The Journey Thus Far

Chris in the standing frame with me beside him

Do you have a lot on your caregiving plate today? Maybe you have more than one platefuls to deal with today or even this morning. Too bad there isn't just a big checklist where we can check off items that are done when they are done. What a sense of accomplishment that would be - exhilarating and liberating! Well, we can at least imagine, can't we?

I think it's more cyclical, and we are never really done.

As I was letting my mind wander yesterday, I started thinking it sounded a lot like whining. I hate whining. It can be so easy to do though. It's kinda hard to distinguish when we are airing out our frustrations in a healthy way and when it turns to whining, don't you think? I'm certain that yesterday - I was whining.

When I first started this caregiving journey and brought Chris home from rehab, I really didn't know what I was going to do other than trust God for the journey. I spent some time crying (and whining) to God about the life I lost and the fear I felt. But I found some inspirational quotes online and one that stuck out to me was this: Tears will get you sympathy, hard work will get you success. I decided right then and there that I wanted to spend more time rolling up my sleeves than moping and crying. 

Today, I don't want to talk about how hard it is - we all get that. So, instead, I want to talk about what God has done. I started shifting my focus off my circumstances to what God has said and done. It's a spirit-lifter for sure! Here are a few things I let wander through my mind - I hope you find them as encouraging as I have.

  • God has never abandoned me. He is with me constantly - even when I sleep.
  • He continues to provide - I have not missed a meal or had my lights shut off once!
  • His word has encouraged me and strengthened me for the journey.
  • He really is my best friend. 
  • I can trust Him.
  • God has given me His strength when I knew I did not have it on my own.
  • He has carried me sometimes...a lot of times.
  • God gives me HIS peace - which is a lot better than mine!
  • I know my heart is safe in His.
Today, I will focus on all He has done instead of how I feel. My meditations will be of all the ways He has strengthened me and carried me through this journey so far - and I'll thank Him for not stopping today. I'll turn my thoughts to how much He cares for me as I care for my loved one. I'll thank Him for this journey - because I would have never known Him this way without it. Will you join me?





One More Breath

 


Do you ever get overwhelmed? Are you ever lonely? Does the social isolation ever get to you? (Who am I talking to? lol) Today is one of those days that it feels like everything is caving in on me. I'm behind at work because of caregiving duties. Chris still isn't up and it's nearly noon. I'm just now getting to write this morning's devotion, and I'm sitting here shaking my head thinking that I'll never catch up today. I'll never get it all done today. But I feel that way almost every day. lol.

Most nights when I start getting ready for bed, I'm certainly at my end. I have learned to focus on all the things I did accomplish during my waking hours, rather than all I failed to get done. And then, for 5 or 6 hours I try to rest. There's just no way to get it all done. I keep thinking I'll get caught up with housework, cooking, work, and all the other things I need to do. Once I get organized it'll be easy sailing. Then I wake up and realize it's probably never going to happen. lol.

As I was praying all of this out this morning, the image of how I watched my son breathe all weekend came to mind. I noticed even the most subtle change in his breath. Maybe he started breathing a little faster, or relaxed as his breathing slowed. Sometimes, when in deep sleep, he'd hold his breath. I was so in tune with each breath, I didn't miss a thing.

This morning, during my mental struggle, I realized God watches over me the same way. Just like I watched and waited for my son to take one more breath, God cheers us on as He watches over our lives. He waits for those moments when we think we cannot breathe. Silently, He cheers from the sidelines of life and eagerly awaits each sign of life, then celebrates it.

Yeah. He celebrates it. We saw that in Zephaniah yesterday. He rejoices over us with gladness and singing. But this morning, I read on in that third chapter. Verse 16 says He will gather those who sorrow. He will deal with what afflicts us. He'll gather those who feel driven out, separated from life, cut off from the rest of the world. I took a little liberty there - but the different translations say it a variety of ways.

I like verse 20. He says I will bring you back. Back to what? - back to Him!

He's leaning over heaven's railing watching us breathe and live this life. But He eagerly awaits the time He can bring us back to Him. In the meantime - He still purposefully brings us to Him. In the midst of our sorrow, pain, struggles, and separation He waits for us to wait on Him. (Isaiah 30:15) Then He brings us to Himself. That's when He gives us His peace, quiets us with His love (Zeph. 3:17), and leans in to feel us breathe one more breath.

Today, I will remind myself that God is watching us at least as intently as we watch our loved ones. He can feel us breathe. He knows when we hold our breath in pain or sorrow. And he provides exactly what we need in the moment to continue trusting Him for one more day.

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Behind the Clouds


 As I stepped outside this morning, I noticed the unusual coolness for this time of year. I glanced toward the sky and saw the grayish-blue clouds hovering overhead. For a few minutes, I just watched the clouds, and then I saw a break in them and a glow from the sun broke through. Even though I could not see the sun - it was hidden behind the clouds. 

Sometimes, it just helps to know it's still there. We know we'll see it again soon, right?

This past weekend became very dark for me as my son fell ill again. I opted to not run to the hospital, but to monitor his numbers closely (oxygen, heart rate, temperature) and go only if I had to. His body needs to fight off this crud he keeps getting. While I was content with my decision, it made for a long, dark weekend where I just sat and watched him breathe. Thankfully, he pulled through, and other than some extreme tiredness, he's doing well again. 

