We Have Waited on Him

Chris looking intently at his sister

 As one year comes to an end and another begins, it's customary to look back over the last year and assess all of its ins and outs. We also tend to look forward and set new goals for the upcoming year. I've been doing some reflecting on 2023 the last few days, and it's not all bad. Every year, every month, every week, and every day can present various challenges for caregivers; there's no doubt about that. But I found us in Isaiah 25 during my personal devotions this morning.

It's a prophecy being given by Isaiah, the prophet. I'm honestly not sure what it was pertaining to at the time, but I found some interesting nuggets in the reading. Isaiah starts out praising God for all He's done and for being faithful and true. That's always a good place to start because it's solid. We can continue to count on God to be there for us no matter what twists and turns our journies take. 

In verse 4, Isaiah says that God has been a strength for the poor. I'd say that's me. That's us. We are poor in spirit and need God desperately, whether we are caregivers or not. He will be our strength as we realize our great need for Him. He says that God is a strength for the needy in his distress. God always steps up for us when we find ourselves in situations that highly distress us or elevate our stress. He's always got the peace, direction, wisdom, and anything else we need in the moment. Finally, in verse 4, Isaiah says that God has been a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat. Oh boy, do we, as caregivers, walk this one out. Has God been your refuge and shade this year? I have to say that He certainly has been mine! I am so thankful. It's very encouraging to look back and see how God interlaced Himself into our crazy caregiving lives, isn't it?

In verse 9, Isaiah talks about us. Yes, us! He says that God is our God. That's true. Then he says that we have waited for Him - and He will save us. He reiterates that He is the Lord. And again says we have waited for Him. Isaiah finishes off this verse with we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. Have you waited on God this year? I have. It may not be patiently, quietly, or pretty. But I have waited on God more this year, and He has stepped in each time I needed Him. I have learned to rejoice in the saving of my soul - and I don't just mean salvation. I mean healing deep wounds. I mean healing emotional scars. I mean walking with me in living grief. He saves me day after day. How about you?

Today, as I reflect on this year and prepare for next year, I will take time to thank God for continuing on this journey with me. My heart rejoices as I realize He hasn't missed a step, a tear, or a joy along the way. I'll thank Him for His purposeful presence in my life. I'll take some time to listen for His heart as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a  video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The videos will be released on my YouTube channel each morning in January to coincide with the Affirmations book. You don't want to miss it!! (They start on Monday!)

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!



Welcome to the Dance

chris smiling at bluff creek park

 I really don't know how to dance. What I do, though, is probably not called "dancing." Lol. Lately, I've learned that moving to a good-sounding song from the 60s or 70s can provide a lot of stress release. Probably because I laugh so hard at my silly self - or the way Chris looks at me while I'm trying to dance. Lol. It's still fun. It's still a great way to naturally release energy and stress, so pull the blinds, crank up the stereo or Bluetooth speakers, and go for it! You're welcome! 

Being able to express our stress is important for our physical and mental stress, and dancing is just one option. The good thing about it is I don't have to find a sitter, pay a sitter, or go anywhere in inclement weather. I can enjoy a good time and a great laugh right here in my living room where no one can see me.

As I was thinking about my dance therapy discoveries of late, I thought about the dance of caregiving. No one really officially invited us to the dance. Most of us walked into it naturally. Some by choice. Others feel forced into it. No matter how you started the caregiver dance, though, you have the best dancing partner one could hope for. Why? (I'm so glad you asked!

He's never out of step, never off beat. He leads gently in a way that makes you want to follow. He even covers our missed steps and mistakes should we make one. He covers us so well that others won't even see the mistake we made. He even knows the steps to any dance we may choose today - even the ones we feel forced to do. If we fall on life's dance floor, He picks us up and quickly adjusts the routine or timing as needed. When we don't feel like participating, He is a gentleman and waits for our slightest cue before He acts. He wants to dance the dance with us. We need Him to dance the caregiving dance with us. 

I'm so glad that God is with us in our crazy, lively dances, and He's also with us in the gentle, calm moves. He gives us energy and comfort in equal measure as needed. Actually, God is whatever we need right here, right now - no matter what our here or now looks like. He's an always present dancing partner, no matter how crazy the dance.

Today, I'll be thankful that God chooses to participate in our day to days. He is great at slow dancing, and He's awesome at lively dances, too. My meditation will be on how He adjusts to my day, even though He is the One who made the day. The always willing partner who just wants to make us look good. That's our loving God. Welcome to the caregiving dance where our ever-present dancing partner is leading the whole party! He dances. He carries. He covers. Man, is He a good God! I think I will trust Him to lead today's dance. Will you join me?

