Showing posts with label aloneness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aloneness. Show all posts

Talking to Myself

Aunt Polly talking to chris - both of them in wheelchairs

 Do you ever catch yourself talking to yourself? I suppose we all do it to some degree. Since my son is nonverbal, I talk to him a LOT, constantly. I'm sure when he starts talking, the first thing he'll say is something about me shutting up. Lol. As I've grown accustomed to being the only voice in my apartment, I have caught myself talking to myself more often. Sometimes, I mutter something about my lack of intelligence under my breath. I may hear myself say, well, that was dumb. Oftentimes, I find that I tell myself how silly I am or how I did something wrong or offer myself some other negative input.

Not long ago, I decided to try to put an end to negative self-talk. I got a fresh notebook and began to write affirmations. So far, I've got about 21 affirmations for caregivers. I hope to turn it into an ebook and make it available in my bookstore soon. 

This morning, I heard myself again, so I decided to change the dialogue. As caregivers, we need to be our own best friends, not enemies. Too many of us walk a lonely path. It's too easy to fall into self-condemnation because, many times, there's no one there to lift us up. That's where the Word comes in!

Thankfully, I stopped myself from bludgeoning my soul with negative words this morning. I decided that if I'm going to talk to myself (LOL), it's going to be good. So, I pulled out my small collection of affirmations and began reminding myself that there are some things caregiving doesn't have the power to change. 

  • I'm still a child of God.
  • God continues to extend His peace to me.
  • The power of the cross did not expire when I became a caregiver.
  • God's grace is still sufficient for these circumstances.
  • I am a champion, and I've championed every day of my life to be here today.
  • God still protects my heart, and He remains the keeper of my soul.
If I am going to continue talking to myself  - it's got to be good! David encouraged himself in the Lord at one of the lowest points of his life. (1 Samuel 30:6-8) The KJV says that David was "greatly distressed" in that moment. But he turned the dialogue around and found a way to encourage himself when he had every right to be discouraged.

Today, I will protect my heart from negative self-talk. When negative thoughts or emotions begin to surface, I'll remind myself of who I am in Him, and how caregiving doesn't change our spiritual inheritance. My thoughts will be on how He continues to carry me, protect me, provide for me, and more. Isn't that how we make it through these difficult days? I will declare that I will continue to trust Him because He continues to care for me. So, I will trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Tidying Up the Cave

 

chris standing and looking at wiley post park

Do you ever just feel alone? Social isolation is real for caregivers. Now that we are mostly post-pandemic and things are going back to something like normal, it reminds us that our lives are anything but normal. I've started taking Chris out more - mostly for stimulation. He acts differently when we are out - I think he's bored with our little 2-bedroom apartment. Lol. And while getting out is so good for both of us, pushing his chair around social settings and outings just serves to remind me how different we are.

Most people have no idea what caregivers deal with on a daily basis. But what's worse is they don't want to get close enough to know. And having no one close is what seems to eat away at us many times. Now, I hope you have plenty of friends and family who are close and keep in touch with you. But sadly, too many caregivers feel stuck alone in their caves. That's where I have been this week. It's okay - I just have to adjust a little, so I don't get swept away in that emotional tide. So, I'm tidying up my cave.

Self-reflection and evaluation are good for us generally. So, I'm taking a look around my own cave to see what I want to keep and what doesn't belong. In the alone times, when we feel like we are tucked away in a cave from the norms of life, we'll find that He is there too. I love that God meets us where we are. 

Think about that a bit. He met Adam and Eve in the garden, even after they sinned. He met Abraham at his tent. God "found" Hagar not once but twice. He came to Moses on the back side of the wilderness and spoke to him from a burning bush. And get this - Moses had been out there for 40 years! Alone. But God came. So, while I am tidying up my cave and adjusting once again, I can trust that He will find me too. 

Whether I feel like my life is being lived by a beautiful stream of living water, or I feel like I'm just trying to survive on the back side of the wilderness, He knows. And He'll come anyway. No wilderness is too barren. No cave is too dark or deep. He can find us - and better yet - He can reach us.

Today, I'll remind myself that God is even present with me in my caregiver's cave. He has time to listen when human ears don't. He understands. He gets us. And He still whispers, My grace is enough. So, I'll trust His grace to carry me through 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.


Where is "HERE"?

Eli walking alongside Chris' wheelchair at the Draper Lake trails.

Do you ever just assess your life? As caregivers, we can have such a sense of loss. Caregiving puts so many demands on us. Many have to change occupations or quit their jobs altogether to have the time to invest in caring for a loved one. We may grieve the loss of a lifestyle we enjoyed before caregiving. Sometimes, we feel the loss of freedom as we may not be able to just jump and run when we want to or hang out with friends freely. We may live with grief that stems from losing a person - while they are still here. This is the case with my son and with caregivers of loved ones with dementia. The sense of loss and feelings of grief can come from so many different areas in our lives, that they are often overlooked, or at best difficult to identify.

After I did this morning's Facebook Live devotional "Peace Out!", I took my own personal assessment. (See video below!) I walked through my apartment and every few steps, I told myself "God is right here!" I'd take a few steps or go to another room and say, "You are here!" I did this all around my apartment - mostly to remind myself that He is here - wherever "here" is! 

