Friday, December 31, 2021

Trust is an Action Word

 

chris standing by me

It's funny how normal things can just leap out at you, isn't it? I make my living by writing for clients. I provide lots of web content which is mostly blog posts. My clients are from a wide variety of industries, so I get a lot of experience. One of the blogs I maintain for one of my clients has some issues. I sent him an email and explained what had happened and that I would get his new posts up for him and fix the issues on last week's posts. When I got his reply this morning, it jumped out at me.

He simply said, No worries. You always take care of me. I have worked with this client for more than a year but I got this boost of confidence directly from his confidence and trust in me. It seemed like I could literally feel his trust. And of course, that got me thinking! :-)

Can I have that same trust in God? What if I looked at my circumstances, then looked at Him and said, No worries. You always take care of me. And then, I just didn't worry about it anymore.

As caregivers, we often have to do that don't we? There are things beyond our capacity to understand or control. We have to give each day to Him and then remind ourselves that He has always taken care of us, and He's not going to stop doing it now. My client didn't just tell me he trusted me. He could have just said - No worries, I trust you. But he said you've always taken care of me. I easily read trust between the lines. I felt his action.

Today, I am going to meditate on what trusting God really looks like. Trust is a verb, and I want to take action on trusting Him. That means leaving things in His hands instead of taking them out and trying to figure them out myself. I'll remind myself that up until this point - God has always taken care of me - and He hasn't run out of grace or patience. He will continue taking care of me as I continue to trust Him to do so. My thoughts and actions will go toward fully trusting Him with every aspect of my life (caregiving included!) today. Will you join me?

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Crippled Soul

 

Chris giving me "the look"

I'm still exploring the Bible's caregivers that we took a brief look at yesterday. Today, I focused on Mephibosheth and David. In 2 Samuel 9, David was looking for somebody - anybody from Saul's family. He said he wanted to "show them the kindness of God" (v.3) because of his friendship with Jonathan.

Ziba, a servant of Saul's household was brought before David and told the king that there was one of Jonathan's sons remaining. He also explained that Mephibosheth was "disabled in both feet." (NASB) David's next question is awesome to me - he simply said, "Where is he?" He didn't ask Ziba to "define 'disabled'." He didn't ask if he could walk some, or how much help Mephibosheth needed. He simply said, "Where is he?"

It doesn't appear that King David was inquisitive about any of the caregiving details. He didn't seem to consider how much care Mephibosheth needed, if he needed a chair, or had any other special care instructions. He just asked where Mephibosheth was, then he sent messengers to get him from Lo-debar.

When Mephibosheth came in before the king, he prostrated himself. David simply called him by name. "Mephibosheth." Then he explained that he was restoring all of Saul's household to Mephibosheth - everything that was his by birthright. David also gave him a "place" at his table with no regard for Mephibostheth's physical disabilities. That's true acceptance. No questions. No prodding. Just pure acceptance and rightful placement regardless of abilities or disabilities. David didn't even seem to question if he would be getting anything out of the deal. Many people devalue the disabled because they "can't give back." But David valued Mephibosheth for who he was - not for what he could do or not do. 

Now, I know you're thinking about how great a caregiver David was - but I'm looking at Mephibosheth. While I relate to David as a caregiver - I relate to Mephibosheth because of my inabilities. Sometimes, many times, I feel crippled in my soul. My emotions are all over the place. I have so much trouble focusing, etc. I feel broken, unwanted, and alone. I'm sure Mephibosheth had felt all those as his family was all gone. Yet here he found himself before the king...being restored, being made whole in soul, being cared for - all because of who David knew and the relationship he had had with Mephibosheth's father.

Here I stand before my God and King. I'm broken and alone. But the King - because of Christ - is restoring and making me whole - simply because of our joint relationship with Christ. Wow.

Today, I refuse to look at the brokenness life can bring - the toll caregiving can take. Instead, I will look at God who restores my soul and makes me whole through the cross of Christ. I'll thank Him that he knows I am disabled in my walk sometimes - yet He still sends for me and gives me a place at His table! And today - I'll just sit at His table and be thankful for one more day with Him - will you join me?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Bible Caregivers

 

Aunt Polly and me in the car

As the year draws to an end and I start setting new goals for the upcoming year, I spent time this morning praying and thinking about this blog in particular. I feel like I have failed you, my fellow caregivers, by not being more consistent in posting. That's one thing on my list - to post consistently! I'm working on a time each week where I can set down with coffee or tea in hand and write a week's worth at a time. I prefer writing them every morning, but logistically that doesn't always work out. :-) 

So, I was thinking about taking topics and expanding them out. That led me down a series of thoughts about the caregivers in the Bible. While I've just started compiling a list I came up with these few off the top of my head:

  • Abraham and Isaac
  • David and Mephibosheth
  • Hagar and Ishmael
  • Joseph and his dad and brothers
I thought, man, those are some great ones to start with! These are some of our favorite Bible heroes, but we don't often think of them as "caregivers," do we? Yet each of them cared for another person in one way or another. Maybe their situations were very different than ours. But then, each of our situations is very different anyway! Some of us care for aging parents, but I have many caregiver friends who care for special needs children and special needs adults.

Any way you slice it, caregiving isn't an easy task. There are so many emotions involved from any angle. When we care for parents or other elderly family members there's a role reversal that takes an emotional toll. Caring for adult children who are "supposed" to grow up and move out has a totally different weight. And caring for a child with disabilities has emotional challenges of a totally different nature. So we can look at each of the caregivers in the Bible and glean something from their experiences, right?

Abraham laid his son (promise, future, hope) on the altar. That'll preach. Hagar was distraught worrying about Ishmael's survival. We have likely each faced this emotional challenge on one level or another as we've advocated on their behalf. Joseph sent for his dad and family and provided for them during a difficult famine. And David had Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son who has disabled, come to his palace so he could care for him. I'm sure he provided staff to take care of Mephibosheth, but nonetheless, Mephibosheth lived in the palace under David's protective hand.

Each of these characters shows us a picture of strength, faith, courage, hope, and trust in God. Those are things we can hold on to and use to encourage ourselves as we face difficult and not-quite-as-difficult days. One thing we can be sure of is that God is the caregiver for us all. That's foundational - and worth building on.

Today, I will meditate on God's care for my soul. I will think about these caregivers (and others) from the Bible and consider how they each leaned on God for their soul's survival. I'll lean my heart a little closer to His today as I trust Him for direction for myself and my caregivee. Will you join me?

