Saturday, March 19, 2016

Coffee for the Caregiver - When They say No

I have been helping on and off to give a caregiver I know a break in taking care of a loved one. I try to relieve her in some way, and sometimes do something to help that man for whom she's caring. Since I've known him, I've always received a pretty good reaction to giving him help. But the last time I offered to wash his hair, I received a "no," and today when I said I was there to cut and wash his hair, it was a serious "no." There was no way he was going to let me do this to help him. It hit me hard. It brought tears to my eyes. The man is like a grandfather even though he is not a blood relation. I came there to help him, and he said "no." I left the room, and I just sat looking at some magazines. And then I realized that maybe I had become one of his "caregivers." I was no longer like a granddaughter coming to visit. Now, he felt like I was there to control some part of his life. My anger and sadness simmered to a stop, and I went in and just sat with him still looking at my magazines. I think it surprised him, and he asked me if he was holding me up. I explained my son was outside playing so I had some time. I could tell he regretted his initial reaction to me, and on my way out, he offered me one of the jellybeans I had brought him on my last longer visit.

I learned several things from this visit. I learned that it is hard to care for loved ones. It's hard when they don't "obey" you. It's hard for them to be told what to do, and it's hard to have them not want your help. I also learned that as a caregiver, we can't forget that most of all we are their loved one. We need to sit and spend time with them if we want them to respect us enough to let us help them.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Meditating on God

Psalm 77:12
"I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings."

I find that one of the most difficult times for me is when my hands are busy, but my mind doesn't have to do anything. Doing the dishes is one of those times. I remember a well-known writer for women said the same thing. Our minds are made to meditate on something, and unfortunately if they are left to nothing, nothing good can come of it.

I think our tendency, unless trained to do otherwise, is to think about what happened earlier or perhaps what's happening tomorrow or next week, and the stress builds.

These times can be great times to meditate on God. We can meditate on this works of the past, present, and hope for the future. "Meditate" can mean to murmur. These are times when it's okay to talk to yourself. Speak the truth about God to yourself.

After you meditate on the truth yourself, you can take the time to talk to others about what God is doing.

In this, your meditation becomes not only helpful for you but also for those who know you.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Coffee for the Caregiver - No Guilt Trips

Guilt is something that almost every caregiver struggles with on a daily basis.

If someone is caring for an elderly parent, they probably face the guilt that they might not be pleasing them with everything they do. The parents might not like what they make to eat, or might not like how they care for them. A caregiver might feel that they just can't do enough - whether in keeping a parent clean or the home clean. They feel overwhelmed, and they feel guilty.

The same is true for those dealing with a child with special needs. There are so many options for therapies etc, and sometimes not choosing one or another can bring guilt. Sometimes there is guilt when you make a decision, and then it does not seem like the right one. Guilt can become an overpowering thing if it is allowed to stay present.

So how can you as a friend or family member of a caregiver help with the guilt? You can help a caregiver by not barraging them with suggestions for this and that. I know that I have too often been a suggestion person. It is important to know that the caregiver has likely done hours of research on their particular situation. Don't add more guilt.

The spiritual life of a caregiver is difficult. If you notice that your friend or family member cannot make it to church, do not say, "we missed you on Sunday." You probably mean well, but that can bring a twinge of guilt. Instead, just ask how they are doing, and if you run across a book or Bible study that you have found helpful, pass it on to them.

If you visit someone who is being a caregiver either to see them or the person they are caring for, do not bring up all of the things that they are not doing around the house. Instead, ask if you could give the caregiver a break to get out of the house. When you come over to give the break, ask where cleaning supplies are saying that you just want to give them a hand. You may think that someone who is "just" staying with an elderly person all day would have time to keep a perfect house. The problem is, you are not in their shoes. Staying home 24/7 puts no one in the mood to do housecleaning, and knowing that you can't leave even if you wanted to makes it so much worse. If you want to care for a caregiver, hire someone to clean the house or do it for them.

Often we don't think to bring meals unless someone is sick or had surgery. It might be a good option to bring a meal to a caregiver who is home all day with an elderly person or child. Just like with cleaning, being home alone is tiring, and the person might need a break from cooking.

In all of the help you offer, never make the caregiver feel as if they are not doing a good enough job. Tell them how much they are doing, but say you would like to take some of the load. That will go a long way to encourage the caregiver.

Some caregivers are struggling more than they will ever let on. They might come across as upset or annoyed, but the reality is that they are probably just tired. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and if you can't, do put yourself in their shoes, and give them a break.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is God in the Mutation?

Over the last four years, I've thought about Trenton in light of what they call his syndrome - a genetic mutation, and I'm not satisfied with that terminology. The meaning of mutation actually means a "permanent alteration" ( in the DNA. I often think of it in terms of something negative however, and I'm sure most people are like me in this.

