365 Years a Day

The other day I heard someone slip up and say "365 years a day." Obviously, they meant to say "365 days a year" but the phrase caught my attention. I was like, sometimes it feels like 365 years in a day. Maybe it's just me but it feels like I'm behind all the time. With so many things to do it can seem like I'm trying to get 365 years of tasks done in a single day. As caregivers, we have so many things that need to get done it can feel like we have to run full throttle all the time to get everything done in a day.

After a while, it can start to wear away at your mind. Eventually, it goes deeper and wears away at your soul. That's when we become soul tired. When I reach that point it feels like my arms and legs are weights and it takes all my strength to hold my head up. I'm sure I'm about to go down for the proverbial third time and I don't know if I ever want to surface again or not. There are times I really like my cave. lol

Let me say honestly - today is one of those days. I'm emotionally spent. Worn out. If I wasn't wound so tight I might think about resting. But it's only a thought since I have so much that has to be done. To settle my thoughts and emotions, as my habit has been, I turn to the scriptures.

I think about Psalm 118:14 that says the Lord is my strength and my song. Psalm 18:1 says I love you O Lord, my strength.  My mind goes back to a familiar passage in Isaiah 40:29 that says He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. I'm not a fan of the Message but it says it this way: He energizes those who get tired and gives fresh strength to dropouts.  That's funny - and so good!

Today, I will rely on Him for strength to make it. Even if I feel like I am facing 365 years in a day - I'll lean a little more into Him and let Him increase power. Power to make it through a day with our faith intact. Even though I know I won't be able to get everything done - I'll trust Him with what is done and what is undone. I'll have to trust Him for strength, might, and power to face this day. And that I will do. Will you join me?

Am I a Juggler or What?

I could not fathom doing what I am doing - caregiving-wise - before I did it. Sometimes people tell caregivers you are so strong. But if you are like me you don't feel it at all. We tend to not see carrying the load we carry as a strength. I think of myself as more of a juggler trying to get each thing done letting it suspend in mid-air for just enough time to touch another project or chore before juggling another task around to be worked on. And it never seems to get done. I think juggling is more appropriate than strength. lol

If you are like me - there are good days and bad days. Some days I feel like I'm ready to take on the world. And some days it has to be done to get things accomplished. Other days I can feel so very weak. I'm not overcome - I am just tired through and through.

Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that he would boast in his weaknesses since the real power - the real strength comes from God. He even goes on to say in the very next verse that he is content in weaknesses. I want to point out that is plural. For whatever reason, Paul felt he had numerous weaknesses. I know I do - but rarely am I content in them.

There is a power that comes when we realize how truly weak we are. The caregiving journey is a difficult one and I cannot imagine walking it without God. He is the sustainer of my soul - I'd be a mess if I try to do it on my own. Shoot, I'm a mess most times and I am trying to rely on God! lol
However, I know that I know that I know it is His sustaining power carrying me day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute. I'm no fool. It's His strength keeping me alive and on track.

Today, I will purposefully lean into Him just a bit more. My thoughts will be on His sustaining power and how He holds me up with His right hand. I'll meditate on His power working in me to bring glory to the kingdom. I'll thank Him for keeping me, watching over me, and sustaining me with His power in my weakness. Then like Paul, I'll say I can glory in that weakness if it means I rely on His strength even more as I lean into Him and trust Him more fully with one more day. Will you join me?

Count it all What?

This morning I started reading in James as I prepare another study guide. I read through the first few verses, sighed and moved on. Then a friend shared her devotional for the day and it was on the exact same verse. So, I thought maybe I should camp there awhile.

In James 1:2 we are reminded to count it all joy when we fall into different trials. It doesn't say if...it says when. I get that- you know - something's always going on. and for caregivers, it's a daily struggle to make ends meet emotionally, financially, mentally and physically. But do I have to consider it joy?

Well, if you'll read it again, it's not talking about being joyous because of the trial, it's because of the result. It's the testing of our faith that will produce endurance. I can testify that this is true. I've talked a lot about a redefined faith - one that sustains us. It's that deep-felt heart-abiding faith that won't let you give up. The same one that can honestly be frustrating when you really want to give up but just can't because of the rock of faith in your heart.

When endurance (or patience depending on your translation) is allowed to finish its work - we will be perfect. I was excited until I realized that word actually means "mature."

But this morning as I read this familiar passage, I noticed something "new" to me. In verse five, James starts with "but...." I've always heard it's not proper to start a sentence with a conjunction, but James did. I'm sure he did it for a reason. But if you lack wisdom... That's when it hit me - the conjunction, "but" is powerful right here. He basically says - count it all joy for your trials because it's working in you to grow your faith to maturity... but if you don't have the wisdom to follow that through - then ask God for it.

I certainly pray I have the wisdom to let this trial deepen my faith. One of my initial prayers was that I'd be able to find my way to stay strong in Him and follow His call in the midst of it all. I pray that for all of us today. Only a caregiver understands the heart issues we face. The dark night of the soul that caregiving can be - and the joyous intimacy with God that deepens when we pursue Him.

Today, I will meditate on how He has walked this journey with me and taken the time to develop my faith and trust even in the midst of the trial. My thoughts will be on how I can change and grow rather than avoid the painful journey. I'll be thankful that He didn't abandon me at any point and that He keeps on unfolding His word in my heart as I seek Him. I'll continue to seek Him as I trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

Tinted Glasses

As a full and part-time caregiver, it's difficult to read the word without seeing it through caregiver tinted glasses. Of course, this is true no matter what comes at us in life whether a long-lasting recovery, serious illness, divorce, or anything else. The good thing is that the Word of God does not change to fit what we are going through. His Word stands sure - no matter what we go through - it remains applicable. It has to be - right? If our situations change it - which is stronger?

Sometimes, parts are not as easily understood because we view them through pain-tinted glasses. But His word still stands. It is still true. It does not change. For this I am thankful. I read sometimes, looking for parts that can be lived from the cave. You know? Even though I can get out a little more - I still deal with frustrations when I can't find the "me" I used to be. The one who was always there for everyone. I didn't miss church. never missed meetings, etc. I was on "go" almost all the time. And to be honest, it's been difficult to find myself here and miss the other me. But alas, I adjust.

May we become more like Paul who shared a sense of loss too. As he was writing to the Philippians in chapter three he said:

What things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Chris.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ...
I have suffered the loss of all things...
and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...and be found in Him

And that last phrase is where I stopped... found in Him. When I feel the losses - the life I lost, the me I lost, the freedom I lost - if I can just look for myself in Him instead. And that's what I love about the word - our circumstances do not change truth - it can stand the test of time. It stands through our situations and circumstances. It will weather the storms of life! Instead of looking in all these different places - instead of looking for myself within  - may I just look to Him and be found in Him.

Today, my thoughts will be on how securely I am tucked into His heart. How He holds me there and is content. My meditations will be on how to enjoy the fullness that only comes from Him and from abiding in Him. And with that, I will be content today. I'll just rest in Him and trust Him for today. May I always be lost in Him.

All In a Day's Work

 Caregivers are an amazing breed. That's been my experience anyway, with all the caregivers I've been privileged to meet. Daily tasks are quite difficult for most - no matter what level of caregiver you feel you are. Even long-distance caregiving has it's set of difficulties. Making choices for another person just isn't easy. Some days are so difficult just trying to decide whether Chris (my son with a TBI) would prefer to sit in his wheelchair, the recliner, or the rocker - can be so hard to decide.

For the most part, we just take those difficulties in stride. It's all in a day's work, isn't it? Then there are days like my Tuesday this week. You know those days - something gets chunked in the way to change up our already complex navigations. For me, this week, it was a major asthma attack. On top of that, I actually had plans for Tuesday night. I was supposed to teach a Bible Study class at the church we've started attending. Being type A - having made a plan I couldn't possibly fulfill is even more frustrating. But when urgent care came to the house and couldn't do a thing - the ER was the next logical step. But it's all in a day's work.

We loaded up and headed to the ER and were there until late evening. He's okay of course and they did let me bring him home even though they wanted to keep him overnight because of low oxygen levels. But it sure put a kink in things. How do we handle this sort of thing? It's emotional, it's frustrating, it's crippling - for me anyway. Maybe it's just me - but I am just now trying to make any plans at all. This is the reason I haven't for so long. They can get interrupted so easily and my fear is others will think I am unreliable - etc. (Type A - remember!)

But with it all - no matter what comes in a day we learn over time - as we stay sensitive to Him - to just let it go. I don't have to manage anyone else's emotions - mine are quite enough! lol. I can take all those emotions to Him and pour out my heart before Him (I was ready. I was excited!!!) and He understands. He knew beforehand. Didn't He?  It's okay to lay it all out before Him just like you see it - and let Him share with you how He sees it. How He sees you.

Today, I will purposefully give my emotions to Him. I'll ask Him how HE views me - not the church, not my friends, not my family - what does He see when He looks at my heart? I'll be content that He knows what a "day's work" is for me - how hard I try to keep it all together on every level - and I'll give it to Him one more time as I trust Him for one more day - because He is enough. Will you join me?

A Tender Chain Breaker

Yesterday, while I was out on a run, I had some music playing. I don't recall which artist or song it was but at some point in the song it referred to God as the "chain breaker." I have a very vivid imagination, and I could see His huge, very strong hands breaking a thick chain. For a little bit, I thought about the strength it would take for hands to break chains. But then another pictorial thought entered my mind.

I thought of these two same huge, strong hands. But instead of a display of raw strength, it was with great tenderness they picked up the pieces of my broken heart. The contrasting image moved me in a strange way. God is big enough and bad enough (even without our help) to break off the chains that bind us. In one motion, He can crush them with His powerful hands and set our hearts and souls free from bondage.

Yet at the same time, His strong hands can tenderly, gingerly, with compassion and love, pick up the pieces of a broken heart to bring comfort and peace. In Psalm 34:18, David says the Lord is near those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. I found all this very comforting this morning.

I'm glad He doesn't look at our brokenness with disdain. He doesn't say - you are too messed up for me to help. He tenderly, in His strength, gathers up our brokenness and speaks peace, grace, and healing to every single part. This is a great comfort to me as it's easy for caregivers to feel like they are living a life of shards with no complete pieces. There's not always a social outlet and we can become captives in our own minds. God can break that off even if we live in a caregiver's cave and minister to our hearts. If we let Him.

Today, I will focus on being moldable in His hands. My meditations will be on His tenderness toward us and how He cares about all the broken pieces we call "life." He's not scared of it. He won't run away. He's walking through the fire with us. My thoughts will turn into thankful ones as I meditate on His faithfulness and His tenderness and love. And then - I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Grace, Provision, Pursuit, & Passion

It was 9 years ago today that I brought my son home for the first time after his accident. That in itself was a huge feat since I had no home. I literally had to get an apartment and create a place before he could go to rehab. So, I did.

To say I was terrified is an understatement. But I was as determined to give it a shot as I was scared. Each time I transferred him I got sick to my stomach - afraid I'd drop him. At first, I constantly worried I wasn't helping him, didn't want to hurt him. I was sleep deprived, had just started my first online job. I was alone and afraid. Each step of the way I figured it out. lol

Of course, he has changed in leaps and bounds ( real slow one because TBI recovery is never fast! lol).  But this morning, I'm thinking about some of the things I've learned over these 9 years. He's changed, he's made so many improvements - maybe I'll share it later. But I've changed too. I've gotten rounder for one thing! lol

What's changed? Despite all the crazy emotions and extreme situations we've gone through in these 9 years, I feel my faith is stronger and my trust is deeper. But, boy did it take a lot to get there. So many times I've wanted to throw in the towel. There've been days when I have been so angry with God for "taking" my son. It's truly been a wide range of emotional baggage filled with questions, sorrow, grief, pain, and emotions to work through.

But as I look back at it in one lump sum, I've found some solid truths to stand on. Here are a few of them:

  • God never leaves me - not even in the middle of a hissy fit.
  • God's grace is enough to sustain me - even in the darkest nights.
  • God's provision has been way above what I could have imagined 9 years ago when I had no idea how I'd make ends meet.
  • God doesn't quit pursuing me - even when I am mad at Him.
  • God's shoulders are big enough to carry my struggles, pains, griefs, and sadness even on the most emotional days.
  • God's quiet gentle voice is very audible in my soul when my thoughts are loudest. And when He speaks - it brings instant peace.
I've also learned a lot about myself over these few years. Here are a few of them too:

  •  I trust Him with more than I ever thought possible and I think He likes that.
  • My faith has been redefined by the fire - and since He's in here with me - I know we'll all make it through.
  • Just when I thought His presence couldn't be any closer He swept me off my feet again - fire, emotions, tears, and all. And he carried me. And I like it.
  • I'm not strong - it's my weakness that calls out for Him to be my all in all.
  • I know He hears the faintest prayers - whether I see an answer or not.
I cannot wait to see how faith and trust unfold over the next 9 years or more. While I am not thankful this happened to my son - sorry, I won't ever be. I am grateful for the changes that God has brought about in me through it. 

Today will be spent in gratitude for the sustaining grace and power of God. I'll thank Him for carrying me when I couldn't walk. I'll be thankful for the times He heard my heart when I could not talk. I will testify to His powerful grace, provision, pursuit, and passion for His people. And I know I can trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


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