Showing posts with label comfort. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort. Show all posts

Still Relevant

Chris looking at me while we were walking Bluff Creek Trails

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                           



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Sought Out - Not Forsaken

 

Nice Little Smile from Chris

Sometimes for caregivers, the nights are long and the days are longer. Last night was a long night here as Chris was coughing so much. I kept an eye on his fever and oxygen levels then gave more meds around 5. I know you know the drill! when we have a long, nagging night, it seems like our brains kick into high gear. At least that's how it is for me. My thoughts go crazy with all the things that could possibly be wrong and go wrong. I'm constantly reeling my thoughts back in.

At least I know we are in good company when it comes to having anxious thoughts. David said in Psalm 94:19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (NKJV) The NLT says it this way When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.  May we at least find a little comfort in knowing that David understood anxieties at least a little bit? 

Actually, David was a caregiver. Jonathon's son Mephibosheth was injured when his aid was carrying him and tripped. Both of his feet were crippled it says in 2 Samuel 9. David took him in and gave him a place at his table plus restored all the land to him that had belonged to his father and grandfather. David, the king went looking for someone of Saul's household and found a crippled man. It didn't put him off one bit. David had a heart after God, like God and he took Mephibosheth in even in his broken state.

Picture it. God comes looking for us even during those long, hard nights. He is looking for someone to show kindness to like David desired to do for Saul and Jonathan's sake. It was because of the covenant he had with Jonathon and the honor David he gave to Saul. God looks for us - seeks us out and comes right into our mess. Then He brings us to His table and cares for us.

Imagine Mephibosheth's fears of being summoned by the king. He may have wondered what David wanted from him. But like us before God - he found mercy, acceptance, provision, and restoration. I like that.

Today, I will rejoice in the mercies of God. I will allow His comfort to bring renewed hope and cheer to my heart. I will be thankful that even in the midst of a tough spot, He still reaches out to me with His comfort. It is amazing to me that His comfort, His peace, His joy, and His heart can penetrate the darkest night and touch my heart with His light. In the midst of my anxious thoughts, He comes seeking - looking for me when others avoid me. He sits with me all.night.long. And He keeps my soul. I will thank Him for that today - and rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?


PS - My devotional "21 Days" to help develop the habit of daily Bible reading is available on Amazon in Kindle format or hard copy!

Working the Rest

Sometimes I think it would be nice if caregivers could be exempt from dealing with the rest of life. But most likely, if we were then I'd be pouting because we were missing out on everything else.

Do you find you are more easily overcome with life in general? It's not like we don't have enough on our plates to begin with. Caregiving alone is a full plate and can be complicated by what seem to be little things like supplies not coming in, aides not showing up or blenders breaking.

Even in the midst of the craziness of caregiving, life still goes on around us. Loved ones pass away, close neighbors fall ill, friends and family seem far away, bills need to be paid and on and on it goes. If we are not careful it's easy to get caught up and carried away in life's whirlwind. So now that I told you what's going on in my life let me tell you what I reminded myself this morning.

Hebrews 4:1 says this: God's promise of entering His place of rest still stands. There is a place of rest in Him and I'm finding it's an art to learn how to get there. It's a lot of work to rest. Who has time? As caregivers there may not be a lot of time in our day to literally stop and rest - but we can remain at rest in Him, if we are willing to work to get there.

On down in verse 3 of this chapter the writer says this place of rest has been ready since He made the world. Life doesn't have to suck us under it's rolling current; but when it does - we can find rest in Him. It's not a new thing to need  to find rest in Him. I think of the old Christian hymn written in 1857 that lets us know those who have gone on before have needed to seek out His rest too. The third verse of What a Friend we have in Jesus goes this way:

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

We are not the only ones who have needed to seek out this place of rest in Him! And you know what? We won't be the last. His rest existed since He made the world, still exists and will continue to exist. Somehow just that every-abiding refuge He prepared for us brings me comfort. 

Today, I will relax. I will seek out that refuge and let my soul rest in Him, even though my body will be busy. I will purposefully acknowledge and trust Him as my refuge and I will rest in Him. My thoughts will be on how He prepared this rest for us - all we have to do is come to Him. And I will put all my thoughts and efforts into resting in Him today. Will you join me?