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Great CoverUp

 

Chris and myself standing together

Each day brings a whole range of emotions for a caregiver. I don't want to brag but I can go from the epitome of cheer to the pits of despair in a matter of just a couple of seconds! I can be having a great day and happy to be alive and see a photo of one of Chris' friends on Facebook - and sadness overwhelms me as I wonder where he'd be and what he'd be doing if the wreck hadn't happened. Sometimes, good things cause sadness. Another example is when he makes progress. It's so exciting! But it's sad too that I am rejoicing that he took one step when it should be other things like getting married or pursuing his career in music. It's easy to paint over those emotions, isn't it?

Lately, I've discovered that I really enjoy painting. I've tried watercolor and like it. But I've done more with acrylics. There is something therapeutic about mixing colors and creating. I like some of my final products and I like some less. lol. But I never worry about making a mistake because I can just paint over it and start again. As I was thinking about a painting idea this morning that I really want to try, I thought I can't really mess it up  - I can paint over it.

In reality, I can paint over it. But the texture of what was will remain. It's just covered up. 

Sometimes, our emotions can be like the covered-over "mess-ups." We paint on a pretty smile to greet our loved ones, but underneath we know our hearts are still broken. Maybe we paint on a joyful attitude while we know our insides are still crying out. It's all still there - we just covered it up.

Here's the thing. God knows. And the best part is that He understands. He can look past our covered-up emotions and tears and see our true hearts. He sees and understands all the emotions mixed up together to make one new color of our lives. And He still extends His peace, love, and grace. He can see past whatever we used to cover over our emotions and feelings - He still knows what is underneath. And that's the part of us He wants to touch.

Today, I will think about how deeply He sees into my heart. I'm glad He does. I don't have to cover up anything - He knows it all and He still loves me and still wants to be with me. I'll be thankful today that He doesn't toss us to the side or say we "have too much baggage" for Him. Instead, He pulls up a seat beside us and just sits. I'll thank Him today for just being; for just being right here for whatever I face or feel. I'm just going to sit with Him today - because He's here. Will you join me?

four of my acrylic paintings

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Adjustables!

 

me writing in my journal

As I was getting around early this morning, my mind was already racing through today. What will it look like? How will it all unfold? I am not expecting the aide to come today even though he is scheduled to be here. But after all, it is Christmas Eve. I'm so sure he's not coming that I already did all of Chris' laundry. lol

As I was thinking of the things I would have done today if he did come, I made mental adjustments. Some things I can still accomplish, I'll just have to do them differently. Other things will just have to wait. The story of our lives, right? 

While making the mental adjustments I thought, It's okay - I'm adjustable. Then, I thought of a few fellow caregivers and how often we must make adjustments. We are flexible - otherwise, we'd break for sure. It seems like sometimes every day is a series of well-timed (and sometimes ill-timed) adjustments. Maybe The Adjustables should be a new line of superheroes! Oh wait - we are! lol

We make adjustments daily based on our loved one's needs. They need more sleep - or less sleep. Call the doctor to work in an appointment. Supplies don't come as planned - make a new order to pay for them ourselves. Aids don't show - stay on schedule and cut the extras. Grocery order messed up - change the menu! lol 

Then there are the things we don't talk about much. Like how we get everyone ready to head out the door, but have to stop for that "emergency" change. Or how many times have we had to cancel last minute because something wasn't just right with our loved ones? We adjust and move on more times than others know. They don't see the tears behind closed doors. They don't see the loneliness eating away at our hearts. Others do not really know what to do with us, do they? Yet we persist and continue to move forward trusting Him one step at a time. 

Today, I will focus on how God adjusts to meet my needs. I'll meditate on how when I need to cry - He holds me. When I am joyous, He rejoices with me. When I don't know what to do, He continues to guide and walk alongside me. He gets us! And He is the great Adjustable - as He moves in response to our needs. That brings comfort today. Enough comfort that I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

News Flash: You ARE a Worship Leader

 


What does worship have to do with caregiving? Hand with me a few minutes - and I'll explain. The church has long considered a "worship leader" the one who stands on the stage and leads in song. But really, that's just a song leader - not necessarily a worship leader. And sadly, over the last few years it's become more about the show than about worship. For many, it's about manipulating the crowd's actions than it has been about touching the heart of God. 

I've long held that worship isn't about music at all. At best music may be an expression of worship, but it's not worship. True worship is sacrificing our desires for His. Think of Abraham. He laid Isaac on the altar, fully knowing that his son was the embodiment of God's promise to him. That was an act of worship. There was no music playing. No offering taken. No instruments or choir humming in the background. It was raw and real worship - obedience to God over emotions, promises, desires, and wants.

As far as we know, Moses didn't play an instrument. But we have a picture of him as a worship leader in Exodus 33. Verses eight through 11 says, whenever Moses went out to the Tent of Meeting, all the people would get up and stand in their tent entrances. They would all watch Moses until he disappeared inside. As he went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover at the entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses. Then all the people would stand and bow low at their tent entrances. Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses, face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Aftward, Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, stayed behind in the Tent of Meeting. - Now that's a picture of leading worship. No music, no offering, no padded pews!

What does that have to do with us as caregivers? I'm so glad you asked!

As I was praying yesterday, I was asking God about some things a friend had said to me. I asked Him about worship. I reminded Him (tongue in cheek here....) that I used to be a "worship leader." And told Him that those days were long gone. But He overwhelmed me with an image that played in my head and touched my heart.

When we as caregivers run to Him with our concerns - and when we are in the depth of pain that only caregivers carry and understand - and we bring that pain to Him again and again - that is a pure act of worship. 

  • Running to Him with our cares = worship.
  • Letting our crying hearts pour it all out before Him = worship.
  • Coming to Him for help with a heavy load = worship.
  • Bringing it all and pouring it all out at His feet, again and again, = worship.
  • Being mad at life (and Him sometimes too) - yet returning to Him, again and again, = worship.
  • Being still when we are unsure of what to do - and waiting for His answer = worship.
The picture in my imagination was of me coming back to Him again and again, in the pain. In the confusion. In the anger. In the good times and the bad. That running back to Him and seeking His help, His word, His peace. Is worship because it all equates to putting Him first.

So, as believing caregivers - we are worship leaders. Everyone who is watching sees our situations. Even if they don't fully comprehend what we carry - they see us carrying it to Him over and over again. They see our selfless acts and our intense need and desire for Him in the midst of it all. That is "worship leading."

