Blessed Mess

Kyrie showing Chris himself in the mirror

 Not too long ago, I got out my old jewelry boxes and discovered several bracelets I had purchased back in my teaching days. I wore casual suits everyday and back then I liked to wear earrings and bracelets. I'd forgotten how much I liked my bracelets, so it brought me a small amount of joy to start wearing them again. 

One of the bracelets is silver and has a plate that reads, "Blessed." I had laid it aside and chosen some of the other ones to wear. This morning, I grabbed my "blessed" bracelet and slid it on and went about my morning. It turned out to be a true blessing. Funny how that works, huh? I thought about how blessed I am, just to be a child of God. I thought about how His word is still true even for caregiving. But then I also thought about what a mess I've made of a few areas of my life. Then, I smiled, as I thought, I guess I'm just a blessed mess, then.

I am so thankful that God didn't make His word or His promises void for caregivers. It still stands. The Kingdom is still the Kingdom. Salvation through Christ is still our foundation. If we were not caregivers, there would still be other things to shake our world - and God did not make any exclusionary statements for caregivers or for those who struggle with other areas of life. I love that! His grace didn't stop reaching when caregiving began - we can still find grace to help in the time of need, no matter what that need looks like. We also still have new mercies that come with each new morning. God still has us covered. (Hebrews 4:16, Lamentations 3:22,23)

Today, I'll remind myself that every word in His Word still applies to me. He still draws near the brokenhearted, He hears when I call, and He sees even the most hidden intricate parts of my being - and chooses to love me still! I love that God chooses to walk with us on our journeys and literally nothing is off-limits to His grace. This will be my meditation as I thank Him for one more blessed messy day! Will you join me? (Psalm 34:18)

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Just Released and Published on Amazon!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!



Anchor-Holding Strength

Chris in the van

Many of us have read the story of Job many times. It always raises a lot of questions, doesn't it. We may wonder why a righteous man has to go through such terrible time. I've asked why God allowed it in the first place. Yet it says that Job was righteous and never blamed or accused God during his struggles. I know loss, most caregivers do. But I can't imagine losing literally everything in a day. Job lost his family - all of his children and all of his wealth. Yet it was going to get a lot worse before it would get better.

Last week, in my Facebook Live devotions, "Peace Out," I talked about the last chapter in Job, and how he blessed God before he was healed. In Chapter 42 verse 2, Job acknowledges that God's plans and purposes cannot be redirected, avoided, or changed. To trust that God still had purpose and a plan for him in his dire circumstances is quite a huge step of faith. That really got ahold of me last week.

But this morning, as I was thinking about it again, I thought about how Job reacted when his circumstances changed. His response, I believe, was what anchored his heart to God's. It may very well be what helped him come through the difficult season in his life still trusting God.

In chapter 2, right after his whole life came crashing down around Job, he says, blessed be the name of the Lord. Praising God in that moment, may have been a natural response for Job, but I can say it's not always that way for me. Oh, I always work back around to it - but in the moment with emotions flaring - I usually falter first. But when our hearts are anchored to God's - we will come back to trusting Him. We do it all the time - every day for most of us. 

Staying anchored to God in the good times helps us stay closer to Him in the more difficult times. We know times change, right? Circumstances can change on a dime. The moment we are in right now (good or bad) can be totally different in just a few minutes. But God remains the same. When we anchor our hearts to His, we cannot be moved no matter what comes. That's what keeps me going, really. It is all about coming back to that anchor of hope all day long every day.

Today, my meditations will be on anchoring my heart to His - and how He has wrapped my heart up in His. I'll remind myself that He did not change when I became a caregiver, and He's not going to start changing today! My thoughts will be on how His grace continues to be enough to carry me through each day. So, I'll commit to trusting Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Just Released and Published on Amazon!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


Difficult Choices

aunt polly and mama

 As caregivers, we often face difficult choices. It's not easy making decisions that directly affect our loved ones, but we do it all the time. We choose doctors, programs, aids, and tons of other things that affect their daily lives. But sometimes, our most difficult choices lie within.

I was reading in 2 Timothy this morning, where Paul assured Timothy that God didn't give a spirit of fear - but He does give us power, love, and a sound mind. Perhaps the most difficult choice we face on some days is God's peace, love, and grace instead of fear. While fear is going to come, it doesn't have to set up a home in our hearts or minds. David said in Psalm 56:3 whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. It wasn't a matter of facing fear or not - but of when he was going to face fear.

