Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Thankful Heart

(The below blog post is a repeat of a post I previously published at this blog at this time of year.  I hope it will prove to be a blessing to you again.  I will not be posting here next week. The next new post will be on or around December 3.  Use this time to read some of my older posts here at Christian Care-giving.  You can also check out my other blog, a devotional blog here:
http://scripturemoments.blogspot.com/ )


Family care-giving can be very discouraging especially when one's love one continues to deteriorate in his or her health.  It is difficult to find things for which to be thankful in such a scenario.  It seems impossible to have a thankful heart under such circumstances.

Yet a thankful heart opens up blessings from heaven and foretastes of heaven that cannot be attained in any other way.  A thankful heart further revives hope and allows us to communicate on a more intimate level with the Lord.  A thankful heart does not deny the reality of life's challenges, and care-giving certainly presents a host of problems and heartaches.  A thankful heart does, however, recognize the Lord's presence and joy in the midst of those problems.

So perhaps the best place to start, dear caregiver, is to thank the Lord each day for His presence and peace.  Also as you go through the day look for even the Lord's tiny treasures which He has placed on your path.  Look with spiritual eyes for His wonders in your life.  I have mentioned this before but I remember as a caregiver being challenged to write down each day at least three things for which I was thankful that day.  That helped me immensely in persevering in the care-giving role.

It is said that a thankful heart takes the sting out of trials and adversity.  Family care-giving often facilitates many challenges and trials.  Yet we are commanded in the Bible to give thanks in everything.  We may not always FEEL like giving thanks, but when we offer a SACRIFICE of thanks in spite of our feelings or circumstances, God gives us joy in spite of our circumstances.

That does not mean we always feel happy.  Happiness and joy are not the same thing, but joy in the Lord and grief can coexist.  It may seem nonsensical to thank God in and for difficult circumstances. Yet in the measure that we do so we will be blessed, even though the adversities may remain.  Dear caregiver, thank the Lord today for His blessings!

In the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day this week.  It is a day when we especially try to remember to thank and praise God for the blessings of the past year.  Care-giving is often challenging and difficult.  Yet there are many blessings in our lives even in the most difficult of moments.  Dear caregiver, thank the Lord for your blessings daily and not just on special occasions. It will lift your burdens and add joy to your life.




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Lift Up Your Eyes

I remember how easy it was for me as a caregiver for my husband to get bogged down with the challenges instead of focusing on the blessings still remaining in my life and instead of focusing on the Lord for my help.  Whether it be care-giving or some other challenge in life we need to set our eyes on the Lord and on our blessings. It will do much to lift our spirits.

Recently I ran across Psalm 123 in the Old Testament of the Bible in my morning devotions.  Here are some of the words from that beautiful Psalm with comments I found in the margins of my Bible in between in parenthesis:

"I lift up my eyes to You, to You  whose throne is in heaven. (I look to God and off myself and my circumstances.)---As the eyes of a maid looks to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God. (Be looking to the Lord with not an occasional glance but with an intense looking. Wait on the Lord.)  Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much---"
( I can't take it anymore, Lord.  Help me.)

Care-giving and life in general can sometimes overwhelm us, but God is stronger than any of our circumstances.  As we look to Him for strength, He will help us and bless us.  The last verse of Psalm 124 says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."  You have been given a noble but sometimes challenging race to run, dear caregiver.  Hebrews 12:1b in the New Testament of the Bible tells us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Whether it be family care-giving or some other challenge, that can be difficult to do.  But the secret to that according to Hebrews 12:2 is to "fix our eyes on Jesus."  Don't look back to past mistakes.  Don't look ahead to the future in fear, but look up to the Lord.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

God's Lessons Illustrated in London

A little over a year ago I was in London visiting my son's family there.  While I was there God laid on my heart once again the need to trust the Lord's leading and the need to thank Him for His guidance and overwhelming love. I had to begin to learn that lesson when I was my husband's caregiver; and I need to continue to learn that lesson, as I seek to walk the walk of faith today.

