Monday, December 31, 2018

What was that?

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I picked up my Bible and thought I'd read a bit. I naturally gravitate toward the Psalms, so I just started reading some of the verses I had underlined. I was in Psalm 9 reading where David is talking about God being a shelter for the oppressed. Sometimes it can feel like life itself is oppressing for caregivers with pressure on every side. I read on down through verse 10 where David says the Lord has never abandoned anyone who searches for Him. I thought about that a little bit before I continued to read on.

Soon, I found myself in Psalm 10 which starts out with O Lord, why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide when I need You the most?  I was thinking, "Is this the same guy? Is this the king or the shepherd? I thought back on what he'd said so confidently in Psalm 9. Then I remembered a favorite from Psalm 46. This same David said God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. (NLT)

It sure seems like he could go from one extreme to another. One minute he's crying out where'd You go, God? And the next he's thanking God for being ever present. The waves of life can tip us either way can't they? One minute we are boasting in how God carries us, tends to us, and is always with us; and the next we are crying out wondering where He went and feeling like He abandoned us, but knowing He didn't. He really has no place else to go - He's already everywhere.

Somehow it's comforting to me to know how brutally honest David was when pouring out his feelings. It encourages me to be more transparent with God no matter what the day brings or doesn't bring. Sometimes my heart knows He doesn't abandon, but my head is not too sure. My heart knows He provides when my thoughts get anxious about things. My heart knows He is a constant help in time of trouble - even when my mind is troubled about many things as a caregiver. And it's okay - because He knows.

Today, I'm going to listen to my heart more than my head. I'll trust He's got this - and He's got me. I'll meditate on the verse out of Psalm 9 that reminds me He never abandoned anyone who searches for Him. I'll continue my search for Him today as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Other Side of the Battle

Chris seems to have picked up a virus that's been going around. It's so difficult when he's sick because it can lead to so many other issues. For instance, if he aspirates, it can mean a lengthy hospital stay. I can do nothing to prevent it - all I can do is take the night watch so to speak. Needless to say, times like these, fear abounds.

The church world can be quick to condemn this statement even though I think David was pretty clear about many of his fears. Paul also said they had conflicts without and fears within. (2 Corinthians 7:5) Much better, in my opinion, to acknowledge and address than to ignore and suppress.

David had to be afraid for his life at some points. Saul was in hot pursuit with his armies. They were trying to track David down and take away the threat to Saul's kingdom. I think that's what the enemy of our soul's intent is too. Our enemy would like to quiet us, sit us down, and watch us hide in a cave if he could keep us quiet. Maybe that's why it seems David is always commanding his soul to bless God. Bless the Lord, O my soul. 

David often reminded himself to praise the Lord. He would make personal declarations. in Psalm 56:3, David says, when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  It was like he acknowledged the fear - but declared he was going to trust God in spite of it. In Psalm 62:5 David said, My soul, wait in silence for God only. for my hope is from Him.  He reminded himself of where he had placed his hope. He sang about trusting God even though he faced fear.

David had plenty of trouble in his lifetime and multiple opportunities to be paralyzed by fear. He faced Goliath, ran from Saul, engaged in the heat of battle, and lost his son, Absolom, to civil war. We read about the good things David did and we get to read about it from the other side of the battle. It's easy to skip over the moment he stood eyeball to kneecap with a giant and didn't waver in his faith. We read quickly how David hid in caves and spent years running for his life. From the other side of the battle, it looks easy to praise God. But David commanded himself to praise God in the middle of his battles too.

Caregivers live in the battle - sometimes it feels like there isn't an other side. But we still have the choice to tell our souls to trust God and remind ourselves that He is where our hope is anchored.

Today I will remind myself that God still has me, my heart and my hope even though life's battle continues to roar around me. I'll meditate on the truth that He is the keeper of my soul. I'll trust Him just for today. Will you join me in encouraging yourself to praise Him on this side of the battle?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Quiet Days

I dislike Hallmark movies. They paint a picture of romance and freedom that are very foreign to me and my life. The unreal depiction of life and false hopes of everything working out alright is what I really cannot handle. Everything doesn't always work out alright. Every storm is not temporary, especially for caregivers. Long days turn into long weeks and longer months that eventually bring us back around to the holidays. But it's certainly not picture-perfect.

Take, for instance, this picture of my mom and aunt. It's so cute!! My mom is 78 and her sister is 86. I snagged this photo when they were greeting each other. What you don't see behind the cute picture is that my aunt could barely stand - I actually had one hand on her and one on the phone. She was so stooped they had a difficult time even hugging one another. However, they were so excited to see each other as they are living in two facilities in two different towns. We honestly do not know if they will get to be together again on this side of eternity. So, even though it was a light moment and we enjoyed seeing their joyful reunion, it was shaded with the sad thoughts in my heart about the future.

It was good to be with all my siblings and there was much laughter, joking, and kidding among us as well as some catching up. But the ride home is always a solemn one for me and leads to quiet days for the most part as the real-life part of full-time caregiving for my son and long-distance caregiving for my aunt kick in.

This leads me to try and gather myself for a few days. I'm trying to re-establish the habit of reading and journaling as I tend to let it go with the full days. It really does help -most of the time! :-) This morning I found myself reading in Nehemiah. That's appropriate since I'm in a rebuilding phase in my own spiritual walk. I landed in verse 46 of chapter 12.

The custom of having choir directors to lead in choirs and hymns of praise and thanks to God began long ago in the days of David and Asaph. For some reason, that verse grabbed my attention and I began to think about David and Asaph - two worshipers who didn't have "picture-perfect" lives either. My thoughts ran to David who at one point had to encourage himself in the Lord. He often reminded himself to return to that point of worship - in the quiet days - the cave days - the days of hiding from Saul's pursuit.

Today, I will encourage myself in the Lord. I'll remind myself of the things I have seen Him do - and I'll be thankful for that whether or not I see Him working in my today. I'll turn my thoughts to His peace, His care, and His love - all of which never change. And I'll thank Him for this quiet day - and trust Him to get me through it to one more tomorrow. Will you join me?

