Showing posts with label caregiver burdens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caregiver burdens. Show all posts

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?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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It's a Hold-Up!

 

Chris in the standing frame

One thing caregivers can understand is long nights. Recently, I haven't had them as often, and for that I am thankful. But I do still have some and last night was one of them. I hate it because Chris is uncomfortable and no matter what I do it doesn't help. Since he is nonverbal, he can't tell me to reposition him, sit him up more or less, or that there is a wrinkle in his sheet. His numbers were good (heart rate, 02, and temp), so I talked myself through the night, basically. 

Long Night Talks With God

During those long nights, God and I talk a lot. Well, it's mostly me whining and crying and wondering why a lot. But He listens. And most of the time, He answers. The early hours of this morning were no different. 

I try not to lash out at God, but sometimes I'm just angry. I lost my son and it seems God just "saved" him enough to keep him here to suffer sometimes. Man, those long nights can really show you your own thoughts loud and clear, huh? Last night was different somewhat. I wasn't quite as mad with God. I told Him I wasn't even sure what to ask for. He understood.

I express it all, my frustrations, anger, and feelings of helplessness. And He listens time and time again. In days gone by, I've spent a lot more time yelling at God and crying out to Him. Last night, I just let my heart talk and tried to keep my mind out of it. lol. That was a chore.

When He Answers

Sometime after five this morning, after sleeping very little, I heard myself ask God, maybe You could just hold me. Do you ever get frustrated with Him, but then find yourself returning to Him when you need Him? That's frustrating too! I may be upset that I don't see Him moving on my behalf, but during those long nights, His arms are right where I run. (Anyone else?)

When I asked Him to hold me, to comfort me, and settle my heart, I thought there had to be a scripture expressing my feelings. Sure enough, I found it in Psalm 119:117. The NKJV says Hold me up, and I shall be safe. There is nothing like finding a scripture that matches your heart and words. This one helped me complete my prayer. Hold me up, God! Then, I know I am safe.

The Holding Up Part

I often hold Chris up when he is standing. I put my arms under his arms and if he decides to sit - I've got him! I can move him from one chair to another or to the bed if needed. But for those few moments, I have to hold him up. Sometimes, he leans into me. And that's where I found myself with God. It was as though I had collapsed against a wall and He (the rock, the fortress, my protecting wall) was bolstering me and holding me up. That was all I needed to get up and around and gather myself to face the day. It was a great "hold up"!

Today, I will lean into my Father, God like Chris leans into me. I know I can count on Him to hold me as long as I need holding and He won't move or let me go! I'll trust Him with my tiredness, my fatigue, my loneliness, my fears, and my pain today. And I'll just let Him hold me knowing I'm in His safe place. Will you join me?


Still Relevant

Chris looking at me while we were walking Bluff Creek Trails

 I'm a bit OCD about some things. (Don't laugh - it's not like you didn't know!) When I make a new post or publish a new video or website, I go back several times to see if anyone is looking. I've been watching the stats for this blog (because that's what I do!) for some time. It seems the blog gets about 200 or so hits every single day. However, on the day of a blog's posting, I usually get between 30 and 40. That's not much in the IoT (Internet of Things). Looking back at earlier posts reveals around 150 views since they were posted. When I scroll down a little further, posts have more like between 200 and 300 views. Scroll back a year and posts have around 1500 views. I like that!

My question was why people are not reading the ones I post each day and how they are getting to all those "older posts." At first, I thought maybe I should do a bit more research and try to figure out how to boost daily site visitors. Then, I thought - why? I trust that God will lead people to the post that is most relevant to them each day. I pray they find His answers, His peace, and His touch in any post they land on and read. Then I thought, they are all still relevant.

No matter what caregiving topic is covered in a post - it relates to the caregiver's relationship with God. That means they are all still relevant! I try to write posts centered on His word so that we are helped each day. I hope we can all focus on Him, His word, His promises, and His grace - rather than our circumstances. We all understand how overwhelming a caregiver's circumstances can be - right? But His grace is bigger than that. His peace is stronger than that. His word still applies to each of our "that." It's still relevant.

