Sunday, January 25, 2015

You Need to Take Care of Yourself

You need to take care of yourself.” How many times have caregivers heard this? As a caregiver, one may be tempted to think, “I am so busy attending to the needs of my loved one. How can I possibly find time for myself?”  However, as a caregiver for my husband with an ever deteriorating neurological disease, I found that it was essential to at least seek to take care of myself. This was not selfish. It was important for me to take care of myself so that I would not fold under the pressure and become ill myself.  It was also necessary for my husband’s well-being. I could be the best I could be in meeting my husband’s needs only if I was also taking care of myself.  

A caregiver needs to attend to his or her emotional needs. If there is a face to face caregiver support group in one’s community, that might be helpful. If a caregiver knows someone else who is a caregiver, that also might be beneficial. By forming a relationship with that person, a caregiver may have found someone in whom he or she can confide. As a family caregiver, I personally found a lot of emotional support through an internet online support group and through blogging. Through reading other caregiver’s blogs, I was greatly helped and reassured that my feelings were normal and often very similar to other caregivers. Through blogging my own thoughts, I was also able to crystallize my feelings.   This helped me so much.  Also, a caregiver needs to get out and do enjoyable things alone or with friends from time to time. If this means asking someone to come in and tend to the caregiver’s loved one’s needs, then that is what has to happen. Total isolation is never good for anyone’s emotional needs.  

A caregiver also needs to attend to his or her physical needs. A caregiver has to protect his or her own needs in order to be able to attend to the needs of the loved one who requires their constant care. One way one can do that is through a healthy diet and exercise, whenever possible. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it can help to prevent a lot of diseases.  

Further, a caregiver needs to attend to his or her spiritual needs. It is so important to develop an intimate spiritual relationship with the Lord. It is also important to stay deep in His Word, the Bible, and to constantly pray for the Lord’s guidance and strength. Without my relationship with the Lord and the wonderful promises in His Word, I think I would not have been able to hold up under the stresses of care-giving. 

Finally, a caregiver must be willing to ask for help. A caregiver must ask for help from God, but also sometimes from others. As a caregiver, I did not want to ask for help. Also, sometimes I did not know what kind of help others could give me. In the end, however, I realized that I absolutely could not do it alone. I had a C.N.A. lady come in two to three nights a week at bedtime, and at the very end my son was able to greatly step up and help also. In this way, I was able to keep my husband out of the nursing home. In other cases, a nursing home may be the only and best option.  A caregiver must have the courage and humility to accept and even pursue help as needed.  Take care of yourself in every way you can, dear caregiver!  

(This post is taken from my book DEAR CAREGIVER Reflections for Family Caregivers. The book is available at Amazon:  It is further available at Barnes and Noble:   Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have paperback and e-versions of my book. Finally it is also available at Xulon, my publisher: )

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God is Good

For seven weeks I am scheduled to teach a woman's Sunday school class in my church on the goodness of God.  Today was our second session.  It is easy to believe in the goodness of God when life runs smoothly, yet is God good on the days when life is difficult as well?  Is God good as you perhaps see your loved one deteriorate in his or her health?  Is God good when you are overwhelmed with the stresses of care-giving or other life stresses?  It may not always feel that way; but yes, God is good all the time, dear caregiver.

One way He shows His goodness is by His Father heart.  Read Psalm 103 and find out all his benefits and blessings to you.  Find out about His total forgiveness for all your sins.  He removes them as far as the east is from the west!  He blots them out from His memory.  Bask in that grace, dear caregiver. If God removes all your sins, will He not also give you everything else you need as a caregiver?  We can rest in His goodness even when we do not always understand His ways.  Knowing He is a God of goodness and love enables us to walk in obedience and trust.  Even the trials are sent to mold us to be more like Jesus.  They too show us God's goodness and love in the same way as a good parent shows their love for their children by directing and disciplining them.  Your Abba Father, your heavenly Daddy, loves you with an infinite love and goodness (Romans 8:15-17.)

Another way God shows His love for you and His goodness is by being a place of refuge for you.  In fact the Lord is your only true refuge, dear caregiver.  You can run to Him to regroup and to be restored when care-giving responsibilities and concerns are wearing you down.  You can hide under the shelter of His wings.  Check out Psalm 91 in regards to God's refuge available to you, dear caregiver.  In practical terms you can seek His refuge through prayer, Bible reading,
Biblical music, and perhaps counsel and help from others.  He is always there to comfort and shelter you, dear caregiver.

The password or entrance to His comfort and refuge is honesty about your feelings, dear caregiver.  It is pouring out your heart to Him.  It is also gratitude in the midst of the heartaches.  Life is hard, but God is good.  Family care-giving can be very difficult and stressful, but God is always good, dear caregiver.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Your Shepherd

Recently during my devotions I was reading chapter ten in the book of John in the New Testament.  I was reminded of some very comforting things.  First, our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, calls us by name and leads us.  He does not drive us.  He goes ahead of us, and all we have to do is follow Him.  All we have to do is listen for His voice and follow Him (John 10:4).

I don't know about you, dear caregiver, but often I felt overwhelmed by the day to day challenges of care-giving.  I also feared what the future held, as I saw my husband's body deteriorate step by step.  In my weak human nature as a widow I still give way to fear at times when I think about the future.  But God's Word clearly tells us that our Shepherd leads us.  All we have to do is listen for His voice which we already know, and follow Him!

Our Shepherd also comes that we "may have life and have it to the full."  Yes, even in the challenges and heartaches of care-giving or any other life trial, God's Word promises us joy and fullness.  Joy in the Lord and pain can coexist.  Remember other things often distract and even "steal and kill and destroy," but there is fullness of joy in the Lord. (John 10:10)

Our Shepherd loves us so much that He lay down His life for us, His sheep (John 10:11)  He also knows us, His sheep, and the sheep know Him!  This is the same kind of intimacy that exists between the Heavenly Father who knows the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Son who knows the Father (John 10:14-15).

Finally we as the Shepherd's sheep can never be snatched out of the Shepherd's hand!  (John 10:28) Care-giving challenges and heartaches can weigh a caregiver's heart down.  Other life challenges can as well.  Know, however, dear caregiver, that nothing can snatch you out to the Shepherd's hand!  Even if God takes you or your loved one to Himself in Heaven; you and your loved one are eternally secure, if you are truly His sheep,

If you are a child of God and one of His sheep, He goes ahead of you and leads the way.  You also then have fullness of life, deep intimacy with the Shepherd, and eternal security because of His sacrifice on the cross.  Is not that awesome comfort, dear caregiver?


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sweet Memories

On January 1 it would have been my husband's 69th birthday.  Yes, he was a New Year's Day baby. On January 2, 2011, a little over four years ago my husband graduated to Heaven, his eternal home.  I still miss him even after four years.  One does not just forget about over 39 years of marriage.

Our marriage was a good marriage, and he was the love of my life.  Yet those care-giving years were very difficult years, as I saw my husband's body become more and more disabled.  They were years that were difficult emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Yet they were also years where I grew in my dependence on the Lord and in my love for the Lord.  The Lord is with you each step of the way as well, dear caregiver, and He is molding you more and more into His image through all you are experiencing as a family caregiver.

I look back now on the sweet memories of the days before my husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease.  I hope you will indulge me today in this anniversary week of his death by allowing me to share some sweet memories of those days.  Click on the link below to see some pictures I have on one of my Pinterest boards displaying these sweet memories.  I hope you too have and are building sweet memories, dear caregiver.