It's those dark nights that get to you though, right? The heart and mind race and go crazy with thoughts and what-ifs. But as Chris began to get better, so did my outlook and emotions. It was sort of like that sun hiding behind the clouds. God was there - but my circumstances clouded my view of Him. During the dark night, I got occasional glimpses of His light. If nothing else, they reminded me that He was still with me whether I could see or feel Him or not.

So, this morning, as I was praying and enjoying the clouds, I thought of God remaining with me and that brought encouragement. God told Joshua to be of good courage because God was with him - wherever he might go. (Joshua 1:8) Zephaniah 3:17 also reminds us that God is in our midst. This verse is one that I like best in the old KJV. It says, The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. That's a like wow! 

Thankfully, the clouds come and go, don't they? It's not always cloudy. But it's not always sunny either. But we can rest assured that God is there when we see Him clearly. He's there when His presence is so bright we have to close our spiritual eyes. But He's still right there when the clouds are in the way and we squint to try and see Him better.

Today, I will encourage my soul with these scriptures and remind myself that He is right here. I'll be thankful that He doesn't leave when it gets tough or confusing. My meditations will be on how He stays with me during the midnight hours and watches over my soul even when I sleep. In that - I will rest as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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Who Planned This?


 This morning as I was getting around, I was praying for my son. I do this a lot! lol. His chronic breathing issues are troubling and the medical system seems to be tiring of us. So, I took my concerns to God. I was walking and praying and asking for wisdom to handle the situation in the best way. Of course, I was moaning, groaning, and fussing at God for "letting" this all happen. lol - I know you've never done that, but I do. 

I took a brief few minutes to think about what like might have looked like. After all, none of us planned on him having a wreck at 24. There are many such unexpected things that happen to disrupt our plans, though. Am I right?

My mind went to Job. He was wealthy and had no plans of losing all that wealth in a day. Job didn't plan on his kids all dying in a single tragic accident. He didn't plan on getting sick either. But what Job did plan was that he was going to worship and trust God in the no matter whats. Now that's a plan that cannot be interrupted.

When the first rounds of bad news hit Job's heart and ears, he tore his robe and shaved his head to signal that he was officially in a state of mourning. Then he worshipped. Wait! He worshipped and mourned at the same time? Yup. Then when He got sick on top of all of that, He still declared that he was going to continue to trust God. In chapter 13 verse 15, Job says that even if God killed him, he would just keep trusting Him. Now that's a plan that cannot be stopped.

I thought of Joseph, who didn't plan on being betrayed by his brothers and sold off as a slave. Yet, he planned to keep his heart pure toward God in the circumstances. Daniel came to mind. His plan wasn't to get taken captive and be mutilated. But he did plan to maintain integrity with God in the midst of the years. 

Today, I plan on worshipping God in my no matter what. That's a plan that cannot be changed. I can worship Him and trust Him whether I get my way or don't. He is still God whether I get everything I ask for or nothing. His kingdom cannot be shaken by my trials. So, I will remind myself that He is still on the throne. He is still King of Kings. He still has the victory. And I declare with Job - Yet, will I trust Him. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                      


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

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

Never Runs Out


 This morning, as I was waking up, my mind seemed to already be racing. Some of it was all the stuff I need to get done today - including those that needed to be done yesterday. I'm also dealing with a lot of emotional baggage right now. For some reason, I feel especially lonely. Like alone- alone. I hope you don't understand, but I'm pretty sure you do. As I was wiping the sleep out of my eyes, my mind was running through all this. Over and over and over.

I had to take a couple of minutes to kind of shake myself and remind myself that His peace is still right here. He doesn't have an off switch for when we are sleeping, or not paying attention. His peace remains - it never runs out. Neither does His grace, mercy, and love. They all remain, even when my mind forgets.

Then, I had this thought about how I set reminders on my phone. I have tons of them. lol. I have one for any out-of-the-normal meds for me and Chris. There's one for each of the Bible studies I do weekly. There's one to remind me to clock in M-F as Chris' PCA. Then, I set one to remind me to clock out. 

I started thinking that maybe I needed to set one to remind myself about His peace. Maybe I should set a reminder to stop and be thankful. Because when I turned my mind to thankfulness for all He has done, including not abandoning me, my heart got a little lighter and my brain's traffic slowed down. I started thanking Him for His consistent grace, peace, love, and presence in this crazy thing called life. That's when they all (grace, peace, love) all showed up. 

Well, it wasn't so much that they showed up - they've been right here with me all along. I just got distracted by all the stuff. Paul told the Roman believers that he knew they knew God and His goodness, but he wanted to remind them of it. (Romans 15:15) So, let this devotion today be your reminder that He won't run out on you. His peace doesn't have an "off" switch. We just have to remember that He's with us - no matter what.

Today, I'll meditate on His ever-abiding presence - even if I don't feel it. I'll remind myself that all He is remains and that He remains with me. He will not run out or pull the plug on His peace today! Will you join me?

Dealing with Disappointment


Maybe we have all had those moments where we were disappointed with God. I know I have had my times for sure. I always thought He was going to come riding in on His white horse and whisk me out of my stress and pain. When it didn't happen like I imagined, I often thought He'd abandoned me. Sure, He sees. Of course, He hears. But what good is it if He doesn't act?

