Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts

Full Of It

 


This morning during my private devotions, I started studying 1 John to prepare for an upcoming live Zoom Bible study I'm hosting. (Let me know if you'd like a link to join!) I John is very connected to the gospel of John and I found myself reading the first chapter of this gospel over and over. It amazes me and pretty much blows my mind how God has orchestrated all this. Before He said, "Let there be light" He had already done everything. He'd already prepared the way for us to get back to Him, even before the fall happened in time. Jesus was crucified and raised to sit on the throne. Our sins were already forgiven before we ever even committed them. (We just need to accept His forgiveness.) 

So I'm reading through John chapter one with my mouth wide open in awe! My mind is running around crazy just thinking about all the wonderous works of God. The Word of God - His very breath become flesh and walked among man for a brief 33 years. In verse 14, it says He become human (NLT), lived on earth with us, and that He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. That can also be translated to grace and truth.

Does it not just blow your mind that God cares? He is eternal and time is such a small piece of eternity - yet that's where He chooses to meet us and walk with us. He's so much more than a "little-g" god. He desires intimacy with us. He wants to walk with us, to be with us. And when He is welcomed into our lives and He comes - He brings all He is with Him. Truth, forgiveness, light, understanding, comfort, peace, and of course - love. That just blows my mind.

It's amazing that He wants to walk through time with mankind, isn't it? But He's not limited to time like we are because eternity exists in Him. Time is but a small piece of eternity. Yet this eternal God of comfort, God of peace, God of grace, mercy, and truth - wants to be with us. And for mankind - that's great. But for the caregiver it's monumental. Because so many people don't want to be with us. No-fault - no blame - they don't know what to do with us. But God does.

He knows how to comfort us in ways beyond our understanding. He knows how to hold us, give us peace, and soothe us with His song. If we listen. Can you hear Him? Most of the time I can - unless caregiving gets too hectic! But He's always singing. Always comforting. Always pouring out His love on us.

Today, I will purposefully quiet my heart and listen for His song. I'll lean in a little closer to hear His heart as I tone down the crazy thoughts running through my heart and mind. I will purposefully look for His grace at work in my life today. And I will embrace His heart of comfort in the midst of the pain and grief that often accompanies caregiving. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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A Mixed Bag

 

chris and I hanging out at Bluff Creek Park

Do you ever find yourself wondering about the benefits of social media? Personally, one of the positives is that it's helped us stay connected, sometimes in a weird sort of way, through the pandemic. I've connected with "long lost" family members and friends. But sometimes, aside from those and maybe a few more positives, I just look at the screen and shake my head a lot.

Do we all really need to see what you had for breakfast? So, you found a penny while you were on your walk, and? Mixed in with the wonderful photos of family, friends, and vacation excursions is a mix of what? posts. There are heavy posts and light posts; humorous posts and serious posts. Sometimes, I'm like - you really need a group just for that. They probably have that too.

Groups for those who grieve, sing, pray, share photos of specific regions, love animals and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a mixed bag, isn't it? 

Sometimes my heart feels like a social media posting wall. lol. One second I'm happy - the next I'm in deep grief. One minute I'm singing and the next I'm crying. One time I am praying, the next I'm thanking God for answers while forming my next prayer. Anybody relate?

Honestly, I can't always handle social media. There are days trauma rolls through the pages. Sometimes, it's just memories that haunt me. I have to find a reprieve. I wonder if our lives look sort of like a social media platform to God. He scrolls down through all our heart's posts looking for something of substance. While I know that's not really how it is - what I do know is that He can handle my mixed bag of emotions, crying, rejoicing, grieving, singing, praying, and thanking. Whatever I've got in my "bag" at any time will not overwhelm Him. He doesn't need to take a FaceBook break from me. I so love that He can handle whatever I'm dealing with any given second, no matter how random, how deep, how serious or silly, or how fleeting. He's got me right where I am mixed bag and all. The key though is letting Him have the bag!

