Memorial Day – 2015

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Memorial Day can be a gathering of family for a barbeque or for a day at the beach.  It is remembered as a day off from work or a reminder that we will only have a four-day workweek.

But Memorial Day is far more than that:

  • It is a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
  • It is a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
  • It is a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country.  Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
  • It is a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!  

May we stand proud for the United States of America whether we believe in all that is going on in the country today or not.  This is our country.  We must stand proud of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem.  As we stand with our hand over our heart, be proud because these men and women in uniform are standing in obedience to the orders they receive from their commanders.  They are doing this for us, in our name, for we are citizens of the USA.

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You and I are to stand in obedience to God Who is our Commander in Chief, our Stronghold, our Refuge, our Protector.  His Son shed His Blood for us…His red blood…in obedience to His Father Who is our Father.

Father God, may we look to You for all of Your commands, Your will,  for our lives each day.  May we honor those who stand for this country, who die for this country.  Please care for them as they fight or assist in war-torn countries, or work in places that have been ravaged by natural disasters and have been sent to help.  We lift up the many families who have lost loved ones in these many battles this country has been involved in.  We lift up those families who have someone in uniform right now and are fighting, protecting, assisting, or are preparing to go into a place that could be dangerous in one way or another.   Please guard them with your legions of angels.  We pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.  Psalm 91:11


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lags In

“This is a mission unique to members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which has the distinction of being the oldest active unit in the United States Army dating back to 1784. The Old Guard is the Army’s ceremonial unit serving as honor guard to the President of the United States, and performing burial services for fallen service members, veterans and their family members at Arlington Cemetery.”  Arlington Cemetery

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Both of my parents are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

There is a flag on their grave this very day and I remember.

I am honored to remember.

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I am married to a Vietnam Veteran and am honored to have my hand in his.

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I do not forget.

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Photo of Young boy saluting flag: http://365atlanta.com/2010/11/11/286-a-simple-thing-to-do-thank-a-veteran-every-day-not-just-on-veterans-day/

Flags In photo: http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2015_21/1038161/pc-150522-arlington-flags-mn-0430_f195bba7ed10dc1c882e0c9d58494cc9.nbcnews-ux-1360-900.jpg

Rejoice in the LORD

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Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

it shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,

and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

the unclean shall not pass over it.

It shall belong to those who walk on the way;

even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

No lion shall be there,

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain gladness and joy,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

The Way of Holiness is surrounded by waters, plants, and animals that reveal the glory of the LORD.  All of creation shouts.  Redemption has come and we, the people, sing with rejoicing.  Healing and forgiveness make way for gladness and joy.  The hard things of this world fade away, leaving sorrow and tears to be no more.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a Mighty One Who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”  1 Chronicles 16:31

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.  Psalm 16:9

Father God, I rejoice in Your Holy Name.  I sing to You and worship only You as I continue to learn of Your ways.  Your highway to holiness is the only way I want to be journey upon.  Your Way is the Truth.  May I walk steadfastly along that highway, remaining close to You, precious LORD.  As I ponder these and other verses about rejoicing, my heart lightens.  The heaviness of this world, all the heartaches and soul aches I see and hear about me seem to fade into the background as You stand strong and faithful beside me.  You come before me and are my way.  I follow You.  May I be in Your will in this world, and may I be strong in You that my heart would not grow faint.  

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

May I wait upon You and sing praises of joy to You, only to You.   In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Caring for the Caregiver – Part 2

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One of the very first things a giver of care should think about doing for herself/himself is to find quiet … find the calm center of the storm, find peace in your mind and heart. Finding quiet is calming down, letting the mind focus on the Lord. Find a physical peaceful setting or find one in your mind. Get away to a quiet place even for an hour, go for a walk, sit-down for a time in the park or in a coffee shop, or soak in a hot bath. This usually means being alone for a time.

As we begin to quiet ourselves, we usually need to allow the voices, the day’s busy-ness, the stresses of the daily activity roll through our minds, our hearts, and then gradually let it slide away. When these things pop back up, let them go again. Rather than getting upset that we keep bringing the stresses back up, allow them there and then release them again, each time allowing it to remain for shorter periods. It will subside if we let it. Remember, these concerns, issues, words spoken, or words left unspoken, may be issues that have already been resolved, may be un-resolvable right now and need setting aside, or may not even be of our business! Listening and reviewing the day can allow us to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and take some or all of the emotion out of an issue. Then give these things to Jesus. He asks for them. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

During the quiet, take time to look at your personal needs. You may be a parent. You may be homeschooling your children. You may hold a full or part-time job. You may have more than one person you are taking care of. You may be married, single, divorced, going through problems in relationship. All kinds of personal concerns surround us. So time may be of the essence and you may think, “I don’t have time for me, Linda. I cannot even begin to do any more and now you want me to take care of myself.” Well, yes, I do. And I know it well. (When I moved Mama here from California, I worked full-time, had been married only 5 years so still felt like a newlywed! Mama needed help in so many ways. Besides her regular medications, the doctor placed her on insulin within the first year here. Her dementia worsened and giving herself insulin became a problem as she would forget or think she had already given herself the shot. I was running over to her place (in a senior residence) twice a day taking her blood sugar and then giving her a shot. My workplace was 12 miles away. My hours were odd two days a week so I had to teach my husband how to do this too. Bless his heart … imagine talking to your mother-in-law and reminding her to take her blood sugar and then measuring the insulin and handing her the syringe? Not easy, I know! My mother was rather strong headed, too! But it had to be done, and we did it and much, much more!

