Tag Archive | Christian caregiving wife

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.

 

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enCOURAGEment for lonely caregivers…

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Confession: I recently got razzed by my husband for indulging in a bit of southern gospel.

To be fair, I returned the favor by mentioning his return to his childhood roots. This genre of music, ahem, largely focuses on how sad and lonesome you are because your lover left you in the dust, the dog died, the bills are piling up, and the old pick-up truck’s run its last mile. 

To tell you the truth, my life kind of looks like his genre of music.

When I got a request from a reader for a post on the lonely side of caregiving, it hit an instant chord with me. If you’re a long-term caregiver, it’s especially true. I was reminded again that caregivers deal with this constantly, but we aren’t the only ones feeling lonely!

One of my senior saints told me again this week for the upteenth and maybe last time, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”

She and her husband have walked with Jesus for more than forty years. They’re in their eighties. He’s faced two bouts of cancer. Since December her husband has been in and out of the hospital.  Last week, their only nearby daughter was in the ICU while they were packing and moving into a senior apartment.

I sat and cried and hugged her. I have never seen her so sad and lonely. “My daughter’s been my rock. I’ve leaned on her a lot. She would be right here helping me today. Now I don’t even know what is wrong with her!”

All the while, her home of more than forty years was suddenly being torn apart like a living plant being ripped up by the roots. This lady has literally kept most things in the same spot for the past ten years that I’ve done housekeeping for them. Every. Single. Item.

My tears dripped and mingled with hers. I wonder if her heart will ever recover from this dual shock. Yet, I pray in hope – hope for her and for myself.

Where is the hope in this, you wonder?

If you’re at all like me, no one near you know really  understands your struggles as a wife to a chronically ill husband.

At home you don’t share your struggles because you don’t want to further depress your struggling spouse.

You certainly don’t want to discourage your children, if you’re a parent.

There’s no human being to talk to, you feel like, who will listen with compassion and not criticize your already bruised heart. However, like me, you have friends. Christian friends who love the Lord — they express their care and compassion in the ways they know how.

But you are too busy trying to survive to get to their Bible studies, their ladies’ nights out, etc., because you are literally doing the job of two people at home. It’s incredibly hard to find time to invest in other relationships.

Jesus is our only true hope in loneliness. My relationship to Him is my top investment.

His hands have made and fashioned me. (Psalm 139) He knows my every move and my every thought. Have you read this passage lately? Put your name into it as you read!

I can pour out all my feelings and needs to Him without shame, because He already knows what I’m struggling with at the moment.

When I do have shame because of sin, I can freely confess this and be freely forgiven. His wounds have paid my ransom.

While we can never receive from another human being this level of understanding, we should not cut ourselves off from Christ’s body, either.

We want to let Christ make us better, not allow ourselves to be bitter.

We have to be willing to continue to love Christ’s body even when it’s messy, even ugly, and imperfect, just like us.

Some things you just cannot share.

Some things will never be understood by someone who has never walked this road.

But share what you can. It takes courage.

Be willing to have some vulnerability. Be willing to say to that friend who asks how things are going, “Yes, life is incredibly challenging. Pray for me to juggle wisely! Or, pray for this upcoming doctor’s visit to actually be worth our time and effort.”

I recently told a friend that my husband has been walking through a very dark valley. She knew this partially already because of some things he had (unwisely) posted on the internet. Sigh.

But, she didn’t know the whole story. I couldn’t and won’t tell her everything, but I did share what I could. If she could see the whole picture, like God does, her perspective would be very different. She’s not God. Neither am I. But I’m the one person on earth that should have the most compassion and understanding for my husband. That’s what Jesus wants from me.

Even Jesus’ closest friends fell asleep during his hour of deepest need. Peter even betrayed him. Jesus does understand loneliness.

I’ve come to understand you have to choose your “inner circle” wisely. Shut out the negative. Shut out those who think they’re helping by criticizing, at least in the sense of limiting contact. But make sure you also keep those close to your heart who truly love Jesus.

Soak yourself in what is true, lovely, and right. Once again, may I recommend the Psalms?