The enemy of our souls loves to stir up fear in us. (Maybe it's just me?) He'll come at us with all sorts of crazy thoughts that may or may not even be probable. Thoughts lead us into fear many times - if we follow. I'm not denying that we face many fearful things along our caregiving journey, that's for sure. But the devil likes to stir that pot a little bit if we let him, and then - he turns it around on us and accuses us of not trusting God. Smh. It can easily become a self-destructing cycle.

But here's the good news - even in the midst of fear, grief, pain, sorrow, and all the other emotions and feelings that come with caregiving - we don't have to let fear be in control. It can be turned around (sometimes are easier than others) as we remind ourselves that God didn't give us fear - He gives us peace. He also gives us sufficient grace. Turning it around involves the difficult choice of which we are going to let reign in our hearts and minds. God can give us peace all day - and He already has! But if we choose to embrace fear - that's on us.

Today, I choose to embrace God's peace even in the middle of my fears. I don't care how many times today I have to remind myself to replace fear with God's peace - I'm going to do it all day long. My declaration for today is the same as Davids. When I am afraid - I will trust God. I will remind myself that He is the keeper of my soul (mind, will, emotions). I'm not facing fear alone - I face it with the grace, love, mercy, and peace of God. That's some powerful ammo right there! I will keep reminding myself today that He has me - I can trust Him with today. Will you join me?

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Just Released and Published on Amazon!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Grit and Faith

My Aunt Mary talking to Chris at Thanksgiving

I love reading stories about people who have dug deep through the struggles life presented them and found themselves on the winning side. So many people we admire and consider to be successful got where they are today through some serious grit. When you mix grit and faith - it's a dynamic duo for sure! Most days, caregiving takes a certain measure of grit just to survive. It takes a lot of grit to choose to be a caregiver to begin with. The day-to-day grind then demands we stay gritty and get grittier, too!

Our Bible heroes had grit, too. Think about the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, and you'll find some gritty, faithful people listed there. People who held on to the promises of God no matter what life threw at them. Real people with real families who faced unimaginable circumstances and still held onto faith in God. Maybe it's not to the same degree or in the same arena, but caregivers do the same thing day after day. 

We choose not to face the day without God's help. Our hands are continually outstretched toward God while we expectantly wait for Him. We are furnace walkers, too. We face giants every day, too. Yet, we continue to trust that God will bring us through and continue to be our shield, our fortress, our peace, our strength, and our fill-in-the-blank-with-what-we-need-for-today God.

I believe grit and faith go hand in hand. It takes faith to continue to grit out our day-to-day lives. We have to choose to let His peace reign no matter what our eyes see or our heart feels. That's grit. We continue to run to Him every single day and let Him guide us. It's our faith that keeps leading us back to the heart of God. And true, determination and grit that keeps us there.

Today, I'll think about how God has walked with me on this caregiving journey. I'll thank Him for making a way when I was sure I was about to drown. My thoughts will be on how He continues to sustain my soul through each day and how He is truly present even in the mundane chores that have to be done each day. I'll think about how He watches my hands care for my loved one, He sees the heartbreak and joy, and He chooses to feel the sadness and grief with me. I'll remind myself that I am certainly not walking this path alone. I can trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Just Released and Published on Amazon!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Wake Up!

kyrie and chris at the park in Norman, OK

 I've had this popular praise song running through my head and heart for several days. It goes something like Awake, my soul, and sing His praise, sing His praise aloud! I decided I needed to find the verse that it was based on since I was certain it was a scripture. Funniest thing, I found it in one of my go-to, favorite Psalms. It wasn't Psalm 31 - which I used to write a devotional called 31 Days in Psalm 31... It was another go-to passage, Psalm 57.

I had memorized the first verse of the 57th Psalm in 1986, when I was so ill. It's remained one of my foundational scriptures even through caregiving. I use it as a prayer and as a reminder to trust God as my refuge day after day. So, I was a little surprised to find this verse nestled in familiar territory. Verse 8 says Away my glory! Awake harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. (NASB) 

One of the things that has become a norm in my caregiving journey is talking to myself. It's just part of the trip. I would call a family meeting - but I'd be the only one there anyway! Lol. I find it oddly satisfying and slightly amusing that David talked to himself, too. Well, what did you expect from someone who spent years in a cave running from Saul? We read how he encouraged himself in the Lord after the losses at Ziklag. I'd say he's a pretty good example for us caregivers. 

Today is a good day to remind ourselves that not one thing about God changed when we became a caregiver. We can still sing praise to our Creator. He is still merciful and faithful. He didn't make His peace, mercy, or grace off-limits to caregivers. Instead, He wraps us in them as He carries us through each day.

