Ah, the end of another year. How can time go so fast and so slow at the same time? It feels both ways most of the time, doesn’t it? While we are doing our day-to-days it can seem so slow. But then you look up and realize another week is gone, and soon another month and here we are on the brink of a brand new year.
One of the things I have difficulty with is setting goals for a new year. I know we are all supposed to have New Year’s resolutions. But as caregivers, it can be difficult to plan a simple outing sometimes. Even then, one of us may be sick, or something goes wrong with a vehicle or any number of other things. For me, I never know when the doctor is coming until the day before and it’s the same with nurses and case managers. It’s hard to plan anything out very far at all. Maybe I’ll read more books this year – maybe I won’t. I definitely want to eat better and get in better shape physically. But it seems like there is obstacle after obstacle. So, no resolutions for me this year. Lol.
On the other hand, I purpose to trust Him more this year with the day-2-days. Maybe that’s a resolution and maybe it’s not. As I was working on my next devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31, which should be out in January, I found myself back in Psalm 121. I’ve clung to this psalm a lot over the last 11 years. It hit me while I was living in the ICU waiting room wondering what the future held for me and my son. I remember thinking my help doesn’t come from these doctors and nurses (no matter how good they are) – my help comes from the Lord. I wrote a simple chorus about it and it’s sort of been my theme song.
I suppose as another year approaches, it will remain my theme song. My goal any year, any day, month, week, or moment is to look to Him as my help, my strength, my go-to. That’s not likely to change anytime sooner or later. That psalm goes on to say that HE won’t let my foot slip. He doesn’t sleep – but He watches over Israel. He is our keeper; He is our shade. And best of all – He is the keeper of our souls.
So, this year, I’ll continue to trust Him to keep my soul. He watches over the part of me that cries the deepest, hurts the hardest, and longs for Him the most. Nothing can touch our soul – He keeps that part of us that makes us – US. I guess if that’s a resolution, so be it.
Today, I’ll lean into Him just a little more closely and I’ll whisper, I trust You with my soul. And I’ll listen for His reply. I purpose to stay closer to Him during this season of life than I ever have, to trust Him with more of me – to be more transparent before Him (it’s not like He doesn’t know anyway) and to rely on Him with more of me invested in the deal. Will you join me?
As caregivers, it can be so difficult to feel like we accomplish anything. We tend to do the same things over and over. There is endless laundry, dishes, preparing meals, feeding, and more that simply have to happen every single day. Then on top of those things we have doctor's appointments, urgent care needs, or any sundry of other things we have to deal with when taking care of another whole person and all their affairs. Even though working through all the day-to-days is quite the accomplishment and we do it day after day, it can feel like we don't get anything at all done.
If we are not careful, or even if we are, it's easy to feel like we are pressed by the load we carry. In no way is it burdensome - we love our people, right? We do what we do because of that love. But there are times when it feels like it is crushing us or maybe we just don't feel like we can get ahead.
This morning, I was working on my next devotional for my online bookstore, and I found myself in Hebrews 12:2. Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. We were that joy. But in that moment, perhaps in Gethsemane when He was asking if there was any other way - the weight of all of us was resting on His soul. He gave up His will - for us. Don't we do something similar every single day?
Perhaps it's not on such a grande scale - we are not saving the world. But we do give up our desires, our hopes, our comfort, etc - for our loved ones. And we sit in the moment of each day saying Not my will, but Yours be done. We pray that for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our caregivees.
Today, I simply want to accept the will of God for my life whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, easy or difficult, breathtaking or crushing I submit it all to Him. There is a contentment that comes - a true soul peace as we stop fighting the crushing. It's a release to say - this isn't how I had it planned out - but I will submit to You no matter what life brings. God's will doesn't change because we are caregivers - He still has good thoughts towards us. He still has good plans for us. We are still more than conquerors through him even if we are caregiving. My thoughts will be on purposefully pursuing His will in my situation and not my own... will you join me in this quest?
Just because something is safe doesn’t mean it can’t look good, too. When you’re looking to create a stylish space for a senior, or a family caring for an older adult with memory impairments, you must consider their abilities as well as the people around them in your plan. Here are a few tips on how to get it done.
Cater to their wants with modified amenities
During your initial consultation, determine what the people in the home prioritize. Does the senior enjoy cooking or gardening? Is he or she more interested in reading or watching television? Once you know the senior’s interests, you’ll have a better idea about what will lend best to his or her quality of life. You might, for instance, design a wheelchair-accessible indoor garden or outfit the kitchen with a microwave oven that is easy to use with knobs instead of push buttons.
Go high tech
Computers and electronics aren’t just for gaming teens or busy executives. Today’s technology can be integrated in a home’s design to keep seniors safe and extend at least some independence. Alzheimers.net notes that picture phones, GPS tracking devices, and clocks made specifically for dementia patients are valuable additions to a senior’s home. Likewise, you might suggest installing smart plugs and devices throughout the home so that seniors can control lights, radios, and televisions with their voice, even from another room.
Ensure everyone has a private space in which to retreat when needed
Most Alzheimer’s patients eventually require around-the-clock care. And while this is a labor of love for most family members, they will not only need a home that’s set up with their loved one’s needs in mind, but the caregiver will also need a place of respite. Create one room where the caregivers can walk away for a few moments to relax and recharge. Make this area a workspace for paid care providers, too, such as nursing assistants and housekeepers, so they can plan without interruptions or distractions.
