Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving and Family Care-giving

(The below blog post is a repeat of a post I published at this blog last year at this time of year.  I hope it will prove to be a blessing to you again.  Because I will be away from my computer I will not be posting here next week.  The next new post will be December 5 or 6.  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: )

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 15, 2015

God's Faithfulness

When I was a caregiver for my husband I remember the struggles and heartaches along the way.  It was heartbreaking seeing my husband's body deteriorate step by step.  Sometimes it felt like a battleground, as we were fighting a long four and half year losing battle against his disease.  As a widow I continue to face struggles along life's way.

Yet I never have been and never will be alone.  When I look back I see how far I have come through God's grace.  Each step of the way the Lord has been with me.  I look back and see the Lord's faithfulness, and I see all he has done in my life,  Not once was I alone.  Not once will I be alone in the days ahead.  God is a faithful God, and He will always be a faithful God.

There was victory in it all too.  Yes, my husband eventually succumbed to his disease.  Yet there was victory in even that.  My husband, Wayne, is with the Lord now, singing His praises.  Wayne is free from all sickness and pain and experiencing pure joy.  I miss my husband.   Yet there is victory for me also, as I rest in the Lord's provision and power in me.  I was then and continue to be carried by the Lord's grace and continue to be held by Him. 

Dear caregiver, you also are never walking alone.  You serve a faithful God who is carrying you each step of the way along the challenging path of family care-giving.  In Him you are an overcomer! Recently I ran across the Matt Redman song "Never Once"  which speaks to these sentiments.  Click on the link below and be blessed by the words and music of this song:    

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Caregiver's Great "I AM"

In the Bible God has many names. The names of God reveal His character. When God revealed Himself in the burning bush to Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible God said His name was “I AM.”  God as the great “I AM” means that God is everything any human heart might need. God is even everything the caregiver’s heart might desire and need.
Care-giving is often one of the most difficult challenges any individual might face in this life. Our God says He is with us in life’s trials and difficulties, however. He says that He is the great “I AM.” So how is God the great “I AM” in the caregiver’s life? God says, “I AM the caregiver’s strength. I AM his or her source of guidance and wisdom in the many decisions that need to constantly be made in regards to his or her loved one’s health. I AM the Christian caregiver’s peace in all the chaos and discouragement of care-giving. I AM patient and forgiving, and I AM love personified. I AM the caregiver’s life, and I AM all he or she will ever need. I AM the caregiver’s salvation and righteousness. I AM the caregiver’s all in all.”
When God calls people to the task of care-giving He is calling them to a very important and significant task in this world. The challenges of family care-giving can be overwhelming and often are not pleasant, but nonetheless care-giving is a holy calling from God Himself.        

Likewise when God spoke to the Old Testament Moses in the burning bush, He called Moses to another overwhelming but God ordained task. You can read about it in Exodus 3 in the Bible. Moses did not want to undertake the task God had assigned him. Moses was afraid and filled with confusion. He felt overwhelmed by what God was asking of Him, and he felt that he was not able to do what God had asked of him. God reminded Moses that He would be with him each step of the way. He reminded Moses that He was the great “I AM.” God would be for Moses everything Moses needed Him to be, so Moses would be able to complete the task that God had assigned him.
Especially during the last months of my husband’s life my care-giving responsibilities became very overwhelming. My husband could do next to nothing on his own, and the deterioration of his body was heartbreaking. I sometimes felt as if I could not continue in God’s ordained task for me of caring for my husband for one more day. I am so glad I had the great “I AM” with me during those days and months and years.  Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord God is also your great “I AM.” He is your all and all. He will be with you each step of the way, dear Christian caregiver, rest in faith in your great “I AM.” 

(This blog post is one of the short chapters or meditations from my book: Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.  My book can be found at Xulon, my publisher and also at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. The Amazon link to the order page for my book is here:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Blessings in Gratitude

Dear Caregiver, it is so easy to become discouraged in the daily struggles and challenges of family care-giving,  Yet there is blessing in thanking the Lord through it all.  In fact, praise ushers us into the very presence of God.  It helps us focus on His attributes and helps us receive what we need from the Lord in our discouraging moments in life.

