Friday, August 7, 2020

Just Another Day?

 

Chris and I
As I was looking through some scriptures this morning for something significant to share, I thought, it's just another day. That can mean a lot of different things to all of us, can't it? For some, it may mean sitting at home and not working waiting out the pandemic. Others may be working from home and dealing with those new challenges.  Parents are trying to make the best decisions for their kids concerning school and having to choose online or in-person - plus having to juggle their own work schedule to accommodate. 

While much of the world is adjusting to staying at home more - the caregiver can easily sit back and try to keep from laughing. Welcome to our world. We have had to do that too! But our world has remained pretty much the same. We still have to make decisions for two (or more) people, take care of another whole person's needs, and adjust to daily inconsistencies. Our supplies may have been disrupted (that's nothing new), aides may not be showing up to help (again - not new), and loneliness still chips away at our mental health....nothing new here. It's just another day.

But here's where I found some relief and sanity. God does not change in response to anything that occurs here on earth. Pandemic or not - it's just another day to Him too. It's a day where His mercies were new (for our sake) again this morning. It's just another day for His goodness and unfailing love to pursue us. (Psalm 23:6 NLT) It's just another day for Him to pour out His love on us, be patient with us as we work through the intricacies of life, and try to keep our heads above the swelling waters. He hasn't changed one iota. His kingdom didn't change nor did His passionate pursuit of us. He didn't change when we became caregivers. He didn't change when a pandemic swept the world. He remains faithful.

But it's just another day for us too. Another day to pursue Him with our whole heart. It's another chance to learn to trust Him even more. Another day to crawl up in His lap and let His peace rule in our hearts. Just another day to trust Him to carry us through everything we face.

So just another day isn't quite just another day at all, is it?

Today, I will crawl up in His lap and commit to trusting Him with just a little more of my heart. I will purposefully let His peace reign in my heart- especially when my mind tries to run off in so many directions. I won't let this day disturb my peace. Will  you join me for just another day?

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sudden Fear - Sudden Peace

chris and daddy
I love the Psalms. I think one of the reasons I enjoy spending time in them so much is the frank honesty of the writers. When I was younger, I thought they were just whiny. But as I matured I realized a lot of what they express comes with the trials life you walk through. It didn't take me long to figure out that I could be transparent with God about my emotions and thoughts. The psalms are raw, open, and honest and God didn't fry any of them down to their toenails. That was how I was raised. 

Indirectly, I was taught you didn't ask God questions. Who should you ask? You didn't express anger or any negative emotions in your prayer time. Where should they be expressed? One day I got so mad that I yelled at God. I waited for the lightning bolt to strike me dead. Then I realized God knew those thoughts before I spoke them. I hadn't surprised Him - I had actually let Him in. And He gladly walks right into our mess - just so He can be with us.

David said in Psalm 31:22 (NLT) In sudden fear I had cried out, "I have been cut off from the Lord!" Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. Life has a way of battering us around sometimes until we think it was big enough to drive a wedge between us and God - but that is not truth. God is near the brokenhearted so if anything - He moves in closer when we are in distress and emotional pain such as is common to caregiving. 

David goes on to say But you heard my cry for mercy.... and answered my call for help.

What joy and peace get painted into the picture of our lives as we realize He has NOT abandoned us. He still hears our faintest whisper for help. He walks right into the chaos in our lives and brings His peace with Him. Again, it's up to us to accept His peace. Let the peace of God rule in your heart - Paul said.

Today, I will rejoice that He continues to hear my crazy cries. I will be thankful that He doesn't abandon and has no intention of leaving us here in time. Instead, He chooses to walk through time with us - no matter how crazy, uncertain, chaotic, or uncomfortable our time here gets. He is still walking through time with us and He's not going anywhere. I will choose a grateful heart today as I thank Him for the gift of His presence and His peace offered in the midst of the mess. Will you join me in letting His peace reign today?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Quietness of His Love

Chris and Kyrie
As I was reading this morning, I found myself in Zephaniah 3. This one little phrase in verse 17 stood out to me. He will quiet you with His love. I thought about that awhile. I know just a quiet moment in His presence can wipe away worry and defeat. I liken it to how a mother's touch can calm a baby's cries. Maybe some of it is that sense that something (Someone) bigger has us in their arms. Whatever the "reason" there is peace in Him. There is life in Him. There is healing in Him. And the more I learn to rest in His grip and in His arms, the more at peace I become. That kind of peace is invaluable to the caregiver.

