Monday, December 11, 2017

The Anyways Factor

Don't you hate sayings like time heals all wounds? Or my new (sarcastic) favorite, nothing lasts forever. Yeah right. This too shall pass - maybe, maybe not. I'm learning a lot of these cliches just don't cut it and they don't offer the consolation or comfort they are intended to provide.

I must admit, the life of a caregiver can be less than ideal. It's not perfect. No one sets the goal of being a caregiver when they grow up. It's not on the list of careers to choose from. We inherit it. And we carry it well. And while I would not have chosen this life, I'm here now and I must say there are some distinct rewards that come from caring for a loved one. There are also some things about myself, and others, that I might not have discovered without caregiving. So I can honestly say I have no regrets.

I will not say the transition was easy. Nor will I make like there isn't pain involved. I admit there is daily grief. But I will say that I think I have a deeper faith, more intense trust and have grown in my knowledge of Him over this journey. Each day presents its own set of difficulties - and blessings.

A few weeks back I was thinking about my journey as a caregiver and I came to some conclusions. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is painful. Yes, no one understands us. Yes, there seems to be no end in sight. Yes, I battle fears. But.... there is the "anyways' factor.

You see, I determined that no matter what my situation is - I will praise Him anyways....

The anyways factor has changed my perspective. It takes the focus off my self and my situation and puts the life-emphasis back on Him.

I'm going to praise Him anyways...
I'm going to sing about His glory anyways...
I'm going to remember His deeds anyways...
I will meditate on His word anyways...
I will rejoice in Him anyways...
I will worship and bow down anyways...

I could continue, but I think we get the idea of the anyways factor. I've said so many times that our situations good or bad, do not change Him, do not affect His love for us, and do not change His intense, passionate longing to be with us. He still loves. He still cares. He still is God anyways....

Today, I will set my mind on things above. My thoughts will be on His mercy that is toward us always and anyways.... I'll meditate on His unfailing love that doesn't change due to my circumstances. My focus is going to be reset on His unchange-ableness in a constantly changing world of caregiving. I'll set my thoughts on His peace, grace and love that is toward us anyways... and I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me as I praise Him anyways.....








Monday, December 4, 2017

Right Smack Dab in the Middle

Last Saturday I ran a 10K. I hadn't done that distance in a while, so I was excited to get out there and do it. I also hadn't had any kind of a break since Chris was in the hospital last month. I knew the course was going to be my friend. When you're  out in the open like that, there's a lot of soul-searching and praying that can go on. That was actually my goal for this race, to pour out my heart and leave it all on the course so to speak. And that's what I did.

As soon as the race started I began emptying my heart before Him. After a little while, I told Siri to start some Natalie Grant. My prayers turned to praise and then to worship. The phrase in one song stood out above the rest as she sang You're restoring me piece by piece. The realization hit me that over the last few months, He's been doing that. My thoughts shifted to some of the things God has been doing for and in me personally this year. I realized the restoration process wasn't dead.

As tears rolled gently down my cheeks I found myself overcome with emotions. I realized that He has been restoring me in the midst of the storm. His promises do not wait for the storm clouds to pass. He works in and through us right smack dab in the middle of the toughest parts of our lives. Aren't you glad?

As a child, many of us learned Psalm 23. Think about this one part - He restores my soul. Isn't it interesting that the psalmist said God restores our soul? Not our body. Not our spirit, but our soul. Our soul as we understand it is comprised of our mind, will and emotions. He reaches into the very depth of who we are to bring His restoration. He doesn't wait until we have it all together to restore us. He comes right smack dab in the midst of whatever is going on and touches our souls.

Today I am going to meditate on His restoring power. My thoughts will be on how God is able to strengthen my whole being. He takes care of my body, soul and spirit. He doesn't leave any part of me undone. I'll thank Him for walking through this storm of life with me, willingly. I'll trust Him with my soul today. Will you join me?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

When I Don't Understand

I am resolved that there are just some things I will never understand. The last three weeks have been very rough. Two friends have died and gone on to their eternal reward, my son's botched surgery, near death and hospital stay and Thanksgiving without family have all taken a toll on my emotions.

Last night I was reading a post by someone whose son suffered a brain injury just a few weeks ago and he's making a remarkable recovery. I'm very happy for the family. But I have all these whys? Why does one recover and get to go on with life and another doesn't? this just added to my frustrations and perplexities.

I saw phrases that kind of made me mad. People say God is good.  And then they say God was with him. Those phrases we tend to only use when things go our way or when we get what we wanted. Are they saying God wasn't with my son? I know they don't mean it - but since I didn't get the same wonderful results is God not good? Was he not with Chris that day?

The obvious answers are of course that He was also with my son, and He is still good. I'm not upset at the rejoicing for those who recover quickly - I rejoice too. I wouldn't want anyone to have to walk this walk, you know? But God is no less good when I don't see Him move on my behalf like I want and expect Him too. He did not abandon my son that day just because we got different results.

We cannot measure His goodness by what we see. He is good. Period. No matter what life throws at us, no matter what fire or flood we walk through - His goodness is forever. His presence never weakens, He never abandons whether life is good at the moment or bad at the moment. He is with us when we are happy and things look great, and He's with us when we are at our bottom and our emotions are spent.

Philippians 4 helps me in times like these.Verse 4 starts out with rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Wow. I cannot say I always exemplify a gentle spirit. Sometimes I think I'm more like a wild mustang tearing through fences and fields or an ugly bull tearing down the proverbial China shop. lol

But Paul goes on in the next verse to give us this tidbit: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God. And then what happens? We get what we wanted? All our problems are solved? Our emotions are no longer raw? Life's fire stops burning? The flood stops rolling? Nope. But.....

Then the peace of God which passes our understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. His peace is enough when I don't understand. He can guard my heart through the rough spots. I can always take it back to the comfort I find in the phrase in verse 5 - he is near. When I don't understand when I am running on high octane emotions; when my heart is broken, when I am too tired to be tired..... He is near.

Today I will rest in the truth that He is near, specifically near the brokenhearted - so I know He's near today. My thoughts will be on His nearness and His perpetual goodness. A goodness that doesn't wane and wax with the turns of the days. I'll think of His constant love and kindness today. And I will rest in that. I'll let Him carry me today - will you join me?


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Finding the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

Finding the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

Caregivers usually need to juggle a wide array of responsibilities. In addition to their caregiving responsibilities, they may hold down a full-time job and take care of young children. Mix in the daily anxieties associated with normal life, and the caregiver constantly juggles stressful situations where they rarely have time to relax. So how can you find the perfect gift for caregivers during the holiday season? Here are some tips to help!

Spa Treatment

Anyone who works hard each day taking care of an elderly parent will appreciate some pampering at a spa. Set up an appointment for the caregiver, and pick up the tab! At a spa, caregivers have the opportunity to recharge and relax through a variety of specialized services. Typical spa services include massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and body treatments.

Going Out

One gift that won’t cost you a penny is providing respite. Caregivers rarely get to go out to the movies or to a restaurant. Their lives revolve around taking care of the ailing family member. Give them the gift of time by offering to watch their elderly parents. Whether it’s going to the cinema, heading to the library or buying a cappuccino at the coffee shop, they’ll cherish their time away from their responsibilities.

