Showing posts with label trust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trust. Show all posts

When I Can't See

 This morning, it's cloudy and rainy here. I like a nice rainy day now and then. When I was a kid, I'd curl up with a book or two and read the day away. Boy, how I wouldn't love one of those kinds of days right now! But for the caregiver, it is not meant to be. Lol. But the cloudy day did help spark some deeper thoughts that I've been rolling around.

Do you ever go through those times when you can't see or feel God? One thing I've tried to do with this blog is to be gut-level honest about emotions, thoughts, and all the crazy parts of being caregivers. There are days when I don't see or feel God's hand at work in my life. Many of my middle-of-the-night experiences have led to me crying out to God and asking Him if He sees us. If He hears us. And IF He does, why isn't He answering? But in most Christian circles, those raw emotions and legit questions are not allowed. They show a "lack of faith." But do they?

On this cloudy day, I cannot see the sun. It's a thick, cloudy, super rainy day, and barely any light is getting through. The sun is obscured from reaching us. But is it really? The presence of the clouds doesn't mean the sun isn't out there shining on. Right? I just can't see it. But it didn't go away. Where would it go? Lol.


Even in the most "normal" circumstances, our clear sight of God can be disrupted. But for caregivers, it's even worse. Every day caregiving stuff can cloud our view of the One we love - the One we need so desperately. But it doesn't mean that He's not there. Like the sun, He is shining brightly on the other side.

It's those gray days that can drag us down the most. Those times when we don't see Him moving, can't hear Him breathing, and can't see Him reaching for our hearts. But He is.

Isn't believing that He is still there when we don't feel, see, or experience Him what faith is all about? Don't let anyone try to tell you that you don't have faith because you don't get the answers you want when you want them. You're still holding on, right? It may be to what feels like a quickly thinning thread, but you're still gripping it! Caregivers have got more guts and faith than any other class of people, in my opinion. We just keep reaching for Him...

  • when we are tired
  • when we are lost
  • when strength is gone
  • when we can't think straight
  • when others tell us we shouldn't...
That's faith. The fact that you are still reading this blog - demonstrates that you are still reaching, even if you cannot see. Man, is that awesome!

Today, I will take Him at His word and trust that He is working on my behalf - even if I don't see or sense that He is doing a thing. It's a good day to just silently wait for Him. Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


Check out my bookstores. I have eBook devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more in my Dove's Fire Ministries bookstore. My Amazon bookshelf has a couple of those in print or on Kindle. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!




Every Straw

 


Do you find yourself getting upset at the little things? I think as caregivers we run on high all the time that our emotions can stay on edge. We program ourselves to handle the big stuff, but those little things nag away sometimes. The big stuff, we just suck it up and handle it on the spot - call 911, call the nurse, or transport. It's the bigger stuff that we are able to kick into high-octane mode and push through. But those little things...

Sometimes, it's the littlest, even dumbest things it seems. Like I get angry because I didn't push the button on my coffee maker hard enough and it didn't start brewing. (Don't kid yourself - that's big stuff! lol) I was trying to reach around the handle on my bowl while eating oatmeal this morning and my sleeve got caught. I didn't even spill anything, but it made me mad that it was in my way. It doesn't take much to reach a max, does it?

Now, maybe this is just me - and you guys are always calm and collected. I know I'm high-strung. lol. But as caregivers, it's easy to live on the edge. For some, we live on the edge but can't express it for fear someone will think we are not able to perform our duties as caregivers. We treat aches and pains and avoid doctor's offices because we are afraid they will tell us to quit. And that's just not going to happen, is it?

But these things wear away at our emotions and drag us through mucky days. And you know what? I think it's just part of the caregiver's life. What's so cool about it all is that God is big enough for the big stuff - yet still concerned about the small stuff. That blows me away. Does He really care that my coffee pot didn't come on this morning? Does He know the company took a payment out of my account after I returned the equipment? Does He know my fears concerning Covid? Or that isolation is eating away at my soul? He does. He knows it all - the big and the "little." And He cares. 

God doesn't turn His eyes and ears away from us just because others think they are small, unimportant matters. He understands the burden we carry - and He sees every straw whether it's the one that will break the proverbial camel's back or the first one in the bag. Paul told us in 1 Peter 5:7 that we can cast ALL our cares on Him and we can let Him do the caring for us.

Now, God doesn't stand up there with a list of categories for things He will not carry. He doesn't toss things back and tell us that it's not on His responsibility list. He takes them all - big, small, and everything in between. Why? He cares for us - as a whole person.

Today, I will be thankful that God cares. I will be grateful that He listens to me offload all the things that are on my heart. He doesn't discriminate. He won't belittle. He won't tell me to suck it up and get stronger. He just cares about every straw on this camel's back. And just like that - a little gratitude and thankfulness go a long way to lighten the load. Today, as I trust Him with my soul  - my mind, my will, and my emotions - I'll thank Him for always being right there when I need Him. Will you join me?


Guarding the Broken Heart

In my studies this morning, I found myself in Proverbs 4. I'm actually studying the armor of God and I chased some thoughts that led me to the last few verses of this chapter. I wrote down some notes on my other study but then my mind settled in verse 13. The New Living Translation states it this way: Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

I can only feel my situation - and my first thought was - protect your broken heart. I wondered if it was any different for caregivers than others. Probably not, really. We still need to guard our hearts and perhaps we need to be a bit more diligent about it than others. For me personally, the first two things that came to mind that I must protect from taking root in my heart was bitterness and unforgiveness. When my son first had the accident I began to pray that I would not grow bitter as things progressed along lines I really didn't want them to go. You know?

One of my first prayers was that I would move closer to God and have an amazing story of resilience. Well, maybe it hasn't happened just like that. Choosing to not let circumstances lead us down the road of bitterness is just that - a choice. Forgiveness is a choice as well. That's easy to type - easy to say, but not always as easy to do. But just because it's not easy - doesn't mean it's not do-able.

As I meditated on this verse this morning, lots of current situations come to mind. Things I need wisdom to deal with, decisions I need guidance to make, and lots more. I thought of how important it is to lean into Him a little more each day. That's what helps us guard our hearts, I think. I don't want anything in my heart that would keep me from His. Clarification - He won't move! But when I harbor bitterness, unforgiveness, and hidden sins within my heart I will step back and I won't be as comfortable in His presence. His presence remains. His love is the same. It's my own sin that makes me feel separated from Him.

Today, I will purposefully choose the path of my heart and my feet. I'll guard both so there will be no occasion to stumble. I'll meditate more on guarding my heart and what that looks like as I bring all my thoughts captive to the Spirit of Christ. I'll be busy with all that. But I will choose to rest in Him - up close and personal to Him as I guard my heart. I will re-examine myself to see if there is any bitterness or unforgiveness trying to creep in and I'll put up a wall of His peace to keep it out! Will you join me?

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Time intrigues me and I have studied it a lot. Quantum physics fascinates me although I must say I don't understand it. I'm a very casual student of it. Casual in that I don't dive too deep into it at all - but I still find it fascinating. I actually try to avoid the subject because I can get deep into it and lose hours of my day. lol. But during my private devotions this morning, there it was again.

In Daniel 2, the king requested an interpretation to a dream and God gave the dream and interpretation to Daniel. Since it was a life or death situation, Daniel and his friends were praising God for deliverance when Daniel said, And He changes the times and the seasons (v.21 NKJV). I was like times? When did it become plural? I was also reminded of a phrase I had seen in the psalms and found it in Psalm 31.

David says my times are in Your hands in Psalm 31:15. Personally, this is a statement of trust - saying to God that whatever comes while I am walking this journey through time, I am in Your hand. I camped out in this psalm for awhile as it spoke to me today right where I am...in time.

In verse 15, David is ultimately trusting the outcome of his situations to God when he says, my times are in Your hand. Just before this statement, the psalmist says, but as for me, I trust in You O Lord. When I have prayed and placed or acknowledged my times are in His hand it's been a statement of faith, one of complete surrender and trust. Then, David continues with a prayer deliver me from the hand of my enemies.

As caregivers, our enemies are not always physical. For me, it's fear, doubt, uncertainty, and discouragement for starters. These things war at our souls constantly and they can simply wear us down and wear us out. I believe God can help us face those things that war against our souls. God can deliver us from these enemies of our souls as we continue to trust Him.

Today, I will say one more time that my times are in His hand as I continue to trust Him for today. My meditation will be on His peace and the grace He gives to face this day, this spot in time. I'll trust Him to deliver me from fears, doubts, and all the other things that war against my soul, my mind, will and emotions. I'll take each fear, negative thought, and doubt to Him and express it to Him - give it to Him and trust that my times and my soul are in His hand. Will you join me?

Surrounded Inside and Out

I started out my reading this morning in Hebrews 12. Verse 28 caught my attention. It says, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe. (NLT) I just rolled that around a bit in my head - two things actually. The first being that we have "a kingdom that can't be destroyed" and secondly we should be thankful.

Maintaining an attitude of thankfulness can go a long way to help keep our emotions above water. Some days are more difficult than others, but there's always something we can find to be thankful for. Today, I'll be thankful that the Kingdom of God cannot be destroyed. God did not get up off His throne and throw in the proverbial towel when my life fell apart. He didn't quit. He didn't say it's not worth it, I can't do this anymore. He never gives up - never gives in - never quits. What happens in our lives good or bad cannot destroy the Kingdom of God. It will stand.

Let's take it a bit further. In Luke 17:21, Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within you. Paul also reminds the believers in Philippians 3:20 that our citizenship is in heaven. No matter what we face, God won't kick us out. He never says our circumstances are too dirty, too complicated, too involved for Him. His kingdom - the one that is in us - the one we are a part of - stands forever. It's sort of like being surrounded, isn't it? The Kingdom is in us - we are in the Kingdom.

Once again, there are no exclusionary statements here. Note Jesus didn't say the Kingdom of God is within you - unless you are a caregiver... unless you are sick... unless you are discouraged.. unless you are.... fill in the blank. If we are a part of Him the Kingdom is in us and we are in the Kingdom.

Today, I will be thankful that the foundation of God's throne and His Kingdom are not shaken by my circumstances. I'll meditate on that and turn my thoughts to His faithfulness and I'll thank Him that He doesn't give up on me, He can't He is part of me and I am part of Him. I can trust Him with today. I'll trust Him with my heart today - will you join me?

A Tight Grip

This morning I just feel creative - or maybe it's more of a need to just create. I'm not really sure what it is, but I felt like breathing some life into an old blog I used to keep. I started From the Furnace just as a place to put my emotions. It let me put them there and walk away. As time went on I stopped for one reason or another. But today I was talking about the grip of grief and just needed to get some things out.

