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

Strength from Weakness

 

car ride wiwth aunt polly

Have you ever had someone say to you, I don't know how you do it? As a caregiver, I think I'm supposed to take it as a compliment. I usually mutter something like, Oh, we all do what we need to do. Or some other blow-it-off phrase. But what I'd really like to do is yell - I don't know either!  Lol - maybe it's just me.

Caregivers just keep giving and doing day in and day out. We kind of get used to a new normal and get into a groove that makes everything happen. But of course, there are those little kinks. My kink usually starts with a cough. When I hear Chris cough I start making a plan. Do I have all his prescriptions on hand? Is the battery charged on the oxygen thingy? 

Other times it's less worrisome things like this week I ran out of gloves. They were delivered to the office on Saturday - but 1 - I couldn't go get them anyway. And 2 - I didn't know until after office hours. Not having supplies, aids not showing up, delivery services that have no available time slots before the time you need an item or two... these all wear us down!  

So, when someone says I don't know how you do it  (perhaps they should say - without breaking down.) I think - me either. Most days I don't feel like I "do it" well enough. But here's the thing I am learning. There is power in realizing our weaknesses. This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul is talking about the Light shining in our hearts and how we have this treasure in an earthen vessel. We are just a clay pot holding the very glory of God.

But Paul goes on to talk about how he was 

  • hard-pressed on every side but not crushed
  • perplexed but not in despair
  • persecuted but not forsaken
  • struck down but not destroyed
We talk a lot about how David poured out his honest, raw emotions before God too. What I like about David and Paul is that they were honest and transparent about their feelings. They weren't afraid to tell God the truth. That open and real expression is an act of worship. It's in those moments of weakness, that we realize His strength. As we pour out our souls and empty ourselves before Him - He fills us back up with His strength. Pauls says in my weakness You are strong.

Today, I will meditate on how God puts His strength in this weak, old clay pot. My thoughts will be on how He takes time to hear my deepest heartfelt cries and listens intently to them as He begins to pour new strength for a new day in. I'll rest right there - and trust Him for just today. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                                                

The Strength I Need


 I spent my devotions in Psalm 138 this morning. If you have time today, take a minute to read through it. There are several nuggets that spoke to my heart. I want to pull out this verse for my day today. Verse 3 in the New Living Translation says this When I pray, You answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

I thought about that for quite some time. Firstly, I think we do gain strength when we pray. It's especially true as we bring our burdens to Him in prayer and then leave them there!  Of course, this is written by the warrior-king David. If anyone knew how to take their troubles to God in prayer and leave them there- it was David! I try to follow his example a lot. He prayed. He praised. He declared! I like that combination.

What I really wondered about this morning though, was how much strength I might actually need for today. Just for today. To say our proverbial plates are full is an understatement for most caregivers, right? So many things that have to be done on any given day. But every day only has 24 hours in it - no matter how it's sliced up. Then I asked, how much energy is God prepared to provide for me today? 

I'm kind of a high-energy personality and it might take quite a lot. lol. 

As caregivers, we never know what a day is going to throw in our lap, right? But it seems that God will give us the strength we need no matter what the level of need is. I think the key must be to trust Him for it. You know, like He gives us peace -not like the world gives - (John 14:27) But it's up to us to accept that peace and then let it reign in our hearts. Maybe the strength I need for today is kind of the same.

No matter what, He will make sure we can make it through today. Besides offering the strength needed to get through today - He also provides comfort, peace, and direction. Plus, He walks through each day with us and never abandons us to deal with the hectic craziness caregiving can bring alone. He's right there whether we see, hear, or acknowledge His presence. Actually, His presence goes before us into the day and then walks with us through it, and provides the strength we need all along the way.

Today, I'm going to thank Him in advance for giving me the strength I'm going to need today. I'll meditate on how He stays right with me no matter how crazy a day may get. My thoughts will be on the comfort and peace He provides - and how they do not wane or weaken over time. I like that. My prayer today will be that I will learn to lean on Him with more of myself and that I'll let Him carry me more. And with that - I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Every Straw

 


Do you find yourself getting upset at the little things? I think as caregivers we run on high all the time that our emotions can stay on edge. We program ourselves to handle the big stuff, but those little things nag away sometimes. The big stuff, we just suck it up and handle it on the spot - call 911, call the nurse, or transport. It's the bigger stuff that we are able to kick into high-octane mode and push through. But those little things...

