Caregiving

I am helping to facilitate a group of young women as we read and share insights together from a book by Debbie Macomber.  This week’s chapter was about caregiving and the author stated that everyone falls into one of four groups:  those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.  She then asked where do you fall in this continuum?  What advice do you give for those who are called to care for their loved one?

Scripture – I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  Matthew 25:35

During my life I have had and will again fall under each of these groups.  By no means is this list extensive but it is much of what I have experienced so far.

Been a caregiver

  • Learn to rest. Sometimes we become so busy caring for others, we forget to care for ourselves.
  • Learn to laugh. Caregiving can be a messy business, full of tasks that are endless and pretty heavy.  Laughter is good medicine and can lighten the heart.
  • Make plans and dream. Your calendar will have space for it.  You lived the past.  Don’t let the past shape your future days.  It is good to remember those we have lost; it is good to feel we have honored our loved one but in most cases that person would want us to move on – be careful that you don’t find yourself 2 years later living as if this time of caregiving is still your reality.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you did because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently than you do.
  • Pray – seek God for next steps in your life.

Are a caregiver

  • Take a long hard look on where you can delegate and ask for help.
  • A tired person often becomes resentful.
  • Keep your doctor’s appointments. You can’t care for others well if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you do because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently. (This one is worth repeating.)
  • Pray – ask God for strength and wisdom in this role. Stay in His word.  The bible is similar to a well-stocked refrigerator but we often refuse to open the door and nourish ourselves for what the day will bring.
  • Decide what you can let go of and what you can’t. When a person is ill and they are telling a story differently than you remember it, can you be still and let it be – not needing to be right?
  • Do what you do as if you were doing it for the Lord.
  • Treat those you are caring for with respect. Bring them into the conversation about their care when appropriate.

Those who will be a caregiver

  • Start giving of yourself in small ways – there is always someone you can care for. These practices will give you a skill set as a foundation to grow upon.
  • Read a book about caregiving so you have a basic understanding of what others in this role may be going through.  
  • Pray that God would grow a generous nature in you, give you the eyes to see how you might be the legs and arms to someone in need.
  • Come alongside a caregiver who is caring for someone else. They are tired – bring them an unexpected meal, send them a card stating your admiration for what they are doing, leave a bouquet of flowers on their doorstep, listen when they need to process.
  • Spend time in God’s word. There are many distractions but there will come a day when what you have stored in your heart will see you through times that ask much of you.

Who will need a caregiver?

  • The truth is that unless we have an immediate death, all will find themselves in need of someone to look after them.
  • Start now to become a good listener because there will come a time you need to rely on others to make decisions or process with you.
  • Do what is within your power to care for yourself. Take your medicine; do your exercises, eat healthy, don’t over medicate.  Some of the disability in this life has happened because people choose to stay stuck. This will give you confidence and allow you from relying on others more than you need to. 
  • Remember caregivers have other responsibilities.  Be patient about having your needs met.
  • Place good messages into your heart and brain. Instead of too much TV – listen to Christian books, music, or have someone read to you.  The ears are often the last to go – God’s truth is needed as we journey through times of recovery or as we leave this world and go home to Jesus.
  • Remember you may be on pain medication which can slow down or alter our thinking. There will be times you may need to rely on someone else who has a clearer perspective than you can on any given day.
  • Remember God can heal and although today you are in need; it doesn’t necessarily define your tomorrows.

Please feel free to add other insights in this area that may help others.

 

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Easy Birthday Get Together

2016-birthday-cake

Today we gathered to celebrate the fall birthdays in our family. With a little planning, we were able to go to church and get back in time for everyone to have chili and of course, cake and ice cream for dessert.  It was our first family celebration together in our new house.  We all headed out to the backyard to eat.  I had saved a rug so we could lay it down for the children (and grandma).  The weather was beautiful and Maisie explored geckos and flowers with Aunt Rhiannon, Uncle Evan taught Caden how to use the bubble gun, and laughter and gentle conversation were lovely background noise – all moments I cherish.  Let me talk about the fun an inexpensive bubble gun can create with small children and keep the adults hands bubble liquid free.  Here is one similar to what we have.   The food was simple – the people were precious and the time together was priceless.

Here is how it all came about.  The weekend before I combined the the ingredients for Pumpkin Turkey Chili.  I made 2 batches and froze each batch in a ziplock bag which was placed in a bowl and frozen.  I did this so it can be placed in my Instant Pot.  However, it could be cooked on top of the stove after it was thawed.  This saved me a lot of time.  On Saturday, I set out on the counter for a few hours to thaw and then placed in refrigerator.  In the morning I placed both ziplock bags in the Instant Pot and placed on Saute for 5 minutes.  This will heat up any of the contents that may be still be frozen.  I then locked the lid down and placed on Manual for 11 minutes.  Then I headed off to church.  When I got home I opened the lid and it was perfect.  I put the lid back on and kept on warm until we were ready to eat at 11:30 a.m.  On our kitchen island were all kind of toppings:  cheddar cheese, diced green onions, diced cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and chips.

While I was putting the chili together for the freezer the week before, I also made up a Banana Cake.  It was cooled on the counter, covered with foil and placed in the freezer.  Last night I took it out and placed on the counter to thaw.  This morning before church I made up the vanilla buttercream frosting, made up the birthday banner from Lemonade Moments 

By the time I got home from church, I diced the onions and cilantro and got all the fixings ready to go.  The plastic bowls and spoons were put out and we were ready to enjoy each other’s company rather than being in the kitchen.

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2016-birthday-celebration-caden-and-cake

2016-birthday-celebration-tamara-and-maisie

2016-birthday-celebration-bubbles-2

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Gratitude

gratitude

This morning I am sitting outside in my backyard sipping organic Chocolate Roobus tea, with 3 drops of caramel stevia and a splash of almond-coconut milk.  The blue sky is waking up, birds are singing and I can hear my neighbors pool pump humming.  The greens that clothe the plants and trees around the perimeter of our yard are vibrant.  I notice the details.   It is easy in these quiet moments to find gratitude.  These are moments I practice to build into my life for this is where life becomes manageable and I can find perspective.  Truly I don’t know where this blog post is going but I feel a need to write about quiet, not missing the sweet details in life, and about growing a heart of gratitude and kindness.

 A month or so ago I was sitting outside on a deck in 63 degree weather.  Living in Phoenix, AZ, 63 degrees is a gift on an early October day but I wasn’t in Phoenix.   I was in Show Low, AZ., a three hour drive from home.  This is my writing from that day:

 I will do my best to describe the moment.  There are birds chirping, the sound of a distant road with occasional cars, the trees near me are fluttering from an unseen breath.  A wind chime dances and sings reminding me of whispering church bells.  The blue sky with fluffy marshmallow cream clouds peek through the trees.  There is something up here that can be hard to find in the valley – a quiet that invites me to be still, reflect  and enjoy the quiet.

Funny how only a few days before the opportunity came to come up to the mountains, I was reluctant – it seemed too much work to pack, so many things on my to do list and I was engaged in an internal wrestling match.  One of the nice things of being 58 is I have enough past experience to question these struggles to rest and I’ve learned to fight those thoughts.  How easily I can miss out on the gift God is trying to give me….rest, peace, time to slow down from all the chores at home, tasks at work, etc.

I recently finished a book about a king that was imprisioned in a dark cell for almost a year.  He went in prideful and came out seeing the free things we have been given in this world in a new and appreciative way.  Imagine seeing nothing but darkness day after day and then coming out and seeing the sky with clouds in varying colored of white, grays and lavenders, of all shapes that continually move and transform.  It’s better than any movie we could watch.  The greens of the trees, each leaf different, the shadows of birds flying in and out of the branches.  The sounds of quaking aspens that gently sing in the breeze.  Go outside, close your eyes – study the darkness before your eyes.  Then open your eyes as if for the first time – it’s pretty amazing and can easily drive a heart to thankfulness.

This will be one of the last times I sit on this deck and it is with gratitude I say goodbye.  We didn’t do anything to deserve having time here during the past decade.  The property isn’t ours but is owned by a friend of my husband’s, who had graciously extended hospitality to us but recently decided to sell.  This beautiful home has been a retreat to us, providing a quick getaway when we walked through challenging times (financial, health, losing loved ones).  It has been an unexpected act of kindness towards our family.

Some moments mold you into something better than you were.   Sometimes people come into your life that help you take the next step in your journey.  These people are going about their day and have no idea they are going to step into someone else’s lives and make a difference.  

When my daughter, Tamara, was in high school she was challenged with throwing up month after month – we would watch her crawl to the bathroom and most times her body would need an iv to replenish her fluids.  Back and forth we went to the dr but answers were slow in coming. Then one time her doctor was out and we saw someone who was filling in.  For some reason this dr couldn’t let go of what was happening to Tamara.  He called us at home asking for more information.  The next day he asked for her to be brought back into the office and soon we had an appointment for a CAT Scan at 11 a.m. in an area of town I wasn’t familiar with.  I was out of my comfort zone:   I wanted to fix this for my daughter, I wanted to remain calm – I wanted to know this would all be ok – I prayed.  On the outside, I was keeping it together.  But I don’t like not knowing where I’m going and when we finally found the imaging area, I pulled into a parking spot with 5 minutes to spare.  I noticed I parked crooked and backed up to straighten up only to bump into a car that was also backing up.  I got out of the car and noticed the woman was not happy.  What happened next is a memory I have held dear and still clouds my eyes with tears.  I began to explain I was sorry and that my daughter was ill and we had an 11 am appointment for a test.  My rambling sounded incoherent to my own ears.  But I watched a face that had been angry start to melt.  She then opened her arms to me (the mom who is supposed to be brave) and I didn’t hesitate to walk into this stranger’s embrace and cry.  She whispered in my ear “The car doesn’t matter.  It is only a bump to a fender.  Your job is to get to that appointment and take care of your child.  Be brave.  You can do this.”  She released me and I said thank you as I got my daughter out of the car and checked into the appointment.  After the test, we were asked to stay in the waiting room.  Ten minutes later, I was handed a large envelope with the test film and told to get Tamara to Banner where a bed was waiting and surgery was being scheduled for an appendectomy.  This doctor, that woman were a big part of journey.  

 What does God say about kindness?  

Proverbs 3:3 – Do not let kindness and truth leave you.  Bind them around your neck and write them on tablet of your heart.

Acts 14:17 (NIV):  He (God) has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy.” 

Romans 11:22 (NIV):  “Consider therefore the kindness and sternest of God:  sternest to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.”

Galatians 5:22 (NIV):  “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Ephesians 2:7 (NIV):  “..in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:7 – 1:3-8 (NIV)”  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to go godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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