Saturday, January 21, 2017

Happily Ever After?

I have a secret I am going to disclose.  I love Cinderella "happily ever after" type movies.  The truth is, however, that our "happily ever after" will not come until our Lord returns.  He is our only true Prince-Prince of Peace.

There are many moments of joy and happiness in this world.  There are also many trials and challenges.  God doesn't always let everything go our way or facilitate our version of "happily ever after" at least not during our existence on earth.  God is more interested in bringing us into a deeper relationship with Him and to a place of submission to His will.  He wants us to come to a place of trusting that His will is always best even in the struggles of life.  He wants us to rest in Him, to trust in Him.

Even in the struggles we can know that He loves us and cares about us, though our unreliable feelings may try to tell us differently.  He loves us even when He doesn't "fix" our difficult situations in the way we would like Him to remedy them. We must rely on the truths of Scripture which promise us over and over that He will never leave us.  God often uses the difficult chapters of our lives in ways that He doesn't use the smooth-sailing moments of our lives.  In the difficult moments it is also His chance to show His faithfulness over and over again,  Rest in His faithfulness, dear caregiver.

Below is a link to an interview with Laura Story.  Her husband and she, as his wife, have been dealing with the consequences of her husband's brain tumor for over a decade.  Her vision of "happily ever after" would have been for God to fix the situation.  That is not what happened.  Yet God has used this situation in her life for her good, to bring blessings.  God has also used the situation for His glory in wonderful ways-one being to encourage us. Click on the first link below to hear her story and insights.  You also may also want to check out her song "Blessings" by clicking on the second link below:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Storms Revisted

We tend to have some really cold weather and sometimes snow storms in WI at least some time throughout the winter.  Although we have had some really cold times during this particular winter, there have also been some unseasonably warm days as well.

Life is also like that.  There are moments when we experience overwhelming joy, and life tends to be going the way we feel it should go.  There are also moments when life becomes overwhelming due to unexpected storms or trials in our lives.

It was brought to my attention through my Facebook memories that we experienced extremely cold weather three years ago about this time of year.  I wrote a blog post at that time about how that symbolizes our lives and the storms we face.  I related it to the storms family caregivers face.  I decided to bring that blog post back today.  Click on the link below to read that post that I wrote in early January of 2014.  I hope you will find it a blessing today as well, dear caregiver.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Guest Post

Today I am going to veer a little from my normal pattern of operation on this blog site.  I usually discuss the emotional and physical aspects most all family caregivers experience.  I also try to steer the caregiver towards the comfort and help we can find in the Lord.

Generally I do not like to discuss any one disease, because the caregivers who read this blog face many different kinds of sometimes devastating diseases with their loved ones.  The disease discussed below is not the disease my husband suffered either.  Because of the request of an online group, however, I am going to allow a more informational post today.  I am going to allow a guest blog post. The post is about Mesothelioma and what this online organization is doing to promote information and help.  Perhaps your loved one is experiencing this disease, or you know someone else who is faced with this disease. The guest post below will speak for itself.  Also this is their YouTube account link: 

Can We Cure Mesothelioma… Please?
As of right now, mesothelioma cancer has no absolute cure, yet. However, significant progress has been made in the efforts that are aimed at improving prognosis for mesothelioma patients. Today, there are many mesothelioma treatment options that enable patients to enjoy healthier, longer lives. These treatments provide hope to mesothelioma patients. In fact, mesothelioma is no longer a death sentence as it was some years back. It is now possible for mesothelioma patients to achieve long-term survival after diagnosis.
Curative treatments for mesothelioma
For years, there have been constant mesothelioma diagnoses every year. In the U.S for instance, about 3,000 individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. However, survivor rates have also been increasing every year. All types of mesothelioma remain aggressive and in most cases, prognosis is stated in months. Nevertheless, there are patients who live more than 10 years after diagnosis and finding a five-year survivor is not something unusual. While surgeries provide a more precise treatment, therapies are more exact. Radiation and chemotherapy are more effective treatments for mesothelioma if the entire tumor cannot be resected.
Why there is no cure for mesothelioma
Mesothelioma refers to the cancer of the mesothelium. Mesothelium is the lining that cushions or surrounds the major human organs like the lung, abdominal cavity and the heart. Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma, particularly the brown or amosite and the blue or crocidolite asbestos. Once breathed in, asbestos particles or fibers act like sharp, tiny needles that find their way into the mesothelium via the lung tissue or esophagus.
Currently, medical researchers do not know how this happens. However, presence of asbestos fibers in the mesothelium leads to uncontrolled cells mutation and eventual formation of cancerous tumors. The presence of asbestos fibers or particles causes many changes in the immune system. However, the latency period for mesothelioma is very long, extremely long in some cases. Thus mesothelioma symptoms take time before they become apparent. As such, mesothelioma is diagnosed in its later stages in most cases making it difficult to treat. Mesothelioma chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery are usually used to relieve pain. However, recovery levels remain low.
Here is a great video that talks about all the symptoms of mesothelioma:

Efforts towards mesothelioma cure
A blood test for detecting mesothelioma early has been developed by Japanese researchers. The test is known as Mesomark and it looks for possible protein markers that are generally associated with cancers. Mesomark might make preventing the disease from spreading with surgical procedures when detected early possible. It provides possibilities for improved success rate.
In Netherlands, Erasmus Medical Center’s researchers developed an early-stage mesothelioma vaccine. This vaccine has so far shown fairly promising outcomes. It uses immunotherapy for dendritic cell, where the immune system learns to destroy mesothelioma cells. Ideally, dendritic immune cells from a patient are introduced to the mesothelioma tumor proteins. Upon reintroduction, the cells lead to the establishment of a defense mechanism and subsequent attack on the tumor cells.
Generally, there are numerous mesothelioma treatments that are currently experimental. These might provide effective cure for mesothelioma in the future. Preliminary results indicate that experimental mesothelioma treatments might provide mesothelioma cure and increase the overall number of individuals that survive longer after mesothelioma diagnosis. The best thing we all can do it is help spread awareness on the dangers of asbestos. It’s widely talked about but not everyone one understands that every single one of us is susceptible on developing this rare and terminal disease. Asbestos is nicknamed the “Silent Killer”… I say it’s time to make some noise!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sweet Memories Revisted

Caring for a loved one during a serious illness is a significant and sometimes overwhelming endeavor.  Sometimes that loved one is healed and made whole again after a long and difficult struggle.  Sometimes that loved one is healed by being taken to heaven.  Thank you, dear current caregivers, for being willing to care for your loved one in spite of obstacles and sometimes heartaches.  Thank you to family caregivers who fought the battle but have lost loved ones.

Today on January first it would have been my husband's 71rst birthday.  Yes, he was a New Year's Day baby. On January 2, 2011 six years ago my husband graduated to Heaven, his eternal home.  I still miss him even after six years.  Even though the Lord has once again given purpose and a measure of joy to my life, I still struggle more this time of year.  One does not just forget about over 39 years of marriage.

Our marriage was a good marriage, and he was the love of my life.  Yet those care-giving years were very difficult years, as I saw my husband's body become more and more disabled.  They were years that were difficult emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Yet they were also years where I grew in my dependence on the Lord and in my love for the Lord.  The Lord is with you each step of the way as well, dear caregiver, and He is molding you more and more into His image through all you are experiencing as a family caregiver.  He is doing the same for you, if you are a former caregiver who has lost a loved one.

I look back now on the sweet memories of the days before my husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease.  I hope you will indulge me today in this anniversary week of  his graduation to heaven by allowing me to post a couple pictures of my husband.  The first picture is of my husband, Wayne, quite a few years back when he was still healthy.  It is one of my favorite pictures that I have of him.  The second picture is only a couple months or so before his death.  It was a good day among many difficult days.  I hope you too have and are building sweet memories, dear caregiver.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Hope Not Worries

(The following post is from a blog post that I published the last couple years.  Once again, I pray that the Lord is blessing your Christmas with His love and comfort, dear caregiver.)