__________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a  video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The videos will be released on my YouTube channel each morning in January to coincide with the Affirmations book. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


Not a New Thing

Chris all buckled up in the van

 I just want to say that trusting God is not a new thing. This morning, I was reading in Galatians 2:20 about how the life we now live, we live
by faith in Christ. On the same page, in my Bible is Galatians 3:11, which says the just shall live by faith.  What I found interesting about that verse is that it is a quote out of the Old Testament. (Habakkuk 2:4) That sparked a long line of thoughts.

Living by faith is not a new thing, then. I took a few minutes to consider some of my favorite Bible heroes. Turns out, they all lived by faith. Each of them trusted God in the middle of their circumstances. 

I thought about Abraham first. After all, he's considered the "father of our faith." He believed what God told him, and we are still reaping the spiritual benefits of his actions. I thought about Moses who trusted God enough to go get His people out of bondage in Egypt. Back further than both of these guys sits Noah. I often admire how he heard God so clearly. God gave Noah all the specific measurements for building the ark. But on top of that fact was the fact that it hadn't ever rained yet. He didn't even know what "rain" was, yet he began to speak what God had said. I want to be like Noah when I grow up. :-)

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by this "great cloud of witnesses." Witnesses to what? God's faithfulness. That's why we don't lose heart. We know that God has carried others through by His grace, and He'll carry us through too. Our days can be difficult, and our nights long and dark, but we are not walking them without God. Our Bible heroes walked through some dark, difficult days, too, and they didn't even have their own examples to draw from. They just trusted God as they kept taking steps toward His heart. That's nothing new, now is it? Isn't that what we do each of our caregiving days? 

Today, I will remind myself that I do have faith. I'm still in the fight, and I'm still trusting Him. I'll spend some time meditating on those who've walked the faith road before me, like Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, and more. I will encourage myself that I'm still trusting God with my days too, just like my heroes. Maybe I'll spend some time thinking about their flaws as well - because none of them were perfect, yet they just kept trusting Him. I know I'm not perfect, not even close! But I am still trusting God, and I'll keep trusting Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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My Healing Testimony

Cover of my book "The Year Orange Juice Saved My Life."

I sat down a few weeks ago and wrote out a short testimony. It's the entire story of how I was so sick in 1986-87, and my mom planned my funeral. We really thought I was going to die. Thankfully, God had other plans! You can purchase and download the eBook from my DFM bookstore. Or you can purchase the Kindle version from my Amazon bookshelf.

Everlasting Solace

Chris giving me a little smile

 Solace is a funny word; it's a bit antiquated, as we don't hear it or use it much anymore. But this morning, in my studies, it just made sense. I was reading in 2 Thessalonians. In chapter 2, verse 16, Paul says that God has given us "everlasting consolation." I looked "consolation" up in the Strong's thinking that it may mean peace. I was going to use it for my FaceBook Live devotions, "Peace Out." I was a bit surprised that it didn't mean peace at all. 

Consolation actually means solace. Well, I had to look that word up in the dictionary as I have heard it before but didn't have a good grasp of its actual meaning. It does mean comfort, which is what my initial thoughts were. But solace means a specific type of comfort - during grief. That's where I could connect with it as a caregiver. We face so many different facets and levels of grief as a caregiver. Many times, there is nowhere to put them. It took me a long time to realize I was grieving initially. 

I "lost" my son in that accident back in November 2008, even though he is technically still here. But who he was is gone. There are some different terms for this kind of grief, as it is very different from grieving death. The term I learned was living grief. Others have called it ambiguous loss. No matter what it's labeled or how we define it - it's grief. 

Secondly, I had to learn that I was also grieving the loss of life as I knew it. I was working three jobs enjoying living in Chicago, and planning my first-ever trip to Africa. It was all jerked out from under me in an instant. "Normal" didn't return. My son didn't return. My life didn't return. It's okay and healthy to grieve losses of all kinds. 

But this verse reminds me that no matter what kind of loss we are facing as caregivers, or those not related to caregiving, God's got us covered. Paul said that God has given us everlasting consolation. It will last forever and cover any situation we face, any loss, any grief, any broken relationship, any new normal - God will console us. I do have those times when I need to crawl up into His lap and let His merciful arms just hold me. I don't need words. I don't need gifts. I just need the God of hope. The God of peace. The God of comfort. And I need Him to hold me. He meets me in those moments where my soul is yielded and waiting on Him - every single time.

Today, I'll remind myself that God's got comfort for all my grief. I'll turn my thoughts to His peace and choose to let it reign over my heart today. My meditations will be on how He has walked every step of the caregiving journey with me this far - and He's not going to quit or bail on my today! I will trust Him with all my crazy emotions and thoughts as He carries me through one more day. Will you join me?

__________________________________________________________

My Healing Testimony

Cover of my book "The Year Orange Juice Saved My Life."