Today, I will turn my focus to Him once again. I will lean in to hear His heart for today. I'll think about worship beyond just a song we sing as I lift my heart to place it in His and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Trust Me...

 


Transfers are a way of life - part of the normal day-to-day for many caregivers. My son is total care, that means numerous times over the day I move him from place to place. He can bear weight, pivot a bit, and use his muscles to sit, but still needs max assistance for safety's sake. When I first brought him home over a decade ago, I was terrified. Although he only got up for an hour a day back then, I would get sick to my stomach when it was time to transfer him from the bed to the chair and vice versa. Needless to say - I'm long over those fears. :-) 

This morning I had him up on the side of the bed ready to get into his chair. He was having a bit of difficulty and his eyes were acting up - allergies or something. I leaned in. Placed my arms under his and gently said, "trust me." He totally relaxed as I lifted him and placed him safely in his wheelchair.

But at that moment, it was as though I heard God say the same thing to me. Trust Me.

Sometimes I feel strong. But many times I feel weak and vulnerable. Life can be crippling - even if it's emotionally and not physically. Like Chris, some days I feel strong and ready to do all I can. Other days, I feel limp inside and unable to stand on my own. It's in those moments, though, when God leans in close and whispers, trust Me. 

Just like Chris chose to trust my care of him this morning, I find that I must trust God. He has me. He understands my emotions, my crazy thoughts, and me! He is fully capable of taking on anything and everything I face today as a caregiver. He is strong enough to get me where I need to be without incident - when I trust Him.

Today, I will trust Him for everything. When He leans in close to help, I will surrender in total trust and confidence that He's got me. Will you join me?


Friday, December 17, 2021

Just a Slave Boy


 I love the story of Daniel and this morning during my daily devotions, I read through the first few chapters. I am awed by their dedication and commitment to God even though they became captives in a foreign land. We see God gives them wisdom that far excelled the pagan magicians and wizards in the land. They were even made rulers over all of Babylon. (Daniel 2:48-49)

Moving ahead to Daniel 6, the jealous princes were trying to destroy Daniel. They devised a wicked plot and tricked the king into making a decree. When they came back to report to the king that Daniel had disobeyed by praying to God, they referred to him as "one of the captives from Judah." Never mind that he was the ruler of all the provinces of Babylon, right?

Sometimes in life, we encounter people who refuse to see us for who we are. As a caregiver, many times people only see us as a caregiver. They don't see us as Bible teachers, preachers, ministers, writers, or anything else. It's like how David's brothers refused to see him as any more than a shepherd boy even though they witnessed Samuel anoint him as king. (They should have played their cards a little better. lol)

It's hard for people to see past our caregiver's status to the person we are inside. We still have desires, dreams, thoughts, ideas (and good ones!), and aspirations. But it's easy for others to lock us into the caregiver's box as though nothing else about us exists. What's worse - is it is far too easy for us to do that to ourselves!

Maybe we should ask how God sees us. Does He see us as full-on God-seekers? Does He see each of us as the whole person that we are? Doesn't He continue to see us as His child, one He calls His own? When others (or ourselves) see us as abandoned, forsaken, worthless, unworthy, - or any other term you feel right now - He sees us as cherished, prized, loved, needed - and His.

Today, I'll turn my meditations to what He thinks about me. My thoughts will be on how He cherishes His relationship with me! How He loves me and desires to be with me - constantly. He never gets tired of me or needs a break from me. I'll think about how he longs to be even closer to me - if and when I allow it. I'll try to focus on His thoughts about me today. Will you join me in focusing on His thoughts about YOU?

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Shattered Dreams


 Did you have dreams before caregiving? For many of you who are caring for elderly parents, maybe you had high hopes for retirement. For those who provide care for special needs adults, the dreams may have looked a bit different, but they existed. When my son was injured in the accident, I was headed to the mission field to fulfill my life-long dream. Broken and shattered dreams can be difficult to deal with. You can move on, but you can't always pick up those pieces without always wondering, what if.

I'm like - what are we supposed to do with those unfulfilled dreams? I question if they were my own - or if God orchestrated them. Either way - there's only one thing to do with them. Give them to Him.

My mind goes to some of our popular Bible heroes. I think of Joseph who had the dreams about his family bowing down to him. Maybe he didn't quite understand them. But I'm certain that they didn't seem to be panning out as he spent years sitting in a dungeon-like cell. I also thought about Daniel. Surely as a young man before the captivity, he had some dreams. They may have been washed away in the siege - but perhaps he dreamt of a life with a family and vocation of some sort. 

And of course, there's Abraham. He carried the dream up to the altar to sacrifice it to God in obedience. Paul mentions in the NT that Abraham was so convinced of the dream - the promise, that he knew if Isaac died, God would raise him back up to fulfill the promise.

I also thought about David. He was anointed king by the prophet Samuel while he was a lad in his father's house. Did he think about that and how God was going to fulfill the promise while he was running or hiding from evil King Saul?

No matter what our dreams are or what He's promised us - we can just trust Him like these heroes of faith. If He said it - He will do it. Next comes the hard part - waiting on Him!

Today, I will trust Him for all He's ever said to me or about me, both written and spoken. I will rest in the truth that He still has it all under control. He is still working out good things for me - no matter what I see. So, today - I won't focus on the promise - I'll focus on Him. On His faithfulness. On His character. And I will trust Him for one more day! Will you join me?


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

In Focus

This morning I was thinking about some of the people in the Bible who went through rough times. Honestly, it's those who endured hard places that earn the respect of believers, right? We never look at someone Bible character or not and think oh, they have never faced any difficulties - I respect them so much.  lol. It's the fact that people walk through life's stuff with their faith intact that earns our admiration and respect. I like to read biographies and autobiographies - but it's the things the main character endures that make the story inspirational and interesting.


I thought back about David and how when Samuel the prophet came to anoint "one of Jesse's sons" as king - no one remembered to go get David from tending the sheep. He had the choice of focusing on rejection - but he didn't make that his focus.

Then, I thought about Daniel, not just in the lion's den. He was taken captive as a young lad and lived nearly his entire life as a slave in a foreign land. He could have focused on his captivity. He could have focused on the oppression. But he didn't. He remained faithful to God even without godly guidance from others.

I've been thinking about Ruth a lot and have shared some thoughts about her in an earlier blog. She came to mind again this morning. We often think about the end of the story and how Boaz redeemed her and she became one of the four women mentioned in the lineage of Christ. But we forget she lost her husband at an early age before she had any kids. She was a widow and must have endured an enormous amount of grief. She stayed with her deceased husband's mother and traveled with her to a distant land. She could have focused on her own grief and sorrow. But she did not.

Over the last couple of years, we've all seen unprecedented sorrow and grief. We're still enduring a pandemic and the added stress. As if caregivers didn't have enough daily stress already! Right? :-)

But we still have a choice of what to focus on. Even on our darker days when chores necessary for our loved one's care weigh us down, we can choose our focus. Like these and other heroes of the faith - we can look past our circumstances and see Him. We can pray like Daniel, sing like David, and be as committed as Ruth even in the midst of our struggles. God honors that.

Today, I will shift my focus from my situation to His situation! I'll lift my eyes to Him - my help, the sustainer of my soul, my comforter, and ever-present King. I'll look past whatever is on my plate to the One who provides, shelters, cares, and continues to love me in the midst of life's struggles and storms. I will thank Him for being right here - right now. Will you join me in enjoying His presence today?

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

No Room in the Inn

Chris' new look
 Do you ever just feel out of step with the rest of the world? I'm not really sure what everyone uses to measure "normal" but I think our caregiving lives don't fit the mold. :-) Most of the time, I'm good with it - I know we walk a very different walk. However, I also know that the baby boomer generation is busy taking care of our parents, so it's a bigger thing than most think. Honestly, I'm not sure about everyone else - but I am sure about me. And I feel out of step with pretty much the rest of the world.

When you are a caregiver:

  • Simple things are not simple.
  • Doable things are not doable.
  • Basic activities of life are more complicated.
I know you understand. In one way, the pandemic has been a huge help. It's so much easier to order groceries and household supplies now. I am thankful for that since just going to the store can be a huge deal. One cough from my son and the trip is off! lol (Yes, I'm a bit overprotective like that!)

With the holidays approaching, my sisters and I were discussing our family's Christmas get-together. One of my sisters has a single step going into her house so it's easy to get Chris' chair inside. My other sister has a series of steps. The last time I went out there, several of the guys grabbed Chris and his chair and toted him inside. It worked, even though my blood pressure went up! lol

It's obviously not feasible for everyone to build a ramp for their house, right? I've even found a few businesses that didn't have access for chairs. Like when we were ordering flowers for my aunt's funeral - the flower shop in a small rural town literally had no way for me to get Chris' chair inside. I stood outside and waited as others went in to arrange her flowers.

I wonder if this feeling is anything like what Mary and Joseph were feeling as they went from inn to inn finding nowhere to stay. Of course, their circumstances were a bit more demanding. :-) I can just stay home, they didn't have that option. How many places did they try before settling into the barn? It had to wear on their emotions - especially Mary's! She was going to give birth and had no place to rest.

One thing I'm thankful for is that God always welcomes me. His door is open for the caregiver - no ramp needed. I don't have to worry about not being able to "get in" to see Him. His ear is listening for our faintest cries for help. He is right here. Right now. I never have to wait outside for Him like I did at the flower shop. I can bring my son - chair and all - right into His presence where I can find grace to help in time of need.

Today, I will be thankful that He is ever-present - and that He doesn't always wait for me to get to Him - instead, He's right here. He never runs out of room, never denies access. I love Him for that. He hears the words I cannot form and sees the tears before they fall. He's that close - that accepting. So, when I don't feel quite "normal" today - I'll look to Him. Will you join me?

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Final Transition: A Caregiver’s Guide to Death

 


It’s impossible to predict the exact moment of death, but there are signs that the end is looming just around the corner. From a loss of appetite to labored breathing, most people exhibit a few behaviors that indicate the time to say goodbye is now. As difficult as it is to consider, as a caregiver, you must learn to recognize the portents of passing and help make the final transition as reassuring as possible for both you and your loved one. Here are some tips to help prepare you for this difficult but natural transition.

 Is the end near?

 One of the first signs the body is shutting down is a loss of appetite, according to senior caregiving specialists at Caring.com. This may be accompanied by excessive fatigue and increased physical weakness. A dying person may be unable to change their position in the bed. Disorientation and labored breathing are also common; listen for Cheyne-Stokes respirations, which is abnormal breathing characterized by increasingly deeper breaths and a gradual shallowing of respirations. In the hours leading up to death, a person’s hands and feet may become swollen and their extremities feel cool to the touch. One of the final physical changes that happen before death is a loss of blood circulation that results in uniformly pale skin and mottled veins.

 Wishes respected

 While the process of death is one that is heart-wrenching to experience from the outside, it’s important to respect your loved one’s wishes. For instance, if their final desire was to pass peacefully at home, let them do so no matter how emotionally painful it may be.

 Soothing surroundings

 Your loved one may not be able to express their thoughts and feelings at any given moment but, rest assured, he or she is aware -- on some level  -- of their surroundings. You can make their passing as peaceful as possible by ensuring you have the equipment you need to properly provide end-of-life care. This may include a hospital bed, bedpan, IV equipment, oxygen or dialysis equipment, and accessories that improve mobility.

 How to say goodbye

 If you have the privilege of being by your loved one’s side in his or her final moments, consider yourself lucky. Many people never get the chance to say goodbye or offer comfort to their mom, dad, brother, sister, or child as they pass. Hospicenet.org asserts that you should not be afraid to hold your loved one’s hand or offer other physical touch. If there have been any hostilities in the past, it’s time to offer forgiveness. If your loved one is religious, reassure them that they are moving into their creator’s embrace. The most important thing you can do is to simply be there, even if they don’t know it.

 What to expect when it happens

 At the moment of true death, your loved one’s muscles will relax completely. This includes those responsible for preventing bladder or bowel leakage. Since there is still air in the lungs, the deceased may make moaning, sighing, or groaning sounds if disturbed. This may last for several days and you may, in fact, hear noises from the body during the funeral. If your loved one has a DNR order and has been under the care of a physician, contact their doctor or funeral home for assistance.

 Dealing with grief

 It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. Grief takes time. It’s natural to feel periods of intense anger and frustration. One thing that can help, though, is giving yourself something positive to focus on. For instance, ZenBusiness can help you create a nonprofit in your loved one’s honor, and that has the benefit of keeping you busy while also helping the community and showing respect for the departed.

 Death is inevitable for all of us. And it’s the ones left behind that suffer when a loved one takes their final breath. While they may not even be aware of what’s happening, you can keep them comfortable until the very end. Honor your friend or family member by keeping a keen eye, creating a calm environment, and saying goodbye with nothing but love in your heart.

 

Image via Pixabay

Friday, December 3, 2021

Overlooked

 


As caregivers, we have a lot in common. But it's impossible to evenly compare our situations. Among caregivers, circumstances can vary greatly and no two situations are the same, even though they may be somewhat similar. Some of us care for elderly parents, others for our children. You may provide care for a sibling, an aunt, or someone else you care for deeply. 

Some of our loved ones are total care, others can do a few things on their own. Some of us live in the home with our loved ones, others are long-distance caregivers. Any way you slice it, we are providing care for someone we value. 

One thing we may share though is feelings of being overlooked. It can be hard to find where we fit in our communities, our families, even our churches. Our lives look much different when compared to the rest of the world and we experience different levels of "normal" in our day-to-day. We adjust to the new normals of caregiving, though, don't we? But we can't really expect others to understand. Even if they get it in part - until caregiving is experienced, they won't truly understand. 

We can feel abandoned by life. We may feel discarded, or overlooked. You know that feeling you had as a child and everyone was choosing teams and you were standing there hoping you wouldn't be the last one called? Maybe that's just me! :-) The feelings of being overlooked by the masses can be similar. We are standing here - feeling invisible. Yet, we desperately need someone to say - I see you.

When God found Hagar, she said He was the God who sees. She felt acknowledged. Can I say today that I need God to see me? I need Him to hear me. And I know He does. When the world is not sure what to do with us - and they ignore us, walk past us, or treat us as if we are invisible... God says  I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I love you. We are not overlooked - passed by - ignored- by God.

Today, I will remind myself that He is present. My meditation will be on the truth that He sees, hears, feels me and wants to be with me right in the middle of my situation. Caregiving doesn't scare Him away! :-) Instead, He draws near. And when we feel most invisible, He comes even closer until our souls unite and almost look like one. He's that close. So I will acknowledge Him today - I won't treat HIM as though He is invisible, even though I cannot physically see Him. I will thank Him for choosing to walk this lonely journey with me - and for carrying me when I cannot take another step. Will you join me in His lap today?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

In the Womb


 One of the things I deal with as a caregiver is being alone. This becomes emotionally complicated by so many weird little details. For instance, I almost had a date this weekend! (For real.) But they canceled because they got too busy. I was a little bit relieved, to be honest. But I'd already gone to the expense and effort of hiring a sitter. I'll probably take myself out! lol

But it left me feeling emotionally drained and alone. I took it a lot harder than I thought. Feelings of aloneness swept over me and I thought about how even my old friends don't want to hang out with me. You see, time is my love language. So the fact that my friend "didn't have time" spoke volumes to me about how unimportant I was in the scheme of things. 

As I sorted through my emotions, a familiar scripture came to mind. It's in Psalm 139. David says You watched me form in the womb. But It was like I could see God watching over a baby forming in the womb. I watched you as you formed in the womb. He watched us form. He knew the second the tissue gained a heartbeat. He knows when we took our first breath as we fought to be - and He will see our last breath when we escape this world to be with Him forever. That's intimacy.

All of a sudden, I had a reprieve from the loneliness that had engulfed me just a few minutes before. I knew that a God who watches us so intently as we form in the womb was not going to abandon me to the aloneness of caregiving. His choice is to walk with us through time and He's not looking for an opt-out button to escape!

Today, I will remind myself that He is right here. He won't leave - because He doesn't want to - He wants to be present with me in the midst of it all. I'll rejoice because I know He desires to be near - and isn't going to abandon me for busy-ness. I'll meditate on His faithfulness today. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

All the Elements

Kyrie and Chris

 This morning in my devotions I found myself in Psalm 57. It's a passage very familiar to me and dear to my heart. When I was sick with a mystery illness back in 1986-7, I read this psalm over and over as I literally held onto it for dear life. It's got all the elements: prayer, praise, despair, faith, and declarations.

This particular psalm is written by David, the same David who ran toward Goliath and declared that God would deliver the giant into his hands that very day. But now, he's running from a mad man, Saul. David is hiding in a cave. That's a far cry from chasing down a giant, right?

He's open and honest about his distress. In verses four and six he says, 

  • I am surrounded!
  • My enemies have set a trap for me!
  • I am weary.
Man, can I relate to that! Many times I feel surrounded by enemies like fear and doubt. It takes a lot of courage and strength to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The cool thing about David though, is that he always brings in faith. In verses two, three, and seven he says:

  • God will send help.
  • My God will send His unfailing love and faithfulness.
  • He will fulfill His purpose for me.
  • My heart is confident in You!
It's kind of like his own little pep talk. Have you ever had one of those? :-) Mixed in these few verses, as was his custom - he takes time for praise. In two verses, five and 11, David praises God by saying, Be exalted O God above the heavens, May Your glory shine over all the earth. David was also a man of action and he said in the first couple of verses: I look to You for protection! And I cry out to God Most High.

I'm telling you, this psalm has it all! Since I've been meditating on declarations over the last few weeks, you know I have to pull those out of this psalm too. David makes four powerful declarations. Even though he is in distress, he is surrounded by his enemies, he's hiding in a cave for fear of his life. He still declares in the midst of his struggles:
  • I will hide in the shadow of Your wings...
  • I will awaken the dawn with my song...
  • I will thank You O Lord...
  • I will sing...
And that's where I'll leave you today. What are your declarations today? Can you look your "enemies" (doubt, fear, etc) in the face and declare - Today I will hide in Your shadow O Lord...all day long. Today, Lord I will sing to you, I will thank You, Lord. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

How Long?

Chris looking a bit ornery

Do you ever feel like you've reached the end of what you can do? It may stem from pure exhaustion, but it feels like it's a "that's it" moment. It feels like God doesn't hear. It feels like He has moved away. There are just those times of overwhelm. Or maybe it's just me. I do think that the psalmist was feeling these types of emotions when he penned Psalm 13.

It's not clear what type(s) of circumstances David was facing, but his emotions are clear. His soul is crying out for God to intervene. In the New Living Translation, Psalm 13 reads this way:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?

How long will you look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,

with sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.

