Love’s Limitless Sources

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At the very core of our being, in our deepest, darkest, most hidden inner places, we are loved by heaven’s Beloved. Quietly. Completely. Lavishly. Way beyond our human ability to measure. Not because of anything we have done…or haven’t  done.
That Unearned Love of our LORD is meant to be our deepest, most certain source of inner strength. It is the day after day life-support for every caring task we are called on to perform. It is his kindness we show in each day’s – or night’s – routine. It is his tenderness that flows through us in even the most demanding of tasks.
We are able to love deeply, in even the most difficult of circumstances, only because we have been deeply loved by our sacrificing, loving LORD. We are not meant to be love-generators. In far too many circumstances that would be beyond our human capacity. We are meant to be our LORD’s love-channels. We draw from  his limitless resources to share his abundant, ever-and-always-reaching-out love.
Prayer – LORD, help me to be a clear channel of your love today. Amen
Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

The Measure You Give

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There are two ways of looking at the day ahead. It can be a day of duty. One common task after another. Or you can choose to see it as a blest day. A day for giving. Or possibly… a day for truly extravagant giving. Self-giving. Giving when it feels like you’ve nothing more to give. Allowing our ever-giving LORD to use you as his chosen channel of life and blessing in the driest, darkest places of this day.

To give without measure is not only to bless the one you care for. It is the truest way to self-care and renewal. The more generous the giving, the more blest is the care-giver. It is in giving that the heart is opened to receive in ever richer measure.

“Give, and it will be given to you.” That isn’t some psychological happy talk. It’s Jesus’ own promise. And how grand is that promise? “A good measure , pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Matthew 6:38) Another translator puts the same promise this way: “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” THE MESSAGE

Prayer – LORD, help me to give this day out of your limitless bounty. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Turning Gloom Into Noonday

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A searching, yearning heart found this recipe for wholeness. A weary care-giver with only little left to give, found the truest, deepest, widest, richest source of the renewing strength it takes to keep on caring…and caring…and caring still more.

“If you offer your food to the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

then…

your light will shine in the darkness

and your gloom will be like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you continually

and satisfy your needs in parched places,

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water

whose waters never fail.”

Isaiah 58:10, 11

It is in generous, tender caring that we find our deepest source of renewal. It is in freely giving ourselves away that we receive what we need and find our truest self.It is in doing unexpected – even undeserved – acts of kindness that the deeply

Prayer – LORD give me the grace to serve as you serve and to care as you care Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

The Better Place

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The day ahead can be lived at two very different levels. We can live through its highs and lows, letting both the day and ourselves be shaped by the hopes and challenges we will face. Or we can choose to live this day in a blessed, secure place that the psalmist called “the courts of the LORD”, (Psalm 84:10), the wondrous, quiet place of his abiding presence.

This is where we are meant to live. Our hearts say with the psalmist “My whole being yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD”. (vs.2) We long for an experience of His peace and reassurance. In our heart of hearts we know that “a day in [his] courts is better than a thousand at [our own] devices. (vs. 10 The JERUSALEM BIBLE)

Whatever this day may bring, live it with a heart that is open to our LORD. Choose to love his “courts”. Cherish his reassuring presence. Pause as often as you can to let your breathing become a reminder that, no matter where you are, you are spending this day in “the courts of the LORD”, breathing out the stresses and pressures, and drawing in deeply of our his life-strengthening presence.

Prayer – LORD, help to live this day, hour by hour , experiencing the strength of your presence. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Protection

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Sometimes, under pressure, we just want to get away. We want a place to hide. Not permanently. Just until this storm is over and things quiet down. Just until we’ve got things in perspective.

There is a quiet place. A hiding place. It’s just a tent. But it’s our LORD’s tent. Here is his sure promise. “He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent.” (Psalm 27:5) Another translation describes our LORD’s protection this way: “He folds me in the recesses of his  tent.” “Folding” suggests that our LORD works in us with an often slow and quiet gentleness. And his place of protection for us is in the “recesses”, the places closest to his understanding heart.

One translation uses the word “pavilion” instead of “tent”, suggesting a dwelling that is temporary, set up to meet a very present need, but large enough to hide all those who sought shelter in a time of distress.

Prayer – LORD, in all the pressures of today, teach me to accept your offer of tender kindness and protection.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

The Beauty of the LORD

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“One thing I asked of the Lord…” (Psalm 27:4) Only “one thing”? For the psalmist…and for us…there is a prayer that still waits to be prayed after we have offered our petitions. That “one thing” is the prayer of a searching, longing heart. A search beyond things. A search for GOD himself.

For the psalmist, that one prayer was “to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life”. For us it is to live in the firm assurance of the always-abiding presence of the LORD. In even the darkest of times it is to draw deeply of his sure promise that “I will never leave you or forsake you”. (Hebrews 13:5)

In the deepest places in our lives, our hearts cry out to live in the house –or the presence – of the LORD. In the best of times, and the neediest of times, we are “to behold the beauty of the LORD”. The word “behold” means “to gaze”, or to “contemplate with pleasure”. Another translation says that we are “to enjoy the sweetness of the LORD”.

As our hearts are awakened to the “beauty” and the “sweetness” of our LORD, we are prepared to “inquire in his temple”. We “contemplate with pleasure”, and then we offer petitions.

Prayer – LORD, teach me gaze on you, and to enjoy your sweetness. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

A Healing Stillness

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Our bodies need rest. They have a way of reminding us that we can only sustain the physical and emotional demands of watchful caregiving for so long. To neglect the body’s needs is to risk collapse. It’s a physical law. Only deep, restful sleep brings the physical restoration and renewal we so desperately need. At times, even a brief rest can make us feel like a new woman or man.

Something deep in each of us seeks to remind us that our souls need a quiet place, a place of deep inner rest. We can experience a deep emotional exhaustion, our heart’s insistent cry for relief. Or it may feel like a prayer for which we can find no words to express our hearts pain and longing.

Times like these call for us to simply be present to our loving LORD. It may help to think of yourself as one of his beloved disciples, sitting with him in a quiet place, letting yourself experience the stillness and wonder of his presence. Allowing yourself to feel how deeply he loves you. Becoming more fully aware that he has come “that [you] might have life, and have it abundantly”. (John 10:10) Breathe in the reality that those words he once said as he sat with his first disciples, he is saying to you now…today, and for all of your days, and in all of your distresses.

Prayer – LORD, let your life-renewing presence strengthen me today. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Precious Moments

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Some of your most precious experiences as a caregiver are the quiet moments spent with the one you care for. You may have been sharing old memories, or laughing together over yesterday’s mishaps. And then, in the warmth of those moments, conversation stopped, and you experienced the sheer joy of just being together. It was as if the two of you were more truly one.

Our LORD longs to share that kind of relationship with you. He delights to hear our prayers. We’re invited to “pray without ceasing”. He understands our deepest longings – even those pains we cannot put into words.

Then, as in all meaningful relationships, our Divine Caretaker longs for those precious times when conversation ceases…and we share the quiet awe and wonder of simply being with him. His eternal love reaches out…and our parched, hungry hearts respond. We may be drawn into the reverence of an inner, trusting quiet. Sometimes our hearts may be lifted with a sense of pure joy. Or our dry, parched souls may feel watered by a renewing rain of heaven. It is those precious moments that bring a lift to your spirit…and to your caring.

Let your hungry heart experience our Father’s loving, life-renewing presence today.

Lord, help me to have a heart that hungers to love you more deeply. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

A Sure Support

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TRUST! It’s the bond that seals every meaningful relationship. “Trust me”, someone says, calling on shared past experience as your assurance of their dependability. To put our trust is something, or someone, is a precious gift. Trust has to be earned.

At its core, your caregiving is a relationship built on trust. Every evidence that you care deeply, every occasion of patient listing, every loving touch, every effort at maintaining familiar patterns and procedures helps to build a quiet, confident, trust in the heart of the one for whom you provide care.

To face the demands of today – or any day – we have an endless, never-failing source of support. At the heart of our LORD’s message of constant care is that word – TRUST. Again and again, in every kind of uncertain situation, his message is the same: “trust in the LORD with all your heart,and lean not on your own understanding”. (Proverbs 3:5) TRUST, because GOD has proven himself to be ever faithful. TRUST, because he knows your end from the beginning. TRUST, because he is your ultimate caregiver, and his plans are for your good.

LORD, teach me to trust you, and to keep on trusting. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

The “Caring” Difference

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Caregiving has a lot to do with doing things the “right” way. Medical procedures that need to be followed exactly. Turning a loved one in bed, or helping with prescribed exercises, there’s a difference between the right way…and the wrong way.

And then there’s the difference between simply helping…and caring.  Maybe it’s as if we help with our head and hands, and we care with our hearts. Or is it that helping calls on our strength and skill, while caring calls on our more-tender side, our compassion and understanding.

The deepest healing of the body – and the lifting of the human spirit – calls for both skills and caring. The way you care – your tender strength – touches both heart and body.

But this is not to add to the burden of your day. Instead, it is a reminder that you serve the deepest, when you serve as the presence of our ever-compassionate, constant-caring LORD. Draw upon his presence today. His tenderness. His compassion. In even your weakest, neediest moments this day, our LORD is the ever-present, ever-wise, ever-constant caregiver. Draw deeply of his all-sustaining presence.

Prayer – Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your path. (Psa. 86:11) Amen.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016