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?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What do Running Shoes and Caregiving Have in Common?


This weekend was the annual Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation Race for Hope. They do the races each year to raise money for OKBTF, a foundation that offers help to families who are dealing with a member who has a brain tumor. Some of my family has done it several times but this year was the first year we got together and formed a team for my sister, Tina, who has a brain tumor. It's non-cancerous and not growing, but she had a shunt put in back in 2008 that has to be maintained or the tumor blocks the fluid from draining properly from her brain. The sitter couldn't sit with Chris so I took him with me and my son-in-law sat with him while the rest of us did the races. For some reason, my newest great-niece enjoyed talking to Chris, even though he didn't talk to her. They had a great silent conversation!

So, as a runner I am always thinking about running shoes. When I started running, I didn't know there were special shoes for running, I just wore what I had. Now I understand there are actually four different types of running shoes. After I run between 400 and 600 miles, depending on the shoes, they need to be replaced. Each runner has their preference as far as shoes go and some runners use different types of shoes based on what type of run they are doing. For me - I go for cushion. I need the extra padding so my feet don't hurt.

To have the best run and take the best care of your feet, each runner selects the type of shoe needed for the types of running they do. For instance:


  • Endurance  shoes are for runners who log tons of miles. These guys may run 100 miles or so every week. (unbelievable!)
  • Speed shoes are designed to be lightweight so they don't weigh down the runner who is trying to go faster and faster.
  • Cushion is for those of us runners whose feet hurt, especially on longer runs. They also help provide some cushion for those old knees.
  • Stability shoes are designed to offer support for those who have fallen arches or awkward cadences when they run.
As I was thinking about getting new running shoes this morning I thought about these four types and realized as caregivers we need all four. Now, of course they can't make one shoe that meets all these needs for all the different runners. Each caregiver has their own set of needs too. The difference for us is that we need all four of these. We have to be able to endure day after day of endless tasks that have to be done for our loved ones, endurance. It doesn't take us long to figure out how to be efficient with our responsibilities so we can get more done in less time, speed. On any given day, we need the comfort of Holy Spirit to soothe our souls, cushion. And we need His strength to help keep us keeping on without faltering, stability.

Runners have to choose which type of shoe they want to use for each run, or race. But for caregivers - we really need all four of these every single day; or at least I do! I really wanted to find one scripture where all four of these were promised - maybe you can think of one - but I couldn't. But there is always Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. 

I guess the thing is, no matter what we need today - whether it is one of these four key areas or something else, He is that. He can pour His strength in us so we can endure this day. He gives strength to the weary (Isaiah 40:39). He provides us with comfort when our souls need a little bit more cushioning. (Isaiah 61:2) He is our rock, our sure foundation - the One who holds us up when the journey gets rough. (Psalm 18:2) He is always on time, even if it feels like He's not! (2 Peter 3:9)

Basically, He is. Maybe this is what He was communicating to Moses when He said I Am. He just is. Whatever we need today - He is. He's our all in all - everything all wrapped up in one. Comfort, peace, help, strength, endurance, security, stability, etc. You name what you need and He's got it. He is it. He can provide it.

Today, I will trust Him for everything I need. Personally, that's endurance right now. But you know how caregiving goes - that might change at any given second. But no matter what, I'll continue to trust Him to be that. Whatever that is at any point in my day. My meditation will be on how He is here and He's a now  God. He is the I Am. I'll turn my thoughts to His beyond-abilities. He can do beyond what we can think of, He can do beyond what we can imagine. So I will just let Him be God in my life today. I'll be still.. and just know He is God. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Bitter - Sweet

This was a crazy weekend for us and my emotions are ALL over the place. If I'd rest for a few minutes, I'd probably find out that I'm exhausted! Given half a chance, I'd crawl away to a cave and sleep for days and come out saying, who knew? As caregivers, we don't have that luxury. As a matter of fact, since we were out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, I thought Chris would crash but he's awake at 4:30 this morning. Seriously?

Yesterday, we went to church. I know - quite remarkable we made it two Sundays in a row, right? After being out on Saturday it was a bit much for Chris and he was obviously uncomfortable. So, on one hand, it was nice to be in services with my sister's family and my mom and dad. On the other, I wish Chris could have been more comfortable.

