Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Application


 Do you ever look at scriptures and wonder if they are really for you? I'm not talking about our "regular" ones that we hold on to through the storm. Passages like Psalm 46:1 - God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble" - those are our stand-bys, right? But other scriptures, like 2 Peter 1. We don't see a lot of caregiving in the Bible and it would be easy for us to think we are exempt from His blessings, right?

I mean it just makes sense that He walks with us through the storms, fires, and deep waters. But if we look at it practically - how do we reap His benefits? Let me say this - we are not ineligible for any of His blessings just because our circumstances are different than most. I've said it before, but it is worth saying again - there are no exclusionary statements for caregivers. Jesus didn't say He would leave His peace for everyone except caregivers, did He? I'm so glad!!

So this morning as I was reading in 2 Peter 1:3-8 I started thinking. We are not exempt from any promise mentioned in the scriptures. But we are also not exempt from any "work" mentioned. In 2 Peter 1:5 (NLT) it says make every effort...Now that just sounds like work, right?

Peter reminds believers that trusting and following God takes effort. The rest of that scripture goes this way - make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. So - we get the benefits mentioned in the few verses before this one. But then it's up to us to apply them. What are these benefits?

  • His power gives us everything we need for life (natural) and godliness(spiritual).
  • He called us to receive His glory and His goodness!
  • He gives us His "rich and wonderful" promises.
  • He gives us a way to escape the evil desires of this wicked generation.
That's quite a package deal, isn't it?

But we have to apply them to our lives. We cannot reap the benefits of the word if we don't put in the work to believe - and apply. We learn to trust Him - to believe Him - to rely on Him for every aspect of our lives. And then, He brings all that into fruition so we can walk out His peace.

Today, I'm going to be meditating on those four "benefits." That's a lot to think about. While I am thinking about these four things He has given us - I will purposefully take a posture of humility before Him. I want to let Him change me. I am willing. Will you join me?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Can I Trust God with That?


 Hi. I know it's been a while, but I'm back! I've been doing live devotions on Facebook and kind of let this blog go. But I think I'm ready to give it a go again. If anyone understands overwhelm - I know it's my fellow caregivers. While doing my Facebook live devotion this morning, I was sharing a scripture out of Psalm 31 and it just seemed like it fit here - so here goes.

I spend a lot of time in Psalm 31. So much time, I wrote a devotional called 31 Days in Psalm 31. This morning, I was drawn back into this favorite passage. And as usual, something brand new leaped off the page! 

In verses 9-10 David said, Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. He paints quite a picture, doesn't he? Maybe he is a bit dramatic - but I know that there are those days each of us as caregivers can relate.

Sometimes it feels just as bad as David described. We can feel weighted down underneath the load of responsibilities we bear every single day. There are just times when we need to stop and cry it all out. Maybe we know why - maybe we do not. One thing I love about David - he is gut-level honest about his feelings and emotions. That's actually a very healthy place to be in both mentally and emotionally.

David just pours it all out to God. But then you will notice in verse14, David says But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, You are my God! He goes on to pray - rescue me! What a picture of trust in the midst of adversity. That's the ultimate. It's easy to say we trust God when everything is hunky-dory and going our way, isn't it? But when our emotions and situations overwhelm us - it becomes a true declaration of faith.

No matter what comes today - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how I feel or how sad I become - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how many tears I cry - I will trust You, Lord!

Today, I will make this MY declaration - I am trusting You Lord. Will you join me? 

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Best Meeting

 


I know I've written quite a few times about Hagar, but her story intrigues me. I think I can relate to the rejection and loneliness she must have felt. In numerous devotions, I've talked about how God met her right where she was. She did have God "find" her twice. But there are other people in the scriptures that God met too.

The list is a bit longer when we start thinking about how many times God met someone along the way. Twice He came and ministered to Hagar, He met Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), He met Balaam and stopped him before he sinned against God (Numbers 22). Jesus went through Samaria on purpose to speak with the woman at the well. He crossed two taboos in their time - going through Samaria and speaking to a woman! (John 4) He walked out to the disciples in a storm in Matthew 8. And the Angel of God came to Gideon when he was hiding from the Midianites in Judges 6.

It's easy for today's religious thinkers to label these Bible characters with negative terms and ideas. Gideon is often said to have no faith - but he is listed in Hebrews 11 among the faith giants. The disciples in the storm are obviously frightened. the woman in Samaria was a woman and unmarried - not worth anything to the religious leaders of the day. Hagar was rejected and we often hear Ishmael mentioned as a curse instead of a blessing. Saul was busy killing Christians. But God chose to meet each of these.

In Isaiah 64:4b-5 it says: ...nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways.

God goes out of His way to meet us. He didn't have to meet any of the above-mentioned people. He chose to. He went to those who were rejected and condemned by religion. He sought out those who thought they were beyond hope, beyond reach. Sometimes as a caregiver, the isolation tries to suffocate. It is easy to feel alone- because often - we are. It's easy to feel neglected or rejected by society because too many times- we are. But God will meet us - right where we are in our caregiving messes! lol

We can still wait for Him and He still acts on our behalf. He chooses to meet us in our pain, confusion, and even in our doubts and fears. He calms us, soothes us, comforts us, and often carries us. (Maybe it's just me!) It's the best meeting ever!