The entire home should be safe and navigable, including the bathroom and kitchen, where seniors are most likely to get hurt. Avoid area rugs and look for flooring that doesn’t get slippery when wet. Design a living area without low-lying furniture, such as coffee and end tables. Opt instead for a sofa or sectional with built-in storage that eliminates the needs for these tripping hazards.
Create a space that emphasizes relaxation
For many seniors, a failure to effectively manage stress can make memory issues worse. Look for ways to incorporate relaxation and exercise into their day by establishing a wellness flow throughout the home. Keep books within reach, make access to the outdoors easy, and add pieces of furniture that hide journals, music, or art supplies they can reach when they want to take their mind off their condition.
Make organization a priority
As with all home design, keeping things organized is the key to keeping things safe. Clutter is dangerous to a senior’s physical and mental health. Use items that serve a dual purpose, such as a slow-cooker and pressure cooker combination in the kitchen or electric reclining furniture in the living room.
If you’re working with a family that may not be able to afford every home alteration, you can help them find home-modification grants or alternative solutions that will balance their wants, needs, and budget. Remember, the end goal is to create an environment that provides both safety and serenity for seniors. By customizing their home in a way that keeps them safe without sacrificing their personal sense of style, you will help them hold on to the best years of their life and enjoy those that are left.
This morning, I went for a swim at the fitness center and it allowed me plenty of time to think. There's no music, no technology, no nothing - so it's quiet with just the sound of the water lapping at the sides of the pool. Back and forth I go and for a while, my head is swimming around in thoughts too.
As I was praying about how to handle the situation properly, I kind of heard this thought as I asked myself how can I use this situation to become a better writer? And it reminded me that adversity doesn't have to destroy us - it can make us better and stronger. The decisions we make in those instances either make us or break us.
My mind then jumped to when my son first had his wreck, now over 11 years ago. I recall going to the chapel in the bottom floor of the hospital and praying something like Lord, don't let this make me bitter or hard - My prayer early on was that adversity would shape me - help me draw closer to Him and that He'd still be able to use me in it.
James and Peter both started their letters by asking the readers to be patient in tribulation and struggles. Early Christians were encouraged to let patience have its complete work and that in the midst of trials. Peter explained to the young church that they should rejoice when faith is tried because in the end - we'll receive a reward for hanging in there. James told the 12 tribes, consider it JOY when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and LET endurance have its complete work so you can be mature.
As we face this day as caregivers, no matter what happened to get us to this point, may we hold our heads up knowing we are still in the fight. We are enduring. We are still faith-full. We are still pursuing Him - our adversity has not won. It has not taken us from Him, cannot take us from His love, and has not distracted us for long enough that we haven't returned to Him with our heart time and time again.
Today, I will give myself a fist-bump for hanging in there - and you give yourself one too! Here we are in the midst of struggles, adversity, and trials, still pursuing His heart. Maybe we should give ourselves a break! I'll meditate on His strength IN me today and think about how it's been His strength that has carried me through to this point. I'll also thank Him for the growth whether I actually see it or feel it or not - and I'll thank Him for not abandoning me on those dark, whiny nights. Will you join me?
As believers, how do we deal with these things? Where is that line of faith? We know all too well that there are no "Christmas Miracles" in real life. Not for us anyway. But that's a lot to carry, isn't it? It can be so difficult to navigate through a wide range of emotions on any given day.
I have to take my heart back to hope. Is there any? Sometimes, it really doesn't look like it - but there is always hope as long as we are breathing in and breathing out.to be honest, I'm not sure I always know what that hope looks or feels like. But since I've made it a practice to hide His word in my heart, my mind wanders over to Psalm 42.
The sons of Korah start the psalm out describing their deep desire for God. They call it a thirst - like the deer longs to be refreshed by the brooks. This first little bit has been used in worship choruses for years, but if you did a bit deeper into the psalm you find that they were trying to find God in dire circumstances, just like we do as caregivers sometimes.
The writers were seeking God in a hard circumstance, not worshipping Him in Sunday morning church. They share feelings of despair, feeling forgotten by God, and oppression of the enemy. For us, the enemy may look like brain injury, dementia, or something else. But our soul becomes disturbed (v.11) like the Sons of Korah.
But then they end the psalm in the most unusual way - with a declaration of trusting Him. They turn to ask themselves - why are you discouraged oh my soul? So, it must be okay to ask, right? I can't tell you how many times (every day) I've asked. And it's okay. Especially when it's followed with - I shall yet praise Him - the help of my countenance and my God. Still declaring in the midst of things so hard to understand - that He is still my God and I will continue to trust whether I can or cannot see.
Today, in the midst of pain, disappointment, and struggle I will declare - You O Lord are the help of my countenance - You lift me up! You are still my help and I will still trust You and praise You. Will you join me?
Nothing is easy about caregiving, in my opinion. Some days are overall easier than others, maybe. And eventually we tend to adjust to a new normal, don’t we? For me, it’s taken some time to get into a groove and stay there. That’s actually how I adjust to many of the daily responsibilities. When I need to add something new, I find a spot for it in what I am already doing and once I fit it into my “groove” it becomes a new norm too.
