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.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Grow in Your Fellowship With Him

I was reminded in my devotions recently that the journey we are taking on this earth can be compared to a mountain trail which is often steep and narrow. Also I was reminded that the road or path in life I walked on in past years is permanently closed. It was first closed by my husband's diagnosis of his neurological disease in 2006 and in the difficult years of his decline. Even the family care-giving path in life was closed to me in early 2011, when I begin walking the path of widow.

Yet I was also reminded in my devotions that day recently that the Lord has promised to lead me with His counsel all the way and afterwards take me to Glory (Psalm 73:24). He will be a voice behind me telling me which way to go (Isaiah 30:21). Finally He is my Good Shepherd guiding me (Psalm 23). Also there are beauty and wonders all around me, if I just open my eyes to the wonders. Finally, someday I will arrive at my destination, my true eternal home.

In the meantime I can know Jesus and His power on a deeply personal level. I can have resurrection power within me, as it says in Philippians 3:10. Yet this verse also connects this power and intimate relationship with Jesus with “the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings,” a part of the verse which we would like to ignore (at least I would.) Yet we often experience the deepest fellowship with Jesus through our suffering and trials, and we look forward to Heaven with greater eagerness because of those sufferings.

My years as my husband's caregiver were often physically and emotionally draining. It was the heartbreak of my life seeing my husband deteriorate before my eyes step by step. Then to lose him after all those years of struggle was very difficult, but it has resulted in an even sweeter and more intimate relationship with my Lord. It has made me freer in my spirit and has opened new doors of service.

I know what you are experiencing as a caregiver is often overwhelming, dear caregiver. Rest in Him in the process. Grow in your fellowship with Him through the difficult moments.   

(Links from Xylon, my publisher, and Amazon to the order pages for my book are located on the right hand side of this page.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Seasons of Our Lives

It was an usually cold winter and spring was chilly and late in arriving  in my town this year. Yet when I returned home in late May after being gone a few days, I found that many of my flowers around my house had popped out. That was a wonderful sight. A few days later I was awed by the beauty of the fruit trees around my house. The blossoms were so pretty, as God displayed them on the trees.

As I think about this I am reminded that there is a time and a season for everything. It felt like our winter and our slow spring was never going to end, but the beauty and newness of spring has indeed arrived. Soon it will officially be summer. So it is in our own lives. We have difficult seasons, and we have seasons where there are new joys in our lives. Psalm 30:5 reminds us that “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing (joy) come in the morning.”

As a caregiver I remember having many days when the emotional and physical struggles became very heavy. It felt like a season of weeping and winter. Yet just like we need the winter season in creation, we need winter seasons in our lives as well. In the winter or difficult seasons of our lives we grow and learn dependence on the Lord.

Dear caregiver, just as the fruit trees and flowers finally blossomed in my yard in God's perfect timing; so the winter and difficult moments of your care-giving days will blossom into something beautiful in God's perfect timing. Not only are you doing a noble work for the Lord now as a caregiver, but this experience is preparing you for beautiful things in God's kingdom in the future. Life will always have heartaches even in the “spring times” of our lives, but beauty comes from these difficult times and in the midst of them.

Also remember, dear caregiver, that there is beauty even in the winter season. There is also beauty in the winter or difficult care-giving season of your life. There is always things for which we can thank the Lord even in the difficult moments of care-giving. I have suggested this before, but I am going to suggest it again. Start a praise journal and write down at least three things each day for which you are thankful. If you do this, dear caregiver, it will lift your spirit and change your perspective immensely. Care-giving and life in general can be difficult at times, but God is good.

(My new book DEAR CAREGIVER subtitled Reflections For Family Caregivers is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xulon, my publisher.  Links to the order pages for my book at Amazon and Xulon are found on the right side of this page below the picture of the book.  Also my E-mail address is also now available on the right side of the page, if you want to personally contact me for any reason.) 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

When Your Heart Aches

Over Memorial Day week-end I took a five hundred mile trip to Iowa to see my eldest granddaughter graduate from eighth grade and her sister make profession of faith in church. It was a wonderful to be there for these events. It is awesome to see my grandchildren growing up and maturing in the faith. Yet these wonderful moments were bittersweet, because they were tinged with the awareness that my husband, Wayne, could not be there with me sharing the joy of these events.

There have been other times when I have longed to share an inside joke or a joyous occasion or even a trial with my husband by my side. Not being able to do this leaves an ache in my heart. Yet I remember that even when Wayne was alive, his illness the last years already robbed us of so many things.

Dear caregiver, perhaps your loved one's illness or disability is robbing you of blessings and joyful sharing of life events that you once experienced. This can make your heart ache. One thing I have discovered and am continuing to discover, however, is that the Lord is with us through it all. He is our comfort, joy, and peace even in the sad moments when we wish we could turn back the clock to times which we remember as being happier times.

Difficult and challenging times are molding us to be more like Jesus and to be better used in His kingdom. It is stretching us in our faith and paving the way for God to do things in and through our lives that are more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Life does not always hand us the set of circumstances we desired, but God is using it all for His awesome purposes. He alone is in control. Dear caregiver, God will use even the difficulties of your care-giving experience for His glory and yes, even for your ultimate good.

The Lord will also always be there to comfort you and help you when the way becomes seemingly impossible in the overwhelming challenges of family care-giving. Cry out to Him for help, and rest in His promises in His Word. He loves you, dear caregiver. He delights in you. He will guide you step by step as you walk the care-giving path. May the Lord bless you for what you do, dear caregiver.