For me, yesterday was a double whammy. For one, I enjoyed being with family, loved being able to
be with my daughter's family and the grandkids. We had a long row at the restaurant and it felt nice being there together. We set Chris' chair at the end so it wasn't sticking out into a walkway but since he wasn't feeling good, I didn't feel comfortable feeding him there.

Mother's Day was awkward for me emotionally. I can't tell you how much I love my daughter and enjoy every single second with my beautiful grandchildren. But on Mother's Day in particular, I miss the children Chris can't have. That might not make any sense to anyone else - but it's part of the grieving process for caregivers of children. There can be many questions- if he hadn't had the wreck. Who would he have married? Would they have children? What kind of job would he have? Would he even show up for holidays? A beautiful day can be turned into sorrow so easily and emotions can be all over the place.

For me - that's only half of it. The other half of the double play is watching my mom in slow decline. I'm not directly her caregiver, but she's slowly fading from us. Even the doctor who diagnosed dementia said it's moving fast. She's not chatty like she used to be. The mom I know would have talked to most of the people at church yesterday and known most of their stories by the time we left. The good thing is for now, she knows who we are - at least while we are with her. She gets who's married to who and whose kid the grandkids are mixed up, but she knows us when we are talking to her or sitting with her. It's so very sad to lose her this way.

Personally, it bothers me that I can't provide more care for my mom. I'm still thinking of getting a bigger place so I can do more. But I also realize I do have my hands full with Chris. I get frustrated. I can't be the daughter/caregiver because I am the mother/caregiver. I'm the rescuer. When things go wrong or there's a problem that needs fixing - I'm the one who wants to find solutions and answers. But for these life-situations, there's not always a fix.

So here I am with full hands and a full heart looking up to Him one more time. Where do I put all this? What do I do with these raw emotions? I go the only place I know to go - to my knees before His throne. Then, I take action by doing the only thing I can do. I lay it all down before Him. None of my emotions or thoughts are unknown to Him - I have nothing to hide and nowhere to hide it from a God who sees all.

He knows the frustration. He knows the pain. He knows all the longings of the heart. What comes to mind is when the Children of Israel were coming out of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea and then came to Marah, which means bitter. It was named Marah because the waters were bitter - and they couldn't drink there. God handled too much water by leading them through on dry land. But now, what will He do with bitter waters?

He instructed them to cut down a tree and throw it in the water. What? Since when does a tree have the natural qualities to make bitter water sweet? When it's a cross. Sometimes, life brings us by bitter waters and it takes the cross to make them sweet enough to drink. It's His grace that carries us through the rough days. His mercy working in us that makes our bitter walk sweeter.

So in this moment, I'll chose to refocus on the cross. I will remind myself that He bore my shame, my pain, my sorrow and my grief. And today - I'll let Him. I'll empty my hands and my heart before Him and wait on Him. To heal.To restore.

Today, I'll shift my focus away from my emotions and back to Him. (This might take all day to do too!) To start, I'll make a grateful list. I'll begin writing out on paper things I can think of that I am thankful for. That'll be my starting place and it will allow me to shift my focus off these raw emotions and in a different direction. My meditations will be on all He's done for me to bring me to this place, and I'll be thankful. I'll take a posture and an attitude of thankfulness as I make today my personal Thanksgiving Day. My thoughts will be on all He's done - I'll take a look back at the promises He's fulfilled and the other times in life I've seen Him make the bitter water sweet, the Red Seas of my life He's led me across safely. And I'll say thank you to Him one more time as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me? Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Just Three?

After reading through chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians yesterday, I decided to skip on over to chapter 12 for my reading today. Here's where we find Paul talking in a little more detail about his struggles and troubles. Maybe I don't physically have to endure the beatings and imprisonments like Paul, but my soul has been chained, my soul broken and my emotions drained out like blood. Thankfully, these are not things we feel every single day, but at times as caregivers we become emotionally spent, physically exhausted and just feel beat up by life. I'm so glad to have a place to run when life or caregiving overwhelms. A place I can hide...and heal.

So, I'm reading Paul's discussion on his struggles and pertaining to his thorn in the flesh, he says he asked God three times that it might leave him. I just stopped and stared. Three times? That's it? You're going through hell on earth and you only ask God three times for relief? I'm not there now - but I have been under such oppression that I was begging - and I mean beggin' for relief.

My only answer is that Paul must have gotten his answer after his third time. When God said My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness Paul got it. He understood. Then he changed his stance. Rather than begging for everything to be taken away (we all know how effective that's been, right?), he began to rejoice in his weaknesses. Sounds ludicrous right? But it's not.

Now instead of being in begging mode - bowing beneath the load, Paul is rejoicing that through his own weaknesses, God's strength will be glorified. He said, when I am weak, then I am strong. Kind of sounds like he's talking through both sides of his mouth like a politician, doesn't it? But he isn't. He came to the realization that in his weakest moment - he was still strong because the Spirit of the Living God lived in him to lift him up and carry him through. In that truth - he gained strength for the journey.

Maybe I've focused too much on my own weakness, and not enough on His strength. His strength that is in me is enough. It's enough to carry me through - His power is easier to see in my weakness than if I'm trying to be the "strong one." In order to be truly strong, I must lose myself. When I lose myself in Him, His strength abounds. Ephesians 3:16 says that we are strengthened with might (or power) through His Spirit in the inner man. The Amplified says it this way: May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling your inner most being.....

Can we grab hold of the truth that the Spirit of the living God is LIVING inside of us - to strengthen us, guide us into truth (which doesn't change due to circumstances), and empower us to live this life? He gave no stipulations - no exemptions. He's not standing outside waiting for us to "get it together." He's indwelling us. Walking this through with us and empowering us along the way.

Today, I'm going to turn my thoughts to how Holy Spirit lives in me. As I recognize my great weakness, His power fills up all my empty spaces. My meditations will be on how I gain strength just because He's here. And I have the power to face one more day - with Him - the One who doesn't take a break, doesn't get tired, doesn't quit and never loses strength. I'm going to be thankful that I see my weakness today and that His strength is in me helping me trust in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Day at Hand

What are you doing today?  Don't you love it when someone asks that. If you're like me, you don't bore (or scare) them with all the details that come in the caregiving package. I usually, chuckle and say something like, "Oh nothing extraordinary" or "just normal stuff." Because I know they don't really want to know. And it's certain that they cannot even imagine some of the baser things we have to deal with on a daily basis - those unmentionables! But day after day we do the necessary tasks to ensure our loved ones are taken care of and have what they need. It can be so easy to get our focus on the tasks at hand and forget why we are here in this earth to begin with.

Our role as caregivers wasn't necessarily our plan. As children, we didn't say, "I want to grow up and take care of my son with a brain injury." We just took the hand life dealt us - no matter what "kind" of caregiving we do. But that's not why we were born. It does not define us.

This morning, I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4 and I started thinking about so many of the verses that stuck out to me. These are all still true - or they were never true. God still shines His light in our hearts so we can have the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (v.6) That light still shines, still beckons, still reveals Him in our hearts. It never stops.

And then what I find interesting is that Paul goes right into how we have this treasure in an earthen vessel. One that experiences pain and loss. One that in Paul's words can become afflicted, perplexed, or persecuted. But through it all Christ is to be continuously revealed in and through us. This purpose doesn't change.

Another thing I noted was that Paul used the phrase don't lose heart two times in this one chapter. I'm guessing he was talking to himself as well as others. Why? Because no matter what we are facing in this body Christ is renewing our inner man. And then he finishes out the chapter talking about our momentary, light afflictions...which cannot even be compared with the glory Christ is working in us. He says it is far beyond all comparison. Those  are some powerful words.

Paul's final thoughts remind us that during our affliction we are to keep our focus - not on the day at hand but on the Eternal Day. We are to keep our heart's focus on what we cannot see - and not on the things we can see. That's not always easy - there's so many things to distract us from the glory He is working in us.

Today I will shift my focus to the work of glory that the presence of Christ is bringing about in me. I will turn my thoughts to the life and power He has placed in me and I will rely on that to carry me today instead of my own strength. I will make my meditations be on this treasure we have in our earthen vessel... this house of clay - holds the Spirit of the Living God. That's empowering. I'll keep my thoughts on eternity today and not on the temporal. And with that - I will find the strength to trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Grasping at Straws

I had about a billion things on my mind when I woke up this morning. That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. As the thoughts of the weekend poured through my mind waiting to be sifted, sorted and processed - I couldn't decide what I needed more of as I opened His word to feed my soul.

Where to start? I picked up my Bible and read a verse here and there. They were all good. It's like looking in the fridge for something to eat and you're not sure what you want and everything looks good. I heard of the passing of two friends over the weekend, I tried out a new church, took Chris out twice (which is a huge feat in itself), and have a potential romantic relationship.....(what?) we don't get a break from caregiving to live life. It comes at us no matter what. We already live in a state of overwhelmed and adding anything to it can just put us into overload. Or maybe that's just me.

So, I'm sitting here looking at the scriptures and trying to figure out what it is I need, and what I can share with you today. Do I need peace? Maybe number one for today is a need for comfort? But I also need direction and clarity. I feel very needy all of a sudden (lol). So I opened my Bible to John 14 as that's where I've been studying. It was great to be reminded that Holy Spirit lives in  me - He doesn't pack up and move away when life gets complicated or difficult.

Then I moved to Proverbs (looking for wisdom) and on to Psalms (looking for peace and comfort). As you can see, I skimmed around a bit just looking and gleaning. I am not even sure what I need the most of, then it hit me. He is what I need - whatever that may be. God is with me - He is in me. I don't even have to figure out what it is I need the most - I just need Him. And He is right here.

Caregiving is overwhelming - life+caregiving = ? I don't even know what! lol. I don't have to look for "outside resources" because I have the Spirit of God living inside of me. Once again I reiterate the truth that He didn't move out or step away when we became caregivers. He didn't say - too much for me - I'm out. He moved into our hearts with the plan to stay - no matter what. He walks it with us.

So I do not know what you need today - I'm not even sure what I need today; but I know that it is okay with Him. The main thing to do when we feel like we are grasping at straws is to reach for Him. Let Him bring His peace, direction, comfort, understanding - it's a whole package deal. And He's right here. Wherever "here" is for you. For me.

Today I'm going to think about how He is all I need - whatever that need is - whether I can define it or not. He's everything that is needed. 2 Peter 1:3 will be my meditation. (His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness through my knowledge of Christ.) I'm going to rest in that right there - He was not only my righteousness - making me godly and holy, He made provision for me to live life in him. My meditation will be on how He has provided everything I need for living this day. And in that truth - I'll rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

He Leads Me

This morning my mind went back to a popular psalm that even unbelievers are familiar with - Psalm 23. My thoughts were stuck on one phrase - He leads me beside still waters  and because I, like most of us, memorized it as a small child, I knew the next part was He restores my soul.

I just let my thoughts go for a bit as I wondered what it would be like to be lead by still waters and how that might be connected with the restored soul. Now I understand still waters. I've been hiking enough to have stumbled on a few places I'd say had still waters. It was peaceful, restful and I didn't want to leave. I wanted to sit there and soak up some of that peace and quiet. Those special spots along the trail do help restore, or reset, the soul. Even for energetic over thinkers, calm waters can have a stilling and quieting effect on the soul. I found myself longing for a quiet spot way back in the woods. Where does a caregiver find a quiet water to soothe the soul?

Our days are filled with activities with barely time to sit for a second and breathe, let alone hide away by a calming stream. David, the psalmist, was literally out in the wilderness, not stuck in the life-wilderness of caregiving, how could it apply to our lives?

He can and will lead us - Holy Spirit can lead us right in to peace. There's an old southern gospel song that says He will calm the troubled water of my soul.....I think that's what He wants to do for caregivers. He understands our souls can live in uproar all the time. We may deal with constant, living grief, feelings of despair, depression, a total aching of our soul, or any other emotional hurt commonly associated with caregiving. But He can lead us into peace without condemning our feelings.

Too often in faith circles, we "aren't allowed" to feel. We may have been shamed for dealing with depression or fighting with grief. We are made to feel like our emotions are sins and so we try to stifle them and hide them instead of bringing them to Him. He is not ashamed of us. He is not afraid of our deepest emotions. He does not condemn us for how we feel or for what we deal with. Instead, He longs to lead us by the still waters of His peace.

Today, I will think about how I can follow Him to the place where He can restore my soul. My thoughts will be on the peace He gives even in the midst of turmoil. My meditations will be on His total acceptance of me and my heart - no matter what I'm dealing with today. I will listen for Him to say peace, be still to my heart and I will yield to that, and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

He is Faithful

I can't believe I did it, but I managed a short get-away. That's one reason I've been MIA for a few days, but I'm back. At one point I was thinking it was going to be easier to stay home than coordinate my son's care for while I was gone. I have some respite that I can use through the Advantage program which helped a lot. Then I have some really great friends and family to help at home. I really don't have to worry about him as he's well cared for on all counts. But getting it all together is something else! But I have to say it was worth it. I needed the break and I hope to take more later.

I went to a lady's retreat at the beach. Just a few weeks ago I had put the beach on my List of Places I'll Never See Again. But somehow, it all worked out and I spent four days there with a group of amazing women. I felt almost normal again. Ha! In the future, I'm going to try to plan more getaways. I came home rejuvenated, but tired, rolled up my sleeves and got right back to work.

While I was at the beach, I had some time to myself. I walked along the beach a few times, and got a few runs in. These times allowed me to do some deep thinking and soul searching. I have come to the conclusion that I'll never be able to figure out all the whys...but I can conclude that He is faithful.

Several people asked me about working online and I began unfolding the story of how I started to where I am now. All I can say - is He is faithful. He has provided all along the way, and I have no doubt that He will continue to provide for us. That doesn't mean it has always been easy, or that I haven't had to work at it, but He's led me through and kept me in the process.

As I recounted parts of my "story" and talked about my son, the realization of how He has cared and provided for us over the years grew. At this point, I can look back and just shake my head as I think about how He has kept my heart in His on this rocky journey. I believe it pleases Him when He sees us continue to pursue Him even in the midst of the storm of caregiving.

We can throw up our hands and give in - or we can throw up our hands in surrender to Him. When we honor Him with praise through the pain or as we continue to look to Him through the tears He is pleased. . When we lift it all up to Him - He reaches down and meets us right there in our pain. It doesn't frighten Him. It doesn't scare Him. He doesn't get tired of us.

God doesn't sigh when we turn to Him again and again. I believe He smiles. Because we keep running back to Him over and over. It doesn't make Him tired - it makes Him glad. He faithfully beckons us to bring our burdens to Him. He is faithful. We can come every single day with the joys and trials of caregiving and it won't make Him tired of us. He'll reach down in our hearts and touch us, strengthen us and give us what we need to make another day. Every.Single.Time.

Today I am going to rejoice that He is not tired of me yet. My meditations will be on His faithfulness and His strength in me to keep taking steps one at a time. I'll turn my thoughts to how He continues to care for me and mine. I'll be thankful for all He has done over these years and I'll continue to trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Double Trouble!

Sunday, when the family was gathered, my daughter sneaked over and got a "siblings" pic. I really think Chris is smirking at her. And he's looking at the camera like he knows what he's doing too! When I saw this photo on her Facebook wall, it brought both joy and sadness. It was a joy to have her take a siblings shot, but I know how difficult this has been for her. It's like I hurt for both my children.

Double pain. I grieve over the loss of my son, and I hurt as I watch my daughter struggle to deal with it all as well. One of a mother's worst nightmares. I'm proud of the woman she has become and how she has let it bring her closer to God, but the journey, like each of ours, has been difficult.

I guess caregiving really changes us, but we don't always realize how much or in what ways those changes are affecting us. They keep telling us that we are emerging a beautiful butterfly - but too often I still feel stifled in a cocoon with no flight in site.

I'm sitting here and reflecting on our memories recent and past and wondering what to do with all the emotions. Then out of nowhere I get this text that just says "Psalm 35." I was like - what a jerk to just send a reference and no point! lol So of course, I opened my Bible and read through the chapter. David talks a lot about stumbling, fighting, affliction, and fighting with his enemies. I'm thinking it sounds a lot like one of my days lately.