Isaiah 30:15 says that in returning and rest we are saved; and in quietness and confidence, there is strength. Strength and confidence to face another day of caregiving come from resting in His embrace. It empowers us to face what we have to face day after day.

It can be difficult to quiet ourselves. But when we realize we can rest in His arms - and let Him carry us, it comes a bit easier. We understand we don't have the strength to carry on day after day without Him. At least I know I don't. I get bogged down in the emotions and grief. Or I get worn out by the day-to-days. It just comes with the territory. But His word always seems to pick me back up and keep me moving toward my goal of hiding in Him.

In His arms we will find what we need to make it today. Resting in His love will help us have the strength to live out today. The key? That's the let. We must let His love quiet us. 

Today, I will purposefully wait on Him. I will meditate on His love for me - and you meditate on His great love for you. Let's learn to rest there - will you join me there?

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Free to Live

chris and I
This weekend as I entered the wildlife refuge for a day of connecting with God and nature, I saw the massive buffalo and the longhorn cattle. I thought about how great it was to have a refuge for them - a place where they were safe from predators. I watched the buffalo saunter along with no fear of danger. They moved slowly and ate as they went with barely a glance in my direction. My next thought was that they are free to live.

I took a deep breath and thought about how squelched it can feel like life is as a caregiver. Sometimes it feels like the life has been sucked out of you and you're just existing. Maybe it's just me. So I looked at these animals that are free to live in this beautiful refuge. Then I thought about the word "refuge." It's a familiar one, isn't it?

One of my favorite scriptures in Psalm 46:1. God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble. I thought of course of Psalm 31 - and how David declared God was his rock and his refuge. God is the caregiver's refuge. His presence is the place we can go to live and to breathe again.

Buffalo in the Wildlife Refuge
Those buffalo have no desire to leave the refuge - it has everything they need to live. Why go anywhere else? Right?

God is our refuge and we don't have to look for another place for safety - not that we could find one anyway, right? When we become content to just live in Him - then we will live. In Him we live, move, and have our source of life or our being- we are free to live. We can rest in this truth - that in Him is our life. He is our source and when we find ourselves hidden in His refuge - we are free to live in a whole new way.

Today, I will think about living in Him. I will turn my meditations to how He is my refuge and how I am free to truly live in Him - no matter what turns life's road takes. I choose to remain in Him - I choose to be free to live today - will you join me?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Streams in the Desert

Yesterday, I paid for a sitter so I could go on a day hike. I chose to go to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. It's a vast place with many areas I have not yet covered even though I've been there exploring many times. I always learn from nature, maybe that's why I am so drawn to keep going back. Several things stood out to me but one thing I kept noticing was beautiful little flowers growing along the rocky terrain. 

Over the miles, I kept seeing these colorful patches of flowers in such unlikely places. I wondered how they grew in such adverse conditions. But all it took was a little bit of soil and a few drops of rain here and there to make a desert, wilderness area pop with beauty. Of course, I drew the parallel to our lives as caregivers.

We live in what can be very rocky circumstances as caregivers. On one hand, each day is the same over and over. Yet there are so many unexpected things that become the norm too. I know you understand that! We never know when an aid won't show, we have to call urgent care or the doctor, or what any given day may bring. Many caregivers, myself included, deal with loneliness of unheard of depths because our friends are long gone and the few we have keep a "safe distance" like we have the plague. Even with the bright spots and joys of caregiving, it can be a very difficult, rocky place emotionally.

Yet in the midst of it all, God remains faithful and somehow in those little areas here and there where we think surely nothing could grow- He brings forth beauty. We don't always sense it or see it ourselves, though do we? Yet here and there are pockets of intricately designed beauty wrought by the hand of God. 

