Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Living Broken

I've never been one who enjoyed pain. I am a rather sporty individual and usually pain will make me fight harder, run further, and press on a little more diligently. After becoming a caregiver, I pretty much continued that trend as I found life to be engulfed in pain. Quite literally, everything hurts.

Losses loom in my view every day. I "lost" my son, at least who he was, I lost my life as it became consumed by caregiving, lost my dreams since they were no longer possible, and the list could go on and on as you well know. I struggled to find ways to work, and go on and have succeeded. But not without daily soul pain.

I want to tell myself to get over it. But it is so looming there's nowhere to go to get away. It's constantly pressing in like it is trying to suffocate me. Honestly, some days it wins. Other days I figure out how to get out from under the pressure just enough to function. It's the only way to survive the intensity and enormity of this seemingly all-consuming pain.

You know some days are better than others. Some days I can shrug it off and keep my head up. Other days it's all I can do to breathe and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's like my "life" has been broken and I've got to figure out how to live from that broken state.

This is where my mind went as I was reading and re-reading Psalm 34. In verses 4 and 6, the psalmist speaks of crying out to God. He says in verse four: I sought the Lord; and then in verse six, he says: this poor man cried out. David let his thoughts and feelings be known to God, and trust me - I'm pretty sure God knows exactly how I feel since I don't hold back my thoughts or emotions! (Not like He didn't already know anyway, right?)

I've learned to bring my broken life, my brokenness to Him. At first, I blamed Him - and I do still have my days. But I've learned to gather it all up and drag it to Him and pour it out before Him. I give Him my anger, frustrations, hurt, immense pains, show him my deepest wounds....and He is big enough to handle it. Every.Single.Time,

He doesn't get angry with me for being open and honest about my brokenness. He never wrings His hands in worry like He's wondering what we're going to do. He never shakes His head or walks away in disgust. He just waits. He cares. He loves. He binds up the wounds life has inflicted and carries me until I can walk again.

Verse 15 says the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, His ears are open to their cry. Then down in verse 18, the psalmist says this: The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He doesn't turn His face away from the ugliness life can bring. I think He moves in a little closer when we cry out to Him.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to His total acceptance of me in my broken state. I'll think about how He is not afraid to be near me, doesn't avoid looking at my broken life. My thoughts will be on how He doesn't stand and stare like people do - He loves. He cares. He reaches in and heals my brokenness - even if it's just enough to get me through to the next emotional crisis! (lol) I'll meditate on his nearness today and I'll move just a bit closer to Him and let myself trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Confessions for the "Greatly Afraid"

One of the difficulties of being a full-time caregiver is that life continues around you. It can seem like everyone else's life gets to continue while yours stopped. One example for me, is with my daughter. I figure for her, not only did she lose her brother in this accident, she also lost her mother to caregiving.

So at least once a year, my daughter and I head out of town to have some time together. This was that weekend, and of course, we had a wonderful time together! But then, I still have to come home to the harsh reality of the day-to-day.

As I'm trying to roll out of bed this morning to get the day going, I open my Bible to Psalm 34, no reason really, that's just where it opened to. But I'm glad it did because I gleaned enough to get me through today as I try to get back into the swing of things and catch up with caregiving tasks and work. There are several things that stuck out in the psalm, so we may break it down over the week.

The first part of the psalm stood out to me because the psalmist David took a stand. To set the background we have to consider when this psalm was written. The story behind it is in 1 Samuel 21. David was still running from Saul and in verse 12 it states that he greatly feared king Achish. He literally acted like he was crazy to throw everyone off so he could get away. For me, it's important to realize David had real emotions. He wasn't like a super hero - he was human. The man we recognize as a great warrior wasn't just a little nervous, he was greatly - afraid. And it seems this psalm was born from those moments.

In the first part of the psalm, David makes two declarations. In verse one he says I will bless the Lord. And in verse two, he says My soul will make its boast in the Lord. This can be a game changer for caregivers, as well as for anyone else. There are times when no matter what is going on all around us we have to stand up and say - I will and my soul will....

Today as I shift out of "off work" mode and back into where's my cape mode, I needed to read this. I need to declare that my soul is going to trust in the Lord and that my lips will praise Him, even in the midst of a rocky situation.

Today, my declaration will be I will bless His name, I will praise Him. My soul will rejoice in all He has done. I will turn my thoughts to how He walks this out with me and doesn't abandon or leave me alone. I'll praise Him for the things I see Him working in my life - and thank Him for the things He has not yet done. My meditations will be on how I can bless His name and praise Him today. I'll once again acknowledge Him as God over my life and my soul and I will thank Him. I'll trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What's That in Your Eye?

There are many aspects about caregiving that are just flat out difficult. It's not for the fainthearted or weak, that's for sure! :-)
Each day can have its own challenges that only caregivers understand. But one thing that I feel is a prevalent battle is the social isolation. My social life is virtually non-existent. And for those who can get out some - it's an understatement to say it's way different from BC (before caregiving).

I can only share how I feel, and maybe it's just me, but I can feel like an insignificant bump on the face of the earth. Not only do I not have a social life, but I feel like I am more of a burden on society than a contributor. There are times I have to stay completely off social media because it can trigger a battle with depression.

BC I was a goer. I loved to travel, I loved to go. I was always hiking, exploring, driving new roads and finding new adventures wherever I was. For me, when I see people posting pictures of their latest vacation, or weekend getaway to the beach, I can start to feel even more isolated and deprived. The caregiver doesn't always have the freedom to go and do like we'd like to.

Yesterday, I found out some decisions about my parents had been made without my input. It wasn't really a bad decision, it just hurt that I wasn't a part of it. Does that make sense? Not only was this decision made without my participation - it basically cut me out of the decision--making process for the future as well. Not really that big of a deal. However, it drove me into a deeper aloneness that seemed to swallow me whole.

It felt as though I was being told one more time - just be your son's caregiver - you are not important. I felt rejected, not needed. Insignificant.

As I awakened this morning, these feelings of insignificance were still swirling around in my head. I struggled to make some sense of it, to find a way to wash it away. So I asked God what He thought. I asked, Am I also insignificant to You? My immediate thought  - I'm sure He whispered it to me - was that I am the apple of His eye.

Now I am familiar with the phrase from scripture but I had to look it up. David prayed in Psalm 17:8 for the Lord to keep him as the apple of His eye. I noticed one translation said the daughter of the eye. Since I'm a girl - I liked that! Then in Zechariah 2:8, God told the prophet that He would protect Jerusalem and that whoever touches her was touching the apple of His eye. I smiled. It felt like God was trying to tenderly tell me He's got me.

I may feel isolated. I may feel socially unacceptable. I am different - and I'm okay with that. Caregivers are still human, you know! (Even though we've been known to pull off some pretty-near super human feats! - where's my cape? lol) We still feel. We can still contribute. It's just different. And even though family, friends and society may feel differently about caregivers - God doesn't.

Well, maybe He does. Maybe, just maybe He pulls us in a little closer, protects us a little more closely, and speaks tenderly to us a little more often. Because caregiving doesn't remove us from being an object of His love.

Today I'm going to look at God knowing I am what is in His eye. My meditations will be on His unchanging love and tenderness toward me. I'll turn my thoughts to how He holds me, He loves me even in my craziness. In my loneliness he hasn't abandoned me. I'll think about how He's walking this out with me day after day. He doesn't quit when it gets ugly. My pain is not repulsive to Him. I am not repulsive to Him. He cares. And with that, I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Slightly Irregular

Did you ever shop at an outlet mall and find great deals on clothing marked slightly irregular? Usually they function just as well as other items, but some little something was missing, or didn't look exactly like most. To say the caregiver's life is slightly irregular is perhaps a great understatement, but our lives, our norm - is very different from the rest of the world. Everything we do centers around what's best for someone else and we shape our days around their needs.

Virtually everything we do is different from our daily chores, eating schedules, bathing routines to outings (if we can do them). Many caregivers can do some normal things - but there's so much more planning that goes into some of life's simplest chores. Just going to the grocery store can require lots more work for a caregiver. You may have to deal with equipment, take certain supplies, load and unload a chair into a handicap van, or you may be unable to go at all. Life's simplest chores can be quite complicated.

With lives so "different" it can start to feel like you stick out like a sore thumb. Nothing is normal for caregivers. Sometimes, I think about getting out even to do something simple like going to the store, and I get tired just thinking about all I have to do to make that happen. So I stay home. That's happened to me more than once.