Mary and Martha were disappointed with Jesus. They told Him that if He had been there, then Lazarus, their brother, would not have died. Jesus' reply was that He was the resurrection and the Life. Then, He demonstrated it by bringing Lazarus back from the dead. I can certainly say I've never seen Him do that! But I still believe it.

The day I realized that I was disappointed in Him, after all, He didn't come when I thought I needed Him most. It can be frustrating to feel like He's not acting on our behalf. Right now, I'm in that spot. It seems like He's not doing anything. Now, I know He's here. He's walking with me. He gives me peace - and that's all something, but it's not the one thing I think I need Him to do, right?

So how are we supposed to walk this thing out when it feels like He's not really with us? 

Maybe it starts with two things. One that Mary did and one thing that Martha did. Martha told Jesus, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God who is come into the world. (John 11:27) She said this at the point of her greatest disappointment, in a time when clarity was gone. She was mourning the loss of her brother - and had hoped Jesus would have healed him, yet she still believed. 

The second action was taken by Mary. When they told her that Jesus had come to town - she jumped up and ran to meet Him. In the midst of her disappointment, her grief, her pain - she ran to Him anyway.

When we have disappointment, and of course, it will come, then we must declare that we still believe in Him. Declare we are still trusting Him even in the midst of the mess, the confusion, the pain, and the difficulty. And secondly, we must go meet Him - in that place of disappointment. Even when we can't see - we can look to Him. For when we loosen our grip on our own pain and disappointment, we can get a good grasp of His grace.

Today, I will look past disappointment, pain, mourning, and loss - and I'll focus my heart back on His grace. That's the grace that is going to carry me through today and every day. I'll trust Him with my whole heart, disappointments included. I'll tell Him when I cannot see, when I cannot feel, when I am not sure what to think. Then, I'll let Him carry me, see for me - and especially I'll let Him see me. 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!


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The Source of Life


Recently, I had some interactions where I felt like others didn't have a clue what it meant to be a caregiver. Maybe they don't understand how demanding it is 24-7. Their request involved traveling, and it's something I wanted to do with all my heart. But as is often the case, it's just not always easy to travel when you are caring for someone else. I felt like they didn't quite "get" my situation. 

With the airlines canceling flights left and right, seemingly on a whim, I can't take a chance of getting stuck in another location. As I was working through my dilemma mentally, I realized that most of the time, it's the other way around. People only see us as caregivers and forget that there is a person inside dying to be recognized.

As I was thinking about all of these things, I became very thankful. Why you ask? Because I realized that God sees us fully. He doesn't dish out blessings and spiritual benefits to others and decide we don't get any because we are caregiving. 

This morning, I was reading in Romans 8 about how when we are spiritually minded, it is life and peace. I was thankful to be included there - there is no exception that says unless you are busy caregiving. My life is hidden in Him just like every other true believer!

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for every believer, caregiver or not. He is the bread of life shared with US too. He is the resurrection and the life for caregivers. When Paul talked about our lives being hidden in Him - we are included! He is the source of life for caregivers. He shares His life with us - He doesn't overlook us, bypass us, or withhold any spiritual blessing from us. 

When He looks at us, sure He sees a caregiver. He sees someone who is continually laying down their lives for others because of love. But He sees who we are inside. He knows the callings He placed on us and didn't take them back when we became caregivers. He extends every spiritual blessing and the truth and life to us too! I love that He can see past our caregiver front into our hearts. 

Today, I will thank Him for seeing the care I bear as a caregiver, but for also looking past that to the person I am inside. I'll thank Him for continuing to share the bread of life with me and allowing me to see new things in His word every single day. I'll thank Him for revealing Himself to me in new ways and for continuing to walk alongside me even when the way gets rocky and treacherous. I'll remind myself that He is a good God - and He has my heart hidden in His. I believe I can trust Him for one more day. How about you?


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I Will declarations book cover


Check out my ebook store where you'll find these "I Will" Declarations from Psalms for just a buck! Download it today! I also have devotionals, study guides, poetry books, and free stuff! My Amazon bookshelf has some of these books on Kindle and for print - check them out!

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He Remains Faithful

 


I don't know about you, but it does seem like the world is getting crazier. Maybe it's just that there is so much going on in every arena from politics to schools, churches, and even in our homes. There are so many things to deal with on an emotional level and it can easily become overwhelming. As if caregiving wasn't already overwhelming enough, right?

This weekend was one of those weekends when I began to feel overwhelmed past the normal overwhelm. As I was taking my concerns and friends to God in prayer, I was reminded of something that happened to me several years ago. I was standing in my son's room and I was frustrated, emotional, and overwhelmed. I looked up at the ceiling (as if God lives in the sky - and isn't right here right now), and said, I cannot handle one more thing...

Immediately, I had a thought. Now, since it was smarter than me - I assumed it was God. It was or what? 

That thought, simple as it was, sobered me right up and made me think. I thought, what if one more something happened? In that moment, I realized that even if something else happened, I was still going to trust Him.