Don't you love that about God and His word? You can look at any verse and find hope for your situation. Take any passage, meditate on it until it fills your heart and mind - and then let it live in you. We don't get a pass because we are caregivers - it's all - every jot - every tittle - every verse, chapter, and book - still relevant for us. God didn't say His word is applicable and works on the behalf of most people. He didn't give us half-promises. You know, that only works for a few maybe half the population. His word excludes absolutely no one. We are - I am - the whosoever will.....He withholds nothing from us! Actually - we are almost the exception in His word. Think about it this way -

  • He draws near the brokenhearted.
  • He gives strength to the weary.
  • He comforts those who mourn.
  • He is with us in the struggles, fires, and floods.
  • He is a present help IN the time of trouble.
And that list could go on - perhaps you have a few promises you hold onto for yourself. His word is relevant no matter where we are or what we are facing. I love that about Him. Don't you?

Today, I'm going to let those promises roll over and over in my heart and mind. I will thank Him that he added no exclusionary statements like except caregivers. (Sounds silly doesn't it? But we often feel that way.) I'll meditate on truths like He still loves me - He still draws near to ME! - He comforts me - He gives me strength. I'll accept His strength and comfort and presence for today, it is still relevant after all. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                           



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Can We Laugh Yet?

Chris and i after our first race

 I had a very awkward moment while talking with a nurse yesterday. She called to schedule my appointment with a cardiologist. After we had it scheduled, I explained that I am a caregiver and I don't have a sitter for my son. I asked about COVID protocol and if it was okay if I brought him to this initial appointment. She said it was fine and that there are no limitations on visitors in place. She said - as long as he will wear a mask. I assured her that he can wear a mask - then I chuckled and said - "He'll have to - he can't move his arms so he can't take it off." I thought it was funny but then a very awkward silence followed. 

Now I admit I can have a weird sense of humor, and I can make a joke about almost anything. While it wasn't an awkward moment for me, I felt bad if I made her feel uncomfortable. She'll get used to me - I know it's an adjustment. (lol) But it made me do some thinking about when it's okay to laugh. That statement wouldn't have been funny to me at all right after his accident. 

We learned to laugh to keep from crying as my mom went through dementia. Somehow seeing the humor made the pain a bit more bearable. Some of the antics she pulled were hilarious - and we would laugh together and then cry together.

We are (hopefully) coming out of a pandemic and there hasn't been a lot to laugh about. It felt very irreverent to laugh or make jokes at first, didn't it? But eventually, as a whole, we began to laugh and even write songs about the woes we've faced as we forged through some of the world's toughest days. 

Some days we can't laugh until we get through it, right? Come on - you're caregivers, you know all those unspoken things we "aren't allowed" to talk about - like bowel catastrophes. (There, I said it!) We can find ourselves in some crazy situations and once we have resolved them we may sit down and cry it all out. But then later, we find the humor. When it's not so in our faces, then we laugh and laugh. 

We know that tears can be healing - but so is laughter. It's okay to laugh. We need to laugh. It literally can help lower blood pressure and relieve tension in your body. So, go ahead and laugh. Watch a funny movie. Listen to silly songs. Laugh. 

Think about it this way - when we can laugh (at funny stuff - not serious stuff), we are saying we trust God with it. There's a freedom that comes when we can laugh while we are going through, even if others don't understand us. That nurse didn't get it. Most don't get that I am okay when it looks like I shouldn't be. Are we supposed to be down and depressed and sad all the time? I refuse to succumb to that. You know as well as I do that I have my moments. And I know that you have yours. But ultimately we are trusting God to get us through whatever we are facing and working through, right? It's okay to laugh. It's our way of showing that the circumstances haven't won - we are still "in there" somewhere under the caregiver's load - and we are still alive. Better than that - we are thriving because of our trust in our God.

Today, I will purposefully lighten up. It's my way of saying I know you've got this God. I refuse to be burdened to the ground with the load, even though it's heavy. Maybe I'll take a break from work to watch a silly movie (no dramas. lol), read a book, or play a computer game. It sounds a bit silly - but it is a true faith statement - one that says I trust Him for the outcome of this day, this week, this year, this journey. It's part of trusting Him. I will lighten up today and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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God's Got Us Covered

 

Chris at the Bluff Creek Trail

Do you ever feel inadequate? I'm starting to wonder if this is a daily feeling for caregivers. It can easily feel like I can never do enough, give enough, or get enough done in a day. Honestly, I go to bed every night feeling a bit defeated because of the things I did not get done that day. Nevermind the fact that I've provided complete care for another whole adult who can do absolutely nothing for himself. But there always seems like something that got left hanging. You know? That one project for a client that needed to be done yesterday. It might not be something that big that eats away at me either. It may be something like forgetting to cook up a butternut squash and pureeing it so it can be ready to add to my son's meals. 

