Promise, Purpose, and the Passage

Eli walking beside Chris' chair on the Draper Trails

 Most of us have specific scriptures that we hold onto. My mom's was Isaiah 26:3 that says God will keep those in perfect peace, as we keep our minds on Him. Psalm 57:1 has been an anchor for my soul since 1986 when I ill, and the doctors couldn't find anything wrong. It speaks of trusting Him and remaining under His shelter until calamities have passed. One I've come to cling to in my caregiving journey is Isaiah 43, that promises the flood won't overflow us, and the fire we walk through won't devour us. Even when we are holding on to God with every ounce of strength we have - there's this in-between part. it happens between the promise and fulfillment. There's a period of time that becomes more about the journey.

God sent Moses to get the children of Israel out of Egypt. But as soon as they ran into difficulty at the Red Sea, they started talking about dying. They lost sight of where they were going, and the Who - had brought them out of Egypt with a mighty display of power. Basically, between the promise and the purpose, God used the passage to teach them about Him. They basically sat in the wilderness for 40 years while He told them who He was. During that time, they had to choose to hang onto the promise while they were making the passage.

David was crowned king, but there was quite a bit of time and lots of struggles before the crown was ever placed on his head. He learned to trust God in the passage while waiting on the fulfilled promise. Joseph had a promise, too, even though it may not have seemed like it while he sat in the dark prison cell all those years. But Joseph didn't let go of God's purpose while he was waiting on the promise to come to pass.

Caregiving can feel like the passage some days, most days. I know God said He'd be with me in my "no matter what," but this "no matter what" is really big, dark, and consuming. But our circumstances don't dictate a change in His promise. Whether we feel like we are walking around in circles in the wilderness, sitting life out in a dark prison cell, or waiting for God to crown us with His promises - the purpose is to find out who He really is. God showed Israel His power first and His character second. We can learn both no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

Today, I purpose to know God's character - what He likes, and what He doesn't. I want to know who He is, not just what He can do. I'll be content in this passage as I know it will lead me to His promise. And I'll be thankful that He doesn't abandon me in the process; He just continues to reveal His purpose and promise in me and for me. I believe I can trust Him for one more day. Care to join me?


                                                                                                                                          

Cave Appeal

Kyrie and Chris

 Many caregivers can feel like they live in a cave. When I first started on this caregiving journey, I felt like I'd been violently sucked out of the life I was accustomed to and into a dark, lonely cave. As a very sociable person, this was one of the hardest things for me to work through early on. The other biggie was trying to find a schedule. I'm over-analytical and function well in an organized schedule, but one was not to be found. Lol. 

After years of teaching school, working in the church, and lots of other social doings and goings, I found myself very alone. It felt like everyone had disappeared. In retrospect, they did. But I also found that I retreated to the back of the cave for soul safety. I had a lot to deal with and to work out. Life had changed abruptly, and it never returned to the "norm."

During the shutdown, our cave dweller lives became the norm for much of the world. But as they ease back to their "normal" activities, I am finding I'm stuck in the cave again. The problem is the world has somewhat lost its understanding of caregiving cave dwellers. It's easy to feel stuck. What do we do when we feel stuck in caregiving? Retreat further back in our respective caves. (Maybe it's just me.)

What appeal does the cave have? It's generally quiet, no one will disturb us in our crazy thoughts. We can close our eyes and run around in our own thoughts day in and day out with no interruption. (This is not a good thing!) No one expects anything from us. Even our well-established relationships have changed, and no one makes those draws from our wisdom and expertise, assuming we have any to share, right? And it's simpler. We don't have to please anyone, pay anyone, or explain anything to anyone. 

In the back of the cave is often where we learn how to trust God more. It's in those dark, quiet places in our lives that we force ourselves to look for a shimmer of light. When our emotions have run out, we are more eager to reach for His helping hand. We look for a source of comfort for our souls, and God is the only one near enough to reach us. And reach us He does! 

No cave is so deep that He cannot find us. There isn't a thick enough darkness to inhibit God from seeing us. He isn't afraid of our tears, fears, or crazy thoughts. He will come to us in the deepest, darkest cave and bring His peace, comfort, and joy. He's with us, and He's not afraid to be there with us - no matter how deep we crawled back into the quiet darkness. He may wipe away our tears. He may just hold us. He may just sit in silence. But He's there.

Today, I'll remind myself that God is in this "space" with me - no matter where I find myself. I'll take a deep breath and embrace the truth that He is still dedicated to the journey, and He's not going to leave me when it gets rough. I will choose to trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                           

Between a Rock and a Hard Spot

 

Chris enjoying Bluff Creek

Who can count the times they've found themselves between the proverbial rock and hard spot? Faith has a way of getting us squeezed between the two. We know God is God. We know He hears our prayers and that He has extended His grace, mercy, compassion, and love to us. But it doesn't always feel that way. For me, it's very frustrating when I know what God can do, but don't see Him doing anything. At least, that's how it feels. 

