Monday, December 26, 2011


How was your Christmas this year, dear Christian caregiver? Perhaps your Christmas involved a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of caregiving, and you are releasing a sigh of relief that Christmas is past. Or perhaps you felt isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your caregiving responsibilities. Finally, maybe you experienced Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of caregiving.

Whatever you experienced this Christmas there is still time to enjoy some wonderful gifts. As with every gift, however, we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts I am talking about 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 caregiving. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian caregiver, the heartaches that sometimes accompany caregiving 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?

Monday, December 19, 2011


(I wrote the following words on December 6, 2010 about a month before my husband’s death from a devastating neurological disease. At that time I did not know that he only had a few weeks to live.)

“At first glance it would seem ridiculous to associate rejoicing with caregiving. The last four and one half years have been very difficult years for my husband and I, and yet when I look back there is so much for which to be thankful. There is so much for which I can rejoice.

Let me backtrack a bit, and first I will tell you the sad facts about my husband, Wayne’s disease. In April of 2006 Wayne was diagnosed with his neurological disease. It is called Multiple Systems Atrophy type c. It is affecting his cerebellum. Life expectancy from diagnosis usually is 6 to 10 years. Between the summer of 2006 when Wayne was diagnosed with his disease until now December of 2010 Wayne has gone from still working, to walking with a cane, to a walker, and now to a wheelchair. Since he can no longer help me with transfers, I recently needed to start to using a sit to stand lift with every transfer he makes. Wayne’s disease affects everything. It affects his mobility, his balance, his speech, his eating habits, and even his personality.

The emotional feelings that surface with caregiving can be intense at times. I miss the way things used to be. Every change downward is emotionally draining and scary. Also the physical demands of caregiving are heavy. Finally, more of the decisions fall on me now.

So what is there to rejoice about in this situation? For one thing I know that I am becoming a much stronger person through all this. I am having to do things which I never did before. This is good, as it has strengthened by character and confidence.

More importantly it has strengthened my faith and my love for my God. Over and over I have seen things fall into place when I felt I could no longer hold up. Most recently, my husband could no longer help me with transfers as he lost his ability to stand up on his own. I thought I would have to put him in a nursing home. Right when I was at my lowest point of despair my prayers were answered by the ability of my son to step up and help. Also I was able to procure a sit to stand lift. Even though the lift is a clumsy heavy piece of equipment to use, it is an answer to prayer. I have seen over and over again this kind of answer to prayer. So I am sad about my husband’s illness. It is the heartbreak of my life. But I rejoice in the provisions from above.

I also rejoice in my three sons and their wives. I rejoice in my seven wonderful grandchildren. I rejoice in their beautiful and sweet spirits and in their love for their Grandpa and I. I rejoice that we could celebrate one of my granddaughter’s birthdays yesterday. Even my husband enjoyed the festivities, although he fell asleep later in the day. I rejoice that I am an over three-year breast cancer survivor. I also rejoice in the sun which is shining today after many cloudy days. I rejoice in the daily blessings. Lord, help me to remember these blessings when I become sad or overwhelmed with the challenges of caregiving.”

Dear Christian Caregiver, the challenges and heartaches of caregiving are always present, but the blessings are there also. How can you rejoice in this day?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hope That is Secure

Dear Christian Caregiver, is your life weighed down with care and worry this Christmas; or is it filled with hope? This holiday season is a difficult season for me in many ways. It is my first Christmas season since my husband’s death on January 2, 2011. Those caregiving years before my husband’s death during which I saw my husband continue to decline before my eyes were also very difficult, however. 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 this holiday season we are also reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ. Over 2,000 years ago before Jesus was born most of the people were living without very much hope. Then in Luke chapter one of the Bible an angel appears to Mary and tells her that she is being blessed by God’s grace in becoming the mother of Jesus. Jesus Christ was coming as the Savior for His people.

Mary’s response to this was open hearted acceptance. (See Luke 1:38 in the Bible.) Mary would suffer many immediate problems being the mother of Jesus. She would also 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 caregiving can feel overwhelming. But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances. Dear Christian caregiver, rest your caregiving heartaches with the Lord. Know that He is the source of strength and hope. His hope is not a wishful thinking type hope, but it is a hope based on His certain promises in the Bible. His hope is secure and will never leave you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Control and the Caregiver

Caregivers by their nature tend to be planners and well-organized. They have taken on the responsibility for the care of another human being who needs their help. They also often have to be advocates for their loved ones, and they often have to fight through the “red tape” of government rules and the medical profession. Hence, as a caregiver there is a tendency to feel that one has to always be in control. In the end, however, none of us are in ultimate control. Only God is in control. We are mere instruments in His hands.

As a caregiver I too often felt as if I had to keep things under control. Deep in my heart I knew, however, that I needed to release these things to the Lord. Caregiving was too overwhelming to try to try to “keep all the balls in the air” under my own power.

In the summer of 2009 while I was in the midst of my caregiving days for my husband I wrote the following thoughts:
“I am enjoying my Wed. night woman’s Bible studies so much. They apply so much to what I am going through in this whole caregiving scenario. One thing we talked about last Wed. night was that our attempts to grip so tightly to OUR plans and OUR control of things is pointless.

Our control of things is really an illusion. God is the One that is in control. So all we have to do is rest in God where He has placed us and experience the freedom of following Him. Where He has placed me in life as a caregiver is not always easy. I am trying to keep reminding myself, however, that I could have less feelings of stress, if I would always completely rest everything with God. I have so many things that need to be tended to in the next weeks, and it is difficult doing this on my own when I was used to my husband taking care of a lot of these kinds of things. I am not alone, however, God will direct me as He has in the past. Now to keep remembering that!”

Dear Christian Caregiver, caregiving is probably the hardest job you have ever experienced. It can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually overwhelming at times. Trust that the Lord God is in control of it all. He will guide you. Remembering that will lighten the load.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Caregiving is Doing God’s Work

Recently the October, 2011 issue of Tabletalk magazine from Ligonier Magazine came into my hands. This particular issue is dedicated exclusively to dealing with death and disease. A friend of mine thought some of the articles in this issue would be helpful for me to read since I went through four and a half years of caregiving with my husband, and then I experienced his death on January 2, 2011.

One of the articles in this issue of Tabletalk is by Ken Tada, Joni Eareckson Tada’s husband. As her husband Ken is one of Joni’s caregivers. In fact Joni was disabled when Ken married her. He shares some of his experiences as Joni’s caregiver and husband in this article.

The name of the article is “Caregiving: A cause for Christ.” I invite you to copy/paste the internet address listed below into your search engine in order to be able to find and read his article. It will be worth your time!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

On Nov 25, 2009 I wrote the following words:
“A caregiving friend of mine said the following, ‘I’ve never known anything so heartbreakingly difficult, but yet can be so rewarding and feels like a gift.’ Our caregiving role is a difficult gift that has been given to us.

So often I feel that I could do without this difficult ‘gift’ in my life. I often long for the days when things were different. If I am honest, however, I know I have grown spiritually, emotionally, and in character through this experience. If I am honest I still see many other blessings in my life also.”

Dear Christian caregiver, I hope you will find reprieve and blessing this Thanksgiving. In the midst of the chaos and difficulties of caregiving may you find the peace and the presence of the Lord. May you find a thankful heart even in the difficult times, for in this way you will also find true joy. Happy Thanksgiving, dear caregiver. May God bless you richly for your role as a caregiver!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

On most Wednesday mornings I give my daughter-in-law a little respite by helping with two of my granddaughters’ home schooling. I did this for her even before my husband’s death on January 2, 2011.

One day in November of 2009 when I was helping with home schooling the girls sang a Scripture song they were learning for their Bible class. It was based on the Scripture passage in Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has good plans for our lives and wants to give us hope and a future.

I asked my granddaughters that day, “Is this true even when sad things happen? They said, “Yes.” So I said, “What about Grandpa not being able to walk?” They had to think about this, but still said, “Yes.”

Then one of my granddaughters said, “One good thing is now that Grandpa can’t work, he can come to the Thursday night suppers at our house.” Out of the mouths of babes! Finding little blessings in difficult situations.

Those words from my granddaughter’s month that day in 2009 reminded me that I needed to strive to see the blessings in my life and to not focus on the difficulties and challenges of my caregiving role at that time.

Dear caregiver, there are many heartaches and challenges in being a caregiver. This is especially true if you are caring for a terminally ill person and only see declines in his or her health. In spite of all these things, dear Christian caregiver; keep your focus on the Lord and not the problem. Look for the blessings! It will add to your joy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Letting Go

Often caregiving for a terminally ill loved one can become so overwhelming that it can stir up all kinds of negative emotions. I think this is also true of any difficult or heartbreaking life challenge.