Sometimes, it's the littlest, even dumbest things it seems. Like I get angry because I didn't push the button on my coffee maker hard enough and it didn't start brewing. (Don't kid yourself - that's big stuff! lol) I was trying to reach around the handle on my bowl while eating oatmeal this morning and my sleeve got caught. I didn't even spill anything, but it made me mad that it was in my way. It doesn't take much to reach a max, does it?

Now, maybe this is just me - and you guys are always calm and collected. I know I'm high-strung. lol. But as caregivers, it's easy to live on the edge. For some, we live on the edge but can't express it for fear someone will think we are not able to perform our duties as caregivers. We treat aches and pains and avoid doctor's offices because we are afraid they will tell us to quit. And that's just not going to happen, is it?

But these things wear away at our emotions and drag us through mucky days. And you know what? I think it's just part of the caregiver's life. What's so cool about it all is that God is big enough for the big stuff - yet still concerned about the small stuff. That blows me away. Does He really care that my coffee pot didn't come on this morning? Does He know the company took a payment out of my account after I returned the equipment? Does He know my fears concerning Covid? Or that isolation is eating away at my soul? He does. He knows it all - the big and the "little." And He cares. 

God doesn't turn His eyes and ears away from us just because others think they are small, unimportant matters. He understands the burden we carry - and He sees every straw whether it's the one that will break the proverbial camel's back or the first one in the bag. Paul told us in 1 Peter 5:7 that we can cast ALL our cares on Him and we can let Him do the caring for us.

Now, God doesn't stand up there with a list of categories for things He will not carry. He doesn't toss things back and tell us that it's not on His responsibility list. He takes them all - big, small, and everything in between. Why? He cares for us - as a whole person.

Today, I will be thankful that God cares. I will be grateful that He listens to me offload all the things that are on my heart. He doesn't discriminate. He won't belittle. He won't tell me to suck it up and get stronger. He just cares about every straw on this camel's back. And just like that - a little gratitude and thankfulness go a long way to lighten the load. Today, as I trust Him with my soul  - my mind, my will, and my emotions - I'll thank Him for always being right there when I need Him. Will you join me?


No Get Out of Jail Free Cards?

 


Do you ever feel like life just doesn't let up? Sometimes it seems like caregivers should get some sort of exempt card. You know? Something that lets us stay in the cave without having to deal with all the craziness that's going on in the world. Well, it was just a thought. I guess there are no "get out of jail free cards" in life.

A pandemic rages on and we didn't get an exempt card, did we? Political and civil unrest didn't qualify us for one either. We have to deal with all the craziness in the world plus our caregiving responsibilities. Isn't caregiving enough? Dealing with aids who don't show, people and family who do not know how to help so they avoid us, and the traffic of health care professionals of all sorts is enough for any given day. Yet it happens over and over again. How do we stay sane? 

Caregivers are resilient - we just keep going. Every night I go to bed feeling like I failed. I didn't get enough done. It's easy to focus on the things I didn't get done each day and see those as failures, instead of focusing on the fact that I just keep going and I just keep trying. Each morning I get up with a renewed dedication to try harder to accomplish more. But there are so many hours in each day and only so much energy in the tank, you know? lol

Over and over I find myself relying on God. Isaiah said Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31) Maybe that's what we feel each morning when we get up ready to give it a go again. David said the Lord will give strength to His people; He will bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11) I personally have no doubt that it is God who empowers me to get up each morning and give it another go. How about you?

