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What’s your identity, dear care-giving sister?

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When you’re a caregiver, especially long-term, your whole identity can become wrapped up that term — care-giving!

It’s not all wrong.

If you’ve been put in that position, you’ve been called by God to exercise great mercy and compassion toward someone in need.

Depending on how great the need, your life revolves around this mission.

It’s exhausting. Draining. Sometimes soul-sucking. Like the last two nights for me…We’re waiting for yet another surgery.

Corrective where the last surgery failed to do its job. It’s a six week wait. Meanwhile, the ramifications for my loved one are brutal. Up and down every few hours all day and all night in sheer misery.

I’m not saying this so you can send a boatload of pity my way. No, indeed. I just want you to know I’m walking in your shoes. I get it!

Your life as a care-giver may be totally and completely upside down right now.

You may find yourself careening of the edge of mental and physical wholeness.

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Your relationship to your spouse changes in so many ways, it’s hard to describe them all.

At my wit’s end a few weeks ago, I yelled (not screamed) at my loved one — very ill and refusing to go to the doctor. I almost called the ambulance, but wanted to avoid that drama.  Yelling beat that option, but it wasn’t pretty. I felt like a meanie.

Sure enough, a trip to the doctor was the first stop on the journey of multiple doctor’s visits that led to the revelation of needing a third surgery in 18 months.

Yep, the infection could have been life-threatening, but my yelling possibly saved my loved one’s life. Could I have accomplished this another way? I don’t know.  Honestly, I don’t.

Sick and sorrowful of heart, I needed a healing ointment for my soul.

I found it. Church, God’s people, God’s Word, and time alone with my Heavenly Father.

Am I totally whole now? Is all the hurt left behind. NO! But I know WHO I am in Jesus Christ and WHAT riches of love are mine.

I’m not just a caregiver! I’m a beloved daughter of the King. I’m a joint heir with Jesus. He’s preparing a “forever home” for me, His adopted daughter.

Like Jesus warns us in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things so that in ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Someone somewhere sagely stated – You’re always in one of three stages in life. You’re entering a great trial. You’re enduring a great trial. Or, you will be enduring a great trial soon.

Life IS hard, but God is good.

HIS goodness endures to all generations, if we will have the eyes to see it.

Right after his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus told the fickle crowds that followed Him (soon to crucify Him instead of praise Him) —

“Yet a little while the light is with you.

Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you.

He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.

While you have the light,

believe in the light that you may become sons of light.”  John 12:35-36

Don’t stumble in the darkness in days of sorrow!

Believe in your identity in Christ.

Don’t forget who you are in Jesus, dear care-giving sister.

He’s the only Light that is guaranteed to kindle a flame in your darkness.

Faith, hope, love, and peace to you today!

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Hug ’em anyways, momma…

Well, I got my share of momma hugs this weekend, but I also got the brunt end of a bad mood, too. What to do?

IMG_0876We’re rapidly moving from tween to teen this year. It’s a hard, hard time to have a parent sick in bed regularly while the other parent is trying to keep all the plates spinning. But, nothing, and I mean nothing is worth losing connections with my daughter.

We recently watched a very, very inspiring movie called The Queen of Katwe. Even though the mom is a widow in that true story, I could relate to her so vividly is some respects. Granted, I don’t live in a third world country. I’ve always been able to find work, and get help with bills when needed.

But I can relate to setback after setback. I felt that momma’s pain in living technicolor. When she realized how much chess meant to her daughter, she was willing to sell her most prized possession to help her daughter succeed. Success happened but not overnight. I won’t spoil the ending for you. If you’re like me, keep a box of tissues nearby.

It will take extra grit and sacrifice to swim against the life-sucking illness. Love fiercely, momma!

Love finds a way. Love found me begging God on my knees for a good, safe homeschooling community three years ago. I tried to form my own, but the lack of commitment made it fall apart.

My daughter is an only. We needed friends and enCOURAGEment for our journey. God answered. He brought a nationally known group to form a community in our area. I was able to tutor to pay the fees. (People commit to what they pay for. Truth!)

You know what? I got a huge thank you from my daughter this year for making her go the past three years.  She was initially afraid to try. Now she loves it. She excels at most of her work. That didn’t happen by accident!

Pray fiercely, momma! Ephesians 6:10-18

Turns out I was not the only momma praying for help. We were able to share burdens and bear each other’s burdens. Now I pray for wisdom as we navigate teen years and chronic illness in the house.

It’s a challenge but also an opportunity.

