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.)

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Have you ever said, "I can't do this anymore!"  I am ashamed to say that I said that a few times as a family caregiver.  Sometimes the challenges of caring for a loved one become emotionally overwhelming.  Yet if we believe that God is sovereignly in control of all things, we must also believe that He will equip us for everything He has us to do including care-giving. 

Also God delights to use weak vessels to show His glory.  When we feel the weakest He can show His strength in us in the best possible way.  When we know we are weak we depend on Him more, and the Lord is glorified more.  Remember the Old Testament characters of Moses and Gideon?  Moses stuttered, and Gideon was very much afraid and a person of no consequence.  Yet God used these weak vessels in mighty ways.  Naomi in the Old Testament had a bad attitude and was very discouraged, and Martha in the New Testament was a worrier.  Yet God used these weak vessels as well.  Paul, the writer of many of the Epistles had some infirmity which he asked the Lord to remove.  Christ's answer to Paul In II Corinthians 12:9, however, was the following, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

Also through our care-giving challenges we are reminded of all that Jesus Christ endured for us on the cross.  We are reminded of His promise to always be with us and equip us for every challenge and trial.  He will be with us each step of the way.  Care-giving for a loved one can be an emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining time.  There can be a heavy load of "if onlys" and false and real guilt.  There can be the load of emotional and physical fatigue.  Jesus Christ loved you enough to die for you, dear caregiver.  Trust Him enough to lay your burdens down at the cross.  He wants to carry your burdens for you.

Also a rejoicing or grateful attitude can go a long way towards lightening our loads.  We can negatively choose to sink into despair and discouragement or take our tired overwhelmed emotions out on others.  A better approach is to keep our focus on the Lord.  We can choose to rejoice that the Lord always has been and always will be in control of all things.  It is not about our circumstances, difficult though they may be; but it is about our attitude.  The apostle, Paul, said in Philippians 4:11b-12a, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."  The key to contentment and joy in any situation is to focus on the Lord and to rest in His promises in His Holy Word, the Bible.

Listen to your loved ones when they talk.  Treasure and nurture these relationships and even celebrate life with them in every way that you can.   Thank God for the opportunity to be a caregiver for your loved one even in the very difficult and challenging moments  Rest your burdens with the Lord.  Focus on Him and not on your circumstances.  Rejoice even in the challenging moments.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Unexpected Life Changes

Life can hand us some unexpected life changes.  Some of these can be joyful like marriage or the birth of children or grandchildren.  Some can be difficult and a cause for fear.  Click on the link below, and you will read about a woman who was a missionary with her husband for years.  Therefore she thought she could handle life's unexpected changes.  When her husband was diagnosed with alzheimer's, disease however, she felt challenged and afraid because of these huge changes in her life.  Notice how she clung to the Lord and to Scripture in the midst of it.  Once again click on the link below:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Prayer From My Heart

"Lord, help me today to count the blessings and not dwell on the difficult moments. Help me not give into fear about the future, but rather trust that you will guide step by step."  These were the words that I posted about six years ago on my Facebook status.  I recently discovered these words in my Facebook memories. 

These words were written only a few months before my husband's death, although I did not know that at the time.  I knew at the time that my husband was declining significantly, but my brain and heart were not ready to accept the possibility that the end was near.  Yet as I said, the declines in my husband's body were real and significant.  They were becoming increasingly difficult to manage.  In fact, in October of that year we began to have to use a mechanical lift with him. Hence, this prayer came from my heart that day six years ago.

God has answered that prayer for me.  I do sometimes even in my post care-giving days feel anxious and begin to feel fearful.  In those moments, however, I can turn to the One who holds my future.  He has guided me step by step both during my care-giving days and now as a widow.  He has allowed me to go through difficult moments, but He has helped me through those difficult moments.  He has also made me aware of the value of gratitude and has made me think about my blessings.  He has made me love the Lord more and has made my faith sweeter. 

Dear Caregiver, in the challenging and overwhelming moments turn to the Lord.  He loves you so much.  I love you too, dear caregiver.  My prayer from my heart for you today is that you will also be able to dwell on the blessings and not on the difficult moments.  I pray that you will be able to not give into fear, but rather trust the Lord to guide you step by step.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life's Puzzle Pieces

I have never been good at putting puzzles together.  It is not my talent, and I have never enjoyed trying to fit the pieces together.  I have seen completed puzzles, however, and often they portray beautiful scenes.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the completed product of my life's puzzles pieces as well.  It has been challenging sometimes to understand His plan in the overwhelming moments of my life.  As I watched my husband's body deteriorate during those challenging years as his caregiver, it was difficult to see God's big picture in all this.  The same is and has been true in many situations I face/ have faced in my post care-giving days as a widow.   God is so much wiser than I am, however.

Yet I can know by faith that the Lord loves me and is meeting all my needs.  He has forgiven my sins,  and He is fitting what I perceive as the missing pieces of my life into a beautiful picture.  When I look back on my life I can already see how He has used difficult times for His glory and my good.  I can begin to see how the pieces are fitting together.

 I will, however, never fully see the completed and big picture of God's love and wisdom until I reach eternity.  Yet as the picture above illustrates, my life is molded by the heart of God and by His love.  I may still see my life as having missing pieces, but He sees the beautiful finished product.  Philippians 1:6 (NIV) says, "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  He is fitting the puzzle pieces of my life together into something beautiful.  Dear caregiver, trust that the Lord is also fitting the puzzle pieces of your life together into a beautiful mosaic of His love!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

"My Ducks in a Row"

I need to confess something.  As the expression goes, I am a person who likes "my ducks in a row."  You would think that having been a family caregiver with all its challenges, uncertainties, and chaos would have permanently cured me of that.  Although I learned so much of God's faithfulness and grew in my love for Him during that time, I still fight that tendency to like "my ducks in a row."

I seem to have to learn and relearn, however, that God is in control and not me.  I am in control of nothing.  I read the following in my devotions recently.  It is as if Jesus is speaking:  "Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when.  My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed.  This is how you grow strong in your weakness." (from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

That same day I read this from another devotional book.  It is meant to be a prayer of praise to God:  "Thank You that I can give myself up to be led by You---that I can go forth praising and at rest, letting You manage me and my day---that I can joyfully depend on You throughout the day expecting You to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use, and to do in me and with me what You desire---that I can count upon Your working in me as a fact, totally apart from sight or feeling---that I can go forth praising and at rest, believing You and obeying You and ceasing from the burden of trying to manage myself without Your wisdom and power (adapted from Dr. John Hubbard).  Thank You that I can throw the whole weight of my anxieties on You, for I am Your personal concern." (from the book 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Meyers)

I often wonder why my natural first response to a new challenge is a moment of fear until I tell my soul to relax and trust the Lord.  I love Jesus' words in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  This is a promise and a command.  Life can be challenging with unending problems especially as a family caregiver, but let's you and I resolve to rest things with the Lord.  He is in control anyhow, and trusting Him is the way to peace.