A Caregiver Looks at Psalm 91

Part I

Psalm 91

A Caregiver Looks at Psalm 91

I confess. I have a problem with Psalm 91. Have you read it lately? For the last seven months, I’ve studied the Psalms.

Last week I came to Psalm 91 and it got my dander up. Why? Because as a caregiver, I KNOW that God doesn’t offer supernatural protection from disease and death to Christians. I’ve known many good Christians who have had catastrophic illnesses, and many good Christians who have died.

How then, do I reconcile the verses about ‘no harm overtaking me’ and ‘no disaster coming near me’ with the reality of the bad things that happen to the ones I love?

Psalm 91 makes it sounds as if genuine Christians will have nothing bad happen to them. In fact, the Pilgrims believed that disaster meant that a person lived outside of God’s grace. The ‘elect’ had successful lives; everyone else had problems.

I don’t claim theologian status—but I do claim a personal relationship with God and a desire to understand his word with the help of the Holy Spirit. So, I set out to figure out how a caregiver can live with Psalm 91.

For the next several days, I’ll share what I’ve learned from giving Psalm 91 a closer look.

Verses 1-2

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

First of all, we must dwell in God. The word dwell means ‘to remain for a time’ as well as ‘to keep attention directed.’ It can also mean abide, stay, remain, and tarry. If I spend time with God and trust him with the most intimate parts of my life, than I can say I dwell in him.

In that act of dwelling, I can find rest—something every caregiver needs! I must give up my desires to fix everything and make the path smooth for those I care for. I must discipline myself to consciously turn over all of my problems to God.

Verse two talks about God in war-terms: refuge and fortress.
Our motto needs to be, “I trust in God.” Period.

Verses 3-4Some people think Psalm 91 promises us a life on easy street. I disagree. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1FW

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

The next two verses use a birdy simile—something I can relate to! In the olden days, fowlers had the responsibility for setting snares for wild birds for the cooking pots. They acted as specialized bird hunters. Likewise, the devil acts as a specialized hunter of human souls.

The word ‘pestilence’ means ‘disaster’ or ‘destructive and pernicious.’ The devil sets snares for us, and uses pernicious lies to lure us into his hopeless way of thinking.

God doesn’t promise us a life without disease, he promises protection from the pernicious lies of the evil one.

God doesn't promise a disease-free life; he promises protection from the lies of the evil one. Click To Tweet

The simile continues in verse four where the psalmist says that God will offer us shelter under his wings. A mother bird will shelter her young under her wings—which act as protection against the elements as well as other birds and animals of prey.

I believe one facet of that protection for caregivers includes what I call a ‘happy-face-state-of-grace.’ During Pedro’s illness, I often thought it odd that I didn’t break down on a regular basis.

Bad news and discouraging setbacks seemed to roll right off me—I had taken emotional shelter under the wings of a loving Savior. Just like feathers repel the rain, so God’s grace provided protection for my emotions during very trying times.

God’s faithfulness arranged flights that seemed impossible, kept airfare low, provided inexpensive hotels, and in times of great need, a way for our daughters to see Pedro for what we thought was the last time.

Caregiver Applications

1. God wants us to take up residence in the safest place possible—close to him. As caregivers, we do this by staying in daily connection with him.
2. The devil’s snares consist of pernicious lies—thing such as, “It’s my fault.” “If only I had ____.”
3. God’s ‘wings’ of grace protect us and allow us to function when we choose to hide close to him.
4. God will provide. His faithfulness will manifest itself in unexpected ways.

How has God provided for you in your caregiver journey? Share in the comments section! I’d love to celebrate God’s goodness with you.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

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Expectations Can Make All the Difference

Choosing what we expect from life.

Father and son at the start of the cancer journey, on the way to chemo.

It was one of those mornings where expectations of an normal chemo treatment were obliterated – everything that could go wrong, was going from bad to worse!  We had arrived on time for four-year-old Andrew’s chemotherapy, but the nurse hadn’t.

When she finally arrived, the doctor wasn’t there yet, neither was the medicine.  When the medicine arrived, the doctor still hadn’t and the nurse couldn’t give the medication without written doctor orders, even though it was standard procedure.

Finally the doctor arrived and checked Andrew out.  Everything was fine.  Phew.  She suggested we start the Vincristine drip, which would take a little while, because, wonder of wonders; the Operating Room wasn’t ready for his Lumbar Puncture procedure yet.

The nurse hooked Andrew up for the treatment and was just ready to start when the OR called and, well, they were now ready.  The nurse unhooked Andrew and we wheeled him down to the OR holding area.

Can you believe it?  The anesthesiologist wasn’t ready.

Five year old Andrew didn’t care about any of this.  I mean, after all, he had the attention of mommy, the oncologist, the Peds nurse, the OR nurse and the OR assistant.  He chattered happily to any one who might be listening and followed his normal procedure of happily climbing onto the gurney and lying there while they readied the oxygen, the electric probes, the pulse/ox indicator, gloves, swabs and who knows what else.  He demanded a pillow (the OR nurse apologized, after all, it’s in his chart that he wants a pillow) and got it.  Still the anesthesiologist wasn’t ready.

Andrew chattered on about the need to go to Dairy Queen for breakfast (he did not get that idea from me) and declared it to be way better than Taco Bell and decided maybe we would have time for the library.  He proceeded to quickly announce anything else that popped into his little head – it was how he handled his nervousness.

Still we were waiting.

The nurse checked the flush syringe that was hooked up to the port in Andrew’s chest.  It was waiting for the anesthesiologist.  Suddenly Andrew noticed the syringe.  His eyes got big and he reached down and grabbed hold of the syringe.

            Let me pause for a moment

and explain to you the normal procedure that we’d gone through countless times in the last year and a half.  Usually, Andrew hops on the table, the oxygen mask is placed near, the anesthesiologist introduces himself, assures himself of who Andrew is, and injects the propothol (the anesthesia), into Andrew’s port.  Andrew has the same reaction every time the anesthesia hits.  He frowns, starts to tell me it smells funny (I know that because he used to get the sentence out, but now that they know his dosage, he never completes the thought).  Then his eyes get really big, he half yawns, half yells mommy, his eyes roll back in his head and in the middle of the yawn, he collapses onto the pillow and he’s out for the however long they keep him under!

On this day, suddenly Andrew determined in his little mind that the syringe on his chest must be the anesthesia and we just didn’t tell him.  His eyes got huge, he yelled, “Mommy!  Is this the sleepy medicine?”  Then, believe it or not, he half yawned and his eyes began to roll back into his head.

I quickly explained, “No Andrew, it’s not sleepy medicine, it’s just a flush.”

Instantly his eyes replaced themselves, he lifted his head off the pillow and finished the story he had been telling without hardly missing a beat.

            Expectations!  Who knew?  I have never before seen such a physical manifestation of a mental expectation.

I really wondered what Andrew would have done had I not assured him of it only being saline!  Would he have gone to sleep?  How funny.  Maybe after all this time, they don’t even need the anesthesia!

I have heard the phrase that if you expect people to treat you well, they will.  If you expect to succeed you will.  On the other hand if you expect to be carsick, you better take a container and if you expect to be treated as an outcast, you will most likely be very, very lonely.

Expectations.  Hmmm.

What do I expect for myself?

Do I expect to follow the Lord?  Can I expect to be happy?  Do I expect to live a full life of rewards and loving relationships?  Can I remember that a loving Father will be with me in everything that happens to me, even cancer?

Our expectations for ourselves and for our God can make a huge difference in how we approach life.

What are your expectations today?

What are my expectations of God? How about my #expectations for myself? #inspirememonday… Click To Tweet

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

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YOU Can Help Stop the Stigma

Mental Health Awareness Month Resource Page

stigmaMental Health Awareness Month-What’s the Big Deal?

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Many of you may wonder why a website dedicated to caregivers and caregiving would take the time to mention mental health isues. Meantal Health problems are the unseen cancer of our times.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10-24. Take a moment to let that statistic sink in.

The School of Social Work at Washington State University has this sobering statistic to share:

The great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide.  However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Our daughter Sarah almost became one of those statistics. She had an undiagnosed mental illness that caused severe depression and suicidal ideation. We became her caregivers, even though she didn’t suffer from cancer.

The Stimga of Cancer (and Mental Illness)

Like cancer, mental illness knows no socioeconomic boundaries. It doesn’t skip age groups, ethnicities, or religions, either. Mental illness can occur in any person, at any time, for no apparent reason. Thus the need for a Mental Health Awareness Month.

A century ago, no one wanted to speak about cancer, either. In fact, doctors didn’t tell their patients that they HAD cancer for fear of demoralizing them. That stigma remained in place for centuries. Thank goodness the American Cancer Society got the conversation started in 1913 and published a list of warning signs.

Conversation leads to questions, which lead to research, which leads to ways to manage and cure. We can do the same thing with mental illness. We can not only stop the stigma, we can help change treatment and understanding.

Like #cancer, #mentalillness knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Inform yourself. #stopthestigma… Click To Tweet

The more we know, the more likely we will notice changes in behavior that could signal a deeper problem. If we know the signs, we will know when to get help. pray

Resources for Mental Health Awareness

NAMI has a great website that offers not only information about mental illnesses, but support group information for both those who suffer and their family members. They offer a free helpline 24/7. If you suspect that someone you love has a mental illness, CONTACT NAMI today! You could save a life (Text NAMI to 741741 to get help).

The School of Social Work at Washington State University hosts the Mental Health Reporting. The information helps reporters and writers (as well as patients and caregivers) talk about mental illness in a way that avoids perpetrating the stigma against those who suffer.

Do you know of another website that offers quality information? Email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and I’ll add it to this page if the information fits.

Stories From the Trenches

Sometiems, just knowing that we are not alone is all it takes to help us get help for ourselves or seek help for a loved one. We hope that these stories will resonate with you and inspire you to stop the stigma:

31 Glimpses into an Unquiet Mind–Our family’s journey with mental illness.

What I Wish Christians Understood About Mental Illness

Why Should You Care About Mental Illness?

What I Wish Christians Knew About Harm OCD

What I Wish Christians Knew About Prayer and Mental Health Issues

The Challenges of the Topsy Turvy World of Mental Illness

If Insurance Companies Treated Cancer Like a Mental Illness

How I Wish the Church Would Treat Those With Mental Illnesses

Caring for a Parent with a Mental Illness

What I Wish Christians Knew about Anxiety

What I Wish Christians Knew about Caregiver PTSD

Dear Church: People With Mental Illness Love Jesus, Too!

Join the Conversation!

If you’re a blogger and have written a story about mental health issues and would like it included in this list, please email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com. I would love to grow this resource page into something beautiful for those who suffer from or have a family member that suffers from a mental illness. Together we can stop the stigma, bring hope, and love like Jesus loves!

If you do nothing else, please share this article on Facebook so that the one in five people who suffer from a mental health issue can find hope and healing!

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Put a Penny in your Pocket

And make a deal with God - an Inspire Me Monday Post

My dog tugged on the leash as I looked down at the tarnished penny in the road.  Should I pick it up?

Is a penny on the road a sign from God? Maybe if it’s needed.

“Put a penny in your pocket, and save it for a rainy day.” My grandma’s green eyes sparkled as she picked up a penny and slid it into her pocket.  I raced ahead across the parking lot, as I often did, to check the newspaper coin return for quarters.  It was our ritual.  Any time I walked with Gram, we checked the coin return in telephone booths, candy machines and any change found went into Gram’s pocket.  She sang that little ditty from her childhood, but she always grinned at me and added, “It’s for investment. God and I have a deal.”

Gram was always collecting for “investment.” 

A quarter lost in the parking lot.  A tip earned from her job at the bakery.  A penny abandoned on the sidewalk.  Change left in the washing machine.  Often I wondered how much these little offerings could possibly contribute to the needs of the world, but those thoughts never stopped me from helping.  Gram had a way of making it fun and it was our special thing, along with writing silly poetry.

One day I asked if she really thought her investment money made a difference. 

Her eyes grew serious and we sat together on a park bench while she reminded me that God didn’t really need our money, but He did need that commitment from us.  She said any chance we have of helping Him by serving others is our way of showing Him our love and trust.  And then Gram told me how much investment money she had turned in the previous year.  My eyes grew wide – I had no idea her quarters, dimes and pennies added up to that amount. 

But over time, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I often found coins when I was with Gram and they were for investment. 

I rarely found coins when by myself.

Hmm.  I wondered – was that God helping Gram with her investment?

After all, Gram had told me, she asked God for lots of things, and this was the thing that she did for God.  It was kind of her deal with God – whatever she found, was His.

I picked up the tarnished penny and placed it in my pocket.  My dog tugged happily and we continued our walk while thoughts kept running through my head.

I’ve asked God for a lot in the last few years:

·         Our son to be healed from leukemia

·         Safety for our oldest daughter in Guatemala

·         Our middle daughter to be able to attend the college of her choice

·         A job to work out

·         Safety on long daily commutes

·         Prayers for our mothers

·         And many other things that came and went in my life

Yes.  I made a lot of requests of my Savior.  And while I know He doesn’t mind, I began to ponder what I’ve given Him in return.  Sure, I teach about Him daily, I’m privileged in my job to be able to do that.  I sing to Him a lot.  I pray a lot and I give thanks many times a day.  It has been my delight to go on many mission trips, but those are so fun for me, I don’t really believe they’re much of a sacrifice.

My dog joyfully raced around me in circles as we cut through the park and out onto the road on the other side.  As I bent to fasten her leash once again, something bright and shiny glistened in the sun in the middle of the road. I checked for cars and led the dog into the road.  I grabbed another penny and slid it into my pocket with the first.

Yes, God.  You’re right.  I need to be more intentional about looking for ways to give back.

“Put a penny in your pocket” chanted in my head as my steps turned toward home.  Two cents wasn’t going to change the world.  So far, I didn’t have enough to even warrant me sending it to my church treasurer, but the conviction grew in my heart.

“I’m going to do it, Gram,” I whispered.  “I’m going to keep up your investment project.”  I don’t know why I haven’t done so before.

My dog danced on the end of her leash as we cut through the shortcut to my street.  Right in front of my house, wouldn’t you know it – a third penny sat waiting for me in the street.

My blue eyes sparkled as I slid the penny into my pocket.

God and I have a deal.

With God,a pittance can be huge.

 

With God, a penny goes a long way! #inspirememonday #blessedbutstressed Click To Tweet

 

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Steal Away with Me

Enter My Presence and Refresh Your Spirit

Steal Away with Me – I will take care of you

Steal away with Me.

Escape the chains of responsibility

Eschew the ropes of judgement and scorn

Discard the tethers of others’ expectations

And sit awhile with Me.

Steal away with Me.

Let the laundry lie in its limp endless loads

Seek a crack in the cacophony of caregiving

Allow the worries of work to wander away

And relax a moment with Me.

Steal away with Me.

Life is not as I designed it:

Filled with wonder and beauty and love.

So let go of your unrealistic expectations

And trust yourself with Me.

Steal away with Me.

Let the breeze of My loving grace refresh you

Allow My peace to soak into your soul

Bask in the warmth of My wonder and love

And sit awhile with Me.

Steal away with Me – and I will give you peace

Steal Away with Me. Find grace in the presence of God #getaway #refeshyoursoul #inspirememonday Click To Tweet

What brings peace to your soul?

It seems we live in a crazy world.  Work, children, chores and even amazing church responsibilities all seek to divert our attention from the One who offers us the spirit of peace, love and grace.  This weekend, I hungered for that and found solace and grace at the beach.  Often I find serenity in a sunset, a waterfall or the earnest face of a student.  But I confess to days when I forget to even look for what our gracious Father offers us:  to cast our cares on Him, to rely on His direction and to remember that His plans are eternal.

How do you refresh your spirit?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

 

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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For the Caregiver Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Easter

EasterEaster Sunday or Easter Some Day?

Some celebrate with new outfits, decorating eggs, and a sunrise service at church. Others hide goodies for the little ones to hunt and then spend the rest of the day in the kitchen preparing a feast. Caregivers often just feel overwhelmed.

I didn’t grow up in a church that made a big deal about Easter Sunday (nor Lent, nor Palm Sunday). Other kids got new outfits, chocolate bunnies, and Easter egg hunts. I didn’t get why Christmas fell on the same day every year, but Easter hopped all over.

My dad explained that since no one had modern calendars back when Jesus was born, no one really knew whether he was born on December 25th or not. I never did get an explanation about why Easter falls on a different day each year. But I didn’t want to push the issue, because it took a fair amount of finagling to have a Christmas tree and celebrate Jesus’ birth. I didn’t want to push my luck by advocating for a holiday I couldn’t keep track of.

So I understand what it feels like when the whole world seems buzzing with excitement over a holiday you just can’t get in to. Don’t get me wrong. I know the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I know he died on the cross on a Friday, got put in the tomb before sundown, and came back to life on Sunday morning.

The Caregiver’s Easter Moments

You don't need to stage a celebration to experience resurrection power! http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1De via @blestbutstrestAs a caregiver, I’ve experienced a small measure of the despair Jesus’ disciples felt as they saw him take his last breath on the cross. I have waited through the night, wondering if Pedro’s next breath would be his last. Because of a miracle, Pedro kept on breathing. But I understand the agony. I also understand the unbounded joy when a loved one pulls through—a resurrection of sorts.

I have despaired whether or not we would ever see our youngest daughter again. Friends wept and prayed with me through a torturous night of doubt. I understand the deep well of gratitude when a prodigal comes home—defying death and destruction and proving once again the miracle of rebirth.

So if you’re feeling wiped out and unable to celebrate anything today, dear caregiver, it’s ok. You don’t have to stage a celebration to experience the unbounded joy of knowing that Jesus lives. Hiding eggs and chocolate bunnies or slaving in a hot kitchen all day will not make the resurrection more real in the lives of the ones you love.

#Caregiver, you don't have to stage a celebration to know the joy of the #resurrection. Click To Tweet

Living each day with the knowledge that you follow the one who conquered the grave—now THAT has an impact. My Jesus conquered death; I know he can conquer my bad attitude. My Jesus has the keys to the grave; I know he can conquer my doubts and fears.

When we let Jesus conquer things for us, we have room in our lives for joy. And we don’t need to wait around for Easter Sunday (whenever it might fall) to celebrate.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Karma or Grace

Which do we give? Which do we deserve?

The idea that we get what we deserve – Karma.

Many of us know popular phrases regarding Karma in our lives, even if it’s not our belief system.  A few of us have wished Karma to happen to those around us.  One or two of us have had our choices come back around and bite us.  Karma seems to be the Hindu and Buddhist version (with a twist) of the Christian Golden Rule: do to others as you would have them do to you.

 It has to do with the consequences of our actions.

Today my eighth grade students, their parents and I, held a yard sale event in order to raise money for their class trip and graduation.  It’s been a work-in-progress for weeks. It’s not a small job, but it is a way to earn money.

Christianity says: Do as Christ did – not as we deserve, but as we’d like

One lady came to our sale and it appeared she might not have a lot of money – her simple clothing, her self-styled hair and her careful shopping all gave us clues.  After selecting with deliberation, she approached to pay for her $4.50 purchase.  She handed me five dollars and told me to keep the change. “It’s for the kids!” she spoke with a sweet and loving smile.  She spotted the brownies the students and I had baked and asked the price.

“Fifty cents,” I replied.

She immediately dug into her purse with a mischievous grin.  “I must have one – after all I need energy to walk home.”

The mom helping me waved her aside, “No!  You already paid an extra fifty cents – just take the brownie!”

Again that kind smile,

“No.  No, it’s for the kids.”

And she bid us an all-encompassing goodbye, wishing the students a wonderful class trip.

Meanwhile, a much younger lady plowed through the clothes, tossing garments one way and then the other.  She had removed her own shirt to try on several others, leaving herself in a black camisole.  Her boyfriend (I’m assuming, I don’t actually know) backed away, walked around nonchalantly for quite some time and then got in his car and drove away, leaving her to toss clothing at will.

I watched her off and on, because her manner was abrupt, slightly rude and a little shifty.  She had darkly dyed hair and spackled on make-up and when someone reached for a shirt, she grabbed it and examined it carefully.  It was odd – it’s a yard sale for goodness sake.

Friendly conversation flowed around her and it was well-established, among those shopping, that this yard sale benefited these hard-at-work students.

A customer asked me a question and as I drifted off to assist him I lost sight of the black camisole.  When I looked up, she was no longer at the table.  I guess it’s a teacher thing, because my eyes automatically scanned the area and spotted her, with many clothing items over her arms, trotting around the back corner of the building and out of sight.  I heard a car engine rev and saw the boyfriend’s car zoom onto the street and away.

The moms and I muttered about people stealing form the kids and felt a little miffed at her behavior.  Frankly, we were dealing with donations and we were cutting deals like crazy – it’s what you do at a yard sale.  Had she asked, we would have sold her those items for very little – but because she didn’t ask, we were indignant at the theft.

One of the helpers sifted through clothing, folding and straightening.  Suddenly she let out a little guffaw and held up a bright pink phone.  She opened the phone and yes, karma is real.  The lady who stole the clothing had left her phone behind – unlocked, so we could easily verify whose pictures it featured.

The karma gets better.

Shortly after, two police cars pulled up.  The officers got out and sauntered over to take their coffee break, buying the baked goods and drinks from the kids in order to offer their support to our cause.  The mom took their business card handed them the phone.

For some reason (and maybe this is not a proud moment) it gave us all a little moment of glee that this lady had stolen $7 worth of clothing (maybe) and had left her smart phone.

In all honesty – haven’t you had those moments? Gleeful moments where someone who treated you so rudely at work is the one to get in trouble with the boss?  Self-righteous moments where you saw someone shop-lift and watched security pick them up?  Have you seen those videos where the car that cuts off the semi-truck get bumped into the ditch?  It makes my students giggle, how about you?

But sometimes they’re not little moments.  Sometimes it’s not glee, but revenge that might burn in the heart.  That jerk who stole money gets busted.  Deserved.  That embezzler who loses it all.  Asked for it.  That bully who gets put-down and reviled.  Karma.

I remember when a cancer diagnosis went with a little shake-of-the-head and a sigh, “Well, he smoked all his life.”  I’ve seen people murmur at an accident scene, “Drunk – she had it coming.”

So Karma fights with “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

We must train ourselves not to hope the revenge happens. Instead of dealing out reactions to other’s choices, we must choose to treat as we would want to be treated, not as they deserve.  Why?

As Christians, we have not received Karma – we are not forced to receive what we deserve. “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Sin has separated us forever from a God of love and light.  But our God does not deal in Karma, He deals in grace.

 

He took our #Karma and dealt us #grace. #inspirememonday Click To Tweet

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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The Nature of the Beast

Life Gets Crazy

“It’s the nature of the beast,” I wrote to Anita in one of our many chats:  things pile up in the worst possible ways.

The end of the quarter looms a week away – grades are due, finals given, frantic make-up assignments might possibly be turned in by desperate students and/or more anxious parents.  The yearbook, one of my advisory duties, is due tomorrow – ads need to be polished, pages reviewed, lists double and triple-checked, pictures counted and words edited.  I might have a child that is not wanting to turn in (let alone DO) his homework (it’s stupid, you know) – assignment sheets must be checked, projects supervised and motivation offered.  I’m the sponsor of the 8th Grade class – graduation must be planned, tributes written, gowns and flowers ordered and class trips planned.  It’s spring – students shrug off assignments previously easily completed, drama happens from the slightest thing, and end of the year projects and trips are suddenly imminent.  I’m a writer – I need to meet deadlines, post blogs, write stories and put thoughts into order.

Besides being simply a long list, we have to complete everything well, correctly, on-time and with a smile on our faces.  Is that even possible?

It’s the nature of the beast that when life gets crazy in one area, it’s a certainty that it’ll spin out of control like the Gravity Max, Full Throttle or Sky Scream (great names for crazy roller coasters found at www.coasterguy.wordpress.com 

It’s the nature of the beast – life runs out of control like a crazy roller coaster!
(credit to coasterguy.wordpress.com for great pic)

This is all true for caregiving and parenthood, teaching and doctoring, musicians and authors.  Life gets crazy.  It zooms up and down and then flies around in circles, forwards and backwards.  Events spin upside down and right-side up so fast it’s hard to tell which way is actually correct!

Just like a roller-coaster, once locked in, we have to finish the ride!  Getting off is not really an option.

So what do I do?  My heart rate increases while my sleep decreases.  My worry rises as my exercise takes a back-seat to deadlines.  The pile-up can drive me crazy!

Or.

I can take one thing at a time.  Make a list.  Ask for help.  Communicate my needs.  Scream as needed.  Laugh often. I can hang on while realizing that the ride will end.  Everyone might not be glad they were on the ride, but lessons will be learned, goals accomplished, and relationships cemented.

It’s the nature of the beast.  Life gets crazy.  Hang on, scream, laugh and enjoy the ride.

It’s the nature of the beast. Life gets crazy. Hang on, scream, laugh and enjoy the ride.… Click To Tweet

 

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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What You Need to Do to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

A Good Night’s Rest Provides the Elixir for Caregiver Burnout

Pedro ‘circled the drain’—his life hung in the balance and no one knew for sure how to stop the infections that waged war on his chemo-weakened body. The doctors had started using drugs they thought might work. They also spent long minutes sitting on his bed, staring at him. It’s never a good sign when a doctor takes the time to sit on a patient’s bed.

caregiver burnout

I felt weary. For six months we had battled cancer, and now this. I numbed myself with food. Praying took too much effort. My friends did the heavy prayer lifting for me.  I had no energy to form words and thoughts and sentences.

My uncomfortable chair-posing-as-a-bed in Pedro’s hospital room kept me tossing and turning. Just when I would fall asleep, a nurse would come in to check Pedro’s vitals, or Pedro would start awake, needing something.

The night before, a family friend had arrived to visit. He posed an interesting question that I answered without thinking. “If you could do anyting you wanted to do right now, what would it be?”

I responded with the first thing that popped into my head, “Soak in a hot tub.”

“Why don’t you do it?” he asked. “I’ll stay here with Pedro and you find a hotel with a hot tub.”

I found a place to stay on a bus route, and safely made my way to a small hotel. For the first time in months I luxuriated in a decent night’s sleep. The impersonal hotel room and soothing soak in a bath had worked like balm to my broken thoughts and frantic worry. I had arrived back at the hospital feeling as if I could handle the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next decision.

Five Minutes on the Phone Undoes A Night of Good

My cell phone buzzed, and I hurried from the room to take the call. I wish I hadn’t. Unkind words poured out of the phone and into my ear from someone I trusted. Someone I thought was safe and on my side berated me with bitter words for what they perceived to be my horrible actions of the night before. They scolded me for spending the night in a hotel. They railed that I would let a ‘stranger’ spend the night in Pedro’s room.

