Sunday, December 30, 2018

In the Hands of the Lord

(Much joy has returned to my life including the inroduction of a new person to love in the past few months.  It has been wonderful.  Yet I do soemtimes think back to those days when I was a caregiver for my husband.  I remember my eventual losing him to death. On January 1rst it would have been his birthday and on January 2nd it it the eighth anniversary of his homegoing to Heaven.   We prefer not to speak of the possible eventual death of a loved one when discussing family care-giving.  It is a real and possible outcome, however.  I discuss the day of my husband's death in the below post. This is also chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

On Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 my husband, Wayne, turned 65. Even though my husband’s health had declined significantly, I had no clue that on Sunday morning, January 2, 2011-one day after his birthday-I would find that my husband had passed away during the night. The process of the disease was supposed to take six to ten years after diagnosis. Wayne lived only four and a half years after diagnosis. I knew that he would pass away some day, however; and I anticipated that the his eventual death would be somewhat easier because of the grieving I had already done. I had been slowly losing him for a long time. I found out that certainly was not true, however. Death is so final on this earth. He was the love of my life for so many years.
My body reacted to the shock with chills, nausea, by feeling tired and wired at the same time, and by feelings of operating on auto pilot. I also found, however, that now I was beginning to release some tears which I could not release during all those years of having to remain strong in my role as caregiver.

I was so happy for my husband. He was released from a body which trapped him, and he was now in Heaven. I was sad for myself and my family, as we would miss him. I also wondered what next? As difficult as care-giving truly had been, it also had been my purpose for being on this earth for so long. I would have to rediscover a new purpose in the days ahead.

Dear caregiver, you may find this post more discouraging than helpful. If so, I apologize. Death, however, may come some day for your loved one. Know, however, that your loved one (as well as you, dear Christian caregiver), are in the hands of the Lord. God says all the days that we and our loved ones are meant to live on this earth are ordained by the Lord God (Psalm 139:16). 

Hence, I plead with you to not engage in false guilt during your care-giving days or in the possible eventual death of your loved one. It is the devil’s trick to discourage you. Also care-giving for a family member can be all consuming. Hence, when it ends a caregiver can have a sense of loss of purpose. I know I did. Be assured that God will use even that to refine you and mature you. Eventually the Lord will slowly reveal His new purpose for your life, begin to heal you, and begin to add new joy to your life. What will the future bring for you, dear Christian caregiver? No matter what it brings trust that the Lord will be with you each step of the way. You and your future are in the hands of the Lord, dear Christian caregiver.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas Hope

(The following post is from a blog post that I published the last few years.  Once again, I pray that the Lord is blessing your Christmas with His love and comfort, dear caregiver. There will be no post next week. Use this time as an opportunity to read some of my older posts The next post will be on or around December 30 )

December is the month that we think of Christmas and hope.  Dear caregiver, is your life weighed down with care and worry this Christmas season; or is it filled with hope? I remember my care-giving years during which I saw my husband continue to decline in his health step by step.  It was tempting at such times to give up hope.  Hope is something all of us can possess no matter how difficult our circumstances, however.

During the holiday season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Over two thousand years ago before Jesus was born most of the people were living without very much hope.  Then in Luke chapter two of the Bible we read that an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was being blessed by God's grace in becoming the mother of Jesus.  Jesus Christ was coming as the Savior of His people!

Mary's response to this was openhearted acceptance (Luke 1:38).  Mary would suffer many immediate problems being the mother of Jesus.  She would experience many heartaches in her future. Because Mary now had hope, however, she was willing to accept God's will for her life with joy.  A life secure in the Lord's hope can move with confidence through life in spite of difficulties and challenges.

Life as a caregiver can be very heartbreaking and challenging.  There are times when the circumstances of care-giving can be overwhelming.  But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances.  Dear caregiver, rest your care-giving heartaches with the Lord. Know that He is the source of strength and hope.  His hope is not a wishful thinking type of hope, but it is a hope based on His certain promises in the Bible.  His hope is secure and will never leave you.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Wonderful Gifts

(I am bringing back today a post that I published in previous Decembers.  I hope you are experiencing a blessed Christmas season, dear caregiver.)

What kind of Christmas do you anticipate this year, dear Christian caregiver? Perhaps your Christmas will involve a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of care-giving, or perhaps you are feeling isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your care-giving responsibilities. Instead, however perhaps you will experience Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of care-giving.

