Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

A Story to Tell

 

Chris and I standing at a park in OKC

This is my second attempt to do the blog post today! I had one about half-written. It was all about something that happened to me this week. It was a good thing - a great thing really. But I stopped. I thought I don't need to tell my story - I need to tell His story. As interesting as "my story" and your story may be, it really all comes down to His story - not ours.

Instead of giving you all the details of my life - I'd rather be talking about how He gives life. God is so good at it that He breathes life into so many circumstances, relationships, thoughts, dreams, visions, even ideas long thought dead. We've seen Him do it over and over again. Just when we think we cannot possibly take one.more.step. He breathes. He glances our way. He touches us with His strength, mercy, and love, and all of a sudden we have what we need for that part of our journies.

Instead of focusing on my shortcomings and failures, for they are many, I can shout out loud about the grace He's extended time and time again. He doesn't keep count on how many times we fall short, He focuses on our multiple returns to Him. That's the part He loves. And He accepts us into His presence no matter how angry we were at Him. He welcomes us with open arms no matter how long we gave Him the "silent treatment." He just loves it when we come back to Him and His embrace.

Instead of focusing on all the things that can go wrong in a day - I'd rather talk about how He intervenes on my behalf every.single.day. God has a way of taking the most difficult situations, the seemingly insurmountable circumstances, those between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place spots in our lives - and turning them into precious moments and great deliverances.

Let's talk about His story! One of great forgiveness and grace. His story is one of unfailing love and faithfulness. His story is one of great mercy and peace, provision, and direction. I love His story. 

Today, I will take my eyes of my story and focus on His story. Why? Because His story helps write the pages of my story. My meditations will be on His great mercy, grace, peace, and love. I'll turn my thoughts to how He's walked every line of my story with me, sometimes in spite of me. (smile) Knowing His story - helps me walk out one more day of my story. As I walk out my story - I'll keep my mind on His story and let it carry me today. Will you join me?

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No Response

What's on my mind this morning is not something new, I've talked about it a lot. You know as caregivers, we learn so much about caregiving, about life, about ourselves on this journey. I'm still learning about the depth of the love of God.

I've said it before, but it bears saying again that I understand just a small piece of God's unfailing love for us. I remember standing by my son's bed one day and realizing it was a deep, intense love that held me there. I understood that it was that same love that held Christ on the cross for me, for you.

Some may question it - and I don't think it will ever be understood. I'm talking about how we can love someone who cannot reciprocate openly. Maybe they cannot express it, but you know they love you. In some cases, those who have dementia or other issues like my mom become different. Often they are combative or very NOT loving. But we love anyway.

I think about the way God loves us even when we can't reciprocate. Even if we act out - He loves us. If we can't express a love for Him - or don't even know we love Him - He still loves. He loves not to get something back - but because it's true love.

May we take today and meditate on His great love for us - whether life is ugly or pretty, we are acting out, depressed, unsure of the future... or anything else that can be on the caregiver's emotional plate. He continues to love beyond our lack of response - or even through an inadequate or inappropriate response - He just loves.

Today I will make His love for us my meditation. I'll continue to think about how much He loves me even when I act ugly, or life gets ugly. I'll take some time today to be grateful for His unending unwaning love for me - for us. Will you join me?

Recalculating

I think the only constant in life is the fact that change is constant. Just about the time we get where we are figured out and we settle in for the long haul, one little thing shifts. That catapults us into a new dimension it seems and we have to recalculate to proceed.

I think about the GPS and when we make a wrong turn or miss an exit it so nicely says recalculating route. Lol. Some days it feels like I do that every hour or so. I really thrive in structure, but that was one of the first things to go when I became a caregiver. Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make. Each day brings totally different circumstances to be recalculated.