As caregivers, we have so much on our plate it can be hard to juggle it all. And it’s not just a hectic spot – it’s every single day - day after day. It can be easy to lose sight of life itself. Most caregivers I’ve had a chance to cyber-chat with get frustrated with people who tell them they need to take care of themselves or they need to take a break – but offer no real solution for how to do so. Not to mention how friends seem to vanish over time and social isolation becomes a real deal that gnaws away at our very existence. But alas, we adjust and continue to do what we must do for our loved ones.
Pressing on when it gets difficult makes me think of a scripture. Hebrews 12:1-2 says this:
Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith
Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
Despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth sharing again. I recall the day I stood by my son’s hospital bed, right after I’d brought him home. I was still heartbroken and was also in caregiver’s shock as I had no idea what it was going to look like. It was certainly figuring it out a day at a time thing. Lol. As I looked at my adult son sleeping, I was overwhelmed by the love I had for him. I knew I would stay beside him no matter what that road looked like, for I was bound by love. And in that moment, I realized this was the same love that held Jesus to the cross. His intense love and compassion for us was why He faced the cross, to begin with – and it’s what held Him to the cross when He had the power to walk away.
He looked out over time and saw us in our caregiving situations and endured the cross so He could perfect our faith. Those days when we just are not sure we can put one foot in front of the other or it takes all our strength just to breathe – we can look at Him and realized He endured pain for us because He cherishes us, He loves us. And we can take one more step, one more breath.
I think I didn’t really understand love until that moment that day. It’s helped me sort through many days – none of them easy.
Today, I’ll keep my thoughts focused on His great love for me. My meditations will be on how He didn’t get off that cross because it hurt – He knew WE needed Him to stay there. He endured – I can endure. I can run this caregiver’s race that is set before me with patience because of what He has done. I’ll thank Him for the grace to make one more hard day – will you join me?
This weekend I paid for a sitter so I could get out in nature a bit. I’ve heard the saying that you go into the woods to find your soul. There is definitely something healing about a nice walk in nature. Well, this wasn’t really a walk, there was a LOT of rock climbing. But it was good for my soul and my body.
I think hiking is good because it gets your mind totally off caregiving, work, and life. For a few hours you’ve got to focus on where you are, where you are going and not getting lost! It takes every bit of you and demands you be “all in” for a little while. But while you are immersed in a nice hike and enjoying the fresh air – it really does bring a cleansing to the soul. As I got to this one area with beautiful rock formations and interesting plant life even here in early winter, I paused. I looked around at the beauty of nature and I realized the load of life had been lifted off my shoulders. Nature had done its job. I said, “thank you” out loud. Then began to thank God for all He created.
As I looked around at all the rock formations, I thought of how small it when compared with all His creation. I thought of the scriptures that mention how He holds the waters of the world in the palm of His hand. Then I thought of my favorite passage on creation. It’s in Job 38. Verse 4 stood out in my mind as God asks Job, Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? As I continued to hike and look at the wonders of creation, I thought of that phrase Where were you? Oddly enough it made me feel small and huge all at the same time.
On one hand, I recognized the power of God and how big He really is. But I also realized He takes time to speak to us. It was also significant to me that He was addressing this question to Job, the one so admired for facing great adversity and coming through it with faith intact.
So, I marveled that I felt so close to God out in the wilderness. I marveled that as insignificant as I feel in the grander scheme of things, He took time to touch my heart. I was refreshed, renewed, and recommitted to serving Him with all I had. My soul was calm – and that had been the point of the hike.
I thought about how God used nature throughout the scriptures. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush, made water run out of a rock, and today, He used it to speak to my heart once again.
Today, I will meditate on His majesty. My thoughts will be on the wonders of creation and how He still speaks to us today when we take time to listen. I’ll take time to listen to Him today – I’ll find that quiet place for my soul to reach out to Him once again. And of course, I’ll continue to trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?
Yesterday as I was driving up to see my mom in the nursing home, I spent some time praying. It was one of those times where I felt like I just upended my heart and dumped it all out at the foot of His throne. I handed Him all my pain and confusion, some with words – some without. As I was pouring my heart out before Him I began to get some answers. They just started popping up in my mind.
As I drove, I asked for wisdom. Then I asked for peace. When I asked for peace, I had this question come up in my head. Where’d you put it? It struck me a bit funny, but I let my heart and mind pursue it. Where’d I put what? Peace. That’s what I was praying for, right?
Then the scripture came to mind – in John 14:27, Jesus told His disciples, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In that moment, it seemed as though He was asking me a question. And of course, we know God doesn’t ask questions just for the sake of gathering information – He already knows!
It was more like he was asking me where did YOU put the peace I left for you? I thought about that for quite some time. Jesus was preparing Himself for the crucifixion – He didn’t need peace on the other side of the cross. He is peace. He said He was leaving it for His disciples who were also instructed to not let their hearts be troubled. Well that’s easier said than done, especially for caregivers who have circumstances from all sides chipping away at their hearts, minds, and peace – day in and day out!