Monday, December 24, 2018

You Are Valued

As caregivers, there can be a lot of things we struggle with, things that are often difficult to talk about. It can be hard to know where to put our emotions. We oftentimes feel like we cannot share what's really going on in our heads because our thoughts are so well, all over the place. (Maybe that's just me!)

Lately, I've settled a few issues with my own heart and begun to sing again. That's huge. You know how I love the caregiver's cave. We can all get comfortable there, can't we? There are two things that pulled me out of the musicless part of the cave. One, I found my grandmother's handwritten music scores from the '40s in some of my aunt's things. Secondly, we had to move her piano to our house. It's in the living room... in my face all day long begging to be played. When everyone is gone but Chris and me - I play my heart out and lift up my voice to Him once again. It's been refreshing. I like it now because it's personal, just between me and Him - no one needs to hear. Freeing, really. I can sing any song I want without a list and I can sing every song as long as I want. No one to complain. You sang that last Sunday.  No one to say, don't sing so many new songs.  Or the flip side of that - why don't you sing songs you wrote. lol

Over the weekend though, my thoughts went exploring. You see, I got value from being on a praise team and for being a lead worshipper. I had value in the church for teaching Sunday School classes, doing children's ministry and being a youth pastor. I was a busy ant BC. (Before Caregiving.) And when all that was lost, I started to feel like I didn't have value in the body. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As caregivers, we often feel un-valued. No one seems to care about us and we are left alone to struggle through the day-to-days. For many of us, our time, efforts, energy, and life are consumed with taking care of someone who cannot care for themselves. Love keeps us by their side just like it kept Jesus on the cross.  Yet we (maybe I should just say "I") can feel like we are not playing a role in the "church" of today. How can we have value in His sight by doing what we do? I'm so glad you asked - because He values the caregiver. How do I know? Well, I did a little studying early this morning and came up with a couple of verses.

In Matthew 23:11, Jesus says But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Too often, this is interpreted as working in the "church." But since the church as we know it hadn't even been born yet, that couldn't be all He meant.

I also returned to the story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. It's a great chapter and I read it often. Jesus is explaining what He expects of "sheep." Verse 40 says to the extent you did it to the least of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them, you did it to Me. That's pretty insightful because we take care of the "least among us." The ones who are ignored when they go in public because people are not sure how to interact with them. The ones who fall through the cracks in the medical system because they aren't "worth saving." The ones who can't walk, talk, or play a direct role in society although they shape it indirectly, don't they?

He gives us value. We are still worth dying for. He still loves the caregiver. So, today, I'm going to turn my thoughts to how He loves us just like we love those we care for. I'll meditate on how He laid down His life for me - and how I lay mine down to be a caregiver. My thoughts will be on His great love for us. We are not excluded - we are included and precious in the Kingdom of God - we look a lot like Him, if you ask me! And with those thoughts, I'll rest in Him. I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holistic Healing: The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Seniors and Caregivers


Medical science has embraced yoga and meditation for the benefits they confer on seniors and their caregivers. Doctors in increasing numbers are recommending yoga to their patients over 50 to help reduce blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve balance. Seniors who are initially skeptical often find the benefits of yoga and meditation can help them in ways they never imagined. Older adults frequently find yoga improves muscle and joint flexibility, enhances their mood, and alleviates stress and anxiety. And while elderly bodies aren’t always up to the physical discipline of yoga, its tremendous mental and emotional value can still be derived from classes adapted to the physical restrictions that often limit a senior’s movements.
Consult your physician
Always use common sense if you’re a senior getting started with yoga. Consult your physician if you’re a cardiac patient, have undergone surgery, or are taking medications. If you have osteoporosis, be aware there are certain yoga movements you shouldn’t attempt in order to avoid fracture.
Broad appeal
Older adults are sometimes put off by images of young, lithe people bending their bodies into pretzel-like shapes. But yoga is gaining broad appeal as more elderly people find that it isn’t just for the young and flexible. Yoga, even a few minutes a day, not only improves physical flexibility, it enhances cognitive functioning, bolsters cardiovascular health, and can even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors with a limited range of movement have been known to make remarkable improvements and gain an amazing degree of flexibility.
Find a yoga that suits you
There’s no one uniform version of yoga, but different kinds from “hot” to “gentle.” If your doctor has prescribed yoga, it’s important to begin by speaking with an instructor to determine what level of intensity is suitable based on your overall condition and physical fitness. Bear in mind that “chair” yoga and other low-impact versions are very popular with seniors and offer the same benefits as “traditional” forms.
Meditation
The benefits of meditation mirror those of yoga, which is, to a large extent, a mental discipline as well as a series of physical poses. It’s especially valuable for caregivers because meditation offers invaluable mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits that can alleviate the stress under which caregivers labor. Find a space that relaxes you and offers solitude—a haven where you can focus your thoughts, free of distractions. It should be a meditation room where light can be kept to a minimum and where you’re able to fully relax. Light scented candles and play soothing music to maximize the effect. 
More than a workout
Yoga is much more than a physical activity: It’s a holistic form of mind-body medicine that improves mood and overall health—a combination of poses, meditation, and deep breathing that combine to integrate the mind, body, and spirit. And that’s the essence of yoga. Its ability to fuse one’s being lies at the heart of its ability to heal and enhance your sense of well-being. Yoga isn’t a workout activity like weightlifting or a cardio exercise where you push yourself past discomfort to achieve more and more. Yoga should never hurt; if it does, tell your instructor.
Yoga and meditation are tremendously effective healing disciplines that offer seniors and caregivers a great many physical and mental benefits. Medical science has increasingly turned to these disciplines to help older adults and their caregivers achieve a level of health they couldn’t attain otherwise and for good reason.

Courtesy of Pixabay




Friday, December 21, 2018

Broken but Accepted

Sorry for the long absence. I'm really still in the process of getting myself back together. Honestly, I've been on overload and as the end of the year draws close, there are some things I want to accomplish. I also want to set some goals for next year and that partially includes being more faithful to keep up this blog. In the back of my mind, I know you understand. You're caregivers - I know you "get it."

