Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Hope Not Worries

(The following post is from a blog post that I published in 2013. May the Lord bless your Christmas, dear caregiver.)

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.

( I will be taking the next week off, because I will have family visiting in my home.  I will be back with a new blog post on January 4 or 5.  Use this time to read some of my old blog posts, and have a blessed Christmas, dear caregiver.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Stress or Joy?

My husband passed away about a week after Christmas four years ago.  I remember that Christmas. All my sons' families were able to be home that year.  It had been a number of years since we were all together at the same time because of distances between where we live from each other.  Perhaps we subconsciously knew there would not be another Christmas with my husband being present with us. Yet I do not think any of us anticipated that in a little over a week, my husband, Wayne, would be with the Lord.  That Christmas there were chaotic moments and good moments with so many people under one roof, but it is a memory which no one can take from us.

What memories are you creating, dear caregiver?  Sometimes care-giving can be overwhelming with its responsibilities.  In that scenario who feels like the extra hassle of Christmas decorating and giving?  If your loved one is very ill, somehow it may even seem out of place.  

Yet perhaps we are putting the emphasis the wrong place.  Is not Christmas about the birth of the Lord Jesus, of His coming to this fallen world to save us?  So if your loved one is a believer, even if he or she is not with you next Christmas; you both have something to celebrate.  This life is not the end of all things.  We have an eternity ahead of us!  

So we do not have to win contests about the best decorated house in the city or the most expensive gifts.  I live alone now since my husband's passing.  My Christmas decorating took perhaps only an hour this year.  Dear caregiver, let your Christmas be about celebrating the Lord this year and the eternity which is ahead.  Let it also be about your relationship with your family and friends and especially about your loved one for whom you are caring.  Make a memory.  Minimize the stress and accent the joy.

(On another note give yourself or another caregiver a gift of love this Christmas-My book:  DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers.  I wrote this book out of a love and understanding for caregivers.  I wrote it from my own experience as a family caregiver.  Click on the Amazon or Xulon links on the right hand side of the screen  to purchase the book.  If you prefer you can also get it directly from me by e-mailing me for specifics,  My e-mail address is on the top right hand of the page.)


Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Story to Tell

I had a book signing for my book at a Christian book store yesterday. It went well and was a blessing. Two other authors were there as well. It was nice sharing with the other authors and a few of the people who came to the table as well. One lady bought a book for a relative who is only 18 and a caregiver for her uncle. I was pretty impressed with that. It was and is a blessing to share my story and hope that someone's life is blessed and helped. This also mixes with a stirring up of sad emotions in me of those difficult care-giving days and the loss of my husband, Wayne. Yet what a platform for also discussing God's goodness and redemption of difficult times. It was a joy to interact yesterday with people who understand this.

Sometimes when we are in the midst of difficult trials such as family care-giving can produce, it is difficult to see that God is not only blessing us in the midst of the heartaches; but He will also redeem those situations to be used to help others and to advance His kingdom later on in our future lives.

Dear Christian caregiver, know that what you are doing now is so vital in the kingdom of God.  It is such noble work for the cause of the Lord.  It will also be used in the days ahead, as you tell your own story of God's grace. You may not write a book, but you will and do have a story to tell.  Also your care-giving story is producing in you an empathy and love and compassion for others that will be a huge blessing and inspiration to them in the days ahead.  There will be awesome beauty from the ashes.    

Monday, December 1, 2014

Encouraging E-mail

Recently I met a widow online whose husband had the same rare disease as my husband, Wayne. This disease is Multiple System's Atrophy and resembles Parkinson's Disease but moves much faster. She sent me the wonderful e-mail below which showed her appreciation for my new book, DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers, but the e-mail also listed some important spiritual lessons that we have both learned through our experiences as caregivers. I pray that as I share her e-mail, you too will be lifted up and encouraged in your walk as a family caregiver.  In a recent past blog post I also featured an essay that she wrote about care-giving.  This essay was written about a year before her husband's death and spoke of the rewards of family care-giving. May you further be blessed by her e-mail below as I was, dear caregiver:

I loved reading your book "Dear Caregiver" and gleaning insight and inspiration from your journey. Like I mentioned before, our husbands' neurological conditions were so rare, that I felt immediately connected to you as a fellow widow and also to you as a fellow Christian woman. I took my time reading your book so I could learn from your experiences and, also, so I could reflect on my season as a caregiver. In both instances, God lead us by the hand, He called us to serve, and He did not leave us or forsake us. I, too, remember the pain of watching my husband go from cane, to walker, to wheelchair, and standing machine. I was intimidated, at first, by the new durable equipment that we integrated into our home but soon realized that they were God's provision to help my husband with his activities of daily living. Because of the new additions, I, like you, accepted that our home began to resemble a nursing care facility; a drastic decor change! Your book helped reinforce many Christian truths: a) joy and sorrow can co-exist, b) look to God for our strength rather than to man, c) He will equip us after he calls us, d) God understands our pain and sorrow, and e) He loves us and wants a relationship with us. Our husbands endured great pain, showed grace in their suffering, and were delivered by God's Holy Hands,--- Our love story illustrates surrender, refinement, and transformation; I will never be the same!”

(You can order my book DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers online by clicking the Amazon link or Xulon link on the right hand side of this page. It is also available at Barnes and Noble online. Finally, you can also get the book directly from me. If you want to do it this way, just e-mail me for details at my e-mail address on the top right hand corner of this page. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift of love for someone you care about or for yourself.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving and Family Care-giving

Family care-giving can be very discouraging especially when one’s loved one continues to deteriorate in his or her health.  It is difficult to find things for which to be thankful in such a scenario.  It seems impossible to have a thankful heart under such circumstances.

Yet a thankful heart opens up blessings from heaven and foretastes of heaven that cannot be attained in any other way.  A thankful heart further revives hope and allows us to communicate on a much more intimate level with the Lord.  A thankful heart does not deny the reality of life’s challenges, and care-giving certainly presents a host of problems and heartaches.  A thankful heart does, however, recognize the Lord’s presence and joy in the midst of those problems. 

So perhaps the best place to start, dear caregiver, is to thank the Lord each day for His presence and peace.  Also as you go through the day look for the Lord’s tiny treasures which He has placed on your path.  Look with spiritual eyes for His wonders in your life.  I remember as a caregiver being challenged to write down each day at least three things for which I was thankful that day.  That helped me immensely in persevering in the care-giving role. 

It is said that a thankful heart takes the sting out of trials and adversity.  Family care-giving often facilitates many challenges and trials.  Yet we are commanded in the Bible to give thanks in everything.  We may not always FEEL like giving thanks, but when we offer a SACRIFICE of thanks in spite of our feelings or circumstances God gives us joy in spite of our circumstances.  That does not mean we always feel happy.  Happiness and joy are not the same thing, but joy in the Lord and grief can coexist.  It may seem nonsensical to thank God in and for difficult circumstances, but in the measure that we do we will be blessed even as the adversities may remain.  Dear caregiver, thank the Lord today for His blessings!

