Perspectives

Chris standing tall

It's so easy to focus on the craziness and hardships of caregiving, isn't it? Well, to be fair, it's all right there in our faces, and it's hard to see around them sometimes. Together, I'm sure we could make quite the exhaustive list that would include social isolation, loneliness, exhaustion, sleeplessness, financial struggles, living grief, and more. I'm pretty sure I've touched on all of these at some point in our devotions for caregivers. 

We know we're not going to wake up in the morning, and everything is going to just be alright. Of course, that's assuming we slept at all last night. Lol.  Something at some time has rocked our world, and we make the choice of caregiving. Some say it's a sacrificial choice; I say it was the only choice for me. But however we got here - wherever here is - here we are! Now to survive. We all have our strategies and tips for surviving caregiving. Some are conservative, and some are probably a bit bizarre for those who don't understand how ravaging caregiving can be on emotions and mental health. But so far, we can rejoice that we've made it to today's here, right?

A post by a friend on Facebook this morning was all it took to help me reshape my attitude for today. She said, "God only created good days, therefore, I replaced my childish prayer with... "Lord, help me to see the good in the day you provided. That made me think of Psalm 118:24. This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Now, if we are honest, and we are in this blog, all days don't feel like they are created equal. And even the best of days can change on a dime if our loved one was to fall or become ill. It changes everything. That's why I own a laptop that I can drop in a bag and carry with me for emergencies.

But in the middle of our hectic and actively overflowing caregiving lives, God brings us peace. He still makes the day, and He still walks through the nights. Some days, we may have to try a little harder and look a little deeper, but there are good things that are God things in every day. When we become the seeker, we will find Him in our day-to-days. Every single time.

Today, I purpose to look for His hand in my day-to-days. I'll take some time for reflection on how far He's brought us already and trust that He's still got me as I forge into new days ahead. I will shift my perspective and diligently look for His hand at work in me, for me, and through me. I will be thankful for this day - and all He does IS good - that He has made and allowed me to live. I'll take a deep breath and thank Him for one more day. Will you join me?



                                                                                                                                           


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Blessings?

 

me and Chris at his first ever 5K

There are many blessings along life's highway, am I right? As caregivers, each day can bring many blessings, and as I'm learning to look for things to be thankful for, no matter how small they may seem, blessings abound around me. It's funny how we find "new" things when our perspective changes. But some days are harder than others. And sometimes, blessings bring along a bit of trouble. A new car comes with the obligation of making a payment, maintenance requirements, tags, and insurance. A new house comes with a mortgage and upkeep. 

Recently, my son was able to get a SmartVest, which is a percussion vest that vibrates to "beat" against his chest and break up junk in his lungs. It was such a blessing. It seems to truly help keep him clearer from day to day. But, of course, it came at a cost. Not money, but time. He is to wear it twice a day and let it do its thing for 20 minutes each time. I was so happy to get it, then realized the time commitment involved. I've adjusted and worked it right into our daily schedules. But I was overwhelmed for a little while by "just one more thing" that I had to try and squeeze into our heavily scheduled days.

It's so easy to find ourselves in a state of overwhelm, even with the good things that happen. It's great to find physical therapy professionals that will help, but then there is the huge chunk of time it takes. It seems crazy, doesn't it? We are so thankful and so overwhelmed. Oh, the emotional dichotomy. So extreme. So raw. So real. I'm so glad that His shoulders are broad enough to carry it all, no matter how crazy our emotions or lives are. Nothing is too heavy for Him, and He never tells us that He won't help. 

Today, I will continue to thank Him for the blessings as I pray for wisdom to arrange them into my days. I'll remind myself that He's carrying them for me, and He's carrying me too! My meditation will be on how present He is to help, whether I need tears wiped away or a heavy burden transferred from one place to the next. I'll grab a snack instead of lunch and trust that He's got me covered before and behind with enough grace for today. Will you join me?



                                                                                                                                                                

Through the Desert, Through the Rain He Remains

 

mama and Aunt Polly

Those long nights can take a toll, can't they? For me, I've figured out that when Chris is doing well, I do well. But when he's not - I kinda lose it. I find myself grasping for His grace like a person without air gasps for breath. I can feel so needy, so helpless, and so vulnerable in those times. But I must say that every time God has come through. He has carried me when I thought there was no way to take another step. Why? Because He is faithful. The way things are going does not affect His faithfulness.

This morning, I was thinking about the whiney children of Israel. They complained about everything. It's not that they didn't have things to complain about - it's just that they chose to complain and whine about everything. They said that they wished they could have stayed in Egypt - at least they knew what to expect as slaves, right? Bondage brought with it a set of expected experiences. They knew they'd be mistreated. They knew they'd be overworked and abused. But the wilderness? Who knows what can happen there? Sometimes we become more comfortable with our bondages than progress since we know what to expect. As God leads us out of those bondages, we are in a position of trusting Him, period. 

So, this morning, in my devotions, I started thinking of His faithfulness. I thought of the whiney Children of Israel and how He didn't leave them, even though they were ungrateful and cranky. And while I certainly can't say that I've never been cranky or ungrateful, I do rest in the calm assurance that He won't leave me here in my life's wilderness, either. That's a comforting thought. 

Yesterday, as Chris started having asthma difficulties, I had a thought that brought me to His continued faithfulness. I thought, my song hasn't changed over all these years - because it's about Him, not me. He stays with us and is faithful during good times and bad. He is faithful in the desert and in the falling rain. He remains faithful during times of joy and times of weeping. He never tells us He "can't handle" us or our situation. He remains.

Today, I will be thankful for God's continued grace, faithfulness, and presence in my life. I'll remind myself that He's never packed up His bags and said He couldn't handle any situation. My meditation will be on His faithfulness and how I can't do anything to make Him be unfaithful. His faithfulness doesn't fluctuate with circumstances - it's just who He is, and He's got me. So, I will trust His faithfulness for one more day - will you join me?



                                                                                                                                                                

Seek and Ye Shall Find

chris at bluff creek park

 Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to strategize ways of dealing with stress. It's something we all deal with, especially caregivers. I'm walking and exercising more, which helps the body get rid of stress and it helps improve sleep to some degree. But I've also been working on training my thoughts. I've been working on purposefully finding things to be thankful for. At first, it was a bit difficult because let's face it, caregiving is hard work. 

This morning, I was plugging Chris into a nebulizer for a breathing treatment as he had an asthma attack yesterday afternoon after we'd been out for a little bit. As I was doing his treatment and his tube feeding, I didn't even really think about it; this "thought" just rolled up out of me. I thought, thank you, Lord, for carrying us through the long night. My own thankfulness surprised me! Lol. I realized at that moment that it's getting easier and easier to be thankful, even for the little stuff.

Jesus said seek, and ye shall find. Obviously, if He said it, then it's true. But it's also true on many levels. If we seek Him - we'll find Him. If we seek rejection- we'll find rejection. If we seek truth - we'll find truth. And if we seek things to be thankful for - we'll find things to be thankful for. When I started the quest of determining to grow thankfulness, I didn't realize what would happen. I knew it would help my overall attitude, and changing my perspective has certainly done that. And for that - I'm thankful. (Haha - see what I did there?) - smile.

My point is, I think, that when we truly start looking (seeking) for things to be thankful for - even in the difficulties of caregiving, we'll find so many ways He walks into our daily lives to support and help us. Being thankful may not change our circumstances, but it changes us.

Today, I will continue to seek things to thank Him for. As I go about my day, I'll look for all the hidden blessings that I may have missed by complaining so much. (I know I'm the only one who does that.) I'll shift my focus from my problems to my provider, from my hurts to my healer, from my needs to my nurturer. Man, He really is everything for us, isn't He? For that, I will be thankful. Will you join me?



Book cover of the 1 John Study Guide


I have two bookstores of devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more! You can get my downloadable eBooks (some are free!) from Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore. A few of them are also available in print or for Kindle on Amazon!

Mismatched Ends

 

helping chris stand up at the park

Do you ever feel like you're running around all day working hard to try and get the proverbial ends to meet? It can definitely feel like it's a circus around here sometimes as I juggle to keep everything moving as it should. But when those "ends' do meet - it seems like they are mismatched. Every day has a list of all the things that need to be done, plus unexpected add-ons. It certainly feels like things keep spinning around and around. 

