Sunday, May 19, 2019

Gratitude Revisited

Gratitude is so foundational to all of life.  When we are grateful even in and for the difficult moments, joy and peace are added to our lives. (We will talk about joy in the next blog post.)  About four years ago I wrote a blog post about gratitude.  I have pasted the link for that post below.  Just click on the link to read the post.  May your life be filled with gratitude, joy, and peace, dear reader.

https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2015/05/choosing-gratitude.html

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Prayers for Healing or God's Will?


When illness strikes our loved ones, we desperately want physical healing in their lives.  We desire that for them and also for ourselves.  What should be the content of our prayers at times like this, however?  Should we primarily be praying for their healing, or should we be praying that God's will is accomplished?  Should we be praying for healing, or for God's purpose to be accomplished in our loved one's lives and in our own lives?

I knew from the beginning that my husband's illness would finally take over his body.  I just did not know how long he would still be with me.  I often prayed prayers for strength to be the best wife and caregiver that I could possibly be.  I often prayed for strength to just get through moment by moment.  I grew in intimacy with my Lord during that time of caring for my husband. That was part of the God's purpose for this time of trial in my life.

So should and can we pray for healing in the lives of our loved ones?  Yes, we most definitely can and should do so.  We must remember, however, that the Lord knows what is best for us and our loved ones.  Nancy Guthrie in her book, The One Year Book Of Hope, says it well.  She suggests we pray this way, "God, would you please accomplish Your will?  Would you give me a willing heart to embrace Your plan and Your purpose?  Would You mold me into an instrument that You can use to accomplish what You have in mind?"  Nancy goes on to say, "And then, perhaps, we could add a tiny P.S. that says, 'if that includes healing we will be grateful.'"

I would add that healing will come no matter what transpires with your loved one who is a child of God.  If physical healing does not occur on this earth, your loved one will be completely healed and whole in Eternity. Trust God's perfect plan. Psalm 57:2 says, "I cry out to God most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me."  Dear caregiver, God will fulfill His purpose for you as well.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Five Year Anniversary


A few days ago Facebook Memories reminded me that is was a little over five years ago that I published my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  Writing and promoting the book five years ago stirred up emotions about my own difficult days of seeing my husband decline in his body and then losing him to death.  I also had some fears.  Satan would have liked me to feel like no one was going to read the book, but I also knew it was in God's hands.  I further felt a passion to help current caregivers.  That is the reason I started this blog, and that is the reason I wrote my book.

In spite of the emotions I was excited  about the new book.  This book and other events in those five years since the publication of this book has helped other family caregivers including my current fiancee' who read the book while taking care of his wife at that time.  For that I am very thankful to the Lord.

If you are a family caregiver or know someone who is a family caregiver consider reading this book.  It is available at the Amazon link below, but it also available at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  It is further available from me directly at jesuschild54@hotmail.com  Just contact me there for details.

Once again here is the Amazon link to the order page for my book:
rhttps://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482027543&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Tight-rope of Care-giving

(The following post is a chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

On June 15, 2012 some of you may have seen televised Nik Wallenda’s dream come true, as he walked across Niagara Falls between the U.S. and Canada on a tightrope. He covered the 1,800 feet in approximately 25 minutes walking the two-inch wire in elkskin-soled shoes and using a balance beam.  Now I would not recommend viewing Niagara Falls in this fashion. One might even argue the wisdom and even rightness of taking such a risk. I think there are lessons we can learn from this incident, however.

Much of life-and certainly caregiving-is filled with challenges. Because of the uncertainties and constant changes and declines of care-giving, it can feel as if one is in imminent danger.  During care-giving days, one is not able to predict what the next year, let alone the next month or day will bring. It can feel like one is walking in a fog on a tightrope. As Wallenda made his walk across Niagara Falls he found the heavy mist to be very challenging. Also the winds hit him and were definitely more than he expected. After awhile his forearms started to tense up, and he began experiencing numbness. The steps and days as a caregiver can feel the same way. 

ABC televised the walk, but insisted Wallenda use a safety tether to prevent him from plunging into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls should he fall. I do not know how great a safety measure this was in reality, but I do know that Christian caregivers have a wonderful source of strength and safety in the Lord Jesus Christ. Care-giving can feel like walking over stormy waters, but the Lord is a reliable source of safety. Also Wallenda walked across that tightrope putting one foot in front of the other. That is what Christian caregivers and all believers need to do. They need to take life one step at a time focusing on the Lord and trusting Him.

When Wallenda stepped onto Canadian soil he was immediately asked for his passport, which he extracted from a protective pouch in his jacket. To me that passport is a picture of God’s Word and its promises. It is what helps us walk the tightrope and stormy situations of life like care-giving. 

Wallenda said that the prayers of others helped him immensely. He said it helped him reach the safety of the other side. So we too need to be willing to ask for and rely on the prayers of others when we are going through stormy times. Wallenda further said that in the middle of the wire he started thinking about his great-grandfather. His family’s legacy for performing daredevil stunts is what helped him persevere to the end. So we also can follow the examples of the Biblical saints and our godly ancestors who have gone before us. Their past faith can encourage us to be faithful and to trust God.

Christian caregiver, walk step by step focusing on the Lord as you experience the stormy waters of care-giving. Rely on God’s Word and prayer. Trust that God will get you to the other side. 







Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Joy


I love Easter best of all the holidays.  I love it for its deep spiritual significance.  Yet how does Easter relate to us?

Easter means that the Lord Jesus came to this earth and lived a perfect life for you and me.  He later died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and then He arose again on the third day to prove that He had won over sin and death and Satan. If you and I have accepted his gift of salvation by repentance and faith, we are His child now and for eternity.

Easter also means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, identifies with our pain and the pain of our loved ones. As we struggle in our own needs or to help our loved ones, Jesus Christ identifies with us. Having suffered the worst possible pain for us on the cross He is able to sympathize with our heartaches and weaknesses. He is also an all-powerful Savior to whom we can freely go for grace in our moments of sadness and overwhelming and crushing needs.  (Check out Hebrews 4:15-16 in the New Testament.)

Because of Easter and Christ's sacrifice, we can freely approach God the Father Himself with both our needs and our loved one's needs. We can cry out to Him for help and call Him our “Abba Father,” because He considers us His special children (Romans 8:15). Easter also means that when our hearts are so weighed down with the heartaches and overwhelming circumstances of life that we do not even know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will intercede and pray for us! (Romans 8:26)

Easter means that although we will always face trials and troubles in this world, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world.  He is also our source of peace even in the most challenging of times (John 16:33).  Even in overwhelming circumstances and even when we do not understand God's ways in allowing certain things in our lives, God is working for our ultimate good. We are victors in Him! (Romans 8:28 & 37)

No matter what happens in our life situations we will slowly heal emotionally and spiritually. God will always be with us, and joy will return one day. His love for us will never fail. He proved that love for us on the cross. That is the meaning of Easter for all of us.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

God's Plan A

I ran across a devotional again recently which reminded me of a truth which God has laid on my heart  in the past few years.  Nancy Guthrie writes this in her book, The One Year Book of Hope, "God's plan for your life is unfolding, and nothing and nobody can hinder it---Whatever is happening in your life, you can welcome it as God's sovereign Plan A.  God carries out His own good purposes without mistakes or regrets, and His plan is never thwarted."

Nancy also says that Satan tries to scheme and destroy, and many things in this life are difficult and sometimes tragic.  God doesn't run behind Satan, however, frantically trying to clean up his messes.  God is not forced to go to Plan B.  Satan's schemes do not catch God off guard.

God, even in the tragedies and sad moments of life, always has a good plan for our lives.  He is always working for His glory and for our spiritual good.  It was God's Plan A that I was a caregiver for my husband, Wayne.  It  was God's plan A that I became a widow.   God's plan A was in operation for my life in the years and events that have followed in both the times of joy and heartache.  It is God's Plan A for me, as I begin a new chapter in my life with a man I love.

God's Plan A is always in place for you as well, dear reader.  This is true in all the events of your life.  He is rejoicing with you in your joys and is always there to comfort you in your sorrows.  On this Palm Sunday let us join the believers of old and today and sing "Hosanna to the King of Kings."

(I wrote another blog post on this topic a little over a month ago, if you would like to reread it.  It talks about God's plan for my life these past few years.  You can find it here.  Just click on the link below:)
https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2019/03/gods-plan.html

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Your Treasure and Your Strength

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

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is your treasure and strength in the storm of family care-giving.  God may be using the storms of your care-giving days to show you His strength in your weakness, as you seek to deal with the overwhelming challenges.  Because of your relationship with the Lord, dear Christian caregiver, you can approach God with confidence and freedom for help and strength as you face each new day.

I felt so inadequate for the task of being my husband's caregiver.  It was not a role I would have chosen, and I certainly felt unprepared for that role.  However, God, delights to use unlikely ordinary, weak people to do His will.  When you yield your limitations and even failures to the Lord, dear caregiver, you become a wonderful instrument in the Lord's hand.  His strength and not your own will then fill you.

Also, I know of no greater work in the kingdom of heaven than family care-giving.  It is often a thankless job accompanied by grief and perhaps tears as one sees one's loved one's health deteriorate.  It is never a pointless role, however.  For whatever is done for others is done for the Lord, and it will produce a harvest of blessings and joy in God's perfect timetable.

The family care-giving role is a role that often feels as if it is leading down blind alleys.  Christian caregivers, however, can be assured that their Good Shepherd is leading and guiding them each step of the way.  Depend on Him for guidance and protection just as lambs follow their shepherd.  As your Good Shepherd, He will walk before you and lead you.  He is your hope for today, as you face your care-giving challenges.  He is also your hope and the hope of your loved one for the future!  He is your treasure and Strength, dear caregiver.