Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Best Meeting

 


I know I've written quite a few times about Hagar, but her story intrigues me. I think I can relate to the rejection and loneliness she must have felt. In numerous devotions, I've talked about how God met her right where she was. She did have God "find" her twice. But there are other people in the scriptures that God met too.

The list is a bit longer when we start thinking about how many times God met someone along the way. Twice He came and ministered to Hagar, He met Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), He met Balaam and stopped him before he sinned against God (Numbers 22). Jesus went through Samaria on purpose to speak with the woman at the well. He crossed two taboos in their time - going through Samaria and speaking to a woman! (John 4) He walked out to the disciples in a storm in Matthew 8. And the Angel of God came to Gideon when he was hiding from the Midianites in Judges 6.

It's easy for today's religious thinkers to label these Bible characters with negative terms and ideas. Gideon is often said to have no faith - but he is listed in Hebrews 11 among the faith giants. The disciples in the storm are obviously frightened. the woman in Samaria was a woman and unmarried - not worth anything to the religious leaders of the day. Hagar was rejected and we often hear Ishmael mentioned as a curse instead of a blessing. Saul was busy killing Christians. But God chose to meet each of these.

In Isaiah 64:4b-5 it says: ...nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways.

God goes out of His way to meet us. He didn't have to meet any of the above-mentioned people. He chose to. He went to those who were rejected and condemned by religion. He sought out those who thought they were beyond hope, beyond reach. Sometimes as a caregiver, the isolation tries to suffocate. It is easy to feel alone- because often - we are. It's easy to feel neglected or rejected by society because too many times- we are. But God will meet us - right where we are in our caregiving messes! lol

We can still wait for Him and He still acts on our behalf. He chooses to meet us in our pain, confusion, and even in our doubts and fears. He calms us, soothes us, comforts us, and often carries us. (Maybe it's just me!) It's the best meeting ever!

Today, I will look for Him to meet me right where I am. I will purposefully wait for Him today and look for Him in my day-to-day. My thoughts will be on how He chooses to walk this journey with me - He won't abandon. He won't reject. He remains faithful even in caregiving. I'll watch Him move in my life today - will you join me in waiting on Him today?


                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Living Grief

Eli waling beside Chris' chair

 As caregivers, many of us deal with daily grief and a constant sense of loss. Even though we don't feel these emotions all of the time, they do keep coming back. For me, mine is often sparked by seeing something on my Facebook feed. I'll see one of Chris' friends or a memory and it'll tip my emotional bucket right over. Living grief is one of those things the church doesn't know how to deal with. Well, honestly, who really knows how to deal with it? It's not just going to go away, now is it? :-)

In some hyper-faith circles, grief is pretty much forbidden. Yet even under the old law, it was allowed room. If you lost a close loved one such as a spouse, parent, or sibling, you were given an entire year to mourn. Our culture allows a little time, but then we are expected to be back at work, back at church, or back to our daily lives after a very short time. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But living grief continues. When we deal with parents who have dementia or Alzheimer's, we grieve over who they were even though they are still with us. Many of us are caregivers of children or other family members who suffered injuries in an accident. They are still here, but who they were is gone. Some such as one of my dear friends care for children who have needed intense care since birth. They grieve over children who haven't had the opportunity to even begin a normal life.

Grief is real. It is constant for many. Grief can be debilitating. Yet day after day we climb out of the cave to provide for our loved ones. Oftentimes, we do this while carrying a load of grief that doesn't ever quite go away. It's there. Nagging. I find it easier to work through and get past as time goes on. But it returns over and over to taunt my heart.

How do we overcome such a sense of loss? Is there no end? Usually, I pull up a few scriptures to help me work through them. Stuffing the emotions will cause a giant explosion eventually. So, I pour out everything in my heart to God. I tell Him exactly how I feel It's not like He doesn't know, right? 

Then I begin to remind myself that He gave us THE Comforter. And He walks alongside us. He is here to help us carry our load day after day. I can toss all my cares and concerns over on Him and ask Him for comfort, peace, and wisdom to make it through each day. (Or each hour...or each minute.) Somehow - He always answers and carries me when I need Him most. God is Faithful.

Today, I'll remind myself that no matter where my emotions run - my heart always runs back to Him. My meditations will be on His Faithfulness and how He keeps our souls. I'll think about how He continues to walk through time with us, by choice. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 


Friday, March 26, 2021

Who Really Knows?

 


I was a bit chilly a while ago, so I went to my closet to grab a hoodie. I chose one to put on and glanced at the totes that contain my writing. Honestly, my first thought was what would happen once I die. I'm not being morbid, but I am getting older, so lighten up. lol. Then I wondered if people would read my writings and if they would know me a little better. Will people be able to understand my heart and see past my caregiving status? 

