Tag Archive | caregiving spouse

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!

 

 

 

Questions for God

 

My daughter has always asked a thousand questions.

She is at that age now where she hones in on adult conversations and, like a tween detective, wants to know more details. Typical of a parent-child relationship, right?

So it stands to reason that we ask questions of God about life. About our life. After all we are His children by adoption, His creation.

He has written about His plan, His love, His will, and His ways for us to know many of the answers to many of our questions in His book, the Bible.

There are still many mysteries of infinity that our finite minds won’t grasp.

But there are always some answers you and I get that we don’t like. Like my daughter, I can hear the answer and go off in an angry huff. Foot stomp added for emphasis!

Like the question I asked this week echoed by a Christian friend in her very difficult challenges — WHY? Why does one person, one family get such a heap of chronic suffering? When does it just end?

Do you hear the familiar theme through the ages? Why? Why suffering?

Christ himself speaks to this issue, “In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Notice the lack of a “why” explanation.

Jesus Christ does not ignore the suffering. He confronted it purposefully. In fact, he led a life of compassion, healing, caring for the sick and needy.

There are basic reasons that suffering exists and that our world is in a huge mess. Satan is to blame. The sin of man brought unfathomable ruin.

The sin-curse exists in every corner of the globe. There is no culture untouched. No life is untainted. Romans 3 leaves no question about that fact.

Christ came to relieve our ultimate suffering, the soul suffering due to our ugly sins. The hate, selfishness, envy, pride, bitterness, slander, theft, and the list goes on…

I have thought about His wounds a lot lately. Why would He would so love the world and leave His place of perfection to suffer?

Why would He be willing to feel pain, sickness, sorrow? Why would He talk with the “scum” and touch the untouchables?

NO other god in the history of the world would do such a thing.

By His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53. That is the ultimate healing. He freely offers it at the price of His own life laid down for guilty sinners.

We crave earthly healing. Earthly relief. I know I do, at least.

And we are instructed to pray for it. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prayed with a heart that kneels before an almighty God, this is one of the most powerful statements of faith and longing.

We also groan, like creation, waiting for the ultimate redemption from our suffering.

Does this mean those that suffer the most have sinned the most?

One of those pressing questions, again. The Book of Job informs us otherwise. In fact, those that insisted Job’s suffering was due to his sin were soundly rebuked by God himself.

But we never get a full answer to WHY the suffering. Instead, God reminds Job (and through him, all of us) of His mighty power and wisdom. His infinity. Our finiteness.

We are reminded that as all have sinned, those who believe receive grace — free, undeserved favor from God.

Why don’t we question this, too? Why me? Why have I been so blessed to know and believe Your love and grace to me?

This was the whisper in my ear this week when I was thinking, Enough already! God sent a friend who also was overwhelmed by suffering. Sometimes that human voice that says, I know how you feel, is really the voice of God to our ears. 

Chronic invisible illness — but you look SO good.

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My hubby had a splitting migraine for most of the week. 

He got out of the house a couple of times but for only a short jaunt. Yesterday he took all of the pain meds he could so that he could walk a few doors down the block to hear some live music.

Twice in a thirty minute time he was told how good he looked by two friends that have some small awareness of his health issues.

I really think they meant it kindly. I do. But some don’t.

They say it in a tone of disbelief. You can almost hear the thoughts tumbling around in their heads. Sometimes small remarks tumble out of their mouths, too.

Oh, you must be pulling my leg about your health issues. You’re not so bad off. Why aren’t you working, again?

 My sis in love got some similar remarks and responses. (No one really expects a stage four cancer victim to hold down a job. That’s a relief!) She was such a fighter and an upbeat person. She made a huge effort to leave the house looking good.

In fact, for most of the four years she fought stage four cancer, you would have to be around her for awhile to catch on. The joy of the LORD truly was her strength.

Being on her care team gave me an inside glance of the true nature of living with cancer in your bones. At home you tend to let your hair down, so to speak.

I saw her sit and groan softly many times through unbearable pain. Gratefully accepting a cup of tea she could barely stomach, though she wanted it so badly. Many barely touched plates of food…

For many years I have regularly seen my hubby struggle to make it out of bed for a few hours at a time. He consistently naps every day after laying in bed until late in the morning. His bones hurt every day, too.

He can look good and still struggle with a boatload of pain.

Looks can be deceiving in so many ways. Tell folks how you feel, and you’re a whiner. Put on your game face, and you’re not as ill as you’re  reported to be.

It’s an odd conundrum that many chronically ill people face and their spouses, too.

Understandably, you feel on the defensive at some of the pointed or careless remarks that get shot your way. I know I do.

I sat and listened as my sis almost cried about several folks asking her when she was due. And, are you excited about the baby?

In fact, she had already lost her ovaries to cancer. Her liver was so swollen she looked like she was starting her second trimester. But she loved her two babies like there was no tomorrow.

How do you deal with these unwitting arrows that people shoot at you?

“HE is my defense. I shall not be moved.”

I have listened to Marty Goetz’ CD, “HE Is My Defense” dozens of times in the past few months. The Scripture set to music heals the wounds. Jesus is the “horn of my salvation”. That horn can either call for help or push its point in my defense.

I need a Defender! I need a Refuge. I need the solid Rock to stand on.

Truth. I, too, have inflicted needless wounds with my tongue. If we live long enough, we all fall short in this area. Greatest. News. Ever. His wounds have paid my ransom.

Forgiveness. I need to extend grace and forgiveness to those who act like we have leprosy because of the chronic illness in our family. Or those who carelessly speak. Why? His Word is ultra clear. If I don’t forgive, it is clear I have not been forgiven. Those who forgive the most love the most like Jesus.

Understand that some folks will never “get” chronic illness. Forgive. Rest in His defending love. What are some ways you respond? How does invisible illness challenge your family?