Whatever we experience this Christmas and with every gift we receive at Christmas or at any time of year we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts we receive which are eternally precious, however, are the gifts which God wants to give us.

The Lord first offers us the gift of salvation which is what Christmas and walking with the Lord is all about. He further offers us the accompanying gifts of joy, peace, and hope. They are ours for the taking; and yes, dear Christian caregiver, they can coexist with the pain and heartache which often are present in care-giving. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian caregiver, the heartaches that sometimes accompany care-giving are but a comma in your life story. They are not the end of your life’s story. They are not the end of your loved one’s life story for whom you are caring either.

We also can all receive other gifts. We can receive the gift of trust in God and letting Him control our lives. We receive this gift by resting in Him and by letting go of anything which we are holding onto too tightly or trying to control. As a former caregiver I know how much we want to stop the progress of our love one’s disease, but much of this is beyond our control.

We also all have to let go of feelings of unforgiveness for people who have not been there for us. We further have to receive the gift of forgiveness for ourselves We have to bring to the Lord any true wrongs, and ask for His forgiveness. Further, we often carry around a lot of false guilt about things beyond our control. So whether false guilt or true guilt we need to let it go. We need to give it to the Lord. Trust and letting go are great gifts to have in our lives. Caregivers often carry around a lot of guilt. Dear caregiver, receive the gift of releasing it to the Lord.

One great gift we can give ourselves is the gift of acceptance of our situation. We often waste so much energy wishing circumstances were different, but we can rest assured that we are right where we are supposed to be in our lives. Dear Christian caregiver, your responsibilities are emotionally overwhelming at times. I know that because I experienced it, but in the measure that you can accept where God has placed you now in your life you will find joy. It is a great gift you can give yourself.

Yet another wonderful gift we can give ourselves is the gift of being still in the presence of God. (Psalm 46:10) Doing this helps us grow in peace, wisdom, and insights. Finally, we can give ourselves the gift of gratitude. When we are grateful in spite of our circumstances our joy and blessings will multiply and resentments will flee.

Christian caregiver, you have many challenges and sometimes you experience much emotional upheaval as a caregiver of your loved one. Would not these be wonderful gifts to have in your life? These are wonderful gifts not just for Christmas but all year long!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fighting Discouragement

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

Satan loves to try to discourage us and rob us of our joy as believers. Satan can never snatch us out of the hand of our Lord God, for we are safe in the hands of the Lord forever. So Satan tries to do the next best thing in his eyes. Satan tries to rob us of our joy and effectiveness as Christians.

As a caregiver, it is so easy to become discouraged. The heartaches of seeing one’s loved one suffer and deteriorate in his or her body can be very overwhelming. Even the psalmists in the book of Psalms in the Old Testament often expressed feelings of discouragement. In some cases they were experiencing deep trials in spite of their present faithfulness to the Lord God. Hence, they sometimes felt abandoned, crushed, and devalued by God.

One strategy for fighting discouragement demonstrated in the Psalms is prayer. Prayer should be our first recourse for help, deliverance, and restoration in times of trouble and challenge. Prayer should also be our first recourse in fighting the discouragement which sometimes accompanies difficult times. Through the avenue of prayer we can gain peace, joy, and relief from discouragement in facing life’s challenges.

Another strategy for fighting Satan’s attempts to discourage us is a firm confidence in the Lord’s directing and unfailing love, kindness, and faithfulness. We must also pray with the psalmists of old for the Lord God’s guiding and directing light and truth on our paths throughout this life. If we saturate our lives with prayer and the truths of God’s Word, we will have the confidence of the Lord’s presence in our lives. We will also have His joy in full and a song in our hearts (Psalm 42:8).

Remembering and praising God for His past mercies among His people and in our own personal lives is another great way to fight Satan’s attempts to discourage us. A powerful deterrent to discouragement in present trials and in future challenges is remembering how the Lord God has helped us in the past (Psalm 77:11-12).

Yet another strategy for fighting discouragement is God-directed self-talk (Psalm 42:5 & 11 & Psalm 43:5). Saturating one’s mind with God’s Holy Word and then verbally reminding oneself of the awesome truths and promises of God’s Holy Word is one of the best prescriptions against Satan’s discouraging lies.

One final strategy in fighting discouragement is to vow to praise God during our trials and in excited anticipation of the Lord’s answers to our prayers and wonders in our lives (Psalm 43:4).   May the Lord God’s song and joy (not Satan’s discouraging lies) reside in you, dear caregiver, and in all of us!