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.)