Outside the Cave

It seemed as though Philippians 2 was written just for me this morning even though Paul penned it years ago to Christians in very different circumstances. I found a few nuggets to think about today, and a couple of them stung just a bit.

I ended up thinking about verse 1 a lot more than the others because these can be very real questions for the caregiver. The NLT reads Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? any fellowship together in the Spirit?  And Paul goes on to talk to the believers at Philippi asking them why they are not getting along.

While my focus isn't on getting along with other believers, I did think about these questions as a caregiver. Obviously, believing in Him hasn't kept difficult times from visiting. Knowing Him didn't "protect" us from being caregivers, and it didn't keep us from having to face some very difficult situations in life. Just think about Job - his faith didn't protect him from terrible things happening; but it did carry him through it.

So, we may still be asking if there is comfort and encouragement in Him. I have to say, "Yes!" He may even pour out a little bit more on us caregivers from time to time, knowing that it takes a bit more for us to make it through - and that is His ultimate goal. We don't get to escape caregiving, losses, or the grief that might be accompanying it for many - but He will walk us through it.

Paul goes on in this verse to ask the Philippians if they have fellowship. And if they are tenderhearted and sympathetic with each other. I can say I've found most caregivers to be very sympathetic. Why wouldn't we be? We get it. We understand each other's struggles most of the time and are familiar with the heart wrenching duties as well as the intense blessings that come with taking care of a loved one.

But what Paul says later on in verses 3 and 4 stuck out to me today. The NLT says Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble; thinking of others better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Is he serious? I have enough going on - enough of my own concerns; like making it through the day with my sanity in tact!

It can be so "easy" to withdraw into our caregiver's cave and forget about the rest of the world. We really do have enough on our plate to take care of - but let's not get absorbed into our own world and forget there are other hurting people out there, other caregivers out there. There's lots of other people out there who are hurting. Can you think of one? Pray for them today.

Today I'm going to be aware that I am not alone in my pain. I will make a list of those I know of who are hurting and pray for them specifically today. I'll think about how He comforts me in my pain, how He encourages me to keep the faith; and I'll pray that they experience his comfort, encouragement and peace today too. Will you join me in this venture out of the cave?

Anticipating the Need

My son is non-verbal which can make it difficult sometimes to figure out what he is wanting or why he is uncomfortable. I usually say I'm pretty good at playing "guess and check" where I guess what to fix and then see if that's what makes him happy. It seems like I'm right most of the time but of course I never really know.

Sometimes I wish he could just tell me he needs some Tylenol; or that he's ready to go lie down. But he can't. I've had to figure out his silent signals and interpret what he needs or desires. On one hand, it seems like we've been working on that for some time - but actually it sort of came naturally. Probably because we are connected at the heart.

I think when it comes to communicating with God as our caregiver it can be similar, not that we can't tell Him what we need, but that sometimes we don't really know what we need. He can interpret our silent pleas for help. Along the journey there have been times I've had too many words (meaning I've said things to God I should not have said); but there have also been times of extreme pain when I didn't know what to say. And He's okay with either one.

For me - I have to anticipate my son's needs; but God already knows what I need. In Matthew 6:8 Jesus said that the Father knows what you need before you ask. He is not anticipating our needs - He already knows them. I think sometimes it's more about us learning how to receive His help. He knows and has already provided peace, comfort, joy and everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) He listens to our verbal cries and hears our silent cries for help - and has already met the need.

It's up to us to learn how to rest in Him and how to receive peace, comfort and whatever else we need from Him. He's already extended it to us because He anticipated the need long before it existed. There's something very calming to me about acknowledging that.

Today I will meditate on how He provides everything I need. I'm going to take some time to look back over this caregiving journey and acknowledge how He's been with me all along and how He has provided what was needed all along. I'll meditate on how He knows  my need and has already provided for it. Will you join me?

Is there a scripture for that?

One of the things I do that drives other people simply mad is needing a scripture for almost everything. But as we know from life in general, as well as caregiving, there's not always a scripture to match a particular situation.

When I am afraid, I can run to Psalms and find passages to help calm my fears. If I come up on financial struggles, I can find scriptures pertaining to God as our provider. Even when I am sick, I can run to our standard group of healing scriptures. And if I don't find immediate relief in any of these circumstances, finding a scripture or passage that is related helps give me something to stand on. Even when the tasks associated with caregiving become overwhelming I have a set of Psalms handy to remind me where to take a heavy or burdened heart - right back to Him.

But it can be difficult to find a scripture that pertains to everything - caregiving or not. There are tons of little things that we don't talk about but that can nag at us. I'm mostly over it now, but for a long time it really bothered me when my son drooled when we were out in public. He does hold his head up better now so it's not quite so bad - but there's just something less than classy (not that I have any class to begin with! lol) about having to wipe drool off the mouth of my grown son... do you know what I mean? I don't mind doing it - I'm not exactly embarrassed by it - but there are times it can get to you.

And then of course there are those unmentionables.  I'm talking about the things we don't mention because we can't. I'll try to be discreet! But when there are incontinence issues there can be embarrassing situations when out in public. We deal with them the best we can- like placing a jacket over the lap if a soiled spot appears. One time I had to leave an appointment at a physician's office because we had a stinky situation. There's no scripture to look up for that one!

What do we do? In most of life's situations we can find a scripture that relates, or at least one that parallels what we are going through. But in these types of what can be awkward situations, where's the scripture for that?

As I was thinking along these lines this morning I think I found one. Isaiah 61:2 says He comforts all who mourn. I think this covers all types of mourning - or loss. And it covers all those things we cannot talk about freely. (But if we could - we'd have some stories to share!!lol) I think when I saw this scripture this morning - I just felt like God was trying to tell me that He's got us covered. No matter what we are dealing with today - and for the caregiver that can be a wide range of possibilities -  He's got us.

Today I will meditate on and accept the comfort God offers. I'm going to meditate on how He has me covered today. Whenever anything comes up in my mind that wants to trouble me today - I'm just going to remind myself that He has me and He's not going to let me go. Will you join me?

Reminders that Life is Fragile

As if caregiving by itself was not enough of a reminder of the fragility of life, there are plenty of new ones. Just Saturday I learned of three deaths. One was a long time family friend who actually named my daughter, another was a Facebook friend who brightened every day with humor, and the other was a local sportscaster tragically killed in an accident. These all left huge holes in my heart and reminded me that we cannot take a single day with our loved ones for granted.

As a caregiver, every day can be lived in pain - sometimes it's like everything hurts and even the small things are magnified. But when it's big things like watching your mom in the beginning stages of dementia or losing a close friend, it can be more difficult to handle.

Times are tough and emotions are high when you are a caregiver. Many days it takes everything we've got just to keep ourselves together to perform all the associated duties. Let one little (or big) unexpected thing happen and it can throw a wrench into everything and make it difficult to get gathered back up and composed. But yet, we do it again and again because life doesn't give any exemptions to caregivers. We have to keep on with our caregiving responsibilities and deal with the other things life wants to throw at us. Never mind considering our own frailty and fragility - but it is in the back of our mind. And life's reminders make me think of the fears I've shoved back where I don't have to think about them like what would happen to my son and parents if something happened to me?

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He fills us up with what we need to make another day. I think the trick is in acknowledging that life is fragile and so are we. That's the only way we can allow ourselves to become totally dependent on Him instead of on our own strength. We are caregivers - we know how to suck it up and keep moving. But we also know that if we don't do that - we might collapse into a bundle of nothingness. And just about the time we get it all together something like the sudden death of a friend or acquaintance knocks our props out from under us. It's actually the perfect set-up for us to remind ourselves that we must rely on Him instead of our own strength.

I will miss my friends, but I will remind myself that life is not a given. I know how just one phone call can change everything.

