Sunday, February 19, 2017

Do You Ever Feel Fear?

Care-giving for a loved one can be very challenging.  Watching my husband's body deteriorate step by step during the years I was his caregiver was sometimes very discouraging.  Often the changes downward came so suddenly.  I would feel I was just getting accustomed to one level of functioning in my husband, when he would move down yet another level in his bodily functioning. This often caused me to fear what the future held.  Would I be able to continue to take care of him in the future?

It was during this time that I grew in my reliance on the Lord.  It was also a time when God's promises in the Bible became very meaningful to me.  Psalm 27:1 in the Old Testament of the Bible says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?"  We can also say, "What shall I fear?"  The Lord is our stronghold in all of life's situations including the challenging situations of family care-giving.   We may be sad about some of the circumstances that are surrounding our loved ones' health and also about the challenges we face as we seek to provide for their needs, but in any and all of these situations we can trust that the Lord is guiding and providing.  We just need to wait on Him-to trust Him and rest in Him.

Below I have included a link to another post at another blog of mine.  I have linked to this blog in the past a time or two.  The name of this other blog is "Moments With God."  It is a devotional blog, and the title of the post to which I will be linking you is "Psalm 27."  Just click on the link below.  I hope you find the post a blessing, dear caregiver:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Your Divine Valentine

(This is a blog post which I have published the last few years.  I think it is a message worth repeating again, as Tuesday is Valentine's Day.)

Dear caregiver, do you ever feel the sorrow of things lost?  Do you ever miss the way things were in the past with your loved one for whom you are caring?  Does the approach of holidays such as Valentine's day make you feel melancholy and sad?

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love.  He in effect is your Divine Valentine.  He is sufficient.  He alone can give you all that you need.  Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine:

Your Divine Valentine

A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.
(Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.  (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime,but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity,
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Looking For the Wonders

(This blog post is yet one more chapter from my book Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

As a caregiver, it was difficult to see the constant decline in my husband's health. It was difficult seeing the changes in him physically, but it was also difficult to see the changes in the person I had once known. In late 2008 I began journaling my feelings at a blog site online. In order to survive, I also realized I needed to begin to look for the wonders and blessings which were still around me.

On March 24, 2009 I wrote the following words:

“What will be my attitude today concerning my circumstances? It is raining and dreary out today. I enjoy the sunshine more. We, however, need the rain for the plants and grass to grow. So rain is good, and it is a blessing.

I also have grown spiritually and emotionally through the “rain” and “storms” of my fight against breast cancer last year and through my present care-giving experience with my husband. So that is good, and it is a blessing.

The last couple of days have been spent filling out paperwork and also spent on the phone asking questions about this paperwork. I hate filling out paperwork. Filling out paperwork for my husband’s disability and making necessary phone calls has helped us financially in the past, however. So that is good, and it is a blessing. One of the things I needed to do to fill out this paperwork was to get some additional information from our three sons. That has resulted in good and productive conversations. That is good, and that is a blessing. One of these calls to one of our sons resulted in my husband and I being able to hear our little 8 month old granddaughter who lives with her parents in London giggling in the background. What a joy! That is good, and that is a blessing.  We just received a phone call and invite to have supper with family. That is pure joy. I see no negatives there.

Lord, help me not to get bogged down with the negatives of care-giving. Help me to consider it a privilege, and help me to look for the blessings. Help me to look for Your wonders in my life.”

Dear Christian caregiver, care-giving is probably one of the most difficult experiences you will ever undertake. Often that is the case with a calling as significant as care-giving. In the midst of the challenges, negative emotions, and disappointments, however, also look for the wonders, dear caregiver. There are wonders and blessings in even the most difficult of days. Looking for the wonders will allow the joy to remain in your life even in the struggles and heartaches of care-giving.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Promises of God

I love the promises of God found in the Bible.  They were a huge source of strength to me when I was a caregiver for my husband.  They continue to be so, as I live my life as a widow.  Romans chapter eight in the New Testament of the Bible is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  I think this is true for many Christians.  I especially like verses twenty-six through thirty-nine.

When I was caring for my husband I often felt very overwhelmed by my husband's continual declines in his body.  At times like this it is often difficult to know even how to pray.  Romans chapter eight verse twenty-six reminds us that at times like this the Holy Spirit prays for us, if we are a child of God.  God understands our weaknesses, and He has provided us a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit,  The Holy Spirit prays in and through us.  He prays for us especially during those times when we are too overwhelmed with heartache to find the right words to express our pain to God in prayer, The Holy Spirit understands our sorrows and is our prayer helper before the Heavenly Father.

The Lord has also promises in Romans chapter eight that in all things He works for our good, if we love Him.  This does not mean that we like everything He allows in our lives.  It does not mean that everything in our lives goes according to our preconceived agenda.  Yet somehow God works all things-the good and bad-for our ultimate good.

It was difficult for me to see that when I was caring for my husband and witnessing his continual declines.  Sometimes it is difficult to see that in the days since his death.  Yet resting in that truth has been a huge source of strength and comfort to me especially these past years.  I wrote about this some time ago at another blog site of mine, a devotional blog called "Moments With God."  Below is a link to a post about this subject at this blog site.  Click on the link below to read it:

Yet another blessed truth found in Romans chapter eight is in the last verses of that chapter.  In those verses we are told that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God, if we are His child.  As a family caregiver I often felt afraid of what the future held.  My husband's disease was doing such a number on his body.  Yet God's promise that nothing would or will separate us from His love as His child was and is a huge source of comfort and peace to me.  It can be to you as well, dear caregiver.  Below is a link to yet another post about that subject at my devotional blog.  You can also read that post by clicking on the link below.  Thank you, dear caregiver, for all that you do for your loved one:

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!