Showing posts with label strength. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strength. Show all posts

The Strength I Need


 I spent my devotions in Psalm 138 this morning. If you have time today, take a minute to read through it. There are several nuggets that spoke to my heart. I want to pull out this verse for my day today. Verse 3 in the New Living Translation says this When I pray, You answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

I thought about that for quite some time. Firstly, I think we do gain strength when we pray. It's especially true as we bring our burdens to Him in prayer and then leave them there!  Of course, this is written by the warrior-king David. If anyone knew how to take their troubles to God in prayer and leave them there- it was David! I try to follow his example a lot. He prayed. He praised. He declared! I like that combination.

What I really wondered about this morning though, was how much strength I might actually need for today. Just for today. To say our proverbial plates are full is an understatement for most caregivers, right? So many things that have to be done on any given day. But every day only has 24 hours in it - no matter how it's sliced up. Then I asked, how much energy is God prepared to provide for me today? 

I'm kind of a high-energy personality and it might take quite a lot. lol. 

As caregivers, we never know what a day is going to throw in our lap, right? But it seems that God will give us the strength we need no matter what the level of need is. I think the key must be to trust Him for it. You know, like He gives us peace -not like the world gives - (John 14:27) But it's up to us to accept that peace and then let it reign in our hearts. Maybe the strength I need for today is kind of the same.

No matter what, He will make sure we can make it through today. Besides offering the strength needed to get through today - He also provides comfort, peace, and direction. Plus, He walks through each day with us and never abandons us to deal with the hectic craziness caregiving can bring alone. He's right there whether we see, hear, or acknowledge His presence. Actually, His presence goes before us into the day and then walks with us through it, and provides the strength we need all along the way.

Today, I'm going to thank Him in advance for giving me the strength I'm going to need today. I'll meditate on how He stays right with me no matter how crazy a day may get. My thoughts will be on the comfort and peace He provides - and how they do not wane or weaken over time. I like that. My prayer today will be that I will learn to lean on Him with more of myself and that I'll let Him carry me more. And with that - I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

The Anchor Holds

This morning as I was meditating on Isaiah 26:3, I thought of an old song. It's called The Anchor Holds. One line says, though the ship is battered. Sometimes it can feel like life is a battering ram that keeps coming back to crush us over and over. Thankfully, this is not an everyday thing for most of us, but for some caregivers, it can feel that way.

As caregivers, we can just get tired. You know what I mean? It takes a lot to do everything for a day for two adults.  Dressing, bathing, feeding, entertaining all take energy, especially when it comes to another whole person no matter what their age or size. It can be exhausting.

I was preparing for my live devotions this morning and found my thoughts going around and around Isaiah 26:3. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Because He trusts in You. Underneath all the busy-ness of our minds and bodies there remains a peace we can count on. Even though our minds can chase a lot of thoughts in a day - we always reel it in and bring it back to Him. And that is where we find perfect peace. No matter how stormy it gets - we find our peace in Him. That's been an anchor that has held me securely all my life - and the last 12 years of caregiving too.

I was focusing on verse three, but when I looked it up to actually lay eyes on it, I grabbed the next verse too. Verse four says Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength. I'm so glad He is not selfish and shares His strength with us, aren't you?

Today, I will keep trusting Him - it's not the day to give up! My crazy, hurried thoughts I will turn into prayers to the God who sees, to God - who cares. I'll keep bringing my mind back to Him no matter how hectic the day becomes because I trust Him. And I will trust Him - for one more day. Will you join me?

Strength Upon Strength

As usual, my thoughts are all over the place. But it seems they have landed in a good spot, Psalm 29. I love this psalm and have read and taught from it numerous times. I like the fact that it starts with me giving God strength and ends with him giving me His strength. Not a fair trade for Him, but it sure works for me.

There can be many things that sap the caregiver's strength throughout a day. Because we live so on the edge of our emotions it doesn't even take much. As a teacher I used a term "reinvent myself" for what I had to do every day before I went back into the classroom. I knew that each day I had to be fresh, new and energetic for my students to receive from me. I think we have to reinvent and regenerate ourselves as caregivers all day every day. Then the littlest thing topples us off the edge.

