Monday, December 9, 2013

Wonderful Gifts

(This will be the last post on my blog until early January. I am having family in my home. Have a blessed Christmas, dear caregiver!)

What kind of Christmas do you anticipate this year, dear Christian caregiver? Perhaps your Christmas will involve a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of care-giving, or perhaps you are feeling isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your care-giving responsibilities. Instead, however perhaps you will experience Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of care-giving.

Whatever we experience this Christmas and with every gift we receive at Christmas or at any time of year we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts we receive which are eternally precious, however, 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 care-giving. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian caregiver, the heartaches that sometimes accompany care-giving 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? These are wonderful gifts not just for Christmas but all year long!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Worry or Hope?

December is the month that we think of Christmas and hope. Dear Christian Caregiver, is your life weighed down with care and worry this Christmas season; or is it filled with hope? I remember my care-giving years during which I saw my husband continue to decline in his health step by step. 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 appeared to Mary and told her that she was 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 openhearted 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 care-giving can feel overwhelming. But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances. Dear Christian caregiver, rest your care-giving 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, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Trials

Thanksgiving season is upon us again.  Care-giving can be difficult and all consuming, dear caregiver, but the Lord is with you each step of the way.  For what are you thankful this Thanksgiving?  For what are you thankful each and every day?

Thank the Lord each day and throughout the day for His peace and presence even in the midst of the turmoil of family care-giving.  He has promised us that He will never forsake us and that He will always be with us.  Thank Him for that, dear caregiver.  Also the best way to receive the wonderful gifts of His presence and peace is to thank the Lord God for these gifts.  This is because praise and thanksgiving puts us in a right relationship with the Lord which in turn opens up the way for His awesome riches to flow into us.

A thankful heart does not involve a denial of the reality of life’s many problems.  The path of a family caregiver is often laced with problems and heartaches.  Thankfulness, however, allows us all to rejoice in the Lord and concentrate on the Lord in the midst of the trials.  Thankfulness also takes some of the sting out of life’s trials.  When we give thanks in spite of our negative feelings we receive the Lord’s joy in spite of our circumstances.

Concentrate on your blessings still remaining in your life, dear Christian caregiver.  Remember how the Lord showed His love for you on the cross.  Remember that absolutely nothing can separate you from His love for you, dear caregiver.  As you go through the day open your eyes and look for God’s blessings and treasures for you.  Our minds can think of only thing at a time.  So when we are busy thinking about God’s blessings and thanking Him for them we are less wrapped up in our worries and heartaches. Also not only does a thankful attitude give us earthly blessings, but it also gives us a glimpse into heaven and eternity.  It allows us to experience wonderful foretastes of our eternal and ultimate home.

We do live in a fallen world.  It is said that we are either in a trial, about to enter one, or just recently were experiencing a trial.  Family care-giving often entails one of these times in life of deep trial.  As a former family caregiver I remember those days well.  A constant focus on the trials in our lives, however, will defeat us as Christians.  We can have joy in the midst of the trials.  We can give thanks in the midst of the sorrow.  This is way of the Lord and of personal peace.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Caregiver's Rest and Peace

Family caregivers often face huge obstacles.  Although care-giving for a loved one is an extremely important mission in life, it is also often physically and emotionally exhausting.  Caregivers must find their rest, confidence, help, and peace in the Lord alone.  Psalm 62 in the Old Testament of the Bible says that God alone must be our rock or firm foundation and our fortress or source of protection.

Family caregivers and all of us for that matter can and must find our confidence and help in the Lord alone. If we put our confidence in anything or anyone but the Lord, we will often be disappointed. We, however, can go to the Lord at anytime and anyplace; and He will be our help and strength.

Hence, the Lord alone is the caregiver’s source of peace and repose in the heartaches and discouraging events of care-giving.  Care-giving can become very overwhelming at times.  I remember it was that way for me.  As I helplessly watched my husband’s body deteriorate, I often felt very discouraged.  Psalm 62 reminds the caregiver and all of us that no matter what we are facing we need never be shaken, because the Lord is our rock or foundation. We can trust in the Lord at all times. He is our sure foundation even when it seems as if our world is crumbling and falling down around us. The Lord is also our salvation. He is our Savior from our sins. He further saves us from many unseen perils and pitfalls each and every day. The Lord is our fortress or protection. Hence, no matter what is going on in our lives; we need never give up and be anxious in our spirits.

This is not to say that family caregivers should not use community resources and other resources in the overwhelming challenges of caregiving.  God has placed those resources there to help the family caregiver.  Too often caregivers try to do everything in their own strength, however.  God alone is the caregiver’s source of strength and wisdom.

Family care-giving can present many difficult challenges.  In spite of all life’s troubles, however, we all must learn the secret of waiting and resting in the Lord. So often when we face a crisis in our lives we try to work out the adverse situation or circumstances by our own devices.  Often we go to the Lord only as a last resort. We need to go to the Lord first.  Rest and peace for our souls can be found in the Lord God alone. Then nothing can ultimately shake us.  No matter what the situation we can trust the Lord and rest in Him in quiet submission. Our well-being for time and for eternity depends on the Lord God alone. He is our sure foundation and refuge.

 We have the absolute assurance of the Lord's protecting presence in our lives at all times. Thus Psalm 62 reminds us to trust in God in all situations and at all times.  We must pour out our hearts to Him for help in facing the difficult situations, for God is our help and refuge.   The Lord will never fail us. The Lord understands us and our needs perfectly. The Lord understands our needs and sympathizes with us better than anyone else is able to do. Resorting to our own devices to get us through a crisis will prove to be of no avail, but our God is our refuge and help. We serve a faithful God. We also serve a loving and powerful God! If we trust in the Lord, He will direct our paths!  He will direct your path also, dear Christian caregiver!  You can count on it!


Monday, November 11, 2013

God's Provision

Sometimes it is easy for a caregiver to feel all alone in the struggles of care-giving.  I know I had such feelings when I was a family caregiver.  Yet as I look back I can see that the Lord was with me each step of the way.  Sometimes the struggles were difficult and unpleasant, but the Lord always provided in His own way and in His own perfect timing.

The Lord is sovereignly providing for you as well, dear caregiver!  Recently I read a blog post by a widow friend of mine.  She wrote a thought provoking article about how she imagines God ordered and provided for her during those difficult moments of her husband's illness and after his death.  The name of the article is "The Meeting."  I have a link to her post below.  Click on the link, and read this post.  I am sure you will find it to be a blessing!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Take Courage

Perhaps you remember as a child being afraid of thunder and lightening.  Maybe you have experienced fear in the midst of a tornado or a hurricane.  There are also other kind of storms in life.  When the circumstances in our lives are of such a nature that everything in our lives seems to be crashing down around us we are also experiencing a storm.  Difficult trials or storms in our lives are never something we enjoy.

Care-giving for a loved one with a terminal and long-time illness is one of those storms.  I so remember the stress and the heartache of caring for my husband who had a rare and devastating neurological disease.  God, however, often allows these trials or storms in our lives to stretch our faith, and He is always with us in those storms.

In Matthew 14 in the Bible Jesus sent His disciples out into a boat to cross to the other side of the lake.  Meanwhile a fierce storm arose on the lake.  Even though they were in the midst of this storm and thought they were alone without Jesus' help Jesus was still with them.  Jesus saw the difficulties they were experiencing.

Jesus is also with us in the storms and trials of life.  The Lord is with us even during the times when we feel all alone!  He is with you, dear caregiver, when you feel so overwhelmed in your care-giving role that you do not think you can go on one more day.

In the story in Matthew 14 Jesus came walking out on the lake to the disciples!  Jesus said to the disciples, "Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."  Jesus in effect said, "Cheer up! I am more than a match for any storm, so do not be afraid!"  Then Peter one of Jesus' disciples, said to Jesus, "Lord, if it's You---tell me to come to You on the water."  Jesus told Peter to come to Him on the water.  When Peter stepped out in faith and kept his eyes focused on Jesus, Peter actually walked on water!  However, then Peter took his eyes off the Lord Jesus and looked at the waves and storm around him.  Peter became afraid and began to sink when he took his eyes off the Lord and focused them on the storm around him.  Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter and said, "You of little faith,---why do you doubt?" 

As we experience storms and trials in our lives we also have a choice to make.  We can either be overcome with doubt and fears, or we can keep our eyes focused on the Lord and trust Him to be with us in the storms.

Dear Christian caregiver, trust the Lord to be with you through the storms of care-giving.  Trust the Lord to calm the storms and be with you in the storms.  Then you will be able to walk triumphantly over the angry waves of the storms and trials!  Our Lord is faithful, and He will be with us through every storm.  Focus on the Lord.  He alone can calm every storm and fear.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Than You Can Handle?

It is a popular saying among Christians that God will not give us more than we can handle.  This is really a misconception, however, based on an incorrect interpretation of I Corinthians 10:13.  That verse is talking about temptation in our lives.  When we are tempted God will always provide a means of escape. 

Suffering and trials, however, often are beyond our ability to handle by OURSELVES.  During my care-giving days I remember often feeling and even verbalizing more than once that I could not do this care-giving role any longer.  I felt I was at the end of my rope. 

The truth of the matter is that this was a good place to be.  It is good to recognize that we can not handle anything let alone the overwhelming challenges of care-giving by ourselves.  This teaches us that God is our strength giver and that we need to be totally dependent on Him.  We can do anything He asks of us including family care-giving in HIS strength.  It also teaches us that we need to body of Christ to help us along the way.

Click the link below, dear caregiver.  The article talks about this very thing.  I think you will find it to be a blessing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Never Separated From Christ's Love

Sometimes the future can seem so uncertain and fearful to a caregiver of a loved one with a terminal illness. As a caregiver I remember having such fears. As children of God, however, we have victory in Christ Jesus, our Lord! We need to fear nothing, for the Lord is on our side! Nothing can separate us from the love of God! What an awesome thought, and what an awesome promise! In light of all this there can be overflowing joy in our hearts!

We are secure in Christ for time and for eternity. Sometimes we may feel as if everything is against us, but the Word of God teaches us that the great God of the universe is always for us and is always with us! Romans 8:31-32) God proved His love for us by sending His only Son to die for our sins. Surely we can trust Him to provide us with everything we need for time and eternity. In the uncertainties of life Christian caregivers can rest in the Lord. They have the Lord God on their side, and they are victors in Him!

Nothing will happen to us that is not in God's plan for our lives, so we need not fear. Finally, Christ is always interceding for His children before God the Father! He is interceding for you dear Christian caregiver! He knows your heartaches, your challenges, and your fears; and He is praying for you! What a blessed promise!

In light of all this, what set of circumstances can ever separate you from the love of Christ, dear, Christian caregiver? (Romans 8:35a) The answer is that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! No matter what hardship, trials or heartaches you may be experiencing in your life at the moment, dear caregiver, you are never separated from the love of Christ.

In fact, trials in our lives are part of God's plan and purpose for our lives to mold us to become more like Jesus in our character and attitudes. You are not separated from God’s love by the heartaches of care-giving. Rather the Lord is with you in a special way guiding and comforting you.

What is more Romans 8:37 teaches you that you are more than a conqueror! You become a conqueror through the trials of care-giving by patiently enduring these trials and by being submissive to the Lord's will. You become more than a conqueror by using these experiences to grow in your love and service for the Lord.

God always see us through difficult times and brings us to ultimate victory. He will do the same for you, dear Christian caregiver. Victory is always assured for the Christian if not in this life, then in eternity. Your loved one may be healed on this earth, or he or she may be healed in eternity. There will be victory for your loved one either way. There will be victory for you too, dear caregiver. If your loved one goes to live with the Lord, you may feel as if your life has been shattered in a million pieces, but God will bring ultimate victory and peace for you also.

Absolutely nothing will ever separate us from the love of God and the victory we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 8:38-39) Praise the name of the Lord for our victory in Him!

Monday, October 14, 2013

God Understands

A disability or long term illness obviously often affects the person experiencing it in devastating ways. We need to remember, however, that those problems affect not only the person with the illness or disability, but it affects the entire family and anyone else who is close to that individual. They as well as the individual with the disease or disability live with the consequences of that disease or disability.

Dear Christian caregiver, do you ever struggle in your ability to connect with God and with really believing that God understands all the problems in your family? Do you ever feel hopeless? If that is the case, tell God your honest feelings. The important thing is that you turn towards God and not away from God in your moments of despair.

When you turn to God in honest prayer God will answer. When you voice your heartaches and fears to the Lord He listens. You may almost hear God whisper to you, “I do understand your heartache, because I sent My Son to come to earth to live as a human on this earth. His entire life on earth was one of sorrow and grief and of lifelong pain and tears. He left a perfect place in heaven with Me, God the Father, and freely lived a life of suffering on this earth.”

Dear Christian caregiver, God does understand. Freely open your hurting heart to the Lord. There is something about talking with a God, who has seen His own His own Son suffer, that will comfort your heart. God knows and understands your heartaches and challenges, dear caregiver. God the Father watched His Son, Jesus Christ, live His entire life bearing the weight of very painful and earth bound limitations. Knowing that, dear caregiver, is what can draw you much closer to the Lord for His help.

