Showing posts with label hope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hope. Show all posts

God's Got This

Kyrie and Chris

 I'm not sure things have ever been this crazy. Of course, I only have a little over 60 years to base my analysis on. (smile!) As if caregiving wasn't enough by itself, we have a pandemic that continues to rage on, political craziness out of hand, and a generation that seems bent on doing evil. I don't know about you, but sometimes I get soul tired. 

This morning, I was reading in Lamentations 3 where Jeremiah talks about God's compassions. Funny, it's not compassion - singular. It's compassions - plural. The prophet says his soul was removed from peace. In our current world situation, that would be easy to do. Our peace can be so disrupted if we watch the news or scroll our Facebook feeds all day, for sure! 

Jeremiah goes on to say in verse 18 that his strength and hope had perished. That's how he felt at the time. As caregivers, I think we all have those moments where we feel totally swept away in our responsibilities. On any given day we can feel like one more thing and we are done. But we also learn that those one-more-things keep coming and we keep going. Don't we?

Jeremiah is pouring out his soul and talking about his affliction open and raw. I like that because when we do that - it means we are being honest and real with ourselves and with God. It's okay to do that! But then, we should think about modeling after Jeremiah here and go on to remind ourselves of where we have been and how God has never failed us even in our darkest, deepest hours of pain and despair.

In verse 21, Jeremiah says here's what I recall so I don't lose hope. (My loose translation.) He reminded himself that the Lord's mercies keep us from being consumed. That His compassions do not fail. And that God is faithful. In a nutshell, he reminded himself that God's got this. 

I don't know what Jeremiah was worried about consuming him - but for me it's life. It's the day after day caregiving tasks and decisions that are sometimes very scary to have to make. I often get sucked into what I call the caregiver's fog and I feel depression clawing at my soul trying to suck me in and take me under forever. But as soon as I recognize it for what it is - I have to think like Jeremiah.

Yes, it's bad. Yes, it's tough. But God's got this. He's got me. He's got you. He never looks at His calendar and apologizes because His mercy ran out yesterday. He doesn't say, sorry no hope for today - it expired last week.  No! He offers a continual stream of hope, mercy, compassion, and love that are all able to carry us through one day at a time.

Today, I will remind myself that He's got this day and He's still got me in the palm of His hand. I will purposefully quiet my busy soul (mind, will and emotions) and bring my whole being before God today and ask Him for grace to carry me through. And you know what? He will do it again. will you join me?

Longing for Morning

I'm still on my journey through the psalms or Songs of Ascents. Today, I'm gleaning from Psalm 130. Honestly, I think I love all the psalms - they are open, raw, and honest. This one starts that way too. The psalmist says, Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! That sounds a bit like yesterday when we were looking at the dark night of the soul and some of the long nights caregivers often endure.

One thing I like about many of the psalms is that after the prayer, after the complaint and all the crying out - there is a declaration. This psalm is no different. In verse 5,  the Psalmist says, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My loose interpretation is this: I may be calling out to Him for help in a time of desperation, but I still know His word is my hope and I will declare that I am waiting on Him alone.

In the next verse, he goes on to say - My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning - I'm pretty sure, I've spent a lot of caregiving nights watching for the morning. It can be intense waiting for the light of day. Many of us have driven all night, or been up all night with a sick and leaned into that morning light. It can be a long, hard wait - but always worth it. Now, if I can bring that kind of intense waiting over to my soul and long for Him just as eagerly.

Today, I will declare that my soul waits for Him, and for Him alone. I will turn every ounce of my being toward Him and stretch out my faith to touch Him today. As I wait for Him, I will declare that He is my help, my sustenance, and my hope. And I will hope in Him today as I long for morning in my soul. Will you join me?

Behind and Before


One of my friends just had a brand new beautiful baby girl. Celebrating new births always makes me think of Psalm 139. It’s definitely one of my most marked-up psalms! I also had Jeremiah 1:5 running through my head. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. I read back through Psalm 139 again, it’s got so many encouraging spots in it if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s a great read for today!

This whole psalm is great, but a couple of things stuck out to me this morning in particular. In the first verse, David says O Lord, You have searched me and known me  - and I added a note in my margin – “And it’s okay!” It’s okay that He knows our thoughts, our words before we speak them, when we get up and when we get down. I’m quite alright with Him seeing and knowing every part about me and my days.