As I read through this declarative prayer I found two things that stood out to me. I am still learning about praying about my enemies since we don't wrestle against flesh and blood and aides and agencies....But what did stand out what the declaration in verse 10 - All my bones will say, Lord who is like You....." I really like that - I want my bones to cry out even if my voice can't - and declare that He is Lord of my life.

The second verse that grabbed my attention was the final one. And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness and Your praise all day long. May this be so. May I direct my tongue to declare His righteousness each day - no matter what the day brings. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Christ become righteousness for us. That truth cannot be changed no matter what happens to us this side of time. And that's a good thing.

Today, I will continue to say in my heart, Lord, there is none like You. And I will thank Him for becoming my righteousness. I'll turn my thoughts back to the cross where He paid the price for me, where He bore my pain and grief so I could remain in right standing with Him. My meditation will be on how He covers me...forever. I will rest in Him today knowing He has done a complete work by making me righteous and I will rejoice in this and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mind, Will, Emotions

 As many around the world, my family gathered for Easter Sunday. One thing about my family is we have a rich heritage in the Word and in ministry. It was a true blessing to sing a few songs around the piano and especially to take communion together. I'm proud of my Christian heritage, but that hasn't stopped "bad" things from happening.

My head and heart were still full from yesterday as I awoke this morning. My emotions were still all over the place as I opened my Bible (yes I am old school - I want to touch it!) for my devotions this morning. My eyes landed in Psalm 86. David starts out with a prayer for God to hear his cry because he is afflicted and needy.

Now, I don't think David was whimpering. In my mind, he was just stating how much He needed God. He says, save Your servant, who trusts in You. And then goes on with I cry to you all day long.He lifts his soul to the Lord - that's his mind, will and emotions. The part of David that made him uniquely David. Even though our bodies are all unique and we have distinct features and fingerprints, it's our soul that makes us so unique. We think differently, have different experiences to shape us and to draw from in our thinking processes. We have various emotions and feel things differently. It's the core of our being and the part that can trip us up!

David later says, In the day of my trouble I will call on You - for You will answer me. Then he changes his perspective. In about verse 8 he starts praising God. There is none like You. You are graet and do wondrous deeds.. You alone are God. After that, his tone changes. He begins to pray differently. Instead of crying out - now he is asking, Teach me Your ways...Unite my heart to fear Your name...I will give thanks to You...

Today, I want to skip the first part of this discourse and just go to the second part. I feel crushed beneath the load of life this morning, but I will turn my focus on Him. I'll take the cries of my soul - that part of me that feels, and lay it at His feet and then I will praise Him. My prayers and meditations today will be on asking Him to teach me to trust Him more. I'll lean a little more into Him today and yield my heart to the changes He wants to make in me. I'll yield my heart and soul to Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Or What?

One of the difficult things about becoming a caregiver is that life goes on. Please note, it's not like most people mean that phrase. Life as we knew it, life as normal, life like everyone else does not go on. For many of us, life after caregiving is far different than before. But it seems like for everyone else - life goes on. There are two sides of this for me. On one hand it can be difficult watching all my son's friends go on with their lives as they should. they marry, have children, develop careers and have nice little lives. While my son struggles with learning to eat, move and talk again.

The other side of that coin is far different though. It's the part of life goes on that can be rewarding. My daughter married before my son's wreck, but she didn't start having children until a little later on. My daughter and I have talked about how we grieve that her kiddos will never know the Chris we knew. There's a real sadness there.

Last night, my daughter called and said that my granddaughter had fallen in the tub, hit her head, and a huge knot had come up. She seemed okay, but as a precaution they were headed to the hospital to get her checked out. I am not even sure if I can describe my range of emotions. I was angry, fearful, and had tons of what ifs running through my head. I'm an over-thinker and I had all these horrible images running through my head. I wanted to pray. I did pray. But God didn't rescue my son - can I trust Him now?  I heard my heart say - God, I can't take something else, I can't handle if my granddaughter is hurt. I lashed out at Him with my thoughts. And very simply, it was like He said, or what?

I was kind of caught off guard by that addendum to my raging thoughts. But I stopped, and thought, yeah, or what? Am I going to just stop trusting Him now? Will I walk away from Him and stop writing, praying, reading my Bible or pursuing Him? And in that moment, I realized there wasn't an or what. There's nothing I can do to manipulate life to go "my way" because, trust me, if there was I would have used it already!

Life is going to still happen and bad things are going to still happen. And I see absolutely no reason to stop trusting Him now. Instead, I find it drives me to Him more. All those deep-rooted scriptures will just dive deeper in my soul. I'll still say of the Lord - He is my help. He is a present help in trouble (any trouble, all trouble), I still run to Him with my heart's cry. I will still trust Him. I do still trust Him. And if something else does happen, I'll just learn to trust Him more. There's not an or what?.

He is the only constant in my life (see yesterday's post!). He will still carry me. He will still comfort me. He will still be with me. I'm not moving - and He's not moving.

My beautiful granddaughter is fine. She had a blast at the hospital I'm told. The nurses loved her and had fun with her and fed her snacks, and she even thought the CT scan was cool. lol She has a huge knot on her head, and a headache (she says her hair hurts).But she's okay. I'm okay. And God's okay with that.

Today I'm going to focus on trusting Him more. My thoughts will be on how He moves in closer when "bad" things happen - never further away. I'll meditate on how He is always present which means He is always right here no matter what the day brings - a true present help in trouble. I'll think about how my family has trusted Him as our refuge over the years - and that's not going to change with me. And today - I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Simple Lesson in Math

I've issued a challenge on many occasions and asked anyone brave enough to come follow me through a day in  the life of a caregiver. You wanna know how many takers I've had so far? Zilch. Zero. Nada. On one hand, I find that a bit amazing since there are so many people ready to lend advice - but not a hand. Of course, on the other hand, I'm not surprised in the least.

Each day brings different challenges depending on the level and type of care we are providing for our loved ones. For me, one day my son is pleasant, easy to work with, eats well and is alert. The next day (or moment for that matter) his body can be rigid, stiff and he can be uncomfortable and upset. He might even sleep all day.

Situations with agencies change constantly too. Yesterday, a nurse shows up without calling and announces that she's Chris' new nurse. (I liked the other one of course.)One month I get supplies, aides show up and I get some help. Other times, nothing seems to go right. As caregivers we learn to use what we have from where we are - adjust, adapt and advance! It becomes the norm after awhile and is really no big deal.

So this morning I was letting all this run around in my head and I thought - there's just nothing constant in my life. Friends change, aides change, companies change hands, jobs change... life is in a continual state of change. But God. He remains the one constant in my life. He has not changed one iota since the day of my son's wreck.

This took me back to my days of teaching math. In Algebra there will be variables and constants. Variables change - you never know what they may be. You can plug anything in for a variable for any reason at all. That's those confusing x's everyone complains about. Then in a problem, you'll also have a number. That's the constant. It will not change no matter what you do to the problem - you can count on it to still be what it was when you started. If you get confused - you can erase everything and go back to that same constant and variable. No matter what variable you use - the constant is still be the same.

I started thinking about how my life has changed - and continues to change. There are many variables coming into play. But no matter what - God is that constant - I can count on Him to remain, no matter what the variables do. No matter how "messed up" a day gets - I can always go back to the constant. If I make tons of mistakes, get out of control or just lose it - I can go back to Him because He is that constant.

His love doesn't change. His mercy doesn't change. His presence doesn't change. The fact that He is with me does not change, period. He is constant. I can count on Him to be the same. Always. The task at hand becomes shifting my focus from the variables, the things that tend to change constantly - and focusing on the Constant that never changes.

Today, I'm going to shift my focus off all the things that constantly change around me to His constant love. My meditations will be of Him and the bare truth that He doesn't change - my situation cannot change Him. I'll turn my thoughts to how He remains with me...always. He's not looking for a way out. I'll take life's algebra problem with it's many variables back to the one constant, Him. I'll remain right there rejoicing in the truth that He remains. Period. And I'll let that thought carry me as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

So, How Are You?

Do you get confused like I do when someone asks How are you? As you know by now, I'm an over-thinker and my mind can go a hundred different directions with what seems like a simple question. Do you want to know how I am as a caregiver? Not likely. Or perhaps you want to know how I am physically. Less likely - menopausal, but I did just run my 23rd half marathon, that can be intimidating. Would you like to know how my work is going? Busy, as usual I can't keep up. What about emotionally? You really don't want to know that one - because I can be all over the place for no reason at all - pick an answer from ecstatic to depressed, I don't care. lol

But we all know that no one really wants an honest answer to the question, so we just say, Oh, I'm good.  Or maybe something about being fine and doing well. Because that's the  polite thing to do, and it's safer too because those who are not caregivers can't quite grasp where we are, but it's okay because God does. He can handle it, He can handle us. He's not scared of our emotional ups and downs, our crazy thoughts (maybe that's just me), or our weird little worlds. I'm so thankful for that.

So, this morning I was reading along and came across a verse in Psalms that I've read plenty of times before and I'm pretty sure I've sung it in a song or too back in the day. But today it hit me a bit differently for some reason and  it generated a bunch of questions in my mind - as you see that's not that difficult to do.

Psalm 84:11 simply says- For the Lord God is a sun and shield. That's the first part of the verse, but I didn't make it past that. I guess I usually thought sun - like the big yellow light in the sky; and shield like a piece of armor you carry into battle to protect you. But this morning I realized I wasn't sure that made sense. I was okay with the fact that He is my light, and He is my shield in battle.

But why would the psalmist say it that way? Why would he use two such different terms as if they belonged together? Then it hit me. Maybe the psalmist meant that God is our sun - when we need the light of day; and He's our shield when the heat is too much for us to bear. In short - He's whatever we need right now. If I need the warmth of the sun - He can do that. If it's too hot for me, and I need a break - He can do that too. He can cover wherever we are in the How are you? categories. He can meet us where we are and calm our thoughts.

So the question becomes what do you need today? Or what do you need right now? Do you need direction and a light on your path? Or do you need a break, a moment to get out of the heat and catch your breath? Either way - He;s good for it. He really is everything for us - whatever we need.

Today, I'm going to focus on how He can be my sun - light, direction, warmth. And He can also be my shield - protection, wind-breaker, shelter. I'll meditate on how He really is my everything. He's all I truly need. I'll give Him all the crazy thoughts and emotions - and let Him carry me through one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, April 10, 2017

I Love You O Lord My Strength

As you know, I love the psalms, and I've been studying them looking at them from a somewhat different angle. As I read them, I'm thinking of how David was both a psalmist and a warrior. This has been an interesting study and I've learned a lot. I am making a bit of progress on the project. Hopefully, I'll have something together on it soon and can share it with everyone.

Last night I was looking over my notes and my attention was drawn to Psalm 18. I've always liked this particular psalm, but what I noticed last night was the difference in David in the first few verses and some of the latter verses. He starts out with that psalmist heart by (in my mind) singing - I love you O Lord my strength! And by verse 40 he's talking about smashing the enemy. Now, I realize throughout this psalm, and many others, David gives credit to the Lord for strengthening him for the battle.  David says that God taught his hands to war, and that by God's strength he could run through a troop and leap over a wall. This warrior attributes his victories to the Lord.

In my mind, David cleans the blood off his sword, then picks up his harp and sings about how his God led him to victory. In this psalm, though, David starts out with what I interpret as a softness... singing about his love of the Lord. I love You O Lord my strength.... right before he smashes the enemy.

I think as caregivers we can relate. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God strengthens us for this walk. It is He who carries us through the darkest, roughest times. We can sing I love You O Lord my strength!  And mean it. Those tender moments we have with Him can be what carries us through the tougher moments. We can relate to David when he says the Lord teaches him to war. Or when he says You've strengthened my hands for battle. We know that's true.

One minute we are singing His praises and the next we may be in an altercation with the agency that sends the aides. We can be praising Him and then have to tend to the baser needs of our loved ones. It's those tender moments with Him that carry us through the tougher spots we face. Because I love Him I don't want to walk through anything without Him. I need Him to strengthen me to face the day, and I have to get up-close-and-personal for Him to do that.

Today I will rejoice that He gives me the strength for this walk. I'll thank Him for walking it with me and for empowering me to continue walking with Him. My thoughts will be on how He smashes my enemy (fill-in-the-blank... depression, discouragement, exhaustion...). I'll meditate on His strength and how it is strong in my weakness. And I will rely on and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?