Today, I'm going to open up my bag and pour it out before Him. I'll give it up to Him and let Him do the sorting out because I kinda tend to get lost in it sometimes. My grief, happiness, need, desire, longing, - anything and everything is His today. You wouldn't think He'd be that excited about such a mixed bag of stuff, would you? But He loves it when we bring it all to Him. I'm going to hand Him everything and the bag - and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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Primer on the Gifts of the Spirit bookcover
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In Focus

This morning I was thinking about some of the people in the Bible who went through rough times. Honestly, it's those who endured hard places that earn the respect of believers, right? We never look at someone Bible character or not and think oh, they have never faced any difficulties - I respect them so much.  lol. It's the fact that people walk through life's stuff with their faith intact that earns our admiration and respect. I like to read biographies and autobiographies - but it's the things the main character endures that make the story inspirational and interesting.


I thought back about David and how when Samuel the prophet came to anoint "one of Jesse's sons" as king - no one remembered to go get David from tending the sheep. He had the choice of focusing on rejection - but he didn't make that his focus.

Then, I thought about Daniel, not just in the lion's den. He was taken captive as a young lad and lived nearly his entire life as a slave in a foreign land. He could have focused on his captivity. He could have focused on the oppression. But he didn't. He remained faithful to God even without godly guidance from others.

I've been thinking about Ruth a lot and have shared some thoughts about her in an earlier blog. She came to mind again this morning. We often think about the end of the story and how Boaz redeemed her and she became one of the four women mentioned in the lineage of Christ. But we forget she lost her husband at an early age before she had any kids. She was a widow and must have endured an enormous amount of grief. She stayed with her deceased husband's mother and traveled with her to a distant land. She could have focused on her own grief and sorrow. But she did not.

Over the last couple of years, we've all seen unprecedented sorrow and grief. We're still enduring a pandemic and the added stress. As if caregivers didn't have enough daily stress already! Right? :-)

But we still have a choice of what to focus on. Even on our darker days when chores necessary for our loved one's care weigh us down, we can choose our focus. Like these and other heroes of the faith - we can look past our circumstances and see Him. We can pray like Daniel, sing like David, and be as committed as Ruth even in the midst of our struggles. God honors that.

Today, I will shift my focus from my situation to His situation! I'll lift my eyes to Him - my help, the sustainer of my soul, my comforter, and ever-present King. I'll look past whatever is on my plate to the One who provides, shelters, cares, and continues to love me in the midst of life's struggles and storms. I will thank Him for being right here - right now. Will you join me in enjoying His presence today?

Try to Remember


 This week, my aunt turned 88 years old. We made the best of it we could under the circumstances. I took her her favorite Chic-fil-a salad for lunch and her brother, my Uncle Roger, baked her a chocolate oatmeal cake and brought flowers. The facility is still not allowing visitors because of the Pandemic. I did get to go around to the window and see her and talk to her though. That helped, but it still saddened me greatly.

This, like many circumstances, can send a caregiver down into the spirals of sadness, grief, and depression. It's a terrible one to have to fight, but it happens frequently. It's such a personal battle too, and we all learn ways of trying to get ahead of it if at all possible. But when there are disappointments, griefs, and sorrows stacked one on the other day after day, it makes it much more difficult to get back on top of.

It can feel like God can't hear - and if He does hear us, then He isn't paying attention. And even if He is paying attention it feels like there is absolutely no response, no relief, and no rescue in sight. It's in those moments that it can feel like life is suffocating us. (Maybe it's just me?) Circumstances keep pressing and pressing and one thing keeps getting added on top of another until the life is being sucked right out of us.

I have this habit though. When I cannot see anything God is doing presently, and I cannot feel Him or hear Him like I want to, I do what Asaph did in Psalm 77. The first few verses, Asaph describes how he feels rejected, forgotten, and "too distressed to even pray." (V4 NLT) By the time he gets to verse 10 and 11, he says he feels like God is not "with" him anymore. If we are honest enough with ourselves, can we say we feel that way from time to time? My heart knows it's not true  - but boy does my head and emotions feel that way.

