Saturday, June 19, 2021

Father's Day

This week-end is Father's Day in the United States, so I am taking a bit of a break from my regular format.  I am thankful today for my Dad who showed an immense amount of patience and perseverance in his life.  He patiently endured the struggles that most farmers endure.  He always put his trust in the Lord during those moments.  I also saw my Dad's patience, perseverance, and trust in the Lord during those years of major health problems.  I still have a postcard that he sent me while he was in the hospital.  He wrote this that day, "I feel a little blue, but there is One Almighty above who loves and cares."  My Dad always read Scripture and prayed at the table as well.  His example helped me to persevere during some very difficult moments in my life like caring for my first husband, fighting breast cancer, and losing my first husband to death.

Today I also am thankful for my first husband, Wayne, who was the father to my sons and now lives in Heaven.  His Godly example to his sons and his gentle and loving nature were wonderful examples to all who knew him.  He was a hard worker, and loved his family very much.  He also persevered until his death though some very difficult health problems.  In many ways he reminded me of my Dad.

Finally, I am thankful for Bob who became my husband two years ago this coming July.  He is a loving and concerned father to his daughters and also grandpa to his grandchildren.  He is very concerned about their welfare.  He also cares about my children and their welfare.  He further loves me.  He often reminds me of God's blessings to us.

Today, dear reader, thank God for the blessing of Godly men in your life as well.




Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Deep Deep Love of Jesus


Are you going through a difficult time right now?  Are you overwhelmed with a family care-giving issue, with another family issue, a job issue, spiritual dryness, or some other overwhelming issue?  I suggest you read Ephesians 3:14-21.  In doing so, you will become overwhelmed with the love of God instead of the current trial you are facing.  This passage has always been a blessing to me.  Hearing it preached from recently in my church made it come alive for me once again.  Listen to the words of this passage and revel in them:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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.

The psalmist in Psalm 119:68 says this to the Lord, "You are good and what You do is good."  If we truly begin to understand the goodness of God and the width, length, height, and depth of His love; we can accept both the bitter and sweet experiences that He allows in our lives.  The more and more we understand how vast is His love for us, the more we trust Him in all things.  

Then we also grow in the fullness of God talked about in this passage.  By growing in the fullness of God we learn of His sufficiency in our weakness.  We also grow in our intimacy with the Lord, and we long for greater intimacy.  We grow in our enjoyment of our relationship with Christ in our heart.  We do not just possess head knowledge, but become people with a heart aflame for the Lord.

We are strengthened in our inner being through the Holy Spirit in this relationship with the Lord, and it enables us  to experience a wonderful security and confidence in our identity and purpose.  Run to the Lord daily for that kind of relationship!  To Him be the glory!

I have included links to two wonderful hymns which speak of the depth of God's love for us who believe.  Just click on the links below.

Oh The Deep, Deep Love of God is one of these hymns:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vUhwyjdk8A

Another great song is The Love of God :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6B_jYtjvME


(There will be no new post next week.  Use that at an opportunity to read some older posts.  The next post, Lord willing, will be on or around June 19 or 20.)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Toxic Behavior

This week I am going to discuss a topic that strays a bit from family care-giving which was the original focus and continues to be the main focus of this blog.  Yet the topic we are going to discuss is something that affects families and individuals.  It involves people who know and are influenced and perhaps abused by toxic people.  In many cases they think they need to cater to the "needs" of this toxic person and hope they can "fix" the toxic person.

Toxic people are wrapped up in their own agenda.  They seldom see their own faults and sins, and often blame others for all their problems. They may appear to be really nice at times, and may consider themselves spiritually and intellectually superior.  Yet they are usually unstable emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.  They are often angry people and show it in their cruel words and actions. Sometimes it is blatant and sometimes it is more subtle.  Yet it tends to leave their loved ones and friends around them feeling inadequate and sad.

Now we all say hurtful things at times, or perhaps we do something that hurts the feelings of another individual.  Our spouses or friends may hurt us also sometimes by their words or actions.  The Bible talks about not using our tongues in a sinful way, and in one sense there is toxicity in us all.  In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it."   What I am talking about above, however, is something much more destructive than that.  

Do you recognize someone you know in the description I gave of a toxic person?  I do.  How does one deal with such a person in one's life, especially if they are a family member?  There are no easy answers.  However, we must remember three things.  We can't fix or change such a person.  Often we can only pray for them.  Only God can change them, and they have to want to change.  Secondly, sometimes the only thing to do is to remove oneself from that person's presence and influence.  Thirdly, if things ever become abusively dangerous; outside help and intervention should be sought.  

Finally, there are a number of internet articles on toxic people.  If you know someone who you suspect is having a toxic effect on your personally, you may wish to read some of these articles.  They may give valuable insight into what is involved with this kind of toxicity and insight into how to deal with toxic situations and people.


Friday, May 21, 2021

Lessons Learned From a Dishwasher

 


Way back in January our brand new dishwasher that we had just purchased the July before malfunctioned.  We were told that it was a faulty drain pump.  After months of the drama of waiting for a replacement drain pump and them sending us faulty replacement parts three times over for the old dishwasher, we finally received a new free dishwasher installed in early May.

This reminds me of my life and all of our lives.  Our lives need to be drained of toxic thoughts, emotions, and attitudes in order to be useful in God's kingdom.  God wants to help us fight discouragement, doubt, pride, spiritual dryness, sinful attitudes and actions, and fear which clog up our lives.  These things keep us from being as effective in God's kingdom as we could, and they rob us of joy.

A dishwasher also has to fill with clean water in order to do the job it was meant to do.  So we also need to fill our minds with good things-with promises, warnings, and instruction from the Word of God. Then we have to be filled with love for God and others and also filled with a desire to live our lives for Him.  This will help us to be flourishing people who function well in God's kingdom and in the world.  It will help us be people of joy even in times of difficulty.       

Friday, May 14, 2021

Caring for an Elderly Parent

 


Perhaps you have reached a point in your family's life when it is time for you to talk to an elderly parent about the need for more care for them.  Perhaps you are seeing declines in mental or physical health, or you are seeing an inability to perform normal daily tasks.  You realize you need to have a conversation with them.  This requires sensitivity and wisdom.  Click on the link below for some tips for accomplishing that task.


https://caregiverdave.com/a-caregiver-guide-to-communicate-with-aging-parents-about-their-health/?utm_source=Caregiver+Dave&utm_campaign=18ec6bcff4-Weekly+Newsletter+-+01.03.2021&utm_med



Saturday, May 8, 2021

God's Grace and Goodness

 


A favorite verse of mine the last several years is Hebrews 13:5.  In the later part of that verse God says, "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." I also love Ephesians 3:20 which says, "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"

I think back on difficulties and trials I have experienced in the last years.  There are current trials as well.  I also remember, however, God's presence with me through it all it all in the past; and I remind myself of His presence in current situations.  I further remember God's promises to me in His Word.  Finally, I have also seen His wonderworking power and work in the publication of my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  I further have seen Him granting many "immeasurably more" than I can "ask or imagine" other blessings including second love and remarriage.

God is truly with His children in good times and difficult times.  Life can be very difficult for the child of God at times, but He always works things for our ultimate good.  It may not seem that way at the time, but God truly is directing and guiding our lives, and His power is within us.  Thank God for that, because in my own feeble attempts I would fall flat on my face.

I can be sure of God's presence and  strength, because when I was a young woman I became His child.  I was raised in a Christian home, but I had to accept His grace for me personally through the Holy Spirit working in me.  This is true for all of us.  All of His promises in His Word hold true only if we have accepted Him as our Savior and Lord.

God is the Creator and King, the one Lord over the universe.  After sin entered the world people rejected God.  God won't let rebellion stand forever, but He sent Jesus as a sacrifice for sin.  He not only died to pay for our sins; but he rose again victorious over sin, satan, and death.  He offers us forgiveness and reconciliation, and we are invited to accept that offer.  When we turn to Him for forgiveness He transforms our hearts, and slowly makes our desires for Him and His will more and more important to us. (Check out Romans 19 and Ephesians 2.)  

What is beautiful is that the Lord not only desires to save us from our sins and failures, but He is then with us as we face life's struggles.  Lysa Ter Keurst says this in her book, Embraced "Though we may get our hearts broken from the effects of sin in this in-between time, God's goodness will eventually set the world right.  In the meantime, we must hold fast to the truth of who God is and His unchanging nature:  God is good.  His plans are good.  His requirements are good.  His salvation is good.  His grace is good.  His forgiveness is good.  His restoration is good.  That is what I believe about God.  God is good."  There is victory in Him!  Praise the Lord!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Suffering and Trials



Suffering and trials, be it a pandemic or a personal loss, are often God's way of speaking to us.  He is showing us that He is sovereign and in control of everything in our life and in the world around us.  Suffering and trials are an opportunity to seek God, to pant after Him, and to long for Him.  It is a time to listen to God and learn from God.  It is a time to remember God in a special way.  Although every trial in our life is not the result of some particular sin in our life, it is also a time for repentance and turning to God.  

Some time ago I ran across a quotation from one of my devotion books which I had posted on my Facebook page that year.   This is what it said:  "Suffering calls us out our our shallowness into the dangerous and demanding but ultimately delightful depths of an intense life with God.  We simply cannot confront the harsh realities of loss and pain without being stretched and deepened."  

That is a pretty profound statement is is not?  There is much food for thought in that statement.  If deep suffering and even petty daily irritations deepens our intense life with God, should we not actually thank Him for difficult circumstances and situations in our lives?

At the very least I think we should be encouraged and not discouraged when the difficult moments come. Recently I also read the following in my devotions, "To look around is to be distressed; to look within is to be depressed; to look up is to be blessed."  Discouragement is a favorite tool of Satan.  Will we succumb to discouragement, or will we choose gratitude which is God's way of healing our souls?  Lord, help us choose gratitude and Your joy and encouragement. 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Your Treasure and Your Strength



(In my last post I talked about the publication of my book.  The post this week is a chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is your treasure and strength in the storm of family care-giving.  God may be using the storms of your care-giving days to show you His strength in your weakness, as you seek to deal with the overwhelming challenges.  Because of your relationship with the Lord, dear Christian caregiver, you can approach God with confidence and freedom for help and strength as you face each new day.

I felt so inadequate for the task of being my husband's caregiver.  It was not a role I would have chosen, and I certainly felt unprepared for that role.  However, God, delights to use unlikely ordinary, weak people to do His will.  When you yield your limitations and even failures to the Lord, dear caregiver, you become a wonderful instrument in the Lord's hand.  His strength and not your own will then fill you.

Also, I know of no greater work in the kingdom of heaven than family care-giving.  It is often a thankless job accompanied by grief and perhaps tears as one sees one's loved one's health deteriorate.  It is never a pointless role, however.  For whatever is done for others is done for the Lord, and it will produce a harvest of blessings and joy in God's perfect timetable.

The family care-giving role is a role that often feels as if it is leading down blind alleys.  Christian caregivers, however, can be assured that their Good Shepherd is leading and guiding them each step of the way.  Depend on Him for guidance and protection just as lambs follow their shepherd.  As your Good Shepherd, He will walk before you and lead you.  He is your hope for today, as you face your care-giving challenges.  He is also your hope and the hope of your loved one for the future!  He is your treasure and Strength, dear caregiver.


(As I indicated last week, If you wish to purchase my book you can purchase it from me directly by contacting me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.    My book is also available at Amazon at this link:  https://www.amazon.com/DEAR-CAREGIVER-Reflections-Family-Caregivers-ebook/dp/B00JQFJJRA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver+by+Sharon+Vander+Waal&qid=1617808237&s=books&sr=1-1  

You can further find my book at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  The Barnes and Noble link is here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dear-caregiver-sharon-vander-waal/1119198854?ean=9781629524269  There are Kindle and Nook versions of the book as well as print copies.  Consider giving this book as a love gift for a family caregiver you know or buying it for yourself.)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

April Memories

 


April marks the remembrance of significant events in my life.  Some events were difficult and some were very exciting.  It was in April of 2006 that my first husband, Wayne, went into the doctor's office, and we received our first indication that something was wrong.  This was followed by a four and a half year struggle with his ever increasingly disabling neurological disease.  

Yet it was in April of 2008 that I completed eight months of breast cancer treatment.  What an exciting day!  I remember dancing a little jig with a couple of my granddaughters that day.  Seven years ago in April in 2014 also marks the publication of my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  What an exciting day that was as well!  

Based on my experience as a family caregiver, I wrote my book to encourage current family caregivers.  Family care-giving, while a noble calling, is also exhausting and sometimes discouraging.  If you are a family caregiver, or you know a family caregiver, they may be blessed and encouraged by my book based on my own experience as a caregiver.  In fact, my current husband, Bob, was blessed by reading my book when he was caring for his first wife, Gloria. 

My book starts with a brief synopsis of my care-giving story followed by over one hundred brief chapters meant to encourage current caregivers.  While writing my book I sought to stay connected with my readers by relevant examples from my own care-giving experiences.  I did this by seeking to drive home messages that would encourage readers to persevere in the challenges of family care-giving.  I tried to be vulnerable and honest about the feelings and emotions that I experienced during that time in my life as a caregiver for my husband.  I also tried to express both the blessings and challenges of that time period in my life.  I further tried to share the importance of drawing closer to the Lord in difficult and challenging moments.

If you wish to purchase my book you can purchase it from me directly by contacting me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.    My book is also available at Amazon at this link:  https://www.amazon.com/DEAR-CAREGIVER-Reflections-Family-Caregivers-ebook/dp/B00JQFJJRA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver+by+Sharon+Vander+Waal&qid=1617808237&s=books&sr=1-1  

You can further find my book at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  The Barnes and Noble link is here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dear-caregiver-sharon-vander-waal/1119198854?ean=9781629524269  There are Kindle and Nook versions of the book as well as print copies.  Consider giving this book as a love gift for a family caregiver you know or buying it for yourself.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Out of Control Situations




Have you ever felt as if you were dropped into an out of control situation?  Have you ever felt as if you had no clue how to handle a certain set of circumstances?  I felt that some years ago when my first husband, Wayne, was diagnosed with an terminal neurological illness.  I felt that many days, as I cared for him in his ever declining body disabilities.  I also felt it when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after Wayne's diagnosis, and sometimes in situations living as a widow after Wayne's death.  My current husband, Bob, also felt it when he cared for his first wife.  The knowledge of God's presence helped us through these circumstances.

Bob and I have also felt we were dropped into an out of control situation(s) when praying for and counselling family members.  Sometimes we have felt at a lost for wisdom in navigating this/these situation(s).  We in addition have felt it as we have navigated through the COVID 19 era.  Praise God that we are now both fully immunized!

Situations that tax our wisdom and endurance have huge benefits, however.  They reveal to us our own pride, fears, and even sinful selfishness.  They reveal to us what we are sometimes wrongly relying on besides the Lord for our security and peace.  They reveal that only the Lord can fill that need for security and peace.  They show us His love, forgiveness, peace, and wisdom.  Out of control situations show us that we are desperate and inept in ourselves, but strong in the Lord.  Let's always run to His open arms for help, guidance, and comfort.   

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Joy




Easter is a special time of year.  I would say it is my favorite holiday.  I love the deep spiritual significance of the true meaning of Easter, and I love that it has not been so commercialized as other holidays.  

Easter means that the Lord Jesus came to this earth and lived a perfect life for you and me.  He later died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and then He arose again on the third day to prove that He had won over sin and death and Satan. If you and I have accepted his gift of salvation by repentance and faith, we are His child now and for eternity.

Easter also means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, identifies with our pain and the pain of our loved ones. As we struggle in our own needs or to help our loved ones, Jesus Christ identifies with us. Having suffered the worst possible pain for us on the cross He is able to sympathize with our heartaches and weaknesses. He is also an all-powerful Savior to whom we can freely go for grace in our moments of sadness and overwhelming and crushing needs.  (Check out Hebrews 4:15-16 in the New Testament.)

Because of Easter and Christ's sacrifice, we can freely approach God the Father Himself with both our needs and our loved one's needs. We can cry out to Him for help and call Him our “Abba Father,” because He considers us His special children (Romans 8:15). Easter also means that when our hearts are so weighed down with the heartaches and overwhelming circumstances of life that we do not even know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will intercede and pray for us! (Romans 8:26)

Easter means that although we will always face trials and troubles in this world, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world.  He is also our source of peace even in the most challenging of times (John 16:33).  Even in overwhelming circumstances and even when we do not understand God's ways in allowing certain things in our lives, God is working for our ultimate good. We are victors in Him! (Romans 8:28 & 37)

No matter what happens in our life situations we will slowly heal emotionally and spiritually. God will always be with us, and joy will return one day. His love for us will never fail. He proved that love for us on the cross. That is the meaning of Easter for all of us.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

God's Plan A

 


Do you ever question God's plan for your life?  When something happens in your life that is tragic or is not your first choice, do you feel God has to scramble to come up with plan B instead of His first plan for your life?

Nancy Guthrie writes this in her book, The One Year Book of Hope, "God's plan for your life is unfolding, and nothing and nobody can hinder it---Whatever is happening in your life, you can welcome it as God's sovereign Plan A.  God carries out His own good purposes without mistakes or regrets, and His plan is never thwarted."

Nancy also says that Satan tries to scheme and destroy, and many things in this life are difficult and sometimes tragic.  God doesn't run behind Satan, however, frantically trying to clean up his messes.  God is not forced to go to Plan B.  Satan's schemes do not catch God off guard.

God, even in the tragedies and sad moments of life, always has a good plan for our lives.  He is always working for His glory and for our spiritual good.  It was God's Plan A that I was a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne.  It  was God's plan A that I became a widow.  God's plan A was in operation for my life in the years and events that have followed in both the times of joy and heartache.  It was God's Plan A for me, as I began a new chapter in my life with my new husband, Bob.

God's Plan A is always in place for you as well, dear reader.  This is true in all the events of your life.  He is rejoicing with you in your joys and is always there to comfort you in your sorrows.  On this Palm Sunday let us join the believers of old and today and sing "Hosanna to the King of Kings."


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Joy or Despair?



Our attitude when we go through difficult times can influence whether we approach those times with joy or despair,  When I was going through cancer and care-giving for my first husband at the same time some years ago, I read the following in a devotional:  "Cancer is the little "c."  Christ is the big "C." I could also have said, "Care-giving for a terminal and constantly declining husband is the little "c."  Christ is the big "C."

I think we can apply that to anything in our life.  Grief is the little "g," while God is the big G."  Loneliness is the little "l," while our loving Lord is the big "L." Political unrest is the little "p."  Powerfulness of the living God is the big "P."  An unstable family member is the little "u."  The unchanging nature of God is the big "U."  Tests or trials of any kind are the little "t," while our Triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-is the big "T."  Can you think of any other trial in your life or in someone else's life who is dear to you to which you could apply this?

Someday when Jesus returns, all trials and hardships will be over.  Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  What a blessed promise and hope!  

Meanwhile I would like to share some words I have in a picture frame on my computer desk.  This is what is says, "I want to be in love with Jesus to the point of complete contentment, to serve Him with joy in every aspect of life.  I want to live with an anticipation of the joy to come when there is no more suffering, no more loss, no more heartache."

Below is a link to David Phelps singing, "No More Night."  May you find the song to be a blessing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iPIi7sunEU



Saturday, March 13, 2021

Eternity Talk Revisted



In the last blog post, we talked about death and eternity.  In that post I talked about the death of my own Mom four years ago.  My husband, Bob, and I also experienced the death of our first spouses.  We grieve the loss of loved ones.  Yet for the true child of God, death is only a gateway into the presence of God and a life free from crying, sadness, and pain.  Revelation 21 in the Bible talks about this.  

To experience the wonder of Eternity ahead, we need to be in a relationship with the Lord now, however.  Easter is coming up in a few weeks when we remember Jesus' death to pay for our sins and His resurrection.  To really experience His forgiveness and a sweet personal relationship with Him now and throughout Eternity, we need to turn from our own ways, ask for forgiveness, and walk with Him. 

Such a relationship with the Lord is not always easy.  We still face heartaches and trials.  Bob and I faced that, as we saw our first spouses deteriorate physically step by step before our eyes.  We sometimes still face heartaches, as we see loved ones struggle and in our own struggles.  Yet the Lord promises us to always be with us step by step.  He promises never to leave us or forsake us.  

In this kind of relationship  with the Lord even hardships become a blessing, because they draw us closer to Him.  They make our relationship with Him sweeter and more precious.  We can find rest in Him.  In fact, rest is found nowhere else but in Him.  He is sufficient.  Psalm 36:8-9 says this of our blessings in a relationship with the Lord, "They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights.  For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." 

Yet some day life on this earth will be finished.  Life on this earth is very brief.  For a child of God, Eternity is a wonderful thing.  My husband, Bob, often tells a story of his first wife.  When she learned she had a terminal illness, she said, "I am going to see Jesus!"  May this be all of our testimonies.


Monday, March 1, 2021

Four Years Ago and Eternity


This past Thursday on March fourth it was four years ago since my Mom passed away.  This was a few days after having suffered a severe stroke.  I was with my Mom the last few minutes of her life.  It was a sad but wonderful experience.  That day it felt like I was given the honor of ushering my Mom into Heaven.

A few days after my Mom's death four years ago I wrote about my experiences the day of her death and the days following in my weekly blog post.  In that blog post I  talked about eternity and also care-giving for a loved one.   Bear with me as I bring back today the words and sentiments of that blog post . Below is what I wrote four years ago.  It is addressed to family caregivers for whom this blog was originally started.  Yet I hope it a blessing to others as well :


"My Mom passed into eternity a few days ago on Saturday, March 4.  One might think this has nothing to do with family caregivers.  Yet really all of life is about eternity.  This life is merely a preparation for eternity. All the struggles the loved one for whom you are caring is enduring and all the struggles you also endure will be nothing when you begin experiencing the glories of Eternity some day.  In that future day you will experience these glories which are beyond our ability to fully comprehend now, if you are the Lord's child. Therefore II Corinthians 4:18 reminds us to fix our eyes on the Lord and on what is yet unseen and not on the temporary and on what our eyes can see now.

Will you then indulge me, as I share a little of my experiences of these recent past days?  As of Thursday I am home again in WI back from my trip to MN.  I was physically and emotionally tired upon arriving home and still am in many ways.  Yet my experiences while away from home though sad were also rich and sweet. Saturday morning, March 4, I was the only one of my siblings with my Mom at the moment.  I had the privilege of talking to my Mom, singing songs to her, and reading Scripture to her.  There was no outward response, but I believe she heard me.  Very shortly after she passed into Glory.  I marvel at God's timing in this in so many ways.  I will always consider it a special gift.

Visitation night on the following Tuesday and the funeral day on Wednesday were also special moments.  There were moments of weeping, shared hugs, and shared memories.  We were also reminded not only of the fact that my Mom is with the Lord, but we were reminded of our shared precious faith and Godly heritage that we have in my family.

My Mom was a caregiver for my Dad for a few years in the same way as I was a caregiver for my husband, Wayne.  We both had to rely on the Lord during those years.  We both had to release our husbands to Eternity at a certain point.  I lived five hundred miles away from my Mom; so I was not able to be directly involved with her care-giving in the same "hands-on" way, as I had for my husband. Yet I am thankful that I may have been her caregiver in those last moments of her life. 

When I spoke to my Mom I reminded her of Eternity and the glories of eternity just ahead.  I encourage you to do that for yourself and for your loved one as well, dear caregiver.  Whether death is imminent for your loved one or not, life on this earth is so short.  Concentrate on Eternity, as you walk your life with purpose, dear caregiver!"

 



 

 


Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Next Chapter For You




This blog was started to encourage family caregivers.  I began this blog after caring for my first husband, Wayne, for four and a half years.  After many happy years together with my first husband, the last few years were difficult.  Wayne became more and more disabled due to a rare neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy.  He was totally dependent on me in the end and passed on January 2, 2011.  Yet I loved him to the end.

One never forgets those whom we have loved.  There is a sense in which one always grieves their loss.  Yet through slow healing one can and must find new joy and purpose again in life.  If you are a widow, this can happen by remaining single.  A widow or widower often has time to pursue wonderful volunteer activities and services to others that she or he did not have time to do in their married life.  

It also may mean remarriage and finding love again.  Remarriage does not mean forgetting or not occasionally grieving one's first love.  How could we do that even if we tried?  Remarriage is just one way to move on to God's next chapter for us.  In the same way as one loves more than one child in one's family, so it is possible to love and marry again.  

Below is  a link you might find helpful explaining that concept.  I hope you find it a blessing as I did:


If you are a former caregiver who has lost the love of your life, take time to heal.   Yet work toward healing and joy again.  This may mean living as a single person the rest of your life.  It also could mean remarriage.  Second marriages have their own challenges, as does living as a single the rest of your life.  Yet be open to God's leading and next chapter for you.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Tribute to Caregivers

 "More than 65 million Americans volunteer to care for a disabled, chronically ill, or aging loved one.  They are known as 'caregivers.'"  There are also many more caregivers throughout the world.  Thank you for all that you do, dear caregiver.  Below is a link to a song which pays tribute and thanks to caregivers all over.  If you are a caregiver may you be blessed by this song.  

The song was written by Peter Rosenberger who cares for his wife Gracie.  Over 30 years ago when only seventeen years old Gracie was involved in a terrible car accident.  She suffered over 200 fractures and eventually both of her legs had to be amputated.  She still feels a significant amount of chronic pain, but her husband is her faithful caregiver.  Thank you, Peter, for all you do, and thank you all caregivers for all you do for your loved ones.  

Below the first link is yet another link to a Facebook news clip of a man's loving care for his wife in a nursing home,  I hope you will be inspired by that as well.  Thank you, Lord, for loving and faithful caregivers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeUA0JBTBH8

https://www.facebook.com/KARK4/videos/10154028845894113


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Jesus, Our Divine Valentine

Valentine's Day is considered a day for lovers to express their love for each other with cards, and perhaps candy, flowers, or jewelry.  For some people, however, it can be a day of sadness because of past losses or current trials.

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love.  He in effect is your Divine Valentine.  He is sufficient.  He alone can give you all that you need.  People may fail you at times, but the Lord never will fail you.  

Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine.  This poem became very special to me especially when I was a widow.  I still love this poem.  I especially love Jesus being referred as the Rose of Sharon in the Song of Solomon reference, because Sharon is my first name.  (Be sure to check out this verse and all the verses for that matter.)  Sharon is the name of a place and not the name of a person in the Bible, but I still love this verse.  I hope you find the poem and accompanying Bible references a blessing.    


Your Divine Valentine

A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.
(Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.  (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity,
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Trusting and Waiting on Him




I usually use about four different devotional books in my morning devotions.  I am often amazed how they all fit together with a single message.  It is amazing how God speaks to us this way.  Today I am going to take some Scripture passages that I read the morning I penned this blog post, and just let them speak to you.  So sit back and let God's Word flow over you.  Also please excuse the paraphrasing that I also include.

In Psalm 13:1 the psalmist asks "How long, O LORD?"  Sometimes when going through overwhelming situations and circumstances it is difficult to wait on the Lord.  Yet waiting on the Lord and on His timing is necessary.  It builds up our faith in Him.  God's provision is always coming even though not always in the way we think it will come.  

When God's provision does come we will have reason to rejoice.  Psalm 13:5-6 says, "But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me."  Another translation translates it this way, "I've thrown myself headlong into Your arms.  I'm celebrating Your rescue.  I am singing at the top of my lungs.  I am so full of answered prayers."

I Peter 5: 8-9 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist Him, standing firm in the faith,----And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To Him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen. "  Satan wants us to give into anxiety and fretting.  God want us to trust Him, His timing, and His working in our lives.

Another beautiful passage I read the morning I penned this post was Philippians 4:19.  It says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  My God-my Savior, Lord, and friend will meet all your needs.  He will supply all your needs (not necessarily all your wants, because we do not always know what is best for us.)  Knowing that God provides all our needs should give us a sense of security and make us stand in awe of His faithfulness.  His supply of our needs is limitless, because it comes from the glorious riches in Christ Jesus!  

Let's rejoice today in His provision in His perfect timing.  Let's wait with patience and trust in Him when life becomes difficult.  Let's thank Him for His goodness.    



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Never Stop Praying



Like reading God's Word, prayer is so essential to managing life's difficulties.  In fact, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.  What does that mean?  It is important to have special times of prayer every day, but praying without ceasing means living in a spirit of prayer all day long while engaging in our daily activities.  It means we are aware of the Lord's presence throughout the day, and it is an undercurrent which is influencing all our thoughts and actions.  Prayer is sensing and breathing the Holy Spirit's presence and breathing His life in all that we do.  

Below is a link to an article online about prayer.  I posted this same link about a year ago as well.  I thought is was appropriate to post this link again after the blog post last week about the Psalms and reading God's Word  The article dives into the subject of praying without ceasing.  Although a bit long the article is well worth reading.

Here is a quote from that article to wet your appetite for reading it:  "If prayer is merely an activity to do, then 'pray without ceasing' will sound oppressive.  But if prayer is communion with God-communion with this Father, Son, and Spirit-then we will hear the command differently; 'Enjoy God without ceasing.  Gain strength from God without ceasing.  And find that He is ever near, always faithful'"



https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-ever-stop-praying?fbclid=IwAR0Iym_907EwgtcM5PfzAI381d2A3tgbRcDXnzgvhUI3-0GrGAai58-rqiU

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Beauty of the Psalms




We are already in the last full week of January in the year 2021.  If you have not yet made reading the book of Psalms part of your devotions, I would suggest you do that very thing.  I have read the book of Psalms several times the last years-usually following a schedule of taking a whole year to read through them..

The book of Psalms begins with a exhortation to meditate on and love God's Word.  It tells us that happy and blessed is the person who does this.  The last few Psalms and many of the Psalms in between are filled with praise for the Lord.  In between Psalm one and the last Psalm, Psalm 150, is every imaginable circumstance and situation we might experience in our walk through life.  These could include trials, difficult losses, sickness, betrayals, and confusion, but also hope, joys, purpose, peace, and God's precious promises.  The Psalms depict a whole spectrum of life experiences both difficult and joyful.  They also depict God's faithfulness through every step we take in this world.

The Psalms are meant to be prayed, recited, and even sung.  Although it is an Old Testament book of the Bible, no other book of the Bible can compare to it as a basis for daily prayer.  The New Testament explains and expands on the knowledge we have of our wonderful redemption in Jesus.  Yet the book of Psalms has a unique way of processing every possible situation we may face by the truth of God.  Having said this, some of the situations the Psalmists talk about, lament, or pray about have a historical setting.  Hence, it may be best to have a study Bible explaining the historical context, or use a good devotional on the Psalms alongside your personal reading of the Psalms.  

When we walk by faith, depend on God through difficult and joyful experiences, and use His Word as our guide; we end up praising Him.  Psalm 150:6 says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."  This is because we see how God has blessed us in good times and has helped us grow in our character and in  becoming the people He wants us to be in difficult times.  So in good times or difficult times, God deserves to be praised.  He knows what He is doing in allowing the things He allows,  and He is always faithful in what He does.

The Psalms and all of God's Word helps us to see this.  It reminds us of God's love, faithfulness, and wisdom.  Meditating on God's Word is our Anchor in time of need, and is the secret to a sweet relationship with Him.  It is like spiritual living water that nourishes and never dries up.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Things Too Wonderful for me


Psalm 131 is a beautiful Psalm in the Bible which speaks of humbly trusting in the Lord.  So often we try to figure out and manage life and it's struggles on our own.  We employ and seek out our own devices and solutions to try to solve life's problems and trials.  If we do pray to God for answers, we sometimes ask God to solve our problems and heartaches the way we think is best.

Instead, in Psalm 131 the psalmist says, "I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me."  We can't understand God's ways.  We can not fully understand what He has in mind in the issues and trials of life, but He is so much wiser than us.  We can rest in His wisdom.  The psalmist goes on to say, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul."

The psalmist has stilled and quieted his soul "like a weaned child with His mother."  He is content to just be in and enjoy the presence of the Lord.  An unweaned child wants something from the mother.  The child wants the mother's milk.  The weaned child only wants and desires to be in the presence and company of his mom.  He is not looking for what the mother can give him, but he just finds solace and comfort and joy in who the mom is as a person.

So it is with God.  We can find joy in His presence alone and in who He is as our loving and faithful God.  Psalm 131 tell us, "We can find "hope in the Lord both now and forevermore."  

Saturday, January 9, 2021

His indescribable Gift


Christmas of 2020 is past, and we are already a couple weeks into 2021.  The year 2020 was difficult in many ways, but I hope you had a blessed Christmas contemplating the true meaning of Christ's coming to this earth.  I hope you experienced joy and worship in your heart, as you meditated on these things.  More importantly, I hope you are carrying that joy and worshipful spirit into 2021 in spite of recent events in our nation.

During December I read through the Gospel of Luke in the Bible.  A couple days before Christmas I read Luke chapter two which tells of Christ's birth and Luke chapter twenty-four which speaks of Christ's resurrection.  It was a blessing to do so after reading about Christ's earthly life and death on the cross earlier in the month.