Well, back to our needs. Time or not, we must find some for our care or we cannot care for others. What do you do for yourself? What do you need for yourself? Do you eat nutritionally? Is there a way to do that better? Are you able to exercise? Can you make time to take a class of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, walk regularly…the type that would make you feel better after it was over? You don’t need more stress and taking a class that you feel is a “should” will not be a help to you. Can you watch a video of yoga or stretching at home to help you relax some? Do you have time for family, for friends? How can you make quality time with the people you love and who love you and care about you? Are there hobbies that help you relax … reading, crocheting, quilting, baking, taking a Bible study? What do you enjoy … riding your bicycle, walking on the beach, visiting others, …? And the most important piece of this pie is to spend time with the LORD…sitting at His feet. You don’t have to talk with Him or do anything in particular. Just sit at His feet. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Setting time for enjoyable, relaxing treats is so key to a caregiver’s well-being. Caring for another can zap all of your energy, leaving you lifeless. If we are good at caring for others then we surely must learn to care for ourselves. Begin by making an appointment with yourself, spending time writing down those things that are important to you for your well-being. Once a list is in print, prioritize them either by most important to least, or by the amount of time it takes to do each, or how often you would want to do each. Begin doing one thing on your list. Calendar things in daily, weekly, monthly … make it work for you. If you cannot do anything every day, then begin with weekly or every other day. Gradually, work the most important things into your world so you will feel better. And when you cannot do something, please, PLEASE, do not feel guilty. Guilt is the last thing you need.

You are important! YES! You are IMPORTANT! And caring for yourself is a part of caregiving for others that gets neglected far too easily. How can we be wholly there for others when we can barely be there for ourselves? Take time to begin. Just begin!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:2-3a

God tells His people that He will be with us as we walk through the fires of life.  Fires burn, but they also purify, refine.  Caregiving is not easy.  In fact, it is painfully difficult at times, and exhausting.  Yet, He is with us and will not let the fires consume us.  The waters will not drown us.
Father, hear our prayers. We need You and want You in these times of giving care to others. Father, You are our Shepherd and LORD.  Give us the abilities needed for the task. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we may care for those You love, for those who need help, who are unable to do for themselves any longer.  Father, guide us in ways to care for ourselves that we would be more able to be the caregiver whom You have called … able to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and joyful too. May Your fruits of the Spirit shine through us in all that we are and do for others. Father, give us calm and peace, and may we be the Christ in the eyes of these precious ones of Yours.  In Jesus’ Name we pray and we love.  Amen.

 

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Caring for the Caregiver – Part 1

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Caregiver:  the definition of a giver of care is a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child, or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.  The description of a giver of care who works 24/7 can be joyful, weary, tired, delighted, exhausted, angry, frustrated, energetic, impatient, alienated, lonely, depressed, etc., etc., etc.! Does any of this fit you?

Let’s turn the tables and take a look at taking care of ourselves. This is a key component to caregiving.  A KEY!  The care of the caregiver is vital to the health and welfare of the one who receives the care.  If the caregiver is so rundown that she/he has no energy for the day’s work, she/he cannot give the necessary care in the manner in which it ought to be given. As caregivers, we are usually trying to understand the needs of the person we care for with a desire to do some of this precious care right so as not to confuse, frustrate, or further anger our charge. We desire their days to be pleasant. We also want to love them as they are, not as we wish they could or would be.

As a caregiver of 15 years, I ran the gamut of being extremely weary, unable to get a good night’s rest for ailments of my own, worried, confused about what to do, depressed, frustrated that my sisters lived so far away, coming only once a year (and then for just a little while, not long enough to help me out much or give me a real break), even upset with one sister because she accused me of something that our mother believed about me–this sister chose to believe a dementia-laden lie versus the truth.  I became impatient with Mama, too, for things she could not help.  I felt alienated from “friends” or lonely because of this separateness.  I wondered if I was being a good enough wife while trying to be a good enough caregiver and daughter too.  AAAHHH!  Do you know these feeling, these thoughts?

Pondering such thoughts and feelings made me realize that I was disconnected, exasperated, less than healthy, just plain worn out.  One doctor of mine even asked me if I was “depressed.”  He had been in my shoes by caring for his father and saw signs in me, a long time patient of his for fibromyalgia.  Yet I needed to face myself, my selfish, self-protecting ways.  I wanted to stay in God’s will and honor my mother through to the end of her life.  I also, naturally, wanted to remain in God’s will for my marriage.