Asaph goes on to basically say that when he cannot see God moving in his life, he recalls what God has done in years gone by. This is what I've done the last day or so trying to shake off and climb out of the caregiver's fog. I started thinking back about specific times when I knew that God moved on my behalf. Times He truly intervened, healed, touched, moved, quickened....me. I still exist. I'm still in His sight. I'm still precious to Him....and so are you. When there is no one around to tell us that - we must tell ourselves these things. 

Today, will you join me in a walk down memory lane? It's so individual we must all take our own walk as we remember the times God has come through for us - lest we lose heart. Remind yourself that He loves you - immensely. Tell your heart to hope again that hope is NOT lost - and He has not forgotten we are here. 

In His Hands

This morning, I was working on my latest devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 which I hope to complete and have in my bookstore by the end of the month. There are so many things in this one psalm and I've read it so much my Bible falls open to it automatically now. lol. I was thinking about fear, grief, hurt, and the dark night of the soul. Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. Sure, there are those caregiver moments like when my son actually hugged me the other evening. Those moments erase a ton of pain. They make it all worth it. But they are not lasting and it's back to the day-to-day grind.

As I was working on the devotional, I took a look at Job again. His story intrigues me. He took all the overwhelming pain and turned it into worship. It wasn't about a congregational song on Sunday morning, he wasn't sitting out back playing his guitar, and no Kumbaya around the campfire either. He took his deepest grief and pain and he worshipped.  Like David in Psalm 31 said, my life is in Your hands - Job took the tragic moment and spent it on his knees acknowledging that God was still his God - and he gently, with tears, placed his life in God's hands and gave Him back total control. Such a precious worshipful moment.

I can't say I have reacted that way. Oh, I eventually get back to that position of worship. I always return. But usually, I throw a fit, cuss and scream a little and pout for a while first. I do always return to that position though. Worship is just that - we become the sacrifice. Our lives are like an Isaac placed on Abraham's altar. All of our promises, hopes, and dreams are there on life's altar. Even the broken promises, shattered dreams and lost hopes - they are all there. All being poured out before Him as a sacrifice. And you know what? He gets it. He understands. He accepts it. Even in our most broken state - He scoops us up and carries us through. But we must remain in His hands.

When we were kids we used to sing a song He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. All us church babies remember that one! Well, you know what - He still has the whole world in His hands. It's the ultimate act of worship to say with David - my life (all that I am, all that I've lost, all that I've gained, all my pains, hurts, griefs, caregiving struggles) are in Your hands. Then, we must leave it there - and trust Him with it - trust Him with our souls. Like Job, we lift up our hearts to Him and say, Blessed is Your name O Lord no matter what life brings today. It's all in His hands.

Today, I will meditate on letting every ounce of my being stay in His hands. I'll turn my thoughts to how I can trust Him enough to realize my life is in His hands, and it's alright. He can handle it. I'll let Him handle it today as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?

A Tight Grip

This morning I just feel creative - or maybe it's more of a need to just create. I'm not really sure what it is, but I felt like breathing some life into an old blog I used to keep. I started From the Furnace just as a place to put my emotions. It let me put them there and walk away. As time went on I stopped for one reason or another. But today I was talking about the grip of grief and just needed to get some things out.

Sometimes, caregiving comes with a living grief. It doesn't go away and it is very real. I've been carrying it for a few days now. I grieve because I haven't heard my son's voice in 10 years. I grieve because I see his friends marrying and having families. I grieve over the loss day after day. Grief seems to have a tight grip on my heart - so tight sometimes I am not sure I can breathe.

I've never been quite sure about what to do with the living grief. Some condemn it as a lack of faith. But I think it's quite the opposite. Especially as I press past the grieving to the grace. It takes a lot of faith to honestly tell God how you feel at any given moment. It speaks of a high level of trust to pull raw emotions out and become vulnerable before Him, knowing He's not going to take the grief away - but give me the grace to stand in the midst of it. This faith is not too different than the three Hebrew children standing before the king saying - We know God can deliver us - but if He doesn't - we still aren't going to bow. That's the kind of grip grace has on us. Our situations may or may not change - but our trust in Him remains the same no matter what. That's true faith, y'all. That demonstrates a grip of grace that will carry us through.

That's when I  realize that even though grief has a tight grip on me - His grace has a tighter grip. God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. God also promised to never leave us or forsake us. If I can put these two thoughts together, I have a grace that holds me tighter than the grief. It outlasts the grief since the grief can come and go on wave after emotional wave. But His grace - His all-sufficient grace steadfastly carries me over those waves. When I realize that and acknowledge that - peace seems to take over the turmoil.

Today, right in the midst of suffocating grief - I will trust His grace to carry me. Like the 3 facing the fiery furnace, I'll say -I'm not bowing to life's situations. I refuse to give in. I will bow to the grace of God though. My thoughts will be on letting His grace carry me and living in total surrender to His will, His grace, and His love. I'll focus my meditations on the truth that He doesn't leave me in the grip of grief or sadness, but He does extend His grace and His hand to lift me up. I'll stand in that grace and trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

So Far So Good

Yesterday I lost a family member and somehow I think grieving losses like that are maybe not "more difficult" as a caregiver, but more complicated. If that makes sense.

Many caregivers, myself included, live with what is called a living grief. That basically means we grieve the loss of our loved one - but they didn't die. They are here - but they are not here. It's a grief that doesn't allow for any closure and it's ongoing. Then when you add any more grief on top of that - it's a very heavy load to carry. Fortunately, I know the Lord and I can take all my cares to Him and drop them off! (I know, that's not KJV!)

This morning I was sitting, drinking coffee and staring at the wall as it was all sinking in. I thought about not doing a devotion - I needed on myself. lol. I opened up an email and saw this scripture which was exactly what I needed to hear today. It's 1 Samuel 7:12. Samuel has just become judge in Israel and the Children of Israel had just torn down all the idols and returned to the Lord with a whole heart.

The Philistines approached and were hoping for a quick slaughter. But God had other ideas. Now Samuel was a judge and a prophet, but he did not know natural warfare. He could not lead the charge. God knew this - but I believe He saw the hearts of the people turning wholly to Him, and He applauded. Only to the Philistines it sounded like thunder and they got all confused. In the confusion, God and the Israelites wiped them out that day!

Then comes verse 12. Samuel sets up a large stone and named it "Ebenezer" which means stone of help. And then he said, up to this point - God has helped us. That just clicked with me this morning. Up to this point in my life, God has been my help. And as I face another day of caregiving and a season of grieving - He will still be my help.

My loose translation of that is so far - so good!  God has been my help, He is my help and He will continue being my help. Now that I can hold on to for today as I turn my heart wholly to Him and do the real work - resting in Him.

Today I will remind myself of God's ever abiding presence. I will acknowledge His help throughout my journey and use it to remind myself that He's still here for the rest of the journey as well. So far God has helped me - and He has no other intentions just because my world got rocked again. My thoughts will be on how I can rest in Him and how I can let Him be my help, my source, my everything. And just like all the other days - I'll trust Him. I'll wait for Him. I'll rest in Him. Will you join me?

Famine of the Soul

Have you ever had those days where you feel like life is dragging you into the deep dark mire of depression? You can feel its grip tightening with every breath and it's reflecting in every sluggish move. I have to admit I feel that way today. I can't blame it on any one thing - but a series of events have had this effect on me and honestly I don't always know how to get out or break its grip.

As I opened my Bible this morning, mostly out of habit to be truthful, my eyes fell on a couple of verses out of Psalm 32. Verses 7 says this: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. 

This is what I call a "two-way" psalm because between verse 7 and 8 it changes from second person to first person - like God is answering the psalmist. These are cool to me because it's like God interrupts the psalmist mid stream to get His thoughts in. Because verse 8 just pops out of nowhere with: I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

So that got my attention and I thought about it a bit and then turned a page and saw this in Psalm 33:16-18:

The king is not saved by a mighty army
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its strength.
Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
and to keep them alive in famine.

I think the biggest issues of being a caregiver are not physical but emotional which is our soul. We can live in a sort of famine of the soul where our emotions stay raw and open. Even though becoming a caregiver bringing about some physical changes, it's the soul that is ravaged by grief. Our soul gets its workout everyday just trying to navigate through all the emotions. But God will keep us alive in this famine of the soul.

Both of these psalms speak of His eyes being on us. I have to trust that no matter what I feel or face He is watching over me. I have to trust that He will instruct me - and I will hear Him. I have to trust that He is always watching, always listening and always ready to step in when I can't bear anymore. Well, I don't usually really give it all to Him until I get to that point. So today - I'm at that point! (smile) So I choose to give it to the One who is watching over me...one more time.

Today I'm going to try to consciously give Him my grief, pain, tears and struggles. I can't see Him watching over my soul and I can't feel Him rescuing my soul from famine; but I'll trust Him anyway. I will choose to trust Him to heal and protect my soul today. I'll lean in to Him with just a little more effort and trust He sees all, He knows all, and He's got my back today. Will you join me?

What about Jakob?

I've read and reread the story of Joseph, and growing up in church it was one of the common Bible stories that we heard over and over. On one hand I think the caregiver can learn from Joseph's patience. He had a dream that seemed could never come true. Life betrayed him. I know the scriptures don't go into Joseph's thoughts but he had to have some serious dedication to God to not lose it during those waiting years.

I think of the betrayal by his brothers. Then the betrayal by Potiphar's wife. Not only did his brothers put him in a pit until they could sell him to the next passerby, Potiphar has him thrown into prison for something he didn't do. He spent a lot of time waiting, wondering, and trying to figure things out I would assume.

While our stories usually focus on Joseph and his determination to serve God through his trials, this weekend as I was rereading the story once again, I thought about Jakob.

In Genesis 37, it says that Jakob wept for Joseph and goes on to say he refused to be comforted. His other children all tried to console him, but his reply was I will go to my grave mourning for my son. He had no idea that Joseph was going to be his leader some day and he had no reason to believe that Joseph was alive - no hope that everything would be okay one day. He lived in grief.

The caregiver can experience what is called a living grief. Depending on the particulars of our situation, we can lose a lot. For my situation, my son is gone, but his body is still here. I have grieved the loss of my son but can't quite "put it away" since there was no funeral or burial. The grief continues. It's the same with my mom. She's experiencing dementia and is not really who she used to be. I have to grieve the loss, even though she's still technically here. 

Many caregivers experience this living grief and it can be some very complex emotions to work through.You can't just "move on" but there's still a sense of loss. Caregivers have given up something on some level no matter what their situation. Some give up jobs, freedom, friends, and many other aspects of life to care for a loved one.

1 Corinthians 1:3 says that God is the God of all comfort.  I really like this little word, all. God can comfort Joseph sitting in the prison cell wondering where the promise is; and God can comfort Jakob who feels like the promise was stolen and is gone forever. God can feel us. He gets us. And He will comfort and strengthen our hearts.

Today I will turn my thoughts to the fact that He gets me. He understands everything I am going through and He pours His strength into me - and gives me strength for today's journey. (everyday is a journey for caregivers) My meditations will be on the truth that He loves me with the same love I have for my son. (Insert whoever you are a caregiver for.) And instead of focusing on the loss today - I'll focus on His provision, His love, His strength, His patience with me and the grace He gives me to make it one more day. Will you join me?

Some Things Never Change

It took me awhile to learn that it was okay to grieve the life I lost when I became a caregiver. Of course, it's not healthy to park there emotionally, but it is okay to grieve over what was lost. I think at first I felt guilty for grieving, like maybe I didn't want to be my son's caregiver if I was sorry over what I had before his accident. Once I grieved, cried and got it out of my system though, I was able to move on and be a better caregiver by giving my full attention to his needs.

There are a lot of things that change as we transition into the role of caregiver. For some there are a few schedule changes but for others it is an entire lifestyle change. In my situation I lost the freedom to come and go as I wanted to, the spontaneity of life no longer existed. I had to gather all my stuff and my son's stuff up into one location which took quite a long time. I physically moved twice after his wreck to try and provide better care and to make sure he was close to family.

For a long time I felt the loss of my "former" life; but now it seems so far away. Contentment did not come over night. Yes, I know Paul said that he learned to be content  in whatever state he was in but it was a rather sharp learning curve for me! My whole world changed that morning I got that phone call, plans were on hold and all my possessions left behind. But this morning I am reminding myself of some of the things that never changed  in my life.

In Jeremiah 31:3, God tells the prophet that He has loved with an everlasting love. His love for us does not change when we face adversity. His care for us is not moved by life's hard knocks. The psalmist said that God is a very present help in time of need. (Psalm 46:1) His presence and His love are just two things that will never change. Our whole world can be turned upside down and inside out - but He will be constant in His love, His mercy, His grace and His ever abiding presence in our lives.

He won't leave us to walk it alone. I look at it this way. My son needs my full attention and care. He became an adult, left home and was about to finish college and in an instant became like a baby again. I did not walk away from him when life got tough. In the same way, God will not abandon us just because life no longer looks ideal. He is ever present, ever helping, ever sustaining us by His love. Some things never change. And for this I am thankful.

Today I will meditate on His ever abiding presence and never ending love. I am going to let that carry me through today. I will purposefully think about the mercy He continues to extend to me on this caregiving journey; and I will rest as I trust in Him. Will you join me?

Can we just be Honest?

There are some topics that caregivers are not going to discuss with others - not even other caregivers. Our emotions can be too raw too much of the time and there's no place where the pain or grief totally stops. Many days we just suck it up and continue to care for our loved one and give no regard to our own emotions and feelings. Sometimes this is how we actually survive the difficult role we must play for another. We can get very absorbed into their care and forget about our own pain and suffering. But then there are times when it can all come crashing in on us; emotions and thoughts run through our hearts and minds like crazy. What do we do with the rushing river?

As I was reading Psalms 15 this morning one phrase really stuck out to me.

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness
And speaks truth in his heart.
Psalm 15:1,2

No matter how good or how bad our day is going or how crazy our emotions might be today - we can always speak the truth in our hearts. It's actually very important to be honest about our feelings and the things we may be dealing with. God already knows - and when we pray - we have no need to shroud the truth. By simply being honest with him about our fears, doubts, mistakes and pain - we have free entry to His presence. And that is where we are refreshed and gain the strength to face one more day of caregiving.

Why would we try to conceal the truth of what we hold in our hearts? Are we afraid He will be disappointed in us? Perhaps we feel that He will reject us if He saw it all. But He already sees it all - and loves us anyway. He has the power to walk with us in the furnace so that we are not consumed by the fire. He carries us over the stormy waters so that we are not overcome by its waves. He is the only thing that is stable in our lives - let us run to Him with all of our questions and concerns.

Today I will meditate on His ever abiding presence and rejoice that I can literally tell Him everything. He will think no less of me because I do! I'll rejoice in His acceptance today - and turn to Him in my pain and grief. Will you join me?

Some Kind of Warrior

David was a warrior who faced many battles. The warrior side of him is seen even when he was a youth and went out to face Goliath who was many times his own size. In 1 Samuel 17:28, it says that even after Goliath's lofty threats, David ran out to meet him. David would face many battles after that monumental day. But there would also come a day when he would have to encourage himself in the Lord.

Sometimes it can seem like the caregiver's day is one battle after another; and like David, we must many times encourage ourselves in the Lord. It takes some kind of warrior to do that, don't you think? I know - most caregivers are not going to think of themselves as warriors! Our M.O. is more along the lines of well, we just do what we do. While that is true and we feel like we just put one foot in front of the other most of the time...we are doing much more than that. Let me explain.

As a caregiver I have battled depression and that is not uncommon for us. But how many times have you thought for sure that you were down for the count...when all of a sudden out of nowhere came encouragement? Maybe a phone call from a friend, a brief email or even a facebook status just said the right thing. Instead of being down for the count you felt yourself (almost involuntarily) pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps like the ole timer's used to say! That's because you are some kind of warrior! And because your heart is in what you are doing for your loved one as well as your heart being hidden in His - it's inevitable that you will eventually win out.

I've never thought of Job as an encouraging book but lately I have been reading it and finding great encouragement (may write a study guide for it later lol!). In Job 6:10 he said this to his "friends" but it is still my consolation, and I rejoice in unsparing pain that I have not denied the words of the Holy One. Job was a warrior just like you! Even in the midst of the pain and grief that can be an everyday thing, the heavy load many caregivers carry alone and the dark night of the soul...we continue to press on through the unsparing pain to hold on to His words. That's some kind of warrior!

Today I will meditate on the truth that He gives me the strength for the battle. I'll think about how David ran into battle with Goliath...and how he encouraged himself in the Lord. I will also think about what makes me a warrior...will you join me in holding on to His word for one more day?

Sometimes I Feel Two-Faced!

As a caregiver life can be ambiguous in that we are certain that we are uncertain. But this week in my studies I found that we are in very good company.I frequently read Psalm 119 as I find it very encouraging and it always points my heart back to His word. This week a couple of  verses in particular caught my attention.

In verses 27 and 28 (NLT) the psalmist has that sort of ambiguous tone. The end of verse 27 states I will meditate on your wonderful miracles; but the very next verse starts with I weep with grief...And of course true to David's nature he has these two phrases sandwiched between thoughts about the Word.

I found that sometimes this oddity describes the way we can feel. On the one hand, we are so thankful for all that God has done.We have done several devotions about being thankful in the midst of our furnace where we take time to purposefully find things (some days are more difficult than others) to thank Him for. Thankful for small progresses or that the aide actually showed up; perhaps long awaited supplies finally arrived, or just thankful that He gave us breath and strength to face another day.

And then in the next moment we may be weeping with grief over the situation or out of compassion for our suffering loved one. When I find passages like this one, it helps me feel at least like I am somewhat normal. It's okay to thank Him with one breath and wonder what's going on with the next - it's the nature of the situation.But our final answer lies a couple of verses further down.

Verse 30 says: I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by Your laws.Today let us determine to walk in His word no matter what our circumstances look like. Even in those ambiguous moments where we feel joy and grief at the same time - let us turn to His word for our comfort.  Let us recall that He is walking through this furnace with us so we will not lose heart.

Power of Adjectives

Second Thessalonians is a very short book, but it has some powerful phrases in it. I mark my Bibles up in these 3 little chapter as there are several scriptures that are great to use to pray for people. I call them "generic" because they will just fit no matter what the circumstance is that they are facing. One of these prayer/scriptures is Chapter 2, verses 16 and 17.

 It says this:Now may the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.  (NASB) This morning I read it over and over again. Some key words stood out to me. But before I go there, let's adapt it to the caregiver.

 It asks that the Lord will strengthen your hearts in every good work...that is not limited to inside the four walls of the church. Actually, very little good works goes on from inside the church building itself. You'll find that most of the time what God would call good works happens outside as we are showing His favor to others. As a caregiver, you are doing good works. You are taking care of His man, or His woman. It may be your spouse, your child, or deemed your responsibility. But the reality is that you are ministering to their every need... and in so doing you are ministering to Him. Now, that's good works!

Remember that He is moved by our pain, He Himself bore our sorrows, He carried our grief. Grief is not a sin, sorrow is not a sin. He feels the pain we have in this and every moment no matter what is inflicting it. He does not look at the source and say we are unworthy of His love, His care. Instead as this verse indicates He gives us eternal comfort and good hope. Those are two wonderful adjectives there; eternal and good.

 He is offering us a comfort that goes beyond what we feel here in time and stretches into eternity; it's not temporal! And more than just a pacifying hope...He is giving us a good hope. This is more than just a little "gee I hope this all gets better."  It's a hope that goes beyond that and says, but if not....we will not bow! No matter what happens in this life - what He has accomplished for us in the realm of eternity will stand. It remains unchanged. Now that's a good hope!

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 ...