Showing posts with label storm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label storm. Show all posts

He Didn't Wait

 

Mama and Aunt Polly

I keep hanging out in Mark 6. Last week we took a brief look at it, but this morning as I was reading it one more time something else occurred to me. That's what I love about His word - it's alive! It continues to unfold and reveal new things as we continue to read it and let it shape our hearts. So, in the sixth chapter of Mark, the disciples headed across the sea instead of waiting on Jesus. 

While they were rowing across, a big storm came up. It says the winds were blowing against them. Now, I've not rowed a lot but I know if you are in a boat trying to go against a headwind, you are not going to make much progress. You are sort of stuck in place. Here's what stuck out to me this morning during my devotions. Jesus came walking out to them - He didn't wait for the storm to stop first.

As caregivers, God doesn't wait until life's picture looks pretty again. He doesn't wait until the winds stop blowing our boats around. He doesn't wait until we get our emotions all gathered up neatly. He walks right into the storm, pulls up a chair, and lets us know He is there with us through the storm. Just like Jesus didn't wait for the disciples to get it all together and make progress toward the other side - He walks right up to us when we feel like we are rowing and rowing and not getting anywhere at all. And He says, It's me- don't be afraid. 

He sees us when we are bowed beneath the load. He sees the times we cry ourselves to sleep. He feels our pain when we let go of a good ugly snot-slinging cry. And it doesn't scare Him away. He walks right in the middle of it all and says - I'm here.

Today, I will remind myself that even in the ugliest moments of life, He is still here with me. I'll think about how precious it is that He doesn't wait until things look calm and cool, and I've collected myself. He wants to be there with us. He chooses to be there with us. And that means a lot to me! So today I will thank Him for not being afraid to walk out to me in the midst of the ugly! And with thanksgiving, I'll face another day. Will you join me?

Calm in the Chaos

journalling
Sometimes it feels like the world has gone stark-raving crazy. Just what we caregivers need. (smile) No matter what news source you listen to (I suggest turning them ALL off) it's sheer craziness all around. Isn't our plate already full enough? Earlier this year we had a Pandemic and the need to take extra precautions for our loved ones piled on our already overflowing plates... now the craziest election America has ever seen. It's too much. I'm on overload.

But wait....

I figured out that I do not have to embrace the chaos running rampant in the world right this minute. Instead, I can choose to embrace the calm assurance of knowing He is still walking through it all - with me. I thought I had learned that as a caregiver, right? But I was slowly letting the craziness out there get to me.

As a caregiver, I realized that God did not change one iota when my son was in an accident. It took some time for me to come to the realization that His kingdom didn't shake when my world fell apart. And it's no different now. I am repeatedly comforted by the scriptures that remind me that He is with me in the storm. 

This morning I was looking at a couple of different scriptures. I was looking for a different story when I found myself in John 6. The New Living Translation tells us in verses 16 to 21 that the disciples were waiting for Jesus. When He didn't come when they thought He should, they headed out across the lake. When they were a few miles out, a storm came up. But Jesus came to them walking on the water. They were terrified, then Jesus said, I am here! don't be afraid. Then they were on the other side.

Now I think the thing that stood out most was that they got weary of waiting for Him. They could have remained safely on the shore waiting - but ended up in a storm waiting. Let's be patient in our waiting for Him. Secondly, He told them I am here. I love that! He is with us in the midst of the storm and just because we got a little ahead of the game didn't mean He stays on the shore and lets us suffer. He is still with us.

For me, the truth that He is still right here gives me calm in the chaos. It was the calm that walked through the fire with the three Hebrew children. The same calm in the den of lions with Daniel. And the same calm that sat with Joseph all those years in prison. We can benefit from that calm today - because He is still here. He didn't say that 2020 was too much for Him!

Today, I will embrace the calm of His presence rather than the chaos of my surroundings. I'll lean in closer to Him so I can hear His heart beating over all the noise. I will rest in Him - and I will continue to wait for Him. Will you join me?

And Then it Happens....

