Showing posts with label caregiver's fog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caregiver's fog. Show all posts

Ups and Downs

 

Chris looking at his medal after our 5K

Maybe it's just "that time of year" for me, but I've struggled a lot the last few weeks. I still affectionately call it the caregiver's fog. Lol. Okay, maybe it's not-so-affectionately. I know I can share my true feelings with you guys because you get it. You understand the day-to-day grind of caregiving. The military has a saying about there being no easy day. I think we live in that reality. It's just not easy caring for another whole person, is it?

Caregiving presents many difficulties. We can find ourselves alone, so very alone on this journey. It doesn't just go away. We don't just work through it. It seems to go on and on. There are lots of ups and downs - and that can be about every 90 seconds some days. Right? (smile!) As I've been working through this emotional maze the last few days, I turned my thoughts to Daniel. Let's take a realistic look at his circumstances because as we read his story in the Bible, we tend to glamorize it.

Daniel was a youth when the life he knew was stolen from him. He was taken captive - forced into slavery. He had to learn a whole new language and culture from the viewpoint of a slave. He was rendered unable to have children. He had no hope of a legacy. The normal dreams of a young man to marry the love of his life and have children were violently removed. He could have given up. But he didn't.

We see Daniel as a young man in the first part of the book, purposing in his heart to choose God. And we see him in the middle of the book determining to run to God in prayer - even if it meant his life. Finally, we see Daniel in the latter chapters seeking God. He was reading Jeremiah's writings even after 70 years as a slave in a foreign land. He continued to seek God through all the ups and downs of his life. 

We can do that too. Giving up isn't an option anymore. We are way too far into the journey for that! :-) I think we can learn something from Daniel. He purposed - he was determined - he was consistent - and he continued reading God's word. It all starts with being purposed to pursue God no matter what dream-suckers come our way in life. Daniel had the "right" to give up - but he chose to pursue God all the way through his life's bumpy journey.

Today, I will take a stand in my heart again. I'll declare that I will trust God through the ups and downs of each moment and each day. I'll move in a little closer to His heart so I can hear Him better. And I'll trust Him with one more day in the journey. Will you join me?


                                                                                                                                                                

Got a Dump Truck?

me and chris at the park

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you have a dump truck full of emotions? You're just looking for someplace to back up to and dump it all out, right? Today, for whatever reason, I feel that way. My emotions are over the top and I just don't want to do anything - but I want to do everything - all at once. I'm guessing it's just part of the caregiver's fog. lol

What's awesome about God is my crazy thoughts and whirlwind emotions don't scare Him away. Unlike people, He won't avoid me when I'm running full throttle toward nothing in particular. Instead, He patiently waits until I'm ready to dump it all at His feet. Then, once I do - His peace will fill the void left behind.

But sometimes, it takes a long time to get to the place where you can pour out your heart before Him. (Psalm 62:8) Maybe it's because there aren't the exact words needed to express what we are feeling. Maybe there is just too much to put into a few words or sentences, or even paragraphs. And maybe sometimes, it's just that we can't put our finger on it - whatever it is. We are stuck.

Yet He waits patiently. He waits as the emotional dump truck becomes fuller and fuller and fuller. He waits as it begins to topple over the top of the rails and falls like tears to the ground. He waits until we can't bear it anymore... He waits for us to back that dump truck up and dump it all out at His feet. Maybe it's frustration. Perhaps it's fear. For some of us, it's overwhelm. For many, it's cares that get heavier and heavier.

No matter what it is for each of us - He is patient. He doesn't have a list of exclusions - you know - things He doesn't want to hear about. God doesn't ever say - I don't want to hear another word about it - He longs for us to be to the place where we can back that dump truck up and pour it all out. Even if we can't sort it all out - He can do it for us. He knows what goes where and welcomes our hearts in any shape. He's even glad we come.

