Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's All Your Fault, Mr Fleming

I have always loved writing.  When I was younger I kept journals and was constantly trying to come up with something to write about.  I wrote poetry and stories and sometimes I would even write pretend news columns for the local paper – complete with left justified margins (handwriting it!).  My father had an old smith-corona manual type writer and I would ask to use it every chance I got.  I learned home row and was able to type without seeing the keys in no time.  I’ve never professed to be an scholarly writer by any stretch of the imagination.  My writing tends to be more random-streams-of-consciousness writing.  But it’s been a passion of mine for some time.

I had a high school teacher encourage me to write – in fact, he demanded it.  He gave me an assignment that no one else knew about.  He asked me to write about anything I wanted but I had to do it once a week and hand it in to him.  I did.  And every comment he wrote on that paper was encouraging.  Even his manner of correcting me was always so encouraging.  I’m blessed to remember his name – Mr Fleming.  I’m blessed as well to be in touch with his daughter and one of my high school classmates to this day.  Mr Fleming went to be with our Lord several years ago but his powerful teaching extends farther than he could have imagined.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “Encourage one another, and build each other up.”  That’s exactly what Mr Fleming did to all of his students – he encouraged us and built us up.   The building up and encouragement of this man went far beyond my writing but has permeated many aspects of my life and fuels my decision making.  I never had the opportunity to let him know how much I appreciated it but I would like to think he had an idea.  For when we build up one another, we build up ourselves as well. The body of Christ must encourage one another; cheer one another on to be the best we can be in the areas in which we excel. 

You see, through the kindness of this one man, a seed was planted.  And over time that seed continued to grow and is now an integral part of who I am. 

We have the privilege to encourage one another and to sow seeds in one another’s heart that God will nurture and allow to grow.  And all it takes is an encouraging word.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Caregivers Role Model

All four Gospel writers mention the account of Jesus and his disciples entering the Garden of Gethsemane.  While he is there he asks Peter, James and John to go with him while he prays.  Jesus steps further away from the three disciples to spend time in prayer.

This account shows us God’s Constant Providence.  In this moment Christ experiences agony and a trouble state of mind.  What could have possibly been surging through the mind of this man at this moment?  I want to use this account as a powerful image for us.  What if – for the sake of argument – as Christ has knowledge of his betrayal this is literally right around the corner; what if Christ went off by himself because he grew tired of caregiving?  If He came to be truly human and to have a true experience of what it is to fully embrace the human experience than surely Christ must have grown weary of all the caregiving that he dished out, all the teaching, all the love and now he is in full realization of the truth he’s known all along:  he will die for it?  He gets murdered.  He gets sacrificed.  He even pleads to His Father in heaven that if it were a possibility, please intervene and change your divine plan so that this incident can pass right over me and I can continue moving forward and living. 

It is not possible for us to try and get in to the mind of Christ without having feelings of resentment or anger towards humanity.  All his work must have felt to him, at times, to be all in vain.  The internal conflict Christ experienced was surely agonizing because he knew what he had to do and he knew what the outcome would be. 

I have had my share of care giving.  It started almost 15 years ago while I began care giving for an elderly family member.  I watched as all the love and care was dished out for this person yet hardly a word of thanks or act of appreciation was ever received.  The reward of care giving is typically not one that comes from the patient.  It is, indeed, a divine and intrinsic reward.  But we are human.  We want affection and affirmation.  We need people to tell us we’re OK, we’re doing well, we’re doing right.  But even those words can sound and feel so empty when they aren’t supported by actions.

Caregivers live daily with a myriad of emotions.

ANXIETY AND WORRY  Never having complete confidence that you are handling everything exactly right.  Worrying what will happen to the one you are caring for if something happens to you and then there’s the future and what it will bring as the illness progresses.  Are you really doing everything you possibly can do to help this person.


Anger at the world and resentful of others who do not have the responsibilities that you have; at times being angry at the very person you are caring for because you have dropped everything for this person.  This leads to grief.

GRIEF  Long before the patient may pass away the feelings of grief are there.  We mourn the daily loss of this person as they fall deeper and deeper in to an unknown abyss.  We mourn the loss of ourselves, our identity and our very purpose.  Our hopes and dreams have been put on hold and many may be lost forever.  We mourn the loss of time, vacations, relaxation, lovers and dreams.  And then you feel guilty.

GUILT.  The guilt is strong.  Again, are we really doing all that we can?  Will my loved ones around me forgive me for being absent so much, or tired, or cranky or short of patience?  We find ourselves lacking patience with the one we’re caring for and then we struggle over the acceptance of our role.

I am confident that Christ has felt these emotions as we all have.  How Christ handled them and lived through these emotions is an important lesson to us especially as caregivers. 

Christ prayed.  He rebuked those who were wrong and lovingly corrected injustices.  He stood strong for his convictions and stood up for those who could not do it for themselves. 

If you are a caregiver I want to encourage you first by reminding you that you are not alone although this journey feels very dark and lonely.  And although you have no doubt heard it before, you truly do need to make sure you are caring for yourself.  I encourage you to check out this website that has some helpful tips.  The Mayo Clinic also has some great tips and tools for stress management at

Look – as Christ entered the garden he knew what he was facing and yet even he cried out to God  to please reconsider who he has chosen for this job.  We are not alone and we have the most influential caregiver ever as our role model, our mentor, and our guide.  Take time to pray not only for the ones in your charge but for your needs to be fulfilled.  Let God know how you feel so he knows you are in agreement.  God knows how you feel but many times He just wants you to let him know. 

God bless your care giving efforts no matter what capacity it is either part-time, occasional or full-time and all-consuming. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Praise the Lord, Oh My Soul

We read and hear the stories about God's hand in the lives of the saints that came before us.  We see his goodness in delivering them, his mercy in pardoning them, and his faithfulness in keeping his promise with them.  how much more interesting would it be for us to comment and share how the hand of God is in our own lives today?  what if we were to look back upon our own, personal history and see that ours is at least as full of God, as full of goodness and truth and faithfulness and mercy as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before us?

What injustice do we bring to the Kingdom when we assume that God has only imparted his mighty acts and showed himself strong to only those who went before us?  Does God not role up his sleeves and bare his arms on our behalf even today? 

Review the history of your life.  Look closely and discover those blessed events that were refreshing to us and that glorified the Kingdom of God.

Can you truly say you have never been delivered from a wilderness that your life journey led you to?  Have you passed through any raging waters unsupported by the divine?  Have you walked through no fires unharmed?  Have you had no manifestations at all of God's divine nature?  Have you had no encouter with the Holy during your life journey thus far?  The same God that gave Solomon the desire of his heart - has he not listened to you and answered that which you asked?  David sang, "who satisifies the mouth with good things".  Has God not satisfied you and supplied you with your basic needs from His bounty?  Have you never walked by the still waters? 
Surely the goodness of the Lord who blessed the saints before us is continuing to bless those among us and our own lives? 

May we take time today to weave his mercies given to us in great abundance in to a glorious song for God.  May we take the gold of thanksgiving and the jewels of praise and fasten yet another amazing crown to adore the head of Christ.

Let us praise the Lord for all his mercies and forget not all his benefits! May we be able to rejoice with true authentic hearts and count his blessings and mercies seen in and through our lives.  God is alive today and working in, through and around us just as He did in the lives and hearts of all the saints that have gone before us.  Praise the Lord, Oh my Soul.