect storm. Will you join me?


Monday, November 7, 2016

Seeing Through the Caregiver's Fog

Other than the social isolation of caregiving, I think the wrestling with depression is one of the most difficult things I deal with. I can be fine, having a good day and some memory or small challenge can spark a deluge of emotions that send me off into la-la land. It doesn't take much, honestly. I'd like to say I'm alone in these emotional roller coaster rides, but from what reading I have done, it's common for the caregiver.

Over the last few weeks, the struggle has been so real as I'm sure it is for many. This morning I found myself trying once again to pull myself out of the caregiver's fog. I was actually thinking about storms and how natural storms pass. Caregiving does not. And for my situation I'm looking at a life that looks just like this for the rest of my life. It does get to me from time to time.

So, I went to the Word looking for the story of Jesus and His disciples facing the storm in the boat. I found it in Mark chapter 4. But the parable at the first of the chapter caught my attention. That means we'll still talk about the storm tomorrow! lol

Mark 4 starts with the parable of the sower who sowed the seeds in different types of soil. I know Jesus was giving us an analogy of the Kingdom of God and as He explains to His disciples later the seed is the message of the Kingdom which is sowed and the outcome depends on the condition of the soil. But as I read it I thought about the changes in my life on a day to day basis and my heart's response to the Word.

I can look at my days and see how some days are very fruitful. I have energy, I'm positive, my faith is high and things go generally well. Then other days are more like the thorny soil where every hope is choked out by thorns of caregiving or life in general. Some days the Word of God seems to speak to me personally and lifts me right out of the muck and mire as it sinks deeply into the soil of my heart. Other days God seems silent and I feel I'm left in a dry, rocky place to try and navigate on my own.

Of course there are lots of in-between days where there are series of ups and downs. I can go from laughing and enjoying the progress my son makes to weeping because the "picture" of his life is all messed up. Really. I should be rejoicing that he's marrying, having children, exploring his chosen career; not the fact that he regained head control or moved his right foot. Such mixed emotions - the storms of the caregiver's life.

Now the good part is that later on in this same chapter, Jesus explained the seed itself a little more fully. When the seed is sown there is not always an immediately recognizable growth spurt. As a matter of fact, it seems as if nothing is happening. As the farmer "goes about his days" the seed sprouts and grows without his direct knowledge.

So what does this mean for the caregiver? For me today? It means that God's word is enough.  It means that it is sown - it will grow. On the days I (or we - if you're with me) don't see it  - I'm not feelin' it - His word is still tucked away in my heart. It's not discarded. It's secretly growing and as I go about my caregiving tasks, it'll continue to grow and it will bear fruit in my life.

The caregiver doesn't get an exclusion in the Word. God didn't make ONE promise where He said "this is applicable for everyone but the caregiver."!

So today I will try to keep my focus. I will meditate on the fact that His word IS growing in me - whether I see it or not. I'll turn my thoughts to truths like - I didn't get kicked out of the Kingdom when I became a caregiver. My meditation will be on the truth that His word still stands and every promise is still true. I will shift my focus to those things I cannot see. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?