Today, as I back this emotion-filled dump truck up to His feet and try to start dumping it out - I will be thankful that he listens. I'll be grateful that He wants it all - and doesn't want me to try to handle it all on my own. I'll try not to sort it all out before giving it to Him. Instead, I'll just hand it all to Him in one motion - and wait for His peace to take its place as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

The Right Now


 As if caregiving wasn't enough, we've found ourselves working through a historic pandemic. They can be difficult enough to navigate for families but made even more challenging by caregiving. Now, on top of all that was already going on in our nation and world, a large portion of the US is suffering through brutally cold and bitter temperatures. Utility companies were ill-prepared to handle a severe winter storm of this magnitude. Personally, I've stressed quite a bit over how I would take care of Chris if the electricity would go out. It's frightening to think about.

It can be easy to get sucked into a spiraling cycle of worry right now. And that can be a difficult vacuum for anyone to get out of. When I begin to feel the overwhelm, I go back to basics. I try to stop all the crazy thoughts and focus on truth from the Word. This is why it's so important to read the word. If we are hiding it in our hearts like David said, Holy Spirit will help us recall it when we need it.

This morning as my mind began turning toward spinning out of control, I stopped all the noise. That's not always easy, is it?  I reminded myself that I needed to go back to the basics. Those things that don't change with the weather or in response to a pandemic. They didn't change when my son had a wreck and I was thrust into caregiving over 12 years ago either!

I landed in a familiar go-to scripture. Of course, it's in Psalms! lol. Psalm 46:1 is one of my go-tos. God is our refuge and our strength a very present help in trouble. That's where I started. I reminded myself that no matter what life throws at us - God is present. He doesn't avoid issues. Instead - He marches right into them. We talked about how He went out to "find" Hagar in her despair. He walked right into the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children. He traipsed across the water to His frightened disciples in the middle of a storm. And He is not afraid or hesitant to walk right into our mess today. Acknowledging that He is with us and that He hasn't abandoned us helps shift our thinking. He is present. Now. 

Today, I'll remind myself that He doesn't shy away from the difficulties. He doesn't disappear when things get tough. My meditation will be on how He chooses to walk right into the mess. I'll let my heart rest in these truths today. I will think about how He goes to the extremes and through extremes to get to us no matter where we are. I'll let His peace reign in my heart as I trust Him for my right now. 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: 
My Bookshelf

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

True Confidence

 


Do you ever have those mornings where you know you have a ton of things lined out to do but you just want to stay under the warm covers a little while longer? Most days, we just can't. Personally, I always regret it later in the day when I don't get as much done as I wanted to. But that is nonetheless where I was this morning. 

Usually, I get up and put on coffee and let it make while I change Chris and bolus him some water. Then, I crawl back into bed with my coffee cup and Bible in hand. Sometimes, I wish I had the choice to sit there all day. But my coffee would run out. And then there's that there is just too much that has to be done - and I'm the only one to do it. lol

While sitting there this morning, I felt my emotions try to take the dive into the caregiver's abyss. The fog was trying to overtake me. But I just don't have time for it today. Like you - I probably just need a day off. But of course, they don't happen. And their rarity is even rarer since the pandemic.

So I sat with my Bible and my coffee looking for a bit of comfort and some scriptures on peace to share in my Facebook live morning devotions. You know, when I purpose to dive into the Word, I am never disappointed. That's one thing I love about God and His Word - He meets me where I am. He is not afraid to walk right into my chaos and infuse His peace. He doesn't give me a checklist to complete before He does it either. I'm afraid I'd never get there if He did that! lol

I ended up my studies this morning in a favorite passage. It's Isaiah 30:15-18. The first part is what stood out to me because it's what I needed most. The prophet Isaiah says, In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Well, immediately I knew this confidence was not in myself. It's a confidence that is put in God that gives us the strength to face one more day. 

I'm fairly confident I'm going to make it through today - I've made it through many other days that looked a lot rougher than today, that's for sure. But I have not - and will not- make it through in my own strength. I'm very aware that He carries me at least half the time. That's where my quiet confidence rests.

Today, I will quietly trust Him to get me from daylight to dark with emotions, mental health, and body intact. As I move through this day, I will remind myself that He is my confidence. He is my strength. My thoughts will be on how I can trust Him with even more of the pieces of my heart. I'll let Him carry me through today. I know He will - that's confidence! Will you be in His arms with me today?


God's Got This

Kyrie and Chris

 I'm not sure things have ever been this crazy. Of course, I only have a little over 60 years to base my analysis on. (smile!) As if caregiving wasn't enough by itself, we have a pandemic that continues to rage on, political craziness out of hand, and a generation that seems bent on doing evil. I don't know about you, but sometimes I get soul tired. 

This morning, I was reading in Lamentations 3 where Jeremiah talks about God's compassions. Funny, it's not compassion - singular. It's compassions - plural. The prophet says his soul was removed from peace. In our current world situation, that would be easy to do. Our peace can be so disrupted if we watch the news or scroll our Facebook feeds all day, for sure! 

Jeremiah goes on to say in verse 18 that his strength and hope had perished. That's how he felt at the time. As caregivers, I think we all have those moments where we feel totally swept away in our responsibilities. On any given day we can feel like one more thing and we are done. But we also learn that those one-more-things keep coming and we keep going. Don't we?

Jeremiah is pouring out his soul and talking about his affliction open and raw. I like that because when we do that - it means we are being honest and real with ourselves and with God. It's okay to do that! But then, we should think about modeling after Jeremiah here and go on to remind ourselves of where we have been and how God has never failed us even in our darkest, deepest hours of pain and despair.

In verse 21, Jeremiah says here's what I recall so I don't lose hope. (My loose translation.) He reminded himself that the Lord's mercies keep us from being consumed. That His compassions do not fail. And that God is faithful. In a nutshell, he reminded himself that God's got this. 

I don't know what Jeremiah was worried about consuming him - but for me it's life. It's the day after day caregiving tasks and decisions that are sometimes very scary to have to make. I often get sucked into what I call the caregiver's fog and I feel depression clawing at my soul trying to suck me in and take me under forever. But as soon as I recognize it for what it is - I have to think like Jeremiah.

Yes, it's bad. Yes, it's tough. But God's got this. He's got me. He's got you. He never looks at His calendar and apologizes because His mercy ran out yesterday. He doesn't say, sorry no hope for today - it expired last week.  No! He offers a continual stream of hope, mercy, compassion, and love that are all able to carry us through one day at a time.

Today, I will remind myself that He's got this day and He's still got me in the palm of His hand. I will purposefully quiet my busy soul (mind, will and emotions) and bring my whole being before God today and ask Him for grace to carry me through. And you know what? He will do it again. will you join me?

Try to Remember


 This week, my aunt turned 88 years old. We made the best of it we could under the circumstances. I took her her favorite Chic-fil-a salad for lunch and her brother, my Uncle Roger, baked her a chocolate oatmeal cake and brought flowers. The facility is still not allowing visitors because of the Pandemic. I did get to go around to the window and see her and talk to her though. That helped, but it still saddened me greatly.

This, like many circumstances, can send a caregiver down into the spirals of sadness, grief, and depression. It's a terrible one to have to fight, but it happens frequently. It's such a personal battle too, and we all learn ways of trying to get ahead of it if at all possible. But when there are disappointments, griefs, and sorrows stacked one on the other day after day, it makes it much more difficult to get back on top of.

It can feel like God can't hear - and if He does hear us, then He isn't paying attention. And even if He is paying attention it feels like there is absolutely no response, no relief, and no rescue in sight. It's in those moments that it can feel like life is suffocating us. (Maybe it's just me?) Circumstances keep pressing and pressing and one thing keeps getting added on top of another until the life is being sucked right out of us.

I have this habit though. When I cannot see anything God is doing presently, and I cannot feel Him or hear Him like I want to, I do what Asaph did in Psalm 77. The first few verses, Asaph describes how he feels rejected, forgotten, and "too distressed to even pray." (V4 NLT) By the time he gets to verse 10 and 11, he says he feels like God is not "with" him anymore. If we are honest enough with ourselves, can we say we feel that way from time to time? My heart knows it's not true  - but boy does my head and emotions feel that way.

Asaph goes on to basically say that when he cannot see God moving in his life, he recalls what God has done in years gone by. This is what I've done the last day or so trying to shake off and climb out of the caregiver's fog. I started thinking back about specific times when I knew that God moved on my behalf. Times He truly intervened, healed, touched, moved, quickened....me. I still exist. I'm still in His sight. I'm still precious to Him....and so are you. When there is no one around to tell us that - we must tell ourselves these things. 

Today, will you join me in a walk down memory lane? It's so individual we must all take our own walk as we remember the times God has come through for us - lest we lose heart. Remind yourself that He loves you - immensely. Tell your heart to hope again that hope is NOT lost - and He has not forgotten we are here. 

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?


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?



Seeing Through the Caregiver's Fog

Other than the social isolation of caregiving, I think the wrestling with depression is one of the most difficult things I deal with. I can be fine, having a good day and some memory or small challenge can spark a deluge of emotions that send me off into la-la land. It doesn't take much, honestly. I'd like to say I'm alone in these emotional roller coaster rides, but from what reading I have done, it's common for the caregiver.

Over the last few weeks, the struggle has been so real as I'm sure it is for many. This morning I found myself trying once again to pull myself out of the caregiver's fog. I was actually thinking about storms and how natural storms pass. Caregiving does not. And for my situation I'm looking at a life that looks just like this for the rest of my life. It does get to me from time to time.

So, I went to the Word looking for the story of Jesus and His disciples facing the storm in the boat. I found it in Mark chapter 4. But the parable at the first of the chapter caught my attention. That means we'll still talk about the storm tomorrow! lol

Mark 4 starts with the parable of the sower who sowed the seeds in different types of soil. I know Jesus was giving us an analogy of the Kingdom of God and as He explains to His disciples later the seed is the message of the Kingdom which is sowed and the outcome depends on the condition of the soil. But as I read it I thought about the changes in my life on a day to day basis and my heart's response to the Word.

I can look at my days and see how some days are very fruitful. I have energy, I'm positive, my faith is high and things go generally well. Then other days are more like the thorny soil where every hope is choked out by thorns of caregiving or life in general. Some days the Word of God seems to speak to me personally and lifts me right out of the muck and mire as it sinks deeply into the soil of my heart. Other days God seems silent and I feel I'm left in a dry, rocky place to try and navigate on my own.

Of course there are lots of in-between days where there are series of ups and downs. I can go from laughing and enjoying the progress my son makes to weeping because the "picture" of his life is all messed up. Really. I should be rejoicing that he's marrying, having children, exploring his chosen career; not the fact that he regained head control or moved his right foot. Such mixed emotions - the storms of the caregiver's life.

Now the good part is that later on in this same chapter, Jesus explained the seed itself a little more fully. When the seed is sown there is not always an immediately recognizable growth spurt. As a matter of fact, it seems as if nothing is happening. As the farmer "goes about his days" the seed sprouts and grows without his direct knowledge.

So what does this mean for the caregiver? For me today? It means that God's word is enough.  It means that it is sown - it will grow. On the days I (or we - if you're with me) don't see it  - I'm not feelin' it - His word is still tucked away in my heart. It's not discarded. It's secretly growing and as I go about my caregiving tasks, it'll continue to grow and it will bear fruit in my life.

The caregiver doesn't get an exclusion in the Word. God didn't make ONE promise where He said "this is applicable for everyone but the caregiver."!