Whether we are with family, at the hospital, in a nursing home, or right here in our comfy apartment, God is in our HERE! It helps me keep my attitude straight for the day when I realize that God doesn't put a limitation on where He'll meet with us. He came to Hagar two times in her time of need. Jesus went through Samaria, the Jews' "other side of the tracks" to meet with the Samaritan woman who doesn't even have a name! He didn't need a drink of water - He went there for her! 

No matter what our HERE looks like, He is there! He is HERE! 

Today, I will remind myself that God is in my here - He's been in every "here" so far and He's not changing now! I'll meditate on the truth that He simply cannot leave us and He won't leave us now. I'll be thankful that He is right here with me and my son no matter what turns this day may take - He won't abandon. I'll trust Him to be "here" today - will you join me in your "here"?





____________________________________________________________________
I Will declarations book cover


Check out my ebook store where you'll find these "I Will" Declarations from Psalms for just a buck! Download it today! I also have devotionals, study guides, poetry books, and free stuff! My Amazon bookshelf has some of these books on Kindle and for print - check them out!




Not Forgotten

 


It's so easy to feel insignificant, ignored, and shoved to the side of life. People don't always mean to be mean, but they often don't know what to do with "us." lol. Simple things become complicated. Like, which Sunday School class do I belong in? Should I go with Chris? Leave him alone in a class and try to find my own? Or do I even try to go since it'll be such a mess? Let's not even talk about trying to find a way to use a public restroom. Do I take my adult son with me to the women's or do I go to the men's? (That's a no.)

For caregivers, simple daily tasks can become quite difficult. Others just don't understand and so it can be easy to begin to feel less-than and insignificant. These are some of the thoughts I let my mind wander down this morning after reading John 4 again. This chapter contains the familiar story of the Woman at the Well. We don't even know her name.

We know very little about her past, except that she's been married five times and now she's living with a man. We know nothing of her future. Yet, Jesus went way out of His way to meet with her at the well that day. He met with a woman (strike one), in Samaria (strike two). And He even told her straight up that He was the Messiah. wow. She wasn't going to slay a giant, survive a burning fiery furnace, or get out of a lion's den. There's no glowing superhuman story. Just a woman at a well. Insignificant? Yet worth His time.

The earth is in the Milky Way Galaxy. But it's only one of many galaxies out there. We can easily feel so insignificant just as humans on this sole little planet swirling around with 8 other planets, lots of stars, moons, and the sun. But to think there are numerous other galaxies makes us seem less significant in the grand scheme of things. Yet - Jesus left His peace HERE. (John 14:27) God loves US. God walks through time with us - He shared His peace, love, wisdom, and strength with us. He came for US

Today, I will remind myself that I am surrounded by His greatness. In my small existence, God lives big in me. Though the world often makes me feel insignificant and alone, God cares. I'll remind myself that He watches over me, He wants to be with me, and He hears my smaller-than-a-pea-sized prayer. He catches MY tears and knows what caused each one to fall into His hand. I believe with that thought- I can trust Him with one more day. 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. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!


Full Of It

 


This morning during my private devotions, I started studying 1 John to prepare for an upcoming live Zoom Bible study I'm hosting. (Let me know if you'd like a link to join!) I John is very connected to the gospel of John and I found myself reading the first chapter of this gospel over and over. It amazes me and pretty much blows my mind how God has orchestrated all this. Before He said, "Let there be light" He had already done everything. He'd already prepared the way for us to get back to Him, even before the fall happened in time. Jesus was crucified and raised to sit on the throne. Our sins were already forgiven before we ever even committed them. (We just need to accept His forgiveness.) 

So I'm reading through John chapter one with my mouth wide open in awe! My mind is running around crazy just thinking about all the wonderous works of God. The Word of God - His very breath become flesh and walked among man for a brief 33 years. In verse 14, it says He become human (NLT), lived on earth with us, and that He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. That can also be translated to grace and truth.

Does it not just blow your mind that God cares? He is eternal and time is such a small piece of eternity - yet that's where He chooses to meet us and walk with us. He's so much more than a "little-g" god. He desires intimacy with us. He wants to walk with us, to be with us. And when He is welcomed into our lives and He comes - He brings all He is with Him. Truth, forgiveness, light, understanding, comfort, peace, and of course - love. That just blows my mind.

It's amazing that He wants to walk through time with mankind, isn't it? But He's not limited to time like we are because eternity exists in Him. Time is but a small piece of eternity. Yet this eternal God of comfort, God of peace, God of grace, mercy, and truth - wants to be with us. And for mankind - that's great. But for the caregiver it's monumental. Because so many people don't want to be with us. No-fault - no blame - they don't know what to do with us. But God does.

He knows how to comfort us in ways beyond our understanding. He knows how to hold us, give us peace, and soothe us with His song. If we listen. Can you hear Him? Most of the time I can - unless caregiving gets too hectic! But He's always singing. Always comforting. Always pouring out His love on us.

Today, I will purposefully quiet my heart and listen for His song. I'll lean in a little closer to hear His heart as I tone down the crazy thoughts running through my heart and mind. I will purposefully look for His grace at work in my life today. And I will embrace His heart of comfort in the midst of the pain and grief that often accompanies caregiving. 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.



Caregiver Burnout is Real

 


Do you ever just get too tired? Do you ever want to quit? Do you ever sit down for a whole 30 seconds and think about not getting back up? Ever? Who am I kidding? Sometimes I forget who I'm talking to. Lol. As caregivers, burnout is real. But the problem for most of us, is we don't get a break even in the midst of burnout, right? Let's face it. If we had a bit more help we might avoid burnout - but once we feel that we are in a season of burnout and stressed out - there's still no help. It's easy to feel stuck.

