Showing posts with label pain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pain. Show all posts

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?

Grace Reigns

While it is a joy and an honor to take care of our loved ones, there is a very painful side to caregiving. Our hearts hurt on many levels. Personally, I grieve the loss of my son and all he could have become. I also grieve the loss of my mom - who she was before dementia. And now, as life has brought more change, I grieve for my daddy who is struggling with this part of life too. He has spent over 50 years with mama - she has been his life. Much like my son, she is still here but gone.

Last night I called my mom's sister to explain the new arrangements with mom. She didn't take it too well. She is grieving her loss of mobility as she is barely getting around with a walker at 87 and is needing more constant care. Can I say, my heart hurts?

People are mostly gracious and compassionate to caregivers. But there are times when you are looked down on as if you don't have faith - or you wouldn't be in this situation. I have felt this from church-like folks many times. They want to condemn your choices and can send some pretty negative signals. Social isolation hurts too.

A few weeks ago, I was in a down, painful spot. I felt the condemnation of those who wanted to look down on me. What I found was His grace. I sat and penned these words - hoping to put some music to it possibly later. His grace is so amazing - gently carrying me through the storm.


His Grace Reigns

Fighting the same thing over and over
I never seem to win
Like a horrid monster returning
Again, and again
When will the nightmare end?

The more the pain
The more grace reigns
Down on me
Time and again
In the midst of my sorrow
And in the deepest pain
His grace reigns

My heart is so broken
Don’t know what to say or do
The “proud and the mighty” say
“just look at you”
A sight to behold
I ask – does my walk offend you?

The more the pain
The more grace reigns
Down on me
Time and again
In the midst of my sorrow
And in the deepest pain
His grace reigns

Throw my pain back in my face
Tell me to look the other way
Because I have “no faith”?
Shame on you don’t you recall
Job prayed for his friends
Then they were healed one and all

The more the pain
The more grace reigns
Down on me
Time and again
In the midst of my sorrow
And in the deepest pain
His grace reigns

Today, I will just think about the grace He has extended to those of us hurting inside. My meditations will be on His great grace - his work of heart. As I sort through my various emotions - I'll keep turning my heart to the peace He pours out, the strength He gives when I rest in Him and the hope of His eternal love and grace. I'll crawl up in His heart today and let His grace reign. Will you join me?

Search Me O God

When my son was first injured and we were living in the hospital, I knew I had to find a way to get adequate exercise so I took up running. I thought it was an inexpensive sport that I could virtually do anywhere. It's been sort of a lifeline for me over the years. Running has become what I do to deal with the difficulty of caregiving. It helps me physically but it also helps me beat depression and clears my brain. It's really about the only thing I do, and the only reason I get out. 

Yesterday, I ran my 16th half marathon. I proudly added my finisher's medal to my overloaded rack on the wall. But I had something happen during my race that had to do with caregiving. As I neared mile 5 of the course there was a drumline playing. It totally caught me off guard. My son was the drum caption and the center snare for his college drumline before his accident. Seeing a drumline live brought back a flood of memories and I collapsed in tears. Eventually, I gathered myself and continued down the course to finish the race.

Things can be so much more than what we see and we never know what a person is dealing with on the inside. In Psalm 139, David talks about how God sees our insides. He knows our comings and our goings. Sometimes people are scared to see that deeply into another person; and sometimes we are too scared to let them look. But God sees past our fears, our emotions and the walls we build to keep others out. He sees what makes us tick. And He still hangs around!

I encourage you to take time to read this psalm today and think about how intimately God knows you. David says in the last two verses:
Search me O God and know my heart,
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, 
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Our hearts are safe with God and He knows and understands everything we feel. He knows what makes us tick and He's not afraid to be close to us.

Today as I meditate on how He knows my thoughts, I will think about His closeness. My thoughts will be on His ever abiding presence and the fact that He is not afraid to continue to hang around even through life's storms. I'll think about how He loves me in the midst of the hurt and difficulties. And I will relax and let Him search my heart. He is safe, He cares. He loves.

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?

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?

He Remembers

It can be way too easy to let the pain of each day have our focus; but it does not have to be that way. Starting in the morning we can begin to shift our thoughts to Him and away from our circumstances. I'm not trying to minimize the pain that a day brings as for many caregivers, as well as those who are being cared for because of chronic or serious conditions, the pain of the circumstance can be almost unbearable. Quite honestly, some days we do not have the energy to let pain have our attention as we spend the day taking care of the needs of our loved one. But each day hurts. If we are not careful our thoughts will major on things that we are missing instead of what we have - life. And not just life - but life in Him. We can chose to celebrate that life in Him from any circumstance.

As believers we understand the concept of hiding in Him. Psalm 91 talks about hiding in the secret place  of the Most High; and Psalm 46:1 speaks of the Lord being a very present help in trouble and our refuge and strength. And in Psalm 61, the psalmist cries out that the Lord has been a refuge  and a place of safety from the enemy. We understand that we can hide in Him when life gets out of hand or we are overwhelmed.

Just knowing that He is my refuge and I can hide in Him when the pains of life try to overwhelm me is a great comfort to me. But listen to this in Nahum 1:7 - The Lord is good. When trouble comes He is a strong refuge. He knows everyone who trusts in Him. (NLT) He knows those who seek refuge in Him because we trust Him. He knows every time we crawl up into His lap and say "I just can't handle this anymore." He remembers us...

Today I will meditate on the truth that He knows I seek Him for a refuge and He knows that I trust Him. I will meditate on His peace and the strength He fills me with to walk each day I must face.

Ever Wanna Give Up?

Have you ever just wanted to give up? I mean, face it  - life can be tough especially when you are faced with daily challenges and adversity. But if giving up was a real option - What would you give up to? We really are not alone when we've had all we think we can handle. For many of my acquaintances our days are filled with pain in one way or another. Some of my friends live in constant physical pain and then there are many who like me, and other caregivers, have this nagging emotional pain that does not ever go away. Either way it's pain on a very high level.And there are days it does not seem worth it to go on.

We are not alone! In Jeremiah 20 we find that he had been beaten and placed in prison in stocks - only for speaking God's words. He must have been in every kind of pain imaginable. His body hurt from the intense beating, his soul hurt and even his spirit was in pain as he cried out I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name...Jeremiah really wanted to give up for at least a second. Recently- I have felt the same way! But...

Just like Jeremiah when we reach that point of all we can carry - we have something, someone, Who will carry us. Jeremiah goes on to say that just at that point when he really wants to give up and give in - he finds that God's word is in him like a fire and he cannot hold it in! And even though everyone was literally against him Jeremiah found that the Lord is with me like a dread champion! And He is with us too - no matter what we face.

When it gets to be too much - we may take a rest - but we will never give up! As we continue to hide His word in our heart we will find that the Holy Spirit is right here with us - carrying us and comforting us through the turmoils of life. He really is our peace - but instead of giving up on life because of the pain - we must give in to Him in spite of the pain. He will comfort, He will carry and He will protect our spirits from harm. Let us trust Him for one more day.

Faith-filled Tears

Many times as caregivers, we walk around in a painful numbness. Are you familiar with it? It's like everything hurts until we go numb on the inside, but it still hurts. (You really won't be able to understand that unless you've walked it!) Of course, stopping for a day is not an option for many so we continue putting one foot in front of the other, continuing through the tasks that each day demands. That's not a complaint - just the way it is.

So what do you do when the situation is overbearing? When you are overwhelmed with the day? I think Psalm 61 can help out a little. I found myself singing it to my son last night. The psalmist says Hear my cry O God; give heed to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. There really is faith in crying out to Him.

Last night the part that really stood out in my mind was the cry for Him to lead me to the rock. When we are overwhelmed (that's the old KJV translation) it can make it hard to find that place of refuge. Although that part of the verse had never stood out to me before last night I felt like I really needed Holy Spirit to lead me to the rock, I needed Him to help me find that place of refuge one more time.

Today allow Holy Spirit to lead you to the rock. Rest in Him and let Him bring comfort. Maybe the pain won't go away today; perhaps the numbing will continue to help shield it some - but in the pain allow Him to comfort your heart and soul. Allow Him to wash over you with His peace - allow Him to carry you...that's the epitome of trust. Crying out to Him is not a lack of faith - it's an indication that you still trust Him.

Even in the Furnace

Life brings us many days filled with many things. Living in the furnace (of caregiving) can get hot and stay hot. Sometimes that is the most difficult part - the fact that there is no real relief. Getting out for a few hours can bring a little relief, and much needed breaks - but then we still have to come back to an unchanging furnace. What a trial of faith...yet we just keep going; putting one foot in front of the other. Isn't that what it's all about? Just keeping on moving no matter what comes our way - no matter what our days look like - no matter what we must face today...that's faith.

 We are to be examples of faith and believing even in the furnace. Actually, without the furnace to try our faith we would not be able to recognize it as such. Having faith means that we do keep going no matter what we see, no matter what we feel, no matter what is going on around us. We just continue to stand...because we have Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us and carry us on through. We can spend our time complaining about the terrible situation we are in.. or we can be thankful for the God who carries us through - and does not leave us alone in the fire. Today I am thankful even in the furnace.

Let us be an example of faith today for anyone that might come across our path...as we continue to stand. Let us be an example of hope even through the pain..as we continue this walk of faith. Even in the furnace.....

Healing Rest

Early in the mornings I go in and feed my son through his peg tube, change him and get him comfortable. Shortly after that he usually goes off into a deep sleep; a restful sleep. I checked on him just before starting to write this morning and he was out! I thought, he's getting good, restful sleep...healing rest. I figure that when he is sleeping real good and letting his mind and body rest that he is healing. We know rest and healing are connected.

 What does that mean to the caregiver? Because as a caregiver, we have pain every day. It never real goes away because we are dealing with a stressful, painful situation all the time; so it hurts all the time. We see our loved one not able to function fully on their own and to need help with simple, daily living skills. They are not who they were and in my case I grieve a lot over the loss of my son - even though he is still here. Yet he's not still here - not like he was. And as we walk out each day, each step along the way can be filled with pain.

 So as I watched my son sleeping (parents never tire of watching their kids sleep do they?) and was thinking about how rest brings healing, I though about the times I can press through the pain and truly find rest in Him. Those are the times He can heal our broken hearts...but only when we can quiet our souls and minds (sometimes it's more difficult to quiet the soul than the mind...) and truly rest in Him can we find the healing we need. And we must do it every day. Because we hurt every day - and we need His touch every single day.

So find a moment today somewhere, somehow...to rest your soul in His. Let Him wipe away the moment's pain...it will return...but He can handle it! Keep resting in Him....

Healing the Wounds

No doubt life brings many wounds, I don't think anyone would argue with that. Many times they even come through well meaning (and not so well meaning ) friends! But then for the caregiver sometimes life just hurts!

This is where I was this morning when I woke up. There were tons of questions flooding my heart and mind and not one answer to be found. And it just hurts. There are so many whys and why nots. It can all be so frustrating and painful at the same time!

But while I was thinking and trying to find answers I realized that I just simply need Him. And I really can't work through it without Him. And so these lyrics came into my mind and I wrote them down. Within a few minutes I had a song written entitled simply, Holy Spirit I Need You. Here's the lyrics and you can see the video on my facebook page if you want.

Holy Spirit I Need You
to come touch my heart and make it brand new
without You I really don't know what to do
but I know I'm in desperate need of You!

And so I'm waiting...
I'm waiting here for You
to comfort...Wipe away the pain
and restore the joy like when you first came.

How it helps to simply recognize our need for Him. By many people's standards being so needy  can seem weak - but it truly brings us strength to carry on when we realize how desperately we need Him! So go ahead and need Him today!


Who's Gonna Carry Me?

Recently I watched a very inspiring video. A college student hit her first ever home run but tore something in her knee and couldn't make it past first base. The other runners ran for home but she was stranded on first. Her team couldn't help her because it would forfeit the run and make it only a two run single. A couple of young ladies on the other team picked her up and carried her across the rest of the bases to home plate! I was so inspired...then I started thinking about it...I've been in this pain (which can be immobilizing at time for the cargiver) for 2 and a half years. What if I cannot get past a "first base" that may come up in our lives? Who would carry me to the goal?

In the video it was the opposing team's members who carried her. Now you know, our opponent is Satan and he ain't gonna help us out in the least! lol! But when I am wounded, or hurting, or can't go on...Who's gonna carry me?

The church disappeared a short way into this journey of caregiving. So I cannot really count on them. I have a few friends here...but will they carry me?

So I began a short search for scriptures and found one most interesting. Deuteronomy 1:30-31 states this The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.

 Somehow it was a very comforting thought that He intentionally went after His people who were bound in Egypt, set them free, then carried them through the wilderness to safety. He certainly didn't make all their problems and obstacles disappear (that would of course be my choice!) but He did not abandon them to the wilderness either! He will carry us through when the pain is too much to bear. I love the thought of Him carrying me like a father gently carries his son!

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 ...