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.)