Whether it's huge or little leaving things we feel we need to finish can nag away at us. So, this morning when my eyes came across 2 Peter 1:3, I let out a sigh and let all those things go. This verse says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Christ...

Everything. Nothing left undone on God's part, right? We talk about exclusionary statements on this blog a lot, and once again there is none! Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not say - God has given everyone but caregivers all they need for life and godliness. We are included in His words no matter what our standing in life. He did not leave us out! 

Life AND Godliness. The second part of this verse offered me much hope this morning. He has given us what we need for life - the natural side of things. And He gives us what we need for godliness - the spiritual side of things. It seems to me that He provides us the full-package to deal with everything life throws at us including all our caregiving responsibilities, fears of the future, feelings of loss, and you fill in the blank with what you deal with - and He's giving us the strength, hope, love, peace, and grace to make it through.

But He also didn't leave out the spiritual side. Do you ever get frustrated when people only see you as a caregiver and can't see you as the spiritual person you are? We are caregivers - but we are still children of God - called by the Most High - filled with His Spirit - and able to teach, discern, comfort, etc. God sees us as His child first. He still loves us, gives us grace for the journey, and equips us to live a life fully guided by Holy Spirit. Isn't that wonderful?

Today, I will be thankful that God cares for me as a caregiver. But I will also be thankful that He looks past that and sees me as His little girl that He wants to care for. My meditation will be on how He gives me strength for this journey and how He holds my spirit and my hands up as I walk the lonely path of caregiving. I'll rejoice that He didn't leave us out - but He gives us ALL we need for both life and godliness through Christ. And with that, I will choose to rest in Him and trust Him to carry me through one more day. Will you join me? 

Always Welcome Here (A New Poem)

 

chris standing at a park in OKC

It can be so difficult to fit in as caregivers. We can feel like we can't engage in general conversations and only other caregivers understand our circumstances. Then there is trying to navigate going anywhere with a wheelchair or walker. Some places are not accessible. Some say they are but are more than difficult to get in and out of. I always say those places follow the "letter of the law" but not the intent. Technically you can get in - but boy. (Sigh)

Rejection is a horrible feeling. It's easy for caregivers to feel like we don't "belong" or that we are not a part. Sometimes, that even happens with family and close friends. Recent events left me feeling rejected. As I was carrying my concerns to God, this poem just kind of came out of that prayer time. Somehow knowing that we can bring all of our baggage before the King of Kings and never be turned away is comforting. I hope you enjoy it. 

Always Welcome Here

 

Child, you are always welcome here

Bloody, broken, or riddled with fear

I will never turn you away

And I will capture every single tear

You are always welcome here.

 

Refused, outcast, forsaken or rejected

Lost, lonely, or neglected

I will not turn you away

I open up My arms to say you are accepted

You are always welcome here.

 

Come for the healing – Stay for communion

I’ve waited for you for so long

Come, sit and rest – here is where you belong.

 

I see your broken heart

I hear your silent tears

 

I will not turn you away

You are always welcome here.


The Anchor Holds

This morning as I was meditating on Isaiah 26:3, I thought of an old song. It's called The Anchor Holds. One line says, though the ship is battered. Sometimes it can feel like life is a battering ram that keeps coming back to crush us over and over. Thankfully, this is not an everyday thing for most of us, but for some caregivers, it can feel that way.

As caregivers, we can just get tired. You know what I mean? It takes a lot to do everything for a day for two adults.  Dressing, bathing, feeding, entertaining all take energy, especially when it comes to another whole person no matter what their age or size. It can be exhausting.

I was preparing for my live devotions this morning and found my thoughts going around and around Isaiah 26:3. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Because He trusts in You. Underneath all the busy-ness of our minds and bodies there remains a peace we can count on. Even though our minds can chase a lot of thoughts in a day - we always reel it in and bring it back to Him. And that is where we find perfect peace. No matter how stormy it gets - we find our peace in Him. That's been an anchor that has held me securely all my life - and the last 12 years of caregiving too.

I was focusing on verse three, but when I looked it up to actually lay eyes on it, I grabbed the next verse too. Verse four says Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength. I'm so glad He is not selfish and shares His strength with us, aren't you?

