Monday, February 25, 2019

Walking Alongside

 Once a year my daughter and I escape for a mother-daughter weekend away. We started the tradition 5 years ago on her birthday weekend. This year was our 6th trip and it was more of a caregiver's getaway since we now share caregiving responsibilities under one roof. It' always a great time and I learned so much on this trip.

On Saturday, we walked the 5k together. The first year we did it was a bit difficult for me because I usually run races. But every year she's done this one I have let her set the pace. This year's race was awesome! We visit, laugh, cut up and just relax, so it's a great time.

I thought about how much I enjoy just walking it with her - it's more than just getting the race done - it's the doing it together that makes it memorable. There really is something special about walking alongside someone else on their journey. Maybe it's just more rewarding when you make it about someone else's journey instead of your own.  Your journey is better.

I thought of what Jesus said in John about sending the Holy Spirit. He'll not only live in us, but He'll walk alongside too. Walking alongside is an important role. You still have to do the walking - but there's someone right there if you need anything like encouragement, a drink of water, a hand up, or a shoulder to lean on even though they don't walk it for you.

To further demonstrate - there were several amputees on this race. They all had someone there with them, but not one companion was walking it for them. God won't walk the caregiving journey for us - but He does walk alongside as a constant companion - just in case we need anything along the way.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing something as a caregiver, and maybe I walk like with a limp. But I can rest easy knowing that each unstable step is taken with Him by my side - to guide, comfort, instruct, and help. That's all I need to just keep taking one more step.

Today, I'm going to meditate on His ever-abiding presence. I'll turn my thoughts to how Holy Spirit is sent to us to indwell us - and to walk alongside. I'm not taking one step alone  - I like that. I'll think about how He accompanies me with each and every tottering step and I'll trust Him for one more day. will you join me?




Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Always Behind

Just a few weeks ago, my son's case manager came by. She started asking how long each task took and how many times a day it had to be completed. As the list grew longer, I started feeling overwhelmed. I had no idea it takes about 5 hours out of the day just to prepare his food and feed him. I also didn't realize how time-consuming transfers were. I mean, we've got it down to an art and it's MUCH easier than when I first brought him home. But still, an hour or more a day just to keep him dry and move him around? Then there was laundry, talking to various health professionals throughout the week, and tons of other things we didn't even get on her list. I was tired just thinking about it.

I'm starting to wonder if part of the caregiving journey is this feeling of being always behind. No matter what all I DO get accomplished in a day, I feel like I left at least as much undone. It's a daily thing. Maybe I am the only one - but I suspect not.

Feelings of being always behind lead my mind down dark paths of additional feelings of inadequacy, failure, etc. Once my thoughts begin spiraling, somehow everything I ever failed at and every mistake I ever made start surfacing. In just a few minutes I feel like the scum of the earth - lower than worm spit we used to say! But this morning, as my heart began to sink into that abyss, I did something a little different.

As soon as I thought of some shortcoming, mistake, failure or any other negative aspect, I made my mind think of something good that came from it. Then, I thanked God for that. With just a little bit of thought, each instance revealed a positive outcome in me, my circumstances, or whatever. And you know what? I didn't spiral down into the depths of grief or sorrow. I saw each circumstance in a different light when I realized there were positive outcomes even if they seemed as simple as God's grace extended to me, or some lesson I learned through it.

So even though I am "always behind" in my mind - there must be some really good stuff happening in the midst. Today, I will purposefully find gratefulness in the midst of my stress. I will command my thoughts to look past the obvious circumstances and choose to believe He is once again reaching and pressing for that positive outcome in me. My meditations will be grateful ones of His keeping power - His everlasting loving kindness toward me. And with that, I will gratefully trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


Monday, February 18, 2019

When In Doubt

This week I saw and retweeted a tweet from John Piper. The tweet contained the scripture from Matthew 14:30-31. Beginning to sink Peter cried out, Lord save me! Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? John Piper then added this note: this saving hand went out to doubt, not faith. Thus He keeps His own.

I think I retweeted it because it really touched my heart. There is a sect of the religious world that try to make us feel like we have no faith if we don't see our loved ones healed. Early on this was a real struggle for me and I battled with some things I'd been taught about faith and my situation. At one point I thought I was doomed. But once I was able to redefine faith - I found it to be what would carry me through the years of caregiving.

In this verse, Jesus didn't reach out to the "faith-filled" Peter. He reached out for him in his weakest, most faithless moment and even asked him why he had doubted. But He didn't abandon Peter for doubting. He didn't say, sorry, I can't help you because you doubted. He saw Peter starting to sink and He reached out his hand.

As caregivers we have good days and bad days. There are a few days when I feel like I'm starting to sink into fear, doubt, uncertainty, or frustrations. As positive as I try to be I still have those times when I start sinking into negativity. There are literally tons of thing each and every day that reach for us and try to drag us into the abyss of depression, sense of loss, and grief. It can be the simplest thing- like yesterday I saw a Facebook post of one of my son's friends who had their first baby. I was happy for them, but I cried. Depression and grief started clawing and pulling on me. Anything can trigger a sinkhole anywhere. I wonder if it's similar to the one Peter found while walking on the water.