I know you understand the tired that is beyond exhaustion that transcends body and soul. You understand ongoing grief the rest of the world often condemns us for - telling us to just get over it. You know what I really mean by having a too full plate because you are probably juggling just like me. Maybe even more than me!

Emotionally I've been spent. I don't do well with changes and in the last few months we moved (which was a good thing) and that changed literally everything in my life and routines. Please forgive me for going MIA during the adjustment time. I think I'm back.

How did I get "back"? It's been a journey with much of it coming back together in the last week or so. I sat at the piano a couple weeks back and decided to sing. I didn't feel like singing. I felt abandoned. Alone. Worthless. Life-less. Broken. Maybe broken is the best word for it, but everything felt broken.

I pulled out my music books and dusted them off and started playing through some of the older stuff I used to play BC. In the middle of "I Need You More" I found a phrase. More than the song I sing.....I sang that phrase and let it hang there for a minute. At this point in my life, it was truer than any other time I'd ever sung it. Then I realized it had never been the song He was after. He really did want more than the song itself. He wanted me. Even in my most broken state - He didn't change His mind.

Before I knew it, I'd written a new chorus. I'll spare you the agony of hearing me sing it - but here are the lyrics.

It wasn't the song You were after
It was the pieces of my heart
Whether in tears or in laughter
You still want every single part...of me..
The broken...
The whole...
The parts I can't let go...
You still want me.

As I realized He still wanted me in my broken state - it brought a new kind of brokenness before Him. He accepts us just like we are - no matter how many pieces life has shattered us into. No matter how good of a Christian we think we are or are not - He still desires us and accepts us.

Today, I will meditate on how He hasn't cast me aside even though it feels like it sometimes. I'll turn my thoughts to His acceptance of me just like I am; broken. I'll try to keep my anxious thoughts at bay as I stay close to His heart and let Him carry me through one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hard to Breathe

Some days it's all a caregiver can do to just keep breathing. I tease a lot about trying to remember to breathe and keeping that a top priority. But sometimes it really does feel like the life is being sucked out of you. Of course, there are many blessings that go with caregiving, but some days they are harder to find than others. No matter what our caregiving story - it's filled with difficulties. I try to keep a positive attitude but that's a fight at times.

This morning, in an attempt to protect my sanity I decided to start trying to journal again. I am glad I did as I hadn't made an entry since June. (I used to write in my journal everyday BC.) I found this poem I had penned. I hope you get a little something out of it.

Who am I to catch the King's gaze?
To know...
    He sees
   He Knows
   He hears
The deepest sighs from the place where no words live
The part of me that carries it all... with nothing left to give.

The part of me where no human wants to go
The Place that makes me - me
The part of me that no one sees
   No one knows
   Where no one goes

And He touches it
He makes me whole
A place where He is enough
His is the only voice I hear calling in my ear
"Peace be still."

   He sees
   He knows
   He hears
   He touches me
That part of me no soul wants to see
The place too deep for tears...
         but He catches them all...
                  before they fall

The part of me that knows - He is enough for me

His sight goes beyond the facade I live behind
 He sees
   my fears
   my heart
And He says...I am enough for Him - and He is enough for me

I can rest in this intimate place
Covered by His grace
Lifted by His gaze
Engulfed in His embrace

To others I am shut-in and shut out
But I landed in His arms
and that's enough for me.



Thank you for coming on this journey with me as I discover He is enough for me - and I am enough for Him. I continue to trust Him for one more day and pray you'll join me.


If He leads: paypal.me/dovesfireministries



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Purpose of the Press

Caregivers are not the only ones in the press of life. I've been watching the horrific stories emerging out of the raging fires in California. My prayers have been many for those who are suffering during this time. Suffering has a unique impact on us, no matter what the source. It lets us know what's really inside.

In James chapter 1, it says to count it all joy when you encounter trials and tribulations. JOY? To be totally honest, joy isn't the first emotion I usually feel when things get tough. Joy may eventually come - but certainly not at the onset of trials and tribulations.

As a caregiver, we live in a rough spot. Nothing is easy. Literally everything can feel like a struggle. Life has a way of pressing, pressing, and pressing in on us until it's a struggle some days to just breathe. But as life presses in on us - no matter what the struggle, it presses out what is really inside. When life turns up the heat, we find out how much we really trust Him, how much we really believe His word, and how strong our grasp is on His promise and His word.

I've said before that when my son was first injured, I learned so much about faith. It's been totally redefined for me - and it's nothing like I'd been taught or believed. Hindsight lets me know that this is just one of the things that are better in my life even though life didn't get "better."

The purpose of the press is to press out whatever is inside. As life presses in, we'll begin to see what we are really made of. Perhaps it's just because we don't have the energy to keep up a facade of faith. Maybe it's due to our spirit of survival that we cut off what isn't working and what's hanging us up. Getting rid of the "fluff and stuff" is the only way we can continue to do what we do - caregiving takes up a lot, we don't have time, room, or energy for unnecessary extras.

Today, I'm going to rest in the press of life. I want to know how much I trust Him. I want to know if I really hear Him - and if I'll obey when it gets hard. My thoughts will be on how He has carried me these last 10 years. And today, I'm going to continue to follow His lead and let Him carry me into the next 10 years - whatever they look like. I'll let the press get rid of the gook, stuff, and fluff so I can see Him more clearly and trust Him more fully. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Broken Pieces Tell A Beautiful Story

This weekend I used some respite days for Chris and got out for the weekend. We took my grandson to Fort Worth for his birthday. While we were in Cowtown Saturday afternoon, we stopped by one of our favorite little shops. It has a variety of teas and teapots. We were standing around admiring the beautiful shapes, colors, and designs when my grandson tried to remove the lid from this little green leafy pot. The lid fell to the floor and shattered into several pieces. It was a sickening sound and of course, my daughter immediately told the store manager that she would purchase it.