In the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day this week. It is a day when we especially try to remember to thank and praise God for the blessings of the past year. Care-giving is often challenging and difficult. Yet there are many blessings in our lives even in the difficult moments. Dear caregiver, thank the Lord for your blessings daily and not just on special occasions. It will lift your burdens and add joy to your life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Rewards of Family Care-giving

The following article was written by a former caregiver and online friend of mine.  It was written about a year before her husband's death.  Her husband was initially diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, but later that diagnosis was changed to Multiple Systems Atrophy, the same neurological disease my husband, Wayne, experienced.  I think you will find her story inspiring.  May you be blessed and encouraged by her words, dear caregiver:

What Makes Care Giving Rewarding?
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Since the onset of my husband’s medical condition, God has led us on a spiritual journey into unchartered territory. We did not know where we were going, how we would get there, and whom we would meet along the way. By radical faith, we continue to walk on this path one sunrise at a time knowing that, at each sunset, our destiny is in His hands, in His care, and in His time. As we embrace our daily offerings, we have been transformed into new people and view life and the world through a different lens than before. During the last three years as a full time care partner, while serving my dear husband, I have been, in turn, blessed to learn the value of acceptance, adjustment, appreciation, and action.

My husband and I were very fortunate to meet each other later in life; we have even been told that our love is like a “fairy tale”! As many couples do, we traveled to Mexico, attended sporting events, dined at fine restaurants, and had date nights at the movies. Our families, including five adult children, were united at our wedding on January 1, 2000, opening the new millennium and a bright future ahead.

After only two years of marriage, on April 2002, our world changed suddenly and unexpectedly! My husband, in his early fifties, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive movement disorder. He initially experienced a loss of balance, a softening of his voice-quality, and a change in his gait and facial expressions. With medication and close monitoring by his neurologist, we were able, with modifications, to continue our daily lives, our careers, and our new life together.

As the years passed, my husband gradually required extra assistance with walking, grooming, eating, and general communication skills. It became increasingly difficult for my husband to participate in social/family functions, to drive, and to continue employment as a dealership manager. One summer day while we were sitting on our patio, he said, “The man you knew…he is gone.” Could it be that my husband was accepting his limitations before I was ready to face them?

By 2009, my husband’s diagnosis was refined to Multiple Systems Atrophy, MSA, a rare, debilitating neurological disorder. That heart-breaking day, that moment in time in the doctor’s office, I remember holding my head in my hands and crying with my husband, praying for comfort, and asking God, once again, for strength to carry on. Because my husband eventually lost his mobility and needed help with the activities of daily living, I retired from my teaching career to offer support, assistance, and my spousal devotion. Unbeknownst to me, I immediately began a new chapter in my life as a “nurse”, an untrained one.
The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power…and you will be a changed into a different person.” 1 Samuel 10:6 (NIV)

When God called upon me to carry out the task of being an informal care provider, I soon realized that I might not have the independence, the comfort, and the control that I had experienced in life before. For instance, I went from public service as a teacher, a familiar career, to nursing-care and private service in our home, a foreign vocation. With grooming duties in the morning and a regular routine in the evening, our leisure time during the waking hours decreased.

For the past three years to the present time, I discovered that the following survival techniques are crucial for me to approach each day: simplify life, maintain focus on my Divine assignment, filter out the busyness that surrounds us, laugh, multitask, be innovative, and protect my physical and emotional energy. Some days are intense, overwhelming, and dark, but you see, I treasure our precious God-given moments together and wouldn’t want to miss this dance, our dance!
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22 (NIV)

I call them our angels! Sometimes I even ask them, “Where did you come from?” According to God’s perfect timing and His Providence, our community-based reinforcements seem to show up at our door at just the right moment. Some resources that have helped support us and lessen our daily loads are: food delivery, Home Health agencies, transportation services, spiritual counselors, and personal care services. I now realize the importance of working interdependently with the designated professionals and volunteers; we were not meant to struggle in isolation. Our band of angels surely guards, shelters, and protects us!
“…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

We are following God’s dream for us. Our walk with Him gives us nourishment, discernment, and refinement. May our story and our lessons learned serve as a beacon of hope and as a shining star in the dark. We praise our Godhead for grace, mercy, and miracles. Because of Christ’s ultimate suffering and sacrifice, I must continue on as a care provider in humility and obedience.    

One day my husband cried, “I don’t want to leave you!” I assured him that we would always be together. Why, our love is a fairy tale, it is eternal, he is my prince and I am his princess. As all good fairy tales end, we will one day live happily ever after in the Great Kingdom!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Purpose Now and for the Future

Care-giving is a purpose-filled calling. It may not be recognized as such by the world at large, however. Caregivers will not usually earn medals or receive honors for what they do day in and day out. Care-giving work does not facilitate the earning of great amounts of money, either. In fact, just the opposite is most often true. Care-giving for a family member can be discouraging and involves sacrificial giving of oneself to the person who needs one’s help. It is, however, one of the most significant and purpose-filled callings God can give us.

Care-giving often involves a lot of heartache and grief, as we see our loved ones continue to move backwards in their health. In spite of this, the caregiver is engaging in God’s work. Not only is care-giving filled with purpose while the caregiver is in the midst of the responsibilities of care-giving, but this phase of the caregiver’s life is also a preparation for what God has planned for his or her post care-giving days. It has been said that God cannot use someone in a significant way until that person has suffered some deep loss, hurt, or pain. The losses and grief caregivers experience as they see their loved one’s health deteriorate will help them to be more compassionate servants of God in future days.

Dear Christian caregiver, the challenges of care-giving are shaping your character to become a more beautiful reflection of Jesus. Think of the Bible characters like Job, Paul, and others. Through their losses and grief they became more dependent on the Lord and more useable in His kingdom. Because of your sacrifices in care-giving and because of the pain you feel while caring for a loved one who cannot recover, you are being prepared to also be used in significant ways when your care-giving days end.

(This is a meditation from my book DEAR CAREGIVER subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers. If you are interested in purchasing this book click on the Amazon link or the Xulon link, my publisher, on the right hand side of this page. The book is also available at Barnes and Noble online. If you would prefer a signed copy directly from me, e-mail me at the e-mail address on the upper right hand side of this page for details. This book could be a Christmas gift of love to someone on your Christmas list as well as for yourself.) 

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Care-giving is a noble calling.  That is a theme you have heard often from this writer.  Yet it also is a calling which sometimes is a source of heartache, as we see our loved one deteriorate in his or her health.  As I look back on those days when I was a caregiver for my husband and his eventual death, there is a still an ache which comes into my heart.  Yet I remind myself that it is more than that.  I see it as a place where God met me and blessed me in a special way.  I want to see it as place of surrender to His will and hence the place of His blessing.

