Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Faith is the Substance

Hebrews 11:1 has long been misunderstood, or at least our overall concept of faith has been at best misinterpreted. The faith-ers would like for us to believe that "faith" is this force field that surrounds us and keeps bad things from happening. But there are too many examples throughout scriptures of those who went through the fires of life with their faith in tact. Actually Peter said that the trial of our faith is more precious than purified gold.

While taking a serious look at the heroes of faith, even just the ones listed in Hebrews 11, we can see that it was their faith in God that carried them through. Without the struggles - we could have skipped this chapter altogether!

We've seen church faith to be two things. One that faith is the force field to keep bad things away; and two faith is the substance has been interpreted to bring substance. However, Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is the substance. It's the substance that keeps us running back to His heart no matter what (good or bad) is going on in our lives. Faith is more like a force inside of us that carries us back to Him every moment of every day. It's that part of us that refuses to give up in the face of adversity! We cannot accept the church's weakened version that basically says we use faith to bring us stuff. That will not sustain us through tough times..stuff is not the measure of whether or not we are operating in faith.

Faith says there is a God...and I will serve Him in the good times and the bad. Job said he would accept good and adversity from God. That's faith - circumstances do not dethrone God - faith means He has constant reign in our hearts...no matter what. Faith is substance.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Passion or Fear?

In Matthew 13 there is a very interesting story about a storm. Jesus sent the disciples across the sea and while they were headed across a storm came up. On the water in a storm has to be a very scary place! Here in Oklahoma we can have some pretty rough storms and I would not want to be out on the water when one blew in!

Jesus saw the storm and headed out walking on the water to meet his frightened disciples. That's one thought in itself isn't it? Jesus' attention was not averted away from those He loved just because of a little storm! He headed right out to them without a second thought. As He got close to His trembling disciples, Peter called out and said If that is You,Lord, bid me to come!  That was a crazy thing to say - for anyone!

Jesus told Peter to come on out on the water. Peter jumped out of the boat momentarily oblivious to the tumultuous water and waves and headed for Jesus. The question here would be did Peter jump out of the boat and head toward Jesus out of passion, or out of fear? Was he headed for Jesus for safety from the storm, or simply because he was so glad to see him in a scary situation? Personally, my guess is that he headed for Christ out of passion. It was fear that caused him to begin to sink when he looked away from Jesus and toward the storm.

As a caregiver, we kind of live in a storm don't we? At least by other people's standards. My prayer is two things here. One- that I will run to Jesus out of passion not out of just fear. It's certain that He is our comfort, strength, and sustainer of our souls! I want to run to Him in trouble of course! But I want the drive of my pursuit to be passionately seeking Him. I stated in my other blog, From the Furnace, that I have come to know HIm in such a way, even in the storm, that I wouldn't trade this relationship for church! I wouldn't want to go back to that sort of religious relationship with HIm. I want to passionately run to Him.

The other thing to remember in our passionate pursuit of who He is - is to not let the storm grab our attention. It is so important to keep our eyes on Him as we pass through the trials of life. One has to wonder how the story would have read if Peter had not been distracted. Ever wondered that? Would they have simply walked back to the boat? Personally, I'm glad he got distracted (sorry Peter because it is such an encouragement to know Jesus did not condemn him, He simply helped him get back in the boat. Jesus also told him he at least had a little faith even in his doubts!

Today, let us pursue Him in the midst of the storm...disregard what we feel is a lack of faith and head straight for His arms! He will carry us!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oblivious to God

Everyone seems to be living very hectic lives these days - not just caregivers. It's interesting that with all our modern conveniences we actually have less time to spend with people. We have machines that wash and dry our clothes, wash the dishes and phones so we do not have to travel about to get things done. We even have the internet to pay bills and conduct business. There are microwaves to cook our meals quickly and crockpots to cook them all day! Yet we have less time it seems to be still before the Lord.

A friend sent me a scripture the other day from the message Bible and I felt it was very appropriate for the caregiver. We have so many responsibilities to do every day that we can easily become overloaded.

From Romans 13 (the Message)  - But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. 

It is so easy to get busy with our day to day activities that we forget Him. And yet He is the One who sustains us. My encouragement today is to find just a moment...a quiet moment (and I know that they can be difficult to find), and just be still before Him. And it's a good idea from where we are to find something to thank Him for! We enter His gates with thanksgiving. So just take a moment today to acknowledge Him as your God one more time! (It'll feel great!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Unchangeables

Psalm 15 is a short psalm but it is powerful when we can get ahold of it. David begins with a question in verse 1 and then the other 4 verses are his answer. His question is Who can abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? Then he lists the qualifications.