Don't let my enemies gloat, saying, "We have defeated him!"

Don't let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I will trust in your unfailing love,

I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord because He has been good to me. 

I love the way that David emptied out his soul before God with transparency and his honest, raw, and real emotions. But he didn't leave it at that. He usually makes his declarations. He laid it all out there- and then said what he was going to do. In this psalm, he said he would trust, rejoice, and sing even though he was feeling down, forsaken, and on the brink of defeat. 

As I was thinking about this psalm and my own feelings were running crazy in my head, I started with David's declarations and then penned this poem.

But I will trust in Your unfailing love,

I will rejoice because You have rescued me.

I will sing of Your goodness...

Those are my declarations

I will sing from my cave

The pit will hear my heart cry out

to the God who hears.


I will rejoice in His goodness

and when the enemy surrounds,

I'll sing from behind the fears.


I will trust God in the pain

and when my heart is overwhelmed

I'll cling to Him through the tears.


For He is still my God

in the good and the bad

I know at my cry He comes near.

Today, I'll make these declarations once again. I will trust, I will rejoice, I will sing. I'm finding declarations to provide a powerful shift in my attitude. (And I need help with that!) Just saying them out loud helps me refocus on Him and His mercy and grace. Will you join me today in declaring our trust in Him once again?

Friday, November 26, 2021

We Are His!

 

Chris with me - in the standing frame

Social isolation is real, for caregivers. Actually, most of us dealt with it LONG before the COVID pandemic. It was almost amusing, if it hadn't been so serious, to see people whining and crying about having to stay home and "miss" all the social interaction. I wrote a post welcoming them to our world. Many of us have lived a life of social isolation for years. Our "norm" just become more complicated during the pandemic. 

I guess the aloneness is what made this scripture stand out in my private devotions this morning. It's a familiar passage, and yes, I was reading it because yesterday was Thanksgiving, and giving thanks was on my mind. 

Psalm 100 is just five short verses and I really enjoy the New Living Translation, but any translation or paraphrase is good! Verse three is the one that stood out to me today. It says Acknowledge that He is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. I noticed, of course, that the caregiver is not excluded. It doesn't say "everyone but the caregiver is His." And it doesn't state, "Everyone is His people except caregivers." It also doesn't say, "He made everyone except caregivers." 

When I read passages like this, I often still wonder if I am really His. Does He see my day-to-day? Does He hear my whines, pleas, and whining? And still, He claims me? That almost moves me to tears - to know that He sees... He hears...He knows... and still says I am His!

I think, wow, I"m such a mess and I feel like I've literally got nothing together - yet He still claims me. Doesn't He see how ugly life can be? Doesn't He see my intense struggle over my own faith? Doesn't He know how often I waiver? The answer to all of these is yes. A yes that resounds with the truth that we are still His. As dysfunctional as we may feel - we are still His.

Part of me wants to argue. How could He still claim me? But then,  I look at my own son, my caregivee. He can do nothing on his own. He has no voice. His hands are contractured. And even recently professionals refuse to work with him because they think he's too far gone. But He is still mine. I love him - he is and will forever be my son.

Today, even though the ugly of life is staring me in the face, I will rejoice that He still calls me His own! I will thank Him that He can look past the circumstances to the real me inside and He still says, This one is mine. Even though I feel emotionally crippled. Although I am wrung out and falter in my faith every day, He doesn't throw me away. He calls me His own. That's a powerful thought right there... I'll meditate on it all day - will you join me in rejoicing that we are still His?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Dessert in the Desert

Chris standing at the park

 I'm still in Isaiah 41 today! But today, I'm looking at verses 17 to 20. It's a rich passage for us caregivers. It talks about the poor and needy, and how they fail for thirst. But God promises to hear them and not forsake them. I feel poor sometimes. And as much as I hate it, I feel needy sometimes. But God is here. He hears the pain in our tears and feels the dispair in our fears.

He doesn't stop with helping us and hearing us though. Here are some of the things He says He will do for us:

  • open rivers in desolate areas
  • cause fountains to spring up in valleys
  • make pools of water in the wilderness
  • place springs in the dry land
As He carries out these magnificent feats, these barren places begin to sprout and bring forth vegetation. In my mind, I picture a desert becoming an oasis. It's like a feast for the eyes and soul in the middle of a barren, dry place. A dessert in the desert if you will.

It always amazes me how God can take those broken areas of our lives and bring forth fruit. Just about the time we feel like we are spent for sure, and have nothing left He brings forth a living spring. A pool of fresh water just arises in our deepest, driest times. When everything has dried up and gone away - even our tears - He provides a cool refreshing drink.

Sometimes I wonder if He can bring something beautiful out of something like caregiving. The answer is always, yes. It's His specialty, whether anyone else knows it or not - He's always in the business of bringing growth and life from something others may deem worthless and dead.

Today, I will focus on what I see Him doing in me. I'll look for that sweet spot - that dessert in the midst of my desert. He never fails. He never leaves. He will not abandon. Today, I will count on Him to be here - with me right where I am emotionally, physically, and in every other way. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Times 3

 


This morning in my personal devotion time, I found myself in Isaiah 41. The whole chapter spoke to me today. But I want to focus on something that God said three times. First off, the prophet Isaiah, speaking God's words to His people refers to the children of Abraham. To clarify - that's now us! (Galatians 3:29)

Between verses 10 and 14 three times, God said, I will help you. This stuck out to me today in particular because, well, I need help! As caregivers, we face a lot of emotions, situations, circumstances, and trials. We need help sometimes and it's not always there. But God took the time to tell His kids that He would help them!

He even added fear not in the mix each of the three times He told them (us) that He would help us. Life doesn't get put on hold when we become caregivers. There are still life events like weddings and funerals. Nothing else skips a beat just so our emotions can catch up, right?

As rewarding as caregiving can be for most of us - it's also tough. It can be heavy. Caring for another whole person can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting. It's easy to wake up one morning to find out that we are spent from the inside out. But.we.keep.going.

That's where I am today. I'm tucking myself away in my safe place (in Him). I'm going to let the world pass me by today as I tend to the day-to-days of caregiving and try to find a place to let the peace He gave reign in my heart.

But I was encouraged that God took the time to tell His kids He would help them. I didn't say, I'm here if you need me. Don't you hate when people tell you that? To me, it translates to - I'm keeping my distance but you can call.....How different would it be if someone walked up into your living room and said - Either give me something to do or I'll start somewhere.? Man, what a dream come true that would be! 

