Can We Laugh Yet?

Chris and i after our first race

 I had a very awkward moment while talking with a nurse yesterday. She called to schedule my appointment with a cardiologist. After we had it scheduled, I explained that I am a caregiver and I don't have a sitter for my son. I asked about COVID protocol and if it was okay if I brought him to this initial appointment. She said it was fine and that there are no limitations on visitors in place. She said - as long as he will wear a mask. I assured her that he can wear a mask - then I chuckled and said - "He'll have to - he can't move his arms so he can't take it off." I thought it was funny but then a very awkward silence followed. 

Now I admit I can have a weird sense of humor, and I can make a joke about almost anything. While it wasn't an awkward moment for me, I felt bad if I made her feel uncomfortable. She'll get used to me - I know it's an adjustment. (lol) But it made me do some thinking about when it's okay to laugh. That statement wouldn't have been funny to me at all right after his accident. 

We learned to laugh to keep from crying as my mom went through dementia. Somehow seeing the humor made the pain a bit more bearable. Some of the antics she pulled were hilarious - and we would laugh together and then cry together.

We are (hopefully) coming out of a pandemic and there hasn't been a lot to laugh about. It felt very irreverent to laugh or make jokes at first, didn't it? But eventually, as a whole, we began to laugh and even write songs about the woes we've faced as we forged through some of the world's toughest days. 

Some days we can't laugh until we get through it, right? Come on - you're caregivers, you know all those unspoken things we "aren't allowed" to talk about - like bowel catastrophes. (There, I said it!) We can find ourselves in some crazy situations and once we have resolved them we may sit down and cry it all out. But then later, we find the humor. When it's not so in our faces, then we laugh and laugh. 

We know that tears can be healing - but so is laughter. It's okay to laugh. We need to laugh. It literally can help lower blood pressure and relieve tension in your body. So, go ahead and laugh. Watch a funny movie. Listen to silly songs. Laugh. 

Think about it this way - when we can laugh (at funny stuff - not serious stuff), we are saying we trust God with it. There's a freedom that comes when we can laugh while we are going through, even if others don't understand us. That nurse didn't get it. Most don't get that I am okay when it looks like I shouldn't be. Are we supposed to be down and depressed and sad all the time? I refuse to succumb to that. You know as well as I do that I have my moments. And I know that you have yours. But ultimately we are trusting God to get us through whatever we are facing and working through, right? It's okay to laugh. It's our way of showing that the circumstances haven't won - we are still "in there" somewhere under the caregiver's load - and we are still alive. Better than that - we are thriving because of our trust in our God.

Today, I will purposefully lighten up. It's my way of saying I know you've got this God. I refuse to be burdened to the ground with the load, even though it's heavy. Maybe I'll take a break from work to watch a silly movie (no dramas. lol), read a book, or play a computer game. It sounds a bit silly - but it is a true faith statement - one that says I trust Him for the outcome of this day, this week, this year, this journey. It's part of trusting Him. I will lighten up today and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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Big Enough

me and chris at the park in Norman

 Change is inevitable as we ride out the waves of caregiving. Even though we figure out a way to survive from day to day, the unexpected can occur at any time. These can be little, big, or huge! We just sort of learn to roll with the tide, don't we? The tougher part is that our emotions can roll with those tides too. Maybe there's a big swell of sadness, grief, or happiness. Then we may dip down to despair or despondency. We just never really know, for real! But we just keep riding it out day after long day. But you know what's cool? God rides it out with us.

He is big enough to carry us and keep us secure in all the rolls and turns of caregiving. No matter how high or low the tides of emotions go, no matter how joyous or sad a day becomes, and no matter how difficult or easy navigating the day-to-day is - He is big enough to handle it. He's big enough to handle my emotions, my tears, my joys, my everything-in-between.

We literally never have to worry about if He has the capacity to meet us where we are or not. He's there. wherever there is for me or for you. He never clocks out for the weekend. He doesn't explain He needs to get some advice or says that something is beyond the scope of his practice. (Ever hear that one from a medical professional? It's disheartening and disappointing.) No matter what comes or goes - He's big enough. He's got it. He's got us. 

Every once in a while, I'm just overcome by grief. I find myself crumbling into a tearful pile. But like you, it's short-lived as I must shake it off, wipe the tears away, and get things done. No one else is going to do them. lol... The show must go on, right? Many forget about the caregiver. We can feel shoved to the side - and although we are important when it comes to caring for our loved ones, it's easy to feel forgotten and unimportant for just being us. God is big enough to handle that too.

Whether we are a caregiver or a caregivee - He is big enough for it all. He is big enough to carry our emotions. He is still big enough to provide as we need it. He is big enough to shoulder our every need - and He's big enough to carry us too. Some days, that's what we need - someone to care or caregive for us, right? He's got that covered too!

Today, I'll shift my gaze from all the responsibilities I must fulfill, all the chores I need to do, from the work that keeps piling up on my plate - and I'll look to Him. I'll remind myself that He is big enough to carry it all - and He is big enough to carry me too! Even if I only have a few minutes (or seconds), I'll spend it in His lap thanking Him for being my "big enough." Will you join me?


Grace for Today

ronella and chris hugging each other

I don't want to brag, but I can go from I'm okay, I've got this to the depths of emotional despair on a dime. Is that just me? The day is rocking along. I'm in control. I've got it, getting things done. And then Bam! Out of seemingly nowhere a thought, a photo, a song, a memory, a whatever else - snaps my emotions in two. I'm wiping tears from my eyes, thankful for the memory, but wondering why.

I have a feeling it is very common among caregivers. Even though our journeys tend to be widely different, they often lead us along similar emotional paths. We are good one minute and not - the next. 

That's why I love His grace so much. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul was whining. Don't tell them I said so, but apostles seem to be a whiney lot. (LOL - lighten up!) He did not like what he was going through. As a matter of fact, he admitted to asking God three times to remove it from him. God did not. 

Paul begged God to remove his "thorn in the flesh" - his discomfort, his emotional pain, his bondage. While Paul didn't get the answer he wanted, he did get an answer. God explained, My grace is sufficient. What a loaded statement! Right? 

If I'm honest, there are some days (not too many of them really) that I just don't like caregiving. I would enjoy the freedom of heading out for a hike or just the ability to jump and run to the store if I need to. I've forgotten what it's like to call a friend and see if they wanna grab a cup of coffee or a quick meal. Most days - I'm good with it. I've adjusted. I don't "need" all that. But every once in a while normal raises its head and longs to be a part of my day. Those days, I need a bit more grace. I'm more prone to tears and battle depression a bit more on those types of days. Do you? Maybe it's just me.

No matter what a day piles on our (already full) plates, God's grace is enough to match it. I imagine it a bit like an old cowboy poker game. Someone raises the bid - the stakes of the game. Everyone has the choice of folding - or staying in the game. But instead of us making the choice - when life raises the ante - God says - I see that and I'll raise you two more. No matter what kind of hand we are given on any given day - His grace covers the stakes. I like that. There's a bit of comfort in that - knowing that the stakes can't be raised so high that He folds or gives up. He just keeps covering it all with His grace.

Today, I will make His grace my meditation. Hebrews 4:16 in the New Living Translation says when we come boldly to His throne of mercy - we find grace to help in time of need. I'm going to lean in to Him a bit more today and let (that's a BIG action word) - His grace cover and carry me. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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Perfect Timing

 

Chris and I having a moment at Bluff Creek

As caregivers all our days can seem difficult, some are just more difficult than others. I was trying to explain to a friend what it was like to provide total care to another human being. lol. As I found my description falling short, I finally asked, "What all did you do this morning to get yourself ready today?" He listed all the things he did - shower, shave, put on clothes, drink a cup of coffee, and more. I then said, "double it." Everything you did to get ready now has to be done for another whole person. Think of it like twice everything. That doesn't even take into account the various decisions we often have to make on their behalf, medications they have to be given, feedings...and more.

Btw, these are facts - not burdens.

Whether we are long-distance or in-home caregivers, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. I try not to spend too much time worrying about the future because each day has a long list of demands that must be met. So, this morning as I read Hebrews 4:16 again, it hit home. The writer says, Let us come boldly to the throne of God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

When we need it...

That phrase stuck out like it jumped off the page this morning. The old KJV says grace to help in time of need. Either way - I'm good with it. It reminds me of one of my staple run-to scriptures in Psalm 46:1. God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. (NLT) You know reading scriptures again and again always opens up new thoughts. That's because our experience and perspective change between reading them - the Word didn't change. God didn't change. But our understanding or level of insight did. Well, this time through it is the truth that He is there when we need Him.

I am so thankful that God never says, You'll have to come back on Tuesday for that request - that's the day I deal with _____. Lol - it sounds funny, doesn't it? I'm so thankful God has perfect timing that matches our needs. He doesn't have different days for various matters. Monday is taking care of fear day. Tuesday might be covering depression day. Maybe Wednesday would be reserved for financial requests... lol - it sounds silly because it is! :-)

God is there for us and with us precisely when we need Him. Whenever trouble or struggles rear their ugly heads, He is instantly on the spot. He walks through it with ut - and often carries us too. 

Today, I will remind myself that He is with me no matter what comes my way. Whether it's a peaceful day with few interruptions, or it's a crazy ride, God is right here with me in time. He is here with me and ready to speak peace the moment I need it. He is in the boat with me riding the waves of life and He has the calm for every situation. I must only remind myself to run to Him when the waters get choppy. Will you join your boat with mine as we trust Him for one more day?


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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


Check out my bookstores. I have eBook devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more in my Dove's Fire Ministries bookstore. My Amazon bookshelf has a couple of those in print or on Kindle.


Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...