I'm not even going to apologize for my absence. I hope you understand when I don't have it together, I just can't post. The last week or two have been extremely trying. It's really just the emotional part. Maybe you have those times when it seems like God is answering everyone else's prayers but not yours. Those times when it looks like everyone is getting a miracle... but you. Sometimes I look around and think it seems as if all the people I know are getting new cars, nice houses, large chunks of cash, getting to go to the mission field like I'd always dreamed. For me, my emotional crash usually comes when other brain injury victims make lots of progress and Chris does not.

Don't get me wrong, I am very happy for them. I'm glad they got all the things we were denied like therapy, castings, and intense, specialized care. But it can start to feel like God has forsaken. I ask questions like why my son? Why did God take his voice, his song? And I don't understand. Honestly, I don't ever want anyone else to go through these things - but I start to take it personally, and it just goes downhill from there. Emotionally that is.

And then it happens....


I'm minding my own business, wallowing in my own emotions and trying to find a way to come up for air. Or, I'm just letting go and wondering if I'll ever swim again, if anyone will come in after me. And He steps in....

Sometimes just the right phrase will get my attention, or the perfect song comes on the radio. Or like yesterday, out of nowhere, this scripture pops into my head. I was minding my own business and from nowhere it seemed, I just hear an old chorus we used to sing in church - taken from Proverbs 18:10.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower
The righteous run to it and are safe.

And that was all it took. My emotions leveled back out to the chaotic normals of caregiving. lol. I hummed and sang it all around the house. Shortly, I was thanking Him for being there in the midst of the storm instead of cursing Him for it. I was okay. For then. It was like we'd had a lover's spat and He was wooing me back to Him. I'm in constant awe at the massive effort He puts into chasing me, calming me and comforting me. 

Today, I will meditate on how He is that strong tower of refuge from the storm, from the battle. I will turn my thoughts to His faithfulness even through my foolishness. I'll purposefully find things to be grateful for today in the midst of life's storm. And I will make sure I stay in His embrace trusting Him just for today. Will you join me?

Find it!

chris looking at himself in the mirror
No one likes suffering. At all. Actually, we spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid it altogether. We avoid relationships that might be hurtful, as well as circumstances that might cause us internal pain. Then caregiving happens and it can feel like everything is painful all the time. While it is the most rewarding "job" on the planet, the suffering endures, pain and grief are real and constant for many of us. Sometimes we might ask what good could possibly come from all this. It's a fair question.

This morning as I was preparing my video devotional for a FB group, I came across verse 71 in Psalm 119. I'm taking it a chunk at a time each morning - and boy has it been a great study! Well, at least I've enjoyed it. lol.

Verse 71 says this It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.(NASB) The New Living Translation (1996) says it this way The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles.There's nothing like a little suffering, a little pain or bump in the road to get us to turn our attention back to God. All of a sudden, we are searching the word for answers. Or we are reading through verses looking for specifics like hope, courage, peace or a present help in time of need.

Here's the thing though, if we wait for those rough spots, those bumps in the road to get familiar with the word, we are going to be lost. When we hide the word in our hearts, then something happens we start mentally thumbing through scriptures trying to find one that fits the situation. If we've stored it in our hearts - it's there when we need it.

Do you need hope today? Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom.15:13)
Do you need peace today? Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (1 Peter1:2)
Are you anxious today? When my anxious thoughts multiply in me, Your consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
Are you fearful? Do not fear for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you for I am your God.I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

No matter what we face from day to day - or moment to moment, God has an answer. He may not make it all go away and come riding in on a white horse to rescue us. But He will always, always, always ride through the storm with us and providing what we need to make it through. Take time to find what you need in the word today - there's always an answer there.

Today, I'm going to meditate on how the word has carried me through the tough times. I'll think about the scriptures I learned as a child and how they bring me comfort even in the trials of life. I will take time to thank Him for walking through time with me - for not abandoning me. I'll express gratitude for the way the word brings comfort and peace and reminds me that He is indeed always with me. And I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Still Here

This week I decided to return to Job. It may sound odd to those most familiar with his story, but I was actually looking for some comfort. While his friends did not offer him much comfort or hope, my thinking was that by reading some of the things Job said I could gain a better perspective and find peace in dealing with the situation. So far, I haven't got past chapter 1. I hope we can take this journey through the book of Job together.