If we are not careful, we can slip into feeling like our lives don't matter at all. We can feel like a slightly irregular pair of jeans that just don't fit right, slightly off. Everything can become uncomfortable. That's when I start looking for something, anything "normal."

My days look different, my job looks different, my whole life looks different. But God looks at caregivers with the same love He looks at everyone. The price Jesus paid is the same for us as for the rest of the world. There are no lines in the Kingdom of God to separate out caregivers and their loved ones. We are still part of His kingdom, we are still His children, we are still His beloved.

This is a common theme throughout these devotions because I have to bring myself back here often. But our standing in the Kingdom of God did not, will not and cannot change when we become caregivers. Our callings are still in tact, our giftings are still the same and everything afforded His children - is still ours. Even though we live a slightly irregular life, every scripture still applies to us. Caregiving doesn't exempt us from anything!

Today I will meditate on the fact that God is still my King, my God, my fortress, my Savior. I'll turn my thoughts to the things in the Kingdom that don't  change with caregiving. I'll think about His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His love today. I'm going to let Him be my rock today. I'll meditate on this scripture nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, the Lord knows those who are His. I'll rest in the truth that He knows I am His. And I will let that carry me through today and I will trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Some Things Never Change

There's an old country song I thought of this morning. It goes something like some days are diamonds, some days are stones some days the bad times won't leave me alone. Ever have one of those days? Ever have a series of those days?

It's funny (odd - not haha) that one day I can be so depressed and down and the next wake up ready to take on the world once again. It may be the fact that as caregivers there's not really any other choice so we suck it up and keep moving forward.

I've often wondered if I was spiritually schizophrenic since I can have it all together one second and totally lose it the next. (I'm sure I'm the only one who has EVER felt this way!) One second I'm totally resting and trusting in Him - and the next I'm so angry with God and have tons of questions I'm hurling at Him. God is so patient with me. He really is big enough to carry us - to carry me along with all my baggage. My stuff will never be bigger than Him - even if it seems to be in my own eyes.

Isn't it far too easy to get distracted though? We don't even have to try. Our list of daily duties is so long it embarrasses others who claim to be "busy."  You know it's true! Just taking care of another whole person is a full-time job. We typically do double of everything, especially when there are specific special needs.

On top of caregiving, many have jobs and other responsibilities, it can be quite overwhelming. Since we juggle so many things it makes sense that it can all crash in on us with the slightest misstep. Because we are fearless caregivers - we can reshuffle, pick up the mess and find a way to carry on....at least most days. Other days (I can only speak for myself) it comes crashing in around me and I just sit and stare. Eventually, I'll figure it out, brush myself off, roll up my sleeves and get going again.

In the hecticism of caregiving I can get lost in the shuffle. I lose my focus and forget....a lot of things. But this morning as I got up early to read my Bible I was reminded of a couple of things. Somehow, I ended up in Exodus 34:14. The NLT I have says this: He is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you. I thought about that for awhile because I can be blinded by caregiving and forget the basics.

Caregiving can be big and looming. It can be blinding and numbing. It's so daily. It never lets up. But this morning I'm reminded of a simple truth. He really does love us - and our situations do not change that unending love. His mercy is forever. I'm reminded of a scripture in particular:

Your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

As quirky as we can be, He never gives up on us. He is always reaching for us and extending His love and mercy toward us. He really is faithful even when we are not.

Today I am going to try to stay focused on His faithfulness rather than my unfaithfulness. I will direct my thoughts to His love and meditate on His endless mercies toward me. I'm not sure how He continues to love me in my craziness, but I'll think about how patient He is with me. And I'll be thankful that He never gives up! And with that I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, February 20, 2017

I'm No Job

Let me just get this out there - I'm no Job!  I've been thinking about him a lot and how his response to trouble when it comes is very much NOT like mine. I whine a lot more than he does and honestly, praise doesn't come that easy. Oh, I finally get there - but I always seem to take the long way around.

When Job's trouble started he went straight to his knees; and when it got even more complicated He worshiped. I did not. He seemed so at peace with his life whether he could physically see God's blessings or was standing there stripped bare. Job said we need to take both good and bad from the hand of the Lord. And he said that when things were bad.