So, there I was this morning, praying for my friends and taking my over-heavy burdens to Him in prayer, I thought He remains faithful. When everything is going great and it feels like everything is under control, or at least at a level that I feel I can handle, He is faithful. When I am in one of those moments where it seems everything is broken and whatever "normal" is has vacated the premises...He is faithful. 

I don't know about you - but I know about me, and I needed to be reminded today that God remains faithful - no matter what. In the Living Bible, 2 Timothy 2:13 says, Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful...

This is good because I feel weak - a lot! What a reminder that He is faithful no matter what wicked and confusing turns life takes.

Today, I will remind myself that He is faithful to me. It's easy to accept His faithfulness to others - but I need to know today that even when I feel weak - He remains faithful - to me. My meditations will be on how He walks through this trip called life with me. He goes as fast or as slow as I need to go. He remains. He remains faithful. I pray today that we are all reminded of His faithfulness so we can trust Him with one more today. 


                                                                                                                                                                

Where No One Dares to Follow

 


I don't know how long you've been on your caregiving journey, but I've been on mine for almost 14 years. One of my friends is the caregiver for her son who is now in his 40s. Some of you just started on this journey. I'm still a newbie compared to many others! 

There's no doubt that the caregiver's journey is a lonely one. The social isolation is often unbearable. Yet, we adjust. BC (before caregiving) I was super social. I went a lot. I fellowshipped a lot. I traveled miles and miles. But for the last 14 years, all of that has been limited. 

Others often try to encourage us or cheer us up. But very few are willing to go where we go. Recently, I had a long-time friend who wanted to take me out. At first, it was just for a date. Then he decided he wanted us to spend the day together. I enjoyed our day together, but he has no idea all the hoops I had to jump through. lol. I get other invites from time to time, but I don't answer many of them.  What I don't have is people willing to follow me down this road. 

Have you looked up and realized that no one came with you? Maybe they wish you well. Some pray for you. Most are truly compassionate and concerned. But few dare to follow. We often give Job's friend a bad rap. They were horrible once they started talking. lol. But before that, they came. They saw. They were not prepared for the depth of grief and sorrow they saw their friend enduring. 

Job 2:12 says they lifted their voices and wept. They were so overcome, that they sat for seven days and seven nights in silence. They deserve kudos for showing up, and for being there for their friend. 

Maybe you're like me and you've looked up and realized that no one has dared follow you down this road. There may be a few watching from a distance. Many are likely praying for you. But oh for a friend who can follow you down the caregiving road. If you are like me (and hopefully you're not) and you've realized people just can't endure watching our struggle, I have good news. Jesus has followed you every step of the way. As a matter of fact, He continues to take each step with you. Sometimes, when your strength gives out, there are no more tears, and you think you can't take one more step - He will carry you. 

Today, I choose to focus on the God who is present. I choose to turn my eyes to the One who is not afraid of the journey. My eyes will be on the One who will never abandon, the One who will never just watch from a distance. God is not afraid to be a part of our stories. I will thank Him for staying on this road with me, for carrying me, prodding me, and sharing His strength with me for this journey as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                       


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

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


Distractions

 


My mind is still hanging out in Matthew 14! I guess I've really been rolling it over and over in my meditations. Today, I want to just look at Peter. He is the only one who stepped out of the boat. He gets a bad rap for sinking. But no one else jumped out onto the water, not even after seeing him walk on the water. How far he walked or how long he walked don't really matter, do they? It was still miraculous that he simply walked on the water. 

Peter did something no one else had the guts to do - even if it was for just a few steps...a few seconds.

But like many of us, Peter got distracted by the storm. As long as he focused on Jesus and working his way to Him, he walked across the water. But when he looked at the storm, it distracted him. Do you ever have one of those days?

We start out with a great attitude determined to work it all out. Then out of nowhere BAM! We get blindsided by something - it could be anything. A bill we didn't expect. Supplies that are not on time. Doctors who don't return our calls - or don't listen to us at all. A phone call with bad news. Or just a loved one who doesn't have the best day. I'm sure you can fill in the blank with one or more things that have distracted you from looking at Him.

For a while, we felt like we were walking on water. Until we looked around and emotionally started sinking. Is there a fix for that? I think so. Peter called out to Jesus - and Jesus grabbed him and got him back into the boat. Then the storm calmed. We can call out to Him - whether we are staying afloat and moving toward Him - or totally sinking. He will get us back into the boat to safety. And He will calm the storm. 

He won't condemn us for being distracted by our busy caregiving days. He brings comfort, warmth, peace, and mercy. Then He gently puts us back in the boat. He reminds us that He is still right there. I mean, really - Jesus could have been exasperated at Peter and He could have just started walking back to shore. lol. But He didn't. He reached out His hand with love and care and helped the distracted disciple.

Today, whether I feel like I am emotionally walking on water and getting 'er all done - or if I feel I am sinking beneath the load...I will trust His outstretched hand. I will let Him rescue me. I'll watch as He calms my storm. Maybe it'll be through His wisdom. Perhaps it will be a friend who calls to encourage. It may be that good news makes an unexpected appearance. No matter what - I'll reach out to Him and let Him put me safely in the boat. I'm determined to not let the storm distract me today as I focus my gaze on the Prince of Peace. 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!




In the Experience


Today, I'm still in the story in Matthew 14. Here's my question for today. After Jesus scraped Peter off the water and put him back in the boat, then the storm calmed. NKJV says the winds ceased. Then, the next verse says they worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." Was it Jesus' dramatic rescue of Peter? Or was it that the storm stopped once Jesus got in the boat with them? He is the Prince of Peace after all. 

Either way, now all of a sudden they see Him for who He is. That's interesting to me because if you thumb back through the previous chapters you'll see he's already fed 5000 with a few loaves of bread, healed a man with a withered hand, made a mute man speak, healed two blind men, and set to demon-possessed men free from their torment. None of those times did the disciples worship Him and recognize Him for who He was. 

Why do you think that was? Hadn't they seen all these miracles? Or at least heard about some of them? Yet when He gets in their boat and calms the storm, they truly SEE Him. I think it's because all of a sudden it affected them. They had seen blind eyes and deaf ears open - perhaps they rejoiced. But it wasn't them. They saw the demon-possessed be freed. But it wasn't them. They saw Jesus bless the loaves and feed 5000+ with basketfuls left over - but it wasn't them.

Now that He's in the boat, now that He calmed their fears - they could see. It was their souls in jeopardy and they were in the direct line of a miracle. It made all the difference. You might say that Jesus healed the blindness in their soul. Even though they witnessed all the other miracles - this was their experience. They saw. They felt. They knew.

Sometimes, we just don't get it until He walks into our experience. Until He calms the storms affecting our souls, sometimes we just can't see Him. Remember Hagar? When God walked into her tumultuous life, she said - He's the God who sees. She got it. (Genesis16) When Hagar knew God heard her - She said He's the God who hears. (Genesis 21) Those times in between, she had to trust that He was still right there working on her behalf. 

Today, I'll remind myself that God is in my "here." I will turn my thoughts to all I've seen Him do through the years, and I'll trust that He continues to work on my behalf. As I go about my day today - I'll purposefully LOOK for Him to be in my situation. I'll wait on Him and ask Him to calm the storm blowing in my heart. 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!





Does God's Timing Stink?

Eli walking alongside Chris in his chair

Have you ever just wondered about God's timing? I know His ways are perfect, but I have some questions. lol. This morning I was reading the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. There are so many truths to extract from these few verses. We've talked before about how Jesus told them to get into the boat and go to the other side - knowing full well they would face a storm. Of course, He also knew He'd be walking out to them in the middle of the night - in the middle of the storm. Why didn't He calm the storm before it even started?

So, here they are struggling and trying to navigate a boat full of folks in the middle of the sea. They look up to see Jesus coming toward them at about 3 in the morning. Why didn't He calm the storm before He took off across the top of the water? Of course, this frightened them. So, He called out and told them that He was there with them in the storm.

Peter, who is known for his sporadic behaviors, calls back over the sound of the wind. "If it's really you, Jesus, tell me to come to you." Firstly, if he thought it was Jesus, he could have just jumped out and started toward Him. Secondly, it if wasn't Jesus, a demon could have bid him come too. But He recognized Jesus' voice even in the storm. (Think about that a bit!) Why didn't Jesus calm the storm before Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water? (Of course, without the wind and roaring waves, walking on water is not that spectacular, right? lol)

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink. Jesus reached out, rescued him and they got in the boat. Then He calmed the storm. Why then? Why did all this have to go on before He calmed the storm?

As caregivers, we can feel like we live in a storm. Every day has so many challenges, it can be overwhelming. We gain a lot from this short passage. We learn that when we keep our eyes on Him - the storm isn't so loud or overbearing. It's only when we look away from Him that the storm starts to suck us under.

We learn that sometimes, no one gets out of the boat with you. They just silently look on as you try to keep walking toward God. We also learn that in our judgment, God could have calmed that storm at any time - and it would have been good. However, Peter would have missed the opportunity to walk on the water. He would have missed feeling Jesus' hands wrap around him and help him get back in the boat. 

Today, I will remind myself that no matter how stormy it may seem - God still has good plans for me. And His plans do not include letting the storm wipe me off the face of the earth. His plans don't include the waves overcoming me. His plans include lifting me out of the scary waters and placing me back in the boat. His plans include rescuing my soul from the situation. My body may still be stuck here in all sorts of situations - but He will not leave my soul there as I call out to Him. Today, I'll trust Him to get me back into the boat as I commit once again to keeping my eyes on Him and waiting for His timing to calm the storm. Will you join me?


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I Will declarations book cover


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Common vs Normal

Chris and Kyrie

Facing each day with gratitude goes a long way. Over the years, I've learned that there's always something to be thankful for. Of course, that doesn't make caregiving any easier, but it keeps our hearts softer. Am I right? Ultimately, I'm thankful that I can show my love for my son by being his caregiver. There's really nothing like it.

What we do day-to-day is not normal, but it is common. There are lots of caregivers. The baby boomers are aging and taking on the roles of caring for elderly parents and loved ones. But unless a person is a caregiver, they really don't get it. Sometimes, it can seem like it's so common no one hears what we say anymore. We can talk about our journey, but all they hear is blah, blah, blah. They don't really lose compassion, but it can feel like it. It can feel like no one hears us, sees us, or cares anymore. Sometimes - probably most times, it's because they don't really know what to say or do. And of course, there aren't any words that can "make it all better." So to our dismay, they remain silent without realizing how deeply it can cut into the fiber of our souls.