Sometimes, caregiving comes with a living grief. It doesn't go away and it is very real. I've been carrying it for a few days now. I grieve because I haven't heard my son's voice in 10 years. I grieve because I see his friends marrying and having families. I grieve over the loss day after day. Grief seems to have a tight grip on my heart - so tight sometimes I am not sure I can breathe.

I've never been quite sure about what to do with the living grief. Some condemn it as a lack of faith. But I think it's quite the opposite. Especially as I press past the grieving to the grace. It takes a lot of faith to honestly tell God how you feel at any given moment. It speaks of a high level of trust to pull raw emotions out and become vulnerable before Him, knowing He's not going to take the grief away - but give me the grace to stand in the midst of it. This faith is not too different than the three Hebrew children standing before the king saying - We know God can deliver us - but if He doesn't - we still aren't going to bow. That's the kind of grip grace has on us. Our situations may or may not change - but our trust in Him remains the same no matter what. That's true faith, y'all. That demonstrates a grip of grace that will carry us through.

That's when I  realize that even though grief has a tight grip on me - His grace has a tighter grip. God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. God also promised to never leave us or forsake us. If I can put these two thoughts together, I have a grace that holds me tighter than the grief. It outlasts the grief since the grief can come and go on wave after emotional wave. But His grace - His all-sufficient grace steadfastly carries me over those waves. When I realize that and acknowledge that - peace seems to take over the turmoil.

Today, right in the midst of suffocating grief - I will trust His grace to carry me. Like the 3 facing the fiery furnace, I'll say -I'm not bowing to life's situations. I refuse to give in. I will bow to the grace of God though. My thoughts will be on letting His grace carry me and living in total surrender to His will, His grace, and His love. I'll focus my meditations on the truth that He doesn't leave me in the grip of grief or sadness, but He does extend His grace and His hand to lift me up. I'll stand in that grace and trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

Immovable

Standing Chris Outside
My devotions this morning were centered on Psalm 125:1-2. This song of ascent states Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.

I read, then re-read these two verses. When we trust in Him - not ourselves, not our situations or abilities, we are immovable. It's taken me a long time to come back to saying this really - but I trust Him.

When my son was first injured I was angry with God for allowing it to happen. Afterall, I was headed to Africa so I was trusting Him to take care of my kids. The trip was abruptly halted with a phone call that Saturday morning in November 2008, and I no longer trusted Him. In my mind, He should have protected my son, or at least offered a sudden healing. When neither happened, I sunk down into despair. It's taken me a long time to be able to trust again. It's been a process.

First, I had to realize my feelings were normal for the situation. Then there was the process of working through them. But there are days when the process has to be worked back through, often over and over again....

I can now say that I trust Him again, even in the situation, and even though the situation hasn't changed. It's taken me 10 years to get here. My faith-er background taught me, perhaps indirectly, that I trusted Him so "bad things" wouldn't happen. But now I have to say I trust Him in every situation - good and bad. To some, it may sound like I've backslid concerning faith. But nothing is further from the truth.

We've talked about our Bible heroes many times and the fact that it was the stuff they went through and came out trusting Him that makes them a hero of the faith - not the lack of obstacles, but the going through, around, over, under or over in spite of adverse circumstances. We talk about Joseph a lot in Christian circles and refer to his years in the prison, but we pass over the many growing up years spent as a slave first. We discuss God's power to restore all that was taken from Job - without facing the truth that he first walked through losing everything. There is no restoration without loss. There can be no healing without sickness, no provision without lack and no relief without pain. It's all about going through. It's about trusting Him in the midst of life's storms.

Today, I will remind myself of His faithfulness and how worthy He is of my trust. My meditations will be on how He has not given up on me or left me alone in my situation. I'll think about how He walks with me and waits for me to look to Him for provision, peace, comfort and love. I'll lean into Him just a little closer today as I trust Him one more time for one more day. Will you join me?









The Anyways Factor

Don't you hate sayings like time heals all wounds? Or my new (sarcastic) favorite, nothing lasts forever. Yeah right. This too shall pass - maybe, maybe not. I'm learning a lot of these cliches just don't cut it and they don't offer the consolation or comfort they are intended to provide.

I must admit, the life of a caregiver can be less than ideal. It's not perfect. No one sets the goal of being a caregiver when they grow up. It's not on the list of careers to choose from. We inherit it. And we carry it well. And while I would not have chosen this life, I'm here now and I must say there are some distinct rewards that come from caring for a loved one. There are also some things about myself, and others, that I might not have discovered without caregiving. So I can honestly say I have no regrets.

I will not say the transition was easy. Nor will I make like there isn't pain involved. I admit there is daily grief. But I will say that I think I have a deeper faith, more intense trust and have grown in my knowledge of Him over this journey. Each day presents its own set of difficulties - and blessings.

A few weeks back I was thinking about my journey as a caregiver and I came to some conclusions. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is painful. Yes, no one understands us. Yes, there seems to be no end in sight. Yes, I battle fears. But.... there is the "anyways' factor.

You see, I determined that no matter what my situation is - I will praise Him anyways....

The anyways factor has changed my perspective. It takes the focus off my self and my situation and puts the life-emphasis back on Him.

I'm going to praise Him anyways...
I'm going to sing about His glory anyways...
I'm going to remember His deeds anyways...
I will meditate on His word anyways...
I will rejoice in Him anyways...
I will worship and bow down anyways...