We carry such a load, any straw can be THAT straw - the one that breaks the camel's back. The funny thing is though - no one will know it. We figure it out. Like yesterday when the aide didn't call or show - I just shifted into get 'er done mode and started completing all his tasks. It's no big deal - just exhausting to keep reinventing ourselves over and over. Or maybe a better way to say it is we keep reaching down inside deeper and deeper and finding more to work with. Because we have to. We do it numbly and don't even realize it most of the time.... or maybe that's just me.

So today as I was reading this psalm it meant a little more to me. I really don't have the strength in myself, but I find it in Him. He strengthens my hands for battle - and for caregivers, life can be a battlefield. That applies to just about everything from finances to emotions to our physical being. But He will make us victorious as we give it to Him and accept His strength in us.

Today, I'm going to think about how He strengthens me day to day. My thoughts will be on how He fills me with Himself and doesn't take anything back. I'll meditate on Ephesians 3:16 that says we are strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner man. And I will just let Him be my strength today I won't try to do it on my own. Will you join me on that?

What? No White Horse?

I know I've shared before that when my son was first injured I honestly thought that at any moment God was going to come riding on a white horse right into the ICU waiting area and swoop us all away. After 3 plus weeks in ICU and over 4 months total at the hospital I kinda started to figure out that was not going to happen. Yeah, I'm a slow learner! lol

I still believe that God does not cause these things to happen, but I also believe he does allow life to bring them. However, I also believe that He does not waste them. What I mean by that is that while we are in any of life's situations - He's going to use it.

1 Peter 5:10 says this: After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. Honestly, I'm not rejoicing over that when I first read it. I'd rather it said that God is going to look down and see us suffering and come riding in and pull us out of the fire, rescue us, save us and take away our pain. It didn't say that though.

While I don't think God rejoices when we go through struggles or trials, I do think He uses what life brings to form us. Our natural man may be going through the toughest days of our lives, but He is working on our spiritual man. There's nothing like caregiving to reveal our own character to us. Sometimes (many times) I don't like what I see...occasionally, I do.

Caregiving is one of those life events that pulls the best and the worst out of us. For me, it's helped pull out being able to stand up and say what I think. Unfortunately, sometimes this also means that a few unacceptable terms are used to express what I'm really feeling. (I'm working on that.) Just being honest here. Instead of God swooping us away, stopping the pain and grief and returning us to a "normal" life (whatever that is), He uses the situation we are in to temper us.

He perfects or matures us; and confirms, strengthens and establishes us.  The New Living Translation says He will restore, support, strengthen and place you on a firm foundation. So even though sometimes it feels like caregiving is chipping away out our heart and life - God is in the background girding us up and working to strengthen our spirit man. Even though He isn't working to save our physical man - He's got us covered spiritually. In fact He's working overtime to see to it that we remain established and growing in Him.

Today I will meditate on the work He's doing in my heart, even though I don't see what He's doing all the time. My thoughts will be once again on how He put His Spirit in me - and that's what gives me strength to go on. (Eph 3:10) I will fight off the thoughts of abandonment with thoughts of how much attention He is giving to developing my character; and how He is still perfecting His image in me. Will you join me?

Who's Waiting on Who?

Caregivers often wake up tired, do you ever do that? It seems that if we are in bed for any length of time we should wake up refreshed and ready to go. 

We deal with so many different areas and are pulled in numerous directions everyday that it's easy to get and stay tired. Just because we became a caregiver doesn't mean that we stopped being everything else. Besides caregivers we are often also: grandparents, teachers, parents, sisters, children, siblings, athletes, homemakers, writers, and the list could go on. To be a caregiver we didn't have to stop being in all these other roles because as we learned real quick - life does go on.


Besides all the tasks associated with a normal life, we have caregiving chores too. And to be totally honest sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I stay tired too! (smile) I get tired of dealing with politics and health care stuff. 

...tired of dealing with social workers
...tired of dealing with aides that don't want to work
...tired of dealing with paperwork 
(the same paperwork over and over and over)
...tired of dealing with the system 
...tired of dealing with doctors who don't call back

I'm sure we each have our own items to add and our own lists. Sometimes it's not the actual caregiving that wears us out - it's all the stuff we have to put up with to do it. 

This morning I got up thankful that God does not get tired. I love the passage in Isaiah 40 that says this:
Have you never heard or understood?
Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of all the earth?
He never grows faint or weary.
No one can measure the depths of His understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out
He offers strength to the weak. (NLT)

That's just what I needed to hear this morning. He does not get tired. That means He doesn't get tired or weary of me getting tired and weary. He doesn't roll His eyes when I start whining again, or pouting. He just waits for me to come back around. He's not tired of me - He's not tired of my situation, He's not tired of me being tired. He gives me power when I an tired and worn out!