Even though we liked it, we didn't plan on buying it. Once we got it home, Ronella glued the lid together and sat it on the shelf with some of our decorative teapots. When I saw the repaired container, I thought you can't even tell it's broken from here. I let my imagination run away a bit as I thought of this pot's story.

It sat in the store - beautiful, but unpurchased. Even though many people are in and out of the store daily, it was not chosen. By chance, the lid slipped out of a child's hand and then it was on its way to Oklahoma City to its new home. now it has a story, one that almost didn't get told. But the beauty and the story came from its brokenness.

As a caregiver, I often feel broken. My life is lived in a state of brokenness and I feel so undone. We caregivers are not the norm. Nothing is normal when we compare our lives to those of others (which isn't wise by the way). But I look at where the brokenness has taken me. It's changed me - for the better I hope. Over the last 10 years my faith has been totally redefined, although my passion to serve Him remains the same. I've learned He is near the brokenhearted. We "chose" this teapot because it was broken, He chooses us in our brokenness. He pulls us closer because of it - never distancing Himself from the broken areas of our lives. We each have a story that stems from that brokenness - and it's a story of grace, favor, mercy, and love.

Today, I will consider how He draws me close because of the brokenness. I won't try to hide the broken pieces from His sight - He sees them anyway. My prayer today is that the broken pieces of my life will tell the story of His grace. I'll turn my thoughts to how He carries me and holds me close to hide me in His heart. I'll rest right there as I trust Him for one more day.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Little Behind

Please forgive my absence. If anyone understands, I know it's my fellow caregivers. I know you understand the more than busy mode we live in. Each day brings with it a long must-do list and an even longer still-need-to-do-when-there-is-time list. In the busy-ness of caregiving and fulfilling all our responsibilities we often feel overwhelmed. It's not always anything anyone can help with, and sometimes we can't even list it... it just hangs there overshadowing our days. The feelings of never getting done and simply surviving leave us looking for a satisfaction that may or may not ever be found.

Somehow in the midst of the hectic life we learn to call normal, we learn what can be let go and what cannot. It's easy to feel like our time is stolen from us as we get wrapped up in our daily tasks Maybe it's just me, but no matter how much I do get done, I still feel behind. Attempts to sort through and find the important things to get done leave you with a list of just-as-important things that didn't get accomplished. Overwhelmed.

Most nights as I tuck myself in, I feel like I failed. The list of things I didn't get done run through my mind until I simply shut it off and stop listening. There's always tomorrow. That's what I think - but I know from experience - that's not always true.

So as I run behind and try to get done the things topping my list, I stop. Seems like the opposite of what needs to be done. But I stop. I think. I become thankful as I look around at the last few months and realize all that has been accomplished. God is still working on my behalf. He hasn't left me to drown in my lists. We haven't missed a meal and there's a roof over our heads. The world doesn't come to a screeching halt if something is left unmarked on the list at the end of the day. We can just do what we can do.. and no more. There's no condemnation for being overwhelmed. Absolutely no condemnation in Him.

So if you feel like you never quite measure up (it may just be me....),  don't worry. He's the One measuring - and He has no condemnation. Just a warm, welcoming hug when we take time to visit with Him.

Today, I will stop my busy mind for a few minutes and be thankful. I'll thank Him for not giving up on me even when I feel like a total loss. I'll thank Him that He pulls me close when it feels the world is distant. I'll thank Him for hearing the faintest and loudest cries of my heart without condemning me - without judging me - without telling me I can do better. He just loves. He just cares. He just holds us - and in that, I will rest. And I'll trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Safe and Secure with No Alarm... Leaning

Yesterday, I had scheduled the piano movers to move my aunt's piano into her assisted living apartment. She was so excited! She's been there for a couple of weeks now and has had access to a central piano, but missed having one close by that she could play whenever she wanted.

As soon as the movers were gone, I asked her to try it out. She sat and played for some time. Tears welled up from pure joy at having her piano back. She's finally home.

As I watched her frail, trembling hands run across the keys, I became absorbed in the moment. She's still playing after all these years. Her fingers may not be as nimble as they once were, but she can still tickle the ivory with style and pizzaz. She never lacks for a song to play - there's always one near the surface of her heart.

It was a moment I didn't want to miss. There was just something special about it. It seemed like I was r\witnessing the reunion of two old friends. At 86 there's no doubt she's in the latter years of her life, but the song is still as vibrant as it was in her youth. All I can ask is that when I come of age I will still carry the song too.

I thought of the things she's seen and experienced over her eight-plus decades on this earth. She's seen losses and gains. She's known joy and pain. She's been full and empty; broken and healed. There's not too much she hasn't seen. Yet she still trusts Him. Isn't that what it all comes down to for all of us?

Paul told the Philippian Christians that he knew how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT) He wasn't putting on airs or inflating the good things in life - just raw and real - I can do everything through Him.

It seems to me it all comes down to trusting Him. In good times and bad. In sickness and health. In life or death. With plenty or in lack - it's simple. We trust Him. Period. No matter what I face today I will not face it alone - I'll face it with my trust tucked securely in His heart. That's where we don't find an exemption card so we can get out of every difficult thing we face. Instead, we find a you can make it card that ensures us our heart will stay safely tucked into His no matter what life throws at us.

Today, my focus will be on just trusting Him for this day. I won't borrow any worries from tomorrow - I'll just rest in Him today. My thoughts will be on His faithfulness toward me. I'll meditate on how securely I am tucked into His heart - and I'll just rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?




Friday, October 19, 2018

One Step at a Time

Kyrie hugging Chris
As the 10th anniversary of Chris' wreck nears, I have tons of thoughts. There are no easy days, but some days are less difficult than others. Here I am 10 years out celebrating Chris standing or sitting alone. I really thought I'd be celebrating his marriage or births of grandchildren. These thoughts can weigh heavily on my heart. Sometimes, I have to stay away from Facebook because it's overwhelming. I've been in one of those times lately.

What do we do when we are disappointed with life, ourselves, or our situations? Many of the things I dreamed of doing are not likely to ever happen. Everything got placed on hold nearly 10 years ago. How do you move on? The simplest answer is one step at a time. That's a daily thing. Sometimes, it's a moment by moment thing - just doing what needs to be done in the moment.