Subscriptions

If the caregivers you know enjoy reading a particular magazine, buy them a subscription so they can enjoy it all year. Do they enjoy watching TV shows but don’t have time to watch them? Purchase a subscription to a company that streams movies and TV programs. They can catch up on their favorite shows, binge watching whenever they have a couple of free hours.

Maid Service

Caregivers have so much to do as they care for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s hard to keep the house neat and clean when you’re busy tending to the family member’s needs. If you really want to give a useful gift to caregivers, purchase house cleaning services for them. It’s a priceless gift that saves them time and energy.

Household Chores

Sure, it’s nice to have a professionally-cleaned house, but a caregiver will really appreciate your thoughtfulness if you offer to do chores around the house. Doing laundry, mowing the lawn or cooking a meal are just some of the household tasks you can do for them.

Gift Cards

Not sure what to buy caregivers who spend their days and nights caring for others? You can’t go wrong with a gift card to the caregiver’s favorite restaurant or store. But don’t just give them gift cards! Give them time to go shopping too. Offer to watch the elderly parent so that the caregiver can enjoy a stress-free day of shopping.

E-readers, iPads and Tablets

Caregivers love practical gifts that are also fun to use. Buy them an iPad, tablet or e-reader if they love to read books so they can use the devices to catch up on their favorite stories. They can also use them to conduct internet research, play games or do some online shopping.

Hobbies and Interests

When you’re a caregiver, your own hobbies often fall by the wayside. You don’t have time to pursue your favorite hobbies because you’re too busy taking care of sick loved ones. To encourage caregivers to take time for themselves, buy them gifts that relate to their interests. Do they love to sew? Pay for them to attend a sewing class once a week and offer to watch the elderly parent while they attend the class. Do they enjoy dancing? Sign them up for some dance classes. Again, make sure you arrange your schedule so you can take over the caregiving duties for the night or find someone who can do it for you.

Mental Health

Caregivers easily burn out if they don’t have time for themselves. Feeling depressed isn’t uncommon because they’re constantly dealing with an elderly loved one who needs round-the-clock care. It’s important to remind caregivers to take time for themselves and nurture their mental health. Help them find time for hobbies and rest so they feel refreshed despite the difficult job they have to do. Encouraging a beloved caregiver to focus on their own wellness for a change can truly be one of the best gifts they receive this holiday season.

Help the caregivers you know by giving them gifts that make their lives a little bit easier. By giving the gift of time and providing them with much-needed assistance, you’ll provide caregivers with opportunities to do the things that help them relax so they can return to their responsibilities with renewed vigor.

Photo via Pixabay

Recalculating

I think the only constant in life is the fact that change is constant. Just about the time we get where we are figured out and we settle in for the long haul, one little thing shifts. That catapults us into a new dimension it seems and we have to recalculate to proceed.

I think about the GPS and when we make a wrong turn or miss an exit it so nicely says recalculating route. Lol. Some days it feels like I do that every hour or so. I really thrive in structure, but that was one of the first things to go when I became a caregiver. Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make. Each day brings totally different circumstances to be recalculated.

Although it's been difficult, I've found a way to adapt to the constant changes. Like now. I'm writing the blog a bit later today and allowing Chris to sleep. That's so hard for me, but I overslept. Since we've come home from the hospital last week we've both been exhausted. Maybe I'm just old, or plain tired,  but it seems to be harder to recover these days. Every day can be a series of recalculations. This is usually walked out through a series of thoughts that pretty much sound like this:


  • Where am I now?
  • What time is it?
  • What do I have to get done?
  • What can wait until tomorrow?
  • What's most pressing?
  • Do I have enough coffee? :-)
Caregiving days are made up of questions like these and many times have a different answer every time. We honestly do not know what a day may bring, as I found out so quickly last week. I thought I was watching my son breathe his last. Then when the EMT told me they were going lights and sirens, I knew it was life or death. My daughter and I had to face the decision of if we wanted life support as it was the next step. I didn't see that coming. We cannot take anything for granted, not even caregiving.

Now here's the thing. Our GPS may need to recalculate based on our actions. I may have to recalculate my days based on what is happening. But God never recalculates. He has seen in advance and already made preparations. I was reading in Psalm 139 this morning. It says he is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He doesn't recalculate His love - it is constant. As a matter of fact - he pre-calculated and decided we were worth His efforts! He made the way for us to get back to Him before the fall and He's not changing His mind. He's not recalculating that one. We are still worth it!

My eyes slipped on down to verse 4 - even before there is a word on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it all. What? As fast as my mind can toss out questions, answers and ideas and He knows all that first? And He still loves me!

He knew we would be caregivers. He knew we would see rough days. He knew in advance we'd choose to trust Him through some very difficult decisions and circumstances. He knew we would always add it back up to trusting Him - no matter how we might calculate and recalculate. But He never has to recalculate His love for us or His mercy toward us. It stands through it all.

Today I am going rejoice in His constant mercy, love, and watchfulness over us as His children. He won't recalculate and decide we are not worth it. We will always be worth it to Him. My thoughts will be on how He walked through this moment in time before I got here - and He placed His grace here to carry me through it. I will be thankful for His constant watching, and His pre-watching. I'll be grateful for His lack of desire to recalculate His love. Today I will rest in the truth that He never changes His mind about us. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Because He Is

A conversation I had with some people yesterday turned my thoughts toward prayer, so I was looking at the model prayer Jesus gave His disciples. It starts out with Our Father, in heaven. And that's where I stopped. For a few minutes, my thoughts tried to wrap around just that seemingly little point. Just think about it for a bit - our God, our Father - is in heaven. He exists. He is.

I flipped over to Psalm 95. In verse six, the psalmist says, come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker, for He is our God. We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. He is. And He is our God. That's a good reason to take a posture of worship at His throne - in the heavenlies.

If we back up to the first of that psalm, David says this:

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods.
In His hands are the depths of the earth.
the peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it.
And His hands formed the dry land.

He made the sea - and the land. He holds both the depths of the earth and the heights of the earth in His hand. And you know what? He holds us in His hand as well. Again - He is.

Hebrews 11:6 says - without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is. When we come to Him - it's because we truly believe He is. Sometimes, we come to Him and bring our frustrations, our concerns, hopes, and fears. But it is powerful to come to Him just because He is. And because He is our God. We come, not because we need anything, just open-handed and open-hearted to say He is our God.

Today, I'm going to move my thoughts from myself and my situation. I'll meditate on His existence. I'll think about how He is and how that is simply enough. I'll worship Him because He is today. And I'll come to Him - not because I want or need a thing - but just because He is. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Some Things Never Change - And that's a Good Thing!

This morning I kept thinking about an old song. I like to hear my sister, Kenella sing it. It's called The Anchor Holds. It talks about a ship that is battered and torn but that it's held sure by the anchor. No matter what the storm does to the ship - the anchor holds secure.

Since I had the anchor on my mind, I decided to look it up in a concordance. One scripture stood out to me. It's Hebrews 6:19 and it says this hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast. I like to read verses in context, so I backed up and read the entire chapter.