Frustrations soon get me tied up in an emotional knot until I'm unable to think clearly anymore. As mad as I am at God's perceived silence, I still continue to talk to Him and pray. That frustrates me more - but I can't think of a better place to run, even if it seems like He's turned a deaf ear. My emotions say He is far away - but faith says He's right here in the storm with me. Oh, the caregiver journey. It's got so many twists and turns, cliffs, and rocks it's easy to find ourselves stuck emotionally between a rock and a hard spot. What to do?

This is where I am today. But now, I know what to do. When we find ourselves between the Rock and a hard spot - run toward the rock!

In Psalm 77, Asaph found himself there too. I'm so glad that I was able to find my feelings laid out in the scripture - it justifies my pain somehow. Asaph uses a few phrases that religion forbids, like:

Will God reject forever?

Will He ever show His favor again?

Has His grace disappeared?

Is His word to all generations done away?

Has God forgotten to be compassionate?

Is He withholding His mercy?

The funny thing is we know the truthful answers to these questions. But the feelings are so real and raw. Asaph goes on to say that even if he can't see God working right now, then he will remind himself of the things God has done in the past. There are some specific times I saw God at work on our behalf. I can rejoice in those victories - even if I feel defeated right now. I'll run from the hard place - to the Rock. David said in Psalm 18, God (Adonai) is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my Rock in whom I find shelter, my shield, the power that saves me, my stronghold. I call on Adonai, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. I'm gonna guess that includes the enemies of doubt, fear, frustration, and confusion.

Today, I will run to the Rock instead of the hard place. I'll follow Asaph's example and remind myself of all the things I KNOW God has done for me over the years. I'll explore that long list of His interventions in life's hardships, and I will rejoice that He is still my rock - even when I don't deserve Him. And I will trust Him to save me from the enemies in my mind as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


Check out my bookstores. I have eBook devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more in my Dove's Fire Ministries bookstore. My Amazon bookshelf has a couple of those in print or on Kindle. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!


Always On Call

Chris and his sister, Ronella

 I was reading a post on caregiver "self-care" this morning. It mentioned how we are always on call. I started thinking about that and realizing my lack of breaks of late. The lack of a break and midnight runs to the ER just don't mix. Hence, I've been out of pocket the last few days due to running behind.  Whether we are full-time caregivers or long-distance caregivers, we are always on. It's so easy for our lives to become imbalanced, and midnight runs to the hospital don't help. Lol.

No matter what our caregiving situation is, we don't get real time off. Our phones must remain on for those just-in-case moments. It can be tiring and wearing, especially on our emotions. I was praying about that this morning. Okay, so I was whining about it to God. Lol. But He listened anyway.

I realized God is always on call too. He designed it all that way. I love that He is always there, always in our here, always listening to our hearts and seeing our silent tears. Whether we are up at night monitoring temperatures and oxygen levels or find ourselves sitting all night in the ER with our loved ones, He is there. He is attentive, even to the things we cannot use words to express. And I am thankful.

We are never gonna start praying only to be greeted with an "I'm sorry, I'm out of the office until..." message. We won't get a busy signal (remember those? lol) or an answering machine. We won't even reach someone who doesn't speak our language. Actually, God knows our caregiver language quite well. He knows what our silence is saying. He hears the deepest cries of our hearts - the ones we don't even understand fully. He hears the words and emotions behind every tear - even the ones that don't escape our eyes to run down our cheeks. He even gets all the feelings that thrust out the deepest sighs. And He still doesn't take a moment off from watching over us and caring for us.

Today, I will remind my tired self that He's still got me. My thoughts will be on how somehow He continues to give me strength even after I'm sure mine ran out long ago. I'll focus on His soul-sustaining power, and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


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Is It All Broke?

 

I'm helping Chris stand

Do you ever have those times when you feel like everything is broken? Maybe it starts with an essential appliance, like the air conditioner or a dryer. Or, for some, it's a less-than-perfect primary vehicle. Other times, it can feel like it's the whole "system" that's broken and leaving caregivers stranded. Sometimes, it's our emotions that seem to be broken beyond repair. And on occasion - it can seem like everything has spiraled down to being broken all at one time. Beyond frustrating, right?

What are we supposed to do with all those crazy thoughts? How do we handle negative emotions that stem from stuff that's just not right? Let's see. We can file complaints that get lost or ignored, even ADA complaints. Talking to supervisors is useless. It can seem like no one wants to work anymore, they just want to get a check without expending much, if any, effort. We are left stranded in every sense of the word. Does God have a cubby hole for all that? Lol.

He does, in fact. I Peter 5:9 reminds us to cast all our cares on Him. Why - so He can care for us. But we often stop reading there after finding a bit of relief. The next verse starts with "be sober, be vigilant." Why? The enemy of our souls, of our faith, of our emotional and mental health - is roaming around just looking for someone to attack, and he hopes to devour our faith. Verse 9 says to resist him and be steadfast in our faith. Sounds complicated, right? It's not.

It's as simple as seeing all the crazy broken stuff and systems around us - and oftentimes being broken ourselves - but saying, even if - (fill in the blank!), I will continue to trust God. Sure, caregivers become weary, it's a package deal. And for far too many of us - there are no breaks. That's when we remind ourselves that God is faithful. He hasn't "taken a break" since He rested after creation. Lol.

Isaiah 40:28 reminds us that our God never grows weary or tired. (Does He not see our broken systems? Cause that wears me out!) As a matter of fact, verse 29 says that He gives power to the weak, and He increases strength for those who have no "might" left to draw from. No matter how broken our world, our hearts, or our emotions seem - He still has us. God is not broken and never will be. That lets me know that He is there for me to lean on when I feel the weakest, the most alone, the totally lost, and the saddest state of broken I've known.

Today, I will lean in to God a little closer and declare my trust in Him again. I'll place the broken pieces of my heart in His hands and let Him bring the healing that I need. I'll trust the One who formed me to put it all back in the right place at the right time. My declaration will be that I still trust Him. My meditation will be on His faithfulness. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                           

The Right Answer

Chris standing and looking out at the park

 When you first start out on your caregiving journey, there are tons (like millions) of questions. I had absolutely zero background in even basic nursing and caregiving. I knew some first aid and CPR since my mom was a nurse. Hearing her talk about her job and working with patients at least gave me a sense of what to do and not do during emergencies and certain situations. But caregiving? I knew nothing. I had tons of questions

As I began to walk out the days, I found some answers. I also found out that the answers given in institutions of care, like nursing homes and hospitals, weren't always right or practical. It took a lot of stumbling and what I call playing guess-and-check to get answers to many of my questions. But guess what! I still have tons of questions.

Every time Chris has an asthma attack or gets sick, I start looking for answers. What did I do wrong? What can I change to make things better? How can I change up our routine to help him? Lots of questions about those kinds of day-to-days. My earlier questions involved his specific care, today's involve nutrition, range of motion, and things I can do to continue fostering improvements. Sometimes, I get answers. Other times I really have to dig for them. Often, I don't get an answer at all. Many days it can feel like I am still dancing around wildly and blindly, hoping it will all come together in the end. I can feel like that a lot.

In my personal devotion time this morning, I found an interesting verse. I went through Micah, 1 Kings, and Psalms to get there, Lol. But I ended up in Proverbs 16. The first verse in the NLT (1995) says this: We can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer. That gave me a moment to pause, and I read it over and over again. I'm pretty good at gathering my thoughts - I have millions of them every second, it seems. :-) But if I want the right answer, I'm going to have to sit at His feet.

In this chapter of Proverbs, Solomon goes on to discuss how God examines our motives. Then the wise king offers more words of wisdom. He says in verse 3 to commit your (caregiving) work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed. So, here in the first few verses, we learn that God has the right answer and He has the key(s) to success. Solomon didn't exclude caregivers. He didn't say everybody who commits their work to the Lord will succeed except for... Our circumstances may exclude us from many things - but the promises of God are not among them! We can trust Him for the right answers and success, even in our caregiving attempts.

Today, I will shift my focus to the King of kings. I will make my plans, I have lots of plans and thoughts. But then, I will look to God for the final answers. I'll shoot all my questions to Him and wait to see what He says and the direction He provides. I'll remind myself that I am assured of His direction, care, and provision - no matter what today looks like. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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



All the Gory Details

a little boy talking to chris at Holiday Inn

 You know I love the psalms, and this morning I found myself reading and rereading Psalm 37. There is a lot to hold onto in these few verses, but my mind got stuck on this one little phrase. Verse 23 says the steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. (NLT, 1995) My first thought was how precious that God is that involved in our lives that He walks with us through each day observing all we say and do. He is that ever-abiding presence who sees the tears and joys as they unfold every day. But then, I was like, wait. I'm a caregiver. Does God really involve Himself with all the gory details of the caregiver?

It can get pretty weird around here. We never know what a day may bring. But it always brings some things like feeding, transferring, bathing, dressing, and yes - changing the unmentionables. God sees all that? And still sticks around? The stuff we do every day for our loved ones is what scares most people away! But there stands God. Watching, caring, strengthening, and helping us through all the gory details of our day. 

He sees our tear-stained pillowcases and knows exactly how many pieces are hearts are broken into, day after day. Nothing misses His attention, and He even leans over closer to hear the words our tears can't say. He really is that close. But there's more - this verse says He delights in the details of our lives. Really? He is here for us and observes all those things our closest loved ones and friends try to avoid. God's not skeered of the things we need to do to care for our loved ones. He sees every motion, every movement, every intention and still hangs around, waiting for the perfect opportunities to dump His grace and mercy on us. He's invested in us - and can't part from our hearts. And get this - He doesn't want to. He doesn't need a break from the intensity others cannot handle or don't want to experience. 

Today, I will rejoice that God has not and will no abandon me in the mess. I'll be grateful that He wants to hang out with me as a caregiver. He doesn't need a big show  - real life is the platform that He will use to demonstrate His grace and mercy. I'm just a player taking part in His huge orchestration! My thoughts will be on His nearness today, as I trust Him to cover and carry me one more day. Will you join me?



Dare to Hope

Me talking to chris after his first ever 5K

 Over the weekend, my son and I traveled to Missouri for the funeral of my daddy's last of 6 brothers. It was a nice trip and wonderful to reconnect with family. But the time out of our "norm" was really good for my head. Sometimes, it takes breaking that day-to-day grind to help see more clearly. Of course, I packed the whole house for just a one-night stay. Lol. It's a lot of work to travel with a loved one you have to provide care for - I won't deny that. But the break from the normal was still wonderful.

The 4-hour drive allowed me to gather my thoughts, get some of them lined out, and toss a few that were negative. The out-of-normal setting gave me time to assess where I am, what I'm doing, and how to proceed. However, there is a thought I've been toying with for some time, and it started taking shape during the trip. I've been trying to rearrange my mornings, so they are more productive. Finally, I started a devotional called, Command the Morning. The sub or after the title is ...and the rest of the day will follow.

While pulling some scriptures together to get started on the actual writing, I found myself in Lamentations 3. The book will start with verse 23, which says His mercies are new every morning. I plan on taking advantage of that. Lol. But as I was reading through the verses preceding and following that verse, I found myself captured by verses 19-21.  The New Living Translation (1996) says this:

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I will dare to hope when I remember this...

Let me say that I don't think of my caregiving years as an awful time. I certainly cannot deny the grief. We all know it is challenging, numbing, and difficult. But we can dare to hope because we know that His mercies are refreshed for us each morning, and He will keep our souls no matter what. How can I have hope when I know pretty much what each day is going to look like? Because I will focus my attention on The Day that is coming. The day where He will wipe away our tears, our grief, our burdens, and our troubles. For today - I can hope because I know that He purposefully refreshed His mercies to carry me. This passage says it is His mercies (plural - so it covers more! lol) that keep us from complete destruction. He is faithful, so I can dare to hope in Him and His sustaining power.

Today, I will focus my thoughts on God's ability and dedication to sustaining me. I'll remind myself that He has His eye on little ole me. He is invested in my future, ordering my steps and keeping my soul. So, I can rest in Him as I hope for His fresh mercies to carry me through one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                          

Worth the Wait

Chris enjoying being outside at Bluff Creek

 As caregivers, our days provide many opportunities to make decisions. Some of them are simple, and others are often life-changing. It's never easy to make decisions that directly affect another person. Yet day after day, we are faced with decision-making necessities. At any given time, we can have a list of decisions that need to be made. Hopefully, most of them are non-pressure decisions, so that we have plenty of time to consider every aspect. But for me, given too much time to think can suck me into a horrible place mentally and emotionally until I am totally overwhelmed and nearly rendered unable to make a good choice.

This week, I've been suddenly faced with a big decision to make. I've been toying with some ideas, but it has become more of a necessity at this point. I was almost to the point of being overwhelmed and frustrated when it dawned on me that I can literally give it to God and wait for Him to answer. Novel idea, right?!

My mind started rehearsing several scriptures that have to do with waiting. When we wait on God, He strengthens our hearts. (Psalm 27:14) When we wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31) It's starting to sound like a really good thing to wait on Him. But, man, is it hard sometimes. We have a great example in Abraham. God made Abraham and Sarah a promise, but they decided not to wait and ended up with an Ishmael. While God blessed Ishmael, he was not the seed of the promise, and they all found themselves in a big mess. One that continues until today, actually.

But in Genesis 22, it seems Abraham learned to wait on God. He demonstrated that he could obey God by taking Isaac up to the altar of sacrifice. In Romans 4, scriptures reveal that Abraham trusted God so much that he knew if he obeyed God - that God would raise Isaac from the dead if need be. I think we see that Abraham figured out it was worth the wait, as he just trusted God for the outcome and walked in obedience.

Today, I want to figure that out. I want to be able to put things in God's hands, walk away, and wait for Him. I'll wait for instruction, further direction, understanding, or an obvious answer. But I am determined to wait for Him instead of trying to plow a way through without faith. God has proven trustworthy, has He not? We can trust Him. Will  you join me in the "waiting room?"


Precious Memories

 

Chris in his tux ready for a band event

Today is my son's 39th birthday. I can't help but think this is not the way it was supposed to be. He should have finished college (he lacked one semester), gotten married, traveled the world, and had kids by now. Life doesn't always play out on the roads our dreams make. I find memories both haunting and precious.

I have wonderful memories of watching my kids in the marching band. I recall teaching Chris to drive, do laundry, and cook mac & cheese, like other parents. We spent time playing catch and served on worship teams together. He played the drums, and I was either on the keyboard or guitar. Countless hours were spent making music. We read together and did crazy stuff together. Once he was an adult, we'd sit around and discuss lots of philosophical matters while downing a couple of pots between us. One time, we were sitting on the porch, just finishing up a deep conversation and the last drop of coffee. We sat in silence for a minute, then I asked him if he was ready to go or if we needed to make another pot of coffee. He thought for a second. Then, he said, more coffee, of course. We talked for hours that day. I could probably write a book of precious memories I've made with my son and my daughter too.

Those same memories can be haunted by the "supposed to be's." Some days, I have to stay away from social media because I see his friends having successful careers, marrying, divorcing, and having kids. Most days, I'm good, but there are days I just can't handle it emotionally.

I wonder if Joseph's memories haunted him as he sat in the jail cell all those years for something he didn't even do. Maybe he thought of memories he had with his brothers before they betrayed him and sold him as a slave. Surely he remembered sitting around the fire and talking with his dad. What about Daniel? He had memories of freedom he would never taste again in his lifetime. Managing memories emotionally is tough stuff.

Many caregivers are caring for aging parents or loved ones who suffer from some type of dementia or other memory loss. We watch them slip further away from us with each passing day. Memories again are precious, but they can also make the pain of the moment more difficult to handle. How do we deal with it all? I think for me, I'll package it all up and lay it at His feet. He sees the intense pain in our hearts. He sees the tears that fall - and even the ones that don't. God gets us.

Today, I will focus on things that cannot change. I'll set my mind on His peace, mercy, grace, and love that carry us through caregiving days. I'll choose to remember the ways God has helped me get through the tough times before and during caregiving. Psalm 77:10 says I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord, surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on Your work, and talk of Your deeds. (NKJV) Asaph gives us a bit of direction for when we can only see pain. Just look at how God has worked on our behalf in the past. So, today, I will focus on how God has helped me on this caregiving journey as I think of warm and wonderful memories of my son on his day. Will you join me?

Still Trusting

Chris standing up in the apartment

 I woke up this morning to realize that I am still trusting God. How do I know it? Because the long list of to-dos and concerns running through my head were each one turned into a prayer. As I was praying through my mental list, I realized I was still trusting Him for answers. Even though they may not come immediately, by noon or in a way that I recognize them at all - the answers will come. Situations will be resolved. I'll get through. And in its most basic state - that is trust. That is faith.

I'll share my FaceBook Live video at the bottom of this post. In it, I shared that Jesus calmed the storm and said those beautiful words that we need to be spoken to our souls every day. Peace, be still. And then, He turned to the disciples and told them they had no faith. But He still calmed the storm. They were learning to trust Him from the inside out. I dare say that, as caregivers, that is what we do every single day.

Are you still reaching for Him? Do you still pray for answers? Do you continue to read the Bible to find an anchor for your soul to hold on to? Then you are still trusting too! It's easy to condemn ourselves for being in the middle of the storm, but just like the disciples, Jesus sent them to the other side. Our continued seeking, reaching, reading, and praying are all indicators that we still intensely need God. We haven't given up yet!

Sometimes, I get frustrated with God because I don't get the answer I want, or it doesn't come like I expected it. I also get frustrated with the storm. I get tired. Every once in a while, I'll think, why am I even praying. God doesn't care. But in a matter of minutes, something else comes up, and I find myself running to His throne with it in hand. Lol. I can't help myself - I trust God even when the boat is rocking to and fro. I bet you do too! So, give yourself a break!

Today, I am going to encourage my soul to rest in Him. I'll remind myself that I just keep trusting Him in and out of the storms life brings. My heart and my hands are continually lifted to the God I serve. I trust Him to calm the storms around me, even when I doubt. Even when I worry. Even when it all feels out of control. I can trust Him. You can trust Him. We can trust Him... can we join together in trusting Him for one more day?



Well, That's Confusing

Chris giving "the look"

 We are fortunate to have a doctor that comes to our home to see my son. She was just here, but what she told me left me very confused. You see, Friday, Chris had a fever of 100.9, so she prescribed antibiotics. Her monthly visit was already scheduled for today, so that worked out well. But what she told me, I found very confusing. 

The phone call I got late Friday afternoon concerning the x-ray results was that he had bilateral something or other. I felt like it was just some leftovers from Covid. Today, the doc said the x-ray looks exactly the same as it did when he came home from the hospital with Covid, but she did the antibiotics because he had a fever. She left me scratching my head. I have tons of questions, which in itself is not unusual - since I am the "Question Queen." Lol.

Is he sick or not? Why would you prescribe antibiotics unless you knew he had an infection of some sort? Why are his lungs not clearing out? Frustration began to rise as I tried to figure out what to do and how to respond. As caregivers, we can find ourselves in these confusing situations a lot, and it requires us to be at the top of our game all the time! 

Sometimes, I find myself confused when I read the Bible too. Jesus said that He left His peace here - why don't I feel it? He said He would never leave us alone - so why do I feel so alone most of the time? Jesus told Peter that he was to be sifted. Peter's faith was to be tried. Then Jesus told him that He prayed for him so his faith wouldn't fail. Why didn't Jesus pray Peter wouldn't have to go through that storm? Why didn't God deliver the 3 Hebrew children before they had to go through the fire? Why did Daniel sit all night long in a den with the lions? Couldn't God have rescued him earlier? Angels brought Peter out of prison twice in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas were rescued from the jail cell too. Did they have peace? Why didn't they get to avoid the hard stuff? 

It can be a bit confusing when we see God act one way in a situation but do something else in another. For instance, Jesus healed blind people in the Gospels. But one time, He spits in the dirt and made mud that he applied to the blind guy's eyes. But He didn't do it the same way every time - He only did it that way one time. Why? Maybe it's so we wouldn't think faith has a formula. Maybe it's so we will have to just trust Him for the outcome while walking through the circumstances. There isn't a "caregiver's prayer" in the Bible. And there's no magic switch to make everything all hunky-dory again. When circumstances are confusing - it's simply a call to trust Him more.

Today, I will commit to trusting God for those confusing things on this journey. Instead of letting my head run off with tons of questions, I will focus on God. Every time I get confused, I'll thank God for something different that He's provided for this journey through time. Maybe I'll start with peace. Then, I will move on to grace... and mercy... His presence. I will choose to trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                           

Find a New Hobby for These Surprising Benefits

  

yoga class

Hobbies can help us connect to our creative side, spend quality time with our loved ones, and boost confidence, and, as EverydayPower.com notes, they can also promote mental and physical wellness. Whether you’re learning something new from a class or taking the initiative to tackle a project at home, practicing a hobby can improve your quality of life enormously. Looking for something fun to do with a friend or loved one? 

Here are a few suggestions when you’re ready to find a fun new hobby to try:

 Choose something that boosts your health

 It can be challenging to take care of your overall wellness at times, especially when you’re busy taking care of family obligations. Learning to focus on your physical and mental health needs is much easier when it’s fun, however, and that’s where a hobby comes in. Look for one that helps you get active, such as a yoga class, or consider starting a walking group or joining a local organization that allows you access to swim activities. You can also try a hobby that will allow you to make healthier lifestyle changes, such as a cooking class that focuses on vegetarian dishes. The Food Network points out that this is a perfect option if you have a garden and want to incorporate the foods you grow into your meals, and it’s a great way to spend quality time with a parent or child.

 Turn your skills into a new career

 Whether you’re ready to try something new like yoga or focus on building skills you already have in an area like photography or painting, you may decide to take your new hobby one step further and turn it into a business. This is a great way to earn extra money or even start a new career, but it’s important to make sure you understand what you’ll be taking on, especially when it comes to maintaining your enjoyment of the activity once you have to do it.

 Starting a business may sound like a major undertaking, and while it does require some hard work, it’s much easier to do these days than you might think, thanks to online resources. You can use a formation service to create an LLC, which will protect your assets and provide tax benefits; just make sure you check the required steps for your state before getting started.

Go back to school to teach

 Another great way to change your career with a hobby is to go into teaching. Finding an activity that you’re skilled at is not only beneficial for you, but it can also benefit others if you learn how to pass those skills on. You can take online classes and study instructional practice and learner development with a Bachelor of Education degree program, which will make it easy to continue taking care of everything else on your plate. As you’re looking at the options, you’ll discover that you might teach language, dance, art, or a traditional subject that you’re passionate about.

 Give yourself space to practice

 No matter how you choose to practice, starting a new hobby is much easier and more relaxing if you have your own space to do it. Whether you need a quiet spot for yoga/meditation or a studio to make art in, giving yourself an area in the house will make the process much more fun. You might turn a garage into a workspace or add a room in the basement that holds all of your crafting supplies. Be sure to keep receipts and other important paperwork when making changes to the home itself so you can turn them into an appraiser and get full value should you decide to sell down the road.

Hobbies have multiple benefits for our well-being, and they can also provide a new way to earn income. Consider earning a teaching degree or starting a business based on your favorite activity, and make sure you give yourself a space at home to practice so you can maximize those benefits.

 Photo via Pexels

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Decisions, Decisions

 

Chris and I exploring Bluff Creek Park

This morning, I stood in my kitchen trying to decide what to make for my son's breakfast. Usually, it's not a difficult decision. I blend oats, nuts, coconut milk, fresh berries, chia seeds, and fresh berries up to put in his tube. But since he's sick again, I thought I might do the chicken soup I made for him yesterday instead. Then, I thought I would make our usual "breakfast' for his lunch feeding and do soup later. It sounds silly in a way, but I just stood there trying to decide which route to take for his food intake today. 

Tons of questions were running through my mind. Would the potatoes be too hard on his system? Aren't the eggs really good for him, though, they have tons of stuff in their yokes? Is the chicken too greasy? Then I got a bit frustrated just because I was having to veer off my norms and make a decision. Making decisions for others is not fun, especially when they can't express themselves.

I also wanted to take him to a local car show today, but again - he's sick. Again. (Sigh) Another decision I had to make. Sometimes, we don't even realize how many decisions we make on a typical caregiving day. Yesterday, I decided to call the doctor, and it was the right choice. The importance of daily and periodic decisions also varies from who really cares to life or death, literally. But there are days when making tons of little decisions can rock our emotions and become overwhelming. That was me this morning. I would say I'm not going to make any decisions today - but, of course, that is a decision. Lol. 

As I was working through various decisions and the accompanying weariness with them, I thought about how God makes decisions. Better yet, I thought about how He made many of them before He said, "Let there be light." He chose to create the world, humans, and everything else we see. He also decided to fuel our lives with a single breath that He breathed into Adam. Psalm 139 reminds us that He knew all of our days and wrote them in a book long before He watched our frame be formed in the womb. God decided that Jesus would be the propitiation for all the sins that would ever be committed in the world - before Adam and Eve even fell. Their sin was a decision to not obey God, by the way.

God decided to love us. He chooses to walk with us through time. He decided to give us His peace, to sustain us by His grace, and to renew His mercies for us each and every morning. 

Today, I will lean into God's heart as I continue to make decisions, no matter how small they seem. I will quiet my soul, rest in His love, and wait for His mercy as I work through the day. I will be still and know He is God. (Psalm 46:10) I will trust Him for each step, each situation, and each decision I have to make today. With that, I can just rest in Him and trust He will guide me with His love. Will you join me?


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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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The Great Escape

Me talking to Chris after his first ever 5K

 The caregiving journey, like most journies, is made up of lots of ups and downs. I've "bragged" about it before, but I can go from super duper elated to completely down in the dumps and right back up again in under 10 seconds! Lol. No matter what the scenario, caregiving is not easy. In the best settings, emotions are easily fried, and we can become a frazzled mess, even if we never show it outwardly. Did you ever wonder if there was a way to escape?

Escaping for a couple of hours can make a huge positive impact on emotions and help protect the caregiver's mental health. But - who gets to do that? Sometimes, caregivers get respite, but it may be too expensive or just not be provided.  No one will argue with how difficult caregiving is. But we know that in the midst of the hard spots, there are some wonderful memories and emotions too. Precious moments with our loved ones are invaluable. Fortunately, they are not always tainted with pain or worry. Wouldn't it be great to escape for a few minutes, even some days?

In Psalm 124:7, David says, our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; their snare is broken, and we have escaped. (NKJV) In the next verse, he goes on to say that our help is in the name of the Lord. God can help our souls escape, so that we don't feel in bondage or imprisoned to caregiving. It's easy to feel like we are living through the verses before the "great escape" where David says he felt like he was being swallowed alive, the waters would overwhelm them, and the swollen waters and stream would go over their souls. I think I can relate. But I do know that God's peace can provide an escape for our soul no matter what our caregiving plate looks like.

Today, I will let my soul escape into God's heart, where I know He will hold and protect it. I'll make a conscious choice to rely on Him for peace, direction, and help for my soul. I will remind myself that He alone is my help - and today, I'm not looking for another God. He is my soul's refuge, and he can give my soul the reprieve it needs. I'll be thankful that He didn't say His peace was for everyone but the caregiver. And that He never excludes us when He's handing out blessings. So, I will trust Him for this already crazy crazy day! Will you join me?




Celebrate the Small Stuff

 

Chris giving "the look"

A couple of weeks ago we got on the C-train. Yes, we both had COVID, after three years of steering clear, we both ended up with it. Being sick is just half of the battle as a caregiver. With the fatigue of being sick and trying to push through that to take care of Chris, I just didn't have the energy to do any work. My mind was scattered and uncooperative. I ended up missing two weeks of work. This morning, one of the clients I thought I had lost sent me an assignment. It's a low-paying client, but I was so happy to see the assignment come through on my task app! I began to thank God for providing for us. I started thinking about the importance of celebrating the small victories we have each day.

It's easy to get swept away with the tasks and responsibilities of caregiving. It's just as easy to be overwhelmed, and many caregivers deal with depression. We can wrestle with a number of negative emotions. When I began to thank God for this small victory, I realized how important it is to find areas to celebrate. It's essential to our mental health, which is something we don't talk about enough in our society. 

I started trying to find scriptures that might help support this idea. The one example I thought of was when the crowd had followed Jesus out into a remote place. there were at least 5000 people there needing sustenance. The disciples scoured the crowd to find something, anything edible. They found a measly two fish and five loaves of bread. (Mark 6:38) After Jesus gave thanks, He ordered the disciples to begin to distribute the fish and bread. Mark's account goes on to say that the fish and bread were distributed among the people, and they all ate and were satisfied. (v.42) As a matter of fact, they even had 12 baskets of consumable leftovers! 

It's safe to say that celebrating the small things, even if they don't seem to be enough, is one of the keys to living victoriously, even in difficulty. As I continue to work through my days, I intentionally look for things to celebrate. It makes such a difference in my demeanor and attitude. Gratitude is often underrated, especially when it comes to how much it changes our emotional trajectory.

Today, I will purposefully look for things to celebrate - large or small. My focus will be to find things to thank God for as I wait on Him to provide. I'll meditate on His presence, which never leaves me. I'll turn my thoughts to how He watches over us and cares for even the small stuff. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                          

How We Wait

Chris with his little smile

 As I continued reading through the Psalms this morning, I noticed that "waiting" on God came up many times. David often declares that he will wait on God. Sometimes, he was waiting on deliverance or answers. Other times, he was waiting for direction, peace, or victory. I was a little surprised at how many times I read the phrase, even though I talk about waiting on God a lot myself.

In the last few verses of Psalm 25, for instance, David declares that he will trust God and that he would wait on Him. These two waiting and trusting seem to go hand in hand. I may feel completely full of trust for God until I have to wait on Him. Maybe it's all wrapped up in how we wait.

When I get worked up about an issue - caregiving, finances, relationships - it's harder to wait on God. I am a bit hyper and active by nature, so I'm always trying to "do." But sometimes, the most progress is made when I can settle myself down and wait for God to act on my behalf. But that doesn't mean it's easy - just because I know it and declare it. Trusting and waiting are so intertwined they are inseparable.

Abraham got anxious, and so did Sarah. They ended up with a bundle of trouble instead of waiting on the promise. However, as I get older, I get that. I know God is not on a time schedule, but I know my time is limited, and I need to see Him act! Lol. Samson didn't wait on God. Instead, he got all tangled up with Delilah. His emotions were not into waiting on anything, and it cost him his life essentially. Jesus, as He walked here on this earth, waited on the Father. He even said I don't do anything I don't see my Father doing. He waited on the Father's actions before He did anything. Jesus walked in total peace. He was so full of peace, He walked out to the disciples' boat in the middle of a violent storm. Oh, did I mention He was literally walking across the water to get to them? Wow, right? 

In the middle of the storm, Jesus had total peace as He worked His way out to the disciples that night. As soon as Jesus (and Peter) got into the boat, the storm calmed. (Matthew 14:32) The other disciples just sat and waited on Him to get there. It was worth the wait because of the peace they experienced once He was in the boat. We can draw some parallels here. When we wait for Him - peace will come. But it won't necessarily come until He's in our boat with us.

Today, I will remind myself that Jesus is in my boat, and He's not going to jump ship! Sometimes, it can feel like we are in the middle of a stormy sea, in the middle of the night, and our boat is rocking back and forth. But one thing is sure - He is with us. I'll remind myself to wait for His peace today. David commanded his soul to wait for God. I think we can do the same thing. I will wait for Him today instead of getting ahead of what He is doing. Will you join me?





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