There are several but we'll only talk about the first one today. David said that those who walk with integrity can dwell in God's tent. Let's add to this thought another Psalm David wrote. In Psalm 101:2 he made a commitment to walk within my own house in the integrity of my heart. If there was any place we don't have to put up appearances it is certainly inside our four private walls! But David said decided that he would have integrity with God - whether anyone was around to watch or not!

There are many things that change around us all the time. Many of us became caregivers because of one incident that happened suddenly. In one moment our worlds changed. But two things did not change just because the world around us changed. One - God still requires integrity of heart. And two, we can still dwell in His holy hill!

He did not put any stipulations about our surroundings or circumstances that could disqualify us from ascending to His holy hill. We are still afforded the privilege of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High! But we are also still held accountable to His standards. He didn't make a separate set of 10 commandments for those who live in less than perfect situations! We, as believers, are still held to the behavior code of all other Bible believing Christians! And we still have all of His benefits and blessings available to us today!

Ephesians 1:3 is still true today He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. Isn't it good to know that He has not changed His mind about our salvation, provision or sustenance? He's still God today - and He will still be God tomorrow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chasing What Matters

Life BC (before caregiving) was probably full of all sorts of activities that just are not possible anymore. For some of us, church was a regular Sunday activity. But attending isn't always feasible for the caregiver. Possibly, it's because our loved one isn't mobile, or it's too early to get up and out. For many it just isn't a practical or even possible. And the church doesn't really know what to do with us since we don't fit the mold. That can leave the caregiver feeling abandoned and really out of place with the religious world.

The inability to "go" to church really stumps the religious folks. How many times have we been "pressured" to  go somewhere. These are well meaning people who really do not understand or comprehend the enormity or the impossibility of the task. But where does that leave the caregiver?

James 1:27 says this:Pure and undefiled religion in the in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. How are we supposed to do that? And what happened to the ranking of attending church? ...it's not mentioned as part of pure religion. (not saying it shouldn't be done.. just that it doesn't rank)

While it may not be possible to get out and visit others, we can contact other shut-ins by phone and we can send cards via postal to people we know are hurting. But the big one is really keeping ourselves unstained by the world. It's so easy to have so many yucky things displayed with cable and Internet being streamed into our homes. Add that to the loneliness that can accompany caregiving and it can be a bad combination! It will take some serious effort to keep ourselves pure. But we can do it!

Our spirit is the part of us that will live on forever...building and encouraging that part of us is the part that will last throughout eternity. The spiritual side of us (and our loved one) should get the most care of all. Nothing that we see - absolutely nothing - will be in eternity with us...we must decide to chase the things that matter and not worry so much about the rest.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jesus Had Schedule Busters Too!

For the caregiver (as with anyone) there are certain things that must be taken care of each day. And there can be a rather lengthy list of more than just important items, many related to health issues, that must be carried out in any given day. And there are things from the other extreme that although they are not pertinent directly to our loved one's health they are important; you know, things like resting, or just watching a movie!

How we react when our schedule gets busted tells us a lot about ourselves. The reactions can range from totally crazy and out there to a quiet, sullen response. A lot of this may depend on your particular personality type as well as your state of mind at the time!

Jesus had a schedule buster too. In Mark 6 He had sent the disciples out to minister. Upon their return they reported all the things they had seen while they were out there. He then told them that it was time for them to go away and rest. (I wish He'd tell me that!) So they went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.(Mark 6:32)

But in the very next verse it says that the people saw them going - and went there too! Jesus' reaction tells us a lot. He was simply moved with compassion  and began to teach them! He didn't complain or start trying to explain why He and His disciples needed some time off...What was in His heart just oozed out to the people driven by compassion.

But then He did something I find really interesting. After they fed the 5000 plus, He put the disciples back in the boat and sent them ahead of Him and He dealt with dispersing the crowd. Talk about the ultimate caregiver moment! He unselfishly took care of His disciples and the crowd! Many leaders today tend to make us think that the followers are to take more care of the leader; but Jesus was the ultimate leader - and He took care of everybody else!