We often think of blessing as God giving us the things which we want, things that are comfortable, and that we perceive are good.  Yet the blessings often come through the struggles, because God is there in a special way during those times.  The blessings come when we see how weak and desperate we are without Him, and then run to Him in surrender to His will.  The blessings are in seeing Him meet our needs, comfort us, and give Himself to us.  The blessings then comes in a changed life through a surrendered life.

The blessings comes from seeing and trusting God in a new way during difficult times.  It also comes from praising or as some translations of the Bible say blessing the Lord in the times of struggle and uncertainty.  We often do not "feel" like praising God in such moments, but when our lips praise Him, our hearts eventually also begin to get the message of God's love and grace.  Joy, peace, and blessings are the result.

Dear caregiver, let your care-giving role be the place where you not only at times struggle with pain and heartache; but let it also be the place where you meet God like never before.  Let it be a place of surrender and blessing.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Affirmations of Love

Being a caregiver for my husband for over four and a half years was a significant calling that the Lord God placed on my life.  Its purposes in both my life and in my husband's life were far reaching, and the experience taught valuable spiritual lessons.

Those days were also laden with challenges, however.  My husband's continual decline downward in his health robbed us of so much.  It robbed us of the relationship we had experienced together in the past.  Later in my husband's disease, I missed the easy verbal exchanges we had had in the past.  Also in the past my husband had always been so free with expressions of his love.  I would often long for those days.  I wrote the following comments on May 17, 2009:

"Before my husband's illness, he would tell me I was beautiful, and he would often call me 'his favorite wife.'  It became a standard 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 specials 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."

I knew that my husband still loved me, in spite of him not expressing it in the same way as he had in the past.  More importantly, I knew God loved me with an eternal love.  I knew that God also affirmed that love over and over again in the Bible.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Zephaniah 3:17.  In that verse, God told me and continues to tell me that He loves me and even delights in me!  He actually rejoices over me, and He quiets me with His love.  Furthermore He, the mighty God, will always be with me.

Knowing that God loved me and even delighted in me was a source of comfort to me during my care-giving days.  God's affirming love for me comforted me even more than knowing that my care-giving role had purpose and meaning.

Dear caregiver, if you are God's child, trust that the Lord loves you with an awesome and eternal love.  When the discouragement and negative feelings surface, may you rest in God's love and find your treasure in Him!

(This post is one of the meditations from my book DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers. You can order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Xulon, my publisher. Links for Amazon and Xulon are on the right hand side of the page. If you have already read my book, consider reviewing my book at the Amazon link. It is my heart's passion to help and bless as many family caregivers as possible.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Suffering and Glory

Recently during my devotions I was struck with the connection between suffering and glory (Romans 8:17).  We are "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ," but suffering and glory are intertwined in God's plan.  It was for Jesus, and it is for us. Suffering is making us look more like Jesus day by day.  Is that not what we want-to become more like Jesus?

As a caregiver you may be saying, "Really?  I could use a little less heartaches and trials.  You do not know how difficult it is to see my loved one deteriorate in his or her health.  You do not know how difficult it is to meet his or her needs." Yes, I do understand the difficulty of that experience having lived it myself.  Yet if God promised to bring ultimate good and His glory out of the most difficult and impossible situations, can we not trust Him in everything that He allows in our lives?

Recently I also watched the movie "God is Not Dead in DVD format.  I do not remember seeing such a powerful movie before.  So many minor plots were running along side the main plot; all were pointing to the same theme that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He is not dead.  I especially liked the scene where the son was visiting his mother with dementia.  The son said in effect, "If God is alive why has a sweet person like you ended up with dementia, while I have everything going for me?"  This man's mom who did not recognize him any longer said, "The devil sometimes lets people stay in the jail cell of a carefree life, so they do not see their need of the Lord and turn to Him."  Something to think about, isn't it, when we wonder "why?" in the trials of life.

As I look back at my life I see the heartaches of seeing my husband deteriorate in his health and the helpless feelings and sadness this brought.  When I look back I see the grief of loosing him to death. Yet I also see God's care and provision for me through it all.  I see in my mind's eye my husband, Wayne, free from disease and praising the Lord in glory.  I see even blessings that have come to me from this.  As I look at my present life sometimes I see problems and have fears about my future, but I also see a God who has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5b).  I see a God who is redeeming all things for my ultimate good and His glory.

I know that some of the things you are going through, dear caregiver, may not feel good.  You may feel, as if so many things are out of your control.  Although you love your loved one with all your heart, you may feel weighed down with responsibility and heartache.  Remember that the Holy Spirit is praying for you right at this moment (Romans 8:26-27).  Also remember that as you travel this path of family care-giving, the Lord is with you each step of the way.  He has your loved one in His hands, and He has you in His hands.  Your suffering or difficulties is somehow in God's economy bringing about His glory and your ultimate glory.  It is doing the same for your loved one for whom you are caring.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Absolutely Vital

Reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Holy Word is basic to our Christian walk especially for the family caregiver. We would not think of neglecting food for our bodies, and yet it is sometimes so easy to neglect our Bible reading and prayer life. It is so necessary to read God’s Word, however, so that we are able to live our lives for the Lord as we ought.

Meditating on and obedience to God's word is also necessary for our emotional and spiritual well-being (Psalm 119:1&2). The world will not give lasting joy. Material possessions will not give us lasting joy. Only our love relationship with the Lord will give us lasting joy. As we grow in our love for the Lord, our joy also increases.

This is a joy that one can have even in the midst of problems, disappointments, challenges, and sorrow. This is a joy that the family caregiver can have even in the challenges and sometimes heartaches of caring for a loved one. Only in fellowship with the Lord and in our love relationship with the Lord can we have that joy.

We can not grow in our love relationship with the Lord, however, without studying and reading His Word. We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts.  God's Word keeps us on God’s path. The Lord’s path is not always the easiest, but it is always the best and the most joyful path for us. God is infinitely wiser than we are.

Furthermore, by hiding God’s Word in our hearts we begin to understand the vastness of His love for us. We begin to understand the number of promises that He has made to us. We begin to see that He is a faithful God, and we begin to see that His will and timing in our lives is always best. Psalm 119:14-16 says "I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word."

There are so many beautiful promises and truths in God’s Word that are so directly applicable to our lives! Some parts of Scripture are harder to understand than others, but I have found some wonderful promises in places of the Bible where one would least expect them. There is always something new and fresh to be found in the Bible, as we read and seek to apply its truths to our lives each day. The Lord is so good!