But there's good news, of course! God doesn't care what is normal or common. He doesn't even measure what is abnormal or uncommon. He just looks at our hearts. He hears our silent tears. God is the only One who can gently unwind our emotions when they are wrapped up in a tight ball. He hears us, feels us, gets us...and sticks around on purpose. He never puts us off or says it's too much for Him to bear. We may have well-meaning friends who "can't handle" us on a given day - but God is not like that.

Sometimes it feels like the world has moved on by. We can feel ignored, forgotten, forsaken, or abandoned. But then - there He is. Right in the middle of our emotional chaos - extending His peace, comfort, and grace to make the day one more time.

Today, I will crawl up in His lap and let Him have all my emotional junk. My prayers will be that He can take this crazy common but not normal life and make it a symphony of hope. Maybe, just maybe someone will hear the hope behind the tears and turn to Him for strength and grace. My meditations will be on how His grace carries me when I cannot keep moving (and that's a lot!). I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                                

Perspectives



I had a "funny" during my devotions this morning. I was reading randomly through Proverbs when I found these verses in chapter 23. The NKJV reads this way Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has complaints? who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? I was like - man, this is going to be good, the writer nailed caregiving 101! Right?

Then, I read on through the next few verses and realized Solomon was talking about those who drink too much. I had a good laugh. But it also made me think a little as I turned to self-reflection. Caregiving isn't all bad. Is it hard? Absolutely? Is it challenging? Absolutely? Is it doable? Absolutely.

There are some good things about caregiving too. For instance, we have a chance to love and give freely to our loved ones. We have the opportunity to walk out God's love - right here in flesh and blood. Sometimes, we get the opportunity to see and feel others be moved by compassion as they gaze at our lives even from a distance. 

In some ways, we get to see God move through us every single day as we care for those who cannot take care of themselves. Our compassionate care and love for our loved ones mirror His love for us. He loved - so He gave. As I thought about my silly experience in the scriptures, I wondered if I am looking at the trial instead of the triumphs. Sometimes, it's just tough, right? We can be alone and feel abandoned. But God is still with us. It can feel like no one really understands the turn our lives have taken and they have no clue what days hold for us. But He is right here. He is the God Who sees, the God who knows, and the God who cares.

Maybe it's more about perspective. I reminded myself that all He has provided is still mine. Caregiving cannot take away salvation, peace, mercy, grace, or His great love.

Today when feelings of loneliness or woe come up, I'll shift my focus to what remains in the rubble of my life. When I look around, I won't look for or focus on the pain, the difficulty, the deep aloneness. Instead, I'll look for ways He continues to show me that He's with me and He's got me. I'll trust that He's got me, He's got you, and He's got the whole situation in His grasp. Will you join me?

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I Will declarations book cover


Check out my ebook store where you'll find this "I Will" Declarations from Psalms for just a buck! Download it today! I also have devotionals, study guides, poetry books, and free stuff! My Amazon bookshelf has some of these books on Kindle and for print - check them out!

Prisons and Palaces

 


Do you find it hard to listen to some people? I would be nearly rich if I had $5 for every time someone told me to take care of myself too. A buck or two for every time someone told me I need "to get out more" would go a long way toward reducing my debts. Sad enough, most of these people don't get it. They have no idea what it looks like to try to "get out more" or take a break. Presently, I am canceling a trip I wanted to go on because I just don't have enough people I can pay to do what I do for a weekend. lol. It's just part of our lives, right?

It's hard to listen to even well-meaning, caring people who try to help - because they really don't have a clue. These are a few of my thoughts this morning as I read over and over 2 Thessalonians 3:16. The 1995 NLT says this: May the Lord of peace himself always give you peace no matter what happens. Why did that catch my attention? Because Paul was writing it while sitting in a prison cell, not enjoying the luxury of a palace. 

My mind ran away with the phrase no matter what happens. I used it for the foundation of this morning's Facebook Live Peace Out devotions. (See video below.) And I just keep thinking about it. No matter what happens, God's peace is still in our hearts. He doesn't pack up and leave at the first sign of trouble. Lol. That's a funny thought to me because He'd sure have plenty of opportunities to opt-out, wouldn't He?

 As caregivers, we never know what a day will bring or not bring. We can get up with all the best intentions and by 8 the good-attitude rug has been jerked right out from under us. But we are remarkable - because you know what? We just keep running back to Him - even if we do it 100 times before lunch! :-) Am I right?

Encouragement from someone who has or is struggling somehow carries a lot more weight than someone with what appears to be an easy life. Isn't it the struggles of those Bible heroes that make them heroic? Not that they avoided problems. It's more that they endured them and that's why their lives are so encouraging. Even our Prince of Peace, Jesus. Hebrews says He endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. He endured. So can we.

Today, instead of daydreaming about what it would be like to sit on a comfy cushion sipping tea out of fine China in a palace, (lol) I'll remind myself that God is walking through my no matter what with me. I'll be thankful that He didn't, hasn't, and won't run the other way at the sign of difficulty or struggle. Instead, He embraces. He gives peace. He gives strength. He gives grace and mercy. To me. To you. I'll look around at my no matter what today and be thankful that He is here too. Will you join me?


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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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That Running List

 


Do you have a running list? I'm playing a bit with words because I do have a traditional running list of all my concerns and prayers. But I also have a running list - it's the same one - but I am always running to Him with it. That pretty much sums up my morning.

I woke up with lots of things on my heart. Not just caregiving stuff either. The world is in a tough spot. There are so many things to be concerned about. I was praying about all of those and carrying all my personal stuff to Him too. The list of things to pray about seems to be getting longer and longer.

But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking of a verse from a Psalm I read often. Verse 5 of Psalm 13 says yet I will trust in His unfailing love. After a while, I stopped praying about all the concerns, not necessarily because I ran out of them. lol. And I began to think about this phrase - yet I will trust.

If we look back at the first few verses of this Psalm, David was in a difficult place and he didn't try to hide his sorrow from God. He was asking God how long He would just look the other way. He was pleading with God to turn and answer him. Have you ever felt like God turned His head the other way and you just needed Him to acknowledge where you were and the challenges you were facing? I know I have. 

Yet I will trust...

No matter what's on our list today - we can trust in His unfailing love. As a matter of fact, I'm making it my declaration for the day. As for me - I will trust in His unfailing love. 

Today, I will trust in His unfailing love. When it feels like He's looking the other way - I'll remind myself that He is aware of every little detail that happens on earth and in my life. But I'll also remind myself that all those bajillions of details do not change the Kingdom of God or His reign one iota. He still reigns as king and I will let Him sit on the throne of my heart today. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           



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In His Hands

chris in the standing frame

 There's a song we used to sing as a child, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. Remember singing that song and doing hand motions with it when we were little? This little song came to mind this morning as I was reading my Bible. I continued reading in Isaiah for my personal devotions. I love how we can read even familiar passages and find new nuggets He's hidden for us there, don't you?

I read over through chapter 49 and this phrase in verse 16 stood out. It says, See, I have written your name on my hand. God was reminding Israel that He had not forgotten them even though bad things were happening all around them. He was telling them that a mother can't forget her nursing child. Those of you who are mothers understand the discomfort of skipping a feeding - you ain't gonna forget that child! But God goes on to say - but if that were possible, I would not forget you! (NLT) 

What a great reminder that no matter how good or bad life gets, how difficult the day-to-days of caregiving may become, God will not forget us. He has our names written (tattooed) on His hand. But wait, there's more!

I continued reading over the next few chapters until I got to verse 16 of chapter 51. Verses 15 and 16 say this: For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar. My name is the Lord Almighty. and I have put My words in your mouth and hidden you safely within My hand. (NLT)

I was like, whoa! Twice in these couple of pages, God has referred to holding His children in His hand. I know I'm one of His children. And I know that many (most) of you who read this blog are His children too! We are in His hand. 

The chorus comes back to mind - He's got the whole world in His hand - including caregivers, our loved ones, our families, and friends. I saw no exclusionary statements pertaining to caregivers. So it's true for us as well.

Today, no matter how good or bad it may seem or feel - I'll remind myself that Chris and I are both in His hands. My heart will be contently resting in His hand as I allow Him to carry me through this day. I will trust that no matter what this day may bring, nothing will be able to remove me from the grip of His grace. So will you join me as we rest in His hand together today?



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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



Why do I Wait?

 


This morning I felt things starting to pile up on me. I'm sure you know those types of mornings, right? Or maybe it's evenings, or afternoons, or anything in between. The duties of the day seemed to be coming for me before I ever got started. After not sleeping well, I woke up tired and just didn't feel like taking on another day. But like all my fellow caregivers, I stood up and stared this day in the face without backing down.

Finally, I had an intelligent thought emerging from the emotional wreckage. I began to pray. I told God exactly how I felt, how heavy the load was, and that I wanted to just give up. I must admit that my prayers were birthed from sheer frustration, but nonetheless, in a few minutes, the funniest thing began to happen...

My day started feeling lighter. Worry seemed to disappear and my heart and mind had order again. As I began to feel better, I wondered why I wait until I am at my wit's end to give it all to Him. Why do I wait until I can't handle anymore before I bring it all to Him? He is right here, no matter where "here" is for us. His peace is constant, but I can so easily get swept away in emotional craziness. It's easy to get my focus off and onto the busy-ness.  It's too easy to look at what is staring me in the face and forget that He's got my back!

Today, I will switch off the busy-ness and focus on His presence. I'll set my mind on His faithfulness instead of my feelings of lack. My meditations will be on how He can help me instead of focusing on how far short I feel I am. My heart will be on His heart, on His ways, on His ever-abiding presence that is in my "here" to undergird and strengthen me to make today. Will you join me? 


3-Fold Strand of Grace


 I found myself in Nahum 1:7 this morning during my personal devotions. I talked mostly about the last portion of the verse in my Facebook Live devotions (Peace Out!) and I'll share that video below. But the more I thought about this little verse in one of the smallest books of the Bible, the more it exploded inside me!

The verse simply says The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him. (NKJV) The little verse is nestled right smack dab in the middle of Nahum the prophet's declaration of God's vengeance on His enemies. Thankfully, we are believers and Jesus' blood covers us so we are saved from His wrath! 

Here Nahum is declaring the justice of God against evil and yet we find a 3-fold strand of grace.

Strand 1. The Lord is Good.

God is good, and His goodness doesn't fluctuate. He is good when things go our way and everything is smooth. But He is just as good when things are not going our way and we find ourselves in difficult and trying situations. His goodness doesn't change in response to circumstances. He is good. Always. Every day. In all circumstances.

Strand 2. A Stronghold in the Day of Trouble

I love that when my day (or days) go awry, He is my stronghold. I can run to Him. I can hide behind His grace. I can let Him carry me through the raging rivers of life. We always have a place to run to and it's in Him. He won't tell us that things got too complicated for Him. He'll never tell us He's too busy, too tired, or too anything. He will continue to protect our hearts. He's a stronghold we can trust.

Strand 3. He Knows Who is His

When we declare our trust in Him, we proclaim we are His - He knows just how much we are trusting Him whether it is a little or a lot. God knows us. He knows when we trust Him to get us from day to day in caregiving. He even knows when we hold back those hidden things we don't trust Him with. And because He knows we are His, He patiently waits for us to bring it all to Him as He undergirds us with His strength.

Today, I will take a walk through my own heart to see if there is anything I am not trusting Him with. I'll look around for areas that I am still trying to do in my own strength. My prayer will be for Him to reveal to me anything and everything that I am still holding on to as I commit to trusting Him with it all. Because He knows. My meditations will be on relinquishing my grip and placing all of my cares and concerns into His hand that is gripping me! 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 some of those in print or on Kindle.



Download Poems for Caregivers for free! 

Poems for Caregivers bookcover




Time for a Trim?

 

This morning, I was tending to my plants out on my front patio. I always go out in the mornings to move them around so they get optimal sunshine, and I water them. I noticed they had some dead leaves and stems, so I grabbed my scissors and started cutting away. When I finished, I stepped back and thought man, they look so fresh and pretty now!

I thought of the scripture where Jesus says that the master gardener prunes the branches so the plant bears more fruit. (John 15) As I gathered the dead bits and pieces I'd cut away, I wondered what things God might want to take out of my life - so that I can be more fruitful for His Kingdom. While I am very willing - I am also a bit hesitant.

As caregivers, we often feel such a sense of loss it's hard to cope with the extra knocks of life. Early on in my caregiving years, I discovered this after I'd racked up a large amount of credit card debt. Once I realized I was buying anything and everything I had an unction for to try and make the sense of loss go away, I stopped. That was a costly lesson. But now I can stop myself from silly purchases that are just trying to negate the sense of loss. 

We feel lots of losses - from our friends, even family, a "normal" life as we adjust to caregiving. So, to think that He needs to cut something more away - anything at all - it can feel like just another loss that is adding up. 

But here's the thing- He's not going to trim away one thing we need. He won't cut away to the "quick" so to speak. God so gently nips and tucks those empty things and frees us from needlessly carrying them forever. My plants didn't look bare when I was done, even though I thought they might! lol - They actually looked fuller when the dead parts were gone. That's the glory of our Master Gardener tending to us. When he's done, our lives will be fuller because of His work in and for us.

Today, I will yield to Him all my worries, concerns, and burdens. I will purposefully invite Him into the garden of my heart and ask Him to cut away the dead parts. I'll rejoice in knowing that as He works this heart-garden, it will be more beautiful when He's done. With gratitude, I'll welcome Him into my heart and life to create the beauty He sees in and through me. 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!


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#Overwhelm

 

chris looking intently at his sister

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling like you have an extra 9 million things to do on top of the regular 9 million things you do every day anyway? As if caregiving wasn't enough for a day, right? It's easy to feel like we are pulling in so many directions. And, of course, there'll be someone standing off in the distance reminding us to take time for yourself - the caregiver needs care too.  Smh. We sure do - but when? Am I right?

It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed. It's an overwhelm that doesn't go away while you're sleeping at night. It just sits there waiting until you get up, then boom. I think it never really goes away on most days. However, there are a few brief reprieves here and there. 

Does it ever feel like there are many things vying for your attention? The internet. My clients. My phone. Another text. eMails. Sometimes, even the things we use to cope and get through our days play into our emotional overwhelm. 

But there's this one scripture that is on my mind this morning. Psalm 61:2 - when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. David had his moments of overwhelm too. That just makes sense since he was a king running an entire kingdom! In Hebrew, overwhelm is a word that could be translated as shrouded, clothed, faint, hidden, or overwhelmed. Boy, that about says it all doesn't it?

How easily our hearts can become shrouded by our responsibilities and concerns as caregivers. But get this - the next word is lead. Guess what that means in the original Hebrew? It's also a primitive root and it means to guide, transport, bring or lead. When I am too overwhelmed to crawl - God can carry me and my overwhelmed heart to the Rock. He will not leave me stranded wrangling with my emotions or concerns. He will pick me up - with all my woes and transport me into His heart where He protects me, strengthens me, provides for me, and gives me His peace. Wow.

Today, I will wait for Him to pick up this mess I have become and carry me right to His heart. Then, I will hand Him each thing that is on my plate one by one. I'll let Him take me and my overwhelm into His heart will I will listen for its steady beat. If you look for me today - that's where you'll find me. Will you join me?

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 ...