Sunday, September 30, 2018

Joy Even in the Midst of Heartache

When our hearts are aching and circumstances around us are very difficult, is it possible to have joy?  For me personally, this past year or so has included some physical pain problems and also some heartbreaking situations involving loved ones of mine.   If we properly understand the concept of joy, however, it truly is possible to have joy no matter what is transpiring in our lives. We can experience joy in the midst of heartbreak and right along side emotional and physical pain.

I have been reading about joy in my devotions again this week.  That has been a huge blessing to me.  We need to remind ourselves that joy is not the same as happiness.  Happiness is based on perfect circumstances.  Joy is based on something much more profound.

Joy is only grounded in the Lord and not on our shifting and fickle emotions.  It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Yet we also need to be always pursuing it, because Satan's lies and our own emotions can so easily drag us down.  Personal heartaches and trials, loved one's illnesses and sorrows, and the conditions of the world around us can so easily discourage us.  We should feel sorrow and heartbreak over many things around us.  Yet our joy is found not in circumstances but in a Person, the Lord. Our joy is found in the character of the Lord.  He is always faithful and always loves His people with an eternal love.  He is also powerful to help us in our trials.

I remember in my younger years thinking that if I could just get through the next situation then everything would be good.  Yet there is always a new trial or challenge to face around the bend.  I remember the heartaches I felt while as his caregiver I watched my husband slowly lose his battle against his neurological disease.  I remember the grief I felt when finally losing him in death.  Yet my God was always faithful, and He was always present.  The Lord is the definition of joy.  I need to remind myself that He is also the definition of joy in current struggles.

Also it is important to remember that the more we grieve over our sins, the more joy we find as we turn to the Lord and realize all He has done for us.  Further, it is important to remember that as we experience heartaches and trials our capacity for joy increases.  These heartaches help us appreciate our remaining blessings.  These blessings for me can include something as simple as a beautiful flower or sunrise.  It can include helping others or laughter shared.  It further can include a lovely evening shared with a new friend.  Heartaches themselves can be a blessing, because they help us see God sovereignly working in the midst of our trials and as a result of our trials.  This too adds joy to our lives.  It is a supernatural spiritual thing that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I become so weary of the constant challenges and trials.  Yet without them I would not have to lean on the Lord so heavily.  Without them there would not be true joy.  Joy is a possession found only in the Lord.  Lord, help me always to remember that when I become discouraged.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Peace In the Needs

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

"In a previous meditation we discussed the “Why?” questions that sometimes enters our minds in light of the difficulties that life presents us. We also discussed this in relationship to the heartaches and challenges which often accompany family care-giving. We came to the conclusion that we do not always understand why God allows certain things in our lives, but we know that He is much wiser than we are. We need to trust Him in these things and trust that He is transforming us into something beautiful for His kingdom through all these things.

Dear Christian caregiver, God has taken you along the path of family care-giving. The challenges of care-giving has heightened your awareness of your need for the Lord. Family care-giving may have placed you in circumstances which has made your perceived strengths useless and irrelevant. It may have also made you aware that your weaknesses are glaringly evident.

This is a good thing which has come from the difficulties of your care-giving experience, dear Christian caregiver. During these overwhelming, desert like experiences in your life you are realizing your need for dependence on the Lord. This in turn, has drawn you closer and closer to Him.

From that dependence on the Lord and closer relationship with Him, perhaps you have discovered a new peace blossoming in your heart. This peace has come right in the midst of all the heartaches. You perhaps have discovered that needing the Lord and depending on Him is the key to knowing Him in a much more intimate way. This is the greatest gift you can receive, dear caregiver!

So can you make a sacrifice of praise and thanks for even these difficult times in your life, dear caregiver? Know that through these overwhelming challenges, God is accomplishing His best work both in your life and in the life of your loved one. Will you trust Him with your needs in the days ahead? Will you grow in your intimacy with Him? Will you even thank Him for His work in your life? Will you find His peace this year?"

Also if you wish to order my book to encourage family caregivers here is the Amazon link to my order page:
My book is also found at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  My book is available in Kindle and Nook versions as well as paperback.  Finally, you can get a copy directly from me as well.  Just e-mail me at for specifics, if you wish to go that route.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rest in Him

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

In the book of Job in the Old Testament we read about a godly man who lost everything he owned and all his children in a serious of disasters.  As if that was not sufficient suffering, he was afflicted with a horrible disease.

Do you ever wonder, dear Christian caregiver, why God has allowed the illness of your loved one for whom you are caring? Have you ever wondered why you have to go through all the heartaches and challenges of caring for your ill or disabled loved one? Have you ever wondered why you, a child of God, has to endure these trials?

In the book of Job in the Old Testament, Job, began to ask these questions. God responded to Job in chapter 42. In effect God says, “Who are you to question My ways and My plans? Why should you question Me without knowledge,without understanding My wisdom? You have no right to question Me. Your knowledge is too limited to understand My ways. You do not have My power and wisdom.” Later Job said to God that he had spoken of things that were far beyond his understanding. These were things only God could understand, and Job repented of questioning God’s ways.

I do not understand why my husband was afflicted with his devastating neurological disease. I do not know why he had to go through the disabilities and indignities of his disease. I do not know why I had to go through all the heartaches of being his caregiver and eventually losing him to death.  However, I must trust God that He knew what He was doing, no matter how difficult life became during those years 

The Bible reminds us that we can trust in the Lord, for He has and never will forsake us. His ways are perfect even when we do not understand His ways. He is our shield, and we can take refuge in Him. I can trust in Him and not be afraid of what the future holds. Even in difficult times He is my strength and song.

I do know that I have been strengthened in my faith, and my relationship with the Lord is more precious than ever because of all that has happened to me. God has been my help and support through it all. I needed and still need to trust in Him alone. I don’t understand all God’s ways; but I do know He is a wise, faithful, and loving God. I do know that He is worthy of my trust.

Christian caregiver, you do not know what the future holds for you and your loved one, but you do know that the Lord God holds your future. You may not understand His ways, but He asks you to trust Him. His ways are not always your ways, but He knows what He is doing in what He allows in your life. Rest in Him.

If you wish to order my book to encourage family caregivers here is the Amazon link to my order page:
My book is also found at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  My book is available in Kindle and Nook versions as well as paperback.  Finally, you can get a copy directly from me as well.  Just e-mail me at for specifics, if you wish to go that route.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Treasure the Moments

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

"In December of 2010 my son, Brian, his wife, and my little granddaughter flew in from London. That year I had mixed emotions about their upcoming arrival. I was glad to see my son and his wife, and I was excited about getting to interact with my little granddaughter. Their anticipated stay of two weeks was a long time, however. I was very busy taking care of my husband, Wayne, at the time and having people around so much (even family) would be emotionally tiring even when it was a good time.

It turned out that there were joyful moments, blessed moments, and chaotic moments that year. My son from London, his wife, and their two-year-old little girl were here from December 13 to December 27. My son, from IA, his wife, and their two daughters were also here from the Wed. night before Christmas to Sunday the 26th. Our local son, his wife, and their four children were here part of that time especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It was wonderful having them all here for Christmas at one time. It had been a long time since that happened. My husband, Wayne, experienced an exceptionally good day on that Christmas Day. I consider that one of our blessed moments. That truly was a gift from above.

It was a joyful moment when I saw all of my grandchildren sitting around the table eating a snack or playing together downstairs. It was a blessed and joyful moment when all the grandkids would come in and crawl on bed and give their grandpa a kiss and hug after he was tucked in bed for the night. The blessed moments also came when everyone was considerate of Wayne’s schedule and the way things needed to be with him and even helped me with caring for him.

The overwhelming and chaotic moments came when they were all cooking in the kitchen at the same time and asking me where things were. The overwhelming moments came when the clutter starting piling up with having so many people around so much. The overwhelming moments came when I felt as if I needed and wanted to be there for everyone especially my grandkids, and I still needed to meet my husband’s needs. The overwhelming moments also came when it felt as if I was crowded out of my own space, so to speak.

Those moments were the last Christmas my husband spent with us, however. They are moments we can look back at and treasure as a family.  My husband passed away a little over a week later on January 2, 2011. Treasure all the moments with your loved ones, dear Christian caregiver."

The picture below is of a few of the grandchildren "putting Wayne (Grandpa) to bed" and giving him a good night kiss :

Also if you wish to order my book to encourage family caregivers here is the Amazon link to my order page:
My book is also found at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  My book is available in Kindle and Nook versions as well as paperback.  Finally, you can get a copy directly from me as well.  Just e-mail me at for specifics, if you wish to go that route.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Unexpected Storms

Recently our area was struck with an unexpected storm.  Television reports and the blowing of the sirens alerted us to it's imminent arrival.  Yet the intensity of the winds and the torrential downpour of rain left me in awe.  I should have been in the basement, as the weather reporters advised.  Yet then I would have missed seeing the power of this storm.

As it turns out this storm uprooted some big old trees and broke off many, many big branches in our village. (I posted one picture of an uprooted tree by the village park below.)   It caused many people to lose electrical power-some for thirty-six hours or more.  I never lost power, but I lost internet and phone service for awhile.  Evidence of the storm are still evident on my village streets, although some towns and counties around us fared worse because of the storm.

Life is filled with other kinds of storms as well.  I remember the storm of caring for my husband and watching as his body became more and more disabled over a period of about four and a half years.  The care-giving storm is a difficult storm.  I remember the storm of grief after losing my husband and becoming a widow.  I remember the storm of all the secondary losses as well, and of having to build an entirely new life.

I also  remember other storms since those days.  Sometimes the storms have been very intense and painful emotionally and physically.  Sometimes they have been minor storms which can collectively wear on an individual.  Storms of one degree of intensity or another continue to seem to come.

Recently I read some devotions by Nancy Guthrie from her book, The One Year Book of HOPE. This is what she said in one of her devotions, "Perhaps you find yourself watching the storm clouds gather in the distance, or maybe you are swirling in the center of a storm.  Or perhaps the storm has come and gone and you are picking up the pieces of your life.  God often speaks to us through the storms of our lives.---if we listen, in the midst of the most violent storm we can detect the still, small voice of God, calling us to greater faith in Him."

Often it takes a storm for us to see our need for the Lord and to cry out to Him.  It is often in the storms that our complacency is replaced with a sense of His presence. We then hear His still small voice.  We recognize that He is with us in the storm.  Having the Lord with us in the storm makes all the difference, no matter how tumultuous the storm.

When I was watching the recent storm in our village from my living room window I felt remarkably calm in the moment.  I was relatively safe in the "ark" of my home.  Imagine how Noah in the Old Testament of the Bible felt when he was in that ark in the great flood, however.  Imagine how fearful the disciples in the New Testament felt when they were in their boat in very stormy weather.  Yet the Lord Jesus is our ark of safety in all the kinds of storms that God allows in our lives.  We may not like the storms, but He is always our place of safety.

Sometimes it is easy to tire of the storms that keep coming and to dread the next one which perhaps can not yet be seen on the horizon.  It is easy to also imagine storms that never will occur.  That only uses up emotional energy unnecessarily.  Instead of looking at the waves in current storms, reliving regrets about past storms, or imagining future storms; the Lord wants us to look to Him.  He wants us to focus on Him and embrace Him, and when storms do come he wants us to step out faith.  He wants us to trust His sustaining power and love.

The only way we can prepare for unexpected storms in our lives is by living close to the Lord and by immersing God's Word into our lives.  We need to obediently build our lives on the foundation of obedience to God's Word and on His precious promises to always be with us.  Yes, we will falter and become afraid at times, but the Lord and the promises of His Word will see us through.