Although it's been difficult, I've found a way to adapt to the constant changes. Like now. I'm writing the blog a bit later today and allowing Chris to sleep. That's so hard for me, but I overslept. Since we've come home from the hospital last week we've both been exhausted. Maybe I'm just old, or plain tired,  but it seems to be harder to recover these days. Every day can be a series of recalculations. This is usually walked out through a series of thoughts that pretty much sound like this:


  • Where am I now?
  • What time is it?
  • What do I have to get done?
  • What can wait until tomorrow?
  • What's most pressing?
  • Do I have enough coffee? :-)
Caregiving days are made up of questions like these and many times have a different answer every time. We honestly do not know what a day may bring, as I found out so quickly last week. I thought I was watching my son breathe his last. Then when the EMT told me they were going lights and sirens, I knew it was life or death. My daughter and I had to face the decision of if we wanted life support as it was the next step. I didn't see that coming. We cannot take anything for granted, not even caregiving.

Now here's the thing. Our GPS may need to recalculate based on our actions. I may have to recalculate my days based on what is happening. But God never recalculates. He has seen in advance and already made preparations. I was reading in Psalm 139 this morning. It says he is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He doesn't recalculate His love - it is constant. As a matter of fact - he pre-calculated and decided we were worth His efforts! He made the way for us to get back to Him before the fall and He's not changing His mind. He's not recalculating that one. We are still worth it!

My eyes slipped on down to verse 4 - even before there is a word on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it all. What? As fast as my mind can toss out questions, answers and ideas and He knows all that first? And He still loves me!

He knew we would be caregivers. He knew we would see rough days. He knew in advance we'd choose to trust Him through some very difficult decisions and circumstances. He knew we would always add it back up to trusting Him - no matter how we might calculate and recalculate. But He never has to recalculate His love for us or His mercy toward us. It stands through it all.

Today I am going rejoice in His constant mercy, love, and watchfulness over us as His children. He won't recalculate and decide we are not worth it. We will always be worth it to Him. My thoughts will be on how He walked through this moment in time before I got here - and He placed His grace here to carry me through it. I will be thankful for His constant watching, and His pre-watching. I'll be grateful for His lack of desire to recalculate His love. Today I will rest in the truth that He never changes His mind about us. And I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Yet He Remains Faithful

Last night as I was going through our bedtime rituals. I just stopped and looked at my son. He was lying down, resting and soon to fall asleep. I think all mothers like to watch their kids sleep. I just stood there by his bed and let my mind wander a bit. I thought about our journey and all we've come through to this point.  And I rehearsed some of my fears of what may happen when I get my ticket out of this place called time - or I get too old to care for him. The thought of him being left in a home made me shutter.

I thought of the people we met along the way and the ones I saw literally, just walk away. It's never been in me to do that. I thought of how much I love my son and how that holds me at his side no matter what.

I felt the bond between us strengthen as I grabbed hold tighter with my heart. It made me more determined to be sure things are in order so he doesn't ever have to feel abandoned. I can't imagine putting him somewhere and walking away. In that deep emotional moment it was like I felt God was saying the same thing about me; about us, His children.

He has that same intense desire to be with us. He will not abandon us. The scripture that came to my mind at that point was 2 Timothy 2:13 the passage (v. 11-13) reads this way in the NASB:

It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him
we will also live with Him
If we endure
we will also reign with Him
If we deny Him
He cannot deny us
If we are faithless
He remains faithful
for He cannot deny Himself

Two things ran through my mind He is faithful and He cannot deny Himself. Just like I can't stand even the thought of leaving my son's side - God cannot bear the thought of being separated from us. He remains faithful. Add to those thoughts verse 19 of the same chapter - The Lord knows those who are His and you have a win-win combination. He knows us - and He ain't going anywhere!

Today I will meditate on His faithfulness. My thoughts will be on the truth that He knows me. I will turn my thoughts to accepting the truth that He loves me and that love binds our hearts together and He is not going to leave...for any reason. Will you join me?

The Easy Stuff

It can be quite the battle to keep from being cynical or hard for lots of people these days, but especially for those who are in a constant daily struggle. We can wonder where God is and if He is still watching us why some things happen. And add to that being abandoned by people we loved and trusted and you have the makings of an emotional mess. Then on top of all that - we have to deal with the crazy health system; some people who are just doing a job with no heart and some who are not even doing the job part! It can be so easy to just feel like we are mad at everyone and if we are not careful we can turn our "expectors" off...it's easier that way.

In the midst of all the struggles we must endure each day there are times when we can feel like we suffer great loss. The lives we used to know and enjoy have passed away and many are prisoners in their own home...or that's the way it feels sometimes. Some days we count these losses; others we adjust and smile and just trudge on through.

Hosea 10:12 talks about breaking up the "fallow" ground. (that's old KJV!) I always thought that fallow just meant hard. But a little more study and I found out that it means ground that's already been plowed and then has sat and become hard again. If we do not guard our hearts carefully our hearts can be fallow.

The end of verse 11 says that Judah  must break up the hard ground and then the Lord will rain righteousness. Judah means praise...When we praise Him even in the hard times, it will keep our hearts from being hardened. But that's not always easy - even though it's doable. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a place to start.

Two things are mentioned in verse 12 that are unchangeable: righteousness and love. In these crazy worlds caregivers live in where things can change dramatically from one second to the next, these two things will never change. They are the easy stuff. We do not have to work at all - they will not leave us! He is our righteousness no matter what life throws our way; and His love for us cannot be changed!

Today let us  praise Him for His steadfast love. Let us praise Him that He is our righteousness and we do not have to work to please Him. He is happy with us and we are hidden in Him.

When Others Don't Understand

Many people really do not understand the life of a caregiver. Of course, they should not be expected to if they have not lived it themselves. It puts a strain on every part of your being: body, soul and spirit. Some days are emotionally draining and many times there are many physical challenges for us as well. But as each day unfolds before us, we simply press on. In my personal blog I spoke of the three things that will always remain: faith, hope and love. They will not fail us. (I Corinthians 13:13) (www.macdingolinger.wordpress.com)

 As we have learned to embrace these three elements and let them carry us through we do some things that others just cannot understand. Like the nameless woman in Mark 14. She entered where Jesus and His disciples were dining and poured some very expensive perfume on his head. Everyone got mad, because they didn't understand...why would she waste the expensive perfume anointing Jesus? It could have been sold....

 But Jesus told the disciples in verse 8 - she has done what she could...isn't that all we do every day? We do all we can. And when others cannot understand why we can hold our heads up high and care for our loved ones - we just do what we can.

 Do you think it was difficult for her to let go of her expensive perfume? I have heard it said that this was her dowry. When she poured this out on the head of our Lord she was giving up the dream of every marrying. She wasn't just pouring out her possession - she was pouring out her future on Christ and as He said anointing Him for burial.

As we care for our loved ones, we gladly pour out our lives before Him. It's not about us, our future or any dreams. It's all about what is right in His eyes. As we perform our duties today let us pursue the heart of Christ and desire to have the humility and grace that this unnamed woman had. We pour our lives, dreams and hopes out before Him as we care for our loved ones. And while others cannot understand why we do what we do, we can understand that in our own way - we are ministering to Him!

Separation Anxiety

Sometimes there is this huge mental struggle because religion is so works oriented. Maybe it's just me, but there are times I struggle with if He loves me enough...It sounds wrong I know. But we can read through the gospels and see all the miracles Jesus did for others..maybe I'm the only one who wonders why He doesn't come riding in on His white horse for me.

 Even the Old Testament is full of various displays of His miraculous powers. Yet my loved one still suffers. And I cannot help but wonder if He loved others more...But then (my busy mind) immediately jumps to what I would do if He miraculously healed my son. How would I explain to someone else that He loves them as much?

All this crazy thinking lead me straight to Romans 8. It's a long time favorite isn't it? We quickly quote that nothing can separate us from His love. But sometimes during tribulation it's easy to wonder...But a quick look at Paul's discussion is quite revealing. We can grab the concept in verses 38 and 39. It's easy to figure out that no substance, no creation, no power and no position can separate us from His love. Got it!