This passage helps me remember that HE is my caregiver! He will take care of me even on the crazy days! He never says It's just too much for me - I'm outta here! He patiently pampers and provides everything I need to get through the day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Perspective: Bondage or Challenge?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the feelings of entrapment. There is not always the liberties of a "normal life" for caregivers. Even if we can come and go at will it can be so much work to accomplish a simple outside task.

I am still so amazed with the book and character of Daniel in scriptures. He was actually a prisoner. His body had been disfigured and tormented. Yet we never hear any complaints coming from the book of Daniel. It's amazing how he made that choice to not defile his mutilated body. His, as well as the three Hebrew children's, tenacity in serving God in spite of their circumstances is inspiring.

In looking at the turmoil in their situations I wondered about how they worked through to find the freedom to serve God even in the midst of their obvious bondages. Did they see their circumstances as such, or did they decide that it was more of a challenge to figure out how to serve God with their whole heart even in the midst of adversity?

What if we changed our perspective on our own personal situations? What if we looked at the apparent bondages and saw them more as challenges today? Perhaps this minor switch may help make today easier to walk through. So for today, I will look at my present situation, not as a hindrance to serving God; but more like a life has issued a challenge. My questions for myself then change from How will I make it through today?  to something more like What can I do to serve Him more effectively from here? or even Can I give Him my all today - even in this prison? Can I praise Him in the midst of the fire?  Not sure yet, but I'm thinking it will change the struggle to look at it as a hurdle rather than an obstacle! Let me know how (and if) changing your perspective works for you today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Step At A Time

One thing that I have learned since becoming  caregiver is that I was taking life for granted. And there are times when I miss my "real life" as I call it. But I am learning to live this one better all the time. I just have to enjoy and embrace each moment as it comes.

I am also a runner (see related blogs!). So I really do understand just putting one foot in front of the other! When I ran my first half marathon I thought about that some. I would pick a target out in front of me and think just run to there. And of course when I got there I'd choose another. Then before I knew it  as already at the 9 mile marker. I was like, wow! that was fast! I could not run the whole marathon all at one time it could only be done one step at a time.

A day can offer many emotional changes and challenges. But it is wisdom sometimes to not look at the entire picture, but only the part you have to handle today....then just walk today out one step at a time.

It only takes finding peace for one moment for it to spill into the next. The apostle Paul told the Colossians to let  the peace of God rule in their hearts. That means I can choose to allow it  to rule rather than what I see or feel for this moment. So take some time today and think about just letting His peace rule for a minute...and then or another...and just one more moment..until His peace has leaked out all through your day!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Looking At Today

Each day we get up - seems to look a lot like yesterday. Most days seem to be the same and it seems silly to expect anything different of today. Sometimes it seems that days are cyclical and just go round and round again with identical tasks repeating themselves...and so we face another day...

It can be easy to get emotionally sucked in when days seem to be the same. And just as easy to sink into the longing for days gone by - you know, back when we had a real life. Back when we could come and go at will and enjoy the park or the zoo for an afternoon. And other luxuries such as shopping for groceries without watching the time so closely, or catching an afternoon movie.But letting the thoughts run freely through the freedoms that have been lost will only bog us down...we really must move into today and embrace it. It's not the grieving over our lost past that causes the biggest problem; it's thinking it will always be this way that gets to us.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. This is good advise which if followed will help us stay ahead of the little game our emotions can play with us. We must keep our thoughts focused on what He wants to do with us today. And while planning for the future is wise and necessary sometimes taking care of today the best we can is the wisest option!

Let's embrace today and make it the best today we can. The responsibilities of today can easily keep us distracted from what He is doing in us. But we must remember that what we see is very temporal. He continues His eternal work in us - His truth is not disrupted or distracted by the facts we see around us. He who began a good work in us - will complete it! That's worthy of meditation today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anxious Thoughts - This Early?

For the caregiver thoughts can run away very quickly; and that's just planning out today! Early in the morning I sit and sort of plan the day, don't you? My mind goes through all the things that need to be done just to get through the day.

Of course number one is taking care of our loved one. Everything else has to revolve around that...if it gets done at all! There's feeding, changing, transferring, making sure they are comfortable, any medications given, dressing...and that's just a few of the things for every day. Don't forget all the arguing you do with the medical profession - pharmacists, therapist (or the lack thereof..)....That doesn' count all the surprises that may come up in a day. And even within the best laid out schedule there has to be much flexibility as you never know what a day will bring!