What do you do on those days when everything feels out of control? I have a few personal strategies, like stopping and making lists. I'll sip an extra cup of coffee or tea and make a list so I can more easily focus on those items that have to be done and let other tasks wait until tomorrow if they can. But while I'm sipping, I'm also praying. I ask God for wisdom in all my dealings. I include everything too. I ask the Lord for help handling my clients and managing work tasks. I ask Him to help me arrange my day, so I'm most productive. I even ask Him what I need to write in these devotionals and what I need to share on my Facebook Live devotions. I really don't leave any concerns out. Why? Because I know He cares about every little detail. Honestly, I can't imagine that, but I know He does.

This morning, I was reading God's own account of creation in Job 38-41. I love that passage! In Job 39:1, the Lord continues with Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Have you watched as the wild deer were born? Do you know how many months they carry their young? Are you aware of the time of their delivery? (NLT) As I read through these few verses, I thought, God doesn't miss a thing! If He watches over the wild goats and deer, He must watch over us too! He sees all my mismatched ends and He knows my struggle to try and get them to meet.

So, today, I'll give Him all the mismatched pieces of my caregiving life. I'll include everything from disposable bed pads to wheelchairs, feeding tubes, nebulizers, and standing frames! He sees each part, and He can help me juggle them all. And at the same time, He gives me His peace and calm in the midst of it all. I believe I'll lean in a little closer and trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?




They Don't Know

 


I've been asked a few times about writing our story. A couple of things have kept me from taking it too seriously, though. Firstly, when I start thinking back to the very beginning in November of 2008, it seems so huge. I wouldn't know how to condense it all into a readable form. Secondly, there isn't a traditional "happy ending." Honestly, no one has lived happily ever after, yet. So, since the story has nowhere to go, I choose not to undertake the task. I might in the future, who knows.

This morning, I read the first couple of verses in Psalm 3. Twice, David says, "many are they." He said there were "many" troubling him and that there were "many" who didn't think God would help him navigate his circumstances. Have you ever felt that way? I know the overwhelm of caregiving is often insurmountable, or so it seems. But here we are. Right? There's busy - then there's caregiving busy. Two different things, really. Caregiving busy is pretty much double everyone else's busy, would you agree?

However, after David expresses the many things against him - he starts verse three with "But You, O Lord...." He turned all the many into a single statement of trust. As caregivers, we can have a lot of manys to navigate every day too. I know you have a list that looks something similar to mine and it includes figuring out how to dress, feed, transfer, do physical therapy, get to doctor appointments, etc for a whole other person, plus meeting your own needs and those of your family. That's a lot of manys that seem to be pressing in every single day. I didn't even mention all the financial, social, family, and work pressures that we must address from day to day.

Here's the thing - others may say or think what they want - but they don't know. Those manys pressing in on us are often hurtful words of others who don't have a clue. I just love it when someone tells me I need a break. (Please read the sarcasm indicated!) Or they tell me I need to get out, see the world, and experience new things. They don't know. 

It's okay, though, because they also don't know about the thread of grace that weaves throughout the days and nights of caregiving. They don't know how much we lean on God for strength, direction, help, security, and more, right? When David said many are saying this or that - they didn't know that David was trusting God to be his shield, the lifter of his head, his glory, and the One who was listening intently to his heart's cry.

Today, I'll remind myself that lots of people just don't know - but God does. He knows the silent tears we shed and all the emotions, feelings, and unexpressed words behind them. He knows our hearts - and why we choose to love our loved ones by providing their care. He knows - what they don't know. That is quite alright with me since He's the one doing all the carrying. I'll take a deep breath, relax, and rest in His arms for one more day - will you join me?



                                                                                                                                                                

What To-Do About To-Do Lists

Chris in the standing frame

 I don't know about anyone else, but it sure seems like my to-do list(s) are growing lately. Is this happening to you? I'm tied up until noon, pretty much just getting Chris's food ready for the day. I've been feeding him a blenderized diet for some time now. As beneficial as it is, it is also time-consuming. I did figure out to do all his tube feedings for the day in the morning, then I'm not making meals all day long. I guess it is more efficient. Who knows? Lol.