I sat down a few weeks ago and wrote out a short testimony. It's the entire story of how I was so sick in 1986-87 and my mom planned my funeral. We really thought I was going to die. Thankfully, God had other plans! You can purchase and download the eBook from my DFM bookstore. Or you can purchase the Kindle version from my Amazon bookshelf.



No Limits

Chris and I looking eye to eye

 This morning, I went back and reread Proverbs 18:10. What a great reminder to run to God! It says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." I began to learn at an early age that I could run to God. My first lesson came when I was just 8 years old. My mom had to go to the laundry mat to dry our clothes. She couldn't use the clothesline (yes, I'm that old!) because it had been pouring rain for hours. My baby brother was in his crib sleeping, and Mama left me there with him (the '60s were great, weren't they? Lol) 

She probably was only gone long enough to dry a load of clothes, but while she was gone, water got in the floor furnace and caused the flame to grow much larger than normal. To my 8-year-old eyes, it looked like the flames were going to leap out and consume us all! Lol. I was terrified and had no clue what to do. So, I gathered my little brother up in my arms. He was a tiny baby, and I took him to the living room, which was furthest away from the floor furnace. I remember placing him on the couch and kneeling down on the floor right there and praying. It was a simple prayer. I told God I was really scared and didn't know what to do. Then I asked Him to help me know what to do. The answer came immediately. Call Daddy at work. I had to pull out the old-school phone book and look up his number. He called the neighbor, Marshall Glen, who was a plumber (and the mayor! lol), who came right over to look at it and console my skeered little heart. He assured me that we weren't going to explode into the heavens. Mama came home shortly.

It was that day that I learned I could call on God. I'm sure my mama had told me I could, and I had most likely heard about it in Sunday School. But that winter day in Wynnewood, OK, it became real for me. 

There is nothing too little or too big to take to God. He isn't sitting up there measuring our fears or our situations to determine if our concerns are large enough for Him to spend energy on. Sounds funny, doesn't it? But how often do we wait until we are frazzled and at our wit's end before we take our concerns to Him? He will take it all. He doesn't exclude our crazy caregiving concerns, either. He just waits for us to come to Him and give it all to Him.

By the same token, His grace, mercy, and help aren't measurable either. He gives us all we need in unmeasured quantities. As a matter of fact, His grace and mercy are "responsive," like a good website design. They shape to fit the need, no matter how big or small they may seem.

Today, I will remind myself that I can quite literally take anything and everything to Him. Actually, He is eagerly waiting for my arrival! My thoughts will be on how I can trust God with all my "stuff," and He won't throw any of it back at me. He accepts it and carries it for me. He'll carry me, too, as needed. I will trust Him for today - will you join me?

___________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The videos will be released on my YouTube channel each morning in January to coincide with the Affirmations book. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!






When Deliverance and Disaster Collide

Me and chris outside at the park

 I was reading Isaiah this morning, and a verse in chapter 45 stumped me. It also pulled my attention right in. I love it when scriptures stand out, especially ones we don't quite understand! It's easy for us to read around the ones we don't understand to grab hold of what we need at the moment, isn't it?

I've read verse 7 before, where Isaiah, God's prophet and spokesperson, is saying, I make peace and create calamity. Usually, I ignore it because the thought of God creating calamity doesn't sit well with me. I know He does not make us sick. He does not send calamity on us. God doesn't pour out His wrath on His children, so I just skip that part of the verse, until today. Once I paused and thought about it - it started to make some sense to me!

God does NOT make calamity for us - but He can make it for our enemies, which are not people, btw. Some examples came to mind immediately. I thought of Moses and the Children of Israel standing on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharoah's army pressing in behind. God made a road of deliverance for His children. That same road became a disaster and calamity for their enemies as they were all swept away in the tide. I thought of Gideon's army of only 300 who were able to overcome an "innumerable" company through the strength of God. I thought of those poor, hungry lions who were excited about Daniel's arrival, only to realize they couldn't even open their mouths. But those same lions devoured Daniel's enemies a few hours later.

Our enemies are not flesh and blood; they are not people. When God gives us peace - and He does - then our enemies realize their ends. When peace arises in our hearts, fear subsides. When we grab hold of faith, doubt dissipates. Our deliverance spells immediate disaster for our enemies. As caregivers, we have many enemies we can be fighting at any one time. I don't know about you - but I know about me! I can face doubt, fear, anxiety, exhaustion, confusion...should I continue? But when God's peace arises in my heart - and I let it reign, then the enemies of my soul are destroyed.