The first thing that caught my attention was that Job was blameless, a man of integrity, and he stayed away from evil. (You do know that Job wrote the book, right? *smile*) The second thing that caught my attention was further down when Satan confronted God about Job. He said that God protected Job, his family and all of his possessions from harm. He suggested that if Job lost everything, he would curse God to His face.

This is where I stopped for some inner reflections. As a caregiver, nothing is easy. Everything in our worlds have likely changed; and for me it has literally been everything. I have to look at myself and measure my own integrity - or lack of integrity. I certainly cannot honestly say that I have always said real pleasant things to God during this trial of faith; and I cannot say I have always had faith. But I can say that I have not cursed God or walked away from Him because of the tragedy, losses, or pain.

Losing everything is interesting because only then can you find out what you are truly holding on to. Only in the deepest trials of life do we find where our hope lies. Life doesn't lie. Instead, it reveals where our trust is, where our hope is and how we choose to make it through the dark night of the soul. We are still around. We are still seeking God; and He is still our provider and the keeper of our souls. Will I ever measure up to the patience or integrity of Job, not likely! lol. But I can say that even with a life of loss He is still my God!

Think about perspective today. Are we cursing Him for the storm? Or are we thankful He has chosen to walk through it with us? Let's be thankful today that He is still an ever-present God!

Sharing Grace

One of the things caregivers can miss the most is just living. That spontaneity of being able to decide on a moment's notice that you want to go to a movie, or run to the mall. The caregiver most times really does not have that option. We can miss the things we used to enjoy, like hiking or shopping; or just going to church. For the most part we finally get used to just staying home - but that doesn't mean our freedom isn't missed.

Somehow for me, when I can find someone in scripture who I at least think understands in some measure it can bring peace. Paul made what I feel is a very interesting statement in Acts 20:22-24. He said that Holy Spirit had told him that he was going to face afflictions and imprisonment in every city. He didn't hang his head and cry about all his losses (like I do!); he said this instead: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 

Now most of us did not know what was coming - and some have an idea. It can be difficult in the struggle to figure out why He called us to begin with and some who were in ministry before can feel as though they have been stripped and a lot of it does not make sense anymore. But God doesn't change His mind. It may just look a lot different than it did BC (before caregiving).

Paul continued to share the grace of God even though he found himself in prison. What better way to share how His grace is carrying us through - than right here from the midst of the fiery storm? It can be so easy to get underneath the heavy load and lose our focus. But what if we saw every phone call, every person who comes to help, or to visit as an opportunity to share His grace? Today that will be my focus, I will look at every encounter as an opportunity...will you?

An Old Familiar Psalm

It is very important for caregivers to try to find the positive things to rejoice in each day. We can rejoice in any small improvement in our loved one we are caring for, be glad the aide actually showed up to help, rejoice that at least the few necessities that are provided and covered by insurance showed up, or be thankful for a call or visit from a friend. Although the battle can be difficult, small things can help lighten our load on many days.

There are those days where we just struggle - with everything. And some days we just get through. After a series of days, weeks, months of just trying to get through yesterday one of my favorite worship leaders posted a new song he had written. It is called, "When I Worship You." It was the song of the day for sure. I played it over and over. It's on the front page of his website if you want to check it out: www.dennisjernigan.com

The phrase that stuck out to me yesterday was about Him being with me. Somehow that simple thought not only stuck with me, but really helped carry me through the day. It reminded me of a very familiar psalm. Psalm 23 contains a verse that says, Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me. (That's old KJV there!) He is the constant in my fluctuating day-to-day life. No matter how dark, or how light the valley grows - He is with me. I may be crying one minute and laughing the next, good news with one phone call and bad with the next - but He is with me.

Today just meditate on the fact that He has not left us in the storm. He is the only constant in our lives and He chooses to stay with us. A phrase in one of my favorite choruses says:

 I can't comprehend His vast presence 
as heaven and earth He does fill
Yet His choice of habitation
is in a heart that is still...
Today, let us remember that He will not leave us unarmed, or alone. He is walking through this furnace with us...and if you get a chance go watch that video by DJ. It's the worship song of the day!

