Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day and Our Heavenly Father

Sunday is Father's Day in the United States.  It is a wonderful day to honor fathers.  Yet sometimes this day and other holidays can be bittersweet.  On this Father's day weekend I remember my own Dad and also remember Wayne, my husband and the father of my children.  They have both passed onto their Heavenly home.  Yet during their lives on earth they both provided strong spiritual guidance and were an example for their families. They both demonstrated a strong work ethic and loved their families.  They were both men of great patience, calmness, and humility.  Finally, they both maintained their steadfast faith even during the last difficult years of their lives.  I also remember my father-in-law with fond memories.  Finally, I am thankful to my three sons who are all Godly men and are raising their families in the ways of the Lord.

Perhaps, you are a former caregiver who took care of either a father, father-in-law, or a husband. Perhaps, you are a current family caregiver who is caring for one of these and are feeling the sorrow of your loved one's decline.  On this day and every day try to remember the sweet memories.  Try to remember how your loved one has impacted your life in good and sweet ways in the past.  If your past does not contain sweet and loving memories with your loved one, concentrate on the love of your Heavenly Father who has never left you or forsook you.  He is the Heavenly Father to which all of us can cling for love, protection and grace.

Sometimes when we have lost someone or are seeing significant declines in our loved ones, we feel sadness in the loss of that person or in the loss of the way things used to be.  Let's use this day and every day in our lives to remember the sweet memories and also to be thankful for the daily blessings our Heavenly Father showers on us.  Let us rejoice in our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Care-giving for Aging Parents

Recently I read an excellent article on family care-giving in the New Horizons magazine.  The New Horizons magazine happens to be the magazine for the church denomination to which this writer belongs.  There are many kinds of family care-giving, but this particular article speaks about caring for aging parents.  Click on the link below to read this thoughtful and well-written article.

https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=922

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Care-giving, "Pleasant Places"?

During my family care-giving days the book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible became especially meaningful to me.  It continues to be so in my days as a widow.  Recently in my devotions I was again reading Psalm 16.  It is beautiful Psalm filled with rich truths and promises.  This Psalm speaks to my heart in many ways.

Psalm 16 talks about the fact that there is no good thing outside of the Lord.  So often we run after things and possessions to try to fill up the empty places in our hearts.  Things and even relationships can be good in themselves, but without the Lord in our lives they are meaningless.  Without the Lord they lead to frustration and dead-ends.

Yet with the Lord in our lives even the trials can turn into blessings.  As my devotional for Psalm 16 pointed out, God allows all our unique circumstances for a reason.  These circumstances shape who we are as people.  They also affect how we uniquely serve God and minister to others.  I know everything that happened to me since I was a child and now as an adult affects both my personality and my relationship with God and others.

Psalm 16: 5-6 says, "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."  But wait a minute, has God always given me "pleasant places?"  When I think about those care-giving years where I watched my husband's body deteriorate step by step, I still to this day have sad feelings.  There were many moments which were challenging and many moments which one would not consider "pleasant places."  There have been challenging moments for me also as a widow that do not seem like "pleasant places."

Yet even those moments which seem challenging and less than pleasant are for my good and for God's glory.  They gave me purpose during those days that I was a caregiver and continue to influence who I am and what I do to this day.  They have opened up doors of ministry in my post care-giving days that could have come in no other way.  Sometimes ministry to others can only come because of our past pain or in the midst of present pain.  You may not be able to make sense of your present care-giving situation, dear caregiver, but trust that God is using you now and will in the days ahead because of that present situation in you life.

Trust too, dear care-giver, that the Lord will counsel and instruct you step by step in the whole care-giving experience and in the years beyond.  So you need "not be shaken (Psalm 16:7-8)."  There are many times when I have felt shaken and felt panic about life's situations.  Yet I know that there is a no need for it.  When I remind myself of God's promises to always be with me, much calmness can return. Also in the loneliness of those care-giving days of my past, the Lord was there to comfort me. He is also there for me in my days as a widow.  On top of that He promises me joy in this life and in eternity (Psalm 16:11).

So yes, dear caregiver, if you are a child of God, you have God's promise of "pleasant places" and a "delightful inheritance."  (Another translation of the Bible says "beautiful inheritance.")  Trust Him in the challenging and painful moments. Trust that He knows what He is doing. Trust that He is using you now in powerful ways and will also do so in the future. He has assigned you your "portion and cup (Psalm 16:5), and He will use it in service to Him and others and for your spiritual and emotional good.