I have also found it helpful at times to pray Scripture in my prayers to the Lord. What better way to approach the Lord? Hiding God’s Word in our hearts adds joy and peace to our lives. God's Word also helps to direct our steps. We can absolutely count on the truth of every word in Scripture. Luke in Luke 1:4 said that he wrote the book of Luke and Acts "so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."  Dear Caregiver, take your quiet time with the Lord seriously. Dig into God's Word and apply its truths to your life. Grow in your love of the Lord through your study of His Holy Word! It is absolutely vital to your life, dear caregiver!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Peace in Focusing on Him

I was at a local craft and vendor fair yesterday taking advantage of another possible avenue for allowing people to purchase my book.  This involved sharing my caregiver story at least briefly several times yesterday.  I am amazed that after over three and a half years since my care-giving days ended, this still stirred up emotions in me.  It made me feel sad and weepy again last night.

Sometimes I think I have come come so far.  Sometimes I wonder.  I am so thankful for all the things the Lord has taught me in the last few years.  I like how my character has grown and has been stretched.  My relationship with the Lord has grown so sweet.  I believe the Lord is using me in His kingdom through my book and in other ways because of my care-giving experiences and my grief since my husband's death.  I love seeing that, but yet it hurts.  It still hurts.

I am telling you this, dear caregiver, to let you know that I still feel your heartache; as you care for your loved one.  I know it hurts, I feel your pain, as you perhaps see your loved one's health deteriorate before your eyes.  I feel your pain, as you mourn the lost of the lifestyle free from disease that you once enjoyed with your loved one.

Yet remember that the Lord has promised to never leave you or forsake you, dear caregiver (Hebrews 13:5b).  He will be with you each step of the way leading and guiding (Psalm 32:8).  The work you are doing God considers extremely important in His kingdom.  Most of all He delights in you, dear caregiver (Zephaniah 3:17).  His love for you and your loved one is faithful and will never end. Cling to that, dear caregiver.

This morning in my woman's Sunday school class I was reminded of the peace God wants to give us.  It is a peace that is there for the taking.  God does not want us to have our hearts troubled or stirred up into a frenzy by the storms of life (John 14:27).  He wants us to focus on Him as the only solid foundation for peace, because He alone is the author and source of peace.  He can calm our outward circumstances, but perhaps more importantly He can calm our hearts in the midst of the difficult circumstances and storms of life.  Only a heart of prayer mixed with a thankful heart can cultivate that kind of peace no matter what is going on in our lives (Philippians 4:4-6).  I know the heartache and uncertainty that family care-giving can arouse in your life, dear care-giver.  Focus on the Lord and His peace, dear caregiver.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I wrote the following words in April of 2011, a few months after my husband’s death:

The last couple days have been beautiful in my town. It has finally begun to feel like spring. Even though it has been a cold spring this year and spring has been long in coming, spring reminds me of new life and hope. The appearance of robins several weeks back was an indication that spring was on its way. The promise of spring reminds me that, just as winter is finally fleeing, so the heartaches of life are not forever.”

Care-giving for a loved one with a prolonged disease can be very discouraging. Witnessing the gradual but ever increasing deterioration of a loved one’s health is extremely disheartening. It can feel like the winter of life with no end in sight and no sign of hope for the future.
As a caregiver for my husband with a serious neurological disease, I often felt discouraged. As his mobility and a host of other issues continued to decline, I sometimes felt overwhelmed and stressed. This became especially true when transfers became more and more difficult. As a Christian caregiver and child of God, however, I knew that there was always hope. I knew that my hope was an eternal hope. As I was going through the care-giving journey, hope and my relationship with my Lord were what kept me going and persevering.

So what is hope? While I was a caregiver I wrote the following words about hope:

Hope reminds me that I do not really have to be in a state of panic. Things will work out in the end, and I will be guided step by step. Hope tells me that care-giving will never be easy, but there is an eternal purpose to this all. God’s purpose will be fulfilled in me, and His love is with me. Hope tells me that what I do in care-giving is important, and it has eternal consequences. Hope tells me that the trials of care-giving are forming my character to become stronger. It reminds me to not focus on what I see, but on what will be and on what is good in my life right now. Hope focuses on seeing the small miracles of each day and knowing and trusting they will continue.”

Hope is a great ally to have in facing care-giving challenges and in facing the challenges of life in general. Hope helps to promote wellness and joy and peace in the midst of the challenges. Dear caregiver, do not give up hope. Embrace hope in the same way as you embrace the hope and newness of spring.

(The above meditation is found in my book DEAR CAREGIVER subtitled Reflections for Family Care-givers. You can order my book online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xulon, my publisher. Links to my order pages at Amazon and Xulon are found on the right hand of the screen. You can also get a book directly from me. To use that option email me at for details.

Recently a woman who ordered my book wrote me the following words via e-mail: “I read it every morning before I get out to bed and it helps to prepare my outlook on the day in front of me! It is like having a friend come alongside you, who has been on the path ahead.... saying....'walk this way, be careful about this, and rest here for a bit on your journey.' Your book is truly a gift that helps point our eyes to Christ as we are serving others.”)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Congestion or Gentle Whisper?

I apologize for the lateness of this post this week.  My computer is in for repair, and I am writing this post from a library computer at this very moment.  Recently my personal computer began to work very slowly, and it would spin and spin while trying to connect to a new page on the internet.  I was first told it was mostly due to a congestion problem in my town.  My provider is working on putting in new equipment, but at the moment they are unable to always keep up with demands for internet service especially at peak time.  I also discovered, however, that there were issues on my own personal computer which was interferring with good and speedy connections to the internet.

These events in my life made me wonder what kind of outside congestion we are allowing in our personal lives which prevents us from hearing the still small voice of the Lord.  This reminds me of an Old Testament Bible passage in I Kings that I have learned to love. 

In I Kings 18 the prophet, Elijah, had just won a wonderful victory in the power of the Lord and for the glory of the Lord.  The wicked queen, Jezebel, however, was unhappy abut this; and she was intent on killing Elijah.  Elijah was afraid and was running for his life.  At that point Elijah said to God, "I have had enough, Lord.  Take my life."  (I Kings 19:4) 

Have you ever said something like that, dear caregiver?  Have you ever said, "I can't do this any longer.  I have had enough."?  Yet God provided strength for Elijah through food and His encouragement, and Elijah went on with his journey (I Kings 19:5-9).  In the struggles and heartaches of family care-giving; you too must take time for physical and emotional refreshment, dear caregiver.  You must soak yourself in the spiritual encouragement of His Word and not be influenced by the congestion of the world's voices and your own negative feelings and thoughts.

Next Elijah found himself hiding in a cave.  It was and is symbolic of the cave of discouragement and despair.  Have you ever found yourself there, dear caregiver, as you seek to navigate the difficult paths of family care-giving?  I found myself there sometimes as a caregiver for my husband.  It was difficult seeing my husband deteriorate and become more and more disabled in his body.  It was difficult struggling to meet his needs.

