Emotionally Stranded

 


I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in the air concerning the main character. I couldn't just go to sleep wondering how his situation was going to work out. I kept thinking, just turn this off and find out tomorrow. But I discovered something about myself. I just simply couldn't walk away leaving the character (yes, I know he's fictional) emotionally stranded. There had to be a "happy ending," some sort of resolution or I wasn't going to sleep well.

It took me some time this morning to come to that conclusion - that I don't like leaving people emotionally stranded. In fact, it led me down a road of self-reflection and I realized I've landed myself in some sticky relationships and situations because I didn't want to emotionally strand others. The irony is that these types of relationships have left me emotionally stranded. Caregiving also leaves us emotionally stranded sometimes.

We can deal with social isolation. Abandonment. Loneliness. And we can take any number of other emotional journeys that can leave us stranded and devastated. 

I was reading Hebrews 13 this morning and in verse 5 it reminds us that God won't leave us. It also says He won't forsake us. God cannot leave us - because He is everywhere - He's literally got nowhere to go that He is not already there. But forsake is different.

Have you ever had someone with you and you knew that they weren't with you - they were just present? Being present is only half of the equation - the other half is being emotionally invested. God is not just with us - I'm thankful He never leaves! But He's emotionally invested in us and our caregiving journey. He's watching over our souls (mind, will, emotions) and keeping our souls wrapped in His peace. 

Think about how Jesus walked out to His disciples in the middle of the storm. He could have waited for the storm to stop. He could have waited for them on the other side - but He walked out to them just to calm the storm for them. He was in the same storm. He felt the same winds as He walked across the water. He experienced the same rain. He was with them and invested in them.

I'm so glad God is more than with us. 

Today, I'll remind myself that God is not just standing off watching from a distance. My thoughts will be on how He is purposefully walking on the troubled waters of my life - just to get to me. He's bringing His peace with Him. I'll think about how He is not afraid of my storm(s) - even the ones I cause myself! He comes to me with peace. He is my soul-provider and He will not leave me emotionally stranded. I can trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31

cover of 31 Days in Psalm 31

David was open and honest about his feelings and he tended to give everything to God, even when he was hiding in the back of a cave. What's it like to spend time in the back of a cave with God? David gives us a glimpse in Psalm 31 and that's where this devotional is taken from. Grab a paper copy or a Kindle copy from Amazon!


All the Characters

Chris with his tired, brain injury look after a workout

 Do you ever wonder why some stories are in the Bible? There are stories about those who won great battles and lost the little ones. People who killed giants walked through the fire or slept in a lion's den. Then there's Gideon (Judges 6) who led the Children of Israel into battles and won. He beat an "innumerable" army with just 300 men. It's an amazing story, but if you read his whole story you'll see that in the end, Gideon led the people right back into idolatry. Smh. How could Gideon follow God so closely, win the battle, and then fall from grace? I don't know - but it kinda sounds like a typical caregiving day to me.

One minute I'm declaring the Word of God and the next I'm crumpled in the floor trying to catch my breath. And the cause of the sudden "down" like this might just be an old picture or a post on Facebook. 

Maybe that's why we have stories of failures like Gideon. Right there with his victory was a failure. I'm so glad God included stories of real humans in the Bible. We can see that He didn't discard anyone, even if they failed. Even if they gave up. Even if they got lost in life's shuffle.

These were some of the things on my mind this morning as I was reading in John 14. Jesus was telling the disciples that He was going away and then coming back to get them - and He said, you know where I'm going. (v4) That's when Thomas spoke up and said in verse 5 No, we don't know, Lord. I laughed out loud first. Then I thought how amazing that Thomas was allowed to say just what he was thinking and He didn't fear Jesus would yell at Him, reject Him, or throw him away. Thomas said what he was feeling - I don't have a clue what you are talking about! 

This was important for me this morning because I've been asking God a lot of questions. Lol. I am the question queen, after all.

I have the freedom to express all my frustrations, failures, and fears to God - He knows anyway. The stories shared throughout the Bible of all our heroes let us know we can be open and honest with God about our questions, our doubts, our circumstances, and so much more; and He will meet us right where we are - no matter where we are!

