Saturday, October 24, 2009

When We Care Too Much

I had the privilege of attending the Rosalynn Carter Institutes Conference on Caregiving this past week. It was such an honor to be in the room with so many people dedicated to the role of Caregiver, whether on a personal or professional level.

It was also thrilling to meet the former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, and hear her stories and where her interest in Caregiving came from.

If you look around you, and really pay attention, there are Caregivers everywhere, caring for mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children.

Most of the time, like myself, they don't see themselves in this role, they only see themselves fulfilling their original role of daughter, son, mother, father, etc.

And as time goes by and our population continue to age we are going to see this role increasing.

The number one cause of nursing home placement is Caregiver Burnout.

I listened to my sister this week and could hear the fatigue and frustration that I too have felt. It's not a lack of love for those that we have in our charge, nor is it a lack of desire to continue in our role...

It is that feeling that nothing you do is good enough anymore...that no matter what, you can't FIX whatever is broken with them. It is the tired that gets down in your very core that you can never shake.

I know it sounds terrible, but I have thought I could not handle one more thing, kind of like the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But one more thing's just kept coming. And somehow we always have made it.

It is an interesting place to be, all at once heartbreaking and terrible, rewarding and fulfilling. And somewhere in the middle of all of it you find a strength that you didn't even know existed inside of you, a compassion, and a hope.

Somewhere, someone you know is caring for someone they love. And they are struggling and they are tired, and they feel alone.

Because in the midst of this care and love the Caregiver can begin to loose themselves. I know, I have been there. But who cares for the Caregiver?

Pray for those you know in this situation. Lift them up, encourage them. Let them know you see what they are going through. Help them when they will let you, if nothing else, a nice casserole would work wonders.

For those with home bound Care Recipients offer to sit for an hour, mow the yard, bring them a gift card to their favorite restaurant and stay so they can go enjoy it.

Because when we care too much we are in danger of finding ourselves in a crisis, feeling like we have failed those we love and ourselves.

Be attentive, be mindful, be compassionate, be caring.....because you never know when you will be giving care....or in need of care....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holding On & Letting Go

I don't even know how to begin this so I'm just going to jump on in there.

There comes a point in all of our lives when you lose your parents if you live long enough. I don't think you truly appreciate the concept of that loss until you are an adult yourself, but as you age the reality of that loss becomes more real with each passing year.

We have had some rough times with our parents. If you read back over the blogs from my past you will see countless references to those rough times as we struggled to survive the onslaught of failing health.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret...I didn't have the perfect childhood. I honestly don't think such a thing exists as long as you are living with humans that is basically an oxymoron.

But I had a GOOD childhood. I knew without a doubt from day to day that I was well loved.

And living within the confines of my flesh is a combination of the two people who shaped me into the person I am. That makes me doubly blessed.

I got a call from my sister this past Friday with news about my father.

The news was not good.

One of the physicians went as far as to say he was "behind the eight ball."

So, we hastily packed and set off for Louisiana for what I believed was goodbye.

Now, let me tell you WHY I believed that.

We are in revival like I have never seen before. From all the accounts coming in about my father I knew things were headed south, so to speak. The minister called me forward for prayer and we agreed that the decisions I could see coming for my family would be taken out of our hands.

And I know, without a doubt, that we touched God.

The next day I get the call. It's bad. And I knew....

On the way there my sister called...they said he may even go that night.

Once again I asked for prayer. At least let me be able to tell him how much I love him, that he is, by FAR, the best Daddy that has ever lived.

And I wept and prayed until I could go no further.

We arrived the next morning to await the 6am visit. My sister and I went in and there he was, for the first time in 2 weeks, his mind was clear.

We spent that day telling him over and over that he was loved, especially after he overheard the doctors outside of his door saying he was not going to make it.

We wept together, loved together and talked together....

But, more than that, because of my father's clear state of mind, we allowed him to make the decisions concerning his end of life desires.

God took those decisions out of our hands, just like I knew he would.....but with a twist!

Dad was moved to inpatient rehab type unit which is something he was not even a candidate for before. And even though every system in his body was affected we were making plans for after he goes home from the hospital.

He also talked about the Lord, and where he was and where he wanted to be. How merciful of our God to give him the opportunity to make heaven his home.

Now I have peace, peace that didn't exist before. And even when the time comes, I know now I can let him go.

Oh, it will hurt, no doubt about it. But, over-riding the hurt is hope. And I know the time is coming that I will have to let him go, but while I do, I will be holding on to everything he has been to me, holding on to the person his influence has made me, holding on to the strength that we have always found in each other. I will be holding on to the love from my Daddy for his little girl as I am letting go of the hurt of seeing him suffer over and over.

For now, though, I am blessed beyond words, thankful beyond measure, and loved beyond imagination.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Held ON

*Inspired by a song written by my awesome Pastor, Ben Weeks, and performed by his awesome wife, Sis. Valerie Weeks*

Back in 1989 I was baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of sins and received the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost....

And in 1991 I threw it away. I just threw it away.

I knew what I had done. Knew what I had given up. My soul cried out continually even as I got further and further away.

Then in March of 1996 I made my way back to Him. How blessed I am to have found the way again.

Since that time there have been battles, trials, disappointments and heartaches. I have cried some bitter tears and wondered when I would have peace again.

I am not super saint....I have by my own desperation held on....

I have locked my hands around the beautiful faith, dug my nails into what I know to be true.

Even in the direst of circumstances I have held on.....

In the darkest of my nights, I held on....

In the depths of my sorrow, I held on....

In the midst of the fiercest storms, I held on....

When that's all that I could do, that's what I did...

I just held on.

And when people see me, when people know my struggles, I NEVER want them to think that it was something special about ME that got me through. The only thing special about me is my ability to grip to what I KNOW will sustain me.

I have tried Him....I know

And although He will NEVER let me go, I know from experience how easy it can be to let Him go. I know how easy it is to get swallowed up by sin. I have been on both sides of the fence and I know that even through the hard times, even through the bad times, even through the pain and the heartaches, the grass is greener on this side.

I'm holding on to His unchanging hand. As the world becomes more and more corrupt He becomes more and more precious to me.

"You asked me how it is I'm still standing.....I Held ON....."