I KNOW I'm Not Alone - Why do I Feel That Way?

Chris and Kyrie

 Do you ever feel alone? Caregiving has a way of isolating you and sometimes even in a crowd you can feel alone. Since I've become my son's aide, I feel more alone than ever. I know I am on the phone with people or in zoom meetings almost every day. But I still feel so very alone.

I remind myself that God is with me - a truth I hold on to. But it's so hard to not feel totally alone when you make all the decisions, do all the caregiving tasks, and can't find sitters for big events you really don't want to miss. I know that He said He'd be with me to the end. He also said He'd never leave or forsake us, but since God doesn't wear skin, it can feel like He's a million miles away from my day-to-day reality, no matter how much my heart holds to the truth that He is near.

Ah! The age-old battle between the mind and the spirit.

I started mentally walking through some Bible stories to find a character who may have felt very alone, yet God was with him. I landed on David. There he stood facing a giant, a foe of epic proportions like none other he'd ever faced. It was just him and Goliath. Was David alone? Nope. But certainly, he must have felt that way, right?

Saul tried to give David his armor and wasn't confident in sending "the kid" out to the battlefield. David had been talking among the ranks and asking soldiers what the prize was for defeating the giant. He didn't seem to ever think about any other scenarios - other than victory. His own brother tried to belittle him by asking where are those few little sheep you are supposed to be taking care of? This brother surely had seen Samuel anoint David as king, but refused to accept it and instead tried to make sure David knew he was the least, the youngest, the most unimportant piece in life's puzzle. So even though David had all of Saul's army present and "behind" him, he faced Goliath all alone. And that's where God showed up.

David must have looked and felt so small standing there in front of Goliath. He was likely shorter than the giant's staff. But David had told Saul that God had delivered him from the lion and the bear and he had no doubt God would deliver him from the giant too. So there stood little David all alone. Facing the giant and an army of frightened soldiers behind him - but not with him. But he trusted God and prevailed.

I propose today that even though we may feel sandwiched between a giant and our past God is with us on that field. We may hear the naysayers. We may not have any physical help. But God is showing up for us again and again. As caregivers, we face more than just one giant every single day. As a matter of fact, sometimes the smallest parts of life become huge giants because of our situations. But we can face them all in the name of the Lord.

Today, I will remind myself that I am not alone - no matter how alone I feel. I will tell myself to grab hold of those proverbial bootstraps and give it one more go. My thoughts will be directed toward the truth that God is with us - we never face the giants alone. I know I can trust Him to empower me to take them out one by one. So, I will trust Him with the giants of today. Will you join me?

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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. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!



Under is Not All Bad

 

Chris in the standing frame

When we think of being under something it's usually in a bad connotation. We feel under the weather or we are under a heavy burden. But this weekend, I discovered that being under isn't all bad! We had some bad storms roll through. The tornadic activity was nowhere near me but in the same county. Since there was a tornado warning in the county, the tornado sirens were blaring. I ran outside to see if I could capture a photo of anything interesting from this side.

What I found was a huge feeder cloud looming overhead. I snapped a photo but it just did not compare. I took several photos and came back to the house to look at them. They seemed to lack something. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was missing. A picture just couldn't capture the feeling of being under that huge cloud formation.

Of course, my mind went to the scriptures. Psalm 91 talks about hiding under the shadow of the Almighty. In Psalm 57, the psalmist declares he will stay under the shadow of God's protection until the calamities were passed. Until we get under His protective wings, we just won't get it! 

What good is a refuge if we don't run to it? What good is a fortress if we don't hunker down for protection? God is our refuge - He is our strength - but we must hide in Him and run to Him first. Until we get under Him - we won't have a sense of His protection, power, majesty, and strength.

Today, I will purposefully hide my heart in His. I'll seek His protection, peace, and comfort. I'll remind myself that I need to let Him carry me when I feel like I cannot take one more step. I'll remind myself that it's okay (and preferred) to run to Him before I find myself in overwhelm mode. He's right there waiting for us - will you join me?


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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.



Download Poems for Caregivers for free! 

