Showing posts with label trusting God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trusting God. Show all posts

3-Fold Strand of Grace


 I found myself in Nahum 1:7 this morning during my personal devotions. I talked mostly about the last portion of the verse in my Facebook Live devotions (Peace Out!) and I'll share that video below. But the more I thought about this little verse in one of the smallest books of the Bible, the more it exploded inside me!

The verse simply says The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him. (NKJV) The little verse is nestled right smack dab in the middle of Nahum the prophet's declaration of God's vengeance on His enemies. Thankfully, we are believers and Jesus' blood covers us so we are saved from His wrath! 

Here Nahum is declaring the justice of God against evil and yet we find a 3-fold strand of grace.

Strand 1. The Lord is Good.

God is good, and His goodness doesn't fluctuate. He is good when things go our way and everything is smooth. But He is just as good when things are not going our way and we find ourselves in difficult and trying situations. His goodness doesn't change in response to circumstances. He is good. Always. Every day. In all circumstances.

Strand 2. A Stronghold in the Day of Trouble

I love that when my day (or days) go awry, He is my stronghold. I can run to Him. I can hide behind His grace. I can let Him carry me through the raging rivers of life. We always have a place to run to and it's in Him. He won't tell us that things got too complicated for Him. He'll never tell us He's too busy, too tired, or too anything. He will continue to protect our hearts. He's a stronghold we can trust.

Strand 3. He Knows Who is His

When we declare our trust in Him, we proclaim we are His - He knows just how much we are trusting Him whether it is a little or a lot. God knows us. He knows when we trust Him to get us from day to day in caregiving. He even knows when we hold back those hidden things we don't trust Him with. And because He knows we are His, He patiently waits for us to bring it all to Him as He undergirds us with His strength.

Today, I will take a walk through my own heart to see if there is anything I am not trusting Him with. I'll look around for areas that I am still trying to do in my own strength. My prayer will be for Him to reveal to me anything and everything that I am still holding on to as I commit to trusting Him with it all. Because He knows. My meditations will be on relinquishing my grip and placing all of my cares and concerns into His hand that is gripping me! Will you join me?

 




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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


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The Big Stuff vs The Little Stuff

Chris standing at Wheeler Park
It's an understatement to say that caregivers have a lot on their plates. That may produce an interesting image, but it doesn't touch the surface. I used to think that long-distance caregivers had it easy. That was until I became one - lol. Of course, that was in addition to taking care of my son full time. Smh. It's just not easy to take care of another whole person, no matter what level of care that requires.

Sometimes it seems like it's the little stuff that gets us. You know? I don't know- maybe it's all "big stuff" when you're a caregiver. Sometimes it's easier to trust Him with the big stuff. We have so many examples in scripture. Gideon fought off an innumerable army with just 300 men. Joshua and the Children of Israel marched around Jericho and the walls fell down. Moses led them across the Red Sea on dry ground. But those small things can eat our proverbial lunch.

It seems easier to ask God for strength for dealing with a brain injury, aging, cancer, or other health problems and situations we must deal with than it does when all the little things crumble around us. I can think I'm fine and pick up a pen to write something down and find it doesn't work. You'd think my world revolved around that writing utensil and it's all over just because it's not available when I need it. Or let me drop a chunk of cheese on the floor while I'm preparing a meal and you'd think WWIII had started in my kitchen. lol. Can you relate? Or is it just me?

Somehow, it seems easier to hand off the big stuff to God but keep the small stuff to deal with on our own. But I'm learning that His shoulders and heart are big enough to carry it all. And what's even more important to me - is that He wants to. We can go largely ignored. Not because people don't care - but they really don't know how to act or react to our situations. It's not their fault - they just don't know what to say or do and since they don't want to do or say something wrong - we are ignored.

We need more of Job's friends - as horrible as they were to him - when he needed them most they came to him. They sat in silence for 7 days because they simply didn't know what to say. (They should have stayed silent. lol) But they sat and sat and sat, and said nothing. However, they chose to participate in his pain. My friend Mary did that. When Chris first had the wreck she flew in from Indiana and stayed with me for almost a week. She stayed in the hospital room with us and was just there for me. It meant the world. It wasn't anything she said - she was just there - in the big stuff with me and God.

Today, I'm going to take a look around at big stuff and little stuff alike. I'll do a personal assessment to see what there may be that I have not deemed worthy of His attention. While my plate may still be "full" I know He will be shouldering some of the weight - the more I can give Him the better, right? Will you join me today in giving Him all - and trusting Him for one more day?

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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.

One Little Catch

 


There always seems to be a catch doesn't there? I think as caregivers we find ourselves in spots with catches a lot! The things that should be simple to navigate or often complex due to caregiving responsibilities. simple things like going to grab a prescription that's ready or swing by the grocery store are much more difficult when you have to take into account the care of a loved one. 

People may say, It's easy - just go - but by the time they get to the "go" part our minds are burdened with all it takes to just go. For me, it means clothing and transferring another whole human being! lol - There's no just jumping in the car and heading out, right? It's opening and lowering the ramp - getting the chair in the van and situation properly. Then, getting all the buckles in place and secure before we can "just go."

Sometimes God's answers seem to be complex too. In Psalm 50 verse 15, God says He will rescue us - all we have to do (just....) is trust Him in times of trouble. Yet another thing that sounds simple but becomes complicated by our thoughts and processes!

It's kind of laid out like a 3-step process. 

1. Trust Me in your times of trouble. 

2. I will rescue you!

3. You will give Me the glory!

So simple, right? Notice that it's a plural. Trust Me in your times of trouble. I love that. God understands that trouble may come back another day even after He rescues us today. For me - and all other caregivers, trouble can visit numerous times in a day. (lol) But IF I trust Him - He will rescue me every.single.time.

So, what's the catch? He says He'll rescue me - every time trouble comes. The catch is that I must trust in Him. The catch is that trouble is going to come - more than once even. He doesn't promise He'll carry us away from trouble and we'll never see difficulties again. But He does promise that He will rescue us - every time trouble comes.

Today, I will move in a little closer to His heart and listen for it to beat for me. No matter what may come today - I will purpose to trust Him with it all. All my emotions, cries, questions, and anything else that comes along with it - will be His today. I'll put all my troubles and myself into His hands for safekeeping today - won't He do it? Will you join me today?

The Sent Ones

 

Me and Chris at Tae Kwon Do

When we think about Jesus sending out His disciples the12 being sent out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons come to mind. Maybe we think about the 70 He sent out later on. Or perhaps we even think about the Great Commission and how we are all sent to make disciples of all nations. What we don't think about is Matthew 14, when Jesus sent His disciples into a storm.

We could argue that He didn't know there was a storm coming - but since He is Jesus - that argument won't hold up. In Matthew 14:22 Jesus "made His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while He sent the people home." (NLT) After they boarded the boat and headed out across the sea, Jesus spent some time alone in prayer. While He was praying, the disciples found themselves on the sea, at night, fighting a bad storm.

He knew there was a storm building - but He sent them anyway. Of course, about three in the morning, He came to them walking on the water. But I still can't get over the fact that He knew there was a storm and He sent them anyway.

My point? God doesn't always help us avoid bad, difficult, hurtful, or hard situations. But He will come to us in our point of need. He will bring us His peace in the midst of the storms life tosses our way. He will equip us for the journey and He won't leave us alone in the storm. Think about this - if Jesus had said, there's a storm so I'm not sending you out on the boat tonight - Peter would have missed the opportunity of walking on water. The disciples would have missed a huge lesson on faith and trust. They would have missed the revelation that He was who He said He was. (verse 33)

God doesn't always protect us from the storm - but He keeps us in the storm. Just like the disciples, we learn so much in the midst of the storm. Our faith is stretched. Opportunities to trust Him abound. And we understand more about who He is - we see Him more clearly.

Today, I'm going to thank Him for the storms. My prayer will be that He will increase my faith and trust in Him; and that I will be able to see Him through the wind and rain. I'll look to Him on the rocky seas of life and trust Him for one more trip across the lake (translated - one more day!). I'm going to look for opportunities to trust Him and step out of the boat onto faith. Will you join me?

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Trust is an Action Word

 

chris standing by me

It's funny how normal things can just leap out at you, isn't it? I make my living by writing for clients. I provide lots of web content which is mostly blog posts. My clients are from a wide variety of industries, so I get a lot of experience. One of the blogs I maintain for one of my clients has some issues. I sent him an email and explained what had happened and that I would get his new posts up for him and fix the issues on last week's posts. When I got his reply this morning, it jumped out at me.

He simply said, No worries. You always take care of me. I have worked with this client for more than a year but I got this boost of confidence directly from his confidence and trust in me. It seemed like I could literally feel his trust. And of course, that got me thinking! :-)

Can I have that same trust in God? What if I looked at my circumstances, then looked at Him and said, No worries. You always take care of me. And then, I just didn't worry about it anymore.

As caregivers, we often have to do that don't we? There are things beyond our capacity to understand or control. We have to give each day to Him and then remind ourselves that He has always taken care of us, and He's not going to stop doing it now. My client didn't just tell me he trusted me. He could have just said - No worries, I trust you. But he said you've always taken care of me. I easily read trust between the lines. I felt his action.

Today, I am going to meditate on what trusting God really looks like. Trust is a verb, and I want to take action on trusting Him. That means leaving things in His hands instead of taking them out and trying to figure them out myself. I'll remind myself that up until this point - God has always taken care of me - and He hasn't run out of grace or patience. He will continue taking care of me as I continue to trust Him to do so. My thoughts and actions will go toward fully trusting Him with every aspect of my life (caregiving included!) today. Will you join me?

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Dessert in the Desert

Chris standing at the park

 I'm still in Isaiah 41 today! But today, I'm looking at verses 17 to 20. It's a rich passage for us caregivers. It talks about the poor and needy, and how they fail for thirst. But God promises to hear them and not forsake them. I feel poor sometimes. And as much as I hate it, I feel needy sometimes. But God is here. He hears the pain in our tears and feels the dispair in our fears.

He doesn't stop with helping us and hearing us though. Here are some of the things He says He will do for us:

  • open rivers in desolate areas
  • cause fountains to spring up in valleys
  • make pools of water in the wilderness
  • place springs in the dry land
As He carries out these magnificent feats, these barren places begin to sprout and bring forth vegetation. In my mind, I picture a desert becoming an oasis. It's like a feast for the eyes and soul in the middle of a barren, dry place. A dessert in the desert if you will.

It always amazes me how God can take those broken areas of our lives and bring forth fruit. Just about the time we feel like we are spent for sure, and have nothing left He brings forth a living spring. A pool of fresh water just arises in our deepest, driest times. When everything has dried up and gone away - even our tears - He provides a cool refreshing drink.

Sometimes I wonder if He can bring something beautiful out of something like caregiving. The answer is always, yes. It's His specialty, whether anyone else knows it or not - He's always in the business of bringing growth and life from something others may deem worthless and dead.

Today, I will focus on what I see Him doing in me. I'll look for that sweet spot - that dessert in the midst of my desert. He never fails. He never leaves. He will not abandon. Today, I will count on Him to be here - with me right where I am emotionally, physically, and in every other way. Will you join me?

Losing Wait


 Navigating through caregiving is never easy no matter what the circumstances. I always thought that long-distance caregiving was "easier" than full-time in the home caregiving. But over the last three years, as I cared for my son at home and my aunt in a facility until she passed, I found out it's just a hard job no matter what. There is always nothing simple about taking care of another person and making decisions on their behalf. 

As we work through the process, we learn that there is a lot of waiting. Waiting on doctor's orders to get supplies. Waiting on authorizations for medical procedures. Waiting on paperwork to get aids in to help. And that is just the beginning of a long, long, list. It can feel like we are always waiting on someone to do their job or to work on our behalf.

Waiting can be perplexing and it can feel like we can't do anything to help. In some instances, we can call or email the right person to help things move along faster. Other times, there is just nothing to do but wait. That's hard on most of us as we are used to being in charge. For those of us with Type A personalities, it's pure torture! We like to get things done. 

When we fall into overwhelm mode and it seems there is no one listening to us or working on our behalf, there is a wait that is good. Many times, I've prayed and reminded God that He is my husband. (Isaiah 54:5) Then, I wait on HIM to act on my behalf. And even though whatever natural things I am waiting on may not be taken care of right away, I am never disappointed when I wait on Him.

Today, I will take all those situations where I am waiting on a person for something - and I'll roll them all into one and hand them to Him. Then, I will wait on Him to act on my behalf. I'll spend my "waiting energy" looking to Him for He is my help. People offer some help - but they can't keep or sustain my soul. I may just write all the things I'm waiting on in a journal and leave them there. I will trust Him to provide, to sustain me, to keep me today. Will you join me as we wait on Him? 

Can I Trust God with That?


 Hi. I know it's been a while, but I'm back! I've been doing live devotions on Facebook and kind of let this blog go. But I think I'm ready to give it a go again. If anyone understands overwhelm - I know it's my fellow caregivers. While doing my Facebook live devotion this morning, I was sharing a scripture out of Psalm 31 and it just seemed like it fit here - so here goes.

I spend a lot of time in Psalm 31. So much time, I wrote a devotional called 31 Days in Psalm 31. This morning, I was drawn back into this favorite passage. And as usual, something brand new leaped off the page! 

In verses 9-10 David said, Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. He paints quite a picture, doesn't he? Maybe he is a bit dramatic - but I know that there are those days each of us as caregivers can relate.

Sometimes it feels just as bad as David described. We can feel weighted down underneath the load of responsibilities we bear every single day. There are just times when we need to stop and cry it all out. Maybe we know why - maybe we do not. One thing I love about David - he is gut-level honest about his feelings and emotions. That's actually a very healthy place to be in both mentally and emotionally.

David just pours it all out to God. But then you will notice in verse14, David says But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, You are my God! He goes on to pray - rescue me! What a picture of trust in the midst of adversity. That's the ultimate. It's easy to say we trust God when everything is hunky-dory and going our way, isn't it? But when our emotions and situations overwhelm us - it becomes a true declaration of faith.

No matter what comes today - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how I feel or how sad I become - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how many tears I cry - I will trust You, Lord!

Today, I will make this MY declaration - I am trusting You Lord. Will you join me? 

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Strength from Weakness

 

car ride wiwth aunt polly

Have you ever had someone say to you, I don't know how you do it? As a caregiver, I think I'm supposed to take it as a compliment. I usually mutter something like, Oh, we all do what we need to do. Or some other blow-it-off phrase. But what I'd really like to do is yell - I don't know either!  Lol - maybe it's just me.

Caregivers just keep giving and doing day in and day out. We kind of get used to a new normal and get into a groove that makes everything happen. But of course, there are those little kinks. My kink usually starts with a cough. When I hear Chris cough I start making a plan. Do I have all his prescriptions on hand? Is the battery charged on the oxygen thingy? 

Other times it's less worrisome things like this week I ran out of gloves. They were delivered to the office on Saturday - but 1 - I couldn't go get them anyway. And 2 - I didn't know until after office hours. Not having supplies, aids not showing up, delivery services that have no available time slots before the time you need an item or two... these all wear us down!  

So, when someone says I don't know how you do it  (perhaps they should say - without breaking down.) I think - me either. Most days I don't feel like I "do it" well enough. But here's the thing I am learning. There is power in realizing our weaknesses. This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul is talking about the Light shining in our hearts and how we have this treasure in an earthen vessel. We are just a clay pot holding the very glory of God.

But Paul goes on to talk about how he was 

  • hard-pressed on every side but not crushed
  • perplexed but not in despair
  • persecuted but not forsaken
  • struck down but not destroyed
We talk a lot about how David poured out his honest, raw emotions before God too. What I like about David and Paul is that they were honest and transparent about their feelings. They weren't afraid to tell God the truth. That open and real expression is an act of worship. It's in those moments of weakness, that we realize His strength. As we pour out our souls and empty ourselves before Him - He fills us back up with His strength. Pauls says in my weakness You are strong.

Today, I will meditate on how God puts His strength in this weak, old clay pot. My thoughts will be on how He takes time to hear my deepest heartfelt cries and listens intently to them as He begins to pour new strength for a new day in. I'll rest right there - and trust Him for just today. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                                                

3-Point Patterns


One of the many things I like about King David is his transparency before God. In a lot of the psalms he wrote, he poured his heart out in pure honesty. I love how he explains his emotions and feelings so vividly. He says things like he cried all night, or like in Psalm 3, he says his enemies have greatly increased. In Psalm 61 he talks about how his heart and emotions are overwhelmed. 

I think there is a parallel for us as caregivers. I've said it before that it's quite alright to tell God how we really feel. If you could hide it from Him, where would you put it? My point, of course, is that He knows anyway. God is fully aware of my fears, thoughts, and the full spectrum of emotions I cycle through pretty much every day. It's okay to be like David and lay it all out on the table before God. It's not like He doesn't know.

But David does two things after baring His soul. First, he reminds himself of what God has done in the past. In Psalm 3, David says You are a shield for me - the One who lifts my head. The Lord sustains me. In Psalm 61 he reminds himself - You have been a shelter for me - a strong tower from the enemy. 

The last thing David does consistently throughout the Psalms is to make a declaration. In Psalm 3 he declares I will not be afraid. In psalm 61 his declaration is I will abide in Your tabernacle - I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

You'll find this 3-point pattern all through the psalms that are attributed to David. I'm learning to live it out myself. We can come to God with all - every single thing we are feeling and trying to sort through. He is big enough (and smart enough) to handle it. Then, we can help ourselves out by reminding ourselves of what God has done in the past. Thirdly, we can make our own declarations of trust and faith to trust Him for one more battle - one more struggle - one more day.

Today, I'm going to focus on two things. I will remind myself of all the things God has done in my past. I'll spend time thinking about the times I know he spared my life. My thoughts will be on how He has kept me these six decades. And then - I will declare that I will continue to trust Him. I will keep on praising Him and I'll keep on lifting my soul up to Him because I trust Him. And that is how I will trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Dealing and Healing


The caregiver's world can be a traumatic place where you feel like you never get ahead. Many caregivers deal with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). No one doubts how stressful it can be. And I think how much easier it might be if everyone just did their jobs. Right? In the caregiver's dream world, supplies are delivered as ordered and on time. Aids show up for their scheduled times day after day. The days go without a hitch, so it's all about providing care for our loved ones. People call just to check-in. Someone gives you a hug or says, I love you. But maybe that's what dreams are made of. (smile)

I'm not complaining - but I am traumatized by what I see going on in the world. There's no peace out there, would you agree? It seems like lately, I've done a lot of reeling in of the emotions and talking myself back to a place of peace in Him. You know what? That's okay. It's part of dealing with it all and healing in the midst of the struggles and storms.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if we got an exemption card when we became caregivers. Alas, more dreams. Lol. No one would die. We wouldn't have to miss marriages, holidays, or other family events. And maybe the weather would be perfect year-round so that we could always get outside (as long as our loved one is feeling up to it.) 

