Sunday, March 31, 2019

Caregivers and the Names of God

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

During my post care-giving days, I heard some sermons on the names of God in my church. I found those sermons to be a great blessing and comfort to me. I believe thinking about the meaning for some of the many names for God can be a blessing and source of strength for current caregivers as well.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. ELOHIM in Hebrew means the all powerful, all mighty, creator God. YAHWEH is the personal name for God. YAHWEH ELOHIM is your God, dear Christian caregiver! The all powerful God of the universe cares about you, and He is with you in the difficulties and challenges of care-giving!

He is also YAHWEH-jireh, which means the Lord will provide. He will provide for you, dear Christian caregiver, in all the uncertainties and stresses of care-giving. You do not know the future, but He already has the future under His sovereign control. I remember as a caregiver often succumbing to fear and worry. It was difficult to see my husband’s health deteriorating before my eyes. As I look back, however, I know he was with me each step of the way.

I read somewhere that worrying is trying to carry tomorrow’s load with today’s strength. It is trying to carry two days at once. Worrying as a caregiver will not empty tomorrow of it’s heartaches and challenges. Instead it empties today of it’s strength. The truth of the matter is that we have no strength in ourselves at all, but we have unlimited strength in God.  He is in control. He will provide strength as we need it. Trust in YAHWEH-yireh which means the Lord will provide. He is also your YAHWEH-nissi which means the Lord is my banner or miracle. Trust in Him to provide, dear caregiver.

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is also YAHWEH-sabaoth which means the Lord of Hosts or the Lord Almighty or the Sovereign Lord. He is Lord over everything. We can not box God in and tell Him what to do. If we submit to Him, however, He who is all powerful and Lord over everything will go before us. He will pave the way for you on the difficult path of care-giving. When you recognize that you can’t do this care-giving thing on your own, He-the Lord Almighty- is with you, dear caregiver. Trust that He is in control. Rest it with the Lord God, for He also alone is YAHWEH-shalom which means the Lord is peace!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lean on Him

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

Dear Caregiver, the heartaches and difficulties of family care-giving can often be very over-whelming.  This time in your life may very well be the most difficult trial that you have faced.  It is so very physically, emotionally and spiritually draining to see one's love one deteriorate in his or her health and to know that one is very limited in what one can do to help that loved one.

Care-giving often teaches in a very vivid way that self-dependence does not work.  It certainly made that truth very clear to me when I was a caregiver.  Dear caregiver, God wants you to lean on Him.  He want you to trust in Him and acknowledge Him.  God wants you to have a heart that rests in His promises.  He wants you to believe with absolute certainty that He will teach you and guide you every step of the way down your care-giving path.

Surrender to God's plan for your life right now, dear caregiver, even though it is a very difficult path and a path which you would never have chosen for yourself.  Daily lean on and depend on God by relying on His promises in His Holy Word and by prayer. He is the answer and daily provides for you and your loved one's needs.

In fact, dear Christian caregiver, God is using the pressures and challenges of care-giving to produce in you a beautiful Christ-likeness.  He is molding you into a precious vessel more suitable for His glory and use.  In the process of doing this He is guiding you step by step, increasing your trust in Him, giving you His strength, and providing for you and your loved one in a way that is beyond what you think possible or are able to imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  We do not always understand or even agree with God's ways, but we can trust them.  We can also trust His love.  He loved us enough to send His own Son for us.  Can we not also trust Him to provide for us even in life's most challenging situations?

Dear caregiver, family care-giving is often a difficult road to travel.  Yet God is leading you and is with you all the way.  Lean on Him, dear caregiver.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

God's Love and Power

Whom do we trust in times of uncertainty?  It has been over eight years since my husband, Wayne, passed away from his devastating neurological illness.  For four and a half years before that I saw Wayne deteriorate in his body step by step.  Those years before and after his death were very difficult years.  Sometimes they were years when it was easy to give into fear.

A few months ago I began dating a widower named Bob from my home town.  Bob also cared for his wife with a serious neurological disease for a few years.  We both know the commitment and love it takes to care for a spouse with a serious illness.  Thank you, dear caregiver, for all that you do!

Almost three weeks ago Bob and I became engaged, and we will marry this summer.  We are very happy and excited about that.  Yet we will always have a love for caregivers and the people for whom they care.  This is reflected in the volunteer work we do.  We will also always remember and love our spouses for whom we both cared.

Bob and I consider our finding each other a true gift from God.  We both went through some faith challenging days when caring for our spouses and then losing them.  Yet God was with us during those days, and now has blessed us with each other.  There is much to consider when remarrying, however.  In spite of planning a small wedding, there are many details to consider for that.  There are also issues with trying to combine two households of possessions.  In addition to this, there are other extended family members whom we will always love and desire what is best for them.  It is easy to become stressed or even fearful in walking this life's path.

