The Supposed To's

Aunt Polly and me riding in the car

 Do you ever feel haunted by "supposed to" thoughts? I'm pretty sure none of us grew up thinking we'd be spending our years as a caregiver, even though most of us thought at least at some point that we'd provide some level of care for our parents as they aged.  But here we are, taking care of our loved ones. It may not have been our dream, but it is our reality today.

Our parents were supposed to grow old, retire, and do all the fun things they put on hold while they were raising their kids, right? Our kids were supposed to go to college, get jobs, and build lives and families of their own. But things don't always work out like they are supposed to, do they?

I think that dealing with some of the things that were supposed to happen according to what we all deem as "normal" is one of the hardest parts of caregiving. Thinking along those lines can bring on depression quickly. If I don't nip it in the bud, it can escalate until I am in an emotional pit that is difficult to get out of. Shifting my focus to reality doesn't really help, LoL. If you know what I mean. If I don't protect my mind and soul, I can wind up in a caregiver's fog that begins the slow drag into despair.

But protecting the mind and soul is a hard thing. Here's an analogy. When I was in Tae Kwon Do, we were taught to keep our hands up while sparring. That's how we were able to protect ourselves from the blows that would be thrown. But as a caregiver, our hands are full. We can't do much more than carry what's in our hands; forget about blocking anything! That's how many of our days feel - we already have our hands full of caregiving tasks, yet we must block negative thoughts, emotions, and even things people say to us.

So here we are in a funk, with our hands full of responsibilities that simply cannot be put on hold. The supposed to's are running through our heads, and we have too much in our hands to block them. Just about the time we think we are done - His grace swoops in and covers us, protects us and carries us. It's happened over and over - just about the time I think I cannot handle one more tiny thing, He blows my mind and sustains me. God is so amazing.

So, today, instead of letting the supposed to's have room in my head - I'm going to give them to Him. I'll shift my focus to what He can do from what I cannot do. I will trust Him for one more day. If you don't have a better option, will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


Would You Like to Help Dove's Fire Ministries?

Maybe you've wondered about helping support all that goes on at DFM. One way is to shop my personal bookstore, which has devotionals, Bible study guides, and more that I have written. Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

You can also donate via PayPal at paypal.me/dovesfireministries 
Or you can donate via CashApp: $JeanieOlinger
Or if you have Venmo my ID is:@Mary-Olinger-6




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The Welcome Mat

Chris at Red Rock Canyon

Lately, I've been studying on prayer and meditating on the various passages. One thing I've noticed is that there are so many different types of prayers scattered throughout the Bible. They are not all made in distress. Some are purely giving thanks. They range in content based on the pray-er's unique situation. But this morning, I found myself reading Solomon's prayer as he completed the building of the temple. The prayer he offered as he dedicated the structure to God was beautiful. God immediately filled the temple with His glory, so He must have been pleased!

But there was this one little phrase that hung in my thoughts. The entire prayer is worth the read as it is a heartfelt display of King Solomon. So, take a minute to check out 2 Chronicles 6 because it'll give you a lot of food for thought!

Verse 29 is the one that caught my heart as I was reading this passage today. In the verses preceding this one, Solomon talks about all sorts of struggles, challenges, or situations that people might go through. He listed quite a few problems that were common in their day, including famine, pestilence, mildew, grasshoppers or locusts, enemies overtaking cities, and any sickness that might occur. Solomon was asking God to hear his people's requests, no matter what. This little phrase, though, in verse 29, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief. 

I guess it stood out because grief can be such a big part of the caregiving experience. It is different for everyone, and it can be felt in so many different ways. There is a grief that is so deep there are no words to describe it. But it's not like we can "bury" our loved ones and move on, such as when they die. Yet for many of us, we watch our parents or elderly loved ones fade away from us, slowly over time. That's a torturous grief. There is also a living grief, such as with my son. He is technically still here - still alive, but the son I knew doesn't exist anymore. The grief just continues day after day.