But somehow – just His question brought peace to my troubled soul. As I got lost in thought, peace began to flood my soul. I realized He left it here – His peace that is. He left it for us. What are we going to do with it? Where are we going to put it? Will we lay it aside and just go on walking in our confusion and fears? Or will we let ourselves be clothed and covered with His peace? Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace of God rule in your hearts… It’s an exercise in trust I presume! But it’s definitely a purposeful action.
Today, I will focus on letting His peace reign in my heart. I’ll be intent about leaning in to hear Him and drowning out the noise of the caregiving world with His voice. To “let” means to allow – I’ll allow His peace to reign in my heart – and in my mind today. In that way – I’ll trust Him with just this day and all that it may bring my way. Will you join me?
I’ve just come out of a few very rough days. I know you fellow caregivers (and some who are not) really do understand. It can seem like everything is rocking along smoothly when all of a sudden, BAM! Everything falls apart all at once. Our loved one is sick or facing new challenges, supplies don’t come, aids don’t show up or don’t work – whichever, right? For each of our unique situations, there are any number of crazy things that can happen in a day to make our already weird lives even more abnormal. Lol.
Even our easiest days are more difficult than other hardest days, you know? That’s not a complaint at all, just the way it is whether you are an LD caregiver or a full-time in the home caregiver. This last week was a double whammy for me. First, my son was sick (I’m thinking COPD instead of asthma – but haven’t got that confirmed yet.) Then in the middle of it all I get a call about a situation with my aunt. It turned out to not be too serious – but it was a LOT for a day. I was quite literally at my wit’s end.
I have to admit I was pretty upset at God. I felt somewhat like the psalmist in Psalm 13 when he said, how long O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? And of course, it didn’t take too long (not forever at least) for the tides to turn again and everything be all worked out for both my son and my aunt. But it was stressful for a few…
It’s so difficult to keep first things first when dealing with tons of stuff going on, isn’t it? I can honestly say – I’m no Job. I’m pretty sure I have “sinned with my mouth.” And after my reading this morning in Genesis, I guess I’m no Noah either. Lol. I’m not too surprised actually.
Noah is so interesting though. First off – God said some really nice things about Noah. He found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen.6:8) Verse 9 says Noah walked with God. That’s an interesting term. Later in that chapter is says that Noah was careful to do all God told him to do. And then in chapter 7, God said that Noah was righteous before Him in a “wicked generation.”
We know that Noah obeyed God and built the ark and then he spent a long time floating around until the rains stopped and the earth dried. Who knows how stir crazy that was, right? At least we’ve got TV! Lol. He was locked up in there caring for all the animals and his few family members. But it was the first thing he did when he opened the door of the ark that got me this morning.
In Genesis 8:19, everything came out of the ark. In verse 20, it says Noah built an altar to the Lord. What if after every really challenging moment, a hard day, or rough situation we built an altar to God in our hearts? What if after those super trying days – or days on end – we kept going back to that altar and declaring we are going to serve God period? That’s how I want to be. Maybe I get tripped up in the particulars. We don’t know if Noah did or not – maybe he cussed out an animal or two! Lol (No hate mail – I’m sure he didn’t.) Did he get frustrated? He was caregiving times 100 with all the animals and his family. He had to get frustrated from time to time. But when he came out – he built an altar.
Today, as I come out from under a super stressful spot – I purpose to build an altar in my heart. I’m renewing my commitment to Him and confirming that I will still “walk with Him.” This altar in my heart will hold all my burdens and I will release them to Him. Just like the smoke went up from Noah’s sacrifice, my woes, pains, and concerns can rise before God as I place them on the altar of my heart and release them to His care. I’ll purpose to stay in that place of worship and sacrifice as I walk through today – will you join me?
Life is filled with the unexpected. No one knows this more than a caregiver, right? We literally never know what a day may bring. Our loved one may become ill, have a fall, or any number of things. Of course, the unexpected isn’t always negative either. Someone may send a gift that brightens your day. Or a stranger speaks kindly to you and your loved one. You just never know.
The Bible has lots of unexpected things too. One thing I was reading about this morning was the birth of Jesus. When Simeon saw baby Jesus, he began to proclaim and prophesy. This phrase in Luke 2:32 stood out to me today: A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles. The Gentiles? We were in God’s plan all along even though the Jews found it so surprising. Remember Isaiah 60? We know the first verse well and used to sing it back in the ‘70s when we thought it was cool to just sing the Word.
The first part says Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you! But then if you go on down to verse three it says the Gentiles will come to that light. Well, what are they doing there? Lol. They were unexpected.
Remember Hannah’s prayer for a child? In 1 Samuel she prayed earnestly for God to relieve her of her being barren so she could have a child. He did and Hannah had Samuel. She gave him back to the Lord and he began to serve in the temple. The first thing God did with Samuel was upset the religious system of the day. No one expected that one!
God is always full of surprises for His people. Sometimes, He’s been telling us about it all along. Other times we don’t have a clue. His answers to our prayers may not look like what we expected. Hannah wanted a baby, God sent a prophet. The Jews wanted a Messiah, and God sent a baby. God is not backward – He just works differently than what we can think or imagine.
Today, I’m going to expect the unexpected. I’ll take a look around to see what prayers God has answered and I didn’t know it because I expected one thing but got another. I’ll trust that He is always at work for me and in me. My meditations will be on how to expect the unexpected from Him – and how to accept it with grace. I’ll turn my thoughts to all the prayers He has answered before and trust that He has heard my heart today as well. And I’ll wait for His answer – His way. Will you join me?
