Showing posts with label challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label challenges. Show all posts

The Back of the Cave

 


This morning I let my mind and heart run around in Psalm 57 for a while. It's been a long-time favorite as I "found" it during one of the darkest storms of my life in 1986. I find myself going back there a lot. David penned this psalm while running for his life from Saul. He was hiding in a cave. Do you ever feel like you live in a cave as a caregiver? I know I did when I first brought Chris home. I found myself all alone almost all the time. 

What David did in the cave is an example for us all. He wasn't shy about expressing his emotions or concerns. But he also wasn't shy about declaring his faith and trust in God, even in the tough times. He declared from the back of the cave I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings. I cry to God! I will sing Your praises. Be exalted O God above the heavens. Even while navigating a difficult time in his life, he put his trust in God. I think we do that a lot.

David also declared in verse 3 that God was going to send forth His unfailing love and faithfulness. David acted like he expected God's mercy, love, and faithfulness to overtake him right there in the dark cave. Why not? Right? What a rescuer of our souls! Even the darkest, dankest cave can't prevent God's mercy and love from reaching us! You'll never hear God say, O, it's too dark in there. He will never say He's afraid to pursue our hearts with His love! I love that about God. He just walks right into the middle of whatever mess the day, week, month, or years have caused and brings His mercy, peace, faithfulness, and love with Him!

Today, I will declare from the back of the cave that I will trust in His unfailing love and faithfulness. Today, I will praise Him because He will not abandon us to our own messes! Today, I will praise Him for bringing me joy in the midst of the pain, light in the darkest night, and peace in troublesome times. Isn't He wonderful? (Even in the back of the cave?) I declare that today I will trust Him for my very life and sanity as I trust Him to carry me for one more day. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


Check out my bookstores. I have eBook devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more in my Dove's Fire Ministries bookstore. My Amazon bookshelf has a couple of those in print or on Kindle. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!


Beyond the Reach of Change

For some reason, the last few days have been particularly difficult for me. Memories flooding my mind of the way my son was BC (before the crash) just kept flowing. Sometimes I have to stay off social media to protect myself from seeing what his friends are doing. I'm happy for them, but he got cheated out of life.

I'm still learning new strategies to combat depression and other crazy emotions that go along with caregiving. One of them was of course, getting back to writing my devotions down here. And that's why we are here! :-)

Yesterday I made a few decisions about work and projects that gave me quite the energy boost. I sorted through the things on my plate and am removing all non-essentials. I found that when I took control rather than feeling like I was underneath the load of it all - my energy, perspective and emotions took a huge swing in a positive position.

This morning, when I woke up and reached for my Bible I was thinking I needed to read something about how He accepts us just like we are. This might offer me some affirmation of some sort and help me go ahead and kick those mully-grubs on away.

I found myself in 1 Peter looking for a particular verse that I honestly don't recall right now; but I went back and started in the first chapter where I found what I needed. Isn't that a lesson in itself? When we get in His word and dig around - He'll make sure we find just what we need!

Although this whole chapter filled my heart back up and pushed doubt, fear and depression away - I settled in verses 4-6. Here's what they say in the New Living Translation:

For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children.
It is kept in heaven for you, 
pure and undefiled
beyond the reach of change and decay.
And God, in his mighty power will protect you
until you receive this salvation 
because you are trusting in Him.

There was so much more in this chapter, but I bolded the words that seem to leap out at me today. What God has given us and prepared for us is pure and undefiled. Life can't mess it up!! I can't mess it up! It is pure and there is no power or time that can corrupt it. 

And this phrase: beyond the reach of change is what grabbed me. Time cannot water down what He is doing in time. Time will not erode what He has prepared for eternity. It cannot be changed. It does not matter what does or does not happen in time....What He's doing, has done and continues to do cannot be changed. Time is not strong enough to stop or change our inheritance in Him.

So even though our lives are rocked with trauma, sickness, or any other obstacle or situation - He has protected our inheritance in Him. He has protected US in Him and according to Philippians 1:6 - He'll continue working on it until time itself comes to a stop - and we step from one reality into the eternal reality and claim it!

Life can throw some hard blows - but it cannot stop what God is doing.

Each day can bring difficult challenges - but they cannot interrupt what God is doing.

Time can drag us through endless suffering - but what God is doing and has done will continue when time stops!


Today, I'm encouraged once again as I turn my thoughts to the power of the eternal. I'm not sure my head has a good grip on "eternity" but my heart sure is getting it right now! My thoughts will be on the incorruptible treasure I have in Him today. My meditations will be on the truth that what He says - goes. He won't take it back. He won't change His mind. And He won't let me go! And I can rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

I'll Take That as a Challenge!

