Showing posts with label God's love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God's love. Show all posts

The Dream of an 8-Hour Day


 I'm starting to wonder what it's like to work an 8-hour shift - then just go home. lol. Many caregivers work an outside job plus caring for their loved ones. For others, their "8-hour job" is caring for their loved ones. But in today's world, it seems like just a far-off dream. But occasionally, I let my mind wander about what it would be like to just go to work - then come home. I vaguely remember something about it, but it seems so far away.

A caregiver's day is usually full of all sorts of stuff. Many of you, like myself, work online while caring for your loved ones. But it is certainly a juggling act most days. Trying to get everything done for my son plus keeping my clients happy is a huge chore. Additionally, I need to eat right (I plan his meals, right?), get adequate amounts of sleep, and drink enough water. Oh, and don't forget to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. We need 15-20 minutes of sunshine too... I'm tired and overwhelmed just thinking about all that. My thoughts circle back to that elusive 8-hour day...

Caregiving is so easy - said no one, ever! No matter what level of caregiving you are at - full-time, part-time, long-distance, short distance, or in your own home, it can eat your lunch. Am I right?

Yet at the same time, it's so rewarding to love someone enough to lay down all your desires, needs, wants, and dreams just so you can take care of them. It's admirable. And it's like Jesus. He literally died for us so we could be righteous and free from condemnation. I was talking to a fellow writer at the local Christian writer's group I meet with once a month. She was asking a lot of questions about caregiving, and the decisions that had to be made to be where we are today. 

I likened it to the decisions Jesus made to stay on that cross. As painful as it was - His love for us held Him there. Similarly, my love for my son holds me at his side. And your love for your caregivee keeps you in a place where you can take care of them. Are we perfect? Well, I'm not. lol But I'm still here. No matter how hard it gets - I still take care of Chris and I still pursue God's heart.

Today, I'm going to think about how much love it took for Jesus to submit to the cross, then stay on it even when it hurt. I'll be thankful as I consider how much He really does love us. I won't fight the gratitude I feel when I think about how He saw you and me - the joy - set before Him so He chose the route of the cross. He also wanted to please the Father. I think our actions please Him too. Don't you?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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To Be Loved

 


Most of us care for a loved one and it's all out of the love we have for them. My son is nonverbal. He makes some sounds and can definitely let me know when he doesn't like what I'm doing. lol - I do not know where he is mentally, I can only make assumptions. I also don't know how his thinking processes are working since he cannot tell me. One thing I tell him over and over is that I love him.

One of my deepest desires is for him to feel loved. I want him to know how much I want to take care of him and provide for him. But mostly, I want him to feel loved. Over and over every day I tell him he is loved. Every task and every chore is due to the love I have for him. I'm sure as caregivers, you can relate. 

As much as I love my son, and we love our caregivees, it can still be difficult to communicate that love even though every action is bathed in love for them.

That makes me think about our Father. 1 John 3:1 says behold the manner of love the Father has bestowed on us - that we should be called His sons. (children for those who need gender neutrality.)We are God's children and He loves us. And like our actions as caregivers communicates our love for our caregivee, God's every action toward us or on our behalf is motivated and driven by His love for us.

I wonder sometimes if God desires for us to know how much He loves us. I so want Chris to feel loved - does God feel that way toward us? Is it His deep desire for us to know we are loved? We are cherished. We are cared for and provided for. Is He as intense in His desires as I feel toward Chris? Probably. 

Zephaniah 3:17 says He will quiet us with His love. He will joy over us with singing. God rejoices over us and helps us find rest as we accept and walk in His great love for us.

Today, I will meditate on how passionately God cares for me. Each time I try to express it to my son - I'm going to accept the same from God. My meditation will be on the truth that He loves us so much - that He cannot even help it! :-) I'll purposefully quiet my soul today and rest in His love for me. Will you join me?


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We Are His!

