The Best Medicine

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Every once in awhile you can feel that the life of the one you care for isslipping away. You’d do anything to slow that process, to see life and health restored. If there was just something – anything – to reverse that process. If, in the  round of daily medications there was one prescription that could lift spirits.

There is! But you can’t get it at the pharmacy. This prescription was written years ago in the pages of Scripture.

“A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance”. (Proverbs 15:13) Then, just two verses later, the writer says, “a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” (15:15) And then, once more, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries us the bones.” (17:22)

First, find the things you do that you can laugh at. Caregivers need a merry heart. Then laugh together with the one you care for. Encourage him or her to tell old stories, things that lift the spirit. Smile at even the smallest encouraging signs. Be a rigorous at encouraging regular doses of the medicine of a “cheerful heart” as you are with administering the medicines the doctor prescribes.

Lord, teach me how to have “a cheerful heart”, then help me to share it. Amen

Photos courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

A Tender Heart

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Tenderness is an attitude of the heart that affects the ways we treat others. It softens even the hardest, most painful tasks. Perhaps tenderness is an attitude, a sensitivity, before it is a way of acting toward another.

One of the most tender pictures of our Father’s love is that of the Good Shepherd searching for and rescuing a lost sheep. The sheep has wandered away from the flock. I picture it having fallen into a deep hole, or caught in a briar bush. In either situation, the tender shepherd faces a painful task. The sheep can be hurt in the process of rescue. Rocks or thorns cause damage, but the shepherd’s love for his lost sheep softens his saving, healing actions. With a tender heart the shepherd is able to move with assurance and sensitivity to do what must be done.

Most of what you will do today…you’ve done over and over. It’s familiar routine. But tenderness can make even the most routine task an act of saving love. And when you do face a crisis, be confident that the ever-constant, eternal tenderness of the Great Shepherd will flow through your heart and hands. His tenderness is a gift for you to receive in its fullness…and then to pass on as you give loving care to others. And it lifts you being the tender hands and heart of the Great Caregiver.

Lord, please make me conscious of your great tenderness today. Amen.

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

Caregiving Redefined

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Caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. Day after day you’re UP to whatever the day demands. Caregiving takes skill, and you’ve learned to work efficiently, taking on new tasks and learning new procedures. As the loving hands of Christ you support and sustain life. You bring light and hope.

But at the core of caregiving, all your efforts are a gift from the heart. It’s the “care” in caregiving that makes the difference. It is the deepest form of ministry…touching the deepest places in the life of the one for whom you care.

When the Apostle Paul could have no personal contact with the Christians in Phillipi – he was in a Roman prison – he wrote to them, assuring them that he knew “you hold me in your heart”. (Philippians 1:7)

Perhaps that is the best possible description of the healing ministry of caregiving – holding the one you care for “in your heart”. At its deepest level,  “holding” someone is just that. Not necessarily saying or doing anything. Just holding. Letting deep love and compassion flow through you. Experiencing the beauty, the wonder, the grace, the patience of the one you care for warm your heart – and then returning that love.

Lord, teach me what it means to hold the one I care for in my heart. Amen.

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

Limitless Resources

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There are days when compassion just seems to run out. We’ve gone beyond. Beyond our energy level. Beyond the limits of our patience. Beyond whatever resources we are able to muster. But there’s still more day ahead. More work that must be done. And add to all of that, there is a dark feeling of guilt. The guilt that keeps saying “you ought to be able to cope”. Or “everybody’s expecting you to…..”

But guilt is a downward spiral that keeps us from finding new and deeper inner resources – the resources that God has promised. Resources that break the defeating feelings of having reached our limit.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church from the darkness of a prison. It’s not hard to imagine the limitations and endless frustrations he must have felt. There was so much he wanted to do…but couldn’t. But then he draws on a resource beyond his own. He writes that “I long for all of you with the  compassion of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:8) No physical limitations, no  weariness of body or mind, as real as they may be, can limit the flow of “the  compassion of Christ Jesus”. It is your resource when you have reached your limit.

Today…or tonight, when you reach the end of your deepest resources, quietly call upon “the compassion of Christ Jesus”. Experience his renewal.

Lord, help me to draw upon your limitless resources. Amen.

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