I was a caregiver for my husband for about four and a half years. By the fall of 2010 my husband’s disease had progressed to the point that he was pretty much dependent on me for everything. At that time I found myself becoming increasingly stressed. By God’s grace through the extra help of my son and a lift we were able to navigate through that period of time. Little did I know at that time that just a few months later on January 2, 2011 my husband would pass into eternity.

In November of 2010 I was challenged to write about my thoughts on the idea of letting going. Below are the words that I scribed at that time:
“I want to let go of fear for the future. My husband’s health is declining, and there have been significant changes lately. It is easy to fear the future, but I want to let go of fear, and I want to just trust. I want to let go of fear and replace it with trust, faith, and peace. I also want to let go of the daily stress or any form of self-pity I feel and just take a more peaceful attitude about the events of the day. I want to approach them calmly step by step.

I want to let go of “what ifs” and “oh nos” from my thinking. I want to let go of how I wish things were in my life, and I want to truly accept things as they are. I want to let go of both the expectations I have in my life of myself and the perceived expectations I think others have of me. I also want to let go of the expectations I have of others. I want to let go and watch God work.”

Dear Christian caregiver, what negative emotions do you need to work on releasing? Releasing them will add to your peace and even joy.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The God of Healing

As a caregiver have you ever wondered why does God not always heal your loved one’s devastating disease? Why did that person get this awful disease in the first place? Jesus Christ performed many miracles during His lifetime. Why doesn’t He perform a miracle in your loved one’s life? As a caregiver have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Jesus’ miracles in the Bible prove that He is a God of compassion and a God of healing. It proves that He cares about people with great needs. These miracles also prove that He is the Son of God. They further prove that He is a promise keeping God.

So why does God heal some people and not others? About a year after my husband was diagnosed with His serious neurological disease I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After 8 months of treatment including chemo, a mastectomy, and radiation four years later I am doing very well. After 4 ½ years of suffering the declines and indignities of his disease, however, my husband died on January 2, 2011. So why was I healed, and he was not?

God IS a God of healing, and He DOES care about us, but He sees the big picture when we do not. He says to us as His children, “I am the One who was promised to you long ago. I am the One who saved You from Your sins and made you My child. That in itself proves I am a God of miracles, and I have done a miracle in your life. I am the ultimate answer to all of your needs.”

Some people believe that Jesus Christ’s miracles prove that He will heal all of our bodily diseases. God sometimes has a reason for not healing all of our bodily diseases, however. Sometimes He has a greater purpose for those people who are not healed from their diseases. Sometimes people can bring greater glory to God through their steadfastness in the midst of their disease.

For those who believe God will heal every bodily disease God says, “You have missed the point of my healing! You just don’t get it! You are so focused on what you hope to receive from Me that You have missed ME. I am the great God of the universe who loves you with an infinite love, and I want to give you much more than physical healing. I want to give you MYSELF!”

Dear Christian Caregiver, embrace the God of ultimate healing and the God who will meet all your ultimate needs. Ask Him to give you a willing heart to embrace His plan and purpose for your life even in the heartaches of caregiving and sometimes seeing your loved one decline in his or her health. Embrace Him.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Difficulties of Leaving the House

I have always shopped early for Christmas. In the following paragraphs are words that I journaled in October of 2009. It details one Christmas shopping excursion with my disabled husband. Perhaps you can identify with my adventure, dear caregiver.

On October 20, 2009 I wrote the following words:
“I did some Christmas shopping for the grandkids yesterday. I am almost done shopping for them. I went to Fleet Farm’s Toyland, K-Mart, and two different Wal-Marts. I also loaded up at Aldi’s with groceries. I did this all with my husband, my man in a wheelchair, along. I know I am a little crazy.

Most stores have mobility scooters once one is safely in the store. Fleet Farm loaned me a wheelchair to go out and get my husband, Wayne, from the car. This was nice, because then I did not have to haul our own wheelchair in and out of the car. Then, however, I needed to show my driver’s license as identification so he could use the store’s mobility scooter. I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! No other store requires that.’ Anyhow we completed the process and then we could do our shopping. Next we went to McDonald’s for lunch. I just ran in and ordered, and we ate in the car. Next, we went to K-Mart. I was only in there for a half hour or so, and Wayne decided to stay in the car.

After K-Mart we went to our first Wal-Mart. This time I parked in a handicap spot and grabbed a shopping cart outside. Wayne then slowly shuffled into the store behind that shopping cart with me tightly holding on to him and on to the shopping cart. Once in the store Wayne could use one of their mobility scooters. Wayne’s main concern when he got into Wal-Mart, however, was to look for some pads for his incontinence problem. (Sigh.) We just bought some pads last week or so. So we separated for an hour or two in the store. Wayne did his thing, and I did some more Christmas shopping.

Our next stop was Aldi’s. Aldi’s is a grocery store. Aldi’s has no handicap provisions at all, so I was pushing or pulling the wheelchair and the overflowing shopping cart. It would have been simpler, if Wayne had stayed in the car when I got groceries. He likes grocery stores, however, so he went in with me. I won’t do the Aldi’s thing with him again, however. After we got outside with the wheelchair and the shopping cart a kind lady who didn’t even know us offered to push my grocery cart to our car. Bless her!

Next came one fast stop at the other Wal-Mart (Wayne stayed in the car) and then home to an hour of unpacking. Am I crazy? Probably! I did get a lot of Christmas shopping done early, however, and I also was able to load up on inexpensive groceries. Yesterday was also a beautiful and sunshiny day to do this. Today is cloudy and dreary again.

My original idea was the go shopping a few hours alone. Wayne is fine alone for a few hours. Often he would rather stay home from things, and I have to urge him to get out. I thought I’d better at least ask him if he wanted to go along yesterday, however. This time he decided to go along. So off we went on our adventure yesterday. Am I crazy?”

Dear Caregiver, sometimes getting out with your loved ones are so difficult. In spite of the difficulties, however, treasure every moment you have with them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Caregiver's Great "I AM"

In the Bible God has many names. The names of God reveal His character. When God revealed Himself in the burning bush to Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible God said His name was “I AM.” “I AM what?” you may say. God as the great “I AM” means that God is everything any human heart might need. God is even everything the caregiver’s heart might long for and need.

Caregiving is often one of the most difficult challenges any individual can face in this life. Our God says He is with us in life’s trials and difficulties, however. He says that He is the great “I AM.” So how is God the great “I AM” in the caregiver’s life? God says, “I AM the caregiver’s strength. I AM his or her source of guidance and wisdom in the many decisions that need to constantly be made in regards to his or her loved one’s health. I AM the Christian caregiver’s peace in all the chaos and discouragement of caregiving. I AM patient and forgiving, and I AM love personified. I AM the caregiver’s life, and I AM all he or she will ever need. I AM the caregiver’s salvation and righteousness. I AM the caregiver’s all in all.”

When God calls people to the task of caregiving He is calling them to a very important and significant task in this world. The challenges of caregiving can be overwhelming and often are not pleasant, but nonetheless caregiving is a holy calling from God Himself. Likewise when God spoke to the Old Testament Moses in the burning bush., He called Moses to another overwhelming but God ordained task. You can read about it in Exodus 3 in the Bible.

Moses did not want to undertake the task God had assigned him. Moses was afraid and filled with confusion. He felt overwhelmed by what God was asking of Him, and he felt he was not able to do what God had asked of him. God reminded Moses that He would be with him each step of the way. He reminded Moses that He was the great “I AM.” God would be for Moses everything Moses needed. To complete the task that God had assigned him.

Dear Christian Caregiver, the Lord God is also your great “I AM.” He is your all and all. He will be with you each step of the way. Especially during the last months of my husband’s life my caregiving responsibilities became very overwhelming. My husband could do next to nothing on his own, and the deterioration of his body was heartbreaking. I sometimes felt as if I could not continue in God’s ordained task for me of caregiving for my husband one more day. I am so glad I had the great “I AM” with me during those days and months and years. Dear Christian Caregiver, rest in faith in your great “I AM.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sunshine and the Rain of Caregiving

I remember my caregiving days. They had a profound effect on my life, and they changed who I was and am today. Caregiving like the weather always had its ups and downs. As a caregiver some days felt stormy, and on those days I felt that I couldn’t do it anymore. On other days life tended to take on a certain rhythm and pattern, and was workable.

In 2009 in the midst of my caregiving days I journaled the following:
“It is a rather cold dreary day outside, as I write my blog post. We have been having some rainy days of late also. I guess we all prefer the warm sunny days, but we need the rain also. What a picture of our lives also. The plants would shrivel up and die, if they received only sunshine and no rain. So we also would shrivel up into something undesirable, if we did not have the rain and the storms in our lives.

Caregiving with its responsibilities certainly sometimes brings on a storm of emotions and/or dreariness of spirit in my life. Sometimes I long for the way things used to be before my husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease. Then, however, there would have been lessons in character building and faith building in my life that would have gone untaught; if things had remained the same. Then some of the direct blessings which have resulted because of the events of the past three years would not have come into fruition.”

Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows, but I think the experiences of caregiving tends to highlight these swings back and forth in one’s emotions. As a caregiver I was joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I was thankful that I knew He was always with me. It was difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I was happy that the struggles of life were making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person. I struggled with the fact, however, that caregiving sometimes had to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wondered why life had to be so difficult.

I mourned the fact that my husband’s balance issues, mobility, speech, and a host of issues continued to decline. I mourned the flatness of his personality and the changes in his personality from what I had known for so many years previously. I mourned the fact that he was beginning to hang to the side more when sitting in his wheelchair.

I, however, found joy in the times we spent with our grandchildren and in our pleasant times with family. I found joy in my faith and in the comfort and strength my Lord gave me. I found joy in the promises of God’s Word. I found joy in the beauties of creation all around me. The caregiving years were very difficult years in my life. I realized that I had to cling tightly to my faith in order to survive. I also learned that I had to look for the blessings in my life. Finally, I discovered that the joyful things in my life were definitely better because of the sorrows.

Dear Caregiver, life is a mixture of joys and sorrows. There are a number of deep heartaches in caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. In spite of all this look for the joys and blessings in the midst of the storms in your life. It will help you persevere.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hope Revisted

What do you do, dear Christian caregiver when your caregiving responsibilities become increasingly overwhelming, and you do not know what to do next? A few months before my husband’s death it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to take care of my husband’s physical needs. I wrote the following paragraphs at that time. As a caregiver maybe you can identify with some of those feelings that I experienced at that time. I hope my sharing those feelings will be helpful to you, dear caregiver.

On September 25, 2010 I journaled the following paragraphs:
“Things definitely are changing with my husband, Wayne. Transfers for my husband to the bathroom, back to the chair, etc. are getting more difficult; and I have been finding myself getting increasingly stressed. I find myself dreading and consumed with thinking about the next transfer. I also keep wondering what my next step needs to be. Keep doing it myself? Try to hire more in home help? Pursue nursing home options?

Last night my son came over. He was all stressed out because of a serious job issue. He was basically in panic mode. It was and is a serious situation, as his job may be on the line. My first reaction was to think, 'I do not need this. I have enough stress of my own.'

Then, however, I found I could relate to him and thus calm him down. I told him about my heavy stress level and how we just need to trust. Nothing happens by chance, and we are being guided. I also told him that what will be will be, and we will be okay. I asked him if he had prayed about it, and he said 'Yes.' He then asked me to pray for him. I did that, and we both felt better. I do not think I could have helped him as much if I was not as stressed as he was. I could relate to him, and therefore what I said to him had validity. It helped both of us.

This whole incident reminded me that everything has a purpose even the difficulties of caregiving. Because of the stress I was experiencing with caregiving I could help my son. We also shared a prayer and a hug together. That is a special blessing in spite of the situation we both are in. What could be more beautiful than that?

I listened to a wellness webinar last night. I liked all the things that were said, but the trait I am going to accept as my main wellness trait is hope. Hope reminds me that I do not really have to be in a state of panic. Things will work out in the end, and I will be guided step by step. Hope tells me that caregiving will never be easy, but there is an eternal purpose to this all. God’s purpose will be fulfilled in me, and His love is with me. Hope tells me that what I do in caregiving is important, and it has eternal consequences. Hope tells me that the trials of caregiving are forming my character to become stronger. It reminds me to not focus on what I see but on what will be and on what is good in my life right now. Hope focuses on seeing the small miracles of each day and knowing and trusting they will continue.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Losses of Caregiving Part Two

If your loved one has suffered with a terminal disease or with a disease which has caused a severe disability, your loved one has experienced serious losses in his or her life. As mentioned before in the previous post you as his or her caregiver have also suffered serious losses. You have most likely suffered the loss of a relationship as it once existed and the loss of time doing fun things together with your loved one. You have also suffered a loss of dreams for the future. As a caregiver you may have further lost the help of your ill loved one with duties around the house.  Finally because of the expenses of caregiving you may have lost possessions and financial security.

In September of 2009 I wrote about the loss of my husband’s leadership in decision making due to his illness. I journaled the following words:
“I do weary of being responsible for so many decisions. When we bought a different vehicle this summer, I did all the talking and dealing. When there are telephone calls to be made or problems to be solved it is I who has to take charge. Soon we will have some major insurance issues to consider. That will be mainly my responsibility. We may have a chance to move from our apartment to a condo. There is a condo in our price range available, but all the things to think about in regard to such a possibility are a bit overwhelming.

I love the good times my husband and I still have together, but I miss the way things used to be. I miss the times when my husband took more responsibility for these type things and decisions. I miss the person my husband used to be.”

The losses and the stresses of caregiving can be overwhelming at times. Always remember, dear Christian Caregiver, that the Lord God is with you in the losses. His plans for your future are also good. He can turn the chaos and heartaches of caregiving into something beautiful in your character and in your future. Rest in Him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Losses of Caregiving

In 2006 my husband, Wayne, was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy type c. During the course of his disease he declined to the point that he was basically dependent on me and those who helped me for all his care. He suffered many losses during his disease. I also suffered many losses as his caregiver.

On January 2, 2011 about four and one half years after Wayne’s diagnosis my son and I found that Wayne had passed away during the night. Some time in February of 2011 I started attending some Christian grief/share sessions. One of the things our workbook mentioned in every lesson was that the loss of a loved one results in layers of lost. There is a lost of a relationship, of time, of dreams, help with duties around the house, and sometimes possessions.

If you are the caregiver of a loved one with a terminal disease you may have already begun to experience some of these losses, however. I definitely experienced many of these losses during my caregiving years. Dreams for the future are often lost when a loved one becomes terminally ill or contracts a disabilitating disease. Relationships also often change. I felt my relationship with Wayne in many ways changed from a husband wife relationship to a caregiver-care recipient relationship. My husband in years past had always been very handy around the house. I also felt that loss.

In April of 2009 I wrote about the experience of the loss of my husband’s companionship. I wrote the following:
“I went to a musical program with a friend last night. It was very enjoyable with lots of nice variety. There had been some frustrating moments at our house on Friday and Saturday, so it was so nice to get away with a friend. I also love music.

I enjoyed the program last night very much, but it did bring back memories of going to musical programs with my husband at this same building in the past. Now because of his disease my husband is too tired to go to many places, or he is too unmotivated. Sometimes the logistics are too difficult. Even though I enjoyed going with a friend, I do miss those days when my husband and I enjoyed doing those things together. Sometimes I go places like church alone too. There is a certain loneliness in that. It makes me feel a bit like a widow already especially when I see couples together seemingly happy and healthy. This is my path now, however, and there is a divine purpose in it all.”

Dear Christian Caregiver the losses can really hurt. I think the loss or change in a relationship that one once had with one’s love one is the most difficult. The Lord does want to be your constant friend and help through all this, dear Caregiver. The Lord God will never change, and He always will be with you. Lean on Him during those very difficult moments.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Caregiving not only involves the tasks of caring for one’s loved one, but there is also a lot of emotional turmoil which can accompany the caregiving process. I found this especially true in the later months of my husband’s illness. Transfers to the bathroom, bed, and car were becoming increasingly difficult; and I was finding myself fearfully anticipating each next transfer.

God wants us to do everything in dependence on Him. Caregiving began to teach me that self-sufficiency would not work. Apart from God we can do nothing of eternal value. God’s deepest desire for you, dear Christian caregiver, is that you depend on Him in every situation. There is no other way to travel through the challenges and sometimes grief of caregiving. Rely on the Lord constantly. Let Him fill you moment by moment with His strength. You do not have enough strength on your own, dear caregiver, but He will give you enough strength for the day.

As I look back on the days I was a caregiver for my husband, those days were very difficult days. My husband’s disease was a terrible disease which made him completely dependent on others at the end. Through it all as I look back, however, I can see how God provided step by step. I clung tightly to God during those days. Perhaps my emotional stress would have been lighter, however, if I would not have tried to anticipate the future. I needed to rely moment by moment on God alone.

The Lord wants to give you His peace in the midst of the chaos of caregiving, dear Christian caregiver. Take time each morning to sit quietly in His Presence through prayer and Bible reading. Then walk through the day constantly reminding yourself of His Presence. His peace which will come from doing this is a rare and beautiful treasure, and it can stand up under the struggles of the day. Wear God’s peace throughout the day.

He will refresh you when you are weary, dear caregiver. He will give you what you need when you feel as if you cannot go on in your caregiving duties one more moment. Also do not become discouraged when your emotions so overwhelm you that you do not feel this peace, dear Christian caregiver. God understands our weakness. On those days just turn once again back to the Lord.

Monday, September 5, 2011

God's Sure Love

It is so difficult in our human minds to reconcile two truths. One truth is that God loves us. The other truth is that God allows us to face very difficult challenges and even suffering in this life. Sometimes the challenges and suffering we face tempts us to doubt God’s love for us.

Caregiving by definition is challenging at best. If a caregiver is put into the position of witnessing his or her loved one’s health continue to deteriorate step by step, that caregiver might also experience discouragement, grief, and a host of other negative emotions. Even though God’s ways are difficult to understand sometimes, one truth to which Christian caregivers can cling, however, is the truth of God’s overflowing and certain love for them.

God is the very definition of love. We tend to think that when life is easy and comfortable God must love us. Conversely, if things are difficult and challenging in our lives; we may be tempted to think God no longer cares for us. If we begin to see things from God’s perspective, however, we realize that suffering and challenges have purpose and meaning.

Christian caregivers knows that the emotional, spiritual, and physical challenges of caregiving are molding their characters. They know that somehow God is going to bring good out of the chaos, heartache, and overwhelming challenges of caregiving. They know that God is going to going to be with them each step of the way supporting them and sustaining them with His love and power.

Dear Christian caregiver. Rest in the truth of God’s love for you in the midst of all the negative emotions that caregiving can produce. Trust that He in His love will lead you through this difficult process. Trust that good will come out of all of the heartaches and challenges of caregiving. Just rest in trust in His love.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I happen to enjoy reading novels with an Amish setting and Amish characters. I also enjoy reading Christian historical novels. I think I like these kind of novels, because they portray a simpler way of life. In spite of this, however, the characters often have similar struggles and emotions; as we all do as human beings.

Recently I just completed a novel trilogy in which the main character, Hannah, undergoes a number of very difficult trials and struggles. In spite of all these difficulties she struggles through the bitterness and hurt, and she comes to the realization through her faith that there always is a “nevertheless” in every overwhelming and sad circumstance in her life. I thought that was such a wonderful concept that I made a picture with the word “nevertheless” on it. I then framed it, and put it on my kitchen counter.

How can I apply that word to my life? As my husband’s caregiver for four and one half years there were many emotional struggles, as I saw my husband’s health deteriorate step by step before my eyes. Also about a year after my husband was diagnosed with his disease I went through eight months of treatment for breast cancer. NEVERTHELESS I grew in character during this time. Sometimes during those difficult caregiving days and after my husband’s death on January 2, 2011 I have felt all alone. NEVERTHELESS the Lord has been with me through it all, and His presence in my life has become increasingly real to me in a new way. During the years I was a caregiver for my husband the Lord supplied love and help to me through others and through His presence, and He continues to do so today after my husband’s passing to Glory.

Nevertheless is such a powerful word. It is such a liberating word. Dear Christian caregiver, there is always a NEVERTHELESS phrase that can be added to every heartache and challenge you face as a caregiver and in life in general. How  would you complete this sentence dear caregiver:
“Caregiving is often so discouraging and heartbreaking, NEVERTHELESS---" 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Reality of God's Love for You

Seeing my husband gradually lose all his mobility and ability to care for himself due to his neurological disease was a very painful experience. During the course of my husband’s illness we did have a few opportunities for some memorable and enjoyable times, however. In spite of his lethargy at home my husband also seemed to enjoy these times.

In August of 2009 I wrote the following few paragraphs:
“Thursday through Sunday of last week my husband, Wayne, and I were at a motel in La Crosse, WI. My siblings and Mom from MN met us there. We were coming from the other end of WI, so it was a half-way meeting place for us. On Thursday afternoon and evening it was just Wayne and I, my Mom, and my two sisters. That was kind of nice as it provided some late night talk with my sisters and me.

Friday my bother and his wife and my two sisters’ husbands arrived. Among other things on Friday night after the others arrived we went out to eat, and then after supper they surprised me with a birthday cake and red roses for my birthday coming up on the following Monday. That was a wonderful surprise!

On Saturday we all went on a Mississippi River cruise. That was very nice, and it was wheelchair accessible. We even saw bald eagles on our cruise on the mighty Mississippi. The rest of our group went home around 5:30 on Sat. evening. Wayne and I went home the next morning. It was such a wonderful time being with my family. We did a lot of sharing and laughing. It was so good for both Wayne and me. It helps somewhat to forget about the problems for awhile and have some fun.

Wayne and I went to the local Pizza Ranch for my actual birthday on Monday. Also last night we went to my son’s family home for our usual Thursday night supper at their house. Two of my little granddaughters aged seven and five gave me a birthday present last night that they had picked out and bought with your own money from the dollar store. They were so excited to give them to me. They were pretty candles and book marks.

Our vacation and the birthdays surprises were a wonderful reprieve, but when one returns home reality sets in again with full force. There are so many issues with Wayne’s disease that make life a constant struggle. There are also blessings, however. Help me to concentrate on my blessings, Lord. Also grant me patience.”

Dear Caregiver, treasure the wonderful moments in the midst of the heartache and chaos of caregiving. Even after those treasured moments pass and you go back to the reality of the day to day of caregiving continue to look for the blessings. The realities of caregiving can be so harsh. There is another reality, however, dear Christian caregiver. That reality is the reality of God’s love for you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Caregiving and Forgiveness?

One might ask oneself, “What connection is there between forgiveness and caregiving?" Forgiveness and struggling to forgive is always a part of any grief process or sense of loss in one’s life. Furthermore, there is a grief process that accompanies caregivng . This is especially true for those who are caregivers of someone with a long term and incurable illness. I know as I witnessed my husband’s health continue to decline step by step, I definitely went through a grief process.

Because Christ forgave us, we need to forgive others. Whom then might we need to forgive in the grief process that often accompanies caregiving? First of all, we need to accept God’s forgiveness of ourselves. As a caregiver although devoted to my husband and my marriage vows, I was less than perfect. I often felt impatient. I know there were times that I said and did things which showed this impatience and which was not up to God’s standard of love.

To not accept God’s forgiveness for these things would be a slap in the face of God, however. The obscure book of Micah in the Old Testament of the Bible tells us that God pardons and forgives our sins. In fact, He delights to show us His mercy; and He smashes our sins underfoot and throws those sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19) I also tended to put false guilt on myself at times for things that were out of my control. These too needed to be turned over to the Lord. I suspect this is true of most every caregiver at one time or another.

Secondly, we need to forgive others. Unless others are caregivers themselves they can not begin understand the heartaches and challenges of a caregiver. Hence, they may say trite and hurtful things. Also the people which one may think would be most likely to step up and help are often not there to assist.

It is okay and even necessary for a caregiver to ask people for help. How else are they going to know what one’s needs are? Some people will disappoint, however. Either they can not empathize, because they have not gone through the same caregiving experience, or they have issues and responsibilities of their own, or they do not feel emotionally equipped to get into the process of helping. As a caregiver, however, one has to let go and forgive. We are commanded to forgive, and a lack of forgiveness will only add to the emotional struggles which sometimes accompany caregiving.

Thirdly, it is also necessary at times for a caregiver to forgive one’s loved one for whom one is caring. No human being is perfect, and the caregiver’s loved one will not always show the love and gratitude to the caregiver that he or she might expect. As a caregiver I remember thinking that it would be nice to be thanked occasionally for all that I did for my husband. I do know my husband loved me, however, and we have to forgive and overlook these things. We need to forgive these things, because Christ has forgiven us. We also need to overlook these things for our own emotional health.

Finally, we need to be very careful that we do not blame God for our loved one’s ill health and for the trials of caregiving. We will never understand all the “whys,” but our best course of action is to trust our Lord God and to run to our Lord for strength and comfort.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Shifting of Roles

“It’s becoming difficult to remember what it felt like when he wrapped me in his arms, and I felt secure and wanted instead of motherly and needed.” Such was a recent comment made by Jennifer, a woman on an online caregiving site. Those words so echo the feelings I experienced as a caregiver for my husband. My husband’s neurological disease robbed him of so much. It also robbed our relationship of so much. When a relationship becomes a caregiver-care receiver relationship things change.

For awhile during the progression of his disease my husband, Wayne, enjoyed listening to audio books. One day almost three years into the progression of his disease Wayne was listening to an autobiography about a man who suffered through MS. My husband’s disease was a different and I would say a worse neurological disease, but there was much in the book with which my husband could identify.

