Secret

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The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.  Psalm 25:14

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“For the Lord GOD does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

סוֹד

cowd

a session, i.e. company of persons (in close deliberation);

by implication, intimacy, consultation, a secret:—assembly, consel, inward, secret (counsel)

God’s secrets are His counsel to us as we walk with Him in this life.  Many verses with this same Hebrew word read assembly or counsel.  It was often in the setting of many people.  The LORD meets with His people in the quiet of hearts to reveal His covenant, His guidance, His love.

For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD,
And has perceived and heard His word?
Who has marked His word and heard it?  Jeremiah 23:18

But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings.  Jeremiah 23:22

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Another Hebrew word for secret:

סֵתֶר

cether

a cover (in a good or a bad, a literal or a figurative sense):—backbiting, covering, covert, disguise(-th), hiding place, privily, protection, secret(-ly, place)

 ‘Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’  Deuteronomy 27:24

‘Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see;
And He walks on the vault of heaven.’  Job 22:14

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1

This secret often seems to be an actual secret place, a hiding place, although it can also be something done behind another’s back.

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A third Hebrew word meaning secret:

צָפַן

tsaphan

to hide (by covering over); by implication, to hoard or reserve; figuratively to deny; specifically (favorably) to protect, (unfavorably) to lurk:—esteem, hide(-den one, self), lay up, lurk (be set) privily, (keep) secret(-ly, place)

And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.  And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.  Exodus 2:2-3

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.  Proverbs 7:1

Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!  Psalm 31:19

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

 

There are even more meanings to the English word, secret, in the Bible than I have placed here.  The New Testament has several as well.  But these will be enough for now.  Some of these definitions are filled with God’s protection and glow.  Others are filled with worldly ways of men.  Yet others have the godly ways of men.  In reading this six-letter word, we need to be attentive to God’s meaning.

Father God, as we read Your Word, please guide us as to Your meaning so that we may glean just what You mean in Your beautiful Word.  I want to dwell in Your secret place, under Your shadow, in Your Shelter, under Your wing and feel secure by being in Your Presence.  I want to sense this every moment of every day, Father.  I trust You, hope in You, and love You.  Praying in the Name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

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Graphic 1:  http://weheartit.com/entry/107668659

Graphic 2:  https://www.pinterest.com/mynameismsjo/

Graphic 3:  http://www.kristahamrick.com/577-2/

We Need Laughter

Mom- feb 2009 003_zpsfddathxaMoments to Lighten Up While Caregiving

“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Are you a caregiver of one whom is losing their mental abilities, maybe slowly, maybe rapidly? Are you caring for one who is confused often? who gets angry, who can no longer tie their shoelaces, who hides things and then accuses another of stealing? Or are you a giver of care for one with such physical needs that you, yourself, are physically exhausted much of the time? Are you caring for one who…? …and the list goes on and on.

Caring for my mother for fifteen years tested my patience sometimes. I loved her no less. It was not Mama that I lost patience over, but it was the disease of dementia that shortened my fuse. Dementia was taking my parent away from me gradually and, sometimes, in harsh, ever-changing ways. Some days, Mama was clear-minded and in such a sweet place. Other days, she was confused, or angry, or short- tempered. She was usually not upset with me, but upset with her condition, her world. I could not care for her at home as my health, my back, would not allow it. I could not lift her. So she had to live where others would be caring for her more than I would, although I was with her most every day. Mama wore diapers. Mama slept a lot; she was vibrantly alert; she acted A.D.H.D.; she confused people, rooms, times; she used words she NEVER would use before and said things that I could not believe she said … OUTLOUD! I never knew who I was going to find when I arrived to see her.

Caregiving is exhausting, can be filled with love, is stressful, demands room for patience, and has plenty of room for impatience.  Caregiving NEEDS space for laughter!  Yes, I said LAUGHTER!  When Mama needed help and I would almost fall upon her, she would say, “Wow! sister, be careful. You almost fell on me. I wonder what would happen if you did?” And then I cuddled her and we both laughed. She would burp loudly and say, “I never used to do that so much, but I guess I can since I am 97!” And we laughed together! Moments like these would make the giving of care lighter, sweeter, even more loving. People with dementia can be funny as themselves, providing just the words or actions for laughter. Or one with autism may make a cute or funny face, giving a sweet second for laughter to erupt. Comments are often made that are so out of context by the one being cared for and when said aside from the actual incident, situation, or even television program, laughter just may be the answer. Whatever the incident, try to use it to be a laughable moment. No one may even know why they are laughing but it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Did you know that laughter reduces stress? increases circulation? decreases blood pressure? relaxes muscles? reduces pain by increasing the endorphins in the bloodstream? Laughter has many more wonderful qualities, giving our bodies and our minds moments of relief, pleasure, and time out.