James 1:17 tells us:
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

"good" here means excellent in the Greek.
"perfect" here means complete or finished.
"gift" in the first instance is something given. "gift" in the second instance is used in only one other place in the New Testament, and here it is the gift of salvation. The Greek means gift, bounty, benefaction.
"variableness" - unchanging
"shadow of turning"- goes along with the unchanging in a way, because this phrase could be pictured with the shadow cast as the earth turns on its axis in a way that brings on night covering a portion of the sun.

So what can we gain from the true meaning of these words? We gain this: Every good or excellent thing given to us is from God. The finished gift of salvation is from God as is the finished product of our lives as we have grown in His likeness. He doesn't change so as to cast a shadow on us one moment and the next bring sunshine.

So what does that say for our difficult circumstances? What does that say for our trials? What about babies born with genetic syndromes that cause sickness? Are these not from God because they seem bad? Are they not from Him when one day things our good and the next they seem hopeless?

On the contrary, because we know God is in control of everything, and everything we are given must go first through the permission of the one true God, we know that everything he gives is excellent because it brings glory to Him, and it brings us to a better knowledge of who He is.

So then as we think about our children with a genetic mutation or an adult with a gene issue that causes cancer or some other disease, should we think of it as something negative? Was God not in control and He just let happen what would? Are these differences mistakes?

We know from the creation of the world, that He said it was all good. Yet we also know that when sin came into the world, so did sickness and death. Yet He has not changed from that first creator. His gifts are still complete and excellent. His creations are exactly as He chooses in spite of the fact that sin has it's hold in each of us when we are born.

Something that I have found with Trenton and I'm sure others would agree with their own situations, is that there are good differences with his particular genetic mutation. As I look at other kids with CHARGE syndrome, I see the most beautiful eyes you will ever see on anyone. I see the thickest most beautiful hair. I see determination that is often negative at first, but can become what spurs them on to do what they need to do.

Everything God creates is good for His purposes and His ultimate end.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Coffee for the Caregiver - Devotional Day 2 - No Good Thing Will He Withhold

Psalm 84:11
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

I felt the need to use this verse for today. Yesterday you may have felt that there was no hope outside of heaven, and that in some ways is the case. The truth is also, however that God wants us to live in this life knowing that He gives good things to those who love Him.

In Psalm 84:11, we can be encouraged with the truth that He gives grace, glory, and that nothing good will be withheld from us as we walk uprightly. These are great promises to us as we go through the difficulties of life.

God gives grace. Yesterday, you read about His underserved mercy. Grace is also undeserved, but it is a constant for those who have trusted Christ as Savior.

Hebrews 4:16
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

We need to ask for the mercy, the grace is there for the asking, and He will help us to find it in every situation whether He takes the trial away or lets it continue.  

God gives glory. I wondered about this, because it is difficult to understand how He would give us glory. He could I suppose lift us up in some way, but as I looked at the meaning of the Hebrew word here, it can mean abundance. I believe that is what He will give to us along with grace in our difficulties and everyday life. He desires for us to live an abundant life.

John 10:10
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

No good thing will be withheld from those who walk uprightly. Sometimes it might seem that every good thing is being kept away from us, but this is a promise of God that we must take to heart. Think about the grace and abundance He promises here. Our lives can be full because God gives us these things even in a trial.

Even His trials are good, because they can glorify Him and make us more like Christ.

Coffee for the Caregiver - Devotional day 1 - Is This my Fault?

John 9:2
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The question has been posed through the ages. Job faced the accusation. The accusation may enter the minds of those who see someone going through many trials as well as those who are going through them.

John 9:3
“Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

It is hard for people to understand that God would cause us trials in order for Him to be glorified. To someone who does not understand the gospel, it sounds mean and cruel perhaps. It may seem that those of us who have a disabled child, spouse, or chronic illness must have done something to cause it.

That answer in one way is that we have done something to cause it, but it is nothing we can change.

We are all sinners.

None of us deserves life at all.

Nevertheless, God chose to send His sinless Son to die so that we could live. We live now with “robes of righteousness” that belong to Christ but that God has given to us. In these robes, we still sin, but God only sees the righteousness of His Son. In these robes, we have trials, and God’s desire is for us to look like His Son through these trials, so that He will be glorified.

He chose to save us to bring glory to Him. He is God. He deserves all glory.

In trials, cry out for the mercy of God, because you deserve this trial. We all deserve every trial we are given. God has so often poured His mercy on my life and stopped a problem or healed a sickness. I did not deserve that mercy, just as I did not deserve the mercy to save my soul from eternal death in hell.  Just like He forgave my sins and has prepared a place for me to go when I die, I do not deserve the daily mercies He gives in the midst of trials.

Our hope for eternal life is also our hope for today. Revel in the eternal life that God has given knowing that today is a struggle, but tomorrow will be glory with the Lord.