Sunday, October 29, 2017

An Empty Cup

Care-giving and life in general can often become overwhelming.   The common saying that God won't give us more than we can handle is not true.  God will often give us more than we can handle in OURSELVES, but His strength in us can get us through anything He allows in our lives.

In order for His strength to reside in us, however, we must not let our lives and hearts to become empty cups.  Recently I finished a novel by Sarah Price called An Empty Cup.  The main character, Roseanna, was constantly doing for others but not filling up her own cup-not refreshing her own spirit.  This resulted in bitterness and finally burnout in her life.

This can be a danger for family caregivers.  Care-giving is often so consuming that caregivers do not take or feel they have the time to replenish their own spirit.  They are giving and giving of themselves, but often not receiving.  As a result,  many caregivers develop serious health issues of their own.  I personally developed breast cancer while I was caring for my husband.

So how can you as a caregiver fight against your life becoming and empty cup-from caregiver burnout?  I think the most important way is to fill your life's cup is with the Word of God and prayer.  Make time each day to spend in the Lord's presence.  Let His love and promises fill you.  Also ask others to pray for you.

Also take time to do something you enjoy every day even if it is only for a few minutes.   Get out of the house whenever possible.  If you are consumed with your loved one's cares, you may need to learn to say "no" to other responsibilities.  In fact, you may need to ask for help from others.  Why are we so hesitant to ask for help from others?  

Remember, dear caregiver.  You cannot adequately care for your loves one's needs if your own cup is empty.  Fill your own cup, dear caregiver!  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Too Much for Me

(This post is from yet another chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

Dear family caregiver, have you ever said to yourself, “This is too much for me! I can not handle the stress and emotional burdens of care-giving one more day!” I know I thought those thoughts when I was a caregiver.

One day in the middle of July of 2010, I was feeling pretty despondent. I was seeing yet again some  serious declines in my husband’s health. I had been led to believe the life expectancy after diagnosis of his rare neurological disease was six to ten years. Wayne’s declines were coming so fast, however, that I felt as if I was always a step behind in keeping up with them.  As it turned out, Wayne only lived about four and a half years after diagnosis and about five and half months after that discouraging day in July of 2010.

On that day in mid July I found myself having a good cry. At that time I hardly ever cried, because I felt I had to stay so strong all the time. So this was a bit rare for me then. First of all, Wayne had been spending a lot of his time sleeping away his days. Then we had experienced some rather difficult transfers from his wheelchair to the bathroom and back to his wheelchair the day before. I also had recently received some other discouraging news. I was feeling like I could not do this anymore. I was feeling as if it was all too much for me.

Soon after that, I received a card in the mail from my son's family from Iowa. The front of the card read like this, “Nothing that comes your way is too much for you. No matter what it is, God is more than equal to it—you’re not, but He is and He lives in you.” Wow! Talk about a message from God just when I really needed it. Inside the card was written a personal message thanking me for all that I did for Wayne, my son’s Dad.

Earlier in that same week I had placed an ad in our local village ad paper for care-giving help for an hour once or twice a week in the evenings to get my husband to the bathroom and into bed. I thought I would be doing good if I received just one reply. Yet that paper came out that same day, and I received 5 replies! I was able to set up with one of these woman who responded to come in twice a week and later three times a week for an hour each at bedtime. The rates also were very reasonable. So that was another spirit lifter that day. This lady helped me the last months of my husband’s life. Also at the very end my local son was also able to step up and help me.

Those care-giving years especially the last months were very difficult and emotionally and physically challenging, but God was with me each step of the way. He paved the way. He will pave the way for you also, dear Christian caregiver.


Sunday, October 15, 2017


(The post below is also a chapter from my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  Consider ordering a copy for yourself or someone you love.  Also check out Matthew 11:28-30 in the Bible.)

The emotional burdens that accompany caring for loved one can be heavy at times. This is especially true, if the loved one has a terminal illness. Turning to the Lord is really the only resource for these kind of emotional burdens. On July 12, 2010 in the midst of my days caring for my husband I wrote the following:

“I am seeking this month to replace carrying around my emotional burdens with consciously seeking to release them to God in prayer. Every time a negative emotion comes up and they have continued to come up, I have resolved to take a deep breath and release it or give it to God. Like one releases a balloon I want to continually release these feelings to God.

I am serious enough about this that I have even made a visual of this with my computer print program. My picture is of a kite floating in the air and also of a hot air balloon. I also have the names of emotionally negative feelings I want released from my life. So how well am I doing? I think it is helpful to have this resolve and word picture in my mind. I am consciously trying to release the negative emotions as they come up. I also realize, however that this will be a continual battle, because the negative emotions come up so easily and without warning.

When I think too frequently about how far down my husband has declined in the last four years it is still easy to become sad. When I think about his latest transition downward, so that he requires my help every time he needs to use the bathroom and all the ramifications of that, it is easy to feel discouraged. When my husband’s spends many hours some days sleeping it is easy to feel lonely, trapped, and frustrated. When I wonder how long I can take care of him before he needs to go to a nursing home, I feel frightened and a host of other emotions. Care-giving is demanding enough, however, without carrying around the extra negative emotions. Moreover my God wants me to release them to Him. He wants me to trust Him

As I think about my picture I wonder if the kite or the hot air balloon is a better picture. It would seem the hot air balloon is a better word picture. With the kite I am still hanging on to the string trying to maintain control. Perhaps both are good word pictures. There are things I can and must do as an instrument in God’s hands in regards to my husband’s health care. Negative emotions and things beyond my control have to be completely released, however.

There are still many negative emotions and sad moments, but I am fighting the fight. I am seeking to release. I call that victory moment by moment. I call that falling down and then getting up again. I call that being a weak human with supernatural help from above, if I just avail myself of it."

Dear Christian Caregiver, What emotional burden can you release today? With what can you replace that emotion? Give it to the Lord, dear caregiver.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Comfort in Life's Changes

As human beings we tend to not like change.  Changes, adjustments, and challenges tend to fatigue us and also make us a bit fearful of what the future holds.  I remember feeling that way when I was my husband's caregiver.  I was afraid when we received his original diagnosis.  It made me anxious, as I saw his body continually become more and more disabled step by step.

I still do not like changes in other areas of my life.  One thing of which we can be certain, however, is that the Lord promises to be with us and draw us closer to Himself in all the changes. He was with me during those difficult care-giving days, and He will be with you as well, dear caregiver.  He will also be with you and I in other major life changes in our lives be they pleasant or challenging.

Sometime back I ran across an online article about facing unexpected changes in our lives. The author of this article wrote that she had thought she was prepared for any change that life might present, because her husband and her had served overseas as missionaries.  That missionary life had caused them to encounter many challenges and unknowns.  Yet when her husband was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease she found she was not as prepared, as she thought she would be. She had to turn again to the Lord and to Scripture to get her through those challenging days.

Below is a link to that article and the Scripture passages she found comforting during that time.  May they prove a blessing to you as well, dear caregiver.  May they also draw you closer to the Lord.  Just click on the link below.

You also may find some Scripture verses from Isaiah 46 to be a comfort and strength to you in the uncertainties of care-giving, dear caregiver.  Forgive me for once again linking you to a post at another blog of mine.  I hope this too proves to be a blessing to you.  Just click on the link below.

Once again, thank you for all that you do for your loved one dear caregiver.  You are doing noble work in God's kingdom!

(There will be no new blog post next week, as I plan to be away from my computer.  Next post should be on or around October 15.)