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?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Where You Running To?

This morning I figured out why I'm a runner. Initially, I started running when Chris was in the hospital. I stayed there with him 24/7 and needed so move about more as I had been very active before his accident. I didn't have a printer, so I hand copied a beginning running plan off the internet. It took me three weeks to work up to the first week of the plan. (Can you say "out of shape"? lol)

Once we moved to the nursing home, I got up each morning and went for a walk or a run and soon I ran my first 5K race. I fell in love and I guess the rest is history.

It's been part of my way of dealing with the constant grief and pain of caregiving. But I also enjoy it. There really is a runner's high and I look forward to feeling better after my run. My mom is coming today to stay for a few days so my dad has a break. This means double duty for me and not as much running. I do have a treadmill so I might be able to run a bit, but she needs constant supervision and my treadmill is on my patio - might or might not happen.

As I got up this morning and started to prepare for her visit, I was thinking about running and not running. And I thought, why do I run, why am I a runner? My immediate answer to myself was, I run to Him.

When emotions overrun me -  I run to Him.
When caregiving is heavy - I run to Him.
When I'm not sure what step to take next - I run to Him.
When the bills are due and money is short - I run to Him.
When living grief tries to swallow me whole - I run to Him.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower - 
the righteous runs to Him and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10

I'm running on the outside - but on the inside I'm running straight to Him. I think in my mind, I'm like a hurting child running and jumping into the arms of my Father. Other times, I feel like I'm running to Him and crumbling at His feet underneath it all. Either way - when we run to Him, He never turns us away. He lifts us up in His arms and comforts us, strengthens us and carries us for as long as it's needed.

Today, I will run to Him again. I'll bring all my pain, my grief, my weariness - to Him. My meditations will be on how He meets me right where I am with no condemnation, no guilt trips, no questions. He simply meets me and holds me. And from there, I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Syncing Back Up

I'm a relatively active person, I think, and I'm a casual techie. This works well for me since I love to run and can use an activity band to monitor my progress and my health. It's amazing what that little wristband can tell me about my body.

It measures my heartbeat, which is the primary reason I use it. But it can tell me how many steps I take in a day, my average resting heartbeat, the minutes and intensity of my workouts, and the quality level of my sleep. But, from time to time it needs to be synced up with the app on my phone. I get some information from the wristband, but nothing like what I get when it's all synced up.

Once the band and the app are together, I can see lots more details about my workouts, sleep habits, weight loss (or gain!), and even the weather forecast for the next 7 days. It's amazing how much information can be stored on this little watch-like device. But, I don't get all the benefits unless I sync it up!

Well, this morning, I needed to be synced back up with the Word. Ever feel that way? We have the whole package because we are in Him. He's in us, we are in Him and He doesn't withhold a thing from us, but sometimes we get lazy and forget what we've got. As caregivers, we get tired, I know! Sometimes we are just flat out weary - we carry a lot. We do a lot. Every.Single.Day. If we are not careful, we start running on empty. No worries, though, we just need to take a few to sync back up with the Word.

I was reading in Isaiah 40 this morning. I love this chapter! It's got a little bit of everything and when it's all broken down it's quite the amazing sequence. It starts with God comforting His people. It's got some instructions like clear the way for the Lord,  and make a way for God to come through.  That's a thought right there - are we making a way for Him to come through our lives? Does He have our permission (not that He needs it) to walk through our day? Or to walk into our lives?

Isaiah goes on to talk about the breath of God. He encourages the reader to leave fear and look at our God. Verse 9 says - Here is your God! Then he shows us the tender side of God as He comes like a shepherd for His flock.Then the prophet goes into a description of the enormity of God and gives a brief description of creation. And then in verse 27, he assures us that God sees. And He ain't tired either.

After displaying His power, creating all things, protecting us and holding us tenderly, He doesn't grow tired. As a matter of fact, He still has strength to share. He gives strength to the weary. And He still has to give to those who are just wrung out. That's amazing.