This morning in my personal devotions, I found myself hanging out in Isaiah 50. I have quoted verse 4 for years -  The Lord has given me His words of wisdom so that I may know how to comfort the weary. But what am I supposed to do when  I am the weary one? lol

As I was doing my Facebook live devotions for a group this morning, it dawned on me that our generation is weary. We go and go and go until we are worn out body, soul, and spirit. There's no off button. Social media wears us down - television wears us down - we burn the proverbial candle on both ends as an entire generation. We are worn out. As caregivers, there's no place to stop most days. We have a barrage of daily chores plus tons of incidentals that have to be addressed every day. It's so easy to be in a state of weariness that far surpasses the physical.

Where do we find this word to comfort the weary? I'm guessing it's in the next verse as verse 5 says this The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. Then the next verse prophetically describes a scene at the crucifixion. I was like, now wait. We're listening and there's trouble? How'd that happen?

He never promised an easy road - He just promised to walk it with us. Verse 7 gives us the secret to making it. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be dismayed. And that is where I am this morning. Weary. Listening. Satisfied that He is with me. You know, that's really not a bad place to be. I know He will lift me up. I know He won't leave me stranded (not even emotionally).

So today, I will tune my heart to hear His singing over me. I'll lean in a little closer to hear His words of encouragement. My thoughts will be on how He helps me face each moment of each day. I'll let Him carry my weariness, my burdens, my heart in His. Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hand Tattoos

Do you ever feel like God put you here on this planet to sort everything out and then He just walked away? Caregiver's lives are not in sync with the rest of the world and we can feel separated and alone even in a crowd. Caregiving adds a new dynamic to life, doesn't it? It's one that can't really be described.

It's draining and rewarding. Tiring and energizing. Emotions run along all extremes much of the time and many battle with depression, grief and other issues. I have to say that recently I have asked God if He remembered where He left me. Now my heart knows He didn't really leave me. I mean, really - where would He go? He's everywhere - He can't physically leave us. But for those who struggle with abandonment issues, it can certainly feel like it.

Evidently, someone else has had similar feelings because in verse 14 of Isaiah 49, it says Jerusalem says, "the Lord has deserted us, the Lord has forgotten us."  But at the thought of abandonment, the Lord issues an immediate response in verse 15: Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you. See, I have written your name on my hand.......

Far too frequently today we see mothers and fathers who "forget" their children. They walk away. They neglect. But God won't forget us. He even tattooed our name on His hand. Why would He write our name on His hand? So that He can always see it - as He is reaching toward us to wipe the tears from our eyes. Or as He is extending His hand of grace to measure out what we need to make another day.

No matter how deserted we feel, how alone we feel, how overwhelmed we may be at the moment - He's in that moment before we get there.

Today, I will think about how sufficient His grace is to carry me through the day. My thoughts will be on His ever-abiding presence and His overwhelming patience toward me and my crazy thoughts and emotions. Even if I feel alone today- I won't buy it. I'll trust He is with me as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Where'd you leave it?

If anyone understands the busy-ness of a caregiver's world, it's other caregivers. Using the word busy is possibly an understatement. We certainly have our hands full, all four of them. lol. I remind myself of this as I try to return to being more regular with this blog.

The move is behind us, my aunt is in an assisted living facility. So now I am a full-time caregiver for my son as well as a long-distance caregiver for my aunt. These are two very different dynamics. But we press on.

I've struggled with feelings of inadequacies and learned that sometimes I really can't do it all. Evidently, I misplaced my cape. Smile so did you, Superman!

The last few days I've been in prayer about the "call" God placed on my life. I have struggled so much with what I thought that was going to look like. Finally, I just put in His hands and asked Him to tell me what to do. So, this morning when I opened my Bible to Isaiah 49 I found myself.

Isaiah starts this chapter out talking about his personal call. He is rehearsing what God told him. He said to me, "You are my servant..." Isaiah reminds himself that God called him before birth (v.1), in the womb, He called my name he says in the first verse of this chapter. But how he digressed from the calm assurance of the call in verse one to verse four where he says, But my work all seems so useless. I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all. I have so felt that way about the things God put on my heart to do - caregiving came on me quickly and I felt like so many things were left hanging. Life sometimes feels useless when we hide too deeply in the caregiver's cave. We can wrestle with feelings of inadequacy, insignificance, and unfulfillment.

The good thing is that Isaiah then gives us a "but." He says, but I leave it all in the Lord's hands; I will trust God for my reward. For me, this means putting it all back in God's hands - all those feelings of loss and the grief over what could-have-been; and finding that place of simply trusting Him again.

Instead of leaving grief, sadness, and loss sitting in our hearts to drag us down, let's put it all in His hands today. That's the place I'd come to over the last few days - I gave it all back to Him and let go of it all. My prayer was more - You do what You want with me, the call, my life - I'll just obey, and sit back and watch.

Today, I'm putting it all in His hands. I'll turn my thoughts and prayers toward hearing His heart beat for me. I want to hear that over any noise in my busy world. My intention is to leave it all with Him and move out of the way to see how He will bring His plan to pass in my life. Maybe I can't see it - but it's not about making it happen. It's more about leaving it in His hands and watching it happen. I'll leave it all with Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Monday, October 1, 2018

When Morning Waits

We've probably all heard Psalm 30:5. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. This phrase, obviously taken from the Bible, along with other phrases and sayings meant to encourage, often seems to fall short.

For caregivers, there's no guarantee morning is going to come. So, what if it waits? How do we endure the dark night of the soul described by Oswald Chambers?

Besides scriptures, people have these sayings that really do not apply in many caregiving situations. You may have heard some things like:


  • storms don't last forever
  • seasons always change
  • nothing lasts forever
  • there's an end in sight
  • it's always darkest before the dawn
I simply cringe when I hear these. For caregivers, there's not always an end in sight. So, if we are waiting for morning to have joy - we may be caught in living grief until we die. Morning doesn't always come. Storms don't always end. What will we do if morning waits? What are we to do with the living grief?  Since His mercies are new every morning according to Lamentations  3:23, are we slap out of mercy? The morning isn't promised, but His mercies are.

We just hang tight knowing we can still bask in His mercy. He doesn't remove His promises during the night "seasons." Even if morning waits, His mercies endure forever. We can still enjoy His peace, his love, His embrace. 

Today, even though morning waits, I'll think about His great mercy. I'll meditate on His passionate pursuit of ME! My thoughts will be on how He chose US out of all creation to be His habitation - and He didn't change His purpose when we became caregivers! So, today, I'll just rest in that as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Attention Getters Got You?

This week my personal devotions have been about finding Him in that quiet place. It's so easy to be busy as a caregiver. It's often difficult to find time to be still and if you're anything like me, even if I get a minute to sit, then my mind is running full throttle with things I need to do as soon as I get up. Usually, if I do get a half of a chance to sit it's with pen and paper to make a new list of the most important things I've got to do today.

Just yesterday I found a phrase in Zechariah 1:11. The last bit of that verse said this: all the earth is resting quietly. That got me to thinking a lot about what that might look like. My thoughts tried to form a place, any place, that was totally resting quietly. I also looked deep in my own heart to see if I could find a spot in there that matched. Then, I thought about all the "things" we have going on constantly. There are so many things, often important things, vying for our attention 24/7. We have tv, radio, the internet, our "smart" phones, facebook and messenger dinging at us unceasingly. There really might not be a quiet second in our worlds from the time we get up in the morning until we hit the bed at night. Add to this culture the necessary actions that caregiving demands and you've got a day completely full of things that need to be done screaming for your attention.

I could not come up with an image in my very vivid imagination for all the earth is resting quietly. 

My thoughts then led me back to Psalm 46:10 - be still and know I am God. Can caregivers find a 10-second spot to just quiet our souls and be still before Him to acknowledge He is still our God? It can be very difficult to do, but when we do it is more than rewarding. It's in that quiet stillness that He meets us and reassures us that He has us in His hands. Even two or three seconds of total rest in Him can help us balance out our emotions and make the day.

Today, I'm going to purposefully work toward finding a stillness in myself where I can lean on Him. I'll meditate on the truth that He is still God and no situation or circumstance can ever change that. I'll acknowledge between me and Him that He's is still my God and I'm not looking for another. I'll quiet myself in the hectic culture of caregiving enough to find His peace and let it overtake me. Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Between Me and Him

I had a whole lot on my heart this morning as I headed out the door for my early morning run. I told Siri to play "Bless the Lord Oh My Soul" by Matt Redman. As I ran, prayed and praised, I emptied my heavy heart out before Him. The roads I left my burdens on don't look any heavier for the wear, but my feet and heart became lighter as I abandoned my soul to Him in praise even in the midst of this storm.

As I prayed and cast off cares so He could carry them instead of me, I uncovered many pains that were hidden deep inside. Some were too difficult to express in words and I let my heart turn them loose as they fell into His. I thought, there are some things that will always just be between me and Him. Things I can't express...too deep for words. Some of the pain was so deep I couldn't even get my thoughts around it. I know I just let it go - suspended between my heart and His - forever.

Caregivers can tend to try to "fix" everything making it difficult to let go of them and trust them into another's hands. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast your anxieties, cares, worries, over onto Him - for He cares for you. In my mind, maybe just a broad, but practical application, I'd say we are to throw it all over into His hands - and let Him do the caring for us. 

Today, that is what I propose to do. Those deep feelings, inexpressable griefs, hidden sorrows - I'll turn loose of them and let them fall into His heart and hands so He can do it for me. I'll give Him those "just between me and Him" things to take care of for me. And I'll meditate on His goodness, his care for me, His compassion and greatness. Then, I will trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients


Image by Pixabay

A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients

As a caregiver, you want to do everything possible to help a client or loved one with Alzheimer's. This includes modifying the patient's home with her medical needs in mind. In this post, we'll discuss the principles that should guide you when planning these alterations. Use this information when discussing the project with your remodeling contractor. Never attempt these modifications yourself unless you're sure of your skills and knowledge.

Three Ways Alzheimer's Disease Affects the Brain

Alzheimer's interferes with the mental processes involved with carrying out everyday tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. Over time, these changes can produce the following symptoms in the sufferer:

  1. Forgetting how to perform basic tasks such as balancing a checkbook, driving a car, and taking care of personal hygiene needs.
  2. Feeling confused in formerly familiar environments, including the family home. Sufferers may forget which door leads to a particular room or where they keep common items such as a wallet or car keys.
  3. Becoming easily agitated, even towards people who have done nothing wrong. This is a symptom of a much deeper problem affecting the patient's sense of judgment and emotional balance.

Relieving these symptoms requires modifying the home in line with the following principles:

     Simplicity. The caregiver should minimize the steps the patient needs to complete an action. For example, in the past, the sufferer may have had to go upstairs and turn two corners to reach her bedroom. Going forward, it may be best to relocate the patient's sleeping quarters to the primary floor and to use a room directly across from the main living area.
     Usability. Visual cues such as signs and directional arrows can help compensate for failing memory. One suggestion is to use signs that feature graphics rather than text. If written messages are employed, then choose short words and plain language.
     Safety. Removing knobs from the stove, locking cabinets that contain household cleaners, and monitoring access to exits are all prudent measures.

Now let's look at modifications for specific rooms.

Bathrooms

Remodeling a bathroom can be a reasonable investment when compared to the benefits the changes may provide for the patient. Save yourself time and stress by hiring a professional to complete the job. Check online to find professionals in your area. Here are some of the steps typically taken for Alzheimer's sufferers:

     Installing slip-resistant floor tiling and grab bars.
     Changing the existing bathtub or shower stall to a walk-in design.
     Modifying the toilet to accommodate a wheelchair-bound person.

The Kitchen

We've already mentioned removing knobs from the stove. Other possible modifications include:

     Lowering the height of the sink and surrounding area for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Replacing existing cabinet knobs with more ergonomic options.
     Installing a lock on the refrigerator to prevent unhealthy binge eating.

