Saturday, September 5, 2020

Try to Remember


 This week, my aunt turned 88 years old. We made the best of it we could under the circumstances. I took her her favorite Chic-fil-a salad for lunch and her brother, my Uncle Roger, baked her a chocolate oatmeal cake and brought flowers. The facility is still not allowing visitors because of the Pandemic. I did get to go around to the window and see her and talk to her though. That helped, but it still saddened me greatly.

This, like many circumstances, can send a caregiver down into the spirals of sadness, grief, and depression. It's a terrible one to have to fight, but it happens frequently. It's such a personal battle too, and we all learn ways of trying to get ahead of it if at all possible. But when there are disappointments, griefs, and sorrows stacked one on the other day after day, it makes it much more difficult to get back on top of.

It can feel like God can't hear - and if He does hear us, then He isn't paying attention. And even if He is paying attention it feels like there is absolutely no response, no relief, and no rescue in sight. It's in those moments that it can feel like life is suffocating us. (Maybe it's just me?) Circumstances keep pressing and pressing and one thing keeps getting added on top of another until the life is being sucked right out of us.

I have this habit though. When I cannot see anything God is doing presently, and I cannot feel Him or hear Him like I want to, I do what Asaph did in Psalm 77. The first few verses, Asaph describes how he feels rejected, forgotten, and "too distressed to even pray." (V4 NLT) By the time he gets to verse 10 and 11, he says he feels like God is not "with" him anymore. If we are honest enough with ourselves, can we say we feel that way from time to time? My heart knows it's not true  - but boy does my head and emotions feel that way.

Asaph goes on to basically say that when he cannot see God moving in his life, he recalls what God has done in years gone by. This is what I've done the last day or so trying to shake off and climb out of the caregiver's fog. I started thinking back about specific times when I knew that God moved on my behalf. Times He truly intervened, healed, touched, moved, quickened....me. I still exist. I'm still in His sight. I'm still precious to Him....and so are you. When there is no one around to tell us that - we must tell ourselves these things. 

Today, will you join me in a walk down memory lane? It's so individual we must all take our own walk as we remember the times God has come through for us - lest we lose heart. Remind yourself that He loves you - immensely. Tell your heart to hope again that hope is NOT lost - and He has not forgotten we are here. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Positioned for Protection

 

Chris n Kyrie
This morning I was reading in Ephesians. I really enjoy the Epistles. They are just rich, you know? I have read them over and over yet there's always something new to see or experience in them. The word is alive (Hebrews 4:12), it doesn't change, but often we see new things because we have moved to a new place with new experiences. 

I made it to chapter 6 and the armor of God this morning. This one little phrase stood out to me. In verse 16, Paul said, above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. This said that we can and will quench the fiery darts of the enemy with the shield of faith. Now, it doesn't say the darts won't come occasionally. Or that they won't come one after another on a single afternoon. it does say when they come - faith can quench (extinguish, put out) ALL of them.

No matter what our situations are, faith protects our hearts. There are no exclusions here. Paul didn't say you can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy with the shield of faith unless..... we tend to let our thoughts put the exclusions in there - 

  • unless we are a caregiver
  • unless we are poor (or rich)
  • unless we have insurance
  • unless we read our Bible every day....
Paul added none of these - he simply said with which you will be able to quench ALL the fiery darts that come at you from the enemy. This brought a touch of hope to my heart this morning. As caregivers we can miss out on a lot - can't we? But not this time! The enemy can throw, toss, or shoot anything at us - depression, hopelessness, despair, discouragement, sadness, loneliness - all of which we may feel at one time or another - or sometimes we literally feel it all at once. (Maybe it's just me!)

But no matter what comes at us - remember it's not part of us - even though it may be part of the journey. Faith can quench it. We do have to position ourselves behind the shield of faith for it to provide protection. But here we stand in all of our luck laster - when life tries to paint an ugly picture, faith can repaint it into a beautiful masterpiece where we learn to trust God even more. That's got to frustrate the enemy! 

Today, I will take my position behind my shield of faith - mostly because I don't have the strength to fight on my own. From there, I will wait on God to deliver my soul (mind, will, and emotions) from the enemy's sight. Even when it seems like life is bearing down on me - I trust God will provide that way of escape. And when He does - I'll run right back into His arms where He can hold and protect me - will you join me?


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Beyond Words

 

those eyes
Sometimes, for caregivers, there are no words to express our emotions. We often deal with living grief over a loved one who is still alive, but they are not who they used to be. Personally, I deal with this with my son who is certainly not the person he was before the wreck, he can't do the things he did. Often I avoid Facebook as I see his friends getting married, having kids, enjoying life, and music. It can spark great grief for me as I am thrilled he is now turning his head from the left to right in response to activities. I'm happy when he takes a step when I used to watch him in the marching band. He is gone - but he's still alive.

On the other hand, my mom is in some stage of dementia. She usually still remembers us, but she doesn't recall our lives at all. She doesn't remember the ministry trips we took, the times we played music together, and all the things we shared. She has lost the ability to hold a simple conversation although she can answer some simple questions on her better days. 

There is a great sense of grief and loss always sitting just below the emotional surfaces of my heart. Some days I have to fight hard to not be sucked in. Other days, I can handle it pretty well. So, this morning when I turned to a familiar scripture, I was shocked at the parts I'd missed in my BC (Before Caregiving) days.

I was looking for the verse that says, His mercies are new every morning. That was my thought this morning as I was waking up and I whispered a gentle prayer that His mercies would carry me today. I turned to Lamentations 3 and let my eyes walk down the page to the verses I had marked years before caregiving. Interestingly enough, I found something brand new.

In verse 17, Jeremiah says, Peace has been stripped away and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I didn't recall that part of this passage although it is underlined. Perhaps I read it but lacked the understanding before. He goes on to say, I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. I was like, Yes! Someone understands!

Then, what Jeremiah penned hit home. He said, yet I still dare to hope when I remember the unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies, I have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness, His mercies begin afresh each day. 

Is it bad that I was glad someone understood enough to put my emotions into words? I hope not because I was elated that Jeremiah seemed to really understand. Even though I feel like I am sad and grieving beyond words on some days - I pulled out this part of the verse - dare to hope. 

Today, I will dare to hope that it will be better than yesterday. I will remind myself of the unfailing love and endless mercies of the Lord who carries me every day. My thoughts and meditations will be on his mercy, His love, His care of me. I will dare to hope that He will carry me through today. Will you join me?

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?