Add to that just the daily stuff - cooking, laundry, housework, managing finances...and for me - trying to secure enough work online to pay the bills...and it doesn't take long at 5 or 6 in the morning for the thoughts to run away with you. I am so glad that He is not scared of my thoughts - because frankly, sometimes I am! lol

Psalm 94:19 says this: When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. When I read that this morning I just had to smile! What a comfort to know that He patiently waits for our minds to slow down some so He can get a word of comfort in edgewise!

Even with all the activities that go with just making another day - He is there ready to comfort. And His word does indeed console and comfort our hearts. The older I get the more comforting His word becomes. I am so glad that when my thoughts run away with me He doesn't start wringing His hands...He sends His peace and patiently waits for me to recognize it and accept it! His Word is indeed my comfort even when I am momentarily filled with anxious thoughts...let us turn our thoughts to Him today.

Monday, May 16, 2011

We Have What Is Needed

There's an interesting scripture in the first chapter of Daniel. It says And God gave these four men an unusual appetite for learning the literature and science of the time. It's interesting in several different ways. For one, the church and science tend to be at odds a lot of the time, yet we see here that God caused them to enjoy science (and I'll throw in math too!! lol). Sometimes education and "faith" can collide as they seem mutually exclusive - even though they are actually very complimentary.

But the most interesting is that God gave Daniel (and the three Hebrew boys) the ability to learn. They were captives in a foreign land. They had been elevated to live in the castle with the king, but only to see if they could cut the mustard and achieve the high slave status of serving the king. Yet God gave them the ability to learn. Basically, God put in them what they would need to make it through their trial. And trust me, they were tried!

First they are taken from their home land by force only to be made to serve in the king's court. Daniel was royalty in Judah. But here in Babylon he was stripped of his ability to have a "normal" life. He could not marry and bear children and go to war as many young men most likely dreamed about. He was made to be impotent...and forced to serve. Yet God gave him what he would need to make it through.

Remember on in the book of Daniel - he will find himself thrown into a den of hungry lions while the other three will face the fiery furnace...and all because they would not bow to the idolatry around them. Of course this all started here in chapter one when they decided that they would not be defiled with the king's meat. They were not the icon for vegetarianism we try to make them! They simply refused to eat meat offered to idols...they chose purity even if it might mean getting thrown out of the king's palace; or death.But they had been given what they needed to get through the trials.

2Peter 1:3 says to us today His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He has given us what we need to make it through today. It doesn't matter what it looks like, feels like or what kind of trap reality has set for us! We can make it through the fires of today!

Just like God gave Daniel what he was going to need to survive in Babylonian captivity, He has given us what we need to make it through our particular circumstances! It's up to us to trust Him and not bow to idolatrous ways when they present themselves to us. So cheer up! We have what we need to make it through this journey!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Consider Job?

Sometimes Sundays are the most difficult since I spent years going to church. Some caregivers can get out a little more freely, but that certainly does not mean it's as simple as jumping in the car and heading out. There are so many other aspects to take into consideration...so today I decided to consider Job again.

I read the first chapter where he really lost everything. Yet he still worshipped. I don't think  I have passed that test! Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't!

One phrase in the first chapter stands out. When the enemy came to ask permission from God to tempt Job to give up - he said this: Does Job fear God for nothing?  See, Job had everything possible back then. He was one of the richest men in the land and had everything going for him. It seems like when everything is going our way it comes easier to trust God. At least on the surface level it seems so.

With these thoughts it seemed like a good time to stroll through an old favorite again. I thumbed over to Psalm 91.But what I found was that there was absolutely no promise in this favorite psalm that assured us that we would see no trouble. Actually, it's because of the trouble that we seek refuge in the secret place! We seek refuge under His wings (v4) - from nothing? I believe the things listed in the first few verses are destructions that come on the wicked - we see them but are safely hidden in Him...however, there is no false security here that says tough times will not come.

Actually, in verse 15 the Lord assures the psalmist - I will be with him in trouble.  He didn't say that He would keep it from ever happening! Learning to trust sounds so simple doesn't it? It is easy - but much deeper than a surface level occurrence. Our trust and confidence must be that He will fulfill His word  and work in our lives no matter what it looks like to us! He will work His good pleasure - but that doesn't bring any promise of a pain free journey!

