Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Lord Will Provide


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

One of the most discouraging aspects of care-giving for family members with a terminal illness is witnessing the continual deterioration of their bodies. When my husband was first diagnosed with his neurological disease (Multiple Systems Atrophy type C) in 2006, he was still able to work for over a year. After he quit working, he gradually moved from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair, and then finally I had to use a lift with him the last months of his life.

The last months and perhaps weeks of my husband’s life, the progression in his disease seemed to take more rapid dives downward. One good thing at that time was that I was able to rent a sit-to- stand lift. Someone from the office of aging and disability told me about this possibility, and so I pursued it. So in late October of 2010, my son and I went to take a look at this sit-to-stand lift at the Home Care Resources store in a local town. A few days later, the lift was delivered.

It took me a couple weeks and a couple of demonstrations to begin to feel comfortable using this product. After I had all my questions answered about the proper use of the product and  had practiced using it, I felt fairly comfortable using it. With the lift, I could get my husband transported from one of his chairs to the toilet, to bed, etc. right on target. It was awkward using this lift, and it involved some heavy pushing. It was doable, however.

Those days were difficult, but when I look back I am amazed at God’s provision step by step. I am amazed that God provided this lift so that I could keep Wayne out of the nursing home. I am amazed that I learned to use this device by God’s grace. I am amazed that God provided my CNA lady, who helped some evenings, and my son to help me during those last months. My house at that time began to look like a nursing home with all the disability equipment standing around, but the Lord provided.

God never promises us a life free from trials. He does promise to be with us each step of the way, however. I have a picture in my kitchen which says, “The Lord Provides.” He surely does provide. Whatever heartaches and challenges you are undergoing, dear Christian caregiver, know that the Lord is indeed with you step by step. He will provide.



(Below is a rather shadowy snapshot of that picture that stills hangs in my home.  The only difference is that now it hangs in my living room.  The words although difficult to read on this picture say, "The Lord Provides.")


 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Keeping Your Eyes on the Lord

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

As we discussed previously, life is like a race. It is often a difficult race filled with obstacles and challenges. It is a race of faith. It is important that we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus. This is especially true of the care-giving race.

Dear Christian caregiver, keep you eyes on Jesus and not on others as you run with faith the care-giving race. If you look around at others it will discourage and distract you. If you concentrate on another’s race, it may seem to you that their life is much easier than your life. First of all, you do not know the struggles they may be facing. Secondly, it may cause envy in your heart. God has assigned you the race that is meant for you, and that is the care-giving race. Or perhaps if you concentrate on others you may see others who seem to be “holding it together” better than you are. Again, you do not know their struggles. Concentrating on others will only distract and discourage. It will hinder you. Concentrate on the Lord instead.

Also dear caregiver, do not look inward. If you focus on your limited resources and strength and your own issues, you will become very discouraged. You may even want to give up. The truth is that we are very weak in ourselves. We are totally dependent on the Lord. I remember those days during my care-giving years when I felt as if I could not go on one more day. That was a good place to be, because it made me realize that I was totally dependent on the Lord. Do not look inward, dear caregiver. Look to the Lord.

Finally, dear caregiver, do not look back.  It is tempting during care-giving days to to look back with longing to the way things used to be. As I saw my husband deteriorate before my eyes, step by step, I grieved each step backwards. I also sometimes longed for days past. That really serves no useful purpose, however, except to discourage and impede.

Dear caregiver, God has assigned you the difficult but vitally significant job of family care-giving. Trust Him to give you the strength to run your care-giving race, and run that race with your eyes focused on the Lord. Don’t look back. Focus on Him.


Below is the link to the order page for my book at Amazon:

https://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

You can also contact me personally at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for information in getting a signed copy directly from me.


 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Grief After Care-giving Ends

Most of my posts are directed to current family caregivers.  Having experienced first hand the challenges of caring for my husband and watching his body deteriorate step by step, it is now my passion to encourage current family caregivers.  Having said that, however, I also know that eventually losing a loved one to a disease and the resulting grief is also sometimes part of family care-giving.  This was part of my care-giving experience.  So this post is directed to past caregivers; because in a sense, once a caregiver one is always a caregiver.

I recently found something in my Facebook memories that I wrote on June 27, 2011 about six months after my husband's death.  This is what I wrote:

"July second it will be six months since Wayne’s (Dad’s) death. In some way it seems like a lot longer than that, and in other ways it seems just like yesterday. These last six months have been far more difficult than I could have imagined. I am told I need to be patient. Grief processing takes months and sometimes years, but the pain will get better. Grief is always with me. There are many joyful moments, but grief is still there just below the surface. There are also really sad moments where it is hard to pull out the sadness. Emotions during grief are unpredictable and intense. Grief emotions can ambush at unexpected moments. It is a very difficult and tiring process to go through. Yet I know what I am experiencing is normal grief emotions.I would so appreciate your continued prayers. Please know too that I do not need fixing. Only God can do that in His timetable. You do not need to say the right thing or even say anything. Your presence, hugs, phone calls, short notes, and listening ears is all I need. Sometimes I will want to talk about my feelings. Sometimes I would rather talk about other things. Sometimes I need a mixture of both. I always like to talk about Wayne (Dad). 

I still cry nearly daily. Sometimes the tears ambush unexpectedly. Don’t be uncomfortable, if that happens in your presence. I do not apologize for the tears. They are not a sign of weakness or lack of faith. They are God’s gift to me of release, and they are actually a sign I am slowly recovering.

Please pray that God will use this time of grieving to grow me and equip me to minister to others with greater compassion than ever before. I will not just survive, but full joy will return. (Psalm 30:5b) That is God’s promise to me, and I claim it. If you have suffered a similar type loss, please feel free to share it with me. It will help me rather than make me feel worse.

Thank you for caring about me. Thank you to those who listen and pray. It is a gift to me for which I will always be thankful."


Seven and a half years later I can now say, "God is good."  The emotional ache has not gone away completely, but I have learned to rebuild my life around the ache.  My life still has struggles, and it would be nice to have my husband with me in those struggles.   Yet the Lord has helped me use painful past and current struggles for His glory and to help others.  My faith has become so much sweeter in the process.  God's joy is present.

Dear former caregiver, rest in the Lord and go deep in His Word.  Trust Him to guide and protect. Then the joy will return.

Manage



Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Caregiver's Race

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

Living life on this earth, in many ways, is like running a race. In fact, the Bible refers to our lives as a race which must be run with perseverance. I think this is especially true for caregivers. Care-giving for a family member with a terminal or long term illness involves a determination and perseverance not found in many other of life’s experiences.

Running the care-giving race requires energy. It is demanding and emotionally and physically exhausting.  It is a race which is never ending. To run this race successfully, caregivers needs to rely on God Himself to supply them with the energy and strength to carry on day after day. Caregivers often feel low in energy, but God has promised to supply the strength to continue. It is also so important for caregivers to feed on God’s Word, so that they will have the spiritual nutrients to continue the exhausting care-giving race in which they are participating.

As I mentioned before, running the care-giving race also requires perseverance. It requires a consistent determination to keep going even when tired or when uncertain where the road ahead will lead. This race can also feel very lonely to caregivers. As a caregiver for my husband with a long term terminal illness, I so remember those feelings of fatigue. I also remember those feelings of fear and uncertainty about the future and the loneliness.

However, the Lord has promised to always be with us in all of life’s challenges. As He was with me, He will be with you also, dear Christian caregiver. He will never forsake you. He will help you run your care-giving race with perseverance! Dear Christian caregiver, run the care-giving race keeping your eyes upon the Lord. Do this, for He alone is your source of strength. He also will keep you from quitting the race.

Everybody has a race to run in this life. The caregiver’s race is different than other people’s races.  However, it is the race you have been assigned, dear caregiver. Run it in confidence trusting that you will be given the strength and energy to persevere.


Below is the link to the order page for my book at Amazon:

https://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

You can also contact me personally at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for information in getting a signed copy directly from me.




Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seeing Messes or the Miracles?

It so easy to get bogged down with the messes of life that we no longer clearly see God's presence and His miracles.  Sometimes the struggles of life can wear us down physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.  I felt that during my care-giving days when my husband's body became more and more disabled.   I continue to feel that at times as I face other situations in my life alone, humanly speaking, as a widow.  This past year in particular has been difficult with some physical pain issues and also some big issues that loves ones are facing.

In times like these we need to stay focused on the blessings, the daily miracles that are in our lives. We need to remember all the times the Lord has been with us in the past, and we need to trust that He will be with us in the days ahead.  We need to fix our eyes on the Lord and trust His promises to always be with us.

Recently in my devotions I was struck by some comments by Lysa TerKeurst in her book entitled, Embraced 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close.  She wrote, "I get so focused on the mess, I miss the miracles."  Later in that same devotional she prays this prayer to the Lord, "Please don't let the messes of life harden my heart and blind me to Your presence.  Instead of being so terrified in the midst of the mess, might I keep the picture of You, watching me, always watching me.  And might I find courage in the assurance that You will come to me with Your miraculous presence."

So may we also focus on the miraculous presence of the Lord in our lives; as we face life's trials, troubles, and messes.  May we exchange our negative emotions for "a crown of beauty," with "the oil of gladness," and a "garment of praise" (Isaiah 61:2-3).  Life is sometimes difficult, but focusing on the blessings and the wonderful presence of the Lord is the key to peace in the midst of it. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Joy and Peace

As I think back on those days when I was caring for my husband, I remember the steady decline of his body.  I remember how his neurological disease step by step robbed him of his ability to function.  I also remember the anxiety and grief I felt as this was occurring in our lives.  I remember other difficult times when I have also felt that same kind of anxiety and discouragement as well.

Yet the Lord tells us that we can have joy, peace, and contentment in all situations.  This comes through right praying, right thinking, and right acting.  The apostle, Paul, wrote one of the most beautiful chapters of the Bible in Philippians chapter four.  Paul speaks of these things in that chapter of the Bible.

Below is the link to a post from another blog I write, a devotional blog.  In this post I discuss Philippians chapter four and the beautiful truths about being able to have joy and peace in the midst of the difficult moments of this life.  Just click on the link before to get to this post:

http://scripturemoments.blogspot.com/2018/05/philippians-4.html






Sunday, June 3, 2018

Life's Unexpected Twists and Turns

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

By early October of 2010 a few months before my husband’s death, my stress level was often extremely high. Things seemed to be getting more and more difficult in caring for Wayne.  I knew God was guiding me, I had seen that over and over, but it was still difficult.

In early October of 2010 I wrote, “Frankly, there are days when I am not sure how much longer I can do this.  However, it seems like every time I am at the end of my rope, some other help falls into place. I will have to keep trusting. I realistically need to also at least look into all the options, including possible nursing home in the future. I hope to avoid nursing home if at all possible, but I may not have a choice.”

Then by middle October 2010, life took some fairly rapidly developing twists and turns in just one week's time. My husband’s motor and processing skills became increasing more limited and my husband’s transfers become increasingly difficult.  I was becoming increasingly concerned, and I was  feeling that I could not handle my husband's needs any longer. In the mix of all this, my son had lost his job. So in a way, we had two families in crisis.

After somebody talked with me at church on a particular Sunday morning around that time showing concern for my well-being in all this, I decided to have a talk with my son and his wife. I told them that I was getting to the end of my strength in physically handling my husband and that I needed to at least check out nursing homes as a undesired but possible option. My son had already started helping me on nights when my CNA lady did not come. I felt that even that was not enough, however, as I still was handling the days alone at that time.

The upshot of all this was that my son decided (since he was not working) he would come four times a day most days to help me with transfers to the bathroom etc. of my husband. We now had a scheduled plan for this. The idea was that this would buy me time to at least check out other options.

This was definitely God’s timing. A few months after Wayne’s passing on to heaven, my son found a new job (another story of God’s mercy and grace). In the meantime, God provided me with the help I needed as Wayne’s caregiver. It was such a spirit lifter. My son and I were able to care for my husband’s needs until the day of his death, and my heart’s desire of avoiding putting Wayne in a nursing home was fulfilled.

I would not want to relive those difficult care-giving days, especially the last few months. In fact, even remembering those days is difficult. God was with me through it all, however. He always provided. He will provide for you also, dear caregiver.