On another note I have noticed that online resources to help family caregivers are limited. I certainly found this to be true when a caregiver. I am going to include a few links below that may be of some help or resource to you, however. The top two on the list are not Christian web sites but you still may find them helpful. The first one especially was helpful to me when I was a caregiver:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Tapestry of Our Lives

There is a verse in Romans 8 in the Bible which in effect says that God in all things of life works for the good of those who love Him. It is saying that in both the things we consider good and in the tragic things of life He is working for our good. This promise in Romans 8:28 is a promise we can rest on and trust in when our world around us seems to be falling apart. It is a blessed promise, but it is also a promise with which we may at times struggle. We can believe and trust this promise, however, even when we are overwhelmed and puzzled by adverse circumstances all around us.

I remembers first struggling with the promise of Romans 8:28 when my dad was suffering the excruciating pain of cancer and radiation. I wondered how "all things" could possibly be working for good in this case. What could possibly be good about cancer and severe pain? For that matter what could possibly be "good" about any pain or heartache or trial? It is also something I pondered when my husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological disease. It was something I thought about when I was struggling with the challenges of caregiving, and saw the effects my husband’s disease was having on his body. It was something I was confused about when my husband passed away four and a half years later.

The key to understanding this verse is to realize that not all things are good in themselves. Sin has wracked havoc with our world, and there are many experiences in this world that are not good or pleasant in themselves. God, however, works both the "good" and the "bad" events of our lives together for our ultimate good.

It has been said that life is like a tapestry. When you look at the backside of a tapestry it does not look beautiful. There are knotted off ends and threads that seem to have no meaning or beauty. When one turns the tapestry over, however, one sees a beautiful picture or design.

Dear caregiver, when you see the difficulties and heartaches of caregiving you are seeing only the backside of the tapestry of life. God, however, is bringing all the threads or events of our lives together, both the good and bad, into a beautiful tapestry. The Lord already sees the top part of our tapestry of life. The Lord already sees the beautiful end results of what He is accomplishing in our lives. When we do not understand the reason for the difficult circumstances in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones we must simply trust that the Lord is working out all things in our lives for His glory and to accomplish His plan. He is also working out all things for our ultimate spiritual good.

The ultimate spiritual good that the Lord God is seeking to accomplish in our lives is that we might become more like Jesus. (Romans 8:29)  He desires that we become more like the Lord Jesus every day in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. In order for this to happen there must be a conforming process taking place in our lives. This conforming process often can only occur during times of trial and difficulty in our lives. Gelatin is only able to be conformed or shaped to the mold into which it is placed after it has been dissolved in hot water. So we too often have to go through the heat of trials and difficulties to become more conformed to the image or likeness of Jesus Christ. God has the pattern for our lives all figured out. He knows and understands the beautiful tapestry that He is weaving for our lives. He knows the beginning from the end. We must trust the Lord to do His beautiful work in our lives even in times when life's events and circumstances seem very difficult and overwhelming!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Not Your Normal Post

I am recovering from sinus surgery that I had on Wednesday, the 25th, so I decided not to post my normal post today.  It was a rough few days, but I am starting to feel some better.  I go back to the dr. tomorrow.  In the meantime prayers are appreciated. Please use this week to go back and read some of the old blog posts.  See you next week Lord willing. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Him Bearing Your Burdens

The path of being a caregiver for a family member is sometimes so steep and so exhausting.  If caregivers carry a load of fear and sometimes false guilt on their backs, the way is going to be even more difficult.  If a loved one is terminally ill and deteriorating month by month before a caregiver's eyes, it is easy to feel a sense of false guilt when a caregiver witnesses these things in his or her loved one's life.  As a caregiver I remember having these feelings.  The truth of the matter is that it is totally irrational to fear or feel guilty about the uncontrollable.

It is important at such times to remember that God is the one who is in control of our lives and not us.  The Lord God also wants us to remove the heavy emotional loads we put on ourselves.  In Matthew 11:28-30 in the Bible the Lord invites us to come to Him when we feel weary and emotionally weighed down, and He promises to give us His rest.  He invites us to yoke or tie our lives to Him, and He promises to lighten our load.  He will then be carrying our load.  This is the way to true freedom.

It is His unconditional love and presence that can free you, dear caregiver, from the fears and other negative emotions.  Spend time in His presence each day through prayer and Bible reading.  Bask in the light of His promises and presence in this way.  Your care-giving heartaches and problems will not magically go away, but the Lord will be beside you each step of the way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The SON'S Presence

I love to begin my day sitting by my big window in my living room and having my devotions. I love soaking up God's Word and also seeing God's creation from my window. As I write this post for publication in a few days I am remembering the beautiful sunrise I saw from my window this morning. It was such a beautiful reminder of God's power and beauty in creation and in my life. Not too much later the sun went behind the clouds. Still later the sun could again be seen in all its glory. Now, however it is again hiding behind the clouds, and it feels as it it could rain any moment.

How like that is our lives. In this life we get glimpses of God's glory and of heaven. Sometimes life can feel cloudy and gloomy, however. When the sun is not visible to us it does not mean it is not still there. It is just hiding behind the clouds. So also when our lives feel like they are lacking in joy or we are struggling with difficulties, the SON is still there. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is always present right beside us. Our feelings may tell us otherwise, but feelings are fickle and unreliable. Feelings are not based on truth. God's Word teaches us that God will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) We can count on that truth even in the most difficult of times. 

Being a family caregiver presents many challenges and heartaches. Especially if one's loved one's illness is terminal, it can be overwhelming. Life at times can feel very lonely and gloomy. A caregiver can feel that he or she is alone in this experience. Yet remember, dear Christian caregiver, in the same way as the sun is always in the sky even when we can't see it, so the SON of God is always present with you also. He sees and cares about your care-giving struggles. He promises to teach you and lead you when you feel like you don't have a clue what you are doing. He promises to counsel and to watch over you and your loved one when your path is very unclear. (Psalm 32:8)

When I was a caregiver I often felt fearful of the future. I certainly felt as if my challenges were far more than I could handle. Yet as I look back I see how the Lord was with me all the way. Those care-giving years were very difficult years. Yet God taught me so much in those years about His faithfulness and my need to depend on Him. He helped me grow in in my faith and love for Him. Even in the midst of those difficult years I had a sense of His presence. It may have appeared as if the SON was hiding behind the clouds of discouraging challenges, but He was not hiding at all. He was always present and near at hand.

Dear Christian caregiver, always trust that the SON of God is with you. Life may not be the way you planned it or hoped it would be. Yet God knows what He is doing, and He will be there to help and sustain you and your loved one. He may chose to heal your loved one on this earth, or He may chose to heal him or her in heaven. Either way the SON of God can shine in your heart, because He is with you all the way. He alone gives your life light, joy, peace, and purpose! Trust the SON, dear caregiver!

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Exchanged Life

Dear caregiver, do you ever feel all alone in the challenges of care-giving?  You may feel this way sometimes, but remember feelings are fickle and unreliable.  God's Word tells you that you belong to the Lord.  His faithfulness will never end.  His love for you will never die.  He will be with you all the way and guide you through the sometimes difficult twists and turns of care-giving.

Because of God's grace we are now new creatures in Christ! (Galatians 2:20). Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross we now belong to Him. As His children you and I have relinquished our lives to Christ. We are no longer in sin's grip or in the devil's grip.  We belong to the Lord now, and His Spirit in our hearts guarantees us eternal life.  (II Corinthians 1:22). Instead of living in Satan's realm we now have relinquished that life for an exchanged life in Christ.  Dear Christian caregiver, because of that exchanged life you can know with certainty that the Lord is guiding you even in the times when you see only declines in the health of the loved one for whom you are caring.

As followers of Jesus Christ our lives in Him are characterized by a walk of faith. Our lives in Christ are trusting lives. In our lives in Christ we can come to the Lord with all our needs and trust that He will always be with us.  We can trust that the Lord will always be our source of comfort and our friend. We can trust that He will always guide and protect us.  We know we have a Savior who loved us so much that He was willing to give Himself on the cross to pay for our sins. 

As His children we now can live victorious lives in Christ. We can do this; because Jesus Christ lives in us, giving us the power to live for Him. Christ died on the cross for us, and He lives within us. Hence, we can now live lives of trust and faith in Him! Praise His name! 

Dear Christian caregiver, sometimes the heartaches which often accompany care-giving are overwhelming.  Try not to concentrate on the heartaches and problems.  Remember, you are living an exchanged life in Christ.  He loved you enough to die for you.  Can you not trust Him to see you through your daily challenges with care-giving?  Can you not leave your needs and the needs of your loved one in the capable hands of such a wonderful Savior? 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Memories and Their Place

Today is Labor Day in the United States. It is a day when we honor with a day off from work those who labor faithfully at their jobs all year long. Unfortunately this is a day when some people still have to work especially store employees.

In my community the county fair runs from Friday through Monday, Labor Day, each year. I can remember years in the past when my husband and I would go to the fair walking through the animal barns and other exhibits with our children. My husband and I had both grown up on the farm as children, so we enjoyed exposing the farm animals to our children. Later as empty nesters my husband and I enjoyed going on our own to the county fair and just enjoying each others' company walking hand and hand.   

There have been other years when we attended the fair as well. One year was when my husband, Wayne, was in a wheelchair. Yes, other family members were with me helping me with Wayne; but somehow it was not as much fun. Then there were the last couple years after Wayne's death. I was with family, but it was not the same as it had been in former years.

Memories of holidays or other significant events can bring on a longing for former days. I think this is especially true for family caregivers. Caregivers and former caregivers would so like to turn back the clock and return to the days when our loved ones were healthy. The truth remains, however, that things do change. Sometimes we are thrust into changes and roles we do not desire. We don't understand the reason for why God has allowed these difficult changes in our lives. 

I think that is when trust and resting in the Lord needs to become our refuge. God does know what He is doing even when we do not understand. We do know that through all of life's events and especially in the difficult moments the Lord is refining us and maturing us to become more like Him. It is making us more aware of the need to depend on Him alone and giving to us the mind of Christ. It is increasing our faith and teaching us to give thanks in times of difficulty.

So dear caregiver, enjoy the memories of past days when your loved one was healthy. It is good to remember those days, as it gives perspective to your current situation by remembering the person your loved one was before he or she became ill. Yet also trust that the Lord is with you now and doing good things in your heart and in the heart of your loved one. Trust that there is a good future for you and your loved one even if that future is eternity for your loved one. God is good all the time, dear caregiver!

Monday, August 26, 2013

God's Plan

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

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

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

Since her husband's death in very early 2011 she has had to learn many new lessons of dependence on the Lord.  She has learned that the Lord has been with her all the way.  She has learned that God has always had a plan for her life and has good plans for her future life.  These may not be the plans she would have chosen, but this is the path that was given her to tread.  It is a path that God wants her to tread with joy even when the path is rugged and difficult.  She also knows that the Lord has an eternal home ready for her but only after her work on earth is finished.  She knows the Lord has ordained the number of days she will live on this earth, as He did her husband's days on earth.  (Psalm 139:16)  She often succumbs to fear, but she remembers that God has told her not to fear.  Hence, she seeks to rest in the Lord and not fear the future.  She remembers how much the Lord loves her and even delights in her.  She remembers that God has said He will never leave her or forsake her and that God is in her future.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Lord is in Your Tomorrows

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord has promised to always be with you. His presence in your life is a forever-promise. Your future and the future of your loved one for whom you are caring may be very uncertain, but you need not fear that future. The Lord is already in that future, dear caregiver. 

He will always take care of you, dear Christian caregiver. He will also always take care of your loved one for whom you are caring. God may choose to heal your loved on this earth. God, on the other hand, may at some future date decide to take your loved one home to heaven, as He took my dear husband home to heaven on January 2, 2011. Either way He is with you caring for your needs, and He is caring for the needs of your loved one.

Your future and the future of your loved one, dear caregiver, is in His hands; if you both have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. He releases that future to you day by day and moment by moment. The Bible tells us not to worry about our tomorrows. (Check out Matthew 6:34 in the Bible.) He promise that He will never leave or forsake us. (Now check out Hebrews 13:5b.)

The difficulties and stresses of care-giving are overwhelming at times, but the Lord may be using your experiences to train you to focus on the present and not the future. He may be using your experiences to train you to focus on His Presence in your life.   

Monday, August 12, 2013

Caregiver Worries

There are many stresses and challenges which accompany being a family caregiver. This is especially true for the caregiver who is caring for a loved one who has a long standing terminal illness. It is easy for the caregiver to fall into the pit of fear and discouragement. There can be fears and worries about just getting through the day and also for the future. I remember experiencing these stresses and fears as a caregiver of my husband.

The Lord God wants us to release those worries to Him. This is so very difficult to do when the challenges are so overwhelming. In the measure we release those worries to the Lord and seek Him the more we will experience His peace, however. 

The Lord God loves you with an everlasting love, dear Christian caregiver. Our minds can not fully comprehend His unfailing love. Our emotions often fluctuate and falter in the face of difficult circumstances. I know this was true of me as a caregiver and is also true of me since my care-giving days. God’s love and faithfulness always remains constant, however. Cling to that, dear Christian caregiver. 

Remember too, dear caregiver, that God is sovereign over your life and the life of your loved one for whom you are caring. He is in control. Caregivers have to manage so many things for their loved ones. They not only have to care for their love one’s needs, but they also often have to be their loved one’s advocate. As a caregiver I sometimes felt as if I was the only one who cared about my husband’s well-being. Perhaps you feel the same way, dear caregiver. This can be a lonely feeling. 

Know, however, dear caregiver, that God is in control. Trust Him for your and your loved one’s future. Also thank Him each day for blessings that are still in your life. Trust and thankfulness are the keys to peace. Is not that a better alternative to worry and wringing of one’s hands which does absolutely no good? 

Trust the Lord, dear caregiver. Give Him your worries and concerns for your loved one. He is in control, and He will be faithful to you all the way.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Potter

God often teaches us spiritual truths in the Bible through the use of parables or living pictures. In Jeremiah 18:1-6 God gave the prophet, Jeremiah, a living picture. God did this to help Jeremiah understand an important spiritual truth. God told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house, and there God promised to give Jeremiah a message. In Jeremiah’s day one could not go down to the local retail store to buy a bowl, vase, or pot. One had to go to the potter’s house. The potter would start with a lump of clay. The potter would then put that lump of clay on a potter’s wheel; and with the touch of his hands he would form the clay into a beautiful vase, bowl, or pot of some kind. Sometimes the potter made something that did not please him, or the vessel was ruined in his hands. This may have happened because some impurities had not been removed, or perhaps a piece of unwanted material in the clay would not yield to the work that was being done on the potter’s wheel. If that happened, the potter would smash the pot and remake it over and over until it was a vessel pleasing to him.

The Lord God is the Potter in our lives, and we are the clay in His hands. He is in sovereign control of our lives, and He controls all the events of our lives. All the events of our lives are used to make us more like Jesus. God especially uses problems, difficulties, and trials in our lives to mold us into the kind of people who truly reflect the Lord Jesus. The Lord wants to bring us ever closer to the center of His will. This is also true about the difficult challenges and trials of family care-giving. Difficulties teach us to not rely on our own self-effort and devices. Difficult times in our lives teach us to rely and trust only on the Lord. This became abundantly clear to me when I was a caregiver for my husband. His disease was incurable. It was out of my control. The only recourse was to seek to rely and trust in the Lord.

Difficulties in our lives also help to remove the impurities of sin from our lives, and they help us to grow in our love relationship with the Lord. When spiritual impurities come into our lives the Lord God recreates and molds our lives to be more in tune with His will. Our prayer to God should be that He will make us into beautiful vessels of purpose for Him. When we fail and allow spiritual impurities into our lives we need to pray that the Lord will take us back to His Potter’s wheel. We need to pray that the Lord will then reshape us and form us into something more beautiful for Him. From the broken fragments of our lives the Lord can make us into beautiful vessels for Him!

From experience I know the pressure of family care-giving can feel overwhelming and unbearable at times. We must not fight against or question the Lord’s molding of our lives, however. We need to pray that each touch of the Lord’s hand on our lives will help us to become whom He wants us to become. The Lord knows just the right amount of pressure to put on our lives. We also must remain thankful for how He has made us and thankful for how He is working and leading in our lives! We must persevere in our willingness to submit to the Lord's will. We must be submissive to the Lord even in trials and difficult times in our lives. The Lord has promised to be with us all the way.

Finally, we must also ask the Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit’s power and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must yearn for the Lord to control our lives completely every hour and every day! The words to this song need to be our prayer each day: "Lord, You’re the Potter. I am the clay. Mold me and make me in Your own way. Take me and break me, Savior, I pray, into a vessel of honor today."

Dear caregiver, trust you life and your care-giving journey to the hand of the great Potter. He know what He is doing even when the path becomes very difficult.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Do Not Live in Fear

Tomorrow, July 30, 2013 would have been my husband’s and my 42nd wedding anniversary. Care-giving and watching my husband decline in his health and then his death in January of 2011 has been one of my life’s most difficult tests. Knowing I could trust that God loved me and was in control in the midst of the confusion and grief of it all made and continues to make all the difference in the world.

God is sovereign and in control. Nothing happens to a Christian caregiver or his or her loved one that is not filtered through His love. This is true even in the heartbreaking events which often accompany care-giving and sometimes their death. This is a difficult truth to accept. When this truth is accepted, however, it a soft place to land when one is overwhelmed with life’s difficulties.

God is good. Circumstances may be bad, but God is good. God is the very definition and essence of goodness. He proved that by sending His son on the cross. He can help caregivers who are struggling to keep emotional and spiritual equilibrium in the midst of the heartaches of seeing their loved ones decline in their health. He can also slowly emotionally heal caregivers, when and if their loved ones are not healed on this earth.

Joy can coexist in the midst of the heartaches and grief that often accompany care-giving and possibly losing our loved ones. This is because joy is not based on circumstances which are favorable or perfect. Rather it is based on a relationship with the Lord. If the Lord takes your loved one to Himself sooner than you would like, dear caregiver, He will be with you each step of the way then also. There is deep hurt and grief in the loss of a love one.  It involves a process that takes much time and deep crying out to the Lord and depending on Him.  There is a scar that never goes completely away. Yet, the Lord's faithfulness will be with you all the way, and the joy of the Lord will return. Do not live in fear of the future, dear Christian caregiver. Never forget that the Lord loves you, and He is good. He is in control.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lessons Learned Everywhere

Recently I watched an old DVD that I had on my shelf. It was a family or children's movie. I watched the DVD to decide if it was something I wanted to keep as a possible movie to watch when my grandchildren come over to my house, to possibly just give to my grandchildren, or to toss out.

I was not prepared for the spiritual lessons that this movie unknowingly reinforced in me. In the plot line a young boy is trying to train a young colt which is the offspring of a very wild mare. When they first capture the colt she is very afraid and willful. She fights their efforts to calm and tame her. The father tells his son that as soon as the colt is stripped of her freedom and all the things she is accustomed to having, she will begin to depend on and love her owner which in this case was the young boy. 

Is that not like us? When we are stripped of the things we are depending on outside of the Lord and when we are stripped of thinking we are strong in ourselves, we begin to trust and lean on the Lord instead. We begin to see how weak we really are without the Lord. In this place of desperate clinging to the Lord our acknowledgment of our weakness makes room for the power of God in our lives. It also makes our love for God become more intense. Care-giving with all of it's overwhelming challenges and the years since my husband's death has taught me the lesson of how weak I am in myself and how desperately I need the Lord. It may have done the same for you, dear caregiver. That is actually a good place to be, for then you reach out for God's all powerful strength.

Later in the plot of the story the young boy's mom tells her son that the colt's fears and fighting will cease when the colt knows she is loved by the boy and can trust him. Does not the Lord teach us the same thing in our lives? Fear and love for the Lord do not belong together, because love that flows from God and is perfected by God drives out and removes fears. (I John 4:18) So often during my care-giving days for my husband I succumbed to fear about the future and sometimes even fear of what that day would bring. Yet the Lord commands us to not be afraid over and over in Scripture.

Still later in the script of the movie the colt becomes very ill. One night the young boy sneaks out of the house and lies with the colt holding and comforting him. The boy sacrificed His own comfort and even health for the colt. In fact, the boy becomes very sick for awhile as a result of what he did. The boy did this because of his love for his colt. It also most likely caused the horse to keep struggling to live and survive. The Lord holds us too when we are overwhelmed by life's trials. He holds us and comforts us and loves us during those times. The Lord knows your care-giving sorrows, dear caregiver, and He loves and comforts you through the process. You know He loved you so much, because He sacrificed His life for you on the cross. He has proven His love for you.

Towards the end of the movie a wild cat tries to attack the colt, because he knows the colt is a weak and easy prey. The dad kills the wild cat, and the threat is removed. So also in Scripture the devil is portrayed as a roaring lion who wants to devour us. The devil knows when we are at our lowest and weakest and loves to try to prey on us in those moments. God's advice is to humble ourselves before Him and not be anxious, because He cares for us and will protect us. His advice is to also stand firm in our faith. (I Peter 5:6-9a) It is so easy in the care-giving scenario to become discouraged. Yet the Lord has promised to be with us, if we turn to Him

So, dear caregiver, trust in the Lord's strength not your own. When your recognize your own weakness and lean on the Lord's strength, you are strong. Do not fear, for the Lord is with you. Rest in His love. Also avail yourself of His comforting arms around you. Finally, be alert for the devil's attempts to discourage you. Turn to the Lord instead.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wait On the Lord

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, about a year after my husband was diagnosed with his disease I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here are some of the thoughts and prayers that were running through my mind after my diagnosis of breast cancer on July 18, 2007: 

"I don't understand, Lord. You have been faithful to me in numerous times of difficulty in the past. This latest trial in my life seems a bit overwhelming, however, Lord. Was not dealing with the emotional stress of my husband's disabling neurological disease enough, Lord? Did I have to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer also?"

Of one thing I was certain, however. Even though I did not always understand His ways, my Lord did not make mistakes. I could count on His promises in His Holy Word, His eternal love for me, and His infinite wisdom. I could count on these things even when feeling emotionally downcast.  I could count on the fact that God's compassion for me would never fail. He in His faithfulness would have new blessings for me every day. One other thing of which I was certain was that I had nothing or no one else I can cling to but the Lord. He alone could be and was able to be my hope. I needed to wait on the Lord to work out His plan in my life. (Lamentations 3:20b-26) I also believed that somehow God would make a place of refreshment and joy out of the deep valleys of my life. He indeed also was the only One but the capable One to help me proceed in His strength in facing life's huge hurdles. (Psalm 84:6-7)

What possible place of refreshment and blessing did I receive from the cancer on top of dealing with my husband's devastating diagnosis? I saw the overwhelming support, love, and prayers of God's people. It was also a time for family members to more freely express their love verbally and tangibly. Further, it was a time to simplify and prioritize my life. Finally, it was a time to begin to reflect once again on my relationship with my Lord. Did I see all these things in my mind as a fair exchange for my cancer and my husband's illness? To be honest the answer to that question would have to be "No." My God, however, was and is infinitely wiser than I am.

We have the certainty of the Lord's faithfulness and love even in the harshest of circumstances. In the Old Testament book of Lamentations the author is lamenting or mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Hence, he was feeling very discouraged and depressed. Have you ever felt like the author of Lamentations? Have you ever felt completely discouraged and without hope, dear caregiver? Have you ever felt like everything was crashing down around you?

When we begin to feel like the author of Lamentations felt we are beginning to focus on ourselves instead of on the Lord. The truth of the matter is that there is always the certainty of the Lord's presence even in the worst of circumstances. It is not necessary for our circumstances to change to experience the Lord's joy and peace in our hearts and lives. We just need to take our focus off ourselves and our problems, and focus on the Lord. When we are feeling discouraged by a difficult set of circumstances in our lives, we must remember the Lord's love for us and the Lord's awesome promises in His Holy Word. The Lord's river of mercy and love never runs dry. People, material possessions and our own resources will often fail us. The Lord, however, will never fail us! His love and faithfulness is with us moment by moment and day by day. How precious it is to awaken each morning knowing that the Lord will be walking beside us each day, as we face the daily stresses and challenges.

Wait on the Lord, dear caregiver. Waiting on the Lord means we are resting our entire trust in the Lord for time and eternity. We can trust completely in the Lord's unfailing love! Praise His name!




Monday, July 8, 2013

Him in You and Interceding for You

Family care-giving is one of life's most difficult and challenging  experiences.  I know this to be a fact, because I was a family caregiver.  Yet the Bible tells us to actually delight in difficulties. (II Corinthians 12:10)  When I was a caregiver I was thankful if I could just survive and have strength for the day.  Why would anyone welcome trials and difficulties in their lives?  Well, for one thing it gives up an opportunity to trust the Lord.  It also gives us an opportunity to experience His sufficient grace and strength in us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

Family care-giving is often discouraging and physically and emotionally draining.  It can often bring on feelings of hopelessness and despair.  In spite of this, dear Christian caregiver, you have the same power in you, as it took to raise Jesus Christ from the dead.  You have resurrection power in you, dear caregiver!  (Ephesians 1:18-20)  Don't concentrate on your own puny insufficient strength.  Concentrate on the Lord's mighty strength in you, dear caregiver!

After Jesus arose from the dead He was seated in the heavenly realms at the Father's right hand.  He has all authority and power at His disposal.  (Ephesians 1:20b-23)  He delights in placing that same power that belongs to Him in you, dear caregiver!  Also His love for you is deeper and wider and higher than you can begin to imagine!  (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Finally, as Jesus, the Son of God, is sitting next to the Father; He is interceding for you, dear Christian caregiver.  The Son of God actually lives to intercede for you and for all His people! (Hebrews 7:25b)  He knows how weak and tired you often feel in the whole care-giving scenario.  So He gives you His power and love and intercedes for you to the Father.  Picture the Son sitting next to the Father talking with the Father about your needs and the needs of your loved one!  Isn't that an awesome thought, dear caregiver?  Revel in that thought and rest in Him! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Through it All

Two and a half years ago tomorrow my husband passed away. Four and a half years before that he was diagnosed with a devastating neurological disease. These combined seven years have included fears, grief, and overwhelming feelings and circumstances. 

These years have also included greater dependence on the Lord's strength, God revealing His grace in awesome ways, and God leading me step by step when I didn't know what I was doing. (Psalm 32:8) These years have further included a closer and more precious relationship with the Lord than ever before, God's faithfulness shown to me, returning and new joy in the Lord in spite of waves of grief which though smaller still hit, greater empathy for others, and new areas of service. Finally these years have included the Lord being my heavenly bridegroom (Isaiah 54:5).

It reminds me of a chorus from a hymn which says:

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything and everything is beautiful in it's time. It has not always felt that way but through it all the Lord has been with me. He will be with you also, dear Christian caregiver. 

Monday, June 24, 2013


Care-giving for a family member with a terminal illness is one of life’s most difficult experiences. It is stressful and very discouraging at times. This is especially true if a caregiver is forced to helplessly watch his or her love one continue to deteriorate in health step by step. I know this is true, because I was my husband’s caregiver for four and a half years.

Remember, however, dear Christian caregiver, that joy is possible in even these circumstances. This is because joy and difficulty and even joy and sorrow can coexist. Joy is also possible in the challenges and heartaches of care-giving, because joy in not dependent on circumstances. True joy is experienced as a result of living in the presence of the Lord and though deep communication with Him. True joy and peace is experienced when we know God is with us in those difficult situations. It is knowing that He is keeping us, protecting us, and strengthening us in those situations. Joy and peace is knowing the Lord God is in control.  

Recently, someone responded to one of my posts at this blog site. She sent this formula for joy and strength: Thankfulness = joy = strength. If we can somehow thank God in all things knowing and trusting that He is indeed in control and loves us deeply, we can began to experience joy. Joy then turns into strength to face life's challenges. (Nehemiah 8:10b)

Spend time in God’s Word, dear caregiver. Revel in and latch on to His promises in His Word. Spend time in prayer. Ask for His strength and joy. Care-giving can be so overwhelmingly difficult and emotionally challenging. Even in those very difficult days, however, dear caregiver, you can find joy in the Lord. He will get you through those days step by step. Though you do not know what lies ahead, He will lead you. He will give you His strength and joy. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Tightrope of Care-giving

A little over a year ago on June 15, 2012 some of you may have seen televised Nik Wallenda’s dream come true, as he walked across Niagara Falls between the U.S. and Canada on a tightrope. He covered the 1,800 feet in approximately 25 minutes walking the two-inch wire in elkskin-soled shoes and using a balance beam.

Now I would not recommend viewing Niagara Falls in this fashion. One might even argue the wisdom and even rightness of taking such a risk. I think there are lessons we can learn from this incident, however.

Much of life and certainly caregiving is filled with challenges. Because of the uncertainties and constant changes and declines of caregiving, it can feel as if one is in the middle of a storm or in imminent danger. Especially during caregiving one can not predict what the next year let alone the next month or day will bring. It can feel like one is walking in a fog on a tightrope. As Wallenda made his walk across Niagara Falls he found the heavy mist to be very challenging. Also the winds hit him and were definitely more than he expected. After awhile his forearms started to tense up, and he began feeling numb. The steps and days as a caregiver can feel the same way. 

ABC televised the walk but insisted Wallenda use a safety tether to prevent him from plunging into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls should he fall. I do not know how great a safety measure this was in reality, but I do know that Christian caregivers have a wonderful source of strength and safety in the Lord Jesus Christ. Caregiving can feel like walking over stormy waters, but the Lord is a reliable source of safety. Also Wallenda walked across that tightrope putting one foot in front of the other. That is what Christian caregivers and all believers need to do. They need to take life one step at a time focusing on the Lord and trusting Him.

When Wallenda stepped onto Canadian soil he was immediately asked for his passport, which he extracted from a protective pouch in his jacket. To me that passport is a picture of God’s Word and its promises. It is what helps us walk the tightrope and stormy situations of life like caregiving. 

Wallenda said that the prayers of others helped him immensely. He said it helped him reach the safety of the other side. So we too need to be willing to ask for and rely on the prayers of others when we are going through stormy times. Wallenda further said that in the middle of the wire he started thinking about his great-grandfather. His family’s legacy for performing daredevil stunts is what helped him persevere to the end. So we also can follow the examples of the Biblical saints and our godly ancestors who have gone before us. Their past faith can encourage us to be faithful and to trust God.

Christian caregiver, walk step by step focusing on the Lord as you experience the stormy waters of caregiving. Rely on God’s Word and prayer. Trust that God will get you to the other side. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Focus on the Lord in the Storms

As a caregiver perhaps your dreams for the life you hoped to share with your loved one has been crushed.  My marriage with my husband, Wayne, was a good marriage.  We had faced various trials in our lives together.  We clung to each other and to God during those times.  We also enjoyed many joyful moments together.  Wayne was a loving husband; and we enjoyed children, new daughter-in-laws, and grandchildren together.  Our dream was for a happy retirement together.  That dream was shattered by his diagnosis in 2006.  His neurological disease led to his continual deterioration physically and his eventual death in early 2011.

Family care-giving brings on a storm of problems and emotions.  It creates havoc with and sometimes destroys one's former way of life.  Yet even in the storms, even when our dreams are smashed into a million pieces, God is still with us.  His promises from His Word still are true.  When we are in God's powerful hands, there is no safer place to be even when the care-giving storms are raging around us. 

God also has a new and good life planned for both the caregiver and his or her loved one.  For my husband, Wayne, that was a life in heaven with Jesus.  For me although I grieve my husband's absence from me, it is other ministry for the Lord.  For other caregivers it may be the earthly healing of the loved one and wonderful ministries for both of them in God's service.  God wants us to leave the outcomes of our lives in His hands, to rest in peace in Him, and to keep our eyes focused on Him and not our problems.  He will help us weather the waves of life's storms.  Sometimes it is hard to know why we have to face the difficult storms of life.  Yet trusting in the Lord and in His promises will give us more peace than knowing all the answers to our questions.

Dear caregiver, even in the midst of you care-giving storms the Lord is providing for you.  He can do wonders for you even while the storm is raging.  He cares about and provides for the big problems and the relatively insignificant problems.  Trust Him and obey Him in the process.  God's provision for you will never run out.  Your trust in God and faithfulness to you in the storm will also be noticed by others and in turn bring glory to God

In this care-giving storm you have two choices, dear caregiver.  You can stress and wring your hands in anxiety or you can trust God's faithfulness and power to see you through it.  Make the choice to meditate on God's promises and praise Him.  Don't focus on the problems, but focus on the Lord.  One way or another the storm will quiet in God's perfect timing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Depend on Him

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is your treasure and strength in the storm of family care-giving.  God may be using the storms of your care-giving days to show you His strength in your weakness, as you seek to deal with the overwhelming challenges.  Because of your relationship with the Lord, dear Christian caregiver, you can approach God with confidence and freedom for help and strength as you face each new day.

I felt so inadequate for the task of being my husband's caregiver.  It was not a role I would have chosen, and I certainly felt unprepared for that role.  God, however, delights to use unlikely ordinary weak people to do His will.  When you yield your limitations and even failures to the Lord, dear caregiver, you become a wonderful instrument in the Lord's hand.  His strength and not your own will then fill you.

