Let My Heart Sing

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Sing! Not to perform. But sing…because it does your heart good. Sing to the Lord. It can help to change your attitude and lift the atmosphere in any room. Does the person you care for have a favorite song or an old hymn. Familiar words and tunes can stir healing memories. And singing with someone else, matching their words and rhythm, is a way of linking your hearts.

Music lifts you above life’s pressures and demands

if only for a few moments. And if you just don’t have the courage to sing, try saying quietly, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Those comforting words are almost music. Let their promise of the loving presence of God strengthen you and the one you care for.

Grant me, O Lord, the gift of a singing heart. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

Quiet My Heart

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God has promised that His quiet, reassuring presence will be with you in all the routine of today. But…unexpected things may challenge that quiet, frustrating your sense of peace.

If you feel yourself getting tense, try to pull back for just a moment. Pray…without worrying about the “right” words. A simple “Help, Lord!” can break the pressure and open you to God’s quieting, infilling presence.

When our inner resources run dry, our loving Father cares

Without even a hint of judgment, he freely offers His peace, His quiet, His insight and His healing to you…and through you.

Lord, in all the demands of today, please help me experience your guidance. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

“There is a river…

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who’s  springs bring joy to the city of God.” (Psalm 46:4)

Weary caregiver, you and I are that “city of God”, He lives with us, and in us. The work we do is his work. Even the most uncomfortable task you will face today, it is his work.

And he partners with you, his caregiver. The tasks of this day may be routine or demanding, simple or stressful. But in each of them, our Lord has promised to give you “springs” that will bring joy to each task you face.

He has not promised that the task itself will be joyful. He does not ask that you view dark or unpleasant situations with some magical “rose-colored glasses”. But if you see your task as serving our Lord, dressing his wounds, massaging his weary body, relieving his pain, you can begin to see the darkest task as a privilege. And in that privilege we can begin to discover the “river springs” of his presence, and the “joy” he has promised.

Lord, make my work today an experience of your gift of joy. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Never Alone

As a caregiver there are times when you feel totally alone, even if there are others around. Perhaps you feel uncertain about a new procedure. Or you’re facing one of those crisis moments when you simply don’t know what to do.

You have a resource. Just for a moment, let your heart grow quiet. Slow your breathing. Without words, if possible, and without a shred of shame, admit your uncertainty. Open your hands and your heart. Begin to draw from the deep reservoir of our loving Father’s vast resources. Experience his quieting presence. Let him fill you with a stillness of heart and a strong reassuring confidence.

Coming to a place of inner quiet is not some mental trickery. It is a weary soul’s admission that our heart can only find the deep levels of inner peace and wisdom we need when we allow our Lord to quiet our inner storms and uncertainties.

Don’t settle for just a sip of God’s provision. He offers the thirsty soul an inexhaustible well that will never run dry. Drink deeply. Drink often.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

Caregivers/Comforters

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There is a mourning, a deep sense of loss that we experience when a friend or loved one passes away.  We’ve lost their guidance, their support, their presence. And inevitably we think of things we could have done or said. Sometimes out of that loss our lives take new and meaningful directions, and we find comfort even in our mourning.

As caregivers there is another kind of “mourning” that we face. Daily, in scores of little ways the one you care for “mourns” the loss of once-common abilities. Independence is surrendered, and in its place is the need to be helped…again… and again…and again.

Jesus longs to turn loss – all loss – into an experience of his loving embrace. In Matthew 5:4 in THE MESSAGE he promised that…

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

As a caregiver, you have our Lord’s full presence and support in comforting those who mourn the day-after-day decline of life .

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

A Long, Loving Look

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Every caregiver needs the restorative power of a quiet time. But not simply the absence of noise or freedom from insistent demands. Perhaps it should be called trust time. A time for prayer without words. Or a prayer for which there are no words. A time for us to let the deepest places of our heart speak to our Ever Listening Father, to speak of needs we may neither know or understand. A time of surrender and openness.

“Step out of the traffic”, Psalm 46:1 in THE MESSAGE urges us. Step away from the constant needs of the one you care for. Then take what is perhaps the more difficult step. Step away from your own insistent inner traffic.

When we “step out of the traffic”, we’re inclined to expect some new life- altering demand. Instead, our Forever Welcoming Lord invites us to “take a long, loving look at me, your High God”. A long look. Don’t rush. A loving look. Bask in the wondrous fact that you are deeply loved by the One who holds all things securely in his hands, and the truth that you are being loved into loving him more deeply.

“Prayer is simply receiving the ever-benevolent gaze of God, and returning it in kind.”

Richard Rohr

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

The Touch that Heals

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Bandaging a wound of the one you care for is most likely a skill you’ve long-since mastered. What you once did cautiously…is now a familiar routine. Like the old saying, you could almost do it “with your eyes closed”. And the same is most likely true of a dozen or more of your daily acts of caring.

By contrast, we all approach some new task with caution. Because we care, we move more slowly. Making sure we’re getting it right. And almost without thinking about it our caution becomes an expression of tenderness. A tenderness that aids in healing.

The most broken, the most brittle, cry out for our tender touch.

Though they may not be able to express it, their inner restlessness pleads for us to pause for a moment before the most routine of procedures to offer a silent prayer for the healing that only the peace of Christ can bring.

May your care for the body express an even deeper care of the soul.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

Trust

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When you have a few moments to yourself today, you may relax in your favorite recliner without giving a thought as to whether or not it will support you. Your experience says the recliner can be trusted. When you’re unsure of the correct date, you’ve learned to trust the calendar. It’s a well-proven resource. Again and again, experience tells you who and what to trust.

As a caregiver, you come to trust procedures that have been proven effective. You trust experienced advisors. Trust makes it possible for you to provide sensitive care day after demanding day.

Whatever need you will face today, whatever unexpected challenge may arise, our Lord has proven himself worthy of your trust. In your weakest moment, he offers a strength beyond your own. In uncertain situations he offers a depth of wisdom beyond your own. In your darkest times, he is you wisest compassionate helper.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.”

Proverbs 3:5 THE MESSAGE

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Resources Beyond Our Own

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As a caregiver, you have a high calling. It was not simply some particular set of circumstances that put you where you are. You were chosen. It was our Heavenly Father’s doing. You are his loving gift – his supportive, calming presence to the one you care for.

That won’t alter the demands you will face today. Problems will be just as real. Crises will be just as demanding. But it can open your heart to discover a wealth of inner resources that can change and deepen the way you respond to today’s demands.

We serve the best when we are the most dependent on God’s strength.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”, Jesus said. (Matthew 5:3) But the “poverty” he spoke of had nothing to do with how much money someone had or didn’t have.  Or their status in life. Instead, he was saying, “Blessed, radiantly joyful, is the [person] who realizes his [or her] utter helplessness and has put his [or her] whole trust in God.” (Matthew 5:3)

Lord, help me experience the radiant joy of trusting your resources.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Never Alone

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Caregiving can seem like a very lonely task. Just you…and the one you care for. Day after demanding day. Night after night. Even when there are others to help, it feels as if the weight of caring is on your shoulders.

Those lonely feelings are the soul’s deep cry for help. A dark place in us is calling out for light and relief. And that cry must be attended to.

We need a partner who understands the pressures we feel.

We may need family or friends to provide relief, someone else to share the caregiving. Or, at the very least, provide a day or two of respite – refreshing time away. Time just for you.

In the end, since loneliness is a condition of the heart, the true answer must be an inner one. An always and in all situations answer. The strong comfort of knowing that, even in life’s darkest, loneliest, most depressing places our loving Lord is with us. Quiet your heart for just a moment. Let his calming comfort flow into you. Experience the reality of his promise:

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016