Sunday, April 13, 2014

Your Will Be Done, Lord

(I was prompted to write this post after reading a couple devotionals that fueled my thinking and touched my spirit.)

As I mentioned in my last post both my husband and I had serious illnesses which overlapped somewhat during the same time frame. I will be a seven year survivor of breast cancer in July of this year. My husband, however, passed away from his disease in early 2011.

There have been times when I asked myself why I am alive and thriving today, and my husband was taken. My disease could be treated, but my husband's neurological disease had no cure. Yet God can do anything. He could have healed my husband as well. I think I have subconsciously wondered also, if I prayed enough for his healing. Did I do enough? Was I enough? Yet was this not flawed thinking on my part?

Many Christians believe God will heal all diseases, if they have enough faith.  But is this kind of faith not a faith in the greatness of one's own faith rather than a faith in God?  Is it not also a faith in a desired outcome rather than a faith in God who should be the object of our faith?  Is this kind of faith centered in God's plan and will?  God WILL ultimately heal all our diseases in eternity. It is not always His plan to heal us on earth, however. That was not His plan for my husband, Wayne. It was God's plan to take Wayne home to Himself. Would I and can I be submissive to God's best for both Wayne and I?

Dear caregiver, God may choose to heal your loved one on this earth. He also may choose to take your loved one to Himself in His perfect timing. You probably do not even want to consider that possibility. I certainly did not want to contemplate losing my husband. Yet there is peace in resting in His will. There is peace in being submissive to His plan.

Are you willing to make this your prayer, dear caregiver, “Lord give me a willing heart to embrace Your perfect plan whatever that be, Lord. Help me to trust that You will provide the strength to submit to Your perfect plan and purpose. Use me, Lord, to be an instrument in Your hand no matter what path You lead me down or no matter what purpose You have planned for my life. Lord, I pray for the healing of my loved one, and I would be so grateful if he is healed. Yet Lord, Your will be done."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Walk with Joy the Caregiver Walk

My husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease in 2006. In 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After eight months of treatment for my breast cancer in 2007 and 2008, in a few months I will be a seven year breast cancer survivor. On October 4, 2008 I was celebrating my last treatment for breast cancer. Following are some of the words I wrote in a post at another blog site at that time:

“Recently I was looking at a lovely daffodil flower sitting in a vase on my window sill. This was given to me one day by a nurse at the cancer clinic after I completed one of my radiation treatments. This flower reminded me of the kindness and care given to me by my doctors and nurses these past months. My eyes also landed on a beautiful azalea plant sitting on my coffee table. This plant was given to me by a special person in our church. This azalea plant was symbolic to me of the tremendous love and concern which has been shown to Wayne, my husband, and me in these past many months by our church family. Today I look at a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers sitting on my kitchen table given to me by my son's family. These flowers remind me of the love of my earthly family.

As of this morning my radiation treatments for breast cancer are complete!!! It has been a long journey-this cancer journey beginning in July of 2007. It has involved chemo, a mastectomy, and the last few weeks radiation. Wayne, my husband, was diagnosed with a serious neurological disease about a year earlier in 2006. It has been a challenging couple of years to say the least, but there also have been many blessings along the way. It has been a time to draw closer to the Lord in more dependence on Him. It has been a time to hear the Lord speaking through His promises in His Holy Word in a new and wonderful way. Even when the doubts or discouragement comes it is good to know we have such a faithful God. It has also been a time to experience the love of God's people and our earthly family in such a rich and abundant way. They have in many ways made our trial "a place of springs" in the midst of "Valley of Baca" (Psalm 84:6)

I will not have any more cancer treatments now that the radiation treatments are complete except for seeing my doctor and having blood tests once every three months. I will have some discomfort and/or redness yet for up to a month from the radiation. Also the "odds" are relatively high that the cancer could reoccur within the next five years, but we know our lives are not about "odds" but the certainties of God's Word. Pray that there will not be a recurrence of cancer. Continue to pray also for my husband, Wayne, that his condition will not continue to deteriorate. Most importantly, pray that my husband and I will live every day in the joy of the Lord and for His glory."