Yet God's Word came to Elijah in his cave of despair and said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (I Kings 19:9b)  Elijah's reply was that he felt very alone in his trials (I Kings 19:10)  Do you ever feel all alone in your care-giving duties, dear caregiver?  I know I did.  Sometimes I still feel alone as a widow.

Yet we know God is with us each step of the way.  We are NEVER alone!  God said to Elijah, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."  (I Kings 19:11)  But the exciting part of this story is that the Lord's voice was not in the wind that the Lord allowed.  It was also not in the earthquake and fire that followed.  It was in the Lord's "gentle whisper."  (I Kings 19:11-12)  Elijah was instructed to get up, walk without fear and self-pity and obey God (I Kings 19:15-18)  God also encouraged Elijah in the process.

Dear Caregiver, listen for the "gentle whisper" or still small voice of the Lord.  Do not let the congestion of the voices of the world around you or your own negative feelings and thoughts discourage you or block the Lord's gentle whisper telling you that He is with you.  You are never alone, dear caregiver (Hebrews 13:5b). 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Purpose in the Heartaches

Have you ever asked the question "why?" when you think about your loved one's illness or disability, dear caregiver?  Have you ever wondered why your loved one has to experience the difficulties of his or her illness or why you have to face the challenges and sometimes heartaches of being your loved one's caregiver?

I don't think we will ever find an answer to the "why?" question that will satisfy us.  That has to be left in God's hands.  We can trust, however, that God had a purpose in all that He allows and ordains in our lives.  Suffering is not just random and without meaning.  God always uses even the sad and evil things in our lives for good purposes in both our lives and in the lives of others.  This is something difficult to see in our lives, but it does not negate the truth of it.

Just like physical pain is a blessing in the sense that it alerts us to something that is wrong in our bodies, so emotional pain can help us turn to God in a deeper and sweeter way.  We can choose to become bitter in such times, or we can choose to go deeper into God's Word and prayer during such times.  Suffering can cause us to think more deeply about the things of God and give us the gift of a more intimacy with the Lord.  It can give us a greater passion and love for the Lord.

Suffering and challenging circumstances also gives us a chance to prove that our faith is genuine.  It is easy to say that one trusts in the Lord when things are going according to our desires and plans.  Difficult situations like a loved one's illness or disability gives us the joy of knowing that faith works even in very difficult times.  It gives us the chance to see our faith exercised in unimaginable circumstances and in situations we would never have chosen for ourselves.

Suffering and challenging circumstances further give us the opportunity to mature in the Lord.  We prefer things to always go according to our plans and to not have to experience any physical and emotional pain in this life.  We have bought into the dream of "happily ever after" during this life time.  Yet we do not grow spiritually during the easy times in our lives, but we grow spiritually through suffering and difficult times.  This only happens, however, when we choose to respond in joy and trust in the Lord during those difficult circumstances.  This is not the same as happiness in circumstances.  It is a joy in knowing that the Lord is in control and trusting Him.  It is knowing that when we respond in joy and trust our faith is building our perseverance which in turn develops character and spiritual maturity.  There are times during the overwhelming circumstances of my care-giving days and later in my widow days that I have thought to myself, "I could use a little less character building for awhile, Lord!"  Yet God knows what He is doing.  Rest in Him, dear caregiver! 

Suffering and challenging experiences can also be an opportunity for God's glory to be displayed in your life and in the life of the loved one for whom you are caring by your willingness to rest in Him and not question His purpose.  Make it your purpose, dear caregiver, to bring glory to God in this way.  Finally, God also uses suffering and challenging experiences to open our eyes to the needs and heartaches of others.  God will use your pain and the comfort God gives you to better help others now and in the days ahead, dear caregiver.  (II Corinthians 1:6-7)

The heartache of seeing my husband deteriorate step by step at an alarming rate while I was his caregiver for four and a half years was very difficult.  The knowledge that there was not a thing I could do about it was disheartening.  The overwhelming challenges of taking care of a man who was about 200 pounds and in the end completely disabled, while I am only five foot two inches tall was overwhelming.  The grief of finally losing him to death was intense.  Yet the Lord has been faithful.  Care-giving gave me the opportunity to learn that truth in a new way.  Your care-giving experiences have purpose, dear caregiver.  Trust in Him and grow in Him through these times.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Caregiver's Grief

Care-giving for someone you love can be demanding and exhausting. If the person for whom you are caring has an illness without a cure and continues to decline before your very eyes, care-giving can become very discouraging. It can then feel like a grief process that is inescapable. The trouble with this kind of grief process is that one never comes to complete resolution, because when one has accepted one step backwards in one’s loved one’s life, another step backwards appears on the horizon.

As a caregiver for my husband for four and one half years, I experienced many of these emotions. I was a part of a wonderful online support group. This was very helpful, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a family caregiver. There were also many people who were praying for my husband and me, and much kindness was shown to us. It is amazing at times like this to find out who really shows care and concern, and who does not. Sometimes the care and concern is shown from those from whom we least expect it, and it is not given by those whom we would expect to show love and concern.

In spite of all this, I often felt alone in this process. It was I, after all, who basically dealt with the vast majority of the grief and challenges of helping my husband meet his daily needs as he declined step by step. I did have the Lord God with me, however. I know He was with me step by step, guiding me even when I was at my lowest points emotionally.

I also know He identified with me. The shortest verse of the Bible says, “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35).  Jesus further felt crushed with grief when His friends were sleeping and not praying with Him and for Him in His greatest hour of trial just before He was put on the cross (Matthew 26). As well as being my Savior, He understood and identified with my every weakness, sorrow, and need as a caregiver to my husband (Hebrews 4:15-16). Other people are not fully able to understand and identify with the caregiver’s heartache. The Lord God can identify, however. Dear caregiver, trust that the Lord God truly understands your grief, discouragement, and worries. He truly identifies with you, and He truly can help and comfort.

(This is one of the meditations in my book DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers. Click on the Amazon or Xulon link on the right hand side of page to get to my order page for the book. It is also available at Barnes and Noble. Amazon usually is the least expensive.  On another note, Georgene is the winner of the free book I offered in my blog post last week.  This is compliments of a sweet online friend of mine.  Congratulations, Georgene! I will be sending out my book in the mail to you very soon!)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Amazing God

Last week was a week of emotions and circumstances all over the spectrum for this writer.  Is not that the way life tends to flow?  Yet it is usually not all in the same week, as it was for me that week.  Yet through it all in the joys and sorrows the Lord's beautiful presence is with us.  Do you believe that and rest in that, dear caregiver?

Last week for me brought warm expressions of love from others on my birthday.  It also brought a circumstance in my life which made me feel sad and vulnerable.  After a day of struggle God gave me a measure of peace/joy about this situation in the midst of the still sad feelings.  The Lord also blessed me with devotions that spoke so amazingly to the point of my discouragement.  God is an amazing God.  Then later in the week something unexpected occurred which may change every thing again for the good in that situation.  I do not know this will change this for certain, but I do know my Lord is in control.