That's kind of what God is communicating here in chapter 41 of Isaiah. He's telling us - I'm here and I'm ready to help. I envision Him rolling up His sleeves... 

Today, I will rejoice in the truth that He never leaves. He never tells me I'm too complicated or life is too complex for Him. He never says He'll be back when things calm down a bit. He is here. And He is here to help. That's something I can grasp ahold of today. Will you join me?


Saturday, November 20, 2021

All the Same

 


Does it sometimes feel like our days, lives, and emotions are like a perpetual roller coaster ride? And I'm not talking about the kiddie roller coaster either. I'm comparing it to the biggest, scariest (and a little bit fun) way up and down roller coaster that only the brave will ride! (lol) Maybe (hopefully) it's not that way all the time, but most days sure do have a lot of ups and downs for caregivers.

With our emotions staying on the edge most of the time, it doesn't take a whole lot to tip us over. (Maybe it's just me!) Sometimes, we seem to hum along quite nicely figuring days out as we go. Then other times, it feels like one blow after the other with no relief in between. Maybe our loved one becomes ill. That's a game-changer. Supplies don't come, so you order them out of your own pocket. Then the order gets delayed. (LOL - yes it really happens this way, doesn't it?)

It can be quite overwhelming, even though there are good days and bad days; smooth days and rough days. Things can change on a dime - then change right back before you know it. But no matter what - it's going to come down to this one thing - trusting Him.

Trusting God remains the same no matter what we face in a given day or moment. It's kind of one of those broad choices we can make before, after, or during everything feeling like it's out of control, right? We will trust Him with good news and bad news. We will trust Him in illness or health. He is trustworthy when aides show up, or if they don't. He can still be trusted when people do their jobs, and when they don't.

Today, my mind is inundated with what-ifs and why-nots. But no matter what - it's all the same. I am going to trust Him. I'll trust Him with the things I can see and those things I cannot see. I'll trust Him if I feel alone, or if I feel surrounded. He's got this. He's got me. I'll rest in Him and trust Him for today - will you join me?

Friday, November 19, 2021

Losing Wait


 Navigating through caregiving is never easy no matter what the circumstances. I always thought that long-distance caregiving was "easier" than full-time in the home caregiving. But over the last three years, as I cared for my son at home and my aunt in a facility until she passed, I found out it's just a hard job no matter what. There is always nothing simple about taking care of another person and making decisions on their behalf. 

As we work through the process, we learn that there is a lot of waiting. Waiting on doctor's orders to get supplies. Waiting on authorizations for medical procedures. Waiting on paperwork to get aids in to help. And that is just the beginning of a long, long, list. It can feel like we are always waiting on someone to do their job or to work on our behalf.

Waiting can be perplexing and it can feel like we can't do anything to help. In some instances, we can call or email the right person to help things move along faster. Other times, there is just nothing to do but wait. That's hard on most of us as we are used to being in charge. For those of us with Type A personalities, it's pure torture! We like to get things done. 

When we fall into overwhelm mode and it seems there is no one listening to us or working on our behalf, there is a wait that is good. Many times, I've prayed and reminded God that He is my husband. (Isaiah 54:5) Then, I wait on HIM to act on my behalf. And even though whatever natural things I am waiting on may not be taken care of right away, I am never disappointed when I wait on Him.

Today, I will take all those situations where I am waiting on a person for something - and I'll roll them all into one and hand them to Him. Then, I will wait on Him to act on my behalf. I'll spend my "waiting energy" looking to Him for He is my help. People offer some help - but they can't keep or sustain my soul. I may just write all the things I'm waiting on in a journal and leave them there. I will trust Him to provide, to sustain me, to keep me today. Will you join me as we wait on Him? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Little Help

 


Have you ever felt like you could use a little help? Who am I talking to, right? As caregivers a little help is great. One of the things we deal with is such a long laundry list of things that need to get done in a day. I'm sure our lists are all long, but they can vary based on the health and needs of our loved ones. My son is total care. That means I have to feed, change, dress, bathe, and transfer him over the course of the day. Although he is awake, he is not yet capable of doing much of anything. He can stand! That makes transfers easier, for sure.

Sometimes, an aid is provided. What they don't understand is that everything they do helps. Even the smallest things like sweeping the floors, dusting, or taking out the trash. Those are all things that I won't have to do if they do them. Recently, I've looked at pricing for hiring someone to come in and help clean my apartment. Then I thought, I'm hiring someone to do things the aid is PAID to do but doesn't want to do. 

I think to myself, I just need a little help.

While I was thinking about all this, a couple of scriptures came to mind. As believers, we trust in God for our help. I'll be the first to stand up and say that He has certainly carried me through many days I didn't think I could make it. He undergirds me with strength. He fills me with His peace and hope! He is indeed my help.

But how many times do we miss the little things He may do throughout our days? Situations that all of a sudden work out, may just be His handiwork. Psalm 28:7 says The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger; I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (NLT) 

Then of course my favorite is Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth! (NLT)


Today, I will remind myself that the Lord is my help. He carries me. He soothes my soul. He calms my emotions. He is with me. Even though I feel like I could use a little help with household chores - I know that God is the one who helps my soul. I will give Him thanks for being here to strengthen my heart so I can make another day - will you join me?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

He Came


 This morning during my devotions I found myself in Romans 8:28. This is a familiar scripture to most. Usually, we quote it when we don't understand what's going on. It's that go-to for every situation that baffles us. But I saw something in it this morning that grabbed me. That's one of the things I LOVE about the Word, it meets me where I am and speaks new things to my heart.

Romans 8:28 in the New Living Translation says this: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to HIs purpose for them. Today, what stood out to me was "His purpose." Here's where my thoughts went.

He didn't put Adam and Eve in the garden and walk away. He came to them and walked with them, talked with them. When they sinned, He still came looking for them, longing for relationship. God created everything else with His breath, with words. A simple command brought forth plants that bear seeds for more plants, animals that continue to populate the earth, light, and dark. But humans? He purposefully formed with His hands from the dirt He had created with His breath. 

He came to commune with them in the garden. He came to Hagar twice when she was in dire circumstances. He came to the disciples in the boat out on the rocky sees in the middle of the storm. He didn't wait for everything to settle down. He came. 