I want her to find her gifts and talents and hone them! I want her to be resilient, compassionate, gritty, and full of hope in God. So that means I’d better keep praying big prayers. Can’t quit now!

Hug ’em fiercely, momma! See that stinky attitude as a cry for love. Swipe the screen-time while you’re at it.

Chronic illness, well, it’s no fun for anyone to witness. When you live with it, that’s even harder. Some days it makes me angry, too. My child, on the road to sorting out all her inner workings, well, of course she thinks this stinks! At the stinky moments, sometimes a quiet tone and wrapping your  arms around the huffy child is just what the doctor ordered.

Moms, we’re a safe haven. We’re a venting station. I want my child to be able to tell me exactly how she’s feeling. Nicely, of course, but truthfully. (We’re working on the “nicely” part still. Snagging the Kindle seems to help). A nice cup of hot tea helps, too. Or cocoa, depending on the kid.

Then I want to direct her to Abba, Father. She’s starting to see. Mom prays. About. Everything. I can’t fix things. But God is our very present Help in time of trouble. Psalm 46. He knows our thoughts. Psalm 139

Fierce loving, praying, hugging mommas, you’re my inspiration! Maybe  chronic illness will be the catalyst to make our children extra gritty and kind. Maybe their souls will be supercharged to trust God for big things. How’s that for a prayer request?

 

What to do when you’re dried up and worn out

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By the end of winter, I’m not the only one crying the blues.

Some of you LOVE winter. That’s fine with me. I’m not offended. But some of us have to dig deep to remain cheerful and upbeat for the first three months of each year.

We live in an old, 1885 home. It’s never quite snug and warm in every room.

Winter seems to bring a blizzard of troubles, too. It’s as if the minions of hell know we’re at our weakest.

One year we discovered we had to rebuild part of our foundation in FEBRUARY! Just as we had the floor open semi-permanently, a major cold snap hit. It makes me shudder, still, to think about that.

Inevitably my husband succumbs to weeks of a semi-bedridden state. I pick up the slack. Once it was MRSA. Other times, the old immune system just bottomed out.

So enough already of this list of winter miseries. What are some ways to combat the blues?

1.) Try very hard to get out of the house to worship in the Lord’s Day.

I’ll be brutally honest here. There’s been many a Sunday when I open my eyes and can’t feel like getting out of bed. I have to shake myself and make myself get up.

Maybe your husband can’t go at all. Or maybe you are the caregiver for someone bedridden. Maybe http://www.sermonaudio.com can become a secondary church service for you.

I would still encourage you to ask for some help or a fill-in companion so that you can touch base with God’s people in person at least sometimes. The Lord places a special importance on gathering together. Hebrews 10:24-25. David, the Psalmist, speaks of his gladness in going up to the house of the LORD.

I rarely leave worship without at least one encouraging nugget of truth to carry with me.

2.) Say yes to visitors.

I’ve been regretful that I’ve not exercised more of an open door policy. To my shame, I’m always worried about my home being in an acceptable state. My food might not be the finest. Really? Is that important? The simple gift of company is a worth it!

When I’ve invited a guest from church or local friends to visit us, it has done a world of good for my family’s morale. We. Feel. Almost. Normal. Today we had company. It was wonderful! My food? Hmmm… not terrific.

Right now, I have someone else I need to invite over. It’s on my to-do list. The meal will be simple. I will only clean a few rooms. That’s the best I can do.

What about you? Too tired to cook and clean for company? I hear you! Maybe you could even just do snacks on the back patio? Or a cup of tea and sliced apples with a friend? Make the visit as low stress and restful as possible.

 3.) Most importantly, know that God is with you in the valley of the shadow, in all the winter seasons of life. His love is your greatest hope! Here’s a passage I’ve thought about all week.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom,

neither shall fruit be in the vines;

the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat;

the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD.

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind’s feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19

The context of these words is fear, trouble, judgement of the nations, and the depth of human tragedy and brokenness.

It’s like being frozen in winter miles from anyone with hungry wolves surrounding you. You alone facing the whole wolf pack…

The prophet finds light and joy in one Source alone. He finds conquering strength. He finds the ability to teeter on the edge of precipices of trouble with the agility of a mountain goat.

In the end, dear caregiving wife, only the LORD can cause you to overcome.

With the eternal aid of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can find joy on this journey even in our sorrow, weary bodies, and worn souls. Praying we will overcome together.

Thine be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

 

What Master do you serve?

