Posts Tagged faith

Strength for the Journey

Anyone on social media knows there are tons of prayer requests that go through the feed on any given day. Typically, I will follow a link or do a search to see if it’s a valid request. Sometimes the person is already better or has passed before I see the prayer request. I usually pray for specific needs as I scroll through the feed though. But the other day I saw a request and I honestly didn’t know what to pray.

A little girl had sustained a head injury I can’t remember now if she had nearly drowned or had been shaken. Either way it was very serious. I cried for her parents as I read the request and I knew their lives would never be the same. She was in a very poor state and they just wanted her to live. Their words took my mind back to the first night I sat in ICU with my son and prayed that very same prayer. All I wanted was for him to live – where there’s breath there’s hope, right?

Since then, I’ve wondered why I prayed such a selfish prayer. It was instinctual really. As a mother we can’t bear to part with our children. I soon found myself thinking it would have been better for my son to die. Yeah, I know it’s a horrible thought – but I had it. I mean, really – what kind of life does he have? I felt so guilty for even thinking it. After a little bit of research I found out that it is actually a natural part of the caregiving process and a very normal thought. But it still just feels wrong.

All this went through my mind as I looked at the image of the parents and their unconscious child. I thought about the last 7 years of caregiving and I didn’t know what to pray. I spent years in the ministry and am usually not at a loss for words. I can come up with something almost every time. But I just sat there and stared at the picture…wondering. Weeping. Did I want to pray for her to live like the parents requested? I had a sense of the life they might live – dying every day. I was so caught in between and my emotions were raw. I’m a minister, I should know what to pray.

Then my old religious training kicked in- pray for God’s will I thought. Then my thoughts went nuts. God’s will? What a cop-out. What is God’s will? Was it His will for my son to be in that accident and sustain a traumatic brain injury? Was it his will for me to live this shell of a life for the rest of my life? My mind went through tons of scenarios wondering what His will really looks like. Is it His will for me to struggle every.single.day? Evidently it is – because it’s happening.

When my son first had his wreck, a friend said to me that it had to pass His desk first. In other words – God is still in control. Nothing happens that He doesn’t know about. That can be a frustrating thought- why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening then? Why doesn’t He prevent or eradicate terrorism and the bad in the earth? Are those His will  too? We are hashing around an age old question here, one to which there is no answer.

So I finally prayed for the parents instead of the little girl. You can judge me if you want; but you haven’t walked this walk of mine. The only peace I had was to pray for them to have wisdom and peace in every decision they might have to make and strength for the journey. Isn’t that pretty much what we all need anyway?

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Not-So-Subtle Reminders

Over time we do adjust to new “normals.” But then we’re going along just fine and BAM! we get sideswiped by life. Today I had too many subtle reminders that I do not live a life like others. We enjoyed a few short months of freedom with the van before it broke down only to go back to the harsh reality that we have lost that freedom once again. Thankfully where we live has a service called CART which allows us to schedule rides. They offer a wonderful service and it is nice to be able to get out. There’s still a lot of limitations, but at least we can go some. We’ve been going Monday and Thursday nights to taekwondo. This was my first “slap in the face” today – I called to schedule a ride so I could get in a Saturday class to get ready for belt testing. Class is at 10:15 – the buses don’t run until 10 making it impossible for me to attend class on Saturday mornings. I was so disappointed. I felt so trapped.

Today’s other not-so-subtle reminder had to do with my cell phone. It broke late last night – I have no idea what is wrong with it but it won’t turn on. I know the aide comes at 11:30 and the nurse is coming today at 1:30. That gives me two hours to hop on my bike and try to find the Sprint store and see if I can get the phone fixed. The aide comes nearly 15 minutes late. That is not huge – but it cuts a big hole into what little time I had to start with. And of course, in order to see about the phone I have to skip my run for the day and put off grabbing some groceries for another time. I know she knew I was mad – but I don’t think she had a clue how much her inconsideration screwed up my day.

Thirdly, the store wasn’t where it was “supposed” to be. And since I don’t have a phone I can’t check the map once I get in the vicinity. Oh how dependent we’ve become on mobility devices! I’m beyond frustrated as I head back home empty handed. I talk for about an hour with the phone company but I cannot get a phone overnight. It was a horrible experience trying to get another phone. It took forever and I am still phoneless until next week.

These subtle reminders were tough on me today. I feel like I’m back in prison after enjoying a little bit of freedom. Almost like God was teasing me. “Here’s what you’ve been missing – enjoy. Oh – never mind – you can’t really have it!” I know He is not that way – but that is the way I feel.

Sometimes I think it would be better to not try and get out… just stay in the cave! But I don’t have a “quit” button. And I know Chris needs socialization – he’s ready for it. So I will continue to do what is needed to ensure he gets what he needs. I refuse to just cave in and give up. There has to be a way to live in this situation without getting my feathers so ruffled up. But the thing is that these are all on top of all the other things going on. I have so many things on my mind (I’ll spare you the list!) that these feel so much heavier. I wonder if one of the most difficult parts of caregiving is dealing with the abnormality of it all. I know there’s not one “normal” and no two lives are alike. But we see others hopping in a car and going out to eat – headed to the movie on Saturday afternoon with their friends, or deciding to go buy groceries at the last minute. What if you run out of something essential like toilet paper? Others just take a midnight run to Wally-world and grab some more. For many caregivers these “simple” parts of life are super complicated or even impossible.

In Philippians 4:11 Paul says he learned to be content in any situation. I think I may have a different learning curve! I am trying to learn to not stress out when things don’t go as planned. I’ve learned some strategies for coping and dealing with the stress of caregiving – but “content” is not a word I choose to use – yet. In this passage, Paul says he has learned to be content when he has and when he doesn’t have; when he is hungry and when he is full. He then makes a statement that is a favorite in most Bible believing circles: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Today I probably didn’t exhibit quite the Christ-like spirit (poor phone guy) – so I will scrape myself up and dust myself off and move on. In our weakness – He is strong; even when I don’t feel Him being strong. So I’m back to just simple trust. I have to trust that He has this – that He has me – and He has my back. Even though I can’t feel His presence – and I don’t see Him working on my behalf right now – I have to trust He is. I think I am learning that this is the highest level of trust — to continue to believe when you can’t see a thing. That would be faith..in its purest form.

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All in a Day’s Work

Most of the time I feel like a failure and tonight is no different. Once I got home from the hospital and started to get some sense of normal back in place I realized how far behind I am in pretty much every arena. Since stress is one of my major issues (just like every other caregiver0 I figured I better try not to stress over it all. I’m learning that I can only do what I can do in a day and stressing doesn’t get more done. IN most cases, it keeps me from doing more that’s for sure.

Today was a little bit crazy  for me though. I’m feeling a little better but real draggy and I have sent a note to my doc to see if she can reduce my meds a little bit – it’s a really low dose anyway and I think that I can manage the blood pressure with diet and exercise – something I wasn’t doing before that got me in the bind I found myself in. She still has a referral up for me to see the cardiologist – don’t know why – no one seems to care why I have irregular EKGs or fail stress tests — since I don’t have a blockage in my heart… figure I’m good to go – right?

This trip has been very different for me. First of all, I haven’t had health issues for years – but knowing that I had to be okay because I am taking care of someone else really changed up some of the dynamics. But isn’t that one of the caregiver’s biggest issues – we take care of someone else but not ourselves? Or we only take care of ourselves because we are taking care of another…why can’t we see ourselves as important enough to be taken care of to begin with? Is it that we lose our worth or significance in the person we are taking care of? Probably…but we’ll never admit it!

I am more serious though about taking care of myself. I’m pursuing healthier choices in every area of my life. For one thing I’m following what the doc ordered – that alone is a big one for me. I’m also going to go back to taekwondo starting next week. I think it is very therapeutic and the doc told me to find some things other than running (not to exclude running of course) that would be beneficial for reducing or managing stress. Of course it will take some time and I have to start all over – but I’m going to go for my black belt! It’s still stressful because I’ll be taking Chris with me this time – I can’t afford a sitter twice a week – not that and for races. But I think it will help me regain some discipline in my life. It may also help provide a small bit of a social outlet for me – we’ll see.

As for faith – I don’t know what to say. I can’t not believe in God – but boy does my life make no sense at all. It’s a constant struggle to keep my head above water right now. I hear myself tell others all those things I’ve always said – but doubt how relevant they might be…It can be so easy to get caught up using a lot of cliché’s without thinking through what they really mean – and we can do the same with scriptures. I want to get beyond that – but I’m not sure how….

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Maybe I’m Just Lazy

It has definitely been a random day today! I am not even sure where to start with all my crazy thoughts. Tonight was one of the many nights I crashed. Not really depressed, although that has been an issue in the past. I just go into overload mode or something and it’s like I can’t even function. It’s not indicative in any way that the day itself was bad- just maybe too much.

When I get like this (usually later at night) I’m not worth much at all. I don’t feel like doing anything. I can’t get my mind around working – words just don’t come out right – I don’t feel like running or exercising; I pretty much just don’t want to do anything. Tonight I started wondering if I’m just lazy. Maybe I don’t want to work or something. But then I thought back about my day – and all my typical days and talked myself out of it.

Nights like this I feel like I am a huge failure. I feel like I don’t get anything done. I know that this is not true – but it’s how I feel.

I did get a lot done today – just not enough. I’m nearly caught up with my work, between classes in school, and I tutored starting at 7 this morning. Chris sleeps in and I tutor in China and Taiwan. But then there is also all of the stuff I need to do for Chris. I bathe him, get him up, fix him something to eat and then feed him. Then it’s time for stretching, TENS unit, splints or other types of therapeutic activities. And that’s all just by about 11 in the morning. I still have writing to do!

I’m not lazy, I’m a caregiver! Those two really do not go together. Maybe we should classify the term “lazy caregiver” as an oxymoron. Caregiving itself is a full-time job, I have to remember that. But I still have to make a living on top of that. When Chris slept most of the time I had chunks of time to get my work done, thankfully he is awake more and more of the day and evening. But it leaves me less time to work. Not a complaint- just fact. I’m trying to figure it all out and adjust.

But it’s nights like these (and I’m having a lot of them lately) where I know I got a lot of beneficial things done, but it fell short of what needed to be done. I keep thinking “I’ll start over tomorrow” but it sure gets old. I’m wishing there was a restart button somewhere!

Sometimes I have to tell myself to be content. Paul said he was content in every state – whether there was abundance or lack etc. I have to find a way to walk in that kind of peace. I’m going to too!

I have to remind myself that I am not the Provider. God is my provider and I have to be content that He will take care of me body, soul and spirit. That’s not an easy task trusting  Him – after all I have to believe that He allowed this to happen to my son. I question over and over. But over the last 6 years I’ve learned to trust Him in the trouble – without assuming He’s going to take me away from it. No matter what is going on it comes down to the question if I am going to fully trust Him or not.

Now I may state it through clinched teeth and white knuckled hands, but it is my choice to continue to trust Him – even on nights like these. I trust He will pick me up and dust me off one more time. So as I retire tonight, I’ll be thinking about His restoring power, His ability to pick me up and put me under His protective covering and offer me His peace. I believe I’ll just rest right there – and once again – start over tomorrow. He made each day new – and His mercies are new with the morning. (You do realize that it is always morning somewhere, right?)

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Is Depression a Sin?

What do you think? In years gone by we were taught even by prominent leaders in the church that it was  sin to be depressed and that it displayed a great lack of faith. I do not agree. Depression is a very difficult thing to work through and it is very common among caregivers, especially those who are “on the job” 24/7 with very little or no breaks. I have to admit my own struggle with this debilitating emotional stress. There are days when I am fine. I might go for a long time doing very well and able to keep my chin up in the midst of adversity. One example of how I “crash” is I might catch a glimpse of some older pictures of Chris, or I see one of his friend’s statuses on Facebook. I wonder what Chris would have been doing right now if the wreck had not occurred. This can send me on a downward spiral that is difficult to overcome.

I think the hyper-faith movement almost stripped us of natural emotions and feelings. We were basically taught to ignore how we felt and our emotions. This could be very dangerous since when we ignore emotions rather than deal with them in a healthy manner, we can end up damaging ourselves, in some cases irreparably. I am thinking that the solution is to hit them head on. There’s no way to act like Chris’ wreck did not occur and behave as though nothing happened at all. Caregivers many times in these situations deal with a living grief since the loved one we knew no longer exists, but they are still living. That cannot be ignored; but it can’t be dealt with one time and then move on either since it is so in your face on a daily basis.

Looking through scriptures I did not find one time when emotions were condemned. Jesus never told anyone “you shouldn’t feel that way.” This takes my thoughts to the beatitudes. Jesus said that those who are poor, hungry, persecuted, and mourn are blessed; but He said, “woe” to those who are rich, well-fed, and well spoken of. That seems sort of backwards to the way early faith-ers taught it. He did not condemn those who mourned but offered promises instead. Somehow I find that comforting. The Jesus I know does not kick people when they are down! And that is exactly what happens when the hyper-faith-ers tell those who are in mourning that it is a sin.

David had his bouts with discouragement and perhaps even depression; and he had every right to. I always think about the story where he was in Ziklag and everything went wrong. He returned from battle to find his wives and children missing, the city was burned to the ground and  then everyone turned against him and blamed him for the catastrophe. In 1 Samuel 30:6, David was greatly distressed, especially when he found out everyone wanted to stone him for it! But he strengthened  and encouraged himself in the Lord. In no way does this story condemn his distraught feelings. The feelings were real and they were strong. He – like we do – turned to the Lord for strength and encouragement since there was no one there to help him out with that.

As a caregiver I spend hour after hour alone. Sometimes I get to speak on the phone or via Skype to other people; but many times there is not normal conversations day after day. Even when there is, in between there can be many lonely hours. It takes great effort to encourage ones self in the Lord. For me, when I have days that depression tries to set in I’ve found if I change up what I am doing it can help me shift my focus. Sometimes it is as simple as picking up my Bible and finding comfort in scriptures. But to be totally honest – it doesn’t always work that way. There are times I find the scriptures frustrating – yes, I really said that. I see where Jesus healed some – but not all. I see where some prayers were answered – but not all. That can be very confusing especially on a difficult day. It can signal a barrage of questions through my mind – why not my son? why not my prayers? And honestly I find myself more frustrated and depressed than before. Why is that?

Perhaps it is because I was taught this hyper – avoidance of reality “faith” where what you see isn’t real. Well is sure feels real. It can be difficult to shift the thinking to eternity’s bliss when the pain of today is staring you down face to face. So I have learned to deal with these emotions rather than dwell on them or let them take me under. I say that easily – but in actuality it is very difficult. I have to talk myself through the day when it’s like that. Here are some things that I tell myself to help me get through today whole body, soul and spirit:

  • Today is not the end of the story
  • For today I have everything I need (sometimes for this moment only – I have all I need)
  • My soul (and the soul of the loved one I care for) are secure – they have not been damaged or doomed by life’s battles
  • God promised to keep my soul safe – not my body – and He has at least kept that promise
  • I can create my own world here in my cave – what do I want to keep and what do I want to discard?
  • Other people are just not going to “get it” so don’t try to explain – it’s exasperating!
  • Take care of your body – sometimes it’s all you feel you have left – and it’s something I can control

Basically, I find some positives to dwell on. I think about the progress my son has made rather than how far he has left to go. Sometimes I can encourage myself by thinking about how God has provided for the journey. Work can be a double-edged sword – I either have too much to keep up with or not enough which can cause worry! I try to find the positives. If I am looking at pictures or Facebook and it’s causing me negative emotions – I change my environment. I might go study, read a book, watch a movie, clean up an area of my house, make soap or take a nap. But changing the moment helps me change my focus. I’m sorry that I cannot find some super deep spiritual panacea that makes the depression go away…I really would like that.

I  like Psalm 42 – it’s written by the Sons of Korah who also had reason to be distraught. They witnessed the earth opening up and swallowing all their relatives! Two times in Psalm 42 they remind themselves that their hope is in God. This reassurance follows immediately behind the question, “Why are you in despair my soul?”  Verse 9 says I will say to the Lord my rock, ‘why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ Is it okay for that brutal honesty to be in the Bible? I guess so – it’s still there!

One thing to remember is that we are not alone in our depression even though it’s not a shared moment. No one may ever know — and that’s okay. We are still not alone. It is not unusual and we are not scarred for life because of the battle we face. Dennis Jernigan has a song that has a line which says something about the battle does not define who I am. I’m not identified by the struggles I face – my identity is still in Christ and depression is not the unpardonable sin! It’s just one more thing that we must navigate through in a healthy manner to make it safely through the day.

By changing my focus or  actions I can help give myself the tools to dig out of depression before it buries me. Even though there is a struggle I will always run back to Him. Perhaps that parallels the Sons of Korah’s actions as recorded in Psalm 42 – even though they honestly expressed their distress and feelings they returned to say Hope in God. In the mourning, anguish, feelings and depression we can always return to Hope in God, for He is our rock. Faith is not avoiding the conflict – or ignoring the present – it’s returning to Him for help.

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Day In – Day Out

I’ve noticed that over all my day can be tied to how Chris does. When he is having a good day, I am more upbeat and energetic. But when he has lower performing days I can get discouraged more easily. Some of that is because I just want him to be better and I love seeing the progress. I forget that with a TBI you can be making fine progress with no visible evidence for a while. Lately since he has been sick I struggle more with various emotions. Today as I was thinking about it I realized that for the most part I deal with some emotions pretty much every single day. That does not mean that they have mastered me in any way. Nor does it mean that I have totally figured out how to control them. I’m just saying that every day, day-in day-out I have to deal with these emotions: depression, loneliness, and rejection.

In this morning’s devotion for caregivers (www.dailydevotionsforcaregivers.blogspot.com ) I penned this statement, overlooked by church and society. And many times those feelings are very real. I still find it interesting of all the churches who know about our situation absolutely none of them reach out to us for fellowship. I think that I really do not miss the politics of today’s church but I do miss fellowship. I think some of that is because we are not all “down and out.” But I refuse to be the victim in this story! I will make it.  But the absence of others does weigh on me from time to time. I’m not saying it’s something that matters – just that it’s something I deal with. That can be difficult for someone whose love language is time.

I really battle daily with depression. It’s a constant struggle to keep from being swept under its awful tide. I have mentioned that I have developed some strategies to help combat it and they really seem to be working. I still have some days where I am susceptible to getting sucked in but usually I can manage to hold my head up. I can find things that I am thankful for everyday. Even some of the things that can be a burden. For instance, I can get behind on my work and become very overwhelmed. But in that moment I choose to be thankful that I have work to do from home so I can take care of my son like he deserves.

I’m actually getting pretty used to being alone. And I do not even watch TV much any more either! I am quite alright with a quiet house now. I don’t need to be entertained. I’m really not too sure why or how some of the things that go across the screen are considered “entertainment” anyway. I’ve actually been better since I turned it off. It does me no good to watch others seek to fulfill their lives when mine looks nothing like “normal” of any sort. And I’m okay with that…finally.

I realize that it really is up to me how I run this house. I can be all down in the dumps, depressed and woe is me! And get absolutely nowhere fast. Or I can suck it up, refuse to be the victim (although I am and I would have that “right” if I wanted to…) and figure out a way to get through all this with my faith in tact. Honestly, even in the midst of the struggles that is becoming easier. I’m not sure why.

I guess my point is that the struggle never ends just because a day ends. It’s constant day-in and day-out. It’s just that some days it is easier to work through than others. The point being I always get through it.. and I always run to Him. Really, where else would I go? He has been my refuge in the darkest night and the longest storm and He never grows weary or faint. I am very glad for that because I honestly do. I wonder if Daniel ever got tired and just wanted to go home. I’m sure Joseph did. They endured very long, difficult journeys of faith as well. So I will consider those who have gone on before and how they endured their afflictions and did not give up on God nor His promises even in the midst of their fiery trials. I will continue to hold on to the One who preserves and protects my soul – my mind, will and emotions. Tonight as I prepare to get my 6 or less hours of sleep, I will whisper Psalm 35:3 from the depths of my heart: Lord, say to my soul “I am your salvation.”  And I will wait for Him…in the furnace…

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From the Cave

Yeah, I know I haven’t been on here in awhile. Just been busy and running on overload. I forget how therapeutic this blog became for me. It really has given me a place to put all my crazy thoughts down and then walk away. But of course here I am once again trying to sort everything out to make something, anything, make some sort of sense. And as usual, I come up short. I don’t suppose anything will ever really make sense again.

There’s been plenty of ups and downs with Chris but overall he is really continuing to improve. We’ve had issues with a bad place that developed inside an elbow. Get this, he had a little bitty place about the size of a quarter or smaller that kept breaking open. It wasn’t deep, but it didn’t seem to want to heal. So I found out we had a “wound care clinic” here in town. Seemed perfect, right? They take Chris’ “insurance” and we could use public transportation to get there. But the third week in the place exploded and started getting larger, and larger, and then deeper and deeper. Then it got infected. Right now he is on antibiotics and it is finally showing a little bit of improvement; but still a long ways to go. This morning I am thankful that it is finally showing some signs of healing – I won’t even tell you how totally stressed out I’ve been looking at this huge hole in his arm!

And while I am so very thankful.. I have this question running around in my head — so do I tell the doctor when we go Friday about how thankful I am that God has chosen to heal his arm? Then how do I explain that God can handle healing elbows – He just doesn’t do head injuries!?!?

Enough about that…no answers – only questions here. I know that I know that I know that God heals. And actually that is what can be so frustrating! It’s a great conflict of faith.

On another front – I’m really getting used to the cave. Actually, I’m starting to prefer it. I’m losing the need to get out – except to run a few errands. I still enjoy my races and if I didn’t have to pay for sitters I think I’d try to do a race every weekend. That’s just not realistic in my present state. I would have never guessed that running would be my great escape. I don’t have to talk to anyone but I do get to experience a little bit of socialization at races. I guess that’s okay but I’m getting to the place where it is unnecessary – just convenient. The getting out, running, hanging with other runners – makes a race a great experience. I am trying to do a couple each month. But as soon as the race is over I head back to my cave. It’s become my comfort zone.

Actually, if someone volunteered to sit with Chris so I had a whole day out (no worries – those types of things just don’t happen!) I actually would not even know what to do or where to go. All those desires have vanished. I don’t really need a “social life” and can’t even conceive of what that would look like from here. I’m content in the cave…and it’s not a place that others desire to hang out…so I’m safe! lol

From my cave I can watch everyone else living their lives. They go to movies, eat out, have coffee with friends, go shopping or to the lake. I’ve pretty much lost my desire to pursue that sort of life. I now just try to make the cave the best I can make of it. I’m in the process of turning my bedroom into my own personal gym. I used to have to work at not wanting to get out. Now I have to figure out what’s “out there” that I would need. I’m content in my cave.

I think of Paul and how he said in Philippians that he was content in whatever state he was in. This is one of those the “faithers” skip. Paul said he was content whether he had little or much! He spent years locked up for committing no crime at all. Yet he was content. I really think I’m learning to just be content right here where I am. A place where I take each day that comes and face it with whatever strength He gives me. It’s like running a race – just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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Just Another Day

I say it’s just another day, but it’s really not been too bad of a day. I finished up a work project early this morning and got started on school assignments. Sometimes I am not sure just why I am going to the expense and time to get a Masters, but I’m in too deep now. I wonder if it will do me any good or if I’ll just be paying off school loans for the rest of my life.

The last few weeks have been filled with craziness, not sure why. I have had to make several phone calls trying to get all of Chris’ supplies. Trust me when I say it’s a long story – and thank me for sparing all the details! It’s just one more hassle that really should not get so out of hand. The funny (not haha funny either) thing is that next week when they come to do the eval for Advantage they will be all concerned about me having caregivers’ burnout. The real heart of that matter is that if they would just do their job and relieve me of having to make all these crazy calls I wouldn’t be as likely to get burnout! Sheesh…

Overall my emotions seem to be a little better grounded and I have got a couple of runs in this week so far. My half marathon is Sunday and I am really excited. But before that I also get to attend a meeting with people who are organizing a 5K. It’s a really cool local ministry who really desire to make a difference. They decided to host a 5K each fall and use the profits to help a family or person in need. This year – the first year – I get to be the honoree. I’m still kind of in shock that anyone even remembered me here in the cave. It is really cool to see people actually put some effort behind what they believe instead of sitting up in church just talking about it. Here’s the link to the video that they made when they surprised me with the news. Surprise A 5K!

Chris just continues to improve slowly- all I can say is that I am thankful that he continues to improve. there are some days that are more difficult than others – but all days are difficult. I’m kind of in an interesting spot. I totally trust God has this in His hands, in His heart. But sometimes I really wonder about it all. You know the whys and what for’s. I’ve pretty much given up on all the dreams I thought I had at one time and really the most difficult part of that is the fact that I really thought He had placed those dreams in me. To watch them die – or even assist them in dying has been difficult as well. But I feel like I have to move on with whatever I have right now. We’ll see how things turn out.

It’s funny how people view me at this stage in my life. I thought I’d be a singer or songwriter, maybe even a poet or a regular old writer. I am actually working on that – even have a new website up, but people see me as a caregiver… but that’s not who I am. I’m not sure who I am anymore, but I am sure that there’s so much more to me than a caregiver.I don’t mind being a caregiver or being known that way – but I do hope some will take the time to see past that and see who I am – see my heart.

Well, another day down and I still trust Him – guess that’s a pretty good place to be!

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A Different View of Love

I won’t even try to update you on everything – just suffice it to say that I will be trying to keep up with this a little better. It’s sort of irrelevant if anyone reads or not; I need it too! Writing helps me sort out my thoughts and get them all in one place and hopefully on one page.

This has been an exceptionally trying week for me. It started with a horrible wreck. I take those a lot harder since Christopher’s wreck anyway. But this one involved an officer that the whole community has been following. He had been injured trying to break up a bar fight. His neck was broken and he was slowly beginning to regain his mobility. He had therapy at Jim Thorpe where Chris goes and I had spoken with him at a couple of races. He was a very kind man and the community was behind him as he stood and took his first steps recently.But his life ended in the wreck and it hit me very hard.

Then of course the Boston Marathon bombing really got to me too. Who would have ever thought? It certainly adds a new dynamic (and one more reason to run) to the OKC Memorial marathon coming up next week. Plus the huge explosion in Texas.. my emotions were all over the place this week and once again I bottomed out.

It’s really bad when I bottom out because I go into shut down mode and can’t get my work done. But I began to sort it out this week and realized I am really battling with depression. I think it is common with caregivers; but I still have had to figure out how to function. So I am working on all that….but in the process I really learned something in a totally different arena this week.

I have talked about how I understand the love that held Christ to the cross- it’s the love that keeps the caregiver sort of imprisoned and bound to their loved one. But this week while sorting through some things I learned something else. I was thinking about how relationships have changed since that tragic day in November 2008. I was thinking about how to overcome the loneliness (also common to caregivers); how to battle depression and how to win at this race called life. In the process I was also thinking about Chris and how he can do so very little for himself.

In my thinking I was also thinking about who he was before the accident. Then my mind started to think about how I love this Chris too. Of course he can’t actually do anything for me now – he can’t throw out all those philosophical questions that would keep us up all night drinking coffee and looking for answers! He can’t share his latest lyrics or song with me. He’s not the same Chris – but I still love him.

That’s when I got it. So many times in life we love someone for what they do – not who they are. I loved Chris’ music, his humor, his thinking, etc. But it’s the love for HIM that drives me to care for him day in and day out, through thick and thin. I also thought of all the people who loved him when he was in school at NSU. I know they genuinely “loved” him. But they do not know what to do with him if he can’t do the things he was doing before.

So this made me think about how God loves us – not what we do. Maybe we can write and play songs – perhaps that’s even a gift. No problem – but that’s not what God loves about us…He loves us. He loves past our doing…

Flip Side–do we love God for what He does? Or do we love Him just because we love Him? We can measure many things by what God does especially in our western culture. If we have money,houses and cars; He has blessed us. If we have a good time at church, He “showed up”. If we are spared an inconvenience, or had a close call, He was watching out for us. These are all great “experiences” but are we loving Him solely for what He does? What if He didn’t “do” anymore? If we didn’t feel His presence, had to drive an older car, friends walk away, or we have a wreck? Job faced these things – he lost everything – literally.But he clung to God even in his darkest night. He served God because He is God, not just for what He could do.

I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple of days. I’ve also shared of my trust issues with God because before I felt like that trust had been broken. I thought God was protecting my kids and He let me down. I’m learning that trust, faith and now love have nothing to do with circumstances. Unfortunately we are taught to measure spiritual success by circumstances. Too bad for Job, huh? I want to learn more – I want to love and trust God just because I believe He is there….He already “did” stuff for me He rescued my soul from the clutches of darkness. That’s wonderful – but I’m ready to know more about Him…I want to love Him for WHO He is – not just what He does.

This has been a very trying journey…and it’s not even close to over. I figure I’ll take care of Chris until I can’t anymore then we’ll go to the nursing home together! But I have learned so much during this trial. My faith has been rewritten, love is different and I view many things (like church and friendship) much differently than ever before. I am not thankful that this has happened to my son. But I am thankful that God has continued to reveal Himself to me even as I learn about life in Him from the furnace.

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Rethinking Faith and Grace

There has been a lot happening of late but I really do plan on continuing this blog. I think I need to do it more for me sometimes and if there are any readers you are welcome to read along. Chris’ 29th birthday is coming up this week, and it feels odd. I guess somehow 30 sounds so “old” and it feels like he’s missed so much “life.” I’m still sorting through those emotions.

This last week I came across his old video camera and watched all his videos. I really thought I would kind of fall apart and not be able to handle it. But it actually had the opposite effect. I did cry a little here and there but it was a positive experience that is best summed up by saying that I helped myself remember who he was….which did make me miss him more. But that is an everyday thing really. It’s called living grief and I have mentioned it here before. I lost my son November 8, 2008 but still have his body to care for. I cannot bury him and try to make something out of life. It’s sort of like being stuck in a prison cell with no future just a past to remember.

Overall though, things are going good. He is improving and it really helps a lot. I think he is actually starting to try which helps keep me keep pushing him every single day. He is definitely communicating in his own way and that really helps too. But I’m not going to lie – I’m tired. It’s been a very long journey with no end in sight. Honestly, I gave up on one of those instantaneous miracles long ago. Guess God ran out of them just before November 2008! lol

It does seem that I am finally kind of learning how to get it together though. I’m learning to live alone and function alone for the most part. I really don’t have a social life and quite honestly most of the time when I do get out now – I am on sensory overload and just want to come back to the safety of the cave. I’m very content with that. But I did have a great experience at the last race I ran. It was just fun. It was the first tiny piece of “social activity” that I’d had in a long time. I hung around for a few minutes with some other runners and we laughed and cut up…nearly refreshing! lol — Some of them will be at the half I’m doing this Sunday so that might actually be nice!

Over the last few years I think I have really changed in a lot of different ways. But recently I’ve realized how much my theology has undergone change. I think about faith and hope differently. I see God’s protection differently than most. There have been some times when I really wanted to shake my fist at God and “cash it all in.” (for what I don’t know *smile*) But I am beginning to realize that it really isn’t His fault that my religion was faulty! lol

I’ve gone back and read Job and meditated on it a lot. Religion told him that he must have sinned or God wouldn’t punish him with all that trouble. Of course he maintained his righteousness. I can’t say that I haven’t struggled with thoughts along those lines – if God was pleased with me…with Chris… why did all this happen? Don’t really have an answer…

I’m taking a real good look at faith and what I thought it meant. I think we may have seriously missed the mark with that one. We get really caught up on the materialistic side of things and try to measure our relationship with God through natural means. If we have things we are blessed and if we don’t we are not.

While on this note – I get really upset sometimes at facebook posts. I really do understand these kinds of posts – they say things like “we were in a bad wreck to day thank God he loves us because we could have been hurt bad.” Am I to interpret that into God doesn’t love Chris? Or they will say, “God’s grace was with us today in the wreck or we could have been seriously injured.” Was God’s grace NOT with Chris that day? I always give thanks with them and keep the questions to myself – but maybe we really need to rethink the ways we use to measure God’s grace and love in our lives. It goes way past eternity you guys.

His grace is what keeps us from spending eternity as well as the present separated from Him – His love is what compels us to come to Him – it’s what held Jesus to the cross. Just like I cannot leave my son – Jesus could not leave the cross to find a more comfortable way because love held Him in that moment. He chose to stay there and yet I am guilty of trying to squirm out of anything remotely uncomfortable…rethinking grace and mercy!

Overall, I really cannot complain. Sure I miss my son deeply everyday. But there are lots of pluses from the furnace too. My daughter has become a wonderful Christian lady and mother, I have two beautiful grandchildren (want to see pictures? lol), I’m watching her and her husband take pursuing God seriously. God has provided me so much work I can barely keep up, and I am learning to keep my eyes on Him more of the time – and staying focused…even in the furnace.

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