Today I will live with gratitude. I'll turn my thoughts to being thankful for my friends and family. My meditations will be on how I trust Him to give me everything needed to live life well and in Him. I will purposefully spend today thanking Him for the good things in life and shift my focus to the positives - and will not allow the negatives to steal from me today. I will turn my thoughts to His peace and comfort and allow them to rule in my heart and mind today. Will you join me?


Measure for Measure

Before I was officially a "caregiver" I lived in an ICU waiting room for three weeks and then in a hospital room with my son for another 3 1/2 months. I had flown in from another state and there was no "home" to return to. One thing I noticed was the instant connection all of the people hanging out in the waiting rooms had. We shared stories, food, laughter and tears; yet we had never met before whatever trauma had brought us in.

We understood each other. One event had turned our lives upside down and even though we had never met we became instantly bonded with one another. I felt like this unique experience offered a picture of how the church should act. We shared our lives for the short time we were together and all of the normal boundaries like social status, economic status and our belief systems really didn't matter. We helped each other out in any way we could. When one was down- another would comfort knowing they may need the same thing within the next hour. We held each other and poured out our hearts. Each person in the waiting area had had a significant event that brought them there and we could be mutually supportive and comforting.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul states that God is the God of all comfort. In the next verse he explains why God comforts us - so we can comfort others. I noticed that verse 4 says He comforts us in  our affliction - not before or after - but during our affliction He provides the comfort we need. It seems that He is able to provide the perfect level of comfort needed to match the level of suffering or affliction. And since He is the God of all comfort He has enough to carry us all the way through the trial. He doesn't walk half way with us and say, "that's all I got." He is in it with us for the long haul; in it for the duration of the trial.

No matter how intense our days as caregivers may become, how deep or difficult the trial becomes, He provides us the comfort we need to endure.

Why? Why does He comfort us in the midst of our trials? So we can comfort others. We are comforted by the Great I Am and then we are to turn to others and be His hands and feet. No one understands the path like someone who has walked it before. Just like my "waiting room church" who comforted each other in our shared afflictions we as caregivers can receive His comfort and then minister it to others. 

Today I will meditate on receiving His comfort and allowing it to bring peace to my  whole being. I will turn my thoughts toward His word and think about how He alone is the God of all comfort. And I will look for opportunities to share His comfort with others. Will you join me?

On Our Own?

Life can bring with it many afflictions - sometimes life just hurts. And it doesn't need any help from unexpected tragedies or sickness - it's just painful. It is really up to us how we choose to respond to pain life deals out. And don't you hate it when someone tells you it's a character building  experience? What experience is not a character builder? In each circumstance we face we are staring down a choice - how are we going to handle this?

Are we going to fall apart? Run crying to a friend? Give up and quit? Shut down our emotions? You may list anything else here that is your MO (Mode of Operation)! I'm not saying that these are right - or wrong - just typical responses when we don't know how to deal with situations. But no matter what - eventually we have to work through it and live. Caregivers are no different. We don't get a separate instruction manual than the rest of the world! Our choices are the same as everyone else's and our decisions just as individual as the next guy.

In Psalm 119:50 the psalmist states: This is my comfort in my affliction: for Your word has given me life.  I clung to this scripture years back as the very fact that His word still "quickens" me, still speaks to me, still brings healing, hope and peace even in my affliction - is a very comforting thing. Wouldn't it be awful if when we faced trials His word shut down and waited for us to come around? Thankfully it's not that way! His word is alive, the writer of Hebrews said.

Verse 52 says basically that the psalmist comforted himself by remembering God's word. Ever been there before? Caregiving can be a lonely place and we can live in social isolation. There may not be anyone nearby to help lift your hands and your heart during those dark nights of the soul that are unavoidable. But when we are on our own - we still have His word and we can comfort ourselves.

As a matter of fact, verse 55 gives us another clue to how rough it was for the psalmist. He states I remember Your name in the night. It's those dark, lonely times that can get us isn't it? That's when we feel  the most alone - but when we are "on our own" is when we have to dig down and let His word comfort us. That's right - we actually have to be willing and yielded to His word to receive His comfort.

Today I will meditate on being yielded to His word. I will turn my thoughts to Him and put my heart in His hands. I will let His word bring me comfort, peace direction and correction today. (Correction? who said anything about that?!)  Will you join me?

The Power of a Touch

I was noticing something the other day as I was looking through pictures. whenever there is a picture with me and my son in it - I am almost always touching him. If I am standing, I usually have my hand on his shoulder and if I am sitting, I have my hand on his leg or his arm. It never really is anything I am thinking about; but in most cases, I am simple reassuring him that I am there and everything is fine. It also lets him know that I am never far away. I don't have to say anything - just my touch is reassuring.

My son and I at a friend's birthday party.

I think I feel the same way about God; I just need to feel His touch to be calmly reassured that He is near, He is with me and we're all going to be okay. Several scriptures come to mind when I think about God being near.
  • But as for me, how good it is to be near God! (Psalm 73:8)
  • We give thanks because You are near. (Psalm 75:1)
  •  But for me, the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73:28-CJB)
 There is a comfort in knowing that God is nearby. My prayer today is from Psalm 71:12 - O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help. (KJV) I will meditate on His nearness today and turn my thoughts to His touch. He may not be making a big show - but His gentle touch helps me remember that He is never far away. This is my meditation for today - will you join me?

Comfort in the Midst of Affliction

Every day for the caregiver can be filled with various types of afflictions or discomforts. It's easy to be distracted by the battle because of the intensity with which we must live every single day. Just yesterday evening as I was trying to get ready to retire myself I thought of all the things we had accomplished during the day. There's preparing special foods as well as foods for myself (and they are not even close to being the same!), getting my son up, laying him down, working on mobility, working on cognitive skills, struggling because I am trying to help him get better and he really wants to go back to bed! lol And that just scratches the surface. Add to that these types of activities the fact that on top of working with our loved ones we still have all the "normal" things to accomplish like laundry, dishes, dusting (does anyone do that anymore? lol), and various other sundry household tasks. Plus for some of us we also have jobs. For me it is working at home - but it is still working. Do I sound afflicted yet? lol

As a general rule when I am overwhelmed I will turn to the Psalms and often I will read through the longest one - Psalm 119. Verse 50 is one of my all time favorites. I actually found it back in 1986 when I was ill with some mysterious disease that they never figured out. I really thought I was going to die! I was so ill and so weak, I just lay on the couch and dwindled away. While I was sick I actually didn't have the strength to lift my Bible up so I could read it - plus my eyes burned if they were open. But once I was on the mend - just as mysteriously as the condition had occurred - I found this scripture in Psalms 119:50  This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath quickened me. (KJV) I realized during the time of sickness that His word still spoke to me and brought me comfort.

In our times of affliction as a caregiver His word can still put life in these tired bodies! I think I found comfort most in the simple fact that his word still touched my heart. His word does not change with the circumstance. It is forever settled in Heaven. No matter what types of difficulties or trials we are walking through today - allow this truth - that His word does not change to bring you comfort. If His word still "quickens" or speaks to you - then you are not dead. And even if you do not feel it - but you continue to look to His word for strength and guidance, then be comforted by the fact that you have not given up yet! Even when we do not sense Him - if we seek Him we will find Him.

Today I will meditate on the fact that I'm not dead; physically nor spiritually. How do I know? Because I am still longing and looking for Him. I'll turn my gaze to His word and allow Him to bring comfort to my soul. Will you join me?

Still Here

This week I decided to return to Job. It may sound odd to those most familiar with his story, but I was actually looking for some comfort. While his friends did not offer him much comfort or hope, my thinking was that by reading some of the things Job said I could gain a better perspective and find peace in dealing with the situation. So far, I haven't got past chapter 1. I hope we can take this journey through the book of Job together.

The first thing that caught my attention was that Job was blameless, a man of integrity, and he stayed away from evil. (You do know that Job wrote the book, right? *smile*) The second thing that caught my attention was further down when Satan confronted God about Job. He said that God protected Job, his family and all of his possessions from harm. He suggested that if Job lost everything, he would curse God to His face.

This is where I stopped for some inner reflections. As a caregiver, nothing is easy. Everything in our worlds have likely changed; and for me it has literally been everything. I have to look at myself and measure my own integrity - or lack of integrity. I certainly cannot honestly say that I have always said real pleasant things to God during this trial of faith; and I cannot say I have always had faith. But I can say that I have not cursed God or walked away from Him because of the tragedy, losses, or pain.

Losing everything is interesting because only then can you find out what you are truly holding on to. Only in the deepest trials of life do we find where our hope lies. Life doesn't lie. Instead, it reveals where our trust is, where our hope is and how we choose to make it through the dark night of the soul. We are still around. We are still seeking God; and He is still our provider and the keeper of our souls. Will I ever measure up to the patience or integrity of Job, not likely! lol. But I can say that even with a life of loss He is still my God!

Think about perspective today. Are we cursing Him for the storm? Or are we thankful He has chosen to walk through it with us? Let's be thankful today that He is still an ever-present God!

Who's Tired?

It can be the same day-in and day-out for caregivers. There are generally a lot of comments on Facebook on Friday's about being glad it's the "weekend," and on Monday's you see all the posts about how horrid Monday's are. But for the caregiver it really means nothing most of the time as most days are the same; over and over and over again! Do you ever just get tired? (Of course I ask this knowing that we do!) For me it is comforting to know that He never gets tired.

Right now in my very small circle of friends I know people who are in pain, a family who lost 2 family members in a day - one was their son, a bicyclist who was run over by a car this weekend, a person with a brain tumor, people with cancer, and that's just the beginning. The sad part is there are not many "church" people reaching out to these in pain. Why? As a general rule they are good at lending a hand in an emergency - but there is no endurance for the long hauls that many people find themselves in. I am so glad that God does not get tired!

Isaiah 40:27-28 says this in the New Living Translation: O Israel, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. As I read this today while bearing all my friends and acquaintances before Him, I saw this in a totally different way.

I had always thought of the term "everlasting" to mean the Forever God; and of course it is. But for me today it meant something special...that He has the grits and the guts to keep going with us through our trials. He can out last it - He has what it takes. And the other part was about the depths of His understanding. I know it means in essence that we can't measure how deep His understanding is in light of creation...but I believe it is correct in context to state the He understands us far more than we give Him credit for. He is not some distant God standing afar off wondering what we are going to do with life. He is near. He is not tired and He really does understand us.

Today let these thoughts comfort you. Allow Him to understand your situation. He probably understands it better than you do! Allow Him to be your strength today. He is alive! He is near! He is energetic and full of understanding...and He won't give out on the journey!

Ever Wanna Give Up?

Have you ever just wanted to give up? I mean, face it  - life can be tough especially when you are faced with daily challenges and adversity. But if giving up was a real option - What would you give up to? We really are not alone when we've had all we think we can handle. For many of my acquaintances our days are filled with pain in one way or another. Some of my friends live in constant physical pain and then there are many who like me, and other caregivers, have this nagging emotional pain that does not ever go away. Either way it's pain on a very high level.And there are days it does not seem worth it to go on.

We are not alone! In Jeremiah 20 we find that he had been beaten and placed in prison in stocks - only for speaking God's words. He must have been in every kind of pain imaginable. His body hurt from the intense beating, his soul hurt and even his spirit was in pain as he cried out I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name...Jeremiah really wanted to give up for at least a second. Recently- I have felt the same way! But...

Just like Jeremiah when we reach that point of all we can carry - we have something, someone, Who will carry us. Jeremiah goes on to say that just at that point when he really wants to give up and give in - he finds that God's word is in him like a fire and he cannot hold it in! And even though everyone was literally against him Jeremiah found that the Lord is with me like a dread champion! And He is with us too - no matter what we face.

When it gets to be too much - we may take a rest - but we will never give up! As we continue to hide His word in our heart we will find that the Holy Spirit is right here with us - carrying us and comforting us through the turmoils of life. He really is our peace - but instead of giving up on life because of the pain - we must give in to Him in spite of the pain. He will comfort, He will carry and He will protect our spirits from harm. Let us trust Him for one more day.

It's a big, big house...