I try to do a few things to avoid burnout and to cope. Someone told me one time that I had learned how to live even in the midst of the situation. I think she was right. I have learned to slow down and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea (or coffee!!!). I try to get outside as much as possible because sunshine and fresh air are essential to a healthy life. Some days that means sitting on the patio so I can see Chris in the recliner through the window. But I'm still "outside." I enjoy watching the birds in the small tree outside my patio too. those seemingly "little" things add up. I've learned to take an evening "off" from work-work, even if not from caregiving. I'll watch a movie or read a book. All these mental health tricks are so key to keeping myself healthy inside and out. 

But how do I keep my spirit-man healthy? There are times when I am just bummed out - anyone else identify? Times when I don't see God doing anything specifically. Times when I feel so all alone - because I am. What about those times? 

I think I found my answer in Psalm 77 this morning. Asaph pens these words in verses 4-10:

I am too troubled to speak (have we ever been there!?!?)

I think about the days of old, the years of long ago.

I remember my song, I commune with myself and my spirit asks:

Will Adonai reject forever?

Will he never show favor again?

Has his grace permanently disappeared?

Is his word to all generations done away?

Has God forgotten to be compassionate?

Has he in anger withheld his mercy?

We sometimes ask these questions silently because we don't dare let them pass through our lips. But silently they arise from the depths of our beings as the caregiving days become long. But I love where Asaph goes with this psalm. Next, he says, this is my weakness - supposing that God's hand could change. Man, I love that. Our weakness is thinking that God's grace, mercy, and compassion ran out last week sometime. 

But then, Asaph realizes he's taken an interesting turn in his thinking. He is basically saying,  I don't see God doing anything right here, right now - so I'll remind myself of all He's done in the past. (Complete Jewish Bible translation)

When we cannot see or feel Him in our right-here-right-now, we can encourage ourselves with what we know He has done before. We can remind ourselves of the times we have seen Him intervene, provide peace in the storm, just be present when we needed Him - and that list goes on and on.

Today, I will remind myself that God's hand hasn't changed. He has not looked the other way, instead, He continues to look in my direction. I will remind myself of the times He's healed, calmed the storms in my heart and mind, brought comfort and peace. And I will be thankful. 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.



Download Poems for Caregivers for free! 

Poems for Caregivers bookcover

Between the Lines

 


I have recently discovered that I say a lot of things and expect people to read between the lines. You may do it too whether you realize it or not.  As caregivers, it can be difficult to find the words for our emotions. We can't always adequately describe our situations with words. And even if we can, there are many things we deal with daily that are taboo topics. Or, of course, we don't deal with some topics as we want our loved ones to have some dignity. So we speak in riddles and only those who really know - fully understand.

What we really mean.

I was thinking about this a lot yesterday and here are a few examples that I came up with, maybe you've got a few of your own.

  • I need to get out more. - Really means I am so lonely.
  • Wanna come over for a cup of coffee? - Means I am at the end of my rope. I feel neglected, alone, and I need a friend.
  • I am eating myself out of house and home lol - Really means - I'm experiencing emotional eating and I don't know how to stop.
  • It could be worse. - Really means I don't know how I'm going to make it.
  • I'm a hot mess. lol - Really means I'm at the end of my emotions and I really need God to help me get it all together.
These are just a few of the things I've heard myself say and I'm the only one who really knows what I meant. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, and maybe you have some go-to statements like I do. We say things like, 
  • God will provide.
  • He's got me!
  • God will make a way.
These faith statements are wonderful. And I agree - we need to make them all the time. We often need to pull up our faithful, favorite scriptures and read them to our minds over and over to build faith, don't we? But sometimes, we use truth as a mask to hide our true emotions. We can't ever really tell anyone how we feel or how we are dealing with caregiving. So, they are left to read between the lines. Some do it well. Others, don't have a clue. lol (Am I right?)

Here's the thing - God always reads between the lines. Sometimes, it feels like He doesn't answer our questions because He replies to the root of the question and not the actual question. Where did the question originate? What emotion sparked that question? Where are you now, God? I've cried that during many long, dark nights.

David Did It!


Maybe that's what David was feeling or thinking when He penned Psalm 13. How long will you look the other way? In David's heart, he knew God was with him, we see that bear out through the many psalms he wrote. But he didn't really think God was looking away. How do I know for sure? Because just two verses later David's asking God to consider and hear his cries. When we cry out, Where are You, God? We know where He is - but reading between the lines we'll see an intense need for Him. We may not feel or sense Him in any way during that moment. (Hey, it happens.) We know He's here. We know He hasn't left. But we feel abandoned, alone, and afraid. He's big enough to read between those lines and hear what our hearts and tears don't have the words for.

Today, I want to quiet my soul before Him. Since I don't always have the words for what I feel, I will let my silence speak. I will quietly present myself before Him and wait for Him to answer the silent cries of my heart. Will you join me on this new level of trusting Him?


____________________________________________________________________
I Will declarations book cover


Check out my ebook store where you'll find this "I Will" Declarations from Psalms for just a buck! Download it today! I also have devotionals, study guides, poetry books, and free stuff! My Amazon bookshelf has some of these books on Kindle and for print - check them out!



Roads and Rivers


 The social isolation of caregiving is one of the hardest parts for many of us. It's interesting now that during the pandemic so much attention is being given to being isolated and how it wears on mental health. Yet for many caregivers, it's been the norm for a long time. Yet when the rest of the world has to face the world we've lived in for decades, they fall apart. If it wasn't so serious, it would be humorous. 

One of the things that continue to bring me consolation is realizing that God is in this mess with me. I'm not facing it alone, even when I feel like I am. So, this morning during my devotions, I found myself reading in Isaiah 43. In verse 19, God says through Isaiah, I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Sometimes, caregiving can feel dry and bare like the desert. Other times, like the wilderness there is plenty of growth, but no people to enjoy it with.

A road in the wilderness would make way for many more people to traverse the region. A river in the desert would bring soothing refreshment for the soul. Having water in the desert can also mean the difference between life or death. I used to hike a wilderness area when I lived in Lousiana. Once you got off the road, there was nothing but you and nature for miles. A road meant having access to help and home. Maybe that's the road in the wilderness God is speaking of. When He makes a road in our wilderness it opens up the pathway to get back to Him. 

No matter how alone we may be, God is there with us. In the most alone time, He still lays out the road back to His heart. In the dryest times, He makes sure there is a river to refresh and preserve our souls. I'm reminded of the verse in Psalm 46 that says there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

Whether we are alone, thirsty, dry, or feel barren or abandoned, God is still reaching for us. He makes the way plain and simple so we can get back to Him - or He can get to us! 

Today, I will remind myself that I am not in this wilderness alone. My thoughts will be on how diligently He seeks His own as I remind myself I am one of His own too! I will purposefully look for the road that leads to His heart today. And I will look for the rivers God has provided to quench my thirsty soul. Will you join me in this search?

I Can Do Today

As I was taking a card to my aunt out to the mailbox this morning, I thought of all that was on my plate for just today. Taking care of Chris is more stressful right now as he has some type of upper respiratory situation going on. Now an x-ray has been ordered for today adding one more thing to my plate. That's okay as my primary responsibility is to care for him. Of course, at the same time, work started coming in (which is a good thing - you know?) and the day got complicated quickly. 

All this and more was weighing on my heart and mind as I made the short trip to the mailbox and back. I don't think I've felt this alone in a long time. I'm weary. I'm tired. And yes, those are two different things. I'm stressed - On top of all that are the growing fears of aging. How long will I be able to continue caring for him? I let out a huge sigh, and thought, I am okay today. I can do today... And for today - that is enough.

The caregiver's journey is not an easy one and all of our pictures look different, yet similar. But we can do today. Jesus told us that today is the only day we are to be concerned about. We know better than anyone that a day can bring many different things - tragedy or joy. In Matthew 6, Jesus addressed this issue. He told His disciples in verse 34 that each day has enough trouble for itself - don't borrow worry from tomorrow. (My loose translation.) 

He also told His disciples the Kingdom of God is our primary concern. As believers, that's already secured, right? 

Today, I will just focus on today without worrying about tomorrow. I will focus on how the kingdom of God doesn't change based on today's circumstances. I will wait on Him and trust Him to carry me through just today. With Him - I can do today! Will you join me?

When Normal is Not Normal

 This morning I was reading through the psalms called the Song of Ascents. These psalms include Psalm 120 through Psalm 134. As I understand them, they were sung as the journey to Zion or Jerusalem was made. They most likely sang them happily as they were excited about returning to the temple and the gathering of the people.

Psalm 133 talks about dwelling together as brethren. David penned that it was pleasant and good to be together. I am sure for the church crowd the next couple of weeks will be like that. As the coronavirus winds down and things return to some sort of normal, people are excitedly returning to their church services.

For the last few months, churches scrambled to have Sunday School, Bible Study, small groups, and services online. I had a slight sense of disappointment when it all started. Why? Because I'd been shut off for so long and none of this was available. But once they needed it - it became the new norm. Now that they won't need it again - things look likely to return back to their normal - and the normal for many caregivers - isolated again.

That normal hasn't worked for many caregivers for a long time, and now it may be the new normal once again. I feel for caregivers who cannot get out. Maybe we should start a Caregiver's Church - all virtual of course. At least we would be isolated together!

Social isolation is a real concern and many caregivers, elderly individuals, and those who are very ill suffer from it every day. That's the norm for too many people. And lately, I've seen more people who are alone even though married, or living in the same house with others. It's sad that we are not more together. However, I can say this - we are not alone. You are not alone. Even though we do not have the luxury of gathering with the brethren in unity and enjoying the pleasantness that provides, God is with us.

As we adjust back to a normal that is still not normal, may we remember that we aren't alone - and we've never been alone. Jesus said He would not ever leave us. He is with us always. My prayer today is for the caregivers and those they care for who are forced into living an isolated life. May we all recall that God is everpresent. He sees. He knows. He cares. (I wonder if He would do a virtual meeting! lol - you know I'm kidding!)

Today, I will keep my focus on the One who never leaves us. My meditations will be on His ever-abiding presence. He won't walk away - He won't abandon us to go back to "normal." I'll be thankful that He is always as near as our breath. I'll take a deep breath now and then to remind myself. I thank Him for being near. Will you join me?