Today, I will remind myself that God will fight my enemies (fear, doubt, overwhelm) with me and for me. He will deliver my soul from the grip of fear, the deep dive of doubts, and anything else that tries to come at my soul today. I will remind myself that I can stand in His strength, and He will carry me when mine runs out. My meditation will be on how this God of peace chooses to spend time with me - on purpose. I'll turn my thoughts to how He keeps His eye on me, so I am not alone. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

___________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The videos will be released on my YouTube channel each morning in January to coincide with the Affirmations book. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


The Ant Hill


Have you ever heard the phrase, "ants in their pants"? It's an older term that I heard a lot, especially when I was a fidgety, squirmy kid. My teachers and parents often asked me if I had ants in my pants because I just could not sit still. It didn't matter if I was watching a movie, reading a book, or eating a meal. I wriggled and moved almost constantly. Now, we understand this to be a symptom of anxiety, but those types of issues weren't dealt with much back then. (Boy, I sound old, don't I? lol)

My family still laughs about the "night I lost a good hamburger" because I couldn't sit still at the dinner table. I was about 6 years old, and none of my siblings had arrived on the family scene yet. Mama, Daddy, and I were eating hamburgers at the table in the kitchen. As usual, I was leaning back in my chair and rocking it back and forth on the back legs when all of a sudden, I leaned too far and the chair went out from under me. The chair went in front, I flew back, and the hamburger I was holding went airborne. We still laugh about it, and it's been nearly 60 years since that night.

Sometimes, anxiety is obvious. Sometimes, not so much. The holidays are upon us, and caregiving situations can lend themselves to increased anxiety. On top of our usual caregiving duties, we often feel pressure to perform holiday duties, too. Even for those who really enjoy indulging in the holidays, anxiety can be at an all-time high. But there is good news, even if you feel you are sitting on an ant hill.

In Psalm 94:19, the psalmist said, In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. God doesn't move further away when we get more anxious. He is still nearby, eagerly waiting to comfort our souls. He continues to offer us His peace, and He is not afraid of our anxieties. Our anxieties don't make Him anxious. :-) Our Keeper continues to calmly care for our souls. He is right there in the middle of our anxieties and worries with us, and He has no condemnation or judgment to cast our way. He reaches out to us with compassion, love, peace, and comfort - just like all the other days.

Today, I will remind myself to take my anxieties to Him. My thoughts will be on how I can let Him help me carry my responsibilities and cares for today. I'll quiet my soul before Him and seek His peace for my heart today. I'll tell myself that He's still got me, and He will always have me in His heart. I will trust Him for today. Will you join me?

____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The videos will be released on my YouTube channel each morning in January to coincide with the Affirmations book. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

In the Now

Chris' famous eye roll

 This morning, I found myself stopping and meditating on a single phrase that I read in Hebrews. In chapter 12, verse 28, the writer says, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken... My short experience as an English teacher kicked in, and I thought, are receiving is present continuous. That would mean that it is right now, and it continues to be. 

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. (Romans 14:17) That would mean that we have a constant supply of the Kingdom of God. It's continuously feeding into our souls. That steady stream of righteousness, peace, joy, grace, mercy, etc. just keeps coming constantly. It literally never lets up. For me, that means that God is in my now no matter what my "now" looks like. He's got it covered before I get there, while I am in it, and as I'm stepping from one now moment to the next. He is in our now!

God has already provided what we need for this moment and all the moments to follow. He's already walked through today for us, and now, He's walking through it with us. Doesn't that bring a sense of comfort to your busy soul? How powerful it is that no matter what shape, turn, or crazy thing may happen, God remains with us and in us. We never have to go looking for Him if our day takes a wild turn. He's as close as our silent tears and deepest sigh - and He gets everything behind them with or without words.

Today, I'm going to be thankful that God is in my now. That my life is not too scary for Him. My thoughts will be on how He is in each moment and was actually there before I got there, as He is not bound by time. I'll remind myself that He has prepared my steps. It's up to me to find them. I'll follow His heart today and trust Him one moment at a time. Will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Reflections

A little smile from Chris

 In all my devotions, here and on Facebook Live, I've talked a lot about declarations. We find them throughout the Psalms, in particular. They made declarations like, I will praise the Lord. My soul will boast in God. I will sing to the Lord. I think that is one way that David encouraged himself in the Lord. He made a declaration of what role he was going to play in his situation. That meant trusting God, praising God, and waiting on Him.

But this morning, I found a different type of declaration in Psalm 66. In verse 16, the psalmist said, I will declare what He has done for my soul. This is on the heels of the psalmist listing things God had done for him. He said God has brought him through the fire and through the flood. The psalmist also said that God had tested him and refined them like silver. I was thinking maybe they were a caregiver, too. Lol.

I took some time to read and reread this psalm early this morning. I think it helped me pause and look back on all the things God has brought me through. Of course, it was just this last weekend when I felt it was the right time to write my story about the time God healed me. It's a short read but powerful. It's called The Year Orange Juice Saved My Life. There was something cathartic about getting it all out in story form. It was also a way for me to declare what God did for my soul and how I learned to anchor my heart to His word just to survive.

This all became so significant as I abruptly transitioned into caregiving mode. I encourage you today to take a minute or two and think back about how God has brought you through. Think about the floods and fires He was been with you through - and now here you are on the other side. Remind yourself that He can do it again! And He will.

Today, I'll spend time reflecting on my life and all those times I know God rescued my soul. My thoughts will be on how He healed me, snatched me from death's door more than once, and the times I know He walked through the fire and swam through the floods with me. I'll remind myself that He has never walked away, abandoned, or forsaken me. And He's not going to start doing that today, so I will trust Him for today. Will you join me?



____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Silly Things

Chris watching Kyrie intently

 Sometimes, it can seem like the silliest things affect our days. As caregivers, we carry a lot, I mean a LOT! We're providing some level of care for at least one other whole human being, and it can be taxing. It's easy for us to be tired through and through because caregiving doesn't just involve physical activity; it involves the entire person. Being physically tired is one thing. Emotionally tired is a totally different thing. When we become frazzled, the smallest things can run us down and tip us over. 

As a caregiver, we kind of live on the edge all the time. Our emotional cup is full. We can feel drained physically. Anxieties can run very high. When we live in overload mode, the smallest things can be the final straw. Suddenly, just when we thought we were getting a handle on it all - it can feel like life is just slipping through our fingers, but we continue on in this foggy state. Why? We have to.

The good thing is that God is always right there to pick us up, restore us, and get us moving again. He doesn't carry around a clipboard bearing a list of "silly things" He won't help with. Realistically, what may seem silly to one person can become life or death for another - especially emotionally. I'm so glad that God doesn't have a stipulations list of things that have to be met before He'll help. He is our constant help.

Psalm 46:1 reminds us that He is our present help in times of need; we just happen to need Him all the time, right? I love that He never tells me to come back later, bring some other need, or that I am making too much out of something small. Instead, He meets us right where we are whether we are overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or feel we have it all together. He is present. He helps. He carries us as needed. I love that about God.

Today, I'm taking all the big things, little things, silly things, and everything in between to Him. I'll be thankful that His heart can handle my heart, no matter how silly it may seem to others - or even to me! Lol. I'll remind myself that He won't shirk at carrying it all. He won't measure each of my concerns to see whether or not they are worthy of His attention or effort - He just carries them. He just helps. He provides comfort, direction, and wisdom and has enough grace for me for today. I think that's awesome, so I'll package up all my concerns, hand them to Him, and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning. You don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Need to Know Basis

chris standing outside in the standing frame

 This morning, I was thinking about what I really need. I'm sure we all have our own personalized list. Most probably include things like more money, health, friends, getting out more, or plain ole help! Our lists probably change from day to day - perhaps even moment by moment, depending on what the day throws at us, right? But ultimately, I just need to know that God is with me. 

I need to know that He's not going to bail if things get tough. See, people are actually pretty good at the time something changes. Whether that is a traumatic event, a scary diagnosis, or anything else. They offer support, which may take the form of encouragement, money, gifts, helping out, or just being with you. But once it becomes the "norm," they are long gone. Then what? We're still sitting here in the aftermath, trying to sort out what just happened and planning how to move forward...alone most times. Being alone just adds to the emotional mix. 

That's why I get stuck on needing to know that God's got my back. I need to know that He's not going to be with me initially, only to go back to His norm and leave me emotionally stranded. I don't know about you, but I need to know that God is with me in it and that He's not going packing when it goes on too long. People don't have the patience to hang with you during a life-altering event. They tend to watch the event alter your life and then wish you all the best and pray for you. But there are very few who really walk with you through it. But God does - and today, I need to know that.

I'm reminding myself today that God literally does not have the capacity to leave us - even if He wanted to. God is omnipresent. He exists everywhere, so He has nowhere to go except for somewhere that He already is. Even if He did leave us - He'd go somewhere He is already, and He'd still be in our "here" because He exists everywhere. Even if we put our great minds together, we couldn't find a place where God couldn't meet us. David said, "if I make my bed in hell, You are there." Maybe David understood a little bit about life's trials and the need for God to be with us in them!

Today, I will remind myself that God is right here - no matter what my here looks like. My meditations will be on His omnipresence and how I literally cannot find any place He's not willing to be. I'll comfort myself today with thoughts about His ever-abiding presence and His desire to walk through time with me. I will also remind myself that He carries me as needed. I will trust Him for today and praise Him for all He is. Will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning, you don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


As Often As We Need It

 

mama and aunt polly

This morning, I found myself reading a familiar passage. Isaiah 26:3 was my mom's life verse if she had one. She had suffered a total nervous breakdown when I was born. She was immediately placed in a mental institution and told she'd never leave. I don't even know how many tranquilizers she was put on, and she was given the maximum number of shock treatments, which is what they did in 1960. God completely healed her and brought her out, and this verse became her anchor. She trusted God that she'd never have to go through that again - and she didn't! I read these verses often.

