A Gift? WHAT?!!!?

 

I started a five day devotional written by Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, and when I read Day 3 from his book There is More, he spoke of being gifted. But the one question he asked stayed in my mind, and had me questioning his question. He asked the reader if they see the people in their life as gifts. You know who I automatically thought of: my mother. In many ways she is: she brought me into the world, and took care of me as I grew up, and so on. But here lately, with her dementia illness, I was not so sure of the gift and what it truly was, in this case, dementia. What? Was the disease a gift? Let’s see…

  • How can a disease be a gift? For one, a disease brings with it opportunities to bring out inner strength you didn’t know you had. For me, it caused me to no longer rely on my mother, instead taking matters into my own hand. I had to make decisions on her behalf once the dementia came to the forefront and reared its ugly head. At first I had no idea what was happening or what I was doing, or how to handle things. But I discovered through this ‘gift’ an inner reservoir that helped me take forward steps to care for my mother.
  • The unique gift of disease a loved one has presents the caregiver with the opportunity of being a leader, a financial manager, a speaker representative, holding meetings with health care staff, and so on. I had to locate important documents, write letters when needed, and other things I did not expect to do. Truth be told, I do not like being in this position of having such responsibilities, and yet, these things have to be done.
  • I learned to be a counselor when talking to my mother. Just today she called me with her usual questions of where she was, and that I needed to come and pick her up and take her home. I had to be patient and listen to her concerns, and tell her she was already home, describing to her where she was, and that she was in the right place. I learned to keep my voice in an even tone , but at times I have to get loud to get my points across, and during this conversation, I had to tell her she was fine where she was. After all that, she told me she still didn’t know where she was…back to the drawing board. However, her nurse was with her, and I was able to tell her what I said over the phone, and the nurse understood my frustration  while also knowing the confused mental incapacity of my mother.

A gift.

The gift I opened in October 2015 when my mother called me very confused was the beginning of a developing atmosphere I never thought would be presented to me. But as I told a friend last night (who has been caregiver for at least seven of her relatives with dementia over the years, and is presently caring for two), God has entrusted us with the gift, knowing we can handle it, caring for it through the gifts and talents He has blessed us with.

What? A gift? Perhaps I have to reluctantly say yes…

 

Peace Under Pressure

I watched a sermon called Marked from Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church, who was preaching at Elevation Church. What an amazing message! That prompted me to locate him on youtube.com, where I found many of his message series done at his church. One was called the FruitFull series, which was on the fruit of the Spirit, found in the books of Galations and Ephesians. Part 6 of this series was entitled Peace Under Pressure. Being a caregiver, I wanted to hear his slant on the subject.

But also what stuck in my mind was reading on Facebook earlier this week of someone who went public with her diagnosis of having breast cancer, having recently having successful surgery with other treatments soon to  follow. As I saw the title of Pastor Mike’s message, I immediately thought of her.

Pastor Mike showed on the screen a picture of what he thought would represent peace, which was a beautiful sunset. Then the screen switched to a picture of a raging waterfall and dark clouds; needless to say it looked anything like peace. But in the middle of the rock where the waterfall was located, once the picture was zoomed in, showed a cleft in the rock, and there was a bird, fast asleep. Pastor Mike stated with all that was raging around, the bird found that spot to be a fitting place to grab some sleep, being peaceful in the process.

Pastor Mike spoke of what we do to obtain what we think is peace, but in actuality is a temporary escape to satisfy our need. We may think peace comes when we eat, go to the movies, watch our favorite show on tv, but the true peace has not been obtained. The true peace can only be obtained from the One who is the Prince of Peace, and escaping from the pressure we find ourselves under is available through the Holy Spirit, who is always ready to help in our time of need.

You have to listen to the sermon on youtube, but here are some points from it to consider:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • Life happens…you can’t control what happens around you (losing a job, family problems, health issues…). But you can accept the Advocate (Who Jesus promised would come when He left), so his help is available: use that help.
  • While in the storm, your faith will be confronted: it will identify where you are. What pressure you do feel will only make you stronger.
  • God promises peace, but he did not promise the absence of the storm or the pressure of it. 
  • The above verse shows where you can find true peace – it is in Him, where you are to abide

Imagine  a weight set, and in this context the weights represent the pressure of the problem you are presently facing. While you may be able to lift the weights at first (and try to handle the pressure), lifting gets progressively more difficult as the pressure mounts; now doing this by yourself, your knees buckle and your arms are shaking, to the point you just can’t do it anymore. Perhaps as a temporary peace solution, many go towards alcohol, drugs, sex, and buying things we don’t need (this one is me), and so on.

But what would happen if, before lifting the weight, we ask the Advocate to help us. You may still have to deal with the raging storm of the problem,  but now there is Someone to help lift the weight of the storm with you, providing the lasting peace while under the weight of the pressure.

So whether you are a caregiver, or just a person who has a heap of problems to contend with, you never have to go it alone. Find the lasting peace that Jesus promises.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

The Audacity to Honor

I listened to a powerful message by Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church, and he said something that gave me the title of this post. He spoke of David, who was anointed by Samuel to be king of Israel to replace Saul. After David killed Goliath, Saul became jealous, and the people were paying more attention to David than to Saul. This jealousy messed with Saul’s mentality to the point that on many occasions he attempted to kill David. There came a time when David was so close to Saul he could have killed him, but chose differently. He told King Saul that he could not touch what God had anointed. David had the audacity to honor someone whose desire was to snuff out his life; he chose not to take Saul’s life, though he had the opportunity to do so.

I cannot tell you how many times I have wished I could just go somewhere and not come back, in the attempt to not deal with being a caregiver. Remembering the hurtful words said to me, losing sleep because I was being yelled at when it was 3am, which added to days of sleep deprivation, loss of focus at work, wanting to get away but did not have the means to do so, constant worry of how to resolve issues of frustration that seemed to evolve into despair. But…I must honor my mother. It is what God commands of me.

“Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6: 2, 3

Because God commands it, I must have the audacity to honor her. Though we read in the news of arguments between parents and their children that cause physical harm towards one another, this is not what God would have us to do. Regardless of goes on, she is still my mother, and as she took care of me, it is now my turn to do the same for her. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, I am learning when it is time for me to take a time out ( that term has a different meaning now than when I was a child), which may mean going somewhere and doing something different to temporarily get away for it all. Nevertheless, what is in the forefront remains: the word honor is of  importance.

Honor for this context includes handling her financial affairs, bringing her a pack of socks when she says she needs them, going to the many stores and finally discovering a box of her favorite Mr. Goodbars candy, and unloading them all in my cart (taking them to her and seeing  her smile as she gobbles a couple of them), washing and ironing her clothes in hopes of her allowing me to take her to church on a Sunday, are examples of how I honor my mother, my attempt in holding her in high esteem through my actions.

This is a far cry from a few months ago when we lived together and the constant arguments we had. Now that she is in a nursing home where she is being cared for her dementia illness, the arguing has greatly diminished, but the caregiver responsibility remains a continual  process. Yet it must be done, and with God’s help my act of  honoring  her will be audacious.

To caregivers out there, I hope you can do the same.