Behind and Before


One of my friends just had a brand new beautiful baby girl. Celebrating new births always makes me think of Psalm 139. It’s definitely one of my most marked-up psalms! I also had Jeremiah 1:5 running through my head. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. I read back through Psalm 139 again, it’s got so many encouraging spots in it if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s a great read for today!

This whole psalm is great, but a couple of things stuck out to me this morning in particular. In the first verse, David says O Lord, You have searched me and known me  - and I added a note in my margin – “And it’s okay!” It’s okay that He knows our thoughts, our words before we speak them, when we get up and when we get down. I’m quite alright with Him seeing and knowing every part about me and my days.

You see, He sees those parts no one else sees. As a personal example, I maintain a FB page for my son’s progress. I post to it every day or so as he does something notable like standing alone, moving something new, or making new sounds. What I don’t post are the in-betweens. You know, those days he doesn’t do something remarkable and I am sitting around wondering what I’m doing wrong, if I’m doing enough – totally second-guessing myself. I leave those days out – so no one sees the struggle side. All I share and all they see are those great moments.

But God sees past all that. I’m sure He monitors social media lol – so He is aware of the progress notes I keep updated on Chris. But He sees far past my posts – and sees when my heart is discouraged when I’m feeling defeated. That’s a place no person is allowed to go. I keep it hidden in general. But God sees it – He knows.

Maybe that’s why on down in verse five David says this: You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand on me. He knows my thoughts – the good, the bad, and the ugly! He sees when I start spiraling down in my emotions and despair tries to set in like rigor mortis to the soul. It’s easy most of the time to keep those emotional parts of the caregiving journey to ourselves. But He knows. And He has already prepared to walk through it with us.

Early on I told my son I was committed to the journey. I whispered in his ear, Chris, I can’t walk this for you, but I will walk it with you. God cannot walk this journey of life for us – but He is certainly committed to walking it with us. Behind and before – He’s got us covered. Actually, He’s already walked it before us – and He just comes in behind us to undergird us and provide strength and encouragement to our souls.

Today, I will meditate on how God is behind and before – how He is committed to this journey I am on – this journey you are on. He willingly walks it with us. He’s already been through today – and made a way for us to continue trusting Him in spite of the storm. I’ll turn my thoughts to how He truly understands what makes me – me. He knows my thoughts when they only leak out as tears, and He doesn’t run away. He continues to walk with me and wait for me to come to Him. I’ll be thankful for His patience with me as I trust Him for one more day – will you join me?

When You Find Yourself Alone

As caregivers, we can often be surrounded by a sea of people and still feel all alone. Our day to days are so different, we can't engage in some conversations. Long vacations, weeks off to do nothing, or retirement are out of our league. Others can't understand caregiving talk either - if they haven't walked it. It can be difficult to know where to put the emotions associated with such social isolation and alone-ness.

Late last week I was working through these kinds of feelings and emotions when I thought about the scripture that says, David encouraged himself in the Lord. I found it in 1 Samuel 30:6. As I was meditating on it a thought occurred to me.  David was alone. Perhaps he was in the most alone spot in his life.  The Philistines had rejected his offer to join their efforts. He returned "home" to Ziklag to find it ransacked and all his goods, women, children and other stuff - gone! It says he was greatly distressed since all the people were talking of stoning him - they blamed him.

Although I have reminded myself of this scripture oftentimes, I never realized it was written about a time David felt so alone. David encouraged himself, strengthened himself in the Lord - in one of the darkest moments of his life. What does that even mean? So I did a bit of research and found that it's probable that David penned Psalm 16 during this time. I loved it. It's so applicable and perfect.

It seems to have more significance when David pens:


  • O my soul - you have said to the Lord, "You are my Lord..."
  • O Lord, YOU are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot...
  • My flesh will rest in hope - 
  • In Your presence is fullness of joy...
I encourage you to read Psalm 16 with new eyes, from the point of view of a man who has literally lost everything. Think about the raw emotions he was feeling when he said things like "You are my Lord" - and "My flesh will rest in hope" - or the proclamation "Because the Lord is at my right hand - I will not be moved!"

Today, I will meditate on this psalm and read it a few more times. It will be my meditation today. My proclamation will be "my flesh will rest in hope..." I will rejoice that the Lord is still my portion, he "maintains my lot." I will trust that "I have set the Lord always before me - and because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved." And my flesh will rest right there today as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?



Forgotten

Have you ever felt forgotten? I have. We can easily get sucked into the caregiver's fog and the rest of the world goes on without us. Today is my son's 35th birthday. These days are difficult. I opened up his facebook to read him his greetings only to be flooded with his friend's who have "gone on" with their lives, and they should.

They stopped visiting and calling long ago when he couldn't answer them. I don't blame them, they were all so young when he was injured. But it still hurts my heart that he is forgotten and left to just deal.

Then some caregivers have to deal with another side of being forgotten. It can yield a host of emotions from a totally different angle. That is when we care for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer's. They forget us. My mom hasn't quite forgotten me yet, but most of the time it takes her a few minutes to figure out I'm not just someone who works there. Mid-conversation she'll look up and go, "OH! You're my daughter!" It's funny -but it's not.

It is emotional to be forgotten, no matter what the circumstances. We want to be remembered. It's not anyone's fault but it can still wear away at our emotions. I have to remind myself that there is One who has not forgotten. God never forgets. He knows what we walk through each day as caregivers. He understands all those seemingly little things that wear away at our minds and emotions.