Verse three reminds us that God will keep us in perfect peace when we keep our minds on Him. The next part of the verse, which we often don't quote, says because he trusts in You. We get the benefit of God's complete, perfect, whole, and healthy peace when we keep our minds on him and trust Him with our hearts. Verse four tells us that In the Lord, we have everlasting strength. We have His strength, which won't run out or expire. As I read and reread these verses this morning, I mentally tied them to another popular passage in Isaiah. 

Chapter 40, verse 28 tells us that God is our everlasting God who never gets tired or weary. As we wait on Him, He continues to renew our strength. (v. 31) He puts no stipulations on renewing our strength as we wait on Him, so basically, if we keep waiting on Him - He keeps renewing our strength. He does it over and over again, as often as we need it. That's kind of like His mercies that are renewed every morning - for our sakes, not His!

Whenever we need strength, mercy, or grace, it's available. Actually, it's available all the time - we just forget to run to Him for it in our busy-ness. God is on the clock and on call all the time. He doesn't have office hours. We can come to Him as often as we want to and obtain grace, mercy, and strength. I love that about God. 

Today, I will remind myself that God's door is open to me perpetually. He is always ready and available for whatever crazy stuff pops up in my day. He won't shut the door, turn off His phone, or ignore me. He's available as often as we need Him. That means I can package up all my concerns and cares again today and take them to Him without fear of condemnation or judgment. I love Him for that - and a whole lot of other stuff, too. So, I will trust His strength to get me through today - will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning, you don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Be What?

 

Chris in the van heading out for the day

This morning, I titled my Facebook Live devotion, "Be Still Because God is Still..." I'll share the video at the end so you can watch it. The point wasn't that God is still, as in motionless, quiet, or waiting. But we can be quiet and waiting on Him because He is still... our peace, our refuge, our redeemer, our fill-in-the-blank! That's one thing I love about God - He doesn't change, yet He meets us where we are. That's good news for caregivers because we can be all over the place at any given time! Lol.

I know that I was able to begin healing from the trauma when I realized that God had not changed and my status in the kingdom doesn't change just because our worlds get ripped out from under us, and everything seems to have fallen apart. He is still our refuge.

On those days when we feel like we cannot possibly go on and it takes every ounce of strength and effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other - He is still our strength.

How about those times when the world feels like a whirlwind around us, and nothing makes sense? He is still our peace.

I can find the strength to be still today because God will still be. He's our wisdom, redemption, peace, shelter, hope, joy... fill in the blank, for real! He is able to rise to any occasion. Nothing scares Him away. God will not wring His hands in worry or wonder, what just happened? He is still on the same throne, reigning over His Kingdom, and today is not the day He will stop. I can be still because God is still...

Today, I will remind myself that God still has me wrapped up in His love. My thoughts will be on how God still provides grace enough for today and His mercies are still new every single morning. I'll think about how God still carries me as needed and I'm still the apple of His eye. Since God is still God - I will be still and watch for Him in my life today. Will you join me?



____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning, you don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!

Arming Ourselves for the Battle

chris standing at the park in south okc

Sometimes, the battle in our minds is the hardest one we fight. Our thoughts can be our demise. Or, they can be "captured," reigned in, and used to equip us emotionally. Even though our lives are being lived out day-by-day in the natural and we are dealing all day long with stuff we can see, that's not our biggest battle. One stray thought can cripple me emotionally for the day and sometimes longer. But we can prepare ourselves and arm ourselves for the battlefield of our minds.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our battle isn't in the natural but in the spiritual realm. We can also hold on to verse 11 which indicates we can defeat our enemies. 2 Corinthians 10:3 also reminds us that we don't war in the flesh. It also tells us that our weapons are mighty in God. We have hope. We have victory. We are overcomers. But there is a fight, and it starts in our minds most of the time.

How do we arm ourselves for this fight? The short answer is by embracing God's word. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that the Word of God is a sword. One that is alive and sharp. It's our weapon. Reading and memorizing scriptures gives our minds something solid to run back to when our thoughts run wild, or our emotions go crazy. The Word gives us something solid to stand on when the world feels so frail or we feel frail in our circumstances.

Just a couple of days ago, I remembered a scripture, and it encouraged me. I immediately went to prayer and told God, "Thank you." I thought about Psalm 119:50. It says that my comfort in my affliction is that God's word still gives me life. I spent a few minutes just thanking Him for the encouragement and comfort. The Word provides something for me to grab a hold of when the world around me or inside of me is shaking like crazy.  I like to think of reading the Word as a way to arm my mind.