Bedrooms

Possible modifications include:

     Lowering mattress height for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Adding an adjacent restroom.
     Installing added lighting fixtures to compensate for reduced visual acuity.

Steps to Take as the Condition Progresses:

Other changes that may become advisable over time include:

     Covering steam radiators to prevent accidental burns.
     Installing video cameras at key points throughout the home.
     Adding handrails to hallways.
     Removing area rugs and other potential trip hazards.
     Installing a hospital-style bed when the patient is no longer ambulatory.


Alzheimer's is a complicated disease. The measures needed to accommodate its symptoms are equally complex. The information in this post is a good starting point for addressing these issues. We recommend consulting with the patient's healthcare provider or caseworker before completing any of the modifications mentioned herein. We wish you and your client or loved one all the best as you face the future together.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Things to Do Now to Make Assisted Living More Affordable


The costs of assisted living or nursing home care can be extremely high. They often run around $3,000 per month, but some of the more expensive and inclusive options can cost over $6,000 per month. You might need assisted living, but you might not. Here are a few things you can do now to make assisted living more affordable.

Make Some Home Upgrades

There are many things you can do to increase the accessibility of your home. This includes putting grab bars in the bathroom, increasing the lighting around the home, or reducing the use of stairs by moving objects to the main floor. Remove loose carpeting or rugs. You can even install railings on both sides of the stairs. Some modifications can even be supplemented by government assistance programs, such as HUD Title 1 Property Improvement Loans.

Take Advantage of Technology

Research on the current state of assisted living shows that new technologies are making it easier for family and friends to check on loved ones and ensure that they’re doing well. There are devices such as mobile wearable sensors, which track location, read blood glucose, and blood pressure levels in a non-invasive way. Smart homes are also reducing the amount of unnecessary movement that seniors have to make. Utilizing these devices is one way to gain more independence if you or your loved one still live at home. If you’re already in assisted living facilities, it can help reduce maintenance.

Long-term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is one important way to pay for care in the case of a chronic illness that requires extensive assisted care. Chronic illness often isn’t covered by other insurances or Medicaid. Try to compare evaluate which kinds of long-term insurance gives you the best coverage for your needs.

Talk with a Specialized Financial Adviser

Increasingly, there are financial advisors available to talk about financial planning issues that aren’t closely related to asset or investment management. This can help senior citizens get specialized advice relating to Medicaid or the tie between their health and financial future. A financial advisor should assist with your needs and help you plan best for your future. Find someone who helps you learn where you can save money.

Consider Sharing Your Living Space

A recent article on Forbes discussed the financial benefits of older adults sharing a home, as well as the security benefits. Home-sharing programs can help you find some extra roommates. This is nice because people in these programs have to go through rigorous criminal and background checks. You can find compatible housemates and get the social connections that are hard to find as you age. The best part: you don’t have to move out of your home to do this.

Check If It’s Tax-Deductible

The costs of assisted living can be tax-deductible. This is only if the primary reason an individual lives in the facility is because of a medical condition, and living there gives them access to medical care. Checking on these options can help you save a lot of money in advance.


Making some home upgrades and taking advantage of technology can help you age in place. Sharing your home can also be a suitable option for saving money, as well as giving you social interactions. Consult a financial adviser and get legal advice as well where you can. There are many ways to save on assisted living. It takes a bit of time and effort to find those options, but that effort will make all the difference.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hold Me!

elderly lady with a walker
Yesterday, I had to take my aunt to the doctor.  There are good days and bad days it seems and yesterday was more difficult. That just means she needs more assistance doing simple things like walking and getting into and out of chairs and such. As I was helping her get up from a chair at the doctor's office, she faltered just a bit. At the same time, she thought for a second she was falling. She instinctually reached back for me and loudly said, "Hold me!"

My heart melted in that second as I wanted to hold her, comfort her, and let her know she wasn't falling at all. I assured her that I was right there and she wasn't falling. As we proceeded to move down the hall I started thinking about that short instant.

We find ourselves in situations, especially as caregivers, where we feel like we are going to fall. Maybe we are unsure of our steps or of our own selves. In that moment we cry out to the ultimate Caregiver - God. We say, "Hold me!" We may be frightened, worried, concerned, or just unsure - but He hears that cry of our heart whether we vocalize it, or it remains silent. As we reach for Him something amazing happens. Our cry for help comes beyond His ears and into His heart. He stands close - and says, "I've got you." His ears are tuned in to our cries and He instantly responds.

In Psalm 3, David said, I cried to the Lord with a loud voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I don't know what words David used to "cry out" to the Lord - but they may have been as simple as "Hold me!" or "Help me!" God doesn't need a full discourse to understand our heart - just a simple cry is all that is needed to touch His heart and He acts on our behalf.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to how I need Him to hold me. I'll meditate on how quickly He responds to my cry for help. As I go through this day - I'll let Him hold me.  I won't crawl out of His lap to be in the lap of worry or concern. I'll just rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, September 10, 2018

When It's all Said and Done

Over the last few weeks, I've been tied up moving two special needs adults. My daughter and SIL bought a large 5 bed, 3 bath house so we could combine households. The goal is to just be here for each other. While we are waiting for my aunt's assisted living apartment to come available, we have four generations under one roof.

The last few days have been kind of hectic as we all adjust to some new normals. Even though moving is unsettling and disorganized at best - I know when it's all said and done it'll be better for us. I look at the chaos in my room and in Chris' room and still wonder if I'll ever get us settled in or not. The obvious answer is I will.. eventually.

Sometimes our emotions can feel all unsettled and disorganized too. Okay, maybe that's most days for caregivers. I know I can be all over the place at any given moment on any given day. Yesterday was one of those days. My emotions were stretched and I felt as tight as a rubber band stretched to its limits. Then for no apparent reason, there was just this peace. It was unexplainable but undeniable. I was okay.