Today, I will look for Him to meet me right where I am. I will purposefully wait for Him today and look for Him in my day-to-day. My thoughts will be on how He chooses to walk this journey with me - He won't abandon. He won't reject. He remains faithful even in caregiving. I'll watch Him move in my life today - will you join me in waiting on Him today?


                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Living Grief

Eli waling beside Chris' chair

 As caregivers, many of us deal with daily grief and a constant sense of loss. Even though we don't feel these emotions all of the time, they do keep coming back. For me, mine is often sparked by seeing something on my Facebook feed. I'll see one of Chris' friends or a memory and it'll tip my emotional bucket right over. Living grief is one of those things the church doesn't know how to deal with. Well, honestly, who really knows how to deal with it? It's not just going to go away, now is it? :-)

In some hyper-faith circles, grief is pretty much forbidden. Yet even under the old law, it was allowed room. If you lost a close loved one such as a spouse, parent, or sibling, you were given an entire year to mourn. Our culture allows a little time, but then we are expected to be back at work, back at church, or back to our daily lives after a very short time. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But living grief continues. When we deal with parents who have dementia or Alzheimer's, we grieve over who they were even though they are still with us. Many of us are caregivers of children or other family members who suffered injuries in an accident. They are still here, but who they were is gone. Some such as one of my dear friends care for children who have needed intense care since birth. They grieve over children who haven't had the opportunity to even begin a normal life.

Grief is real. It is constant for many. Grief can be debilitating. Yet day after day we climb out of the cave to provide for our loved ones. Oftentimes, we do this while carrying a load of grief that doesn't ever quite go away. It's there. Nagging. I find it easier to work through and get past as time goes on. But it returns over and over to taunt my heart.

How do we overcome such a sense of loss? Is there no end? Usually, I pull up a few scriptures to help me work through them. Stuffing the emotions will cause a giant explosion eventually. So, I pour out everything in my heart to God. I tell Him exactly how I feel It's not like He doesn't know, right? 

Then I begin to remind myself that He gave us THE Comforter. And He walks alongside us. He is here to help us carry our load day after day. I can toss all my cares and concerns over on Him and ask Him for comfort, peace, and wisdom to make it through each day. (Or each hour...or each minute.) Somehow - He always answers and carries me when I need Him most. God is Faithful.

Today, I'll remind myself that no matter where my emotions run - my heart always runs back to Him. My meditations will be on His Faithfulness and how He keeps our souls. I'll think about how He continues to walk through time with us, by choice. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 


Friday, March 26, 2021

Who Really Knows?

 


I was a bit chilly a while ago, so I went to my closet to grab a hoodie. I chose one to put on and glanced at the totes that contain my writing. Honestly, my first thought was what would happen once I die. I'm not being morbid, but I am getting older, so lighten up. lol. Then I wondered if people would read my writings and if they would know me a little better. Will people be able to understand my heart and see past my caregiving status? 

Some of my writings rolled around in my head and I wondered what people who think they know me might think after reading them. When I write, my tendency is to put my whole heart into it. Especially in my journal - I don't hold anything back. Then I had this wonderful thought. My writings reveal who I am, what I think, how I feel. And the Word does the same thing. It reveals Who God is, what He thinks, how He feels. All I have to do is read it.

This makes me think of Psalm 103. It says He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. His acts are of course, what He does. But His ways are who He is. A lot of people know what we do. Most people tend to look at us only as caregivers - they forget that we are real people with real dreams, desires, and needs. Do we sometimes look at God and consider only what He does - and not who He is? 

The children of Israel only knew what God could do. He parted the Red Sea, made the bitter water sweet, and kept them alive in the desert all those years. And you know what? He does that for us too! He makes the bitter water of caregiving sweet with His presence and care. He parts Red Seas for us every day. He keeps us alive both naturally and spiritually as we walk through our day-to-day. It's wonderful to know Him as the One who acts on our behalf, strengthens us, and often carries us through our journies.

While Moses was very aware of all the things God did (His acts) - he also knew Who He was. Moses knew the character of God, His likes and dislikes, His mercies, and the why behind His actions. Moses knew that God was passionate about a relationship with His people. (Exodus 34:14 NLT) He knew more than just what He could do - even though His works were (and are) mighty! 

When we read the word, we learn so much more about God and His ways - we'll see His deeds too, of course. But just like you would learn more about me and what makes me tick by reading my writings, we learn more about God and what makes Him tick by reading the word.

Today, I will take a  few extra minutes to get lost in the Word. I'll think about what it means to know God's ways and not just His deeds. I'll be thankful for His kindness, patience, grace, and mercy. I'll thank Him that even when I don't see what He's doing - I know He's still present in my day. And I'll trust Him with my today - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Day by Day


 I'm sorry for not keeping up with the blog better than I have. Once again, I'm working on redoing my schedule so that it's a regular part of my mornings. If anyone understands how quickly days get out of hand and are gone, I know it's you guys, my fellow caregivers. My schedule has been rather messed up with this new aid. He keeps changing his time and it drives me batty. lol - I'm a bit OCD like that. If you say you're going to be here at 8 - I rearrange my morning to accommodate. But then he comes at 8:15 or even 8:30. Honestly, it's very frustrating. It's sad too that I actually feel like I have more time to get things done when he's not here. So, I'm back to taking everything day by day. But then, we live like that don't we?