Last week another experience occurred, however.  This was an awesome Ephesians 3:20 experience.  My family care-giving experiences and God's grace through it all was featured in an article on the front page of our local newspaper.  This story is not just my story, however, dear caregiver.  It is YOUR story as well.  It is OUR story.  It is a story which educates others about the struggles of family care-giving, but it is also a story which tells others about the strength which can be found in the Lord through it all.  So I am excited about this story being told, because of my love for you, dear caregiver.

If you want to read this article you can go here for the web edition:   I also have a picture posted above of how it looked in the print and e-paper version!

God is an amazing God who sees us through all our mountaintop experiences and valley experiences.  We grow spiritually, however, through our valley experiences.  Family care-giving teaches us that.  Our best experiences on this earth are not perfection, because we do not live in a perfect world.  As someone recently said there is no "happily ever after" in this life but only in eternity.  Yet our most difficult experiences are also always blessed with the Lord's presence, grace, and love.  Yes, we serve an amazing God.  Rest in that dear caregiver!

Now on another note I recently had a sweet online friend offer to donate my book, DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers, to someone who reads my blog post.  She wishes to remain anonymous, but has extended this kind offer.  So here are the conditions.  The book will be sent to some individual who makes a comment in the comment section below.  Please share an experience about God's grace in your life as a family caregiver AND also send me your home address in a separate e-mail to me at   The person or person who does that will have a chance to receive a free book.  If there is more than one person who makes a comment, I will draw a name out of a hat.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chapters of Our Lives

We have many moments and chapters in our lives.  Some of these chapters in our lives are joyful ones.  Some are them are difficult and challenging.  We tend to look at special dates on the calendar and reflect about the past moments of our lives.  I especially tend to do this.

Sixty-seven years ago on August 24, 1947 a little baby girl was born.  Her parents named her Sharon Lynn.  She was her parents first child, and she was born two weeks earlier than expected.  She was born on a Sunday, the same day her birthday lands in 2014.  As you may have guessed this little girl is the author of this blog post.

The chapters in my life included my birth in IA and my growing up years in MN and SD.  I was a quiet introvert type child.  Later came the early adult chapter of my life.  I moved to WI, taught first grade for three years at a Christian school, met and married my husband, and raised a family of three sons.  Later chapters in my life included the marriages of my sons and wonderful grandchildren. One of the difficult chapters of my life was the diagnosis of my husband's rare neurological disease (Multiple Systems Atrophy) in 2006, my breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, and my husband's death in early 2011. 

Yet all these chapters in my life were ordained by God.  Psalm 139:16 says, "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."  God has ordained all the days and chapters of your life as well, dear caregiver.  If I had been able to chose, I would have not chosen the care-giving chapter of my life or perhaps even difficult moments which occurred before that chapter in my life.  I certainly would not have chosen the chapter of widow.

Yet God truly does bring beauty from the ashes of the difficult chapters of our lives.  God says in John 16:33b, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart I have overcome the world."  He has overcome the world, and He will use our heartaches to advance His kingdom and for our spiritual growth and even joy.  Dear caregiver, the Lord is using your care-giving experience to stretch and grow you in dependence on Him and in love for Him.  He is using it to bring new spiritual fruit in your life.  Finally, He is using it in His kingdom both now and in the days ahead.  Dear caregiver, I understand how difficult the care-giving chapter of your life can be.  I lived it.  Yet God wants you to walk with Him holding His hand during this chapter of your life.  He wants you to rest in Him trusting that He will lead you through this time in your life with purpose for now and the future.  If you belong to Him; He delights in you, dear caregiver!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

God Will Use Your Story

I want to use this opportunity to thank those of you who have e-mailed me with kind comments about my blog or my book. It has been such an encouragement to me. I also want to share a few stories that people have shared with me. I will always protect the identity of people. Also this is not meant to brag but to show God's glory and working.  Finally, by sharing these stories with you I hope  to encourage you, dear caregiver.  I want you to believe that God will use your own care-giving experiences as well as mine in your post care-giving life. It may not be through a book or a blog, but God will use your experiences in family care-giving to help and serve others some day as well as to grow you spiritually through these experiences.

Just the other day I had a caregiver that I know personally share with me that she had experienced a difficult day.  She went on to say that a meditation from my book had given her perspective and blessed and comforted her in regards to that difficult day. It made her see that her calling as a family caregiver was a noble calling in spite of the challenges and difficulties which sometimes accompany it. Then there was yet another woman who I also personally know. She said that one day she had been standing at her sink crying while performing a less than pleasant task in taking care of her husband's needs. This unpleasant task had involved hours of work. That very day my book DEAR CAREGIVER had come in the mail. It had come just when she needed it. She said she had practically devoured the book in one day and had plans to go back and reread it more slowly and “chew” on it in a more reflective manner.

There is the story of the woman who herself is a former family caregiver and who ordered multiple copies.  She had plans to give copies to people who would be blessed by the book, and she was planning to enclose her own personal testimony in each book that she gave to others. Later she emailed me and said that she had received a note in response to one of the books that she had given away. It was from a nurse who leads a caregiver support group at a nursing home and was planning to read it during meetings and encourage other caregivers to buy it. This same woman who ordered the books was planning to give a copy to a woman whose husband has Parkinson's Disease. This same woman is also the woman who after reading my blog posts encouraged me to write my book in the first place.

There is the story of the gentleman who is a caregiver group facilitator at his church. He was a former caregiver himself and purchased a book. He was going to encourage others in his church's care-giving groups to buy books. In addition to this he wrote a wonderful review of my book at his web site:    He also wrote a review of my book  at my order page on Amazon:

There is also the story of a woman who had searched for some time for resources which would fit her needs, and then one day in one of her darkest hours came across this blog. She has been her husband's caregiver for many years, and her husband is now completely disabled. She also purchased the book, and wrote that she loved having it at her fingertips and not only in blog form on the computer.

There is the story of the woman who bought the DEAR CAREGIVER book on Kindle for a friend whose husband was experiencing health issues. There was yet another woman who wrote me that my blog post had brought her such comfort that day when she was having a particularly bad day. And there was the woman who while thanking me for my blog and saying she was going to order my book said that when she feels overwhelmed she remembers that Jesus says He will never leave us or forsake us. Isn't that what life all about, dear caregiver? It is keeping our eyes on the Lord.