This word “wait” is an interesting term. It has two meanings. On one hand, it can mean to wait until something happens. It happens when something is supposed to occur – and you have to be patient as you wait for it to happen. We wait on someone to show up at an event. We may wait for a movie to start. I wait for my coffee to make each morning. 😊
The other way to use the word, “wait” is to serve. We like to tip a good waiter when they serve us well at a restaurant. The doorman waits on us as he serves us by taking our coats. The valet serves us by parking our car.
So when we say we are waiting on God which one are we talking about? These crazy thoughts started as I was reading in Isaiah 49 this morning. I had actually started in Psalm 31 as I’m working on a new devotional to come out soon. My meditations were on not being ashamed to trust God. A series of short searches and I landed in Isaiah 49:23. The very last part of that verse in the New American Standard Bible says this: they shall not be ashamed who wait on Me.
That’s when I started thinking a lot about the two kinds of waiting. We may find ourselves waiting on God to do something. But while we are waiting on that – we can be waiting on Him. Serving Him.
When I first became a caregiver, I thought my days of serving Him were over because I couldn’t serve like I had in the past. That of course was basically inside the walls of religion. It took a while to learn that I serve Him in many ways. Firstly, by taking care of my son. Then, I started taking care of my aunt too. As I serve these two fragile individuals – I am taking care of the least of these. And I am doing His service on this earth.
Serving Him isn’t complicated. It’s not about being on a platform or headlining an event. It’s about humbly doing whatever is set before us each day. And doing it for Him. Colossians 3: 23-24 says this: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. (NASB)
Today, I will take time to meditate on how I serve God by serving those who I take care of. I’ll think of how that care comes from a place of love and how God cares for us because He loves us too. My thoughts will be on how my actions – each and every one of them – are an act of service to God. Today I will serve Him by serving them – will you join me?
Have you ever wondered who would find your tear-stained pillowcases? Odd question, I know. But after a very emotional day yesterday I found myself crying into my pillowcase last night. This is extremely odd for me as I rarely cry at all. I tease and say my “eyes sweat” occasionally. But I am certainly not a crier. Yesterday seemed different. The load got heavier – I know you as a caregiver understand! We carry so much every single day, how in the world could it get worse? But we all know – it can and it does from time to time. It doesn’t usually take too much to be “more overwhelmed” than being overwhelmed. Lol
As I buried my face in my pillow last night and let my heart cry out without words to God, I found a bit of peace. I became thankful that He was still right here with me, even after the blows the day had brought. I became grateful to have a safe place to take my heart without fear of condemnation.
Then this morning, I got up early to get my head on straight before another sure-to-be long day. I found myself in 1 Peter 3 – and I have no idea how I got there! Lol. But I found the words comforting. Maybe you will too. Verses 10 through 12 are taken partially from Psalm 34. But it was 1 Peter 3:12a that stood out to me. It says this: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. (NASB)
I thought about that for quite a little bit. I know I am one of the righteous because 1 Corinthians 1:30 says He became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (NASB) Our righteousness as a caregiver is not in question. It was not compromised when we became a caregiver. In fact – it is still intact. (Another thing to be thankful for today!) So, His eyes are on me – on you – because we are the righteous. And His ears are open (as opposed to closed) to our prayers. I find that comforting this morning.
Today, instead of concentrating on all the difficult spots around me, I will choose to be thankful. I’ll purposefully thank Him for being my righteousness. There’s certainly no way I could be righteous on my own! My meditations will be on how He hears me – and didn’t turn down the volume when I started caregiving! I’ll be grateful that He didn’t send me on this journey alone – but He chose to walk it with me. And with that – I’ll trust Him for one more day – will you join me?
As I was reading this morning I came across a phrase that caught my eye. I picked up my Bible and just started reading where it opened. It just happened to be in Psalm 33. The subtitle had grabbed my attention as it says The sovereignty of the Lord in Creation and History. I’ve been looking at different passages about creation as I find it fascinating.
But when I got down to verses 13-15, I paused. Then, I read it over about four times. Then, I looked it up in several different versions. Guess what. They all say about the same thing. So, I looked it up in the Strong’s and Lexicon.
The word “fashioned” as I assumed means God shaped our hearts. He was involved in the creation, folding, and molding of each individual heart. And the heart, of course, is not representative of our physical blood-pumping heart. It’s our spirit-soul man. The part of us that makes us an individual. The part of us that is the alive part.
I found this all fascinating. Psalm 33:13-15 says this:
The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
He did not mass-produce us He fashions each of our hearts. As mixed up as our hearts and emotions can be as caregivers, He sees and knows all the ins and outs we go through on any given day. He made our hearts with a capacity to care and to love – just like He has.
Sometimes as a caregiver, I can feel very cut off from the world. Social isolation is a real thing. And even on those times when I do get out, I can feel so separate – so different. And you know what? He gets that.
There are days filled with appointments, calls, visits. I can feel totally overwhelmed almost before I get up out of bed. Often, I get up as tired as I was when I laid down. You know what? He gets that.
Some days are frustrating from the get-go. Supplies don’t come in, aids either don’t show up or don’t do their jobs. (And we still have to treat them decent. Lol. You know what? He gets that.
