Monday, June 25, 2012

Fiery Arrows

As a caregiver do you ever feel as if you are being bombarded by the “fiery arrows” of negative emotions? (Ephesians 6:16) Negative emotions can so easily spring up in the midst of caregiving chaos and heartache.

On June 9, 2009 while caring for my husband, Wayne, I wrote the following words:
“Sunday in church was just what I needed for encouragement this week. It is so easy to allow myself to get bogged down with discouragement, impatience, and sometimes anger. I realize I need to fight those “fiery arrows.” There is still so much for which to be thankful. I need to concentrate on that.”

Then on June 23, 2009 I journaled the following words:
“Wed. night I was able to go to my first in a series of 7 weeks of Bible study with a group of woman. The series is called Walking by Faith Lessons Learned in the Dark. These lessons so apply to my situation. The future is unknown and feels scary for Wayne and I, but I do know the Lord who holds the future. I need to focus on that and on the fact that I know my Lord will always be with me.”

So how does a caregiver fight the “fiery arrows” of negative emotions? One way I think one can do this is my remembering the good things that still are present in one’s life. Caregiving can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. There always are blessings in one’s life, however. We need to look for them and be grateful for them. We also need to look for the wonders of God’s working and guidance in our lives. If we look for these things we will find them. If we look for these things it will also help to soothe the negative emotions.

Caring for someone with a terminal or serious disease can be frightening at times. This is because the future is so uncertain. Hence, fear and other negative emotions can quickly surface. It is wise to take it one day at a time and one step at a time. It is also wise to leave the future in the hands of the Lord. Caregivers tend to be great advocates for their loved ones. In the end, however, caregivers need to remember that they are not in control. God alone holds their futures and the futures of their loved ones. In the measure caregivers can rest in the Lord’s care the negative emotions will be soothed.

As a caregiver for my husband I found that fighting the “fiery arrows” of negative emotions was a constant struggle. If it were not for my faith I would have not been able to persevere. My faith and knowing that God was in control made all the difference. The promises of God’s Word that He would always be with me soothed my fears and other negative emotions. Finally the weapon of prayer and looking for God’s working in my life was a big help in fighting those “fiery arrows.“

Dear Christian Caregiver, remember that emotions negative or otherwise are just feelings. Feelings are not necessarily based on truth. Only God’s Word and resting on your faith in God is the source of truth. Look for the blessings in your life, and rest in His truth.

(I will be gone on vacation next week Lord willing.  I will try to publish my next post on or around July 9.  Have a blessed Independence Day!)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Words of Affirmation

Family caregiving demands huge sacrifices emotionally, spiritually, and physically from the caregiver. At the same time it is not often affirmed and recognized by society. Sometimes even the caregiver’s loved ones do not affirm or acknowledge the love sacrifices which are being made for them. They sometimes can not or do not do this, because they themselves are so overwhelmed with their disease. In the spring of 2009 in the midst of my husband’s neurological disease I wrote the following words:

“The other day I took one of those Facebook quizzes. I am never big on these quizzes, because they appear to be a bit of a hoax. The quiz I took this time, however, seemed to match my reality pretty closely. The name of the quiz was “What is Your Love Language?” It said my love language was words of affirmation.

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.

Yesterday at my husband’s suggestion we went out to eat. He so seldom wants to go anywhere let along 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. As I said, I miss the verbal exchange.

A day or so ago I read a devotional in my caregiving devotional book about the importance of God’s affirmation of His love for and delight in His children. Knowing this is a source of comfort to me more than knowing what I do in my caregiving role has a purpose and meaning. I need to feel affirmed as me not as my role as a caregiver.  Just this morning I received a card from a younger woman in our church. In this card were some affirming and encouraging words to me. That was just what I needed to hear today.”

Dear Christian caregiver, the world may not recognize what you do. Your loved one for whom you care may not always be able to recognize and acknowledge what you do. God, however, does see what you do for your loved one. You are doing noble work, dear caregiver. God also delights in you and loves you just as you are! (Check out Zephaniah 3:17 in the Old Testament of the Bible!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Conflicting Emotions and Blessings

I journaled the following words in early June of 2010 about seven months before my husband’s death:

“My heart is filled with so many conflicting emotions tonight. I still feel burdened by the fact that I know we have taken another step backwards in my husband’s disease. Just the fact that I have to help him every time he goes to the bathroom so we don’t endanger him of falling and that I am now helping him into bed means we are taking another step backwards.

It also means I have to get up in the middle of the night, if he has to use the bathroom. It means more fatigue for me. It further means I can’t leave him for as long of time during the daytime. This is discouraging to me. I so tire of the adjustments to new changes and seeking new solutions. Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before I can no longer take care of him-Years? Months?

I also have so many blessings all around me, however. As I am writing this I can hear the twitter of birds outside my window. I am blessed each day by the perennials around our new home which have been coming out one at a time. Since I don’t know the names of a lot of the flowers, it has been a joy seeing new beautiful flowers popping out. It is like little gifts from God assuring me of His love. He also assures me in the Bible that He will always be with me.

I was blessed the other day with my sister-in-law taking my husband out for a drive and giving me some alone time at home. I was blessed today in church. I am blessed with the fact that we will be getting some in-home therapy for my husband scheduled to start tomorrow.

Lord, help me just to trust, just to rest, just to release. Help me not to worry so much about the ending of the story, for it ultimately will be good. Help me to enjoy and revel in the daily blessings even in the midst of hard times.”

Dear caregiver, the challenges of caregiving for a loved one can be so very emotionally, physically, and even spiritually challenging. The heartaches of the declines in their health over which you have no ultimate control is so discouraging. (The last few months of my husband’s life before his death his health deteriorated even further so that we had to use a lift to get him to the bathroom and into bed.)

Remember, however, dear caregiver, that the Lord is with you each step of the way. Also in the midst of the heartaches look for the wonders and blessings. They are always there, and it will help you get through the pain of the tough times.


Monday, June 4, 2012

A Helpful Caregiving DVD

A few months after my husband’s death I began volunteering at a place called “the Gathering Place” which is a social program for people with beginning to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. My husband had a neurological disease also, but it was of an entirely different nature than Alzheimer’s disease. My husband’s disease caused eventual total physical disability whereas Alzheimer’s disease leads to memory loss and dementia.

In spite of this fact, working at the Gathering Place has given me a connection with my past. It has been said that once one has been a caregiver he or she is always a caregiver. Perhaps that is true at least in my case.
In any event recently at one of our volunteer meetings before the participants arrived at the Gathering Place an excellent DV was mentioned called “The Senior Gems.” This is put out by a group called Senior Helpers. I ordered this DVD and watched it.

This DVD is a guide for family members in supporting their loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Teepa Snow, an expert on this subject, is the speaker. The DVD explores what the various part of our brain do, and the effects of them no longer functioning properly. She also talks about stages of dementia and the behaviors associated with these stages. Finally, she talks about techniques that make a difference when working with someone who has dementia. Through this all she says we need to think of people with dementia as gems which need a special environment.

Anyone who wants one of these can have ONE few complimentary DVD. It can be ordered at
  It is an excellent DVD. It can be easily listened to in one sitting, but also can be broken up into chapters. If you are a family caregiver who takes care of a loved one with dementia, perhaps you would like to order this DVD and watch it. I think you will find it very helpful.