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Not Forgotten

 


It's so easy to feel insignificant, ignored, and shoved to the side of life. People don't always mean to be mean, but they often don't know what to do with "us." lol. Simple things become complicated. Like, which Sunday School class do I belong in? Should I go with Chris? Leave him alone in a class and try to find my own? Or do I even try to go since it'll be such a mess? Let's not even talk about trying to find a way to use a public restroom. Do I take my adult son with me to the women's or do I go to the men's? (That's a no.)

For caregivers, simple daily tasks can become quite difficult. Others just don't understand and so it can be easy to begin to feel less-than and insignificant. These are some of the thoughts I let my mind wander down this morning after reading John 4 again. This chapter contains the familiar story of the Woman at the Well. We don't even know her name.

We know very little about her past, except that she's been married five times and now she's living with a man. We know nothing of her future. Yet, Jesus went way out of His way to meet with her at the well that day. He met with a woman (strike one), in Samaria (strike two). And He even told her straight up that He was the Messiah. wow. She wasn't going to slay a giant, survive a burning fiery furnace, or get out of a lion's den. There's no glowing superhuman story. Just a woman at a well. Insignificant? Yet worth His time.

The earth is in the Milky Way Galaxy. But it's only one of many galaxies out there. We can easily feel so insignificant just as humans on this sole little planet swirling around with 8 other planets, lots of stars, moons, and the sun. But to think there are numerous other galaxies makes us seem less significant in the grand scheme of things. Yet - Jesus left His peace HERE. (John 14:27) God loves US. God walks through time with us - He shared His peace, love, wisdom, and strength with us. He came for US

Today, I will remind myself that I am surrounded by His greatness. In my small existence, God lives big in me. Though the world often makes me feel insignificant and alone, God cares. I'll remind myself that He watches over me, He wants to be with me, and He hears my smaller-than-a-pea-sized prayer. He catches MY tears and knows what caused each one to fall into His hand. I believe with that thought- I can trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

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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. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!


Full Of It

 


This morning during my private devotions, I started studying 1 John to prepare for an upcoming live Zoom Bible study I'm hosting. (Let me know if you'd like a link to join!) I John is very connected to the gospel of John and I found myself reading the first chapter of this gospel over and over. It amazes me and pretty much blows my mind how God has orchestrated all this. Before He said, "Let there be light" He had already done everything. He'd already prepared the way for us to get back to Him, even before the fall happened in time. Jesus was crucified and raised to sit on the throne. Our sins were already forgiven before we ever even committed them. (We just need to accept His forgiveness.) 

So I'm reading through John chapter one with my mouth wide open in awe! My mind is running around crazy just thinking about all the wonderous works of God. The Word of God - His very breath become flesh and walked among man for a brief 33 years. In verse 14, it says He become human (NLT), lived on earth with us, and that He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. That can also be translated to grace and truth.

Does it not just blow your mind that God cares? He is eternal and time is such a small piece of eternity - yet that's where He chooses to meet us and walk with us. He's so much more than a "little-g" god. He desires intimacy with us. He wants to walk with us, to be with us. And when He is welcomed into our lives and He comes - He brings all He is with Him. Truth, forgiveness, light, understanding, comfort, peace, and of course - love. That just blows my mind.

It's amazing that He wants to walk through time with mankind, isn't it? But He's not limited to time like we are because eternity exists in Him. Time is but a small piece of eternity. Yet this eternal God of comfort, God of peace, God of grace, mercy, and truth - wants to be with us. And for mankind - that's great. But for the caregiver it's monumental. Because so many people don't want to be with us. No-fault - no blame - they don't know what to do with us. But God does.

He knows how to comfort us in ways beyond our understanding. He knows how to hold us, give us peace, and soothe us with His song. If we listen. Can you hear Him? Most of the time I can - unless caregiving gets too hectic! But He's always singing. Always comforting. Always pouring out His love on us.

Today, I will purposefully quiet my heart and listen for His song. I'll lean in a little closer to hear His heart as I tone down the crazy thoughts running through my heart and mind. I will purposefully look for His grace at work in my life today. And I will embrace His heart of comfort in the midst of the pain and grief that often accompanies caregiving. Will you join me?