Our lives require it. Whether we slept or not, eat or not, have time to grab a shower or not - we're like the energizer bunny - we just keep going and going. But for those of us who are believers, there's no doubt that God is our energy source.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for always being there to empower me to make the day - and the long nights. I'll thank Him for continuing to strengthen me and keep me going when I don't even know how I'm doing it. lol My meditations will be on receiving His strength for today's journey. And I'll accept His peace and rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Juggling Acts


The last weekend in February has been a fun one for the last seven years. It’s usually the weekend of my daughter’s birthday but sometimes falls the weekend after her actual birthday. We have ridden the train to Fort Worth and participated in some way in the Cowtown races. This year, we did the 10K together on Saturday. The rest of the weekend is ours to enjoy. This year, we just relaxed other than the expo for the event and the 10K we finished early on Saturday.

Giving her this one weekend a month where it’s just mother-daughter, is not really enough to make up for giving all my time to her brother, Chris, whom I care for 24/7. It doesn’t really give her back the time she’s lost these last 11 years. But it’s a special time for her and for me – we spend it together just being us. It’s always loads of fun and she calls all the shots as to where we eat and what we do. This year, planning did not go off without a hitch.

We get some respite through the Advantage program (if you are a caregiver check it out in your state it helps with a lot of things). It wasn’t approved two days before we were to board the train, so I was jumping through mental hoops looking for alternative care for him on Friday. Of course, at the last minute, the approval came through. I don’t understand why something requested weeks ago take to the last minute. It’s like they really don’t care about our feelings – we are just a number on a piece of paper.

Then, my friend who was going to pick Chris up on Friday night fell very ill. Before we board the train I’m trying to jump through hoops to get someone else to take him home and stay with him the first night. It’s all quite funny now – but it wasn’t then.

As caregivers, if we even get a break, it can feel like we are being punished for wanting one. It takes more work to organize all the particulars than it does to just stay home and take care of him. Or at least it feels like it. Overall, it all went well, and he was definitely well cared for and he did very well this time with eating and things like that. Plus, my daughter and I had our special time together and we both got some much-needed downtime. Overall, I’d have to say it was a juggling success. Lol.

Sometimes I wonder if God is looking down on my juggling act and shaking His head. Maybe He is burying His face in His hands. But juggling isn’t a one time a year thing for us caregivers. Many don’t even get that opportunity. Day after day we juggle caregiving tasks, cooking, work, other children’s needs, and our own needs are the pin that gets dropped while we try to keep everything else in the juggle. I know He sees each of us and He understands, even when He seems silent.

I’ve said many times, that God doesn’t make a convenient exit just because life gets ugly. He never stops painting because the picture isn’t pretty. He doesn’t stop listening when life’s song sounds out of key. 1 Timothy 2: 19 reminds us that the foundation of God stands firm and He knows those who are His and we are still His when we become a caregiver. Our standing with Him is not altered because life throws us a curve. He is with us in the juggle, strengthening us and calling us His own.

Today, in the hustle, I will remind myself I am His. He has not abandoned. He is near. My thoughts will be on His ever-abiding presence and I will lean in to Him to hear His heart still beating for me. I’ll trust Him with today’s juggle as I try to get back into the day-to-day of caregiving. I’ll be grateful and purposefully thank Him for not leaving alone to walk this journey. 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?


Always Behind

Just a few weeks ago, my son's case manager came by. She started asking how long each task took and how many times a day it had to be completed. As the list grew longer, I started feeling overwhelmed. I had no idea it takes about 5 hours out of the day just to prepare his food and feed him. I also didn't realize how time-consuming transfers were. I mean, we've got it down to an art and it's MUCH easier than when I first brought him home. But still, an hour or more a day just to keep him dry and move him around? Then there was laundry, talking to various health professionals throughout the week, and tons of other things we didn't even get on her list. I was tired just thinking about it.

I'm starting to wonder if part of the caregiving journey is this feeling of being always behind. No matter what all I DO get accomplished in a day, I feel like I left at least as much undone. It's a daily thing. Maybe I am the only one - but I suspect not.

Feelings of being always behind lead my mind down dark paths of additional feelings of inadequacy, failure, etc. Once my thoughts begin spiraling, somehow everything I ever failed at and every mistake I ever made start surfacing. In just a few minutes I feel like the scum of the earth - lower than worm spit we used to say! But this morning, as my heart began to sink into that abyss, I did something a little different.

As soon as I thought of some shortcoming, mistake, failure or any other negative aspect, I made my mind think of something good that came from it. Then, I thanked God for that. With just a little bit of thought, each instance revealed a positive outcome in me, my circumstances, or whatever. And you know what? I didn't spiral down into the depths of grief or sorrow. I saw each circumstance in a different light when I realized there were positive outcomes even if they seemed as simple as God's grace extended to me, or some lesson I learned through it.

So even though I am "always behind" in my mind - there must be some really good stuff happening in the midst. Today, I will purposefully find gratefulness in the midst of my stress. I will command my thoughts to look past the obvious circumstances and choose to believe He is once again reaching and pressing for that positive outcome in me. My meditations will be grateful ones of His keeping power - His everlasting loving kindness toward me. And with that, I will gratefully trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?


Speak Fast Lord, I've Got a Lot to Do!

Caregivers no doubt have a lot on their plate, I mean after all, we are taking care of another whole person's needs on varying levels. Some caregivers are taking care of even more than one. I don't know about you, but my morning can get outta hand hectic way too fast. My morning sets the order for my day - which is why I try to do my devotions first thing. If I don't, I may never get the chance again.

This morning I got up with all the things I had to get done today on my mind. I have work to do to keep the lights on, my son's case manager is coming by this afternoon, a new module opens in my class I'm enrolled in (and I haven't finished last week's module), and just all the normal caregiving stuff like bathing, pureeing, feeding, and the different therapies. I'm tired just thinking about it all!

I got up, got my coffee (I never miss that part), sat in my recliner, opened my Bible and thought You gotta speak fast Lord, I only have 'til 7. And then I stopped. Did I really say that to God? Those were my thoughts to the One who puts more into my life than any person on this planet? I don't say that to the cardiologist - I want him to take his time to listen to me and explain everything fully. I don't say that to my son's health care providers; I want them to be thorough and thoughtful. I don't say that to the teachers of my health coaching classes - I don't want to miss anything. I don't say that to my boss on my job or any of my clients.  I tried to cram the thoughtless prayer back into my head but it had already crept out.

I started to feel badly about it for a minute, but then I felt His gentle nudge. My mind went immediately to Isaiah 30:18 that goes something like this: The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long (or wait) for Him.

My next thought was a scripture out of Jeremiah 29:13 - you will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.

That's really want I want. My desire is to seek him and to have a heart that is constantly reaching out to Him, not just looking to be rescued from the fiery furnace, but knowing He is walking through it with me, holding me; and carrying me when necessary.

Today I purpose to slow myself down and focus on listening to Him. Even though my list of things to get done today is long, much like yours I'm sure, I will turn my heart and my ears to listen for His gentle nudges today. I won't crowd Him out with all my busy-ness. I'll make room for Him to speak to me today; and I will listen. Will you join me?


Reminding Ourselves

As I was reading through Psalm 71 in my morning devotions I recalled an old hymn called, Remind Me Dear Lord. I only remember a few of the phrases of that old song but sometimes it's really how I feel. At times I really need Him to remind me that I am still His child, He still loves me and He is still with me. Other times I need to remind myself of these solid truths.

I assume that David wrote Psalm 71 but it doesn't say that for sure - just that it is a prayer of an old man. Sometimes caregiving wears us down until we can just feel old. This Psalm was a great reminder for me this morning.

First of all, I noticed the things the psalmist reminded himself of regarding how he had reacted to God. He said things like:


  • In You I have taken refuge
  • Be to me a rock - to which I can continually come...
  • My mouth is filled with Your praise
  • I will hope continually; I will praise you more
  • I will make mention of Your righteousness - Yours alone
  • I will praise you with the harp
  • I will sing praises with the lyre
  • My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You
  • My tongue will utter Your righteousness all day long
That's a lot of determination, hope and courage right there! Maybe he can say these things because they are mixed in with a variety of declarations he makes regarding his relationship with God. He says things like:

  • You are my refuge
  • You are my rock and fortress
  • You are my hope
  • By You I've been sustained since birth
  • You took me from my mother's womb
  • You are my strong refuge
  • You have taught me from my youth
These are all powerful statements of faith, I think. He is declaring his absolute trust and confidence in God and reminding himself of all God has done over the years of his life. As caregivers it can be easy to feel like God and life have forsaken us and left us to drown in day to day responsibilities. These are some wonderful declarations we can make that help us remember who He is to us - and help us remind ourselves that we will continue to trust and stand.

But here's the other thing I noticed in this Psalm: the psalmist sheer desperation. Right in the middle of trusting Him and hoping in Him the writer lets us see the pain that's in his heart. He says things like:

  • Listen to me and save me
  •  Rescue me from the hand of the wicked
  • Do not cast me off 
  • Do not forsake me when my strength fails
  • Do not be far from me
  • Do not forsake me
For some reason this really encouraged me today- to see that the psalmist was in a state of despair with trouble all around and yet he did what was important and needful. He called on God for help, ran to him for refuge and continued to declare his trust in Him.

Today my meditation will not be on surrounding troubles or on the struggles we face as caregivers. My thoughts will be on the fact that I'm gong to continue to trust Him no matter what a day brings. I will sing. I will praise. I will continue to run to Him. I'll take some time today to think about all I have seen Him do in my life and in the lives of those I love; and I will be thankful. Will you join me?

Thankfulness in the Furnace

Colossians 4:2 says to devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. (NLT) It can be far too easy to allow the responsibilities and daily grind of caregiving to lull us into a spiritual sleep. Taking care of another person takes a lot out of us emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Over time we can tend to relax spiritually if we do not guard our hearts.

Personally, I am a very structured person. I set my schedule and just keep it. Well, that's how it was BC (before caregiving) anyway. I got up early enough when I was teaching school to have my coffee, Bible study and prayer time long before the day got out of hand. When I first brought my son home, I tried to do that again. Honestly, I was worn out all the time and soon it went out the window. Recently, I've been able to come back to some type of schedule but of course remain flexible for caregiving's sake.

It's so important to keep our spiritual guard up. We have to maintain our spiritual tenacity. This can be such a difficult thing and if we are not careful we  can fall into the trap of self-condemnation when we don't. First of all, remember (like it's easy to forget) that we are operating under huge amounts of stress and there are some days it takes all of our effort to simply breathe. It took me a long time to be "okay" with that and to give myself a break. When we don't have time - we just don't have time. And we certainly don't have time to condemn ourselves for not having time!  Secondly, remember that He alone is our source - and He understands us. God is walking through the furnace with us. He is the good Shepherd, we just have to follow Him and allow Him to feed us.

We can still devote ourselves to prayer, and we can do it with a mind that is alert as well as a heart that is thankful. It took me a long time to recover a thankful attitude. I was just too mad at God for letting this happen to my son. But as time went on I found I could not live my life without Him (God). Soon I found that thankfulness once again. We cannot base our thankfulness on our lives - but on His goodness and His character. I'll be the first one to tell you I am not thankful this happened. But I'm also quick to tell you that even in the situation and as it continues to unfold, I can find things to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for many of the life lessons I've learned on this CG journey. I'm thankful for the closeness I've found with God. I can be thankful that I've learned the true value of friendship - and learned who were my real friends. Thankfulness abounds as I've learned to trust Him even more. There is always something to be thankful for; we just have to search harder to find it when the going gets tough!

Today I will purposefully look for things to be thankful for; and I will remember to tell God thank you. I will consciously keep my mind on Him today and focus on staying alert spiritually. I will not allow caregiving to lull me to sleep spiritually. Are you with me?

At Day's End

Caregiver's tasks are endless and almost every evening I have this sinking feeling like I didn't get enough done. It doesn't matter how much I did get done in a day, I feel like I fell far short of all I needed  to get done. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

We already have enough on our plate just in taking care of another whole person or two. I say this as I not only take care of my son who is total assist, but am shifting into a caregiving role with my parents as well. My son can do absolutely nothing on his own but breathe. I not only have to puree all of his food or blend up shakes to put in his tube, but I also have to take the time to feed him. Each day I bathe him, dress him, get him up, stretch him, stand him, entertain him, etc. It starts early in the morning and goes until late at night. Even when he's in the bed early mornings or late evening he has to be bolused, changed, turned, and kept comfortable. It's my pleasure.