It's okay because God is a day-by-day God too. He says that His mercies are new each morning. Yet it is always day for Him - He knows no "morning" except for ours. He must create new mercies on a day by day basis just for us. Isn't that a beautiful thought? Whenever I can drag myself out of bed - His mercies are there waiting on me and ready to carry me through the day. 

I love it that He is never confused by the crazy twists and turns the caregiver's day can make. God never asks, "What just happened?" He's already in the change and making a way for us to navigate through it. Nothing surprises Him or catches Him off guard. He truly is the ever-present help in trouble that the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 46. He doesn't take days off - and never dozes off on the job. He's right here with us in our day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute, ever-changing days. 

You know what else? He isn't thrown off by my crazy emotional roller coaster rides either. Maybe it's just me - but I can be happy and feeling great one second and overcome with living grief the next. (It's just me - right?) It never surprises Him. He doesn't need to stop to catch His breath or try to figure out which way our emotions turned. Even if they take a dive, He is there to catch us, to hold us, to comfort us, and help us work through them. 

Today, I will think about how God is right here and very present in my day to day. I'll thank Him for not running away from this crazy loopy ride life has me on. My meditations will be on His ever-abiding presence no matter what I face. I'll embrace His mercies for today - will you join me?




                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 



Monday, March 15, 2021

But I Have Today


Do you ever have days that are just heavier than others? Of course, you do - who am I talking to? Saturday was Chris' 37th birthday. For some reason, it was unusually hard as I thought of where all his friends are today. You know, married, having kids, and enjoying their careers. I cried more than once that day. I grieved over what should have been, what could have been. 

I hugged him a little tighter and thought about the progress he's made recently. The other night, I am certain he "sang" to me after I got him in bed. It was the sweetest thing and I posted it in his Facebook group where I share things I don't feel I can share as "publicly." He's moving more and initiating more of his movement on his own. There are many things to rejoice about.

At the same time, I am getting older. My joints hurt and I wonder how much longer I can take care of him. I fear the day that I won't be able to. This is the way the rest of my life looks, and I am okay with that. But before I let the fears settle in, I started thinking about what we have right now. Who knows what the future will bring for any of us, right? I certainly didn't dream of being here taking care of my adult son with a TBI years ago. It wasn't in my plans. 

So, I shifted my thinking before my thoughts betrayed me and dragged me down into the dark, caregiver's cave. I began to think about what I have with Chris today. As I shifted my focus to how far he's come - and all he's doing now. I maybe can't manage the future since it's not here yet. But I can manage today. Just today, I can handle that.

Jesus said in Matthew 6, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. I do not know what the future may hold for me or for my son - but I do know that I have today. 

Today, I will shift my thinking over to being thankful that I can take care of my son. I'll thank God for giving me the strength - just for today. My thoughts will be on how He has strengthened and carried me this far - and He's not going to abandon me here. He has proven Himself faithful in the most difficult circumstances - and He will not be changing that today! So, I will trust Him just for today. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Self-Reminders

 


Are there days you get lost in the shuffle? Who am I talking to? lol - As caregivers, it can feel like we are always lost in the shuffle. We can get lost in taking care of our loved ones and forget who we are. It took me a long time to be able to figure out things I liked - and just as long to allow myself to enjoy them. It was quite a while after the tragedy and trauma of Chris' wreck that I was able to feel okay about laughing and smiling. Eventually, I learned it was okay for me to live too - even while being a caregiver.

But it's so easy to get caught up in their care that it becomes our identity. Right? Or is it just me? Before the pandemic, I tried going to a local church. I enjoyed it - even though I had a little attitude about it. It was very difficult to get both of us ready and out the door to be on time. Sometimes I heard myself think, boy, this better be worth it. lol. I'm sure I'm the only one. But what troubled me is that they couldn't see past me being a caregiver. While it was touching that they had compassion and genuine care for our situation, they couldn't see the teacher, the worshiper, the prophet inside. 

Caregiving changes us. There's no argument about that. I'm thankful for most of the changes I've seen in myself. A few I'm a little worried about. (smile!) But ultimately, I'm still me. I still like to be outside more than I like to be indoors. I like hiking, biking, running, and plain old walking. And boy, what I wouldn't give for someone to play catch or football with right now! Ha. For real, y'all! I like to play board games and cards, hang out with friends (don't have many of those anymore), and watch good movies. But I realize all too often that all of that got lost in caregiving. Maybe it's not lost, just set aside or misplaced.

While I was thinking about all of this, and writing in my journal this morning, I realized it's easy for me to forget who I am. So, I certainly can't blame others for doing it, right? After I had poured out my heart and emotions on the pages, I concluded my journal entry with this prayer this morning.


Ephesians 2:6 was my reminder to myself that caregiver or not - I have been raised with Christ and I sit in heavenly places in Him. I must remind myself that He thought I was worth dying for. That He loves me before, after, and during caregiving. I tell myself He came for me. What a beautiful love story that unfolds for us. When we feel the rest of the world doesn't understand us - so they distance themselves from us - He came. He continues to come to us every single day - He walks this journey with us all the way.

Today, I will remind myself of His love, grace, acceptance, and presence. I may need to tell myself the same things over and over all day - but I'll repeat them until my heart gets it. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Monday, March 1, 2021

Sometimes

 


Most of the time, I hold it together well. At least to the point that no one knows what's really going on in my heart and mind. You, my dear readers, know more about my internal workings than pretty much anyone anywhere. :-)  But sometimes, it seems like I fall apart from the inside out. Sadness can come on randomly, or so it seems.

Like this morning. I woke up and remembered a dream. In the dream, Chris was sitting beside me on a couch and he turned his head and looked me eye-to-eye, and smiled. But it wasn't his brain injury half-smile that I've come to love. It was his full-on natural smile that I have missed. When I thought about the dream it brought a sense of great sadness to my heart. They (whoever they are) call it living grief. You experience a sense of loss for a person - but they are still here. They haven't died - even though the person they were is no longer with you. Many people who are caregivers for aging parents experience living grief too. Their parents suffer from dementia and are no longer the person they were. It's a difficult emotional set to deal with. You can't really move on, yet you must. That's where I am.

I was flooded with thoughts and memories of Chris BC (before caregiving). I recall who he was and how he was and it makes my heart smile. But it also brings sadness and a great sense of loss sometimes. How are we supposed to deal with this overflow of emotions as Christians? 

Start by taking a deep breath. Then go back to the basics. I make my mind run back through several truths.

  • God loves me. God loves Chris.
  • God has not abandoned us.
  • God sees.
  • God hears.
  • God is as close as my breath.
  • God's Spirit is my comforter.
I already feel better. The Sometimes are bound to happen on this type of road. But God is always there to pick me up, I love that about Him. It makes me think of a very weird scripture out of Ezekiel 16. In verse 6, it says when I passed by you, I saw you struggling in your own blood, - and I said, LIVE!

I'm so glad God sees fit to speak life into us when we feel the most lifeless. On those days the load feels so heavy, the road seems so long, we feel the most abandoned and alone... He says Live!

Today, I will shift my focus from my pain to His grace. For it is His grace that will carry me - and will carry you. My thoughts will be on His mercies that were new for me today - just so I could make it today. I'll get past this sometime and I'm sure there will be plenty more. But for today, I'll be grateful that He is in my today, in my sometimes, just to say, Live.  And live I shall - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Covering


This morning, memories began running through my mind. I was thinking about all those tough spots I've found myself in over the last 12 years or so. Of course, that's just the caregiving years. I've been in lots of tight spots in my 60 years. Some of them were unavoidable, and a few I could have avoided with my own choices. As I let my memory run for a little while, I thought of how God has been so faithful. I was thankful.

David mentions how God was his rock. He talks about it a lot throughout the Psalms. God is a rock we can hide behind. He is a rock we can stand on. He's got us covered no matter what life throws at us. He's solid. He's secure. He's immovable. I love all that about Him. We can trust Him with today.

You know, I usually end each blog with a statement about trusting Him for today, and I always ask you to join me. It's a legit question. He is trustworthy. 

As caregivers, we never know what a day is going to bring. Our normal days have more fluctuations and uncertainties than other people's normal days, you know? In the midst of uncertainties and unknowns, there is a rock Who stands. He's there waiting for us to hide in Him. He wants to provide shelter for us. He wants us to stand on the firm foundation He provides. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize He has truly given us everything we need for life and for godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) What I notice about this scripture is that He has given "everything" we need for life - for living, what we need to survive in the natural realm. But He's also given everything we need to survive and serve Him spiritually. He's got us covered both naturally and spiritually.  

Our natural lives may have shifted a lot in response to caregiving, but our spiritual being stayed put in Him. It may have not felt like that early on. lol. There are times when it feels like everything is shaking - but He remains. He is still our rock to hide behind and to stand on when we are ready.

Today, I will express my thankfulness to God for being that solid rock. I'll thank Him for letting me hide when I need to and letting me climb up high above situations when I can. My meditations will be on how He has been a constant source of comfort, healing, and protection. I'll think about how He (THE God of the nations, God our creator) is my covering. And I will lean into Him with more purpose today as I trust Him to carry me through one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Shepherd of My Soul

Chris at Bluff Creek

I almost didn't write a devotion this morning. I know I missed yesterday. My schedule is slowly returning to a weird sort of normal. Lol. I know you understand that it's normal for things to not be normal. As caregivers, we go on with our days trying to always be ready for those unexpected events. We just never know. I decided to give it all I had anyway - and so I sat down in front of a blank screen. I got nothing. 

So, I decided to take a small praise break. My guitar is always nearby, so I picked it up, and as soon as I strummed the strings, a psalm we used to sing in church years ago just sort of popped out. It's a familiar one. Psalm 95:6-7. It gives a call for all to Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. I like that it doesn't exclude anyone - the Lord made us all - caregivers to caregivees, prisoners to guards, parents to children, old and young alike, no one is exempt. He made us all! So the call to worship is all-inclusive no one is denied.