James 1:2-4 says,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Pure joy?  Oh, I wondered sometimes how I could possibly feel joyful.

As God continually desires to grow us in His garden, the roots grow deeper into His soil, hitting rocks and tree roots, those trials and tests.  It is our reaction to these tribulations that give us the telltale sign of our step-by-step relationship with God.  Our faith in God to bring us through these trials and our willingness to allow Him to grow us to be more like Christ builds the perseverance…hanging in there: close to God, in an honoring manner, trusting Him at every turn, a close and growing relationship with Him.  This relationship depends upon having open eyes, ears, and hearts.  We need His wisdom and He tells us to ask.  We certainly need it in this particular period of our lives, but truly in all periods, don’t we?  James 1 continues,  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.  Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. (verses 5-9)

He will develop us, mature us, complete us … in His time.  We must stay close to our Teacher, spend time in His Word, and bend our knees before Him.  As we face trials, we can be purified in these fires.  We can become more valuable in God’s economy.  He can use us as His giver of care to the precious one He appoints for us.  He is able to guide us as we are willing to listen to Him, our Lord.  He can reshape our lives from ungodly to godly, from not being Christlike to being a reflection of the beauty of Jesus, and to glorify Him in all we do and say.

James 1:12:  Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Some positive aspects that caregiving can offer:
• A closer relationship with God
• Trust in God
• A sense that others are watching your faith in action
• A more mature faith, purified by testing

• The ability to face and handle negative emotions

• Healing of previous hurts, especially involving family fallouts

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Let us stop here and ponder: asking for God’s wisdom, about the trials and testing that you are going through in your daily caregiving and how they might lead you to have more perseverance.  Think about God’s ways versus ours.  Think about James 1 as well.  What is God saying to you?

Father, we ask You to come to us in this garden and sit beside us on the bench where we are, weary and worn out.  Father, you know the task of caregiving we hold in our hands.  You know the one we care for.  He or she is Your child as are we, Father.  We feel so weary some days that we wonder if You are even in the vicinity.  Yet, we know You are.  You are everywhere, our Omnipresent God.  We trust You deeply, Father.  Walk down this path with us, giving us wisdom so that we can care for our precious loved ones, or for those we care for as a professional caregiver.  Father, please teach us how to take care of ourselves, better care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  Build us stronger spiritually that we would depend upon You for everything. Everything. You are our Refuge and our Stronghold.  Guard our souls and deliver us; Do not let us be ashamed, for we take refuge in You.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve us, For we wait for You. (Psalm 25:20-21) We ask all in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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Rejoicing in Trials

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Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!  Psalm 98:4

“Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for this we may give wings to leaden feet and turn weariness into strength.”  J. J. Jowett

As I age, I sense losses of abilities…physically.  I have had three spinal surgeries and one hip replacement.  I will be having knee arthroscopic surgery at the end of May to repair a torn Meniscus and remove some arthritic growth…more physical therapy and using a walker or cane or both.  I am becoming limited in being able to do things I used to do with no thought.  I just did them.

But God and Mr. Jowett remind me that joy is a fruit of the Spirit and I have the Holy Spirit living in me.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  James 1:2-3

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

So I sing.

I remember Who placed song in my heart and Who gave me freedom to rejoice in all that I am and all that I am given, no matter what phase of my life I am in.

Last week, I played with color and the fruit of the Spirit.  I am still coloring in my heart and now I am singing, humming in color.  I don’t always feel colorful, yet my heart does because of the LORD.  He fills me up and gives me joy and loves me through these hard things, so He fills me up with colorfilled songs.

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Father God, You are the God of all creation.  You know the trials of my body, of my soul, and of my mind.  You know my heartaches too.   You also know that I want to be able to do everything I “should” be able to do.  Growing older is hard, Father.  I miss being able to bend with ease.  I wish I did not have to think about the way I pick up a book from the floor or the way I need to walk with extra care.  Father, I wish it would be easier.  But it isn’t and I am sad.  Yet, these trials are only for a time.  Even if I live many more years, I know…I KNOW…that one day, I will be with You in Heaven and will have a perfect body.  The heart and soul aches of this life, from loss of family and friends, from physical struggles of various kinds, from knowing that this world is not of You…seeing evidence every day on the news, even in nearby places, I KNOW that one day…ONE DAY…I will have only You to kneel before and praise.  So I begin NOW and sing praises to Your Holy Name.  I REJOICE and thank You for always being with me.

 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.”  Isaiah 46:3-4

And I will remember –

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.

They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,

to declare that the LORD is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  Psalm 92:12-15

and that I am to … 

…fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

I pray in the Wondrous Name of Jesus.  Amen.

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When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride….

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1st picture: Unknown

2nd picture: “colors, colours, crayons, music, notes, photography, pretty” by abigaylee @ http://favim.com/image/81928/

3rd picture: Musical Note: http://www.mouserunner.net/Spheres_Free_Musical_Notes