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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.



Stating the Obvious

Me helping Chris in the standing frame

 I came across this scripture this morning and it just jumped out at me. Joshua 13:1 says this Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: you are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. (NASB) That scripture has always seemed so funny to me, but today - I got it.

The obvious is that Joshua is old, advanced in years. I get that! I always thought it was funny that God then said the same thing to him. Joshua - you're old. LOL. Wasn't God just stating the obvious? That's not really the most important part although it is key. God went on to tell the old man that there was still a lot to do - much land to possess. Surely Joshua found that encouraging!

For a few minutes, I rolled this seemingly insignificant verse around in my head. I had tons of questions. Why did God need to remind Joshua that he was getting so old? We've talked a lot about "exclusionary statements" on this blog. I think God is giving Joshua a heads up. He is stating the obvious argument that might pop up in Josh's head. Dude, you're old.  But then He continues with the promise - and there is still a lot of land to possess. Joshua was not excluded from the promised land because he was old. 

God knew. 

Just like God knew that Joshua was getting older, but still had so many promises to live out - He knows we are caregivers. If He was addressing us, He might say - You are a caregiver, you are overwhelmed and overloaded - but I still have many promises to fulfill in your life. It seems to be sort of the opposite of an exclusionary statement, doesn't it? God's saying- I understand who you are, where you are, and what you are doing - but there's still some promises to go claim!

Man, I found that encouraging today. After many rough days and nights life tends to dig at all His promises. Our questions turn to things like Is He still there? Does He still know me? Does He see? Does He hear? But His statement to Joshua let him know - and lets us know - He still hears and sees, but He still has a plan.

Today, I am going to guard my thoughts. I'll remind myself that God not only sees and hears- but He understands too. But He still won't take back even one of His promises to those who believe whether we are old - or caregivers - or both! I'll thank Him for His grace, patience, goodness, and faithfulness to us as caregivers and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?



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Starting a Caregiving Support Business? Here’s What to Do

 

a woman pushing her elderly mother in a wheelchair


Image from Unsplash

The senior care industry is booming. In fact, Business Insider reports that as the Baby Boomer population ages, the market for senior caregiving is expected to grow by 21% by 2050. To account for this trend, many individuals are choosing to go into the family senior caregiving business. And by accounting for this new growth, you can make headway into this space as well… by providing support and services to the increased number of senior caregivers! Want to learn more?  Let’s break it all down below.

 

Identifying Your Business Niche

 

According to Big Frame, having a business niche makes it easier to become well-known in your industry and reduces competition while targeting audiences. Since you’ll be serving senior family caregivers, you already have a well-defined niche. But think about going more granular into the topic. What age demographics will your professionals belong to? What about their income and asset levels? Do lots of research about these particulars, so you can market your product or services to better serve them. For example, you might find that what would be most helpful in this space would be appointment technology that automates daily functions, tasks, and more. Or perhaps, your research shows that going into the human resources side of things would be more beneficial, as there is a need for temp workers in the caregiving industry. Doing this research well in advance will help you choose which services to offer and how you can do so.

 

Marketing Your Business

 

We all know the benefits of business marketing. You’ll see increased web traffic, more clicks, sales, and many other trackable metrics. Managing your web presence will be essential for this. You’ll need a unified website and social channels to present your brand. While doing so, don’t forget old-school marketing techniques that have stood the test of time. These include strategies like networking to get the word out or launching collaborations to increase reach.

 

In addition, don’t forget to design essential marketing collaterals like a logo and business card. For example, a well-designed logo goes a long way in creating a solid first impression and helping you stand out amongst your competition. And designing an excellent logo doesn’t mean you have to shell out thousands of dollars for professional design services! Instead, you can make your own company logo by using an online tool that will allow you to create an appealing and creative logo. Then, you can combine the logo with a quick image resizer that allows you to adjust the size of your logo images for whatever you need, be it social media or business cards.

