Friday, December 2, 2016

Reliance on God

(The following blog post is another chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers)

Perhaps you have heard the popular saying, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” When I was a family caregiver, however, I discovered that I often felt overwhelmed and felt that God had given me much more than I could handle. I experienced these feelings even more strongly with each new decline in my husband’s disease, especially during the last months of my husband’s life when I could no longer physically take care of him on my own.

The truth is God never promised to NOT give us more trials and difficulties than we can handle on our OWN. In fact God often gives us much more struggles than we can handle. God does this, so that our eyes will be open to how desperate we are for Him and for His help and provision.

Rather than striving to be more self-reliant we need to seek to become more God-reliant. As a caregiver I learned that I just did not have the resources in myself to handle the challenges and heartaches of care-giving on my own, so I absolutely had no choice but to rely on the Lord.

As a caregiver I also learned that I had to have help from others. I learned that God sometimes used others to help me. They became His instruments in helping me and in His kingdom. I needed to begin to root out my desire to be in control. The truth was I never was in control of anything. God was in control, and I needed to learn to rely and trust in Him.

Dear Christian Caregiver, what change would it make in your outlook towards your caregiving challenges and struggles, if you saw them as valued lessons in learning dependence on God? When you are at the absolute end of you own spiritual, physical, and emotional resources you can then begin to more fully depend on God’s resources. (Check out II Corinthians 1:8-9!) Total reliance on God is a good place to be!


(As stated above this post is another chapter in my book Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.  You can purchase it at Amazon.  The link to the order page on Amazon for my book is here: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478454680&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver  You can purchase both a hard copy or Kindle version to my book there.  My book is also available at Barnes and Noble where you can purchase a hard copy or Nook version.  Finally, I have seen my book available elsewhere online as well, or you can purchase one directly from me by sending me an e-mail at Jesuschild54@hotmail.com. and ask me for specifics.  It would make  wonderful Christmas present for yourself or someone you love.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thankfulness




There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.  That sentence on the sign above says it all, doesn't it, dear caregiver?  I remember how overwhelming and discouraging life could become when I was my husband's caregiver.  It was distressing to see the continual declines in my husband's health.  Yet I found that my load could be lifted by looking for God's wonders in my life and thanking Him for them.  For what can you thank the Lord today, dear caregiver?

(There will be no new blog post next week, because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Use this time to read some of the older blog posts.  The next blog post should be on or around December 4.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Your Spiritual Calling

At times, dear caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the challenges of family care-giving. You also may feel like you are tied down and all alone in the day to day issues of caring for your loved one.  Having been a caregiver myself I understand the emotions that can accompany this undertaking. 

Have you ever considered your responsibility as a family caregiver a sacred calling, however, dear caregiver? Whether you have considered it to be so or not, your position as a family caregiver is indeed a spiritual calling on you life.  If you are a believer you are a living stone in God's spiritual house which has Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and foundation.  You are offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, and your loving care of your loved one is part of that spiritual sacrifice that you are making to the Lord God. (Check out I Peter 2:4-5 in the New Testament of the Bible concerning this.) If you can think of your care-giving responsibilities in this way, dear caregiver; you burdens will feel less heavy, and your joy will increase.

Knowing this does not eliminate all the negative emotions and difficult decisions, but it does add peace and joy in the midst of it all.  It is easy to become afraid of what lies ahead when our loved ones are perhaps declining in health.  During such moments remember, dear caregiver, that the Lord not only values your spiritual sacrifice, but will also pave the path ahead of you.  The path may be difficult at times, but the Lord will be with you in all the challenging and decision making moments of your loved one's care.

There is always hope for each new day, because the Lord is with you each step of the way.  The Lord is holding your hand and walking beside you.  He is also walking before you and behind you.  He understands your tears and your frustrations.  He will always be faithful to you, dear caregiver, and to your loved one.  Life can be difficult especially as a family caregiver; but remember that the Lord loves you with a passion, dear caregiver.  He proved that on the cross.  Rest in that, and rejoice in your spiritual calling as family caregiver!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Falling Down

When I was in the United Kingdom recently visiting family, one of the places my son and I visited was Tower Bridge in London.  Because of the architecture of this walking bridge I am guessing this is where the song "London Bridges Falling Down" originated.  You can see pictures of this bridge below. The first picture shows me in the picture with the bridge in the distance.  The second picture is on the bridge itself.

Especially from a distance it does appear as if the bridge is falling down.  If you look closely you can see that the bridge is fully solid and secure.  It is the architecture on the side of the bridge which gives the bridge the appearance of falling down.

Do you ever feel as if life is falling apart, dear caregiver, as you care for your loved one?  As you perhaps watch your loved one deteriorate step by step in his or her health, it is easy to become discouraged.  I remember those feelings as a caregiver.  Yet whether our struggles be care-giving challenges or something else, the Lord asks us to look to the Lord and not at our circumstances.  The psalmist in Psalm 123:1 says to God in prayer, "I lift my eyes to You, to You whose throne is in heaven."  The psalmist says later in Psalm 123:2b "so our eyes look to the Lord our God till He shows us His mercy."  Even when it feels as if our world is crashing down around us that is merely an optical illusion like the London Tower Bridge.  God is in control, and he has it all in His hands.

In Psalm 73 the psalmist there had become discouraged by the unanswered "whys" of his life.  Yet I love his triumphant words towards the end of the chapter.  He says to God, "Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:23-26)

So resolve with me to keep our gaze on the Lord and not on our circumstances.  Can we like the prophet Habakkuk in the Old Testament of the Bible also resolve to praise the Lord no matter what?  In Habakkuk chapter three starting at verse seventeen the prophet lists a number of possible yet unthinkable situations that could happen to him in his life.  Yet the prophet says if any or all these things happen to him, he will "rejoice in the Lord."  He says even in the worst possible situation that life can throw at me, "I will be joyful in God my Savior."  May this be your and my resolve and prayer as well.







Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Goodness of God

(The post below is one of the chapters in my book Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

The years that followed my husband's diagnosis of his neurological disease in 2006 were the most difficult and challenging years I have ever experienced.  The heartbreak of witnessing his continual declines was extremely difficult.  Those years were also extremely stressful years.  Being responsible for the well-being of the man I had loved for many years, not knowing how long I would be able to care for him by myself, and feeling so alone in all this was very challenging.

I still find myself thinking about those care-giving days at times.  If it were not for the fact that I knew the Lord was with me during those care-giving days and in the days since my husband's death, I would not have survived.  Knowing this has also given me-and continues to give me-joy in the midst of life's pain.

Quite some time ago I did a Bible study lesson on the goodness of God.  The lesson reminded me of the good reasons why we suffer.  It reminded me that God is more interested in our inward characters and conforming us to the image of Christ than in our comfort.  Conforming us to the image of Christ is one of the reasons for trials in our lives.

The lesson went on to say that sometimes the pain seems to outweigh the best of benefits.  We may understand reasons and answers in our heads, but those reasons do not always reach where it hurts in the heart.  The challenges of care-giving or other life trials can be so painful that it is difficult to see how the growth in our character compensates for the pain we are experiencing. 

Perhaps there are no answers to the "why" questions in our lives that will completely satisfy us.  God does not always give us reasons or answers.  God does something better than giving us answers, however.  He gives us Himself.  Also, He explained Himself on the cross.  His goodness displayed in His sacrifice of Himself on the cross is really the only proof we need of His love and goodness.  Believing in the goodness of God does not mean that heartaches will completely disappear.  It does, however, help us move forward and persevere in life.

I find those thoughts comforting.  If I did not believe in the goodness and presence of God I am not sure where I would be today.  Thank You, Lord, for that blessed reality!  Thank You that You are there in the moments of heartache. 