Christian circles don't really know what to do with it, yet I see Solomon welcoming grieving believers into the temple, and allowing them to lift their hands to God in prayer. We are welcome at the foot of the cross, at the foot of God's throne. He doesn't tell us we must leave our grief outside before coming to Him in prayer. Our whole being, body, soul, and spirit is welcome. As caregivers, we have a safe place in God. He won't condemn us or shake His head in disbelief because He doesn't understand. 

Solomon goes on to ask God to answer their prayers and says, You know the hearts of the sons of men. He then pleads for God to help those who are praying learn to fear God and walk in His ways. He didn't even pray for healing, for the grief to be removed, or for the problem to be relieved in any way. He just prayed that "we" would know God better. I know that in my grief, I've learned to trust God more, call on Him more frequently, and learned a new level of intimacy with Him that I've never known before.

Today, I will bring it all to Him once again, knowing that He wants my whole heart - not just the parts I perceive to be "good." I'll give Him my grief and let Him carry it and me. My meditation will be on how great God is and how thankful I am that His welcome mat includes all of me - all of you! Will you join me on God's welcome mat today as we lay our hearts out before Him?


                                                                                                                                           


Would You Like to Help Dove's Fire Ministries?

Maybe you've wondered about helping support all that goes on at DFM. One way is to shop my personal bookstore, which has devotionals, Bible study guides, and more that I have written. Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

You can also donate via PayPal at paypal.me/dovesfireministries 
Or you can donate via CashApp: $JeanieOlinger
Or if you have Venmo my ID is:@Mary-Olinger-6



Earth Shattering

Chris and I at Red Rock Canyon

 This morning, my mind was racing with all sorts of stuff. We all live in a very hectic world. There's a lot going on, even if we weren't caregivers. Add caregiving responsibilities, choices, and tasks to this hectic lifestyle, and it's easy to become completely overwhelmed. Just taking care of another whole person is overwhelming most of the time, right?

As I realized my mind was racing so much around so many things I need to do and choices I need to make, I grabbed for a scripture. It's familiar, and we mention it a lot on this blog. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to be still and, at the same time for us to know He is God. Those two things helped me calm my heart and mind. I had to first be still. That takes a lot of work for me! Lol. I'm not sure I can fully acknowledge Him as God until I can get my mind out of hyperdrive, though. 

Once I thought of the scripture, I opened up my Bible to take another look at the entire psalm. The first verse is another anchor for my soul and has been for years. It covers so many things. 

  • God is our refuge.
  • God is my strength.
  • God is present in trouble - He doesn't disappear when things get tough.
My heart and mind began to settle down as I reminded myself that God has me. He is in my "today." Right here and right now - God is present. 

Then, I began reading the next couple of verses. There are some real serious things mentioned here like the earth "being removed" - the mental image of that is massive! Mountains are being "carried" into the sea and wiped off the planet. That's dramatic, right? At least things are quite that bad yet.

But then I thought about our caregiving journeys. In many ways, it's been an earth-shattering experience for us. For many of us, our whole worlds were put on hold, shifted around, and don't even bear a resemblance to life BC. (Before caregiving.) Yet, even in the middle of it all, no matter how hectic, how hurtful, how traumatic, we can hold onto these three things.

  • God is still our refuge.
  • God is still our strength.
  • God is still present in all our troubles.
Since God is still God - I can be still and acknowledge Him even in the middle of the frayed nerves, silent tears, and disrupted routines. He still has my heart in His. He still has my hand in His. I feel a gentle calm as I thank Him for still being here. I hope you do too.


                                                                                                                                           


Would You Like to Help Dove's Fire Ministries?

Maybe you've wondered about helping support all that goes on at DFM. One way is to shop my personal bookstore, which has devotionals, Bible study guides, and more that I have written. Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

You can also donate via PayPal at paypal.me/dovesfireministries 
Or you can donate via CashApp: $JeanieOlinger
Or if you have Venmo my ID is:@Mary-Olinger-6




Before and Behind

Chris in the parallel bars

 The last few weeks, I've been working on my morning routine. It's funny how as a caregiver, routine is everything and nothing all at the same time. Having a routine is usually a good thing for our loved ones - depending on the nature of the care they need. But inside that routine, we have to allow for flexibility. So, I took the early morning hours to do some changeups. That's when I get my devotions in, and I try to get my walk in too. That way, those days that get super busy super fast don't make me shuffle the things important to my own mental, physical, and spiritual health. 

In the shift, I've found that some things are going much smoother. Other things, not so much. Lol. So, I'm ahead - but I'm still behind at the same time. Man, that doesn't seem fair, does it? But alas, it's the caregiver's life! How in the world I can feel accomplished and defeated at the same time is beyond reason. Yet, that's right where I find myself day after day. The good news is that God has me covered whether I am way ahead or lagging behind.

In Psalm 139:5, the KJV says, thou hast beset me behind and before and laid thine hand upon me. Other translations say it differently. The NLT says, You go before me and follow me. No matter what translation we use, it's pretty clear that God is walking ahead of us and behind us. It reminds me of when we used to go hiking as a family. My husband at the time would walk out front, the kids were between us, and I followed up behind. We kept them between us so we could always be aware of where they were on the path. It ensured they wouldn't wander off or get lost. Since God has us enclosed behind and before - He is ensuring we don't wander off the path and get lost.

You know, as a caregiver, there are lots of things to get "lost" in. Our emotions can be all over the place. I can go from super highs to extreme lows in half a second. Sometimes less. Thoughts are another area where we can wander off easily. These areas present constant struggles for me. I can rest easy though, knowing that God has walked this day before me. He's prepared the path for me and covered it with His grace and mercy. He's also following behind me. I picture Him smoothing over everything I messed up as I came barrelling through the day. Lol. Either way - He's got me covered.

Today, I'll remind myself that God is before and behind me. He's in this moment with me right now, and that's where He'll stay, even though He's preparing the pathway before me and cleaning it up behind me. I can trust that He's got me covered thoroughly today. So, I can just rest in the truth that He's got it all taken care of. I'll remind myself to wait for Him and listen for Him in my today. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


Would You Like to Help Dove's Fire Ministries?

Maybe you've wondered about helping support all that goes on at DFM. One way is to shop my personal bookstore, which has devotionals, Bible study guides, and more that I have written. Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.

You can also donate via PayPal at paypal.me/dovesfireministries 
Or you can donate via CashApp: $JeanieOlinger
Or if you have Venmo my ID is:@Mary-Olinger-6



More Than a Glance

chris in his 34 project t-shirt

Each caregiving journey is unique. There are, of course, a few elements that are going to be similar, no matter what the specific dynamics are in each situation. One problem I've had to overcome is taking my son out in public. It seems that state parks and outdoor venues are more comfortable, and honestly, the people we encounter are friendlier and more likely to offer help if I need it. This last weekend at Red Rock Canyon, several people offered to take photos of us. That was such a kind gesture. 

But in the day-to-day setting, it's not always that "comfortable." People of all ages tend to stare. A lot. I get it when kids stare, I just wish parents would encourage them to ASK!! Instead, they often push them along. I don't know which is worse, being ignored, shunned, or avoided. I don't like to be uncomfortable, and I don't like making others feel uncomfortable, so we avoid going out a lot. 

I have one place I like to go, but the door is so difficult to navigate with my son's chair I just don't go. I feel like I am avoiding becoming a spectacle - I have enough on my plate. It can be interesting how people glance our way when we are in public. Some glances are filled with compassion - I can sense that. Others seem to be more like they want to get away - far away - in case something might get on them. Lol.

This is where my mind was this morning after I heard myself praying; I don't need just a glance today, God, I need Your intervention.

God doesn't just send a glance our way. Psalm 139:3 tells us that He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. He's not up in heaven tossing grace for the day down on us and just hoping we are going to catch some of it. He purposefully places grace in us for this hectic race we have found ourselves running. He intentionally refreshes His mercy for us each day. It's so much more than a glance our way now and then. He doesn't have to wonder what's going on in our lives, hearts, and minds. He's there. Protecting.Providing. Preserving. I like that.

Today, I'll remind myself that God didn't just glance my way. He walks right into my day and asks what I need. My thoughts will be on how He abundantly lavishes His mercy and grace on my life, heart, and mind. My job today is to accept and embrace His provision. I'll welcome Him into my little world today and let Him do His work while I remind myself to rest in Him. Will you join me?


_________________________________________________________

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.

The Unseen

chris and i standing at Red Rock Canyon, Oklahoma

 As caregivers, much of our day goes unseen. We may often get invites for various activities without anyone realizing what all it takes to get us there. For many of us, it's not as easy as just jumping in the car and heading out. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of planning that goes into the shortest, simplest trips, even to the grocery store. Over time, we can get our processes down so that it becomes a little easier - but others have no idea what all goes into it. 

The other day, I was trying to get home in time to tutor a student. They had already arrived by the time I got to my apartment. I felt so vulnerable as I unloaded my son from the van and took him inside. Like they were getting a minute view into my caregiving side. I felt so - uncovered. It was almost as uncomfortable as feeling naked in public. LOL - not quite, though. (blush)

So, it took a lot for me to start making a few reels around my caregiving tasks. It turns out that people respond well to it. I've not gotten any negative or derogatory remarks so far, at least. But it's really difficult to let people see some of the things I like to keep hidden as a caregiver. Of course, there are some things that will always be hidden, lol. Those unmentionables!! But it has turned out that it's kind of freeing to give people a window into the daily life of caregiving. (Now, if I could just get them to send stars, Lol!)

As I've worked through my own inhibitions, I realized that God gets a bird's eye view of every little detail. Nothing escapes His notice. He sees every move I make, every transfer, every meal prepped, every load of laundry, and every unmentionable. God is aware of my emotional roller coaster - nothing is missed. He knows when I am excited about new ideas, study guides, or videos. He also knows the nights I cry myself to sleep. He sees the unseen. God even sees all those emotions, tears, and feelings that no one could ever see. He gets me. He gets you. He gets us. And He sticks around anyway!

Isn't that the greatest fear for some of us? That if people really see our day, they will reject us? If they see us up to our elbows in all sorts of stuff, they may leave. Many have left already. So, we hide and try to act like our normal is normal. But we know it's not. And so does God.

Today, I will let Him see. (It's not really like I can keep Him from it anyway! Lol.) I'll open up my heart and pull back the curtains and know that He is looking at all of me. And I'll let it be "okay." I'll let Him touch that part of me that no one ever sees and some don't want to. Because as He sees - He heals. I'll just trust Him for today as I know He is watching over my whole being from the inside out. Will you join me?


_____________________________________________________________

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.





Streams in the Desert

Mama and Aunt Polly

 The other day, I was having a great conversation with a friend via Messenger. He's a young man who is hungry for the word, so he had lots of questions. We were talking about Elizabeth and Mary and how both of their pregnancies were miracles but in different ways. By now, you know I have a "Google mind," as one of my friends says it. You say a phrase, term, or thought, and she says my mind opens up about 20 tabs, ready to go whichever direction the conversation leads. Lol. It's true, I must admit.

I immediately thought of Hannah and how she prayed for a baby. God gave her a prophet, just like God gave Elizabeth the prophet John the Baptist. Then, I thought of Rachel praying for God to give her a baby, and she birthed Joseph, who would be instrumental in saving the nation. It started to seem to me that God has a wonderful way of turning a barren, dry, hurtful situation into new birth and life. He takes a barren womb and gives it life.

As I continued studying this concept, I thought of Isaiah 54, where God tells the barren woman to sing for her children will be many. I thought about scriptures that remind us that He makes streams in desert places. Caregiving can often feel like a deserted and dry place where suffering lives. But I looked at these women who God not only gave them life in the middle of their dry places - but blessed a nation from them. 

The principle, then, would be that God can make our dry places run with fresh, refreshing water. He can meet us at the point of our suffering, grief, and sorrow. And He not only meets us there, but He brings the sweetness of new life - even if it's just His breath awakening our hearts to His presence.

Today, I'll ask myself to reflect on any barren areas of my life that I haven't yet surrendered to Him. I will give Him my grief, sorrow, and sadness and ask Him to bring life to my soul. I'll shift my focus from my circumstances to His grace. That's where I'll rest as I wait for His streams to bring life. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


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

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

Small Miracles

 

Chris in the standing frame

I think we all hope for miracles. The caregiver may do this more than anyone. We read about some wonderful miracles Jesus did in the gospels. We even see miracles scattered throughout the Old Testament. Well, it all began with a BIG miracle, didn't it? I pray for a miracle touch for Chris every single day. And while he is consistently, continuously improving, I'm not seeing the "rise up and walk" miracle I've dreamed about.

This morning, during my prayer time, I was praying for my son, for people who have been on my heart, and even for you, my fellow caregivers. As I prayed, I wondered why we don't see the miracles we know God can do. Early on in my caregiving journey, that was a great source of frustration: knowing that He can, but hasn't. 

Then, my mind shifted to the fact that I was still praying. I had this thought: it's a miracle that I am still praying - that I still have faith even in great adversity. Even though life has had its unexpected turns, it's thrown us a few curve balls, and maybe we've even struck out a few times when it comes to what we thought was "faith," here we are, still hanging on to a thread of faith. That's no small miracle, y'all!!

Of course, it'd be great if God swooped through on His white horse and rescued us. But, in one way, he has done that. He has swooped in, so to speak, and carried us away, healed our emotions, and continues to provide His mercy and grace to help in our time(s) of need. Maybe the small miracle is that He keeps carrying us. He keeps sustaining us. He keeps keeping our souls and gives us His peace in the midst of life's turmoil.

Today, I will remind myself of how He continues to care for me. I'll meditate on His constant presence, which I love. My thoughts will run through His love for me as well as His power to sustain. That's no small miracle in my opinion. I'll just rest in Him and trust Him to carry me one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


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

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

True Accessibility

Chris standing at my sister's house

Many caregivers care for loved ones with mobility issues. My son, for instance, is in a chair. My aunt, whom I took care of, walked with the aid of a cane or walker and still needed some assistance many days. Many places follow the "letter of the law" by adding accessibility features like ramps. But it doesn't take long to discover that even though they say they are "accessible" they are far from it. One business we went to has a very steep, short ramp to use to get into their building. It's accessible - but not safe, especially for older caregivers like me who need to push 200 pounds up that ramp! Lol.

Calling ahead is no help. Most places will tell you that you can get a chair in their establishment. They fail to communicate what it may take to do so! One hotel told me I could get my son's chair in any downstairs room. And I could, but that was it. I could only get it in the room and turn the chair next to the bed to transfer him. He had no access to the restroom or the rest of the room. Smh. I don't let it get to me anymore. I usually can figure something out - if there's anything to work with.

More recently, we visited a church to attend a Christian concert. The very helpful staff ushered us and another family up the elevator so we could be seated in the balcony, where we could see the show comfortably. We walked to the balcony entrance only to come to a set of stairs. Our small group stood in awkward silence for a couple of loooong seconds. Finally, I said something to Chris about not being up for that adventure. We all laughed, and it was all good - we ended up with a nice spot downstairs anyway. 

They were trying to be helpful - but just didn't think about the stairs. We were all able to laugh it off and enjoy the concert. 

Even places that say they are accessible, are often not accessible at all when it comes down to it. Many people just don't get it. But when God says He is accessible - He means it. We don't have to worry about a forgotten staircase, a steep ramp, or a door that's not wide enough for a chair! Lol. He welcomes us all and makes Himself accessible no matter what the shape of the heart.

Hebrews 4:16 bids us come - make an entrance before the very throne of grace to obtain mercy - and find the grace needed for the day. The blood of Jesus made the entry possible for everyone who believes. I picture God throwing open the doors of heaven's throne room and bidding us to come to Him. He is the purest picture of accessibility.

Today, I will meditate on how easy God made it for us to get to Him. It's like He's sittin' on the back porch of heaven sipping iced tea, waiting for us to show up and visit with Him today. I'll make it a point to stop by today. Will you join me?

I Triple-Dog Dare You!

Chris looking at a puppy

 During my personal devotions this morning, I found another gem. I call these "gems" because they are powerfully valuable. For so long, religion demanded that we squelch our feelings and emotions. Many of us grew up in an environment where if we "felt" anything, it was declared a lack of faith. Extremists labeled us as faithless if something bad happened to us. So those with situations were shunned by religious folks who silently shook their heads instead of offering a prayer and a hand up. Hopefully, you don't have a clue what I am talking about. But for those who do - finding out that our Bible heroes actually had feelings and emotions is helpful. Their faith carried them through their struggles - not around them.

So, this morning, as I was reading a familiar passage in Lamentations 3, I found this phrase that stuck out to me. I was turning to read once again about how God's mercies (plural) are new every morning. I found a passage very similar to the one we shared in yesterday's devotion. Yesterday, Job poured out his heart as he shared memories of the life he'd lost. He was raw and real. Today, I found Jeremiah doing the exact same thing. So, it's not a sin to grieve. 

Jeremiah talks about sorrow, bitterness, and being walled in and bound with heavy chains in Lamentations 3. Take a couple of minutes to read this chapter, and you'll see Jeremiah pouring it all out before God. What better place is there to dump our thoughts and emotions where they are all over the place? I'm so glad it's not forbidden!

In verses 19 and 20, Jeremiah says his memories are bitter and hurtful. He says, I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Now, if you've never grieved over loss, you may not understand. Even during the pandemic, there was much unexpressed grief. We lost our lifestyles, and our norms, something very common to today's caregivers, yet the world suddenly had to share in our experience. While it's okay to feel those losses and grieve them, we don't want to set up camp there. That's why we pour them out to God.

After Jeremiah expresses his deep sense of loss, he says this: Yet I still dare to hope. (NLT) Then, he begins to talk about how God's mercies are renewed each morning - just for us! As I read and reread this passage, I dared myself to hope today. Did you ever dare your friends to do something when you were a kid? Boy, did I get in some binds because I couldn't turn down a dare! Lol. So, I dare you today to hope and trust God today.

Today, I declare that I will hope one more time. I will reach out of my emotional cave and grab hold of His hand and allow Him to lift me up to live today. While my emotions are raw and loss is real, I refuse to give in under the load. I'll turn to God today for my hope, life, strength, direction, and help. I'll remind myself that He is faithful - still. So, I can trust Him and hope in Him for one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                           

Buttered Steps and Slippery Biscuits


 This morning, I was working on a couple of new devotionals that I hope to have ready to put in my bookstore soon. One of the things I was studying was how God orders our steps. I pulled out an old-school Stong's concordance, which is still based in King James. I found this very interesting phrase listed out of Job. It said, "I used to wash my steps with butter...." I had to look it up to see what in the world it was talking about! 

I opened to Job 29 and started reading, and soon realized that Job was mourning his former life. He was listing out what his life looked like before he lost his children, his riches, and his health. In verses 2 through 6, he says, I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, when he lighted the way before me, and I walked safely through the darkness. In my early years, the friendship of God was felt in my house. The Almighty was still with me, and my children were around me. In those days, my cows produced milk in abundance, and my olive groves poured out streams of olive oil. (NLT)

I am guessing that the translators decided that "washed my steps with butter" meant that his cows were producing lots of milk. Lol. As I continued reading, I felt Job's pain. He was remembering how life was before. I've done that a lot. Grief and mourning are part of caregiving. For me, it means grieving over the son I lost in that wreck while loving the one who is still with me. Who he was is gone. Life was different.

It was similar to my mom, who had some form of dementia. I grieved over who she had been as I watched her slowly slip away. The story of many caregivers, right? Grief is not a sin. Mourning over what was lost is not wrong. We are allowed to feel. I wonder if people don't want us to "process" our raw and real emotions because THEY don't know what to do with them. But God will take them all!

Soon after Job poured out his heart, as we talked about yesterday, God answered. God strengthened Job and restored him when he prayed for his friends. So, even though it feels like it lasts forever, God will not leave us in our pain. He walks with us on the rough and rocky roads of life. Sings to us. Lifts us up, and carries us often. He will meet us in our pain, and never shuns us because we grieve over what was lost. We can trust Him.

Today, I will lift up my pain, emotions, grief, and mourning to Him, knowing that I am still welcome in His presence. He won't turn me away, or ask me to come back later after I "get over it." He fully understands there are some things that we will never "get over." I'll turn my soul to Him and let it cry out my heart to His heart, and I'll let Him carry me today. That's how much I trust Him. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


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Pour It Out

 

Chris and I at the Lake Overholser trails

Lately, it sure feels like my proverbial plate is full. And by that, I mean it just feels a lot fuller than normal. Thoughts run through my head like traffic on busy highways. And yes, that is plural highways, because my mind has a LOT of traffic. Lol. Somehow, it just feels like things are stacking up - not bad things, necessariy, just things. Some days it's a constant struggle to keep my mind captured and under the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I can't even say it's worrying, it's just a lot of individual "stuff" that has to be dealt with every single day. That's caregiving, though, right?

So, this morning, when I "found" this verse in Psalms, I was like - man, do I need to do that today! David says in Pslam 62:8, O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out you heart to Him, for God is our refuge. (NLT) I stopped to think for a minute about the practicality of pouring out my heart before Him. My first thought was, does He really want all this? Followed by, where will He put all that? LOL. I know, too analytical, but it's who I am. Lol.

After I meditated on what it would look like to pour out my heart before Him, I backed up and read the previous few verses. David filled in some of the gaps for me and helped me to see that it is really just as simple as trusting God - with everything. Sometimes, the pouring out is done with words as we release our cares into His hands. Somehow, He joyfully accepts them all so that He can replace them with His peace. Amazing, ain't it?

The verses just before David reminds us to pour all our concerns out at His feet say this:

I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress where I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor come from God alone. 

He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. (NLT)

Once I pour everything out at His feet - there is no enemy that can get in my head - as long as I stay hidden in my Refuge. 

Today, I'm going to "let it all hang out" as I pour out each trouble, each situation, each struggle before my great God. I'll declare once again that He is my refuge, my rock, my salvation, and my fortress. I'm going to pack up all my emotions and run to Him - then pour it all out before Him and let Him sort it out for me. I will trust that He'll hand me back anything I need to carry - and He'll take care of the rest. I will wait patiently and quietly for Him to act on my behalf as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                          

Held Up

Kyrie hugging Chris

 One thing I hear from caregivers a lot is that there is often not enough help. Recently, I requested a few hours of respite just because I literally have zero breaks. For many of us, it's a 24-7 deal. Even for those whose loved ones can be left alone for any amount of time, it's still rough. Someday, I'd like to go somewhere and not feel like I have to watch the clock so closely. Even if we are given a few minutes or hours to ourselves, we can't turn "off" all the caregiving switches. Right? Who will admit to running caregiving errands while you are being relieved by a sitter or another caregiver? (We all do.)

Anyone who tells you that caregiving is easy - just hasn't done it yet. It is indeed a labor of love. It may be instinctual. It is what we do. But the journey is rocky and rough at best, even if things go smoothly for 10 minutes now and then. (Lol.) So many factors feed into a single day; it's quite overwhelming, at best, even when things are good.

I was so happy to find this verse that lept out at me during my private devotion time this morning. I found myself in Colossians 1. In verses 15 to 17, Paul is talking to the new church about Christ, His role, and His power. In verses 16 and 17, he said, Everything has been created through Him and for Him. He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together. (NLT,1995)

When I read that last part, my mind when through a series of thoughts like scrolling through a PowerPoint. I thought, "He created everything. I'm an everything." Since He created me - and He holds all creation together - He's holding me together! I liked the picture that those thoughts formed. On those days when I feel like I just can't do one more thing - He holds me together. When my month has several days left, but the bank account is empty. He holds me together. When Chris is sick, and I'm trying to decide on the next level of care. He holds me together. I know that this is not really what Paul was talking about - but I also know that there are many days that He is the only thing holding me together.

Today, my thoughts will be on how He holds me together and holds me in His heart. I'll think about the image I have of Him just holding me close. When I am trying to piece together this puzzle called life - I will trust Him to hold me together. It's so amazing that this big, big, God stoops to be part of our day-to-day. But I'm glad He does. Will you join me as we let Him hold us together today?



Right Back to Him

 God is so patient with us. I run to Him so often, I often wonder if He silently shakes His head as I approach for the millionth time. In a ...