 

Chris with me - in the standing frame

Social isolation is real, for caregivers. Actually, most of us dealt with it LONG before the COVID pandemic. It was almost amusing, if it hadn't been so serious, to see people whining and crying about having to stay home and "miss" all the social interaction. I wrote a post welcoming them to our world. Many of us have lived a life of social isolation for years. Our "norm" just become more complicated during the pandemic. 

I guess the aloneness is what made this scripture stand out in my private devotions this morning. It's a familiar passage, and yes, I was reading it because yesterday was Thanksgiving, and giving thanks was on my mind. 

Psalm 100 is just five short verses and I really enjoy the New Living Translation, but any translation or paraphrase is good! Verse three is the one that stood out to me today. It says Acknowledge that He is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. I noticed, of course, that the caregiver is not excluded. It doesn't say "everyone but the caregiver is His." And it doesn't state, "Everyone is His people except caregivers." It also doesn't say, "He made everyone except caregivers." 

When I read passages like this, I often still wonder if I am really His. Does He see my day-to-day? Does He hear my whines, pleas, and whining? And still, He claims me? That almost moves me to tears - to know that He sees... He hears...He knows... and still says I am His!

I think, wow, I"m such a mess and I feel like I've literally got nothing together - yet He still claims me. Doesn't He see how ugly life can be? Doesn't He see my intense struggle over my own faith? Doesn't He know how often I waiver? The answer to all of these is yes. A yes that resounds with the truth that we are still His. As dysfunctional as we may feel - we are still His.

Part of me wants to argue. How could He still claim me? But then,  I look at my own son, my caregivee. He can do nothing on his own. He has no voice. His hands are contractured. And even recently professionals refuse to work with him because they think he's too far gone. But He is still mine. I love him - he is and will forever be my son.

Today, even though the ugly of life is staring me in the face, I will rejoice that He still calls me His own! I will thank Him that He can look past the circumstances to the real me inside and He still says, This one is mine. Even though I feel emotionally crippled. Although I am wrung out and falter in my faith every day, He doesn't throw me away. He calls me His own. That's a powerful thought right there... I'll meditate on it all day - will you join me in rejoicing that we are still His?

Recalculating

I think the only constant in life is the fact that change is constant. Just about the time we get where we are figured out and we settle in for the long haul, one little thing shifts. That catapults us into a new dimension it seems and we have to recalculate to proceed.

I think about the GPS and when we make a wrong turn or miss an exit it so nicely says recalculating route. Lol. Some days it feels like I do that every hour or so. I really thrive in structure, but that was one of the first things to go when I became a caregiver. Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make. Each day brings totally different circumstances to be recalculated.

Although it's been difficult, I've found a way to adapt to the constant changes. Like now. I'm writing the blog a bit later today and allowing Chris to sleep. That's so hard for me, but I overslept. Since we've come home from the hospital last week we've both been exhausted. Maybe I'm just old, or plain tired,  but it seems to be harder to recover these days. Every day can be a series of recalculations. This is usually walked out through a series of thoughts that pretty much sound like this:


  • Where am I now?
  • What time is it?
  • What do I have to get done?
  • What can wait until tomorrow?
  • What's most pressing?
  • Do I have enough coffee? :-)
Caregiving days are made up of questions like these and many times have a different answer every time. We honestly do not know what a day may bring, as I found out so quickly last week. I thought I was watching my son breathe his last. Then when the EMT told me they were going lights and sirens, I knew it was life or death. My daughter and I had to face the decision of if we wanted life support as it was the next step. I didn't see that coming. We cannot take anything for granted, not even caregiving.

Now here's the thing. Our GPS may need to recalculate based on our actions. I may have to recalculate my days based on what is happening. But God never recalculates. He has seen in advance and already made preparations. I was reading in Psalm 139 this morning. It says he is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He doesn't recalculate His love - it is constant. As a matter of fact - he pre-calculated and decided we were worth His efforts! He made the way for us to get back to Him before the fall and He's not changing His mind. He's not recalculating that one. We are still worth it!

My eyes slipped on down to verse 4 - even before there is a word on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it all. What? As fast as my mind can toss out questions, answers and ideas and He knows all that first? And He still loves me!

He knew we would be caregivers. He knew we would see rough days. He knew in advance we'd choose to trust Him through some very difficult decisions and circumstances. He knew we would always add it back up to trusting Him - no matter how we might calculate and recalculate. But He never has to recalculate His love for us or His mercy toward us. It stands through it all.

Today I am going rejoice in His constant mercy, love, and watchfulness over us as His children. He won't recalculate and decide we are not worth it. We will always be worth it to Him. My thoughts will be on how He walked through this moment in time before I got here - and He placed His grace here to carry me through it. I will be thankful for His constant watching, and His pre-watching. I'll be grateful for His lack of desire to recalculate His love. Today I will rest in the truth that He never changes His mind about us. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Forever is a Long Time

After yesterday's devotion, I continued to think about things about God that do not change. He is constant, ever-abiding and is not affected by the winds of life or our circumstances. I started making a list of some of the things I thought of and came up with quite a few things off the top of my head.

My list included His love, His mercy, His righteousness, His provision for us, the truth, salvation, His power, the power of Christ's sacrifice, His Word and His callings. This is just a very topical list of things that simply don't ever change.

Throughout the day I meditated on these and a few others on the list I had compiled.  Then I decided to look up the word forever just to see what I found. I used Bible Gateway and searched just the NASB and came up with these little nuggets:

The Lord will reign forever -Ex. 15:18
The Lord abides forever  - Ps. 9:18; Ps 102:12
The Lord is King forever - Ps. 10:16; Ps. 29:10
In His right hand are pleasures forever - Ps. 16:11
The Counsel of the Lord stands forever - Ps. 33:11
The blameless have a forever inheritance - Ps 37:27
His godly ones are preserved forever - Ps. 37:28
He sets us in His presence forever - Ps. 41:12
His throne and scepter are forever - Ps. 45:6
He is God forever - Ps. 48:14
He rules by His might forever - Ps. 66:7
He established the earth so it will not totter forever - Ps. 104:5
He has ordained His covenant forever - Ps. 111;19
His righteousness endures forever - Ps. 112:9
He surrounds His people forever - Ps. 125:2
The word of God stands forever - Isaiah 40:8
His righteousness will be forever - Isaiah 51:6-8
He lives forever and has an everlasting dominion - Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26
His kingdom and reign is forever - Luke 1:33
The Holy Spirit is with us forever - John 14:16
He saves forever and intercedes forever - Heb. 7:25
He is the same forever! - Heb. 13:8

These are just a few I decided to highlight and used only one translation. Honestly, it gets a bit redundant as if God is trying to drive home the point that He does not change. His compassion, mercy and watchful care over us never changes. He is diligent about being present in our lives. His provision, salvation, word, promises, and righteousness will stand the test of time. Not one thing about Him changes due to any circumstances we face or any status of our lives that changes. There are no stipulations on His forevers. Not one of them was followed with an if or an as long as....They simply stand.

When I started thinking about all He has done and how enduring His work in our lives is - I got a little bit excited. He is faithful - forever. Faithful to empower us, indwell us and even carry us through the next trial. Life never gets too hard for Him. I need that stability in my life, how about you?

Today I am going to continue to meditate on His faithfulness. My thoughts will be on how He is not changed by life's circumstances. I'll think about how He still wants to be with us - no matter what life has thrown our way; and about how long forever really is. Because He loves me -forever. I will think about His steadfastness and faithfulness - and I'll relax and smile as I choose to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Why Does He Sing?

One of the biggest things I had to work through when I became a caregiver was music. I have played the guitar since I was about 13 (won't say how many years that has been!) and I've played the keyboard now for about 20 or so years. I also wrote poetry - started that sometime during my teen years and didn't even realize it for a long time. I don't know why.

Over time the two began to blend together and I wrote music, mostly worship songs. Right after my son's wreck I penned a few songs from a raw emotional state. And then I stopped. Music died. I didn't even want to listen to music much. My son had been a drummer and a song writer and an accomplished musician. It broke my heart to hear music of any kind; and sometimes it made me downright mad.

But over the last few months I have begun to return to that part of my heart and have a look around. I miss my son's music, but I was also missing my own. And I missed hearing Him sing over me.
Zephaniah 3:16 says this:

Cheer up, Zion! Don't be afraid!
For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you!
He is a mighty savior - He will rejoice over you with great gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will exult over you by singing a happy song. (NLT)

I have loved this verse ever since I first read it! We do not have to be afraid because God lives among us. And for the caregiver there are many fears - the church might condemn us for that and say they are lack of faith - but let them. We wonder about each day as well as the future. One of my greatest fears is how my son will be taken care of when I die. This verse says to not be afraid but also says He will calm our fears - with His love. Many time I need my fears calmed. Sometimes I need it many times a day...every day.

And then the last part says He will exult over us by singing a happy song. I love the picture that paints in my mind. I see myself on my knees - as I hold my son stretched out across my lap; and the Lord standing over me singing to me a song of peace. As He sings of His love for me and my son - my heart is filled with joyful peace and comfort. 

He is pleased with us as caregivers. We had to take on His very nature to be a caregiver (in my humble opinion). I honestly think He looks down at us and it puts a twinkle in His eye - because we look like Him. And when He sees us filled with His compassion, His care, His love for another - it makes His heart sing and He just can't hold it back!

Today I will listen for His song. I might find it in the most unusual places, but I'm going to listen for His heart today. My meditations will be focused on pressing in to His heart - and listening for Him instead of trying to get Him to listen to me today. I'll be reshifting my focus to hearing the steady beat of His heart for me.... will you join me?



Yet He Remains Faithful

Last night as I was going through our bedtime rituals. I just stopped and looked at my son. He was lying down, resting and soon to fall asleep. I think all mothers like to watch their kids sleep. I just stood there by his bed and let my mind wander a bit. I thought about our journey and all we've come through to this point.  And I rehearsed some of my fears of what may happen when I get my ticket out of this place called time - or I get too old to care for him. The thought of him being left in a home made me shutter.

I thought of the people we met along the way and the ones I saw literally, just walk away. It's never been in me to do that. I thought of how much I love my son and how that holds me at his side no matter what.

I felt the bond between us strengthen as I grabbed hold tighter with my heart. It made me more determined to be sure things are in order so he doesn't ever have to feel abandoned. I can't imagine putting him somewhere and walking away. In that deep emotional moment it was like I felt God was saying the same thing about me; about us, His children.

He has that same intense desire to be with us. He will not abandon us. The scripture that came to my mind at that point was 2 Timothy 2:13 the passage (v. 11-13) reads this way in the NASB:

It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him
we will also live with Him
If we endure
we will also reign with Him
If we deny Him
He cannot deny us
If we are faithless
He remains faithful
for He cannot deny Himself

Two things ran through my mind He is faithful and He cannot deny Himself. Just like I can't stand even the thought of leaving my son's side - God cannot bear the thought of being separated from us. He remains faithful. Add to those thoughts verse 19 of the same chapter - The Lord knows those who are His and you have a win-win combination. He knows us - and He ain't going anywhere!

Today I will meditate on His faithfulness. My thoughts will be on the truth that He knows me. I will turn my thoughts to accepting the truth that He loves me and that love binds our hearts together and He is not going to leave...for any reason. Will you join me?

Un-sacrificial Sacrifice

There is no picture perfect view of a caregiver as each situation is unique. Some caregivers spend time looking in on a loved one and checking to make sure things are going along smoothly while others provide total care for their loved one. No matter where we fit on that scale caregivers give up some portion of their lives to take care of another.

In 2008 I was perched to explore the world. I had gotten rid of everything, moved to Chicago and was scheduled to go to South Africa the following January with a Bible school. Those hopes and dreams faded after I received the phone call about my son's wreck. Instead of flying to Africa, I was headed back to Louisiana to be with my son. Although it was quite the process to work through- It doesn't feel like a sacrifice; it's just what needed to be done.

In Philippians 3:7-10 Paul talks about how he gave up everything to know Christ. Verse 10 states he was conformed to His death. As a caregiver we allow ourselves to "die" in order to provide for our loved ones. We give up something on some level to be able to do what we do to care for someone else. We are acquainted with sacrifice; and we look like Him. 

Earlier in Philippians 2:6-7, Paul stated that Jesus emptied Himself He made Himself nothing, humbled Himself and became like us. Why? Hebrews 12:2 says that He did it for the joy set before Him. He did not consider the cross in His death - but He considered us.

While caregivers may or may not feel  like we are sacrificing anything, there are times we realize we really lost our lives in the shuffle.  As difficult as it is sometimes there is a joy and a satisfaction that comes from caring for a loved one. I'll be the first to stand up and say it is a difficult journey and a battle everyday. But I count that all as nothing because of the love for my son.

Jesus felt the same way about us. He willingly gave it all up and laid it all down and counted it as joy; not a sacrifice.  When we lay down our lives to any extent for our loved ones, we look a lot like Him.

Today I will think about how great a love God has for us - that He prepared a way for us to get back to Him before He ever said, "Let there be light." I will meditate on what value He must place on us to love and care for us that much. I will smile today in light of His unsacrificial sacrifice and I will rejoice that He loves us as much as we love the ones we care for. Will you join me?

So Great a Love

One of the best things I have purchased as a caregiver is a baby monitor. I found I was not getting up as much throughout the night because if I heard my son I could glance at the monitor and just see if he needed me or was just moving around a bit. It also allowed me to go outside for my coffee and Bible study but still be able to keep an eye on him and hear him. This is very helpful especially on the mornings he chooses to sleep in a little bit.

As a caregiver for someone who needs help with just about everything but breathing I have to watch and listen for him constantly. There are not many breaks and this little monitor lets me hear and see him in a way that gives me a little bit of freedom too.

Just like I keep an eye on my son and an ear open for his every sound, God is always leaning in our direction. He always has His eye on us; and He is always listening for our voice. 2 Chronicles 16:9 states that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. He is always looking for that opportunity to be strong in us and for us.

1 Peter 3:12 tells us that the ears of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. He listens for us. In my imagination I see Him standing in the heavenlies leaning over with his ear cupped with his hand listening for the faintest cry of the heart that is turned toward Him.

Just like we get tuned in to our loved ones and are anticipating their cry, moan, or any noises at all; and just like we watch over them day and night to help them when it's needed - God watches over us intently. Why? Because we are His children.

1 John 3:1 tells us that He loves us so much He calls us his children. He loves us and holds us by His side. In the same loving way we care for our loved ones He loves us and cares for us. I've said many times that I learned about His love by being a caregiver. Love keeps me by my son's side - just like love held Jesus to the cross for our sake.

Today I will meditate on how much He loves us. I'll think about the love I feel when I hold my son close and realize that He feels that same way about me. I will allow Him to hold me close today as I turn my thoughts to accepting the love He pours out on us, His children. Will you join me?

We Still Look the Same

So many things may have changed when we became caregivers. For me, I had gotten rid of everything and moved to Chicago from the deep south and was working three jobs in preparation for heading to the mission fields in South Africa. But like many, my plans came to a screeching halt with a single phone call informing me my son had been in an automobile accident and had been medi-flighted to a local hospital in Shreveport. From there the changes were astronomical.

I booked a flight to Shreveport and lived in the hospital for 4 months as I sat by his side. We then went through a series of nursing homes and rehab facilities until I could get my own apartment and have a place to "bring him home" to. It's an understatement to say that everything changed. I now work from home as a writer and have a decent little apartment near my family in Oklahoma.

Over time we all change, we evolve into different roles as life throws new things at us. We develop character as we embrace life changes. I think as caregivers we get used to rolling with the blows since we never know what a day is going to bring and who we may have to confront on behalf of our loved ones. For me - recent changes include stepping into  more of a caregiving role with my parents as they age as well. Even though this brings more changes I still look the same.

Of course I don't look the same physically as I did when I began this caregiving journey, I'm a little fluffier and more wrinkled for sure - I'm not nearly the same person I was. I don't put up with as much silliness and I basically have learned how to fight for others. We learn new skills like advocating on behalf of another and dealing with people who don't want to do their job like aides etc. Supplies -- there you go - just getting the supplies that we are due can be quite a journey. Perhaps we don't think about it - but all these struggles and situations mold us into a new person.

No matter what changes we endure - we still look the same to Him. God still sees us as the exact same person as He always has - and He always will. I think we could compare it to how we see our kids. They grow up and eventually leave home to raise their own family. And even though they go through many physical changes they remain "our little girl" or "our little boy." God sees us like that -- we are still His little girls and boys.

Psalm 139:13 states that He wove us in our mother's womb and that He formed our inward parts. I think that means the insides that make us who we are -- not just our intestines, heart, and liver. Job said it like this: You clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. (Job 10:11) To me this means God sees us from the inside out - He sees us like we really are - what makes us "us" and then He put skin on it. So even though our worlds turned upside down or topsy-turvy we still look the same to the one who loves us most.

Today I will meditate on how God sees the real me - and continues to love me. I will turn my meditations to how He chose for me to be on this planet and even though He put skin on the "real me" He sees way deeper than that. I will think about His closeness today and how He loves me with or without skin on! Even though people treat me different and aren't sure what to do with me - He still thinks I look the same....and He loves me. I'll think about His great love and compassion for me today - will you join me?

She Does What?

This morning I was scrolling down facebook to see what happened in my world while I was asleep and saw a post from Jillian Michaels. She was out catching the premiere of a new movie. I always associate her with fitness and workouts and somehow in my mind she should not be at a movie. She should be somewhere kicking someone into gear and motivating them to get in shape! lol. When I see Jillian Michaels I always think of fitness or working out - her watching a movie did not fit with the image I had in my mind.

I wonder what people think when they think of caregivers. Do they think that that is all there is to our lives? While caregiving for many of us is indeed a 24/7 job, we still have to do our day-to-day tasks just like everybody else - on top of taking care of another person's needs. Caregiving is a difficult and time consuming position, but we still like the things we used to  do before like reading, hiking, running, watching a movie or having dinner with friends. But in many instances these activities are no longer reasonable; and sometimes they are nearly impossible.

How does God see caregivers? We really do not have our own class in His eyes. There's not likely a "special awards" program for us in heaven. *smile* But it is a good thing that He does not see us any differently than anyone else. He cares for us and loves us just the same as everyone else. He does not esteem us any lower than others. It can seem like the world (and church world) forgets about us, leaves us out, or ignores us. But God loves us exactly the same.

Romans 8:35-37 in the New Living Translation says this: Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the scriptures say, "For Your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.

I am so glad that His love and care for us does not change with the tides of life. God is the only constant in our crazy worlds. His love for use will not wane or subside - but remains constant. As caregivers we can have crazy days; we really never know what might come up next. But one thing is sure - His love will remain steadfast.

Today, no matter how crazy it might get I will meditate on His constant and consistent love for me. Will you join me?

The Easy Stuff

It can be quite the battle to keep from being cynical or hard for lots of people these days, but especially for those who are in a constant daily struggle. We can wonder where God is and if He is still watching us why some things happen. And add to that being abandoned by people we loved and trusted and you have the makings of an emotional mess. Then on top of all that - we have to deal with the crazy health system; some people who are just doing a job with no heart and some who are not even doing the job part! It can be so easy to just feel like we are mad at everyone and if we are not careful we can turn our "expectors" off...it's easier that way.

In the midst of all the struggles we must endure each day there are times when we can feel like we suffer great loss. The lives we used to know and enjoy have passed away and many are prisoners in their own home...or that's the way it feels sometimes. Some days we count these losses; others we adjust and smile and just trudge on through.

Hosea 10:12 talks about breaking up the "fallow" ground. (that's old KJV!) I always thought that fallow just meant hard. But a little more study and I found out that it means ground that's already been plowed and then has sat and become hard again. If we do not guard our hearts carefully our hearts can be fallow.

The end of verse 11 says that Judah  must break up the hard ground and then the Lord will rain righteousness. Judah means praise...When we praise Him even in the hard times, it will keep our hearts from being hardened. But that's not always easy - even though it's doable. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a place to start.

Two things are mentioned in verse 12 that are unchangeable: righteousness and love. In these crazy worlds caregivers live in where things can change dramatically from one second to the next, these two things will never change. They are the easy stuff. We do not have to work at all - they will not leave us! He is our righteousness no matter what life throws our way; and His love for us cannot be changed!

Today let us  praise Him for His steadfast love. Let us praise Him that He is our righteousness and we do not have to work to please Him. He is happy with us and we are hidden in Him.

Separation Anxiety

Sometimes there is this huge mental struggle because religion is so works oriented. Maybe it's just me, but there are times I struggle with if He loves me enough...It sounds wrong I know. But we can read through the gospels and see all the miracles Jesus did for others..maybe I'm the only one who wonders why He doesn't come riding in on His white horse for me.

 Even the Old Testament is full of various displays of His miraculous powers. Yet my loved one still suffers. And I cannot help but wonder if He loved others more...But then (my busy mind) immediately jumps to what I would do if He miraculously healed my son. How would I explain to someone else that He loves them as much?

All this crazy thinking lead me straight to Romans 8. It's a long time favorite isn't it? We quickly quote that nothing can separate us from His love. But sometimes during tribulation it's easy to wonder...But a quick look at Paul's discussion is quite revealing. We can grab the concept in verses 38 and 39. It's easy to figure out that no substance, no creation, no power and no position can separate us from His love. Got it!

 But did we skip verse 35 in our analysis? Verses 38-39 are in answer to the question Paul asked back up in verse 35...Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Then his list of things that may seem to be able to cause a chasm between us and God's love looks like this: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword...The caregiver certainly has a good understanding of tribulation and distress as it was some form of distress that launched us into the position of caring for a loved one.

 Now verse 37 makes more sense - in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Notice it's in  the unpleasant circumstance - not over, around, under or any type of avoidance here...but right there in the circumstance His love is there with us to carry us and to keep our souls. Our souls cannot be harmed in any circumstance because that's the part of us that He protects...and loves. Let us take time today to rest in His love for us...for it is unwavering in the face of great trials and tribulations.

Puffed up Know-it-alls

Don't you just love the conversations that you have with people who act like they know it all? Usually the conversation doesn't get very far because the who know it all can't see past their limited knowledge to hold a true challenging conversation!

 Well, as I was studying this morning this short passage jumped out at me for a couple of reasons. It's actually in the context of Paul's instructions about eating meat that is sacrificed to idols. And then it seems he takes a little rabbit trail when he says the words in these three verses:

 Now let's talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols
You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge.
While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church
 Anyone who claims to know all the answers really doesn't know very much.
 But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for
 (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 NLT)

I found the first part about the know-it-all to be pretty amusing. I have met people like that. And I am sure I've come off as being that way myself at times. Thank God for life's tempering - it is indeed what helps us come to grips with the fact that we really don't know it all! lol!

But there are two other things that stand out to me in this passage. The first thing is that it is not knowledge which builds up the church. Listening to endless sermons may give us a lot of  information about God but that's not how the church is encouraged. Later in this same book, Paul will say that knowledge puffs up. But it is love that builds up the church. But then again we have to see the church not as a building - how can we love a building? But we must see it as us. We are the church and when we love one another and help carry one another's burdens it will build and encourage the church. (Ah! the missing link to modern Christianity!)

 And then the next part that grabbed me was verse 3 - the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for. Wow! I so want to love Him...and not let my knowledge of Him surpass basking in His intimate love. Just some thoughts for today..

Side Note - I did start some video devotionals for caregivers. There is one up and I will be doing one later today. You can view them at www.livestream.com/reallysimpleafterall.

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 ...