Showing posts with label joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label joy. Show all posts

Count it all What?

This morning I started reading in James as I prepare another study guide. I read through the first few verses, sighed and moved on. Then a friend shared her devotional for the day and it was on the exact same verse. So, I thought maybe I should camp there awhile.

In James 1:2 we are reminded to count it all joy when we fall into different trials. It doesn't say if...it says when. I get that- you know - something's always going on. and for caregivers, it's a daily struggle to make ends meet emotionally, financially, mentally and physically. But do I have to consider it joy?

Well, if you'll read it again, it's not talking about being joyous because of the trial, it's because of the result. It's the testing of our faith that will produce endurance. I can testify that this is true. I've talked a lot about a redefined faith - one that sustains us. It's that deep-felt heart-abiding faith that won't let you give up. The same one that can honestly be frustrating when you really want to give up but just can't because of the rock of faith in your heart.

When endurance (or patience depending on your translation) is allowed to finish its work - we will be perfect. I was excited until I realized that word actually means "mature."

But this morning as I read this familiar passage, I noticed something "new" to me. In verse five, James starts with "but...." I've always heard it's not proper to start a sentence with a conjunction, but James did. I'm sure he did it for a reason. But if you lack wisdom... That's when it hit me - the conjunction, "but" is powerful right here. He basically says - count it all joy for your trials because it's working in you to grow your faith to maturity... but if you don't have the wisdom to follow that through - then ask God for it.

I certainly pray I have the wisdom to let this trial deepen my faith. One of my initial prayers was that I'd be able to find my way to stay strong in Him and follow His call in the midst of it all. I pray that for all of us today. Only a caregiver understands the heart issues we face. The dark night of the soul that caregiving can be - and the joyous intimacy with God that deepens when we pursue Him.

Today, I will meditate on how He has walked this journey with me and taken the time to develop my faith and trust even in the midst of the trial. My thoughts will be on how I can change and grow rather than avoid the painful journey. I'll be thankful that He didn't abandon me at any point and that He keeps on unfolding His word in my heart as I seek Him. I'll continue to seek Him as I trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

It's the "Little" Things

Solomon was right when he penned, It's the little foxes that spoil the vine. As caregivers we have lots and lots of "big" things that make our days more difficult than "normal" people's. And honestly, most days I have finally learned how to have a handle on those. It took awhile to find a new "normal" and adjust to a lifestyle that is anything BUT normal. But we are caregivers - we assess, adjust, and advance - on a daily, hourly or minute by minute bases as needed.

It's little things like this lady, who did have a handicap sticker by the way, who parked just a little bit too far in the loading area. It was just enough that I had to lift my son's chair up and over to get him on the lift.

I may or may not have said a bad word or two while I was trying to decide what to do. I thought about waiting until she came back out so I could giver her a piece of my mind. But I was afraid I might just punch her first. We were tired, ready to go home and both needed some rest so I decided to lift his chair up and over the lip on the lift so we could proceed. I got him in the van, buckled down, then I stored the lift and went around to get in just in time to hear some smarty pants on KLOVE say something about not letting things steal your joy.

Steal my joy? What joy? Did you see that inconsiderate blond lady who parked like that?  But deep down I knew the guy was probably right. I had had a wonderful evening with my family. We went to my daughter's church to hear my grandson sing in the choir, and then we came out to eat ice cream. It had been a fun, relaxing time with my daughter's family and my sister and brother-in-law and this short, blond chick had to park where it made it difficult to get Chris in the van. And just like that - the joy of the evening was snatched away.

As caregivers, we carry a lot - our day is so full of the things we get to do to care for our loved ones - but we walk around in a state of the proverbial "camel's back" and anything or everything can be that last straw. It really doesn't take much most days (maybe that's just me). The world is filled with inconsiderate people - it's our choice how they affect, or don't affect us. It's easy to say - difficult to do!

Today my meditation will be on Romans 15:13 - I pray that the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace because you believe in Him. I'll let Him restore the joy of my salvation  as I recall that absolutely none of these things have an effect on my salvation. It is secure whether there are considerate or inconsiderate people around is irrelevant. My soul, and my son's soul are safe in Him. I'll choose to rejoice in that fact today. Will you join me?

At Day's End

Caregiver's tasks are endless and almost every evening I have this sinking feeling like I didn't get enough done. It doesn't matter how much I did get done in a day, I feel like I fell far short of all I needed  to get done. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

We already have enough on our plate just in taking care of another whole person or two. I say this as I not only take care of my son who is total assist, but am shifting into a caregiving role with my parents as well. My son can do absolutely nothing on his own but breathe. I not only have to puree all of his food or blend up shakes to put in his tube, but I also have to take the time to feed him. Each day I bathe him, dress him, get him up, stretch him, stand him, entertain him, etc. It starts early in the morning and goes until late at night. Even when he's in the bed early mornings or late evening he has to be bolused, changed, turned, and kept comfortable. It's my pleasure.

Add to the daily chores of caregiving all the other things that must be done and every single one of us have a full load.  I can't speak for anyone else but I know we all have laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and all sorts of cleaning to do daily. Many caregivers have other children to provide care for or hold down a job. In my situation I work from home as a freelance writer; this can tie up quite a bit of time, especially if I start running behind. I have deadlines I have to meet and I can get pretty stressed out at times. I am learning strategies for keeping up and that it helping some.