For a long time now I've noticed that people tend to say "God is good" only when things go their way. You know, they get a raise, their loved one escapes a horrific wreck, a kid graduates from college, or someone gets healed. Why is it we don't hear that when someone gets fired, a loved one is injured in a car crash or a kid drops out of college? lol I notice we only  say it when the world is on our side.

Here stands Job who was more than just a wealthy man. His "friend" Eliphaz describes Job in the first part of chapter 4 as one who encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God and as one who supported the weak. Yet here he stands with empty hands and broken body still trusting God. Now sadly, I cannot say I've done that.

This weekend was a series of events that left me emotionally drained and fighting off a cloud of depression. I'll spare you the details because I assume as caregivers you've at least been there on occasion. For me it's  about the time some things seem to be coming together, my son makes improvements, work is constant and I am keeping up and this very abnormal life is chugging along decently, then some little cog gets stuck and I get stuck once again. I stomp around a bit, shake my fist at God for letting this happen to me and my family, and just get overall grumpy.

It seems the whole point of Job's test was to see if he would curse God to His face. But Job did not. He continued to trust, continued to praise, kept on worshiping, and did not waiver in his faith. I on the other hand, when I crash like I did this weekend, eventually come back around to trust and worship. Maybe my trip through emotional distress back to worship isn't taking quite as long as it used to, but I still crash and take that little journey. I can definitely say I am no Job. But I am getting there. Slowly.

Today, rather than condemning myself to die a thousand deaths (lol) I'm going to encourage myself to worship. I'll turn my focus to the things I've seen God do rather than what I think He's not doing. And even though it's not been my immediate response, I'll say with Job blessed be the name of the Lord. I'll remind myself that God is good period, no matter what happens in the day of a caregiver's life. I'll meditate on His goodness, His forgiveness, and His never-ending mercy toward me today. And for just one more day - I'll lay aside my emotions and worship Him for who He is - not for what I want. I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Actionable Items

Nothing new around here. I woke up this morning with my mind going 900 miles an hour. It seems there's been so much going on. But of course, that's nothing new for the caregiver, right?

Today I have a new aide - just for Fridays. His other one comes the other three days of the week on schedule all the time - but for some reason can't seem to show up on Fridays consistently. It's one of  the frustrations we have to endure from time to time. Why can't people just do their jobs? It would be so beneficial. But with a new aide that as to be "certified" to do my son's range of motion which means another nurse visit; it complicates my morning schedule. Again.

But this is the new normal.

So this morning I got up and reached for my Bible and thumbed through a few pages looking for a morsel that would carry me through the day. I ended up back at a familiar psalm. It's one I've clung to for years and don't plan on moving away from anytime soon.

Psalm 46 starts and ends with powerful statements. Even though I've read it countless times it still fills my heart. The first verse God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. I still run to Him as my refuge - and I still rely on Him for my strength. And I've always loved the phrase very present. That's a powerful combination I think. I can hide in Him - He gives me strength and He is always present with me.

Now here's the thing - these are what I'm going to call actionable items. At work we do a lot of analysis on websites and we look for areas we can take action on. What can we do? So as I am looking at this favorite verse of mine, I'm seeing my part too. God is always present - that's His part. He is there. He is here. He is period. My part is to go to that refuge and rest. Trying to rest can actually be a lot of work, especially for caregivers!

But further on down in verse 10 we'll find a couple more actionable items. Verse 10 says to be still. That in itself can be a tall order for high strung, Type A individuals such as myself. But it also says know.  We can take action on both of these - we can stop striving, or be still and just know that He is God. No matter what life throws at us or what a day brings He is still God. And in the craziness of the day I have before me - I'm going to do just that.

Today I'm going to work at being still. I'll meditate on the truth that He is God and nothing can dethrone Him. Nothing interrupts His kingship. This means I can always run to Him. My meditations for today will be on his presence in my hectic crazy life. And I'll turn my thoughts to hiding in Him as my refuge. I'll work (take action) on my soul - by quieting it before a holy God. And I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Slightly Inconvenienced

This week I've been trying to make arrangements for my upcoming trip. This is the fourth year for my daughter and I to take a weekend away. Sometimes it's so difficult to get out for a day or two. Of course, this planning is on top of all the normal daily stuff I have to do.