The next verse tells us the why. He is our God, we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. As I sang this over three or four times I thought about what it meant to be His sheep - His people. A shepherd is all in when it comes to His sheep. He lives, breathes, and dies for the sheep. His goal is to protect them, feed them, and care for them entirely. 

Psalm 23 says that the Shepherd - our Shepherd leads His sheep to still waters and causes them to lie down in green pastures. These are not just any pastures - they are hand-picked by the Shepherd because they are the best for His sheep.

As I sang and my mind ran away with the Shepherd of my soul, I literally felt my tension ease. I found myself basking in His peace. You know, that odd kind of don't-really-understand-it-but-I-like-it peace. gratefulness replaced tension as I focused on the Shepherd and how much He cares for me. My heart began to thank Him for watching out for us as caregivers and for staying with us for our journies. I have no doubt that I can trust my Shepherd.

Today, I purpose to focus on being grateful. I'll turn my thoughts to how He keeps watch over my soul and protects me especially when I am most vulnerable. My meditations will be on how He leads me to the still waters of His Spirit so I can take a refreshing drink, and how He brings me to the spiritual pastures so I can learn of Him and be fed. I will diligently trust Him with my soul today. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


Coming soon to both bookstores: 21 Days with the Prince of Peace 


Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly

 


One of the things I love about God is that He never leaves us. I say it a lot, but life never overwhelms Him. It never gets too ugly for Him to continue walking with us. I think that's one of the things that stands out to me in the scriptures. You get the whole story. It's all there, the good, the bad, and the ugly. God never shied away from people who were on the edge. He was always right there with them in the midst of their darkest hours.

Now, I'm in a good place right now. I'm working, Chris is doing good, and I feel pretty good physically. But I still have "those moments." Recently, I've had a difficult time emotionally. It's not anything real bad, just missing Chris. I have to bury who he was every single day. I love who he is too - he's still my son. But my heart aches. I miss his humor, his music, his questions, his personality. You would think after 12 years, it would all go away, right? Nope.

So, I constantly find myself going back to God for strength, for healing, for His touch deep in my aching soul. And you know what? He's always right there. He never tells me that He clocked out at midnight, He doesn't work after dark, or that He's not on the clock. Instead, He walks into the cold, dark recesses of my painful heart. Then, He pours in His healing balm and somehow brings healing to the parts that hurt the most. And He does this day after day. As long as there is pain - there is healing.

I love that God is with us in the good, the bad, and the ugly. he is our strength. He is our song in the night. He is our constant companion who literally cannot leave us. (Where would He go - He's already everywhere!) He gives me the strength to make each day - and that brings me comfort. 

Today, I will encourage myself by reminding myself of how He has walked with me all of these weary miles. There hasn't been a point where it has gotten too rough for Him - or too steep - or too hazardous. He just keeps being with us - always. I will be thankful for His ever-abiding presence today. I'll thank Him for not leaving when the road got rocky or the storm gained strength. I'll be thankful that He's with me in the rocky places and the smooth places. And I will trust Him for today - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Great Exchange

 


This morning during my FaceBook live devotion "Peace Out!", I talked about 1 Peter 2:9 and how we can take all of our concerns to God. Nothing is too big for Him to handle, and nothing is too small for His attention. I mentioned that as a caregiver, I take care of all of my son's needs. I don't have a list of exclusions or things I am unwilling to do. I'm invested in him - and see to him from head to toe. God is the same way about us. He wants us to take our cares to Him - all of them.

Just like I take care of my son's whole being - God wants to take care of us wholely. There's no part of Chris I don't take care of. If I don't have the skills (which never happens with God!), then I find someone who does so they can help. 

God is our ultimate caregiver. He cares for us - and He can do the caring for us when we let Him. I love that I can bring Him every little thing that I am concerned about and He won't turn me away or turn me down. He doesn't have a list of cares that are exempt. He never says, really? Or you can't be serious. He takes each of my concerns from the smallest to the biggest. And when I give them to Him, He makes the great exchange. He takes my worry, my concern, and gives me His peace.

And on top of that, He gives wisdom freely - when I ask for it. So, He takes my concern, gives me peace, then fills me with godly wisdom to know how to move forward in each situation. You can't beat that kind of exchange, now, can you? 

Today, I'm going to give God my growing list of concerns. (I've let it build up quite awhile.) I'll give it to Him and then I will let it go. I'll turn my thoughts to how He is concerned with the things that trouble and concern me - and He does truly care about my whole being. My meditations will be on how He takes all my worries and replaces them with peace and wisdom. I'll embrace His peace and His wisdom and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 
My Bookshelf

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Cause and Effect

 


We learned about cause and effect in elementary school. As life progressed, we learned it from life lessons. If I don't pay my electric bill - they will shut it off. You know? In scripture, there are lots of examples too. But I want to look at the other side of this coin. 

When the king had Daniel thrown into the den of hungry lions, the effect was supposed to be his death. But God had other plans. He disrupted the cause-and-effect system of man with His own plan. In Jeremiah, God foretold the Babylonian captivity. Then He explained that He had thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. He explained that His cause and effect system works like this - you call on Me - I answer. Period. I like that. Sometimes we can get pushed so far back into the caregiver's cave that things like hope, a future, and peace are hardly discerned. The Enemy likes it that way. But God offers hope on top of hope.

Life can throw us some curveballs and caregiving isn't for the faint of heart. We can find ourselves comfortable in the back of the cave. But God's hope disrupts the "natural" flow of what life sets up. You see, the enemy of our soul would like for us to give up there. The devil would like for our caves to destroy us. But God has other plans.

What was supposed to destroy us - birthed us anew.

What was supposed to crush us - squeezed out hope.

What was supposed to steal our peace - brought great joy.

What was meant to be our tomb - has become a womb where we're being formed and birthed into His image.

So what life caused - hasn't had the expected effect. Here we are still seeking God. Still trusting Him. Still waiting on Him. Still getting our strength from Him. Still resting in Him. It's a great place to be. Life's crushing blows can cause His healing, peace, and anointing to flow when I yield it all to Him.

Today, I'll meditate on His plans for me. I'll turn my thoughts to the presence of His peace and how He has stayed in the cave with me until I was ready to come out. My meditation will be on His sustaining power and how He turns the things that were supposed to cause harm - into healing and joy. I will be grateful that God disrupts this world's cause and effect system and turns it to be for us a hope and a future. I'll crawl up in His lap today and let His peace reign even in the cave. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                                 



If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: My Bookshelf

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Right Now


 As if caregiving wasn't enough, we've found ourselves working through a historic pandemic. They can be difficult enough to navigate for families but made even more challenging by caregiving. Now, on top of all that was already going on in our nation and world, a large portion of the US is suffering through brutally cold and bitter temperatures. Utility companies were ill-prepared to handle a severe winter storm of this magnitude. Personally, I've stressed quite a bit over how I would take care of Chris if the electricity would go out. It's frightening to think about.

It can be easy to get sucked into a spiraling cycle of worry right now. And that can be a difficult vacuum for anyone to get out of. When I begin to feel the overwhelm, I go back to basics. I try to stop all the crazy thoughts and focus on truth from the Word. This is why it's so important to read the word. If we are hiding it in our hearts like David said, Holy Spirit will help us recall it when we need it.

This morning as my mind began turning toward spinning out of control, I stopped all the noise. That's not always easy, is it?  I reminded myself that I needed to go back to the basics. Those things that don't change with the weather or in response to a pandemic. They didn't change when my son had a wreck and I was thrust into caregiving over 12 years ago either!

I landed in a familiar go-to scripture. Of course, it's in Psalms! lol. Psalm 46:1 is one of my go-tos. God is our refuge and our strength a very present help in trouble. That's where I started. I reminded myself that no matter what life throws at us - God is present. He doesn't avoid issues. Instead - He marches right into them. We talked about how He went out to "find" Hagar in her despair. He walked right into the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children. He traipsed across the water to His frightened disciples in the middle of a storm. And He is not afraid or hesitant to walk right into our mess today. Acknowledging that He is with us and that He hasn't abandoned us helps shift our thinking. He is present. Now. 

Today, I'll remind myself that He doesn't shy away from the difficulties. He doesn't disappear when things get tough. My meditation will be on how He chooses to walk right into the mess. I'll let my heart rest in these truths today. I will think about how He goes to the extremes and through extremes to get to us no matter where we are. I'll let His peace reign in my heart as I trust Him for my right now. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                         



If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: 
My Bookshelf

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

No Waiting

Me helping Chris stand at the park

This morning, during my private prayer and study time, I began to let thanksgiving have its way in my heart. With this Siberian front coming through it's cold and I am so tired of being cold. But I was so thankful to wake up under a warm electric blanket this morning. And the apartment was bearable but cool. I don't know where it came from, but I just began to thank God for food, clothing, warmth, and plenty of blankets to cover windows to slow down the cold drafts.

Something happened in those moments as I got lost in thankfulness. My perspective changed for one thing. But gratefulness gave way to peace. Peace led me down a path that led to a sense of knowing that He sees. He knows.

I have read, reread, meditated, thought about, hashed, and rehashed the story of Hagar found in Genesis 16. I wish I could have seen the visual difference of her demeanor as she realized God saw her. She was in a rough spot, interestingly enough. Yet what peace must have flooded her heart and mind as she realized God had walked right up to her in the dark and dry place. And He saw her. And she knew it. It's that knowing that warms the heart and lightens the load, isn't it? 

God did not wait until she "got it all together" or was in a better state of mind. He didn't wait until she could think clearly. He didn't tell her he'd come back later when she wasn't having such a difficult time. Her life picture was looking pretty ugly to her at that moment. She was in despair. Sarah has mistreated her. (Genesis 16:6) so Hagar was broken, alone, had no direction, no home, no income....and she was pregnant! 

I love the picture I get in my mind of God just marching right up to Hagar in the midst of the mess. It's similar to the picture my imagination paints of Jesus walking out on the water to His disciples - in the middle of the storm.

God is moved with compassion when we are in tough spots, He isn't put off by it. Jesus waited until the storm was just right - then marched right out on the water to His trembling disciples. The Angel of the Lord waited until Hagar was just alone enough - just desperate enough before He walked right into her situation. This gives me so much hope and peace. I understand I don't have to get it all together for God to visit. He comes when life is the ugliest and brings peace and grace.

Today,, I will be thankful that God seems to like the stormy weather. It's a good thing too! lol. He's not confused, dismayed, perplexed, or put off by our circumstances. Maybe it's the most difficult storms and darkest situations that draw Him to us. My meditations will be on His presence in my storm. I'll welcome a fireside chat with Him today as I ponder about my own circumstances. I'll remind myself that He sees - and He comes anyway. I'll rest right there in the peace that comes with that thought. Will you join me?


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Continuous Delivery


 I got on one of my shopping apps this morning to order a few things for the upcoming blizzard. This is an app I use a lot and order from it almost weekly. I started down through the list I made and ordered each item. When I got done, a notice popped up stating they no longer deliver fire starters. I'll spare you the details, but I was quite upset. Here we are in horribly frigid weather, with dangerous conditions getting worse over the next few days and for some unknown reason (they NEVER give a reason), they decided firestarters could not be delivered. I've ordered them numerous times before. I believe at this point - I will cancel my subscription since this is not the first time it's happened on items I order frequently.

The good thing is that over the last few months as I've prepared morning devotions on peace - I've absorbed some of my own teachings! lol. As upset as I was it only took me a few seconds to settle myself down and let His peace reign in my heart once again. As I reclaimed the peace He gave us all those years ago, I whispered a simple prayer followed by thanksgiving. I said I'm glad You don't stop your deliveries.

That simple thought that turned into a prayer began a deluge of thoughts that took me back to this morning's devotions. I saw Psalm 23 with new eyes as I've been walking this journey of embracing His peace. But what stood out to me as I lifted my concerns over the impending weather conditions was this. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

I'm so glad that God's peace, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, provision, love.... and more - are not regulated by a spout that He turns off at will. He continues to chase us down with mercy, goodness, and more. He doesn't love us until He just doesn't want to deliver anymore, His love has no end - the spout is always open it's up to us to get under it and receive His blessings!

Today, I'm going to picture myself standing under a spout that has a continuous stream of mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, help, faithfulness, peace, and more. I'll thank Him for being my provider, not just for my natural needs but for my soul and spirit needs too. My meditations will be on how He doesn't hold any part of Himself back but continues to give us freely all things. I'll rejoice in His abundant goodness and trust Him for today. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                            



If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore: My Bookshelf

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

True Confidence

 


Do you ever have those mornings where you know you have a ton of things lined out to do but you just want to stay under the warm covers a little while longer? Most days, we just can't. Personally, I always regret it later in the day when I don't get as much done as I wanted to. But that is nonetheless where I was this morning. 

Usually, I get up and put on coffee and let it make while I change Chris and bolus him some water. Then, I crawl back into bed with my coffee cup and Bible in hand. Sometimes, I wish I had the choice to sit there all day. But my coffee would run out. And then there's that there is just too much that has to be done - and I'm the only one to do it. lol

While sitting there this morning, I felt my emotions try to take the dive into the caregiver's abyss. The fog was trying to overtake me. But I just don't have time for it today. Like you - I probably just need a day off. But of course, they don't happen. And their rarity is even rarer since the pandemic.

So I sat with my Bible and my coffee looking for a bit of comfort and some scriptures on peace to share in my Facebook live morning devotions. You know, when I purpose to dive into the Word, I am never disappointed. That's one thing I love about God and His Word - He meets me where I am. He is not afraid to walk right into my chaos and infuse His peace. He doesn't give me a checklist to complete before He does it either. I'm afraid I'd never get there if He did that! lol

I ended up my studies this morning in a favorite passage. It's Isaiah 30:15-18. The first part is what stood out to me because it's what I needed most. The prophet Isaiah says, In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Well, immediately I knew this confidence was not in myself. It's a confidence that is put in God that gives us the strength to face one more day. 

I'm fairly confident I'm going to make it through today - I've made it through many other days that looked a lot rougher than today, that's for sure. But I have not - and will not- make it through in my own strength. I'm very aware that He carries me at least half the time. That's where my quiet confidence rests.

Today, I will quietly trust Him to get me from daylight to dark with emotions, mental health, and body intact. As I move through this day, I will remind myself that He is my confidence. He is my strength. My thoughts will be on how I can trust Him with even more of the pieces of my heart. I'll let Him carry me through today. I know He will - that's confidence! Will you be in His arms with me today?


Monday, February 8, 2021

Something Like a Monday

 

Chris and me at the park in Norman

It's Monday. I know for myself and many other caregivers, the day of the week doesn't make much difference at all. It doesn't matter, we do the same things every day with a few variations on days with appointments or days we either do or do not have the help. Actually, I was hoping to have something like a Monday to blame this funk on. lol. I hope you can't relate, but I'm pretty sure you do. :-)

It's just one of those days where everything feels out of kilter, but there's no way to get it all back in place. We all have these days, and we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of another and keep on moving. Our loved ones have things that cannot be skipped just because we are in a weird mood. Today (Monday or not) is just like other days with laundry to be done, meals to be prepared, transfers, baths, and you know the list goes on and on. All.Day.Long.

On days like this, I grab an extra cup of coffee. Then, I take a long, deep breath. I sit for a second and go back to the basics. God loves me. I whisper to myself. He hasn't abandoned me. I say a little louder. God cares for me and Chris. Now my eyes begin to sweat as I can finally begin to release the things that are troubling my heart. There are many and they begin to pile up after a while mostly because I forget to pour them out in prayer. 

Days like this are why I encourage daily Bible reading. As I was preparing for my devotions I do on Facebook live every morning, I read in Haggai this morning. It's a short book, but it has a lot of those basics I needed to remind myself of today. In just two short chapters, the prophet Haggai reminds God's people of these basic (but encouraging) truths:

  • Be strong - for I am with you. (2:4)
  • My Spirit remains among you, do not fear. (2:5)
  • I will give peace. (2:9)
  • I will receive you. (2:23)
  • I have chosen you. (2:23)
I am comforted when I remember that God wants to be with me - even when life's picture gets ugly or a storm blows across the sea of life. He still gives me peace, receives me, and even chases me down sometimes. And suddenly, I'm okay. Just to know that He didn't abandon me and He certainly isn't the author of those feelings. Now - I can face today - even if it's something like a Monday.

Today, when I feel overwhelmed, I will turn my thoughts back to these truths. I'll remind myself that He is with me, He comes for me, accepts me, and wants to be with me. I'll take a deep breath and express my thankfulness to Him for being right here - even on a Monday. Will you join me?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

It's ALL Ours

 

Chris standing with my help

This week, I went back and read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6. I'm working on a new study guide about the armor. If you look at each piece it basically boils down to the Word of God. We need the word of God to cover us for our battles. 

Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus and coming to the conclusion of his letter. He says, finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (NASB) As a caregiver, what I like about this is that there are absolutely no exclusions. Not one phrase indicated any of the believers were left out of the discussion. Thankfully, Paul didn't say, everyone but caregivers put on the armor of God. He didn't say, all of you but caregivers can wear the armor and defeat the devil.  It sounds silly, doesn't it? But it's easy to get caught up in our day-to-day and forget the entire Bible is still ours to claim. Every jot and tittle is applicable to the caregiver's life too - we are never left out!

Paul encourages the Ephesian believers to put on the whole armor of God - it covers from head to toe. Now, as caregivers, we are not left out of scripture, not excluded from any blessing. But we are also not excused from any responsibility. Paul says to put on the armor of God. We still have to do that - God isn't going to dress us with His armor, we have a part to do, actions to take. We are not excluded from the protection God's armor provides, but we are also not excluded from the putting on part.

Nowhere does scripture give instructions and say, unless you are a caregiver. That kind of hurt my feelings early on, you know? I wanted to be coddled just a little bit. :-) But He's got us covered anyway - because repeatedly the word reminds us that He is our strength. So on those days when we really are not sure how we are going to put one foot in front of the other, He's got us covered. He gives us the strength to breathe somedays. You know? (I know you do!) 

Today, I will turn my thoughts to the armor of God and how He uses His word to protect all believers, caregivers included. My meditations will be on how His word protects my whole being and how He gives me the strength to wear His armor when I feel like I am at my weakest. I trust Him to have my front, my back, and everything in between. And I will trust Him for today. Will you armor up and join me?


Monday, February 1, 2021

Strength from Weakness

 

car ride wiwth aunt polly

Have you ever had someone say to you, I don't know how you do it? As a caregiver, I think I'm supposed to take it as a compliment. I usually mutter something like, Oh, we all do what we need to do. Or some other blow-it-off phrase. But what I'd really like to do is yell - I don't know either!  Lol - maybe it's just me.

Caregivers just keep giving and doing day in and day out. We kind of get used to a new normal and get into a groove that makes everything happen. But of course, there are those little kinks. My kink usually starts with a cough. When I hear Chris cough I start making a plan. Do I have all his prescriptions on hand? Is the battery charged on the oxygen thingy? 

Other times it's less worrisome things like this week I ran out of gloves. They were delivered to the office on Saturday - but 1 - I couldn't go get them anyway. And 2 - I didn't know until after office hours. Not having supplies, aids not showing up, delivery services that have no available time slots before the time you need an item or two... these all wear us down!  

So, when someone says I don't know how you do it  (perhaps they should say - without breaking down.) I think - me either. Most days I don't feel like I "do it" well enough. But here's the thing I am learning. There is power in realizing our weaknesses. This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul is talking about the Light shining in our hearts and how we have this treasure in an earthen vessel. We are just a clay pot holding the very glory of God.

But Paul goes on to talk about how he was 

  • hard-pressed on every side but not crushed
  • perplexed but not in despair
  • persecuted but not forsaken
  • struck down but not destroyed
We talk a lot about how David poured out his honest, raw emotions before God too. What I like about David and Paul is that they were honest and transparent about their feelings. They weren't afraid to tell God the truth. That open and real expression is an act of worship. It's in those moments of weakness, that we realize His strength. As we pour out our souls and empty ourselves before Him - He fills us back up with His strength. Pauls says in my weakness You are strong.

Today, I will meditate on how God puts His strength in this weak, old clay pot. My thoughts will be on how He takes time to hear my deepest heartfelt cries and listens intently to them as He begins to pour new strength for a new day in. I'll rest right there - and trust Him for just today. Will you join me?