Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Lord is Our Refuge

Be it care-giving heartaches or some other challenging circumstance in our lives, it is important to remember that the Lord is our refuge, our loving protection, and fortress.  Psalm 91:4 tells us that He lovingly covers us with with His feathers.

Today I am going to link you to another blog of mine-a devotional blog.  This post is based on Psalm 91.  Click on the link below.  I hope you will find it to be a blessing.

https://scripturemoments.blogspot.com/2018/11/psalm-91.html

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ruth, the Caregiver

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

The name of Ruth in the Old Testament immediately came to mind as a Biblical example of a caregiver.  We often associate Ruth along with her mother-in-law, Naomi, as widows.  We remember God's provision for them through His servant, Boaz.  There is much comfort in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament for widows.  There is much in the book of Ruth to which Christian caregivers can relate as well, however.

Ruth's husband died while she was probably a relatively young woman.  We do not know if this death of her husband happened suddenly, or if Ruth's husband was sick for a long time before he died.  We do not know, if Ruth needed to fulfill the role of caregiver for her husband.  We do know for certain, however, that Ruth showed a sweet care-giving spirit with her mother-in-law.

A number of years before her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her husband, Elimelech, had moved to Moab because of a famine in their land of Israel.  After some time in Moab Elimelech died.  Later, both Naomi's sons died (one of these sons had been married to Ruth). When Naomi decided to return to Israel Ruth insisted on going with Naomi in spite of Naomi's urgings to not go with her but to return to the comfort of her familiar homeland.

In a beautiful passage in Ruth 1:16-17 Ruth begged Naomi not to ask her to leave her.  She promised Naomi that Naomi's people and God would be her people and God.  This, I believe, was a beautiful commitment to God, but it was also a beautiful commitment to Naomi on the part of Ruth.  Ruth was willing to sacrifice everything secure in her life to be Naomi's caregiver and provider.  Even though Naomi was not ill at the time she needed the loving care and support that Ruth would give her.  We read in the Old Testament book of Ruth how Ruth did all she could to provide for Naomi, in spite of Naomi's initial lack of gratitude and warmth.

You too, dear caregiver, have sacrificed much to be a loving caregiver to your loved one.  You have done this even at times when little appreciation was shown in return for your actions.  You have most likely not been a perfect caregiver, yet you have persevered in what you felt God was calling you to do.  You have been willing to forgo your own comfort and security for the love and commitment you have for your loved one.

Dear Christian caregiver, God, our Redeemer, (of whom Boaz was a picture) will bless you and protect you; as He did Ruth.  Your work is so very important, even though it appears overwhelming and hopeless at times.  Trust that God will bless you for your efforts through His presence and care on this earth.  Most importantly, He is laying up treasures for you in heaven!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Caregivers of Strength

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

As a caregiver, it is very important that you eat right, exercise when you can, and in general do all you can to maintain your good health.  Dear caregiver, you can not be of comfort and help to your loved one for whom you are caring; if you do not do all in your power to stay healthy yourself.  Taking care of yourself physically is so important for you to become a caregiver of strength,

Even more important than your physical health is your emotional and spiritual health.  Family care-giving can be emotionally and spiritually draining.  That is why it is so important that you maintain your spiritual health through daily prayer and reading the Word of God.  If this means you have to get up in the morning before your loved one, that is what you need to do.  It is essential to your well-being and your being a caregiver of strength.  Also throughout the day constantly be aware of and tune into the presence of God right beside you.

The Bible tells us not to be afraid.  Yet is so easy for caregivers to let worries attack them.  As a caregiver for my husband I remember being so afraid of what the future held for my husband and me.  The prognosis for his neurological disease was eventual total disability.  That was exactly what happened.  Satan wants us to despair during these times, and yet the Lord understands our weaknesses in this area.  In the midst of the fearsome circumstances caregivers of strength can show courage because of the Lord's strength in them.

Caregivers of strength know that they are fallible human beings.  They know they become impatient at times.  They often feel like they are walking in the dark.  They often feel as if their whole world could fall apart at any moment.  They also know, however, that the Lord will catch them and their loved ones when they fall.  Caregivers have no confidence in their own strength, but they avail themselves of the Lord's grace and strength.

Caregivers of strength do not continually look for their own advantage.  They often sacrifice their own best interests for the best interests of the loved one for whom they are caring.  They also know that they do not have enough strength in themselves for the care-giving journey they are on.  They further know with certainty, however, that through the care-giving journey they will become strong by God's grace.

Dear Christian caregiver, this is most likely the most difficult journey you have ever been on.  Trust in the Lord's strength.  Rest in Him, and you will be a caregiver of strength!


(If you wish to order my book to encourage family caregivers here is the Amazon link to my order page:  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263?ie=UTF8&keywords=Dear%20Caregiver&qid=1464624581&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books

My book is also found at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  My book is available in Kindle and Nook versions as well as paperback.  Finally, you can get a copy directly from me as well.  Just e-mail me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics, if you wish to go that route.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lessons Learned Two Years Ago

A little over two years ago I was in London visiting my son's family there.  While I was there God laid on my heart once again the need to trust the Lord's leading and the need to thank Him for His guidance and overwhelming love. I had to begin to learn that lesson when I was my husband's caregiver; and I need to continue to learn that lesson, as I seek to walk the walk of faith today.

So today I am bringing back a post I wrote about two years ago right after my return home from London.  Just click on the link below to read it.  May the Lord bless you in all that you do, dear caregiver!



https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-leading-of-lord.html

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Gladness Even in the Difficult Days

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

The Bible tells us that we should find joy and be glad for every day given to us by the Lord God. (Psalm 118:24) If you are a family caregiver and know the challenges and heartaches that accompany that calling, you may ask yourself how that is possible. How is it possible to find joy in each new day when one sees one’s loved ones deteriorating in his or her health month by month and sometimes day by day?

I think one way caregivers can do this is by remembering that the Lord God created each day. He is with you and present in your day whether you sense His presence or not. Rejoice in the fact that He understands your needs as a family caregiver, and He know exactly the emotional and physical toll it is taking on you. He also understands the needs of your loved one for whom you are caring. 

Commune with the Lord throughout the day. Tell Him your needs and concerns. He will soothe your pain. Know that you are not in control. Depend on Him. This will lighten your emotional load and your spirit considerably. Doing this does not mean that all the heartaches of care-giving will suddenly disappear, but awareness of the Lord’s presence in your life can infuse joy into your most difficult of care-giving days.

Also the best response to the challenges of a difficult care-giving day is praise and thanks. I remember as a caregiver being challenged to write down each day at least three things for which I was thankful. That little exercise in itself did a lot to change my perspective during those overwhelming days of care-giving for my husband with a serious neurological disease.   

Finally, trust that the Lord has the future-of you as a caregiver and of your loved one-in His hands. God may choose to heal your loved one on this earth. God may, on the other hand, choose to heal your loved one completely by taking him or her to eternity as He did my husband. Don’t spend your energy wondering and worrying about the road ahead. God is in control. Instead stay in close communion with the Lord. He will guide and pave the way.


Also if you wish to order my book to encourage family caregivers here is the Amazon link to my order page:  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263?ie=UTF8&keywords=Dear%20Caregiver&qid=1464624581&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books

My book is also found at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  My book is available in Kindle and Nook versions as well as paperback.  Finally, you can get a copy directly from me as well.  Just e-mail me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics, if you wish to go that route.





Sunday, October 7, 2018

Immeasurably More

There is a verse in the Bible which tells us that God is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."  He does this through His remarkable power in us. (Ephesians 3:20)  We are so weak in ourselves, but with His power in us God can use us in ways we never imagined.  He can also bring about blessings that we would never have envisioned.

Perhaps  you are going through a difficult time navigating the illness of a loved one for whom you are caring.  Or perhaps you are a former caregiver who has seen your loved one pass away and are trudging down the paths of grief.  Yet again you may be someone who is enduring some other heavy trial.  Even in times like these God is using you in ways you can only imagine.  You may feel you are only just surviving.  Yet people are watching you, and God may be using you in the lives of others in ways you do not even now know.  He is perhaps using your difficult moments to bring glory to Him and to help grow you or someone else spiritually in ways you never imagined.  Trials in our lives tend to do that.

God can also do "immeasurably more than all we ask of imagine" by showering us with His love gifts.  So often we concentrate on life's problems and challenges and fail to see these wonderful gifts from His hand.  These gifts could be something as simple as the beauty of a sunrise or a beautiful flower.  These gifts could be remarkable ways God uses past trials in our lives to help us inspire others through our testimonies.  They could be the awesome way God brings a new friend into our lives in a way that we would never have envisioned.  God often showers gifts in our lives through others.  Most of all He offers us salvation through the gift of His Son.  If we would receive no other gift from His hand that gift alone should "wow" us with the wonders of His grace and love.

This verse about God doing "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" has become an important and encouraging verse in my life.  Often life's paths have been challenging.  Yet I have also seen God use current and past trials in awesome ways, in ways I would never have imagined.  I have further seen Him heap awesome recent new blessings in my life which I could never have foreseen.  His love is overwhelming. His love for you is also overwhelming!



 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Joy Even in the Midst of Heartache

When our hearts are aching and circumstances around us are very difficult, is it possible to have joy?  For me personally, this past year or so has included some physical pain problems and also some heartbreaking situations involving loved ones of mine.   If we properly understand the concept of joy, however, it truly is possible to have joy no matter what is transpiring in our lives. We can experience joy in the midst of heartbreak and right along side emotional and physical pain.

I have been reading about joy in my devotions again this week.  That has been a huge blessing to me.  We need to remind ourselves that joy is not the same as happiness.  Happiness is based on perfect circumstances.  Joy is based on something much more profound.

Joy is only grounded in the Lord and not on our shifting and fickle emotions.  It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Yet we also need to be always pursuing it, because Satan's lies and our own emotions can so easily drag us down.  Personal heartaches and trials, loved one's illnesses and sorrows, and the conditions of the world around us can so easily discourage us.  We should feel sorrow and heartbreak over many things around us.  Yet our joy is found not in circumstances but in a Person, the Lord. Our joy is found in the character of the Lord.  He is always faithful and always loves His people with an eternal love.  He is also powerful to help us in our trials.

I remember in my younger years thinking that if I could just get through the next situation then everything would be good.  Yet there is always a new trial or challenge to face around the bend.  I remember the heartaches I felt while as his caregiver I watched my husband slowly lose his battle against his neurological disease.  I remember the grief I felt when finally losing him in death.  Yet my God was always faithful, and He was always present.  The Lord is the definition of joy.  I need to remind myself that He is also the definition of joy in current struggles.

Also it is important to remember that the more we grieve over our sins, the more joy we find as we turn to the Lord and realize all He has done for us.  Further, it is important to remember that as we experience heartaches and trials our capacity for joy increases.  These heartaches help us appreciate our remaining blessings.  These blessings for me can include something as simple as a beautiful flower or sunrise.  It can include helping others or laughter shared.  It further can include a lovely evening shared with a new friend.  Heartaches themselves can be a blessing, because they help us see God sovereignly working in the midst of our trials and as a result of our trials.  This too adds joy to our lives.  It is a supernatural spiritual thing that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I become so weary of the constant challenges and trials.  Yet without them I would not have to lean on the Lord so heavily.  Without them there would not be true joy.  Joy is a possession found only in the Lord.  Lord, help me always to remember that when I become discouraged.