While my husband was listening to this particular audio book on this particular day, I overheard a few comments made by the author of this book. The man was speaking about how much the disease had robed them of his and his wife’s relationship with one another. He said that their relationship had become more of a mother or caregiver to a child relationship than a wife to a husband relationship. I also felt the loneliness of that reality so often myself with my husband’s disease. That shifting of roles was so difficult sometimes. I loved my husband, but this was not how I had envisioned living our retirement years.

I look back now with pleasure to the many good years my husband and I had together. I thank God for the blessing of a husband who loved me, protected me, and was my life’s companion. His disease and subsequent death changed that. Life has a way of changing things. So is there anything in life we can count on not to change?

My Lord God never changes. Even though my husband could not be for me what he had been in the past, God was there for me. When I longed and still long to be wrapped in my husband’s arms my Lord wraps His arms around me. He is my source of security and joy.

Dear Christian Caregiver, sometimes the pain of caregiving can be so intense that it is difficult to feel God’s presence, peace, and joy. His presence is with us at all times, however, in spite of our feelings. Trust Him. Rest in Him. In the measure you do this you will begin to feel His presence above the noise of your pain. You will feel His arms wrapped around you in love. You will feel His strength.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God's Great Love Story for You

If I were to write a book about the story of my life, I wonder what events in my life I would write about. Would I write about all the sad things that I have experienced in my life, or would I concentrate on the joys of my life? What about the caregiving chapter of my life? Would I concentrate on the discouragement and grief of seeing my husband continually decline in his health and eventually pass away, or would I concentrate on the blessings and joyful moments of my life even the midst of caregiving?

What about you dear Christian Caregiver? If you were to write an autobiography of your life what would the story of your life be like? My guess is that you would share many special and joyful moments, but I am equally convinced you would share moments of heartache and pain. No matter if you would be sharing joyful moments or sorrowful moments: however, as a child of God the chapters of your autobiography would reveal that your life’s story is a love story. Your life’s story is a story of God’s love for you. In fact, perhaps especially in the difficult moments of your life’s story God’s love for you would shine forth the brightest.

The pain and discouragements of some of life’s circumstances does not define who we are. God’s unfailing love for us in all circumstances shapes who we are now and who we are becoming by His grace. If no one else knows or loves us, God does. God’s love for us is everlasting. It never fails. (Jeremiah 3:13) God’s love for us is passionate and comforting. It is also a powerful and personal love. God actually says that He delights in us! (Zephaniah 3:17)

As we become more and more spiritually rooted in the knowledge and experience of God’s love, we begin to grasp the vastness and depth of His love. His love for us is so great we will never fully understand it completely, but in the measure that we do begin to understand the fullness of His love we will be filled with the fullness of God Himself in our lives. We will slowly begin to reflect Him more and more in our lives. Also we will begin to more and more see His workings, love, and guidance in our lives.

Your and my life’s stories with both their difficult moments and pleasant moments are beautiful stories of God’s love for us. We are also part of God’s story for the world around us. Even when we do not understand the tragedies of our lives God still loves us. We just have to trust and rest in His love for us. Dear Caregiver, as you face the heartaches, difficult decisions, and challenges of caregiving; never forget God’s love for you! You are part of God’s great love story for you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Difficulties of Going Away

One of the difficulties of caregiving for my husband especially in the last couple of years of my husband’s life was leaving home and going away. On May 17, 2009 I journaled the following words:
“Yesterday at my husband’s suggestion we went out to eat. He so seldom wants to go anywhere let alone suggest it, so I readily agreed. It was very windy, however, and so we took the wheelchair. By the time I had wrestled the wheelchair in and out of the trunk of the car, gone through the buffet line for my husband and then for myself, and then basically carried on a conversation with myself during lunch; I began to wonder if it was worth it.”

Sometimes my husband, Wayne and I were able to go out to eat with some of my husband’s family at their suggestion. That was enjoyable especially on cold weather days, as it gave my husband and I a chance to get out of the house. There was a kind of loneliness in doing this also, however. Even though I knew they cared, nobody really understood fully what we were going through.

I missed being able to just jump into the car and easily go and do what we wanted to do. Now going out to eat with my husband’s siblings involved me helping my husband to the car with his walker and later his wheelchair and putting his walker or wheelchair in and out of the car wherever we went. Since we usually went to a buffet, it also involved me having to help my husband pick up his food. When I saw other couples both in good health I was happy for them. It did make me long for those days when that was true for us also, however. Further I was often frustrated that most of my in-laws let me struggle with going through the buffet line alone with my husband, Wayne.

Most Thursday nights we would go to our local son’s family’s home for supper and the evening. Often my mother-in-law and sister-in-law would be there also. My son was always so helpful getting my husband in and out of the car and into their house. First we did this with a walker, and we would help my husband up one step. Later we had to use a portable ramp and the wheel chair. My son was always helpful when he was with us, but so often I struggled alone when we left home to go places.

I always knew that there was a divine purpose for all that was happening in my husband’s and my lives. I knew all things would work for my ultimate good as a child of God. I knew I still had overflowing blessings in my life, but that did not stop the sadness in my heart at seeing my husband’s body deteriorate. It did not stop the sadness of me needing to take on more and more responsibilities that used to be my husband’s responsibilities in our marriage.

I certainly did not choose the caregiving role that God had assigned to me those years during my husband’s illness, but I do know that God was with me each step of the way. As difficult as it was, I would do it again. I had to cling very close to the Lord during those days, as I still need to do now. The Lord God had to give me the grace and strength for this role. He was with me in my unique struggles. He guided me, loved me, and forgave my many moments of impatience.

Dear Christian Caregiver, the Lord God is with you also. He knows your unique struggles and heartaches. Lean into His strength. Trust His love for you.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Nature’s storms can come in many forms. Some storms come completely unexpectedly. Some storms are predicted ahead of time by our local weather man. The storms of life can also come in many forms. Sometimes we know a storm of life is brewing on the horizon. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly. Either way we usually cannot choose our life’s circumstances. We do have a choice, however, in our responses to life’s storms.

I was not prepared for the “storm” of my husband’s diagnosis of a devastating neurological disease called multiple systems atrophy type c in 2006 followed by my own diagnosis of breast cancer in 2007. I am thankful to report that today I am a four year survivor of breast cancer. The same was not true for my husband, Wayne, however. For over four years I saw his continual decline downwards until his death in January of 2011.

In 2009 over two years after my husband’s diagnosis I wrote the following words:
“Caregiving like the weather always has its ups and downs. Some days feel stormy, and on those days I feel I can’t do it anymore. On other days life tends to take on a certain rhythm and pattern and is workable. Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows. I am joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I am thankful that I know He is always with me. It is difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I am happy that the struggles of life are making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person. I struggle with the fact, however, that it sometimes has to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wonder why life has to be so difficult.”

One of the things the storms of the heartache and pains of caregiving taught me is that I could not and can not rely on my own strength. Hence, in the pain and losses of my life God was and is trying to teach me that I really am not in control of anything.

I think this is an especially hard lesson for a caregiver to learn. This is because caregivers are constantly “fighting” for the best health and well-being of their loved ones. This need to try to control and do it in our own strength has to be offered up to God on the altar of surrender, however; if we are going to be strong in the storms of life.

During caregiving and even now the Lord was and is also trying to teach me that concentrating on the pain and heartaches of the storms of life often can blind us to the rainbow of the Lord’s presence in our lives. We have to look for the wonders and workings of God in our lives. We have to look for His presence. Out of the heartache and brokenness He can make something beautiful in His perfect timing.

Dear Christian caregiver, the storms of caregiving and life in general can be very brutal and even devastating. Know that the Lord has the answers when you don’t. Know that He is with you each step of the way. Know that He is in control, and He is very present in your life and in the life of your loved one. Finally, know that He sees your stormy days, and is loving you through the storms of caregiving.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Look For the Blessings

As a caregiver I often found myself overwhelmed and discouraged with the challenges of caregiving. It was so easy to focus on the negative aspects of caregiving and forget about the blessings which still overflowed in my life. The Lord wanted me to first of all focus on Himself and not on the challenges. He also wanted me to recognize the many blessings which He daily gave me.

On February 6, 2009 I journaled the following words:
“It is so easy to feel sorry for myself when I think about what both my husband and I have gone through in these past few years, but I have so many blessings yet. I have a home, food, clothing, and the love of family and church people. Most of all I have my Savior who loves me.

In the Biblical parable of the prodigal son, the older son became jealous and angry when the father lavished gifts on his returning formerly wayward son. The father said to this older son in effect, ‘Why are you jealous?’ He went on to say ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ I have my God always with me even in the hard times, and every spiritual blessing God has He has given to me. Yes, life is very difficult sometimes, but this life is not all there is. Also my God provides joys and blessings even in this life. If I could only always keep focused on that beautiful truth.”

In the midst of caregiving someone on my online support group suggested writing down at least three things each day for which we were thankful. It is amazing what just such a simple exercise each day can do for one’s perspective. As a caregiver I needed to remember God’s past workings in my life, and I needed to look for and be thankful for His present blessings and workings in my life.

I definitely saw God’s working in my life during the caregiving years. During my caregiving days my husband’s mobility capabilities deteriorated to the point that by late 2010 I knew I could not continue to take care of him by myself. At that low point in time in my life my son was able to greatly step up and help. Soon after that I heard about a sit to stand device which we could also use with my husband, Wayne. I believe with all my heart that God was leading me step by step. Again I learned, however, that I had to look for the workings and blessings of God in my life. I also learned that an attitude of gratitude is essential.

On Feb 7, 2009 I journaled the following words:
“I wonder if difficult times in our lives sometimes makes us more appreciative of the little joys and blessings. Thank you, Lord, for daily blessings even the ones we do not always recognize.”

Dear Caregiver, when you become overwhelmed with the difficulties of caregiving focus on the Lord. Also look for His workings and blessings in your life. It will keep you encouraged to persevere in the challenges of being a caregiver.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Lord Understands

Each of us has unique struggles as we walk through this life. Few of us are free from the challenges. Taking care of my husband while he continued to decline due to his neurological disease was one of those very difficult and challenging experiences that I faced. For over four and a half years my husband continued to decline due to this disease, and he became increasingly dependent on me until his death on January 2, 2011.
I journaled the following words while I was caring for my husband:
“Lord, give me grace and strength for this role. Lord, others do not really begin to understand what I am going through, but You do, Lord. Thank You for that, Lord. I guess I don’t fully understand what others are going through either. Be with them also in their unique struggles. I am sure I do not fully understand what even my husband is going through.”

The challenges of caregiving can be intense. As a caregiver one can feel so alone. Only a fellow caregiver can begin to understand the intensity of the emotions that accompany caring for a loved one who has an incurable disease. As a caregiver sometimes people would say things to me like “you are so strong, or you are a good example of perseverance in your Christian life.” This would often make me feel somewhat guilty when they would say that. I was not strong at all. Were it not for God’s grace and strength I could not have continued to persevere. I did not chose or want this role in life at all, but it is the path God that had been assigned to me. I just wanted to be a “normal” couple.

When people would say such things it not only sometimes made me feel guilty, but it also made me feel more alone. It almost gave me the feeling that I had to live up to a certain image of strength. It helped me more when people would say that they were praying for me, or if they gave me physical help.

The truth of the matter is that another human being can not possibly understand all our physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles. Only God can do that. On a later date I journaled the following:
“My Lord is always advocating for me, and He fully understands everything I am going through. Other people may not fully understand, but my Lord does. If I could only always keep that truth in the forefront of my mind, as I face the challenges of each new day.”

Dear Caregiver, others will not and can not always understand and identify with the struggles you go through daily; as you seek to care for your loved one who is ill. Know and rest assured, however, that the Lord identifies with your every need. He also cares about you deeply. He will supply you with the guidance, grace, and strength you need to meet the challenges of each new day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Wise Caregiver

Caregivng is one of the most challenging endeavors an individual may have to face in life. This is especially true, if one’s loved one for whom one is caring is either terminal or enduring a long-term illness. In such cases a grief process already begins to take place the day of diagnosis. I know it did for me. As a caregiver if I had not had a solid faith foundation, I would have folded under the emotional and physical pressure of caregiving.

That reminds me of the parable of the wise and foolish man in the Bible (Matthew 7:24-29). The wise man built his house on the rock. When the rains and winds came and the streams rose the wise man’s house stood, because it was built on a solid foundation. The foolish man built his house in sand. When the rains and winds came and the streams rose the foolish man’s house fell down flat.

This parable is so applicable to caregivng with all its heartaches, storms, and challenges. Wise caregivers will dig deeply into God’s Word. They will hear, read, and obey God’s Word. They will rest in God’s promise that He will always be with them and never forsake them. They will believe the Lord their God when He tells them of His love for them. They will look for and trust God’s guidance and strength in facing the discouragement and sometimes agonizing decisions of caregiving.

Wise caregivers will often experience difficult emotions and even spiritual storms, as they go through their caregiving experience. They sometimes feel as if they can not hold up under the pressure of the whole caregiving experience for even one more day, but when that happens they once again look to God for strength to face each moment of every day. The wise caregiver has learned that they can not seek to be self-reliant, but must rely entirely on the Lord God Their lives are based on the sure promises of the Bible and on the Lord God Himself, however. Hence, their lives are based on a sure foundation.

Dear caregiver, make sure you are not trying to persevere in the storms of caregiving alone. Perseverance is a good virtue, but sometimes we have to reach out to other people for help. We are not meant to live this life in the power of our own perceived resources. Most importantly, we have to make sure we are relying on the sure foundation of God’s Word, the Bible, and on a saving faith in the Lord God. The storms of caregiving are often so intense. Hence, it is essential that we are standing on God’s sure foundation instead of the unstable sands of our own feeble efforts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Reality can seem like a harsh word. It often reflects the gap between what we would like life to be like and the actual circumstances of life. In March of 2009 I wrote about what reality had come to mean in my husband’s life and in my life as his caregiver.

I wrote the following: “The reality I daily face is seeing my husband continue to have to use his walker for basically almost every step he takes. Reality is my husband sleeping 9-10 hours a night and still dozing in his chair during the day. Reality is that my husband’s speech is so poor that communication between us is very difficult. Reality is very seldom seeing a smile on my husband’s face. Reality is that there will most likely come a day in the future when I will not be able to take care of him by myself. Reality is that life is not like it was for many many years of our married life. Reality is seeing this disease slowly taking more and more from my husband’s ability to function in this world. Reality is discouraging sometimes.”

As I mentioned before my above comments were journaled in March of 2009. Reality in actuality became even harsher. Before my husband’s death in early 2011 his mobility and a host of other issues declined even more. By that time my husband had graduated to a wheelchair, and we needed a lift to transfer him from place to place.

Even in March of 2009 I knew that there was another reality in place also, however. In that same journal post I wrote the following: “Reality, however, also is knowing that I am not in this alone. My Lord and God is with me every step of the way. He will give me the strength and courage to press on. My Lord God will continue to add many blessings in my life also. Reality further is knowing that there are many people who care about us and are praying for us. They can not begin to fully understand, but they do care.”

Caregiving was the task that God had given me to do. It was not the task or life for which I had aspired. The life of my dreams and which I had envisioned was much different than reality. I am sure the same is true for you also, dear Caregiver. The gap between what we envision and reality as we live it forces us to run to God. Our Lord God is our great Reality. He is unchanging. He also loves us and promises to never leave us alone.

It is also God who places us where we are in life. Even in the challenges and grief of care giving caregivers are right where they belong. They are doing what God has called them to do. In the measure they accept and receive this set of circumstances humbly, quietly, and thankfully they will be blessed; for they are indeed doing God’s work!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring's Lessons

Spring came much later in my town this year compared to last year, but it has finally arrived. Perhaps in reality it is summer which has arrived. It seems as if there has been a quick transition from winter to summer. Last year, however, I thought spring was a particularly early and beautiful spring. Last spring and summer I was also still a caregiver for my husband. I wrote the following words on May 20, 2010:

“I always thought that I liked autumn the best of all the four seasons. This year, however, I am really enjoying spring. Our neighbor to the right of us have three fruit trees in their yard that have beautiful pink blossoms on them. We also have a smaller fruit tree on our yard. People across the street also have a fruit tree with beautiful white blossoms on it. There is beauty all around me this spring. I am amazed at the beauty in God’s creation.

Spring is also a time for dandelions, however. They are that pesky “flower” that likes to take over people’s lawns. They are especially unattractive when they go to seed. The dandelions coupled with shaggy grass made our lawn look shaggy and imperfect for a few days. Why is it that it is so much easier to concentrate on the dandelions and the grass which is too long instead of the awesomely beautiful fruit trees?

I think this is a picture of all of our lives. It is so easy to concentrate on the sorrows, difficulties, and frustrations of caregiving and of life itself. We sometimes forget to concentrate on the blessings and beauties all around us. Most evenings before going to bed I try to write down three blessings that I received that day. That helps, but it is still easy to slip into the negative emotions, as one works one’s way through another day.

Lord, comfort me in my times of sorrow and frustration. Give me the perseverance of the dandelion which continues to flourish in spite of being mowed down and hated. Finally, open my eyes to your blessings, Lord; and make me truly thankful.”