Today, I will keep trusting Him - it's not the day to give up! My crazy, hurried thoughts I will turn into prayers to the God who sees, to God - who cares. I'll keep bringing my mind back to Him no matter how hectic the day becomes because I trust Him. And I will trust Him - for one more day. Will you join me?

The Big Dipper

As caregivers, our emotions are often running on the edge. For me, it doesn't take much to tip me over into a huge downward spiral. For today I'm calling it the "big dipper." Just a single word, an honest question, a picture from the past - it doesn't take much to send me into the dip of depression. I have developed a few strategies that work for me and being able to identify it early on means I don't always dip as far or I can head it off at the pass. But not always.

With so many things on our plate it doesn't take a lot, does it? This last week was full of dealing with a faulty internet provider which is enough frustration by itself when you work online and were without internet for two days! lol. Sometimes it's bigger things - but sometimes it's those little things that chip away at sanity and peace.

How are we supposed to deal with this "big dipper?" It's going to come for us. Some day. Some time. We may feel broadsided by it, or we might not realize it has slipped up on us. The church world can be harsh and tell us depression is sin, or that we are not trusting God enough. Neither of those is necessarily true. We have a LOT on our plates. Our cups run over with emotions, responsibilities, and life events. It can sap us of our strength and make the mess much more complicated - but it certainly does not indicate a lack of trust in God.

As a caregiver, there are days that run smoothly. Chris is doing good and things get done that need to be done, my clients are happy with my work (and pay on time!). Depression can still leak into those not-quite-perfect days. Nothing's ever going to be perfect - our loved ones are suffering in some way. I say the fact that you are still reading this blog - you are still searching scriptures for a strand of hope - you are still praying and seeking Him for strength - is an indication you are faith-filled. You haven't given up yet - you are still seeking Him. That to me is the epitome of faith.

And here's the other side of this "big dipper." God has a big dipper to - but it's just the right size to dip down into our lives, find us and pull us out of the emotional muck and mire. This reminds me of Psalm 40:2 where David said, He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He used His big dipper to come into our situation and rescue us. He doesn't sit and watch from a distance (like most of the church) - He inserts Himself as far into our situation as we will allow. He makes our steps firm. Then the next verse says this: He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God (not to ourselves or about ourselves) many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Today, I will be thankful that God understands when life gets out of hand or out of control. I will thank Him for not leaving me when stuff just doesn't make sense. I appreciate that He is not afraid of my chaos, my crazy thoughts or roaming emotions. My meditation today will be on His gracious entry into my topsy-turvy world. I'll rejoice that at my invite, He joins my world, loves me in the midst of it and offers peace for each messed up piece. I'll invite Him to come deeper in my world today - will you join me?


My Own Personal Bubble

As a caregiver do you ever feel like you live in a bubble? I sure do. For the most part, if I'm home I don't realize how un-normal my life is. Probably because it's become my new norm. It's a norm filled with lots of visits from case managers, nurses, doctors, and deliveries with a few surprise runs to the ER like yesterday. although each of our stories and days has differences, our norms include changes, dressing an adult, pureeing foods, tube feedings, spoon feedings, transfers, standing frames and range of motion exercises. Most of the time, we probably don't even think about those things - we just do.

But when we get outside our comfortable norms, it can seem like we are in a bubble. Many times in public we are ignored. People cut in front of Chris' chair without a second thought. Others let doors go just as I am getting there - which is fine - I CAN do it myself - but it's just rude. Some of it, I'm sure, is my own awkwardness - conversations are not the same if they happen. If they do happen, they revolve around caregiving. Of course, that's obvious - it sticks out, right! lol But there's more to me than caregiving - I write, I play music, I read - but no one seems to be able to see past the chair I'm pushing - into my bubble.

I used to be such an extrovert - and in many ways, I still am. But I have begun to feel so awkward in social settings. It can be much easier to stay home than to get out in my own personal bubble. But you know what? When God looks at us - He doesn't see someone in a bubble. He sees us - as believers as part of the kingdom of God. He is not afraid to come into our bubble and meet us on a heart-to-heart level. He's not scared of our emotions as cra-cra as they can be! He won't shun us or ignore us because we look different than everyone else. He sees us exactly the same - a person who is pursuing Him - someone who is covered by the blood of Christ and standing in His righteousness - just like everyone else who believes. He loves us right where we are with all our caregiving baggage It doesn't put Him off - it makes Him want to come closer.

David said it this way in Psalm 34:18-22
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones - not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

God delivers our soul - our bubble-wrapped soul! That's our mind, will, and emotions. He can come in like no one else and redeems what is troubling us. He gives us strength for this journey - strength to equal the amount we lean on Him - He's got our hearts and that's what matters most. 

Today, I will rejoice that He is not afraid to come in my bubble with me. I'll meditate on His great care and love for us as caregivers. I will be thankful for His presence in the midst of the trouble - and I will trust Him just for today - will you join me?


One Step at a Time

Kyrie hugging Chris
As the 10th anniversary of Chris' wreck nears, I have tons of thoughts. There are no easy days, but some days are less difficult than others. Here I am 10 years out celebrating Chris standing or sitting alone. I really thought I'd be celebrating his marriage or births of grandchildren. These thoughts can weigh heavily on my heart. Sometimes, I have to stay away from Facebook because it's overwhelming. I've been in one of those times lately.

What do we do when we are disappointed with life, ourselves, or our situations? Many of the things I dreamed of doing are not likely to ever happen. Everything got placed on hold nearly 10 years ago. How do you move on? The simplest answer is one step at a time. That's a daily thing. Sometimes, it's a moment by moment thing - just doing what needs to be done in the moment.

This morning in my personal devotions, I found myself hanging out in Isaiah 50. I have quoted verse 4 for years -  The Lord has given me His words of wisdom so that I may know how to comfort the weary. But what am I supposed to do when  I am the weary one? lol

As I was doing my Facebook live devotions for a group this morning, it dawned on me that our generation is weary. We go and go and go until we are worn out body, soul, and spirit. There's no off button. Social media wears us down - television wears us down - we burn the proverbial candle on both ends as an entire generation. We are worn out. As caregivers, there's no place to stop most days. We have a barrage of daily chores plus tons of incidentals that have to be addressed every day. It's so easy to be in a state of weariness that far surpasses the physical.

Where do we find this word to comfort the weary? I'm guessing it's in the next verse as verse 5 says this The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. Then the next verse prophetically describes a scene at the crucifixion. I was like, now wait. We're listening and there's trouble? How'd that happen?

He never promised an easy road - He just promised to walk it with us. Verse 7 gives us the secret to making it. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be dismayed. And that is where I am this morning. Weary. Listening. Satisfied that He is with me. You know, that's really not a bad place to be. I know He will lift me up. I know He won't leave me stranded (not even emotionally).

So today, I will tune my heart to hear His singing over me. I'll lean in a little closer to hear His words of encouragement. My thoughts will be on how He helps me face each moment of each day. I'll let Him carry my weariness, my burdens, my heart in His. Will you join me?

Rainy Days and Mondays

I'm a 70's child and I remember when "Rainy Days and Mondays" was popular on the radio.It's got such a smooth sound it can get stuck in your head. For the caregiver "Mondays" doesn't mean too much really, since everyday  can look pretty much the same.

We get up on Monday mornings with just as much to do as we had when we got up on Sunday morning. The caregiver's responsibilities don't change much, if any, from day to day. I usually try to make some small variances on the weekends, like letting my son sleep in just a little bit longer; but the primary responsibilities do not change with the day of the week. When you are caring for another whole person these do not change much. There's still bathing, pureeing foods, feeding, transferring, dressing, and lots of other things that have to be done every single day. If we are blue because it's Monday, we are likely blue every day of the week!

I went in search of one of the scriptures we, as good church people, learn as a child. This is the day the Lord has made - we will rejoice and be glad in it.  I found it in Psalm 118:24. For the caregiver everyday is the same - for all of us - everyday is the day the Lord has made and has given us. Our attitude determines how we handle the situations we will face on any given day; and we will face them! There's always something! Aides who don't show up (if you're lucky enough to have one at all), supplies are not delivered on time, an appliance breaks, you run out of briefs or wipes, any one of a thousand things can happen in a caregiver's day - and usually does. It's our attitude that determines our day - not the day of the week. Mondays are just like Fridays which are just like Tuesdays and Wednesdays....they are all days He has given us with our loved ones.

Rather than thinking about how today is Monday and it's supposed to be rough, I'm going to shift my thinking to the fact that each day is a gift from Him. The psalm that contains this verse is full of praise to the Lord for all He has done. At the very beginning the psalmist lists a few things He's done like:

  • He is good and His mercy endures forever
  • I called on the Lord and He answered me
  • The Lord is on my side
  • The Lord is for me
Having a rough day? Just pick one of these to meditate on today. Let it mold our attitudes into one of thankfulness for all He has done. It's all about focus.

Today I will meditate on how God is on my side - and  He is for me! As I go about the caregiving tasks that are necessary I will think about how He gives me the strength to carry on. My thoughts will be on how He really is for me and not against me; and He is for me when it feels like life is against me! I will be thankful today that He is with me. Will you join me?

Why Can't Life have a "Pause" Button?

Caregiving is not an easy task period; and any given day can bring numerous surprises both good and bad. You just never know how a day is going to go. You never know when you are going to run out of steam, or when you'll have a burst of energy. People can surprise you by not showing up, or they can surprise you with an unexpected text asking if you need any help. The emotions can be all over the place for a variety of reasons.

In the midst of caregiving - life continues for everyone else and life itself doesn't take a break. As a caregiver, we deal with our personal situation plus all the "normal" stuff life throws at you. We get sick, we read cutoff notices, vehicles break down, friends are diagnosed with serious conditions, and family members pass away. Caregiving doesn't give us a break from life - life continues just as it would if we were not in the role of caregiving. Sometimes, I would like to find a huge pause button for life. Can't it stop for just a little bit and let me catch my breath?

Between the rest of life and caregiving it can feel like we never get to come up for air sometimes. But God has our backs. I think of Psalm 18:28 in these tough moments. For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.  He can bring hope and light into any situation.

In this same psalm, David mentions more than once that God girds him with strength. I envision it as if God wraps His strength all around him. Maybe I see it that way because that's what I feel I need when life and caregiving collide. A little bit of His strength goes a long ways - and a little bit of His light brightens a large area. The darker the room - the more impact a little light can have.

In this verse, David speaks of God's light twice - he notes that God lights his lamp; and God shines His light into the darkness.

Today I will reflect on His light while I'm looking for the "pause" button. Even though we may feel overwhelmed, He will bring light into the situation. My meditation today will be on His strength in me and I will allow Him to carry me through this day. I will purposefully look for His light as I journey through today. Will you join me?

There is a River

Sometimes it bothers me when I hear complaints about it being Monday. It seems to me that on many levels the caregiver's days are all the same. There's not much relief on the weekends and our chores remain the same for the most part with maybe some small changes. I don't think that a day is necessarily bad or good just because of its position in the week. Even in our crazy not-so-normal lives our attitude can go a long way in making a day "good" or "bad." We cannot always change anything about our circumstances and we cannot always find ways to lighten the load - but we can always change our attitude and make the best out of what we have.

We all have days that are better than others but some days seem to bring a lot more of a struggle. What are we supposed to do on those days? Typically my thoughts run to the scriptures when I am overwhelmed, and particularly the psalms. Sometimes what seems like the simplest phrase can bring healing and restoration. That phrase for me today is found in Psalm 46:4.

There is a river 
whose streams make glad 
the city of God,
the holy dwelling places
of the Most High.

I read a scripture or passage and then meditate on what sticks out in my mind. There is a river is what captured my thoughts today. To me a river is symbolic of refreshing; but just standing by the rolling water can help one relax and become calmer. I think we can experience that same relaxation by experiencing the river of God  in our lives.

Caregivers can be operating under a huge load of chores and tasks that it takes to just make it through the day. Minimally, the caregiver can experience the burden of care. Which means that many caregivers may not have to do all the physical chores, but there is still a lot of mental work that has to be done as well as choices made on behalf of another. It can be a large load for any heart and mind. How would we experience this river?

When we take a break and turn to His word we are sitting by the river. When we say a prayer and express how we know it is God who is carrying us - we are sitting by His river. Today I invite you to open your Bible with me to Psalm 46. Feel His refreshing as we read:

God is our refuge and strength
a very present help in trouble
therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change
and though the mountains slip into the sea
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God
the holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her
she will not be moved
God will help her when morning dawns.

We are God's dwelling place - individually and collectively. He is in us and we can experience the peace of His river even in the midst of turmoil.

Today I will meditate on God's presence in my life; and I will welcome Him. I will turn my thoughts to His peace and let Him bring me the relief my heart and mind needs. I declare today a rest day - and I will purposefully rest in the peace He brings to my heart and life. 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 ...