Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Unexpected


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?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

There's Waiting - Then There's Waiting


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?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Tear-Stained Pillow Cases


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?

Caregiver Tips: Essential Home Preparations for the Visually Impaired





As a caregiver, you want to help your loved one feel as independent as possible. Living independently with a visual impairment is not just possible, but it’s well within reach. If you’re planning on updating your current home to make it safer and more comfortable for your loved one, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Simple modifications can make your home safer and more convenient.

By knowing how to design, illuminate, and organize your house, you’re taking the first step in helping your loved one live comfortably with a visual impairment. Keep in mind that while some of these projects are DIY, you may need to hire some help for bigger jobs, especially those that require electrical work.

Rethink your lighting and contrast

Making changes to the lighting in your home is not only inexpensive, but it’s probably the best thing you can do to make living with a visual impairment a little easier. For the most part, it’s advisable to increase the amount of light in every room of your house. This includes overhead lighting, lamps, and specialized direct lighting on desks and tables. The brighter it is, the better your loved one will be able to navigate your home.

Keep in mind that “too bright” can also cause problems, mainly with glare. Experiment with different types of light bulbs, from incandescent to halogen and LED. Work with your loved one to figure out what works best for their specific type of visual impairment.

Even if your loved one can’t make out definite shapes, text, or patterns, color is one of the strongest visual cues for most with visual impairment. Use this to your advantage. Use contrasting colors to draw attention to potential hazards in your home. Paint the edges of stairs white. Use dark-colored mats, grips, and fixtures on light-colored appliances and fixtures.

Invest in kitchenware and prevent bathroom falls

You spend a lot of time in the kitchen. However, for the visually impaired, it can be one of the most challenging rooms of the house to make comfortable. Not only should you apply lighting and contrast principles to the kitchen, but you should invest in some basic kitchen equipment that will make your loved one’s cooking experience not only more enjoyable, but a whole lot safer.

VisionAware suggests some specialized tools, like “long oven mitts to protect hands and arms from hot surfaces; a low-vision timer with large, raised, high-contrast numbers, such as white numbers on a black background; a boil alert disc to know when water is boiling and to keep liquid from boiling over; [and] a double spatula to avoid spills when turning foods.”

Your number one goal when it comes to bathroom safety is preventing falls. First make sure the bathroom is well lit. Next, you should add non-stick flooring and grab bars and a railing wherever it’s most practical.  You should also add a non-slip mat in the bathtub or shower.

Don’t be afraid to hire some help

Despite your best efforts, amid all your caregiving duties, it can be hard to keep the house clean. However, it’s especially important to maintain a tidy home for those with a visual impairment. Clutter leads to potential hazards.

You should consider hiring a part-time or full-time housekeeper, depending on your specific needs. The cost will depend on which company you hire, how large your home is, and how often you schedule the cleaning services. Do your research to find the best housekeeping services in your area.

Remember: it’s not only OK, but in many cases, recommended, that you accept a little help in order to help your loved one maintain their independence. Plus, having a little extra help frees up time for you to take care of yourself and avoid caregiver burnout.

As a caregiver, it is crucial that you modify your home environment to meet the needs of your loved one while helping them maintain a sense of normalcy. Small changes, such as additional lighting and color contrast, modified kitchen equipment, and extra help to keep the home tidy, are all great ways to help your visually impaired loved one. You support your loved one 100 percent, so make sure your home does, too.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Thursday, October 24, 2019

He Gets That!


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.
(NASB)

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?


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The After-Battle


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?

Monday, October 21, 2019

Beating for You

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:



Thursday, October 17, 2019

Guarding the Broken Heart

In my studies this morning, I found myself in Proverbs 4. I'm actually studying the armor of God and I chased some thoughts that led me to the last few verses of this chapter. I wrote down some notes on my other study but then my mind settled in verse 13. The New Living Translation states it this way: Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

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?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

And Still I Wait

I didn't get past the olive tree - and the oil that comes when the crucible of life presses us in yesterday's devotion. But I did spend just about as much time in the final verse of Psalm 52 as I did in verse 8.

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?


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Living in His House

The last few mornings in my study time, I've been hanging out in Psalms 50 to about 55. I just keep reading them over and over because there's so much in them. This morning, I was reading in the New Living Translation. I read Psalm 52 over and over.

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?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Yet Still...

There is a lot going on - but what caregiver do you know who doesn't have a lot going on? lol. Every day is full, just some are fuller than others. But let me say this - my days are full, but it's not all bad. It's not all hard. It's not all insurmountable and all the odds are not stacked against us. Most of them are, but not all. (smile!)

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?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Fly Away!

I have always loved the psalms. Most people find them comforting. On one hand, I do too. But that's not what draws me back again and again. I like the raw emotions, the honesty and the accuracy of them. Yesterday, I was reading Psalm 55. David says in verse 2 that he is restless and he moans noisily. Later in verse 4, he says his heart is severely pained. I so appreciate his candid approach to his feelings and emotions. I too have felt all of these.

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?