December is the month that we think of Christmas and hope.  Dear caregiver, is your life weighed down with care and worry this Christmas season; or is it filled with hope? I remember my care-giving years during which I saw my husband continue to decline in his health step by step.  It was tempting at such times to give up hope.  Hope is something all of us can possess no matter how difficult our circumstances, however.

During the holiday season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Over two thousand years ago before Jesus was born most of the people were living without very much hope.  Then in Luke chapter two of the Bible we read that an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was being blessed by God's grace in becoming the mother of Jesus.  Jesus Christ was coming as the Savior of His people!

Mary's response to this was openhearted acceptance (Luke 1:38).  Mary would suffer many immediate problems being the mother of Jesus.  She would experience many heartaches in her future. Because Mary now had hope, however, she was willing to accept God's will for her life with joy.  A life secure in the Lord's hope can move with confidence through life in spite of difficulties and challenges.

Life as a caregiver can be very heartbreaking and challenging.  There are times when the circumstances of care-giving can be overwhelming.  But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances.  Dear caregiver rest your care-giving heartaches with the Lord. Know that He is the source of strength and hope.  His hope is not a wishful thinking type of hope, but it is a hope based on His certain promises in the Bible.  His hope is secure and will never leave you.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Wonderful Gifts

(I am bringing back today a post that I published in previous Decembers.  I hope you are experiencing a blessed Christmas season, dear caregiver.)

What kind of Christmas do you anticipate this year, dear Christian caregiver? Perhaps your Christmas will involve a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of care-giving, or perhaps you are feeling isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your care-giving responsibilities. Instead, however perhaps you will experience Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of care-giving.

Whatever we experience this Christmas and with every gift we receive at Christmas or at any time of year we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts we receive which are eternally precious, however, are the gifts which God wants to give us.

The Lord first offers us the gift of salvation which is what Christmas and walking with the Lord is all about. 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 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 of your life’s story. They are not the end of your loved one’s life story for whom you are caring either.

We also can all receive other gifts. We can receive the gift of trust in God and letting Him control our lives. We receive this gift by resting in Him and by letting go of anything which we are holding onto 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.

We also all have to let go of feelings of unforgiveness for people who have not been there for us. We further have to receive the gift of forgiveness for ourselves We have to bring to the Lord any true wrongs, and ask for His forgiveness. Further, we often carry around a lot of false guilt about things beyond our control. So whether false guilt or true guilt we need to let it go. We need to give it to the Lord. Trust and letting go are great gifts to have in our lives. Caregivers often carry around a lot of guilt. 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. I know that because I experienced it, but in the measure that you can accept where God has placed you now in your life you will find joy. It is a great gift you can 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 of your loved one. Would not these be wonderful gifts to have in your life? These are wonderful gifts not just for Christmas but all year long!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Would You Stay?

I recently found the below picture and inscription on my Facebook page.  I copy/pasted it here.  I hope you can see it on your screen like I can on mine.  It is a picture of a wheelchair and says, "If your spouse became permanently disabled would you stay with them?"

My answer to that question for me is that through the grace of God I did do that very thing.  My husband was diagnosed with a neurological disease in 2006 which became progressively worse until his death in early 2011.  In the end we had to use a lift with him, and he was confined to a wheelchair.  He was indeed permanently disabled during the last part of his life.

It would not have occurred to me to do anything else but stay with him and care for him.  He had been my loving and faithful husband for many years.  He was the love of my life.  Also I had promised when I married him to be faithful to him and love him including "in sickness and in health." The challenges were difficult and heartbreaking during those last years of his life, but I would do it again.

Many of you are also caring for spouses or other loved ones either in your home or through a nursing home facility.  If you are a spouse you are fulfilling your promise to God and your spouse that you made on your wedding day.  You are also doing it because of the love in your heart. Many of you are also caring for loved ones who are not your spouses.  You made no wedding vows to this person, but you are giving sacrificially of yourself for this person.  Thank you, dear caregiver, for all that you do.  It is not an easy road that you have chosen to tread, but it is a noble one.  May the Lord bless, strengthen, and encourage you in the days ahead.  For those who are not caregivers have you encouraged a caregiver recently?