As John Piper pointed out, He keeps His own. He keeps us in all our moments both the high ones and the low ones. He doesn't wash His hands, walk away and let us sink. He always meets us where we are whether we are jumping out of the boat to walk on water or being swept away in the current of caregiving. His hand is extended to us.

Today, when I am in doubt, I will recall this story. It will be my meditation today as I consider how Jesus had no condemnation for Peter, just an extended hand. I don't know about you, but I need His hand today. So I will purposefully turn my heart to reach for Him. I'll trust Him for today and remind myself that I am His. Will you join me?

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Unexpected

I'm an organized person, really. I like structure, a schedule, and to know what is happening next. Too bad caregiving doesn't accommodate that. Ever. Each day there are tons of certainties. Obviously, I will feed, dress, transfer, and care for my son. But there are all these other forces that interrupt my new normal.

This weekend it was the flu. Chris nor I had it - but my granddaughter tested positive for both A & B flu. Who does that, seriously? That and the cold weather caused me to cancel a race I had planned for me and Chris. When I signed up, the forecast was sunny and 54 - perfect for taking Chris to the race. But the high temperatures continued to drop throughout the week until it was cloudy and barely in the low 40s. Not good for those who are fragile. So I canceled. Again.

It's times like these that I feel the losses most. I feel inconsistent and that goes against every fiber of my being. In my heart, I am a pleaser and I cannot stand to let people down. However, I know that my role as caregiver causes these situations and there is nothing I can do about it. I start sinking into the abyss of loneliness and social isolation. But honestly, it's getting more comfortable there and that's what scares me.

I'm learning a lot about both worshipping and being a warrior. When the unexpected happens and the bottom falls out we can get swept away in so many lies. Some I deal with as a caregiver include:
  • you're not worth anybody's time
  • no one wants to hang out with you
  • you've got nothing to offer society
  • you were made to live on the bottom
  • you don't deserve a social life
Maybe it's just me - but the emotional struggles are real for caregivers. It may wear a little different voice and say words a bit differently, but caregiving can attack our identity. We get lost in caring for our loved one and literally lose ourselves. But there is hope. (You knew there would be!)

Paul asked the Christians at Colossae a question. It's not in the same context, but he says why as though living in the world...we are not of this world. We are citizens of heaven and our identity is in Him. And the good news is that it doesn't change in response to any circumstances. Caregiving doesn't change our identity - we are His and we are still hidden in Him. Nothing in time can change who we are in eternity.

Today, in the midst of my crazy thoughts- I will stop and thank Him for saving me. For calling me His own. And I will be thankful that I'm still His - and nothing, not even caregiving can take me out of His hand. I'll turn my thoughts to who HE thinks I am and I'll remind myself that He is consistent in a life that is not. His love, His peace, His fellowship can be expected in a world where the unexpected is the norm. And I'll be content in Him today - will you join me?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Foundational Truth

Is it just me or does it feel like the world is warring against the soul constantly? Lately, I've stayed off Facebook because of the hostile environment it can be. For the first few years of my caregiving journey, it was my entertainment and social outlet. It's changed a lot - and so have I so I avoid it most of the time. I was thinking of the things we see go across there and the media this morning and it made me thankful for my caregiver's cave. I can hide away and not see the horrible state the world is in.

In my devotions this morning, I was reading 2 Timothy 3 about the last days. It describes where we are to a T. But while I was reading through there, my eyes landed on a verse I had marked on the other side of my Bible page. It's chapter 2, verse 13. It says this If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. I was glad I "found" it as it allowed my mind to travel a different avenue. I thought about this foundational truth - He can't deny us because we are part of Him. What? We are actually part of God? How can that be? Right here in our messy lives - those of us who are believers are part of Him. It's not possible to say we are not in Him, not part of Him.

But what I really liked was the part that says if we are faithless, He is faithful. I like it because sometimes I feel so faith-less. It's difficult to trust because of what I see - even though at gut level I know He'll always pull me out. Sometimes I need Him to just help me take one more breath. Some days I feel like the entire world has caved in on me, I'm swimming upstream in a swift current, and there's no "finish line." I couldn't feel more faith-less on days like that. But even in those times, He is faithful. What does that mean? (my mind asks)


  • Faithful to protect my soul
  • Faithful to keep my heart in His
  • Faithful to watch over His word
  • Faithful to provide (even when I can't see)
  • Faithful to lead me back to His heart
  • Faithful to sustain me and help me take.one.more.breath
As I reminded myself of His faith-full-ness even in my faith-less state, my eyes caught another verse. Verse 19 says this - nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands having this seal - He knows those who are His. And with that, I took a deep breath. His foundation is firm, His foundational truths do not change. My faith can feel like it goes through ebbs and flows - but His faithfulness is constant. Whether I am swimming upstream or down,  He is faith-full. I may feel tired. I may feel lost. I may feel alone. I may feel defeated. But if I will just lean in on Him a little harder - His heartbeat will sustain me and give me the strength to keep swimming.

Today I will think less about feeling faith-less, and more about His sustaining faith-full-ness. I'll try to lean in to His heart where I can hear it beating for me (and you). My meditations will be on how He carries me through rough waters safely to the other side. So, I will let Him do the carrying today as I trust Him for one more day. Will  you join me?