When the pandemic started, and the world (including myself) was going crazy with fear, I started a FaceBook Live morning devotion called Peace Out. The premise was to give our minds something to hold onto while we were being inundated with information and misinformation. I started with John 14:27 - Jesus gave us peace, and He didn't take it back! I may not have helped anyone else, but it helped me come back to something solid and still does.

I know that as caregivers, we don't always have a lot of time. But if we just read one powerful verse in the morning and meditate on it all day - it becomes a part of our arsenal. It is then available should we need it. Here is a very short list of some of my go-to scriptures that I have on quick-draw. :-)

  • Psalm 46:1 reminds me that God is present in trouble.
  • Isaiah 26:3 reminds me that He keeps me in perfect (mature) peace as I keep my mind on Him.
  • Lamentations 3:23 reminds me that His mercies (plural) are refreshed for me every morning.
This list could go on and on, but you get the idea! When the elements of life start bombarding our hearts and minds, the scriptures become our best, most effective weapon to ensure we can outlast the storm. They remind us that we have His strength and grace on our side.

Today, I'll remind myself that His mercies were made brand new for me today. I'll arm myself with His word by reading, meditating, and memorizing them so they are stored in the arsenal of my mind. My thoughts will be on how He equips us to make it through each day and how He is ever present, no matter what. I can definitely trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

I will be doing a caregiver-only only video series using this book. In each video, I'll read the verses given each day, read the affirmation, and briefly discuss the prompt. Please grab a copy of the book and plan on joining me each morning in January. The links to the videos will be posted here each morning, you don't want to miss it!!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


Which Way to Run

 

Chris in the standing frame

Have you ever just wanted to run away from all the caregiver responsibilities? I'm pretty sure most of us have wanted to at some point or another. Perhaps many have. Of course, there are times when adjustments have to be made, such as getting more help or working with outside resources to help us provide care for our loved ones. But there are those days when it is just overwhelming. I call those moments of supreme overwhelm - stare at the wall and drink coffee moments. For at least a few minutes, I don't have it in me to do anything else at all.

It's in those moments of overwhelm when I want to run. The funny thing ( not haha funny either) is that I don't have the energy to run in those deep moments. But I think about it just the same. There is absolutely no condemnation for feeling that way at times. I think it's just part of the package. Our power comes from realizing we are in that state and reaching for help. My question is, which way do you run when you find yourself in overwhelm mode?

Many people run to alcohol and even drugs (including prescription options), just trying to find a way to cope with the load. Again, no condemnation here - we gotta do what we gotta do! There are plenty of other options too, and good ones, like counseling, coffee with a friend, a phone call with an old friend, or just getting outside in the sunshine for a few minutes. Ultimately, running to God is the answer, even though sometimes it takes some time to remember that, especially when flight or fight mode kicks in.

The good thing is that God is always in our right here - no matter what. A heart that runs to Him will find that He remains the same. (Hebrews 13:8) We can be overwhelmed in every arena, but once we fight through the fog and remember to run to Him, He still has enough grace, new mercies, wisdom, and hope to help us get through the moment and the day. We'll never get to Him only to be told He just ran out of grace. There's no coming back tomorrow - He is in our now. He never runs out of anything as He is truly the "all-sufficient" One. He knows just what our souls need, and He has it in stock every.single.time. That's one of the things I love about God.

Today, I'll remind myself that His mercies were brand new for me today. My meditation will be on how He provides enough grace to make it through the day - no matter how much or how little I think I need - He's got enough. I'll turn my thoughts toward His truth and think about how this God of peace, God of hope, and God of enough is my enough today. He's up close and personal with our needs and aware of our deepest wounds, thoughts, and emotions. He still carries us. I can trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


Overcoming

Chris standing in his room watching tv intently

 I'm almost done reading the New Testament through as I started the book of Revelations this morning. I was reading in the second and third chapters about the churches. They were all promised something for overcoming their situations. Letters to each church end with the phrase, to him who overcomes. Each church was facing difficult circumstances, including persecution, temptation, false teachers, and all sorts of other things. Yet promises were made to those who would overcome their circumstances.

As I was meditating on this and getting around this morning, I realized that as caregivers, we are overcoming, too. It may not always look or feel like it, right? But here we are in one of the most difficult seasons a person can face - still pursuing His heart. That, my friend, is overcoming. 

Overcoming doesn't mean we never cry again, stress out again, or get all worked up with worry again. It really means that no matter how difficult, complex, confusing, or weird things get - we're still reaching for Him. Our hearts remain pointed in His general direction - even if we're doing it mad as a hornet, upset as we can be, tired and exhausted, to the point of giving up, or with tears in our eyes - we're still overcoming when we reach for Him.

