Tuesday, January 18, 2022

One Little Catch

 


There always seems to be a catch doesn't there? I think as caregivers we find ourselves in spots with catches a lot! The things that should be simple to navigate or often complex due to caregiving responsibilities. simple things like going to grab a prescription that's ready or swing by the grocery store are much more difficult when you have to take into account the care of a loved one. 

People may say, It's easy - just go - but by the time they get to the "go" part our minds are burdened with all it takes to just go. For me, it means clothing and transferring another whole human being! lol - There's no just jumping in the car and heading out, right? It's opening and lowering the ramp - getting the chair in the van and situation properly. Then, getting all the buckles in place and secure before we can "just go."

Sometimes God's answers seem to be complex too. In Psalm 50 verse 15, God says He will rescue us - all we have to do (just....) is trust Him in times of trouble. Yet another thing that sounds simple but becomes complicated by our thoughts and processes!

It's kind of laid out like a 3-step process. 

1. Trust Me in your times of trouble. 

2. I will rescue you!

3. You will give Me the glory!

So simple, right? Notice that it's a plural. Trust Me in your times of trouble. I love that. God understands that trouble may come back another day even after He rescues us today. For me - and all other caregivers, trouble can visit numerous times in a day. (lol) But IF I trust Him - He will rescue me every.single.time.

So, what's the catch? He says He'll rescue me - every time trouble comes. The catch is that I must trust in Him. The catch is that trouble is going to come - more than once even. He doesn't promise He'll carry us away from trouble and we'll never see difficulties again. But He does promise that He will rescue us - every time trouble comes.

Today, I will move in a little closer to His heart and listen for it to beat for me. No matter what may come today - I will purpose to trust Him with it all. All my emotions, cries, questions, and anything else that comes along with it - will be His today. I'll put all my troubles and myself into His hands for safekeeping today - won't He do it? Will you join me today?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Sent Ones

 

Me and Chris at Tae Kwon Do

When we think about Jesus sending out His disciples the12 being sent out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons come to mind. Maybe we think about the 70 He sent out later on. Or perhaps we even think about the Great Commission and how we are all sent to make disciples of all nations. What we don't think about is Matthew 14, when Jesus sent His disciples into a storm.

We could argue that He didn't know there was a storm coming - but since He is Jesus - that argument won't hold up. In Matthew 14:22 Jesus "made His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while He sent the people home." (NLT) After they boarded the boat and headed out across the sea, Jesus spent some time alone in prayer. While He was praying, the disciples found themselves on the sea, at night, fighting a bad storm.

He knew there was a storm building - but He sent them anyway. Of course, about three in the morning, He came to them walking on the water. But I still can't get over the fact that He knew there was a storm and He sent them anyway.

My point? God doesn't always help us avoid bad, difficult, hurtful, or hard situations. But He will come to us in our point of need. He will bring us His peace in the midst of the storms life tosses our way. He will equip us for the journey and He won't leave us alone in the storm. Think about this - if Jesus had said, there's a storm so I'm not sending you out on the boat tonight - Peter would have missed the opportunity of walking on water. The disciples would have missed a huge lesson on faith and trust. They would have missed the revelation that He was who He said He was. (verse 33)

God doesn't always protect us from the storm - but He keeps us in the storm. Just like the disciples, we learn so much in the midst of the storm. Our faith is stretched. Opportunities to trust Him abound. And we understand more about who He is - we see Him more clearly.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for the storms. My prayer will be that He will increase my faith and trust in Him; and that I will be able to see Him through the wind and rain. I'll look to Him on the rocky seas of life and trust Him for one more trip across the lake (translated - one more day!). I'm going to look for opportunities to trust Him and step out of the boat onto faith. Will you join me?

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A Mixed Bag

 

chris and I hanging out at Bluff Creek Park

Do you ever find yourself wondering about the benefits of social media? Personally, one of the positives is that it's helped us stay connected, sometimes in a weird sort of way, through the pandemic. I've connected with "long lost" family members and friends. But sometimes, aside from those and maybe a few more positives, I just look at the screen and shake my head a lot.

Do we all really need to see what you had for breakfast? So, you found a penny while you were on your walk, and? Mixed in with the wonderful photos of family, friends, and vacation excursions is a mix of what? posts. There are heavy posts and light posts; humorous posts and serious posts. Sometimes, I'm like - you really need a group just for that. They probably have that too.