Some of my writings rolled around in my head and I wondered what people who think they know me might think after reading them. When I write, my tendency is to put my whole heart into it. Especially in my journal - I don't hold anything back. Then I had this wonderful thought. My writings reveal who I am, what I think, how I feel. And the Word does the same thing. It reveals Who God is, what He thinks, how He feels. All I have to do is read it.

This makes me think of Psalm 103. It says He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. His acts are of course, what He does. But His ways are who He is. A lot of people know what we do. Most people tend to look at us only as caregivers - they forget that we are real people with real dreams, desires, and needs. Do we sometimes look at God and consider only what He does - and not who He is? 

The children of Israel only knew what God could do. He parted the Red Sea, made the bitter water sweet, and kept them alive in the desert all those years. And you know what? He does that for us too! He makes the bitter water of caregiving sweet with His presence and care. He parts Red Seas for us every day. He keeps us alive both naturally and spiritually as we walk through our day-to-day. It's wonderful to know Him as the One who acts on our behalf, strengthens us, and often carries us through our journies.

While Moses was very aware of all the things God did (His acts) - he also knew Who He was. Moses knew the character of God, His likes and dislikes, His mercies, and the why behind His actions. Moses knew that God was passionate about a relationship with His people. (Exodus 34:14 NLT) He knew more than just what He could do - even though His works were (and are) mighty! 

When we read the word, we learn so much more about God and His ways - we'll see His deeds too, of course. But just like you would learn more about me and what makes me tick by reading my writings, we learn more about God and what makes Him tick by reading the word.

Today, I will take a  few extra minutes to get lost in the Word. I'll think about what it means to know God's ways and not just His deeds. I'll be thankful for His kindness, patience, grace, and mercy. I'll thank Him that even when I don't see what He's doing - I know He's still present in my day. And I'll trust Him with my today - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Day by Day


 I'm sorry for not keeping up with the blog better than I have. Once again, I'm working on redoing my schedule so that it's a regular part of my mornings. If anyone understands how quickly days get out of hand and are gone, I know it's you guys, my fellow caregivers. My schedule has been rather messed up with this new aid. He keeps changing his time and it drives me batty. lol - I'm a bit OCD like that. If you say you're going to be here at 8 - I rearrange my morning to accommodate. But then he comes at 8:15 or even 8:30. Honestly, it's very frustrating. It's sad too that I actually feel like I have more time to get things done when he's not here. So, I'm back to taking everything day by day. But then, we live like that don't we?

It's okay because God is a day-by-day God too. He says that His mercies are new each morning. Yet it is always day for Him - He knows no "morning" except for ours. He must create new mercies on a day by day basis just for us. Isn't that a beautiful thought? Whenever I can drag myself out of bed - His mercies are there waiting on me and ready to carry me through the day. 

I love it that He is never confused by the crazy twists and turns the caregiver's day can make. God never asks, "What just happened?" He's already in the change and making a way for us to navigate through it. Nothing surprises Him or catches Him off guard. He truly is the ever-present help in trouble that the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 46. He doesn't take days off - and never dozes off on the job. He's right here with us in our day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute, ever-changing days. 

You know what else? He isn't thrown off by my crazy emotional roller coaster rides either. Maybe it's just me - but I can be happy and feeling great one second and overcome with living grief the next. (It's just me - right?) It never surprises Him. He doesn't need to stop to catch His breath or try to figure out which way our emotions turned. Even if they take a dive, He is there to catch us, to hold us, to comfort us, and help us work through them. 

Today, I will think about how God is right here and very present in my day to day. I'll thank Him for not running away from this crazy loopy ride life has me on. My meditations will be on His ever-abiding presence no matter what I face. I'll embrace His mercies for today - will you join me?




                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 



Monday, March 15, 2021

But I Have Today


Do you ever have days that are just heavier than others? Of course, you do - who am I talking to? Saturday was Chris' 37th birthday. For some reason, it was unusually hard as I thought of where all his friends are today. You know, married, having kids, and enjoying their careers. I cried more than once that day. I grieved over what should have been, what could have been. 

I hugged him a little tighter and thought about the progress he's made recently. The other night, I am certain he "sang" to me after I got him in bed. It was the sweetest thing and I posted it in his Facebook group where I share things I don't feel I can share as "publicly." He's moving more and initiating more of his movement on his own. There are many things to rejoice about.

At the same time, I am getting older. My joints hurt and I wonder how much longer I can take care of him. I fear the day that I won't be able to. This is the way the rest of my life looks, and I am okay with that. But before I let the fears settle in, I started thinking about what we have right now. Who knows what the future will bring for any of us, right? I certainly didn't dream of being here taking care of my adult son with a TBI years ago. It wasn't in my plans. 

So, I shifted my thinking before my thoughts betrayed me and dragged me down into the dark, caregiver's cave. I began to think about what I have with Chris today. As I shifted my focus to how far he's come - and all he's doing now. I maybe can't manage the future since it's not here yet. But I can manage today. Just today, I can handle that.