Today my meditation will be on His never ending strength and the fact that He waits for me to wait on Him so He can pour it into me. My thoughts will be on how He is the everlasting God  who does not get tired but gives strength and power to me. I will admit my weakness, and focus on His strength. Will you join me?


It's a New Day!

Overall I keep a pretty positive attitude especially considering my situation. But when someone enthusiastically says "It's a new day!" I nearly get mad. Because a new day for many caregivers looks just like the day before. We still have the same tasks to perform as we did yesterday and sometimes it's just over and over and over. I know that a routine is important for my sanity but every once in awhile a break would be nice.

Sometimes caregivers can feel like they are tired of being tired. The psalmist must have understood this when he said in Psalm 73:26:  my heart and flesh my fail... For caregivers looking at a "new day" can seem like it's just "another day."

It's important that we don't lose heart while caregiving. Yeah, that's just a little more pressure. Not only do we have to provide care for a whole other individual and meet all of their physical, mental and health needs - there's always someone to remind us to take care of ourselves. When? When do we have time to meet our own needs? Many of us turn those needs off and pour ourselves into our loved ones. We have to.

And even on the good days it can feel like our heart and flesh are failing. We wake up tired but we just keep going. Why and how? Most likely it's because of what the psalmist says in the second part of this verse because God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Caregivers really do know what it means to go in God's strength and most of us wouldn't hesitate to say He is the only way we are making each new day.

It's the verses leading up to verse 26 that the tell us how the psalmist (and the caregiver) draw on the strength God provides. Verses 23 to 25 say:

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You...

Knowing that God guides us, receives us and holds our right hand (symbolic of power) is enough to help us make one more day. When He is all we have in heaven and all we desire in earth His strength will fill our hearts and carry us through.

Today I will meditate on my need for Him in earth - but not just for His help; I need His presence in my life. My thoughts will be on the truth that He accepts and receives me as a caregiver. We are not cast away and He doesn't gawk at us because we look different than most. I will choose to rest in the strength He pours into my heart today. Will you join me?

When the Caregiver Needs a Caregiver

Have you ever felt terribly alone and hopeless? I think those feelings come with the caregiving package as a general rule and perhaps everyone has felt them at one time or another. But when stuff starts to pile up on you it can make an already difficult situation even harder to deal with. The aide doesn't come in, the van broke down, or you, the caregiver doesn't feel well. Any of these can make for difficult days but then there are times they all happen at the same time. Even though we'd like to we just can't give up. What would we give up to? Where would we go? Despair can easily set in when situations are overwhelming. But one look at our loved one and we remember why we are doing this "job" to begin with. Somehow they help us keep it in perspective.

We can think of their vulnerability, their needs and just the fact that we love them and want to protect them and it helps us adjust our own attitude. That's when we seem to reach down a little further and dig out a better attitude and strength we didn't even know we had to face one more day. Are there ever days when you wonder if someone would have that kind of stick-to-it-iveness for you? Maybe we wonder that but we don't have time to dwell there - there's too much to get done to spend time thinking about that.

I'm thinking that God is the only one who is really sticking to it for the caregiver. We get weary, people who help us get weary - but God never gets weary. Some days I can feel like the energizer bunny and I keep going and going. Other days, I wind down and it takes all my energy and strength to just get out of the bed in the morning. God never feels that way. As a matter of fact, in Isaiah 40, verse 28 states that He never gets weary or tired. And the next verse says He gives strength to the weary. Days like today I have to raise my hand and say, "Me! I need strength to make it today!" And He always equips and encourages me from the inside out.

I am amazed at how He can encourage when there is no hope and strengthen when there is no might. So far I haven't seen an intake valve - but He puts it in there somewhere. Knowing He is with me and hasn't abandoned me along the way encourages me to take one more step. This morning I was reading in Psalm 95 where it says we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. I wondered why the psalmist says people of His pasture and not the sheep of His pasture. Then I thought, it really covers everything. By being the sheep of His hand  puts us in His hands, where we are near His heart. And the people of His pasture puts us where our needs are met- we are well taken care of by the Master Caregiver.

Caregivers need to be reminded that as much care and love we put into taking care of our loved ones - God matches it in taking care of us. He watches us more closely and covers us more fully. I take comfort in the fact that He is my caregiver today. And for today - I can rest in that.

Today as I care for my son - I will look at each act of kindness and love and think about how God does that for me. My thoughts will be on His tender, loving care for me as I care for His child. And I will rest content in His arms as a small sheep trusts and relies on the shepherd. Will you join me?

The Power of Weakness

Sometimes I hate it when people tell me "you're so strong." It's not because I don't like to be complimented, but more that I really don't feel "so strong." I also feel like the statement is left hanging like they meant to say "you're so strong compared to...." what? It's like in the back of their minds they think they couldn't handle caregiving. In reality none of us probably set it as our life goal; but it was handed to us and we adjust the best we can; and they would too. We are all very adaptable.

Maybe it bothers me because I feel anything but strong - I feel so weak. The caregiving journey has helped me to see and deal with my weaknesses. There's nothing like the caregiving role to reveal all those weak areas. Even though I feel very vulnerable and weak, I have learned how to rest in His strength. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Paul was asking God to take away his "thorn in the flesh." There has been much argument over what exactly was giving Paul so much trouble - but whatever it was he asked God to remove it 3 times. God's response was: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."

This answer didn't seem to frustrate Paul at all. As a matter of fact it seems that he offered a quick response: Most gladly therefore will I rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. Rather than fighting to get out of the difficulties, he totally yielded to them so that the power of God could manifest itself in him.

Paul was no longer whining or complaining; but began to boast in being weak! When we realize how weak we are, we can begin to rely on God for strength. As long as we feel like we are strong in our own power we will not fully trust Him. I find that it's more difficult to trust Him for things I feel like I can do myself. When it goes beyond what I can accomplish, then I turn to Him for help. So like Paul we can say that caregiving is beyond what we can carry on our own. Then we can be glad we are weak and rather than begrudging the load - we can rejoice that God's grace is helping us carry it; and that His grace is carrying us through it as well.

When I am weak - I am strong because His grace empowers me. Therefore I can boast in my weakness because it is in those times that I can see how strong He is in me.

Today I will meditate on how He is strong for me and in me. I will purposefully yield to His strength and allow Him to carry me. My thoughts will be set on His grace and how it is enough for what I face today; and on His strength in me demonstrating to the world that His strength is perfected in my weakness. Will you join me?


Without Complaint?

1 Peter 2:23 tells us that when Jesus suffered He did so without "uttering threats." I take it that He didn't yell back at His accusers or tormentors. He didn't tell them what He could do to them; and He suffered in silence. I can honestly say that I have not done that! I've said some pretty harsh things through this furnace and particularly during those really long nights. The load can become so heavy for caregivers that we speak from our pain or frustration. Many times, we don't really mean what we say - but in many cases, they are things that should never be uttered. Jesus, our example, did not speak out of turn, out of pain, and offered no complaint. He simply entrusted Himself to Him who judges righteously. 

Caregivers deal with constant pain and grief in many cases. If we follow the example our leader gave us - we are constantly presenting our pain and our situation to our Father. And we must let Him judge. Those who are on the outside of the Caregiver's Cave can be judgmental as they are just looking in at - but not actually in our situation.They can oftentimes say hurtful words, make snap judgments, or "should" on us. It can be easy for someone who is not walking through the furnace to judge. Thankfully, our Judge is not a human - He sees and knows all. He sees past our situation and into our hearts. He not only observes our deepest struggles - He understands them; and offers no condemnation.

He sees where we are and what we need; and He offers us whatever we need for our journey. Even though He is very aware of our weak spots, He offers no condemnation and supports us with His love. He offers peace, wisdom, strength...whatever we need right now to put one foot in front of the other. He has it and makes it available to us. We can rest easy in His embrace knowing that when it gets too tough - He is carrying us through.

Today I will meditate on His strength in me. I will turn my thoughts to His peace, patience and lovingkindness. I will let Him carry me when I need it. And I will rest in His embrace. Will you join me?

Waiting with Integrity

Caregivers have unusual enemies. I say that because our circumstances in life offer different perspectives of the battle. We have unique concerns that others perhaps can't even understand. Day-to-day decisions can become very complicated for the caregiver and simple tasks like making meals or figuring out how to go buy groceries can be huge tasks. It can be a huge undertaking to complete the things most people don't even have to give a second thought to. For me I either have to figure out how to do things like buy groceries or supplies inside a very limited time frame while an aide is here or make ride arrangements 24 hours in advance. It's not a simple thing to just go buy a bag of groceries. And what if I'm about out of eggs and the aide doesn't show up? Let's get real with it - what if I'm out of toilet paper and today's the day I gotta get to the store; and the aide doesn't show up?

While others are worrying about their jobs, which coffee to buy at Starbucks or which movie to go see on the weekend, the caregiver is trying to survive another day. Our enemies can be discouragement, exhaustion, or fighting to keep our chin up and remain positive from day to day. In Psalm 25, the psalmist asks the Lord to not let my enemies win. For caregivers our prayer might be, Lord don't let caregiving take me under! Don't let it define me; You define who I am. It's very easy to lose yourself in caring for another person so much that you can't find yourself anymore. That can be the biggest enemy of all.

In verse 16 of Psalm 25, David says I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged, bring me out of my distresses. That's getting up close and personal. To ask God for help, we have to be honest with Him. It's not that He can't just reach down and rescue us no matter what we are going through - but true deliverance comes through honest and earnest prayer. How will we know what He has brought us out of if we don't identify it? How will we know what we are fighting if it's not identifiable? Personally, I can get sucked into this huge pit of depression which can be debilitating. I can barely take care of daily caregiving chores. Over time, I've recognized the patterns and learned strategies to preempt a long bout with depression. By identifying it and being honest about it I can avoid the deep, dark pit. It's okay to be specific with our prayers - and it's okay to admit to God how we really feel. (It's not like He didn't already know!)

Verses 20 and 21 say this:
Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed 
For I take refuge in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me
For I wait for You.

God is able to guard our souls - that is a lot deeper than just taking care of our flesh. He protects the part of us that truly feels the pain of caregiving. He can keep our being safe - even if our body is broken. It takes integrity to be honest with ourselves and with God. To truly wait on Him means I admit I need some help here! The caregiver can wear themselves out trying to rely on themselves - but there comes a time when we know it's not our strength we are running on. When we wait on Him He will guard us and keep us hidden in Him.

Today my meditation will be on how He guards my soul. I will yield to His peace and His strength and allow Him to carry me - mind, will and emotions - through this day. My thoughts will be on how He preserves me in trouble.  And I will speak honestly with Him about how I really feel - so He can heal my heart and soul. 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?

Breath of Life

You can probably tell by now (assuming you're still reading) that I like Psalm 119. It's the longest chapter in the Bible but it is so rich. Today we'll look at verses 153 to 160. David starts out with a plea for the Lord to consider his affliction. Ever felt that way? There are times we can feel very loved and watched over and the next thing you know we feel like He's packed up, moved away and left us to ourselves. (or maybe that's just me!) David must have felt some of those emotions to ask God to consider him once again.

Something that seems to stand out in these few verses is David's request to be revived once again. It's noticeable throughout the entire chapter but three times in this passage he asked for the lord to revive him.

revive me according to Your Word (v. 154)
revive me according to Your judgments (v. 156)
revive me according to Your mercy (v. 159)

It makes me think that David didn't care what means God used to do it -- he just needed to be revived! Boy, can the caregiver relate to that on some days.Our cry can easily become "give me life!". There are days when the Word seems to be beamed down from heaven straight into our hearts; and days it feels like we couldn't hear God speak if He used an audible voice. But no matter what it feels like on any given day, the word is life. (John 6:63) When we give our attention to seeking Him and His word, it brings life to our soul whether we see it, feel it or not. It goes directly into our hearts and feeds our faith - even when our flesh feels like we are in a major disconnect. 

Caregivers tend to be survivors - we can't help it, really. It becomes our very nature over time if it wasn't before we began the caregiving journey. But sometimes we have to admit we cannot do it ourselves. One thing I've heard myself say is that caregiving has shown me how strong I am; but it has equally revealed my weaknesses. We must learn to trust in Him - more than we trust ourselves.We have to become more dependent on Him and trust Him to breathe His life into us through His word.

Today I will meditate on His word and think about how it breathes life into my spirit. I'll pray for His strength to make the next part of the journey no matter what it brings; and I will rely on His strength instead of my own. Will you join me?

God don't live at Church

Despite how we may feel at times, we are never alone. One thing that I realized this weekend was how the traditional "church" can make a caregiver feel when they cannot attend meetings. On our end, it can be discouraging because the fellowship is really valuable. But it's important for us (at least for me) to remember that God don't live at church.

Yesterday morning one of the groups that I had joined on facebook had a post for everyone to share what they learned at church. Well, I cannot go to church - and the church certainly does not come to me! That got me to thinking and I set up an account with blog talk radio and did the first broadcast yesterday called God don't live at church. Honestly, once I got started I really encouraged myself. You can hear it if you want:  Coffee with Caregivers

As I was sharing, it really hit me how this enormous, powerful and creative God lives right here inside of me. I was in awe. I read Isaiah 40 and how the prophet describes how God holds all the water in the world in the palm of His hand. That's an amazing chapter. But I also really like God's own account of creation that is in Job 38 and 39. They can simply leave you speechless. But so can the fact that we have all of God inside this human vessel. That we are His choice of habitation. And at the same time He is literally everywhere - and has nowhere to go! He's inside us period! And that's to be the theme of this week's devotions.

My first scripture selection is Ephesians 3:16 - that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Gain strength today by acknowledging that His Spirit is inside you. And you don't have a separate Holy Spirit since you can't "go to church," nor do you have less of Him due to the circumstances. The fact that we are caregivers have no influence whatsoever on the package deal we get with the Holy Spirit. We have all of Him inside our being.

Actually, if you are hurting you are mentioned specifically in scripture. The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18); He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Now that's some good stuff right there!

Today I will meditate on the fact that God is near me, with me, and His Spirit is inside me. I will carry on today in the strength I gain from Him making me His home. Will you join me?

When the Caregiver Gets Tired

I have found it useful to keep a personal blog as it gives me a place to put and leave my emotions. I really didn't start it for that purpose. My intent was to share the difficulties and challenges that I face as a caregiver and talk about how to keep faith (which has been totally redefined for me) while walking through the heat of the furnace on a daily basis. Last night as I was writing an entry in From the Furnace, I found my own encouragement in Isaiah 40:28-29. The New Living Translation says it this way:
don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth?
He never grows faint or weary.
No one can measure the depths of His understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out;
He offers strength to the weak.

 On a day when emotions were fried and strength was gone, I found this scripture to be very encouraging. I particularly like that it says He won't grow faint or weary. And I like that He will give power to those of us who are both tired and worn out; along with strength when we are weak. It seems He really has us covered on this one! Caregiving can be a very tiring position to be in and we can get up in the morning already worn out! It is very comforting to know that when the chores and tasks of our day are bearing down on us - He offers His strength and power; and He asks for nothing in exchange.

Today I will meditate on how His strength carries me through. I'll also concentrate on how I can be a better receptor of the encouragement, strength and power that the Holy Spirit shares. We know as caregivers we put our own needs on hold; and that we do not always accept help well. Today I will meditate on His help and on how I can position myself in Him to receive it. Will you join me?

Will He Come for Me?

For many caregivers social isolation is a real challenge. It can take major effort to either find sitters for our loved one or make travel arrangements. Scheduling any kind of outing can be overwhelming enough that it is easier to sit at home - and that becomes the norm. It's not as simple as just jumping in a vehicle and running to town, out to eat or to catch a movie.

In many instances caregivers are walking alone. People have good intentions most of the time but when the journey becomes too long they move on with their lives and leave the caregiver isolated and alone. Many churches simply don't know what to do with us since we do not fit into their little boxes. They don't have the perfect mold to put us in so we remain largely ignored in far too many cases.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about the effects of being socially isolated. It seems to me that people want us to come to them rather than taking the time to come to us. (What ever happened to old fashioned visitation?) I was wondering about Jesus. How did He handle people? Does He expect me to come to Him as well? I immediately thought of several scriptures like come to me you who are weary and I will give you rest. But what if I'm too tired to come? Will He come to me?

Shortly after this I opened my Bible and re-discovered this scripture in John 14:18: No I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. I was elated to say the least! He will come for me!

How comforting it is to know that He will indeed come to us - He will bring us comfort and peace! Today I will meditate on the truth that He is coming to me to strengthen me and give me what I need for today's journey back to Him. Will you join me?

Out of Context

Did you ever feel like your whole life was "out of context" with the rest of the world? Don't take me wrong - I'm okay with where I am (right now) - but sometimes I watch everyone else is this highly socialized world talk about going to do this and going to do this while I feel I am captive in my own house. The absence of a real social life can be very draining; but we cope; in our own out of context ways!

I thought about being out of context as I was reading Psalm 22 today. We almost always hear verse 3 separated out from the previous verses. Pastors and song leaders use verse three to try and get us to "worship" and invite God's presence in -- but isn't He already here? They tell us He is "enthroned on praise" and that is true - but it's the praise our broken lives gives birth to if you look a the first two verses. Actually, we only hear verse one on Easter - My God, My God why have you forsaken me?  But when have we ever put these scriptures together? The first two verses are the psalmist crying out and feeling separated from his God. the next couple it seems he's trying to remind himself who and where God is. Have you ever felt separated from God? We know we are not -- but it can certainly feel like it sometimes.

The rest of Psalm 22 is like the first few verses. David cries out from his fear, abandonment, trouble, and helplessness. And then he will remind himself once again of God's faithfulness, strength and presence. Sound familiar? -- it sure does to me!! (It's okay - I'm used to being alone! lol)

In the culture of the church we've not been allowed to express our feelings of hopelessness, despair, helplessness or fear. But I think this psalm is a good reminder that it is quite alright to be honest about our feelings; and then try to find God in them - rather than separate from them. How will I know I need His peace if I do not admit mine is gone? How do I run to Him as a fortress if I never acknowledge there is a battle?

It's okay to see our own wretched state -- and bring it to Him with a clean, open, and honest heart. Today I will remind myself that He is close to me in the lowly situation -- He is my fortress because there is  a battle - and He is my strength because I am weak....

If you come looking for me - I'll be running to Him. Care to join me?

TheThings We Don't Understand

Why do bad things have to happen at all? Ever wonder that? I've given it a lot of thought over the last few years. Tragedy can certainly wreak havoc on what we are used to calling faith. I was always taught rather directly or indirectly that faith kept bad things from occurring. It made me feel like if I really trusted God, then things like traumatic brain injuries, strokes or any type of debilitating illness wouldn't happen to me or my family. That's just not true! Everyone of our Bible heroes are heroes because of the adversity they faced. But does every story have to have a good ending?

Moses got the children of Israel to just outside the promised land - he didn't really deliver the goods. He also disobeyed God and didn't get to go in himself. We don't like to think about that though because it destroys our little "Disney" endings. Gideon is a favorite story of mine - but we don't like reading past the part where he wins the battle to learn that he ended up making an idol that eventually led him and all his followers astray. Sounds depressing doesn't it?

When I look at my life as a caregiver I am not really seeing a happy ending. It's a prison I chose and would not have it any other way. But it is not generally pleasant and there is pain and grief every single day. God never promised us a happy ending here on this earth. And no matter what people say, He didn't promise us a life of bliss free from personal struggles either. The days and nights can get so long sometimes. He did promise us that He would keep our souls. He keeps the part of us that makes us - us. Nothing, no type of tragedy can take my soul - even in death I will be with Him. Job even understood that. In Job 19:25-26 he says this: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God. I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

I really can't see where God promises to keep our lives free from tragedy. But He does keep us. He holds us when the night gets longer and darker than we could have ever imagined. He strengthens us when the days get worrisome and tiresome and we do not know if we can go on one more step. He encourages us when we are not sure there is an end in sight. We will see Him! Even if He is the one carrying us through to the other side!

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is with me now - no matter what the circumstances are shouting at me. I will trade Him my piddly strength and be clothed in His to make today. I will walk toward Him whether or not I see a "happy ending" in sight! Today - I'll walk with Him and meditate on the fact that He is walking beside me (except when He has to carry me!). Will you join me?

The Lord Will Hold Me Close

Psalm 27 seems to have a little bit of everything. David starts out by pretty much disclosing his crazy emotions. He expresses fear and trembling and tries to console himself by saying he will remain confident even if he is attacked. I think many days, as caregivers we can feel like the world continues to attack in an ongoing battle. Our daily struggles can take many forms which can sometimes feel like we were put here on earth to just get others to do their jobs responsibly. (Those who work with health related agencies will understand that one!)

Even as David is consoling himself and working on releasing his fears to God, he begins to think about living in God's house. David states that this is where he is concealed when trouble comes.(NLT) He goes on to say that in God's house he is lifted high above his enemies  and from there he will offer sacrifices, shouts of joy, singing and praise. I am not so sure David is solely talking about the physical temple or tabernacle in Jerusalem. David understood that God was his rock, his hiding place...it looks to me that he was just simply talking about hiding in Him. I want to relearn how to do that.

As the days get tough and continue to be filled with broken, no shattered, dreams and constant pain, or hopelessness we tend to crawl back out away from Him instead of remaining hidden in Him. If we do not protect ourselves we can get so wrapped up in our own pain and fail to keep our eyes on Him - our source of strength. David could get busy running and forget to hide in Him! We are not much different. I've found over the years that we tend to run to our "religion" first - But there is a day that it will no longer make any sense and theological reason is tested and falls short. What a perfect time to return to Him! Theology nor religion can carry us through these days - it will take the supernatural strength of God to carry the load.

David must have understood that even though the struggle was physical, as is ours, he listened for God to call him away. He said in verse 8 - My heart has heard You say,"Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."  What a beautiful interaction between man and God! In this moment of surrender David states The Lord will hold me close.

Today I will meditate on letting Him hold me close. I will concentrate on simply resting and waiting patiently for Him. I will let Him be my rock today.

He's Got This!

Things can pile up very quickly in the day of a caregiver; an aide cancels, your loved one is ill. There are tons of things that seem to need to be done just this instant and by noon you are already exhausted and have an entire day of chores that still need to be completed. When you realize you actually don't have time to attend an online Time Management seminar, you know it's pretty bad! Well that is just the tip of the iceberg for how the morning was here today.

As I sipped the fresh coffee, I began praying and asking the Lord to carry me. For caregivers the day can just look too long sometimes. A brief mental search of scriptures brought nothing up so I fired up the computer after finishing a few important chores and didn't find one about Him carrying (although I am certain that He does because there are times like today when there is no strength...I know you understand.) The search then turned to Him catching me when I fall. The caregiver does not have to worry about falling away from Him because we need Him too much! But we can certainly fall beneath the load even on the best of days. For those days I need Him to catch me!

While I was looking for a scripture that talked about Him catching me I found this one in the Message. It says:  If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.(Psalm 34:18) That's where I am right now. I feel like I have been kicked in the gut and caregivers can just simply live with a broken heart! There is a grief over the loss of what was as well as what our future (which is now a present) was supposed  to look like. He can deal with all of that!

Today I will rest in the fact that He is going to help me catch my breath so I can adequately finish out this day. I need His right here presence today so I will embrace Him as I square my shoulders back and prepare to face the rest of today. Tell yourself: He's got this!

Inside Out

Some days are easier to bear than others, for whatever reason. It could simply be our emotional state, how we feel physically, series of good or bad things that happen, or just dealing with the day to day grind of the caregiving situation. During the times we are stretched beyond our strength we can become tired inside and out! When weariness sets in there is really no one who can help but God!

Ephesians 3:16 in the old King James Version of the Bible Paul prays that they will be strengthened with might by the Holy Spirit in the inner man. The New Living says that He gives you mighty inner strength through the Holy Spirit. Either way since we are believers, Holy Spirit is living in us and He can give us strength from the inside out. It must be part of the Holy Spirit's overall job description because in Acts when they were told to go wait for the Spirit, they were told that they would receive power from on high.

 So it should not be surprising to know that He can fill us up with the Lord's strength for whatever lies ahead of us today or behind us from tomorrow. I say it that way because it may be yesterday's tragedy that brought us to today. But no matter where we find ourselves today He can give us strength to walk it out and since He lives inside our being this strength comes from the inside and strengthens our whole being body, soul and spirit.

I think the key may lie with us in that we must learn how to wait on God. That's a lot more difficult than it sounds. Especially for caregivers as we are many times having to motivate ourselves to keep going, not lose heart and press on into today. But verse 11 may also give us a little help on releasing His strength inside to strengthen our outside. In this verse Paul is still praying the same prayer for the Ephesians and he prays that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts...I love that! We already discussed how we all have the same Christ and no one has any more of Him than another. But the last part of this verse tells us how to let Him be more at home in our hearts - as you trust in Him.

Isn't that the key? We must learn to trust Him more - not that we get more of Him but so that He is more comfortable in our hearts. Today I will put my energies to work to trust Him more so that He will be comfortable in my heart and I will be positioned to receive His strength.


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 ...