Of course, food prep is mixed in with getting him bathed, dressed, up, and in the living room. I think I eat breakfast in there somewhere. Oh yeah, and do the FaceBook Live devotions and write this devotion. Whew! I'm tired now just thinking about all that.

Then comes the afternoon, which is filled with Chris' therapy. We do the standing frame, range of motion, and all sorts of exercises. No wonder I feel like I can't get any "real" work done, right? Lol. I also have a long list of places I need to call, like getting the van serviced, changing my cell phone carrier, and scheduling a fireplace cleaning for the fall. But all of those cost money, right? Which means I need to work. Oh my - I think my head is spinning. Does anyone relate? I know many of you may have far more on your plate than I do, and I am so sorry.

Does it ever feel like your to-do list just keeps growing, but your to-done list doesn't? I remind myself nightly to keep from saying things like, "I didn't get anything done today." I DID get things done - even though I have lots remaining on my to-do list. In the natural, it's easy to feel like a failure. But we much reach deep into our spirit man and remind ourselves that we are victors. Every day we survive caregiving makes us winners!

Today is a good day to take a deep breath, pour another cup of coffee or tea, and remind ourselves of who we are in Him. Caregiving doesn't define us - it's what we do. He defines and describes us as children of the King, believers, sons and daughters, Kingdom dwellers, and those worth the blood of His dear son. That shifts the perspective a little, doesn't it? 

Today, while I try once again to whittle away at this growing to-do list, I will remind myself of the Kingdom I belong to. I'll ask God to remind me who I am to Him. My meditations will be on His undying love for me (is that possible? YES!), of His never-ending and always-reaching grace, and I will choose to rest in Him, even while I am working. Will you join me?



Book cover of the 1 John Study Guide


I have two bookstores of devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more! You can get my downloadable eBooks (some are free!) from Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore. A few of them are also available in print or for Kindle on Amazon!



Progress is Progress

 

chris wearing his hat at bluff creek trails

This morning in my devotions, I found myself in Exodus 23. I was reading about how God was going to push the enemies and adversaries out before the Children of Israel. But He didn't want to do it all at once. He could have, of course. With just one swipe of His hand, they could have all been gone. But He chose to do it a little at a time in order to let the land recover and to keep it from being overrun by beasts. He always has a plan, and it's always better than mine!

I did my live devotion on this passage this morning and talked about how progress is progress. It's been my mantra for almost 14 years now. I have learned to rejoice in even the tiniest progress because it's still progress. This is applicable in our spiritual maturity as well. If I let His peace reign in my heart faster this time than I did last time - it's still progress! If I ran to Him first when something broadsided me emotionally - it's still progress, right?

Our journey is about learning to trust Him more. It's about running to Him first with our needs, hurts, wants, and emotions. We learn that He is our first and last option instead of just our last one. Has anyone ever told you all we can do is pray? That sounds so pathetic, so last choice. But really, it's an honor to be able to bring Him all our requests. The more we do it, the sooner we start doing it until our thoughts become prayers. But for those of us who are not there yet - progress is progress.

God is so patient and meets us where we are. He watches over our hearts even when we lean on Him as a last resort. He doesn't tell us that we should have come sooner. He's just glad we came. Little by little, we learn to let His peace reign sooner. We begin turning to His word quicker when we face trials. Scriptures begin to come to mind more frequently, so we can draw strength from them throughout the day. Progress is progress.

Today, I'll turn my thoughts to God's patience with me. I'll spend some time reflecting on all He has already done and how I've learned to trust Him more over time. I'll remind myself that He's always been there for me, and He isn't going anywhere anytime soon! With a thankful heart, I'll trust Him for today. Will you join me?




Sunrise Sunset

 


One of my favorite things to do is to make the short drive down to Lake Hefner and watch the sunset. as silly as that may sound, being near the lake and two other walking paths influenced my apartment choice. It's literally about a 5-minute drive to the lake. We go down and park on the north side, and I push him down to the lighthouse and back. So far, I've never been disappointed!

