Monday, August 14, 2017

Called to Fellowship

This morning I was reading in 1 John, it's a small, but powerful book. John starts this letter to the church out in the same place he starts the gospel he wrote. His focus is the Word. In his gospel, he starts with In the beginning was the Word and the Word was... His letter to the church starts with What was from the beginning. 

My BC (before caregiving) years were spent reading, studying, writing about, and teaching the word. I think becoming a caregiver drove me deeper into the word, which is what trials and struggles should do. Difficulties have a way of driving us closer to Him, redefining our faith and making us stronger. But struggles can also lead to many questions, especially if you are the question queen. 

One of my struggles concerned many of the dreams I felt God had given me, the call on my life. I wrestled with it a lot as it seemed everything had been stripped away. Caregiving can carry with it such a sense of loss. Actually, I got myself in a bind financially because of it. Once I figured it out, I was able to correct it, but for a long time I bought whatever I wanted. I couldn't deny myself anything I desired as I was trying to compensate for the great loss I felt in my life. Once the Lord showed that to me I was able to correct it, but it caused great troubles!

What on earth can a caregiver do to fulfill the call on their lives? It's actually quite simple. I used to be a youth pastor and I taught this verse to the youth. It's 1 Corinthians 1:9. It's simple and succinct. Paul says this, God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord. That's about as plain and simple as it gets - we are called to fellowship with Him.

If we can get that part - everything else will fall into place. It's true on the highest mountain or lowest valley. It doesn't matter - He's everywhere. He's in us. He's with us. Fellowship with Him can be uninterrupted. When we fulfill that "calling" - called to fellowship with Him - we'll find completeness in Him. We'll find satisfaction in Him. We'll find our fulfillment and joy in Him. And more importantly, we'll be found in Him. For me, as a caregiver, that is comforting.

I don't live life as a caregiver separated from Him. Actually, in many ways I live life closer to Him now than ever before. Remember David told us in Psalm 34:18 that God is near the brokenhearted. If anything, He moves in closer when life hurts more.He is there to bind up our wounds, heal our broken hearts and carry us when necessary. I find comfort in that. And I find that place of rest knowing He is walking this road with me. Sometimes the bumpier the road, the deeper the fellowship.

Today, my thoughts will be on another psalm. Psalm 73:28 says, the nearness of my God is my good. I have made the Lord my refuge that I may tell of all Your works. My meditations will be on uninterrupted fellowship with Him. I'll think about how He is ever present and nothing can separate me from His love. I'll be thankful that I can continue to fellowship with Him no matter what life throws at me. I'm going to tell Him I love Him one more time. I'll rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Perfect Example

This week, I've been reading the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. There's so much in these two short books, mostly dealing with pastoring the early church. But as I was reading them over again this morning, I found one phrase that stuck out to me.

Paul's talking about how God was faithful to forgive him as he says he was the "foremost sinner" of all. He had persecuted the church, yet God, rich in mercy had pulled him out and called him to ministry. Paul says, the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which is found in Christ Jesus.  Although he felt like he'd been the chief among sinners, he knew he'd received an enormous amount of grace. (Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.)

But then, Paul says in verse 16 that he found mercy so that God could demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe. What an example that was! Maybe some needed that hope - that if God could save Paul - He could save anyone. That got me thinking. If Paul was an example of God's rich grace - what are we examples of?

As caregivers, our lives can be topsy turvy. It can be beyond description. But we can be examples of His grace, examples of His love. We can be examples of faith-filled furnace walkers. We are not perfect - but we are still pursuing God. What an example of perseverance. Of patient pursuit of godliness. We all have daily struggles and others may not understand, but at the heart of the matter - we are still seeking Him. We are examples of passionate pursuit of God. We are examples of lives touched by His grace. We are examples of faith that won't quit. Our lives are imperfect - and we don't have everything together all the time. Our attitudes can stink, well mine can anyway....but we always come back to Him. We are perfect examples of persistently pursuing Him, even in the face of adversity.

Today, I'm going to think about the fact that I haven't given up. My meditations will be on all the ways I've seen God move during this trial. I'll turn my thoughts toward His goodness - and thank Him for His patience with me. And I'll be thankful for the journey - as much as I dislike it - it's brought me closer to Him - brought you closer to Him. I'll think about how we are still "in the game" and haven't lost at all. I think I'll crawl up into His lap - tell Him "thank you" and rest in Him. Will you join me?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

We've Still Got It!

This morning as I was reading in Philippians 3. The Apostle Paul was talking about counting everything as a loss - for the "infinite value" of knowing Christ. That got me to thinking and searching for scriptures about knowing Him. It made for an interesting journey through the New Testament this morning.

I journeyed through Ephesians, Peter, Philippians...there really are quite a few passages discussing knowing Him. I finally landed back in 2 Peter 1. I seem to end up there a lot lately. I love the phrase that says we have everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. And you know what? We've still got it!

Caregiving can come with a lot of losses in many ways. But life can't throw us a big enough, fast enough hard ball for us to lose out with Him. As a matter of fact, in many ways it can cause us to press in to know Him a little more passionately. (If we let it.)

You see - we may lose, or give up a lot of things to be caregivers for the ones we love - but we still have a choice. We are the captain of our souls. We can choose to keep ourselves near Him. And we can chose to distance ourselves from Him as we tend to do when we get uncomfortable. Peter said, His divine power has given us.....and we've still got it.

God doesn't take things back. Romans 11:29 says He doesn't take His "gifts and callings" back. So since He gave us something - we still have it! We may have lost a lot of things in life, but we haven't lost a thing in Him.

Today I'm going to turn my thoughts toward all I have been given in Him. (peace, love, joy, salvation - just to name a few) I'll meditate on the un-take-back-ableness of His gifts. My thoughts will be on how He has equipped us with what we need to live godly in Him. He has given us what we need to know Him. And today I'm going to purpose to know Him more fully. Will you join me?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Seemingly Insignificant

Ever hear the phrase, "life goes on"? I'm sure you've heard it plenty of times, as I have. Sometimes for the caregiver, it feels like life does go on - but just for everyone else while we are stuck in the day-to-day. It can feel like everyone got on the train but us - and we are left standing on the platform all alone.

There are many challenges we face every day, and the social aspect can be one of the most difficult. We cannot always get out easily, if at all; and it's rare for people to come into our world. My caregiving started with a crisis but as soon as the "crisis" was over, everyone disappeared leaving me alone holding the bag. Maybe the crisis was over for them - but for me it continued and still continues today. Caregiving is a daily struggle although rewarding in its own way. But we still have to give up some of the "normals" of life.

It can feel like we are totally insignificant to life. After all, it did go on, just without us! We may feel like we don't make a huge contribution to life around us. Or maybe we feel like we don't have anything to offer the "real" world out there. But we are not insignificant to Him. Ever.

This morning I was feeling kinda closed in when I thought of this verse out of Zephaniah. It's been a long time favorite, but today it meant so much to remember that no matter how insignificant I may feel, this is how He feels about me (about you). I like the Amplified version:

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, A Mighty One, a Savior [who saves]!
He will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest [in silent satisfaction]
and in His love He will be silent and make no mention 
[of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.

The NLT says "He will take delight in you with gladness" and in the original text"exult" means to spin around wildly in great delight. So even if we feel insignificant, we are not. The God of Creation, loves to spend time with us. When we feel like we don't fit in here - we fit in with Him. He is not afraid of our cave. He's not afraid of our pain. He takes notice of us - and gladly participates in life with us.