I had the weekend all lined out and at the last minute, the sitter for Friday cancelled on me. I was just shy of frantic, a little bit desperate and had to fight off depression's tightening grip.

Times like those start my mind going in a whirlwind. I felt like I was inconveniencing everyone. I'm not a person who likes to ask for help often, and most of the time I'd just as soon do it myself. But I can't sit and get out both! lol It's the curse of independence - sometimes good and sometimes bad.

First of all, I hate to ask for help, but you know there are always people who say Call me if you need anything. But they really don't mean it. Well, they seem to mean it until you call, right? Then it's this or that excuse and for me, it can feel like I am really disrupting their lives. So, I just don't ask. It's honestly easier that way and no one (except me) is inconvenienced.

Caregiving is "slightly" inconvenient. For me, my world stopped with a phone call and never returned to normal. I was in Chicago enjoying life's adventure and headed to Africa the next January and it all screeched to a stop. Dreams crushed, life on "hold" I became a caregiver to my adult, now handicapped son. Not what dreams were made of in my teen years, you know? Not my picture of how life was supposed to turn out.

On one hand, caregiving is a joy - I'm glad I'm the one who gets to take care of my son. I do so because of the great love I have for him. Yet it is not convenient to get things done - fight with agencies and providers, work with lazy aides, and just make it through anything-but-routine days.

As I was being engulfed in the dark cloud of depression yesterday and my emotions were running a muck, I had to think of all the ways God has provided over the years. I sat down with my Bible and coffee (that's a powerful duo!) and actually thought about crying. The tears were...right... there... but I find them useless.

I chose to give my "inconvenience" to God. I asked Him for help. And by the end of the day it had all worked out. Not only that, but future trips I may want to take are covered too. (And it's going to save me some money!)

Once again I'm reminded even in the midst of my frustration that my help comes from the Lord. Nurses, aides, case managers and even family are not my "help." Psalm 121 says I will look to the Lord who made heaven and earth. 

Today my meditation will be on seeing Him as my help. I'll run to Him today with my cares once again. My thoughts will be on letting Him be my strength - instead of trying to be my own. Today I will work on letting Him be my peace. I won't ask Him for peace and then walk away wringing my hands.  I'll rest and let Him work today as I trust Him and rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Question Queen

My Uncle Calvin always said to "follow peace." I was thinking of that this morning when I got up and my mind was a whirlwind of questions, planning and just getting ready to face another very busy day. (Ha - like that's something new, right?)

My first thought was of the scripture when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples and He stood up and said to the storm, "Peace, be still." I was longing for Him to speak those words to my heart this morning.

On my way to finding that passage, I found myself in Matthew 19. In verse 16 the story of the rich, young ruler begins. I found it interesting so I camped there for a bit. Now, those who know me, know I am the Question Queen. I have a question for just about everything. It can be rewarding sometimes - and a burden other times.

I hadn't realized how many questions were in this passage. The young ruler starts by asking Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus answered him with a question - Why are you asking me about what is good? And then answered the initial question by telling the young ruler to keep the commandments.

Now as I recall, there are only 10 commandments Jesus was referencing, but the young man bravely asked which ones? Jesus was patient. I would have smacked the guy and asked him which ones he really didn't want to keep. I found it interesting that Jesus only quoted the ones which dealt with how we treat others. He didn't mention the Sabbath or idols. And of course the (somewhat cocky in my opinion) ruler said he had already kept those and then he asked another question - What am I lacking?

Jesus answered that question too - He told the ruler to sell all you have, give to the poor and follow Me. I'm guessing the young man didn't like that answer any better than the other ones he got. It said he was saddened because he was very rich. Jesus says to this that it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.

Now the disciples have a question - Then who can be saved?  Jesus says that all things are possible with God. This tells me that peace is possible!

With this, I've come back around to my original search - peace. My only question is how do I get it? And the answer is that God gives it freely. Jesus said in John 14:27 that He gives us peace. And it's not a worldly peace that fluctuates like the stock market! It's an ever-abiding peace that stills the storms in our hearts. Now the interesting thing is that Jesus keeps giving us things to do. After He says He has given us peace, He says Do not let your heart be troubled.

Now on one hand, I want to walk away scratching my head like the ruler asking how can this be? But on the other hand - I want to let this peace reign in my heart. So even if Jesus speaks peace to the storm like He did in the boat - it's up to me to learn how to walk in it. And that will be my task for today.

Today I will meditate on the peace he gives. I'll take my eyes off the tumultuous storms and focus back on Him. I'll quiet my soul and listen for His peace. And I'll choose to rest right there. My meditation will be on how to walk in His peace when everything is topsy turvy. I'll work on keeping my heart from being troubled.. and rest in Him for one more day.... will you join me?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grand Central Station of the Busy Mind

This morning is no different than most mornings really. Juggling work and caregiving basically means I have two full-time jobs. So all these tasks are running around in my mind as I'm trying to organize my day. There is bathing, wound care, cooking, pureeing, juicing, feeding, therapy, and tons of things to do for my son, as you well know. Add to that thoughts about when it is the nurse is coming and should I keep this or that appointment, when is he going to get Jevity (yes - we are playing that game again!) etc.

Then on the work front, I need some extra money for a trip my daughter and I have planned for next weekend so I need to pick up a couple extra projects.... more time involved. Juggling who gets work done first (after my full-time job commitment).... should I even try to sleep? lol Welcome to Grand Central Station of the Busy Mind.

I'm dedicated to getting back to my morning devotions though, so this morning I opened my Bible to where I left off yesterday morning, Psalm 73. My eyes went straight for the last verse and I just camped out there. Verse 28 says this:

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all Your works.

I have thought a lot about the first 2/3 of this verse and how good it is when God draws near. And how much better it is when I recognize it! The second part rings true in my heart too, having made Him my refuge for life. But sometimes it's easy to forget the third part - that I may tell of all Your works.

As a caregiver, I live in His refuge. I'm not sure there's another way to do it. Honestly, there are days I still struggle with anger over how He could have let this happen to my son. But overall - I always run back and let Him tuck me back up under the protection of His wings. Like David, I always return to that secret, intimate place. He is near, He is my refuge.

But that last third - that I may tell of all Your works. Sometimes I forget to focus on all He's done. It's easy for my mind to focus on this living grief, and the heaviness life has brought, not always so easy to see what He is doing in the midst. But I think this last thought is just as important as the other two - to tell of his works.

This means I need to take a minute to think about what He has done - not the ways I feel He has failed me. So here's a brief list of some of the works of God in this caregiver's life:

I've seen His divine provision - never missed a meal
He has NEVER left me - even when I was a brat!
His peace is tangible at times
He's reassured me that our souls are protected in Him...we are never lost.
His word still speaks to my heart...and always will
He gives me strength to face each day
Holy Spirit still teaches me - I'm not a lost cause!
His word is deeper and richer than I could have imagined
He still nurtures me and cares for me...
He still gives me songs
He remains faithful...
He is still my rock...my hiding place
He has not moved.
He has not changed.
His throne is forever...

These are just a few of the things that came off the top of my mind. So today, I will let this be my meditation. I'll focus my thoughts on all his works. My thoughts will be on His faithfulness, His strength and His watchful care rather than my circumstances. I'll train my thoughts to stay on Him today as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me? What will you focus on about Him today?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Safe in His Embrace

It seems as if I've suffered a derailment of late and I'm struggling to get back on track. With my leg being injured I've had to have lots of help over the last three weeks as I haven't been able to transfer Chris by myself. My friend stayed a few days and my daughter stayed last week to help me out. On the weekends, people have been in and out to help get Chris up or lay him down. Needless to say, it's been a bit hectic, but I'm determined to be back up and going today and hopefully the knee will be nice.

This morning after I got my coffee and sat down I opened my Bible for my devotions and found this piece of paper tucked in Psalm 73. I use two or three Bibles regularly and didn't have a clue what this list of scriptures was in reference to, so I started at the top and read through them one by one looking for a common thread.

By the time I got to the last one on the list I was totally encouraged. I still don't have a clue as to why I started this list - but I'm glad I did. I took this handful of scriptures and turned them into my confessions for the day. In my mind they go something like this:

You are my shield and the One who holds my head up. (Ps.3:3)
You deliver me from my enemies...
You lift me up...
You rescue me...(Ps. 18:48)
Though I feel forsaken,
You will be here with me. (Ps. 27:10)
Your work (in me) is done in faithfulness. (Ps.33:3)
The Lord is the One who holds my hand (Ps.37:24)
My soul clings to You Lord, Your right hand (power) upholds me. (Ps. 63:8)
I am always with You- You hold my hand...(Ps. 73:3)

I'm guessing whatever it was I was studying it was centered around Him holding me. He holds my head up, holds my hand...... He holds me. Somehow I find comfort in that thought today. There's a line in a song I wrote many years ago that goes something like "Let Him hold you - safe in His embrace." That is going through my mind - He holds me - and I am safe there.

No matter what is going on around me, and we all know how crazy hectic a caregiver's day can be, He holds me safe in His embrace. The difficult thing for caregivers is letting Him, and resting there.

Today I'm going to meditate on being in His arms. I'll turn my thoughts to how He lifts me up and holds me. My meditations will be about His faithfulness to sustain me no matter what life throws at me. I will be quiet before Him today and will focus on resting in His embrace as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Caregiver's Worst Fear

As caregivers there can be many things that concern us, especially early on. When I first started the caregiving journey, I'd been jerked out of a "normal" life and dealt with a lot of confusion and fear about job, family, life, and simple day-to-day survival.

Over time, some of those fears subsided as I found a new normal - for caregiving - as normal as that can be. All along the way, I saw God provide. I learned to work online honing old skills and learning new ones. When I first brought my son home I was riddled with fear every single time I had to transfer him. I'd literally get sick to my stomach when it was time to get him up or put him in bed. My primary concern was dropping him or hurting him in some way.

There's been fear nearly every time something changed. Lots of questions about if I'm doing the right thing here or making the right choice there. I'm sure you are nodding your heads in recognition. We've all been there; and sometimes still are. (I'm speaking for me at least!)

Can I provide? 
Am I enough?
Will I make mistakes?
Which agency is best?
Should I replace this aide?
Is this the best doctor for my son?

We've all had lots of questions - lots of concerns - many fears. But the last couple of weeks I've begun to realize my greatest fear. I injured my leg on an 8-mile trail run. I tripped and jammed my knees straight into the ground. While I was laying there like a beached whale, other than wondering how I was going to get up, and wondering how bad I was hurt, I wondered how I was going to be able to take care of Chris. 

I often think about getting older and how it's going to look. Will I know when it's time to quit if that happens? Will we both move into a nursing home together? lol - Sounds funny, but it's a reasonable expectation. 

As I have had to call in some babysitters for me the last three weeks, and been largely confined to my recliner and find it difficult to move around, I've had time to think about a lot of things. It's been unsettling to say the least - I am somewhat anal and don't like my norms to be tampered with! lol But I've figured it out with the help of my daughter and a few others who have chipped in to help. I've made it - my son and I have both survived and soon I'll be free of my babysitters. But the fear remains. The what ifs are still lingering in the back of my mind.

Maybe my fears are different than yours - maybe they are the same. Maybe mine are more numerous than yours, or maybe not. But I'm sure there are many discussed and not discussed. What are we supposed to do with that? What do we do when anxieties increase? Take them back to Him.

Two weeks ago I could barely walk and many of my fears seemed to become reality. But I'm nearly through the rough part of the trial and starting to settle back into my norms. I realize all is good - I lived. Chris lived. We worked it all out. Hindsight can be a true learning experience.

I've learned that no matter what - I'm going to run to Him and He will carry me when necessary. It might even be His preferred mode of transportation. (smile) No matter what mess I create or what I face He is there to walk through it with me - even in spite of me sometimes. The world didn't end because I hit a rough spot. Even though my life flashed before my eyes at one point - I've lived to provide more film for a later date. lol

I don't have to worry about being enough because He's got this one. He's got me. I don't have to worry about tomorrow. He's already been there. It's never as bad as it seems - and there's always a way through it. That doesn't mean it's easy; doesn't mean it's short. But there's always a way.

Today I'm going to turn my thoughts back to how I've seen God provide. I'm going to meditate on His ever abiding presence and strength. I'm going to think about having confidence in the truth that He has a hold of me, and He's not letting go. I'll take comfort in the fact that I don't have to deal with but one day at a time - that's how He set it up. I'll relinquish my fears to Him today and let Him care for me. I'm casting all my cares over to Him He can shoulder the burden. I'm geared up to trust Him, to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?