Also I know of no greater work in the kingdom of heaven than family care-giving.  It is often a thankless job accompanied by grief and perhaps tears, as one sees one's loved one's health deteriorate.  It is never a pointless role, however.  For whatever is done for others is done for the Lord, and it will produce a harvest of blessings and joy in God's perfect timetable. 

The family care-giving role is a role that often feels as if it is leading down blind alleys.  Christian caregivers, however, can be assured that their Good Shepherd is leading and guiding them each step of the way.  The Good Shepherd knows that you are very vulnerable, dear caregiver.  Depend on Him for guidance and protection just as lambs follow their shepherd.  As your Good Shepherd He will walk before you and lead you.  He is your hope for today, as you face your care-giving challenges.  He is also your hope and the hope of your loved one for the future!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Lessons of Spring

It has been a late and sometimes cold spring this year here in the town in which I live. Yet signs of spring are now all around me. In 2010 we were apparently blessed with a particularly beautiful spring, however. In late May of 2010 while still a caregiver for my husband I wrote the following words:

I always thought that I liked autumn the best of all the four seasons. This year, however, I am really enjoying spring. Our neighbors to the right of us have three fruit trees in their yard that have beautiful pink blossoms on them. We 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 unattractive 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 easy to concentrate on the sorrows, difficulties, and frustrations of care-giving and of life itself. We sometimes forget to concentrate on the blessings and beauties all around us. Most evenings before I go 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 the 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.”

Care-giving can be extremely challenging and discouraging. In spite of this, dear caregiver, try to look for the blessings in the midst of the chaos of care-giving.  God often gives us the blessings of character building, growth in the faith, and the gift of His presence in a special way through the avenue of the challenges and trials of life. Recently my grandchildren came to my house with fresh bouquets of dandelions. They did this because of their love for me. The dandelions which often are considered a weed and a nuisance by many, then became a blessing to me. In a similar way the Lord can use the discouraging aspects of care-giving to show His love to you, dear caregiver. Trust Him to use the difficult things in your life for ultimate good even though that is most likely very difficult for you to see now. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Caregivers and the Names for God

A few months back in my church we heard some sermons on the names of God. I found those sermons to be a great blessing and comfort to me in my post caregiving days. I believe thinking about the meaning for some of the many names for God can be a blessing and source of strength for current caregivers as well.

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lean on Him

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Love Story God's Way

I just finished a book called Joni & Ken An Untold Love Story. This story is about Joni and Ken Tada. It is a story that every caregiver and former caregiver will want to read. It is story which does not gloss over the deep struggles of Ken as Joni's caregiver nor of Joni with her health struggles.

It vividly discusses the drudgery and sometimes disgusting everyday duties of the whole care-giving scenario. It also portrays what Joni and Ken endured with Joni's quadriplegia, her unrelenting and overwhelming pain which began many years after her quadriplegia began, and then her later developing breast cancer and the complicating pneumonia. 

It is a book which shatters the concept of Prince Charming marrying the princess and they living happily ever after free from all pain and misery. Rather is displays the more Biblical concept of two people facing the overwhelming challenges of life together with them as one and also being at one with the Lord.  The book also shatters the dream of Prince Charming being the one who can fulfill all one's needs and expectations, and replaces it with the reminder that only God can do that.

This book had me crying during many moments while reading it. There were tears of identification with the struggles Ken endured but also with what Joni experienced. There were also tears of recognition along with Joni and Ken that God often uses the most difficult of circumstances to give us glimpses of heaven and and also glimpses of God's wonderful presence in our lives now.

Care-giving for a loved one is one of life's most difficult challenges. It is also one of God's noblest tasks in God's kingdom. Cling to that, dear Christian caregiver. Consider ordering the book and reading it. I think you will find it a blessing, dear caregiver. You can order it at and

Monday, April 29, 2013

Personal Reflections

I hope you will forgive me, dear caregiver, as I share a little of my story and feelings today. Seven years ago about this time in late April my husband, Wayne, went in to the doctor for a check-up. This began the process of us knowing something was wrong with my husband. In May of that year Wayne saw a local neurologist, and in August and October of that year we went to Mayo Clinic. He was diagnosed with Multiple Systems Atrophy type c, a rare neurological disease which resembles Parkinson's but moves much more quickly. The next four and a half years were difficult years, as I witnessed Wayne's decline step by step and found that he had passed away during the night on the morning of January 2, 2011.

About a year after Wayne's diagnosis, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had 8 months of treatment including chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation. I had an oncologist appointment this past Friday. This was my first appointment in a year. All looked good, and I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor in July, the Lord willing!

So these past seven years since Wayne's diagnosis have involved difficult care-giving days, breast cancer treatment, and now nearly 28 months of living my life as a widow. I think difficult times has produced in me a greater desire for a sense of the presence of the Lord in my heart. It has also made me more aware of His presence. My longing for God is deeper and also is my sense that this earth is not my final home even though God still has work for me to do here.

While I was a caregiver for my husband, Wayne, and saw him deteriorate; the words of Psalm 84 became very meaningful to me especially verses 5-7. Check out those verses for yourself, dear caregiver. The valley of Baca referred to in these verses means the Valley of Weeping. So this passage in effect told me that I would be blessed, if I found my strength in the Lord and set my mind on Him even in the difficulties of care-giving. It also told me that as His child I would go from “strength to strength” and victory to victory, as I treaded the difficult path of caring for my husband. The passage reminded me that God would somehow make the trials of my care-giving days into “a place of springs” and blessings. Dear Christian caregiver, these promises are for you as well!

I am thankful to the Lord for His physical and emotional healing in my life. I wonder sometimes though why I am here and why Wayne was taken. It feels like my life should be doing great things for the Lord, because of all He has done for me. Yet it is not about that, and it is not about me. It is about seeking intimacy with the Lord. He will use me as He sees fit. God is infinitely wiser than I am. It is the same for you also, dear caregiver.

Yet I feel so many emotions. I am feeling a thankfulness/joy/awe for my healing and for the good things that God has brought to me as a result of the past years-changes in my character for the good, greater intimacy with the Lord, and even ministry. I am in awe of His grace. Yet I also feel a sadness that somehow Wayne could not still be a part of all this.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Prayer Helper for the Caregiver

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

In caregiving responsibilities it is important to focus on the Lord and turn to Him in prayer. Sometimes in the overwhelming moments we do not know how to pray about our situations, however. At such times the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life.

Romans 8:26 promises us the following, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

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

The Holy Spirit prays in and through us. He also prays for us especially during those times when we are too overwhelmed with heartache to find the right words to express our pain to the Lord in prayer. The Holy Spirit understands our sorrows and is our prayer helper, and He "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." The Holy Spirit Himself pleads and intercedes for us before the Heavenly Father! The Holy Spirit is our perfect intercessor before the Heavenly Father, "because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." (Romans 8:27b)

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