Today, I'm going to remind myself that He is near - and that He chose to be near. He walks through time with me - not out of a sense of obligation, but because He wants to.  He likes, and enjoys, being with me. My meditations will be on how He never leaves me stranded - not even emotionally. I'll turn my thoughts to how He is right here, right now... all the time. And I choose to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?



Monday, August 7, 2017

Purposeful Planning

Whew! Last week was a rough one! It may be one of the most difficult weeks I've had since I started caregiving. Suffice it to say a bunch of stuff piled up and nearly wiped me out. It seemed as though I was struggling on every single level, financially, emotionally, physically, and yes, even spiritually.

It's no secret that I'm a little high strung, and can get worked up rather quickly. Actually, my hyper mind can have me stressed out over things that haven't even happened yet! lol My imagination in overdrive works through numerous scenarios - none of which may ever happen - and I can become stressed over absolutely nothing. I'm an over thinker. That can be bad. But it can be good.

I can usually think myself right again, eventually. This morning is one of those times. After being a wreck last week on all playing fields, I got myself pretty well straightened out  - then my fridge went out Saturday and I lost all of my son's meals for the next two weeks. It's a service available to seniors and the disabled, like Meals on Wheels, but just a different company. I get 2 weeks worth of meals (one meal a day) at a time. They are gone. I just have to shake my head. I won't even start with the list of craziness that this was added to!

So this morning, I'm feeling better all around - but still trying to get myself together a bit to face this week. There'll be more nurse visits, tubes to replace, etc. I'm thinking, I just can't make it. I'm tired. I need something - but can't quite figure out what it is. Then I gathered myself together enough to give my morning devotions with a FB group I'm part of. And once again found He is so faithful. His word truly is alive and quickens (which is an old term for makes alive) my soul.

I found this spark in a familiar passage, Psalm 139. It was a good day to be talking about guarding our hearts and changing our confession. In this Psalm we find out that we are not an "oops." Our lives were not an accident - our existence didn't sneak up on God. As a matter of fact - in verse 16, we read this:

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
the days that were ordained for me
When as yet there was not one of them.

What did He write about me? What did He write about you? In my mind (overactive and hyper as it may be) this morning I thought this. Maybe He wrote how I would trust Him in the darkest night of my soul.   Maybe He wrote something like she runs to me. She will cling to Me and never let Me go. I'll walk through time with her. Maybe He looked down through time and saw those times He would scoop me up in His arms and carry me because I couldn't take one more step. He planned on it.

He didn't set us in time and walk away to let us deal with it ourselves. He planned on walking through time with us. We are never all alone - no matter how alone we feel. 

Today, I will turn my thoughts to how He planned me and planted me in time right here. My meditations will be on the truth that He didn't randomly throw us out into time from His throne in eternity - and leave us to walk it alone. But he purposefully planned on walking it out with us. I'm going to let my hyper imagination carry the picture I saw in my mind's eye - the one of Him scooping me up in His arms and carrying me.... when I couldn't take another step. I'll let Him carry me through today as I just rest in Him. Will you join me as He carries you too?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

B2B

Ever have "one of those days"? Ever have several of them in a row? Seems like lately there's been a barrage of darts thrown my way. Discouragement is right there on the doorstep and it's taking every ounce of strength I can muster to fight it off and keep it at bay.

When I go through times like this, there isn't really a place to throw up my hands and quit. It's not like caregiving is a job and we can turn in our resignation because we got upset, hurt or mad. We just have these spots to navigate through from time to time. I remind myself that there will be better days. And there will be worse days. It'll all level out.

During these times, I try to force myself to go back to the basics. I've already spent the time bending God's ear about all I'm upset about. It's okay - He knows my frustration, why I'm upset, how deeply I hurt, how angry I am (even at Him) - I'm not telling Him anything He doesn't already know.

So many times, there aren't any solid answers. It's not like a jigsaw puzzle you can find the last piece for. It's not like a crossword where you're left to find the right words and fill in the blanks. It's more like a maze and the further you get in the more confusing and difficult it gets. I've learned that when this funk settles in a walk back through the basics is about all that helps.

I don't know much right now, but I do know these B2B (back to basic) truths:

  • circumstances do not dethrone God - He hasn't moved
  • nothing can break the force of His love - He still loves me
  • I can't do anything to scare Him away - He is still with me
  • Life doesn't throw enough stuff at us to break Him - He still fights on my behalf
The foundation of God stands firm, the Lord knows those who are His.(2 Timothy 2:19) I know I am His. He's not wringing His hands trying to figure out what He's going to do with me either. The Lord waits on high to have compassion on you. (Isaiah 30:18). What's He waiting on? Maybe He just needs me to be quiet for a moment and hear Him.

Can I do it? Can I get all this gush of emotions to settle down for a minute and get still in His presence? Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) Going B2B reminds me that He is still God - He will never not be God of the nations. God of creation. God of mankind. God of me. God of my emotions. Now it's up to me to make Him God of my thoughts.

Today, I will purposefully rejoice that He is God. I'll go back to the basics and find the place in my heart to be still and just know He is God. My meditations will be on the truth that He hasn't moved, He still loves me, He is still with me, and He will fight on my behalf. And with those truths held high in my heart and mind, I'll roll up my sleeves and face another day! Will you join me?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Greatest Battlefield


Yesterday, I was reading Psalm 104, I'm telling you it's a rich psalm. I may just go ahead and read it every morning this week! Verse 34 was another one that caught my attention. In it the psalmist simply prays that his thoughts about God will be pleasing to Him. Well, that got me thinking about another psalm.

Psalm 19 also shares some wisdom drawn from nature and God's creation. At the end, he makes a similar prayer. He ends this psalm with may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You O Lord my rock and my redeemer.

In some ways, our thoughts can be the most difficult battleground. I don't know about you - but I know about me! Something simple can bring a barrage of thoughts that lead me right into all sorts of negative emotions like fear and anxiety. Let me give a couple of examples on a personal level.

One area that can get to me is memories. I'll see a friend of my son's post on Facebook and I'll think back to who Chris was and miss him. Or I'll see his friends getting married, having kids, and pursuing careers in music. I wonder what Chris would be doing today had the wreck not occurred. My thoughts can spiral downward until I'm in a heap of grief. Some of this is normal, I know, but the climb back up can be so difficult.

Another area my thoughts can get to me is planning for the future. Worry can set in quickly if I don't nip it in the bud. I fear what will happen as I age. Will I be able to continue to care for him? My thoughts can lead me down a dark, fearful road. Many nights I go to bed feeling like a failure. I focus on all I didn't get done without realizing how much I did get done. My thoughts can be my worst enemy and the most difficult battlefield.

I think that's why these two verses stuck out to me this morning. I want my thoughts to be pleasing to Him. My desire is for my words and thoughts to be pleasing to Him always. But some days - boy can they stray. I have to live with a 2 Corinthians 10:5 mindset: taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Some days it's easier. Some days it's a full-time job.

Today, I just want to remind myself - and you can ride along - to keep my thoughts under obedience to His word. My prayer is that each time a negative or unproductive thought comes up I can rope it in with scripture. My meditations will be on how He inhabits me and fear has no room. When thoughts pop up - I'll address them with Word. My thoughts will be on how He has filled me up with all of who He is...and that is enough. Enough to make it one more day. Enough for me to trust Him. will you join me?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Nature Unfolds Timeless Truths

One of my absolute favorite psalms is 104. I enjoy how the psalmist takes us on a walk through nature and reveals the wisdom of God. Of all the verses here, the one I find myself returning to the most is verse 19 which says, the sun knows when to set.

In my mind, I can see the sun high in the sky pondering which way to go to set. It never gets off course or forgets which way it's going. My vivid imagination runs with this scripture as I can see the sun sitting up there scratching its head asking, now, which way was I going?  And even though this always brings a chuckle, it's amazing that the sun rises and sets every single day without confusion. This just demonstrates to me the constancy of God.

As I was meditating on this truth, I also thought about the birds I see dancing around in my back yard every day. They chirp, play, fight over a breadcrumb and seem to "enjoy" it back there. But what they don't know is that as long as they are singing they are declaring the glory of God along with sun that never loses its way.

Jesus explained to the disciples that His Father's eyes were on those little sparrows. He knows when one of these seemingly worthless little birds falls to the ground. And He went on to say that we are worth much more than a whole flock of sparrows. If He knows and follows those little birds so closely, how much more closely, more intimately is He acquainted with all our ways?

As we look at nature and how meticulously He designed it, how fervently He watches over it and how carefully He organized it, can we not see how much more intimate, fervent, and careful He is over our lives? We look at His majesty displayed in creation, and we can forget that deep, intimate connection He chose to have with us.

If He watches over nature so closely, don't you think He watches over us more so? He sees a sparrow that falls and He also sees our countenance when it falls. He sees when we are up, down or indifferent to life itself. The gentle and not-so-gentle fluctuations in our emotions do not go unnoticed by Him. He is right there with us.

Today, I'm going to turn my thoughts to how carefully He watches over us. My meditations will be on how intimately He chose to be acquainted with me, and my ways. I'll think about how He is here, never abandons, never quits but keeps walking out this difficult road with me. He measures every step and takes each one with me. He can't walk it for me - but He chooses to walk it with me. I'll rest in that and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Under the Magnifying Glass

As usual, I woke up this morning with lots on my mind. I know it comes from having too many irons in the fire. Is there any other way to do this thing? Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break - caregiving isn't easy. It takes a lot out of us to provide everything another whole person needs every day, even in the "best" situations.

I have been thinking about relationships a lot lately. For caregivers, the burden can be the lack of them. Sometimes the aloneness can be unbearable, but I think we eventually adjust. One way I have dealt with it is to overload myself with work. But the pain tends to seep back in from time to time.

Many times for caregivers things can be 10 times more painful. Emotions are magnified under the glass of caregiving. Caregiving can act like a huge magnifying glass causing us to sense emotions stronger, longer and more sharply it seems. Everything tends to hurt more, or at least more deeply.

My thoughts were on the emotional toll caregiving can take on us, and the impact it can have. I wondered if God had a magnifying glass too. So I took a moment to look at the life of a caregiver through His magnifying glass (assuming He has one).  Psalm 138:2 says You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. (NASB)

Now, my thoughts have turned to Him. The Word tells us we have grace for our situation. (My grace is sufficient for you.) It also tells us that there is nothing we cannot handle and there is always a way of escape. As I meditated on this I prayed, Lord, magnify Your grace in my life. Magnify Your provision. Let me see Your hand at work instead of the difficulties that are trying to loom.

It can be difficult, but we have to look at what He's doing in spite of our situation - instead of our circumstances. This psalm has several things to "magnify" with our thinking. Let's turn our focus on what He has done for us and what He continues to do with and for us and let those be magnified rather than the situations and emotions we are dealing with. Just in this Psalm we find these thoughts to put under the magnifying glass:

  • I called - He answered (v.3)
  • He makes us bold with strength in our souls (v.3)
  • Even though He is exalted - He regards the lowly (He thinks about US!) (v.6)
  • He revives us when we walk through trouble (v.7)
  • His right hand will save me (v.7) Maybe not out of the situation but in it!
  • He will accomplish what concerns me (v.8)
The psalm ends with a prayer, Lord, do not forget the work of Your hands. To me this is a good reminder that we are the work of His hands. He may not ride in on a white horse like a knight in shining armor and whisk us away out of the struggle, but He will put bold strength inside us. He will regard us, think about us, have a heart toward us. He may not take us out of the trouble (v.7) but He will revive us in and through it. 

He did not change His mind about us when we became a caregiver. His grace is still sufficient. His love still abounds. We are still His. Oh Lord, may these truths be magnified in our souls today!

Today, I'll continue thinking on these things. In particular, my meditations will be on verse 3 - He makes us bold with strength in my soul. I like that. I'll add to these meditations Ephesians 3:16 which says I am strengthened by His Spirit living inside me. I'm ready to take on the day! My thoughts will be on how He lives inside me - and hasn't packed and moved yet! I think He plans on staying. And with that - I'll take on a new day. I'll let His grace be magnified in me today. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How's Your Memory?

In my personal study time, I've been reading through Judges. It started with a look back at the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the Midianites. My personal opinion is that it wasn't so much out of fear as it was an attitude of you can't have our wheat anymore!

When the angel appeared to him, he addressed Gideon as a mighty man of valor. Gideon didn't accept or deny that assessment. He went right into what was on his heart. His cry was if God is with us - then why did all this happen? Boy, have I asked that a few times. But the truth was that God was with them even as they faced difficult days. The trouble was - they kept forgetting.

As I continued to read Judges, I noticed that they kept forgetting Him. Over and over it says, the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God. Now, of course, we understand they remembered He was there. They just failed to acknowledge Him in their daily lives, and through their actions.

I'll be the first to admit I've been angry with God because of my situation. And you wouldn't have to look far to find actions that haven't quite lined up with His righteous standard. But I do always make my way back to the cross - back to His heart. I have a good memory.

There's not a day that I don't recall how He's walked this journey with me. Even though He can't walk it for me. I have seen Him provide what was needed. That includes everything from food to furniture, from peace to patience, and from friends to finances and the list goes on....and on.

It's really quite amazing, maybe I'll write a book about it some day. His provision, protection and patience for me has been quite amazing. I look at how He delivered Israel over and over through the book of Judges and yet they kept forgetting Him - and I wonder how? It is my goal to not only keep Him in the forefront of my thoughts - but to become better acquainted with Him and His ways each day.

Today, I will take a mental trip and purposefully think about how He has walked this out with me. I'll take time to thank Him for His continued presence in my life - even when I didn't deserve it and acted a fool. God has been the only constant for me on this journey and today I'll remember and be thankful. Will you join me?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lions, Bears and Giants! Oh My!

I know I've been MIA for a couple weeks. You are very much aware of the busy-ness of caregiving so I won't even try to explain. Even though I've been somewhat on overload, it's been good. Or at least I want to think so.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've thought a lot about David and how he killed Goliath. There were several pieces of the story that got my attention. Like, for instance, the fact that he picked up 5 stones on the way to take Goliath down. No one really knows why, he may have been familiar with his own weakness and thought it might take more than one shot! lol

I've also heard it said that he picked up 5 stones because Goliath had 4 brothers and David was preparing to take them out as well. Who knows, the Bible just says he picked up 5 stones on his way out to face the giant. And what he had was enough.

The other thing that captured my thoughts was that David didn't feel unprepared to meet the giant, although he'd never met one. He had, however, killed lions and bears when they tried to attack his sheep. Maybe he was a caregiver at heart too. That thought makes me smile. You know David watched over his sheep and took good care of them. He didn't blink twice when bears or lions came after them - he protected the sheep at all cost.