True love and understanding waits for you right here. There is not a sorrow or struggle you feel that isn’t mentioned in the Psalms.

I also love the book of John where Jesus gives out the different I AMs.  I am the Bread of Life. I am the Living Water. I am the True Vine. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Light of the World.  All I need, He is.

Then there’s Isaiah. The gospel and Jesus are so clearly seen in this book, it’s amazing. Parts of it read like a Psalm. For sure, the prophet knew his Messiah!

The Word. The Church. Christ’s Bride. I find these to be true cures for loneliness. I hope this helps you battle loneliness, too. How may I pray for you this week?

 

Read to the end of the story

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I  read through the little book of Zephaniah today.(We’re snowed in.)

Have you ever read the minor prophets? It’s not for the faint of heart. Unlike the positivity thinking so prevalent in today’s American churches, these books do not gloss over the negative. Zephaniah is a short, one-two punch. Judgement is coming. God’s people and the church leaders (ch. 3:4) are among the guilty. Brace yourself.

The contrasts in God’s declarations are so vivid, it makes one reel with the truths revealed.

One example: “I will utterly consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from the land, says the LORD.” Zeph. 1:2-3

The contrast: ” Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be he shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.” Zeph. 2:3

 Maybe, like me, you struggle to deal with the changes that chronic illness brings. Just when you thought you may have one phase mastered, a new twist hits. The meds change, diagnosis shifts, the doctor scenario changes –a lot hinges on a good doctor — and your life is turned upside down yet again.

Chaos, war, judgment, destruction! Where is the hope in this? Keep reading!

“The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” Zeph. 3:5

The just LORD does not sin. He is in the middle of our lives, working in ways we cannot fathom.

One evidence of His true work in our lives is the same fruit He gives those who trusted Him in Zephaniah’s prophecy: ” The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, none shall make them afraid. ” Zephaniah 3:13

Safety, food, and rest! These most basic needs based on truth and trust are being met by God Himself for His children.

In the hands of their enemies, safety, food, and rest were never certain.

Now read these words of amazing comfort given to God’s people at end of this book of woes.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;

He will save,

He will rejoice over thee with joy;

He will rest in his love,

He will joy over thee with singing… (3:17)

…Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee:

and I will save her that halteth,

and gather her that was driven out…” (3:19)

The end of your story and mine isn’t here and now. Keep reading.

Like me, you may seen a lot of heartbreak and misery unfold.

For Israel, war and captivity magnified misery.

Chronic pain and illness twists the knife in our daily living.

Relief is coming. It’s already paid for in full. ” HE has made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Your life may feel like a just another tale of human woe, but those that trust in the LORD will never be disappointed in the end!

Anyone want to just skip now to the end of the story? I know. Me, too. I can’t wait to read the end of your grace-filled story, either. Let’s pray for that ending where we glorify God and enjoy Him forever, together.

 

 

Jesus, the Light in our darkness

Encouragement for 2017

Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:5

This should be the theme verse for my blog.

Perseverance and encouragement.

That’s the bottom line for surviving and  even thriving with chronic illness in the house.

The road seems long. The path is full of hairpin curves. You feel like you’re driving on a mountain road on a rainy, foggy night. (Did that one night. It was as bad as the ice storm I drove through once. White-knuckles all the way!)

No one, not even the doctors, has all the answers. In our case, they seem to find more questions than answers. How can so many things be wrong with one body!?

Only the God, whose hands made and fashioned you (Ps. 139), can know the depths of uncertainty and fear as you face each new challenge.

Fear. It has to be cast at His feet. It will cripple your soul. So many times God tells us, do not be afraid.

Fighting that battle right there with you, sisters. I’ve cried some downright ugly tears this year.

When you’re so broken you have NO idea what to do next, you make a choice. I’ve pulled out Romans 8:28, the Psalms, yes, ALL of God’s Word, and said, okay. I believe.

What next, God?

The surrender of trust fills your heart with faith and encouragement. Faith to find the mercies in each new day, faith to persevere and say, yes, God is good. Satan is bad. Don’t get the two mixed up.

In the end, Love wins. Eternal, persistent love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for His adopted children will not fail. HIS kingdom come, His will be done.

 Along the way, let’s find that harmony and hope with each other. Let’s persist in love and encouragement.

I’m planning to keep blogging here for that one reason. One ray of light, one encouraging word, one candle for Jesus — that’s all I can do. Shalom in Jesus, sisters, for 2017! So drop me a line now and then. What bugs you? How can I encourage you?

 

Be called trees of righteousness…

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…that He might be glorified. Is. 61:3

Read Isaiah 61. Then hop over to Luke 4. Read the whole drama, and wonder at the roller coaster events of forty-plus days in Jesus’ life. Being tempted by the devil himself. Preaching in synagogues, “being glorified by all” as his popularity increased. Then reading the Scripture from Isaiah 61 in his hometown synagogue (a.k.a, church) and speaking the truth to them boldly and plainly, 

“This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Luke 4:21. Wait a minute, they responded, basically, we know this guy. He’s the son of Joseph the carpenter.

When Jesus chided them for their lack of faith, their outrage caused them to collectively attempt to throw him over a cliff for alleged blasphemy. All in a day’s work for Jesus who calmly escaped and continued his life’s calling and mission stated so clearly in Isaiah 61!

Mission statement of Jesus’ first coming :

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;

 because the LORD has anointed me

to preach good tidings unto the meek;

he sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty unto the captives,

and the opening of prison

to them that are bound;

to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Over and over we see the compassion of Christ for the downcast of society, the poor, the sick, and the disabled.

Like the sad “untouchables” of India, those with leprosy in that day lived in quarantined colonies outside the cities and villages, the poorest of the poor. Jesus physically touched and healed lepers.

He raised the dead. He walked with the lowly and hurting.

“To comfort all that mourn;

to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,

to give unto them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

that they might be called the trees of righteousness,

the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” Is. 61:3

You and I, fellow caregiver, we need to fall at Jesus’ feet. His end goal for us is beautiful. Trees of righteousness. Comfort. Joy. Praise. That’s where I want to be.

Like me, you may be mourning and broken-hearted by the devastation of chronic illness. Pain. Suffering. It’s inescapable. But the journey does not have to end there.

Jesus clearly told his fellow Jews, I am He.

I am the promised Messiah.

I have come to be the Light in this dark world.

I am the Bread of life.

I am the Living Water. My healing from sin and brokenness is eternal.

Is Jesus your beauty, comfort, and joy today?

I know I needed this.

It’s so easy to get sucked under by the constant onslaught of illness and negativity.

You and I — let’s be beautiful trees of righteousness.

That’s my prayer today. Help me, Lord, to be like Jesus. Help me to  love righteousness. To love what is right. Help me to have your compassion. #brokenservingbroken

 

 

Walking with the broken…#brokenhelpingbroken

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Today’s sermon on Romans 13:8-10 was a reminder of the most beautiful and important of four-letter words known to man.

It is also the most misused and misunderstood.

LOVE.

I was hungry and thirsty to rewind the sermon in my mind. I wanted to hear more. Needed to challenge myself more. Beautiful pearls of truth need to be studied with greatest care.

Of all the virtues that I most covet, this is the crown jewel. So I cracked open Matthew Henry’s commentary first thing. He speaks.

LOVE is a debt.

The law of God and the interest of mankind make it so.

It is not a thing which we are left at liberty about, but it is enjoined us, as the principle and summary of all duty owing one to another; for love is the fulfilling of the law; not perfectly, but it is a good step towards it.”

Love is a debt. We owe Christ our eternal happiness. When we serve our chronically ill husbands, we are living the law of love.

I watched my grandfather faithfully love his wife through the tortuous path of Parkinson’s. It was an seemingly endless cycle of loss as her capacities lessened. The day she died, he wanted to die, too. His loving faithfulness was the steely example I’ve needed. His living proved you can make it through Christ.

This ugly world does not have to suck you into the muck of its adulterous slime pit. His footprints are in the sand before me.

Then, there’s my brother. What lovingkindness and gentle care he gave to his wife through four years of battling stage four cancer! He’s a young “buck” still, but his feet kept to the path of marriage vows with beauty and tenderness in the midst of heart-wrenching pain, sleepless nights, financial loss, and many days of solo parenting.

Both men knew this truth. We owe a debt of love to Jesus! God become flesh and became our atonement for sin —  that we can never repay.

His love requires us to love one another.

I am forever grateful for faithful men who set this example.

We are bombarded with messages to love ourselves. Doctors and therapists push us to seek our own happiness.

Well, if that’s what life’s all about, we would all leave our chronically ill spouses in the dust!

There’s a strange beauty that comes in walking with the the broken that cannot be obtained any other way. When you learn to love through the ugly, God’s love in Christ comes to light.

The desperate neediness of the pain-filled hours remind us that God chose not leave us alone in our terrible plight. He did not abandon us.

Instead, His truth brings hope.

His love gives eternal life to those who forsake sin and call on Jesus as their Savior and Master.

Who would you rather have as a boss? Satan, whose motto is grab all the happiness you can possibly snatch in this life, or Jesus, whose eternal love rescues us from eternal hell?

He calls us to walk in love for others. Satan calls for loving ourselves first.

I’m still running my race here with the long-term, degenerative chronic illnesses. I haven’t finished my course yet.

But Love calls me.

It calls me upward and onward with searing, painful beauty.

Love is calling you, too, dear sister.

We didn’t “sign up” for this non-fairytale marriage. We, however, were called by His love to love our neighbor as ourself, no matter how broken they are.

May the beauty of the LORD rest upon you and grant you peace, joy, and hope in believing this week.

May you be carried by the beautiful love of the Lord Jesus.

 

Do you “grieve ahead of time”?

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Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

This has been one of my very favorite verses for years.

As I child my family moved at least a dozen times before finally settling in the state I still live in. I was shy. Insecure. A worrywart… These words brought comfort in the confusion.

I’ve been married for almost thirteen years now. For me the path of life has not included a bunch of rainbows and roses.

In fact, the joy has been so often been shadowed by grief over dreams of a path of life I wished for. Dreams have been demolished by reality.

The knife of pain twists in my inner gut as I watch someone I love suffer on a daily basis. It is the promise of joy, eternal joy and rest, that keeps me going here and now. Oh, and time in His presence, in His Word. That is a taste of the fullness of joy.

On today, His day, seeking His face, remembering His love and sacrifice, that joy springs out of hiding.

Every moment of suffering will be redeemed by Him somehow. Cancer, chronic pain that makes life unbearable — how are you going to redeem this agony, God? I have asked that question more this year than any other. But, redeem it, my God. Shine forth! Do not be silent, God.

His word promises this end in Romans 8:28. I always used to believe that promise was for here and now. But it isn’t always.

The working together for good of all things may not be finished until His kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. But! It. Will. Come. For now we grieve ahead of time, seeing the decay of life right before our eyes.

I wonder, honestly, how much more pain can one body take? I wondered at the agony of end stage cancer with my sis, so recently released from suffering.

When things smooth out, when the good days happen, we joy in those moments, true. So we should. God gives richly those things we enjoy. Those are just samples, tastes of the unending goodness of God and the riches in glory stored up for those who love Him.

What a balance beam to walk! How to stay upright? Grief and joy war inside my mind. I hear echoes of this when you post in the comments.

Now I know for sure that it is okay and right to grieve deeply for what is lost, what has been destroyed by the curse, but living in grief constantly is numbing, paralyzingly so.

I need to look farther down the path for joy.

Our Jesus points the way. His life here on earth was so perfectly focused on pleasing His Father each day. Truth spoken. Compassion shown. Needs met. He wept with those who wept. Celebrated weddings.

As a caregiving wife, each extra measure we have to give can be done grudgingly or specifically for Jesus. All that heavy load, well, He carries it with us. I struggle with that inner huff, too, when more is piled in my shoulders than I think I can carry.

And that grief? His shoulders are broad enough to handle it. Tell Him every single sorrow.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

I pray His comfort for you and I this week. What would you like prayer for this week?