Absurdity changes the moment from arduously serious into life bursting anew:
“You find your car keys in the freezer.”

“Your wife tries to pay for groceries by pulling out a sanitary pad from her purse.”

“Your husband spends his afternoons “debating” the man in the hall mirror (the “nice fella” who happens to look exactly like him).”

A woman, standing in her doorway, hollering at the Medication Aide for some ‘Viagra’ when she meant ‘Allegra’ for her runny nose! (This one actually was my mother!! Yes MY Mother! My dear mother gave the staff a moment of laughter too!…along with any family members who happened to be in the hallway at that moment!! Mama had been watching far too many ads on television.)  Of course, the staff had to tell me this great story too which I continue to pass along!

You’ve gotta LAUGH! Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. ~ Arnold Glasow

Laughter helps us walk through those tough times. Laughing with the one we care for and about also helps.

Loretta, a precious woman, would spend a couple of hours twice a week with Mama, as a caregiver, giving me those evenings with my husband. Some nights, Mama loved having her there, introducing her to everyone as “my friend.” Other nights, Mama just wanted to sleep. On those nights, Mama would tell Loretta, “If you are going to talk, I am leaving this room!” Loretta would chuckle to herself and say, “Then I will follow you wherever you go!” Mama would just close her eyes as a grin began to take shape knowing that her “friend, Loretta” would do just that!

The one who is now living in diapers who felt dignity has all but walked out the door, or the one who fell again, or the one who cannot speak words that once flowed easily from their mouth needs laughter and love. Watch a funny movie together, or call a friend who can make laughter erupt, or bring a child into the room who loves to make others smile. Laughter is a key to taking a hard situation and turning it around for even just moments. It is vital for the one being cared for, the giver of care, as well as some of the staff who happen to be in hearing range.

A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~ Mary H. Waldrip

In the assisted living facility, Mr. H. wanted the blinds up at mealtime so he could look outside. Mama faced the window and wanted them down because the sun was too bright. Rather than move around the table, she got up and lowered the blinds. Mr. H. raised them back, and Mama lowered them. This went on a few more times before Mama hauled off and hit Mr. H. She did not hurt him but both daughters had to be called like a parent is called to school. A meeting was held with the director, Mama, and me where Mama was told the rules and scolded. We also were told that this could not happen again as they could not keep her at this facility. As we walked out of the meeting, Mama quickly got ahead of me by about ten feet and said, under her breath, but loud enough, “Your mother’s Italian got the better of her.” I had to smile and thought to myself, “And your Irish too!”

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle

Sometimes, taking every moment seriously just wore me down so I needed these breaks! Now, two years after Mama has gone to be with the LORD, I am still chuckling at some of the moments that brought laughter. I still hold onto our preciously sweet moments too. God is gracious as He allows a caregiver’s memory of the hard stuff to recede further from the surface as He brings the sweet and laughable memories to the top. I am so thankful to our God for that.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations,The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”  Psalm 126:2-3

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  Psalm 126:5

Father God, You gave me the miracle of seeing You in ALL–in the small, everyday moments, and in the huge, mountaintop moments. I give thanks for the moment-by-moment love I had for my Mama and the love she had for me. Thank You for the laughter we shared, for the combing of her hair to calm her down, for the kiss on her forehead, and for the big hug she’d give me with such an “I love you, my firstborn.” You are restoring the years that wore me down by giving me a harvest of memories of the love and joy my mother brought to me, by reminding me of my dear parents and how much they wanted me. You satisfy me and I praise the Name of the Lord, my God. You have dealt wondrously with me, Father. Thank You. I lift each one here today who needs Your hand in their life. They may be caring for someone with dementia or cancer or autism. You know, Father. They need the joy of the LORD. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Stumble…Stumbling…A Stumbling Block

stumble-clipart-l_078I have stumbled many times in the physical sense…as a child, I ran faster than my legs could go, tripping over things; as a teen, I would be busy talking, a curb attacked me which I never saw coming; as an adult, I might trip over a leg on a piece of furniture; as a senior adult with my spinal cord having bone spurs, disk problems, and a cyst, I began stumbling over things and even over nothing…I just fell.  Stumbling happens to many, if not most, of us.

I have also stumbled spiritually.  Oh, my!  Yes, I lost my way…wandered in deserts, in places where wild things lived.

God talks about stumbling in His Word, both the Old Testament and the New.  We stumble spiritually when we disobey God, when we don’t listen to know His way for us. We can easily be led astray, causing us to stumble spiritually.

כָּשַׁל

kashal

to stumble, stagger, totter, waver

to be made to stumble

to make feeble, make weak

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
Whoever is discerning, let him know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right,
And the righteous will walk in them,
But transgressors will stumble in them.  Hosea 14:9

Staying close to God and His Ways is what keeps our spirits strong.  We wait upon the Lord…to hear His still, small voice, to know the wind of the Holy Spirit as He guides us, and to remain steadfast to our Creator.

“True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.

“For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

“But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.  Malachi 2:6-8

 

Finding the path of wisdom through God’s instruction and through godly counsel keeps us near.  Stumbling can occur when we turn from God’s Ways, listen to the ways of men who are not of God, wander from the path of righteousness, are disobedient.  We can also cause others to stumble.

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Jesus speaks of stumbling and a stumbling block in the New Testament.

σκανδαλίζω

skandalizō

verb

stumble

to entice to sin

to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey

since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed

σκάνδαλον

skandalon

noun

a stumbling block, a trap, a snare

any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall

fig. applied to Jesus Christ, whose person and career were so contrary to the expectations of the Jews concerning the Messiah, that they rejected him and by their obstinacy made shipwreck of their salvation

any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin

  “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”  Matthew 18:5-7

 

For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone,”

and

A stone of stumbling,

and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.  1 Peter 2:6-8

Many trip over Jesus.  The Name of Jesus causes some, many, to lay up a defense and they will not open their eyes nor their ears to the Truth that is Jesus the Christ. 

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Yet many find Jesus to be the stepping stones to eternal life, the Living Water, the Bread of Life.  Praising God for His mercy and grace upon us.

Jesus calls us to walk in His Light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.  John 12:35

Oh, that darkness makes the stumbling even worse.  Peter reminds us who we are and the image we are to portray to those of this world.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.    1 Peter 2:4-5

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Father God, I pray that I will stand upright and close to You with each and every step.  May I sense Your very Presence that I would not turn from Your ways and that we would be obedient children to You, our Father.  I have stumbled physically so much, especially in these latter years, but am so much better now.  I have also stumbled spiritually yet You never left me.  You were right at the door and ready for me to enter Your Kingdom.  I pray that I would not lead one astray, ever.  I pray I have not done that in my past Sunday school teaching or any other time as I spoke with others about Jesus.  Hold me strong as I grow older.  Keep me from stumbling both physically and spiritually.  I want to be holy as You are Holy.  I thank You, LORD, for loving me through all my history and calling me to You.  Oh, I am so grateful and I give You all of the glory.  I did nothing to deserve Your mercy and Your grace.  I pray in the Name of Your Precious Son.  Amen. 

beblacksig

photo/graphic of Jesus:Stumbling Block…from http://www.campusbiblechurch.com/message/jesus-christ-stumbling-block-or-stepping-stone

I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 1)

SONY DSCI write this from the perspective of the one who found a dear friend after he had killed himself…suicide.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  Psalm 13:2-4

This man, Jim, was 46 and decided that life had no meaning any longer, I presume. I will never really know…just a heart-felt and honest guess.  He was an artist, but had a hard time making a living from his beautiful airbrushed paintings. He was a machinist by trade.  He had some tough relationships over his all-too-short life.  He had been sober for almost 8 years, had quit smoking for 2 years.  He came from a family of drinking. His mother died of cancer. His only sibling was a brother who chose to separate himself from my friend as well as his parents because he had chosen not to drink.

As a friend, I cared about Jim like a sister would care about her only brother.  We were both searching for Jesus at the time we met.  We did not know that, but we were.  We searched in many-a-dark corner, but continued looking.  I never knew him during his drinking years so my perspective is a bit skewed from others who knew him earlier in his life.  As an artist, a weaver, myself, we began doing shows together to try to make a living being artists when I moved into this same city.  Neither one of us made enough to pay for doing what we loved, but we tried for a while.