And now we see him facing Goliath for the same reason. He was protecting what was God's. When no one thought David could take on the giant, he told them and King Saul - When a lion or  a bear came and took a lamb from the flock I went out after him and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.  Then he went on to say he knew since he'd killed lions and bears - he could take on the giant too.

He didn't just wake up one morning and think he'd like to go beat up on a giant. It was somewhat sequential. David first killed the lion and the bear. He took out these smaller things and gained the confidence to face the giant that day. Our battles today prepare us to face the battles of tomorrow.

You know how difficult it was when we first started caregiving? Some things don't ever get any easier - but we learn how to handle things along the way. We learn which words to use to get action from the medical community when we need it. We learn who to call to get supplies, or who to call to see heads roll when necessary. We learn as we go. The more we learn - the less we are afraid of. It's the same way spiritually, I think.

For caregivers, every day is a giant killing day because the task of caregiving lies before us. But we know we can face this day - because we faced yesterday and survived. My prayer from the beginning was that I would not become hard-hearted, but that I would let caregiving make me more sensitive to the voice of God. I wanted to be "pressed by life" and have a beautiful fragrance come out. Sort of like how when David faced Goliath - the warrior part of him came out. But it was because he felt the need to protect, like we do. I have to admit that it's not always been a beautiful fragrance that got squeezed out of me by caregiving. Sometimes, it's been downright ugly. But ultimately for me - and most likely for you - you met the warrior inside.

Now think about this. When we become so pressed by life, caregiving included, we'll see the same passion in God that we saw in David. David fought lions, bears and giants because he was passionately protecting his sheep and God's people. God is just as passionate about protecting us as David was about protecting his sheep.  When the giants begin to rise up, so does God's passion. I imagine He says, Not this time.

Today, I'm going to meditate on how my yesterdays have prepared me to face today. My thoughts will be on how the Lord pours His strength into me so I can face any giant in my way. And I'll particularly think about that passion in David to protect - is the same passion in God. I'll think about how He protects me just like David cared for the sheep. I'll be thinking about how God takes care of me - while I take care of my loved one. And I'll just rest in that right there - and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Today is the Day!


Today is a double or nothing day, sort of. I have the great honor and privilege of having my mom stay for a few days. She wanted to come see me so my dad brought her down yesterday. She's a glorious 77 years old - but she'll tell you she can't possibly be "that old." While I am enjoying her stay greatly it means I have double caregiving duty.

I feel like I have a 150 pound infant (my son) and a 77 year old toddler to care for. lol Between the two of them, dementia and TBI, I have my hands more than full. and that is no understatement.

Besides taking care of these two beautiful children of God, I also have my work load and house work to keep up with... again my plate is full. That is in NO way a complaint, only a statement of fact.

So as I arose early this morning after being up late finishing up a small project for a client, I let out a sigh and my mind went straight to 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul was crying out to God about the situations he was facing and God gave him a very specific answer, and Paul wrote down what God said, "My grace is sufficient for you."  So I figured that today is the day where I will walk out what God told Paul all those years ago.

I'm thinking God said He is the same - when? Yesterday, today and forever...so today is the day His grace is sufficient for me too.

God continues with - for power is perfected in weakness. His power is perfected in my weakness. Today is the day - that His power will come to maturity in the midst of my weakness. Paul goes on to say he will boast in his weakness because he knows God's power is going to be demonstrated in and through it.

Psalm 29 is my favorite pslam (today) and the first and last verses lead me to believe that we and God can make a strength exchange. Today is the day! I'll trade Him my strength (what little there is of it) and He trades me His. He gets the short end of the stick and I get the power to go on!

Today - is the day - where I lean totally on Him and rely completely on His strength and not on my own. Today is the day His strength is perfected in me. Today is the day I realize His grace is truly sufficient for me. Today is that day.... so I will rest in Him - and let HIs grace carry me through today - will you join me?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm a Juggler!

As I grabbed my coffee and settled in for a little reading and to get started on this devotion this morning, my head ran away with me. I was sorting out some finances, figuring out when I'd go to the store, coming up with a backup plan in case the aide doesn't show (which seems to be the case many times when I actually plan something), meal planning, arranging my work load for the day, and trying to figure out if I had time for both my errands and a quick run....it was a run away.

After a few minutes, I realized my brain was going a hundred miles an hour, my first cup of coffee was almost gone and I still had no idea what I was going to write. I thought, "Man, I got a million thoughts going through my head a million things to do to match 'em!" Then, I chuckled to myself and thought, "I'm a juggler!" While that sounded funny to me, I realized as caregivers, we really do have a lot of things to juggle in a day. Sometimes, I step back and wonder how we do it - how I do it; but mostly, I just roll up my sleeves and dive in the busy-ness. Just like you.

In all the busy-ness of caregiving, it's so important to stop from time to time. You know, stop and breathe. Sometimes, I stop and think of all His blessings. Actually, I've done that a lot lately as I just passed the 7 year mark. It was 7 years ago on July 1 when I brought my son home. He'd been in several facilities and I was terrified to bring him home and provide care for him. I would literally get sick to my stomach every time I had to transfer him because I was so terrified I'd hurt him. I can laugh now, but the fear was so real.

In the times of reflection, I see how blessed we've been. And I am thankful. I had no home to bring him to, and nothing to put in it but his equipment. But oh, how God blessed and people gave. Now I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff... for real. Just a small shift in my thinking, and my mind is relieved.

It doesn't take but a second to go from crazy all-over-the-place thoughts to complete peace and thankfulness. It's a small shift of focus really. And it feels so good. Instead of focusing on all the stuff I need to get done today, I can focus on what He's done for me. A pen and paper can control the to-do list, while I meditate on the He-done-it list!

With very little effort now my mind is going almost as fast thinking about the journey God has brought us on and how He has provided, and continues to provide all along the way. My thoughts are now running with how I know Him as Jehovah Jireh, my provider. If I understand that term right it literally means the "many breasted one" meaning He has more than enough.

Today, I'm shifting my focus from my to-do list, to His done-did list! I'm going to meditate on His provision for me - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, because He provides for the whole being not just part of us. I'm going to think about how He is a complete God - and provides peace, comfort, sustenance for my soul. As my thoughts lean themselves to that concept - of Him providing for my whole being, not just my physical needs, I'm going to keep that as my meditation for today. He provides for all of me. I can trust Him. And with that I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

True Freedom

Today is "Independence Day" and so I was thinking about freedom and what that really means. Many caregivers have given up "freedoms" to care for loved ones. We can't quite go as we used to, and may not have the social life others enjoy. At times, for me, it has been quite restricting. I've felt like I was imprisoned a time or two.

Even though our circumstances are all different, caregiving means we are not our own. Even if we can plan trips and outings, it's much more complicated than just booking a room and a flight. In my situation I was out and about, working three jobs on my way to Africa when my life was jerked out from under me. I went from having total freedom to being alone in a small apartment with a nonverbal son with no interactions with others for days at a time. I felt like life handed me a prison sentence and there was no way of escape and no hope for parole for good behavior. Not that I had good behavior anyway. (smile)

Eventually, I realized my situation didn't dictate my level of freedom. I recall BC (before caregiving) being inside a prison for ministry. One of the prisoners had written a song about being free even though his body was held inside prison walls. It was a very moving song and it touched my heart, but I didn't really get it at the time. Now I understand at least in part.

Our freedom in Christ is not influenced by our circumstances. Galatians 5 talks about being free in Him and walking in the freedom of the Spirit. Now when He makes us free - we are free. No matter what our circumstances, we are free to choose whether we will walk in the spirit or the flesh. We are still in charge of our spirit man and our choices will bear fruit. We will either bear the "fruit" of the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit reigning in our lives. Period.

We don't get an "exempt" card from living holy just because we are a caregiver. We still have to put our focus on Him and trust Him with our souls. And He will meet us there every.single.time. It's amazing to me that I can get all bundled up in nervous thoughts, anxiety, and frustration, but as soon as I turn to Him His peace can reign. It has happened over and over. I always have the freedom to choose to come to Him with my cares and concerns, joys and sorrows, hurts and healing.....I have found Him to be right there every time. My freedom is in Him - not in what I do, how I live or my situation - to be free means to be hidden in Him.

Today, I will be thinking about being free in Him. I'll turn my thoughts to how He has been there every single time I've run to Him. My meditations will once again be on His unchangeableness...His constant love, constant care and constant presence in my life. I'll take time to acknowledge that today. And I'll take time to thank Him for just being there. My intent for today - is to run to Him and stay there, and trust Him for today. Will you join me?

Monday, July 3, 2017

But if Not

This morning, my Bible fell open to the Psalms and I began to read down through Psalm 15 and 16. As I was reading, a few things stuck out to me. The psalmist starts out in Psalm 16 with the declaration: I take refuge in  You.  He declares that God is Lord and there is "no good" besides Him. The rest of the psalm he continues blessing God and realizing many of the ways God has been a blessing to him.

Sometimes it's just about shifting our focus off of what's going on around us, in us, or even to us - and getting it back on Him. Life can be so distracting at times. For me - I've been on overload for a few weeks, hence my absence, but I'm working my way back to focusing on Him and not on all the craziness of caregiving.

As I read through Psalm 16 this morning there were several things that popped out to me. Things that the psalmist said that reminded me of having "no good besides You." Like:


  • the Lord is my inheritance (v.5)
  • He is my "cup of blessing"
  • He guards what is mine
  • He guides me (v.7)
  • At night - He instructs me
  • He is always with me (v.8)
  • He is beside me - so I won't be shaken
  • He shows me the way of life (v11)
  • He grants me the joy of His presence
I thought about these things for awhile - long enough to do what David did - encourage myself in the Lord. It was funny how just a slight shift of focus can bring refreshing and relief. Now to stay there!

As I was reading, I thought about how easily distracted I can be. It's not difficult for the caregiver as life itself can be a distraction. Right? While meditating - getting back on track - I thought - I'm not bowing to this life. I won't give in to the distraction. And then, the three Hebrew children popped into my head. Remember when they were being forced to bow down to another god - and they refused? I feel like that today.

The world, life and even caregiving itself can play its own music to try and draw us away and make our thoughts follow different streams. But today, like the three facing a literal fiery furnace - my heart says - But if not.

That's what they told the king. They said - Our God  is able  to deliver us - but if not we still will not bow to your gods. That's how I feel today - God could sweep down like a knight in shining armor and sweep down to rescue us. But if not -  I still won't bow down to worship the way of this world or the gods of this world.

Today I am shifting my focus back to Him. I will declare He is my refuge! I choose to bow down to His lordship and kingship in my life and will not let my circumstances be my taskmaster. My thoughts today will be on how He is my refuge - He is the "good" in my life... I will look no further. My meditations will be on His ever abiding presence and how He chooses to walk this piece of time with me. I'll praise Him for guarding my heart, for instructing my heart - and for never leaving my heart. And with that - I choose to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Enough

You know the caregiver's drill. Up and at 'em, gotta keep movin' lots to do every single day. Sometimes, I can feel like I'm stretched to the max! There's always something that needs to be done and I've finally learned that one of the things that needs to be done is rest. Just sitting down and stopping for a few minutes, sipping a cup of coffee, maybe sitting out in my back yard and enjoying some fresh air or any other activity that lets me feel like I'm in "off" mode for a few minutes can help me regain my focus and renew my energy. But it can also cause me to sink into that "I'm not enough" feeling that many experience.

Caregivers have jobs that are cyclical, they are never done. We can end up in a vicious cycle that leaves us feeling inadequate, and in some way, less-than. On a personal level, it seems most nights when I finally get to bed I'm leaving multiple tasks undone, like I can never quite catch up. And it's unending.

I woke up this morning feeling like I was running behind. I thought, give yourself a break - you just woke up! lol As I often do, I turned my thoughts into prayer. After a few minutes of skimming a few verses in the Bible looking for something to grab hold of for today I just had this quiet come over me. All of a sudden, I felt like I was enough. It was simple but pure.

We don't have to do anything to be accepted by God. We are enough. You are enough. I am enough. there's no striving, working, or pushing ourselves to be His. We just are period. There are no hoops to hop through, no 20 point checklists to make sure we measure up, and He's not sitting up there waiting for us to do enough so we can be included in "the club." He doesn't have a pen and pad to take notes. He's just waiting for us to turn to Him. It's that simple and that doable.

Today I'm going to meditate on how simple it is to turn to Him. My thoughts will be on being enough for Him. I will picture Him waiting with open arms for me. My meditations will be on how we are accepted in the beloved, and how we are the beloved of God. No tricks, shortcuts, or checklists - we just are His. That makes me smile. Now I can rest in Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, June 12, 2017

God in the Middle

Welcome to Monday! I always chuckle a bit when I hear people fuss about going back to work on Monday or dreading that the weekend is over. For many caregivers, weekends are no different than other days - there's no "evil power" lurking on Monday - it looks just like any other day to most of us. In some ways Monday can be a break for us - aides and other medical professionals get to take their weekends off so our help comes back on Mondays. Sort of reversed I guess.

When I woke up this morning I had what I thought was an odd scripture running around in my head. I even had to look for it a bit - it was though the earth be removed and cast into the midst of the sea. I knew it was in a familiar passage, but it took me a few minutes to locate, before I found it in the middle of Psalm 95.

I can easily quote the first part of this psalm, and run to it quite frequently. It says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. I love that, especially the very present part. And toward the end of the Psalm is another super familiar verse I have come to love. Be still and know I am God. But for years, I've skipped all the part in the middle - it didn't make sense, especially between these two powerful go-to verses.

Right in the middle is where I found though the earth be removed and cast into the sea. There's a lot of destruction in the middle of this Psalm. We tend to attribute all the psalms to David, and he did write most of them. But I glanced up and saw that this particular Psalm is written by the Sons of Korah. You remember Korah, right?

The story is in Numbers 16. Korah assembled a crowd against God's leaders, Moses and Aaron. Moses said - God can choose between us. The next day Moses said - everyone on God's side stand with us - those with Korah stand with him. And the earth opened up and swallowed Korah's crew.  (verse 32) So the "sons of Korah" who survived, obviously stayed away from Korah and survived. They chose God over family and it was a good thing. So when they  say though the earth be removed they have a good basis for that, they understood it. In verse 8 they said it was God who wrought desolations in the earth. But they also understood that God was with them in the midst of all the "bad stuff" they saw happen.

I think their dedication to God and His purposes were deeper. They understood the glory of God -they had seen it in the wilderness. They understood God as their refuge, as their strength, and the very present help in trouble. But they also saw the God who sent the plagues, delivered the children of Israel, wiped out Pharaoh's army, and did wonders along the way. They understood that in the "middle part" when the earth was eating people, there was still a place with God. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

What I want to walk away with today is that we can know that God in the middle. He's the same when everything is going great, and when everything is not so great. He does not change no matter what we face. He is constant. He is present. He is God. Circumstances do not dictate to Him. And that is my praise point for today.