It's talking about Abraham and how he hoped against hope and held to the promise of God.If you back up a couple of verses, you'll see that God simply wants to show us the promise of the unchangeableness of His purpose. It can be so easy for His purpose to get lost in caregiving. However, it's only lost to us - we just can't see it. But His purpose is never lost, never wasted and remains even in caregiving.

God wants to draw us to Himself. He wants to be up-close-and-personal with each of us - and His desire to walk life out with us (in us) doesn't change just because we became a caregiver. His promises still hold true - they never change. He still promises us peace - in the midst of the storm. He still promises us joy. He still promises to provide. These never change - neither does His purpose for us.

Philippians 1:6 reminds us that He who began a good work in you  - will complete it! He never abandons ship because life got difficult. It never takes a turn He did not expect. This is our anchor - that He is both sure and steadfast. He never lets us go. He never changes His mind. His purpose for us is still the same. He still lives in us - and didn't move out because we hit a rough spot.

Today I will be thankful that His purpose still stands. I'll meditate on the truth that He longs for fellowship with us - no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. I will give thanks that life doesn't get too complicated for Him - He is not perplexed and He will not change His mind. And so today, I will rest in the truth that the hope of His purpose is still the anchor that holds my soul. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Friday, November 24, 2017

So I make you uncomfortable?

Forgive me for my absence once again but we spent almost all of last week in two different hospitals. I know many of you know that drill! But we are home and I don't doze off every time I sit down now, so maybe I am almost caught up.

I think hospitals are just part of the journey, but I still don't like them. Since my son is nonverbal I feel like I have to be right there every second. This time, my daughter stayed the first couple of nights too so we both got 2-3 hours sleep here and there. Thankfully we are all back home and back to a caregiver's normal.

The home health nurse came by after Chris and I were back home. She asked if family helped. I told her my daughter helped immensely but no one else seemed to care. It's like they get used to it and figure we don't need anything. As caregivers we get used to living in crisis mode. It becomes the norm for us - and the norm for them. She explained it this way.

At first, for us that was Chris' accident 9 years ago, everyone wants to come, even though they can't do anything. But then when it goes on they start trying to avoid because of the internal pain. Then after they avoid us so long, they feel guilty so they avoid us even more to avoid the mixed up emotions and uncomfortableness of the combined guilt and pain.I get that. But I'm still alone.

To be honest (and I usually am) it made me kind of mad beyond the hurt that people avoid my situation so they can avoid their pain. It drives me deeper into that caregiver's cave. I want to withdraw completely, it's easier. But then I started thinking of the flip side. All these scriptures started running through my mind.

Psalm 34:18 says the Lord is near the brokenhearted. He doesn't have an aversion to our pain or loneliness. Psalm 46:1 says He is a present help in time of trouble. He doesn't avoid us - we don't make Him uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, He pulls in closer when we are hurting or rejected.

I am so thankful that He will never avoid us - our lives are not ugly to Him.  Our hearts are beautiful - they look like His. We are full of compassion, just like Him. We are servants just like Jesus - He came to serve not be served. Our situations are never too much for Him. He is near to those who call on Him in truth (Pslam 148:14). He doesn't wring His hands wondering what to do with us now. He draws near. He loves us. He even loves being with us!

Today, I will shift my focus from the loneliness to His faithfulness. My meditations will be on how He longs to be with me - by choice. He does not draw near out of obligation - but because He wants to. And I will give thanks for that today. I'll acknowledge Him in all my tasks today - and rejoice because he ain't going nowhere! Will you join me?

Monday, November 13, 2017

It is Enough

This week promises to be a busy week, and by that I mean a busier than usual week. My mind and heart are all over the place and I woke up this morning trying to sort through how I will adjust and rearrange to make everything happen that needs to happen. Sometimes it can feel like I always fall short, like no matter what I do, it's never enough.

With tons of frantic thoughts running through my mind this morning I forced myself to consider where God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. But I translated that to My grace is enough.

I started thinking about that one word, enough. I did a Bible Gateway search for enough and found several interesting things. That was all I needed to get my mind going in the "right" direction. I thought about the woman in 2 Kings 4. She owed a huge debt and had no way to pay. Her sons were going to have to become slaves to pay off the debt, but the prophet stopped by. He told her to collect all the empty vessels she could and then started pouring oil. There wasn't an empty vessel anywhere near as oil continued to pour until every vessel was full. She had enough to sell and pay off all her debts.

The other story I thought about I found in 1 Kings 17. Another widow and another prophet. He asked her for a cake because he was hungry and she explained she only had enough oil and flour to make one cake and then she and her son would eat... then die. The prophet told her to make him a little cake and one for herself and her son too. When she obeyed then he told her that as long as the famine lasted she would have oil and flour. For the rest of the famine she had enough flour and oil. It lasted until the next harvest.

What's cool to me about this is that these two stories were two different prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and two different women in dire circumstances. But each one of them had enough to meet their needs. As caregivers we stay in a tough spot on many levels. Emotions run high and it can be tense. Finances can be tough and government programs fail. Friends disappear. Many of us walk a lonely walk because others are not quite sure what to do with us - so they stay away. Lately for me, it seems I am watching everyone else "have a life" and I sit on the sidelines watching life go by. Some   days a a notice and a nod would make my day! lol. We can deal with a lonely journey. But I have to say that He is enough.

No matter what crazy things come up today, this week or next - He is enough. He won't run out on us, and He won't fail us. His grace is like that oil that continued to pour. His mercies are new every morning and He never gets tired of picking us back up and setting us back on the right road. His gentleness is enough. His patience is enough. Whatever I need today - whatever you need today - He has enough to help us work through it.

Today I will meditate on this word enough. My thoughts will be on the many ways He is enough in my life. When I don't feel like I am enough - I'll look to Him and let Him be my enough. I will thank Him for being with me and for being like the widow's flask that is always full of oil. I'll rest in the fact that He is enough.... more than enough. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Friday, November 10, 2017

That's so Ambivalent of You!

If you know me much at all, you know I love the psalms, and coffee of course. Growing up, I missed a lot of the deepness of the psalms because I read them through religious eyes and failed to see the psalmist's humanity. There's nothing like real life and some time to help you see life with your eyes wide open. When we become real and raw with God - we start to see His work more clearly.

One thing I appreciate about the psalms is the honesty. David, who wrote most of them, was open and real about how he felt whether he was elated or deflated. In a few psalms he sounds like me - very ambivalent in his emotions. On one hand, we trust God fully. On the other, we're angry with Him and trying to sort life out. But then there's the flip-flop back to absolute trust. Crazy ain't it? (I know you understand!)

Sometimes I just look at one psalm at a time. David was usually pretty good about covering it all. He poured out his heart in amazing honesty, told God just how he felt. Then he would ask God questions and usually end it all with a declaration lik. I will trust You.