After watching the sunset at the lake last night, I got up this morning and headed toward the dumpster to take the trash out. There was the most gorgeous sunrise to greet me. Well, you know, that got me thinking. It was the exact same sun we watched "go down" last night, and here it was to greet me in the morning too. The only thing that had changed was my perspective.

Sunsets can be brilliant and bright with deep orange hues. Sunrises are often bright and yellow as they light up the daytime sky. Either way, it's beautiful, and it sends us different signals. In the evening, the sunsetting tells us it's time to slow down, wind down, and get ready for a restful night's sleep. In the morning, the brightness signals it's time to get up and about and get busy with the day's doings.

As I was thinking about all this, my thoughts went to how Go keeps us day in and day out - sunrise to sunset - to sunrise again. He continues to protect our hearts through the longest nights and the darkest days. He's always right there whether we see Him or not. Of course, we know the sun doesn't literally go away at night. It's the earth that's turning - not the sun moving around us like was once the thought. So, whether it is nighttime or a super cloudy day - the sun is still there - even when we cannot see it. It's still doing its "work."

I think God is like that too. He's always there even when we cannot "see" His work. Sometimes our emotions cloud our sight, and we can't see Him from the bottom side of the clouds. But He's still there. He hasn't moved - we did. During those dark nights of the soul, we can't see Him - but He hasn't moved. He is always right there, right where we left Him.

Many times we are tempted to throw in our proverbial towel - and sometimes, those feelings come several times in a day. Or in an hour. Or in a minute. Those are times we must remind ourselves that He is still there - He has not moved. He is still with us.

Today, I'll meditate on how God is always "there," just like the sun. It's life that moves us around, and we often cannot see Him. I'll turn my thoughts to how He is bright, light, and brilliant all the time, no matter what my skies look like. I'll remind myself that He is constant, and I am not. I'll be thankful that His brilliance is not influenced by my position or circumstances. I'll trust that He is here. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                                

God's Place

Chris holding a football

Since yesterday, I've been thinking about some things I shared here and in the FB live devotion I did. My thoughts were on how nothing surprises God. You'll never hear Him say, "I did not see that coming." Instead, God already has a plan for anything and everything we face. As I shared yesterday, He had already planned the way through the wilderness for His people before He went to Egypt to get them. Nothing took Him by surprise. Not the Red Sea, Pharoah's army, the lack of food or water, giants in the land... nothing was a surprise, and His provision was already planned.

I've tried to bring those thoughts into my caregiving situation. Maybe God doesn't keep things from happening to us - but He's already got the provision ready to go for the journey. God didn't prevent Joseph from being sold into slavery. He didn't keep Daniel from sitting all night in a lion's den. God didn't shackle Goliath so David wouldn't have to face him. That list could go on and on, right?

I propose that God doesn't always prevent things from happening - but makes the way through it - before it occurs. He can do that since He can see all of time all at one time. He's not living second by second like we are - He's already marched through time, so we just need to follow in His footsteps to get to the other side.

In Psalm 68, the NLT says O God, when you led your people from Egypt, when you marched through the wilderness....In my mind, that looks like God marching beforehand (since He's not bound by time) and making the way. I was really excited to find this verse this morning. But what really got me was a couple of verses before that. In verses 5 and 6, it says, Father to the fatherless, defender of widows, this is God whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families... He has a place for the lonely, and He's already got it all set up - before we even realize our own loneliness.

I believe God's place holds the lonely. His space houses those cast away or rejected. We all have a place in Him, and no one seeking Him will be denied. I love how He can make all the provisions for us - before the "stuff" even happens! That blows my mind.

Today, I'll look for His footprints in the wilderness. When I find them, I'll just put my foot where His foot has already been. Instead of wandering around like a chicken with its head cut off - I'll trust His steps each step of the way. I'll just follow His lead - and trust Him to take care of the rest. Will you join me?