Today, I will make it a point to tell God exactly how I feel and I'll reassure myself that His shoulders and heart are big enough and strong enough to carry it. I won't fear retribution for "not believing" because I believe in Him enough to share my deepest thoughts and most honest feelings with Him. Today, I will give myself a break and remind myself that God is carrying this heavy heart. He will not toss me away and He will not walk away. He remains. That's the thought I'll carry throughout the day as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31

cover of 31 Days in Psalm 31

David was open and honest about his feelings and he tended to give everything to God, even when he was hiding in the back of a cave. What's it like to spend time in the back of a cave with God? David gives us a glimpse in Psalm 31 and that's where this devotional is taken from. Grab a paper copy or a Kindle copy from Amazon!





Look Again!

chris sitting outside the apartment

Jonah was quite the OT character, wasn't he? I mean, really. When God told Him to go to Ninevah, Jonah purposefully went in the opposite direction. He deliberately disobeyed God. What a rebel! It's easy to say that Jonah found himself in the belly of the great fish by his own doings. Of course, in chapter 1 verse 17, it says that God prepared a fish just for Jonah. It baffles me as to why God would chase down a rebel. But I am so glad He did - because I know He'll chase me down too. I can be quite the mess from time to time. Okay, so maybe all the time. Lol.

Why does the story of a rebellious backslider encourage me so much? Because if God can meet the runaway prophet in the belly of a whale, He can meet me in my circumstances too!

In verse 4, Jonah says, I will look again to Your holy temple. I love that! Here Jonah sits in the dark, damp, smelly whale's belly, yet he's choosing to look at God. And God chooses to meet him there! If God can meet Jonah in the darkest place of his life - a place he ended up in because of his bad choices - God can meet us anywhere. To me, that means that no matter what my surroundings are - I can choose to look again at God's mercy. His peace. His grace. And He will meet me there.

Caregiving isn't really even a choice is it? I have been told by loved ones that I "chose" to care for my son as if it was a poor choice. But it's certainly not my fault that life took such a sharp turn and changed so drastically in a second. The good news is that God meets us in our "here" no matter how we got there - no matter if we chose it or not - He is here.

Today, from the darkness of my circumstances I will choose to look again at all that God has brought me through. I'll think about the time I thought for sure my soul was lost in the caregiving shuffle, beaten down, forgotten, etc - only to realize that God was sitting in the darkness with me. I'll remind myself of all He's brought me through so far. My thoughts will be on how His grace has not failed me - no matter how crazy my mind and emotions felt. I'll meditate on His mercies that are new every single morning - just when we need them. I'll look again at His grace that continues to sustain and carry me along the caregiving journey and I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Affirmations for Caregivers

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers
I have created a video series on my  YouTube channel. It goes over the affirmation each morning. The videos are only a couple of minutes long, and the first one was downloaded this morning! You can get the Affirmations for Caregivers book in several places. You can download it and have the eBook right now from my bookstore. It's also now available on Kindle or in print from Amazon





Honesty Goes a Long Way!

they guys carrying chris in his chair down the stairs

 I think one of the things I love about the Psalms is how open and honest the psalmists are about their feelings. They don't seem to hold much back when it comes to their emotions, fears, doubts, or anxieties. The psalmists tend to just lay it all out there and then wait for God to swoop in and help clean it all up. David wasn't afraid to say he shed tears. They were open about all their fears and the crazy stuff they were going through. And God let it all be put in the Bible!

This morning, I was reading Psalm 95, but I noticed a verse in Psalm 94 that I had previously marked. In verse 19, the psalmist says, When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (NLT) In Psalm 119:50, David says, this is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life. (NKJV) I think what stood out to me in these verses is that God didn't avoid the psalmist because they were sharing "negative" feelings or emotions. Instead, He seemed to move in closer to them and He brought along comfort both times.

People tend to avoid us because they don't know how to handle our situations, especially emotionally. There are no buttons to push to make everything "normal" so we are often ignored. I don't know about you - but I have very few friends who are willing to even try to understand my circumstances. Thankfully, I have a couple! Caregiving can be a long, lonely road - but thankfully, God gets that. There isn't one ounce of avoidance in Him - that's never His strategy!

In both of these verses, God moved in to bring comfort to the troubled psalmist. I love that about God. He comes right in to our crazy, upsetting, troubled circumstances and brings all that He is to the table. He doesn't withhold His peace until we can get it together. (What is there to "get together" anyway?) He doesn't say when we sraighten up or become emotionally stable then He'll give us peace or walk with us. NO! He comes right on in and sits with us full of comfort, peace, direction, wisdom, and soul salve. I love that about Him.

We wouldn't know He could calm the storm if we'd never been in one. We wouldn't know He could heal if we were never sick. We wouldn't understand the value of His peace if we'd never had a troubled soul. But here He sits. Right in our messy lives. Full of peace. Ready to distribute grace for the day. Refreshing His mercies each morning - just for us.

Today, I will trust that He is near no matter how crazy my emotions may get. I'll remind myself that He comes with comfort when I am doubtful, He won't avoid me. I love that about God! I will trust that He is right here with me in the middle of my mess. Will you join me?




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Check it out!


Cover of 31 Days in Psalm 31

31 Days in Psalm 31. I found myself returning to that Psalm over and over. It brought so much encouragement and I found so many scriptures that were meditation-worthy, I decided it was a good topic. David wrote this psalm while in a cave hiding from Saul. Since much of my caregiving life feels like it's lived in a cave (we talk about the caregiver's cave a lot!), it seemed appropriate. You can get a Kindle or print version in my Amazon bookstore. Or you can download an eBook from my DFM bookstore.


Twists and Turns

 

chris standing up outside at the park

As caregivers, we never know what a day will bring. It can make it very difficult to make plans because we never know if we'll be able to keep them or not. Just last week, everything was going great and we had to make an afternoon run to the ER. Of course, it all turned out okay - by the afternoon was sucked away. As if caregiving wasn't exhausting enough, there are those little twists and turns in our kind of crazy normals that can suck the life right out of you. Am I alone?!

One of the things I've recently come to appreciate even more about God is that He takes it all. He is our rock (Psalm 18:1-2, Psalm 61:1-3). But nowhere in the Bible does it say that God is an either-or advocate. We can run to our Rock with all our concerns, sadness, and pain. At the same time, we can run to Him with our joys, thanksgivings, and wins. He doesn't say He will take one or the other - He takes both - absolutely all of it.

He is there to dry the last tear we can squeeze out over a loss or grief. But He is just as there when we are shouting because of a great victory. As caregivers, we are allowed to have victories, you know. Sometimes, just making it through another day is victory enough. Life is made up of all these highs and lows, twists and turns, and ins and outs - no one knows that more than the caregiver, right?!

We don't have to make an appointment with God for our sorrow at a certain time. We know it can hit at any point. And it hits hard. Living grief is so not talked about enough. A Facebook memory, a phone call, a photo on our phones, and our emotions can bottom out. I often "brag" that my emotions can go from the epitome of joy to the bottom of despair in less than a second - and it doesn't take much. 

No matter what kinds of twists and turns a day brings, God has us covered. We can run to our Rock and know confidently that we will not be turned away. There's nothing too high or too low for Him to help us navigate, carry, or adjust to. He's got us!

Today, I'll remind myself that God really is in it with me. He is invested in my soul (in our souls), and He is taking care of that investment. My thoughts will be on how I can bring Him literally anything and everything without the fear of being turned away or rejected. That brings me a measure of peace, which I will choose to embrace today which has already been filled with numerous ups and downs. I know He's got me - He's got us. So, I can trust Him for one more day, will you join me?

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Paperback, Kindle, or eBook

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

Affirmations for Caregivers contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day for a month or 31 days.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!



The Best Option

mama and one of her stuffed bears she loved so much

 I love how open, raw, and vulnerable the Psalms are. David, who wrote most of them, and the other psalmists didn't hold back their feelings or emotions. When I saw that it was okay to tell God exactly how I felt about what I was going through it not only gave me freedom but it leveled me up when it came to trusting God. He wasn't going to throw me away or fry me down to my toenails because I was honest about how I felt about my situation. Thank you, King David, for leading the way! Lol.

This morning, I found myself in Psalm 22. That will be where I camp for the day! We find David feeling forsaken and forgotten by God. He expresses these feelings in the first couple of verses. He continues throughout the verses expressing his feelings and hurts. But here's what stood out to me. 

Even though David was in a tough spot, he continued to choose to praise God. In verse 3, after he just poured out his heart, David says, yet, You are holy. He goes back to his discourse on life's troubles for a few verses, then in verse 9, David says, Yet, You brought me safely from my mother's womb and led me to trust You when I was young. He goes back and forth this way throughout the psalm and in verse 22 he begins to praise God.

The rest of the way down through the psalm David expresses praise for God and acknowledges all He has done. I realized - that was a choice. David's circumstances didn't change between verses, yet he chose praise. David shifted his focus to the One who saves, the One who heals, the One who rescues, the One who snatches His sheep from the mouth of the enemy - David was no longer focused on his surroundings, dire though they may have been. Instead, David chose to focus on God and to praise Him for all He had done, even if he couldn't see God doing something in the moment.

We can do that too. We may not see a thing in our world change when we start praising God - but we can feel the shift in our hearts. 

Today, I'll start by thanking God for all He's done. Each time I think of a day of caregiving that He's brought me through (hospital stays, financial difficulties, etc.), I'll thank Him again. Then, I'll remind myself that He has not changed one bit since the last time He rescued my soul! I can trust Him to rescue me from my enemies again today. I'm going to say a prayer of thanksgiving for His continual watch-care over my soul and for His ever-abiding presence. I love that He sees deeply into my heart and chooses not to look away. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Check it out!


Cover of 31 Days in Psalm 31

31 Days in Psalm 31. I found myself returning to that Psalm over and over. It brought so much encouragement and I found so many scriptures that were meditation-worthy, I decided it was a good topic. David wrote this psalm while in a cave hiding from Saul. Since much of my caregiving life feels like it's lived in a cave (we talk about the caregiver's cave a lot!), it seemed appropriate. You can get a Kindle or print version in my Amazon bookstore. Or you can download an eBook from my DFM bookstore.


From the Back of the Caregiver's Cave

my mom and me having a great laugh

 Since yesterday, I've just kept my mind in Psalm 57. Verse one of this psalm has been a life scripture that has anchored my soul over the years. I still declare that I will trust God and stay in the shelter of His wings for refuge in life's calamities. One thing I have always loved about David was that he was not afraid or ashamed to share his emotions. He is very clear in this psalm that his soul is "among lions" and he is under attack. 

David talks about crying to God and asking Him to save his soul. But he always comes back around to his declarations. Most of his psalms have declarations of some sort. He shares how he feels. He reminds himself of who God is and what He's done. He declares how he is going to trust God.

Picture David sitting in the back of a dark, dank cave. He is running for his life. He has a few of his "mighty men" with him. Maybe they are trying to encourage him - maybe they are just supporting him by sitting there with him. He can't build a fire or he would chance being spotted. He has no musical instrument with him since he can't carry his harp and his sword. Lol. 

David is soon to be king - but it sure doesn't look like it or feel like it in the back of the cave. While David is pouring out his soul, he shifts and begins to declare in verses 7-9:

  • I will sing and give praise! 
  • I will awaken the dawn!
  • I will praise You, O Lord!
  • I will sing to You, O Lord!
In one of his darkest moments, he begins to praise God. Why? Well, he said God was his refuge (v.1). He said he was going to cry out to God who would answer him (v.2). He mentioned that he knew God would send His mercy and truth to him (v.3). In short - he trusted God while sitting right there in the back of the cave. We can do that too.

Today, I'll remind myself that God is present in the caregiver's cave with me. It's never too dark, too damp, or too disgusting for Him. He just keeps hanging out with me. My meditations will be on this psalm and how God continues to be my refuge. God won't let me set there alone. He will bring His peace, grace, mercy, and truth to provide me company! I think I can trust Him for one more day. Will you join us?

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Check it out!


Cover of 31 Days in Psalm 31

31 Days in Psalm 31. I found myself returning to that Psalm over and over. It brought so much encouragement and I found so many scriptures that were meditation-worthy, I decided it was a good topic. David wrote this psalm while in a cave hiding from Saul. Since much of my caregiving life feels like it's lived in a cave (we talk about the caregiver's cave a lot!), it seemed appropriate. You can get a Kindle or print version in my Amazon bookstore. Or you can download an eBook from my DFM bookstore.

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...