Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts

Non Essential

This pandemic hasn't been easy on anyone no matter where you stand on the issue. It's difficult for those on the front lines, without a doubt. It's hard for those who are working, those out of work and those hanging in between in uncertainty. At first, I was a bit amused that so many were having to learn about the social isolation many of us as caregivers are accustomed to. the world responded and it was nice to have access for a brief time to so many Bible studies, teachings, and classes all online. We could finally be a part, right?

But then it seemed to me as if we got pushed further to the back if that was possible. I have to admit I was a little offended but got over it quickly. We've been isolated for years and many of the churches haven't offered an online presence until they needed it. I admit I felt slighted a bit. I translated that as we were not worth the effort. I'm sure no one meant it that way at all - but that's how I interpreted it. And then when we did meet the talk was all about how fast they could get back to their "normal" with no regard for those of us who won't be able to transition back. I felt discarded.

Then, I'm trying to buy common supplies. You know the stuff we need every single month and will continue to need forever once the pandemic has run its course. I needed adult wipes and gloves and they were nowhere to be found. Oh yeah, I'm non-essential. Now I am not minimizing the need of those on the front lines - I do understand that. But I literally cannot find gloves or order them online. This deepened the sense that I am disposable and unimportant in the scheme of things.

My emotions were collapsing and I was being sucked down into the vacuum of despair as if I no longer existed. I struggled with thoughts like I am not important and no one cares. Loneliness swept over my soul until I could not breathe or feel anymore. I honestly hope you don't understand.

Then I thought about David when he came back to Ziklag. He was in that sort of despair. He was battle-worn (can we relate?), he was tired (relate?), then he suffers the loss of his wives and children who have been taken captive, the town has been burned to the ground and to add to his despair - his fellow soldiers blame him for the whole thing. He had to suffer that deep lonely feeling we understand too well.

But David didn't wallow in it like I do. (insert smile) After the men wept until they could weep no more (NLT), it says he encouraged himself in the Lord. Then he prayed. I wonder how he encouraged himself. Did he sing a psalm he wrote? Did he think back to the ways God had blessed him in the past? I wish I had more details. But I know where I can start.

First, I will find something to be grateful for and I'll thank God for as many things tangible and intangible that I can think of. I'll start with grace, His love, and salvation and build out from there. While I already feel better, I will continue to build on that foundation. Then, I will praise God because my lowly circumstances do not change Him one iota. Not one thing shifted in His kingdom when the bottom fell out of my world. I'll put my focus on the things about God that do not change. That will be my praise and my meditation 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?

You're Doing a Good Job

One of my goals for this year was to read more for enjoyment, and not only for work purposes. I finished my first book of the year over the weekend and am trying to squeeze in another one before this weekend before I go back to my scheduled reading list. I also read lots of other stuff like LinkedIn Pulse on my phone. Today it had a story by a lady and she was talking about writing web content. It caught my interest since that's been a lot of what I've done over the last few years.

She focused on a statement that really got my attention. It simply said: You're doing a good job! It wasn't even directed at me, but it made me feel good anyway. Sometimes as caregivers it's nice to hear that we are doing a good job. It's no easy task taking care of another whole person or having to make decisions on their behalf.

Maybe one reason we don't hear it more is some people really don't understand what we do all day long. I've heard  "it's nice you get to stay home all day." Haven't you? I'm like - I'll trade you one day... just for a day. (smile) And some of it is that we can't talk about some of the most difficult things we do. Our daily tasks may be very different depending on our loved one's needs. For my mom, I've had to start dealing with her as a child in many ways, but she doesn't need to be fed or bathed. But for my son, I have to feed him every single bite, transfer him, bathe him and change his briefs. But we don't talk about those things and when on those rare occasions someone comes to our house, or we go out - most people can't process those nitty gritty chores we get to do for those we love and care for. So how would they even know we need to hear You're doing a good job!?

Then I started thinking about if God ever told anyone they were doing a good job or not. The first scripture that came to mind was when John the Baptist was baptizing Jesus and the Spirit of God descended on Him and said, This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased. And then I went blank. I did a little searching and found the story of the ten talents. The ones who acted responsibly with their talents were told they did a good job.

I branched out to look at some different translations and found this one in the Message:
[Make the most of what God gives] After looking at the 
way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the
best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time,
and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life.
And that's about it. That's the human lot.
Yes, we should make the most out of what God gives,
both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it,
accepting what's given and delighting in the work.
It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

I thought about that for awhile. I like the "take care of yourself and have a good time" part. But I had some trouble with the finding joy in what I'm doing part. I'd like to ask the writer, do you know what I do? Some aspects of caregiving are anything but joyous; things we can't talk about like changing catheter bags, changing adult-poop filled pants, for example. But I can choose to take joy in my "job" if you want to call it that. 

It's my pleasure to help and take care of my son - and quite honestly - no one can do it better! And no one can do your caregiving "job" better than you either. So smile today and listen as the Father tells you, "You're doing a good job!" Oh - and believe Him.

Today I am going to rejoice in the fact that God is pleased that I chose to be a caregiver. I'm going to envision Him looking down on me and smiling as He sees me being his hands and heart to my son. I'm going to receive this "You're doing a great job!" as if it was directly from Him this morning. And then? I'm just going to smile.....because I look like Him. Will you join me?

Fighting the Downward Spiral

For caregivers, emotions can run on edge. Oh, eventually we adjust to the hectic life and can hold it together through all the basic stuff. We really don't have much of a choice so we get used to aides not showing up, not getting enough supplies, and advocating for our loved one on a daily basis. The daily chores become routine as do all the things we have to get done to care for another person. For some of us that basically means you do everything twice because they need total care. We adjust, figure out we are still alive, and we even learn to laugh again. And then something happens.

We get used to the craziness and then a vehicle breaks down, the hot water heater malfunctions or we get sick. It really doesn't take too much because we run on overload. For me personally it can mean the emotions go toward that downward spiral. Even though there are some strategies that I've learned to use to help prevent me from bottoming out - it is a difficult fight and each step "back up" takes every bit of energy that can be mustered.

In times like these I think of David and of one scripture in particular: David encouraged himself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6) And like the caregiver, he had to -- no one else was around! David had been anointed king but had instead faced a multitude of troubles. He had a lot on his plate at this time since his own had rejected him, he was running from Saul, had joined in with "the enemy" (Philistines), and they didn't trust him to fight with them. THEN the Amalekites came in and tore up Ziklag and took all the women and children. David was just a little bit upset. Like the overloaded caregiver, he already had enough on his plate. But he stopped the downward spiral and encouraged himself in the Lord. 

If my sources are correct, David wrote Psalm 16 while facing the struggle at Ziklag. He starts out with a prayer for God to preserve him  and then declares that he will trust the Lord. I'd say that's a great place to start each day. He says things like:

You are my portion
I will bless the Lord
I have set the Lord always before me
I will not be moved (because He is at my right hand)

It sounds to me like David knew how to reach down, up or around and find his source and supply in God. I think two things that stick out to me today as I fight the strong pull of the downward spiral are in verses 9 and 10. In verse 9 David says My flesh will rest in hope.  I really like that! And in the next verse he says You will not leave my soul in Sheol. I'm going to take that to mean for me that God will not leave my soul in turmoil and anguish. To encourage himself, David looked toward God first and then reminded himself of the role God played in his life. Verses 7-8 line that out pretty well. Here David says:

I will bless the Lord
I will set Him before me
I will not be moved

Then in verse 9 he says therefore my heart is glad and my  glory rejoices - and  I will rest in hope.

Today I will meditate on who God is to me and I will rest in hope. I will set my mind on the truth that He is with me and He has not and will not abandon my soul (mind, will, emotions). I will try to see myself in His hand; in His heart today. I will also be reading this psalm over and over today. Will you join me?

You Can't Order that Online!

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

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

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

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

The God Who Gives

After talking about encouragement yesterday I studied it a little further. This morning's plan was to share Romans 15:5 which says: Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.(NASB) First of all, it's pretty amazing that He just gives us encouragement. There's no stipulation - when you pray, if you ask, if you follow all the rules in the book; it just says He gives patience and encouragement. As a caregiver this is good to know, because if I feel that I am lacking in persevering or encouragement I know I can go to Him and ask Him to help me make it another day...and He will.
 

As I was meditating on this particular scripture I stopped on the phrase the God who gives and did a quick search. What I found was pretty amazing. He really gives us a lot! Here's a list of some of the scriptures that I found by searching the God who gives - these are only the NASB version too - if you run other versions through Bible Gateway's search you'll find a lot more!

I found that God gives:

  • songs in the night (Job 35:10)
  • grace and glory (Psalm 84:11)
  • breath and spirit (Isaiah 42:5)
  • rain in its season (Jeremiah 5:24)
  • the Spirit without measure (John 3:34)
  • the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8)
  • life (I Timothy 6:13)
  • wisdom (James 1:5)
That's a pretty good list of the things God just gives away, don't you think? As caregivers our needs can be on many levels emotional, spiritual, physical, in relationships, financial, etc. He knows we are flesh and blood and He knows we can be needy. Notice there are no things listed here - houses, cars, lands. It's all stuff to help us carry on while we are still traveling this side of eternity. It's like He is going to make sure that we are equipped to make it through this life to eternity. All of these are needed now - wisdom, life, rain (spirit and soul!), Holy Spirit, grace, songs in the night and encouragement - which is where we started! What do you need to make it today? He has it - and He gives it.

Today I will meditate on how He gives to us freely. I will think about how encouraging it is to know that He has already provided the things I need to make it through one more day. Today I'll meditate on all these things that He gives and I will be thankful for His provision of peace and encouragement. Will you join me?


Where'd Y'all Go?

As caregivers we can spend a lot of time alone or with just our loved one. When they are non-verbal, it adds an extra dimension to the loneliness we can feel. Loneliness and depression can be major struggles not only for the caregiver, but for those who are going through life's trials that are continuing with no end in sight.

There are lots of scriptures on encouragement in the Bible; but I noticed that about 80 to 90 percent of them involved someone encouraging another person. I had to chuckle since that's sort of part of the problem for caregivers - there's no person around to offer us that encouragement. This can add to the feelings of aloneness and loneliness. So once again - it's up to us to do it! And that- we can!

First of all, it's important to realize that during those times when we become burdened beneath the load - it is not a lack of faith.If we take an honest look around - we run to Him and cling to Him more tightly when we feel that we cannot take another step. There is no lack of faith for the weary or battle worn soldier-it's inevitable that we will get tired, weary, and oftentimes even discouraged under the daily load of care that we bear. Clinging tightly to our God is not the lack of faith - it's a demonstration that we are still holding on. So don't beat yourself up for being tired, weary, or discouraged...it's part of the package.

In I Samuel 30:6 David found himself in a very tight spot. They had just sent him home from a battle he was really wanting to fight. He was fully capable, ready and willing but some of the men did not fully trust David yet; so the commander sent him home. As he and his men came into camp they found it ransacked and raided. Their wives were gone, their children were taken captive and the warriors were distraught. It says that they wept until there was no strength left to weep. (v.4) Now that's a picture for you - these battle hardened soldiers crying and crying. (I don't feel so bad now! lol)

To add to the discouragement- the other men started talking about stoning David and blaming him for their misfortune. He was in a very tight spot. Just like the caregiver, he found himself in a place with no one there to encourage him. So what did he do? The old KJV says he encouraged himself in the Lord. The NASB says that he strengthened himself in the Lord his God. And that may well be where we are today  - we must encourage ourselves.

Today I will encourage myself by meditating on the truth that God is walking in this living furnace with me - He has not abandoned me. I will meditate on the truth that He  strengthens me to walk this walk. I will also concentrate on clinging to Him today. Will you join me?

Now This is Good News

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I have loads of questions on a daily basis. Caregiving was not what I was planning to do with my latter years. I had other things in mind like traveling the world. If I am not careful I can get all bogged down in what could have been and then I cannot adequately deal with the day. But today I stumbled across a scripture as I was reading and it really hit me that even if life doesn't look like I thought it was supposed to...it does not mean it's all messed up. That was good news for my mind and heart this morning.

Romans was written by the apostle Paul to the Romans. What's significant about that is that he was writing on purpose to the Gentile population. He was writing to encourage them in this new walk of faith that they had embraced. In verse 16 of the first chapter he begins to tell them that he isn't ashamed of the gospel of Christ; that it is the power of God for those who believe. And then verse 17 was what grabbed my attention this morning: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. (NLT)

Even if life does not go as planned and it does not look perfect - we do not lose our right standing  (righteousness) with God. Through faith He carries us and keeps us in right standing with Him. Even in all my whining, griping and thousands of questions a day - He keeps me in right standing with Him. Now that's some good news! Our righteousness is not disrupted by the rough days or the smooth days that life throws at us. We just have to keep trusting in Him!

Today my meditation will be on the righteousness He has provided for me to walk in.

No "Delete" Buttons?

Do you ever wish life had a "delete" button? Maybe even a "do over" button would be nice occasionally. There are times I feel like if I could do some things over I would either change the way I did them or not do them at all! Isn't it amazing that God does not feel that way...ever!

He never wishes He did something differently; and never hopes for do-overs. He knew everything would happen the way it has. He knew my faith would falter when great tragedy struck. He also knew of the times I would be angry with Him and silent before Him. He even knew I would question His existence. Actually, He knew every single question and doubt that would enter my heart and mind in the face of tragedy...but He did not give up on me! He did not cast me away and mutter words of disgust. He simply waited until I came back to the point where I could not live without His touch in my life.

Caregiving can place different levels of demand on us depending on the particular situation. However, no matter how involved it is - from total care to minimal assist - we must admit that our lives look nothing now like they did before. Romans 10:29 reminds us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. He does not have a "delete" button. He will never stop loving us, caring for us and reaching toward us. Even when we are not sure what we believe about Him - He is constantly, consistently desiring to live in us, with us and through us!

So be encouraged today by the fact that God is not going to delete anything! His love and care will never wane...and He's not wanting any "do-overs" - He's simply waiting on you to walk with Him from wherever you are today.

Good Morning!

Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet. To many he seems to be a very big whiner. But he carried such a passionate burden for the people of God that he wept much of the time. If you briefly turn through the pages of Jeremiah you will find some very harsh things God had to say to his people. And besides obeying God and having to speak to His people in such a manner, he was imprisoned and persecuted.

Lamentations gives us a closer look into the tender heart of this prophet. (Yes, a prophet does have a tender side!) He wept over the disobedience of his own people and he did not understand why they didn't just obey God. I am sure when he was mercilessly thrown into the mucky pit he wondered if his life was over. He was left to sink in the muddy mess and basically left for dead. Do you think he ever questioned God's call on his life? As a caregiver and the huge life changes that role brought I have found myself questioning God about many things.

But in Lamentations 3:19-24 Jeremiah turns his thoughts to the Lord once again. In verse 19 he says that he remembers his afflictions. He did not ignore them. As caregivers there is absolutely nothing about our situations that can be ignored! Jeremiah speaks of all the emotions he has had - bitterness, wandering, and afflictions. In the next verse he says his soul is bowed down. Have you ever felt that way under the load? I am sure we all have from time to time.

Jeremiah then goes on to encourage himself in the Lord. He reminds himself of why he still has hope. God's unfailing lovingkindnesses and His compassion are enough strength to make another day on. He says that they are new every morning... sufficient to carry me through each day I must face. And then he speaks of God's faithfulness...through the storm, through the furnace, throughout this life - He remains faithful!

Therefore  - we have hope in Him!

Where Else Could We Go?

Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection in John 6 when He offended many of His followers. He was describing to them how He was the true bread who came from heaven and we must partake of Him. It seems the disciples were having difficulty with His statements; perhaps they just really didn't understand the spiritual implications. Confusion comes quickly when we try to drag eternal stuff into time's understanding.

Jesus saw that they were not real happy. He also saw many followers walk away at this time. He looked at the 12 and asked them, you want to go away too? Peter's answer indicates to me that he had thought about it already. Peter said Where else would we go? I think he had already contemplated an exit.

 I wonder sometimes how people who are going through very difficult times find faith, hope, encouragement and strength to go on. Don't you? And there have been times caregivers hear that question, how do you do it? I think I feel a little like Peter. The answer is that there is no other way acceptable. This is my course and even though I contemplated options - there really isn't another suitable one.I have found that there is no other place to go for strength than the Lord. No where else to look for hope or encouragement to make it one more day. He gives us the strength (His strength) to walk this journey. Without Him - there is no hope; there is no strength, or encouragement. There is no where else to put my faith....and trust me on this one - in the darkest night -- I looked for it.

 So today, like Peter I must say Where else could we go? I will run to Him with open arms today. I'll rejoice in the truth that He is my faith, hope, encouragement and strength! And I will not look for it in any human! I will let the peace of God guard my heart and mind in Christ today! Let's run to Him today!

For Those Who Are Alone

Sometimes all we can do is trust. There are lots of questions and rather than providing a nice distraction,holidays seem to create more dilemmas and questions than answers. It can be funny if you want it to - if you can lighten up a little bit. If you think about it long enough and how difficult it can be to get through even just a normal day - and then add to that the hectic-ism of the holiday plus the fact that everyone else thinks we should be excited about it - it really is kinda funny!

This is for all of those who are overwhelmed by the holidays rather than enjoying them. Perhaps you have found yourself alone once again; or maybe it is insurmountable situations that are nagging at your heart. Yeah, sure everyone thinks you are supposed to be happy just because it's Christmas - but that is really only in the movies. Santa Claus doesn't really come! lol! And a cheerful heart doesn't magically appear! So how do you hold on in the season where everyone else is rejoicing and caught up a materialistic cyclone? And we know our days do not change?

 We continue to trust Him. Even on days when it doesn't all work out like in the movies. Psalm 34:22 says that those who trust in Him will not be ashamed. Honestly, we may not know what that looks like in the picture of our own lives - but one thing is sure - we will continue to trust. We will do it whether alone or with others; whether we see our own answers or not! Today - we are not alone no matter what we are facing. We must simply make up our minds that it is better to trust Him, period! So let us trust Him today right in the middle of our situations. He will carry us through.

Where Did Everyone Go?

Psalm 139 is a greatly used psalm, but we mostly use it to tell our children how special they are to God. So special of course that they were wonderfully made, and how God was watching and supervising their growth in the womb. However, this psalm is for adults too! God did not abandon us when we got older did He?

The Psalm begins with out intimately acquainted God is with our ways. Some days, honestly, that seems a little intrusive, don't you think? It can be scary to think that He knows our thoughts even before they are formed! He knows our thoughts, our words, our works and even our every movement!

Now the point is of course, not that God is watching over us to whop us if we make a wrong move; it's more that He is so deeply concerned about us that He is constantly keeping a watch on our soul. In a time in our lives (as caregivers)when we can feel so very abandoned and alone...He is still watching.

Maybe we do not understand where everyone went. When tragedy first strikes we are surrounded with caring people who are willing to do anything to help. But it seems that this is only true if it does not disrupt their schedule or if your situation doesn't go on too terribly long. But long after they've gone on with their lives here we are still holding on...and it can be a very lonely place.

But God is so constantly aware of where we are. He has not abandoned us and he will not walk away because our load gets too heavy for Him to bear. When every one else forsakes - He is still there! He will bring us comfort and peace. Take a moment today to sit down for just 5 minutes (and I know that's hard to find!) and think about His ever-abiding presence even in your situation...He's there!

When We Feel Alone

The lack of socialization can really hit the caregiver hard. For some of us, there basically isn't any. Perhaps an occasional family outing or someone stopping by. But really, when it comes to our emotional health, family doesn't count! We need friends. But where do they come from when you cannot get out like others do to meet them? The times we are consumed with this alone-ness is when we must be reminded that He will not leave us but is always with us. The journey doesn't get too long for Him!

Scriptures are full of times He was with people. He showed Moses He was with him in the burning bush, and then told Joshua that he was going to be with him just like He was with Moses. psalm 46 says two or three times that the God of Jakob is with us.

Jesus told His followers that He would not leave them alone and Hebrews 13:5 quotes the promise He gave Moses and Joshua - He said He would never leave or forsake us. But sometimes when it's quiet I need to be reminded that He is with me...don't you?

So today be encouraged and lift up your head. You are important enough for Him to be with you today! And He has no where else to go! So take it to heart and let His presence be with you today!

My Comfort is...In My Affliction...

I know  I sort of left that hanging there...but it's from Psalm 119:50. The entire verse says something like This is my comfort in my affliction - that Your word has quickened me! I love that verse. I am really glad it didn't read finally, after the battle was over Your word gave me life...

Even though God did not keep the trouble from happening - He didn't stop the affliction from occurring, but in it  His word brought life. And that is a comforting thought to me. Here we are in some of life's toughest situations yet His word still brings encouragement and life. And to me that is very comforting!

I always thought it was sort of odd when Jesus was telling Peter that he was going to be sifted like wheat, that He didn't tell him - but I will make it pass quickly; or I won't let it happen at all! But rather, Jesus told Peter that he was going to go through and that He would pray for him that his faith wouldn't fail. I was always like, sheesh, why not pray it won't happen at all! But then where would Peter's faith be?

In our time of trouble and right in the midst of the struggle His word is here to comfort us and give us life and strength for the battles. The cool thing is to me that even though we are in the daily struggle and grind...we are still seeking Him! And He is still answering us with strength, hope and courage! So be comforted today that His word is still bringing life into your being! Enjoy His word!

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!

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

It's In the Bible?

Sometimes as caregivers emotions can just run away with us. At least mine can! There are so many decisions that have to be made all on someone else's behalf. And for me that means no feedback. That can send my emotions into this turmoil and I can't seem to get it back. (that's when I need chocolate!)

When life gets tumultuous I usually run straight to the Psalms. So this morning I opened to Psalm 77.It is a familiar one. Asaph, the psalmist, is making his prayer to the Lord. In the end of verse 2 Asaph says my soul refused to be comforted.  Have you ever felt that way?

But it's the next verse that caught my attention When I remember God I am disturbed...disturbed? I am sure that blows some big theological thinking up somewhere! Aren't we supposed to feel peace when we think of God? But here Asaph is totally disturbed...wondering where God is, does God hear, and does He still care. And it's right here in the Bible!

In verse 7 Asaph is wondering if God even remembers him...verse 9 wondering if God is still gracious. Is that thought allowed? We tend to forget that the writers of the Bible were human...real flesh and blood containing real emotions that go along with life.

Verses 10-11 have been a mainstay in my life for years now. Verse 10 Asaph is wondering if God's hand has changed toward him.. but verse 11 he makes a decision. I will remember the works of the Lord. During troubling times, when we cannot see God doing something right here and now...just begin to recall all He has done.

I have found this process to be quite the load-lifter! Maybe I do not see God acting on my behalf, maybe it seems like He doesn't hear, perhaps it seems like He moved far away. That's when I chose to remind myself of the times that I know He has acted and moved in my behalf before...

Today's load may not change dramatically, but it will seem lighter when we remember the other times that He has carried us through.

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 ...