God's Plan

Chris sitting outside on the patio

 I know that we will never figure out God's plans; we are not supposed to. But there are so many things that leave me scratching my head in wonder. Since yesterday, I've been thinking about the people in the Bible who faced adversity. I noted, first off, that there is no one anywhere in the Bible who did not face some sort of trouble. But this morning, my mind landed on the Children of Israel and their journey out of bondage into freedom. It was not an easy plight.

You know, God could have just picked them up and translated or transported them from Egypt to Cannan. No journey. No losses. No worries. No miracles...

He didn't use what we might think would be the easy way. Instead, He took them through the wilderness to the promised land. Their own obstinance and lack of trust made their journey a lot longer than it could have been. But here's the thing. God had a plan. He didn't bring them out and up to the banks of the Red Sea and then try to figure out what He was going to do. He knew the route, the bumps along the way, and the obstacles they would face, both in the natural and in their own heart.

I was sharing some of this in my FaceBook Live devotions this morning, and I had an epiphany. God has a plan. He knew how He was going to get the Children of Israel to the fulfillment of His promises. He wasn't sitting on His throne trying to figure out what to do. They faced one peril after another - and God always came through. Instead of this picture of Him sitting on His throne wringing His hands, worrying about what might or might not happen next, I saw Him excited. It's more likely that He's leaning way over heaven's portals and eagerly waiting for the next part. 

He knew they would run out of food - so He planned for the manna. It wasn't a surprise for Him. He knew they'd have no water - so He planned to provide water out of the rock. I guess I've always viewed Him as just waiting for things to crash and then doing something. But instead, He's excited. In my imagination, I see Him saying, "I can't wait for this next part!" Because He already has the answer planned. 

Today, I will sit back and trust His plan - because I know He has one that He is excited about! I'll take my thoughts back to those times in my life when I knew that I knew that I knew - He came through. My meditations will be on His care for us. So, I'll trust His plan for today. Will you join me?



Better Plans


 Ever have one of those days where it seems like everything goes wrong? Way, way back in our minds, we know it's not everything, but it sure can feel like it. It's so easy for overwhelm to take over. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I hopped on my treadmill, and it decided something or other needs to be lubed. I have no idea what that means - it'll probably be easier to just buy another one. Lol. Then the blender I use to make my son's blenderized meals quit on me. My computer's been acting up for a while, and it all just piled in on me last night. It's just frustrating, that's all. As if I had enough time to accomplish all the regular caregiving tasks throughout the day, now I have to figure out how to replace these items and shop for them. (I really don't like shopping.)

I know we all have these sorts of days, but it sure feels a little like sparring did and just getting hit over and over again with no way to defend myself. But when I got up this morning to take on these additional tasks along with my regular ones, I knew that it was just another day to trust God. I know better than to try and trust in my own resources - 'cause I ain't got none. There really isn't a better plan than just trusting Him, is there?

I wonder if our Bible heroes thought about "other plans" or better ones. Maybe Joseph could have come up with something "better" than sitting in a prison for all those years. Somehow, though, even through all the adversity, he continued to trust God. We don't really have any way of knowing if he ever doubted that the dream God gave him would come to pass. I mean, seriously, he had to wonder. 

The three Hebrew children were hoping God had a better plan than a walk through the fiery furnace. They had to hope or at least think there was a maybe. Their words still ring true today - our God is able to deliver us - but if He doesn't - we still won't bow. God is able to make all our pain go away - but if He doesn't?  He could heal us and our loved ones in a second - but if He doesn't? He could wipe Covid off the face of the earth - but if He doesn't? If He does, or if He doesn't - aren't we just going to trust Him anyway? I can't think of a better plan, can you?

Today, I'll remind myself that God is indeed still in control, and there is not a better plan than trusting Him. My thoughts will be on the heroes of our faith who trusted God all the way through their adversities, and I'll be committed to doing the same. I'll tell myself that now is not a good time to give up or give in! And I'll trust Him for just one more day - today. Will you join me?

Today's Live along the same lines:



                                                                                                                                                                

True Faith

Eli walking beside Chris' chair

 Has anyone ever been able to completely and accurately define faith? Faith and love are abstract nouns that we cannot see or touch. They can be difficult to conclusively define. Faith and trust are closely related, and I'm starting to think you can't have one without the other. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for - the evidence of things not seen. Faith is not the thing we are believing for, is it? We may be believing God to provide a house, a vehicle, an income, etc. But those things are not the substance. Faith is the substance. Faith is the evidence.

Hopefully, I just blew all your theology! lol. Having faith in God is the substance of life, I'm thinking. It's not what we own, what we accomplish, or what we even do with our lives. Faith gives life substance. Faith is the evidence - not the "stuff" we get through believing. I'm not sure I can describe it accurately or acceptably. But faith is it.

Faith is that force way down inside our beings. When we are ready to throw in the towel and give up - it's faith that whispers, hold on. When we have cried our last tear, and there are no words left to pray, it's faith that helps us get up and keep going. Why? Because somehow, no matter how difficult it seems, how challenging life becomes, or how hard caregiving becomes - faith is carrying us through. It's faith that sends a hand up through the water's surface when we are sure we are drowning in life's sea.

We've talked about it before, but I was in a group last night that made it sound like if we have faith, nothing bad ever happens to us. Tell that to Jesus, who faced the cross. Explain that to Paul, who was imprisoned, beaten, and shipwrecked. Tell that to Joseph, who was betrayed by his own brothers and cruelly sold into slavery. Tell that to every caregiver who got up this morning, ready to take on another day of caring for a loved one. Whether it's through tears of joy or sadness, physical difficulties of their own, or not being sure of what the next step entails - caregivers get up day after day and keep doing what they do - by faith. Because faith is the substance. 

By faith, David faced and killed the giant. He didn't avoid Goliath by faith. When Moses brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, they ran right into the Red Sea. To make matters worse, Pharoah's army was closing in from behind. Through faith - they believed in God and crossed the sea on dry ground. That would be the same sea that wiped out Pharoah's army. Moses didn't avoid confrontation or difficult situations through faith; he walked right through them. 

Today, I will remind myself that circumstances do not dictate to me whether faith is present or not. I'll gladly take on the difficulties knowing that God has me - and that's faith, pure and simple. It doesn't mean I'll avoid hard decisions and won't face any giants. But faith does mean that I'll come through whatever life presents before me today. Faith is trusting that God still has me and carries me when necessary. So, I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                                            

Got Faith? (The Answer is Yes)

 


When I got up this morning, I didn't want to do anything. Not that that could happen in the life of a caregiver, but it was my thought and my attitude anyway. I didn't even want to read my Bible. (Don't tell anyone!) Honestly, I knew if I didn't do my FaceBook live devotions, someone would be calling to see if I was okay. And I didn't want to talk to anyone either. So, I thumbed through a few scriptures, then settled on one. But I wasn't happy with it, so I pulled out my declarations book. I compiled all the "I will" statements out of the Psalms and put them in a book. I opened it, and my eyes fell on Psalm 28:1 To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock! 

Maybe you don't have days like that. Maybe you don't need a pick-me-up to get you going. But I did today. And I found that when I started reading the declarations and I turned my ugh into some I will's, my mind began to clear, and I could grab hold of Him once again. In short, my attitude changed. What ended up happening was that I encouraged myself with my own devotions. Lol. God is so faithful to meet us right where we are - even in the middle of our messes. 

In I Thessalonians 3, Paul mentions his afflictions and distresses. He said that the faith of the Thessalonian believers encouraged him even in his situation. What's interesting to me is that Paul didn't try to act like nothing bad was happening. He was open and honest about it. That's what I like about the Psalms, too - because until we are honest about our feelings, even if it means we think we don't have faith (we do) - God can meet us there.

Having faith doesn't mean we never face difficult circumstances. It doesn't mean life isn't hard. It does mean that we just keep running back to Him! The fact that you picked up your Bible this morning is an act of faith. If you whispered (or yelled) a prayer this morning - you have faith. If you asked God to help me make it through today - you demonstrated faith. Our circumstances and situations are not an accurate measure of faith. Think Daniel in the lion's den, Joseph in the prison cell, Paul in a shipwreck, Moses on the back side of the wilderness, and Jesus on the cross. These heroes of faith faced such dire circumstances. They trusted God. They had faith. If you are still running to Him - you have faith too!