One of the difficult parts of being a caregiver is being separated from the mainstream. There are many times that we can feel very alone. And this alone-ness can eat away at your soul. You can feel very disconnected from friends and even family as time goes by. It's not always an every day thing but there are certainly periods of time that you can feel this deep loneliness.It's not really anybody's fault - they mostly just do not know what to do with us since our lives are so different. But we are a part of something much bigger.

Ephesians 2:19 says this you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and are of God's household...Somehow even in the loneliness there is comfort in knowing that we are a part of His household. We are not separated from God nor the true body of Christ. If we think about how huge His household must be it helps to bring comfort and wash away a small bit of the alone-ness.

We think of our household as those who are residing with us in this present time. But God's household spans all time. Every person that we read about in scriptures that followed after God is in His household. All the believers from the beginning of time to the very second you are reading this post - are all in His household. As big as it is - we are a part of it!

Take some time today to think about your rich heritage in Christ. He took away all the walls of separation and made us into one body. God's family encompasses time - and we fit nicely into His household. Instead of dwelling on the present alone-ness today - consider how Christ has made us a part of His eternal family.

How Long is Forever?

It is interesting to me that Jesus promised that when He left this earthly realm He would send a comforter. The Greek indicates someone who will walk alongside you, someone to stay right by your side to help and comfort you along the way. Why didn't He send a healer? I know that God heals, there is no doubt about that - why didn't Jesus use any of the other names of God when speaking of the Holy Spirit's indwelling?

He could have send He was sending a healer, provider, a peace maker or a way maker. God certainly does all of those things through the work of Holy Spirit here on earth. But Jesus chose instead to refer to Holy Spirit as comforter, teacher and guide in John 14-15. The fact that Jesus started John 14 with do not let your heart be troubled and then repeated it again in verse 27 of the same chapter indicates there would probably be some things arise in the apostle's lives that would be unsettling or troublesome.

Jesus indicates that Holy Spirit will teach us and guide us into all truth. But He called Him the comforter for a reason. (He never wastes anything!) Life can be unsettling, the life of a caregiver can stay that way! Those of us who are breathing (caregiver or not) experience life altering situations. Many things happen along the journey that we didn't expect. It may be illness, car wrecks, the loss of a child or any number of things that we really didn't foresee as part of the way things were going to work out...Jesus knew...

He knew that on this journey of life some of these huge things would attempt to disrupt our vision of God. Holy Spirit is sent to us to empower us to always keep God in view. No matter what life throws at us, no matter what comes up (or goes down) in a day's time - He is the constant comforter who is always explaining the Father and His love to us.

You know what the cool thing is? Jesus said that Holy Spirit will be with us forever. That is a concept that is difficult to grasp. Everything we know and experience has a beginning and an ending. But the presence of Holy Spirit in our lives has no end. He has made His abode in us and is there to stay. I think this is one of the most comforting things to me. He doesn't ever look at a situation and say, "Oh no!" Or "I didn't see that coming!" He is calmly residing in us to help us work through every situation that presents itself to us. He is here forever. He is not going away because we got angry with God or His plan. He doesn't tuck and run when those situations become more complicated. He is the only constant in our lives.

Today let us rejoice in the ever-abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Embrace His comforting touch today.

Faith-filled Tears

Many times as caregivers, we walk around in a painful numbness. Are you familiar with it? It's like everything hurts until we go numb on the inside, but it still hurts. (You really won't be able to understand that unless you've walked it!) Of course, stopping for a day is not an option for many so we continue putting one foot in front of the other, continuing through the tasks that each day demands. That's not a complaint - just the way it is.

So what do you do when the situation is overbearing? When you are overwhelmed with the day? I think Psalm 61 can help out a little. I found myself singing it to my son last night. The psalmist says Hear my cry O God; give heed to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. There really is faith in crying out to Him.

Last night the part that really stood out in my mind was the cry for Him to lead me to the rock. When we are overwhelmed (that's the old KJV translation) it can make it hard to find that place of refuge. Although that part of the verse had never stood out to me before last night I felt like I really needed Holy Spirit to lead me to the rock, I needed Him to help me find that place of refuge one more time.