Today, this gives me hope that He will come to me right where I am, right in the middle of the mess, and He'll bring all He is to my table. He brings His peace, His love, His patience, His goodness, His provision.... there's a really long list! My goal for today is to trust the He will be present in the middle of my circumstances. 

I'm so thankful for that. I'm glad He doesn't wait until I "get it all together" because that really may never happen. lol. I'm glad He doesn't have a checklist of duties I have to complete before He comes into my mess, because as a caregiver, I can't put one more thing on my list! How about you? 

Today, I will look for Hin in the middle of my mess, through the cloudy storm. I'll watch for His entrance and wait expectantly for Him to just be right here with me. And when I "find" Him, and I will, I will lean into Him and trust Him for today. Will you join me?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Voice Behind the Tears

 

chris at therapy

I consider myself quite the wordsmith. Besides blogs, devotionals, poetry, and journaling, I write for a living as a freelance writer. But sometimes, even I run out of words. There are just those times when my heart hurts and circumstances overwhelm me. Occasionally, those pent-up emotions leak out in the form of tears, but not often. However, there is a calm assurance in knowing that He hears the voice behind the tears.

That's one of the things that amazes me about God. He really does understand our emotions. He even understands when we don't have words to express our deepest feelings. David said in Psalm 139:3 You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Amp) There are just those days that seem to swallow me whole. You know? My emotions get away from me. Fears of the future run through my thoughts. Mistakes from the past try to snatch peace. It's easy for us to get down with the mechanics of caregiving. 

When I get to that point - my words don't even make sense to me! (lol) He still gets me. He still understands. 

When tears form - He hears all the pain, frustration, confusion, and anything else that formed them. 

Somehow, knowing He gets all the things I don't have words for - comforts me and brings peace. From that place of unsolicited peace - arises thanksgiving. How does that even happen? I don't know - but I like it.

I become thankful for things that cannot change. Because as caregivers we know how things can change in an instant! But there are some things that are not dictated by circumstances. They remain. His love. His mercy. His presence. His peace. His patience. (I'm particularly fond of this one! lol)

Today, I will focus on these attributes of God that don't change for anything. They don't fluctuate based on whether I'm having a good day or a bad one. His love, peace, truth, mercy, presence, and all that He is remains. I'll spend today meditating on this truth and thanking Him for just being here. Will you join me?

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Inside the Fish

 

chris in the standing frame

As caregivers, we have good days and bad days  - just like everyone else! Actually, the number of caregivers is on the rise as Baby Boomers begin to age and need more personal care. A friend of mine just informed me the other day that his wife has early signs of Alzheimer's. Finding a caregiver-friend isn't as hard as it used to be as there are lots more of us. 

Yet in the midst of all the caregivers, it can be a lonely walk. Maybe we need to meet via zoom too! The latest technological advancements have made it easier to connect. However, in the day-to-day grind of caregiving, it's still easy to feel alone. As I sit here writing this morning's devotion, sipping my coffee, I feel the aloneness. It can be easy to get my focus on that and get lost in it for the rest of the day. 

But before I take that dive, I can help myself avoid it by going back to a scripture I read this morning in my private devotions. I found myself in Psalm 9. Verse 10 in the New Living Translation says, Those who know Your name trust in You, for You O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for You. I stopped and thought about that for some time after I read it this morning.

I'm pretty sure the searching and leaning into God is the important part of this verse. When we do that - He can't help Himself as He leans back toward us. That's one thing I love about Him, that He wants to be with us and reacts to our faintest cry for Him. 

My mind ran through several of my favorite passages as I thought of people in scriptures who were searching for Him. He met Hagar twice when she was searching for Him. He even met Saul on the road to Tarsus, because even though he was committing heinous crimes against the church, his heart was searching for God. Then, I thought of Jonah. 

There he sat in the belly of the whale. He has purposefully and intentionally disobeyed God's command. Yet it says in chapter 2 that Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. And you know what? God answered. Not out of obligation or pity - but because He saw a heart searching for Him.

As caregivers, it can feel like we are in the belly of the whale. We can feel cut off from others - and the pandemic certainly hasn't helped that! But if God can hear the prayers of Jonah in the belly of the whale - the person who deliberately disobeyed God to end up there- then, I propose - He can hear us too!

Today, I will meditate on the truth that God will not abandon us. Instead, He will meet us right where we are. I'll be thankful that even my bad attitudes are not enough to keep Him away. I'll remind myself that He wants to be with me. He likes walking alongside me through time. And I'll rejoice that He is right here - right now. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The Failure

 


Do you ever feel overwhelmed? I ask this question partly in jest because as caregivers it's a definite "all the time" answer, right? Many nights, I feel like a failure. Actually, most nights as I am preparing to collapse into the bed, all the things I didn't get done dance through my head. I think of all those things left on today's to-do list that will remain on tomorrow's new list. 

As caregivers, there are so many demands made on us every day. Recently, my son has been ill so this increased doctor visits, nurse visits, etc. I know you know the drill. Scheduling these necessary things on already crowded days can totally overwhelm a person who is already overwhelmed, adding to the negative thoughts of being a failure.

Recently, I've learned to identify these negative thoughts as soon as they begin. I start telling myself, "I may not have got this and that done today. But I did get this, this, that, and something else done today." I remind myself that I didn't do "nothing" today. Caregivers have no days where they do nothing, right? It's a busy life no matter what our situations or circumstances. 

As these thoughts were running through my mind this morning, I found myself in scripture. I'm reading in the New Living Translation, and in Psalm 73:22 I find this scripture. Asaph, the psalmist says, I was so foolish and ignorant, I must have seemed like a senseless animal to You." In context, he is comparing his life with others. That's another trap caregivers fall into. It can seem like everyone else gets to "play" but we are trapped in a caregiver's cave. 

But here's what I want to focus on. The next verse says this, Yet I still belong to You, You are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Asaph goes on to say, My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak (was he a caregiver too?) but God remains the strength of my heart, He is mine forever. 

What a comfort to know that He continues to walk this journey called life with us. When we feel like we have failed, are feeling overwhelmed, feeling like we are missing out, or any of the other wide range of emotions - He is still holding our hands, and He won't let go. 

Today, instead of focusing on feeling like I never do enough - I'm going to look to the one Who does it all! I'll meditate on how He holds my right hand as I journey through caregiving,  My heart will be set on the truth that He is still leading me and how He has good planned for me and my loved one. While my flesh is weak today - I'll trust in His strength that constantly holds me up. I will trust Him for today - will you join me?

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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