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Showing posts from June, 2011

Renewal Sounds Good

2 Corinthians 4:16 is on the when I get in trouble list of first scriptures. It's easy to find ourselves facing situations that press us to give up. For the caregiver this can be many times throughout one day! It can be so tempting to lose heart ...Even our "good" days can be full of trials and it the loneliness experienced by many can push us into a corner of despair.  But Paul is instructing the Corinthian church here to not lose heart ...even if the outer man is decaying, or seems to be losing strength.The book of 2 Corinthians (is really the fourth letter to the church in Corinth) was written during one of the toughest times in the apostle's life. He has been through the ringer (check it out in chapter 11) and yet he still picked up his pen and wrote to them that it was no time to lose heart ! Wow, what spiritual stamina the man must have had. Or perhaps it was just  a genuine loving care for the church there at Corinth. This helps me see a softer side of this g

Unique Connections

Did you ever feel like your prayers were being said in vain? Like the heavens are brass or something and they really aren't getting through? (maybe it's just me!) Sometimes it's easy to just stop praying at all; when we don't get what we want . But I am not sure that for the true believer that is really ever possible. See we are connected to God in a very unique way and I have yet to figure out a proper analogy to help my understanding. (and as a reminder - caregivers still have every promise in the book too! There are no scriptures that we are exempt from. There are no exclusionary statements in my Bible that say unless you are a caregiver... and this holds true for promises as well as discipline and the expectations He has of all Christians - caregivers or not!)  John 14:23 tells us that when we love God we will keep His word. And when that happens God will in return meet our level of intimacy and He will dwell in us. I got that - He is in us...no problem. Back i

Oh! Those Emotions!!

You know how easily the caregiver's emotions can jump around! (or is it just me?) It's like we live on the edge and any tiny little thing can tip us right on off. Frustrations can build and there can seem to be no quick way to reel it all back in. And for me - I get just plain mad...at the situation, at the church, at other people, and yes... at God. (not that this is very profitable - but at least it's honest!)  I really think He understands though. He created us to have emotions and His love (which is an emotion and an action) is what drove Him to make sure that man had a way to get back to Him. He knows that we are just flesh... He created us! He realizes that we are only dust ...but made in His image. And according to Psalm 139 He is very intimately acquainted with all of our ways to the point that He knows our words before they were thoughts.That's just amazing to me...that God is so vast - and yet took such care with the intricate details of our makeup.  It&#

Practicing Thankfulness

It's funny how people who honestly don't know can think that because we are home all day things don't get busy or hectic for the caregiver! It's like they expect that since we are home all day we don't have a thing to do! lol! Ever heard that one?  The truth is that it can go from slow to hectic in the matter of a couple of seconds! (..or less! lol!) Let one little thing on our daily schedule get out of sync and BAM! It's like the familiar picture of the dominoes once the chain reaction starts... and it only escalates from there...or is that a limited thing - does it only happen to me?  Sometimes what makes my day so hectic is actually a blessing. That's when it's important to take time to be thankful for the blessing and not let the hectic scene have our attention...instead of complaining to God about all the things I need to get done before going to bed at night - I'm learning to stop and change my perspective into a thankfulness for the bless

God Our Stronghold

I am not sure we can fully understand what a stronghold is today. Or maybe I should say that I don't know of a literal stronghold. That just means that it is time to use the imagination!  I would think that it is a safe place, a place to be able to fight from and not give up any ground to the enemy. Since I didn't know - I googled it! My concept was pretty close. It's what I would call a fort ; definitions I read said it was a fort made of wooden stakes and usually located on a hill. But it also said that a castle was one of the most common types of strongholds. And get this - who lives in a castle? "the king or territorial lord." Okay - now I'm rolling with it! God is our king! He is also the territorial Lord of my whole being. He won this territory of my soul a long time ago as I surrendered my territory to His Lordship! And now - I live in His castle with Him! I am crucified with Christ, right? (Gal. 2:20) I don't think I could come up with a safer

A Fruitful Vine

It can be very easy to slip into oblivion...I mean, who would know? Fighting with thoughts like this can be a daily struggle for caregivers. There's the aloneness that cannot really be described to those who do not understand. Besides the depression that can try to take hold there's a sense of barrenness that has to be fought...and it is indeed a fight of faith for many.  Our trouble with thinking we are spiritually barren is tied up in the church's perception of fruit. Organized religion says that our fruit are all those things that we are doing inside the church. They consider teaching Sunday School, leading worship, helping with the church yard or cleaning the church to be fruit. Never mind that Jesus talked about none of these things when He talked about the sheep in Matthew 25. His sheep will visit the sick, and visit the prisoner, along with feeding the hungry. He didn't say that they attended Sunday School or Wednesday night Discipleship classes, did He?  

God Doesn't Know?

Isaiah 40 is a long time favorite chapter for many. It has some amazing thoughts about how God  created the world, measuring sand and water in the palms of His hands; how He formed the mountains and shaped the earth. Most of the time we read this chapter and keep it isolated yet Isaiah starts a discourse in chapter 40 that runs all the way through to the end of chapter 44.  If we look at it in its entirety the prophetic speech goes all the way through to verse 8 of chapter 44. I kind of look at it like verses6-8 of chapter 44 are like the God's exclamation point at the end of His thoughts. Verse 8 says this:   Do not tremble and do not be afraid Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are my witnesses Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none. God had spoken some pretty awesome things in the previous chapters and here He is telling His own children that they have no need to fear. And the God asks and answers His own ques

A Valley View

As a caregiver, do you ever feel like you sort of live in a valley? You know, it's a low spot, sometimes really pretty but it's down in the bottom. The trouble with a valley is that no matter which direction you go to try to get out - it's going to be an uphill battle!  But if we can view the valley from a different perspective, maybe its beauty will increase! For one thing, crops are not usually grown on mountain tops. Well think about it. When's the last time you saw anyone climb a mountain to reap a harvest? The view from up there is beautiful, but all you can do is look at all the other places there are to go! You cannot really do much on the mountain.  Another thing to consider about the valley is the water supply. The water flows down from the mountain to provide clear, clean water in the valley. If I'm not mistaken it only takes about 50 feet of traveling through natural rocks to cleanse the water and make it pure and natural again.So the water on the to

Singing in the Shadow

Psalm 57 has long been a favorite psalm for me. I found the first verse back in 1987 when I was ill. I was taken from doctor to doctor and no one could find anything specific, we were all left wondering why I had no appetite and had shriveled up to nothing. I did not have the energy to walk across the room. I would crawl across the floor, then lay and rest for a moment before being able to continue...lots of questions without any answers.  That's where I was when I discovered the first verse of this psalm. I didn't have the strength to hold my Bible up but I could usually read one verse before having to lay it back down. I would hold my Bible up and read this verse before strength ran out again. Eventually, I memorized it. It says this: Be gracious to me. O God be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I take refuge until destruction passes by... The old KJV says until calamities have passed. I have held on to this scripture t

Point of View

I was reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest  this morning. One of the subjects that he returns to a lot is abandonment to God. He speaks openly and honestly about this reckless abandonment to Him, total surrender. Honestly, the first thing that went through my mind was from here? Life as a caregiver hasn't too much left to give up sometimes! But then I realized we are really in the perfect spot to give it all to Him.  Not one of our Bible heroes lived in ideal conditions. Joseph was in prison, Daniel was a captive, Jesus was born while kings were killing babies and beheading prophets. Even the early church thrived under much severe persecution! Why should the requirements change just because of our situations? No matter where we are in this journey of life we can give ourselves to Him.   We can give in to our circumstances so easily; I mean, face it - it's tough! There is not one thing that is easy or comfortable about being a caregiver...all the more rea

The Birds Are Still Singing

The birds are just singing and chirping away outside this morning. They at least sound happy! Jesus used nature a lot in His parables as He explained the kingdom to the crowds and His disciples. Hearing the birds this morning brought to mind the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus was explaining about how the Father takes care of the birds, and He will take care of us as well.  Jesus started by telling the crowd no to worry about life, food or clothes. He instructed them to consider the birds. They do not have to grow a garden, or reap a harvest. He went on to say yet your heavenly Father feeds them. And He followed that by saying are you not worth much more than they? There has never been a time when I looked out the window and saw a bird wringing its wings worried about where the next meal is coming from! lol! Jesus is careful to tell us that it is God, the Father, who is feeding and caring for the birds of the air; and we are worth so much more to Him than these little critters!

Don't Weep For Me

No one would argue with the fact that the life of a caregiver is difficult. There's just so many responsibilities on top of the normal ones like cooking, cleaning...and breathing! It takes a sort of a mastermind to get it all done in a day sometimes...don't you agree? (okay - at least organization and willpower!)  Although none of us would ever chose to walk this way if some sort of tragedy had not happened, there are some things I think we have all learned along the troubled path. Even in the daily turmoil, there's a calm understanding of God as our refuge...as our strength...our comforter...our source...our peace...our love. These are things we might not have been able to take the time to find out before in our (what we thought were) busy lives!  Joel 3:16b says the Lord is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the children of Israel. I only thought I knew of His safety before; and I would have never know what a strong refuge He is --before. And although I a

Call to Intimacy

By the time you actually become a caregiver there's already been some sort of big ordeal in your life. You're not going to wake up in the morning and say, "I'm a caregiver now." Some series of events had to have happened that placed you in the position to chose it. Something, sometime had to of broken your heart...for each of us although the journey is similar - they are all uniquely different at the same time. No matter what catapulted us to the place of caregiving, i t had to hurt. And many times caregiving bears with it a hurt that does not go away...it's a living pain so deep it cannot be explained. No one can really understand it. No one can fix it. No one can make it go away...it's just there underneath the surface. The pain of being a caregiver is many faceted...because somewhere in the mix we lost our own lives in the shuffle. Psalm 34:18 says this to us today The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Today,

Stir it Up!

One of the most discussed topics at online caregiver support groups is the loneliness. It seems to be a common thread that runs through the very core of the pain and heaviness that comes with the territory. And for many it comes because of the lack of ability to get out. For some it's possible to get out on occasion, but so difficult and challenging it's just not practical. So there is not too much contact with the outside world...and that means no church attendance either. This can be draining for the caregiver. That means that Bible study, devotions and fellowship with God is even more necessary. Sure, there may not be a "Christian support group" (which can be the role the church plays for many) to encourage us in our walk, and even though it's not necessary for our spiritual growth, it would be nice! But once again it's left solely in our hands to stir ourselves up to seek the Lord. Honestly, it's an individual thing for everyone, not just the caregi

Body, Soul and Spirit

God created us to be a triune being, meaning we are comprised of three parts - we are a spirit being, we have a soul, and all this is housed in our body. Our body is the only temporary part of us and yet we worry more about it than the other two parts many times! Of course it must be well taken care of as it is the only way we can keep our soul and spirit here on earth. It is interesting to note that there are three consecutive chapters in Isaiah that generally cover all three areas. Isaiah 53,54 and 55. Actually, Isaiah 53 covers all three in itself, but much of it is speaking of the body; or perhaps it is just that we apply it more to the healing of the body - it speaks of all three parts of man in this chapter alone. But in its general reference it is talking about literal stripes upon the physical body of Christ which brings healing to our physical body as well. (side note: just because we do not see our loved ones raised up in an instant does not mean God does not still heal...

Are You Comfort - Able?

Yeah, I know I sort of made up a knew word, comfort-able is not the proper spelling but it conveys the thought...or should in a minute when I get done! lol ! The cares of the day can start very early in the morning and last long into the night for caregivers. And for some it can also mean a sleepless night, even at best sleep may be broken up into little pieces. Caregivers have to find some comfort somewhere. Most of  the ones who are reading a "devotional" will probably admit that God is the source of comfort. Jesus even said in John 14:16 that He was sending us the Comforter . That the Holy Spirit would walk with us and help us. But the question today is this: are you comfort- able ? Will you allow the Lord to bring comfort to your soul? We don't like to think about it - but it will require some action on our part as well. We will have to make up our minds to slow down for a minute, and let Him comfort our souls. In Psalm 46:10, David penned, Be still and know tha

Are You Wearing Clothes?

Well, of course you are! And the birds are still singing too! These two things are sure signs that God is still at work and has not forgotten us. Matthew 6:25-33 is a familiar and wonderful passage about God's concern and care for us, His children. He explains that we cannot add one little inch to our height or one hour to our lives by worrying about it. Of course, we actually know the opposite. Worrying effects our body in very negative ways and it can actually mean a shorter life if we spend lots of time worrying. I found out early on in my life of caregiving that worry didn't help anything! It didn't bring in money, make my son better, or for that matter, make any part of the day better. And in this passage, we are reminded that God sees all of that ...and more! He is fully aware of our troublesome situations, He is aware of the loneliness, and He is not ignorant of our struggles. If He takes such good care of birds and grass why would we think He would do less for u

Truth Vs Fact

The story of Gideon in Judges 6 has always fascinated me. Here is Gideon determined to not let the enemy have his crops. The scene opens with him hiding from the Midianites and this angel appears and actually calls him a man of valor. Could he not see that Gideon was in hiding ? The fact was that Gideon was hiding from the enemy - the truth was that inside he was a mighty warrior. We've given him a bum rap all these years over the facts and forgot about the truth that God saw concerning Gideon. The facts for a caregiver are that we feel very incapable at times, feel alone and many times very weak. But the truth about us is that we are able to face another day because of the strength God provides. The truth is that God is walking this journey with us and we are never really alone (no matter how deep that valley may feel!!!). And the truth is that we may look weak - but it takes more courage for us to get up each morning to face a new day doing what we do - than pretty much anyo

Where Did Everyone Go?

Psalm 139 is a greatly used psalm, but we mostly use it to tell our children how special they are to God. So special of course that they were wonderfully made, and how God was watching and supervising their growth in the womb. However, this psalm is for adults too! God did not abandon us when we got older did He? The Psalm begins with out intimately acquainted God is with our ways. Some days, honestly, that seems a little intrusive, don't you think? It can be scary to think that He knows our thoughts even before they are formed! He knows our thoughts, our words, our works and even our every movement! Now the point is of course, not that God is watching over us to whop us if we make a wrong move; it's more that He is so deeply concerned about us that He is constantly keeping a watch on our soul. In a time in our lives (as caregivers)when we can feel so very abandoned and alone...He is still watching. Maybe we do not understand where everyone went. When tragedy first stri

Where Do You Run?

Proverbs 18:10 says simply: the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe. There is nothing like tragedy or trouble to find out how fast we can get there! Throughout life there are many times we can find ourselves running to Him as our source of safety. Honestly, I wouldn't have any idea where else to go; and I really don't mind that at all. Those of us about 50 ish remember the 70's and how in some church circles it became the norm to sing choruses. This scripture was one that was sung frequently. If we could put a tune to it - we'd sing it! Old King James and all! And we could sing them over and over and over again! But we actually memorized them while we were doing so! And now we see a new generation coming up behind us and you know what, they are not singing it like us - but the song really hasn't changed much. And I'm finding out that even young people know where to run when trouble strikes! They have found the same comfo

Conquerors!

A very quoted scripture comes from Romans 8. Verse 28 is probably way overused and highly misunderstood! We tend to use it for everything in our lives that does not make sense. But it is so comforting to know that no matter what is going on in our lives He can somehow work it out for good, and for His own purposes. That sounds good, but I'm not sure we'll ever really understand it! Further on in this chapter (one of my favorites!) is verse 31 - if God is for us who could be against us? I really love that scripture. It holds so true for all our Bible heroes that we've studied all these years.We just forget that it's true for us as well. Actually, we would not worry about this aspect too much if there were not situations or persons who were against us! Immediately following this favorite is a list of some terrible things. tribulation, distress, persecution, famine...and that is followed by two things that I will meditate on today and I hope you will too. One - that

Faith That Meets His Approval

Sometimes scriptures don't seem too fair. Like the one in Daniel 3. The three Hebrew children are facing a fiery, hot furnace when they make their statement of faith, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us...but even if He doesn't ...we will bot worship you gods... and we know that they indeed did get thrown into the furnace. But we also know that they walked out unscathed! And even though God did not keep them from being thrown in, in the end He did deliver them. Of course, when they made their faith statement they knew God's ability, but were unsure of His actions. They did not presume that God would step in. But what if He hadn't? As caregivers it's easy to see that He hasn't stepped in so far to rescue us out of the situation - because we are still in it. That does not mean that at any point He won't either! He may come riding in on a white horse and redeem the situation. And although that complete deliverance is possible, it hasn't happened