Earlier this week, I found myself in Psalm 13. Boy, how I've prayed this one. David wrote it, it's included in the Bible so it's "legal," right? Listen to David's heart:

How long O Lord?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Of  course, as usual, David goes on to talk about how he will trust the Lord. Sometimes, we do that on a daily basis. (Maybe it's just me.) But as I was rereading this psalm this week I was like, hey wait a minute! David is also the author of psalm 139. Remember that one? It goes something like this:

Where can I go from Your spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven You are there, 
If I make my bed in Sheol behold - You are there

In this same psalm, David talks about God knowing our thoughts from far off and knowing our words before we speak them. He mentions that God is intimately acquainted with all our ways. And yet, he prayed the prayer in Psalm 13 too. I thought - "wow, David was really ambivalent, wasn't he?" But aren't we as well?

One minute we are declaring how we trust Him and singing 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus... and the next asking Him where He went and if He knows what He's doing with our lives. You know what? God gets that. He sees the real struggle we have between our flesh and our faith.  And He waits for us there to fill in the gap.

Today, I'm giving it all to Him. All my crazy thoughts and out there questions, and all my trust knowing that He can handle it. I will trust that He looks past my crazy words into my heart and He knows ultimately, I'm going to trust Him with everything, every,single.time. My meditations will be on how He loves me and won't abandon me no matter how all over the place my thoughts and emotions are. I'll turn my thoughts to His faithfulness, and I'll be grateful that He hasn't asked me to walk this path alone. And with that, I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beyond Words

This morning during my devotions, my eyes fell on the last verse of Psalm 19. It's a simple prayer at the end of a beautiful psalm. David prays, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. David has just written about the majesty of God and the wonders of creation. He follows that with the power of the word to change a life and then follows it all with  this simple prayer.

When my kids were growing up we had a rule. They could say anything they wanted to me - as long as they didn't have an attitude. I valued their honesty, and their feelings but explained there was a right time and a wrong time to say the exact same thing. They did well with it and we had some rewarding conversations. As they grew into their teen years, they were able to be honest with me, and I with them. We grew close.

I think God feels somewhat the same way about His kids too. He values conversation. He values our thoughts and wants us to "share words." I have to say though, that I've not always had the right attitude when talking to God. I've exploded on Him lots of times. And He's always loved me through it. I've sat with coffee cup and Bible in hand and poured my heart out before Him and said it just the way I felt it. And He still loves me.

When I get through the rough spots though, I want David's prayer to be mine as well. I really do want the many things that run through my heart and mind to be acceptable to Him. Ultimately, I want to please Him. Don't we all want that?

Now here's the catch. James 3 talks about the tongue. He says no man can tame the tongue. He could say no caregiver can tame that tongue! lol. But we don't really have to. Why not? Because the mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart. (Matthew 12:34) So our true job here is to guard the heart.

Guarding the heart is tough for the caregiver, I think. Emotions can stay raw. We can feel open and bare much of the time. But I'm finding that He's always right there with the balm we need. He's willing and ready to comfort us in our affliction, to hold us in our pain and to carry us in our weariness. He never turns me away even when I'm ranting. He patiently waits until I run out of rant... until I collapse into His arms. And He gently carries me. He understands me beyond my words, and He holds me.

Today I will think about how He waits for me to settle down much of the time and then He holds me. I'll think about how He's not put off with my pain, my worries or concerns. Today, I'll remind myself to take them all to Him before they get the best of me. And I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Forgiving God

There's just nothing easy about caregiving, is there? Maybe the choice to do it is the easiest part because it is made based on love, at least for most of us. But the actual walking it out is so difficult. I'm talking more than just the daily chores here. There's the emotional strain, financial strain, worrying over making decisions for a whole other person, who in my situation and many others can't tell you what they want or need. It's like playing a life-size game of guess-and-check. I guess this is what I need to do... check. Was it right or wrong?

Sometimes, taking on a caregiver's role can feel like it's because something went wrong with life. It's certainly not the picture perfect life we envisioned, is it? I taught public school for several years and not one time did a student have a life goal of being a caregiver. Pretty sure that one's not on the list. But we are here. One thing I prayed early on was that I would not let it make me bitter toward life, or God.

Let me be honest and say, God and I have had some talks. I've certainly given Him an ear full from time to time. But there was this one day.....after a series of days that I had to come to the point where I forgave Him. Sounds kinda funny doesn't it. Us forgive God? Yup. If we want to move on with Him we must.

I heard a wonderful preacher teaching about worship and she was using the story of Lazarus. She was at the point in the story where Mary came out to meet Jesus. She told Him if You had been here....

The preacher said so many people are living disappointed with God. I realized that was me. My heart was torn and I fell to my knees and wept as God restored my heart in that moment. At that point I wanted to be close to Him more than anything. I felt like He had failed me. I lost total trust in Him. After all, I was headed to Africa and I was trusting my adult kid's care to Him.

But that day as I was on my living room floor, I realized I had to forgive God for disappointing me. From that point on, restoration continued. Until we can get over being disappointed because He did or didn't do something we expected, we can't move forward. We'll become bitter and hardened. If we face the pain - and take it to Him, and forgive Him, He will heal and restore.

Today, I'm going to reflect on the day He touched and healed my broken heart. My meditations will be on how He met me in that place of disappointment and resurrected my joy, my peace, and my trust in Him. I'll think about how He has not abandoned me on this journey and He hasn't forced Himself on me either. My thoughts will be on how He patiently waits for us to return. And then He picks us up, dusts us off and continues the journey with us. I'll walk this day out with my heart resting in His. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No Erasers

I make no apologies for the old picture! It's my favorite of my mom and me. Rumor has it that it was the last time I owned a dress! I'm so thankful that my mom is here this week, even though she continues to forget so many things we used to enjoy. For now, I keep her comfortable and happy, knowing our time is short.

Emotions can be strung tight for the caregiver no matter what type of situation we are in. Our days are full of so many necessary activities we can barely have time to breathe. But breathing is good. If we are still breathing, then there is hope. We can still breathe a prayer to Him bringing Him every concern.

It is an understatement to say my life changed drastically when I became a caregiver. And for some, it wasn't a sudden shock. But no matter what type of situation brought about a caregiver's role in your life, I want you to know you didn't lose a thing. Naturally? Maybe. But not one spiritual blessing is diminished for the caregiver. Every precious and magnificent promise  is still ours! (2 Peter1:4)

See, God has a huge eraser when it comes to wiping away our sins. Sins and their effect were all washed away at the cross. But He wrote His law on our hearts. Hebrews 10:16 says this:

This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
and on their mind I will write them

The writer of Hebrews is quoting from Jeremiah who had prophesied that God would write His law on our hearts - on this side of the cross. And you know what? He ain't gonna erase it either! He uses His eraser to make our sins disappear - not His word! He has written it on our hearts, and He has given us the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) These are solid and sure and He's not taking them back! We do not lose a thing in the Kingdom of God because we are caregivers.

It's a full package deal. We get His peace. He still loves us. We can still take our cares to Him and He will carry them for us. And His word is still written on our hearts. We still have the mind of Christ. We are not excluded from benefits provided the body of Christ because of our caregiving status. 

His word doesn't fade over time. His word will not go away. His word is just as strong as it ever was - He wrote it on our hearts and He ain't taking it back! 

Today I will turn my thoughts to His word. And I will  let His word have free course in my heart and life. My meditations will be on the power of His word, I'll also think about what it means to have it written on my heart. I'll express my thankfulness that He doesn't make any exclusions for caregivers. That He is still with me, still loves me and still values me as His child. Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When I Take the Time

B&W of Bible, study notes and coffee
Never underestimate the power of quietness. Let me explain. To say my hands are full today is quite the understatement. My hands, pockets, purse, house and heart are full to the brim today. But I love it. I am enjoying taking care of my mom and I'm overcome with a special kind of compassion. That kind of caught me off guard. Double-time caregiving is not for the faint of heart, though, just sayin'! (smiles) It's barely even noon (I know - running late... ), and I'm on a second pot of coffee and need a nap.

What amazes me is when I take the time to just focus on Him for just a few minutes, how He makes it all better. It's funny though, I literally have to "take" the time - it's not handed to me on a silver platter. I have to take that time to find rest in Him. My hands are busy and my heart is full, but when I take a few seconds to acknowledge His presence, to wait for Him, to allow Him to give me rest, He never fails or disappoints.

The prophet Isaiah, in chapter 30, verse 15 called out to the people and told them the secret - in returning and rest you will be saved. Sadly, they would not listen. David, in Psalm 46:10 said, stop striving, and know I am God. The fact that this is in first person lets us know God was talking through David - and admonishing the listener and today the reader to just stop. Be still. Cease striving. And acknowledge that He is God. And you know what?

When I take the time to be still, to return to Him, to rest in Him - He meets me there every.single.time. It's almost like He anticipates my arrival, like He can't wait to see me. It's like He is excited to pick me up - trade my pathetic little strength for His might - and fill me back up until I run out again. Then He waits... for me to take time to come and let Him touch me again.

He is faithful. When we come to Him - He's ready to pour into us. When we realize our strength is gone, He's ready to give us His... while we wait on Him.

Today, I'm going to remind myself that His strength is enough and His grace is sufficient to carry me through. My meditations will be on just knowing He is still God and there is literally nothing that can change that in any way. My efforts will be on waiting for Him and resting in Him and in trading my piddly strength for His might. Will you join me?

Monday, October 30, 2017

All Things Considered

This morning I woke up to a very hectic day ahead. My mom is going to come stay a few days again since my daddy is sick. This just means my usually busy morning got busier since I have quite a bit to do to prepare for her to stay. I also got up knowing it's going to be a full week. It means some schedule changing for me. I won't lie. It's difficult. But I love taking care of my mom. She's so pleasant in her child-likeness that this horrible disease brings on. And she's vulnerable and innocent. I love her.

So this morning's devotions were cut a bit short as I started washing sheets and putting clean sheets on the bed. But, they were so good! I was thinking about how people say "God is good" all the time. But if you notice, they usually only say it when they get what they want. They got a job, God id good. They got a new car (and a large payment) God is good. They were sick and now they feel better - so God is good.  But guess what! He was already good anyway!

I'm so thankful His goodness, His mercy, His love and everything else about Him are not contingent on our circumstances. They remain. He remains. And He is always good.

He doesn't quit being good when something bad happens in our lives. If we get a new job or lose our job - He's still good. If we are sick or well - He's still good. If we are hungry or full - He's still good. His goodness is certain. His mercy is sure. His love is forever. Not one thing about Him changes due to our situations.

Isaiah 63:7 says this  I will tell of the Lord's unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all He has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which He has granted according to His mercy and love. (NLT) 

Today, first of all, I will praise Him and thank Him for just being good. No matter what. Then, I'm going to purposefully look around my world today to find things to be thankful for. Trust me, there's always something. I'm going to first thank Him for His goodness no matter what my circumstance. And I'll praise Him for being the only constant in my upside down, backwards world! I'll meditate on His goodness toward me - and in me. And I will rest in that. Will you join me?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Watch Where You Step!

This morning I was pouring my heart out to God. That's nothing unusual, He's used to hearing me whine, cry, fuss and cuss. I had seen some areas where Chris has seemed to lose a lot of ground lately and it frustrates me. I feel like a failure. And as usual, I take all my cares to Him. Remember He told  us to, several times throughout scriptures. So I did.

I was thinking about all there is for caregivers to juggle. For me it's work,  therapy for Chris, ministry, writing my stuff, housework, etc. Who has time to do everything? Yet I find myself my own worst critic, condemning myself for not doing more.Are you kidding me? 

So this morning I was bringing all this to the Lord. Asking Him to help me know how to get more organized. He may be tired of hearing that prayer. (lol) I wish I could get on some sort of schedule and stick to it. But you know how it is, just about the time you do find a schedule that looks like it's going to work, something gets thrown into it to mess it all up. Eventually, we can tend to give up on that and go back to the day-by-day.

As I was praying (whining crying....) I heard myself ask God to help me order my days. Help me know how to get more done for Chris and work and maybe even myself in there somewhere. My fellow caregivers know that self-care is the first to go when we are in a crunch. The scripture came to mind order my steps. So I looked it up.

I found it in Psalm 37, which turns out I remember to be one of those awesome psalms with tons of wisdom. Verse 23 in the KJV says this: The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, and He delights in his way. But look at the New Living Translation - The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. He watches over every little detail - the good, the bad and the ugly!

He is actively involved in our lives. He will help us order our days. I believe He wants us to bring our stuff to Him. He wants to help us sort through it. Our mess doesn't put Him off. He doesn't find our lifestyle distasteful, He is here to help. Earlier in this psalm, David offers quite a bit of advice for the righteous. He encourages us to do several things:

  • Delight in the Lord
  • Commit your way to Him
  • Trust in the Lord
  • Rest in theLord
  • Wait patiently for the Lord
Sometimes these are easier said than done, especially in our hectic lives where there is so much to get done every day. But today, I am going to commit my way to Him. I will purposefully wait for His direction and instruction. My thoughts will be on how I can continue to trust Him in this situation and I will commit my way to Him for Him to direct my steps. I'm pretty sure He's not going to fail me now. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Volume Control

In my reading this morning, I came across an interesting scripture. It's solid, and truth of course, it was my line of thinking, crazy as it can be, that made it so interesting to me.

The psalmist says in Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (NASB) There are a few things that really stick out in this one little verse that's been hiding from me all this time.

The first thing I noticed was daily. He takes care of us every single day. Isaiah tells us that He never gets weary. Actually, weary comes after being tired for too long, and He doesn't even get tired. Day after day He continues to undergird us with strength. He carries us when necessary. But this morning I noticed the part our burdens. He carries us, yes, but He also carries our burdens. And here's where my thinking got a little silly.

Honestly, I wondered if all my whining, fussin' and cussin' was a burden to Him and maybe that's what He carries each and every day. While I am fully aware that He does indeed do that - I realize He really carries my burden, because He carries me. He doesn't eliminate part of me. He never says - I'll carry you through this, but not those deep wounds. He never says there's a part of me that He won't touch. None of me is too dirty or grimed out by life for Him to touch.

And as for my whining - I just imagine He has a volume control. He can turn down the fussin' and cussin' part so He truly hears the heart behind it. He understands the tired behind my give up. He hears my heart over my loudest cries. So no matter how loudly I cry, moan and whine, He hears my heart crying out for Him. And there is literally, absolutely no hesitation on His part as he reaches in to rescue my crying heart and carry my burdens for one more day. I am not... you are not.. a burden to Him.

