Monday, September 30, 2019

Beauty Among the Thorns

The last couple of weeks have been an emotional journey for me. I'll spare you the details (you're welcome!), but suffice it to say I've had more on top of more emotionally charging situations to work through. As if caregiving wasn't a rough enough journey on the emotions as it is, right?

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.

I cannot get out much anymore, but early mornings, if I go early enough, I can get a run in. This morning, as I welcomed the sunrise, watching the skies be painted with beautiful colors, was warming to my eyes and my soul. Once again, I found a spot of beauty that helped me through the day. It's amazing how healing nature can be on the soul.

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?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

My Polite Journal

This morning I took some time to pour my heart out in my journal. My heart has been heavy for some time now. There are many things going on - but I'll spare you the details. (You're welcome!) If you haven't tried journaling, it can be a good strategy for stress relief. It's a safe place to let it all hang out! I had stopped for a while but this year I have picked it back up. Let me just say that I put more than my woes in my journal. I usually end with a prayer - or I write what God is showing me, what I am learning - and all those deep philosophical questions that rarely have answers. It's a polite catch-all for my sundry, sometimes crazy thoughts.

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?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Hope in Tribulation

Sorry for the long absence. These hospital stays wear on me these days and take me longer to recover both emotionally and physically. I'm almost rested back up to the caregiver's normal!  lol. I'm still working on getting my little bookstore up online and last night I finished up another small study guide. I thought I would read back through some of the scriptures as I typed it all up. That is why this morning, I opened my Bible to Romans 5.

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?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Darn Those Rough Spots

Every day is challenging for caregivers. Period. Even our better days are filled with things others may never even have to deal with or think about. I don't know the specifics of your daily drills - but mine include transfers, tube feedings, changings, dressing, range of motion, and feeding.. for starters. Of course, there are tons of other things that come up in the midst of the caregiver's norms. We do tend to adjust, don't we? And we just keep putting one foot in front of another. Other people might call these the "rough spots." But I call the extra bumps - like making decisions on behalf of another person or dealing with extra emotional baggage the rougher spots.

What are we to do when things go from rough to rougher? Personally, I'm just sad lately. I'm sad Chris can't walk, talk, or do anything for himself. I think a lot about who he was - and all he did. That creates a rough spot emotionally. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a way to tunnel under it or climb over it and it's far too wide to try and get around.

I remind myself that the psalmist said, He is near the brokenhearted....and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) I guess this isn't the type of broken I always wanted to be. You know? I want to be broken before Him  - as in humble. But not broken before Him as in lots of pieces. But I'm pretty sure He is near me either way. And I still must remain humble before Him - life tends to have a way of humbling us doesn't it?

So here I am trying to gather up all those broken pieces so I can bring them to the foot of the cross. Then I realize He is right beside me helping me pick them up. He's already carrying them for me. I have but to be humble before Him and not worry about the pieces of my heart... of my life....

Today, if all we can do is trust that He is near - that's enough. There is no striving - it's not work. It's not one more thing on top of everything else we already carry - it's not a chore. So, today, I will close my eyes, release my grip on my broken life, and trust. I'll trust that He is near - that He hears - He sees - and He cares. That's going to make my day go much easier. How about you?