There are times I’ve been totally overcome with grief. Tears well up in my eyes and I fight to keep from slipping into a depressed state. The world may not understand living grief. But you know what? He gets that.
Those same “hands” that took the time to form our hearts individually are there to pick it up when it shatters into a million pieces. Those graceful hands tenderly touch our hearts and bring peace in turmoil. If He took the time to individually form our innermost beings – He cares about every part of us, no doubt.
Today, I’m going to trust my fashioner with those parts of me that no one else can see. I’ll give Him the nitty-gritty parts of my heart that people overlook or ignore. I’ll lay the emotions I don’t even understand at His feet this morning. And I will trust Him from this most hidden place. Will you join me?
I think I’ve shared that I’ve been studying the armor in Ephesians 6. If not, guess what! I’ve been studying the armor in Ephesians 6! It’s funny to me how we can read something over and over and then one day it seems to just open up and make sense. I have read, studied, and memorized this passage, but in the reading this time several things stood out that I hadn’t noticed quite this way before. Hopefully, I can get it all out of my heart and mind and into a study guide or devotional – not sure which one yet.
So, this one little phrase really stuck out to me this time. Paul tells the church at Ephesus to put on all the armor so they can stand. He mentions standing a couple of times throughout – when you’ve done all… just stand. Do you have days like that? I know I do. Days when caregiving is just overwhelming and we’re at the end of our own proverbial rope are frequent it seems. But here we are – still standing. And thankful to God for perseverance, strength, peace and His presence.
The phrase that’s standing out to me today is in verse 13. I’m using the New Living Translation (it’s the old NLT). It says to put it all on – so that after the battle you will still be standing. There’s that standing thing again. But the focus for me is on the three words: after the battle.
Paul in no way told the Ephesians they would be able to avoid or escape the battle. While there may not be an escape route – there is an after. Whatever battle we are facing today will come to an end. And I’m sure there will be a new one immediately following but after this battle – we’ll still be standing as long as we are hidden in Him. And as long as we continue to embrace His word.
For caregivers sometimes it feels like everything is a battle. Seriously, and some days it starts with breathing. Taking one more step or taking one more breath is the battle some days. But as we continue to stand complete in Him – after each battle no matter how long, how short, how intense, or insane – we can still be standing.
I don’t know what battles I may face today. For me right now it really is one breath at a time. But I know that no matter what comes my way, and I’m sure they’ll be something(s)… this tiny soldier will still be standing and trusting Him.
Today, in the midst of exhaustion I will purposefully trust Him. I will direct my thoughts to His watchful care over us. I will turn my meditations to His care, His intense love and His extreme desire to be with us. Then, I will trust Him for each breath as I breathe through this day one step at a time. Will you join me?
Today I decided to share a song that I wrote. I know I’m not a really good singer- but I hope you can hear past it to God’s message to you. This was written after I’d stayed day and night in the hospital with my son for over three months. It would be about two more weeks before we would transfer to a nursing home.
Needless to say, my heart was broken. Shattered into pieces and I wanted to run..but God gave me this song as a way of reassuring me that He was with me through the long, dark nights. And that His heart was indeed still beating for me. My hardest task then was to fight my way through the emotions I was feeling and find rest in Him. Will you join me on a journey to Father’s heart? Here’s Beating for You:
Needless to say, my heart was broken. Shattered into pieces and I wanted to run..but God gave me this song as a way of reassuring me that He was with me through the long, dark nights. And that His heart was indeed still beating for me. My hardest task then was to fight my way through the emotions I was feeling and find rest in Him. Will you join me on a journey to Father’s heart? Here’s Beating for You:
I can only feel my situation - and my first thought was - protect your broken heart. I wondered if it was any different for caregivers than others. Probably not, really. We still need to guard our hearts and perhaps we need to be a bit more diligent about it than others. For me personally, the first two things that came to mind that I must protect from taking root in my heart was bitterness and unforgiveness. When my son first had the accident I began to pray that I would not grow bitter as things progressed along lines I really didn't want them to go. You know?
One of my first prayers was that I would move closer to God and have an amazing story of resilience. Well, maybe it hasn't happened just like that. Choosing to not let circumstances lead us down the road of bitterness is just that - a choice. Forgiveness is a choice as well. That's easy to type - easy to say, but not always as easy to do. But just because it's not easy - doesn't mean it's not do-able.
As I meditated on this verse this morning, lots of current situations come to mind. Things I need wisdom to deal with, decisions I need guidance to make, and lots more. I thought of how important it is to lean into Him a little more each day. That's what helps us guard our hearts, I think. I don't want anything in my heart that would keep me from His. Clarification - He won't move! But when I harbor bitterness, unforgiveness, and hidden sins within my heart I will step back and I won't be as comfortable in His presence. His presence remains. His love is the same. It's my own sin that makes me feel separated from Him.
Today, I will purposefully choose the path of my heart and my feet. I'll guard both so there will be no occasion to stumble. I'll meditate more on guarding my heart and what that looks like as I bring all my thoughts captive to the Spirit of Christ. I'll be busy with all that. But I will choose to rest in Him - up close and personal to Him as I guard my heart. I will re-examine myself to see if there is any bitterness or unforgiveness trying to creep in and I'll put up a wall of His peace to keep it out! Will you join me?
In verse 9, the phrase that captured my attention is this: I will wait for your mercies. I thought about that for a while. What's it like to wait - for His mercies? I immediately thought about the scripture that says, His mercies are new every morning. The funny thing to me about that is that there is no "morning" to God- it's always today. The sun doesn't set - there's no darkness in Him.
So I looked up the scripture. Of course, it's in Lamentations 3:22-23. The New Living Translation worded it this way: the unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies, we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.
There's a lot to think about in these two verses. I already mentioned His mercies must begin afresh for us each day. He doesn't have a new day - but we do and boy do we as caregivers need His mercy to be fresh and ready to go for us! Even though this is the part of the verse I was looking for, it was the other part that caught my attention. It's by His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Maybe it's just me - but caregiving and all that goes with it is strenuous - mentally, physically, emotionally, financially.... I need Him to protect me from destruction. the writer even mentioned a verse earlier feeling of grief and loss. Those are so familiar to the caregiver!
It's God's mercies that He keeps fresh for us each day that keeps the crucible of life from utterly destroying us. Yesterday, we talked about that. The crucible is designed perfectly so it doesn't do any more than squeezing the oil out of us so others are ministered to. Wait!! I'm the caregiver - I need the ministry! (That's my thoughts anyway...) But isn't it really about being able to lift each other up? Isn't it really about letting our little lights shine in the midst of dark circumstances? Isn't it about keeping faith in the furnace? It's about a shared hope - even though some days we can barely make it through. I get that. But as we make it through each day trusting Him - our lives are pointing the way for others to seek and find hope in Him too.
Today, I'll just be thankful the crucible doesn't destroy us - it just squeezes out what is shareable. My thoughts will be on the freshness of His mercies no matter what time of day we need it. I'll meditate on His closeness when I need Him most - and when I think I need Him the least. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?
David had been betrayed by Doeg the Edomite, so he had some not-so-nice words for him at the first of the psalm. As caregivers, we can be betrayed by friends - and even family we were counting on for support. Sometimes, it can feel like life itself has betrayed us and left us to deal with the un-normal lifestyle of caregiving. We've all experienced betrayal on some level. Just like David, we get frustrated, hurt, even angry. Our faith doesn't keep these things from happening- it just helps us navigate through them easier.... mostly. :-)
I'd like to focus on the end of the psalm today, though. The last two verses hold some solid truths we can embrace. In verse eight, David states But I am like a green olive tree thriving in the house of God. I will trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever. First, he says he's like an olive tree - and he's in God's house. He is refuting what life has thrown his way by stating who he is and where he is. He is planted firmly in God's house - holding tightly to God and His word. But an olive tree? We used to sing this verse and it never made sense. But this morning- it did.
An olive tree bears fruit. But that fruit is beneficial for eating, anointing, soothing, and healing. Get this though - only after it's crushed. The olive must be crushed to get the benefit of the oil. And the tree just keeps producing fruit - that keeps getting crushed so it can be used. In the crucible of caregiving we often find who we really are.
Like David was, we are fighting for our lives - for our very existence too. And that's precisely the reason we need to remain in God's house. And I do NOT mean a church - Let God be your covering. Let God be your confidant. Let God be your caregiver. Remain hidden in Him - and you'll bear fruit. And when that fruit is crushed (the tree isn't crushed btw), there will be benefits for many to enjoy.
Today, I'll turn my thoughts to thriving in His house. I will meditate on what it's like to live in Him- to reside in His house - forever. In my heart, I will see if there are ripe areas ready for the crushing, for the pouring out to others. I want to listen and be sensitive to Holy Spirit so this crushed, bruised, life can be used to minister to the needs of others as I yield my brokenness to Him. Will you join me?
If you've read any of my blogs at all, you know my thoughts are 900 a minute, or more. If you are new to my writings and musings, you'll get used to it eventually. As usual, my thoughts are full.I love the verse in Psalm 94:19. The KJV translates it as in the multitude of thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul. The NASB says When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Some versions use the term worry, cares of my heart, and even doubt. I don't really care what we call it - whatever name we want to give to it His comfort is still our delight. He is still our joy. And I will continue to trust Him no matter how crazy my thoughts get.
Isn't that what each day of caregiving comes down to? At the end of the day, the question is But do you still trust Me? Some days I've really wanted to say a flat out NO! But my heart won't ever let me. I remember one day I prayed God, don't give me one more thing. And His blunt answer was Or what?
Seriously, one more thing or not - I will trust Him yet still...
As caregivers, we really don't know what a day will bring. Our easiest days are still filled with difficulties many may never embrace. Decisions are more complicated when we are making them for someone else. There are a LOT of days where it does feel like we cannot take one more thing - small or large. But at the end of those days, we continue to trust Him. And it starts with a committment in the morning, doesn't it? Each morning as we rise - we declare we will trust Him no matter what the day brings.
So today - I declare I will trust Him yet still. No matter how hectic the day gets, what goes wrong or what goes right- I will yet still - trust Him. Will you join me today in trusting Him with it all?
Sometimes the cares of caregiving seem to press in on all sides. David describes so many of these feelings like being pressed, fear and trembling, and being overwhelmed. In the church circles I used to run with these honest feelings had no room for expression and yet here they are mentioned in the Bible by none other than David, the man after God's own heart. Emotions and feelings must not be outlawed by God. He can embrace us in such a precious way when we are being crushed in teh crucible of life.
The reason I was in Psalm 55 in the first place was that I was looking for verse 6. I said, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.' How often I've longed to "fly away and be at rest" but alas, it never comes. I'm stuck in the drudgery of caregiving and choosing to make the best I can of it!
David goes on to describe a number of situations he was facing. Like caregivers, there are often LOTS of them - and like caregivers, many of the wounds don't come from strangers - but those of our own family and friends. But I like the conclusion David came to. In verse 16, he says but as for me, I will call upon the Lord! I want to stand up and say, "Me too!" No matter what comes our way (and there's always a lot!) - we can choose to call on God. We can always turn it around as a prayer and remember He is our source of peace, contentment, and hope.
After David decided his recourse would be to call on God, he finished out the psalm with this: Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
And that is where I am now - after wanting to just fly away and be at rest - I'm content in His sustaining power and His ability to keep me from being shaken.
Today, my meditation will be on the Lord the sustainer of my soul. I'll think about how He holds me and keeps my soul from being taken or shaken. I declare like David - I will call on the Lord! And then, I will trust Him for today. Will you join me?
What I have learned though, is that if I look - I can find beauty. Sometimes it's in the oddest places. Like this beautiful yellow flower. It's in the backyard where I stay. I'm sure most would label it a weed, and it'll soon be dug up and tossed out. Which is really sad because if my research is correct, it's a type of thistle with a plethora of health benefits. But it's often labeled a weed.
Of course, the flower is what caught my eye, but as I looked further I saw all the thorns. If we look for it, we can find beauty among the thorns. Isn't it too easy to get distracted by the thorns and forget all about the beautiful flower that's unfolded before us? Being a caregiver is stressful. It's hard. It's emotional. Let me say that again - It's emotional. It can also be very ugly. But if we look for beauty where we can, and enjoy it while we can - our lives are enriched in a very surprising way.
As I have purposefully sought out these types of spots of beauty, I realized I could find beauty among the thorns of life. Soon, my thoughts turned around and I realized that in all the "ugliness" of life God purposefully searches out those beautiful places. Places where I am growing and blooming in the midst of thorns. Places where there is beauty when it's not expected. And I just imagined that it was a beautiful thing to Him and made His heart smile too.
Today, I'm going to continue to look for beauty in adverse circumstances. I'll meditate on the truth that He sees the beauty in me and around me, even when I cannot. I will remain thankful that He sees past circumstances and understands my heart and can find those sometimes well-hidden beautiful spaces. And I will trust Him for this one more day. Will you beautiful people join me?
As I finished up the entry this morning, I ended with a couple of statements which became the first two lines of this poem:
Lord, hold me and hide me
Let me know You are beside me
As life's turbulent tides
Roll over and over me -
Comfort me - pull me close
and help me see
There's more to life than the pain I feel
There's more to life than what
seems so real
Whisper to my soul that You won't abandon
But that You'll swoop me up
Out of the depths of this emotional canyon
Remind me can trust You even though
I am battle-worn
Let me know You've still got me
even though I'm bloody and torn
For in You I find my soul's true healing balm
Remind me I am not alone even though
I look up and everyone's gone
You are there to speak and bring calm
Restore my joy, Restore my peace,
Restore my song
Help me remember You are with me and
You are for me all along
After I finished writing that I glanced at my open Bible and read from Psalm 119. Verse 132 says, Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name. He is always merciful, always faithful, always graceful toward us who continue to come back to Him because we love His name.
Today, I will remember He alone has the healing balm for life. I'll meditate on His mercy that is new every morning and is rich toward us who love His name. I'll tie my heart to His - and listen to His beat over mine.. as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?
This particular Bible study guide is called the Garden Connection. It ties the fall and redemption together so we get a big picture of what the fall of Adam and Eve did to mankind. But then it ties it in with the New Testament and the impact of what Christ did, and how he reversed the chain reaction set in motion in the garden. Anyway, I opened Romans 5 this morning for a reread. I'm looking for the garden connection and the work of Christ but found myself stuck in the first few verses.
Paul says, Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that - but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
There it was right in front of me in black and white once again. Despite the current, sometimes undercurrent of belief that we are free from trouble if we have faith - again the Word assures us tribulation and trouble exist in the believer's life. Paul reminds us to "glory" in our tribulations. Not because they are fun. But because of the outcome they bring in our hearts and lives. If I am honest, and I usually am, I don't care too much about perseverance. I don't even care too much about character. But hope. Now that's something I have to have. Hope - which won't disappoint. It's not that our situations will turn out rosy. But it's that our heart will endure - because of His love that has been poured out in our hearts. The heart endures when the body is tired. The heart endures when the brain can't think. The heart endures.... hope endures.
I'm reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 - now these things remain - faith, hope, love.
Today I will hold my heart closer to His as my meditation will be on faith, hope, and love. I'll turn my thoughts to what hope really means - the eternal meaning - not the superficial I hope all this gets better kind of hope. I want to make sure all my hope is in Him. That's my journey for today - will you join me?
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