Dear Christian Caregiver, the challenges and heartaches of caregiving can sometimes tempt us to lose sight of the blessings still present in our lives. I challenge you today to look for the blessings. Look for God’s workings and wonders in your life. It will lift you up emotionally and spiritually dear caregiver.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Press On

Press On is the title of a beautiful song that I learned to love when I was a caregiver for my husband. The words were a source of encouragement to me. Perhaps you are already acquainted with this song, or perhaps you are not. Either way I would like to share the lyrics of this song with you in the following paragraphs.

Selah - Press On(Dan Burgess)

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on

Here is a link to listening to this song:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Cry!

As I look back at my blog posts about my caregiving days when my husband was still living, I find I hardly ever sat down and had a good cry. Since my husband, Wayne’s death I have cried a lot. I often experienced some very deep and negative emotions during my caregiving days especially as my husband’s disease progressed. I very seldom cried, however. As I look back on my blog posts during my caregiving days, I can find really only one time when I journaled about crying.

I think as a caregiver I thought I had to be strong all the time, and so I didn’t want to let go of my emotions and cry. I think many caregivers feel the same way, as I did. Seldom crying and letting those emotions come out of me was probably not the best idea, however. Crying occasionally is a good release for one’s emotions. It tends to cleanse the soul so to speak.

It is also good to cry out to God. We need to be honest with God about our every emotion even the negative ones. God knows our feelings anyway without us telling Him. Many of the Psalms in the Old Testament are Psalms of lament and crying out to God. In fact there are more Psalms of lament than Psalms of praise. As long as we are turning to God and drawing closer to God and not turning away from God in bitterness, it is good to cry out to God.

Dear Christian Caregiver, just let the emotions come. If you do not want to cry in front of your loved one who is ill, find a quiet and private place to do so. Also come to God in prayer, and cry out to Him. Cry if you feel the need. Just cry!

Monday, May 16, 2011


As a caregiver have you ever asked the question “Why?” Why did my love one get this awful disease? Why are people older than him walking around seemingly healthy and carefree? Why does this disease have to rob us of the relationship we once enjoyed? Why was I as a caregiver assigned the often discouraging and always challenging task of caregiving?” I am sure as a caregiver I consciously or unconsciously asked these questions at one time or another. Seeing my husband deteriorate before my eyes during those caregiving years was very discouraging to me.

These are not easy questions to answer, however. We can give general answers to these questions, but the whys of the specifics of our lives sometimes is a mystery. We do know that we live in a broken world. The world was created perfect, but sin entered the world through Adam. Through Christ we as believers are forgiven and restored to a relationship with God. We still do temporarily live in a broken world, however. Hence, we are all called to do what we can do to bring compassion and healing to those who are hurting. Caregivers have a unique calling in this area, as they care for their loved ones who so desperately need their help.

So as said before we have some general answers to our “why?” questions, but we do not necessarily have specific answers to our set of circumstances. We do know God has a master plan, but we do not fully understand why He allows certain painful things in our lives. God never promised us a life free from heartache, however. To the contrary He said that there would be trouble, heartache, and challenges in this life. He also said that He will give us peace in the midst of it all. (John 16:33) We further know God uses the challenges to develop our characters and make us more like Himself.

Knowing these things helps, as we face the challenges and heartaches of caregiving. It does not answer all of our “why?” questions, however. Some of the answers to these questions will remain a mystery at least in this life. Some of these secret things we do not understand need to be left with God. (Deuteronomy 29:29) This is because God is so much above us that we do not have the capacity to understand God. He just wants us to trust Him.

Asking those “Why?” questions in our caregiving situations is normal. It also reminds us that we are human beings and that we are not ultimately in control. Sometimes caregivers have to fight so hard for the well-being of their loved ones that they may lose sight of the fact that they really are not in control of the situation. Everything ultimately belongs in the hands of God.

Perhaps a better question than the “Why?” question would be a question like “What can I learn through this, and how can I grow through this caregiving experience?” Another question might be “How can I bring glory to God through this whole caregiving experience?” Yet another question might be “How can I put one foot in front of the other and continue to persevere?”

Dear Caregiver, trust that God has the answers when you do not. He does not give us the answer to all of our questions. Instead He wants to give us Himself. We also need to trust that He has revealed enough of Himself, so we can live lives of purpose and obedience.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Our identities are so often wrapped up with our various roles in life. Our identities, however, really should be a reflection of whom we are inside. Our identities should reflect our values, passions, likes and dislikes, and our tastes.

My husband, Wayne, and I were married for over 39 years. During that time I was his wife, lover, and best friend. I was also the mother to our three sons and later a mother-in-law and a Grandma.

During the last years of my husband’s life I also took on the role of my husband’s caregiver. As my husband’s caregiver I was often bombarded with questions like, “How’s Wayne?” I never knew how to answer that question. Outside of a miracle my husband was NOT going to get better but only worse. He was not going to get over his disease like the common cold. There was no treatment for his disease, and his symptoms were predicted to continue to deteriorate. So how was I to answer a question like “How is Wayne?” People knew this, and I still was asked that question. I also felt that I was more than my husband’s caregiver, and I didn’t constantly want to be identified only as Wayne’s caregiver.

As my husband’s wife and caregiver I grieved each step backwards that he took in his disease. It was a painful seeing the love of my love deteriorate before my eyes. The role of being his caregiver did become almost all consuming. Because of this it also almost become my identity. After my husband’s death on January 2, 2011 my new status become widow. I now have to work my way through the grief process and struggle to find a new purpose and role in life.

As we said before, however, our identities are not equal to our roles in life. Our identities should reflect our inner beings and passions. The roles we play in life should merely be a sort of vehicle for fleshing out our identities. Also as a Christian our true identities are really only found in our relationship with our Lord. That relationship will get us through the most difficult of challenges and trials.

Dear Caregiver, the caregiving role can be so consuming that you forget who you are as a person. In the midst of the overwhelming decisions and challenges of caregiving it is important that you do not lose sight of who you are as a unique individual. Most importantly do not lose sight, Christian caregiver, of your significant identity in Christ.

Monday, May 2, 2011

You Need to Take Care of Yourself

“You need to take care of yourself.” How many times have caregivers heard this? As a caregiver one may be tempted to think, “I am so busy attending to the needs of my loved one. How can I possibly find time for myself?”

However, as a caregiver for my husband with an ever deteriorating neurological disease; I found that it was essential to at least seek to take care of myself. This was not selfish. It was important for me to take care of myself so that I would not fold under the pressure and become ill myself, but it was also necessary for my husband’s well-being. I could be the best I could be in meeting my husband’s needs only if I was also taking care of myself.

Caregiving long term for a loved one who has a disease in which he continually moves backwards in his health is emotionally, physically, and spiritually challenging. It is challenging for the person with the disease, but it also is challenging for that person’s caregiver. In many ways it is harder for the caregiver. Thus, it is important for the caregiver to attend to his or her own needs also.

A caregiver needs to attend to his or her emotional needs. If there is a face to face caregiver support group in one’s community that might be helpful. If a caregiver knows someone else who is a caregiver that also might be beneficial. By forming a relationship with that person a caregiver may have found someone in whom he or she can confide. As a caregiver I personally found a lot of emotional support through an internet online support group and through blogging. Through reading other caregiver’s blogs I was greatly helped and reassured that my feelings were normal and often very similar to other caregivers. Through the writing of my own blog posts I was able to crystallize my feelings. Just writing down those feelings helped me so much. Finally a caregiver needs to get out and do enjoyable things alone or with friends from time to time. If this means asking someone to come in and tend to the caregiver’s loved one’s needs, then that is what has to happen. Total isolation is never good for anyone’s emotional needs.

A caregiver also needs to attend to his or her physical needs. A caregiver has to protect his or her own needs in order to be able to attend to the needs of their loved one who requires their constant care. One way one can do that is through exercise whenever possible. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it can help to prevent a lot of diseases.

 I journaled the following on March 6, 2009 when I was right in the middle of my caregiving days:
“Yesterday and today were beautiful days outside at least for WI. So I took advantage of the nice weather and took a walk both days. It is amazing how just taking a half hour walk can lift one’s spirits in this caregiving experience.”

Further, a caregiver needs to attend to his or her spiritual needs. It is so important to develop a intimate spiritual relationship with the Lord. It is also important to stay deep in His Word, the Bible, and to constantly pray for the Lord‘s guidance and strength. Without my relationship with the Lord and His wonderful promises in His Word I think I would not have been able to hold up under the stresses of caregiving.

Finally, a caregiver must be willing to ask for help. A caregiver must ask for help from God but also sometimes from others. As a caregiver I did not want to ask for help. Also sometimes I did not know what kind of help others could give me. In the end, however, I realized that I absolutely could not do it alone. I had a C.N.A. lady come in two to three nights a week at bedtime, and at the very end my son was able to greatly step up and help also. In this way I was able to keep my husband out of the nursing home. In other cases a nursing home may be the only and best option. Either way a caregiver must have the courage and humility to accept and even pursue help as needed.