I say all this to encourage you, dear caregiver. God will use your story too some day in some way, shape or form. Sometimes it is easy for me to feel discouraged when I look strictly at numbers of books sold or number of comments made on my blog. Yet these stories that I have shared with you are encouraging to me. On a purely emotional level nothing will make up for what my husband and I endured with his disease. Nothing will make up for the loss of my husband to me on this earth. But I can tell you that God does bring beauty from the ashes. God does bring a sweeter relationship with Himself because of the heartaches.  Finally, God does use our stories for His glory. Rest in Him, dear caregiver. Trust that He is using and will continue to use your care-giving story for His glory.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Your Noblest Hour

During the years that I was a caregiver for my husband it was easy to feel discouraged and impatient at times. Care-giving for someone who is continually declining in his health is a difficult and challenging experience. People would sometimes say that they admired me for taking care of my husband, as I did. Sometimes people said things like “you are so strong,” or “you are a good example of perseverance in your Christian life.” I felt somewhat guilty when they would say that. I am and was not strong at all.

Were it not for God’s grace and strength I would have really fallen apart during those care-giving years. I hadn’t chosen or wanted this role in life at all, but it was the path God had assigned me. I just wanted to be a “normal” couple. I had to daily ask God for grace and strength for this role. Even at that it was a constant struggle to fight against the negative emotions. I constantly was aware of the fact that I was a very imperfect vessel that God was using in caring for my husband.

Dear caregiver, I am sure that you have at times experienced similar emotions. Be aware, however, that your care-giving days are important and significant days in your life. You are an imperfect human being, but you are doing a very important work in God’s kingdom. Also you are doing for your care recipient what no one else would do. You have stepped up to the plate, and you are doing the job of caring for your loved one even though perhaps no one else has chosen to help you in this endeavor. This dear caregiver, is your finest and noblest hour.

(This post is one of the meditations in my book, Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers. If you would like to order a book click on the Amazon or Xulon links to the order page for my book. These are below the picture of the book.  E-versions are also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.   If you would prefer to get a book directly from me, e-mail me at the e-mail address at the top of the page for details.)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thankfulness When Feeling All Alone

"I feel so alone in this."  Have you ever said or thoughts those words, dear caregiver?  I know there were times when I felt all alone as a caregiver.  Sometimes I still have those feelings in my post-caregiver days.  Feelings are fickle and changeable, however.  The truth is that the Lord is always with us. 

We can make ourselves more aware of the Lord's presence, however, by taking daily time with Him in prayer and in His Word.  God has so many promises in His Word assuring us of His presence.  It is very helpful to remind ourselves of these promises when we become discouraged or feel all alone.

Another way we can make ourselves more aware of the Lord's presence is through thankfulness.  I was reminded in my devotions recently that when we choose thankfulness, it in turn opens the door to an awareness of the Lord's presence in our lives.  The devotional went on to say that thankfulness is built on the foundation of our trust in the Lord.  If we are thankful for both the small and large blessings, it will soften the impact of the trials in our lives.  God want us to give thanks in all circumstances even the difficult ones like the heartaches that family care-giving can sometimes produce (I Thessalonians 5:18).

I have suggested in the past the idea of writing down at least three things each day for which you are thankful.  I found this to be immensely helpful to me as a family caregiver.  It is so easy to get weighed down with the heartaches of seeing one's loved one deteriorate in health step by step.  This in turn can cause one to lose the perspective of seeing God's grace and daily blessings.  The exercise of daily writing down three things for which one is thankful can do much to bring one's focus back to the Lord and His presence.

I would think it would be even better to take it a step further.  Would not it be both wise and a blessing to thank God for His blessings multiple times throughout the day?  When feeling overwhelmed by the emotional and physical burdens which sometimes accompany care-giving, it may be difficult to do this.  How about starting by looking right outside your window, dear caregiver?  Thank the Lord for the sunshine or rain, the trees and grass, and the flowers and skies.  Then look around your house.  Thank Him for the things He has given you to help in the care of your loved one.  There is no end to the blessings for which we can thank the Lord.

It is strange.  Giving thanks the Lord even when we do not "feel" like it adds to our joy and makes us feel less alone.  It reminds us of the Lord's presence which never leaves us.  See God's blessings, dear caregiver.  Cherish these blessings, and thank Him for them. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anniversary Reflections

On July 30, 1971 I married my husband, Wayne, so it will be forty three years ago this week that I married the love of my life.  He was a wonderful husband, and we had a good marriage.  We raised three sons together and were able to see each of our sons marry Christian woman.  For two of these weddings we had to travel internationally to witness the weddings.  (God has a way of bringing surprises into our lives that we could never have envisioned.)  Wayne and I were also able to experience together the birth of seven of our eight grandchildren.  The last grandchild was born after Wayne's death. 

As I said before our marriage was a good marriage.  We faced some trials, but we faced them together with the Lord's help.  Wayne was the love of my life.  But the last few years of Wayne's life and of our marriage were very difficult.  As you know from my previous blog posts these years were the years of Wayne's neurological disease.  These were difficult years, as I saw Wayne deteriorate step by step until he was completely disabled.  They were emotionally and physically draining years, and they took all the spiritual reserves that I had.  (I wrote about those care-giving years several posts back in my post called "My Personal Care-giving Story" which was posted on May 4, 2014.)

As I think about the upcoming anniversary of my wedding to Wayne, I am thankful for who Wayne was to me in my life.  I am so thankful for the love that he showed me in so many ways.  I also am saddened by the years that his dignity was slowly taken from him by his disease which step by step made him increasingly disabled.  I am saddened by what I went through as his caregiver during those years.  Yet I am also joyful in the thought of Wayne being free from all that now and with the Lord.  I am joyful in the realization that I know the Lord was with me every step and will continue to be with me every step of the way the rest of my life.  Yet I miss my husband, so I ask that you will pray for me especially in this week on the anniversary of our marriage.

I have learned so much through my care-giving experience and my grief experience.  I have learned that dependence on the Lord is the only way to navigate this life.  I have learned that weakness in my self is a good place to be, for then the strength of the Lord can be shown.  Another words I am the strongest when I recognize my weakness, because then Christ's strength flows through me in amazing ways.  I have learned that I am in control of nothing, but I am never alone.  The Lord is with me step by step.  My relationship with the Lord has become so very sweet, and I know He loves me and delights in me.  I have learned that He is sufficient.  Others may fail me, but He will not.  I may not always understand His ways, but I can trust Him.

So, you too can depend on Him, dear caregiver.  He is your strength in your weakness.  He is in control and will walk with you each step of your care-giving journey and throughout your entire life.  He loves you and will be with you, dear caregiver.  Because of my experiences as a caregiver, it is my passion to encourage you in these things as a caregiver.  That is why I write this blog, and that is why I wrote my book.  I care about you, dear caregiver.  God bless you in all you do.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Running the Caregiver Race

Care-giving is physically and emotionally draining. It often involves pouring out all one's energies and resources for the well-being of another human being. This can be especially difficult, if one is caring for a loved one. It is difficult to remain objective when it is one's own loved one. It is also difficult when in spite of the caregiver's best efforts his or her loved one continues to deteriorate in health. Yet you are doing God's work, dear caregiver. Hence, He will give you the power to persevere and remain firm in the faith.