Today, I am going to be thankful that He hears my heart above my cries. My heart's meditation will be on how gentle He is with me in this rough-and-tough caregiving lifestyle. I'll turn my thoughts to how He carries me (sometime kicking and screaming) to the next place in Him. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Still In Him

Yesterday, I was thinking about life and all it's become. I honestly had the thought that I like my life. Then I thought I guess I've adjusted to this new normal. And then I tempered it down a bit and concluded that at least I might not hate my life as much as I used to.

The living grief I deal with every day can chip away at all life is supposed to be. At tines, I miss who my son so much I become an emotional blob.Other times I can at least deal with it and find the best in each situation. And most of the time I fluctuate between the two, often in a matter of a few minutes. I'm starting to wonder if that's not really the source of the never-ending tiredness. Emotions can wear you out. But so can physically caring for another whole person day in and day out. So who knows if it's the endless chores or the emotional shifts that can render us exhausted and yet somehow sleepless. Maybe it's the overpowering combination of the two.

While in this perplexed state, I had to prepare for a live devotion I do each morning (for the "real world' people lol). I found myself in Acts 16 reading where Paul and Silas were sitting in the damp, dark jail. The crowd had beaten them with rods and it says they were "beaten with many blows." They had to be bloody, swollen, bruised and hurting. But what did that choose to do? There fastened to the wall and floor by chains, they chose to praise. Verse 25 says about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. What? I'd have been crying, worrying and complaining about the injustice of the circumstances. They chose to praise.

I wouldn't have blamed them one bit had they moaned and whined. But they didn't do that. They praised God. I've said it before, but it bears repeating - He doesn't change with our circumstances. Not one thing in the throne room of God moved when we became caregivers. There was no redecorating on the account of our situation. He is faithful. No matter what arranges or rearranges in our worlds God is still on the throne. Jesus is still at His right hand. And we are still in Him. Our status in Him doesn't fluctuate with our natural circumstance. It's solid.

His mercies are still new every morning - because we're going to need them to face each new day. His love is still unending. His grace is still sufficient. And He's still walking with me - carrying me when necessary. (That happens a LOT!) He's still patient and kind toward us who believe.

Thank God the throne of God hasn't moved or changed. Thank God His love is enduring! Thank God my circumstances cause Him no alarm.

Today, I'm going to think about His throne room. I'll meditate on his faithfulness and my thoughts will be on how He doesn't move, change or flinch in response to the crazy circumstances of caregiving. I think I love Him more and more! Today I'll let Him carry me. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life's Back Burner

Well here we are facing another day. Caregiver's days are full of uncertainty. For instance, today I have some errands that have to be run. There's no waiting at this point, I have to go get some things today. It usually never fails that when I've put something off and really need to do it now, the aide doesn't show up. To preempt my possible frustration - I already have a backup plan in place.

Sometimes just living with this type of uncertainty is frustrating I mean, why can't we just go to the store and get what we need, right? Sometimes it feels like it takes most of my energy just figuring out how to get things done, let alone the actual doing it. Maybe it's just me.

By the time I work through all that, I'm too tired to get it done. lol Sometimes it can wait for another day, but sometimes I just have to "pull myself up by my own bootstraps" and get it done anyway. My feelings are irrelevant. At least that is how I feel much of the time. The needs of our loved ones far surpass our own. And sometimes we can find ourselves taking care of ourselves only for the sake of taking care of them. 

But you know what? It's okay, and not selfish, to love ourselves. As a matter of fact, we are to love others as we love ourselves. I always thought that was an interesting scripture. We clothe ourselves, feed ourselves and give ourselves chocolate or pizza when "ourselves" want it! Right? It's okay to take care of us too. At the same time I so understand how we live our lives on the back burner.

Our needs are back on that burner and we only allow them to surface after our loved one is seen to and taken care of. Let someone tell us differently and we'll give them a "what for"! Sometimes we can feel like we are on God's back burner. But you know what? We are not.  Actually, we are in the forefront of His mind and heart. He understands our situation, probably more than we realize. He understands what it means and what it takes to lay down your life for another.

I'm way past thinking He's going to come in on His white horse and whisk me away. And I'm past asking Him to remove "this cup" I must drink. Jesus didn't see the cross as pleasant either. He asked if  it could be removed, but submitted to the Father's plan because He saw we needed a savoir more than He needed to be saved from the pain.

Even Paul prayed for his thorn in his flesh to be removed. Three times to be exact. But what did God tell Paul? My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. And what was Paul's response? My interpretation of what Paul said is this: Wait! Power is perfected in weakness? Then I will boast in my weakness so that Christ's power can live in me. I'm so content to be weak! I'll take all life's insults! I'll take all the distress! I'll drink the cup of difficulties, gladly. Because in this weak state - I am strong in Him. I'll sit on this back burner just to be filled with His strength and grace!

Today, I will choose to be glad that life has me in a difficult spot, on a back burner. I will rejoice because I feel so weak. I'll meditate on how He is strong right here in my weakness. My thoughts will be on strength being perfected (matured) in me as I learn to wait on Him. I'll think about how He's carried me to this point and He's not putting me down now! I'll rest in His strength and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grace for One More Day

This morning, I just woke up tired. I hate it when that happens, and I admit I've been burning the candle on both ends for quite some time now. One of my primary goals right now is to find a way to organize my time better. What am I thinking?  How in the world can caregivers organize anything? Even if we do get all organized, something will happen, right? Maybe it's just me.

It was actually easier when I first brought my son home because he slept a lot. Part of the recovery process though is constant changes. I've said before that change is about the only thing that is constant in the caregiver's life! Right? Just about the time we get a "schedule" ironed out and in place, thinking it will work perfect for our needs as well as for our loved ones, what happens? Something. Anything. We can be catapulted into chaos at any moment of any day or night. I have not-so-quietly tried to give in to it and just work with whatever life and Chris gives me each day. All of this within a very modifiable-as-we-go type of schedule. It drives the orderly part of me crazy! But I adjust, figure out the next step and proceed. Don't we all? Caregivers are resilient! We just keep going kinda like the energizer bunny! (Mostly because we have to - no one else is going to do it and I haven't had any volunteers to take anything off my plate.)

So upon rising this morning, I found myself exhausted. Again. I worked a bit but then fell back asleep only to be awakened by my alarm that tells me it's time for the morning devotions I lead in a Facebook group. Oh how I wanted to sleep. But I got up and tried to get my body and my mind dressed for the occasion. My honest thought was what do I need to hear?

My thoughts went immediately to Isaiah 40. I thought I'm so tired, but He never gets weary. There's a difference between tired and weary. Weary is tired to the bone - to the soul. I looked up the chapter and looked down to verse 28:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
the Everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth
does not become weary or tired.

I wondered why He made us have a need for sleep - when He never sleeps. But I thought about how I run to Him all.the.time. And He doesn't even get tired of that. He doesn't grow weary of us coming to Him with all our stuff. He picks us up, dusts us off, and gives us strength and grace. Grace to make another day.