Take care of yourself in every way you can, dear caregiver. It is good advice. On January 10, 2009 I journaled the following: “I must take better care of myself; if I want to be any good as a caregiver to my husband. Most importantly I must continue my devotions and seek to draw ever closer to my Lord. I also must try to take better care of my body. This will relieve a lot of stress and fatigue. Lord, give me the strength to make some consistent changes.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Purpose Now and for the Future

Caregiving is a purpose filled calling. It may not be recognized as such by the world at large, however. Caregivers will not usually earn medals or receive honors for what they do day in and day out. Caregiving work does not facilitate the earning of great amounts of money either. In fact just the opposite is most often true. Caregiving for a family member can be discouraging and involves sacrificial giving of one self to the person who needs one’s help. It is, however, one of the most significant and purpose filled callings God can give us.

Caregiving often involves a lot of heartache and grief, as we see our loved ones continue to move backwards in their health. In spite of this the caregiver is engaging in God’s work. Not only is caregiving filled with purpose while the caregiver is in the midst of the responsibilities of caregiving, however, but this phase of the caregiver’s life is also a preparation for what God has planned for his or her post caregiving days. It has been said that God cannot use someone in a significant way until that person has suffered some deep loss, hurt, or pain. The losses and grief caregivers experience as they see their loved one’s health deteriorate will help them to be more compassionate servants of God in future days.

Dear Christian caregiver, the challenges of caregiving are shaping your character to become a more beautiful reflection of Jesus. Think of the Bible characters like Job, Paul, and others. Through their losses and grief they became more dependent on the Lord and more useable in His kingdom. Because of your sacrifices in caregiving and because of the pain you feel while caring for a loved one who cannot recover; you are being prepared to also be used in significant ways when your caregiving days end.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Affirmations of Love

Being a caregiver for my husband for over four and a half years was a significant calling that the Lord God placed on my life. It purposes in both my life and in my husband’s life were far reaching, and they taught valuable spiritual lessons.

Those days were also laden with challenges, however. My husband’s continual decline downward in his health robbed us of so much. They robbed us of the relationship we had experienced together in the past. Later in my husband’s disease I missed the easy verbal exchanges we had had in the past. Also in the past my husband had always been so free with his expressions of his love. I would often long for those days.

I journaled the following comments on May 17, 2009:
“Before my husband’s illness he would tell me I was beautiful, and he would often call me ‘his favorite wife.’ It became a standing source of teasing between us, because my reply would always be, 'How many wives do you have?'  My husband was always good about giving loving cards on special occasions also.  So much of that verbal affirmation is gone now.  My husband’s speech is so poor that basic communication between us is difficult.  I miss also the basic bouncing of ideas between us.”

I knew that my husband still loved me in spite of him not expressing it in the same way, as he had in the past. More importantly, I knew God loved me with an eternal love. I knew that God also affirmed that love over and over again in the Bible. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Zephaniah 3:17. In that verse God told me and continues to tell me that He loves me and even delights in me! He actually rejoices over me, and He quiets me with His love. Furthermore He, the mighty God, always will be with me.

Knowing that God loved me and even delighted in me was a source of comfort to me during my caregiving days. God’s affirming love for me comforted me even more than knowing that my caregiving role had a purpose and meaning.

Dear caregiver, if you are God’s child trust that the Lord loves you with an awesome and eternal love. When the discouragement and negative feelings surface may you rest in God’s love and find your treasure in Him! 


Monday, April 11, 2011


The last couple days have been beautiful in my town. It has finally begun to feel like spring. The temperatures are suppose to drastically drop again later in this week, however. Even though it has been a cold spring this year and spring has been long in coming, spring reminds me of new life and hope. The appearance of robins several weeks back was an indication that spring was on its way. The promise of spring reminds me that just as winter is finally fleeing, so the heartaches of life are not forever.

Caregiving for a loved one with a prolonged disease can be very discouraging. Witnessing the gradual but ever increasing deterioration of one’s loved one’s health is extremely disheartening. It can feel like the winter of life with no end in sight and no sign of hope for the future.

As a caregiver for my husband with a serious neurological disease I often felt discouraged. As his mobility and a host of other issues continued to decline, I sometimes felt overwhelmed and stressed. This became especially true when transfers became more and more difficult. As a Christian caregiver and child of God, however, I knew that there was always hope. I knew that my hope was an eternal hope. As I was going through the caregiving journey hope and my relationship with my Lord was what kept me going and persevering.

So what is hope? While I was a caregiver I wrote the following words about hope: “Hope reminds me that I do not really have to be in a state of panic. Things will work out in the end, and I will be guided step by step. Hope tells me that caregiving will never be easy, but there is an eternal purpose to this all. God’s purpose will be fulfilled in me, and His love is with me. Hope tells me that what I do in caregiving is important, and it has eternal consequences. Hope tells me that the trials of caregiving are forming my character to become stronger. It reminds me to not focus on what I see but on what will be and on what is good in my life right now. Hope focuses on seeing the small miracles of each day and knowing and trusting they will continue.”

Hope is a great ally to have in facing caregivng challenges and in facing the challenges of life in general. Hope helps to promote wellness and joy and peace in the midst of the challenges. Dear caregiver, do not give up hope. Embrace hope in the same way as you embrace the hope and newness of spring.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Divine Purpose

I am the kind of person who likes to organize and plan for events in my life. I like to know where I am going and plan for all possible scenarios. I also don’t like a lot of changes. As a caregiver for my husband for four and one half years I was not allowed that luxury. There was continual changes in my husband’s health, and most of these changes were downward.

These downward changes in my husband’s condition were very discouraging to me. How I longed for things to be “normal” in our household. From the beginning, however, I sensed that there was divine purpose in all we were experiencing. I sensed that I had spiritual lessons to learn through the caregiving experience.
For one thing my experiences as a caregiver for my husband revealed to me things that were not right about me yet. They revealed my tendency to be impatient and to worry about the future. The difficulties of caregiving tended to draw me closer to God and thus made me more aware of these imperfections and sins in my character. This more profound awareness of these things in my life and God revealing these things to me actually were a method God was using to show His love to me as His child. God was trying to develop more Godly character in me.

My caregiving experiences were difficult and heartbreaking, but they were not without purpose. Besides helping me realize things that needed refining and correcting in my character they made me draw closer to God. They also made me realize I needed to rely on Him entirely, if I wanted to be strong to do the things I needed to do as my husband’s caregiver. Self-reliance and thinking I could do it myself had to go out the window. There had to be a total surrender to God. I certainly did not come close to totally doing all this perfectly, but I certainly was made aware of these things.

There was also purpose for my husband, as his body declined in its ability to function as it should. I can not speak for him as to the exact spiritual lessons he learned. However, my husband taught me one important thing through his example. He never said, “Why me?’ throughout his whole experience. That in itself was part of his purpose trapped as he was in his body especially the last months and years of his life.

Dear caregiver, believe there is purpose for the difficulties you are experiencing as a caregiver. Search for these purposes and lessons. Also believe with all your heart that your loved one for whom you are providing care has a wonderful purpose for being on this earth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Caregiver's Grief

Caregiving for someone you love at best can be demanding and exhausting. If the person for whom you are caring has an illness without a cure and continues to decline before your very eyes, caregiving can become very discouraging. It can then feel like a grief process from which one can not escape. The trouble with this kind of grief process is that one never comes to complete resolution, because when one has accepted one step backwards in one’s loved one’s life another step backwards appears on the horizon.

As a caregiver for my husband for four and one half years I experienced many of these emotions. I was a part of a wonderful online support group at This was very helpful, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a family caregiver. There were also many people who were praying for us and who showed kindness to us. It is amazing at times like this to find out who really shows care and concern, and who does not. Sometimes the care and concern is shown from ones from whom we least expect it, and it is not given by those whom we would expect to show love and concern.

In spite of all this I often felt alone in this process. It was me after all who basically dealt with the vast majority of the grief and challenges of helping my husband meet his daily needs, as he declined step by step. I did have the Lord God with me, however. I know He was with me step by step guiding me even when I was at my lowest points emotionally.

I also know He identified with me. The shortest verse of the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) He also felt crushed with grief when His friends were sleeping and not praying with Him and for Him in His greatest hour of trial just before He was put on the cross. (Matthew 26) As well as being my Savior He understood and identified with my every weakness, sorrow, and need as a caregiver to my husband. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Other people can not fully understand and identify with the caregiver’s heartache. The Lord God can identify, however. Dear caregiver, trust that the Lord God truly understands your grief, discouragement, and worries. He truly identifies with You, and He truly can help and comfort.