Let's just take yesterday for example. I did all my caretaking responsibilities for Chris keeping him, fed, moving and comfortable, providing stimulation and ROM activities plus I completed 3 projects for clients and then went to taekwondo to complete my requirements for belt testing. But when I got home and got my son in bed, all I could think about was how much I had left to do. Even though I did quite a bit for a day- I felt so inadequate at the day's end. This is my typical late night activity. I look back over the day and think about what I did. Most of the time I feel disappointed and like I need to do so much more. It's a vicious cycle.

I turned to the wisdom of King Solomon for some direction and help. In Ecclesiastes 2:20 the wise king says So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. Interesting, huh? He tried working hard and then he tried hardly working and came to this conclusion he shares in verse 24: So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? God gives wisdom, knowledge and joy to those who please Him.

Caregivers do not have life easy no matter what their situation is. It can feel like life has dealt us an unfair blow and we just can't live life like everyone else. But we can be satisfied in our work, and we can be satisfied in our God! I really believe that God is pleased with our caregiving efforts and that we bring Him pleasure because we look like Him. 

Today I am going to smile and give myself a break. Even though I may feel like I always fall short - my efforts are pleasing to Him. I will embrace the truth that He is pleased with my actions as a caregiver and I will relax in Him today. My thoughts will be on how much He does for me - and how He takes care of me (that's a full time job too) and I will allow myself to be content with whatever I can reasonably get done in a day. I will let it all go and let Him be my joy for today. Will you join me?

True Cost of Servanthood

Jesus made an interesting statement in Mark 10,  He said: Whoever wants to be a leader among you must first be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.

In the Western church we hear very little about servanthood that is not manipulative or demeaning on the part of "leadership"; and many times boastful on the part of underlings. But Jesus came and presented Himself as a servant without any fanfare; it was just His nature to serve us. I really think this is an element of caregiving that many do not realize. In many cases it's a natural thing; but that doesn't mean it's always pleasant or easy. For many of us it just makes sense to take care of a parent, child or other family member who needs help and we just step into the role.

That's what Jesus did - He saw our need for a Savior and He just stepped into it  eagerly. It says that He did not consider the pain - but instead the joy that would be ahead: Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) He did not give as much consideration to what it was going to cost Him as it did to how His act of servanthood was going to affect mankind. When we become a caregiver we are more concerned with our loved ones' needs than what it will cost us. And in many cases, it actually costs us "our life." -- but we know that that is not what matters at all.

True servanthood comes with a cost that many are unwilling to pay. What a privilege we have to care for one of God's children. He has entrusted them to us. And as we take on this role of caregiver we must understand that even though it seems like the world (and the church) do not care that we exist for the most part - we are highly esteemed in the eyes of the Lord. We look like Him -

Today I will meditate on the supreme price He paid to serve me. I'll consider that the cross cost Him everything.... and I am the joy that was set before Him. Will you join me?




Where Did the Kingdom Go?

Sometimes it seems like we can be so cut off from the rest of the world. We just have to face it - our lives are different. We cannot always come and go like others. It's not always possible to just jump up and run to the store just because a necessary item is running low. Trust me - it even takes careful planning to not run out of toilet paper and trash bags! Many times the caregiver may feel like we live in a cave and totally separate from the rest of the world. For many, going to church regularly, or even at all, is out of the question. This morning I was reading Romans 14 and came to verse 17 which says this: the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I found this very comforting.

We are not missing out on the Kingdom of God just because we live separate lives. Actually, we may be closer to the Kingdom than many common church goers. These three things righteousness, peace and joy are ours because we not only live in the Kingdom - but the Kingdom is  in  us as believers. No matter what our lives look like to ourselves or to others the Kingdom is near  us - the Kingdom is in  us.

We have His righteousness which covers us and this is how we appear before God. As caregivers we can understand living in His peace- as ours was robbed long ago. And when joy seems far removed and pain seems so near - we can rejoice that we are His. It's interesting that these three characteristics of the Kingdom of God remain when the rest of our world has been so shaken. The Kingdom of God is still within us. It is a choice whether we walk in it or not each day. Today let us dwell on these three aspects.

Let's meditate on the truth that His righteousness covers us no matter what life throws our way. And dwell on the truth that His peace fills our hearts even in the midst of this present turmoil.Then let us rejoice that there is nothing in time that can take these away- nothing that can reduce the level of righteousness He covers with, nothing that can remove us from His kingdom - we are permanent residents! The Kingdom is in us - let us rejoice!

Measuring Fruit

Sometimes (not all times) life can seem so barren, dry and unfruitful! It's can be difficult to see past our own four walls. If we are not careful we can focus on our own situations so much we fail to see that there is a world of hurting people out there. And yet all of us share His same promises for provision, peace and comfort. Perhaps it's because of how we used to measure fruitfulness.

Many have measured fruitfulness by church activities. But I have never seen a plant get up and go somewhere else to produce fruit, they produce right where they are planted. And we are to be planted in Him. That is where we will produce fruit. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 2:20) and notice that all the fruit produced although easily observed - is not tangible. Our fruit comes from His indwelling - not from the things we do!

Be assured that He will work in you to produce His fruit -  Isaiah 51:3 says this: The Lord will comfort Israel again and make her deserts blossom. Her barren wilderness will become as beautiful as Eden- the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Lovely songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

I believe that during this time of perceived barrenness, He is working in us to bring forth much fruit for the kingdom of God. It's just not what the religious world expects but if I remember correctly Jesus walked contrary to the religious world! Rejoice today - there is no barrenness in the heart of one who serves Him fully.He turns our deserts into a beautiful garden!

Right Back to Him

 God is so patient with us. I run to Him so often, I often wonder if He silently shakes His head as I approach for the millionth time. In a ...