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.”