 

Finding Clients

 

Finding the first few clients is going to be your biggest hurdle. But once you get the ball rolling, you’ll find the referrals streaming in and customers increasing without much effort. Here are some (low-cost) ideas to start attracting customers:

 

     Targeted ad placements on social media (specify all the audience parameters to ensure your ad reaches the right target professionals or demographic).

     Place notices on bulletin boards of like-minded businesses. A caregiving facility or recruitment agency could be an excellent place to do this.

     Let all your networks, including friends and family, know about your new venture. You never know who may have the right connections or advice to help you along your way!

 

If you’ve always wanted to start your own business, the caregiver support space is an excellent place to start. And since this market is expected to be worth $1.7 trillion by 2028, there is lots of opportunity for growth and expansion.

 

 

 

 

Go-To Scriptures


 I was visiting with a lady from Alaska yesterday. She was telling me about a ministry she helps with and she said they had a main scripture. It made me wonder if I needed one. I thought about what she'd said for some time, but couldn't settle on a single scripture that I would call my "life scripture." You know? My favorite passages change from day to day. Sometimes, it's from moment to moment!

I can say I have a lot of go-to scriptures. We talk about a lot of them here. Psalm 46:1 - God is my refuge and strength - a very present help in time of trouble. I go to that one a lot. But I have held onto Psalm 57:1 for years and declared that I will stay under His shadow and shelter until calamities are past. On any given day I may meditate on any number of verses I've read in my devotions or just a random one that comes to mind. Since His word is alive - and it's in us - you just never know which one may pop up!

Maybe that's why it's so important to hide His word in our hearts. When we need it - Holy Spirit will help us recall it. My students used to ask me to pray for them before their big tests. I always asked if they had studied. If they said no - I told them to pray that they will recall what they studied would be a waste of time. lol. It's true - if we put scriptures in, then God has something to work with. He'll help us remember the things we've read. 

I have some go-to scriptures on peace. Some on His goodness. A few verses I run to when I need comfort. And then I have a whole lot of them on trusting Him in the storms of life. Maybe it's because I live in a storm. (smile) So I have a lot of go-to scriptures, but not just one I can say - this is my verse. "My verse" changes with the winds of the day. I grab whatever passage is going to help me make it through the day with my faith intact. Can you identify? 

With all that being said, I love scripture. I love His word. I love the way it changes me and helps me shape my perspective to be more like His. It's like a one-stop-shop - there's a little bit of everything in there. We find comfort, peace, joy, direction, wisdom, grace, mercy, and the list goes on. 

Today, I will remind myself of the power of His word and I'll allow it to work in my life today. As I meditate on His word today, I'll thank Him for His word's power to change me and I'll let His word shape my day. Will you join me?



                                                                                                                                           



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The Blessing

 


Ever have those days where it seems like one bad (or mostly bad) report follows another? Yesterday was one of those days for me. It wasn't super horrible stuff, but just not the best news either. I mulled it over in my mind and overthought all this new information. Because that's what I always do - until I turn to get God's answer. lol. I know, I'm weird. But my hyperactive analytical mind has to run information through all these formulas. You know what though, the answer is always to trust Him. 

As I was thinking about all this early in the morning, I thought about Job. He's one of my all-time favorite Bible characters. He stayed the course in some of life's stormiest seas. He navigated his life's boat right toward God no matter what presented itself. So I turned my Bible over to the first couple of chapters and read the account again. Job didn't even have time to process information on that day. One person after another came bearing bad news - it kept saying while he was still speaking...more bad news. On my absolute worst days it was never quite that overwhelming. 

To top it all off, since we've read the whole book of Job, we know there is more bad news coming, right? Job's response elicits the blessing. He first, allowed himself to mourn. He immediately tore his robe and shaved his head. (Job 1:20) In his culture, this was an outward sign of the deep distress of a soul. Then, he worshipped God. Why? Because God hadn't changed even with all the bad news, grief, and mourning - Job still trusted God.

James 5:11 says we count them blessed who endure. Think about that for a moment. Where do we draw inspiration from? Usually, it's from someone who's been through or who is going through. If I was trying to write devotions for caregivers without ever walking that road myself - who would read it? lol. We relate because we understand the inward struggles, the outward struggles, the mourning, and more that come with caregiving.

