Saturday, May 21, 2016

God's Strength in Our Weakness


Does the challenges of care-giving seem over whelming at times, dear caregiver? Do you feel inadequate for the task?  Do you ever ask "why?" when you see your loved one struggle and perhaps decline in his or her health?  Do you ever wonder why God has laid this burden on you or your loved one's life?

Know that the work you are doing is noble work, dear caregiver.  Know that God is using you as His "mighty warrior." in this challenging but wonderful work of care-giving that you are doing in His kingdom.  Know that He will use even the difficult moments to refine and grow you.  Know that God's grace is sufficient, as we talked about in our last post.

In the Old Testament of the Bible God assigned a man named Gideon a task for which he felt very unqualified.  He asked the "why?" question as well, and he tried to make excuses for doing the task that called him to do.  He had to learn the secret of finding his strength in the Lord and not in himself. In fact, Gideon learned that when he was weak, God's power shows through the strongest.

I have another blog called "Moments with God."  It is a devotional blog.  Click on the link below and it will bring you to a post at this blog which tells the story about this man,Gideon.  I think you will identify with Gideon in many ways, dear caregiver!


http://scripturemoments.blogspot.com/2016/05/judges-61-16.htmll

Sunday, May 15, 2016

God is Sufficient

Care-giving for a loved one is often challenging, at best. Care-giving can also be heartbreaking and overwhelming if one cares for a loved one who continues to take steps backwards in his or her health. As a caregiver for my husband with a devastating and fast-moving neurological disease, I certainly found that to be true.  In January, 2010, I wrote the following words about my husband: 

     How far we have come from him being our family’s primary breadwinner, my best friend, my lover, and my husband. He is still my husband, but how different our roles are now. How could our lives have gone from “normal” to wheelchairs, incontinence products, and immobility in just a few years?
     I resolved at the beginning of this year to look for the blessings and to also look for the faithfulness of my God in my life. I resolved not to stress so much. I am making a conscious effort to do this. I do see the blessings and faithfulness of my God. In spite of it not being a great day, I recognize blessings in my day even today. I really do, but these sad feelings are still there for what is no longer there. 

Dear Christian caregiver, I am certain you experience many emotions of sadness and heartbreak also; especially if you are caring for someone with a long term illness. So where can one run for help with these negative emotions? 
     
The only source of strength and guidance in the challenges of life is the Lord God. We must spend time in His Word, the Bible, and we must spend time in prayer. This will begin to instill in us an understanding of the depth of God’s love for us. This, in turn, will provide us a peace that only the awareness of the presence of God in our lives can provide. 
     
As we begin to look for the wonders of God (which are all around us), we begin to realize that we are not abandoned or left alone in this world. Dear Christian caregiver, your feelings may tell you that you are all alone. Daily remind yourself of God’s truth, however. Seek His companionship and counsel. He alone can guide you perfectly as you navigate the often stormy waters of care-giving. God alone can comfort you completely as you struggle with the negative emotions which often accompany your care-giving days. The Lord God is sufficient, however. He is also greatly honored, dear Christian caregiver, when you set your affection on Him in the midst of the heartbreak of care-giving. 

(The above blog post is one of the chapters in my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers. Having been a family caregiver myself I have a passion to help family caregivers. My book contains over 100 short chapters or meditations to encourage family caregivers in their sometimes discouraging but always noble work of caring for their loved ones. My own story as my husband's caregiver is intertwined in the meditations or short chapters in my book.

You can find my book online at Xulon, my publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles. and other places. It is available in kindle version at Amazon and Nook version at Barnes and Noble, as well as paperback version.

This is the Amazon link to the order page for my book:

If you prefer you can order directly from me as well. E-mail me at jesuschild54@hotmil.com for specifics, if you wish to take that route.)


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Remembering

At times, the heartaches of care-giving can cause caregivers to temporarily forget the memories of the good times that they have experienced with their loved ones before they became ill. Caregivers can become so consumed with the challenges of fighting the declines in health evident in their loved ones that the good relationships and past good memories of their interactions with their loved ones get pushed to the back of their minds. 
     
At one point during my husband’s illness, I retrieved from their storage space our old love letters that we had sent to each other while dating. I spent an enjoyable period of time that day rereading those letters. It was so refreshing and a real spirit lifter. It helped to give me some perspective on things that day.  
    
After my husband’s death, I reminisced about special memories of our lives together. I recalled some special trips we had taken. I thought about how I enjoyed hiking trails with him from time to time before he became ill. I remembered our excitement over the birth of our children and grandchildren. I also thought about what I had loved and admired about him.  
     
Dear Christian caregiver, perhaps your loved one’s illness prevents you from doing some of the things you at one time loved doing together. Perhaps the illness has changed your loved one’s personality and quality of interactions with you. Perhaps, however, remembering those good times and thinking about what you always loved and admired about your loved one would help you to get through the very challenging days of care-giving.

Below is some of my memories.  The first picture is of my husband, Wayne, and I when we were dating.  The second one is of our wedding in July of 1971.  The third one is of Wayne and I with our three sons when they were very young.  The last picture is of Wayne and I at our youngest son's wedding about a year before Wayne was diagnosed with his disease.

When I look at some of the pictures of Wayne shortly before he passed away I can feel sad.  But these pictures bring fond memories and joy to my heart. Concentrate on the happy memories and the blessings, dear caregiver.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Taking Care of Yourself

The February 2016 Guideposts magazine posted an article on the need for family caregivers to care for themselves in order to be able to care for their loved ones long term.  An article by Shelly Beach contained five important tips for how to prevent caregiver burnout.

An online version of that article is also available.  It is well worth your time to read it, dear caregiver. Simply click on the link below to access this valuable article:

https://www.guideposts.org/comfort-hope/a-willing-spirit-5-tips-for-avoiding-caregiver-burnout

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Presence of God

Recently I read some devotionals by Nancy Guthrie in her book The One Year Book of HOPE.  These particular devotionals were contemplating the presence of God in our lives.  The presence of God in our lives is a precious and wonderful gift to us.  So often, however, we go about our daily activities and face our daily struggles without really thinking about the presence of the Lord or taping into it's power.   We must make an effort to keep our focus riveted on the Lord God.  Then no matter what is going on around us or no matter what activity in which we are engaged, we will find peace and joy.

We can practice the presence of God by conversing with Him and being aware of His presence in even the ordinariness of life.  Being aware of His presence also helps us in the pain of life.  I remember the heartache in my life as a caregiver for my husband.  It was emotionally painful seeing my husband's body deteriorate step by step.  Sometimes I face trials even today as a widow.  In the measure that I can remember the presence of the Lord in the midst of life's painful moments there can be joy and peace.  Dear caregiver, God never promised us freedom from life's problems.  He has promised us His strength, comfort, and presence in the midst of the struggles, however.  Look to Him in the midst of all of it.  Practice His presence.

As we have already stated God's presence is an awesome gift to us.  Unwrap this gift and embrace it, dear caregiver.  It will provide intense joy and comfort to you in the struggles of caring for your loved one.  Your story, dear caregiver, is an awesome story of God's pursuit of you first to save you and forgive you and then to use your life in His kingdom.  He has promised to always be with you.  Look for evidences of His care and strength and working in your life.  The Lord is using your story as part of His bigger story, as you care for your loved one. 

Enjoy the Lord's presence with you even in the painful moments of care-giving, dear caregiver.  Walk with the Lord.  Ask Him for strength,  Love Him as your all-sufficient friend.  It is not about being a super-hero caregiver but about depending on the Lord step by step and being aware of His presence. Sometimes it is so easy to get so bogged down with care-giving and other life struggles that we fail to see the Lord right beside us.  Focus on the Lord and not the problems, dear caregiver.

Give the Lord all your burdens.  Admit and turn from your real sins and failures, but also give the Lord the false guilt you sometimes heap on yourself as a caregiver for things that are out of your control.  Know the character of the God who is with you.  He is a God who is good and faithful even in the painful moments.  Trust Him.  Rest in Him, dear caregiver.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April Memories

April marks the remembrance of significant events in my life.  Ten years ago in April my husband, Wayne, went into the doctor's office for a routine check-up; and we received the first indication that something was wrong.  In the weeks and months after that it became clear that Wayne had a serious neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy, and the next four and a half years I watched Wayne's body deteriorate until his death on January 2, 2011.  About a year after Wayne's diagnosis I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Eight years ago in April marks the completion of my eight months of cancer treatments.  Praise God for my healing.  Then two years ago in April marks the publication of my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.

All I have experienced in life in general in these last years and especially as a caregiver has grown my faith and made my faith and my love for the Lord so much sweeter.  It has shown me the Lord's faithfulness.  

It has also given me a passion for encouraging family caregivers.  That is why I continue to write posts at this blog.  It is why I wrote my book to encourage family caregivers.  My book contains over 100 meditations or short chapters to encourage family caregivers.  My care-giving story is interweaved in these meditations.

In celebration of April being the second anniversary of my book's publication I will be offering two free books to the first two people who e-mail me with their mailing address and their care-giving story, be it your own story or that of someone you know who would be blessed by my book.  E-mail me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for this. 





Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gifts

We often associate gifts with special occasions like birthdays and Christmas, but there are gifts that we are able to receive any time of year.  As with every gift, however, we have to open our hands to receive it; otherwise, the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The best gifts we can receive, however, are the gifts God desires for us!
     
The Lord offers us the gift of salvation.  He further offers us the accompanying gifts of joy, peace, and hope. They are ours for the taking; and yes, dear Christian caregiver, they can coexist with the pain and heartache which often are present in family care-giving. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian caregiver, the heartaches that sometimes accompany care-giving are but a comma in your life story. They are not the end. They are not the end of your loved one’s life story, either. 
     
Further, we are able to receive the gift of trust in God.  We receive this gift by resting in Him and by letting go of anything we are holding on to too tightly or trying to control. As a former caregiver, I know how much we want to stop the progress of our love one’s disease, but much of this is beyond our control. 
    
Forgiving others who have not been there for us is a great gift we can give ourselves, as well as them. We are further able to receive the gift of forgiveness for ourselves.  We must give the Lord any true wrongs and ask for His forgiveness.  We often carry around a lot of false guilt about things beyond our control, however. So whether false guilt or true guilt, we need to let it go and give it to the Lord. Dear caregiver, receive the gift of releasing it to the Lord. 
     
One great gift we can give ourselves is the gift of acceptance of our situation. We often waste so much energy wishing circumstances were different, but we can rest assured that we are right where we are supposed to be in our lives. Dear Christian caregiver, your responsibilities are emotionally overwhelming at times; but in the measure that you are able to accept where God has placed you now in your life, you will find joy. It is a great gift to give yourself.  Yet another wonderful gift we can give ourselves is the gift of being still in the presence of God (Psalm 46:10). Doing this helps us grow in peace, wisdom, and insights. Finally, we can give ourselves the gift of gratitude. When we are grateful in spite of our circumstances, our joy and blessings will multiply and resentments will flee.  
     
Christian caregiver, you have many challenges and sometimes you experience much emotional upheaval as a caregiver for your loved one. Would not these be wonderful gifts to have in your life?  



(The above post is a chapter in my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers. This book contains over one hundred short chapters or meditations to encourage family caregivers. Interspersed in these meditations in my book is my own story. I share my thoughts and emotions that I experienced while caring for my husband. My book can be ordered online. A link to the order page for my book on Amazon is found on the right side of this page.  If you receive this by e-mail just click on the link at the bottom of the page.  That will get you to the home page from which you can click on the Amazon link.  If you prefer to receive a signed copy from me directly feel free to contact me as jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.)