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Showing posts from 2015

Points for Breathing

Do you ever wake up some mornings and think you should get some bonus points just for breathing? I did this morning, there's just so much to get done and a short time to do it. The caregiver's day is full already with our normal  stuff, but add in even a small bit of holiday planning and personally, I can go over the edge. When I'm on overload like that my response is to go into shut down mode. Today I will fight that since there really is a lot to do. Many don't realize how difficult it can be to plan holiday shopping even just for groceries for the caregiver. The aide will be here for about 3 hours today and I have to exchange a gift and get groceries for the holiday; plus stock up on a few things for the approaching winter storm. Later today everything will be closed - tomorrow is a holiday and Saturday we are having a family Christmas get together just before (hopefully) the winter storm hits. Honestly, I get all stressed out thinking about trying to get all t

Worth the Wait

When my son was first injured, it took awhile for emotions to settle down. I remember spending lots of energy grasping for answers as to why this tragedy had happened and just trying to pick up all the broken pieces of my life. Just picking them all up was enough for awhile without any thought as to how I might start putting them back together. There really are not words to describe the rush of emotions that occurred during those first few weeks, or for that matter the years to follow. I can't even begin to imagine what Job felt like when in a very short time he lost all of his children. He also lost all of his income and wealth and then of course eventually his health was also affected. Honestly, I can say I did not have a response like Job.  Oh, I wish I could say I feel to my knees in worship declaring Blessed be the name of the Lord, but I cannot. I was angry, frustrated and felt cheated out of life. And if I'm totally honest - those emotions still run around inside m

The Power of Singular

We ended last week in Psalm 34 and I want to start out this week with it. Last week I shared several points that stood out to me but one particular verse really stuck with me. The first part of verse 7 says this: the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him.... What really got my attention was that "angel" is singular and not plural. In my mind when I've seen, read or heard this verse I've interpreted it as the "angels of the Lord" were camped all around me. I actually had a visual of me sitting by a nice, cozy fire in the middle and thousands of angels surrounding me on all sides. So when I was reading this Psalm last week the fact that it is just the "angel of the Lord" really grabbed my attention. It honestly messed up my picture I had saved in my mind. Just one angel?  Is that because I am not important enough for a whole troop? (lol) Or is it because the angel is so powerful - we only have need of one? (Think about that for a

Just What I Needed to Hear!

In my personal devotions this morning I was just skipping around through the psalms. I love the psalms as they are open and honest about emotions and the psalmists have unique ways of expressing how they really feel. Today I was honestly looking for some sort of connection to try and sort through some of my own emotions and stumbled on Psalm 34. This particular psalm was written by King David. The background of Psalm 34 helps me remember that our Bible heroes did not have fairy tale lives. Most of them are our heroes because  of their situations and because of how they faced  their fears and foes. This one is no different. The history behind Psalm 34 is found in 1 Samuel 21. David is running from Saul and had been for some time. We can read about his flight from Saul in a matter of a few minutes without giving thought to the fact that this went on for years. He slept many nights in camps and caves before he ever made it to the castle. He runs to Achish the king of Gath only to be

Whatever You Do...

For my personal devotions this morning I was reading in Colossians and stopped in chapter three to ponder a few things. As usual, some things stood out and led me to start asking myself and God a lot of questions. (It's okay - He's used to it! lol) But eventually I worked my way through the whole chapter and began to focus on something that caught my attention for today. Verses 17 and 23 both start with the phrase: Whatever you do.  While verse 17 focuses on words and deeds, verse 23 focuses on work. If I think about these three things - they really cover a lot.  To me, Paul seems to be encouraging the believers to put a lot more effort and thought into every single thing they do - and to make sure it is all done for the Lord.  Now as a caregiver, I think we do what we do  for our loved ones because of our love for them - who they are in our lives - what they mean to us; and that's totally acceptable and applaudable. Nothing wrong with it - it comes from our hearts be

Handled with Grace

Sometimes I catch myself being very frustrated - at well, everything. For caregivers there's not usually a simple  or even what we might call a normal way to do the normal  things of life. It seems that everything is so much more complicated as we adjust to our new normals. Even the most basic of our everyday tasks are so much more complicated than anyone can imagine unless they've been there or done it. For me, and many of us, it's like having a 150 pound baby all.the.time. And recently, my mom who is in the early stages of dementia stayed with me and I had my son who has a TBI and can do nothing for himself, plus my mom who can still do things for herself, but is like having a small child around who has to be watched constantly. So I'm getting a glimpse into some of the other types of caregiving. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a pretty high strung individual - mostly high energy, hyper and probably ADD but never diagnosed. lol Think about it

Not What I Wanted to Hear!

Earlier this week I mentioned that Paul was in the darkest place of his life when he wrote 2 Corinthians. He gives a rather detailed list in chapter 11 of the many things he suffered as well as the load of his responsibilities concerning the church. Moving on to chapter 12 we get a small glimpse of some type of physical ailment he was suffering. He says he had a thorn in the flesh  most historians agree it was some sort of physical difficulty. It must have been lingering and nagging as Paul says he asked God three times to be relieved of it. I'm like, three times? That's it?  Maybe he gave up on asking and maybe he was content with the answer he shares with his readers in the verses following. As caregivers it's tricky emotionally asking God for relief. It's not that we mind taking care of our loved ones - we are honored to do so and we are fueled by love for them much the same way as the force of love held Jesus to the cross for us our love holds us by their sides

When Life Conflicts with Faith

Do you ever feel like your life is in direct conflict with your faith? I have had those times when it sure seemed like it. I wonder if Paul felt that way when he was held captive because of his faith. Early on this caregiving journey I had to sort through a lot of those feelings and came to realize that my faith had to be redefined. I've talked about it a lot - how faith doesn't prevent "bad" things from happening - it's what carries us through.  I think Paul was in one of those conflicting moments as he penned 2 Corinthians. Some days I totally relate to chapter 7 where he says they experienced conflicts without and fears within.  Actually, that sums up many days as a caregiver. I have battled so many fears in my thoughts. We've discussed some of them like what does the future look like? Will I be able to care for my loved one as I get older? How long can I physically provide for my son? What happens if I get sick, hurt, ect.? These thoughts can run ramp

Just Keepin' it Honest

We seem to get used to the way the psalms are frank and honest about emotions and feelings. Somehow it's perfectly okay for a psalmist to say they were overwhelmed, feeling oppressed or forgotten and generally without hope. I find myself in the psalms a lot just because of the openness about emotions. But I really didn't expect it from Paul! Over the weekend I read 2 Corinthians and just let it soak in. One thing that really stuck out this time was how open and honest Paul was about his feelings. In the eighth verse of chapter one, Paul uses three phrases to describe their "affliction" while they were in Asia: burdened excessively beyond our strength despaired even of life While our days as caregivers are challenging, and that's putting it mildly - I don't normally have all three of these feelings at one time. Oh, trust me, there are those times when we are totally overwhelmed and we feel these three and can add some more to the list!  I gu

Living in the Land of Giants

One thing I try to guard against is negativity. We know as caregivers, some days are more difficult than others - but every day is a challenge. It's like we don't have just one Goliath story - we have several of them and sometimes more than one giant to take out every single day - as if we were living in the land of giants.  After 7 years I have grown somewhat accustomed to this new normal. I'm not so self conscious about taking Chris out - even feeding him in public is becoming easier. I hate to admit it - but I will to you - but I have all these pre-prepared speeches ready to go if anyone dares to say a word! lol Even though we can battle constantly with "negative" emotions like frustrations or depression - it's not like we are all wallowing around crying and moaning about our situations all the time. Yes, we have a very different  life than most others. And for those of us who can take our loved ones and get out more - it's just not the same. It&#

Good Morning!

Today was one of those mornings when I woke up tired. I sat with coffee cup in hand and became even more tired just thinking about all that has to be done today and over the next few days. Caregiving alone can tax a body, you know? And then add in other issues that go along with life and it can be double overwhelming. This morning I came across an old time favorite scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23 which says: The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. One of my recurring thoughts about this scripture is that it's never morning  for God. He lives in a perpetual state of day.  There is no darkness in Him - no night. So how could His mercies be new every morning ? We are the ones waking up to a new day - He remains constant. This can only mean that they are new for us - on purpose.  On His purpose. He purposefully pushes the "refresh" key and holds it down so it'

He Knows

So much can happen in the day of a caregiver. Not only do we have all our regular  tasks and chores necessary to taking care of our loved ones - we have life too. In some ways we are just like everybody else . We have bills to pay, errands to run, houses to clean, family situations to deal with and occasionally a friend or two to catch up with. But let one little thing get outta kilter and boy is it more than chaotic. (Maybe that's just me! smile) The thing is for caregivers that many of the "normal" occurrences of life are on top of an already heavy load. Aging parents, sick relatives, other tragedies and stuff.... life...still happens. It doesn't stop just because we are caregivers. It can be overwhelming sometimes. It is important to note though - that good things happen too - we still have grandchildren, a phone call from an old friend, unexpected gifts or even the kindness of a stranger - can brighten our day too. The point is that life simply does not pause

Has God Changed?

I'm late getting today's devotion up because I'm doing double duty this week. My mom is here with me and my son since she can no longer stay by herself. The best thing my siblings and I could come up with was for her to stay here with me until my daddy returns from a funeral out of state. At first I was a little stressed. As caregivers you know how full our days are and how much it takes to take care of one other whole person - but two? My mom is showing early signs of dementia and at least can take care of herself. So this morning I was a little more  overwhelmed than usual and it took me a little while longer to get myself together. It was time to get Chris up but he was sound asleep so I let him sleep, picked up my guitar and started playing along with my mom. We did tons of older hymns and choruses from days gone by. In the midst of the struggle I started thanking God for my heritage and history in Him. What came to mind was Psalm 77. The psalmist starts out cal

A Different Kind of Finish Line

I've run quite a few races somewhere around 122 now over the 6 years since I started running. I've crossed every single finish line of every race I started. I've crossed some feeling like I could take on the world, and crossed some in so much pain I though I've never run again. Some races are good and some are endured. This photo is the first race I ever took my son to. I am working on being able to take him to more - just working out some chair issues. I started running just after I became a caregiver as it was a way to work out frustrations and stress. No matter how I have crossed each finish line the point for me is that I've showed up - and kept going. I'm not fast but I don't have to be. I just have to be in the moment. Here's why I was thinking about running this morning. My thoughts first started in Psalm 61 as it's my go-to psalm when I feel totally overwhelmed like I do today. My emotions are all over the place and my thoughts seem so

The Big Picture

One of the things I've dealt with all my life is rejection. Finding myself in a caregiving position made those feelings go a little deeper as I actually felt rejected by life.  I didn't feel like I was part of the "big picture" and the rest of the world was passing me by as I sat in my comfy caregiver's cave. My first reaction to feelings of insignificance always takes my thoughts to Psalm 139. I like how it describes God seeing us being formed in the womb and how He is knows us literally inside and out. But then the psalm goes on to say that He wrote all the days ordained for us  in His book before we ever lived one. On one hand I fall to my knees and exclaim how special that is - that the creator has literally walked all my days before me. That's really cool if you think about it for a bit. But then on the other hand, I'm like, Really? This  is what you wrote for me? This is it?  There can be so many whys for the caregiver and scriptures that use

Famine of the Soul

Have you ever had those days where you feel like life is dragging you into the deep dark mire of depression? You can feel its grip tightening with every breath and it's reflecting in every sluggish move. I have to admit I feel that way today. I can't blame it on any one thing - but a series of events have had this effect on me and honestly I don't always know how to get out or break its grip. As I opened my Bible this morning, mostly out of habit to be truthful, my eyes fell on a couple of verses out of Psalm 32. Verses 7 says this: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.  This is what I call a "two-way" psalm because between verse 7 and 8 it changes from second person to first person - like God is answering the psalmist. These are cool to me because it's like God interrupts the psalmist mid stream to get His thoughts in. Because verse 8 just pops out of nowhere with: I will instruct you and teach

Let Me Hear

This morning during my devotions I came across this one little phrase in Psalm 142:8. It sort of just jumped out at me really and it says: Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You. My eyes were just drawn to it and I began meditating on it, and it became my prayer. You see this morning, like most mornings, I woke up with my huge "to do" list running full speed in my head. As usual I got up, made coffee, changed and bolused Chris, then sat down at the computer trying to figure out where I was going to start on the long list of work I have to do for clients. Then I thought about just skipping devotions since I have so much to do today. Chris has therapy, I started a new class and I have tons of work to get done. I'm tired already, *sigh*. But I decided to take the time to put first things first and this scripture all but jumped off the page at me. I really do need to hear His lovingkindness.  But how do you hear  lovingkindness, especially wh

Anticipating the Need

My son is non-verbal which can make it difficult sometimes to figure out what he is wanting or why he is uncomfortable. I usually say I'm pretty good at playing "guess and check" where I guess what to fix and then see if that's what makes him happy. It seems like I'm right most of the time but of course I never really know. Sometimes I wish he could just tell me he needs some Tylenol; or that he's ready to go lie down. But he can't. I've had to figure out his silent signals and interpret what he needs or desires. On one hand, it seems like we've been working on that for some time - but actually it sort of came naturally. Probably because we are connected at the heart. I think when it comes to communicating with God as our caregiver it can be similar, not that we can't tell Him what we need, but that sometimes we  don't really know  what we need. He can interpret our silent pleas for help. Along the journey there have been times I'

The Caregiver's Caregiver

Last week while I was writing one of the devotions I made some sort of statement about how God is our ultimate caregiver. So this week I will be taking a closer look at how He caregives for us.... We've talked many times about how we look like Him  when we care for our loved ones. We exhibit several qualities when we demonstrate our love for our loved ones by taking care of their needs. We are up-close-and-personal with our loved one and totally engaged in making sure their needs are met - usually long before we ever even acknowledge any of our own needs...that's just the way it is. One of the characteristics of a caregiver is as provider. I do everything in my power to provide whatever my son needs. As a caregiver - their needs are of the utmost importance. Sometimes that means just covering the basic stuff like food, shelter and love. But we also do whatever else is necessary like range of motion, creating social outlets, shopping, just about anything needed that is in

The Power of Silence

Last night I was reading up on a new blog and it was talking about the power of being silent. The writer was discussing pain and adversity and how sometimes there is simply nothing to say and it's okay. This got me to thinking about Job's friends and how when they heard of his distress they came and just sat with him. They didn't say a thing, which we learn later was a good thing! But they just sat and mourned with him in his time of loss. When my son was first in the hospital I had a friend who did just that. She flew in and came and just sat. I was staying in his room with him as he was in isolation there was room for a couple of chairs. She just sat with me for 4 days. There really wasn't anything to say to make it better....but she was there. What caregivers find out way too soon is how fast people can just disappear from their lives. When they don't know what to say, or don't know how to make it better , they silently walk away. But it's quite a

Is there a scripture for that?

One of the things I do that drives other people simply mad is needing a scripture for almost everything. But as we know from life in general, as well as caregiving, there's not always a scripture to match a particular situation. When I am afraid, I can run to Psalms and find passages to help calm my fears. If I come up on financial struggles, I can find scriptures pertaining to God as our provider. Even when I am sick, I can run to our standard group of healing scriptures. And if I don't find immediate relief in any of these circumstances, finding a scripture or passage that is related helps give me something to stand on. Even when the tasks associated with caregiving become overwhelming I have a set of Psalms handy to remind me where to take a heavy or burdened heart - right back to Him. But it can be difficult to find a scripture that pertains to everything - caregiving or not. There are tons of little things that we don't talk about but that can nag at us. I'

Why Does He Sing?

One of the biggest things I had to work through when I became a caregiver was music. I have played the guitar since I was about 13 (won't say how many years that has been!) and I've played the keyboard now for about 20 or so years. I also wrote poetry - started that sometime during my teen years and didn't even realize it for a long time. I don't know why. Over time the two began to blend together and I wrote music, mostly worship songs. Right after my son's wreck I penned a few songs from a raw emotional state. And then I stopped. Music died. I didn't even want to listen to music much. My son had been a drummer and a song writer and an accomplished musician. It broke my heart to hear music of any kind; and sometimes it made me downright mad. But over the last few months I have begun to return to that part of my heart and have a look around. I miss my son's music, but I was also missing my own. And I missed hearing Him  sing over me. Zephaniah 3:16 sa

Behind the Wheelchair

There were a lot of things that changed about my life when I became a caregiver. I used to run on "go" all the time, loved to be in a crowd, and enjoyed hiking, a lot. The social isolation has been one of the most difficult aspects of caregiving for me. But I didn't really change that much as "me" - I just had to change a lot of what I did. I was still the same person who loved the same things I did before caregiving became my lot in life. I just had to stop many of the things I was doing because something more important needed to be taken care of, my son. Even though I've always been a very (and I mean very) social and personable person, it's more difficult to develop relationships now for me. I know one reason is that we can't do  some of the things others do to build relationships. You know, there's no meeting up for a movie, a cup of coffee or a walk in the park. Even if we do schedule it we have to be willing to drop our plans at the

When in Doubt

When I woke up this morning I was having lots of trouble adjusting my attitude. I'm sure that's foreign to many of you - but after a night of tossing and turning it just happens. When sleep evades me - attitudes abound. Did you ever just doubt it all? I doubt He loves me, doubt He cares for me, doubt  He is with me, doubt He protects me... and the list goes on and on. My mind goes fast so in a matter of seconds I can have every area "covered" in doubt and frustration. My thoughts run along lines like if He loves me and truly cares for me why has this happened to me? Is this  what He really thinks about me and my son? I'm sure I'm the only one who has these little switches that get flipped and then a barrage of questions are hurled out all at one time. It seems worse during times of illness whether it is me or my son. This morning I got my son bolused and situated and then brought my coffee to my recliner kicked my feet up and started trying to sort thr

When God Looks at Me

Sometimes I wonder just what God sees when He looks at me. Just like everyone else I wear many hats and play many roles in life and being a caregiver is just one of them. But when He looks at me, does He just see a caregiver? Does He see a mother caring for her child? Or perhaps He sees me as a grandmother playing with her grandchildren. Maybe He sees me as a sister, or as a child caring for her aging parents. Or that crazy aunt everyone needs in their lives! lol Does He look at me and see a runner? A blue belt in taekwondo? He put the gift of music in my heart - maybe he sees a guitar player or a keyboardist. Does He see a songwriter or a singer? Maybe He sees me as a writer or a poet.... While I was meditating on this the other day this little poem popped out. I see all the things you do... I appreciate every part of you. I see all the ways you spend your time But when I look at you.... I see you are mine. We are His. We belong to Him and He calls us His own.