Tag Archive | caregiving spouse

Your suffering isn’t all about you…

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Dear sister, I’m about to bleed with you all over this page,

so hang on and hear me out.

Books upon books have been devoted to the “whys” of suffering.

Why another blog post on this topic?

 Well, I’ve had a tiny little ray of understanding, a bit of sunshine in the darkness.

I’ve felt like I have been shut up in a dark closet lately.

 I’ve wondered if death was just around the corner for my loved one. Is it time?

You haven’t seen me post for a few weeks.

I’ve given until I have nothing more to offer.

 No more spoons to pick up (if you understand the “spoonie” lingo among the chronically ill).

Nothing to give you. Just hanging on to Jesus.

Endless sleepless nights I remind myself, I’m God’s girl.

I’m His beloved in Christ Jesus.

He’s promised me His love never changes for me. I’m banking on that.

How is it that David and then Jesus Himself

could come to a place of such suffering in their lives

 that all they could do is cry out brokenly and wretchedly,

 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from hearing my cries?”

 

Have you ever walked through such flaming, scorching times?

I only glimpsed the edges of this suffering during four years

of watching my sis-in-love with stage 4 breast cancer.

 I wasn’t there every week.

What I did see frequently on her “care team” was enough

 to break my heart repeatedly.

I watched the downward spiral of my brother’s health and exhaustion

 and wondered how much more both the cancer patient and the caregiver could take!

It’s my turn in the flames.

I’m watching my loved one suffer excruciatingly both physically and mentally.

 After so many years of physical suffering, the mental battles are equally intense.

 I’m on the frontlines. I’m the primary caregiver and breadwinner.

 Can’t quit. Can’t stop. Can’t resign.

 

There are things you see with burning clarity

 when you are walking through the flames, if you are His beloved.

 If you look with the tear-filled eyes of trust, you see.

God is God. I am not. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

Words from The Lord’s prayer — timeless and true as the eternal Savior

 that spoke them.

He is LORD. Do I really believe that? Then yes. Yes! He’s got a plan from eternity that is right on track. Satan’s going down.

 God will triumph! I’m just a speck of dust in that eternal plan.

Somehow, we do matter in this plan!

“Are you not of more value than many sparrows?”

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
(Mine are falling out rapidly…easier to count!”)

“All things work together for good to those that love God.”

MY life may be the only “Jesus” that some of those around me see. 

How I walk with the broken matters.

I’m Christ’s ambassador to my family and friends.

Do you any doubt after the events of this last month that this is a cruel, hateful world

 that’s turned its back on God? So many terrible things in the news!

 The depths of evil are too dark for us without God’s love.

“Let your LIGHT so shine before men, that they may SEE your good deeds and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

UGLY truth.

 Divorce and abandonment rates among the chronically ill

 and those with cancer is extremely high.

I’ve seen and heard of it with my own two eyes numerous times now.

 Folks who abandon their family at their time of greatest need —

 what kind of love is that?

My daughter needs to see Jesus’s hands and feet lived out in my life.

 

Our mission as parents is to show the mighty acts of God to THIS generation. How?

True lovers of Jesus, 

true children of the Heavenly Father

 don’t abandon the broken,

 the “useless” of society. Jesus did not.

In fact, hurting people are highlighted in the Gospels.

The lepers, the blind, the lame, the sick all came to Jesus in droves.

He came to show us the Father.

He cast out a Legion of demons from a man so extremely broken that he lived alone

 with dead bodies, tormented and naked.

 

Do we think this is a distant fairy tale?

 

Sometimes I think I’ve been guilty of this distancing myself from

what Jesus actually did while here on earth!

This man living naked in the tombs clearly was not sane!

His insanity was due to demon possession.

 (NOT my take on mental illness — that’s a whole different post).

The point is — Jesus became ceremonially unclean 

to even reach out to this man living among dead bodies! 

He did what most good, religious folk of his day would not do —

 and reached out in healing power to this outcast man.

What about serious genetic defects? Why this suffering? 

Many chronic auto-immune diseases have their roots in genetic defects.

So much sorrow in the gene pool! Why?

Jesus spoke truth with power when his own disciples asked, 

“Who sinned, Jesus? This blind man or his parents that he was born this way?”

Broken words like poisonous arrows from a prideful heart,

 similar to words spoken even today to families who are experiencing health issues.

 

Suffering bodies, suffering minds, suffering hearts — Jesus answers the accusers.

He answers the Accuser of our souls, too.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned.

 But it happened

 so that the works of God might be displayed in him!” John 9:3

What  floods of relief must have washed over this blind man overhearing this!

 How many years had he begged blindly by the side of the road and wondered, WHY?

How many times has your chronically-ill family member, your disabled friend,

your mentally-ill loved one wondered, Why? What am I worth?

 Why am I still living?

Jesus was not saying that this man or his parents were not sinners —

that they had never sinned!

He was saying that this blind beggar could display the works of God in his life

through the power of Jesus!

For the blind beggar, that meant healing here and now.

He met Jesus the King over genetics!

I’m filled with gratitude 

that Jesus knows our sufferings perfectly. 

He’s in the flames with us.

He will help us do the will of the Father.

 

 

I’m grateful to know our sufferings, your loved one’s sufferings,

if committed to Christ,

have purpose and meaning.

His purposes are always good. Hang on! Hang in there with me!

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Not forsaken…

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It’s been a “community of the broken” week for me.

In fact, I’ve seen two of my clients this week sick and uncertain as to their futures. One is awaiting surgery to clear carotid artery.

Another older lady is ill in the hospital with no family in town to help out. She’s facing possible rehab.

Then my husband has told me every single day how bad the pain levels are. He’s  barely left the bed.

Finally, another friend shared her heart. Her husband is in a very dark place right now. Tragic loss hit their family almost two years ago. He is not a believer.

 How much sadness, pain, and hurt can one heart bear? Mine just plain aches.  Oh, Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, help! Oh, Spirit, be my Comforter! Father of mercies, send Your mercies.

Today I sat in a very small church group. Less than thirty of us learned about a community of 4 million that occupy a shanty town in east Africa.

Real people live there. Poverty, violence, and disease are rampant.

Forgotten by major relief organizations,

unloved by the evangelical community around them,

unaided by their government–

they are seemingly without hope in this life.

Yet http//:DiscipleSupport.org brings Jesus to these forgotten sufferers every single week. You need to look them up. Give if you can. Pray.

If I had not been crushed by my share of heartache, my ears would not have been connected with my heart. God knows. I believe I will pray for these forgotten ones for the rest of my earthly days.

I was also reminded of each of you lovely, behind-the-scenes caregivers. You pour out your energies daily. Your struggles with overload, financial strain, and watching someone you love suffer are often invisible to others. 

Christian caregiver, you are not invisible to God!

You bring Jesus’ love and light to your family when the day seems darkest.

Loving one another is loving Him.

After loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, this is the second greatest command! 

Matthew 25

39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

40And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Hell is being forever forgotten. Forsaken. Cut off forever from God’s mercy.

41Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Dark lonely days right now? In Christ you are never forsaken.

 “Let your manner of life be without covetousness, being satisfied with the present; for He Himself has said: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Sanity space, and a lot of grace

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Anyone else have a few crazy corners of their house?

Keeping a clean house was a special love of my sis who went Home last summer. In fact, at her viewing was a little table with pictures and bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day spray. Yes, really!

In her healthier days she was known to get to cleaning after her little kids were in bed. Nothing was sweeter than the friend who would come in and clean for her when she was sick! She beamed!

Guess what? One of the business hats I wear is “cleaning lady.”

You won’t find me bragging about this on my LinkedIn. But cleaning houses privately has been a survival business for my family. I’m hoping to hang that hat up in the closet before long.

But I’ve learned a lot of life lessons along the way from some of my dearest clients — senior saints, suffering saints — and busy CEOs of companies, too.

So I started a cleaning blog you can visit if you want. It’s for fun and practical help along the way.   http://cobwebkatiecleaninglady.com

Worn-out lady, when you get home from work, do you want to clean?

If you’re like me and my sis, Jess, you LOVE a clean house. Frankly, you may not have time or energy to keep it all clean. It’s okay. It really, truly is. Trust me.

I’ve had to swallow my pride and embarrassment (cause I know what clean and tidy looks like) and let helping friends see part of my mess recently. My back laundry room is a disaster. I mean it’s wet, mildewing, and cluttered. I. Can’t. Stand. It.  But I do. I go back there every single day.

A new laundry room is in the works. I painted it bright spring green. White trim. It screams “happy”. Can you blame me? It will be my new sanity space when we’re done. Done is coming. Very, very, very slowly.

Dealing with chaos and clutter, and no time?! What to do?

You want to teach order. You crave cleanliness. You have kids and a chronically ill husband. I know it’s an unending trio. Chaos, clutter, and kids. Rather than lecture each other on the state of our houses, let’s choose to eat this elephant one bite at a time.

Welcome, sanity space!  Maybe this will be a blessing to you, too.

I’m working on keeping sanity spaces in my house. I discovered that if there are at least a few rooms that are pretty and tidy,  my whole world feels better. I read organizational tips, cleaning tips, life hacks, and self-improvement books, in  all my spare time. Sometimes I feel like a complete failure, cleaning lady or not.

Realistically, by the time I cycle through cleaning each room, the whole house needs a overhaul again. Instead, I clean a few rooms, and spot clean the rest. I even shut the door on a few rooms completely and tell my child, no guests allowed in here, period!

I’m working on teaching my child to clean. Happily, her bedroom has become her “sanity space”. It’s taken years. But that’s a post for another day.

What about sanity space for your soul? My soul?

That’s what this one day in seven is all about. That’s why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and called it holy. He rested. He meant for us to “unplug”.  We can’t keep going for seven days a week at high speed, years on end.

The Church is meant to be a sanity space for believers. We should find sweet friendship and safe haven within its walls. The Word of God is our sanity space for our souls, too, “sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb”. Psalm 19: 7-10

Clean souls and cleaner houses — now that needs grace and one day at a time! Do you have sanity space?

Broken body, whole soul

No, Jesus did not heal everybody when He walked this earth.

I was reminded of this fact today. He raised the dead, made the lame to walk, caused the blind to see, and healed many in just the little corner of earth that the country of Israel occupies. He didn’t travel to another continent or even another country outside of the Middle East.

His miracles were extraordinary to those who witnessed them. However, soul-healing was THE mission our Father in Heaven gave JESUS.

“He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities…and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53

A broken body can know peace and inner healing from all of sin’s scars.

Equally loved and equally forgiven are those may seem like the weakest members of Christ’s body.

I need to remember this when the chronic illness journey gets impossibly long. This person matters as much as any “whole” person in God’s kingdom.

Don’t you love to see a good movie trailer? Reading of Jesus’s earthly ministry makes us long for the “whole movie”. There’s coming a day when all the brokenness of God’s children will be fully and completely healed.

Tears will be wiped away. He will make all things new.

Meanwhile, caregivers are to be Christ’s hands and feet of mercy and compassion.

We can’t heal bodies or minds. But we can point to Jesus, the soul-healer. These long, pain-filled days are temporary. Healed souls live, truly live, forever.

God give us soul-nurturing words, courage, and a heart full to the brim with Jesus’s love to face this week.

Serving Jesus even in the shadows is a life well-spent. I needed to be reminded of this today. God sees all. He knows.

Are you living in the shadows, too?

Keep turning your face to the Light of life.

“The Sun of righteousness shall come with healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2

 

3 ways to unlock Doubting Castle

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Survey question: how many of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress in some form? Watched the film version?

If you have, you may recognize this blog’s title. If you haven’t, I will give you a tiny overview of the plot line. The key character is Pilgrim. He is on a dangerous journey to the Celestial City. Alone at times, he also meets and travels with two key friends for part of his   journey.

One important fact to note is that the author John Bunyan wrote this classic allegory in prison.

Quite a few tales of courage, faith, and redemption have been linked to prison time.

Joseph — betrayed, lied about, imprisoned;

Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom incarcerated by the Nazis for hiding Jews;

Les Miserable’s Jean Valjean languishing in a wretched labor prison for the paltry crime of stealing a loaf of bread are just a few examples.

The particular prison Doubting Castle in the Pilgrim’s Progress is run by the GIant Despair. He lurks around the countryside and snags those who have strayed off course or missed a sign for the Celestial City.

The Giant Despair caught Pilgrim and his friend when they took a side road.

Ever met this demonic Giant? I know I have. I’m sure our husbands have.

Chronic illness and depression are bedfellows.

The Psalmist wrestled with Despair. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul? Hope in God.”

He admits in Psalm 34, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.”

HE couldn’t pretend the pain, sorrow, and affliction didn’t exist. It does.

If you aren’t currently undergoing some personal hardship or sorrow, just scroll down your Facebook or turn on the TV. The tragedies will sucker-punch your soul. (If you have a tender heart of compassion like Jesus, that is.) What a broken world!

Well, it’s one thing if your sick husband is chronically depressed.

It’s quite another thing when that depression spills over to your heart. You’re the caregiver. The heart of the home. Someone has to keep their head above water, right?

Like Pilgrim and his friend in the stone cold dungeon of the Castle of Despair, neither one could figure out how to break free. No way out. No strength to fight the Giant. Certain doom!

Suddenly they remember the key on a chain around Pilgrim’s neck. It’s called the key of faith! In the nick of time, they try the key. It fits the lock.

Making a daring jailbreak, they return to the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

I love the key of faith reference! So many times I forget about that key. Faith was a gift given to me by God.

When trial strikes, I feel the panic attempt to swallow me like being hauled off to a dark castle dungeon. Like a friend wrote to me recently, I hate that feeling! I should know better!

Time and time again I have seen God answer prayer and provide for our current need when we cry out to Him in prayer. So this little post is a reminder to me and an outstretched hand of hope and encouragement for you.

1.) Take time to “Be still, and know that I AM God.”

Like that famous line of poetry ( Browning?),”How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Remembering AND naming God’s great acts and His attributes is very faith- building. Pray these attributes.  God, I know You are faithful. I know You are just, yet merciful. I know there is no limits to Your resources. Your wisdom is bigger far than my problems right now.

2.) Like Israel’s stones of remembrance, make a list of answered prayers.

Yes, there is surprising power in the worn out cliche, Count your blessings, name them one by one. When I do this, my eyes just can’t stop leaking! Sometimes, like Paul and Silas, you start praising and the prison door does swing right open. Other times, your patience and faith will grow when you feel like you are forgotten in prison like Joseph. But God was with Joseph all along.

3.) Ask a friend to pray with you.

That happened to me this week, also. A friend reached out to me. We shared prayer requests. It was so very encouraging! Dear ones, do not hesitate to ask for prayer. Right here. Right now. Not only will I pray for you, I know other readers will.

Pray for me, for us? I want to hold tightly to the key of faith as my husband starts chemo this week. Also, months of pain management has failed to help. Chronic pain! Ugh! It’s wicked ugly awful! It wreaks havoc on body and mind.

With Jesus’ strength, He will keep our souls and our feet on the paths of righteousness straight to the gates of the Celestial City. Mutual prayers needed. Share below, please!

 

 

 

 

He drew me out of many waters…

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Acknowledgement of Thomas Kincaide’s painting. I took a pic of a portion of a print I own that was painted by him.

Uncharted territory. Many waters. Enemies too strong for me.

Psalm 18 is the inside scoop. David was anointed by God to be the next king of Israel. His life at this point in time looked anything but kingly.

He looked more like Robin Hood and his band of merry men, hiding out from the current administration and foraging for food. Of course, they did a little fighting on the side to keep the enemies of God’s people at bay. His was a story of close calls and narrow escapes.

You can hear the inner anguish  and exhaustion in his voice in verses 4-6,

” The pangs of death surrounded me,

And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;

The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God;

 He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears…”

Strong, mighty David, distressed and afraid!?!

What blesses me was that he went humbly to his knees.

Prayers of God’s children do not go unheard. Listen to the beautiful promises of verses 25-27:

“With the merciful You will show yourself merciful;

With a blameless man You will show yourself blameless;

With the pure You will show Yourself pure;

And with the devious you will show Yourself shrewd.

For you will save the humble people,

But will bring down haughty looks.”

On my hands and knees this week in that War Room, I knew this.

I am not perfectly merciful, perfectly blameless, perfectly pure.  How can my cries be heard?

But, oh, I’m humbly on my knees asking to be so. To be like the sinless Son of God…And I won’t quit praying! I want David’s triumph. See verses 28-36.

“For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.

As for God His way is perfect;

The Word of the Lord is proven;

He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

And sets me on my high places.

He teaches my hands to make war,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You also have given me the shield of Your salvation;

Your right hand has held me up,

Your gentleness has made me great.

You enlarged my path under me so that my feet did not slip.”

 This broken life can be made perfect, because His way is perfect.

In the suffering, His glory will yet shine through.

My story, your story is not finished yet.

But it takes the Mighty God to come and give us that “happily ever after” ending that we all long for.

Don’t give up in the heat of the battle.

Cry David’s prayers with me.

We can all dance for joy when the answers come!

 

 

 

 

Worship arising from the ashes

 

This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:

But! But perhaps today is a day when the reality of sickness, sorrow, pain, and even death have come crashing down around you.

Maybe you married the man of your dreams, and both of your existences have been shattered by months and years of chronic pain.

You find out your loved one has cancer. Or there is no cure for the disease your loved one has.

Maybe the disease is even nameless because no doctor can put his finger on it. It still exists. Give it a name. The monster is disease!

Disease wreaks havoc on our lives. No one who has not lived with chronic illness can really fathom the depth of this havoc. I’ve given up trying to explain this to those who are healthy. Who can explain the unexplainable?

How? Just how do you and I worship our Maker, Creator, Redeeemer on His holy day when we are so broken? And why would we?

Truth! I woke up this morning wondering about worship. Sad of heart. Weary of the sorrows that have multiplied in my life and those around me. But knowing this: I will worship. I was created to worship. All who live and breath worship someone, something.

Maybe it’s money. (HA! Think — our current political scene). Maybe it’s nature. Or beauty. Or goodness. Or ideology. Education. Or any form of peace, even if it’s based on lies.

What is on the top of your pedestal?

 In this broken world ravaged by war, hate, cruelty, disease, poverty, and death, hardly a day goes by that I don’t breathe this prayer.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

“Those who are whole do not need a physician. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus mentioned worship in spirit and truth to a woman who had experienced five broken marriages and was currently living outside of God’s plan for marriage.

He spoke to this woman at the well —  not righteous by a long shot. And why does he mention worship to her? Not only that, He offers her water, the water of true living.

“…the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”

Most amazing of all — this next scene. Listen closely! This woman, outcast of society, asks Him about the the promised Messiah. She gets the most clear-cut answer. No hidden message. Earlier Christ clearly exposed her sin, and she knew it. Now He reveals himself, to her and pulls no punches.

“I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26

If you are outside the Christian faith, please know that to be a Christian you have to believe the clear-cut claims of Christ.

Jesus Christ goes on record clearly stating both His Deity and His power to grant living water – eternal life. Either He is truly the Son of God, or He is a flagrant liar.

And to be a follower of Jesus, you need to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.

Why? Because, ” My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

When we worship in community, in spirit and in truth, He restores our souls. He leads us beside still waters.

His Word corrects our straying feet and keeps us in paths of righteousness.

And even the imperfect, straying sheep in our flock can learn to reflect His love and wisdom to comfort each other. It may take a lifetime. Some sheep are more ornery than others, truth!

But also remember that He leads His flock gently and cares tenderly for the bruised and broken.

Every elder, every undershepherd ought to have this heart for the flock. With this hope and anticipation, I drag my weary body out of bed each Lord’s Day.  I need rest for my soul. So I seek to hear His voice, not just alone, but in community with His sheep in His house on His day.

Let me encourage you, weary as you may be, to choose worship in community. 

Again, our satellite internet went down yesterday. I was unable to post. My apologies!