Groups for those who grieve, sing, pray, share photos of specific regions, love animals and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a mixed bag, isn't it? 

Sometimes my heart feels like a social media posting wall. lol. One second I'm happy - the next I'm in deep grief. One minute I'm singing and the next I'm crying. One time I am praying, the next I'm thanking God for answers while forming my next prayer. Anybody relate?

Honestly, I can't always handle social media. There are days trauma rolls through the pages. Sometimes, it's just memories that haunt me. I have to find a reprieve. I wonder if our lives look sort of like a social media platform to God. He scrolls down through all our heart's posts looking for something of substance. While I know that's not really how it is - what I do know is that He can handle my mixed bag of emotions, crying, rejoicing, grieving, singing, praying, and thanking. Whatever I've got in my "bag" at any time will not overwhelm Him. He doesn't need to take a FaceBook break from me. I so love that He can handle whatever I'm dealing with any given second, no matter how random, how deep, how serious or silly, or how fleeting. He's got me right where I am mixed bag and all. The key though is letting Him have the bag!

Today, I'm going to open up my bag and pour it out before Him. I'll give it up to Him and let Him do the sorting out because I kinda tend to get lost in it sometimes. My grief, happiness, need, desire, longing, - anything and everything is His today. You wouldn't think He'd be that excited about such a mixed bag of stuff, would you? But He loves it when we bring it all to Him. I'm going to hand Him everything and the bag - and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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Monday, January 10, 2022

What Time is it?

ronella with chris

 I spent my devotional time this morning walking around Psalm 37. Man, there is so much in that Psalm. I read the whole Psalm and then went back to reread portions of it. There are a lot of solid truths to hold on to and meditate on. I finally landed in verse 39. It says this The Lord saves the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. (1996 NLT)

The first part of this verse says that God saves the godly. He preserves them, protects them, and rescues them. But it was the second part of the verse that captured my thoughts this morning. He is their fortress in times of trouble. I read the verse a few times and thought about it for a while. Then, something captured my eye. It didn't say in one time of trouble. The psalmist said, in times of trouble. 

As we work our way through time, we may see many times of trouble. We WILL see times of trouble, no doubt. But He will continue to be our fortress. He continues to be our help. It's an unlimited resource for sure! There is no expiration date, and He didn't set a limit. What if it said He would be our help in three times of difficulty? Maybe He'd say you have five times to visit me as a fortress and protector. I am sure that as caregivers, we would have surpassed our limit long ago!

Instead, God is a perpetual protector. He just keeps being our refuge, our fortress, our strength, and anything else we feel we need every time we need Him! The only catch is - that we have to keep running to Him in order to hide in Him. 

Today, I will meditate on how He continues to provide a place of safety for my soul. I'll let my thoughts wander back and rejoice at all the times He has protected me up until now - and then I will purposefully run to Him again today and hide in His fortress once again. Will you join me?


Friday, January 7, 2022

A Story to Tell

 

Chris and I standing at a park in OKC

This is my second attempt to do the blog post today! I had one about half-written. It was all about something that happened to me this week. It was a good thing - a great thing really. But I stopped. I thought I don't need to tell my story - I need to tell His story. As interesting as "my story" and your story may be, it really all comes down to His story - not ours.

Instead of giving you all the details of my life - I'd rather be talking about how He gives life. God is so good at it that He breathes life into so many circumstances, relationships, thoughts, dreams, visions, even ideas long thought dead. We've seen Him do it over and over again. Just when we think we cannot possibly take one.more.step. He breathes. He glances our way. He touches us with His strength, mercy, and love, and all of a sudden we have what we need for that part of our journies.

Instead of focusing on my shortcomings and failures, for they are many, I can shout out loud about the grace He's extended time and time again. He doesn't keep count on how many times we fall short, He focuses on our multiple returns to Him. That's the part He loves. And He accepts us into His presence no matter how angry we were at Him. He welcomes us with open arms no matter how long we gave Him the "silent treatment." He just loves it when we come back to Him and His embrace.

Instead of focusing on all the things that can go wrong in a day - I'd rather talk about how He intervenes on my behalf every.single.day. God has a way of taking the most difficult situations, the seemingly insurmountable circumstances, those between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place spots in our lives - and turning them into precious moments and great deliverances.