Jesus said in Matthew 6, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. I do not know what the future may hold for me or for my son - but I do know that I have today. 

Today, I will shift my thinking over to being thankful that I can take care of my son. I'll thank God for giving me the strength - just for today. My thoughts will be on how He has strengthened and carried me this far - and He's not going to abandon me here. He has proven Himself faithful in the most difficult circumstances - and He will not be changing that today! So, I will trust Him just for today. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Self-Reminders

 


Are there days you get lost in the shuffle? Who am I talking to? lol - As caregivers, it can feel like we are always lost in the shuffle. We can get lost in taking care of our loved ones and forget who we are. It took me a long time to be able to figure out things I liked - and just as long to allow myself to enjoy them. It was quite a while after the tragedy and trauma of Chris' wreck that I was able to feel okay about laughing and smiling. Eventually, I learned it was okay for me to live too - even while being a caregiver.

But it's so easy to get caught up in their care that it becomes our identity. Right? Or is it just me? Before the pandemic, I tried going to a local church. I enjoyed it - even though I had a little attitude about it. It was very difficult to get both of us ready and out the door to be on time. Sometimes I heard myself think, boy, this better be worth it. lol. I'm sure I'm the only one. But what troubled me is that they couldn't see past me being a caregiver. While it was touching that they had compassion and genuine care for our situation, they couldn't see the teacher, the worshiper, the prophet inside. 

Caregiving changes us. There's no argument about that. I'm thankful for most of the changes I've seen in myself. A few I'm a little worried about. (smile!) But ultimately, I'm still me. I still like to be outside more than I like to be indoors. I like hiking, biking, running, and plain old walking. And boy, what I wouldn't give for someone to play catch or football with right now! Ha. For real, y'all! I like to play board games and cards, hang out with friends (don't have many of those anymore), and watch good movies. But I realize all too often that all of that got lost in caregiving. Maybe it's not lost, just set aside or misplaced.

While I was thinking about all of this, and writing in my journal this morning, I realized it's easy for me to forget who I am. So, I certainly can't blame others for doing it, right? After I had poured out my heart and emotions on the pages, I concluded my journal entry with this prayer this morning.


Ephesians 2:6 was my reminder to myself that caregiver or not - I have been raised with Christ and I sit in heavenly places in Him. I must remind myself that He thought I was worth dying for. That He loves me before, after, and during caregiving. I tell myself He came for me. What a beautiful love story that unfolds for us. When we feel the rest of the world doesn't understand us - so they distance themselves from us - He came. He continues to come to us every single day - He walks this journey with us all the way.

Today, I will remind myself of His love, grace, acceptance, and presence. I may need to tell myself the same things over and over all day - but I'll repeat them until my heart gets it. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Monday, March 1, 2021

Sometimes

 


Most of the time, I hold it together well. At least to the point that no one knows what's really going on in my heart and mind. You, my dear readers, know more about my internal workings than pretty much anyone anywhere. :-)  But sometimes, it seems like I fall apart from the inside out. Sadness can come on randomly, or so it seems.

Like this morning. I woke up and remembered a dream. In the dream, Chris was sitting beside me on a couch and he turned his head and looked me eye-to-eye, and smiled. But it wasn't his brain injury half-smile that I've come to love. It was his full-on natural smile that I have missed. When I thought about the dream it brought a sense of great sadness to my heart. They (whoever they are) call it living grief. You experience a sense of loss for a person - but they are still here. They haven't died - even though the person they were is no longer with you. Many people who are caregivers for aging parents experience living grief too. Their parents suffer from dementia and are no longer the person they were. It's a difficult emotional set to deal with. You can't really move on, yet you must. That's where I am.

I was flooded with thoughts and memories of Chris BC (before caregiving). I recall who he was and how he was and it makes my heart smile. But it also brings sadness and a great sense of loss sometimes. How are we supposed to deal with this overflow of emotions as Christians? 

Start by taking a deep breath. Then go back to the basics. I make my mind run back through several truths.

  • God loves me. God loves Chris.
  • God has not abandoned us.
  • God sees.
  • God hears.
  • God is as close as my breath.
  • God's Spirit is my comforter.
I already feel better. The Sometimes are bound to happen on this type of road. But God is always there to pick me up, I love that about Him. It makes me think of a very weird scripture out of Ezekiel 16. In verse 6, it says when I passed by you, I saw you struggling in your own blood, - and I said, LIVE!

I'm so glad God sees fit to speak life into us when we feel the most lifeless. On those days the load feels so heavy, the road seems so long, we feel the most abandoned and alone... He says Live!

Today, I will shift my focus from my pain to His grace. For it is His grace that will carry me - and will carry you. My thoughts will be on His mercies that were new for me today - just so I could make it today. I'll get past this sometime and I'm sure there will be plenty more. But for today, I'll be grateful that He is in my today, in my sometimes, just to say, Live.  And live I shall - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace