Autopilot – the mode of operation for long-term caregivers

And the God who gets us through

In times of trial, when it feels like we’re flying alone – God provides better than “autopilot” and becomes the pilot of our journey

Autopilot becomes the way we handle things flung at us as new caregivers.  Actually, who am I kidding?  It didn’t get easier just because it became longer – in fact, the longer I lived on emergency-ready, life-and-death mode, the grayer my world became.  My son was four-years-0ld when we started his cancer journey, and I was 39.  When we finished chemotherapy, he was 7 1/2  and I was 93.  My always-learning brain had turned to mush (Anita calls it chemo brain by proxy) and I literally saw through a gray haze. I functioned on autopilot – but it worked, because of Who my pilot is:  this is a poem I wrote shortly after finishing chemo and realizing I was in deep-struggle-mode.

I’m on autopilot

Feet float

From place to place

Unaware of where they’re going

Lost from where they’ve been

 

Eyes drift

Across words on a page

Reading and rereading a passage

Unable to soak it in

 

Ears buzz

Around conversations flying by

Desperately trying to pick out information

Confused by threads of thought

 

Mouth stumbles

Over pieces of a conversation

Tripping over thoughts refusing to be expressed

Incapable of coherence

 

Hands flutter

From task to task

Forgetting how to accomplish anything outside of an emergency

Helpless to proceed

 

I’m on autopilot again Lord,

Lost,

drifting,

buzzing,

stumbling,

fluttering

Autopilot

The only way I can do anything at all

Is to have You

Be my pilot

Caregiver coping - #autopilot. Let God be your pilot! #caregiving Click To Tweet

Put God in the pilot seat!

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

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

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Shadowing in Alzheimer’s: Two Sides of a Coin

National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Alzheimer's
The Problem With Alzheimer’s

When a beloved family member receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, long-term care is a big issue in the United States. This is especially true when the recipients and their family members have to contend with a condition as devastating as Alzheimer’s disease. Although caregivers have unlimited access to resources, such as long-term care consumer guides and various studies, no one can truly be prepared for the toll that Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can take.

Currently, more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. And while this number may be already considered too many, research shows that the number could rise to 16 million by 2050. It is the sixth leading cause of death with 1 out of 3 seniors reported to die from the disease. In fact, it kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time, and it affects the family caregivers and the diagnosed alike. Relationships may change, and roles may be reversed. It can take a lot from both sides, and truthfully, it often does. After all, the symptoms and impacts vary that it is easy for anyone to be overwhelmed by the whole situation. One such part of Alzheimer’s is Shadowing.

Shadowing in Alzheimer’s is when the people with the disease constantly trail their caregivers. This is when they mimic their caregivers, go wherever the caregivers go, or become very anxious when their caregivers are not in sight.

From the Perspective of the Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

Often the root of shadowing is confusion and fear. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are going through drastic changes. What used to be familiar to them becomes completely alien. And when they cannot make sense out of their surroundings, it can be quite terrifying. They may easily become fearful and anxious about their environment. And to feel safe and calm themselves, they tend to follow their primary caregivers around.

They become their caregiver’s perpetual shadow. Many relate this to the relationship of a small child and a parent. The child is completely dependent on the parent, and the latter’s presence enforces a sense of security.

Through the Eyes of the CaregiverCaring for someone with Alzheimer's can be discouraging and frustrating--especially when you need a break. Try these two simple solutions to help your loved one through transition times.

Caregiving can take its toll on an individual in various ways. It can affect a person physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally, which is why taking breaks are often a must. However, for caregivers to individuals with Alzheimer’s, taking time off may be difficult to achieve. When their care recipients are shadowing them constantly, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. And when this happens, their feelings of guilt can multiply.

It is important to note that when these feelings arise, caregivers must remember that their feelings are valid. They can feel frustrated or overwhelmed by the whole scenario. They must acknowledge their limitations and take active measures to address the situation.

#Shadowing in Alzheimer's is a manifestation of fear and anxiety. #caregivers #alzheimers Click To TweetBear in mind that shadowing is a manifestation of fear and anxiety. The root of these two emotions must be the one that caregivers ought to address and not the behavior itself. Caregivers can encourage feelings of safety and security through activities that work best for the specific individual.

They could record their own voice conveying reassuring messages for playback to the patient during the caregiver’s absence. In addition, caregivers can identify therapeutic music that their loved one with Alzheimer’s enjoys listening to. No two cases are the same, so the caregivers must be creative in finding a way to ease the stress of their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

Guest Bio

Samantha Stein is an online content manager for ALTCP.org. Her works focus on key information on long-term care insurance, financial planning, elder care, and retirement. In line with the organization’s goal, Samantha’s work highlights the importance of having a good long-term care plan, which includes requesting a long-term care insurance quote to securing comprehensive coverage.

 

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Are You Willing to Let God be Sovereign in the Situation?

A Caregiver Looks at Psalm 91: Part II

sovereign

A Caregiver Looks at Psalm 91: Part II

In part one of this series we looked at the first four verses of Psalm 91—a well-loved Psalm that I have a problem with. Join me as I work through the next two verses and try to figure out what they mean for the caregiver.

We left off at verse four, with the understanding that if we stay close to God, he will shield us from the lies of the devil. During my caregiving journeys, I often found myself worn down, worn out, and unable to cope in private. I thought I needed to take on the care of my very ill husband and shoulder all the other daily burdens as well. I forgot that God is sovereign.

Coping in public seems like a given. Caregivers don’t want to draw attention to themselves and their needs because they seem petty (even if they aren’t) in light of the bigger needs of the one they care for.

#Caregivers don't want to draw attention to themselves and their needs because they seem petty… Click To Tweet

What Does Fear Really Mean?

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

In verse five, God doesn’t promise that terrors won’t lurk. He promises that we won’t FEAR them. The dictionary tells us that ‘fear’ as a noun is “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” As a verb, ‘fear’ is “to be afraid of: expect with alarm.”

In other words, when we trust in God and stay close to him, we don’t let the devil’s suggestions of the worst-case scenario take over our imaginations and cause us extra agony.

During my first caregiver journey, I often let worries about the future drag me down. In those quiet moments late at night, the lies of the evil one nibbled and scampered inside my head like rodents in the walls. I had to make a conscious effort to allow God’s light into my mind to chase away the mice of despair.

Gradually, I learned that I didn’t fear the terrors of night, nor the arrows of circumstance and progression of disease that assaulted me by day. This knowledge armed me for my second caregiver journey.

The devil loves to point out our shortcomings and failures through the behaviors and actions of… Click To Tweet

What’s With Pestilence and Plagues?

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

My second caregiver journey provided the perfect opportunity for falling for the devil’s lines: “If only you would have been a better parent.” and “She’s acting like this because you failed.”Life is short. Pray hard. A caregiver looks at Psalm 91 http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1FY

After all, when one’s offspring implodes on a public forum (Facebook and YouTube), pretty much the entire known world knows. Our children’s actions highlight all that we did (or didn’t) do as parents. All too often we measure ourselves by our children’s actions—even if our children have reached adulthood.

I like to think that the ‘pestilence’ and ‘plague’ that the psalmist uses here have more to do with those lies of the evil one. It would have been easy (and natural) for me to roll up into a ball of dejected depression as I watched Sarah make a series of horrible choices.

I could have rejected God’s sovereignty because he didn’t provide protection for Sarah on my terms. He COULD have saved her from her bad choices and helped us figure out her diagnosis much earlier. But he didn’t.

I had a choice—either accept God as the sovereign in the situation and daily affirm his right to allow things that I didn’t like to happen, or reject God.

We have a choice: accept God as sovereign & affirm his right to allow things that we don't… Click To Tweet

Choosing God’s sovereignty kept me sane. Sure, I spent a lot of time in tears and on my knees. My relationship with God got stronger as I relied on him to help me avoid the pestilence and plague of the devil’s recriminations.

The devil keeps plugging away, trying to undermine our relationship with God. We have a choice—call out to God in the darkest night or in the light of day, or let the devil sink us with his lies.

Caregiver Applications

1. With God as our sovereign, we don’t have to fear the terrors.
2. We don’t need to work out the worst-case scenarios and stew about them.
3. The devil likes to jab at our weak spots and make us blame ourselves for other people’s actions. Just say, “No!”

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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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.

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!

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Happy Father’s Day – from God

Our Daddy when we need Him

Father’s Day – what a fantastic idea!  A time to call our dads or send a note or make them something special and let them know they’re loved.  On the other hand, Father’s Day  – what a horrible idea.  A time to miss our dads and renew a sense of loss in our lives.

My two fathers (my dad and my father-in-law) on my wedding day. I miss them both and am thankful for my heavenly Father.

This blog is a caregiving blog, and as such I’ve written before about my dads – my own dad and my dad-in-law.  Both men I admire greatly for their familial dedication, hard work ethics and commitment to God.  Today is our second Father’s Day without either man around to thank and that makes me sad.  My family just celebrated my niece’s wedding last weekend.  The whole family was able to be there – except for my dad and my nephew.  They are both awaiting Christ’s soon return and their resurrection from the grave.  We all felt the loss although we chose to speak of it only very little.

Father’s Day.  It used to be fun – now it’s an ouch that doesn’t quite heal, a loss that leaves an ache in one’s center.

For those out there who, like me, are reminded of losses on this Father’s Day, I want to remind you that you have a Father.  I mean a present Father.  One who loves unconditionally.  A Father who cares daily.  A Dad that will never leaves you and never forsake you.  In those moments of loneliness, when the relationship to your earthly father is messed up, or gone, God promises us that he is a “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)

God’s presence doesn’t remove the loss we feel about our earthly dads, but it certainly provides comfort and hope for things to come.

May God richly bless each of you this Father’s Day and may we each cling to our heavenly Father, until His soon return when we can all be whole and united.

If you're feeling more loss than joy on this Father's Day... #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!

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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.

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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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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