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.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Caregivers and the Names of God

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

During my post care-giving days, I heard some sermons on the names of God in my church. I found those sermons to be a great blessing and comfort to me. I believe thinking about the meaning for some of the many names for God can be a blessing and source of strength for current caregivers as well.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. ELOHIM in Hebrew means the all powerful, all mighty, creator God. YAHWEH is the personal name for God. YAHWEH ELOHIM is your God, dear Christian caregiver! The all powerful God of the universe cares about you, and He is with you in the difficulties and challenges of care-giving!

He is also YAHWEH-jireh, which means the Lord will provide. He will provide for you, dear Christian caregiver, in all the uncertainties and stresses of care-giving. You do not know the future, but He already has the future under His sovereign control. I remember as a caregiver often succumbing to fear and worry. It was difficult to see my husband’s health deteriorating before my eyes. As I look back, however, I know he was with me each step of the way.

I read somewhere that worrying is trying to carry tomorrow’s load with today’s strength. It is trying to carry two days at once. Worrying as a caregiver will not empty tomorrow of it’s heartaches and challenges. Instead it empties today of it’s strength. The truth of the matter is that we have no strength in ourselves at all, but we have unlimited strength in God.  He is in control. He will provide strength as we need it. Trust in YAHWEH-yireh which means the Lord will provide. He is also your YAHWEH-nissi which means the Lord is my banner or miracle. Trust in Him to provide, dear caregiver.

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is also YAHWEH-sabaoth which means the Lord of Hosts or the Lord Almighty or the Sovereign Lord. He is Lord over everything. We can not box God in and tell Him what to do. If we submit to Him, however, He who is all powerful and Lord over everything will go before us. He will pave the way for you on the difficult path of care-giving. When you recognize that you can’t do this care-giving thing on your own, He-the Lord Almighty- is with you, dear caregiver. Trust that He is in control. Rest it with the Lord God, for He also alone is YAHWEH-shalom which means the Lord is peace!







Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lean on Him

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

Dear Caregiver, the heartaches and difficulties of family care-giving can often be very over-whelming.  This time in your life may very well be the most difficult trial that you have faced.  It is so very physically, emotionally and spiritually draining to see one's love one deteriorate in his or her health and to know that one is very limited in what one can do to help that loved one.

Care-giving often teaches in a very vivid way that self-dependence does not work.  It certainly made that truth very clear to me when I was a caregiver.  Dear caregiver, God wants you to lean on Him.  He want you to trust in Him and acknowledge Him.  God wants you to have a heart that rests in His promises.  He wants you to believe with absolute certainty that He will teach you and guide you every step of the way down your care-giving path.

Surrender to God's plan for your life right now, dear caregiver, even though it is a very difficult path and a path which you would never have chosen for yourself.  Daily lean on and depend on God by relying on His promises in His Holy Word and by prayer. He is the answer and daily provides for you and your loved one's needs.

In fact, dear Christian caregiver, God is using the pressures and challenges of care-giving to produce in you a beautiful Christ-likeness.  He is molding you into a precious vessel more suitable for His glory and use.  In the process of doing this He is guiding you step by step, increasing your trust in Him, giving you His strength, and providing for you and your loved one in a way that is beyond what you think possible or are able to imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  We do not always understand or even agree with God's ways, but we can trust them.  We can also trust His love.  He loved us enough to send His own Son for us.  Can we not also trust Him to provide for us even in life's most challenging situations?

Dear caregiver, family care-giving is often a difficult road to travel.  Yet God is leading you and is with you all the way.  Lean on Him, dear caregiver.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

God's Love and Power

Whom do we trust in times of uncertainty?  It has been over eight years since my husband, Wayne, passed away from his devastating neurological illness.  For four and a half years before that I saw Wayne deteriorate in his body step by step.  Those years before and after his death were very difficult years.  Sometimes they were years when it was easy to give into fear.

A few months ago I began dating a widower named Bob from my home town.  Bob also cared for his wife with a serious neurological disease for a few years.  We both know the commitment and love it takes to care for a spouse with a serious illness.  Thank you, dear caregiver, for all that you do!

Almost three weeks ago Bob and I became engaged, and we will marry this summer.  We are very happy and excited about that.  Yet we will always have a love for caregivers and the people for whom they care.  This is reflected in the volunteer work we do.  We will also always remember and love our spouses for whom we both cared.

Bob and I consider our finding each other a true gift from God.  We both went through some faith challenging days when caring for our spouses and then losing them.  Yet God was with us during those days, and now has blessed us with each other.  There is much to consider when remarrying, however.  In spite of planning a small wedding, there are many details to consider for that.  There are also issues with trying to combine two households of possessions.  In addition to this, there are other extended family members whom we will always love and desire what is best for them.  It is easy to become stressed or even fearful in walking this life's path.

Yet recently I ran across some Scripture verses in my devotions.  These are verses which helped me in my care-giving days and beyond.  They continue to bless me.  I posted those verses with some comments that I recently made on Facebook below.  I pray that they may be a blessing to you, dear caregiver, no matter what your fears or struggles.  I pray that they may be a blessing to anyone who is reading this post.


"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:17-21)
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Satan wants to devour and destroy, but the Lord God in His power and love is in control. "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when---" (Psalm 37:7)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Prayer Helper for the Caregiver

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

As we have said numerous times, care-giving for a loved one with a serious disease is one of life’s greatest challenges. Only those who have been or currently are family caregivers truly understand the emotional and physical difficulties associated with care-giving.

In the midst of care-giving responsibilities, it is important to focus on the Lord and to turn to Him in prayer. Sometimes in the overwhelming moments we do not know how to pray about our situations, however. At such times, the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life. Romans 8:26 promises us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We often do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us in a way that words cannot express.

Have you ever tried to pray about your care-giving situation and felt so overwhelmed with some heartache that you did not know how to pray? Have you ever felt that you could not find the words to express in prayer the depths of your feelings and needs in your heart? God understands our weaknesses and has provided us a helper in our prayer lives. That helper is the Holy Spirit Himself!

The Holy Spirit prays in and through us. He also prays for us, especially during those times when we are too overwhelmed with heartache to find the right words to express our pain to the Lord in prayer. The Holy Spirit understands our sorrows and is our prayer helper. The Holy Spirit Himself pleads and intercedes for us before the Heavenly Father! The Holy Spirit is our perfect intercessor before the Heavenly Father,  because He intercedes for God's people in accordance with God's will (Romans 8:27b).

Praise the Lord for His infinite blessings! He is our salvation. He is our source of strength, promise, and hope. He provides for every need in our lives for time and eternity. The Lord provides us the Holy Spirit to help us to live for the Lord and to help us in our weaknesses. Finally, the Lord even provides the Holy Spirit as our prayer helper and advocate! What a glorious God we serve! Praise His name!





Sunday, March 3, 2019

God's Plan

I am well acquainted with the life story of a woman who was born on August 24, 1947.  Her life has been a fairly simple life.  She was born in IA of parents of humble means.  She also lived in South Dakota and Minnesota as a child growing up.  Her childhood was not marked with popularity or extraordinary talent.  Sometimes childhood was difficult in fact.  She was blessed, however, with parents who regularly took her to churches which were based on God's Word.

After graduating form college she moved to Wisconsin where she married her husband, Wayne, in 1971.  Wayne and this woman loved each other very much.  They raised three sons.  There were financial struggles from time to time during the child rearing ears.  Yet they clung to their God and to each other.  These three sons eventually married and had children of their own.  This was a blessing to the woman and her husband.

In 2006 this woman's husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological illness.  The next four and a half years were a struggle, as she watched her husband deteriorate step by step.  In the meantime in 2007 she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through eight months of treatment.  This woman often felt as if she was too weak for the assignment of care-giving.  She felt so inadequate for the task.  She didn't understand why God had allowed it.  Yet that was a good place to be, for it taught her that she needed to depend on the Lord.  It taught her that strength could be found in the Lord alone.

Since her husband's death in very early 2011 this woman has had to learn many new lessons of dependence on the Lord.  She has learned that the Lord has been with her all the way.  She has learned that God has always had a plan for her life and has good plans for her future life.  These may not be the plans she would have chosen, but this is the path that was given her to tread.  It was a path that God wanted her to tread with joy even when the path was rugged and difficult at times.

During the course of the years since her husband's death her book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers was also published in 2014.  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  This happened because of her passion to help and comfort family caregivers based on her own experiences.

An article about her life after care-giving was also published in Guideposts Magazine in 2015. https://www.guideposts.org/friends-and-family/caregiving/caregiver-burnout/the-gift-of-caregiver-respite  She stands amazed how God used her story in this way and in other ways to help others.  She knows it was all of Him, and not her, that this happened.  She knows it was something God had planned for her before the world began.  It was God's best plan for her life.

Then about five months ago after being a widow for nearly eight years she began dating a widower named Bob from her home town.   He had read her book and had been blessed and helped by that book when he was a family caregiver for his wife.  They also both volunteer at a place called, The Gathering Place, which is a wonderful social program meeting the needs of people with beginning to moderate dementia.  In February of this year they were engaged and plan to marry in a few months.  This beautiful love story of God turning weeping into joy is also part of God's plan for her. 

This woman further knows that the Lord has an eternal home ready for her, but only after her work on earth is finished.  She knows the Lord has ordained the number of days she will live on this earth  (Psalm 139:16).  She often still succumbs to fear, but she remembers that God has told her not to fear.  Hence, she seeks to rest in the Lord and not fear the future.  She remembers how much the Lord loves her and even delights in her.  She remembers that God has said that He will never leave her or forsake her and that God is in her future.

Dear caregiver, I am sure by now you have guessed that the woman to whom I am referring in this post is the author of this post.  Dear caregiver, the Lord is working in your life also.  He is with you step by step.  He is also in your future.  Nothing happens, including the difficult moments, that are not filtered through His love.  Trust your future to Him.  Rest in Him.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Simply Trusting

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

The Lord God is the caregiver's refuge, source of guidance, and assurance in the difficult challenges of family care-giving.  Care-giving is one of the most important avenues of service in the kingdom of God.  It also can be a time of despair, discouragement, and bewilderment while making decisions concerning the next wisest step in dealing with the health of one's loved one for whom one is caring.

Every caregiver needs  to ask the Lord to help and guide him or her through the difficult twists and turns of care-givng.  This involves also TRUSTING that God will guide step by step through this process.  God will not usually let the caregiver see far into the future, but the Lord has promised to lead step by step.  He will always walk alongside the caregiver with His sustaining strength.  He will be the caregiver's refuge each step of the way.

The caregiver needs to choose to rest in the Lord.  A caregiver cannot control the circumstances of their loved one's disease, but they can control their response to the circumstances.  That response has to be one of trust in the Lord.  When one sees one's loved one deteriorating in health it is so easy to become discouraged and to become fearful, but the Lord is the source of hope.  He has everything under His control.  He is worthy of our trust.

There are times when the care-giving situation become increasingly desperate and hopeless.  This can cause the caregiver to feel brokenhearted and want to give up.  Remember, dear caregiver, the Lord is very near to you when you feel this way.   God sees your overwhelming situation, and He hears your cry for help.  He can and will bring you through this storm in your life.  He will hear your every cry and meet your every need.  You may not always understand God's ways with you and with your loved one; but He will never leave you or forsake you, dear caregiver.

The Lord may not heal your loved one on this earth, but the Lord will heal your loved one.  As a child of God, even if your loved one's disease is not healed on this earth, your loved one will be completely healed in eternity.  No matter what happens, the Lord will heal you too, dear Christian caregiver.  He will heal you emotionally and spiritually and teach you valuable lessons about His love and faithfulness in the process.  Trust in Him.  Rest in Him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Praise the Lord

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

Family caregivers often face overwhelming physical and emotional struggles, as they care for their loved ones. This is especially true if their loved ones have a terminal disease and are deteriorating in their health month by month and sometimes day by day. In many cases, caregivers' dreams for a beautiful future with their loved ones have been shattered. They also often feel weighed down with fears about the future.

Dear Christian caregiver, do not let Satan discourage you by his schemes at times like this. Satan is a liar, and he wants you to forget that you are a child of God with the power of God on your side. Satan wants you to forget that you have Christ's resurrection power in you to live for God and carry out your difficult care-giving role. Trust in the Lord. Rest in Him, dear caregiver.

One way  caregivers (or anyone for that matter) can fight Satan's schemes to discourage us is to praise the Lord in the midst of difficulties. It seems to go so against our instincts to praise the Lord during difficult times, but thankfulness takes the sting out of trials and adversity. The chains of discouragement and despair drop behind us when we praise the Lord. I read somewhere recently that if we give thanks to God in spite of our feelings, He in turn gives us joy in spite of our circumstances. We sense God's presence when we are praising Him in a way that we can not do in any other way. It is said thanksgiving and praise in our hearts squeezes difficult circumstances until joy oozes out of it. Praise for the Lord gives us glimpses of Heaven, which in turn gives us further reasons to be thankful.

I still remember very vividly those care-giving days taking care of my husband with a rapidly deteriorating neurological disease. Those days were very difficult. This was especially true the last months of his life. It is hard to feel thankful and full of praise in such moments. God asks us to make a SACRIFICE of praise, however, even in those difficult moments. If we do this, we will find peace and joy as we are resting in Him. We may not always understand God's ways, but He does have everything under His control.

Praise the Lord in the midst of all the challenges and difficulties, dear caregiver. It will lift your load.



(I have a link posted below. It is a song from the Imperials and it is called Praise the Lord. I hope you will find it a blessing, dear caregiver.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q-NVHP32L8&feature=share

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Our Divine Valentine

(Forgive me for once again republishing a post from the past in a slightly edited version.  I think it is a message worth repeating again, as Thursday is Valentine's Day.)

Dear caregiver, do you ever feel the sorrow of things lost?  Do you ever miss the way things were in the past with your loved one for whom you are caring?  Does the approach of holidays such as Valentine's day make you feel melancholy and sad?  Even though new love has entered my life, I remember those feelings.

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love.  He in effect is your Divine Valentine.  He is sufficient.  He alone can give you all that you need.  Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine:


Your Divine Valentine

A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.
(Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.  (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime,but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity,
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Grace, Gatitude, and Faith

Recently I came across a Guideposts magazine that I had misplaced in a stack of books and magazines.  In it was an article called "Grace, Gratitude, and Faith."  The article told of Jeff Bjorck's walk of faith, as he cared for his mother with Alzheimer's disease.  In this article Jeff lists four tips for caring for a loved one with Alzheimers.  Below is the link to that article online.  The only difference is that it has a different title than the print editon.  I think you will find it to be a wonderful source of encouragment, if you are caring for a loved one.  Just click on the link below:

https://www.guideposts.org/friends-and-family/caregiving/aging-parents/4-tips-for-caring-for-a-loved-one-with-alzheimers

Jeff also authored a book called, Twilight Meditations.  It features some of his mother's thoughts about God, as she progressed through Alzheimer's.  I wrote about his book in a blog post that I authored in August of 2017.  In that same article I also reviewed a book by Brian De Jong called Honoring Our Elderly.  Finally, I reviewed my own book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  You can find that post by clicking on the below link:

https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2017/08/faith-based-caregiver-books.html


Sunday, January 27, 2019

What Is Our Vision of God?

I am reading a book called Not God Enough by JD Greer.  The premise of the book is that our understanding of God affects everything in our life.  The author also contends that in our minds we often do not see God in all of His greatness.  We often do not see how big is God.  We do not remember that His thoughts and ways are not like our thoughts and ways.

Following is an excerpt from that book, "What we think about God determines everything else in our lives; what we value, what we pursue, and how we pursue it.  Our vision of God also determines whether our beliefs will make it through the inevitable storms of doubt, temptation, and suffering that life brings.  The real God is not a god who simply completes us and makes us feel sentimental during worship; He is a God who humbles us and transforms us from the inside out."

It is so easy to question God or become weary when difficult times come in our lives.  I remember times like these when caring for my husband and after his death.  I remember times like this when I have had to tread life's path and face day to day problems alone as a widow.  Yet if we remember what a great God we serve, we can trust God in these times.  He is using these times in our lives to transform us and humble us.  This in turn makes us more useful servants for Him and also eventually adds more joy to our lives.  I think this also adds gratitude to our lives for even the little blessings.  I know it has for me.

Even in what we consider "good" things in our lives, our vision of God determines how we use these gifts and in how we enjoy these gifts.  God has added new love to my life.  Yet this too is a walk of faith, as I walk in this new life-changing direction in my life.  Walking life with joy even in "good" times requires trusting our great God especially when we can't see for sure what is around the next corner.  It is trusting our great and loving God to lead step by step.  It involves trusting that our great and awesome God knows what He is doing.  What is your and my vision of God?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

His Abounding Love

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

God is a God who is abounding in love.  Sometimes in the storms of care-giving challenges it may not feel that way.  Feelings do not change the truth of God's unfailing love for you, however, dear caregiver.

If you think of your life as a building; the Lord is your sure foundation, dear caregiver.  He is guiding you through the difficult challenges of care-giving.  He is guiding you with His wisdom and knowledge when you feel like you are hitting your head against brick walls.  Many times when I was a caregiver I felt so alone.  Yet I always knew God was with me, and now as I look back I see how He lead me each step of the way.

Every building also needs a door.  Prayer is the door or access to the very presence of God.  So is trust and thankfulness.  As we trust in Him with a thankful heart, He will pave the way.  Family care-giving is overwhelmingly difficult at times.  I know that, dear caregiver, because I lived it.  Yet God's presence is with you all the way.  You will sense that presence more, as you pray to Him and trust Him with a thankful heart.

Every building also needs a security system of some kind.  This is to prevent others from coming in and doing damage to property or people.  The caregiver's life needs a security system also.  That security system is the Word of God.  As caregivers listen and wait for God to speak to them through the promises of His Word, they are able to fight off the devil's attempts to discourage them.  They are able to rest in the abounding love of the Lord God.

Dear Caregiver, there is not even one area of your life that the love of God is not able to reach.  God's wide and loving arms are able to reach around any care-giving challenge in your life.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  His love is deep enough to meet your deepest discouragement, as you go about the business of caring for your loved one.

Not only is His love with you, dear caregiver, but so is His all-sufficient power.  He can calm your fears.  In your own strength it is not possible to face the challenges of family care-giving, but He has promised to give you His strength in you!  With His strength in you and with His abounding love surrounding you, dear caregiver, you can do whatever He asks of you.  Rest in Him!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

After Care-giving Ends

If you are caring for a loved one or friend, some day that will end.  It may end with your loved one being cured of his or her disease.  As we talked about a couple weeks ago in my blog post, "In the Hands of the Lord," it may also end in the death of your loved one.    In that eventuality, you will then have to begin the process of picking up the pieces of your life and finding new purpose in your life.  This is something we do not wish to talk about, but it is often a part of the care-giving process.  Hence, we need to discuss it.

Today I am posting a link to an article that was published in Guideposts magazine over three years ago about my experiences the first months after my husband's death.  I had cared for him for over four and a half years, and that time period was a huge transition for me.  This article documents my journey to finding purpose in my life again.  It is written in first person, but was actually written by a Guideposts author (even though I am a published author myself) after an extensive hour and a half interview with me.  I also suggested changes and had input in the final copy.  Although I would have changed the wording a few places, it certainly reflects my emotions and feelings at the time.  Click on the link below to read it.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Find Rest in Him This Year

We have entered a new year. Are you worried and nervous about what this new year will bring, dear caregiver, or instead of being anxious are you resting in the Lord and trusting Him? Will you trust the Lord only if your loved one’s health improves or he or she becomes completely well again, or will you trust the Lord even if your loved one’s health continues to deteriorate in this coming year?

In the book of Job in the Old Testament we read about a man who lost everything he owned and all his children in a series of disasters. On top of that he was afflicted with a horrible disease. Job had been living his life in a godly manner prior to all this, and yet he had to suffer all these things.

Do you ever wonder, dear Christian caregiver, why God has allowed the illness of your loved one for whom you are caring? Have you ever wondered why you have to go through all the heartaches and challenges of caring for your ill or disabled loved one? Have you ever wondered why you, a child of God, has to endure these trials?

In the book of Job in the Old Testament a man, Job, began to ask these questions. God responded to Job in chapter 42. In effect God says, “Who are you to question My ways and My plans? Why should you question Me without knowledge-without understanding My wisdom? You have no right to question Me. Your knowledge is too limited to understand My ways. You do not have My power and wisdom.” Later Job said to God that he had spoken of things he did not understand and of things that were way beyond his understanding. These were things only God could understand, and Job repented of questioning God’s ways.

I do not understand why my husband was afflicted with his devastating neurological disease. I do not know why he had to go through the disabilities and indignities of his disease. I do not know why I had to go through all the heartaches of being his caregiver and eventually losing him to death. I must trust God, however, that He knew what He was doing no matter how difficult life became during those care-giving years and during the months of grief after my husband’s death.

The Bible reminds us that we can trust in the Lord, for He has and never will forsake us. His ways are perfect even when we do not understand His ways. He is our shield, and we can take refuge in Him. We can trust in Him and not be afraid of what the future holds. Even in difficult times He is our strength and song.

I do know that I have been strengthened in my faith, and my relationship with the Lord is more precious than ever because of all that has happened to me. God has been my help and support through it all. I needed and still need to trust in Him alone. I don’t understand all God’s ways; but I do know He is a wise, faithful, and loving God. I do know that He is worthy of my trust.  

I also know the Lord has restored joy to my life.  He has turned sadness to joy.  He has restored joy to my life by a sweetened relationship with Him and by my ability to help others just because of my past difficult experiences.  Because of past trials I also have new gratitude in my life for the beautiful blessings He showers on me each day.  I experience these blessings with greater joy.  I will always miss my husband, but the Lord has also given me the joy of loving another special person.  

God is the great restorer, dear caregiver.  He will be with you and provide for you in the difficult days.  He will also in His perfect timing and in a way only He can accomplish, restore joy to your heart and life.  In the meantime, rest in Him this year, dear caregiver.