 But did we skip verse 35 in our analysis? Verses 38-39 are in answer to the question Paul asked back up in verse 35...Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Then his list of things that may seem to be able to cause a chasm between us and God's love looks like this: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword...The caregiver certainly has a good understanding of tribulation and distress as it was some form of distress that launched us into the position of caring for a loved one.

 Now verse 37 makes more sense - in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Notice it's in  the unpleasant circumstance - not over, around, under or any type of avoidance here...but right there in the circumstance His love is there with us to carry us and to keep our souls. Our souls cannot be harmed in any circumstance because that's the part of us that He protects...and loves. Let us take time today to rest in His love for us...for it is unwavering in the face of great trials and tribulations.

Puffed up Know-it-alls

Don't you just love the conversations that you have with people who act like they know it all? Usually the conversation doesn't get very far because the who know it all can't see past their limited knowledge to hold a true challenging conversation!

 Well, as I was studying this morning this short passage jumped out at me for a couple of reasons. It's actually in the context of Paul's instructions about eating meat that is sacrificed to idols. And then it seems he takes a little rabbit trail when he says the words in these three verses:

 Now let's talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols
You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge.
While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church
 Anyone who claims to know all the answers really doesn't know very much.
 But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for
 (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 NLT)

I found the first part about the know-it-all to be pretty amusing. I have met people like that. And I am sure I've come off as being that way myself at times. Thank God for life's tempering - it is indeed what helps us come to grips with the fact that we really don't know it all! lol!

But there are two other things that stand out to me in this passage. The first thing is that it is not knowledge which builds up the church. Listening to endless sermons may give us a lot of  information about God but that's not how the church is encouraged. Later in this same book, Paul will say that knowledge puffs up. But it is love that builds up the church. But then again we have to see the church not as a building - how can we love a building? But we must see it as us. We are the church and when we love one another and help carry one another's burdens it will build and encourage the church. (Ah! the missing link to modern Christianity!)

 And then the next part that grabbed me was verse 3 - the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for. Wow! I so want to love Him...and not let my knowledge of Him surpass basking in His intimate love. Just some thoughts for today..

Side Note - I did start some video devotionals for caregivers. There is one up and I will be doing one later today. You can view them at www.livestream.com/reallysimpleafterall.

Back to Basics

Emotions can run high for many caregivers. We keep them all stretched out all the time. When things like recent natural events like the tornadoes in Alabama occur it seems to stir them up even more than usual. For me - I cannot even watch real intense movies or TV shows because the emotions are simply too raw most of the time. The emotional strain of caregiving can be very overwhelming - and difficult to control. Then add in a terrible tragedy like the recent devastating tornadoes and they can be difficult to get it all balanced and manageable again.

During the times that emotions are running so high it can also be difficult to find something solid to cling to. We know the Lord is our rock, our refuge and our constant hiding place but when the world is falling apart we need something to hold on to while we are hiding in Him!

These are the times we may find it beneficial to go back to what I call the basics. The most basic truth we learn as Christians is God's unfailing love. No matter what type of trouble life brings us this is a steadfast truth that we must cling to. God loved Job even while going through his trial, He loved Paul and Silas - and Joseph even in their prison cells. He loved Noah in the ark - it could not have been easy to see the whole world destroyed before his very eyes...he was a person and probably very emotional. Think about how it would make you feel to be the only ones left during such destruction. It would not breed pride - but rather great humility... the point is God loves. Our situations are not strong enough to change His love. No trouble can bring a tide high enough or strong enough to wash away His love for us.

Jeremiah says of God's love - I have loved you with an everlasting love...
Romans 8 says that there is absolutely nothing  that can separate us from His love...

Take some time today to rest in His love. His love is sure and steadfast and everlasting no matter what we face...embrace His love for you today.

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 ...