Today, I will be thankful that He doesn't get tired of me coming to Him. My thoughts will be on how He gives us grace - all sufficient grace. I'll make grace my meditation today. Will you join me?


Monday, October 16, 2017

Still at Work!!


Lately, I've been giving more time to studying the word. One reason is I'm getting to do a little more teaching from time to time. Being a teacher at heart, means I'm also a good student. The word is invaluable! When I was in my early teens I decided I wanted to know what it said for myself. I've been a diligent student ever since. I just didn't want others telling me what it said. This desire led to a lifelong habit of putting the word at the forefront of my life.

This morning I was thinking about these things as I was reading Colossians 3. Verse 16 says  to Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. And right before that, Paul tells the reader to Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. I think that little word "let" has a really big implication.

My question was the application of these two scriptures. Mostly, I was thinking about letting the word dwell in us richly. My thoughts were back and forth in scriptures wondering how I could let it rule. In the Old Testament, Moses instructed the Israelites to write the word everywhere. (Duet. 6) The point being it was to be at the forefront of every conversation, every meal, every get together etc. Perhaps Paul is thinking along the same lines as he pens these words to the new believers.

For me, when I became a caregiver, sometimes the simplest scriptures and instructions got complicated. One example is how Jesus gives us the commission to go - but I couldn't do that. I loved living Him in the streets and taking the gospel to the nations. But how was that going to be possible as a caregiver? Well, this verse in Colossians is just as applicable on the street, or in the jungles of Africa as it is in our living room. Just let the word of God do it's (or His) thing in us.

Now here's the cool part - His word is at work in us. There is no place where the word stops working. Life doesn't become to complicated or hectic for His word to say - that's it I quit. There's no line drawn in the sand where the word says I'm not going that far. Nope. His word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and that doesn't exclude us caregivers. The word is powerful enough to cut through our circumstances and bring change in our hearts and lives.

Isn't it great to know that the word still works? We don't have to qualify for participation! Hebrews says He wrote His word in our hearts - and it's up to us to do the letting - letting the word have free course in our lives, letting it light our path, letting it fill our hearts, and letting it be in first place in our hearts and minds. His word has the first and last word in my life.

Today I am just going to be thankful for His word. I'll turn my thoughts to how it's brought comfort in my distress, it's brought healing to my soul, it's been peace in the storm. My meditations will be on how His word - spoken and written - has strengthened me and kept me sane! I will be concentrating on the "letting" part of "let His word dwell in you richly" today. Will you join me?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Availability

Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking with a fellow caregiver. It was so refreshing and rewarding to spend the time in conversation! Even though our circumstances differ, we found much in common. I love connecting with other caregivers like that, it is quite inspiring. Caregivers are awesome.

Some of the simplest things can be complicated by caregiving. It took us a couple of tries to find a time that worked for both of us to make that call. No big deal for either of us, we adjusted what we needed to so it would work. One of my earliest frustrations was having difficulty scheduling things. Even yesterday, I was trying to explain my situation to a client. He wanted to give me a "full-time" position with set hours. He couldn't understand why I couldn't commit to it. I explained I could commit to a certain number of hours but not specific hours I could put in.

I tried to carefully explain that if I said I was going to work 1 to 4 each afternoon, something would come up. Nurses, case managers, doctors and supplies come whenever they want! lol. And of course, as sure as we commit to something we are sure we can manage something goes wrong. Our loved one gets sick or any number of things.

The hard part about not being able to keep a specific schedule outside of caregiving is that people stop inviting. They think we don't want to have coffee, go to the movie, etc. The truth is we would love to do those things. But we never know when something pressing will come up. It can feel isolating at best. Eventually, we adapt and for those patient souls, we figure out how to make it work.

The cool thing is that God is always on hand. He doesn't have office hours that He tries to make us adapt to. He longs to be with us whenever we can do it. He's on-call whether it's 2 in the morning, or 11 at night. He is available.

Now here's the catch, He wants us to be available too. When He calls, can we answer? On one hand, it can seem unfair. Why should He want us to be available, doesn't He know how much we have to do? I have to say that I love it when He tugs on my heart. Maybe I have a song of praise that rises up, or a prayer on my heart for a friend. But when He nudges, I choose to meet Him there. The cool thing is that that He still wants us to be with Him. How awesome is that? He doesn't ignore us or stop inviting because the schedule is too tight. He continues to draw us to Himself. He still wants us to experience His love.

Today, I will make it a point to think about how He wants to be with me. My thoughts and meditations will be on how He loves me and how He doesn't abandon. My schedule is never too hectic for Him to care and reach in for me. And I'll meet Him when He calls, and I will let Him hold me as I trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Faithless are Faith-Filled

I was reading in Galatians this morning about the fruit of the spirit and the deeds of the flesh. My thoughts ran along the lines of how whatever fruit we exhibit shows everyone what we've been trusting, following and believing. That doesn't seem fair for the caregiver I don't think.

Seriously, I know we are still accountable - but it's like life is stacked against us. I'm speaking somewhat in jest - but does God really expect us to be patient?  And then it's tested on a daily basis - aides don't come or call, supplies are on back order again, chair malfunctions, or our loved one is just cranky and we can't fix it. It all adds up and it can keep us on the edge all the time.

Love? Everyone? Personally, forgiving the young man who caused the wreck (and it was a true accident) is a daily thing sometimes. He virtually took my son away and yet it is my spiritual responsibility to forgive and restore. That's not easy - but it's do-able.

Then there's joy. Really? Yes. Because our joy is rooted in what He has done for us spiritually, we can still have it even in the most adverse circumstances. His is a joy that remains. His joy will carry us through.

If anyone is longsuffering though, it's the caregiver. We know how to stick with it even when sticking isn't fun or joyful. We won't give up on our loved ones because of the deep love we have for them. We will literally fight tooth and nail to protect them and get what they need. We'll stick with it no matter how long we have to, how much paperwork we get stuck filling out, or whose office we need to storm - all for our loved ones.

You know what's cool about all that? That's exactly how God feels about His kids. He sees us in our pain, in our inadequacies (whether perceived or real), in our frustrations, tiredness, and any other state we as caregivers find ourselves in. He still loves us. He still cares for us. He still carries us - even if we are fussing and cussing the whole way. (Yes, I have done that....)

In my mind I can see Him scooping me up in His arms while I'm still griping; and He just carries me along until I can stand and begin to make forward process once again. He is so patient, gentle and loving with us. Our fatigue doesn't scare Him. Our frustrations don't force Him to quit. His grace remains extended throughout our longest days and darkest nights. Our confusion doesn't baffle Him and He doesn't even condemn us for it. He just waits for us. He carries us when we need it. He knows us. He even knows when we lie about being tired.

Nahum 1:7 says this: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. He knows those of us who are quite alright with Him picking us up before we hit the ground. He knows those of us who are trusting in Him as our refuge. He knows those of us who are gonna gripe first, and snuggle in later. He picks us up when we call His name. He knows we are going to continue to trust Him. Even if we falter, get frustrated or feel like we are faithless He will carry us. We are never faithless - because He is faith-full; and we have Him. He has us.