Let's talk about His story! One of great forgiveness and grace. His story is one of unfailing love and faithfulness. His story is one of great mercy and peace, provision, and direction. I love His story. 

Today, I will take my eyes of my story and focus on His story. Why? Because His story helps write the pages of my story. My meditations will be on His great mercy, grace, peace, and love. I'll turn my thoughts to how He's walked every line of my story with me, sometimes in spite of me. (smile) Knowing His story - helps me walk out one more day of my story. As I walk out my story - I'll keep my mind on His story and let it carry me today. Will you join me?

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Thursday, January 6, 2022

The In and Out of it All

Chris making one of his looks

 In my reading this morning, I reached the story of Abraham, Sarah, and one of our favorites, Hagar. My mind stayed on the rejection Hagar must have felt. She was 'just a servant' in Abraham and Sarah's house. When she became Abraham's "wife" nothing really changed much for her, except that she became pregnant. I was thinking about all the rejection she had to have felt as I reread her story again. 

Then, my mind skipped ahead as I thought about how I'll be reading the story of Leah and Rachel as I continue to move through Genesis. What rejection these ladies went through, right? I thought a lot about how God met them where they were and how He touched and orchestrated their lives. I started thinking of others in the scriptures who endured rejection and could have let it stop them from being - from loving - from serving - from anything really. 

My mind stopped on the three Hebrew children and Daniel. They were captives. God delivered the mighty three from the fiery furnace, right? And Daniel was delivered straight from the lion's den. Remarkable and amazing stories of real faith heroes in scriptures. But did you ever stop to think that after their great deliverances they were still captives? 

God met these heroes in the fire, in the lion's den, at the well, etc. But He didn't change their natural circumstances, they remained. How we would be amiss if we didn't recognize God's power intervening in situations even if our circumstances never change. We may never know why God intervenes when and how He does sometimes and then other times seems silent. Maybe He's just sitting there looking and waiting for those perfect spots to step out of eternity and touch us in time. 

Our heroes continued to trust God for the day-to-day even after God intervened in a single situation without changing their overall circumstances. God saved them in their situation - not out of it. God can walk into our today too and make a difference. And while our situations remain the same day after day, He is always right here to act on our behalf and meet our most basic natural and supernatural needs.

Today, I will think about how He intervenes for me so often. I'll go back and think about how He changed situations I thought couldn't change, how He rearranged things that I thought would stay the same. My heart will be thankful for His interventions in my life and I'll meditate on His continued goodness and care as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Seek and Ye Shall Find

chris and me standing head to head

In our lives as caregivers, there can be a lot of things to complain about, right? On the most typical day, so many tiny things can go wrong. With the load we carry every single day, even the smallest things weigh so much. Something small like a dropped fork becomes a catastrophic event. Of course, this is a mild exaggeration, but it really feels that way sometimes. We can easily live on the emotional edge where every feeling can be intense. I may have discovered a way to counter some of it.

 As I was taking care of Chris this morning, I found myself finding little things to be thankful for. Of course, I see his hands are severely contracted, but I was thankful for the little bit of movement some of his joints still have. As I continued to go through our morning routine of changing out the gauze in his hands, cleaning the feeding tube and changing its pad, and dressing, I kept purposefully looking for things to give thanks for. A funny thing happened....

My whole demeanor changed. Now, that wasn't the purpose, but it was easily identifiable. I began to feel lighter, less depressed, and in an overall better mood. I thought, geez, what if I did this more often? (Now that's a thought, huh?)

What if as we navigate through our caregiving days, we purposefully look for thankful moments. It's easy to find the rough spots. It may sometimes seem like the hard stuff seeks us out - huh? But what if as we move through today we try to find things to be thankful for? It's an actual game-changer and attitude lifter! Not only is there power in gratitude, but there's also a real perspective adjustment that occurs.

Jesus said - seek and ye shall find. These words are true, of course. But we really will find what we are looking for. Are we looking to be sick? We'll find a growth, a bump, a spot - or something to worry about. Are we looking to be lonely? We may miss the true impact of a friend's quick text or phone call. We won't be able to see past what we are looking for to the reality of what we have.

Today, I will switch my focus to finding Him right here in the cave. I'll purposefully shift my gaze toward things I can be thankful for rather than things that send me over the emotional edge. Nothing is too small to generate thanksgiving, I won't overlook a thing! Will you join me?