Sunday, May 27, 2018

Lessons Learned in Spring

Spring is a time of transition.  It is a time when we tend to switch back and forth between warm and sometimes hot sunny days and rainy, cold days. In 2010 we were apparently blessed with a particularly beautiful spring, however. In late May of 2010 while still a caregiver for my husband I wrote the following words:

I always thought that I liked autumn the best of all the four seasons. This year, however, I am really enjoying spring. Our neighbors to the right of us have three fruit trees in their yard that have beautiful pink blossoms on them. We have a smaller fruit tree on our yard. People across the street also have a fruit tree with beautiful white blossoms on it. There is beauty all around me this spring. I am amazed at the beauty in God's creation.

Spring is also a time for dandelions, however. They are that pesky 'flower' that likes to take over people's lawns. They are especially unattractive when they go to seed. The dandelions coupled with shaggy grass made our lawn look shaggy and unattractive for a few days. Why is it that it is so much easier to concentrate on the dandelions and the grass which is too long instead of the awesomely beautiful fruit trees?

I think this is a picture of all of our lives. It is easy to concentrate on the sorrows, difficulties, and frustrations of care-giving and of life itself. We sometimes forget to concentrate on the blessings and beauties all around us. Most evenings before I go to bed I try to write down three blessings that I received that day. That helps, but it is still easy to slip into the negative emotions, as one works one's way through the day.

Lord, comfort me in my times of sorrow and frustration. Give me the perseverance of the dandelion which continues to flourish in spite of being mowed down and hated. Finally open my eyes to Your blessings, Lord; and make me truly thankful.”

Care-giving can be extremely challenging and discouraging. In spite of this, dear caregiver, try to look for the blessings in the midst of the chaos of care-giving.  God often gives us the blessings of character building, growth in the faith, and the gift of His presence in a special way through the avenue of the challenges and trials of life. 

When my grandchildren were younger they would sometimes come to my house with fresh bouquets of dandelions. They did this because of their love for me. The dandelions which often are considered a weed and a nuisance by many, then became a blessing to me. In a similar way the Lord can use the discouraging aspects of care-giving to show His love to you, dear caregiver. Trust Him to use the difficult things in your life for ultimate good even though that is most likely very difficult for you to see now. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Unexpected Love Gifts From the Lord

I love it when the Lord blesses me with an unexpected love gift.  The Lord has already given me more than enough.  He has shown His love for me by laying down His life for me.  He has saved me from my sins and made me His child.  He also daily cares for me and provides for my needs.  Yet He also from time to time "wows" me with an unexpected love gift.  He does that for you as well, if you are a child of God.  Do you and I recognize and appreciate the unexpected love gifts the Lord gives us?

I think He especially loves to give us these love gifts during or around a time of difficulty or trial in our lives.  For me personally, I like to think of these gifts as love gifts from my Heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus.  I no longer have an earthly husband, but Jesus has proven Himself a wonderful Heavenly Husband by His faithful love to me.

Let me give you a few examples of times when I have experienced the Lord's special love gifts to me.   I experienced one of them a few months before my husband's death.  On this occasion it was my birthday in August of 2010.  Family were in my home.  My son called me outside to look at the rainbow in the sky.  It was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen.  It was to me a love gift that day reminding me of my Lord's love for me and of His faithfulness.  As my husband's caregiver, the next few months were very difficult, as my husband's body continued to decline.  My husband passed away in early January of 2011.  Yet God was faithful through all those care-giving days, and He has been faithful since in my life as a widow. That day in August He gave me that rainbow as a symbol of His love for me and His promise to always be faithful.

I remember another time when I looked out the window and saw a perfect cross in the beautiful sunrise.  It only lasted a brief period of time.  Yet I saw it, and it felt like a love gift from my Lord.  Another time a granddaughter found an old postcard from my Dad behind a register in the house where they were presently living and in which I had lived in the past.  The postcard had been written many years before and lost to me for many years until my granddaughter found it.  It was presented to me on or around what would have been my Dad's birthday and at a time when I really could use encouragement.  It had been written many years before when my Dad was in the hospital, and I was especially blessed by one of the last sentences.  That sentence said, "There are days I feel a little blue, but there is one Almighty above who loves and cares."  Was that postcard from my Dad a special love gift from the Lord when I needed it?  I think so. 

This past several months I have experienced the love gifts of ministering hands due to the back pain flare-up I experienced starting in November.  Since then I have experienced pain/tightness to one degree or another in my neck, shoulder, leg , and back.  Yet God has provided people to slowly help relieve and heal these issues.

Let me share one other example which just happened to me within the last few days.  A friend and I were planning to make a 500 mile trip leaving next week-end, so I could attend my granddaughter's high school graduation..  Because of an issue which came up in her life, my friend canceled on me a few nights ago.  I did not feel I could make the trip alone especially with my back issues.  So that night I lay in bed unable to sleep going over all possible scenarios to be able to get to my granddaughter's graduation.  The next day God provided a ride for me from a gracious and loving couple.  Not only that, but this woman hugged me and prayed over me.  She said any other week-end it would not have worked for them to take me because of the busyness of their business, but this particular week-end they were travelling to that area anyhow.  Once again the Lord provided a wonderful love gift to me.

The Lord is always providing love gifts.  Yet we need to have our eyes open to see them.  We need to not just talk about God, but we must sense His presence and see His working in our lives.  What love gifts is the Lord placing in your path?  It could be a lovely flower, a beautiful sunrise, or an unexpected kindness from someone.  It is so easy to get caught up in the hardships of life, but let's not forget to look for His special love gifts to us.

(PS I plan to be away from my computer next week-end; so the next post will be on or around May 27th, Lord willing.  Use this as a time to reread some of my earlier posts.)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Finding an Oasis

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

Because caregiving for a family member can be so intense, it is important to take little breaks or an occasional oasis from care-giving. Both in October of 2009 and 2010 my husband and I went away for a few days to the WI Dells with my son’s family. My son’s family went to get lengths, including taking out the back seat of their van to accommodate my husband’s mobility equipment or a special chair.

We also always enjoyed our Thursday nights suppers at my son’s family’s home. As long as I was able with my husband’s deteriorating health, I also took occasional substitute teaching days and I helped my daughter-in-law with home schooling our local granddaughters on Wednesday mornings. I further sang in church choir and attended woman’s Sunday school.

In addition to this I attended some concerts with a group of ladies. About a half a year before my husband died I hired a CNA to help me a few nights a week, so I could attend these occasional concerts. I found when I had these little breaks from care-giving, I was better able to keep things in perspective and keep my spirits up.

Dear caregiver, care-giving for a loved one is so intense and stressful that it is important that you find an occasional oasis from your care-giving. If you can not leave your loved one alone even for brief periods of time, bring in someone else to stay with your loved one from time to time. Also, plan and make a little oasis or spot in your home where you can retreat and regroup. Finally, I found I needed to rise earlier than my husband every morning to spend time with the Lord in prayer and Scripture reading. Finding these moments of oasis are essential to your emotional and spiritual well being, dear caregiver.

(As a PS someone recently sent me a money love gift so that in her words, "others may also receive your book." So I am offering a complimentary free copy of my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers, to the first two people who e-mail me telling me a bit of your story and your mailing address.  My e-mail address to contact me is )