Thursday, January 28, 2021

Made it!

Chris standing by me!

 Do you ever have days where it feels like life is just dragging on? I do. I wake up and think, how long has it been like this? How far do I have to go? My BC (before caregiving) life becomes foggy memories. Maybe it's just me, but that's how I felt this morning. Navigating caregiving isn't easy - but it's do-able. There are far too many of us doing it to refute that fact! 

When my son and I moved to this apartment over four months ago I will admit I was nervous. Probably more like downright scared, but we'll call it nervous. The rent is higher than any I've ever paid. I know how my work can fluctuate - it can be feast or famine sometimes. I'll have lots of work - then none. I have built up a small bookstore by writing study guides and devotionals, but I keep the prices so low so people like me can afford them, it doesn't bring in much that I can count on. So, I was a bit nervous.

Here were are at the beginning of February I can say I already paid my rent for the month. I was kind of in awe just thinking about how God has provided. After I hit "send" I thought,  I made it! whew! But for us caregivers, it's like that most every day, isn't it?

Today, we can all say - I've made it this far. God has carried us this - far and today is NOT the day He's going to stop. We've all seen bad days, better days - and some good days; and God has been there through every single one of them. He has not - and will not abandon us on our caregiving journey. He never wrings His hands in my worry - and never says to me, well, I'm not sure what you're going to do. (Sorry - that's a funny image in my mind. lol) It's funny because it's so impossible. 

He always has a plan. His goal is always to get us to the other side of what we are facing so we can say with Him - We made it! I was reading Jeremiah 31:3 this morning. It's where God told Israel through the prophet - I have loved you with an everlasting love. They were in the midst of captivity. Yet God was extending His love and mercy to them still. Every once in a while, honestly, caregiving feels a little like being a captive. I'm a captive of love - a bond slave to the situation since I choose to care for my son and my aunt. But God's love and mercy transcend the circumstances and still reaches out to our hearts to express His deep love.

Today, I will meditate on what it's like to rest in His love. I will let His unending love wrap my heart and my wounds and I will rest in that. My thoughts will be on how He reaches past circumstances of all sorts to extend His love to us. He is ruthless in His pursuit of us. That truth will carry me through today. I will rejoice in it - will you join me?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Help I Need


Some mornings I read through a book of the Bible, others I look at one topic, or I follow a Bible study guide if I have one. This morning was one of those mornings I was all over the place but ended up in the right place. I had started reading in Psalm 138 where I left off yesterday, but then I started scanning back through the Psalms and found myself in Psalm 124. the last verse says this Our help is from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth. (NLT) 

Of course, this is a familiar verse for me. I even wrote a song to it when my son was first injured. I fell in love with Psalm 121 while living at the hospital with him. I put it to music with an old guitar one of his friends loaned me. Sure enough, I look back at Psalm 121 and it says the same thing. My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth! (NLT)

I put little arrows by those two verses - they are across from each other on the same page in my NLT. Then, I continued to read back through the Psalms. I really love how the psalmist are open, real, and raw about their fears and emotions. They didn't sugarcoat anything so their readers would feel better. They are down, dirty, and real. I can hang out with this kind of people. lol

As I continued over the pages I somehow ended up in Psalm 25. Guess what I found! Not the exact phrase, but one similar. Verse 15 says My eyes are always looking to the Lord for help, for He alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies. (NLT) I was like - Wow! It's everywhere this morning so I must need to hear this - my help comes from the Lord.

I went back and forth reading these three verses. In my meditations I focused on how this Creator - of the ends of the earth - the One who breathed into Adam to make him a living soul and we are all still being sustained by that one breath - the One who measured the waters of the earth in a single palm and used a hand span to measure the heavens.....helps me. 

I don't know about you - but just that thought overwhelmed my emotions this morning. I know I run close to the edge lol - but my eyes sweated just a little bit as I let those thoughts roll out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I think I need an aid, a nurse, a doctor, another person and another set of hands would be nice too.... but God is all the help I need.

He can put that fire in my soul and give me the wisdom for making decisions, and the strength to carry on. While we are caring for another whole person (or more) as caregivers - He is caring for us. He's the ultimate caregiver! 

