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