Showing posts with label caregiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caregiving. Show all posts

What? No White Horse?

Chris wearing a batman hat

 Early on in my caregiving journey - before I even realized I was on the journey - I kept thinking God was going to ride in on His white horse and rescue me. I recall sitting in the SICU waiting room thinking I would either wake up and it'd be a horrible bad dream. Or that Chris would just wake up and start getting better. I never dreamed I'd be still caring for him 13 years later. There was no way I could have even imagined here - from there. I had no idea what here looked like.

Needless to say, there was no white horse; and there was no dramatic rescue. 

However, what did happen was that time after time, day after day, moment after moment, God kept rescuing my soul from the emotional dungeon that was trying to drag my heart into its pit. He never abandoned me or left me no matter how bad it got or how badly I behaved. (Yes, I did that.) Instead, I found His calming presence always nearby waiting for me to calm down enough to accept and embrace His peace.

God didn't ride in on His white horse - but He also didn't shy away from the storm. If Jesus hadn't walked out to the disciples in the boat in the middle of a storm Peter would have missed the opportunity to walk on water. Jesus didn't calm the storm until after Peter got to demonstrate his faith - even if it was but for a few seconds. Hey, a few steps on the water - is still walking on water!

Joseph named his second son, Ephraim which means fruitful. He said - God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering. (NLT) And God keeps doing that. He may not always rescue us from suffering or pain - but He is always right there with us. What He does is eternal. Joseph's gifts weren't taken back because he became a slave, he still interpreted dreams.

God's love, peace, mercy, grace, and presence are eternal. They don't wane over time; they remain.

Today, I will remind myself that God is still God even in difficult times. He may not send to rescue us out - but He will give us the opportunity to trust Him enough to walk on water, or save a whole generation like Joseph. We never know what He will do with us or how our story will be told. I'll meditate on His eternal attributes - and I'll think about how He doesn't take things back. He walks into my storm - your storm - with all of who He is - and He remains. I'll rejoice that He is with me today and that He still extends peace, grace, mercy, and love for today. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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How Long?

Chris looking a bit ornery

Do you ever feel like you've reached the end of what you can do? It may stem from pure exhaustion, but it feels like it's a "that's it" moment. It feels like God doesn't hear. It feels like He has moved away. There are just those times of overwhelm. Or maybe it's just me. I do think that the psalmist was feeling these types of emotions when he penned Psalm 13.

It's not clear what type(s) of circumstances David was facing, but his emotions are clear. His soul is crying out for God to intervene. In the New Living Translation, Psalm 13 reads this way:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?

How long will you look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,

with sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.

Don't let my enemies gloat, saying, "We have defeated him!"

Don't let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I will trust in your unfailing love,

I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord because He has been good to me. 

I love the way that David emptied out his soul before God with transparency and his honest, raw, and real emotions. But he didn't leave it at that. He usually makes his declarations. He laid it all out there- and then said what he was going to do. In this psalm, he said he would trust, rejoice, and sing even though he was feeling down, forsaken, and on the brink of defeat. 

As I was thinking about this psalm and my own feelings were running crazy in my head, I started with David's declarations and then penned this poem.

But I will trust in Your unfailing love,

I will rejoice because You have rescued me.

I will sing of Your goodness...

Those are my declarations

I will sing from my cave

The pit will hear my heart cry out

to the God who hears.


I will rejoice in His goodness

and when the enemy surrounds,

I'll sing from behind the fears.


I will trust God in the pain

and when my heart is overwhelmed

I'll cling to Him through the tears.


For He is still my God

in the good and the bad

I know at my cry He comes near.

Today, I'll make these declarations once again. I will trust, I will rejoice, I will sing. I'm finding declarations to provide a powerful shift in my attitude. (And I need help with that!) Just saying them out loud helps me refocus on Him and His mercy and grace. Will you join me today in declaring our trust in Him once again?

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?

Mind and Heart

Have you ever twisted a dish rag to wring all the water out of it? Have you ever felt like   a wrung out dish rag that's had all the water rung out of it? That describes my last day or two for sure and unfortunately describes the caregiver at the end of all too many days. We talk a lot about the numerous tasks we have to do everyday and how adding one more no matter how small thing can tip the whole boat. Sometimes it tips us physically other times it can tip us emotionally. Either one can be detrimental. But you know what? Because we are caregivers - we just keep going, and going, and going.

My already busy days got messed up by a minor wrist injury that occurred during my taekwondo session last week. Why does it take an act of God and congress to make a doctor's appointment and grab a quick xray? A busy day gets more hurried finding sitters and making arrangements to take care of these little extras. Eventually, I sat down with a cup of coffee and a big "Whew!" and wondered what I needed most. My answer came swiftly: peace.

This morning during my devotion I found myself in John 14. As I am reading through the chapter, I stopped on verse 17. The New Living Translation of this familiar verse reads this way I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives.So don't be troubled or afraid.  I stopped there to think about all that and let it soak in.

It's interesting that He said peace of mind and heart and that He said don't be troubled or afraid. I think our heads get so full of stuff on any given day that it becomes troubled; and that once our minds become troubled and upset - our hearts become afraid. His peace is enough to calm both. I like that. If we can meditate more on the peace He gives which far surpasses the "peace" the world can give maybe we can crowd out all the hyper thoughts that go through our minds as the day works itself out. I think I'll try that.

Today I will meditate on the peace that comes from knowing Him. I will let His peace rule in my heart and mind. I will try to think about Him and the peace He gives so much it crowds out all the other crazy thoughts. Will you join me.

You Think He Knows?

As caregivers some days are better than others; as with life itself. Some days it's easy to find that groove and stay on schedule to get everything completed. And then there are days where it seems like everything just piles up on top of you. We carry a constant load; even on our best days - or our infrequent days out - it remains the same. Some days we can simply take in stride and then other days little things pile up. (The aide doesn't show up and you planned on running to the grocery store, to the bank to deposit a check for covering expenses, or to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Or you plan a day out and the person who is supposed to watch your loved one bails on you at the last minute.) Any little thing can topple us on any given day...and it can all add up to a much heavier load emotionally. But it's okay. We are like the energizer bunny..we just keep going and going and going...you do not get to stop being a caregiver.

So how do we deal with the day to day struggles, disappointments or heartbreaks? Rest in Him. Nahum 1:7 says this The Lord is good. When trouble comes, He is a strong refuge. And He knows everyone who trusts in Him.(NLT) He is indeed our strong refuge. He has enough strength to carry us and our extra baggage! He is not just a refuge - not just a place to hide (which is good) - but He is a strong refuge. We can hide in Him and He is strong enough to protect us, carry us and give us some of His strength to make the day. And you know what I like best about this scripture this morning? The last part.

He knows everyone who trusts in Him. For me that brings an immediate peace. He knows that I trust Him. And He also knows how weak I really am - but that I still will continue to trust in Him. Today just embrace that truth - He knows you trust Him. He knows that we are trusting Him for our next breath, strength to make the day, wisdom to make appropriate choices, and hope. Know He knows you trust Him.

When We Are Tired...

Ever have one of those days where you just wake up tired? Caregivers don't always have the option of getting a day to "sleep in." And many of us don't get a full night's sleep...ever! Top that off with all the transfers and physical moving we have to do and you can have a tired, sore body upon waking in the morning. And what do we do about it? We just go about another day! That's because there is no other option. Caregivers can't decide to just take Saturday off because it's the weekend. Many of us know nothing different about any day they are all the same to us!

So what do you do when you are tired? I know, you suck it up and push through the day anyway! Our loved ones have to be cared for whether we are tired, weary, have a cold or virus - those things do not change their daily needs! So we keep going.

There are different kinds of tired. Of course I am speaking here of being physically tired. We know that there is also en emotional tired, mental tired, and even a spiritual side of tiredness. Physically, emotionally and mentally tired can be helped out by increasing our spiritual strength. Maybe that means taking an extra 5 or 10 minutes if you have it to spend with Him. Perhaps you can put on some praise music in the background today.

In 1 Samuel 30 David returned from battle to find that the enemy had come into Ziklag and wiped them out! The soldiers took all their possessions and even their wives and children. On top of that worry all the people with him were talking about stoning him because they blamed him! Verse 6 says he was greatly distressed! But at the end of the verse it says that David encouraged himself in the Lord. Look, let's face it - if we sit around and wait for someone to come by to encourage us... well let's say we may just as well get used to being even more tired! lol!

Today encourage yourself in the Lord. Post some sticky notes around of scriptures that will help to put His strength in your heart and mind. Put them on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, by the computer. Post a few around and change them out every few days to help keep them fresh. Here are two or three to start with -- be encouraged!!

That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory
to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man...
Ephesians 3:16

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding
will keep(guard)  your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4:7

For we have this (His) treasure in earthen vessels
so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God
and not from ourselves
2 Corinthians 4:7

Jeremiah 29:11...Really?

For much of my adult life I have quoted this scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11. You probably have heard it thousands of times yourself. He  has good thoughts about us, plans for a future and a hope. But sometimes  when tragic things happen we struggle to figure out what's so good about it.

Caregiving can be so stressful on our entire being, physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. It's really hard sometimes to see the good things that He has planned for us. And actually at times, it is impossible!

But then you have to remember the audience. God was telling this to people who had been taken captive. They were basically overtaken by another king and their city was captured and destroyed. Yet here we have God telling them all about the good plans He has for them. Just interesting to me!

The thing is for me that it is so easy to get my eyes on the immediate surroundings. I have all the responsibilities of caregiving, PLUS trying to figure out how to make money on line, and being somewhat trapped in the house..etc..you know the drill! How can God still have good plans for me?

We must try desperately to look past what we see right in front of us. Yes, I have to plan my future while sitting in the present and trying to forget the pleasant past when things were different. But it's all relative to eternity. We must see that we are eternal beings and that's the part of us that God keeps; and nothing can get to that part of us. That's the real us - that's the real part of the person we are caring for as well. That part of our being cannot be damaged by tragedy or trials. The inner core of our being is totally in God's care no matter what surrounds. That's where I know I will always have good, because I will always have His presence to help carry me through what this flesh is enduring.

Trust Him today for the good of your soul - the real you! He's carrying you!

And Boy Do I Need the Help!

This morning I came across a scripture in Hebrews 13:6. It is actually a quote out of Psalms. It simply says The Lord is my helper I will no be afraid, what can man do to me. I didn't so much think about what effect other people may have on me as I really am worrying about that less and less. But I focused on the first part of the verse...the Lord is my helper.

 I can think of a couple of other verses about that just off the top of my head. Psalm 121 says I will look to the Lord where my help comes from. And then in Psalm 30:10 is a plea for help Lord, be my helper! It's not that I am so Bible smart - it's just that I've needed lots of help! lol!

I am to the place in this walk that I really do not know how to go on without His help. A caregiver runs on overload all the time. There isn't a "break" actually. Because if you're like me, even if you sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee you feel guilty because surely there's something you need to be doing for your loved one!

He is my strength and I say gladly that I cannot walk through this fire without His help! So today I will rest in Him as I realize that He alone is my help! And He alone can give me strength to stand...and strength to walk through one more day of this journey.

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 ...