Today, I will meditate on how He is my help - and He is all the help I need. (But He does send help in flesh and blood sometimes too - and that's nice!) My thoughts will be on His greatness yet His careful watch over my heart. I'll set my thoughts on His overflowing mercy, peace, and grace. And I will thank Him and rejoice in Him today - will you join me?

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Strength I Need


 I spent my devotions in Psalm 138 this morning. If you have time today, take a minute to read through it. There are several nuggets that spoke to my heart. I want to pull out this verse for my day today. Verse 3 in the New Living Translation says this When I pray, You answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

I thought about that for quite some time. Firstly, I think we do gain strength when we pray. It's especially true as we bring our burdens to Him in prayer and then leave them there!  Of course, this is written by the warrior-king David. If anyone knew how to take their troubles to God in prayer and leave them there- it was David! I try to follow his example a lot. He prayed. He praised. He declared! I like that combination.

What I really wondered about this morning though, was how much strength I might actually need for today. Just for today. To say our proverbial plates are full is an understatement for most caregivers, right? So many things that have to be done on any given day. But every day only has 24 hours in it - no matter how it's sliced up. Then I asked, how much energy is God prepared to provide for me today? 

I'm kind of a high-energy personality and it might take quite a lot. lol. 

As caregivers, we never know what a day is going to throw in our lap, right? But it seems that God will give us the strength we need no matter what the level of need is. I think the key must be to trust Him for it. You know, like He gives us peace -not like the world gives - (John 14:27) But it's up to us to accept that peace and then let it reign in our hearts. Maybe the strength I need for today is kind of the same.

No matter what, He will make sure we can make it through today. Besides offering the strength needed to get through today - He also provides comfort, peace, and direction. Plus, He walks through each day with us and never abandons us to deal with the hectic craziness caregiving can bring alone. He's right there whether we see, hear, or acknowledge His presence. Actually, His presence goes before us into the day and then walks with us through it, and provides the strength we need all along the way.

Today, I'm going to thank Him in advance for giving me the strength I'm going to need today. I'll meditate on how He stays right with me no matter how crazy a day may get. My thoughts will be on the comfort and peace He provides - and how they do not wane or weaken over time. I like that. My prayer today will be that I will learn to lean on Him with more of myself and that I'll let Him carry me more. And with that - I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, January 22, 2021

Every Straw

 


Do you find yourself getting upset at the little things? I think as caregivers we run on high all the time that our emotions can stay on edge. We program ourselves to handle the big stuff, but those little things nag away sometimes. The big stuff, we just suck it up and handle it on the spot - call 911, call the nurse, or transport. It's the bigger stuff that we are able to kick into high-octane mode and push through. But those little things...

Sometimes, it's the littlest, even dumbest things it seems. Like I get angry because I didn't push the button on my coffee maker hard enough and it didn't start brewing. (Don't kid yourself - that's big stuff! lol) I was trying to reach around the handle on my bowl while eating oatmeal this morning and my sleeve got caught. I didn't even spill anything, but it made me mad that it was in my way. It doesn't take much to reach a max, does it?

Now, maybe this is just me - and you guys are always calm and collected. I know I'm high-strung. lol. But as caregivers, it's easy to live on the edge. For some, we live on the edge but can't express it for fear someone will think we are not able to perform our duties as caregivers. We treat aches and pains and avoid doctor's offices because we are afraid they will tell us to quit. And that's just not going to happen, is it?

But these things wear away at our emotions and drag us through mucky days. And you know what? I think it's just part of the caregiver's life. What's so cool about it all is that God is big enough for the big stuff - yet still concerned about the small stuff. That blows me away. Does He really care that my coffee pot didn't come on this morning? Does He know the company took a payment out of my account after I returned the equipment? Does He know my fears concerning Covid? Or that isolation is eating away at my soul? He does. He knows it all - the big and the "little." And He cares. 

God doesn't turn His eyes and ears away from us just because others think they are small, unimportant matters. He understands the burden we carry - and He sees every straw whether it's the one that will break the proverbial camel's back or the first one in the bag. Paul told us in 1 Peter 5:7 that we can cast ALL our cares on Him and we can let Him do the caring for us.

Now, God doesn't stand up there with a list of categories for things He will not carry. He doesn't toss things back and tell us that it's not on His responsibility list. He takes them all - big, small, and everything in between. Why? He cares for us - as a whole person.

Today, I will be thankful that God cares. I will be grateful that He listens to me offload all the things that are on my heart. He doesn't discriminate. He won't belittle. He won't tell me to suck it up and get stronger. He just cares about every straw on this camel's back. And just like that - a little gratitude and thankfulness go a long way to lighten the load. Today, as I trust Him with my soul  - my mind, my will, and my emotions - I'll thank Him for always being right there when I need Him. Will you join me?


Thursday, January 21, 2021

3-Point Patterns


One of the many things I like about King David is his transparency before God. In a lot of the psalms he wrote, he poured his heart out in pure honesty. I love how he explains his emotions and feelings so vividly. He says things like he cried all night, or like in Psalm 3, he says his enemies have greatly increased. In Psalm 61 he talks about how his heart and emotions are overwhelmed. 

I think there is a parallel for us as caregivers. I've said it before that it's quite alright to tell God how we really feel. If you could hide it from Him, where would you put it? My point, of course, is that He knows anyway. God is fully aware of my fears, thoughts, and the full spectrum of emotions I cycle through pretty much every day. It's okay to be like David and lay it all out on the table before God. It's not like He doesn't know.

But David does two things after baring His soul. First, he reminds himself of what God has done in the past. In Psalm 3, David says You are a shield for me - the One who lifts my head. The Lord sustains me. In Psalm 61 he reminds himself - You have been a shelter for me - a strong tower from the enemy. 

The last thing David does consistently throughout the Psalms is to make a declaration. In Psalm 3 he declares I will not be afraid. In psalm 61 his declaration is I will abide in Your tabernacle - I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

You'll find this 3-point pattern all through the psalms that are attributed to David. I'm learning to live it out myself. We can come to God with all - every single thing we are feeling and trying to sort through. He is big enough (and smart enough) to handle it. Then, we can help ourselves out by reminding ourselves of what God has done in the past. Thirdly, we can make our own declarations of trust and faith to trust Him for one more battle - one more struggle - one more day.

Today, I'm going to focus on two things. I will remind myself of all the things God has done in my past. I'll spend time thinking about the times I know he spared my life. My thoughts will be on how He has kept me these six decades. And then - I will declare that I will continue to trust Him. I will keep on praising Him and I'll keep on lifting my soul up to Him because I trust Him. And that is how I will trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

No Get Out of Jail Free Cards?

 


Do you ever feel like life just doesn't let up? Sometimes it seems like caregivers should get some sort of exempt card. You know? Something that lets us stay in the cave without having to deal with all the craziness that's going on in the world. Well, it was just a thought. I guess there are no "get out of jail free cards" in life.

A pandemic rages on and we didn't get an exempt card, did we? Political and civil unrest didn't qualify us for one either. We have to deal with all the craziness in the world plus our caregiving responsibilities. Isn't caregiving enough? Dealing with aids who don't show, people and family who do not know how to help so they avoid us, and the traffic of health care professionals of all sorts is enough for any given day. Yet it happens over and over again. How do we stay sane? 

Caregivers are resilient - we just keep going. Every night I go to bed feeling like I failed. I didn't get enough done. It's easy to focus on the things I didn't get done each day and see those as failures, instead of focusing on the fact that I just keep going and I just keep trying. Each morning I get up with a renewed dedication to try harder to accomplish more. But there are so many hours in each day and only so much energy in the tank, you know? lol

Over and over I find myself relying on God. Isaiah said Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31) Maybe that's what we feel each morning when we get up ready to give it a go again. David said the Lord will give strength to His people; He will bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11) I personally have no doubt that it is God who empowers me to get up each morning and give it another go. How about you?

Our lives require it. Whether we slept or not, eat or not, have time to grab a shower or not - we're like the energizer bunny - we just keep going and going. But for those of us who are believers, there's no doubt that God is our energy source.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for always being there to empower me to make the day - and the long nights. I'll thank Him for continuing to strengthen me and keep me going when I don't even know how I'm doing it. lol My meditations will be on receiving His strength for today's journey. And I'll accept His peace and rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, January 15, 2021

Who am I?

 

cute smile from chris

I know you guys understand when I say that some days are better than others. Emotions can dip on a dime and it often takes a big shovel and lots of effort to get them back up where they need to be. This morning was one of those times for me. Who knows what the reason was, I just felt myself sliding down the slippery slope as depression tried to suck me in. 

In my devotions this morning, I read Psalm 121. I had written it into a song when my son was in isolation in the hospital. I picked up my guitar to play it and thought about sharing it here. But there is something going on with my wrist and it just wasn't going to happen. I'm so glad as this psalm says, my help comes from the Lord. 

Since I refused to give in - I went to the piano and began to just praise Him. Well, it didn't take long once my focus was on Him instead of me. I began to feel the load of the day shift off my shoulders and onto His. I will look to the Lord, my help comes from the Lord - the Maker of heaven and earth. Soon, all my worries were washed away as the notes I played and sang carried them away and to His throne.

Then, I became overwhelmed with the thought that He cares. He sees. He hears. Who am I? I asked myself. That the One who created the world - the Creator - listens to my heart as I pour it out before Him. He doesn't have to. He is God, after all. Yet He takes the time to listen to my hurting heart.

That must be a little bit of how Hagar felt when she realized God heard her cry and saw her tears. He sees it all. When we are up and doing well - and when we are down or just trying to make it through the day. He doesn't have a pause button that He pushes. And He doesn't have a fast forward so He can skip the ugly parts. He sees it all. 

But who am I that He is mindful of me? Who am I that He hears? Who am I that He chooses to see? Yet He does. Because He wants to.

Today, I will shift my focus off of what is going on around me and onto what it must be like around His throne. I'll think about the constant praise that goes on in His presence. My meditations will be on the truth that He knows right where I am, what I am doing, and what I am feeling. He doesn't avoid me - He joins me on this journey in time. By choice. I'll let that overwhelm my day today. Will you join me? 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Permission to Believe

 


I found myself in a very familiar story this morning as I was preparing for live devotions on Facebook. It's in Matthew 14:22-33. We know this story as the time Jesus came walking on the water. It's also familiar because Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on the water to get to Jesus. Have you ever been in a place where it felt like it would take a miracle for you to get to God? 

There were several things that stood out in this story. I hope you take a minute to read it again today. I like that Jesus took time for solitude and prayer. What an example for us. If He needed it - we certainly do! 

I like that Jesus stepped out into the storm to get to his weary, frightened disciples who were still trying to row the boat. (That's us - huh?) They were frightened at first. But then they recognized Him. He told them to not be afraid. They knew His voice because He simply said, I am here. (NLT)

Then Peter who is known to be a bit impulsive calls out. He said, If it's really You - tell me to come to You by walking on the water. (NLT) Now I've read this story numerous times as many of us have. But this morning I stopped to think about Peter's inquiry. Why didn't he just jump out of the boat and take off? His question seems to indicate to me that he really wanted to. What held him back?

If it's really You - Peter said. Did he doubt? If he doubted why in the world would he have trusted this voice in the night? What if it wasn't Jesus? A deceiver or imposter could bid him to jump out of the boat to his doom. Right? 

Maybe Peter knew Jesus' voice but was just enough afraid to stay in the boat. Maybe Peter just needed permission to believe. And Jesus said, Alright, come. (NLT) 

As caregivers, our days and nights can get rocky. We can be tossed around on life's sea like a boat in a storm. But we keep rowing just like the disciples did. It doesn't say they were waiting for or expecting Jesus to come to them. But He came. He walked right into the middle of their dark night; right into the middle of their storm and gave them permission to believe Him. I like that.

Today, I will take a good look at my own faith. I'll ask myself some hard questions too. Do I believe? Would I jump out of the boat and run to Him? Will I accept Him in the middle of the dark night of the soul? Will I trust Him to calm the storm? Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes. Will you join me today?

Friday, January 8, 2021

A Great Replacement

 


I don't have to tell you that caregivers have a lot on their plates. We are taking care of another whole person, right? Some of us are caregivers for more than one loved one too! Each day has the potential of totally stressing us out. There are so many I's that have to be dotted and t's to get crossed, and we cannot leave one of them undone. Perhaps you've spent the same amount of time as I have sitting, sipping coffee, and worrying about how it was all going to come together. (Maybe not?)

As I type this, a client just sent me a message asking where the article for this week is and if it's done. It's not. Work is secondary to caregiving, but boy is it important too! When Chris doesn't feel well, I almost always fall behind on work. It's quite the juggling act - I'm sure you are well acquainted with it.

So this morning as I was studying I found myself in Philippians 4 again. I really enjoy reading different versions of the Bible. I always choose a translation rather than a paraphrase and my favorites are the New American Standard (but they don't have large print), New King James, and the New Living Translation. In the NLT, verse six of Philippians 4 says this: Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. What I love about this is that Paul told the church to not worry - absolutely nothing is worth worrying about. But he didn't leave it there. I mean really, we become so accustomed to worrying that we don't know what to do with our minds if we can't fill them with worrisome thoughts.

Paul goes on to remind the believers to pray about everything. So, he didn't leave us hanging. Maybe Paul knew that someday we caregivers would be reading this and need more encouragement to turn our crazy thoughts into prayers. Personally, this sounds like a great replacement, right? Instead of letting my thoughts (and they are many) run away with me  - I can take the things that are nagging at me, the things that are heavy on my heart and mind, and turn them into prayers. 

Today, I will take all my crazy thoughts, concerns, and cares and turn them into prayers. I'll direct my thoughts to the One who can help me. He already knows how busy my mind is, and it doesn't scare Him away! When my thoughts begin to run away - I'll purposefully take each care and turn it into a prayer. I'll remind myself that it's not mine anymore. I'll let Him carry each of my concerns as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Dealing and Healing


The caregiver's world can be a traumatic place where you feel like you never get ahead. Many caregivers deal with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). No one doubts how stressful it can be. And I think how much easier it might be if everyone just did their jobs. Right? In the caregiver's dream world, supplies are delivered as ordered and on time. Aids show up for their scheduled times day after day. The days go without a hitch, so it's all about providing care for our loved ones. People call just to check-in. Someone gives you a hug or says, I love you. But maybe that's what dreams are made of. (smile)

I'm not complaining - but I am traumatized by what I see going on in the world. There's no peace out there, would you agree? It seems like lately, I've done a lot of reeling in of the emotions and talking myself back to a place of peace in Him. You know what? That's okay. It's part of dealing with it all and healing in the midst of the struggles and storms.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if we got an exemption card when we became caregivers. Alas, more dreams. Lol. No one would die. We wouldn't have to miss marriages, holidays, or other family events. And maybe the weather would be perfect year-round so that we could always get outside (as long as our loved one is feeling up to it.) 

Lots of dreams, huh? Well, at least I made myself smile and got a little chuckle out of it. (You can smile too.) Because even though I'm being a bit facetious,  we all know that caregiving isn't a bed of roses. There is beauty, but there are thorns too. And we are okay with that. It's part of the deal.

I'm learning to hide more in Him than ever before. To "deal and heal" while in the midst of the storm means I have to crawl up in Him to find peace, and sometimes to find myself. You know? Caregiving is a funny creature, and circumstances can change on a dime on any given day. But what we do have is the constancy of the Holy Spirit. He is our comforter. Jesus is still the Prince of Peace. These truths do not change when we become a caregiver. They remain. And some days, it's a constant fight to keep my mind stayed on these truths. But it's doable. And it's necessary if we want to live in peace and comfort. 

Today, I will shift my mind away from the craziness in the world and the loneliness in the cave and focus on His kingdom where peace reigns. I'll meditate on how He cares for me and carries me when needed. My thoughts will stay on His comforting power. I'll remind myself that I don't belong in this world - but I am part of the Kingdom of Peace where the Prince of Peace reigns. I'll accept His peace even though it goes against everything I see through my tiny cave windows. (Smile again!) And I will rest in Him - embrace His peace - and let it reign in my heart today as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

It's All the Same to Me

 

chris and aunt polly

My thoughts were scattered this morning during my devotions until I finally settled into reading a few more chapters in Isaiah. It wasn't a bad thing, really. I was trying to prepare for my devotions for Facebook live - and had too many to choose from. lol. That's one of the most amazing things about God and His word. No matter what I am dealing with or going through, He has me covered.

His Word renews my mind (the reason it's so important to read it!), He has my heart in His, and He keeps my soul. (Psalm 121:7) He really is our All in All. He's got us covered from one end to the other and throughout all eternity. Think about it a bit. He knew man would fall. So He planned a way for us to get back to Him before He said, Let there be light. He made sure we would never be at a spot in time where we would be separated from Him. 

Even now He has everything under control even when we feel out of control. Just His armor alone has us covered. (Pun intended.) Of course, it's up to us to put it on. But when we put it on and purposefully keep it on then we can stand against all the wiles of the enemy. Every fiery dart he throws at our soul can be quenched and destroyed by the armor. 

The cool thing is that the armor is the same for everybody. There's no special armor for the caregiver or the pastor, for the teacher or the homeless, for the rich or the poor. The armor is available for all believers. There are no exclusionary statements attached. It doesn't say - Christians, put this on - unless you are a caregiver - then you are out of luck. His grace doesn't run out when we become caregivers. It actually abounds more. Society likes to condemn, discard, and ignore those who don't fit the status quo. And so does the worldly church in general. 

But let's take a look at God's heart for us. I think I found it in Isaiah 10 when I was reading this morning. It may seem disconnected but bear with me. It says:

Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees

who write misfortune, which they have prescribed

to rob the needy of justice

and to take what is right from the poor of My people

that widows may be their prey and that they can rob the fatherless.

As I read over these two or three times this morning, I heard God's heart in it. God doesn't like injustice. He doesn't like robbery in any form. His heart is for the needy (and boy do I need Him!) and the poor. He reaches out to those who are looked down on and discarded by society and the religious system. When Jesus walked among men on the earth, He always went for the sheep who were cut off, those no one else wanted. Zacchaeus the tax collector. Mary Magdeline the woman that Jesus cast seven demons out of - she became a great evangelist. He always had time for the downcast and weary.

God's heart toward caregivers is one of compassion, grace, and mercy. He defends us. He loves us no more - and no less than others. We are part of His team and His hand is always reaching out toward us longing to draw us into His heart.

Today, I will be thankful that He reaches a little further down into life's trenches to grab me. My thoughts will be on how His heart is chasing after those the world tends to discard. I will be thankful that He walks into life's ugliest pictures and paints grace. I'll rest in that thought today as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?



If you have a chance, check out my books on Amazon. I'm adding more soon both in Kindle and hardcopy! They are also available in ebook form to read on your phone or tablet. You can get those on my main website, Dove's Fire Ministries Education.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Encourager

 

chris and me at the park

It happens to the best of us. No matter how strong we are - or think we are. No matter how long we've been caregiving. No matter how mature we are in the Lord. No matter how faithful we are to pray and study the word. Some day, some time, discouragement will visit. It may even try to disguise itself as tiredness or weariness. It's at those moments when we are tired and fatigued that we are the most vulnerable. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when discouragement will come knocking on our door.

For me - it's like today. I know I'm okay. But I also know Chris hasn't slept well in over a week and that begins to wear away at my strength and my soul. I get weary. Who wouldn't? I know you understand. I'm not weak in my faith. My trust in Him is still intact. The word is still rich and alive and I enjoy every moment I can soak it up. But I am tired. Well, it's actually a very good spot to be!

Why? You ask. Because I read last week in 2 Corinthians 7:6 that God encourages the discouraged. He can't encourage you if you are already encouraged. He'd be filling up a full cup. So being discouraged gives Him an empty (or partially empty) cup to pour Himself into. That's why it's such a good spot. God is faithful.

David encouraged himself in the Lord.  He was in a tough spot. The soldiers he'd fought alongside of didn't trust him anymore. He was abandoned. Then when he returned home to Ziklag, he found it ransacked by the enemy. They'd taken all their goods and all their people. His wives were missing. It says that he encouraged himself in the Lord. ( 1 Samuel 30)

It didn't say he reminded himself of what a great soldier he'd been. He didn't tell himself how strong and mighty he was. He didn't even remind himself of how he took out a giant with a sling and a stone. He encouraged himself in the Lord. To me that says he reminded himself of how great God was. I imagine he said, now David - you know God is faithful even when men are not. David - remember that God has His hand on you and He won't let you go. God knows your thoughts, your intents - your heart. God trusts you in this situation. He can still be trusted.

Encouragement that sticks is just that - reminding ourselves of who God is and all He's already done. He has carried us to this point in time and He will not abandon us now. He will always remain faithful to us - He will always be our caregiver, our shepherd, our loving Father, pastor, and comforter. And the list could go on and on. 

Today, I will remind myself of how far He has brought me and how He has stayed with me. I'll be thankful that He is patient and continues to keep my soul day after day and night after long night. He's not going anywhere. He's still got this. David said it this way - He's the lifter of my head. I will trust Him, the encourager, for one more day. Will you join me?


PS- The print version of 31 Days in Psalm 31 just released on Amazon today! Get your copy or your Kindle copy for just $5. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

It's Waiting for You


Do you ever get tired? Who am I talking to? Right? If you are reading this you are probably a caregiver. We live tired. lol. Our "normal" day schedules contain more activity and tasks than a lot of people do in a week. There's no doubt we get tired. And of course, there's always those cute little add-ins like my son coughing all night for the last three nights to make that tiredness dig in just a little bit deeper.

Of course, there are a few things I've learned in the natural that can help with that a bit. Like, if I get a chance, I'll take a nap. Maybe I'll try to go to bed a little earlier tonight. Tiredness leads to fatigue and if we are not careful to caregiver burnout. Having some help is great even if it comes from a bad aid. Lol. I try to exercise a little every day to combat fatigue. And I try to get some fresh air and sunshine if it's only taking the trash out.

But this tired can be deep and it needs some relief from the spiritual side. That's why I spent some time meditating on Hebrews 4:8-11 this morning. It explains to the reader that there is a rest for the people of God. It also says sometimes it's a lot of work to get there. But I love verse 9 in the New Living Translation. It says this: So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 

Now, I understand our rest is "way beyond the blue" as the old hymn said. But I believe there's some rest for this weary soul right here and right now too. Isaiah says that He gives strength to those who wait on Him. (Isaiah 40:31) And I'm pretty sure we are not going to need it as much once we pass to the other side. It must be for us for right now!

My goal for today is to find that place of rest in Him, that place of rest that is waiting for me and you. He so longs for us to crawl up into Him and rest. It doesn't make everything settle down. It doesn't mean every trial and struggle will go away. But it does mean that He gives us strength for one more day. 

Today, I will seek that place of rest - not on the couch, not on the bed, not even in my afternoon nap (if I get one) - but hidden in Him. I'll let Him wash away the sweat and the tears from these long days and I will let Him have control again while I rest. As we rest in Him - we find the strength to carry on for one more day. Will you join me in this pursuit of being hidden in Him - just for today?


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Friday, January 1, 2021

In With the New

 

Chris' adorable smile

Happy New Year to everyone who reads and keeps up with this devotional. I pray this year is one of immense blessings, peace, and restoration. I seriously only want to look back on 2020. It's been quite the year for everyone. I have to say that I have learned a lot, grown some, and changed a lot over the last 12 months. But you know that nothing actually changed from 11:59:59 on December 31, 2020, to 12:00:00 am on January 1, 2021. Right?

We are still in the midst of a pandemic. The political climate is chaotic at best. And most of the world seems to have gone stark raving mad. lol. Nothing is really too new except the date today. lol. Thinking about all of this led me to think about the things about God that don't change with the date. You know? He doesn't have a timer that goes off on New Year's Day. Which New Year's Day would He choose? The Jewish calendar is different from ours. The Chinese New Year won't happen for a few more days. There isn't a "New Years Day" in heaven. It's just Day because He is the light. 

But - it is a new day for us and God chose to accommodate. Jeremiah tells us that His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) It's not a morning for HIM - so He orchestrated that just for us. Each of our new mornings we are met with His mercies to carry us through. Isaiah prophesied Behold I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth. So, there seems that there was an appointed time -  or a specific point in time that God caused roads in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19) 

God is not governed by the timeframe of earth. But He does have certain spots in time that He places things. Jesus came at the appointed time. So even though God does not change with time or in response to time - He can make all things new. Matter of fact, He said that we are a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

So on a day when we can hope all things are new - while we are still trying to shed the baggage of the old year - God remains. He is faithful, merciful, and full of love and grace toward us as we move into a new year in our time scale.

Today,  I will remind myself that it was God who carried me (us) through 2020 and He is not jumping ship now! My meditations will be on how He has been faithful and He will continue to be faithful. I'll set my mind on the consistency of God and let that carry me through the hectic days that lie ahead. I will rest in Him and trust Him for this first day of 2021. Will you join me?