At one point, I was listening to my heart sing, what a wonderful name it is while my head was trying to figure out my own name. When it's all said and done - it's His name that matters. It's the heart that matters, not the head. I know ultimately- He is my peace. He is my strength. He is my comfort. He is my companion. He is my all. And when it's all said and done- no matter how crazy the day is or how behind I feel - He's got this. He's got me. And that is what matters most.

It may look chaotic, but today, I will remind myself that I am tucked safely away in His heart where nothing can get to me. My meditations will be on his constant concern for me - that's right - for ME! (and you!) I'll think about how He truly cares and takes care of me from start to finish. I'll turn my thoughts to the truth that when it's all said and done - He's already done it all. I'll rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Caregiver Extremes

Chris standing
I just want to admit up front that emotionally I can be all over the place. That's nothing new, really. But with the impending move, it seems to me like it's a little bit worse. In case I forgot to fill you in, we are moving! My daughter and SIL are buying a huge house so we can all move in. They are going to help me with Chris and I'll help them with kids and day-to-day stuff as well. We are all excited and I believe it's a good move.

As I anticipate change though, my thoughts and emotions go from extreme excitement to sheer terror. Eventually, I adjust and change is not usually as rough as I thought - but I'm all over the place until I adjust and settle in.

Extremes are not all that uncommon for caregivers, especially on some days. Maybe it's just me but I can be booking along having a great day and a memory or a photo or almost anything can spark raw emotions. Not to brag or anything, but I can go from chipper and happy to calm and weepy in under 10 seconds. I'm so glad that God understands this roller coaster ride and already knows if the next turn will bring an up moment or a down one. He's prepared to handle either one every single time. He doesn't condemn me for either extreme He just gathers up the broken pieces of my heart and glues it all back together with His love, compassion and care. He often steps right into the middle of either extreme and carefully does His mending. I'm guessing that's what keeps me running back to Him.

Today, as I pack and plan, I will be meditating on His careful watching care. My meditations will be on how He never takes His eyes off me. I'll think about how accepting He is of me and my emotional swings. He offers no condemnation or criticism - only care and concern for me. I'm going to stop and think about that for a while right now - and trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Don't Forget to Wait

old bookcase
I'm starting the process of moving my mini-nursing home. That's a huge task for sure and a bit overwhelming. But I was looking through my house at things I can get rid of and wondering why if it's so easy to discard or donate things why I kept them in the first place.

When I got to my room, I stood and looked at my bookcase. It is special for a few reasons. First, it was my grandfather's bookcase and used to house all of his Bible study aids and books. Secondly, it holds my book collection. Most of them are from generals in the kingdom of God - most of which have gone on to their reward. I stopped and looked at the section that contains books from the years I studied the revivals. My thoughts ran around for a while from revival to revival I studied back in the day. Those were BC days (before caregiving). I took a deep look inside myself and asked if my quest for revival and thirst for Him stopped at caregiving.

Immediately, I felt my heart soften as my soul cried out for Him again. Relief overtook me as I realized nothing about my quest was lost on the caregiving journey. I've said so many times that nothing He promised included exclusionary statements about caregivers. Our pursuit of Him is only contingent upon our persistence. He is readily available and all His promises are still yea and amen.

Just stopping to realize that He didn't change His mind about a thing when I became a caregiver renewed my strength. It's stirred up that thirst for Him. Caregivers are thirsty too. We don't need His presence any more or less than the rest of the outside-the-cave world. Jesus is still calling Come to me you who are weary, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) The words of the prophet in Isaiah 40:31 still holds true - Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.... 

I have to think then, that if I am not having my strength renewed... It's not His fault - Maybe, just maybe, I'm not waiting. Caregivers tend to be go-getters and often far surpass our true capabilities because things have to be done regardless of how we feel, whether or not we are already too tired, and whether there is help or not. We often have to live in roll-up-your-sleeves mode and forget to wait on Him. But His promises still hold true -He still empowers those who wait on Him.... let's not forget to wait.

Today, I am going to make it my goal to remember His promises - I'm even going to make a list. I'll meditate on what it means to wait on Him. My efforts will be to get out of I-can-do-it-all mode and wait for Him - give Him space to work in my life and on my behalf. I'll trust Him with this day - in the waiting. Will you join me?

Monday, August 13, 2018

The What Ifs....

Sorry for my absence. To say I am a bit overwhelmed is well, a huge understatement. I just thought my son kept me busy, add my aunt in the mix and things like aides not showing up AGAIN, and I barely have time to breathe. I remind myself to do so often though. lol

One of the things I never question is the power of prayer. If you've read along you know I harp on faith a lot - the fact that it is really what carries us through adversity rather than helping us avoid them. Prayer has been redefined similarly on this journey. It's not just a way to get what I want as much as sometimes I wish it was.

I was thinking about prayer, what it is, and what it is not this morning. Even though I have purposefully separated myself from God on occasion as I tried to deal with frustration, trusting Him, the lack of answers, and the heat of the battle - There is nothing dark enough or deep enough to separate our prayers from His ears.

Then the trouble becomes why it seems He doesn't do anything in response. I wonder if Joseph cried out to Him day after day sitting in a dark, dank prison waiting for God's promise to manifest. How many years did Moses pray as he led God's children across the desert towards the promised land? Sometimes I think prayer isn't about getting an answer for ourselves, it's more about the communion. It's about having a constant companion who is moved by our grief and pain. He listens to us even when we sound like babbling babies in His ears.

It's not so much about getting what we want... it's about talking to Him all the way through the what ifs.....


  • What if He doesn't give me the answer I desire?
  • What if the situation gets worse instead of better?
  • What if He says "no"!
  • What if the money's not there...
  • What if no help comes..
  • What if this had never happened?
  • What if What if What if...
His ears will stand the what ifs. He still desires to talk with us one on one - and as we mature in a relationship with Him the conversation moves beyond our daily needs and wants. We begin to sense who He really is - way beyond our limitations in this life. He is with us - He doesn't carry us around adversity - He walks with us through it.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to His sustaining power. I'll meditate on the "going through" part rather than the avoiding parts. I will rejoice that He won't abandon me anywhere along the way (even when I act like a brat....) I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?