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Strange question for a blog for caregivers (and friends). Some days you may feel like ALL you do is serve the needs of chronic illness in your house.

I was truthfully bone-weary when I went to church this morning. I could barely stay awake. My husband’s many trips to the bathroom, though quietly attempted, disturbed my sleep. It’s an ongoing symptom that he is on meds for, but needs a surgery for long term relief. His body is broken in so many ways, it’s like living in a sci-fi horror story. He didn’t sleep for the pain, either.

Even, worse, the elderly minister, bless his heart, did not do much to keep me awake. Not his job, I know, but a little passion behind the pulpit never hurts!!

So I used my pen and paper in an attempt to focus. I truly believe God rewards our most feeble, even sleep-deprived efforts to draw near to Him. After all, it is His promise, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

One point really rang a bell in my own heart. Here’s where God’s beautiful faithfulness met me this morning.

This statement from Philippians 2:1

If there be any consolation in Christ, any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit….

Comfort. Consolation. Fellowship.

Add mercies… likemindedness,

lowliness of mind,

each esteeming the other better than themselves.

This is where the rubber meets the road in our relationships.

It’s easy to get sick and tired of someone who is always sick and tired, just being real here! I’m a human being, too. 

Wonder of wonders! Joy of all joys — Jesus never gets tired of me, as sinsick and broken as I am.

What He is asking of me in relation to others is to pour out this same compassion. Let His love shine in and through me.

So as I face another week, I’m going to think about comfort and compassion. Christ’s comfort to me. His mercies and compassions that are new every morning.

I can’t serve two masters. He’s the only one I want. When I serve the needs in my house, He’s the one I’m serving.

Now that’s where God met me in His Word this morning. I’m glad I went to church. How about you?

 

Being real today, caregiving wife

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Real. Genuine. Authentic.

The above as opposed to being fake and phony, well, I hope this post is still encouraging. If I pretended that living with a chronically ill spouse was all sunshine and roses, hmmm?

It’s a hard balance to strike. Scripture tells us to bear our own burdens. It also tells us to bear one another’s burdens.

We don’t know each other’s burdens unless we are truthful about them. That means a measure of honest sharing and openness.

But whom do you trust with your personal brokenness? Seriously!

 Not all listening ears are created equal. The verse my mom always quoted to her quarreling brood was Ephesians 4:32. Thank God for Mom instilling civility!

Only open your heart to those committed to this: “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Trust me. I’ve taught kids professionally for more than a dozen years now. Kindness is a learned skill, not a natural quality. Bullying, anyone?

 Blogging has been hard for me in this sense. I’ve feared my audience, really. When I push the publish button, I often feel naked.

I just wanted you to never, ever be where I was. I want you to feel supported, loved, and prayed for. Deeply and kindly loved…

Why? I did not know a single other Christian woman with a chronically ill husband at that time. I felt so alone.

I could often not really connect with other women in my church — stay at home moms with healthy husbands. I still try. I love that there are women who love me like Jesus when I have such a different path in life. Each category of woman has their own struggles

Gradually I’ve learned I’m not really alone.

Still, there is not much of a network.  We’re such a chronically tired, hard-working bunch of women.

I’m glad you’ve found my blog. It’s a start, knowing you are not alone, right?

It is my hope and prayer that you’re being encouraged even as I share my struggles. Mostly I want you to see Jesus in the struggles. He is real. Truth. Life. Light. Living Water. Bread of life.

Remember Jehovah Jireh? We saw His major hand of provision for us this week through His people.

Knowing His love makes the struggle bearable.

So, what would you like to genuinely, authentically like to hear about?

What are your biggest struggles? What are your fears as wife of a chronically ill husband?  What would you like to read here?

Please share in the comment section below.

I promise you a kind, tender, listening heart. It’s been broken often enough to care. (Yep, that’s our therapy cat above. He’s doing a good job, too. Cute, isn’t he?)

Lovin’ through the crazy…

Well, I’d be lying if I said life was all peaches and cream right now.

Focusing on gratitude really helped me see the humor in my crazy life this week. Yesterday was the icing on the cake! I watched tired, grumpy kiddos for a family who is going through the fires of fighting cancer. I ended up in the wrong place due to a GPS error. Traffic was horrendous. I’m a country gal. Hate traffic. A professional panhandler hit me up while I had said kids in the store. And the man in front of me bought every single avocado in the store — one of the big items on my grocery list.

To top things off, the cat vomited and my hubby tracked it all over unknowingly!

Let’s revisit the kids and chronic illness theme. As a parent, once you think you have figured out how to handle one stage, a new one hits. Multiply this time ten with the many different ways chronic illness effects children.

Time to fill up the love tanks. The kids just need someone who loves them through the crazy. Time. Attention. Hugs. Correction. Encouragement. Isn’t that the way the heavenly Father loves us?

  • Love like the Father in Heaven. He does not ignore us or or need for correction. Hebrews 12:5-8
  • He loves His children even when they don’t deserve it. Romans 5:8-9
  • He loves to give good gifts to His children. James 1:17
  • He showers us with love and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-7
  • Our Heavenly Father listens to us and wants us to talk to Him! Matthew 6:6-13

When you see life is crazy, love like there is no tomorrow!

My daughter was with me caring for the kids. I had to encourage her to be patient many times. The tired littles had fun. My girl talked my ear off on the long drive home. Non-stop. The tired me wanted her to stop. The Father God love in me soaked it up. Life is hard, but God is good.  Make me a reflection of  His holy love, I pray. Prayers appreciated from you all. We face more crazy days ahead with a surgery for my hubby sometime this summer.

How can I pray for you in this crazy life we lead? Let me know, okay?

Snowflakes in June…

That’s right! Beautiful, one-of-a-kind snowflakes — that’s what we are.

So it simply stands to reason that there is no one-size-fits-all cure for the ailments our chronically ill husbands face. That is an extremely hard concept for us to grasp! Thinking there is leads to a lot of mental anguish. What if we had tried this? What if our budget allowed for that?

Just because we aren’t healthy doesn’t mean we aren’t holy.

I am starting to see more of this mentality amongst the family of God. It really bugs me.

The humble reality is that all of our bodies are fragile, and we can all succumb to disease. Sin cursed us in the Garden of Eden. No amount of proper diet, special oils, supplements, and exercise will stop that.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in support of healthy living, natural remedies, AND medical intervention. Just this weekend a C-section saved the life of my friend and her baby.

A personal friend of mine just told me that her very fit, healthy son experienced serious heart issues this week.

I can already hear the flapping jaws trying analyze WHY things went wrong with him.

Peace, my sisters. Let it rest. You mean well. I know you mostly do. Though there is that self-righteous tendency in all of us to think we really know what is best for someone else.

Medicine and naturopathy are called practices for a reason.

“It’s all a crapshoot, you know.” says Lauren, whose story I am sharing snippets below.

Lauren Baer posted publicly on Facebook about her experience and the fallout of being a victim of campus rape. What she has to say applies equally to the chronically ill.

“In the summer of 2010, I was assaulted by a guy who lived in the apartment below me. The details don’t matter.

You see, by God’s grace alone, I was already attending the Recovery ministry at my church because I knew I needed Jesus to heal me from some other stuff. The next morning after “the event”, I was really confused and upset. I showed up on the front step of my accountability partner who lived down the street. She let me shower and sleep in her bed, and she bought me breakfast tacos…

 

In January, it became evident that I was losing my short term memory. I made 30s on exams that I had studied very hard for. It was as if I had never heard of or read the material on the exams. It was panic-inducing. I told my professors what had happened to me. I told my sisters….

I started months of trying to sort out which medicine worked for me. It’s all a crapshoot, you know. Body and brain chemistry is so unique to each individual. I went through four medicines, each with its own two to three week adjustment period. One made me lose 11 more pounds in a week and a half and made me feel seriously insane. Trauma on trauma.

I spent four years healing from PTSD.
In July of 2012, I got married.
In January of 2013, I got off of medicine.
In September 2013, we moved to Greece.
In July of 2014, we moved back home.

Love, Lauren

Please feel free to share this post with others.”

 Snowflakes are only truly healed by the Maker of snowflakes. Soul-healing is the best kind, though each of us would go for bodily healing, too, I’m sure.

What are some of the real heart issues we all need healing from?

Colossians 3 gives us a few clear directions:

  • Anger (maybe even my being just a bit irritated with the pushy healthy and holy folk)😄
  • Wrath
  • Malice
  • Blasphemy (against God and those made in His likeness)
  • Unforgiveness
  • Lying
  • Filthy communications, umm…think gossip included…
  • Sexual sins, body and mind

So what’s a gal to do?

“Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…mercies, kindness,humbleness of mind, meekness, lonsuffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, if any have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all things put on charity which is the bond of perfectness.”

I think we can all agree on this. So let’s put our focus here. Then we will be truly healthy and holy.

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