You see, He sees those parts no one else sees. As a personal example, I maintain a FB page for my son’s progress. I post to it every day or so as he does something notable like standing alone, moving something new, or making new sounds. What I don’t post are the in-betweens. You know, those days he doesn’t do something remarkable and I am sitting around wondering what I’m doing wrong, if I’m doing enough – totally second-guessing myself. I leave those days out – so no one sees the struggle side. All I share and all they see are those great moments.

But God sees past all that. I’m sure He monitors social media lol – so He is aware of the progress notes I keep updated on Chris. But He sees far past my posts – and sees when my heart is discouraged when I’m feeling defeated. That’s a place no person is allowed to go. I keep it hidden in general. But God sees it – He knows.

Maybe that’s why on down in verse five David says this: You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand on me. He knows my thoughts – the good, the bad, and the ugly! He sees when I start spiraling down in my emotions and despair tries to set in like rigor mortis to the soul. It’s easy most of the time to keep those emotional parts of the caregiving journey to ourselves. But He knows. And He has already prepared to walk through it with us.

Early on I told my son I was committed to the journey. I whispered in his ear, Chris, I can’t walk this for you, but I will walk it with you. God cannot walk this journey of life for us – but He is certainly committed to walking it with us. Behind and before – He’s got us covered. Actually, He’s already walked it before us – and He just comes in behind us to undergird us and provide strength and encouragement to our souls.

Today, I will meditate on how God is behind and before – how He is committed to this journey I am on – this journey you are on. He willingly walks it with us. He’s already been through today – and made a way for us to continue trusting Him in spite of the storm. I’ll turn my thoughts to how He truly understands what makes me – me. He knows my thoughts when they only leak out as tears, and He doesn’t run away. He continues to walk with me and wait for me to come to Him. I’ll be thankful for His patience with me as I trust Him for one more day – will you join me?

Some Things Never Change - And that's a Good Thing!

This morning I kept thinking about an old song. I like to hear my sister, Kenella sing it. It's called The Anchor Holds. It talks about a ship that is battered and torn but that it's held sure by the anchor. No matter what the storm does to the ship - the anchor holds secure.

Since I had the anchor on my mind, I decided to look it up in a concordance. One scripture stood out to me. It's Hebrews 6:19 and it says this hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast. I like to read verses in context, so I backed up and read the entire chapter.

It's talking about Abraham and how he hoped against hope and held to the promise of God.If you back up a couple of verses, you'll see that God simply wants to show us the promise of the unchangeableness of His purpose. It can be so easy for His purpose to get lost in caregiving. However, it's only lost to us - we just can't see it. But His purpose is never lost, never wasted and remains even in caregiving.

God wants to draw us to Himself. He wants to be up-close-and-personal with each of us - and His desire to walk life out with us (in us) doesn't change just because we became a caregiver. His promises still hold true - they never change. He still promises us peace - in the midst of the storm. He still promises us joy. He still promises to provide. These never change - neither does His purpose for us.

Philippians 1:6 reminds us that He who began a good work in you  - will complete it! He never abandons ship because life got difficult. It never takes a turn He did not expect. This is our anchor - that He is both sure and steadfast. He never lets us go. He never changes His mind. His purpose for us is still the same. He still lives in us - and didn't move out because we hit a rough spot.

Today I will be thankful that His purpose still stands. I'll meditate on the truth that He longs for fellowship with us - no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. I will give thanks that life doesn't get too complicated for Him - He is not perplexed and He will not change His mind. And so today, I will rest in the truth that the hope of His purpose is still the anchor that holds my soul. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

One More Time

I have to admit this morning that my emotions are all over the place. I'll spare you the details and just say there's a lot going on. We've discussed before that we are not exempt from the rest of life just because we are caregivers. So suffice it to say - I'm on overload....as usual.

Yesterday as I started realizing how much was going on around me, my head started spinning with thoughts. I've admitted before I'm an over-thinker. Someone makes one statement and I've worked through 900 scenarios in my head that could possibly happen. Sometimes it's annoying. :-)

So with lots and lots of different things making my head swirl, I heard my heart cry out to Him last night. In my mind I'm standing before Him with hands outstretched just waiting for some sort of answer. There's not really one answer that will make everything better and I think I just needed to be reminded that He hears my heart. I just needed to know it one more time.

As caregivers, we can live in overload mode (or maybe that's just me!). We need the comfort of His voice, His gentle nudge letting us know He is still with us, He still cares, and He still hears our heart's cry.

I crawled out of bed this morning and drug my emotional self in to search the scriptures for a glimmer of hope; and of course - He met me there. He has this way of showing up when He's invited. I started with Psalm 18 where David so eloquently describes what we hope God does when we call out to Him. He says he called out to God and he prayed for help and my cry reached His ears. (v.6 NLT) And God showed up.

Then the earth quaked and trembled;
the foundations of the mountains shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from His nostrils,
fierce flames leaped from His mouth
glowing coals flamed forth from Him.
He opened the heavens and came down.....

So I waited this morning for the earth to begin to shake as my heart cried out in anguish. Nothing. I got nothing. So I searched a little further to find that David also had moments like these. In Psalm 22 he describes it pretty well by saying:

My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why do you remain distant?
Why do you ignore my cries for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. 
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

I love it when God comes riding in on His white horse to rescue us. But what about the times when He doesn't? In both of these Psalms - David went on to praise the Lord. Immediately following his distressed cries in Psalm 22, David says, Yet you are holy.  I cried God - and you didn't listen! I called out and You walked away! I did not get the answer I wanted.....but I know You are holy.

And by the end of Psalm 22 he is singing God's praise:

I will declare the wonders of Your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among all Your people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear Him!

Why? David knew, like we know deep down - God has not abandoned. In Psalm 22:24 David goes on to say: He has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.

Today I will follow this righteous example. Whether God comes riding in on thunderous clouds, or remains silent in my distress, I will praise Him. My thoughts and meditations will be on His goodness. I will keep myself hidden in Him today and I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Faith, Hope and Depends

As a caregiver, there are just some things about which we cannot speak. We silently feel each other's pain and have an understanding of what a normal day may look like. We wipe up drool, pick up spilled (or spit out) food, and perform tasks we cannot speak about to protect the dignity of our loved ones. But we all could share some crazy stories if we were alone! Are you nodding your head?  Even though we don't speak about it, we understand.

We really do seem to live in an alternate world from everyone else. On a daily basis we deal with all the normal  stuff - and then our own set of what's normal. That might mean we have learned how to bolus a feeding through a tube, check 02 levels, take blood pressure, give a bed bath and change depends. But even though what we do daily looks a lot different from the rest of the world's normal day - spiritually we are no different at all.

This morning I was reading Proverbs 17:3 that says: The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. On one hand I'd have to say that caregivers basically live in the furnace. And on the other hand, I still have to say we live in the furnace! (smile) Life is always trying, even on the best of days we deal with our own set of struggles. But God has no different requirements for us than anyone else. We don't get a get out of jail free card. There are no exemptions - He's still working in us to make us into His image.

Sometimes I find this frustrating - other times it's comforting. Why do we have to deal with all of this, and still let Him work out issues on faith, trust, and hope? Don't we deserve a break? And on the other hand, it's a comfort to know that He did not abandon us - but still has the same requirements and expectations He always had for our spirit man.

So even when we are up to our elbows in... whatever we are dealing with - He still is working in us. He still is turning up the fire to refine our faith. He is still working His good will and pleasure in us. His Holy Spirit is still in us - strengthening us - and building the relationship between us and Him. I'm not sure why, but that actually gives me hope and comfort.

Today I will look at the fiery furnace differently. My thoughts will be on how He uses it to refine me into His image and I will meditate on how He continues to mold me and work with me even in this situation. I'll think about His unchanging love, mercy, and faithfulness. I will let His spirit comfort me today as I move closer to Him in my heart. And I will rest - in the midst of the fire and depends....I chose to trust His care of me. Will you join me?
Over the last year I had some of my own health problems and was even in the hospital for a few days. It was amazing how many people stepped up to help with my son during that time. You know all too well how miserable it can be to not feel well. It brings a wide range of emotions that are difficult to deal with and you can feel so inadequate. My daughter stepped right up to the plate and others drove in from out of town to give her a hand. And then of course, once I was better they were all gone! (smile)

During one visit to the doctor's office she prescribed me some meds for high blood pressure. (Go figure, right?) And she said that they would be good for me since they also helped calm down anxiety. I laughed and said, "You think I'm anxious?" I have always been high strung and being a caregiver hasn't replaced or changed any of that. Actually, I started running as a way to deal with the stress of caregiving and am now training for another marathon. You'd think that would alleviate some anxiety, wouldn't you?

Caregivers have to handle so many different things in a day our thoughts can run a hundred miles an hour or more. We have all the regular daily tasks and sometimes have them organized and manageable. But then let one thing get out of whack and "anxiety" doesn't even come close to describing how we can feel. But it only takes a few seconds of thinking it through and coming up with new strategies and it's all back on an even keel.

There are probably some anxious moments for the caregiver every single day. In Psalm 94:19 the psalmist says: When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Multiply is probably the best word to describe how our crazy thoughts can run away with us on any given day. Explode might be another appropriate way to describe it! But when our questions and thoughts are in "run away" mode we can stop, breathe and consider our true Help. And He will fill us with His peace, hope, comfort and joy.

Today I will work to control my anxiety and work at resting in Him and relying on Him. I will practice self control and not let my thoughts get away from me too quickly before I reel them back in. My thoughts will be on the hope, comfort and peace He provides me so I can make one more day. I will rest in Him today - will you join me?

Great-grandmother to a King

This week we've been talking about how adversity can offer a door to hope. It's not that hope makes the pain of losses any less, but it does give way to a brighter future no matter what the circumstances are. Today's character is Ruth; it's such a beautiful story. As most stories do, it starts out with conflict and trouble. Ruth had married young and her husband died after about 10 years. To make matters worse, as real life does, there was a famine in the land. Naomi decided to return to Judah to her family since her husband and two sons were dead.

Ruth decided that she was going to remain loyal to Naomi and go with her to Judah. Naomi tried to discourage her by telling here there was no hope. She told Ruth, Go for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons would you therefore wait until they were grown?....for the hand of the Lord is against me.(Ruth 1:12-13)

The custom of the day would have been for Ruth or Naomi to marry a brother of their deceased husband who could raise up children in his brother's name. Naomi had no other sons and she was a widow herself. There really was no hope in the womb. Ruth decided to see despair as a window of hope and she pledged her loyalty to her mother-in-law and returned to Judah with her. This had to be a difficult decision. She had lost her husband and was leaving her native land and traveling to a foreign one. But her great adversity became very hope-filled.

Naomi's kinsman, Boaz ended up redeeming Naomi according to the custom of the day. This meant that he ultimately provided for her and took her as his bride. Through their union - which occurred because of an adverse situation, Ruth gave birth to Obed; he was Jesse's father. And Jesse was the father of our beloved King David. So even though her situation was painful, she became the great-grandmother of a king.

Things had looked bleak, as they often do in life. Naomi stated there was no hope and she felt like the hand of the Lord was against her. It can be easy when life piles up on you to feel that way. Honestly, I've felt that way many times. It can seem like there is nothing good and that life has taken aim at you. Or maybe it's just me! Caregiving is a rocky ride at best and stressful situations abound and have a tendency to snowball on you at times. But there is always hope. Adversity and pain are not signs that God is against you. Sometimes it seems options are few and there is no end to pain. But there is always hope on the horizon. Remember that He is the God of hope. From the darkest seasons of our lives will come a ray of light and hope will arise. What an opportunity to trust Him more!

Today I will meditate on how He opens up a door of hope even in adversity. I will not dedicate my time to my trouble; but instead I will look ahead to where He is leading. When I feel like life has blinded me - I will trust Him to give me new vision and hope. I will trust Him for today and for tomorrow for there is hope. Will you join me?

Joseph's Journey

Yesterday I spent more time thinking about how adversity can open the door of hope. My thoughts led me to Joseph. God had given him dreams when he was a young boy and his family had made fun of him and judged him for it. I am sure he wondered some about those dreams as he was imprisoned for something he did not do.

Joseph's situation was dire. First of all, prisons back then were nothing like they are today. While our prisons are not pleasant, they are humane. I figure it had to be a very lonely place for Joseph. His family was far away and they weren't coming to look for him. Did he think back about those childhood dreams?  I wonder if he thought about his brothers and family while he was there. Did he ever think about what it would have been like if he hadn't been betrayed and sold by his brothers?

I also wonder if forgiveness and acceptance were daily choices for Joseph. In my situation, someone else caused the accident which injured my son and made me a caregiver. Sometimes I think about what my son would have been doing if the accident hadn't occurred. This can easily make forgiveness a daily choice. Just like Joseph most likely sat in a dark prison, caregiving can seem very dark and lonely at times. But it doesn't mean the dreams are dead.

God didn't say, I know I gave you dreams Joseph, I just forgot this other stuff was going to happen. He didn't erase the dreams because of life's adverse situations. Instead, the prison became its own door of hope. Of course, we read these chapters in a few minutes while Joseph lived out years of his life. In one chapter we see that he is brought out of prison and becomes a great leader. In another his brothers come seeking food and there is a great reunion. And then they lived happily ever after.

Joseph's dreams came true but not in the way he thought they would; and not in the time frame he would have probably preferred. His adversity became a door of hope for his whole family. And in the end, his dreams played out just like God had promised.

Caregiving can be a lonely place and it can seem like there is never a light in the end of the tunnel. But just like Joseph we have choices even in our situation. We can choose to forgive, and keep trusting God or we can quit. It's as simple as that. Maybe life isn't playing out like we thought, and maybe our dreams seem on hold. But we have a choice over our attitude and whether we will use adversity to find hope or use it as an excuse to become bitter. Me? I choose to look for the door of hope each day. Some days I have to look harder than others to find the positives, to find hope. But it's there if we look for it.

Today I will meditate on the hope that knowing Him brings. I will purposefully look for the positives today and rest in hope even in adversity. I will set my mind on things above and let God handle the big stuff. I will choose to forgive and I will keep dreaming even when it looks impossible. Will you join me?

A Door of Hope

The first couple of chapters of Exodus contains two things that I have found very interesting. In the first chapter  I found it interesting that the midwives were directly blessed by God for disobeying Pharaoh. Verse 21 state that they feared God and He established households for them.  Even though it was a very tough time for them and their people, they continued to trust and fear the Lord rather than caving in to man's evil commands.

In chapter 2 we read about the birth of Moses and how his mother protected him until he was found by Pharaoh's daughter in a basket in the Nile. Those who are familiar with scripture know that as the story unfolds, Moses becomes the deliverer who God uses to take His children out of Egypt's bondage and into the promised land. This time of great adversity became a door of hope for the Children of Israel.

The caregiver's life can be filled with adversity and some days every breath can be a struggle. But there's a scripture in Hosea 2:15 that says the valley of achor will be a door of hope. "Achor" means pain or trouble. Sometimes when we are facing another day of caregiving we can't see the hope that lies beyond our present circumstances. And there are times when we are so busy with caregiving that we forget there is anything else out there. But adversity gives way to hope.

For me personally, I was able to become a writer after becoming a caregiver. When my son was injured I began looking for work I could do online because I knew he was going to need care for the long haul. It was an area I would have never explored before. Over the last couple of years I also completed a Master's degree. I would not have taken the time to do that had I not been in this situation. While those things do not make the caregiving go away - they give me hope that I can make a living for us without compromising the care of my son.

Adversity has a way of bringing out the best and the worst of us! If we can take a deep breath, manage our attitude, and move forward with grace there is hope. Moses didn't look like a leader lying in that basket floating in the Nile. The midwives were not trying to change a nation, they just desired to honor God. The times of adversity that they faced were painful and trying at best - just like caregiving. But the adversity gave way to hope for an entire nation of people.

Our struggles are making us stronger in faith whether we recognize it or not. Just like the butterfly's wings are strong enough to fly because of the fight to get out of the cocoon, our faith becomes strong as we fight to face each day. And faith gives way to hope; and there is no shame in hope.

Today I will meditate on His faith-full-ness when my faith feels so small. I will turn my thoughts to the good things that have happened since I became a caregiver. I will look at my adversity as a doorway for hope and allow it to enter my heart and life to bring about grace and change. Will you join me?

What are you Waiting for?

Yesterday my mind kept going back to a very familiar passage in Isaiah 40. As a runner, I wish this scripture could be more literal. (smile) Verse 31 says They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (NASB)

We are all waiting on God for something. Perhaps we are waiting to have peace over a situation, wisdom for a decision, answers to our questions or hope to arise in our hearts. Waiting is the hard part once we've put it out there before God. Maybe it's because we don't know when the answer will come, or how He's going to answer us. But we can be assured, that He will answer - even if we miss it when it comes.

In the natural, we do get tired; and we do become weary. It's just part of the caregiving package. There are nights with little or no sleep, big decisions that have to be made concerning someone else's health and comfort, and endless chores that have to be done when taking care of another whole person. We can get tired just thinking about the things that have to be done before noon! Weariness is no fun, and it's often not easy to crawl out of, especially without help. I would define being tired as needing to rest; it's where getting a quick nap or sitting down for a bit helps you regain some strength and energy. But weariness is a tougher critter to beat. It's when you are tired and busted body, soul and even spirit. It's bound to happen at some point when you are a caregiver.

Over the last few years, I've learned to adjust the load of caregiving so that I don't wear  out as easily. And over time we can adjust to what many call the "new normal" of caregiving. Our crazy daily routines become easier to bear as we make the necessary adjustments. It's no different than any other situation in that in time we learn coping skills and strategies to make days run more smoothly. (Of course that's not counting the surprises that have to be dealt with.)

It gets easier the sooner we learn to wait on the One who does not get tired (v.28) for our strength. Most of the time - we know very well we cannot carry the load on our own. We have to wait on Him - the only One Who can help us with it. The One who does not get tired will help us keep from becoming weary as we wait for His strength, comfort and hope. When we wait for Him or "hope in Him" as some versions interpret "waiting on Him;" then we learn to trust Him more. He gives us the strength to take one more step and make it one more day.

Today I will meditate on trusting Him more fully. I'll turn my thoughts to resting in Him and waiting for Him. And I will think about the hope, comfort and strength He gives me. I'll concentrate on accepting His hope for today; and I'll let Him carry me through it. Will you join me?

Do I have to Choose?

This morning I had a couple of scriptures on my mind as I puttered about and got my tutoring done early. The one from 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is still fresh on my mind: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole body, soul and spirit be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There are only about 3 or 4 times when Paul uses the phrase God of peace. He uses it here and in Romans a couple of times. And of course, Isaiah says that He is the Prince of Peace.

We have the God of peace or the Prince of Peace living right inside of us. Now that hits me as just a little bit funny since the caregiver's daily life can resemble just about anything but peace. I don't know if it's ever not hectic! I would probably use just about any word to describe daily activities - except peaceful. While each caregiver's journey differs, my days are filled with constant activities like laundry, cooking and pureeing foods, straightening the house (this really doesn't happen all that often!), talking to various health care professionals, feeding, changing, bathing, transferring, providing stimuli (without providing too much), designing and doing therapeutic activities (standing frame, puzzles, range of motion) and whew! I'm tired already. And I haven't even touched the things we have to do to keep ourselves sane and happy. It can become quite the circus.

So after I think about how He is the God of peace in my own life - my thoughts shift to another scripture. In Romans 15:13 Paul says this: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This scripture has been I have meditated on for years. I guess I just love the thought of this God of hope filling me with joy and peace so that I have more hope in Him.

We can see He is the God of peace and  hope. Do I ever have to choose between hope and peace? It seems more like a package deal. We get all of Him when His Spirit resides in us as believers. So it seems that all of His hope and peace would be there as well. I do not have to choose between hope and peace - I get the full package deal! He fills us with His hope - AND He fills us with His peace. I think that's a pretty powerful combination and I can use an extra supply of both.

God does not give us just parts of Himself - He fills us up with all He is. There isn't a junior Holy Spirit for kids; or a senior Holy Spirit for the elderly. There is no "special editions" for special cases like caregivers. We get Holy Spirit working in our lives and He will continue to work to the degree we yield to Him - no matter what situation we are in. Ephesians 3:16 says that we are strengthened in our inner man - just by Him being present  in us.

Today I will be thankful that I get the full package deal and that the Spirit of God is at work in me - even in my situation. I will meditate on the truth that He comes with peace and  hope and I don't have to choose between the two. I will purposefully yield myself to Him and allow God to work in my life today -- and be strengthened by the truth that He still works in me - the caregiver. 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?

Walking it Out

It can be the day-to-day grind that is so difficult for the caregiver. Even though each day can bring it's own set of "surprises" and circumstances, the caregiver's life just goes on. There is often no relief or end in sight. If we are honest, no matter how positive we choose to be and how hard we remain focused, there are times when it seems overwhelming. Our situation can be constant and unchanging. Some have hope of a "better" day while others quite frankly, do not. Joni Eareckson Tada says that disability is just so daily. It's the same for the caregiver - there isn't always a break. It's not as much about learning how to "take a break" in the middle of the journey - as it is learning how to walk it out.

What I mean by walking it out is how we handle the day-to-day grind. How do we respond when pressure rises in an already pressure-filled situation? (I won't tell how horrible my responses are if you won't! - or maybe I'm the only one who explodes now and then!) Sometimes it can seem like we are dealing with thousands of issues on a daily basis - and others forget that there is actually so much more to our lives than just caregiving - even though it consumes our lives.

We have children, grandchildren, aging parents, our own health issues, financial decisions, friends, and perhaps tons of other responsibilities too. How we walk it out says a lot about us and our character.

In Psalm 119:74 says this: Those who fear You will be glad when they see me because I have hoped in Your word. This is how I want caregiving to appear in my life - when others see my walk - they find joy and hope because they see that I have hoped in His word. I don't want them to see the frustration, agitation or craziness I can portray. I hope they can look past all that and see that in the middle of the storm I am clinging to Him, that I find hope in Him.

It seems life is really about learning to trust Him no matter what comes. One hymn said it this way: He is all my hope and peace. I must agree. And even on the crazy days - He is a constant source of peace and hope.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is my peace - He is my hope. I will turn my thoughts to His peace and put my hope in  Him. "Put" is a verb - an action word. I will focus on actively placing my hope in Him - for He is my hope and peace.

Ever Been Disappointed?

Life can be disappointing at times and the caregiver can find themselves having to constantly pull themselves up by their bootstraps as the old saying goes. Most likely the very reason we had the opportunity to become a caregiver was one of life's huge disappointments. Perhaps it was a tragedy such as a wreck or an accident, or maybe it was a serious diagnosis; no matter what it was it certainly was not the way we had envisioned our lives turning out - and that can be very disappointing.

1 Peter 2:6 is a quote from the Old Testament that says this: Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed. (NASB) When life is full of disappointing news we can start to think that God didn't know what He was talking about. To be completely honest, I was very disappointed in God when my son was seriously injured in an automobile accident. After all weren't we led to believe that since we served God our kids would be safe? Well, I was. When the grave news started settling in and I realized that God was not coming in riding on a white horse to rescue me out of the situation - I was disappointed in what I had believed.

When we look at this scripture in context, we will see that it is talking about the body of Christ - and offering ourselves as an offering to God. (1Peter 2:5) It's not so much talking about life being free from disappointments. I think it's saying to me today that no matter what disappointments may come my way in life - we will not stand before God disappointed. As we continue to trust Him for our daily existence (necessary for the caregiver's survival!), we will not stand before Him and be disappointed. He will not be disappointed in us -  and we will not be disappointed in whom we put all our trust and belief.

We can become very focused on what we see right now that we forget there really is a bigger picture. He will  keep our souls - we must keep our bodies. They are subject to decay (thanks Adam and Eve!), they will wear out, get injured, become weak etc. But our spirit man will not have to stand before God with an ounce of disappointment - He is able to sustain us and present us holy and blameless before Himself - no matter what life brings our way.

Today I will meditate on how He sustains and strengthens me through life's disappointments. Will you join me?

So Ambiguous!

My mentor told me one time that I was ambiguous but I didn't know what it meant at the time and so I had to go look it up. After I discovered what it meant, I realized I had two very different opinions about a lot of things. Over the last few days I've felt sort of divided about how I feel about God too. (It's okay - He understands and isn't mad at all!)

On one hand - I love God with all my heart and trust Him fully. On the other hand I really don't understand why bad  or difficult  things have to happen in life; or how come He allows them. I think I found a Psalm to help me sort it all out. It's Psalm 42 and it starts out with the psalmist discussing how they long for God. As the deer pants for water - that's how my soul longs for God.  I feel that way; even wrote a chorus about being thirsty for His presence to invade every part of my life.

Verse 4, talks about how the psalmists remembers hanging out with God's people. I recall being very involved in "church" and even leading in worship. Sometimes I must admit I miss it, even though I do not ever want to go back to the same life I lived before I became a caregiver. Many times for the caregiver, attending church and being able to fellowship with other believers is simply a thing of the past.

Verse 5 the psalmist seems to dive deep into despair and tries to encourage himself by saying why are you in despair my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? But then he answers himself by saying Hope in god, for I shall again praise Him. When I saw the psalmist struggling with these two extreme emotions - totally longing for God and trusting Him - even thinking about worship; and then swinging all the way over to wondering where God is and feeling lost in despair - I was encouraged.

I was not happy that someone else was going through such a difficult time sorting through emotions like I do - but it encouraged me that God saw fit to include it in His word. This leads me to think that He understands that we are weak - that we need Him - that we must have His strength to carry this load! It's almost like He left it right there in Psalm 42 to tell the caregiver that we do not have to be in despair, but to remember that our hope is in Him - not in ourselves!

Today I will continue to meditate on His strength being in me to help me carry on. I'll speak to myself like the psalmist did and I'll tell my self to hope in God and praise Him for the help of His presence.




Silently Taboo

Maybe it is just Western believers who take scriptures apart and use the sections we like and ignore the rest. Over the last 4 years of caregiving I have "found' pieces of scriptures which have been somewhat ignored. Perhaps because it does not match our own theology. Somewhere along the church-y path it seems we were indirectly (I hope not directly) taught that pain was wrong - even a sin. Maybe no one said it, but various things led me to interpret sermons to mean that pain was not acceptable. When's the last time you heard a sermon on how to handle those pains in your heart? The soul pains that the caregiver suffer are deep and oftentimes unexpressed, because we indirectly are led to believe that they are taboo.

We even ignore books of the Bible that don't match our anti-pain theologies. When is the last time you heard a sermon from Lamentations? Right. Because the prophet penned that book when he was in intense pain for the losses he saw his people, God's people, going through. If we do hear Lamentations mentioned in a sermon I'd lay money on the fact that it is probably the 22nd and 22rd verses of chapter 3. The Lord's lovingkindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  (NASB) That is a wonderful scripture and really does offer much peace and hope. I need to know that His mercies are fresh and keeping me alive in Him every single day!

We do not hear the context of these courage building scriptures. Here's what the prophet shared about the anguish of his soul leading up to these true nuggets: My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, 'My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.' Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. (NASB) That's verses 17 to 21 in which the prophet shares honestly how he felt and pours out his anguish in an open and transparent manner. We really do not see that a lot today. Perhaps because it's not allowed. It is silently taboo.

The more I live the more pain I see , not just for the caregiver who lives in daily soul pain. People are diagnosed with serious life threatening diseases, children are killed in car wrecks, and loved ones are lost. Pain is real - and if we ignore it - we cannot take it to the Lord in exchange for His mercy. He cannot help me carry a load that I will not acknowledge I have.

Today, I will meditate on acknowledging my pain and giving it to Him. I will think about how great His mercies are and how thankful I am that when my strength has perished He will lift me up. Will you join me?

You Want Me to Wait Quietly?

Back in my real ministry days I did a lot of teaching on waiting on God. As a worship leader I learned that I needed those quiet times to develop intimacy with Him. This morning I was looking at Psalm 62 which starts out with I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.(Pslam 62:1,2 NLT) In verses 5 and 6, David repeats almost the same thing except he says,  I wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him. I took some time to meditate on this.

Life sometimes throws us a curve and many times, for me it can seem that it disrupted what I was doing! My head can get very busy and move so fast through so many thoughts that sometimes I wonder if I have lost the capacity to be quiet before Him. But David seemed to be in a life or death situation as he penned this particular psalm and he made it a point to quiet himself before the One who could give hope and salvation.

Today, I purpose to quiet myself before the God of my salvation, my hope, fortress and strength. I will purposefully stop the chaos of my day to meditate on His goodness - this means that I cannot let my situation be overwhelming to me or the focus of my thoughts. If my situation has all of my thoughts and energy then I can lose hope, and strength can fail. So I will turn my thoughts back to Him today and allow Him to give me hope no matter how bleak the situation may seem.

Will you join me today in quietly waiting for Him?

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?

A Deep Breath for My Soul

Did you ever turn around in the middle of the afternoon and wonder where the day has gone so fast? When everything works like it should, a day can be hectic. Supplies come in, meals get delivered, aides actually show up; the front door just keeps swinging some days. It's a good thing, but it can sure be like a whirlwind sometimes, especially if you factor in all the other daily caregiving that is not optional. If we are not careful a day can get away from us and we are left scratching our heads wondering which way it went.

Yesterday was like that around here and so when I found Psalm 131:2 this morning during my morning devotions it brought a quiet in my soul that was much needed. The psalmist said, But I have stilled and quieted myself just as a small child is quiet with his mother... And then he goes on in the last verse to say his hope is in the Lord.

What stood out to me here was that the psalmist said he quieted himself...he quieted his own soul before the Lord by reminding himself that his hope was in Him. For today I will keep my soul at ease by meditating on the Lord who is my hope, my help and my strength. Funny, when I stop to think about that for just a minute it's like a deep breath for the soul...

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 ...