Today allow Holy Spirit to lead you to the rock. Rest in Him and let Him bring comfort. Maybe the pain won't go away today; perhaps the numbing will continue to help shield it some - but in the pain allow Him to comfort your heart and soul. Allow Him to wash over you with His peace - allow Him to carry you...that's the epitome of trust. Crying out to Him is not a lack of faith - it's an indication that you still trust Him.

7 Mountains

This morning as I was praying I had a familiar scripture come to mind. It is found in Psalm 125:2 and it says, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever. I had some idea of what that meant, but I did a small bit of research and found that there are 7 mountains around Jerusalem. And 7, of course, is the number of completeness - wholeness.

It was interesting as I went through several maps and various information to see that these 7 mountains are indeed all the way around Jerusalem. And the same way that they cover all the edges of this great city, God surrounds us - all the way around.

The other interesting fact to me was that where you have mountains - you also have great valleys. And in general, valleys represent the low places of our lives. But in reality - these valleys added an extra layer of protection for the city - the city that is surrounded by mountains.

For me as a caregiver, I needed to know today that He is surrounding my life in a very complete way. There are days that I do not feel His presence - but it's no time to lose heart. He is silently protecting my heart. And even when I must face the valleys a day may bring - or face an enduring valley that seems to never end - I can look up to Him and know that He is facing it with me. He is carrying me and protecting me. Most importantly - He is walking through it with me. What a comfort to know that we are never alone.

It's About Time...

One of my all time favorite passages is Psalm 46. There are several things that you can pull out of there to use! Of course, those who know me very well know I can camp out on Be still and know I am God. And the phrase the God of Jakob is with us is mentioned twice. But verse 1 I am pretty sure I memorized at a very young age and have carried it with me all these years. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.

This verse is usually one of the first ones my mind pulls up when trouble shows up. It has brought comfort and strength to me over the years. Earlier this week I was sharing a devotion on a conference call and this scripture came out during the teaching. And right then and there it hit me that He is a present help. I had always thought about it in the sense that He is present like He's here. He is present and ready to help.

But as the words spilled out of my mouth I thought of it a little differently. The fact that He is present, He's here means that He is occupying this little space of time we call now. While I can gain strength and encouragement from the things He's done in my past I need Him with me now!

 We have hope that we will see all of His promises fulfilled in the future...but He is with us now! He is not just the God of my past or the hope of my future - He is walking through the fire with me right now! Rest today in the fact that He is with you and facing your day with you...right this very moment.

Where Would He Go?

The caregiver's life is full....of caregiving! Our days are filled with assisting another perform their own SDLs. (skills for daily living) This can range from minimum assistance and supervision to complete 24/7 care. No matter what level of assistance we give, it's not easy taking care of someone else. We are very quick to put our own needs on hold to serve our loved one. In essence, we already lost our lives - at least the one we knew before - to care for them. And it's not always easy working through the emotions that go along with any given caregiving situation. So how do we deal with it?

 The first thing to consider is that Jesus put His "life" on hold to take care of us too! He left eternity to walk through time only to be mistreated, persecuted and killed. In His darkest moment at Gethsemane, He did not consider His own emotions, feelings, wants or desires more important than completing the task the Father had sent Him to do...and that wasn't for His own good - it was for us!

But then He still did not leave us alone; He made sure we'd be taken care of throughout our entire walk through time. In John 15:16  He tells His disciples that even though He was going to depart this earth shortly He was sending them a helper. Did you get that? God sent us a Helper! And that's not all - that He may be with you forever! God sent Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us, guide us and teach us - so that we are not separated from God. He lives in us - and will not leave us!

I find great comfort in the fact that He won't leave us. Holy Spirit never takes a look around and says, "This is too difficult for me, I'm outta here!" He never gives up in His pursuit to help us see the Father no matter what type of situation we are in. Take comfort today in the truth that He will not leave you...think about it - if  He did  leave -- where would He go? He is everywhere - He literally cannot leave you...He chose to call us, "home."

Stuck

 Do you ever just feel stuck? It's difficult to see the future and being able to plan or even dream has passed a long time ago. It's...