We look at Joseph, Daniel, Job, and all our Bible heroes with admiration for sticking with God during their struggles. We know the end of each of these stories and how God gets the glory and blessed each of them. We draw courage to face another day because we know just like them, we are not facing this day alone. We choose to trust Him for one more day - and we do it every.single.day.

Today, I will remind myself of these stories where God walked with these heroes through their trials. I'll remind myself that God didn't leave them stranded, that His grace was enough - even in the Old Testament to carry them through. I'll tell myself that He's going to carry me through today too - as I lean in to Him and trust Him more. Will you join me in trusting 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.



Download Poems for Caregivers for free! 

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Part of the Crowd


 I took Chris to our local minor league baseball team's game yesterday. I must say I give the ballpark an A+ on accessibility. The parking guys pointed me to a handicap spot right near the gate. And from there, I just rolled him in and found our accessible seating - which just means a chair beside an empty spot for the wheelchair to fit in! It was great. He could see fine and even though it was a bit loud at times - it wasn't too loud for him. What joy fills my heart when I find things to do that are positive.

As we sat and watched the game, we became part of the crowd. We were all watching the game and cheering on the home team. We had one purpose - besides being entertained, and that was to support the local team. We all cheered when our guys made a play. We hooped and hollered when one of them stole a base or hit a home run. It was so amazing to be part of something bigger than us - to be part of the community.  

It made me think about the crowds who followed Jesus and the woman who pressed past the crowds to touch Him. Her intense need for Him separated her from the crowd. Jesus even asked the disciples, who touched me? They must have thought He was joking because the crowds were pressing in on Him - but she touched Him in a way no one else did. She reached out and touched just His garment with her hand - but touched His heart with her faith. (Luke 8:40-48)

As I sat and was overjoyed at being part of the crowd yesterday, I knew we still stood out. We don't look like everyone else. And although everyone was gracious and greeted us kindly, there were blank stares and unspoken questions everywhere. I don't mind being part of the crowd - I don't even mind standing out from the crowd as different. But the main way I'd like to be different is in my intense need for Him.

This woman pressed through a crowd much bigger and closer together than our socially distant crowd yesterday. She knew she needed something more and even though she was just part of the crowd, she reached past the crowd and grabbed what she needed. The crowd couldn't satisfy her need for Him. The crowd didn't have her answers. The people didn't even understand her intense need to touch Him - but she pressed in any way. And she is the one who touched His heart.

Today, I don't care how crowded life is with caregiving responsibilities, workloads, phone calls, and day-to-day chores. I want to press past all that and touch His heart. Why? Because that's where peace dwells. That's where grace and mercy are ready to help in our times of need. That's where our true emotional healing rests. So, today I hope even if just for a moment, I can press through the crowded day and reach out to touch His heart. I'll be content with that  - won't you?


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Why Wait?


 This morning in the middle of my live Facebook "Peace Out!" devotions, I was reading a scripture and it just hit me. Ever have that happen? I was sharing out of one of my favorites, Psalm 61. David is pouring his heart out to God. I've always focused on being overwhelmed, running to God, and letting Him lead me to the Rock.

But as I was reading it for the thousandth time, I saw this phrase - from the end of the earth. Suddenly, I wondered what David meant. Did he mean he thought the world was flat and he was living on the edge about to fall off? Or did he mean time was coming to a close and the earth was ending? Neither of those made sense to me. I don't know what David was going through specifically, of course. But it's obvious he was dealing with some big stuff.

Then, it hit me - David was at the end of his rope! Maybe they just didn't have that saying yet! lol. He cried out - from the end of the earth - the end of my rope - I will cry to You, O Lord! My question then switched to - why did he wait? Why didn't he "call out" earlier? But I realized I do the same thing. I go through my days handling it all just fine. But the second I feel overwhelmed and overcome - then I seek God. Why do I wait?

What would happen if I didn't wait until I was totally bogged down under the load of caregiving before running to Him for His sustaining grace? What if I just lived in His shelter? What would that look like, I wonder? Isn't that what He ultimately wants too? He never prohibits us from coming to Him. He never says He's busy or we have to wait until tomorrow to get grace for today. Right? He never says - you should have come sooner. He just patiently extends the grace and mercy we need to match our need, to cover us.