Dear Christian caregiver, please turn to the Lord for strength and help during your care-giving days.  Please do not turn away from Him, because you do not always understand His ways.  Trust in His goodness.


(As stated above this post is a chapter in my book Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.  You can purchase it at Amazon.  The link to the order page on Amazon for my book is here:  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401458206&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver  You can purchase both a hard copy or Kindle version to my book there.  My book is also available at Barnes and Noble where you can purchase a hard copy or Nook version.  Finally, I have seen my book available elsewhere online as well, or you can purchase one directly from me by sending me an e-mail at Jesuschild54@hotmail.com. and ask me for specifics.  It is not too early to think about a Christmas present for yourself or someone you love.)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Leading of the Lord

Recently I returned home after spending about ten days in the UK where my son and his family live.  It was a joyous time of meeting my new little grandson, interacting with his siblings, and also spending a very full day touring central London with my son and another partial day with him touring Windsor town and Castle.  This was something I wanted to do for a long time, and finally the timing was right for me to go.

In order to go to UK, however, I had to fly there alone.  I do not mind flying itself, but I hate all that is involved in getting through the airport.  Yet I saw God's leading through it all.  God provided step by step through people he provided to get me to the airport and checked in and also people who got me through security.  Then when the day my son and I went to Central London to visit several historic places my son guided me through the process of boarding tubes (subways) at various stations, so we could visit these various places.  When we would get into particularly busy areas I would latch my arm on his, and he would guide me through.  Isn't that a beautiful picture of Jesus leading us in our life and guiding us especially in the times when we do not have a clue what we are doing or where our life's path is headed?

I am reminded that God also lead me and paved the way through those difficult care-giving years taking care of my husband, Wayne.  It was in those years that I began to realize that I am in control of nothing.  It was in those years that God began to lay on my heart the need to trust Him.  God continues to remind me of that in my years as a widow.  He wants me to just trust Him when times becomes difficult.  He wants me to trust that He will guide.  He also wants me to thank Him for His wonders like the beautiful sunrise He placed in the sky this morning or the joy or a new grandchild.  He wants me to look for these wonders He places in my life.  He even wants me to thank Him for the difficult moments, because it makes me more like Him.  I guess I will always struggle with fears and worries, but it is wonderful to know that He is in control.

Dear caregiver, you have an important but sometimes difficult task as the caregiver for your loved one.  Trust that the Lord is with you and will guide you step by step and day by day.  Rest in Him.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Given What You Did Not Choose

I would never have chosen to be a family caregiver.  It was difficult to watch my husband, the love of my life, deteriorate in his body step by step.  The challenges of taking care of him were overwhelming at times.  I would also have not chosen other things that have come into my life, like becoming a widow and facing life's challenges without a mate.

Yet sometimes the things we would never choose for our lives, God allows and chooses for us.  This is because challenging situations makes us to become more like Jesus, if we are His child (Romans 8:29).  They develop our character and perseverance (Romans 5:3-4).  We often only receive the things from the Lord that we need by experiencing the things we never would have chosen or wanted.  We often receive what we need from the Lord by experiencing and facing challenges we thought we could never face.  Also a new freedom often comes into our lives through the times in our lives when we have felt the most broken.

All of us face hardships and difficulties in our lives.  Yet sometimes we think that other people's burdens are easier than our own.  We think other people's "crosses" are easier to carry than our own.  Yet the cross that God allows in each of our individual lives is always the right cross for us to carry.  It is also the kindest and lightest cross for us.

Care-giving for my husband was a difficult cross for me to carry, as I watched my husband deteriorate before my eyes during those years that I cared for him.  Yet care-giving was not God's plan B for my life.  Neither was widowhood.  It was always God's Plan A for my life, so I could become all God meant me be to be and so I could serve Him in the way He had chosen for me.  The same is true for you, dear caregiver!

(I plan to be away from my computer for a few days, so the next post will be on or around October 23, Lord willing.  Use this time to read some of my older posts.)