I hope to trust God like Job did - even in the face of adversity.He does not make a promise that our flesh will never suffer - but He protects the part of us that is eternal - absolutely nothing can touch that!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Healing the Wounds

No doubt life brings many wounds, I don't think anyone would argue with that. Many times they even come through well meaning (and not so well meaning ) friends! But then for the caregiver sometimes life just hurts!

This is where I was this morning when I woke up. There were tons of questions flooding my heart and mind and not one answer to be found. And it just hurts. There are so many whys and why nots. It can all be so frustrating and painful at the same time!

But while I was thinking and trying to find answers I realized that I just simply need Him. And I really can't work through it without Him. And so these lyrics came into my mind and I wrote them down. Within a few minutes I had a song written entitled simply, Holy Spirit I Need You. Here's the lyrics and you can see the video on my facebook page if you want.

Holy Spirit I Need You
to come touch my heart and make it brand new
without You I really don't know what to do
but I know I'm in desperate need of You!

And so I'm waiting...
I'm waiting here for You
to comfort...Wipe away the pain
and restore the joy like when you first came.

How it helps to simply recognize our need for Him. By many people's standards being so needy  can seem weak - but it truly brings us strength to carry on when we realize how desperately we need Him! So go ahead and need Him today!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Me, Myself and I

Sometimes it is really difficult to think outside of our box. Well, think about it a little bit. We are pretty much at home all (or at least most) of the time. Social interaction can be almost nonexistent as when we do get out it is only to run necessary errands. We listen to sermons who encourage us to reach out to others and most times we are the ones who need a helping hand!

James doesn't help any as he says in the first chapter pure religion and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself unspotted by the world. How are we ever going to measure up when we cannot get out of our space? It's time to be creative!

It will totally change our perspective to see our selves as givers rather than takers. One thing that is simple and inexpensive is to call someone else who you know to be shut-in or in the hospital. It doesn't take but a minute - but you know how much one cheerful phone call can change your day!

Sending cards is another inexpensive way to get out of our own little world. They can just be a "praying for you" or "thought of you today" type card. Blank cards are only a couple of bucks for about 10 of them and stamps are still less than 50 cents. You can make someone else's day by just dropping them a note to say you prayed for them today!

The church gets stuck in a rut sometimes, but we as caregivers do not have to. We can follow the great commission from our homes. We can continue to reach out even when we feel we need to be the one reached out to! It's too easy to get self absorbed into our personal situations. Lighten up your day and that of someone else by being creative and reaching out to someone else today! (maybe if we share some ideas we can come up with a list of creative things we can do together!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cultivating Faithfulness

I think it is pretty well understood that there are good days and bad days. Some days caregiving can be a joy and very rewarding. Then there are days that are dreaded almost before we get out of the bed...One thing we talk about here a lot is that God is faithful...period. No matter what the circumstances and no matter how low we can go it is one thing that we can hold on to; even if we can't quite explain it from here...

This morning I was reading in Psalm 77 as I return there frequently when my mental questions get too many to handle. This time I saw the faithfulness of the writer. We talk about God's faithfulness to us a lot...but what about ours? It's not like we deserve some reward here on earth and we don't even want any recognition at all - but do a self inventory real quick.

Are you still believing Him in spite of circumstances?
No matter what happens - are you still looking to Him for comfort and strength?
Do you continue in His word even when you don't see the answers you desire?
No matter how weak you feel..are you still standing...
and standing...?

congrats - you are faithful!

Psalm 37:3 uses the phrase cultivate faithfulness. I believe that as we continue to pursue Him even in adversity we are doing just that! While we meditate on His faithfulness, realize that you are being faithful in just considering how faithful He is to you! Continue to cultivate that faithfulness to Him..no matter what you see or feel...He is faithful and He put that same faithfulness in you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Circumstance and Faith

Caregivers can come under fire from the church community and be accused of lacking faith. It's a sad truth,but it does happen. Hopefully, you've been spared from such accusations. It's not the church's fault - they really don't know what to do with us because our situations are very different. Some actually expect us to be able to function just like normal people. But we do not have the liberties that many others enjoy.Lots of caregivers are pretty much stuck at home without the freedom to come and go as we would like. It can be devastatingly lonely at times. And then the church ignores us pretty much...maybe they don't know how little it takes...

How can they say we have no faith since our loved one isn't healed? When Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda  there was a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame and withered. Yet He only healed one of them. Did the entire multitude fall into the ranks of the faithless? I think not. To me they had some measure of faith just to be there waiting for the troubled water...

I propose that those who are in extremely adverse situations have great faith. Come on, give yourself a break, you're still believing in Him and looking to Him as your source aren't you? Then you have faith- you still believe in Him!

As a caregiver no doubt there has been some sort of earth shattering tragedy on some level that has put you in your present circumstance. Isaiah 54:10 says this:

For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,
says the Lord who has compassion on you.

Even when our world is shaken, He is not moved. Even though we cannot live the normal life, He has not forsaken us, He has not moved away (like it seems others have), He doesn't look at how our world fell around us to see if He will stay or not - He cannot be moved! His lovingkindness cannot be moved away from us. And actually, I think that this is what sustains us! Let His lovingkindness under gird you today. Rest in Him, trust Him! He cannot be shaken and is never moved by our circumstances.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can I Call In Today?

Do you ever feel like that? You know, like back when we had real jobs and we could just call in if we got up in the morning and needed a day off for whatever reason. Caregivers do not have that option. Even if we get a "day" off it takes quite a lot of organizing and planning to make a short escape. And you can't do it too often because others get tired. Hm...

Anyway - after the big Mother's Day activities and all the emotional swings that goes with that I just wanted to call in this morning. But of course I realized that there's no one to call! It just does not happen and it's not available as an option. So we have to make it through another day!

I am so glad that the Lord doesn't need a day off. And as I was wondering how He was going to have the strength to carry me through another day of caregiving, I came across a very familiar scripture. It's in Isaiah 43:1-3. It is a very familiar passage but there is still living comfort in knowing that when we go through the floods and fires that He is with us. He didn't promise anything remotely close to being able to escape fires and floods; but He promised that they could not have us - because He is the One who is passing through them with us!

So come on caregivers - let's pick it up one more day! Take courage and strength for today knowing that He is indeed walking it through with us.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day! What are you thinking about today?

Holidays can be more stressful than "regular" days. I'm not sure why but it seems they can many times add some additional stress value to the day! And sometimes it can be that it's just another day for the caregiver and that's what the stress is about. It can be for many reasons and in various areas of life that stress comes at a time that is supposed to e beneficial for families...but for the caregiver it can be just one more thing...

Today is a good day to work on directing our thoughts. We will no doubt spend some of the day in reflections about motherhood or our own mothers. And there can be some wonderful thoughts and memories stored away! But because of the delicate condition of our emotions it can end up with adverse effects. So after thinking and appreciating motherhood take your thoughts back to Philippians 4:8.

Paul told the Philippians to think about the good stuff! He said to keep our minds on what is pure and lovely. The easiest way to do this is to choose a scripture or an attribute of God and keep that at the front of our minds for the day. Sure, our minds will have to wonder around and perform many deeds throughout the day. But make that scripture, thought or attribute the reigning factor of the day and always bring your thoughts back to it. Seriously training our thoughts to stay on the things of the Lord will help our overall emotional and mental condition. In Isaiah 26:3 the Lord says I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Me. That's my project for today! Will you join me?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Circumstance and Worship

Sometimes in life as a whole we can all get lost in the shuffle from time to time. It's so important especially for the caregiver that we know who we are...it's too easily laid aside as we care for our loved one.

In the temptation of Christ the enemy was attacking who Jesus was. He kept saying if you are the son of God...and Jesus never addressed it - He as always went to the heart of the matter. It wasn't a question to Him, wasn't debatable and evidently not even doubted enough to speak to. He knew who He was period.

The other thing that stood out to me in this morning's reading was that Jesus wouldn't let Satan touch worship. That's when He drew the line and basically said, get outta here!

These are two key concepts for the caregiver. We must  know who we are and we cannot let worship be disturbed. Our situation does not affect who we are...and that's what we must hold on to. Ephesians and Philippians are great for helping us learn a lot about who we are in Him. It is too easy sometimes to try to measure our spirituality by the natural circumstances. But our circumstances do not dictate who we are in Him! We cannot measure spiritual blessings  by natural possessions. What we have or our social status has literally nothing to do with who we are in Christ. Our possessions are not a reflection of His spiritual blessings.

Today concentrate on who you are in Him, and worship Him. Don't let the circumstance have you - you are His.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ever Feel Like the Energizer Bunny...?

I'm wondering right now if the energizer bunny was on steroids...the commercial always said it keeps going and going... and of course it was advertising long battery life! Well, I'm not on steroids and I'm not really too full of energy but you all know that as caregivers we really don't have any other choice other than to just keep going and going...and going...

What are we supposed to do when we don't feel like going on? There's no choice - we keep going.
What do caregivers do when we get tired but it's morning anyway?  - we keep going.
What if we don't feel like cooking or doing laundry? - we keep going...
And the list of things we do could literally go on forever I think; with transfers, feeding, purchasing incontinent supplies, looking for the best prices online for various supplies, bathing, etc....we just keep going.There's really no time to consider our own needs or how we are feeling, things have to be done for another and we are the ones who must do them.Where do we get the strength to carry on?

Do you ever take a minute to think about all the things that God has to do for us each day? First of all, He keeps us breathing! Jesus said in Matthew that He knows all our needs and that He provides for the lilies and the birds and He'll provide for us as well. Right now I have to believe that this includes providing the strength I need to make it through today.

There are many things that keeps the caregiver going - one of course is the love we have for the person we are caring for. But two things stand out - One that God continues to care for us and never gets tired and Two I look at my son as God's sheep and me the Shepherd charged with his tender care.

When I used to get be involved in prison ministry they used to sing a song and one phrase was and I ain't tired yet! I always reminded them that According to Isaiah 40, God ain't tired yet either! He will not tire of caring for us...and He will not tire of giving us His strength to make another day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why Are You In Despair My Soul?

These are the words of a psalmist perhaps he was simply asking himself why he kept finding himself a the point of despair. He asked it several times in two psalms. I don't dare ask myself this question as I could probably take a few minutes to go down my personal list of why I am depressed items! It can be so easy to slip under the load we are carrying. Then it is difficult to climb out to see daylight in our emotions again!

Te psalmist asked himself why are you in despair my soul - then he gave himself the solution - hope in God. The solution has not changed through the years. When we feel we cannot go on one more minute in our situation - our hope is in God. Emotions may be frazzled, strength wasted away, tiredness has set in - and it's only 8 AM....but our hope remains in the God of hope.

He will strengthen us for the journey - and He has not called us to walk it alone. It may feel like a very lonely journey...as people are sparse. But when our brothers, sisters, friends and acquaintances remain at a distance - God will take us up.

Today remind yourself of His unfailing love, and His sustaining strength. Let Him be the help of your countenance (Psalm 42:11) no matter what you face. We understand that the caregiver is not exempt from the regular trials of life just because we have the responsibility of caring for another. We simply have caregiving plus  all the regular trials that come with life. You know - money, bills, food, clothing, doing laundry...and the list goes on. We have exactly the same stuff to do as everyone else and then we have to completely take care of another person too...It's not an easy walk any way you look at it...but we do not have to walk it in despair. We can walk it in His hands...as our souls wait for Him and hope in Him the despair will fade away.

Remember that He cares for that eternal part of us - the part that doesn't die. That's how deep His protection for us runs. And even if our flesh fails...He is the hope of our heart- of our spirit man. And of that He will not let go!

Monday, May 2, 2011

God of Hope

Yesterday I participated in (and finished) a half marathon. After about 9 miles my body was hurting and by 11 miles my feet and toes and back and...pretty much everything was hurting so badly I really wanted to quit. Since it was raining I didn't wear my mp3 player so I had lots of time to think.

The pain was pretty intense and I wanted to stop because of it. This made me think of the caregiver quite a lot. Our entire situation can be filled with intense emotional pain. We have pretty much lost the life we knew to take care of a person we love. Emotions run in many directions from being saddened by our loved one's condition, to the loss of their mobility and independence and the loss of our own to all sorts of painful decisions that must be made almost daily. But like the marathon runner we just cannot stop for the pain.

I think the difference is that there is no finish line  to run towards. It's never really settled, it just goes on. But we keep running anyway. Every day we get up and take care of our loved ones while many (or most) times not meeting our own needs...it's just part of the caregiving race. It can feel hopeless... but it's not.

God is the God of hope. We can gain peace from the truth that He has not left us to run this race alone, He is running it with us. I've always told my son I can't walk it for you but I can walk it with you.  And somehow I feel God does the same for and with us.

This God of peace, comfort and joy is our God and He is traveling this painful road along with us. Romans 15:13 says May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That's my prayer for the caregiver today - that He will fill us with hope to continue the race life has set before us...and I know He will! Rejoice in His hope today!