So today I will try to keep my focus. I will meditate on the fact that His word IS growing in me - whether I see it or not. I'll turn my thoughts to truths like - I didn't get kicked out of the Kingdom when I became a caregiver. My meditation will be on the truth that His word still stands and every promise is still true. I will shift my focus to those things I cannot see. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Time to Refocus?

This morning I was busily working around the house. I started getting up between 4 and 5 in the morning to get some work done on my jobs. This helps me get in a few hours before the day gets out of hand. Well, that's the plan anyway - I can't say as it is actually working or not yet. 

Since I have an aide now (thankfully!!!), I have to separate our laundry out again - I'd been doing it together but the aide doesn't need to mess with my stuff so I divided it out - and found I needed lots done and got started on it early this morning. I needed to get it done before the aide comes early this afternoon.

I was trying to knock out the laundry, put some bread on in the bread machine, fix breakfast and Chris' early morning supplemental bolus. Felt like a busy little bee hurrying around to get things done. Soon though, I realized I was getting tense, upset and stressed out trying to get everything done. My mind was shifting into high gear.

But underneath this turmoil, I could hear a song in my heart. It was Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. I heard myself singing along with the lyrics in my heart: 

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

As I heard my heart singing along with these lyrics it caught me off guard. I was so stressed, so hurried, why was I hearing music? Then I wondered why am I hearing that song? So I thought about the words... You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.... 

I took just a couple of seconds to shift my focus. I started thinking about how huge and powerful God is, I thought about creation and one of my favorite scriptures in Psalm 104:19 that says: You made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun that knows when to set. That always makes me smile because I think about how the sun never comes up and forgets to set. The seasons never forget what order they come in.....I shifted my thoughts back to His majesty.... and my day, my struggles seemed so small in comparison. 

Frequently, I remind myself that my situations, my circumstances do not change Him one bit. He may come a little closer, He may hold me tighter in His heart but he is still all-powerful, all-knowing, all-consuming and His throne didn't shift when I hit life's rough waters. 

Today I am reminding myself of some unchanging truths:

His word is still true
His power has not waned
His love still captures my heart
He is still all merciful and compassionate toward His children
He is still on the throne
He is immovable

Today, these will be my meditation as I go through the day. I'll make my mind focus on the attributes of God rather than the things that get thrown at me in time. My heart will rejoice in Him and I will focus on praising Him in the song today. I will rest in Him for one more day - will you join me?


Always on His Mind

It's easy to get lost in the shuffle of caregiving, isn't it? There are so many  tasks required to take care of someone else that we can forget to take care of ourselves. Aides, doctors, nurses and other professionals focus on our loved ones, and they should. But we can slowly slide back out of view and be nearly forgotten. It's easy to feel insignificant and small in the scheme of things.

There have been times since I became a caregiver that I would go days without talking to another person. Perhaps this is due to the age of technology. I might text with someone or "chat" via a social media outlet; but I've literally gone days without speaking to someone. Sometimes I miss the art of conversation. I want to hear someone laugh not just type "lol." We need to hear inflections in their voice and see facial expressions. When we don't, we can begin to feel so very alone and wonder if anyone cares, if anyone sees; or if anyone even thinks about us at all.

The good news is that we are always on His mind. As a matter of fact, God told Jeremiah that He knew him before he was formed in his mother's womb. In Jeremiah 1, the Lord spoke to the prophet and said Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you. God knows us intimately even when people don't take the time to get to know us well. He is aware of our darkest, loneliest moments and we are on His mind. We are not forgotten. The truth is that we don't even know what people may be praying for us or thinking about us at any given time. But we can rest assured that God has us on His mind all the time.

David said it this way in Psalm 139 - How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning You are still with me! (NLT) 

Today I am thankful that He is always with me and I am always on His mind. My meditation today will be of His ever-abiding presence and His continuous thoughts of me! I will rejoice today that He does not forget me or my situation - but I am always on His mind. Will you join me?

Reachin' for those Bootstraps!

Did you ever hear the saying pull yourself up by your own bootstraps? In essence, it means to grab hold and get yourself out of where you are. For the caregiver there are many days we feel like we have to pull ourselves up out of the fog that surrounds us. Because we can be socially isolated, it can be difficult to find the encouragement we need on those days when life weighs in too heavily. On these days we may find ourselves trying to find our proverbial bootstraps so we can pull ourselves up enough to function. We don't always have another choice.

Some days I find myself reaching for those bootstraps to get my attitude and outlook to a point where I can face the day. That doesn't count making it through the day, just facing it can wear us out at times. Where is your go-to spot? What does your bootstrap look like? My bootstraps (what I use to get out of the caregiver's fog) is usually Psalms. I've always enjoyed the Psalms because David and the other writers are so upfront and honest with their feelings. They don't sugar coat it but instead they lay it out there like they see it at the time.

Today my thoughts go to Psalm 13 where the psalmist empties his soul by saying:
How long O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long will I take counsel in my soul
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

We get the picture that David was feeling on the bottom and that he was in a position where he felt he needed to pull himself up by his own bootstraps! He asks God to keep him from being overcome by the enemy and for Him to hear his cries for help. I can pray that a lot of mornings, can't you?

But I love David's style because he never leaves it hanging. He goes right into his own solution - and demonstrates what it looks like to get a good hold on his bootstraps! It might be that he is simply reminding himself of the fact that he has trusted in the Lord's lovingkindness. Then he makes a statement of what he intends to do with that My heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord.

It can be easy to focus on the negatives and the heaviness of the load the caregiver carries. But no one can carry it for us, even if we have tons of helpers along the way. We must get to the point where we can declare our part - I will trust. I will rejoice. I will sing. I'm going to find my I will's.

Today I will trust the Lord for strength to face my tasks. I will meditate on His mercy and the truth that He is carrying me and strengthening me for the journey. I will trust in His strength rather than in my own. I will rejoice in His never failing love; and I will sing of His heart which is always turned toward me and never away. Will you join me?

You Can't Order that Online!

In many cases the caregiver is not able to get out of the house much, or at least not very easily. Because of this, over the last few years I've learned you can order almost anything online. I order toilet paper, cleaning supplies, clothes, household goods, furniture, electronic devices, books, music, movies, medical supplies and that's just all I can think of off the top of my head. I even order frozen foods! There are some places that ship fresh fruit - but so far I haven't found it to be cost effective. But I've also learned that there are a few things that simply cannot be ordered online. Things like milk and butter, hair cuts, manicures, massages and dog grooming just cannot be ordered online!

I have found that in most instances caregivers are very frugal and creative; they have this knack for problem solving and figuring out how to get the impossible done. Whether we ask for help, order it online or find some other way to get it done - nearly everything is possible. But perhaps the most crucial need of the caregiver cannot be ordered online, or fulfilled by anyone else. We have to be able to encourage ourselves. As we face a barrage of decisions and situations each day we can either succumb to the pressure and allow ourselves to be depressed - or we can encourage ourselves in the Lord.

David found himself in a very sticky situation in 1 Samuel 30. He and his men came back to Ziklag to find it ransacked and their wives and children taken captive. Everyone blamed him and were talking of killing him; and he was greatly distressed (v.6). But as he stood there with nothing - it says David encouraged himself in the Lord. There are times when the caregiver has to make the choice to be crushed or encouraged; and sometimes (most times) we have to do it ourselves. Even if someone brings an encouraging message we must choose to embrace it - or stay underneath the load.

Today I am going to choose to take my courage and strength from the Holy Spirit. No matter what types of difficulties I may face today I will not let them take me under and suck me into the "caregiver's fog." I think of all the times throughout the Psalms when David used the phrase "I will" or "My soul will" and I really think he was making a conscious choice to trust, worship, praise, etc. Today I will do this same thing- My choice is to trust Him for this one more day and lean on Him for strength to make it through. I will meditate on His greatness and I will be encouraged in Him today - will you join me?

A Small Comfort at Last

Please forgive me for being so lax on doing this devotional. I needed help myself for a few weeks. I know you are most likely very familiar with what I call the "caregiver's fog." It can sweep you up and suck you down and leave you in a state of nothingness for days on end. It can fry your emotions and leave you scratching your head barely making it through each grueling day beneath its pressure.But alas...I am finally emerging. I will try to do a better job at keeping my head above and completing this task. My purpose really is to encourage but quite honestly I just have not had it in me! But I'm back now!!

 I think what helped me start the difficult dig out of the hole was the other day someone made mention of a particular scripture and I began talking about it. I was so stirred up it got me to thinking about it and many others on the topic. One thing I have tried to do is to begin to read the scriptures without my old religious thinking...it's very difficult I must say. We've been taught what to think for far too long!

 As I thought about the Word I got all stirred up inside. Then I thought of Psalm 1119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction; that your Word quickens me. I realized no matter what I really am not looking for any help, or any answers outside of His word. No matter how far away He feels to me I still only want His answers for all the dreams I used to have, the wasted years, and the huge whys. The fact that I can still get so stirred up over a scripture lets me know that even though I feel very dead right now - He is alive in me somewhere in there....and that is comforting to me today. So be comforted - He is still Here!

The Caregiver's Fog

I know all the true caregivers out there no exactly what I mean by the caregiver's fog. It usually descends slowly and overcomes you until you cannot find a way out. But you're already suffocating before you realize how bad it is. Well, that's where I have been. I hate it when I do not get on here to do a devotion - but there are days I just can't find one and I am not going to throw some empty words out here --that helps no one~!

 Sometimes, crawling out is as easy as opening up the Bible and letting His word wash it all away. But then there are those times when opening the Word actually adds frustration. You see the miracles He performed and wonder why you didn't get one. Or read scriptures about His great deliverance from Egypt and just scratch your head... sometimes I really cannot see for the fog.

 But every time He comes through. I don't really know what His big fog-blow-awayer looks like... but it can come in the form of a phone call or card from a friend. Or maybe it's a song I hear online. Who can describe His ways... but He finally gets through to me every single time! Then I am washed away in His love and watchful care once again....

 I am so glad that He is big enough to handle my faltering, faithless heart. Hudson Taylor said when we feel faithless, rely on Him - for He is faith-full. There are those times He must have the faith for me! Let Him carry you through today...

How Big is Your Shovel?

I was reading Psalm 88 this morning. This particular psalm is how I sound some days - hopeless! It is strange how it is comforting to find out that someone else has the same questions, the same lost feelings, and the same hopelessness that I have experienced! They seem to be digging around in my hole! lol! He is speaking of things like being full of trouble, living in the pit, and how afflicting life can be. I have those days too! Those are the days where I don't feel like my shovel is big enough - or that I cannot find enough fill dirt to fill the hole in!

 Isn't it odd that this Psalm is even in the Bible? It's not uplifting at all except to know that someone else did experience the deep questions about pains and life without receiving any answers either! lol! Why was it included? It is not an encouraging Psalm at all. And as I was reading it this morning I kept looking for the but.. but I will sing, but I will praise or something like that. And it's just not there! I had a good eye roll planned for it too - I'm sure you never have any days you feel that one!

So I began to realize once again that I must dig myself out of the caregiver's fog...so I started looking for my "shovel." And ever so slowly I had to write the rest of this psalm myself...I will sing...don't feel like it...I will praise...cannot argue with His worthiness...I will rejoice...in what?

I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back to the basics to get out of the pit. I start here: God is. Some days that is enough, others it is not. But to stop and embrace the fact - the truth - that He just is - is a great place to start. God is love, God is faithful, God is supreme, God is smarter than me!!! And there I  can relax...peace in the knowing - even when absolutely nothing makes sense - He is. I can live on that today!!

Right Back to Him

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