Benaiah got a whole 4 verses in the Bible, but this dude was a warrior of warriors. He actually earned himself the position of being over King David's bodyguard. How? Well in just this short passage we find out that he did several phenomenal things. He killed 2 of Moab's best warriors. He also went into hand-to-hand with an Egyptian warrior; the thing was that Benaiah only had a club and the Egyptian warrior had a sword. I guess Benaiah decided he'd rather fight with the sword so he took the sword away from the Egyptian and used it to kill him. There's no disgrace like being killed with your own sword!

But the thing that I find most intriguing about Benaiah is that he killed a lion. That is enough when you think about the lack of technological and tactical weaponry back then. But he had other factors. Not only was he facing a lion (the king of the jungle!) he was in a pit; and besides that it was snowy which means no place for a good foothold. That's all admirable enough. But here's the one little phrase that keeps running through my mind this morning he chased a lion down into a pit...He then caught  the lion and killed it. Did you get that? He chased the lion into the pit...he wasn't simply defending himself from the lion and just happened to survive - he chased that kitty down there and killed it on purpose!

That's how I want to tackle today. Surmounting challenges start piling up and thoughts of defeat run rampant. Caregivers have so many daily challenges and in so many different arenas it can be tempting to give up and become a victim of circumstances. But not today! Today let us take on the attitude of a warrior. Let's chase our lions into snowy pits and kill them instead of sitting down and letting it have us for lunch! Take today - it's yours. You are still breathing, trusting, living...don't give up - don't give in. I will choose today to forget about passivity and live with purpose and passion. I may not be able to chase down a lion but I can chase down and kill out fear, doubt and any other thing that tries to take the peace He gives me and replace it with fear. Not on my watch! Not today! I'm challenging life back today - will you join me?

Praise in Adversity

Most of the time when we live in such a stressful state we do not think about praising God. We ask Him to help us get out, but praise is not always on our lips. The prophet Jonah found himself in a very deep, dark place - the belly of a whale. The difference, of course is that Jonah had disobeyed God and this was his punishment.

Personally, I wrestled with whether I was going through this deep trial as punishment for some sin I had committed; or something I had omitted. We have all probably had those moments where we questioned why adversity had to happen in the first place, most of us at least thought we had our religious t's crossed and i's dotted. Unlike Jonah, our circumstances are not punishment for something we did wrong. We are not off course - and we must learn to rest in His peace and embrace His love for us once again.

But Jonah had run the opposite direction to avoid what God had told him to do. He found himself in the deepest, darkest parts of the earth...the belly of the whale. Now no matter how he got there - it was dark, smelly and scarey. Yet from this place - a place that had to appear hopeless; a place Jonah though would be his end - Jonah cried out to God.

Jonah 2:9 is the last part of Jonah's prayer of repentance. He makes a strong declaration as he says: but I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving... He was determined even in the hopeless darkness to have a heart of thanksgiving. As dark as our lives may be, whether we understand why these things happened or not; no matter how hopeless we think our situation is - we must determine to have a thankful heart...a heart of praise. Today take a moment to praise God for who He is, for our circumstances do not change God. Our thoughts and ideas about God may be thoroughly challenged in our adversity - but He is still God!  Let us lift our voice to Him today and honor Him because He is still our God. 

Strength to Serve

This little walk through 1 Peter has helped me sort through many of my thoughts. But this one verse helps me bring my perspective back to where it should be. Caregiving is strenuous on body, soul and spirit. Many days you have to just suck it up and give it all you have - even though you feel there is nothing left! One way to look at caregiving is to consider yourself a servant.

We spend our days (and nights!) taking care of our loved ones. Depending on the nature of the situation we must perform various tasks of different levels of difficulty. Some just need assistance with skills associated with daily living, others maybe just need help with mobility, and still others need total care. Whatever our function is in the lives of our loved one - we can consider ourselves their servant for Christ's sake. He said there was no greater love displayed than when we lay down our lives for another. And we have done that.

1 Peter 4:11b says this: whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ....I do not know about you but depending on the challenges of the day - I do not always have the strength to carry myself through. Actually - most days I do not have the strength to carry myself through! It takes His strength to walk me through each day of caregiving. And this is true even on the "good" days.

 It is never easy to see someone else suffer in any capacity. It is also not easy to have to help someone who used to be very independent and now needs help with daily living. We must learn to walk in His strength and not our own. His strength will carry us, protect us, and help see us through one more day! Today as you serve your loved one, His child, think about relying on His strength more than on your own; you know you do not have it in yourself!

Truth Vs Fact

The story of Gideon in Judges 6 has always fascinated me. Here is Gideon determined to not let the enemy have his crops. The scene opens with him hiding from the Midianites and this angel appears and actually calls him a man of valor. Could he not see that Gideon was in hiding?

The fact was that Gideon was hiding from the enemy - the truth was that inside he was a mighty warrior. We've given him a bum rap all these years over the facts and forgot about the truth that God saw concerning Gideon.

The facts for a caregiver are that we feel very incapable at times, feel alone and many times very weak. But the truth about us is that we are able to face another day because of the strength God provides. The truth is that God is walking this journey with us and we are never really alone (no matter how deep that valley may feel!!!). And the truth is that we may look weak - but it takes more courage for us to get up each morning to face a new day doing what we do - than pretty much anyone just hitting a time clock.

So be encouraged today in your walk - it's not easy...ever. But know that you are one of the most courageous persons on earth because you are facing overwhelming circumstances with new strength one more day! Have a good day person of valor!

Perspective: Bondage or Challenge?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the feelings of entrapment. There is not always the liberties of a "normal life" for caregivers. Even if we can come and go at will it can be so much work to accomplish a simple outside task.

I am still so amazed with the book and character of Daniel in scriptures. He was actually a prisoner. His body had been disfigured and tormented. Yet we never hear any complaints coming from the book of Daniel. It's amazing how he made that choice to not defile his mutilated body. His, as well as the three Hebrew children's, tenacity in serving God in spite of their circumstances is inspiring.

In looking at the turmoil in their situations I wondered about how they worked through to find the freedom to serve God even in the midst of their obvious bondages. Did they see their circumstances as such, or did they decide that it was more of a challenge to figure out how to serve God with their whole heart even in the midst of adversity?

What if we changed our perspective on our own personal situations? What if we looked at the apparent bondages and saw them more as challenges today? Perhaps this minor switch may help make today easier to walk through. So for today, I will look at my present situation, not as a hindrance to serving God; but more like a life has issued a challenge. My questions for myself then change from How will I make it through today?  to something more like What can I do to serve Him more effectively from here? or even Can I give Him my all today - even in this prison? Can I praise Him in the midst of the fire?  Not sure yet, but I'm thinking it will change the struggle to look at it as a hurdle rather than an obstacle! Let me know how (and if) changing your perspective works for you today!

The God of Endurance and Encouragement

Here we go, ready to face another day and take all the challenges that will be thrown at us straight up! That's what caregivers do - like Benaiah who ran into the snowy pit to kill the lion - we take on each day full force and straight in! (2Samuel 23:20-21) And we are here ready to take on our most challenging battles too!

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to go back to having normal days? Days without mobility issues, incontinent issues or feeding someone else? It's not that we mind the caretaking, it's what we do! Remember the days when we used to get up to go to work - and complain about that instead? lol! Hindsight makes us long for the things we used to dread! huh?

One of the questions that arises in my heart is will the rest of my life look like this? It can be haunting to think I will live out the next however many years simply caring for my son. It's not that I mind and can make the mental adjustments but it's like is this all there is? And that's when I need help.

I stumbled on Romans 15 this week.The subject is totally on something else but the first part of verse 5 stood out to me. Paul was praying for the Christians in Rome to walk in unity but he used this phrase that captured my attention: May the God of endurance and encouragement...after that I wasn't too much concerned about the prayer that follows.

 I spent some time thinking about that phrase - that the Lord is the God of both of these things that we, as caregivers, must rely on every day. He gives us the endurance to complete each task and the encouragement to hang in there! So as you go about your day today think about the ways and the extremes He goes to just to make sure that you don't lose hope. Think about the various ways He sends encouragement each day - and don't limit those possibilities. Sometimes it's as simple as catching a funny movie or commercial that makes you laugh out loud! He is the God of encouragement and endurance...and He is our God...He will see us through today's challenges!

Challenges are...Well...Challenging!

Many times caregivers are faced with huge challenges. It can sometimes simply be trying to make it through a particularly rough day. These are different for each of us. For my situation it's been transfers. That's not the only one of course - but that was the scariest part of bringing my son home.

As he has improved and I have improved my techniques it has become quite easy - or at least I don't dread it as much. I used to sit and contemplate each transfer and worry about it. Then after it was done I'd be relaxed and reward myself with a cup of coffee! Now it is just part of the day...

We start to get used to our own surrounding no matter what type of challenges they present to us. And maybe it doesn't get any easier, we just get more accustomed to doing them. We adapt to inadequacies and learn how to do what we have to do. Face it - we really have no other choice - it has to be done!

I've often wondered if God looks at us in our own frail state and contemplates how He is going to transfer us. You know, He has to move us from point A to point B even in our circumstance. As we learn to listen to Him and lean on Him I think those transfers get a little easier. sometimes He must lift us more than others and sometimes we can help out a lot!

I am not going to give up on caregiving no matter how challenging it is or it becomes. And God is not going to give up on us either. As a matter of fact one of my all time favorite scriptures is Romans 8:38-39. It says that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love... nothing! It's also interesting to note that earlier in the same chapter Paul wrote the sufferings of this present time cannot even be compared with the glory to come. I think my trouble is that I concentrate on the trouble of the present time  more than I think about the glory to come!

So today - my meditations will be on the glory to come...and I have a sense that when I place my thoughts and heart on His glory - the present pain and trouble will fade into it...

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 ...