Today, I will go to Him before I feel like I'm "at the end of my rope." I'll choose to start trusting Him now for whatever the day may throw at me later. I will hang out in His shelter even before I feel I need protection. Then, like David does in this psalm, I'll declare - I will abide with You. I will trust You. I will sing Your praise. Will you join me?

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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.


Caregiver Burnout is Real

 


Do you ever just get too tired? Do you ever want to quit? Do you ever sit down for a whole 30 seconds and think about not getting back up? Ever? Who am I kidding? Sometimes I forget who I'm talking to. Lol. As caregivers, burnout is real. But the problem for most of us, is we don't get a break even in the midst of burnout, right? Let's face it. If we had a bit more help we might avoid burnout - but once we feel that we are in a season of burnout and stressed out - there's still no help. It's easy to feel stuck.

I try to do a few things to avoid burnout and to cope. Someone told me one time that I had learned how to live even in the midst of the situation. I think she was right. I have learned to slow down and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea (or coffee!!!). I try to get outside as much as possible because sunshine and fresh air are essential to a healthy life. Some days that means sitting on the patio so I can see Chris in the recliner through the window. But I'm still "outside." I enjoy watching the birds in the small tree outside my patio too. those seemingly "little" things add up. I've learned to take an evening "off" from work-work, even if not from caregiving. I'll watch a movie or read a book. All these mental health tricks are so key to keeping myself healthy inside and out. 

But how do I keep my spirit-man healthy? There are times when I am just bummed out - anyone else identify? Times when I don't see God doing anything specifically. Times when I feel so all alone - because I am. What about those times? 

I think I found my answer in Psalm 77 this morning. Asaph pens these words in verses 4-10:

I am too troubled to speak (have we ever been there!?!?)

I think about the days of old, the years of long ago.

I remember my song, I commune with myself and my spirit asks:

Will Adonai reject forever?

Will he never show favor again?

Has his grace permanently disappeared?

Is his word to all generations done away?

Has God forgotten to be compassionate?

Has he in anger withheld his mercy?

We sometimes ask these questions silently because we don't dare let them pass through our lips. But silently they arise from the depths of our beings as the caregiving days become long. But I love where Asaph goes with this psalm. Next, he says, this is my weakness - supposing that God's hand could change. Man, I love that. Our weakness is thinking that God's grace, mercy, and compassion ran out last week sometime. 

But then, Asaph realizes he's taken an interesting turn in his thinking. He is basically saying,  I don't see God doing anything right here, right now - so I'll remind myself of all He's done in the past. (Complete Jewish Bible translation)

When we cannot see or feel Him in our right-here-right-now, we can encourage ourselves with what we know He has done before. We can remind ourselves of the times we have seen Him intervene, provide peace in the storm, just be present when we needed Him - and that list goes on and on.

Today, I will remind myself that God's hand hasn't changed. He has not looked the other way, instead, He continues to look in my direction. I will remind myself of the times He's healed, calmed the storms in my heart and mind, brought comfort and peace. And I will be thankful. Will you join me?

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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.



Download Poems for Caregivers for free! 

Poems for Caregivers bookcover

Between the Lines

 


I have recently discovered that I say a lot of things and expect people to read between the lines. You may do it too whether you realize it or not.  As caregivers, it can be difficult to find the words for our emotions. We can't always adequately describe our situations with words. And even if we can, there are many things we deal with daily that are taboo topics. Or, of course, we don't deal with some topics as we want our loved ones to have some dignity. So we speak in riddles and only those who really know - fully understand.

What we really mean.

I was thinking about this a lot yesterday and here are a few examples that I came up with, maybe you've got a few of your own.

  • I need to get out more. - Really means I am so lonely.
  • Wanna come over for a cup of coffee? - Means I am at the end of my rope. I feel neglected, alone, and I need a friend.
  • I am eating myself out of house and home lol - Really means - I'm experiencing emotional eating and I don't know how to stop.
  • It could be worse. - Really means I don't know how I'm going to make it.
  • I'm a hot mess. lol - Really means I'm at the end of my emotions and I really need God to help me get it all together.
These are just a few of the things I've heard myself say and I'm the only one who really knows what I meant. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, and maybe you have some go-to statements like I do. We say things like, 
  • God will provide.
  • He's got me!
  • God will make a way.
These faith statements are wonderful. And I agree - we need to make them all the time. We often need to pull up our faithful, favorite scriptures and read them to our minds over and over to build faith, don't we? But sometimes, we use truth as a mask to hide our true emotions. We can't ever really tell anyone how we feel or how we are dealing with caregiving. So, they are left to read between the lines. Some do it well. Others, don't have a clue. lol (Am I right?)

Here's the thing - God always reads between the lines. Sometimes, it feels like He doesn't answer our questions because He replies to the root of the question and not the actual question. Where did the question originate? What emotion sparked that question? Where are you now, God? I've cried that during many long, dark nights.

David Did It!


Maybe that's what David was feeling or thinking when He penned Psalm 13. How long will you look the other way? In David's heart, he knew God was with him, we see that bear out through the many psalms he wrote. But he didn't really think God was looking away. How do I know for sure? Because just two verses later David's asking God to consider and hear his cries. When we cry out, Where are You, God? We know where He is - but reading between the lines we'll see an intense need for Him. We may not feel or sense Him in any way during that moment. (Hey, it happens.) We know He's here. We know He hasn't left. But we feel abandoned, alone, and afraid. He's big enough to read between those lines and hear what our hearts and tears don't have the words for.

Today, I want to quiet my soul before Him. Since I don't always have the words for what I feel, I will let my silence speak. I will quietly present myself before Him and wait for Him to answer the silent cries of my heart. Will you join me on this new level of trusting Him?


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It's a Hold-Up!

 

Chris in the standing frame

One thing caregivers can understand is long nights. Recently, I haven't had them as often, and for that I am thankful. But I do still have some and last night was one of them. I hate it because Chris is uncomfortable and no matter what I do it doesn't help. Since he is nonverbal, he can't tell me to reposition him, sit him up more or less, or that there is a wrinkle in his sheet. His numbers were good (heart rate, 02, and temp), so I talked myself through the night, basically. 

Long Night Talks With God

During those long nights, God and I talk a lot. Well, it's mostly me whining and crying and wondering why a lot. But He listens. And most of the time, He answers. The early hours of this morning were no different. 

I try not to lash out at God, but sometimes I'm just angry. I lost my son and it seems God just "saved" him enough to keep him here to suffer sometimes. Man, those long nights can really show you your own thoughts loud and clear, huh? Last night was different somewhat. I wasn't quite as mad with God. I told Him I wasn't even sure what to ask for. He understood.

I express it all, my frustrations, anger, and feelings of helplessness. And He listens time and time again. In days gone by, I've spent a lot more time yelling at God and crying out to Him. Last night, I just let my heart talk and tried to keep my mind out of it. lol. That was a chore.

When He Answers

Sometime after five this morning, after sleeping very little, I heard myself ask God, maybe You could just hold me. Do you ever get frustrated with Him, but then find yourself returning to Him when you need Him? That's frustrating too! I may be upset that I don't see Him moving on my behalf, but during those long nights, His arms are right where I run. (Anyone else?)

When I asked Him to hold me, to comfort me, and settle my heart, I thought there had to be a scripture expressing my feelings. Sure enough, I found it in Psalm 119:117. The NKJV says Hold me up, and I shall be safe. There is nothing like finding a scripture that matches your heart and words. This one helped me complete my prayer. Hold me up, God! Then, I know I am safe.

The Holding Up Part

I often hold Chris up when he is standing. I put my arms under his arms and if he decides to sit - I've got him! I can move him from one chair to another or to the bed if needed. But for those few moments, I have to hold him up. Sometimes, he leans into me. And that's where I found myself with God. It was as though I had collapsed against a wall and He (the rock, the fortress, my protecting wall) was bolstering me and holding me up. That was all I needed to get up and around and gather myself to face the day. It was a great "hold up"!

Today, I will lean into my Father, God like Chris leans into me. I know I can count on Him to hold me as long as I need holding and He won't move or let me go! I'll trust Him with my tiredness, my fatigue, my loneliness, my fears, and my pain today. And I'll just let Him hold me knowing I'm in His safe place. Will you join me?


The Source


 As I was preparing for my Facebook live devotions this morning, I started meditating on the main scripture. It is out of Isaiah 43, and God is reminding Israel that He is the One God.  He is our source of peace, gives us wisdom, loves us unconditionally, and hears our prayers, even the goofy ones!

I thought about how back in their day, they took a piece of wood or stone and crafted a god. Then, they bowed down to it like it was going to do something - anything for them. I never got that. Can something I make with my own hands be "greater" than me? I don't see how. It definitely couldn't hear them or respond to their pleas for help. It has no love, no wisdom to share.

While we may not ever find ourselves physically bowing before a big rock, we, as humans, can tend to run to what is familiar and tangible. That's why so many turn to drugs and alcohol. They provide a "feeling" or at least a change in the way they feel. It seems measurable, but it leads down a long, dark road. It is often easier to turn to something we can feel. I've just learned a lot about emotional eating lately. It's not really any different than turning to illicit substances, it's just more socially acceptable. The emotional baggage is the same. 

Yet, here stands God. The one and only God. He's full of compassion, gives us His peace, loves us unconditionally, provides wisdom when we ask.. and so much more! And He waits....for us. Sometimes, it's for a very long time. He patiently waits until we remember we need Him. Then, when we turn to Him, He says He will be found by us. He doesn't play hide and seek! (Jeremiah 29:13-14) There's no condemnation - no browbeating - no you should have come sooner. He just patiently waits until we realize our own deep need for Him. He waits for us to realize He is the one source of peace. The one source of hope and grace. The One who truly loves us and is willing to carry us through our struggles. He's amazing, isn't He?

Today, I will remind myself to quit trying so hard to be all that. I'll admit my intense, deep need for Him and I'll run to Him for strength, hope, peace, love, joy, and wisdom. I'll accept the peace that comes from knowing He will not withhold anything from me, but He will instead lavish His love and provision on me. I'll meditate on how He calms my emotions and settles my fears as I rely solely on Him. He's a great God, isn't He? Will you agree with me?


                                                                                                                                           



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In the Boat - In a Storm


 I've been rolling a lot of questions and thoughts over and over in my mind. The big question I keep coming up with is this: what if He doesn't? You can fill the blank in with your circumstances. For me - it's what if He doesn't ever heal my son, can I live with that? What if the "morning" never comes - because joy comes in the morning, right? What if trouble does last "always"? (Trouble don't last always, they say.) What if He doesn't calm the storm while we are out there in the boat? 

I've been thinking about it a lot. In my mind, I'm sitting out in a boat and there's a storm raging all around me. We know the story in Mark 4 where Jesus was in the boat asleep in the middle of the storm. (That's total peace right there!) Then in Matthew 14, He came walking out on the water to his disciples in the boat in the middle of the storm. I've had people tell me that trouble won't last forever - the storm will go away. But so far, I've found that it hasn't. What if Jesus doesn't come out in the middle of the storm? What if He doesn't tell it to be still? What if I'm just sitting there in my little boat while life's seas are rocking me around? What then?

I guess I'll just sit in my little boat and wait for Him! When I die - I'll still be sitting in that boat. lol. I have nothing better to do than wait for Him - whatever that looks like. Whether He comes like I imagine He could - or not - I'll still wait for Him. 

Are you in a boat on the stormy seas? What are our options? Jumping out into the sea? Trying to swim to shore in the middle of crazy waves? I choose to wait. And if He never comes I'll just still be sitting there in my boat waiting on Him. Hope comes when we wait. Peace comes when we wait. Eventually, morning will come - when we wait on Him. 

Today, I will wait on Him. I will wait until peace comes before I move one muscle! I've determined that no matter what the seas look like, or how they roar - I'll be sitting there in my boat waiting for Him. Will you join me?


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