Sunday, December 31, 2017

Entering the New Year

We are entering a new year and leaving behind the old year.  For me the old year was a year of countless blessings.  It was also a year that had its share of trials.  In March my Mom passed away.  The last few months have also included a major back pain flare-up and many accompanying appointments.  Further, there were a couple major family issues.  Finally, this time of year is the anniversary of my husband's death seven years ago and a reminder of the disabling effects of his disease in the years before that.

Recently while I was reading one of my devotional books I was reminded that when plagued by an ongoing and persistent trial one should look at it a a rich teaching opportunity.  God is trying to teach me and teach all of us many things through the trials and problems of life.  What we can learn through these opportunities are only limited by our willingness to listen to the voice of God and be teachable.  For me my recent back issues, which are slowly getting better, have reminded me how dependent I am on the the Lord.

This same devotional reminded me that I need to be thankful for all that God is accomplishing in my life through all the problems and trials.  I need to actually thank Him for the trials and problems.  That is often difficult to do in the midst of them, but in the measure I can do that it will both praise God and lift me up as well. In yet another devotional I read that same morning I read this, "Suffering calls us out of our shallowness into the dangerous and demanding but ultimately delightful depths of an intense life with God" (Nancy Guthrie from her book: The One Year Book of Hope)

Psalm 50:14 in the Old Testament of the Bible says, "Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High.  Another translation says, "Bring your thanks to God as a sacrifice."  Sometimes praise and thanks seems almost impossible in the midst of a trial, but a sacrifice of praise in spite of our feelings can bring huge blessings.  God says to us in Psalm 50:23, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."

This new year will present us with new challenges and blessings.  Some will be pleasant.  Some may be very difficult.  Some of you will enter the new year with the ongoing challenges of family care-giving.  Some will also have other challenges.  Trust the Lord through it all.  Seek the Lord and rest in Him through it all.  Even seek to  bring the Lord a sacrifice of praise through it all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hope on This Christmas Eve

(The following post is a blog post that I have published around Christmas the last few years.  Once again, I pray that the Lord will bless your Christmas with His love and comfort, dear caregiver.)

December is the month that we think of Christmas and hope.  Dear 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 the holiday season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Over two thousand years ago before Jesus was born most of the people were living without very much hope.  Then in Luke chapter two of the Bible we read that 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 of His people!

Mary's response to this was openhearted acceptance (Luke 1:38).  Mary would suffer many immediate problems being the mother of Jesus.  She would 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 be overwhelming.  But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances.  Dear 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 of hope, but it is a hope based on His certain promises in the Bible.  His hope is secure and will never leave you.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wonderful Gifts

(I am bringing back today a post that I published in previous Decembers.  I hope you are experiencing a blessed Christmas season, dear caregiver.)

What kind of Christmas do you anticipate this year, dear Christian caregiver? Perhaps your Christmas will involve a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of care-giving, or perhaps you are feeling isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your care-giving responsibilities. Instead, however perhaps you will experience Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of care-giving.

Whatever we experience this Christmas and with every gift we receive at Christmas or at any time of year we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts we receive which are eternally precious, however, are the gifts which God wants to give us.

The Lord first offers us the gift of salvation which is what Christmas and walking with the Lord is all about. He further offers us the accompanying gifts of joy, peace, and hope. They are ours for the taking; and yes, dear Christian caregiver, they can coexist with the pain and heartache which often are present in care-giving. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian caregiver, the heartaches that sometimes accompany care-giving are but a comma in your life story. They are not the end of your life’s story. They are not the end of your loved one’s life story for whom you are caring either.

We also can all receive other gifts. We can receive the gift of trust in God and letting Him control our lives. We receive this gift by resting in Him and by letting go of anything which we are holding onto too tightly or trying to control. As a former caregiver I know how much we want to stop the progress of our love one’s disease, but much of this is beyond our control.

We also all have to let go of feelings of unforgiveness for people who have not been there for us. We further have to receive the gift of forgiveness for ourselves We have to bring to the Lord any true wrongs, and ask for His forgiveness. Further, we often carry around a lot of false guilt about things beyond our control. So whether false guilt or true guilt we need to let it go. We need to give it to the Lord. Trust and letting go are great gifts to have in our lives. Caregivers often carry around a lot of guilt. Dear caregiver, receive the gift of releasing it to the Lord.

One great gift we can give ourselves is the gift of acceptance of our situation. We often waste so much energy wishing circumstances were different, but we can rest assured that we are right where we are supposed to be in our lives. Dear Christian caregiver, your responsibilities are emotionally overwhelming at times. I know that because I experienced it, but in the measure that you can accept where God has placed you now in your life you will find joy. It is a great gift you can give yourself.

Yet another wonderful gift we can give ourselves is the gift of being still in the presence of God. (Psalm 46:10) Doing this helps us grow in peace, wisdom, and insights. Finally, we can give ourselves the gift of gratitude. When we are grateful in spite of our circumstances our joy and blessings will multiply and resentments will flee.

Christian caregiver, you have many challenges and sometimes you experience much emotional upheaval as a caregiver of your loved one. Would not these be wonderful gifts to have in your life? These are wonderful gifts not just for Christmas but all year long!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Stress or Joy

My husband passed away about a week after Christmas seven 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 link below to purchase the book either in paperback or Kindle.  It is also available at Barnes and Noble, Xulon, and elsewhere online.  If you prefer you can also get my book directly from me by e-mailing me for specifics,  My e-mail address is

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Thankfulness in Life's Struggles

We have recently passed through the Thanksgiving season in the United States where I live.  We are already immersed in the Christmas season, if the stores and decorated houses are any indication.  Yet sometimes when we look at our own personal struggles and the tragic happenings in the world around us, we may struggle in our desire to be joyful in the Lord and in our desire to be grateful in all circumstances.

In the last months in our world there have been devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and senseless killings, one of which was at a church where the people were worshiping on a Sunday morning.  I don't know about you, but I have also had some personal struggles in my life.  So how does one hold onto joy and gratitude in such times?

Jesus has said that we will have troubles and trials in this life.  He said in John 16:33 in the Bible, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  The fact that He has overcome the world makes all the difference.  He will walk beside us in this life.  We also have the HOPE of an eternity free from difficulties and trials of this life in the future.

As we enter the Christmas season let's not forget the HOPE that Christ's coming to this earth brought us.  He is willing to forgive our sins, walk beside us in life's struggles, and is preparing an eternity for us in the future.  That should fill us with joy and gratitude, as we approach this Christmas season and into the new year.