Lots of dreams, huh? Well, at least I made myself smile and got a little chuckle out of it. (You can smile too.) Because even though I'm being a bit facetious,  we all know that caregiving isn't a bed of roses. There is beauty, but there are thorns too. And we are okay with that. It's part of the deal.

I'm learning to hide more in Him than ever before. To "deal and heal" while in the midst of the storm means I have to crawl up in Him to find peace, and sometimes to find myself. You know? Caregiving is a funny creature, and circumstances can change on a dime on any given day. But what we do have is the constancy of the Holy Spirit. He is our comforter. Jesus is still the Prince of Peace. These truths do not change when we become a caregiver. They remain. And some days, it's a constant fight to keep my mind stayed on these truths. But it's doable. And it's necessary if we want to live in peace and comfort. 

Today, I will shift my mind away from the craziness in the world and the loneliness in the cave and focus on His kingdom where peace reigns. I'll meditate on how He cares for me and carries me when needed. My thoughts will stay on His comforting power. I'll remind myself that I don't belong in this world - but I am part of the Kingdom of Peace where the Prince of Peace reigns. I'll accept His peace even though it goes against everything I see through my tiny cave windows. (Smile again!) And I will rest in Him - embrace His peace - and let it reign in my heart today as I trust Him for just one more day. Will you join me?

A Plan for the Unplanned

Chris at his first 5K

 If anyone knows about how things don't go as planned, it's caregivers. All it takes is a sneeze, a cough, a huge "accident' (and you know what I mean!) to mess up the best-laid plans. Many mornings we get up and start about the day and may even be productive. But all of a sudden it turns topsy-turvey and ends up with calls to doctors, home health, case managers, or suppliers. I know you know that drill!

But what are we supposed to do when things don't go as planned? Is there a plan for when plans fail? I know you understand what it's like to make plans for an outing, a family get together, or even a trip to the store and have to cancel at the last minute. It's easy to get to a place where you don't even want to make plans. 

I'm sure Daniel didn't plan on living his life as a slave. Joseph didn't either. All through scriptures we find stories of real people who had their real lives uprooted or disrupted by various events. Hebrews 11 has a long list we often call the "Hall of Faith." These people didn't have perfect lives either. Yet they continued to trust and believe God. 

This morning as I was preparing for the devotion I do on Facebook Live, I found myself in Psalm 13. David didn't have a perfect life either. We talked a bit in yesterday's devotion about how he took in Mephibosheth, the disabled son of Jonathan. That demonstrates the heart of God. 

In Psalm 13, David is asking where God went. He asks God how long He is going to look the other way. Yes, this is the same David who said in Psalm 139 that God was intimately acquainted with our ways and knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before we say them. But here he is in despair. He's feeling lost and forsaken. I know I don't have to tell you about that -it's part of the caregiver's journey. David felt it all - the loneliness, being forsaken, forgotten, overlooked - you fill in your blanks because I've got a lot of those emotions myself. We all do from time to time. 

But one thing I love about David is that he ends most of his psalms with a declaration. This one he declares:

  • I will trust Your unfailing love
  • I will rejoice
  • I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me
Today, even though I feel a bit discombobulated, I declare that I will trust God for one more day. I'll trust that He still loves me and He has good plans for me. I will rejoice in the victories He's brought so far even if I don't feel victorious today. And I will sing to Him - not because I'm good - but because He is good. His goodness remains steady and unwavered by the things we face each day. He is still good - and He is still God. I'll trust Him for today - will you join me?

Quietly Determined

This morning I was reading the last few verses of Habakkuk where the prophet said this:  Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. As I read and reread this familiar passage, I thought about the determination behind what Habakkuk said. He was living in tumultuous times kind of like we are - yet he determined to praise God and trust His salvation.

As caregivers, I think we do that a lot. We quietly determine not to be swept away by the tide of caregiving. I know you understand those longest days where it takes all we have to keep our heads above the proverbial waters. Many people don't have a clue the types of decisions, choices, and tasks we face each and every day and the toll it can take on us mentally and emotionally.

On top of all that - there's the day-to-day physical tasks we must do for another. I think many times, we even miss the weight of the matter - we are involved so in ensuring the comfort and care of our loved ones, we don't even realize the toll it takes. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Habakkuk was facing difficult situations too. He possibly felt overwhelmed or like he was being sucked under the circumstances he was in. He quietly determined to bless God in the midst of the mess. Isaiah 30:15 says in quietness and confidence will be your strength. 

God is faithful. When we cry out to Him even in the most difficult circumstances, He fills us with His peace, wisdom, and strength. Sometimes, He carries us. But it's in those most intimate moments we learn to trust Him more. 

Today, I will turn my thoughts to how He cares for me - the caregiver. I'll be determined quietly to let Him carry me through this day. My meditations will be on how intimacy with Him is what lifts me up where I can sense His peace over the storms of life. And I will rest in Him for one more day as He carries me through. Will you join me?

The Corona Virus and Faith


No matter what you believe about the Corona Virus and the “pandemic” declared by WHO, it’s a concerning situation. While the virus itself doesn’t pose much threat to the general public, and recovery is expected, to those most vulnerable among us, it can be fatal. That puts a bit of stress on us as caregivers as we strive to take the necessary precautions to try and shield those we care for from exposure.


Where do we run in times like these? As a caregiver fear knocks at my heart’s door. I want to batten down the hatches, spray everyone with disinfectants and move further back in the caregiver’s cave. The social isolation of being quarantined isn’t scary – many of us have been living like that for years. I discussed this in another blog I maintain by stating, Welcome to My World.

We hold on to faith every day as caregivers. It takes faith most days for us to continue living and moving forward. But add something like this crazy virus on top and we have to dig down just a little deeper. I’ve watched Christians on social media platforms plea the blood and quote scriptures declaring it won’t come nigh their dwelling. But over the last few years of caregiving, I’ve learned that faith isn’t so much keeping horrible things at bay – instead, it’s what carries us through them.

One of my favorite scriptures comes to mind, and I’ve seen it quoted a lot lately. David talks about abiding in the shelter of God and how God is our refuge. We don’t need a refuge if there isn’t a storm. Some of the phrases I’m seeing pulled out of context in this psalm are:

He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from pestilence,
It shall not come near you….
No evil shall befall you nor any plague come near your dwelling…

I love to claim these too. But there really is a catch. First off, we must admit there is a fowler’s snare, pestilence, plague, arrows flying, and destruction. It exists and we are not exempt as much as we’d like to think so. Now, don’t get me wrong, one thing I’ve learned as a caregiver is how He continues to watch over us and walk with us through things. Daniel didn’t get an exemption card – he faced the lion’s den. David faced Goliath. The three Hebrew children walked through that fire. Jesus faced the cross. There is no exemption – only deliverance.

Think for a second about the writer of this psalm. David ran for years from Saul. He hid in caves and ran for his life. His son, Absalom killed his brother Amnon. Then, later on, Absalom was killed. David lost two sons. He knew heartache. After his sin with Bathsheba, he lost a baby son. He knew God didn’t keep all bad things from happening. But here in this “protective” psalm, we try to quote like it’s an enchantment or incantation,  David stresses that God is our shelter – we don’t need shelter if nothing is happening to us. I don’t hide under an umbrella if there’s no rain. There is no running to the storm shelter if there isn’t a storm.

God does not promise a free ticket and exemption from problems. What He does promise is that He will never leave us. He does promise to be faithful. He promises to keep our souls in the midst of the storm. There is no promise that the storm won’t come – but rather the calm assurance that He’ll keep us in and through it.

I will take the necessary precautions to protect my son from the Coronavirus and the flu. I will pray that he nor anyone in this household gets it. But whether we face it or not – I will trust God to carry me through.

Today, I will focus on God’s faithfulness. My meditation will be on how He remains calm in the craziest times. I’ll turn my thoughts to the fact that whether we see uncertain days or not – He will remain with me. He will walk each day with me. And today, I’ll be grateful for His presence and His beyond-our-understanding peace in the midst of chaos and craziness. I’ll trust Him – for today, for tomorrow, and forever. Will you join me?

Count it all What?

This morning I started reading in James as I prepare another study guide. I read through the first few verses, sighed and moved on. Then a friend shared her devotional for the day and it was on the exact same verse. So, I thought maybe I should camp there awhile.

In James 1:2 we are reminded to count it all joy when we fall into different trials. It doesn't say if...it says when. I get that- you know - something's always going on. and for caregivers, it's a daily struggle to make ends meet emotionally, financially, mentally and physically. But do I have to consider it joy?

Well, if you'll read it again, it's not talking about being joyous because of the trial, it's because of the result. It's the testing of our faith that will produce endurance. I can testify that this is true. I've talked a lot about a redefined faith - one that sustains us. It's that deep-felt heart-abiding faith that won't let you give up. The same one that can honestly be frustrating when you really want to give up but just can't because of the rock of faith in your heart.

When endurance (or patience depending on your translation) is allowed to finish its work - we will be perfect. I was excited until I realized that word actually means "mature."

But this morning as I read this familiar passage, I noticed something "new" to me. In verse five, James starts with "but...." I've always heard it's not proper to start a sentence with a conjunction, but James did. I'm sure he did it for a reason. But if you lack wisdom... That's when it hit me - the conjunction, "but" is powerful right here. He basically says - count it all joy for your trials because it's working in you to grow your faith to maturity... but if you don't have the wisdom to follow that through - then ask God for it.

I certainly pray I have the wisdom to let this trial deepen my faith. One of my initial prayers was that I'd be able to find my way to stay strong in Him and follow His call in the midst of it all. I pray that for all of us today. Only a caregiver understands the heart issues we face. The dark night of the soul that caregiving can be - and the joyous intimacy with God that deepens when we pursue Him.

Today, I will meditate on how He has walked this journey with me and taken the time to develop my faith and trust even in the midst of the trial. My thoughts will be on how I can change and grow rather than avoid the painful journey. I'll be thankful that He didn't abandon me at any point and that He keeps on unfolding His word in my heart as I seek Him. I'll continue to seek Him as I trust Him for one more day.Will you join me?

Finding Contentment

I came across an interesting scripture this morning during my devotions. Since I wasn't sure where to start reading I let my Bible just fall open. It landed in Ezekiel 35. In the 5th verse, God is upset at a group of people because they attacked others in the time of their calamity. That sparked a short study on calamity and trouble.

At first I saw a lot of scriptures talking about why and when the Lord brought calamity on groups of people in the Old Testament. I'll be honest. I got a bit worried that He had brought this calamity on me and my family. But like Job who faced calamity for no fault of his own, I found peace knowing in my heart I have not turned away from Him even in this calamity. So I continued my short study.

I found a passage in Obadiah where God was condemning another group for mistreating their "brothers" in the day of trouble and calamity. I began to take heart again as it seemed God was upset with those who took advantage of those who were facing difficult times. Fortunately, I haven't found this to be true in my case. Most people don't seem to take advantage of caregivers, they just ignore us. lol.

As I thought about these two passages where the Lord seemed upset about how people who were going through were being treated, I recalled one of my old favorite verses. It's Psalms 57:1 and I memorized in back in 1986 when I was going through a serious illness. It says this Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me for my soul trusts in thee and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until calamities are past.

And that I did. And that calamity did pass. He did heal me. There was no other explanation and doctors never discovered what the mystery illness was. But now I find myself in another type of calamity, one that is ongoing with no end in sight. I still proclaim that I will hide in Him in the midst of this wilderness too. He is still my refuge and in that, I am very content. I'm content to rely on Him for my strength to make each and every day. I'm content to know He's got my heart hidden in His no matter how broken it feels. I'm content to know He's got my back and upset when "brothers" don't treat us right as we walk through the struggles of each day.

Today, I will rejoice that I am still trusting in the refuge of His wings - and He hasn't kicked me out yet! My thoughts will be on being content in this place of safety and I will LET His peace rule in my heart. I won't let calamity define me, I'll let Him do that. I'll continue being contently and confidently hidden in Him trusting in His love and care. Will you join me?

Foundational Truth

Is it just me or does it feel like the world is warring against the soul constantly? Lately, I've stayed off Facebook because of the hostile environment it can be. For the first few years of my caregiving journey, it was my entertainment and social outlet. It's changed a lot - and so have I so I avoid it most of the time. I was thinking of the things we see go across there and the media this morning and it made me thankful for my caregiver's cave. I can hide away and not see the horrible state the world is in.

In my devotions this morning, I was reading 2 Timothy 3 about the last days. It describes where we are to a T. But while I was reading through there, my eyes landed on a verse I had marked on the other side of my Bible page. It's chapter 2, verse 13. It says this If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. I was glad I "found" it as it allowed my mind to travel a different avenue. I thought about this foundational truth - He can't deny us because we are part of Him. What? We are actually part of God? How can that be? Right here in our messy lives - those of us who are believers are part of Him. It's not possible to say we are not in Him, not part of Him.

But what I really liked was the part that says if we are faithless, He is faithful. I like it because sometimes I feel so faith-less. It's difficult to trust because of what I see - even though at gut level I know He'll always pull me out. Sometimes I need Him to just help me take one more breath. Some days I feel like the entire world has caved in on me, I'm swimming upstream in a swift current, and there's no "finish line." I couldn't feel more faith-less on days like that. But even in those times, He is faithful. What does that mean? (my mind asks)


  • Faithful to protect my soul
  • Faithful to keep my heart in His
  • Faithful to watch over His word
  • Faithful to provide (even when I can't see)
  • Faithful to lead me back to His heart
  • Faithful to sustain me and help me take.one.more.breath
As I reminded myself of His faith-full-ness even in my faith-less state, my eyes caught another verse. Verse 19 says this - nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands having this seal - He knows those who are His. And with that, I took a deep breath. His foundation is firm, His foundational truths do not change. My faith can feel like it goes through ebbs and flows - but His faithfulness is constant. Whether I am swimming upstream or down,  He is faith-full. I may feel tired. I may feel lost. I may feel alone. I may feel defeated. But if I will just lean in on Him a little harder - His heartbeat will sustain me and give me the strength to keep swimming.

Today I will think less about feeling faith-less, and more about His sustaining faith-full-ness. I'll try to lean in to His heart where I can hear it beating for me (and you). My meditations will be on how He carries me through rough waters safely to the other side. So, I will let Him do the carrying today as I trust Him for one more day. Will  you join me?

Surrounded

There were times when David felt as if he was surrounded by his enemies. In the third psalm, he says I have so many enemies. In Psalm 17, he mentions his deadly enemies that surround. One thing I appreciate about David is that he acknowledges his enemies. He doesn't try to act like they don't exist. He doesn't try to imagine they are gone. And, he doesn't try to "faith" his way out of his circumstances. What he does do, though, is declare the truth in the midst of his surroundings.

David had real, physical enemies with flesh and blood and oftentimes in his writings he mentions the words his enemy uses against him. He always refutes it with what God says about him. I like that. David may share how he is being overcome by the deep waters of tribulation, but he always counters it with a declaration about God and a but I'm still swimming statement.

As much as David felt like his enemies surrounded him, he also notes God surrounds him. He wasn't confused. He knew God was nearer when the enemy pressed in. He made references to the enemy surrounding him:


  • my deadly enemies surround me (Psalm 17:9)
  • the cords of Sheol surrounded me (Psalm 18:5)
  • many bulls have surrounded me - strong bulls! (Psalm 22:12)
  • dogs have surrounded me - a band of evildoers encompassed me (Psalm 22:16)
  • evils beyond number have surrounded me (Psalm 40:12)
Even though he often felt surrounded by enemies of varying types, he declared in the face of his enemy that he was surrounded by God. His references are amazing:

  • O Lord You surround him (the righteous man) with favor (Psalm 5:12)
  • You surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7)
  • he who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness will surround him. (Psalm 32:10)
  • the Lord surrounds His people (Psalm 125:1)
As caregivers we may not have physical giants and enemies that stand before us. However, we have giants that war at our hearts - through our head. So many things can try to surround us and overtake us. Fears of the future. Financial concerns. Physical ailments or the possibility of not being able to care for our loved ones. Doubts try to crowd in our mind and erode our faith and trust in Him. For many of us, it's a constant struggle even if we remain on top of it. It wears away at our hearts. But like David, we are still swimming in life's flood waters.

What's your declaration today? David usually turned his fears, doubts, and concerns into a declaration he could hold on to. They usually started with an I will

  • I will lie down in peace and sleep for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8)
  • I will sing praises to the name of the Lord Most High... (Psalm 7:17)
  • I will declare the wonder of Your name... I will praise You among the people (Psalm 22:22)
  • I will trust in Your unfailing love (Psalm 13:5)
Even if you feel surrounded today by doubts, fears, what-ifs, what-not-ifs, or are just submerged in your own thoughts, there is a way out. 

Today, I will gladly make my declaration that I will trust Him for one more day. I will bless His name today. My heart will praise Him in the midst of the storm - and I will keep swimming! I figure if my enemies are going to surround me - they are going to have to listen to me praise my God who keeps my soul safe in the midst of trouble. How about you? Will you join me?






A Realist's Faith

Chris standing well
I'm not sure we can deal with any situation, caregiving or otherwise until we acknowledge it. We can try to confess it away, quote scriptures over it all day, and pray - I do this a lot. It doesn't always change the situation. I have no doubt that God heals and will continue to perform miracles. But until He does - we must deal with the situations that are right in our face.
It's not faithless to face our situation head on each day. There is no way to be a caregiver and ignore what we are going through as our actions or inactions directly affect other persons. A realist can stand in faith too because faith is not exactly what we've made it out to be all these years.

I have a very well-meaning relative who is always telling Chris to "get outta that chair" so he can go fishing. It breaks my heart. The first time he said it, I said, "they have handicap fishing spots if you want to take him fishing." I got no response. The last time he said it, I just let it go as my heart shattered into a million pieces. I love my son just like he is. Would I be overjoyed if he took off walking or starting talking or moving anything? Absolutely. But I love him just like he is too. I sing "You are so Beautiful" to him pretty much every day, two or three times a day.

God never looks at us and says, I sure wish you'd get better so I could fellowship with you. I know He doesn't. He loves us just like we are - even though He sees far better things for us. He puts no requirements on us - He just says come. He wipes my tears. He picks me up. He loves me - even when I'm dirty by my own doing. He takes us just like we are with no hesitation, no questions, no shaking of His head in disgust.

Today, I will meditate on how He loves me just like I am, with all my imperfections. My thoughts will be on how He longs to be with me so much He'll come to me if I can't walk, He speaks to me when I can't talk and He holds me when I can't hold Him. I'll think about how much He loves us as the crazy messed up caregivers we can be! lol And I'll thank Him for loving me right where I am, just as I am as I trust Him for 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?









Undisputable

 If you've followed along with this blog for a long, then you know I have quite a few favorite scriptures. I reserve the right to pick n...