Today I will turn my thoughts to Him as my ever present help in trouble. My meditations will be on His unchangeable-ness. (new word!) I'll rejoice that He does not sway with my circumstances, or my moods. He's not a moody God. He is sure. He is steadfast. He is mine. And with that I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Captain of my Soul

Do you remember the last big decision you had to make? For me, if I have several choices it seems I can make better choices. I don't like feeling trapped. Choices can play an important role in the life of a caregiver. On one hand, it can be difficult making choices on behalf of another person. It's complicated when they cannot voice their opinion. And sometimes we can feel like we don't have choices in our own lives. But we do.

When I first became a caregiver, life as I had known it was ripped away. I felt trapped. I'd been preparing to go to Africa, was loving living in Chicago, working three jobs only to find myself in a small apartment back in Oklahoma. The aloneness ate at my soul. Not only did I feel trapped I also felt like my power of choice had been taken away.

A movie sparked a memory of the poem, Captain of my Soul and got me to thinking. I realized I did still have choices, even in my situation. I can choose for my soul. I know we've talked a lot here about how it's our soul that God protects. Changing my perspective was key to changing my attitude and my outlook on life even in difficult circumstances.

I think one thing I enjoy so much about the psalms is David's candor. He never denies or ignores the problem. It's in the conflicts we see him reaching for God with more determination. That's a choice. As I was reading in Psalm 119 this morning, a couple of verses stuck out to me. The first one that made me stop and think was verse 143. It says Trouble and anguish have come upon me, yet Your commandments are my delight. He didn't act like everything was going great - he faced the situation he was in and chose to delight in the Word. We can do that too.

Another one that stood out was verse 147. he said I rise before dawn and cry for help, I wait for Your words.  Then he goes on to say in the following verse that he anticipates the night watches so he can meditate on His word. Who likes to do that? The night watches are most difficult. But David decided to look forward to them so he could be uninterrupted in his meditations on the word.

No matter what life throws at us - or throws us in to - we always have choices. We can choose to run to His word, or away from it. We can choose to seek Him in the midst of the storm, or avoid Him. What choices are you making for your soul today? Paul said he had learned to be content in any circumstance. He said he knew how to get along in prosperity and poverty because his greatest need, like David's was to be with joined with God.

Today, I'm going to think about the choices I can make. I will spend some time thinking about what it means to be the captain of my soul. I will choose to embrace Him and the Word today. I'll let His words be the delight of my soul. I choose to cling to Him - and enjoy His desire to be near. And I'll choose to trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Timeless Truths

I woke up late this morning and I dislike feeling like I'm running behind all day. I'm not sure why I've been so tired lately. Maybe it's just part of the old-age equation, or the caregiving equation. Who knows? It certainly couldn't be because I'm burning every single proverbial candle from both ends, right?

After I got my coffee and answered a few pings on one of my work apps, I sat for a second to catch my breath. Sometimes I need to remind myself to breathe - today is one of those kinds of days. My work load has increased and I've made some changes to my schedule - including changing when the aide comes. It's going to be lots better I can tell, if the adjustment doesn't kill me. (smile)

I glanced toward my Bible and laptop and thought of this devotion. What do we need to hear today? The answer came quicker than the question had. It was plain and simple. My grace is sufficient for you. So I let that be my meditation for a few minutes. My first thought was to discount it as an answer we use for anything overwhelming. But then I had this other thought....

John 3:16. Ever heard of that one? Even the world knows this Biblical reference. Well, it hasn't gotten old. It's just as good today as it was yesterday and still as true as ever. We never "throw it away" or consider it to be out of date, right? So why should I discount His grace is sufficient for me, and think of it as random?

This is the glory of His word. Every single jot and tittle still stands. Isaiah 40:8 says His Word stands forever. That means to me that I can reach in and get whatever I need for any given situation. It is still  applicable to life today as His word doesn't fade over time. It's solid truth.

So today, I will meditate on this timeless truth - His grace is sufficient for me. I'll turn my thoughts to how His grace can reach from eternity into time and carry me through this day I have to live. And with that thought - I'll  rest in His grace. It's in the letting. I'll let His grace be my sufficiency today. And I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Always a Winner

Isaiah 54:17 says no weapon formed against you shall prosper. I recall learning this scripture and committing it to memory when I was in my early 20's. It soon became one of my go-to verses whenever I faced a struggle or attack of any kind. When life hit a rough spot, I'd begin to proclaim No weapon formed against me shall prosper. And sure enough, before long the situation would resolve, I'd get it worked through, or God would deliver me out. There was always a way through and life always went on. But I was missing this one little point.

The whole idea behind this encouraging scripture is to be able to look life's struggles in the eye and declare they are not what identifies us, defines us, controls us or brings us down. We forget sometimes though that weapons will  be formed. We will face struggles. We will meet with obstacles. We will have hardships to endure. This is not a magic potion that keeps all the bad stuff from happening. It's encouragement to know that when things come at us - we will still win. Trials and tribulations are going to be part of life - but no matter what life throws at us - but we will come out as winners - as overcomers every single time.

As caregivers, we can face a lot of stuff. Every day. Personally, I struggle with depression. The aloneness and social isolation can be debilitating. The quietness of being alone can be deafening. I also struggle with fear. What am I afraid of? Pretty much anything and everything. (smile) The feelings and emotions of caregiving can make for some pretty powerful weapons for the enemy to forge against me (us?). But they are not going to win because I won in Him.

I can hold on to this scripture - and realize that weapons are  going to be formed against me. There's not a pie in the sky life that is free from obstacles, hurt, grief, problems and such. This scripture doesn't promise that there aren't struggles - it doesn't say you'll never have an attack again; or there will never be a weapon formed against you. There will always be something - but we always have the power to win.

How am I so sure we win? Because of the second part of the verse. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me, declares the Lord. Vindication in this verse is also interpreted as righteousness. We don't have to work to be righteous. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus became righteousness for us. He is our righteous covering and no matter what comes at as or what is forged against us - we are righteous in Him. Caregiving isn't big enough to change our standing in God. No struggle defines us - He does!

Today I will turn my thoughts to being hidden in Him. I'll meditate on the truth that He is my righteousness and I'll let that define me today - not the struggles. I'll be thankful today that He doesn't look at me through a lens of my struggles, but He looks at me through the righteousness he provides. He sees me righteous, holy and complete in Him, even if I feel broken and incomplete. I'll remind myself that when He looks at me - He sees me in Him and I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, June 5, 2017

An Intense Need

Today is a new day. That may seem like basic knowledge - but I need to hear and believe that this morning. I do not know about anyone else, but I've had a few rough days lately. The odd thing is that things are going quite well. My head tells me there shouldn't be a struggle as nothing much is actually going on. But no matter how hard my head tries to convince me that all is well, my heart is discouraged and having a difficult time. 

I suppose there doesn't really need to be a reason. Caregiving is tough and no one is going to argue with that. Especially not anyone who has done it for any amount of time on any level. For whatever reason, I'm having trouble sorting out the emotions at the moment. The good thing is that I know it will work out, I'll level out and I'll carry on. It's what I do. It's what we do - pretty much every single day. We pick it up - plaster on a smile - encourage our hearts and continue to put one foot in front of the other no matter what we face.