This is a lesson the Lord began to lay on my heart as a caregiver for my husband for over four and a half years, and it is a lesson He continues to try to lay on my heart today in the challenges of being a widow.  He did that again recently in my morning devotional time.  I use more than one devotional book along side Scripture reading in my time with the Lord in the morning.  On this particular morning more than one of my devotional books spoke of the need for thankfulness even in trials and the need for focusing on the Giver instead of the gift.  Below are some of the quotes from those devotionals:

First this devotional: It is as if Jesus if speaking. "The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise----Remember that all good things-your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time-are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, respond to them with gratitude. Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of my hand." (Jesus Calling-Sarah Young)

From this devotional: "In the wake of losing everything he owned, and nearly everyone he loved, Job fell to the ground expressing gratitude, not just for the blessings God had given him, but amazingly, for everything God had taken away.---(Job 1:21)---We tend to think the possessions we have, the positions we hold, and the people we love are ours-that we earned them, that we deserve them. But the truth is they are a gift.---Genuine gratitude is a response not to the worth of the gift, but to the excellence of the Giver.---So would you turn your eves from your loss and disappointment to the great Giver, asking Him to reveal more of Himself to you so that you may grow in gratitude?" (The One Year book of Hope-Nancy Guthrie)

Then this devotional: "---it is so essential to turn your thoughts away from your suffering and to His sufficiency, to replace the pain of your trials with the reality of His triumph. Worship the Lord who can and will help you. Rejoice and be glad that He is with you and will never fail. It is when you refocus your attention on Him that you will see victory as a possibility. That, friend is the true power of praise." (Psalms to Soothe a Woman's heart)

Then this verse from Colossians 2:6: "So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Sunshine and the Rain of Life

Care-giving like the weather always had its ups and downs for me. As a caregiver some days felt stormy, and on those days I felt that I couldn’t persevere in my care-giving responsibilities any longer. On other days life tended to take on a certain rhythm and pattern and was workable.  In 2009 in the midst of my care-giving days I wrote the following:
 “It is a rather cold dreary day outside, as I write my blog post. We have been having some rainy days of late also. I guess we all prefer the warm sunny days, but we need the rain also. What a picture of our lives also. The plants would shrivel up and die, if they received only sunshine and no rain. So we also would shrivel up into something undesirable, if we did not have the rain and the storms in our lives.
Care-giving with its responsibilities at times brings on a storm of emotions and/or dreariness of spirit in my life. Sometimes I long for the way things used to be before my husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease. Then, however, there would have been lessons in character building and faith building in my life that would have gone untaught.” 

Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows, but I think the experiences of care-giving tends to highlight these swings back and forth in one’s emotions. As a caregiver I was joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I was thankful that I knew He was always with me. It was difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I was happy that the struggles of life were making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person.  I struggled with the fact, however, that care-giving often had to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wondered why life had to be so difficult.
I mourned the fact that my husband’s balance issues, mobility, speech, and a host of issues continued to decline. I mourned the flatness of his personality and the changes in his personality from what I had known for so many years previously. I, however, found joy in the times we spent with our grandchildren and in our pleasant times with family. I found joy in my faith and in the comfort and strength my Lord gave me. I found joy in the promises of God’s Word. I found joy in the beauties of creation all around me.  
The care-giving years were very difficult years in my life. I realized that I had to cling tightly to my faith in order to survive. I also learned that I had to look for the blessings in my life. Finally, I discovered that the joyful things in my life were definitely better because of the sorrows.
Dear caregiver, life is a mixture of joys and sorrows. There are a number of deep heartaches in caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. In spite of all this look for the joys and blessings in the midst of the storms in your life. It will help you persevere.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Panic or Trust

What do you do, dear Christian caregiver, when your care-giving responsibilities become increasingly overwhelming; and you do not know what to do next? A few months before my husband’s death it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to take care of my husband’s physical needs. As a caregiver maybe you can identify with some of the feelings that I experienced at that time. I hope my sharing those feelings will be helpful to you, dear caregiver.  On September 25, 2010 I wrote the following paragraphs:
“Things definitely are changing with my husband, Wayne. Transfers for my husband to the bathroom, back to the chair, etc. are getting more difficult; and I have been finding myself becoming increasingly stressed. I find myself dreading and consumed with thinking about the next transfer. I also keep wondering what my next step needs to be. Keep doing it myself? Try to hire more in-home help? Pursue nursing home options?
Last night my son came over. He was very stressed because of a serious job issue. He was basically in panic mode. It was and is a serious situation, as his job may be on the line. My first reaction was to think, 'I do not need this. I have enough stress of my own.'
Then, however, I found I could relate to him and thus calm him down. I told him about my heavy stress level and how we just need to trust. Nothing happens by chance, and we are being guided. I also told him that what will be will be, and we will be okay. I asked him if he had prayed about it, and he said 'Yes.' He then asked me to pray for him. I did that, and we both felt better. I do not think I could have helped him as much, if I had not been as stressed as he was. I could relate to him, and therefore what I said to him had validity. It helped both of us.
This whole incident reminded me that everything has a purpose even the difficulties of care-giving. Because of the stress I was experiencing with care-giving I could help my son. We also shared a prayer and a hug together. That was a special blessing in spite of the situation we both are in. What could be more beautiful than that?”

Dear Christian caregiver you do not need to live in a state of panic. The Lord will guide you step by step. Care-giving will never be easy, but God’s purpose will be fulfilled in you through your care-giving role.  What you do in care-giving is important, and it has eternal consequences.  The trials of care-giving are forming your character to become stronger. Do not focus on what you see but on what will be and on what is good in your life right now.  Focus on seeing the small miracles of each day, and know and trust that they will continue.  God’s love is always with you, dear caregiver. 

(This blog post is one of my chapters in my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers. My book can be found at Xulon, my publisher, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble online. The Amazon link for my book is here: )

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Contentment and Joy

I have been camping out in the book of Philippians in the Bible the last few weeks. I have been doing this with the help of a book called To Live is Christ, To Die Is Gain by Matt Chandler. Philippians is such a beautiful book.  It shows us that we can have contentment and peace in even in the most difficult of circumstances.  It was written by Paul while he was in prison for his faith!

I especially like Philippians chapter four.  In chapter four Paul tells us to rejoice and to not be anxious about anything but to bring our concerns to the Lord with a thankful heart.  Paul says he has learned to be content in all circumstances, in both the pleasant and in the difficult circumstances and in times of plenty and in times of want.  Paul knew that joy and contentment comes only from the Lord,  If we have all our dreams fulfilled and are living in plenty, we will not necessarily be content.  This is because contentment can only come from the Giver and not from the gifts He gives.  Without the Lord being the center and focus of our lives, there is still restlessness and emptiness.  Likewise in difficult times we will give way to despair and discouragement, if we are not looking to the Lord.

Yet if we are seeking the Lord, He is sufficient no matter what our circumstances. God is powerful enough, perfect enough, and loving enough to meet ALL of our needs.  When I was a family caregiver it was so easy to begin to give into despair, as I saw my husband's body deteriorate step by step.  Yet as I look back on those days, I see that the Lord was faithful step by step.I have learned through experience how good and sufficient is my God.  

I sometimes still am tempted to give into fear and discouragement, as I face problems as a widow   It is sometimes difficult to be content in the extreme highs and lows and changes and challenges of life. Yet God has promised to meet all my needs "according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

He promises the same for you, dear caregiver.  Family care-giving can be challenging and sometimes discouraging and even sad.  Yet it is often during these times that we learn that God is sufficient.  We tend to search for Him in those times; and in the Lord's presence we find peace, joy, and contentment in the midst of the difficult circumstances.  Joy and contentment is not found in perfect circumstances but in the presence of the Lord.  Keep turning to Him, dear caregiver, when the clouds of discouragement appear on the horizon of your life.