I am so thankful that Jesus came as a baby, that He took on humanity for us.  He left His perfect place in Heaven with God to come to this troubled and sinful world for us.  Then He lived a perfect life for us, and finally died to pay for our sins.  II Corinthians 9:15 says, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."  It is a gift which is precious, inexpressible, and beyond our understanding.  It should fill our hearts with joy and worship and has the capability to carry us through the months ahead in 2021 and beyond.

Year 2021 will have and already has had its own problems and trials.  COVID problems, for one thing are not fully conquered.  In fact, COVID variants are beginning to materialize.  There has also been shocking violence displayed at our nation's capitol.  As I have watched this unfold, I have been struck with the reality of the depravity of the human heart without the Lord.   We also have other personal issues that we face.  For some these issues may include care-giving for a loved one, joblessness, cancer or other serious illnesses, concerns for a loved one who has lost his way, or even homelessness.

Whatever 2021 brings know that the Lord wants to walk with us through life's problems.  We need to trust His plans and not rely on our own plans.  We need to make Him not only our Savior, but Lord of our life.  We need Him in every area of our lives.  He wants to give us peace even if there is chaos all around us.  He wants to turn confusion into clarity, pointlessness into purpose, and worry into worship.  

What a precious gift this precious Savior and Lord  is to us who accept Him into our lives.  Once again we say, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."  Let's walk through 2021 with joy.       



Saturday, January 2, 2021

God's Faithfulness




We are again entering a new year.  We have left 2020 behind.  2020 was a very difficult year in many ways with COVID fears and trials.  Some of us also experienced other serious trials in 2020.  Yet God was also faithful to us during the long months of 2020.  We may experience new trials in 2021 as well, but we can face 2021 with joy in the Lord and with a certainty of His faithfulness.  

In this blog post I would like to remember and testify to God's faithfulness to me in the past years.  I will speak of the illness and death of my first husband, the events that occurred in the following years, and my eventual second marriage to my current husband, Bob. 

Ten years ago in 2011 the new year ushered in the death of my first husband, Wayne.  He turned sixty-five years old on January 1rst.  The next morning on the 2nd, my son and I found that he had passed away sometime during the night.  This was after four and a half years of him becoming more and more disabled due to his neurological disease.  At the end he was completely dependent on my son and me for everything.  During those four and a half years of caring for Wayne, I also fought my own eight month battle against breast cancer. 

Those years caring for my husband, Wayne, were difficult years.  The years as a widow following the care-giving years also brought grief and sometimes loneliness.  Yet I also experienced so much of God's faithfulness.  I further grew in my love and personal relationship with my Lord.  I grew in my dependence on Him. 

During those years I discovered that "the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;" and that His "love endures forever (Psalm 138:8).  Difficult times does not change that.  God can bring good even out of tragic and difficult things (Romans 8:28).  In fact, He can  "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us"  (Ephesians 3:20).  He further promises "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

A few months after Wayne's death I started working at a volunteer job which helps caregivers and their loved ones.  Later I wrote my book to encourage caregivers, called Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.    https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482027543&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver  

At one point an article about two other caregivers and me was published in the New York Times online. https://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/after-the-caregiving-ends/  Later I was also able to have an article written about my experiences in Guideposts. https://www.guideposts.org/caregiving/hope-and-inspiration/stories-of-hope-for-caregivers/the-gift-of-caregiver-respite   

All these experiences had nothing to do with any capabilities on my part, but they were all because of God's grace to me.  They showed that God can use incredibly difficult circumstances for His  glory and even for our ultimate good.  They showed that He is always a faithful God.

Then in September 0f 2018 I began dating my present husband, Bob, and in July of 2019 we married.  This was after over eight years of me being a widow, and it was something I never anticipated happening.  It was one of those "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" experiences."  It is part of God's plan and purpose for my life now.  

We had the song, "I will Never Leave You," sung at our wedding.  This song is based on the Hebrews 13:5 passage mentioned above and is a testimony to our belief that God will always be with us in the days ahead, as He had in the past.   A rendition of this song can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWxbYzAUYPA  God's purpose, grace, promises, faithfulness, and love in our lives are amazing.

And now later this month it will be 18 months since Bob and I wed.  We did not anticipate not having even a whole year of marriage before COVID issues hit our world.  Yet we have been together through it all.  We also have been a support to each other through difficult extended family issues, and we pray about these issues together.  We have had to adjust to each other's expectations and quirks as well.  Establishing and maintaining a godly marriage requires effort and prayer.  Yet this marriage too has been a wonderful love gift from God to us.  He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  He is always faithful.

This also reminds me of another song sung at Bob's and my wedding.  The lyrics of the chorus of this song as sung that day were this, "Through it all, through it all, we've learned to trust in Jesus.  We've learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all we've learned to depend upon His Word.  Yes, we've learned to depend upon His Word."