Each hurtful word pierced my heart. Mesmerized, all I could do was listen and pray for wisdom and the ability to not utter hateful words back. After what seemed like hours, I muttered an apology and promised that I would call my tormenter the next time I felt the need for a break or feared I suffered from caregiver burnout.

Broken and wilted once again, I entered Pedro’s room. Our family friend looked up and smiled. “I’m so glad I could come and that you got a good night’s sleep,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of Pedro.”

I nodded numbly.

“May I pray with you before I leave?” he asked.

I nodded again and bowed my head. As our dear friend lifted Pedro and I up in prayer, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit draw close and pick the broken shards from my wounded heart. 

How to Handle Caregiver Burnout (if You’re the Caregiver)

In retrospect, I know I should have done many things differently to avoid caregiver burnout.8 Tips for Handling #Caregiver #Burnout http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1Cb

  1. Take time each day to relax. This might look different for each of you. A brisk walk in nature, writing in a journal, praying, listening to uplifting music, or recording beauty with a cell phone camera might provide an oasis of relaxation.
  2. Make healthy food choices. Overeating will only make you feel more discouraged and burnt out. Eating well is a form of self-care.
  3. Learn to hang up politely. I should have interrupted the phone call with a polite, “May we talk about this later?” If the caller had answered no, I should have said, “I’m sorry you feel this way. I’d be happy to talk to you about this later.” and then just hang up.
  4. Remember it’s not about you. That other person was experiencing thier own form of trauma because of Pedro’s illness. Althought the catalog of woes focued on me and all I had supposedly done wrong, in retrospect, I think the caller was really pouring out their worries and grief.

How to Handle Caregiver Burnout (if You Know a Caregiver)

  1.  Watch for signs of burnout: memory loss, inability to make decisions, irritibility, changed behavior, depression, and withdrawal from normal activities.
  2. Remember your sphere of influence. Take action based on your relationship to the caregiver. Sometimes, it’s easier to hear the hard questions from a friend and not a family member. My family members thought I was fine (mostly because I kept assuring them that I was). It took a family friend to understand the depth of my caregiver burnout.
  3. Ask. What can you do to ease the burden. Ask the caregiver what one thing they would really like to do and then help them make it so. When others ask, it relieves the fear that caregivers have that they exist in isolation.
  4. Remember it’s not about you. Don’t feel rejected if the caregiver doesn’t accept your offer of help. You might not be the person God has in mind to serve. Don’t burden caregivers with your opinions on the job they are doing. Think twice (or three or four times) before speaking critically.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Freedom of Choice in Everything

we always have the power to choose

Freedom of Choice: It’s what my son advised me to write about today.

My son, the leukemia survivor who watches my writing from the sidelines, knowing it’s about him and keeping out of it in ways only a sixteen-year-old can do. He’s given me permission to write about him, and, as he doesn’t remember much about the roughest parts of his journey through chemo, he sometimes reads my writing and often doesn’t.  He grants permission, but stays detached.

Even on the way to hated chemotherapy treatments, Andrew chose to smile and be happy. It’s those moments when we’re reminded we have freedom of choice.

There are distinctive memories Andrew carries with him, and those are often regarding the ways in which he lost control.  He remembers that medicine doses were non-negotiable.  We were blessed to be based out of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and they were absolutely wonderful with Andrew.  They gave him every chance to choose, when he could have a choice.  Songs to hear, videos to watch, color of the food tray, where (but never when) to poke the needle (this arm, or that arm), what he wanted to order for supper, if he wanted to snack – all of these things were left up to Andrew.  Downing his medicine, in whatever manner the doctor prescribed, was not optional.

I remember the only time a nurse entered Andrew’s room with a cheery, “Are we ready to take the medicine?” and I watched the nurse’s face as she finished her question and realized the error of her ways.

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