Monday, February 29, 2016

Thoughts on a Name

My husband was just talking about the importance of a name in the Bible times. I had never thought of it before, but the Bible talks about giving glory to God's name. It seems strange to give honor to a name doesn't it? What it is saying actually is to give glory to the attributes for which God's name stands. Names stood for much more back then than they do today. Names were much more intentional during that time.

Last night in the evening service when my husband was preaching on Revelation 4 where the elders cast their crowns before the Lord. The crown here is not a royal crown that you might expect. It's called a Stephanos or a Victor's crown. This is the type of crown given to Olympic winners of the day.

Growing up, I knew what my name meant. Stephanie means "crowned one." Now I have come to know the real meaning. My name does not mean someone crowned with royalty. I used to be proud of my name meaning this thinking about how our roots go back in Wales with Princess Diana.

Now knowing that my name actually means "Victor's Crown" is so much more significant today in my life. The elders in the Bible are casting Victor's Crowns before the Lord. This means they were overcomers in their life here on earth. They were the ones who Paul was speaking of in Romans 8:35-37, but it includes all of us.
Romans 8:35-37
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or perseution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."

So if we go through life ending up being victors in the eyes of God, we will be in heaven someday perhaps wearing that Stephanos - Victor's crown. And we will want to give it back to Him, knowing that it is only by His grace that we made it, by His mercy, and He deserves the glory for it.

My name is Stephanie, and God can give me the victory everyday just like my name symbolizes. He can give you the victory too.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tribute and Admonition to Caregivers

I can't imagine being a single mom and caring for our son. I know there are so many out there who are in this situation. I'm so thankful that God gave me a husband who would be a caregiver with me for Trenton. I know many husbands out there would not be able to handle what he has handled. When Trenton was first born, I couldn't bring myself to measure medicine. He was a pharmacy technician at the time, and he willingly took care of it. Thankfully, God has helped me through that fear of doing it wrong. With tube feeding, we feed Trenton several times during the day, and my husband has fed him so many of those times. It can be stressful. It was especially stressful one year of Trenton's life, and my husband gave up so much to relieve me of the fear I had of what could happen when Trenton would eat. During the sleep deprivation times, he lets me sleep. He is a wonderful caregiver and husband.

As a caregiver who has others who share the responsibilities, it's easy to forget or take advantage of the other person on your "team". For me, I get used to my husband helping me, and I can take it for granted. This is something that is so harmful in a family.

In some families, there are many siblings and a parent or parents who need help. Sometimes it all gets laid on one person. It could be that person is easily pushed, or maybe it is that the other siblings are afraid to help. They might fear what could happen while they are helping. It's easy to have these fears, but it's important to take our responsibilities God gives seriously. God calls us to honor our parents and love others. Being a caregiver is tough, and the brunt of it should never be left on the shoulders of one if there are more who are physically able to help. That is not loving that person or showing love to the parents, and in the end there will be regrets.

As caregivers, let's try to remember that it's God who put us where we are, and it's not easy, but He is so often merciful in our daily situation, and everyday He offers the grace that we need to get through the day.

If you feel alone or neglected and you need help, ask for it. If others who should be responsible are not, talk to them. Do not hold in the anger that can build and turn into bitterness and even physical sickness for you. Lovingly ask them to help. If they do not respond correctly, pray for them, and ask God to give you patience and hope as you are the sole caregiver.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Coffee for the Caregiver

Caregivers are often a hidden group of people. Some are hidden more than others. There are the caregivers who sit night and day by their mother or father who is suffering from a debilitating illness like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Many times they may not have anyone to relieve them for days at a time. They are unable to go to church or out to the store. They are basically hidden away. These people no doubt had friends before their parent became ill. The priority of caring for their parents, however, overtook the priorities of coffee and shopping with friends, and their friends either misunderstood or did not know how to help.

Caregivers may not ask for help because they feel responsible for the one for whom they give care. They probably will not bring up the anxiety and depression they sometimes fall into when dealing with all of the aspects of care that go into their loved one. If they do not know the Lord or if they do not have a spouse to help, they are basically alone. Caregivers are a huge ministry. They minister, but they need to be ministered to as well. There is actually a passage in the Bible that points strongly to this ministry. I recently heard a message on this passage, and I believe it is a message to those who must care for the caregiver as well as to the caregivers themselves.

James 5:13-16 speaks strongly to this topic of the those who are down-trodden. Most of us look at this passage and see the English words sick and think of those sick and dying. The Greek words here, however actually lend themselves more to weakness with the first word where we are commanded to pray and weariness with the second  that can take place if we become so distraught we are unable to even pray.

Verse 13 begins by instructing those who are sick to pray. This word sick in the Greek is used also as the word "weak." This weakness seems to aim more at a depression or sadness rather than physical sickness as in the next part it encourages the merry to also pray or sing praises.

The next verse, though has a more serious tone, and it talks about calling the elders of the church to anoint the "sick" with oil, and the prayer of faith for this person will save them.  The problem with going with the actual word sick the way we think of it is that God does not always choose to heal the sick from their sickness, and the Greek word backs this up as it means weary and is used in only one other spot - Hebrews 12:3 in the same way - not for a person who is sick and dying but for the weary. Weariness is something that can be physical, but it is mental, and also can be spiritual. Those who are weary are those here who probably do not have the strength to pray, so calling the elders to pray for them is their only hope. It is not our practice to anoint with oil. Most likely this could be compared to encouraging someone through prayer and making them a nice cup of coffee, bring them a warm heating pad, and maybe burning a soothing candle to help them relax. The oils were used for different purposes in the Bible, and it may be more cultural, but we can take the purpose behind that these weary people have stopped caring for themselves to this degree spiritually where they are unable to pray and physically where they cannot care for their bodies.

This is a passage for all of us - not just for the elders of the church. We all have a responsibility to minister to those who are weak and weary. It is sometimes hard to see these people, because often their reason for weariness keeps them home. The verse actually says for the one who is weary to call for the elders. This speaks to the truth that sometimes when we are weary, we need to ask for help and prayer. We need to admit their we are struggling, and that is a hard thing to do. I would think it especially hard for someone who has come to the point where they are unable to pray.

So whether you are the weary one or you are the friend of one who is weary, pray and give. It might just be a hot cup of coffee and prayer, but God does not want us to ignore this part of his congregation.