This morning I was reading in a familiar passage that I've read many times before. I started in Isaiah 53 where Isaiah was in the middle of prophesying about the crucifixion. I was meditating on He bore our griefs and sorrows. It may be more accurate to say I was thinking that since He bore them - why do we still have them? How do we know He bore them? Is it by faith - the same faith that we hold on for healing whether we see it or not? I have no doubt He heals. But I also know that there are still people battling illnesses so it's not all gone forever. I must assume that our griefs and sorrows are like that too - I really don't know.

I know that caregivers can live with what is called a living grief. We grieve over our loved one - in my case, it's a grief over the son I lost - even though his body, and he, is technically still here. Others may grieve over what never was. There's also a different grief we can experience as we see our elderly loved ones begin to decline later in life. No matter how it is sliced up - grief is grief. And it's difficult. and sometimes it's constant.

During those times, I'm learning to lean in to Him just a little closer. Maybe I'm becoming needy - but it's a needy I don't mind because I realize my intense need for Him. I need Him to carry me. I need Him to comfort me. I need Him to hold me. I need Him to be near me. I just need Him, and I'm learning there's nothing wrong with this kind of needy.

Do you need Him today? Is there an area in your heart you need Him to touch? I have some areas that are in need of His touch for sure. No matter where we are in our walk - caregiving or not - our hearts cry out for His touch. There are areas set apart just for Him and nothing else will do.

Today I am going to meditate on this intense need I have for Him. My thoughts will be not so much on what I think I need - but on who I need. I'll turn my thoughts to His presence and rejoice that He is walking this with me. I'll be content to have Him near - and I'll trust Him for one more day - will you join me?



















Thursday, June 1, 2017

No Room in the Inn

 Do you ever get "it" all gathered up and have it under control? As caregivers we understand that emotions can be everywhere, especially until we get used to our new normal. Then we level out to a place where emotions running on high is a regular. For me, I have settled into caregiving and gotten used to living on this special type of edge. I'm okay most of the time, by just about anybody's standard, but it doesn't take much to send me on over. And it doesn't have to be anything huge, just something new or different introduced to my new norm.

This is where I have been; all leveled out. Hanging on, doing good. And then.......

First, decisions to go out are still difficult. I'm not sure anyone understands that. There are times when I want to get us out, but I get so tired just thinking about all it takes to do that. And we stay home. It's also a lot emotionally to step into many normal settings. No matter how much better my son is doing, we are doing, we still stick out like a sore thumb. There is no longer any such thing as a quiet entry. 

Last night I was struggling with such a choice. Do I stay home and work? Or do I take off a bit, load Chris up and drive out for some live music and "bike night"? After much contemplation, I decided the best choice for my son was to suck it up and get us out there for a couple hours. So I loaded him up and drove out to bike night. It was crowded and the handicap spots were taken. I was surprised by the rush of emotions I felt and had to work through. My assumption is that the cars in the handicap spots were there legally - but I felt like we were so left out. There was no room for us, not in normal life. I drove around two or three times trying to figure out a way to make it work, but there wasn't a place for us so I returned home disappointed and slightly broken.

It's really not that big of a deal, and I really should be used to it - but it's like being displaced....in life.. permanently. As I was trying to sort out the emotions I prayed. Lord, where do I put all this? Will this ever be different? Do I really need for it to be different? How do I adjust to this in a healthy way?  I tried to refrain from using superlatives like this always happens or no one ever has room for us.  But they seemed to flood my busy mind.

After we stopped for ice cream (chocolate is an anti-depressant :-)  and I got my thoughts all sorted out - I realized no matter what happens, no matter where we "don't fit" or how we stand out or can't get in - there's always room in His heart, and at His feet. So that's where I headed with my emotions and my heart.

The psalmist said in the 94th psalm - When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. I've read it before, but this time I noticed the term multiply. I'm thinking maybe more like exponentially multiply within me because my head runs away with 'em!

In the 139th Psalm, David said, Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts.  I think what sticks out to me is that He knows and He hears every single thought - now that's crazy intimate. I soon became overwhelmed with the thought that He could keep up with the super hyper way my head runs - and it didn't scare Him away. There was still room for me at his feet, in His heart. And actually, not only was there plenty of room with Him - He makes room for me, for my son, my heart and my thoughts. We are welcome there with Him - up close and personal.

His peace and acceptance still amaze me. I've walked with Him for what seems like most of my life - and He still wants me near. When it feels like we are most alone - when it seems like no one is walking the rough road with us - when it feels like we are shunned by the norms of the world and others stare awkwardly - He opens up His arms and His heart even wider to make sure we feel accepted. He loves every part of us - even the broken parts.

Today, I'm going to meditate on His acceptance once again. My thoughts will be on how He loves us in our brokenness, in our abnormal life, and welcomes us wholeheartedly. I'll tune my heart in to how much He loves us - and how welcome we are to be in His presence. As a matter of fact, I'll meditate on how eagerly He awaits us and I will rest in that feeling and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Full Plate

Today is a "normal" morning for me. My head and heart are going 900 miles an hour in every direction. I've said before that caregiving itself is heavy enough without having to deal with the rest of "life." This thing we call life doesn't slow down for us just because our plate is full with taking care of another person.

If your day is anything like mine, it's filled with cooking, cleaning, working a job, paying bills, and all the caregiving tasks that go along with taking care of your loved one. On top of all the "normal" stuff there is bathing, dressing, transferring, feeding, meal prep, and waiting to see if the aide shows up today or not. (lol) Our proverbial plate is full to the point of overflow. Let just one little thing happen and........

I may be the only one that explodes or implodes or throws up their hands in disgust, disbelief or discouragement when seemingly little things rock the boat. (I know, it's probably just me....) When my daughter was little, she asked me why we cry when we are happy. The only explanation I had was that we had a little "emotions cup" and when it gets full, then the emotions run out our eyes and it doesn't matter if that's a happy or a sad cry - it's just our emotions leaking out. I find that as a caregiver, that make-believe cup is always full and always leaking out. However, it can leak out in many ways from quiet tears to loud outbursts of anger.

So what are we to do? We can't stop life from happening around us. How to we manage this fullness? 

My immediate answer today is to run to Him. In the early years of caregiving, honestly, I was too mad at Him to do that. As I've settled into this role and figured out that there's not really anywhere else to run, it's once again become my immediate response. That feels good actually. No one else understands our hearts like He does. Know one else understands, or can handle, all our (my) random, crazy thoughts like He can. I don't confuse Him! lol My emotions being all over the place never make Him want to quit. He never  says - I don't know what to do now. He doesn't get bewildered, upset, or cranky like I do! (I'm sure that's just me too....)

The cool thing is, that He is that stable force in my topsy turvy life. He is that constant that never changes. No matter how crazy my day, life, thoughts or emotions get He's still right here. His hands are always outstretched ready to embrace. His heart is never too full to sweep me in and carry me. He doesn't get tired of caregivers, like people do. He never gets to the "end of His rope." He's not distraught, discouraged, or derailed by my crazy life.

As a matter of fact, a scripture comes to mind: Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13 KJV) It really is possible to abound in hope in our circumstance. And it truly is possible to be filled with joy and peace no matter what we are facing.

Today I will shift my focus from those things troubling my heart - to the fact that He fills me with joy and peace. My meditations once again will be on the truth that He doesn't give up on us. He doesn't throw up His hands or throw in the towel. He gently, sometimes quietly, walks beside us - carrying us when necessary. I'll turn my thoughts to His gentle peace and rest in Him as I let Him guide my steps through this day. And I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Adjusting my "I Will"

I wasn't really looking, but I found myself in Psalm 7 this morning. I'm not for sure, but I may have found every caregiver there too. :-)

Work is super busy and I'm trying to plan a getaway for this weekend so I had my morning all planned out and was going to do this devotion a little later in the day. Honestly, I'm not sure why I was even thinking that because after the day gets roaring there's not hardly time to breathe. It turned out to be a thought that didn't matter as my Bible fell open to Psalms this morning and captured me.

Sometimes as caregivers our thoughts and emotions can be all over the place. One second we are fine, the next second we are crying, grieving, and lost. But then, we wipe our eyes and our nose, get back up, roll up our sleeves and get right back to work. I call that resilient. Maybe David gave us a glimpse of ourselves in this short psalm.

He opens up the psalm with a simple prayer for protection. I come to You for protection, O Lord my God, save me....he begins. It may be only in my imagination, but it seems stark fear sets in between verse 1 and verse 2 - maybe he thought, what if He doesn't save me this time?  Because he then goes into what may (or may not) be a frantic thought - If you don't....I'm going to be mauled like a lion and torn to pieces. Well, how many mornings have caregivers thought that? God be with me today -- if you're not - I think I'm going to die.

After his prayer - and a bit of fear, I find the next 4 verses almost funny, only because I relate. David repents - just in case. And says basically, if I'm guilty then let my enemies capture me and trample me to the ground. Then he shifts gears once again - Arise O Lord! 

This is my day in a nutshell. Prayer. Fear. More prayer. Repent (just in case). Prayer. It can seriously be a vicious cycle - asking God for help to make it through the day, wondering if He really will, fearful of what happens if He chooses not to - and back to a prayer of total trust. We see that in the last verse as David cycles through all the emotions and lands on a point of praise. Praise always wins!

In verse 17, after he's run through his emotions, the strength and wickedness of his enemy and his fears, he ends with an I will......

I will thank the Lord 
Because He is just.
I will sing praise to the name 
of the Lord Most High.

I can't tell you how many mornings, afternoons, evenings and in-betweens I've worked through this cycle. Maybe you have too. We don't deny the emotions of caregiving. We don't act like it's easy, or it doesn't hurt, or it isn't real. We just bring an open, honest heart before our God and say - here I am to worship......still.

Today I will get my "I will" in order. I will stop and just thank Him. I will sing His praise - not because I live a pain-free, easy, life - but because He is worthy of praise. My meditations will be on Him - and not my surroundings. I will shift my focus onto Him instead of my not-so-normal situation and I will let Him carry me. I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me? What is your I will for today?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Part-time God?

I've been doing some research for a project I'm working on and it has had me looking back through much of the Old Testament. I love the New Testament, but I equally enjoy the Old Testament, so I don't mind a bit!

While doing some of the background reading, I spent some time reading in Exodus. I find this to be one of the most exciting books in the Bible. Even though there is a lot to glean from this adventurous book, one little scripture captured my attention.

Exodus 25 is smack dab in the middle of the instructions God is giving Moses for building the tabernacle. This section of scripture is so important because the blueprints God gave Moses are shadows of the heavenly according to Hebrews 8. And that's why I paused to meditate on Exodus 25:30. Here's what it says:

You shall set the bread of the Presence
on the table before Me
at all times.

On one hand, it would be easy to read quickly over this one verse without understanding its significance. But me? Nope. I can get hung up on a thought or phrase for long periods of time until I exhaust it through study, thought and divine revelation (sometimes!). Why do I think this little known verse is so important? And why is it significant to caregivers? (I'm so glad you asked!)

It's this one little phrase at all times that sticks out for me. Since we understand from the writer of Hebrews that it's heavy with symbolism, I have to think that the Bread of the Presence being on the table at all times signifies the constant-ness of His presence. He doesn't look at me like a part-time job. He is ever present, ever ready to be part of my daily life.And that just makes my day!

When I became a full-time caregiver, I didn't realize how my relationships with others might change. Many "friends" were not able to make the journey with me. I recall when my son was still in the hospital and a friend asked what they could do for me. I said - call me every day. I needed someone to just help me see outside my fog... I didn't talk to them again for over 6 years. 

Relationships can be very different for the caregiver - but God is our constant. He is that at all times bread of the Presence. There's no part-time care for us, part-time watching over us, part-time loving us - He's all in! He continues to invest in our lives because He knows we'll all reap the results in eternity. And just like that bread of the Presence was to always be on the table in the tabernacle, His presence is always on the table of our hearts. Remember, He told us in the new covenant the word wouldn't just be recorded on stone like it was in Exodus, but that His word would be written on the tablets of our hearts. (Hebrews 8, Jeremiah 31) He's in us. He's with us. His presence is ever-abiding. We are not His part-time job... He's all in.

Today I am going to keep my thoughts on how He is full-time focused on my heart. My meditations will be on how ever-abiding He is. He doesn't walk away, He doesn't forget to call, He doesn't call it quits. He is constantly available for me and is always watching over my heart. God isn't a part-time God - He's all in. I'm going to rejoice in that truth today as I rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Facing the Enemy

One of the side effects of the alone-ness that accompanies caregiving is when things go wrong, there's no one close to blame. Of course, I'm kidding just a little bit. As a sole caregiver, I am left alone to make decisions both big and small. Sometimes they are right - and sometimes they are wrong, but they are mine and I own them!

So when I was reading Psalm 94 this morning about the attack of the enemy David was experiencing, I looked up (figuratively) to see no one there....still. It's just me and Chris day in and day out. I don't have someone breaking down my door to come in. There's no one standing outside mocking me; and no one is spouting out discouraging words to try and make me quit.

So how can I relate to an enemy like David faced? Mostly, my enemies, for they are many, are the voices in my own head. I second guess almost every single decision. Sometimes, it feels like my own faith is mocking me for holding on through this storm. Thoughts can run around crazy in my head. Discouragement is always knocking at the door, but I don't have to open it. I do not have to embrace crazy thoughts.....they are not always all mine. Even though I cannot relate to David's facing a battle worn enemy, I can identify with a barrage of thoughts, events and situations that constantly attack my heart, emotions and mind.

In the heat of the battle for the faith, I have to pull out these three verses from Psalm 94 to hold on to today:

Unless the Lord had been my help,
I would soon have dwelt in the land where there is silence.
When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
Your mercy and loving-kindness O Lord, held me up.
In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me,
Your comforts cheer and delight my soul. (Amp)

Now that's some things to think about right there! When we feel ourselves slipping into discouragement or feel depression trying to close in we can trust His mercy to hold us up. Personally, my thoughts are my worst enemy sometimes. A simple memory, or thought can spark a series of hurtful thoughts and I feel my mind and emotions being dragged down into the pit. Over the years, I've developed strategies to try and keep my head above water when the enemy comes in like that. But it is His mercy that keeps me afloat!

We are in good company with the psalmist here. David said he was experiencing a multitude of anxious thoughts. That's an everyday occurrence for many of us. It's a constant struggle to keep them from taking root in our minds and hearts. As an over-thinker, I have us all dead before anything actually happens! (Hopefully, that's just me! lol)

But I can always trust God to comfort my soul. He can delight my soul in ways that another person cannot, because He can touch parts of me that people can't reach. He pours in His joy, peace and comfort when I run to Him. His mercy holds me up.

Today, I'm going to give Him all my anxious thoughts one.more.time. And I will pour them out before Him and let Him replace them with peace and comfort. I'll rejoice in the fact that He is big enough to handle my crazy thoughts and calm my fears. My meditation will be on how He delights my soul, just by being present. And I'll lean in to Him a little closer as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?