Isaiah 49:15 asks, Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget - but I will not forget you.

In Psalm 27:10, the psalmist says for my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.

Caregiving can be a lonely walk. We can feel forgotten by men and God. We can't fix the human part -  but we can rejoice in God's part. He will not forget us - He will not forget our afflictions. Instead, He comes running to us to help us - and carry us when needed. Let's just acknowledge that He is here and encourage ourselves in the truth that He has not forgotten us.

Today, I will remind myself that He hasn't forgotten the hand life dealt me. I will meditate on His care of my heart and mind. I'll be thankful that He is the keeper of my soul. This will be my meditation today as I lean a little more into Him on this emotional day. Will you join me?


So Easily Forgotten

chris and mom
Yesterday, a post by a friend got me to thinking. (That's not unusual, and it's very easy to do.) They stated how they are dealing with a serious condition and how lonely they were feeling. As their condition had progressed and they were sent home from the hospital, visitors waned until they were left all alone to deal with their own emotions and thoughts. Not only do those in these situations have to sort through such a wide range of emotional changes, fears, thoughts, and decisions - on top of all that they are left to deal with the loneliness of being forgotten.

Those on the outside don't always see it that way. They would quickly say, Oh, you're not forgotten. I think of you all the time. I pray for you daily. But this doesn't erase or dilute the sinking alone-ness that the ill or caregivers deal with.

Reading her post reminded me of the day I was informed of my son's wreck. I had to fly from Chicago where I was living to Shreveport, LA where he had been medi-flighted earlier that day. When I finally got there after an all-day ordeal, the ICU waiting room was still full of people. For the three weeks he was in ICU there was a constant flow of people in and out. Once we moved into an isolation room on the regular floor, visitors became fewer. Then even less came when we finally transitioned to a nursing home 4 months later.

After we finally made it "home" (which had to be recreated since I'd been headed to the mission field) there was no one. As if we were fine now. Today, even when we are in the hospital there are few visitors if any at all. It's like everyone thinks you are okay now that the initial crisis or initial diagnosis is over. But that's not really the truth. Caregivers live in crisis mode, we just adjusted - nothing went away.

Since God knows everything, we can assume He knew we would have those times when we feel forgotten, forsaken and all alone. Those times just come as caregivers. It's easy to feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders because we sort of do - on behalf of another.

The scripture, When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me is nestled in an interesting passage. I'm going to assume for clarity's sake that he's speaking of when his parents pass away. He precedes the thought with do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger, You have been my help. Do not leave me or forsake me. What a plea for God's ever abiding presence to remain. Then the acknowledgment that even if his parents forsake him, he knows God has him. He follows it all with teach me Your way O Lord.

I then turned my thoughts to this verse in Isaiah 49:15 God asks the prophet, Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? The obvious answer is no. It's not natural to forget or neglect a child. But God follows the question, which He didn't ask just to receive information with Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. What a promise!!

We can feel so easily forgotten, forsaken and like we are having to forge through caregiving on our own. But He sees. He knows. He will never forget or forsake. He draws near and answers our unspoken prayers, fears, cares and cries with a simple I am here. 

Today, I will meditate on His nearness, whether I feel Him or not. I'll turn my thoughts away from the crowds who left to the One who stays. I'll be thankful for that and trust Him just for today. Will you join me?

Already in the Boat

STanding with chris
Yesterday I celebrated having Chris home for 8 years. While I celebrated I thought a lot about all the different things we've been through over this last decade. I didn't express it, but it took a lot just to get to that point 8 years ago.

I'd gotten rid of almost everything and was headed to the mission field when I got the call he'd been in a wreck. There were times I felt like such a failure because I couldn't just "take him home." I'd been living with families for several years focusing on ministry. I felt like I had failed him by not providing that even though he and my daughter were both adults.

When Chris got accepted into rehab in OKC, they wouldn't take him until I established a home so he'd have a place to go on discharge. When we moved him from New Orleans to Oklahoma, I started staying with some of my daughter's friends who generously gave me a place to stay while he was in the nursing home. Now it was time to get a place of my own... again.

The shorter version is - I got a small, single-bedroom apartment right before he went to rehab for 3 weeks. You know how the caregiving journey is - lots of ups and lots of downs with some interesting spots in between. It's full of opportunities to give up, give in or die of exhaustion. lol

This week as I was studying my Bible, I found myself in Mark 4. The last part of the chapter is talking about when a storm came up and Jesus commanded it to be still as they were going to the other side. 8-10 years ago I couldn't tell you what this "side" might look like. I was a mess and still continue to suffer from the traumatic experience. But there are those times when Jesus speaks peace to my soul. They are invaluable. But that's not what stood out in the story this time.

In verse 35, Jesus told His disciples, let's cross to the other side. Then in the NLT it says, He was already in the boat. I have meditated on that ever since I saw it again for the first time last week. He was already in the boat. Before they loaded up, before they launched, before they started across, before the storm hit, before they got to the other side. He was in the boat and ready for the bumpy journey.

To say caregiving is a bumpy journey is an understatement, as you well know. But wherever each of us finds ourselves today - He's already there and ready to take it on for us. He's pumped up and rested up enough to speak peace to any storm that might arise.