So today I am bringing back a post I wrote about a year ago right after my return home from London.  Just click on the link below to read it.  May the Lord bless you in all that you do, dear caregiver!



https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-leading-of-lord.html

Sunday, October 29, 2017

An Empty Cup

Care-giving and life in general can often become overwhelming.   The common saying that God won't give us more than we can handle is not true.  God will often give us more than we can handle in OURSELVES, but His strength in us can get us through anything He allows in our lives.

In order for His strength to reside in us, however, we must not let our lives and hearts to become empty cups.  Recently I finished a novel by Sarah Price called An Empty Cup.  The main character, Roseanna, was constantly doing for others but not filling up her own cup-not refreshing her own spirit.  This resulted in bitterness and finally burnout in her life.

This can be a danger for family caregivers.  Care-giving is often so consuming that caregivers do not take or feel they have the time to replenish their own spirit.  They are giving and giving of themselves, but often not receiving.  As a result,  many caregivers develop serious health issues of their own.  I personally developed breast cancer while I was caring for my husband.

So how can you as a caregiver fight against your life becoming and empty cup-from caregiver burnout?  I think the most important way is to fill your life's cup is with the Word of God and prayer.  Make time each day to spend in the Lord's presence.  Let His love and promises fill you.  Also ask others to pray for you.

Also take time to do something you enjoy every day even if it is only for a few minutes.   Get out of the house whenever possible.  If you are consumed with your loved one's cares, you may need to learn to say "no" to other responsibilities.  In fact, you may need to ask for help from others.  Why are we so hesitant to ask for help from others?  

Remember, dear caregiver.  You cannot adequately care for your loves one's needs if your own cup is empty.  Fill your own cup, dear caregiver!  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Too Much for Me

(This post is from yet another chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

Dear family caregiver, have you ever said to yourself, “This is too much for me! I can not handle the stress and emotional burdens of care-giving one more day!” I know I thought those thoughts when I was a caregiver.

One day in the middle of July of 2010, I was feeling pretty despondent. I was seeing yet again some  serious declines in my husband’s health. I had been led to believe the life expectancy after diagnosis of his rare neurological disease was six to ten years. Wayne’s declines were coming so fast, however, that I felt as if I was always a step behind in keeping up with them.  As it turned out, Wayne only lived about four and a half years after diagnosis and about five and half months after that discouraging day in July of 2010.

On that day in mid July I found myself having a good cry. At that time I hardly ever cried, because I felt I had to stay so strong all the time. So this was a bit rare for me then. First of all, Wayne had been spending a lot of his time sleeping away his days. Then we had experienced some rather difficult transfers from his wheelchair to the bathroom and back to his wheelchair the day before. I also had recently received some other discouraging news. I was feeling like I could not do this anymore. I was feeling as if it was all too much for me.

Soon after that, I received a card in the mail from my son's family from Iowa. The front of the card read like this, “Nothing that comes your way is too much for you. No matter what it is, God is more than equal to it—you’re not, but He is and He lives in you.” Wow! Talk about a message from God just when I really needed it. Inside the card was written a personal message thanking me for all that I did for Wayne, my son’s Dad.

Earlier in that same week I had placed an ad in our local village ad paper for care-giving help for an hour once or twice a week in the evenings to get my husband to the bathroom and into bed. I thought I would be doing good if I received just one reply. Yet that paper came out that same day, and I received 5 replies! I was able to set up with one of these woman who responded to come in twice a week and later three times a week for an hour each at bedtime. The rates also were very reasonable. So that was another spirit lifter that day. This lady helped me the last months of my husband’s life. Also at the very end my local son was also able to step up and help me.

Those care-giving years especially the last months were very difficult and emotionally and physically challenging, but God was with me each step of the way. He paved the way. He will pave the way for you also, dear Christian caregiver.

 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Replace

(The post below is also a chapter from my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  Consider ordering a copy for yourself or someone you love.  Also check out Matthew 11:28-30 in the Bible.)

The emotional burdens that accompany caring for loved one can be heavy at times. This is especially true, if the loved one has a terminal illness. Turning to the Lord is really the only resource for these kind of emotional burdens. On July 12, 2010 in the midst of my days caring for my husband I wrote the following:

“I am seeking this month to replace carrying around my emotional burdens with consciously seeking to release them to God in prayer. Every time a negative emotion comes up and they have continued to come up, I have resolved to take a deep breath and release it or give it to God. Like one releases a balloon I want to continually release these feelings to God.

I am serious enough about this that I have even made a visual of this with my computer print program. My picture is of a kite floating in the air and also of a hot air balloon. I also have the names of emotionally negative feelings I want released from my life. So how well am I doing? I think it is helpful to have this resolve and word picture in my mind. I am consciously trying to release the negative emotions as they come up. I also realize, however that this will be a continual battle, because the negative emotions come up so easily and without warning.

When I think too frequently about how far down my husband has declined in the last four years it is still easy to become sad. When I think about his latest transition downward, so that he requires my help every time he needs to use the bathroom and all the ramifications of that, it is easy to feel discouraged. When my husband’s spends many hours some days sleeping it is easy to feel lonely, trapped, and frustrated. When I wonder how long I can take care of him before he needs to go to a nursing home, I feel frightened and a host of other emotions. Care-giving is demanding enough, however, without carrying around the extra negative emotions. Moreover my God wants me to release them to Him. He wants me to trust Him

As I think about my picture I wonder if the kite or the hot air balloon is a better picture. It would seem the hot air balloon is a better word picture. With the kite I am still hanging on to the string trying to maintain control. Perhaps both are good word pictures. There are things I can and must do as an instrument in God’s hands in regards to my husband’s health care. Negative emotions and things beyond my control have to be completely released, however.

There are still many negative emotions and sad moments, but I am fighting the fight. I am seeking to release. I call that victory moment by moment. I call that falling down and then getting up again. I call that being a weak human with supernatural help from above, if I just avail myself of it."

Dear Christian Caregiver, What emotional burden can you release today? With what can you replace that emotion? Give it to the Lord, dear caregiver.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Comfort in Life's Changes

As human beings we tend to not like change.  Changes, adjustments, and challenges tend to fatigue us and also make us a bit fearful of what the future holds.  I remember feeling that way when I was my husband's caregiver.  I was afraid when we received his original diagnosis.  It made me anxious, as I saw his body continually become more and more disabled step by step.

I still do not like changes in other areas of my life.  One thing of which we can be certain, however, is that the Lord promises to be with us and draw us closer to Himself in all the changes. He was with me during those difficult care-giving days, and He will be with you as well, dear caregiver.  He will also be with you and I in other major life changes in our lives be they pleasant or challenging.

Sometime back I ran across an online article about facing unexpected changes in our lives. The author of this article wrote that she had thought she was prepared for any change that life might present, because her husband and her had served overseas as missionaries.  That missionary life had caused them to encounter many challenges and unknowns.  Yet when her husband was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease she found she was not as prepared, as she thought she would be. She had to turn again to the Lord and to Scripture to get her through those challenging days.

Below is a link to that article and the Scripture passages she found comforting during that time.  May they prove a blessing to you as well, dear caregiver.  May they also draw you closer to the Lord.  Just click on the link below.
https://www.dayspring.com/articles/4-scriptures-to-help-with-big-life-changes?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20160814+4+Scriptures+to+Help+

You also may find some Scripture verses from Isaiah 46 to be a comfort and strength to you in the uncertainties of care-giving, dear caregiver.  Forgive me for once again linking you to a post at another blog of mine.  I hope this too proves to be a blessing to you.  Just click on the link below.
http://scripturemoments.blogspot.com/2017/09/isaiah-46.html

Once again, thank you for all that you do for your loved one dear caregiver.  You are doing noble work in God's kingdom!

(There will be no new blog post next week, as I plan to be away from my computer.  Next post should be on or around October 15.)