As the apostle Paul wrote I Timothy 4 he was nearing the end of his life. It was Paul's desire that Timothy would carry on the work of the Lord. Paul wanted Timothy to be ready to speak and apply God's Word in any and every situation. It was also Paul's prayer for Timothy that Timothy would remain firm in his faith. Paul told Timothy to keep his "head in all situations" and to be willing to "endure hardship" for the cause of Christ. (II Timothy 4:5a) This was Paul's desire for Timothy, but it was also God's desire and will for Timothy. It is also God's will for our lives today. It is His desire for you too, dear caregiver, as you face the challenges and sometimes hardships of family care-giving.

Paul knew that he had fought the good fight of faith and finished the race of life with his faith still strong. Paul had willingly "poured out" his life for the Lord. Jesus Christ was number one in Paul's life. Jesus Christ and his service to Him was Paul's consuming passion and purpose in his life. Can we say the same? Is Christ our consuming passion and purpose for our lives? Is our personal love relationship with the Lord and our obedience to Him our purpose and priority in our lives? Are we willing to be "poured out" for our Lord? Will we be able to say the same at the end of our lives? Have we truly run the race and kept the faith in a way that is pleasing to the Lord? Have we sought to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and to not be distracted by the world's distractions and life's trials?

Paul knew as he approached the end of his life that there was a "crown of righteousness" in store for him (II Timothy 4:8a).  Because we belong to the Lord, we experience His joy even in this life. Because sin is still present in the world and in our lives, however; we also face many trials and struggles in this life. Family caregivers especially understand this. We must struggle to run and finish the race of life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord in spite of the many obstacles and trials of life. We do this with the Holy Spirit's help and strength, but we must be the runners in the race of life. We as the children of God long "for His appearing." (II Timothy 4:8b) We long for Christ's second coming. Then we will receive His "crown of righteousness" given to us as His gift of grace! Then, at last we will be completely free from the presence of sin and its effects in our lives. Revelation 7:16-17 promises us, "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Praise the Lord for those precious promises! Let us run the race of life faithfully and in manner that is pleasing to the Lord!

Dear Christian caregiver, the care-giving race is a difficult race. In spite of this keep persevering. This is the race the Lord has given you at least for now. It is not a glamorous race. It is a difficult race. Yet a crown of righteousness is waiting for you. You are doing God's work. Someday the tears of both you and your loved one will be wiped away!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Caregiver's Caregiver

As a caregiver for my husband before his death, it seemed as if my energies and concerns were mostly all directed towards his needs. In such a scenario, it was easy to long for some tender loving care directed at me and my needs.  In January of 2009, I posted the following comments on an online blog site:

 “I am feeling some better after my stomach flu--a little tired yet. When I go to the doctor for post cancer treatment check-ups, it would be nice to have my husband with me. When I broke my foot, it would have been nice not to have had to drive in to the doctor’s by myself. It would have been nice to have received a little TLC from my husband when I was in the midst of the worst of my flu symptoms. I praise You Lord, however, that You are my great Caregiver, Shepherd, and Savior. Thank You that I am beginning to feel better after the flu. Thank You for Your daily blessings. Please help me to remain dependent on You.”

My husband, because of his disability, could not provide me with the care-giving that I myself needed, but my great heavenly Caregiver and Shepherd could do exactly that. In Isaiah 40:11 God says that He is my Shepherd who gathers me -- His lamb -- into His arms and carries me close to His precious heart. That verse was a beautiful reminder of God’s loving care for me as a caregiver. God Himself is the Christian caregiver’s Caregiver! Isn’t that an awesome thought, dear caregiver?

(This post is one of the meditations in my book, Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers. If you would like to order a book click on the Amazon or Xulon links to the order page for my book. These are below the picture of the book. If you would prefer to get a copy directly from me e-mail me at the e-mail address at the top of the page for details.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Leave the Outcomes to the Lord

When one is a family caregiver, it is difficult to relax.   Family caregivers often feel as if they are never doing enough to combat the disease or disability of the loved one for whom they are caring.  Family caregivers would like to know the future and to be able to be certain that their love ones will be okay.

God wants us to find rest and peace in Him alone, however.  He wants us to give up the fight of trying to figure things out for ourselves.  God wants us to leave outcomes with Him.  He wants us to simply follow His lead day by day and step by step and to stop worrying about how it will all turn out in the future.

This is so very difficult to do when one feels the life of one's loved one is in one's hands.  Yet it is the only way to peace.  Dear caregiver, you cannot change the course of your loved one's disease or disability by worrying or over planning.  You can simply be an instrument in the Lord's hand, dear caregiver.  So rest the future in His capable hands.

Instead of focusing on future possible outcomes or even on today's problems or your own weaknesses as a caregiver; focus on the Lord's presence!  His love and His strength is with you regardless of your feelings of inadequacy or your fears of the future.  Trust His unconditional love to help you through any care-giving situation or challenge.  The Lord is with you, dear caregiver!

( I will not write  a new blog post next week.  My next blog post will be July 13th or 14th.  I will be away from my computer July 3 through the 9th.  In the meantime take the time to reread some of the older blog posts or click on the links to my order pages for my book at either Amazon and Xulon.  God's blessings for what you do for your loved one, dear caregiver!)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God in the Lonliness of Care-giving

As a caregiver I sometimes felt intense loneliness. Usually my husband, Wayne, for whom I was caring was right there with me in the room; and yet I felt a deep sense of loneliness. Of course these feelings of loneliness greatly deepened after my husband’s death, but they were also there while he was still alive.

I think these feelings of loneliness came from my grief over my husband’s steady decline downwards. Because of this decline I could not and did not relate with him in the same way, as I had in the past. I missed the way our relationship had been in the past. So there was a loneliness for that past relationship. There was a longing for the ability to communicate and talk things through, as we had in the past. There was a hunger for the fun times and for more of that spiritual and emotional connection we had experienced together in the past. There was a sadness in seeing him sleep away so much of his days and life being consumed with just meeting basic needs.

There was also a feeling of discouragement in knowing that others could not really understand and identify fully with all that Wayne and I were experiencing. It was a feeling of being all alone in this experience. 

I found that reaching out to fellow caregivers online was a great help. Writing down my own feelings in this way helped to crystallize those feelings. It also helped me to connect with other caregiver bloggers, and it made me realize that I was not alone in my care-giving experience.

Most importantly, however, was my reliance on God, prayer, and His Word. God’s promises to me in the Bible were a great comfort and help. He promised me and continues to promise me in Hebrews 13:5b to never leave me or forsake me. He also promised and continues to promise me that He will bring good in my character and life through the difficulties.

Dear caregiver, when you feel lonely trust that God is with you even when no one else seems to understand. His love and care for you is awesome and marvelous.

(This post appears in one of the meditations in my new book DEAR CAREGIVER subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers. If you would like to order the book just click on the Amazon or Xulon link below the picture of the book.)