Today, I will thank Him that I do not have to walk this all alone. My thoughts will be on how He purposes for us to go to the other side - victorious through whatever life might throw. I'll meditate on His faithful provision, His unmeasurable peace, and His constant watch over my soul. And I'll trust Him for just one more trip across this day. Will you join me?



From time to time I'd like to give you the opportunity to give to Dove's Fire Ministries if God leads you to do so. You can donate at this link if you feel led. Dove's Fire Ministries.

Who's Chasing Who?

The last few weeks I have felt the Lord speaking to me about getting up-close-and-personal with Him. I love the internet, it's been my lifeline. But I really want to know Him more, uninterrupted by the flow of the many voices that come across social media outlets. They are wonderful, don't get me wrong. But I want to step back for a minute or two and hear just from Him.

This morning during my quiet time I had a verse come up in my heart. I thought it said, my heart follows hard after thee. Yeah, I was raised on the old King James Version and so sometimes they still come up that way. lol When I looked it up, it actually says, My soul follows hard after thee. It's Psalm 63:8. I decided to look it up in a couple of other versions too.

The NASB translated this verse as my soul clings to You. But then the NLT says it like I follow close behind You. And my favorite is the Amplified which says My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You.

My pursuit of God is one thing that caregiving hasn't been able to change. I still want to know Him more than I want anything. I must say, I have had my moments of being totally frustrated with God. I've been angry with Him and expressed that to Him raw and open. But I still long for Him. My heart is still chasing Him. I want my whole being to be all-in when it comes to God, even in this difficult situation. But you know what? He's still chasing me too!

In Exodus 34:14, the New Living Translation says He is a God who is passionate about His relationship with His people. And His passion for us doesn't change when our situation changes. He is still chasing us - even in our caregiver's cave. He walks right into the caregiver's fog and reaches for the heart. Isn't that amazing? He still longs for us as messed up as our lives can seem. He still wants us even when it seems society throws us to the wayside. He still wants to be with us when there's no one else still around.

So I have to say, Who's chasing who? I want my pursuit of Him to be just as passionate as His of me. I want to continue to chase Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. And He still wants to be caught by me. And I want to be captured by Him. It's the perfect game, isn't it? We all win!

Today I am going to think about what it means to pursue Him with all my being. My thoughts will be on how He wants to be with me. I'll meditate on His passionate love for His people. And I will determine to be caught by God, and I'll make no attempt at escaping! Will you join me?



Office Hours?

Good Monday morning world! It's been a crazy place around here of late. I don't really know why I say that as caregiving makes for all days to be crazy! You know, just about the time you think you're holding your own, got the new norms all figured out and have settled in for the duration - everything changes.

How does that happen?

Why does that happen?

For the first time since my son's accident I somehow got signed up for home health. We only get so many days a year since there's no actual insurance involved and I usually save them for "just in case" situations. I've only had two instances where I felt their services were necessary. Well, when the doc was here last Monday - she decided we should let home health come change his feeding tube out. Evidently she signed us up. It's already taking quite the adjustment.

It may seem minor to those who are not caregivers - but even the things that seem the smallest and the simplest can turn everything topsy turvy. You know? (I know you know!) So last week they ended up coming for something every.single.day. I appreciate they got the tube replaced but sheesh. It might have been easier to take him in! lol

I'm not really used to having someone on call 24/7. Usually doctors are only available for calls inside certain hours so this is kind of weird. But I think I might like having more people involved in the decision making process if he does get ill. We shall see.

All this newness got me to thinking about how "on call" God is. Even when I don't feel like it, He is there when my heart cries out. I know some of you understand those midnight hours - two, three in the morning when you are spent physically, mentally, emotionally - and your loved one is sick. Those are the times I've gotten downright honest with God. I tell Him how I REALLY feel - lost, depressed, confused, angry, alone. And even in the midst of my outbursts - I know He is there.

I'm so glad He doesn't sleep. He doesn't take weekends off. He doesn't need a break. He's ALWAYS on call! And just because I don't feel like He answers - it doesn't mean He doesn't listen or care.

Today I'm going to be thankful that He walks in this furnace with me. He didn't leave me to navigate the fires alone. My meditations will be on His ever-abiding presence. I'm going to rejoice that He doesn't have office hours or answering services. I'm going to run to Him today with all my strength. I'm going to talk to Him like I know He's really listening - because He is. And I'm going to trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Whether or Not You "Need" It

The last few days have been more hectic than usual around my house. I've had friends and family in and out to celebrate my birthday in one way or another. It's been a wonderful weekend and I'm all birthday-ed out. As we go into a new week, I think about how I'll deal with the alone-ness that is surely to creep back up on me.

I think one of the things we have to deal with as caregivers is being alone. As a single caregiver, I can spend a lot of time all alone and since my son is non-verbal I used to go days without even hearing other's voices except on TV.

Thankfully, my online jobs have changed that and I see and talk to people via video calls frequently. I have also had my health coaching classes I watch via video. It's certainly not as good as in-person, real discussions - but it's been better than nothing. Oddly enough, sometimes if I have a lot of outside contact now - I actually deal with over stimulation. I have to chuckle at that, but it's true. When you live in a caregiver's cave the world can be an overwhelming place.

The good thing is that I've had a wonderful few days filled with phone calls, visits and even an outing. But now we are back to the grind. I'm already feeling like I'm in back to the cave mode as I adjust to the many hours alone once again. It was a nice break.

