Friday, May 24, 2019

Under the Shelter

I chose this picture today for our look at God being our shelter because we were taking shelter under a tree to avoid the hot sun! I'm still meditating in Psalm 62:5-6. I'm looking at how David said God is our rock, shelter, and fortress and how each of these provides a different level of protection. Yesterday, we looked at the rock - which can be beneficial to hide behind or get on top to see what the enemy is up to and which way he's coming from. Today, we'll look at how God is our shelter.

A shelter protects us differently than a rock or fortress can. Job 24:8 says this: they are wet with the mountain rains and hug the rock for want of a shelter. In other words, whoever "they" is in this reference didn't have a shelter and hugging a rock won't protect you from getting wet. lol It also won't protect you from the heat of the sun when it bears down on you. But a shelter will.

A shelter is something you get up under. I've been in the woods when drenching rains came through and tried to shelter up under the trees to keep from getting too wet. If you've ever watched survival shows like Bear Grylls, you know he talks about how to make a shelter in different settings. Why is that? It protects you from sunstroke in the heat and from getting soaked in the rain or snow.

Two scriptures come to mind when I think about how God provides a shelter. The first is Psalm 91:1-4 which says,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

I love that one! It's an old favorite. But notice it doesn't guarantee trouble won't come. It does say He will cover us. Our souls won't die from the heat or drown in the rain that life brings our way when we stay hidden under His wings. Psalm 57:1 is my other favorite:

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings, I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
Notice again there are no promises that trouble won't come. Just that when it does come - we have a safe place for our souls to hide. This does require that we stay under His protection, that we stay put under His wings.

Today, I'm going to be thankful that my soul has a place to hide in Him. My meditation will be on how I can stay put under His shelter when the day gets out of hand or I get discouraged. I'll turn my thoughts to how He protects my soul willingly and all I have to do is trust and stay there, hidden in Him. I plan on staying put under His shelter will you join me?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Value of a Rock

This is not a rock in the picture - it's actually a stack of hay that was about 2-3 stories tall. I climbed it during an obstacle course run one weekend. I felt like I had conquered all from up there! Honestly, I'm just using it because I can't find a picture of me on a rock. :-)

I'm going to break down the three positions in Him I pointed out in yesterday's devotion. After I posted it, I started thinking about each of the ways God protects us as listed in Psalm 62:6. He can be our rock - our shelter - our fortress.

Let's think about a rock - a BIG rock first. I can hide behind it. If it's big enough I can crouch down and my enemy will never be able to see me. I am safely hidden from approaching harm. I can't really get under a rock - but I can position myself behind it so that it is all my enemy sees as he approaches. We can hide behind Him - He protects us from direct onslaughts of the enemy.

But here's a cool thing about a rock. I can also get on top of it. One of my favorite views is found in Wilburton, Oklahoma at Robbers Cave State Park. There's an abandoned cave - the state closed the cave to keep people from getting inside long ago. But you can go up the side on a rocky trail to get to the top. I love standing there taking in the view as you can see for miles in almost every direction. Pine trees create a natural picture frame around the picturesque landscape. It's beautiful. I love to climb up there and imagine how the bad cowboys back in the day used it as their lookout.

I think it's fair to draw a parallel there too. We can get up on our rock  - and see ahead. He will alert us to what is coming if we pay close attention. I can hide behind Him - or I can be held up high by Him. Psalm 18:48 says, He delivers me from my enemies - and lifts me up above those who rise up against me. He can be a protective layer from our enemies or He can lift us up above fear, doubt, confusion, exhaustion....(the caregiver's enemies).

Today, I'm going to think about how He is that rock for me. A place to hide - and when that's not quite good enough - He will lift me above the caregiver's fog - and set me on the rock. My meditation will be on how He is my protector and He has my best interest at heart - His heart. I'll trust Him today whether I am lifted high or hidden behind His glory. Will you join me?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Positionally Speaking

 So many things going through my mind. Maybe that’s totally normal for caregivers. Our proverbial plate is more than full with caregiving tasks, decisions, and life too. Some days I jump up and hit the ground running... others I’m almost too tired to turn over to reach my alarm. Tired but still busy are accurate descriptions I think- for all of us. Yet we keep going- like the energizer bunny. Sometimes people around us don’t know how tired we really are.

These were some of my thoughts this morning as I opened Psalm 62. I am still meditating on this psalm. I keep going back, partially because I keep getting something out of it and partly because I keep seeing new stuff. That’s one of the coolest things about reading the Bible regularly. It doesn’t get tired...always something new even if you’ve read it before. That may be partly because of the changes life brings about in us and partly because He said His Word is alive! (Hebrews 4:12)

As I sit in the doctor’s office this morning I opened my Bible app to soak up some more of this psalm. I noticed for the first time that David repeated a phrase. I suppose that means it was important to him. Maybe he just wanted to remind himself of something.

This phrase is in verse 2 and then again in verse 6- He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. (NLT) I think the point I pulled out was never be shaken. I know God is my rock, salvation, and fortress too... can I rest assured that I won’t be shaken? Some days I feel shaken... shook... needing to find that place of re-grounding in Him.

So after some thought, I look back at the three other terms- rock, shelter, fortress. They must have something to do with not being shaken. I wonder if the psalmist is just being repetitive. I don’t think so- these are three forms of protection. Maybe different levels. I can hide behind a rock. I hide under a shelter. I hide inside a fortress. God’s got me covered. As long as I “position” myself in Him, under Him, and behind Him He’s got me!

Today, I’ll let my meditation be on my position with Him. I’ll think about how He covers me, hides me, and shelters me. My soul’s position will be on its knees in worship of all He is and who He is. I’ll trust Him to be my rock, my shelter and my fortress- will you join me?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Same - But Different

As caregivers, I know you understand how difficult the days and nights can be. Even our best days can be filled with struggles. Each day seems to take all that we have to make it through emotionally and physically. Some days are darker than others, aren't they? We can be going along at a good speed with everything going well - supplies on time, meals delivered, our loved one has a good day, a friend calls... or we just have a moment to catch our breath!

But there are those other days too, the topsy-turvy ones where it seems nothing goes right. Equipment breaks (usually the weekend too!), supplies didn't get ordered and now you're out, help doesn't show up. I know you know the drill all too well.

Then there are those dark times. For me, it is usually the middle of the night. Chris isn't feeling well or he's running a high fever and I have exhausted my resources. Those times when I am not sure what to do and I do not have the capacity to just make it better can be the most frustrating. I think it was Oswald Chambers who first coined the term, dark night of the soul. As caregivers, I know you understand those unexplainable, difficult times.

And with those dark times in mind, but hopefully far away for now - verse 12 in Psalm 139 has more significance to me. David says this:

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You
But the night shines as the day;
the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

I used to wonder about this verse, but as I was reading it again this morning it suddenly made sense. My original thinking was that He is light - so He can't see darkness. But I think there's a little different way to look at it. He sees the darkness alright. It's just that His vision isn't affected by my darkness. He doesn't need to squint to see what is going on in my life even in the darkest night. He sees just as well when my days are as bright and cheery as they can be and days when my emotions are boiling over with fear and anxiety. It all looks the same. He looks the same. He is calm. He is peace. He is light. He is comfort. His vision is not obscured by my darkness, not in the least. He sees just fine no matter what I am facing. And He's right there to help me make it through.

Today, I will meditate on how He can see in my darkness. I'll think about how it all looks the same to Him day and night. I'll rejoice in the truth that when my way is difficult - His vision didn't change. He still sees my path, He still sees the end, and He still sees me!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Behind and Before

This week I've continued my studies in Psalm 62. I'm still meditating and writing out some things from this phrase in verse 5 let all that I am. It's more than "okay" to bring all that we are before Him, it's required for a whole relationship. While thinking about bringing all that I am (and all that I am not) before Him openly I found myself once again in Psalm 139.

It seems David understood how intimately God knows us - whether we acknowledge it or not. I love this whole psalm, but as I was reading and rereading it this morning this phrase in verse 5 stood out to me - Behind and before.

David is in the middle of a discourse about how God knows us through and through. He knows our thoughts, words, deeds, ways, movements... pretty much everything! Then David says this You have hedged me behind and before and laid Your hand on me. (NASB) I paused for a bit to think about that. God has hedged us - enclosed us. So I wondered, what did He enclose us in?  Time?

I think He has enclosed us behind and before with Himself. He covers us. Surrounds us. He's got our past covered and our future covered with His grace. And He's not afraid to touch us - He has laid His hand on us! It seems to me that He has made us the center of His attention. He makes sure our paths (although not perfect, smooth, or easy) are wrapped by Him. If we can see ourselves encapsulated in His presence, surrounded by Him - it makes each step a bit easier, I think. I can't step far enough to step away from Him. My pathway cannot get so entangled that He is not in the next step. I'm hedged in behind and before. I love that thought!

Today, I will think about how His presence surrounds me. There wasn't an "off" button because I became a caregiver. He isn't afraid of our live's picture and He's not scared to reach in and touch us either. I'll be purposefully grateful that He's got me hedged in and His hand is still on my life. And as I meditate on how thoroughly He has me covered - I'll just rest in Him and trust Him for today. Will you join me?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Someone I Do Not Know

I'm sitting here crying for someone I do not know...
Their story just came across my feed...
An accident, an injury, a brain bleed...
Terms I know too well on a path I've traveled too long..

My heart hurts and I don't even know their name...
I'm crying with parents, loved ones and friends...
Knowing that the pain and grief never ends...
Now I'm praying for someone I don't even know... never knew before...

My eyes turn loose of tears I'd held in from my own pain...
As I remember the early parts of my own journey...
I know what they can endure - what they may face...

Those long days of hoping, praying, believing...
Long nights just watching them keep breathing...
Don't stop.... please don't stop...

Then there's the waiting...
Dark nights, warm tears, terrible coffee...
Uncertainty abounds - so many ifs...

If there's a future what does it look like now?
If dreams are still valid...
If there's life after this...
If there's anything outside a waiting room... a hospital room...
If home exists... where do I fit...
If my loved one will ever speak, walk, wake, or move again...

What does life look like from the waiting room?
How can I find certainty for tomorrow when today's breath is already gone?
No thinking about tomorrow, this afternoon, or one minute away - only waiting...
Surviving one second at a time looking for one more breath to arise... hopefully
In me - in them - what is life anyway?

I'm hurting all over again for someone I do not know...
Someone like me...
So I pray - they find peace...
They find hope...
They get the answers they want but have grace to trust and deal with the ones they didn't want...

This someone I don't know - gets lots of prayers - but they will never know...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What if I Break?

As I type this, I’m sitting in the hospital ER with my aunt. Unexpected disruptions are common occurrences and just part of the caregiving journey. It can certainly seem like just about the time you feel you can handle it and at least the most pressing is under control... something topples it all over and you’re pressing to get a Pandora’s box closed and everything re-contained. Sometimes we learn how to roll with the everyday punches and adapt. Other times, it’s not so easy. Sometimes I wonder if I will break.

What if I do? What I’d I don’t?

As is my custom, I turn to the Word for an answer to my question. Funny how He never disappoints. Since I’m using my phone (which btw is difficult for old ladies), I do a quick search for “shaken.” I want to think I’m unshakable, but I certainly know I’m not. Any of us can break or shake under pressure. That’s why we must rely on Him for our existence. Our breath. One second at a time.

I found what I was looking for in Psalm 62. The first two verses say this:

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 - NLT. I think maybe I keep forgetting to “wait quietly” before God. I can wait. Impatiently mostly. And I’m pretty chatty! Lol. So I remind myself to wait- and do so quietly. Quietly trusting Him for just this moment.

I read the psalm out loud to my aunt. We stop on verse 5: Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. NLT  That is what I needed to hear right here in this place of brokenness. Let all that I am..... and all that I am not...wait on Him.

And with that, today, I will silence my crazy all over the place thoughts, my aching heart, and my fears and quietly wait. I won’t stress over missed or behind work, not being with Chris while I’m caring for my aunt, or anything else. I will let the world pause and I will pause with it. Because my hope is in Him and not in any of these other things. As I pause, I will trust Him for today and trust that He has me broken or not.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Finding Contentment

I came across an interesting scripture this morning during my devotions. Since I wasn't sure where to start reading I let my Bible just fall open. It landed in Ezekiel 35. In the 5th verse, God is upset at a group of people because they attacked others in the time of their calamity. That sparked a short study on calamity and trouble.

At first I saw a lot of scriptures talking about why and when the Lord brought calamity on groups of people in the Old Testament. I'll be honest. I got a bit worried that He had brought this calamity on me and my family. But like Job who faced calamity for no fault of his own, I found peace knowing in my heart I have not turned away from Him even in this calamity. So I continued my short study.

I found a passage in Obadiah where God was condemning another group for mistreating their "brothers" in the day of trouble and calamity. I began to take heart again as it seemed God was upset with those who took advantage of those who were facing difficult times. Fortunately, I haven't found this to be true in my case. Most people don't seem to take advantage of caregivers, they just ignore us. lol.

As I thought about these two passages where the Lord seemed upset about how people who were going through were being treated, I recalled one of my old favorite verses. It's Psalms 57:1 and I memorized in back in 1986 when I was going through a serious illness. It says this Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me for my soul trusts in thee and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until calamities are past.

And that I did. And that calamity did pass. He did heal me. There was no other explanation and doctors never discovered what the mystery illness was. But now I find myself in another type of calamity, one that is ongoing with no end in sight. I still proclaim that I will hide in Him in the midst of this wilderness too. He is still my refuge and in that, I am very content. I'm content to rely on Him for my strength to make each and every day. I'm content to know He's got my heart hidden in His no matter how broken it feels. I'm content to know He's got my back and upset when "brothers" don't treat us right as we walk through the struggles of each day.

Today, I will rejoice that I am still trusting in the refuge of His wings - and He hasn't kicked me out yet! My thoughts will be on being content in this place of safety and I will LET His peace rule in my heart. I won't let calamity define me, I'll let Him do that. I'll continue being contently and confidently hidden in Him trusting in His love and care. Will you join me?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Still in the Game

This weekend I went to Wichita, Kansas to run a half marathon. I had run one full marathon there in 2012. I haven't done another full 26.2 miles and probably won't! lol. I was surprised by the emotions of returning to the place I did accomplish my only marathon. My eyes got just a bit moist when I looked at the bridge coming into the start/finish line area and I was a bit proud that I had done at least one full.

I hadn't trained enough for this half, but knowing I'd done a full (and 26 other half marathons) gave me the confidence to hit the course and shave 4 whole minutes off my last time.

Sometimes as caregivers it feels like facing each day is like running a marathon and it can seem like it never ends. But by looking back at the things we have accomplished on the caregiving journey it encourages us to face another day. When we take a few minutes to look back at a few wins we know we can make it one more day. We are still in the game - and that's a great achievement.

But sometimes, it's the fact that we are still in the game that makes it difficult. It's our faith that brings the greatest comfort and the greatest conflict. We believe He heals - even though we don't experience it in our situation. We believe He calms the storm even when it rages on. What do we do with those emotions when we know and trust and believe but don't see? Stay in the game.

It all comes down to trusting Him in the midst of trials, storms, and caregiving. I've said before that I've found my faith to be redefined through caregiving. It's not so much that it keeps us from facing things - it's not about avoidance - or not having to go through the trials. Instead - it's what carries us through them. Like all our Bible heroes. Hebrews 11 - the Hall of Faith - is full of those who faced situations and prevailed because of faith. There'd be no stories if they hadn't faced obstacles.

Today, I'm going to rejoice that I am still in the game no matter how difficult it is. My thoughts will be on how He has carried me thus far and He's not putting me down here! I'll meditate on His presence that never leaves me and ride that through one more day called today. Will you join me? OH - and congratulations - for staying in the game!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

How Seniors Can Maintain a Healthy Weight

All over America, senior populations continue to grow as older adults are living longer due to advances in medicine. A higher number of seniors are experiencing many of the problems that plague younger generations, including weight gain. Although obesity levels are much lower in seniors, there is a circular relationship between longevity and a healthy weight. As people live longer, their caloric needs change which can put them at risk for overeating. And the more seniors exercise, the longer they live.

The key to balancing a healthy diet with exercise is to find programs that are enjoyable and sustainable.  Here are some tips for senior diets and exercise.

Senior dieting requires more than just calorie restriction

The general rule with dieting is that in order to lose weight, one must create a caloric deficiency. A pound of body fat roughly equates to 3,500 calories. Therefore, in order to lose a pound in a week—which is generally considered a healthy weight-loss goal—a 500-calorie-a-day deficiency is necessary. Senior metabolism is slower than that of a younger person. Whereas a 30-year-old man may require 2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight, at 70 he may only require 1,800 calories. This slower metabolism makes it easier to overeat and harder to create a weight-loss deficiency. In addition, seniors have increased nutritional requirements in order to maintain bone mass and muscle strength. Simply reducing calories can result in malnutrition or injury.

Quality calories are key

Although a balanced diet is required for optimal health at any age, seniors require a high-protein diet that is lower in overall calories. This diet is possible through scrutinizing calorie quality. Empty calories, such as those found in refined sugar, bad fats, and alcohol, do great damage to a senior’s weight management. A good diet, therefore, would include foods that provide nutrition and fiber. Some good senior foods include:

-       High-quality protein, including eggs, fish, lean meats, and beans.
-       Dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
-       Good fats such as those found in avocados and olive oil.
-       Reduced amounts of complex carbohydrates including grains and fruits.

Balancing diet with exercise

Since it is difficult to create a calorie deficiency sufficient to lose weight with diet alone, exercise can help. Experts suggest that seniors, even those with healthy weights, get 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise or 1.5 hours a week of high-intensity exercise. Since high-intensity workouts can cause injury and fatigue, most seniors opt for incorporating some easy exercise, such as brisk walking, to their weekly routine.

If a senior weighing 160 pounds were to walk about 20 minutes a day, they will burn around 700 calories a week. If looking to lose a pound, an easy 20-minute walk already would have shaved off 100 calories each day, making the goal more attainable.

To maximize weight loss, there are other low-impact exercises that seniors can do at home. With a small amount of equipment, such as resistance bands and a yoga mat, you can put together a home gym for less than $100. The key is to find a good spot in your home. You don’t need a lot of space, just space that is comfortable and convenient.

In addition to promoting weight loss, exercise has been shown to increase longevity, with those following the recommended exercise of 2.5 hours a week living an average of 3.4 years more than those who do not.

Senior weight loss can be tricky, due to lowered metabolism, but through exercise and smart food choices, you can get down to a healthy weight.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Walking on Water

Just after I finished yesterday's devotion about how Jesus was sleeping in the boat and woke up to calm the waves, I thought of another story about Jesus and a storm. In Matthew 14, Jesus had just fed the 5000+ with two fish and five loaves of bread when He loaded up the disciples in a boat and sent them across the lake while He sent people home. After seeing that everyone was sent off safely, He retreated to a quiet place for prayer. While He was praying, a storm came up and started tossing His disciples to and fro. 

In our last devotion, Jesus was asleep in the boat and woke up to calm the waves. This time, He sees His disciples in distress and just takes off walking across the top of the water to where they were. In both settings, the disciples were first afraid of the storm, then afraid of Jesus. This time they think a ghost is coming at them across the waters. Jesus calls out to them and says some powerful words. I am here! Don't be Afraid! 

These words from the New Living Translation stood out to me. First off, Jesus took off walking across the water to get to His terrified disciples. He didn't stay safely on shore hoping they would get across. He met them in their storm. He met them in their fear. I take comfort in the fact that He came to them. They didn't even call out to Him as far as we know. He saw their distress and headed for them.

As caregivers, there can be much fear, much distress, much confusion, and much grief. God doesn't sit safely on the shores of life hoping we can sort it out. He comes to us in the midst of the storm offering peace, comfort, and direction. 

Today, I will turn my thoughts to how He came out to where His disciples were and met them in their time of need. I'll meditate on His ever-abiding presence and desire to be with us His children. I'll be thankful that He is willing to meet us in our mess and make a difference in our hearts. He can calm the storm in our heart even if the storm we are in rages on. I'll trust him for peace today and I will let it reign in my heart today. Will you join me?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ups and Downs

One year ago I went and got my aunt. I knew I was bringing her up to Oklahoma for good. She did not. Over this year she has declined but is still doing pretty good. The day I went to get her I became a full-time caregiver for two. It was difficult and I would do it for several months before she would need more care than I could provide. It was a difficult decision but best for her safety. I remain a full-time caregiver for my son and provide long-distance caregiving for my aunt. It's definitely made for a rocky year - especially emotionally. But I know I'm singing to the choir! :-)

I have been reflecting on this past difficult year over the last few days so the scriptures I found this morning were particularly relevant to my life. I had looked up a verse a friend shared with me yesterday so my Bible was opened to Psalm 107. I found myself reading verses 23 to 32 over a few times. the psalm is about giving God thanks for His works of deliverance according to the subtitle. These few verses are talking about those who do business in ships.

The psalmist describes the rocky seas and the fears of those who travel through the storms. But it says God delivers them from trouble and distress. It talks about how the waves rise and fall abruptly. Those in the ship are scared and rightly so! I thought about how the lives of caregivers can be like the rising and falling of the waves. All.Day.Long. And sometimes through the night - up and down!

Meditating on this passage reminded me of one out of Mark4. Jesus was asleep in the boat when He and His disciples came across a storm that rocked their world. He had told them they were going to the other side. When they woke Jesus up He said three simple words. Peace Be Still. Then He turned to them and asked Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? After they saw what Jesus did and how He calmed the storm, it says they feared exceedingly and asked, who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him? They were more afraid of Him than they had been of the storm.

I don't know about you but I need a storm-calmer in my life. Daily. He may need to do it over and over and over every single day. But He is always right there to reduce the effects of the winds of caregiving. Many fears can arise. He can dispel them. We face problems, lack, emotions, and crazy situations only caregivers can understand. But each time, when we turn to Him He speaks calm and peace into the situation. Sometimes it's multiple times in a day. But He's right there for us - whenever we need Him. He provides peace and calm in our storms.

Today, I won't be afraid to ask Him to speak peace into the storms. My thoughts will be on trusting Him in the midst of rocky circumstances. I'll meditate on His peace and how I can embrace it more fully. I'll remind myself that the rocky periods don't last forever - there is a caregiver's normal. lol. I'll trust Him with my heart and my emotions today as I pursue Him and His peace. Let's do what Paul said - Let His peace reign in my heart. Will you join me?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Thoughts of Peace

To be honest, I'd pretty much dismissed the promise so many claim out of Jeremiah 29:11. I'd wondered how that particular verse could possibly be applicable to the caregiving situation. When I'd see it or hear it quoted, I just didn't think I could apply it. It's easy to get tucked away in our caregiver's cave and seriously think there are a few scriptures or passages that do not apply to us. But this morning as I was reading through this chapter I realized something I'd been missing.

I went back up to the first part of the chapter. Jeremiah starts out explaining who he was sending the letter to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive - to the priests, the prophets, and all the people Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. So, I read the chapter again with new eyes.

Jeremiah first offered some instruction for those in captivity. Sometimes, caregiving can seem like captivity. We cannot always go places we'd like to go or do things we like to do. Even simple things like getting groceries, coffee with friends, or going to a movie just can't happen. If we are able to get out, it's not as simple or spontaneous as just jumping in the car. It can be pretty complicated. It's easy to feel confined.

Here's what Jeremiah told those who had been carried away into their captivity. He said:

  • take wives - get married
  • have children
  • let your kids get married
  • increase and not decrease 
  • seek the peace of the city
  • pray for your city
  • know the true word of the Lord
These sum up what Jeremiah told the captives in verses 5-9. I think these are great instructions for any situation that feels binding or constraining. One of my first prayers was that I would not become bitter. I could see myself writing books from life's prison cell. It can be so easy to withdraw and feel like we don't have a place or a piece. But we do - we should spiritually increase even in the midst of the storm. Let caregiving drive you to the throne and become more intimate with God. Spiritually, we can increase right where we are.

I must say now that I can hold on to the promise I once discarded. He does have good thoughts toward me. He still promises me a future and a hope - caregiving didn't steal that promise. It may look a LOT different than I thought it would - but His promises still stand. Increase is still possible even in the most difficult situations. 

Today, I will be thankful for this renewed promise. I'll meditate on His promise of hope and peace. My thoughts and prayers will be toward wisdom to know how to increase (spiritually) in the midst of the storm. I'll turn my thoughts to how I can pursue and maintain His peace in my heart no matter what is going on around me. And I will be content in Him as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?