Yet recently I ran across some Scripture verses in my devotions.  These are verses which helped me in my care-giving days and beyond.  They continue to bless me.  I posted those verses with some comments that I recently made on Facebook below.  I pray that they may be a blessing to you, dear caregiver, no matter what your fears or struggles.  I pray that they may be a blessing to anyone who is reading this post.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:17-21)
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Satan wants to devour and destroy, but the Lord God in His power and love is in control. "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when---" (Psalm 37:7)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Prayer Helper for the Caregiver

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

As we have said numerous times, care-giving for a loved one with a serious disease is one of life’s greatest challenges. Only those who have been or currently are family caregivers truly understand the emotional and physical difficulties associated with care-giving.

In the midst of care-giving responsibilities, it is important to focus on the Lord and to turn to Him in prayer. Sometimes in the overwhelming moments we do not know how to pray about our situations, however. At such times, the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life. Romans 8:26 promises us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We often do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us in a way that words cannot express.

Have you ever tried to pray about your care-giving situation and felt so overwhelmed with some heartache that you did not know how to pray? Have you ever felt that you could not find the words to express in prayer the depths of your feelings and needs in your heart? God understands our weaknesses and has provided us a helper in our prayer lives. That helper is the Holy Spirit Himself!

The Holy Spirit prays in and through us. He also prays for us, especially during those times when we are too overwhelmed with heartache to find the right words to express our pain to the Lord in prayer. The Holy Spirit understands our sorrows and is our prayer helper. The Holy Spirit Himself pleads and intercedes for us before the Heavenly Father! The Holy Spirit is our perfect intercessor before the Heavenly Father,  because He intercedes for God's people in accordance with God's will (Romans 8:27b).

Praise the Lord for His infinite blessings! He is our salvation. He is our source of strength, promise, and hope. He provides for every need in our lives for time and eternity. The Lord provides us the Holy Spirit to help us to live for the Lord and to help us in our weaknesses. Finally, the Lord even provides the Holy Spirit as our prayer helper and advocate! What a glorious God we serve! Praise His name!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

God's Plan

I am well acquainted with the life story of a woman who was born on August 24, 1947.  Her life has been a fairly simple life.  She was born in IA of parents of humble means.  She also lived in South Dakota and Minnesota as a child growing up.  Her childhood was not marked with popularity or extraordinary talent.  Sometimes childhood was difficult in fact.  She was blessed, however, with parents who regularly took her to churches which were based on God's Word.

After graduating form college she moved to Wisconsin where she married her husband, Wayne, in 1971.  Wayne and this woman loved each other very much.  They raised three sons.  There were financial struggles from time to time during the child rearing ears.  Yet they clung to their God and to each other.  These three sons eventually married and had children of their own.  This was a blessing to the woman and her husband.

In 2006 this woman's husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological illness.  The next four and a half years were a struggle, as she watched her husband deteriorate step by step.  In the meantime in 2007 she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through eight months of treatment.  This woman often felt as if she was too weak for the assignment of care-giving.  She felt so inadequate for the task.  She didn't understand why God had allowed it.  Yet that was a good place to be, for it taught her that she needed to depend on the Lord.  It taught her that strength could be found in the Lord alone.

Since her husband's death in very early 2011 this woman has had to learn many new lessons of dependence on the Lord.  She has learned that the Lord has been with her all the way.  She has learned that God has always had a plan for her life and has good plans for her future life.  These may not be the plans she would have chosen, but this is the path that was given her to tread.  It was a path that God wanted her to tread with joy even when the path was rugged and difficult at times.

During the course of the years since her husband's death her book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers was also published in 2014.  This happened because of her passion to help and comfort family caregivers based on her own experiences.

An article about her life after care-giving was also published in Guideposts Magazine in 2015.  She stands amazed how God used her story in this way and in other ways to help others.  She knows it was all of Him, and not her, that this happened.  She knows it was something God had planned for her before the world began.  It was God's best plan for her life.

Then about five months ago after being a widow for nearly eight years she began dating a widower named Bob from her home town.   He had read her book and had been blessed and helped by that book when he was a family caregiver for his wife.  They also both volunteer at a place called, The Gathering Place, which is a wonderful social program meeting the needs of people with beginning to moderate dementia.  In February of this year they were engaged and plan to marry in a few months.  This beautiful love story of God turning weeping into joy is also part of God's plan for her. 

This woman further knows that the Lord has an eternal home ready for her, but only after her work on earth is finished.  She knows the Lord has ordained the number of days she will live on this earth  (Psalm 139:16).  She often still succumbs to fear, but she remembers that God has told her not to fear.  Hence, she seeks to rest in the Lord and not fear the future.  She remembers how much the Lord loves her and even delights in her.  She remembers that God has said that He will never leave her or forsake her and that God is in her future.

Dear caregiver, I am sure by now you have guessed that the woman to whom I am referring in this post is the author of this post.  Dear caregiver, the Lord is working in your life also.  He is with you step by step.  He is also in your future.  Nothing happens, including the difficult moments, that are not filtered through His love.  Trust your future to Him.  Rest in Him.