The fact that we are still seeking Him, holding on to Him (even out of desperation) makes us an overcomer. We don't have to feel any certain way or carry around a blood-stained sword, lol. We are overcoming day by day because of our constant pursuit of Him and by realizing our soul-deep need for Him.

Today, no matter what happens (and you know - something will happen!), I will remind myself that I am a warrior and an overcomer. My meditation will be on the truth that God is still with me, and I am still chasing after Him. Any obstacle I face today, I'll use it to remind me of all the "stuff" He's already brought me through. That's why this overcomer can trust Him for one more day. Will you join me too, overcomer?

_____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


 


Irreversible

 

daddy and Chris

A lot of things change in our lives when we become caregivers. Maybe you moved a loved one in with you or moved in with a parent to provide around-the-clock care. For some, the best choice is to place a loved one in a facility so they can get specialized, 24-7 care. Others may have become caregivers because of a tragic accident. Even if a caregiver gradually slides into the role, it will lead to lifestyle changes. 

Plans get put on hold - or canceled. Lives get rearranged. Living arrangements adapt to current needs. You get the idea - you know first-hand! Caregiving requires different equipment, daily schedules, and many in-home changes. 

In the middle of all the changes - some things are irreversible. This is a good thing. I recall standing in the Shreveport hospital lobby and realizing that God did not change even though my son had been med-flighted to their trauma unit and was lying in a bed in isolation on the 8th floor at the time. That was when something that looked a little like healing could begin. I stood with tears in my eyes and realized God did not get off His throne just because something horrible had happened. He didn't throw in the towel or act out in surprise. He just was. He just is. Irreversible.

I began to realize that His grace knew no bounds - He and His grace, mercy, and love were right there in the hospital with us. He didn't take away His gifts. I'd later learn He didn't even remove the "call" I felt was on my life; it just began to look different than anything I had imagined. 

Today, I will make a list of the things about God that are irreversible - those things that do not change in response to caregiving or tragedy. I'll meditate on how His grace is still enough for this day and how His mercies were brand new for me today - just to ensure I had what I needed for my "right now." My thoughts will be on how His love never ends and how absolutely NOTHING, not even caregiving, can cause His love to cease. I believe that's all enough to carry me through one more day. I will trust Him with my today. Will you join me?

_____________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!



Personal Delivery Service

chris at Bluff Creek Park Paved Trails

 Right before the pandemic, some stores had started delivery services. Instacart had just come on the scene, and I'd begun exploring it, mostly because of the convenience. During the pandemic, everyone shifted to include home deliveries. As a full-time caregiver, it was truly a blessing. I learned to love staying home and getting all my "stuff" delivered. It costs a small amount more, but the time it saves me is a huge benefit. I put in an order - someone brings it to my door! You can beat that kind of personalized service, right?

God provides personalized delivery service, too, I found out. Don't we have different, even though similar, enemies that we need Him to deliver us from? I don't need Him to deliver me from fear if I don't have fear. Maybe I need Him to deliver me from doubt, oppression, shame, or some other emotion that is warring against my soul. The good thing is that He delivers us from them all. That means whatever it may be that you or I are dealing with right now, at this moment - He's already got it covered. But it's personalized! Lol.

I'm still running through Psalm 34. I've read it two or three times over the last day or so. It's just so rich! (Maybe I'll do another devotional - there's a lot of material in this psalm! Lol.) 

Verse four is the one that has stood out to me in my last read or two of this jam-packed psalm. David says, I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. (NKJV) David didn't say God delivered him from all his enemies - instead, He purposefully stated that God delivered him from his fears. I find that interesting. Now, it's worth noting that this is David - the one who just killed Goliath not too long before he found himself in the prediction from which this psalm was born. Yet he faced fear again. It's okay - because the God David served offered personal delivery services.

No matter what we are dealing with today - God's got us covered. He doesn't push away if we are doubtful today, just to tell us He only deals with oppression on Wednesdays. He doesn't tell us to come back on Friday, that's "deliverance from fear" day. God meets us right where we are - no matter what we are going through - how good or how bad our circumstances may be - or how good or bad we perceive them to be. He delivers us in our now.

Today, I will make the first 2 verses of this psalm my declaration too! I will bless God today, and I will praise Him throughout the day because He sees me. He hears me. He delivers me - from whatever I need to be delivered from - because He knows me. I'm so thankful He knows me and still chooses to stick around! I think I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

______________________________________________________________

Now Published in Paperback!

Bookcover of Affirmations for Caregivers

I finished publishing Affirmations for Caregivers last night! It contains an affirmation, a verse or two to read, and a prompt for a very short response for each day.  You can download the eBook from the Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore right now and print it and and start today! The print version is also now available on Amazon! Check it out!


Undisputable

 If you've followed along with this blog for a long, then you know I have quite a few favorite scriptures. I reserve the right to pick n...