Are we tired? He offers rest.
Are we weary? He offers strength.
Are we worn down? He offers new hope.

He's got whatever we need for this moment. And when we get into the next moment - He'll have what we need there too! He's got us covered, protected and filled with His strength. We don't have to rely on ourselves to get through the day - we can trust Him.

Today, I will refocus on Him. I will purposefully wait for Him to give me strength rather than relying on my own to carry me through. My meditations will be on His greatness, His power and I won't worry about my lack of it. I will remind myself that He doesn't grow weary of the journey. I can't wear Him out - He won't quit. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Detach-ables

Please forgive me in advance as my thoughts and studies have been all over the place this morning. The title I chose is because of how detached we can feel or become as caregivers. I'm sure we've all had friends who have detached emotionally because they were not sure what to do with us.

Sometimes it seems like people avoid us like the plague, like they're afraid we are going to ask something of them. Many seem to think we just want money - lol. I'm just shaking my head on that one. It seems like people think we are down and out just because we are caregivers. And while I appreciate their concern, and their heart - it's not stuff we need most. They don't realize we need them.

This morning I was thinking about Job's friends. When they saw his distress and pain - they came and sat. It says they sat for like a week and never said a word. That's because there weren't any words they could say that would make sense. They couldn't make anything any better by talking. They just sat with him. Speechless. But at least they sat there.

One of the hardest parts of caregiving is the emotional detachment from friends. They don't have, or don't think they have, what it takes to walk this out with us. They don't realize one of our biggest needs is their friendship - even in the hard times. But when those "hard times" don't just go away after awhile they detach. It's not their fault - they don't know what to do.

Sometimes friends emotionally detach because they can't bear your pain. It hurts them to see you like you are, or to see your loved one like they are. Our friends need permission to grieve too. In my personal situation, sometimes they don't know what to do with this Chris. They loved the old one - but this one is different and they can't adjust. I understand that. But it still leaves us to deal with their emotional detachment.

What I find cool about it all is that God never emotionally detaches. He is all in.All the time. I was reading in 1 Corinthians 6 this morning. In verse 11 it says we are washed, sanctified and justified in Christ. And He's not taking it back - He won't detach and walk away. We get a package deal in Him that's not retractable or detachable!

He also tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. Like I said, he's all in. I love that He won't leave and that His works can't be washed away by life. We are washed, period. We are sanctified, period. We are justified, period. It's all because we are in Him. It may feel like He is sitting quietly beside our pain like Job's friends, but He won't detach.. He won't take His works in us back. We are hidden in Him for all time - and for eternity too!

Today I will rejoice that He doesn't detach when life doesn't make sense. My thoughts will be on His completed work in us that life can't wash away. I'll turn my meditations to how we are complete in Him, and that we are seated in Him in heavenly places. I'll be thankful for His complete work and I will trust myself - my whole self body, soul and spirit - to Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Courage to Grieve

To every caregiver out there – I applaud you – for your courage to grieve. For far too long, the world and the church have looked down on grieving. It’s so common to condemn a person for grieving and expect them to just shake it off. 

But caregivers have the uncanny ability to pull it all together for everyone else’s sake – so as to not make them feel uncomfortable. You’ll never know their grief. But caregivers grieve.

For many, it’s daily. For some, it’s grieving what could have been but will never be. For others, it’s grieving what was and will never be again. You have the power to grieve, the right to grieve, the courage to grieve.

You see, caregivers get up every morning looking to do the same thing they did yesterday, and the same things they will do tomorrow. Over and over and over again. Their soul gets lost in the shuffle and there’s grief over the life they can’t live – the one they won’t live. Because they are caring for another whole person. It takes courage to get up each morning knowing the day will be wrought with grief.

It may come as a surprise, following a memory. It may come as a pain wishing for what could be. It may come for no apparent reason at all. You may grieve the losses you see in your loved one. Or you may grieve the loss of your own life… but grief will come.

Yet every morning – your feet hit the floor with a list of must-dos and a lot of should-dos and a few probably-oughta-dos. Sometimes, grief is but a momentary distraction, sometimes it overshadows every.single.thing.you.do. But you shake it off – only because you have so much to do that you can’t deal with it – can’t be weighed down by grief. But not because you lack the courage to grieve – you just don’t have time.

For some caregivers, grief comes in the evening, at the end of the long day. Grief for what you didn’t get done. Or maybe there’s grieving for all you had to do, those unspeakable things that have to be tended to. Those things you do that make you uncomfortable, but must be done for your loved one. Greif can come knocking as you finally lay yourself down for the night, leaving many un-dones to face tomorrow. Grief can be for the things you no longer get to do for you…not that you want to anymore- it’s okay. But grief comes.

Grief can be over relationships – now gone by the wayside. You may grieve for all those you thought were close friends, but they didn’t have “it” to stay by your side for the long haul. Caregivers understand, not everyone can walk this walk with you – not even from a distance. But grieving comes over those you wish were still close. The solitary life of caregiving can be grievous, lonely and solemn. But you won’t tell anyone… when grief comes knocking. You may lower your head but for a moment – but not for long. You have the power to grief and you have the courage to grief – you just don’t have the time.

So you wipe your tears, lift your head and put your hands back on task. There’s much to do when caring for another – you have the courage to grieve – it is right there all.the.time. You understand it. No one else does. You know that grief will come back – frequently. Pain is a constant companion. You have the courage to hurt; to grieve. You have the courage to get up in the morning knowing full well it’s going to come knocking again. But you persevere, for the sake of your loved one. There’s no quit. There’s no give up. There’s no can’t do. Your loved one is foremost – you must keep going. You do keep going. You will keep going. In the midst of the pain, the misty tears and the grief. Because you love.

I love your courage to face uncertain days knowing that grief is certain. A sort of living grief that doesn’t ever quite let go. But because of love… you endure. But you do more than that – you joyfully endure. Why? Because you understand a piece of God’s love for you. You understand when He said He endured the cross – despising and disregarding the pain and the shame because you do it every day for the one you love.

You embrace the living grief because you know it won’t go away. But you never give in to the spirit of grief – and I applaud you. Caregivers face the grief head on without ever giving their soul to it. Courage to face it – and not be overcome by it. In case no one has told you today – You’re awesome! And you look a lot like Him.

 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Greater Love

Sometimes, does it feel like we live in a prison, even though we joyfully serve our sentence caring for our loved one? And of course, I think there are those times (if we're all honest) when we not-so-joyfully serve too. Those times are few, but they do occur from time to time.

Personally, I've dealt with depression which is common for caregivers. I mean come on, we deal with a LOT! And it's day in and day out. We carry a heavy load, many of us by ourselves. Taking care of an entire other person is a difficult task. It's actually very complicated yet many of us have mastered it. We know how to get what we need for our loved ones, we are accustomed to their schedules and accommodating to adjustments that need to be made. It can be exhausting. And it can be rewarding. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving through our days, weeks, months, and years. Because we love them.

Jesus told us that there is no greater love - than to lay down our lives for our "friends." I have to take from that statement that there's no greater love than laying down our lives for our loved ones. We are a picture of love. I truly believe I understand one fragment of the love for us that held Him on that cross - because it's the same love that holds us by our loved one's side even when it hurts.

We all learn to cope in different ways, and I've developed some of my own strategies for battling depression and other negative emotions that can try to sweep me away. Last night, as I was preparing for a lesson I did on Facebook live I found myself in an interesting passage. I was teaching out of Acts 16 where Paul and Silas were thrown into jail. They didn't give up. They didn't pout (I have!), they didn't sit there and cry or moan (I've done both!). They didn't cuss (I've done that too!).

At midnight - the end of one day and the start of another - they sang praises. We wouldn't have blamed them if they'd cried or fussed a bit! We'd have said to them what I'm sure has been said to you - it's okay to feel this way. And it IS! But there's a better way too. As they praised God even in their circumstance, their chains fell off and the doors sprung open.

I'm learning I can change the course of my day, my emotions, and my thoughts by taking a little praise break here and there. It can change the climate of my home and heart to find something (no matter how hard I have to look) to thank Him for. Psalm 77:11 says to me - if I don't see something He's doing right now, then I will thank Him for what He's done in the past. We can find something to thank Him for - and that's the place to start.

Today, I will be purposefully thankful. No matter how hard or long I have to think - I'll find something to be thankful for. My thoughts will be on Him and how great He is - no matter what may be staring me in the face. I will turn my meditations to all He is - and all He's done and let them overtake negative thoughts. I will set my mind on Him - and I will LET His peace rule in my heart one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

At the End of the Day

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, getting Chris' last bolus in, making sure he's dry and comfortable I realized something about myself. It seems that no matter how much I DO accomplish in a day, at the end of the day I feel like there was so much left undone.

The house is still standing, laundry is done, I finished some work tasks, lights are still on... I have coffee. In reality, a lot was accomplished but I can still feel so far behind. Of course, there's still a full list of things that have to be done tomorrow. But tomorrow, I'll get up and go through my caregiving routine, work at my jobs some (hopefully) and still feel at the end of the day like I left a lot unaccomplished. It's a vicious cycle really.

As caregivers, many of us get up in the morning with just as much to do today as we did yesterday. Nothing is ever really done - we do the same things over and over again. It can start to feel like we can never do enough - or personally, I start to feel like I'm not enough. Thankfully, He is enough! He is more than enough. And just like He carried me yesterday, He'll carry me through today. I can rest in that thought.

This morning I found this phrase in Psalm 138. In verse three, David says this: On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul. I thought about that for a little bit. He strengthens our soul - that part of us that is made up of the mind, will and emotions. The part of us that makes us - uniquely us. In Ephesians 3:16, Paul prayed that the believers would be strengthened with might by the Holy Spirit in the inner man.

Sometimes I can't imagine God walking this path with me. But I also can't imagine walking it without Him. No matter how I feel about my day, or at the end of my day, I know He walks with me and that's what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. He is there with me at the end of the day - and at the start of the next day, when I rise - He'll already be there too.

Actually, He's already walked my days out. Long before we were born - He ordained our days. We are His. We are His work. David ends this psalm with a plea - do not forget the works of Your hands. And we can rest assured He won't. Just like we get up every day and go through the routine of caring for our loved ones - He is waiting as daylight dawns to care for us for one more day too.

Today, I will focus on the truth that He is walking this out with me. I'll meditate on the truth that He's already been right here - and when the day is done - He'll still be right here. I will wait on Him and let Him strengthen my soul. I'll work on resting in Him - and letting Him carry me through one more day - will you join me?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Shelter in Place

First off, let me apologize for being absent for so long. I don't need to explain how hectic a caregiver's life can get to you guys. Suffice it to say the last few weeks have been a battle, but I'm back up and going somewhat. I've taken a lot of time to just think things through - assess my life and look at where I am in this journey. Nothing's easy, is it? But we keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

This morning, I was sharing with a group on Facebook that in 1986 I was very ill. The doctors never really figured out what it was, but I was so sick. I lost down to skin and bones, had absolutely no energy or appetite. It was dire and my mom even went so far as to start planning my funeral. During that time, I found one verse to hold on to. I was so weary I couldn't hold my Bible up to read but a verse at a time. I found it easier to just memorize it. So I did. It's found in Psalm 57:1 and goes like this:

Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me
For my soul trusts in You
In the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until the destruction passes.

In the old King James Version the last part says "until calamities are past." Now here's the "problem" for caregivers. The destruction doesn't just pass by it. Our souls are constantly being attacked. It's like living in a war zone day after day. Circumstance tries to chip away at both our faith and our sanity. It can take everything we have to hold it together on the rougher days. But the good news is that we can stay in His sheltering arms. He is always there to help us, comfort us and to carry us when needed!

I thought about those sitting through the hurricane in Florida today. Many of them have "sheltered in place." They pull everything in, close the storm shutters and wait for the storm to pass. It comes through and beats their houses unmercifully. Eventually, after some very long, dark hours, the storm goes away and they come out to assess the damages. 

Today, caregiving feels like that. But the thing is with caregiving is that the storm doesn't dissipate. Some days it beats on the house harder than others, but it doesn't go away. I think that may be one of the most difficult things we face. There's not an end. When other people are facing situations we can say, "this will pass." But that's not true in caregiving. It is more like the energizer bunny - it keeps going and going! lol. 

Now here's what I am thinking today. We are in a safe spot. The rest of the world cannot see us or experience what we are going through. The storm is ravaging our house - but we are sheltered in place.In Him.  And that's the best place to be.

So even on the tougher days, and there are no easy days, we can stay sheltered in place in the shadow of His wings. Though life is raging and pounding on the outside of our house - we are safe in His arms.

Today I will remind myself that I am safe in His arms. I'm going to sit and let Him hold me. I'll practice giving Him my cares rather than trying to carry them on my own shoulders. My thoughts will be on how safe and peaceful it is with Him and I will "let the peace of God rule in my heart" today. I won't try to get out of His lap, but I will stay sheltered in place as the storm rages around me. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sons of God

I've been doing a study in 1 John over this past weekend, I'm trying to write a study guide for this short and powerful book. There are several recurring themes that John keeps returning to, even though there's only 5 chapters. It wasn't divided up into chapters when he sent it as a letter to the church, that's the way we did it. So why did he keep saying some things over and over? Maybe he, or God, had a message they were trying to get across.

Of course, we think about love and see it throughout John's gospel as well as his letters. But another topic that keeps coming up is how we are sons of God. So I thought about what that meant to the church and culture back then, what it means to the church today, and what it might mean for caregivers.

I think sometimes these very significant terms become cliche and we lose the depths of their meanings. So I purposefully stopped and thought about what it means to be a son of God. Obviously a son or daughter is being implied here - a child of God. I thought about how I'm my daddy's child. He loves me. He cares for me. He provided for me when I was a child and even taught me to be a responsible adult. Sometimes he sat down with me and taught me specific skills other times I learned by just hanging out with him.

Then I thought about how I am a parent. I love my kids and grand-kids! I repeated the same process with my kids when they were growing up. I always went for relationship over what I preferred they do or not do as they got older. And we developed pretty deep friendships in the process. Then, the unthinkable happened. My son was in a wreck. He's not the same. He can't reciprocate my love, he can't hold a conversation, he can't do the things young men are supposed to do - like marry and give me grand-babies. But he's still my son and I love him no less.

It can be easy for us to draw this line of separation between us and God - He's up there in the sky and we're down here trying to do life. But just like I don't love my son less because of his difficulties, even though it pains me greatly, he didn't stop being my son. And no matter what life throws at us or how badly we mess up, or how dysfunctional we are, like my son - we are still the sons of God.

Timothy says, He knows those who are His.

We are His and He's okay with that! He doesn't feel stuck with us - we are His child. He is going to care for us no matter what life throws at us - just like I continue to care for my son even though he's not able to do anything normal 33 year old men can do. When he can't speak - I speak for him. When he can't walk - I push him in a chair. When he can't eat - I feed him. etc. God has this same watch-care over us as His children. While it doesn't amaze me that I take care of my son - it does amaze me how God takes care of me - because I'm His child. 

Today I'm going to think about how I am God's child, and nothing can change or disrupt that. He cares for me like I care for my children (only more). My thoughts will be about what it means to be His child, and I'll meditate on how He cares for me even when I'm broke. He provides what ever level of care is needed for me - because He cares for me. I'll be thankful that He is my Father - and He's not looking to ditch me along the way! And I'll just crawl up next to Him today and tell Him thank you. I'll let Him love me as His child today - will you join me?

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?