He is still intimately connected with us as caregivers. He still brings the rain to water the soil of the driest hearts - even though sometimes they are watered with our tears. God continues to bring beauty from ashes. Actually, He appoints beauty for ashes for those who mourn in Zion. (Isaiah 61:3) I remember reading this and thinking, wait  - there's mourning in Zion? Zion is the City of God - His dwelling place and yet there is mourning there. Wow. Yet He appoints beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for our mourning - right there where we are.

In our moments of mourning, living grief, sadness, loneliness - God brings beautiful growth. Just like the beautiful flowers in the midst of dry rocky soil - somehow He is able to bring a thing of beauty out of our lives. Oftentimes, we don't see it ourselves, but it's there. His handiwork drawing intricately beautiful spots in the midst of our wilderness.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for continuing to work in me - even in the midst. I will trust that He is bringing beauty even when I don't see it or feel it myself. I pray that others see the beauty He brings  as they are on their own journey of faith. I will ask Him to show me the beauty He as appointed to me - in Zion. Will you join me?

Monday, July 13, 2020

I Can Do Today

As I was taking a card to my aunt out to the mailbox this morning, I thought of all that was on my plate for just today. Taking care of Chris is more stressful right now as he has some type of upper respiratory situation going on. Now an x-ray has been ordered for today adding one more thing to my plate. That's okay as my primary responsibility is to care for him. Of course, at the same time, work started coming in (which is a good thing - you know?) and the day got complicated quickly. 

All this and more was weighing on my heart and mind as I made the short trip to the mailbox and back. I don't think I've felt this alone in a long time. I'm weary. I'm tired. And yes, those are two different things. I'm stressed - On top of all that are the growing fears of aging. How long will I be able to continue caring for him? I let out a huge sigh, and thought, I am okay today. I can do today... And for today - that is enough.

The caregiver's journey is not an easy one and all of our pictures look different, yet similar. But we can do today. Jesus told us that today is the only day we are to be concerned about. We know better than anyone that a day can bring many different things - tragedy or joy. In Matthew 6, Jesus addressed this issue. He told His disciples in verse 34 that each day has enough trouble for itself - don't borrow worry from tomorrow. (My loose translation.) 

He also told His disciples the Kingdom of God is our primary concern. As believers, that's already secured, right? 

Today, I will just focus on today without worrying about tomorrow. I will focus on how the kingdom of God doesn't change based on today's circumstances. I will wait on Him and trust Him to carry me through just today. With Him - I can do today! Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

In the Storm

Last night was one of those long nights far too many caregivers are familiar with. I was up and down all night with Chris. These nights are the ones that wear on your body, soul, and spirit. As caregivers, we run wide open - and it doesn't take much to send us over the brink. For most of us, the day-to-day is stressful and we hold it together for everyone else while we're not sure we are going to make it.

Some of that stems from fear especially as we get older. My own thoughts war against me when I think about how much longer I'll be able to care for my son. How many long nights can this old body endure? lol. I laugh because it makes it easier and it's better than crying.  The fear is real, though and it makes the long nights wear on my mind longer than on my body. I'll hopefully catch a nap today and sleep tonight and my body will recover. But my mind keeps sparring with my soul. 

It's here - in the midst of the storm that it's easy to lose our focus. The waves keep washing over the sides of our proverbial ship trying to take us down. It's in this storm we can lose heart. We can feel overcome, lost at sea. It's an emotional battle that can rage day after long day. But we don't automatically learn to trust Him more - it's a choice to trust Him and not focus on the storm.

The question becomes for us if we can trust Him in the storm. But the real question becomes can He trust us - in the storm? Job endured, and God knew that he would. God knew Job wouldn't give in. God trusted Job. Can He trust us with the storm? Will we continue to hold on to Him? Will we continue to run to Him? Will we trust Him when it is all out of sync and nothing is running smoothly?

Today, my declaration is that I will continue to trust Him - He is my only help, the sustainer of my soul - my rearguard, my rock, my shelter... I will purposefully run to Him today and cast myself at His feet. And today, I may just lay there for a while and wait for His peace to wash over my soul once again. Will you join me? His peace will come...