I could continue, but I think we get the idea of the anyways factor. I've said so many times that our situations good or bad, do not change Him, do not affect His love for us, and do not change His intense, passionate longing to be with us. He still loves. He still cares. He still is God anyways....

Today, I will set my mind on things above. My thoughts will be on His mercy that is toward us always and anyways.... I'll meditate on His unfailing love that doesn't change due to my circumstances. My focus is going to be reset on His unchange-ableness in a constantly changing world of caregiving. I'll set my thoughts on His peace, grace and love that is toward us anyways... and I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me as I praise Him anyways.....








Watch Where You Step!

This morning I was pouring my heart out to God. That's nothing unusual, He's used to hearing me whine, cry, fuss and cuss. I had seen some areas where Chris has seemed to lose a lot of ground lately and it frustrates me. I feel like a failure. And as usual, I take all my cares to Him. Remember He told  us to, several times throughout scriptures. So I did.

I was thinking about all there is for caregivers to juggle. For me it's work,  therapy for Chris, ministry, writing my stuff, housework, etc. Who has time to do everything? Yet I find myself my own worst critic, condemning myself for not doing more.Are you kidding me? 

So this morning I was bringing all this to the Lord. Asking Him to help me know how to get more organized. He may be tired of hearing that prayer. (lol) I wish I could get on some sort of schedule and stick to it. But you know how it is, just about the time you do find a schedule that looks like it's going to work, something gets thrown into it to mess it all up. Eventually, we can tend to give up on that and go back to the day-by-day.

As I was praying (whining crying....) I heard myself ask God to help me order my days. Help me know how to get more done for Chris and work and maybe even myself in there somewhere. My fellow caregivers know that self-care is the first to go when we are in a crunch. The scripture came to mind order my steps. So I looked it up.

I found it in Psalm 37, which turns out I remember to be one of those awesome psalms with tons of wisdom. Verse 23 in the KJV says this: The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, and He delights in his way. But look at the New Living Translation - The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. He watches over every little detail - the good, the bad and the ugly!

He is actively involved in our lives. He will help us order our days. I believe He wants us to bring our stuff to Him. He wants to help us sort through it. Our mess doesn't put Him off. He doesn't find our lifestyle distasteful, He is here to help. Earlier in this psalm, David offers quite a bit of advice for the righteous. He encourages us to do several things:

  • Delight in the Lord
  • Commit your way to Him
  • Trust in the Lord
  • Rest in theLord
  • Wait patiently for the Lord
Sometimes these are easier said than done, especially in our hectic lives where there is so much to get done every day. But today, I am going to commit my way to Him. I will purposefully wait for His direction and instruction. My thoughts will be on how I can continue to trust Him in this situation and I will commit my way to Him for Him to direct my steps. I'm pretty sure He's not going to fail me now. Will you join me?

Oh for Grace to Trust Him More

My thoughts are all over the place this morning and I'm trying to reel them back in and keep them balanced. I'm sure I'm the only one who ever has to do that, right?

Cargiving is not for the weak of heart, that's for sure! But today it's not having the heart to carry on - it's the battlefield of the mind that is the problem. In my heart, there's no question. The stamina is there and no choices need to be made at this point.

But my head has to deal with the day-to-day struggles of caregiving. There are so many things going on around me right now that just set me off the edge with tons of questions. Some are simple, like why? I wonder why this ever had to happen. Why my son was ripped away. Why my shattered heart can't heal. Why the grief doesn't go away. Why my life was boxed up and seemingly put on hold.

I've said before it's not the actual caregiving that is the difficult part, it's the heart issues, the living grief and the beating your emotions take on the journey. And that's where I am today. Sorry. But I've learned it is better to be brunt and honest about my emotions - it's the only way to "move on."

In my mind, I see myself like a little girl gathering up this bundle of problems and heading to the throne to see how God is going to fix it. I stand there with my arms full, tears running from my eyes and looking at God with no words left to say. It feels like my life is a big why followed by a huge question mark.

I can think of several scriptures but none bring comfort, none make it all better. Real and raw still exists. It never really goes away, I just deal with it better on some days than on others.Somehow I have to figure out how to put on my big girl panties and walk through one more day.

So, I turn my mind away from my pain and grief and to His word. I think about Joseph and how dejected and lost he must have felt sitting in the dark, dank dungeon for something he didn't do. He figured out how to trust. And I think of Job (I think I'll read Job this week). He lost everything but trust. He didn't even hope God would restore him, he just trusted God with his life. I want to be more like that, even on days when it doesn't come so easy, days like today.

And that is what I will do. I'll think about Job's words, two scriptures stand out. I first think of how he answered his wife when she said he should just give up and die. He answered her with this: Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? I have to agree. I get so tired of people using the phrase "God is good." when everything goes there way - but I don't hear it at all when things are not going like they planned. He is good period. It's irrelevant whether things are going good or bad - God is good.

The second thing out of Job is his ultimate statement of trust: Though God slay me - yet will I trust Him. That's where I want to be too. I WANT to say that I trust Him on mornings like this when life is crushing me. The words to an old hymn come to mind:


Jesus, Jesus how I trust You
How I've proved You o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus
Oh for grace to trust him more...

Today I will meditate on these two scriptures out of Job. I'll pull out my guitar and sing through the verses to this song and let the words sink in. I know God's not trying to slay me...so I need to trust Him to carry me through these times when trust comes harder. I'll turn my meditations to thinking about the times I know He carried me, provided for me and my family and showered me with His great love. I will work on keeping my thoughts there today... and I will trust Him for one more day... will you join me?

Beyond the Reach of Change

For some reason, the last few days have been particularly difficult for me. Memories flooding my mind of the way my son was BC (before the crash) just kept flowing. Sometimes I have to stay off social media to protect myself from seeing what his friends are doing. I'm happy for them, but he got cheated out of life.

I'm still learning new strategies to combat depression and other crazy emotions that go along with caregiving. One of them was of course, getting back to writing my devotions down here. And that's why we are here! :-)

Yesterday I made a few decisions about work and projects that gave me quite the energy boost. I sorted through the things on my plate and am removing all non-essentials. I found that when I took control rather than feeling like I was underneath the load of it all - my energy, perspective and emotions took a huge swing in a positive position.

This morning, when I woke up and reached for my Bible I was thinking I needed to read something about how He accepts us just like we are. This might offer me some affirmation of some sort and help me go ahead and kick those mully-grubs on away.

I found myself in 1 Peter looking for a particular verse that I honestly don't recall right now; but I went back and started in the first chapter where I found what I needed. Isn't that a lesson in itself? When we get in His word and dig around - He'll make sure we find just what we need!

Although this whole chapter filled my heart back up and pushed doubt, fear and depression away - I settled in verses 4-6. Here's what they say in the New Living Translation:

For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children.
It is kept in heaven for you, 
pure and undefiled
beyond the reach of change and decay.
And God, in his mighty power will protect you
until you receive this salvation 
because you are trusting in Him.

There was so much more in this chapter, but I bolded the words that seem to leap out at me today. What God has given us and prepared for us is pure and undefiled. Life can't mess it up!! I can't mess it up! It is pure and there is no power or time that can corrupt it. 

And this phrase: beyond the reach of change is what grabbed me. Time cannot water down what He is doing in time. Time will not erode what He has prepared for eternity. It cannot be changed. It does not matter what does or does not happen in time....What He's doing, has done and continues to do cannot be changed. Time is not strong enough to stop or change our inheritance in Him.

So even though our lives are rocked with trauma, sickness, or any other obstacle or situation - He has protected our inheritance in Him. He has protected US in Him and according to Philippians 1:6 - He'll continue working on it until time itself comes to a stop - and we step from one reality into the eternal reality and claim it!

Life can throw some hard blows - but it cannot stop what God is doing.

Each day can bring difficult challenges - but they cannot interrupt what God is doing.

Time can drag us through endless suffering - but what God is doing and has done will continue when time stops!


Today, I'm encouraged once again as I turn my thoughts to the power of the eternal. I'm not sure my head has a good grip on "eternity" but my heart sure is getting it right now! My thoughts will be on the incorruptible treasure I have in Him today. My meditations will be on the truth that what He says - goes. He won't take it back. He won't change His mind. And He won't let me go! And I can rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Superhero to Zero

There are days when I feel like Superwoman. I get adequate hours in at work, a lot accomplished on my writing, my devotions done, goals met for Chris, housework done and maybe even get us out for a nice run.

And then there are days I do not.

I'm sure I'm the only caregiver who has days where I worry a lot about what I need to get done, spend time wringing my hands, drinking coffee and staring at the wall. I'm all spaced out - I'm on overload and breathing is enough work for the day! (Am I alone?)

Of course, there are also plenty of days in between where I get tasks completed, but not near what I had hoped. Those days I have to encourage myself and reaffirm the things I did get done and just let the rest go. That's where my thoughts were when I realized - I'm not Superwoman. Not only do I not have the body build for that role, I simply can't do more than what is humanly possible. I can't do more than what is cargiving-ly possible either!

I have to hang up the cape and learn to be content with what I can get done each day. It's okay if I storm the city gates and tear down the walls only to build new ones on Monday. And then feel like Chris' basic care is all I have the energy for on Tuesday. I have no idea how we can go from superhero to zero all in a day, but we do. At least I do!

We can see in Philippians 4, that Paul may have also had some of these feelings. His caregiving was much different than ours as he had the responsibility of taking care of all the new baby Christians, and the church that was still in a baby state needing tons of extra attention to help bring order. His plate was full too - just different from ours.

It's easy to quote verse 11 where Paul said he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances he was in. But contextually, he is speaking of facing some rough times of his own. He goes on to say he knew how to live in prosperity - and with want. He knew how to be full - and go hungry if need be. He knew how to have abundance - and suffer need. The faith-ers don't like to think about going hungry, having needs or suffering. They seem to think if they ignore it it will go away - or it doesn't exist and can be confessed away. And while I am a big proponent of guarding our confessions and keeping out mouths in line with the Word, we still have to deal with the gritty day-by-day and take it as it comes.

Right now, I am struggling to keep my head above water. I've got far more on my plate than what I will be able to physically accomplish. I'm willing to hang up my cape and go from superhero to zero and be content in Him.

Today, I will turn my meditation to His provision. I will wait on Him instead of thinking I can do it all myself.  I'll contentedly be the zero in life's equation today and let Him be the Hero. Instead of worrying, I'll turn my thoughts to all the ways He has provided for me over these caregiving years - and even before. My thoughts will be on Him - not me. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

As Honest as a Psalmist

I was working on a project over the weekend and found myself enjoying the depth of the Psalms once again. I know I spend a lot of time in these chapters, but I've always enjoyed them. Maybe it's because I am a songwriter, a poet or always running from a lion. (lol)

For whatever reason, my love for the psalms and identifying with the psalmists who wrote them have grown over the years. The candidness about their true feelings and how they turn the related emotions around into pure worship amazes me.

This morning I found myself back in Psalm 37, one of my long-time favorites. Although the entire chapter is wonderful, my focus remained on the last two verses where David says:

The Lord saves the godly;
He is their fortress in times of trouble.
The Lord helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in Him.

I zeroed in on two or three things that stuck out to me. First of all, not once, but twice, David mentions the Lord saving the godly. He saves them - He is their fortress. He saves them - He is their shelter. I'm not sure what the technical difference is between the two, but to me a fortress is a shelter, but a shelter is not necessarily a fortress. Whether He is our shelter or our fortress (I'm thinking a fortress is bigger and stronger and more stable than a shelter) we needed saving. Either way I figure, He's got us covered!

The second thing that grabbed my attention was the phrase: in times of trouble. We don't need "saving" from nothing. I live in Oklahoma and we only go to the cellar when there is a storm, but we don't live there all the time. God is our fortress in times of trouble. For the caregiver, I think this is an ongoing thing. Maybe it's just me - but it seems every day I am faced with discouragement, raw emotions, struggles, fears and uncertainty. I find I need Him every second of every day.

If I am as honest as a psalmist - I'd tell you how my thoughts and emotions have tried to run away with me this weekend. I'd tell you my soul was in despair.  If I was as honest as a psalmist I'd say my emotions tried to carry me away on a stream of fear. I'd tell you I've told God I don't know if I trust You anymore. If I was as honest as a psalmist I'd tell you I've questioned everything. 

But if I were as honest as a psalmist I'd also tell you I've learned to rely on God for everything. I'd tell you I have clung to Him more tightly and every doubt, fear and moment of uncertainty have ended up in deepened praise, raw worship and utter amazement at the glory of God.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to His glory rather than my story. I will on-purpose run to Him with my raw emotions and crazy thoughts and I will give them all to Him. I will back up and live out verse five of this psalm. I will commit everything I do to Him, and trust Him to help me. And as my life is poured out in this act of worship, I will rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

What Impresses God?

I've been watching the Olympics this week and thoroughly enjoying them. I guess working from home does have some benefits! I am amazed over and over again by the many athletes. I admire their dedication, tenacity and endurance. Even on some of the sports I don't normally watch I am glued to the TV in awe of these elite athletes.

During my devotions this morning I was reading in Psalm 147 where it says The strength of the horse does not impress Him; how puny in His sight is the strength of man. I kind of smiled at the thought of God not really being all that impressed with our strongest athletes. While they are wonderful, strong and way above the cut as far as we humans are concerned, their strength is basically nothing in comparison to God's.

One of my favorite passages includes the last few chapters of Job where God describes creation from His point of view. It reminds us of how strong He is, how weak we are and how much we need Him! While we are admiring the strongest among us, God is probably just shaking His head.

Psalm 147 goes on to say in verse 11 Rather, the Lord's delight is in those who honor Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love. He doesn't admire our physical strength - it really does not impress Him. What does impress God then? He is impressed by our trust in Him and our fear of Him.

I did a brief search through Bible Gateway and looked at just Psalm 147:11 in all the English translations. This verse has lots of interpretations. Basically it boils down to the fact that He takes pleasure or even enjoys those who wait for Him and those who trust in His love, mercy or unfailing love.

He is impressed when we trust fully in Him. I believe He smiles when we lean a little closer in to Him and it brings joy to His heart for us to rest in Him and find our hope Him. And like a proud father, maybe His heart beats just a little harder - hard enough for us to hear it if we lean in close. Sometimes, the day of a caregiver is so loud, hurried, busy and loud we have a difficult time hearing His heart. It requires our quietness.

Today I will quiet my heart, soul and mind as I lean in a little closer to hear His heart. My meditations will be on how I can cultivate the hope and trust He is impressed with. My thoughts will be on His unchanging love and dedication to us - His children. And I will rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Beyond the Cave

As I was going about my early morning routine of making coffee, bolusing and changing my son etc. I just felt heavy. Over the last few weeks I've been toying with the idea of getting rid of stuff... my house is so full. I do think this is a factor. I simply have too much to keep up with. As I walked through the apartment with one eye open (this is BC - before coffee), I thought of how I need to just go through and get rid of stuff. Lots of stuff.

As I walked through my living room, my medal rack caught my eye and I though about how I carry as little as possible with me when I run. I strip down to shorts and a light t-shirt, put my phone in an arm band to keep my hands free, and wear a small runner's belt to hold my keys. I do not wear long pants even when it's cold. And if it is chilly out, I still wear as little as possible because I don't want anything to weight me down.

With a big sigh, I wondered if I got rid of stuff in my life that was weighing me down, could I run the race of life more easily? Hebrews 12:1 immediately came to mind. The writer says: let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Once I got my coffee and sat down, I looked it up and read through the chapter. I'm so thankful God continues to show us new stuff when we read His word. He didn't exempt us from learning more about Him and His ways when we became a caregiver, did He?

When I got to verse 12 I read and then reread it. It says this: So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Boy, did I need to hear that this morning! But then, something else caught my attention. The next verse starts out with then those who follow you...

Now I am really focused. You see, the chapter starts out with us running because there is a crowd of witnesses who have already walked the life of faith cheering us on. We are looking at Christ - the author and finisher of our faith, being cheered on by the stories and lives of those who have walked it before... all because there are more folks coming up behind us who need to see examples of His work in our lives.

We can't stop. We can't quit. No matter how difficult life is, how weak we feel, how encumbered we feel - there's more reasons than ourselves to keep on going. They did it - we are doing it - so others can do it too. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in our own little caregiver's cave we forget about others and their struggle.

So today, I'm going to take these weak, tired hands and get a good grip on Him one more time. I'll pull myself up on my tired, shaky legs so I can continue to walk this walk of trusting Him. My thoughts will be on how He empowers me to walk the walk of faith. Those before me have clung to Him with all their strength and I will too! Today I will cling to Him with everything I have and I will keep my focus on His faithfulness. I will trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

One More Time

I have to admit this morning that my emotions are all over the place. I'll spare you the details and just say there's a lot going on. We've discussed before that we are not exempt from the rest of life just because we are caregivers. So suffice it to say - I'm on overload....as usual.

Yesterday as I started realizing how much was going on around me, my head started spinning with thoughts. I've admitted before I'm an over-thinker. Someone makes one statement and I've worked through 900 scenarios in my head that could possibly happen. Sometimes it's annoying. :-)

So with lots and lots of different things making my head swirl, I heard my heart cry out to Him last night. In my mind I'm standing before Him with hands outstretched just waiting for some sort of answer. There's not really one answer that will make everything better and I think I just needed to be reminded that He hears my heart. I just needed to know it one more time.

As caregivers, we can live in overload mode (or maybe that's just me!). We need the comfort of His voice, His gentle nudge letting us know He is still with us, He still cares, and He still hears our heart's cry.

I crawled out of bed this morning and drug my emotional self in to search the scriptures for a glimmer of hope; and of course - He met me there. He has this way of showing up when He's invited. I started with Psalm 18 where David so eloquently describes what we hope God does when we call out to Him. He says he called out to God and he prayed for help and my cry reached His ears. (v.6 NLT) And God showed up.

Then the earth quaked and trembled;
the foundations of the mountains shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from His nostrils,
fierce flames leaped from His mouth
glowing coals flamed forth from Him.
He opened the heavens and came down.....

So I waited this morning for the earth to begin to shake as my heart cried out in anguish. Nothing. I got nothing. So I searched a little further to find that David also had moments like these. In Psalm 22 he describes it pretty well by saying:

My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why do you remain distant?
Why do you ignore my cries for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. 
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

I love it when God comes riding in on His white horse to rescue us. But what about the times when He doesn't? In both of these Psalms - David went on to praise the Lord. Immediately following his distressed cries in Psalm 22, David says, Yet you are holy.  I cried God - and you didn't listen! I called out and You walked away! I did not get the answer I wanted.....but I know You are holy.

And by the end of Psalm 22 he is singing God's praise:

I will declare the wonders of Your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among all Your people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear Him!

Why? David knew, like we know deep down - God has not abandoned. In Psalm 22:24 David goes on to say: He has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.

Today I will follow this righteous example. Whether God comes riding in on thunderous clouds, or remains silent in my distress, I will praise Him. My thoughts and meditations will be on His goodness. I will keep myself hidden in Him today and I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Busy, Busy, Busy

There are so many areas caregivers can struggle with. We can experience bouts with fear, discouragement, depression, frustration, weariness, loss and deal with what I've learned is a living grief. We may feel helpless, hopeless or alone. And for me I went through a period of time when my faith was totally redefined.

On any given day we may have to work through any combination of emotions. And all of this is on top of what we have to do physically. I think it's safe to say we are busy - inside and out. For me, my emotions can be churning around inside like a roller coaster while on the outside I'm working my full time job, doing laundry, prepping meals, or helping my son with some type of therapy. I'm out of breath just thinking about it!

How do we slow down? How do caregivers find some sort of peace - inside or out? Is there even time for that? It's easy for someone on the outside to tell us we need to take a break. But rarely do they also offer to do anything to help us get that break. I actually contacted a house cleaning company to see how much it would cost to get some help. It was so expensive I'd have had to take on another job to pay for it!

So here I am again with my thoughts running a hundred to nothing. And once again I have to recognize that He knows my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23) And I remind myself of 1 Peter 1:7 which tells me to give Him all my worries. I like the Amplified version which says: casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 

So today as I struggle just trying to figure out how to live this busy life, once again I will stop. Take a breath. And give it all to Him. Honestly He is the only One who can make something out of this mess. Isaiah 61: 3 tells me that He is able to give beauty for ashes, and joy for mourning, and praise in place of despair. So once again, I wait.

Today I will purposefully wait on Him. I will un-busy myself enough to breathe and acknowledge His presence in my life and home. My thoughts will be on the peace He provides and I will wait for Him to bring beauty for ashes. I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

But Can I Forgive God?

Over the weekend, I was looking at the lives of Joseph and Daniel two extraordinary men in the Bible. The two have a lot in common such as interpreting dreams, great wisdom from God, and they were both in captivity. I was writing down some notes on these two when I realized something different about the two of them. They both had to come to the place where they forgave.

Daniel and Joseph were held captive against their wills. In Joseph's case, he had to forgive his brothers for betraying him first of all. Then he had to forgive Potiphar's wife for lying on him and putting him in prison for something he didn't do. He was kind of a double captive. Nonetheless, he had to come to a place to forgive.

For me, I chose to forgive the young man driving the vehicle who caused the wreck that injured my son. At first it was easier really. Then over time it became difficult and was just a choice, but not a true action of my heart. I've had times I was angry with him. He got to go on living, graduated college, playing the drums, getting married, teaching - like my son wanted to do. But unforgiveness doesn't bring my son back - nor does it make my life any easier. Day by day it's a choice to not carry bitterness or a grudge. I'll be the first to admit it ain't always easy.

But on top of forgiving the person at fault (if there was one) the caregiver has to forgive God. This may be one of our biggest hurdles. Ultimately, it's His fault we are caregiving, whether we are caring for a child, a parent or someone else. If we believe God is truly in control then at the bare minimum He let it happen. This was a very tough spot for me for a very long time.

Eventually though, I forgave God. I found that unless I forgive Him, it's very difficult to trust Him again. But you know what? If we can't quite find that spot on any given day - we can express it to Him. He is big enough to carry it. I usually tell Him exactly what I feel, how angry I am at Him, how frustrating life is, or how disappointed I am with how He orchestrated life. And so far - He hasn't fried me down to my toenails - and chances are He won't.

I believe He honors a heart that is honest with Him. He is strong enough to carry our loads; and us as well. He never kicks us to the curb, but patiently waits for us to pour out our hearts before Him. I'm sure Daniel and Joseph had their moments. They had to; they were in some very tough circumstances. Let us learn to pour our hearts out before our King in open honesty. When we trust Him with the worst - He amazingly fills us up with His grace.

Today I'm going to rejoice in the fact that I don't have to hide my true feelings from God. I can talk to Him one-on-one. I can pour out all the bad, and good, things in my heart before Him and He will refresh me as I wait on Him. My efforts today will be to be bluntly honest with God. I'll turn my thoughts to the grace He supplies when I really pour it all out before Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Famine of the Soul

Have you ever had those days where you feel like life is dragging you into the deep dark mire of depression? You can feel its grip tightening with every breath and it's reflecting in every sluggish move. I have to admit I feel that way today. I can't blame it on any one thing - but a series of events have had this effect on me and honestly I don't always know how to get out or break its grip.

As I opened my Bible this morning, mostly out of habit to be truthful, my eyes fell on a couple of verses out of Psalm 32. Verses 7 says this: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. 

This is what I call a "two-way" psalm because between verse 7 and 8 it changes from second person to first person - like God is answering the psalmist. These are cool to me because it's like God interrupts the psalmist mid stream to get His thoughts in. Because verse 8 just pops out of nowhere with: I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

So that got my attention and I thought about it a bit and then turned a page and saw this in Psalm 33:16-18:

The king is not saved by a mighty army
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its strength.
Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
and to keep them alive in famine.

I think the biggest issues of being a caregiver are not physical but emotional which is our soul. We can live in a sort of famine of the soul where our emotions stay raw and open. Even though becoming a caregiver bringing about some physical changes, it's the soul that is ravaged by grief. Our soul gets its workout everyday just trying to navigate through all the emotions. But God will keep us alive in this famine of the soul.

Both of these psalms speak of His eyes being on us. I have to trust that no matter what I feel or face He is watching over me. I have to trust that He will instruct me - and I will hear Him. I have to trust that He is always watching, always listening and always ready to step in when I can't bear anymore. Well, I don't usually really give it all to Him until I get to that point. So today - I'm at that point! (smile) So I choose to give it to the One who is watching over me...one more time.

Today I'm going to try to consciously give Him my grief, pain, tears and struggles. I can't see Him watching over my soul and I can't feel Him rescuing my soul from famine; but I'll trust Him anyway. I will choose to trust Him to heal and protect my soul today. I'll lean in to Him with just a little more effort and trust He sees all, He knows all, and He's got my back today. Will you join me?

Holding on to What Does Not Fade

My latest personal devotions have been spent in 1 Peter. The epistles are among my favorite scriptures because they are just so rich! This morning I got stuck on 1 Peter 1:4. This passage is wonderful, but a few words in this scripture demanded my attention this morning.

Verse 4 says we obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, and undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. The words which I bolded are the ones which grabbed my attention. Our inheritance in the Lord cannot fade away, be defiled or perish.

That might not seem like too big of a deal to a lot of people, but for me as a caregiver sometimes I start to feel like a second class citizen all the way around. I feel the loss of a "normal" life, and feel like I can't get out and do things like so many get to enjoy. When my son was first injured, my life stopped and in many aspects it's never begun again. It's changed; but it's anything but "normal."

Many days I grieve the loss of my son, even though he is still here. I grieve the loss of my life too. It is so good to know that what we have in Christ, and who we are in Him cannot perish, cannot be stolen from us and will not ever fade away. Our life is hidden with Christ in God our Father and being a caregiver doesn't cause our standing in Him to change or waver one bit. Nothing in our spirit man changed when we became a caregiver.

This really touched me this morning during my devotions because when everything else in our lives changes, God's hold on us remains constant. Today I am going to grab hold on this truth and rest in Him. My meditation will be on His constancy - and His perseverance to hold on to me through life's struggles. I will turn my thoughts to His unchanging love for me. And I will rejoice in the fact that what He has put in me will not and cannot be damaged by life's roaring tides! Will you join me?

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 ...