Today, I will remind myself that the fact I am still seeking Him is a faith indicator. I'll meditate on these stories of saints who trusted Him no matter what they went through in life. I will NOT measure my faith by my circumstances. Instead, I will look to Him to carry me through one more day. Will you join me?

(Here's today's live where I talked myself happy. :-))



The Need

 


I'm just sitting here this morning, thinking about all I need to get done today. I bet you have a long list too. As I look at my must-dos, and what-can-waits and sip a bit of my second cup of coffee, I hear my heart sigh. It's a good sigh - not like those long ones that signal I don't know what to do. It was a simple, gentle, surprisingly content sigh. And as it escaped my body, I heard my heart say, I need You. 

There was no prayer request, not really any prayer at all. I didn't need what God could do for me. I just need Him. It's so easy to get lost in our long list of prayer requests and crazy caregiver thoughts. There were no thoughts of "needs" before the sigh. It actually kind of surprised me too! I just need Him, and it's not even that I need Him to do anything. Just that my soul was welcoming His presence into my day. 

During my morning devotions earlier, I was reading through Psalm 145. David wrote it, but it's a bit different than some of his other psalms. He isn't asking for a thing in Psalm 145. David isn't pouring out his heart about troublesome matters or his enemies, or his dire circumstances. He is just talking about God's greatness. 

And in verse 18, David says that God is near to everyone who calls on Him in earnest. So, I can surmise by that, that He is near. As I heard my heart cry out for Him, He moved nearer - if that is even possible. Maybe it's just that I am more aware of His presence because I want to be.

Today, I encourage you to take a few minutes to just tell God you need His presence - not His presents. :-) I'm going to rejoice in the truth that He is right here - walking this journey with me. I'll take my eyes off the giants that may be out there and look past them to the great, magnificent, loving God. He will me my focus today - 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.


Over and Over and Over Again

 

chris and kyrie at the park in Norman, OK

My mind is like a locomotive on a circular track. It goes round and round with no clear stopping spots. As caregivers, there are lots of things to juggle. And that's an everyday thing. Every once in a while, surprises happen, too, like someone wrecking our cars, our loved one getting sick, no supplies this month, and so forth, that complicates our already full and complicated mental strain. It's so difficult to find those restful moments where we can stop, right? 

My quietest time is early in the morning. I get up and make my first pot of coffee. While it's brewing, I change and turn Chris. Then he usually goes right back to sleep while I grab that first cup, my Bible, and my journal. If I don't get this quiet, reflective, prayerful time in that time slot, it's usually gone for the rest of the day. I am learning to stop during the day and just read a chapter in a book or unplug for a minute or two. That's helpful. 

In our busy days, it's easy for our thoughts to stray. They take off in a flash and are miles away before I stop and remind myself to reel them back in. Some days, I have to do that all day long, time and time again. And I think God is okay with that - He gets us, first of all. And as long as we are in constant reeling in mode - it's okay because He's got us. So, if we need to pull our thoughts back to God and His word over and over and over again every single day, I believe His peace still has us covered.

In Isaiah 26:3, the Amplified version reads You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and character] is stayed on You, because He commits himself to You, lean on You, and hopes confidently in You. I think it pleases Him that we keep coming back as many times as it takes. Don't you? I think He realizes that our brains are like busy train stations with busy thoughts bustling in and out and about all day long. So, He created and opened up a constant flow of peace. It doesn't turn off, run out, or dry up. We just have to keep coming back to Him (the spout) as many times as it takes.

I love that about Him, so today, I will run to Him over and over and over again. Why? Because I trust Him. He's walked with me through every single one of my todays so far, and I trust He'll be in this moment in today's today as well. I'll remind myself that He is the one I trust. I will let my heart trust in His ever-flowing, never-ending peace today. I'll pull my heart and my brain right up under that faucet and let His peace drench my soul as I continue to learn to rest in Him. Will you join me under the spout?



                                                                                                                                                                

God Created Hearts

I wonder if the caregiver heart is the fullest place on earth. We carry so much every single day. Our emotions and thoughts can literally be...