So what's a caregiver to do as the solitude threatens to swallow them up? For me, I'll slide right back into that place I've found in Him. In Psalm 73:28, the psalmist said this But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (NLT)

The caregiving journey is similar to any other journey through time - we have the choice whether or not we make Him our shelter. On the rough days I am certainly glad to run to Him and hide from the harshness caregiving can dish out. On the nicer days, I still need the calm of being in His presence and letting Him shelter me.

Today I will be meditating on how He is the ever-present shelter. He protects my spirit and soul from being overcome by the complicated daily routine of caregiving, even when I'm overwhelmed. I will make Him my shelter today (and everyday), and any chance I get to tell someone about how His grace sustains me on this journey - is going to get an earful. But I am going to start with myself. Yes, today I will remind myself of how He has been carrying me for this 8 year (so far) journey. And I will tell myself how He will carry me for another day today. I will rest in him one more day - will you join me?

He Never Gives Up

As a caregiver, emotions can be all over the place. I find that one second I'm feeling okay about everything, I have a positive outlook and I am ready to take on the world. The next second for no apparent reason, I'm upset, mad at the world and ready to call it quits. On everything. One second I'm in love with God and so thankful that He continues to strengthen me to do what I need to do; the next second I'm angry with Him for letting this happen. This can all be in a matter of a few minutes, or seconds depending on the day.

But you know what? None of that scares God off. As to this date, He has never thrown up His hands, said I can't deal with this anymore and walked away. People have told me that "not everyone can handle a large dose of you." Seriously - I was told that, by my mentor. Add things like that to living a life so totally different from the rest of the world and it's easy to have an identity crisis.

One thing that caregivers have to deal with and face is the fact that not everyone can make the journey with us. And for me, my heart hurts for my son too. Why? Because friends can only be friends if nothing changes. On one hand - it's totally understandable - he can no longer "contribute" to the relationship, right? He can't laugh, play, tell jokes, make his deeply philosophical statements anymore. So there's nothing.

For the caregiver, our lives are different than everyone else's too. Maybe we can or can't freely do things the rest of the world does - and many walk away. Or my favorite - they watch our lives from a distance, totally disconnected.

On both counts there can be such a sense of abandonment and alone-ness that swallows us up whole. It's not an easy journey to make alone, or with someone else.

I say all this to share a scripture that came to mind this morning during my devotions. I actually was looking at Joshua 1:8 about being of good courage. I read it in my NASB, then looked it up in the Message. And here is what I found a few verses back:

I won't give up on you;
I won't leave you. (v.6)
Strength! Courage! 
Don't be timid; don't get discouraged.
God, your God is with you every step of the way. (v. 9)

While this whole passage spoke deeply to me this morning - that one phrase I won't give up on you is what really got my attention. No matter who observes from a distance, because they don't know what to do if they get closer; no matter who walks away from us or our situation - for whatever reason - God will not give up on us!  He is in it for the long haul; and that is exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

Today I'm going to meditate on His determination to be with me on this journey. I'll think about how He does not get too frustrated at me, never throws up His hands and never quits because I'm too much for Him to handle. My thoughts will be on how He is pleased with me, loves me and carries me even when I am being stubborn and resistant to His grace. He patiently waits for me to settle back down and come back to Him for peace. Today - I will be re-positioning myself in His lap; and settling in His embrace. Will you join me?

Standing Alone?

All of our Bible heroes faced some type of adversity. The stories about how they overcame or endured that adversity is what makes them our hero, isn't it? Noah is among those listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. The writer reminds us that was warned by God about things not yet seen. Noah took a huge leap of faith to obey God and began building the ark. He faced his own circumstances and lived in a generation of people who did not believe him. As far as we can tell no one helped him build the ark and no one stood with him. According to Genesis 6, Noah lived in a very wicked generation; he most likely lived in a very lonely place.

The caregiver can live in a lonely place too. In many ways, even if we are able to get out some there are times of isolation. When we do have the joy of getting out it can look so much different than others. For me, it means dealing with my son in his chair. In some settings, that can be isolating enough - no one knows what to do with us; so they do nothing. Yesterday, we walked down to a church in our neighborhood. Only one person greeted us - the speaker. We were sitting in the back to make room for his chair as I didn't want to block an aisle. People coming in the entrance had to walk right past us to get to the seating area. Not one of them spoke to us; not one of them greeted us. The children stared and adults looked away. In that moment I felt so isolated although I was in a crowd of "believers."

Noah faced a different type of isolation in that he was ridiculed for his beliefs. He lacked people to stand with him in his pursuit of God, godliness and righteousness. But he continued to stand.In many instances, the caregiver has to stand alone much like Noah. We must hold up a standard of righteousness even though no one stands with us; and we must do it alone. But verse 8 of chapter 6 it states: Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Last week we talked some about how God's eye is on the righteous - He's watching over us. And like Noah, we have found grace in His eyes.

We are given the grace to make it one more day - whether we walk the caregiving journey alone or in a crowd. God's grace is sufficient to carry us through the toughest hours. Even those situations where no one knows quite what to do with us; His grace holds us secure in  Him.

Today I will meditate on His sustaining grace. I'll let Him worry about carrying me through today - and I won't work so hard. When I get tired, I will turn my thoughts to His mercy and grace and I will rest in Him once again. I will also meditate on the truth that I am accepted in the beloved and I won't look for man's approval. I'll just rest in His love, mercy and acceptance. Will you join me?

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...