Today I'm going to think about this visual of me in His arms. I will let Him carry me. I will let Him heal the deepest wounds life inflicts. My thoughts will be on His care for me. My meditations will be on His faithfulness. And in His faithful arms I will rest and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Moving Day!

I hate the thought of moving - so thankfully, I don't have to worry about it right now. Probably at some point, I'll be moving from this apartment and boy do I dread that day. Today's blog title is about a different kind of moving.

This morning I was studying in John 14 and 15. These chapters along with 16 and 17 are some of my favorite passages. They are just rich and you can pick about any verse and dive into the topic and be there all day. Today, though I got stuck in verse 23 of chapter 14.

The verse reads this way in the NASB: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. Translated to me means this: if we love Him and keep His word - He's moving in!

Now I don't know about you, but when I do move - I take all my stuff with me. I load everything in a truck and take it all. I take my clothes, my bedroom furnishings, my workout equipment, appliances, my BOOKS! And I move everything to my new abode. I take all of me and all my stuff.

When God says He will make His abode with us - He brings all He is and all He has too. He moves all-in. Once again we see no exclusionary statements - He moves all in unless..... This means the caregiver gets just as much of Him as anyone else. We get all of God when we keep His word too. He doesn't love us any less nor does He withhold anything from us because of our situation - we have equal rights and equal access just like all His other children.

Today, I'm going to think about how He moved in and has no reason to leave us. My meditation will be on how I have all of Him - He holds nothing back. My thoughts will be about what might be in me that would inhibit Him from consuming every space in me. I trust Him to live inside me and make any arrangements that need to be made. I'll trust Him for one more day, will you join me?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Strength Upon Strength

As usual, my thoughts are all over the place. But it seems they have landed in a good spot, Psalm 29. I love this psalm and have read and taught from it numerous times. I like the fact that it starts with me giving God strength and ends with him giving me His strength. Not a fair trade for Him, but it sure works for me.

There can be many things that sap the caregiver's strength throughout a day. Because we live so on the edge of our emotions it doesn't even take much. As a teacher I used a term "reinvent myself" for what I had to do every day before I went back into the classroom. I knew that each day I had to be fresh, new and energetic for my students to receive from me. I think we have to reinvent and regenerate ourselves as caregivers all day every day. Then the littlest thing topples us off the edge.

We carry such a load, any straw can be THAT straw - the one that breaks the camel's back. The funny thing is though - no one will know it. We figure it out. Like yesterday when the aide didn't call or show - I just shifted into get 'er done mode and started completing all his tasks. It's no big deal - just exhausting to keep reinventing ourselves over and over. Or maybe a better way to say it is we keep reaching down inside deeper and deeper and finding more to work with. Because we have to. We do it numbly and don't even realize it most of the time.... or maybe that's just me.

So today as I was reading this psalm it meant a little more to me. I really don't have the strength in myself, but I find it in Him. He strengthens my hands for battle - and for caregivers, life can be a battlefield. That applies to just about everything from finances to emotions to our physical being. But He will make us victorious as we give it to Him and accept His strength in us.

Today, I'm going to think about how He strengthens me day to day. My thoughts will be on how He fills me with Himself and doesn't take anything back. I'll meditate on Ephesians 3:16 that says we are strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner man. And I will just let Him be my strength today I won't try to do it on my own. Will you join me on that?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Challenging and Rewarding!

If you were asked to describe caregiving in one word, what would it be? I thought of this earlier and found it difficult to nail down. Caregiving is challenging - but also rewarding. It's difficult - but easy to choose when we follow our heart's love. It can be confusing yet simple. Caregiving can be hectic - but peaceful. Peaceful? I'm not sure I would use that word to describe what we do everyday. Would you?

Initially, I started this conversation in my head when I was reading 2 Thessalonians 3:16. I was doing a little online devotion with a FaceBook group this morning and my eyes scanned across it. I was talking about praying scriptures and was running through several of them in Thessalonians. I have a bunch of scriptures marked - underlined and a "p" beside it so I can pull them out and pray them when appropriate. The one thing is that I call them "generic" meaning they work at any time for just about any person or situation.

While I was teaching all this today my attention was grabbed by this one scripture: Now may the Lord of peace Himself continuously grant you peace in every circumstance. My mind stuck there for awhile as my thoughts ran away. Can He really give peace in every situation? Even for the caregiver? I have to say - yes. He can grant us peace in our situation - then it's up to us to let His peace reign in our hearts and minds.

Today, I will concentrate on letting His peace reign in my heart, mind and situation. This scripture will be my prayer and my meditation today. But I want to go beyond that just a bit and make room for the letting His peace reign. I will focus on His peace rather than the hectic schedule for today. As I rest in His peace - I'll trust Him for one more day - will you join me in letting His peace reign today?

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Little Things

Ever heard the saying "sometimes it's the little things..."? I don't think there's a caregiver out there who would disagree. But for us sometimes it's the tons of little things that add up until one becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back.

There are so many things on our daily plates. I have no idea how many times I've said, "just one more thing" goes wrong and I'll..... just deal with it, right? There are disconnected social workers who like to make rules that don't apply to them - or worked in their situation but are devastating in ours. Supply orders that get messed up - every single month for months in a row. Aides that don't show up - the one day you made plans. And this list could go on and on and on.

But I've learned something else over these nearly 9 years of caregiving. It's also the littlest things that can weigh the most in making a day go better. Like the fact that I discovered these $5 flowers in the photo. It's not expensive - but I enjoy looking at them. They last for about a week and just brighten my day. They add just a bit of beauty to my life and I like it.

It can be a kind word or gesture while you're out in public. It can be as simple as a card in the mail or an email that lets you know someone out there is praying for you. But now let me flip this around on you. YOU may be the kind word or act of love the aide needs to hear today. Your case manager has a full plate too - and they may be on the verge too - and you can either be their one more thing for the good - or for the bad.

That doesn't seem fair does it? I mean - we are in a tight situation at best. Caregiving on any level is stressful, difficult and emotionally wringing. But that doesn't give us a license to abuse others or be anything less than a blessing. I've said it before that we are not exempt from following the Word of God just because of our situations. There are no exclusionary statements like - this applies to everyone but caregivers. 

Our words can still be seasoned with grace. (Colossians 4:6) Sometimes we want certain scriptures to apply to us like My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. Or My peace I leave with you.....but we want to forget about some of the others. We want all the goodies but not the requirements, right? Caregivers do deserve a break, right? I don't think we get a break from righteousness.

But this is a good thing, you know why? Because everything in the Bible still applies to us. He is our righteousness. He is our wisdom. He is our strength. Those promises do not fade. He doesn't pack up and move out of us when we begin caregiving. He remains. The foundation of God stands firm having this seal - He knows those who are His. (2 Timothy 2:19) So I'm glad things don't really change for us spiritually just because of what happens to us naturally. Aren't you?

Today, my prayer will be that my words will be seasoned with salt and that I can be a light from here in this dark cave. I will be thankful that caregiving doesn't create a dam that holds back any of His promises. My meditations will be on how He knows  me, and I don't scare Him off. And since He's here and I can't get rid of Him - I think I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?