Add to the daily chores of caregiving all the other things that must be done and every single one of us have a full load.  I can't speak for anyone else but I know we all have laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and all sorts of cleaning to do daily. Many caregivers have other children to provide care for or hold down a job. In my situation I work from home as a freelance writer; this can tie up quite a bit of time, especially if I start running behind. I have deadlines I have to meet and I can get pretty stressed out at times. I am learning strategies for keeping up and that it helping some.

Let's just take yesterday for example. I did all my caretaking responsibilities for Chris keeping him, fed, moving and comfortable, providing stimulation and ROM activities plus I completed 3 projects for clients and then went to taekwondo to complete my requirements for belt testing. But when I got home and got my son in bed, all I could think about was how much I had left to do. Even though I did quite a bit for a day- I felt so inadequate at the day's end. This is my typical late night activity. I look back over the day and think about what I did. Most of the time I feel disappointed and like I need to do so much more. It's a vicious cycle.

I turned to the wisdom of King Solomon for some direction and help. In Ecclesiastes 2:20 the wise king says So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. Interesting, huh? He tried working hard and then he tried hardly working and came to this conclusion he shares in verse 24: So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? God gives wisdom, knowledge and joy to those who please Him.

Caregivers do not have life easy no matter what their situation is. It can feel like life has dealt us an unfair blow and we just can't live life like everyone else. But we can be satisfied in our work, and we can be satisfied in our God! I really believe that God is pleased with our caregiving efforts and that we bring Him pleasure because we look like Him. 

Today I am going to smile and give myself a break. Even though I may feel like I always fall short - my efforts are pleasing to Him. I will embrace the truth that He is pleased with my actions as a caregiver and I will relax in Him today. My thoughts will be on how much He does for me - and how He takes care of me (that's a full time job too) and I will allow myself to be content with whatever I can reasonably get done in a day. I will let it all go and let Him be my joy for today. 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?

Behind Before I Begin

Caregivers typically have long lists of things that need to be done every day. If you think about it, they are taking care of another whole person and for many who take care of an individual who is total care it means doing all the basics at least twice every day; once for yourself and once for your loved one. Some mornings we can get up ready to take on the world and get a day's worth of chores done. Other days we can wake up feeling behind before we even get started.

I wonder if Moses ever felt that way. He could be considered a caregiver of sorts. He had millions of people that he was leading across to the Promised Land. They all had to be fed, clothed and cared for. I can't imagine what Moses dealt with on a daily basis. And while he didn't have to meet some of their basic physical needs, they looked to him for direction, sustenance, and guidance. I think what has amazed me about Moses' character was that no matter how rough it got and how crazy the Israelites acted his prayers were full of mercy and love toward them. God even told Moses at one point that He would wipe them out and start over with new people and make another great nation starting with Moses. (Exodus 32) Moses immediately cried out for mercy for his people. I want that kind of heart. I have to ashamedly admit that I would more likely tell God to,  "Go ahead, I'll wait right here!"

But in reality isn't it that deep mercy, concern and care that keeps us at our loved one's side? No matter how rough it becomes we just roll up our sleeves a little further to make things happen. There are so many aspects to caregiving besides taking care of physical needs. Moses wasn't just "in charge" of the Israelites, he was in love with them. He advocated on their behalf numerous times. I don't think we are really much different. No matter how difficult it gets, the caregiver is not looking to meet their own needs but those of the one for whom they are caring.

Well you know what? God cares for us, for you and me the caregiver. 1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you. I think there are a couple of ways to look at the phrase He cares for you. On one hand He cares for or takes care of us much like we do our loved one. And on the other hand is the perspective that says He cares for you  meaning He can do all the caring and you won't have to. We can relax as we remember that He is in control. He's got the caregiver's back and He will take care of us and do the caring for us when we need Him to.

Today I will let anxiety go. I will meditate on the truth that He cares for me as much as (or more than) I care for my loved one. I'll think about how God is my caregiver. I'll turn my thought to how much He loves me and I will let Him do the caring for me today.  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?

She Does What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ...