Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weather and Family Care-giving?

Recently we were blessed with unseasonably warm temperatures here in Wisconsin where I live.  We had a few days of record breaking or near record breaking temperatures in a row.  The weather was nice enough to walk outside without jackets and certainly without winter coats.  It was a nearly unheard of and very pleasant reprieve from winter in February.  The birds were singing again, and a friend of mine told me she had even seen her tulips starting to poke their heads out of the ground.

However, reality set in starting Thursday night of last week, and Friday morning I woke up to cold and wind and also snow, rain, and icy conditions.  Temperatures had dropped into the 30s degrees Fahrenheit and the 20s were predicted later in the day.  There was even a two hour delay in a couple school districts in my general area.  Obviously I prefer the warmer temperatures we were enjoying just a few days ago.  They were a special gift.  Yet as I looked out my window on Friday morning and the couple days following there was a special beauty to the winter scene as well.

We all prefer the pleasant spring-like times of life.  We often do not like the winter-like challenges and struggles of life in general and the ones which family care-giving can present.  If I had been given the opportunity to choose, I would not have chosen for my husband to be stricken with his neurological disease.  I would not have chosen the four and a half year struggle we endured dealing with his disease.  Nor would I have chosen his death in early 2011.  I would have loved to spend many happy years of retirement with him  Yet I grew so much in my love for the Lord and in my character during that time.  It also prepared me for ministry opportunities since that time which are a direct result of my care-giving years.

Neither would God's chosen people in the Bible have chosen some of the situations that they found themselves in. Yet God used these people for His glory and also developed their characters in the process.  Joseph in the Old Testament was sold into slavery by his brothers.  A host of other difficult circumstances followed Joseph after that. Yet in the end God used Joseph to save his family and people from famine.  John the Baptist was chosen to be the forerunner of Jesus. Yet in the end he was imprisoned and even ultimately beheaded. Yet Johns' faithfulness speaks to us even today.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt great emotional hurt seeing her son rejected and later crucified.  Yet God used that for our salvation.  The apostles all suffered persecution.  Yet God used all that for the spread of the Gospel and even their joy.

Dear caregiver, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed in your current care-giving challenges with your loved one.  You perhaps dream of and would prefer a more pleasant spring-like status in your life's circumstances.  When you feel like this remember how God has helped you in the past.  (Check out Psalm 77 in the Bible especially verses 11 through 14.)  If God helped you in the past, He will help you now in His perfect timing.  Also realize that this is shaping your character. God may use this current experience of yours in awesome ways in the future,

Also know that God is using you right now not only in the life of your loved one for whom you are caring, but also in the lives of others.  Other people are watching you.  Ministry is doing God's will even when everything around you appears to be going wrong.  As you continue to persevere and continue to trust that God is in control, other people take notice and are blessed and encouraged.  Yes, even winter can be beautiful, and your example in this winter-like period of life is a beautiful thing. Thank you, for all that you do, dear care-giver!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Do You Ever Feel Fear?

Care-giving for a loved one can be very challenging.  Watching my husband's body deteriorate step by step during the years I was his caregiver was sometimes very discouraging.  Often the changes downward came so suddenly.  I would feel I was just getting accustomed to one level of functioning in my husband, when he would move down yet another level in his bodily functioning. This often caused me to fear what the future held.  Would I be able to continue to take care of him in the future?

It was during this time that I grew in my reliance on the Lord.  It was also a time when God's promises in the Bible became very meaningful to me.  Psalm 27:1 in the Old Testament of the Bible says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?"  We can also say, "What shall I fear?"  The Lord is our stronghold in all of life's situations including the challenging situations of family care-giving.   We may be sad about some of the circumstances that are surrounding our loved ones' health and also about the challenges we face as we seek to provide for their needs, but in any and all of these situations we can trust that the Lord is guiding and providing.  We just need to wait on Him-to trust Him and rest in Him.

Below I have included a link to another post at another blog of mine.  I have linked to this blog in the past a time or two.  The name of this other blog is "Moments With God."  It is a devotional blog, and the title of the post to which I will be linking you is "Psalm 27."  Just click on the link below.  I hope you find the post a blessing, dear caregiver:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Your Divine Valentine

(This is a blog post which I have published the last few years.  I think it is a message worth repeating again, as Tuesday is Valentine's Day.)

Dear caregiver, do you ever feel the sorrow of things lost?  Do you ever miss the way things were in the past with your loved one for whom you are caring?  Does the approach of holidays such as Valentine's day make you feel melancholy and sad?

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love.  He in effect is your Divine Valentine.  He is sufficient.  He alone can give you all that you need.  Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine:

Your Divine Valentine

A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.
(Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.  (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime,but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity,
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Looking For the Wonders

(This blog post is yet one more chapter from my book Dear Caregiver subtitled Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

As a caregiver, it was difficult to see the constant decline in my husband's health. It was difficult seeing the changes in him physically, but it was also difficult to see the changes in the person I had once known. In late 2008 I began journaling my feelings at a blog site online. In order to survive, I also realized I needed to begin to look for the wonders and blessings which were still around me.

On March 24, 2009 I wrote the following words:

“What will be my attitude today concerning my circumstances? It is raining and dreary out today. I enjoy the sunshine more. We, however, need the rain for the plants and grass to grow. So rain is good, and it is a blessing.

I also have grown spiritually and emotionally through the “rain” and “storms” of my fight against breast cancer last year and through my present care-giving experience with my husband. So that is good, and it is a blessing.

The last couple of days have been spent filling out paperwork and also spent on the phone asking questions about this paperwork. I hate filling out paperwork. Filling out paperwork for my husband’s disability and making necessary phone calls has helped us financially in the past, however. So that is good, and it is a blessing. One of the things I needed to do to fill out this paperwork was to get some additional information from our three sons. That has resulted in good and productive conversations. That is good, and that is a blessing. One of these calls to one of our sons resulted in my husband and I being able to hear our little 8 month old granddaughter who lives with her parents in London giggling in the background. What a joy! That is good, and that is a blessing.  We just received a phone call and invite to have supper with family. That is pure joy. I see no negatives there.

Lord, help me not to get bogged down with the negatives of care-giving. Help me to consider it a privilege, and help me to look for the blessings. Help me to look for Your wonders in my life.”

Dear Christian caregiver, care-giving is probably one of the most difficult experiences you will ever undertake. Often that is the case with a calling as significant as care-giving. In the midst of the challenges, negative emotions, and disappointments, however, also look for the wonders, dear caregiver. There are wonders and blessings in even the most difficult of days. Looking for the wonders will allow the joy to remain in your life even in the struggles and heartaches of care-giving.