Such were my words on that day in early April of 2008.  As I said before I am a cancer survivor.  In fact, I am well past the five year mark.  My husband however, passed away as a result of his disease in early 2011. The years after my cancer treatment were completed were increasingly difficult for my husband and I, as my husband continued to deteriorate in his health. Those years were sometimes overwhelmingly difficult physically and emotionally for me as my husband's caregiver.

Yet these circumstances did not change who I was and am in Christ. In fact, they drew and continue to draw me closer to the Lord. May it be your prayer as well as mine, dear caregiver, that we will accept with open arms whatever God allows in our lives; if it brings glory to our Lord. May it be your prayer, dear caregiver, that you will walk with joy, peace, and freedom; as you walk the difficult care-giving road. I end today with a link below to a song that I placed at the end of that blog post in April of 2008. May it be always be my prayer. May it be your prayer as well, dear caregiver.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fix Your Eyes on the Lord

Do you ever feel discouraged, dear caregiver?  Do you ever feel like everything is falling apart, and you do not know where to turn next?  That is actually a good place to be, because it is then that the Lord can begin to do His work in you.  The Lord is your great strength giver.  He has called you to be His servant, dear caregiver.  He has called you to the very important role of family caregiver, and He will give you the strength to live for Him day by day and moment by moment!  He will give you the strength to be all you can be for your loved one for whom you are caring.

As Christians we need never become discouraged; because the Lord in His mercy has redeemed us from sin, chosen us to be His child and servant, and is busy about the task of transforming us into His likeness!  We need to be eternally thankful to the Lord for choosing us as His children and for being our Lord and Savior.

The Lord makes His light shine in our hearts (II Corinthians 4:6b).  What a priceless treasure!  What a priceless treasure we have in our salvation!  What a priceless treasure we have in belonging to the Lord!  What a priceless treasure we have in the Lord Jesus Christ living in our heart and lives!  Praise His name!

We have the Lord's treasure in us who are unworthy and frail humans, however, so His glory will be shown in us (II Corinthians 4:7)  Through our insufficiency the Lord chooses to reveal His all-sufficiency, power, and greatness!  We are nothing in ourselves, but He chooses to fill us with His all-surpassing power!  The more we realize that we are nothing in ourselves, the more the Lord can infuse us with His power.  That is the power that He can infuse in you too, dear caregiver, as you go about the overwhelming challenges of family care-giving.

In the trials and troubles of family care-giving caregivers often feel "hard pressed on every side" and "perplexed."  As God's children, however, we are never "crushed;" because the Lord is with us all the way.  We will never be abandoned by Him (II Corinthians 4:8-9)!  The frailty of our humanness make us more dependent on His strength, and thus reveals His life in us in a greater way!  We can believe with absolute certainty that the Lord will lead us through this life and through death and to eternity!

Any difficulties you or I may experience in this life are nothing compared to the glories that we will experience with the Lord in His presence.  Family care-giving is one of life's deepest trials.  This is especially true for those caregivers who are caring for loved ones with terminal illnesses.  II Corinthians 4:18 in the Bible reminds us, however, that we must NOT fix our eyes on the things we see, namely life's difficulties or material things; but we must fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus and on eternal realities.

Dear caregiver, I understand the heartaches and challenges of family caregivers.  I was a family caregiver myself.  The secret to surviving and even thriving as a family caregiver is to NOT focus on the overwhelming difficulties, but to fix one's eyes on the Lord.  Fix you eyes on eternal realities both for you and your loved one, dear caregiver.  The trials of this life can not begin to compare to the glory that awaits us all as believers.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Caregivers as Cross-bearers

We are called to be cross-bearers. I recently read an article by Randy Alcorn called “What does a Cross Bearer look like?” Randy said cross-bearing involves complete devotion to God and following Him above all else. It also involves putting the needs of others before one's own needs. 

What Randy says next so applies to Christian caregivers. Randy goes on to say the following: Cross-bearing “means carrying your cross is not just one big sacrifice that you make, then you’re done, like giving one of your kidneys, or selling your house and giving to the poor or that time you ran out in traffic and pulled the kid back from the bus.

This is something you do every day. So it’s a thousand or ten thousand daily sacrifices, a lifetime of little loving acts, which cumulatively become huge. It’s a man who loves his paralyzed wife for forty years by saying no to his sexual desires every day, and dumps her bag of urine three times a day, to the glory of Jesus.

It’s a mother who cares for a son who never gets out of bed, day after day, and does it without complaining. Not just the person who dies in the coliseum in one triumphant hour, torn apart by lions because he refused to deny Christ.

It’s saying no to sleep to get up and pray and read the Word day after day, saying no to living in a mansion and owning a nicer car even though that might be fun but not as fun as giving to keep a child alive, of living more simply so that others may simply live, day after day. It’s doing the humble job that nobody applauds, but needs to be done, and which is seen sometimes by no one but the Audience of One. Really, what carrying your cross daily is, is being humble, a servant, God-centered and others-centered, not self-centered.”

Yet Randy goes on to point out that cross-bearing will be rewarded with eternal blessings. (Matthew 5 and I Peter 5:5-6) Sometimes family care-giving is so very difficult and challenging, but know, dear caregiver, that you are doing God's work. You are bearing the cross of Christ, and your eternal reward is great!

If you want to read the entirety of Randy article click on the link below:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beauty in the Heartbreak

There is a certain beauty and yet deep heartbreak which is an integral part of caring for a loved one with a serious illness or disability. Following are some words written by a former caregiver. I think the author of these words captures the care-giving scenario in all it's reality, With her permission I am sharing her memories with you today, dear caregiver:

Gripping the edge of the sink, on trembling legs he stood
Shaking, bent over at the waist, waiting for instructions.
I squat before him and pull down his underwear.
“Ok, step backwards a little at a time”
“No, wait, you’re not back far enough to sit down!”
“Wait till you feel the cold bowl against the back of your legs”
Still holding to the sink, he reaches the other hand
To the wall for support, shuffling backwards with his feet.
Slowly he lowers himself down and lands in place.
First placing his hands on his thighs, he begins to flail around.
“Honey, what are you looking for, what do you need?”
Pleadingly he says, “Something to hold on to.”
Stepping forward, standing between his legs, I say,
“Here, hold onto me.”
I gather his arms and place them around my waist.
I reach around him and put my hands on his back,
Pressing him toward me, securing, supporting him.
“Lean into me.”
His head against my abdomen, arms clinging, he says,
“Oh, I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Tears fill my eyes, my cheek pressing the top of his head, I whisper,

“I know, and I’ve got you. I’m here with you. I love you too."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Alone But Never Alone

So often as a caregiver, it is tempting to feel all alone.  The demands of family care-giving are overwhelming at times, and it easy to feel weighed down with negative emotions.  Yet perhaps the worst emotion is feeling like no one else cares and that one is all alone in this experience.  Yet even in life's most difficult situations we are not alone.  The Lord has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  He is always there to comfort and guide us.  We are NEVER alone.  You dear caregiver, are NEVER alone.

Joni Eareckson Tada, whose marriage to Ken Tada we discussed  in the last blog post, sings of this in the song "Alone Yet Not Alone."  Click the link below and be blessed, dear caregiver!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Joni and Ken Tada's Story

Have you ever felt tired and overwhelmed as a caregiver?  Have you ever said, "I can't do this any longer?"  Have you ever felt trapped by care-giving responsibilities?  As a family caregiver for my husband I often had these feelings, even though I loved my husband with all my heart.

The truth is that no one can face care-giving challenges or any overwhelming trial outside of the grace of the Lord.  Joni and Ken Tada share the challenges of a marriage where one of the spouses is disabled not just for months or even a number of years but for their entire marriage. 

Click on the below link.  I hope you will be blessed by their inspiring story: