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.