A State of Mind

There is no way to describe all the things that may pass through a caregiver's mind in a given day. There are many thoughts about all the tasks that must be completed in the day, dealing with various health care personnel, as well as thoughts about the future. And there are the same daily chores of dealing with finances, work and family that non-caregivers must deal with too. If we are not careful our minds can get away from us. For many of us that may mean a lot of fear, dread or even depression. Thankfully, there is a way to defeat the types of thoughts that try to drag us down emotions first.

There is an interesting passage in Philippians 4 that has helped me keep myself in the right state of mind. Honestly, some days are easier than others because we live in a situation that doesn't have a "hold" button. There is no pausing in caregiving; some days it is literally putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day. Our minds can work against us - or we can make them help us out. Quite honestly some days it is easier to keep a positive state of mind than other days. But Philippians 4:8 instructs us to keep our minds on things that are right, pure,lovely, and good. There is always  a positive way to look at things - but it may be difficult to find it!

The interesting thing about Paul's instructions to keep our minds on good things is that it follows a key way to be able to accomplish it. Verse 6 says to let our requests be made known to God with thanksgiving. When we look about us and find things to be thankful for it will be easier to keep our minds on good and pleasant things.

Today look around you. Even though we are not in an ideal situation with pain all around and in every dimension, there are good things happening too. Let's take some time to thank God for the good things He is doing in our lives even in the midst of the storm. It may take a conscious effort to keep our minds on Him - but the peace that will guard our hearts will be worth it. Be thankful.

What Did You Say?

Do the days all start to feel the same sometimes? Each day has the same list of tasks that the caregiver has to perform. I see people glad it's Friday, or can't wait until the weekend. But most of the time one day is just like another for the caregiver and the chores really do not change much from day to day. Weekends or holidays are pretty much the same except maybe there will be no aide to help. If we are not careful we can slip into this boring existence and can live on the edge (or in the middle of) burnout. That's when we must be extra careful about what we say.

I remember when I was younger I would go visit my grandmother in the nursing home and all she would do is gripe about how we didn't come to see her often enough. Although I knew that was true it always made for a very unpleasant experience and I dreaded going to see her and sadly even avoided it when I could. Personally, I do not want to become that person. If we are not careful we can get so caught up in our cave-dwelling existence that we do not make others visits or phone calls pleasant ones.We must guard our mouths and choose to speak about pleasant things even when our hearts are hurting or lonely.

Proverbs 21:23 says this: he who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles. For the caregiver who may not even get to visit with others too frequently this means that whether we do actually have a visitor or not we have to watch our mouths to protect our hearts. What we allow ourselves to say can determine if our heart becomes bitter or remains tender toward God and man.

Today I will find pleasant things to speak. I'll talk about His goodness rather than my pain. I'll speak thankful words for all He has done and is doing in our lives. My heart will guard my heart today as I determine to speak peaceful words of praise. While speaking "all the right words" may not help the painful situation to go away - it can mean my journey through life's turmoil is a much more pleasant one.Today let us speak words of peace. Find someone else to encourage today - it will change your own heart.

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!

Just Like Everyone Else

The life of a caregiver is certainly not an easy one! Yet I am sure that there are far worse circumstances to have to deal with. But this can be a lonely and painful walk. Each day can present various situations that must be overcome; obstacles that seem insurmountable.But we are still breathing; and we are still caregiving - so we must still be learning to trust in Him to take us one more day! Challenging pretty much sums up our lives, doesn't it? lol!

 I have found that just because my life is lived in a cave of adversity, it does not exempt me from the requirements laid out in the Word. So far I have not found one time when there was a command given and special stipulations were given for caregivers; or any other sufferers for that matter. (but I am still looking! lol!) Jesus did not say give to those who ask and do not turn away from those who want to borrow - unless you are a caregiver in which case you don't have to worry about it! It does not read like that anywhere! We still have the same solid word, the same constant commands to follow as everyone else. But this is good - because it also means that we have His peace, comfort and joy accessible to us - just like everyone else!

 So when I read this scripture in Philipians this morning I knew that we do not get a "break" just because we are caregivers: In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:14) We do not get an exception on this command even though we live in adversity!

 If we are not careful (maybe I should just say if I am not careful) it is easy to complain about many things. We have lost many things in life that brought us to the journey of caregiving. It is so very important to train our minds to find the things to be thankful for each day. So today instead of letting the situation get us down - let us turn our focus onto the way He has provided for us in the situation. Let us concentrate and meditate on His peace, His love and His care for us even in the midst of life's ongoing storm.

Covenant Renewals

Josiah has always been an intriguing OT character to me. He became king as such an early age and then the Bible says he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.(2 Kings22) It also says in the NLT that he followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right.

The young man vehemently followed God's law as it was revealed to him. And in chapter 23 this young king read the entire Book of the Covenant  to the people. And then he (in his place of authority) renewed the covenant in the Lord's presence.

Can you imagine if any nation's leader would actually take the time to read the entire covenant to the people of the land? I will admit that we are only talking about Genesis to Deuteronomy. But even that would be amazing. And then to have such leaders who would stand and say This is our covenant with the Lord and we will keep our end of it and serve Him alone....sorry for the skepticism but it is a nice dream...

 Let's just enjoy the picture from 2 Kings. Here is the king reading the word of God and then reaffirming that it was the nation's covenant with Him.While I don't see any nation doing any such thing today - we can each act as "king" in our homes and renew our covenant with Him. It's a covenant of peace and soul prosperity. We must remind ourselves that it is not a pact that ensures us we will get what we want when we want it every time we want it...But it is a covenant that says our God will (somehow) work it all out for His and our good in the end. It is a promise that He will walk with us through the storm...It is a promise that no matter what this or any day looks like - we will win the final battle and spend all of eternity with Him..

 Take a moment today to stand on His word one more time. Remind yourself that nothing in His promise changes because you are a caregiver. Your circumstance does not negate His promises or His covenant! Take a moment to say that His word is our eternal covenant with Him that cannot be broken. Let Him be our God one more day!

Passion or Fear?

In Matthew 13 there is a very interesting story about a storm. Jesus sent the disciples across the sea and while they were headed across a storm came up. On the water in a storm has to be a very scary place! Here in Oklahoma we can have some pretty rough storms and I would not want to be out on the water when one blew in!


Jesus saw the storm and headed out walking on the water to meet his frightened disciples. That's one thought in itself isn't it? Jesus' attention was not averted away from those He loved just because of a little storm! He headed right out to them without a second thought. As He got close to His trembling disciples, Peter called out and said If that is You,Lord, bid me to come!  That was a crazy thing to say - for anyone!

Jesus told Peter to come on out on the water. Peter jumped out of the boat momentarily oblivious to the tumultuous water and waves and headed for Jesus. The question here would be did Peter jump out of the boat and head toward Jesus out of passion, or out of fear? Was he headed for Jesus for safety from the storm, or simply because he was so glad to see him in a scary situation? Personally, my guess is that he headed for Christ out of passion. It was fear that caused him to begin to sink when he looked away from Jesus and toward the storm.

As a caregiver, we kind of live in a storm don't we? At least by other people's standards. My prayer is two things here. One- that I will run to Jesus out of passion not out of just fear. It's certain that He is our comfort, strength, and sustainer of our souls! I want to run to Him in trouble of course! But I want the drive of my pursuit to be passionately seeking Him. I stated in my other blog, From the Furnace, that I have come to know HIm in such a way, even in the storm, that I wouldn't trade this relationship for church! I wouldn't want to go back to that sort of religious relationship with HIm. I want to passionately run to Him.

The other thing to remember in our passionate pursuit of who He is - is to not let the storm grab our attention. It is so important to keep our eyes on Him as we pass through the trials of life. One has to wonder how the story would have read if Peter had not been distracted. Ever wondered that? Would they have simply walked back to the boat? Personally, I'm glad he got distracted (sorry Peter because it is such an encouragement to know Jesus did not condemn him, He simply helped him get back in the boat. Jesus also told him he at least had a little faith even in his doubts!

Today, let us pursue Him in the midst of the storm...disregard what we feel is a lack of faith and head straight for His arms! He will carry us!

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 ...