Today, I will remind my soul to sing God's praise. My meditations will be on how faithfully He's carried me to this spot, a place where I learn to trust Him more each day. I'll think about His all-sufficient grace that doesn't stop at the edge of caregiving but extends as far as we need it each day. I'll tell my soul to sing of the One who loves me right where I am. And I'll remind myself that He is still trustworthy. He knows me. So, I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Just Released!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day. One of my favorite quotes so far is from Day 25, "He knows how hard it is for a broken heart to trust, so He cradles it gently in His love." You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! It will also be published in print form on Amazon in the next few days. I'll let you know when it goes live!



Gratitude, Attitudes, and Altitudes

me writing in my journal with the baby cam on so i can watch chris

 Happy Thanksgiving to my caregiving buddies!! One thing I am thankful for is you, my readers. I'm thankful for each one of you who has taken the time over the years to send me a message, either publicly or privately, to tell me part of your story, too! We are all in this together, for sure.

Thanksgiving is more than just a one-day event where the world stops to eat and hang out with friends and family. It should be our lifestyle, really, especially as believers. It can be difficult on some days, given our caregiving situations, to be thankful. But I've found that if I can lift my gaze just a little about the suffocating circumstances, I can find something, anything to be thankful for. It always improves my mood and my attitude, even if the situation remains the same. 

Most mental health professionals in the world will even tell you that having a grateful attitude improves your mood and is healthy for your body. How much more effective is thankfulness when we address it to the One who truly cares for us?

My scripture for today is a popular one. You may be able to quote it yourself. It's Philippians 4:6-7. Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving (not the holiday!), let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ. (NKJV)

Today, I'll be giving God a long list of things I need and things I am thankful for. They can run simultaneously! I will turn my heart toward gratitude today and thank Him for carrying me through the caregiving years, struggles, joys, and pains. I'll also thank Him for you today. Thank you for reading along and continuing to seek God in the storm with me.

Accessible God

Me and my aunt polly

 This morning, I read another story about a family who couldn't keep their reservations at a restaurant for a special event simply because it was not accessible. They had done their due diligence, and the website, as well as the listings online, indicated the establishment was accessible. When they arrived for their special meal with the family, they found every single entrance had a series of steps that were NOT accessible by wheelchair. They had to cancel their reservation and find another place to eat. These types of circumstances can be so frustrating, and if we let them, they can socially paralyze us.

I know when we go visit a new place, there's always a chance we'll have to make alternate plans. We were told specifically by a hotel that our room was fully accessible, only to learn when we got there - that only meant it was on the first floor. Lol. Getting my son's chair in the door was another issue, and that was literally all we could do. He could not access anything past the bed by the door. It's socially crippling because we tend to give up on our pursuit of an accessible world.

As I was thinking about the issue this poor family had to deal with this morning, I thought about how there are absolutely no accessibility issues with God. The doors of heaven and the Kingdom, along with His heart, are always open and easy to access. So easy, in fact, that when our hearts turn to Him before we can even find a word to utter - we're in! He is always accessible, always available, always ready to hear our hearts. Nothing with God is off-limits.

As caregivers, we often find ourselves having to change our plans due to the absence of accommodations or accessibility. Far too many times, I choose to just stay home than try to figure out if and how I can get my son's chair into a home or business. We do not have to worry about that with God - no matter what.

If our hearts are broken - His door is open.

When we are distraught - His heart is open.

If our minds are racing - His mind is on us.

Even if we feel fear, doubt, or uncertainty - He's still standing at the door to welcome us in.

God never casts us aside or tells us He can't help us. The door is always wide enough for our heavy hearts, griefs, and anything else we need to carry to Him on any given day. He is accessible to us. I love that about God. People don't understand and turn us away without a sign of sadness - it can feel like they don't care at all. But God always welcomes. In fact, we have a standing invitation to meet with the King, and He never turns us down, changes the details, or reschedules. Day and night, middle of the night, middle of a storm, or in our peaceful sleep - He is there for us, accessible.

Today, I'll remind myself of God's constant watch care over us. I will think about how easy it is to just talk to Him and how I know He listens to all my whining, crying, and complaining and still doesn't close His doors to me. He waits for us to come to Him no matter what is going on in our lives at the moment. He's always there, glad to see us - always accessible. Today, I'll choose to use that accessibility, and I'll tell Him how thankful I am that He has stayed and will stay on this caregiving journey with me. I'll trust Him for today. Will you join me?


Blessed Mess

 Not too long ago, I got out my old jewelry boxes and discovered several bracelets I had purchased back in my teaching days. I wore casual s...