I finally found full-time work for I needed a steady income.  Jim continued to paint and even went to New Mexico for six months to gain a different perspective while continuing to paint.  Eventually, he moved back here and then had a hard time finding a machinist job.  Things were not going as he had hoped.

I came home from work one day and found an envelope in the mail slot of my door.  It was from Jim.  He had placed his car title, some cash, and a short note of some silly words that meant something to only me, words we had shared. My heart sank, although I could not really know by the note what I was about to face, and yet, I had an idea. I quickly got in the car and raced over to his house. I let myself in only to find the same note there on the table by the door, along with a note to emergency staff should they have found him before I did. I knew now. I tiptoed through the house until I found him. He had killed himself in a manner that did not leave blood and gore for me to find, but he still killed himself. I still found him. That was 23 years ago. As I type this, it seems like yesterday.

Earlier, I said that Jim and I were searching for Jesus. I never knew if he found Him, but he had a Bible with some verses in the New Testament underlined. He had been reading. He had been looking and, hopefully, had found the One and Only LORD and Savior. I will know him in Heaven should he be there. I pray so.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suicide is a terrible thing. Having never been around it up close and personal, I could not have imagined that I would have to deal with one in such a way: police interrogation of me to make sure that I had not killed him (which was such an awful experience and is a vivid memory, even today), neighbors wanting to know why all the police, ambulances, and medical examiner were at the house for over two hours, the remnants of his life in a house that I would inherit because he made a will and left his world to me. I had very few other contacts here except through work, so with friends caring about me from afar, the phone calls were long and tear-filled.

There was so much…so very much to deal with, to handle.

I returned to work and took comfort in the busy-ness of that. I sought counsel through a “suicide-survivor group.” I attended only a few times as I just did not seem to need to tell the same story each week to any newcomer. There were people there who had lost a loved one fifteen and twenty years prior. I knew they were there for their own reasons, but I needed the tender love and comfort from my mother, my sisters and friends in other states, and so it was hard being in one state when my comfort was elsewhere. Within a short time, a cousin came from Chicago and stayed for a few days. Then, my dear mother came and stayed for about three or four weeks to help me clean and ready the house so that I could move in within a few weeks. My mother was the best person for me at that time. I needed people I loved and trusted.

Surround yourself with people who understand. Who care. Who are sensitive. And who will support you. Reach out to those people. Never feel like you are a burden to them because you are not.

My boss loaned me the money for the cremation. She honored me by asking if she could help financially in any way. I had no savings and Jim left me what little he had which was not enough to bury him.

When you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined.

Please join me for Part 2 to read how I began to heal from this experience, how Jesus met me in my pain, and for some practical advice on how you can recover from a trauma such as this one.

Part 2 will be posted Friday, 8/14/2015.

 

 

beblacksig

Photo: Sony:DSC

Cultivate

cultivate1280-1-560x448What is the life God desires of me? … His life, His life in me. And just what is that?

I walk with Him. I listen to Him. I know in part but one day will know in full what my life should/could have been. I pray I will walk the remainder of my life, growing more and more like Him, towards Him, each and every day.

Give ear, and hear my voice;

Give ear, and hear my voice;

give attention, and hear my speech.

Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?

Does he continually open and harrow his ground?

When he has leveled its surface,

does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,

and put in wheat in rows

and barley in its proper place,

and emmer as the border?

For he is rightly instructed;

his God teaches him.

 

How can I ‘cultivate’ this life…this life God desires of me?

  • tilling the soil
  • planting the seeds
  • watering the earth
  • keeping the weeds out and away from the new sprouts
  • harvesting the crop

cultivation

(ˌkʌltɪˈveɪʃən)

1. (Agriculture) agriculture

a. the planting, tending, improving, or harvesting of crops or plants
b. the preparation of ground to promote their growth
 
2. development, esp through education, training, etc

3. culture or sophistication, esp social refinement

How do I take this picture and make it mine?

  • The soil is me.  I am tilled up by reading God’s Word.  I listen for His instruction.  I pray.
  • The seeds are for planting; God’s thoughts, God’s Word, God’s Way are those seeds to be planted in fertile, moist soil. By knowing His Word, hearing His voice, waiting upon Him, I become the type of soil where the roots can take hold.
  • I never thirst for I have the Living Water.  Staying close to Jesus is how those seeds come to fruition.
  • The weeds, the tares, are not to get a foothold.  By staying in the Word and in communion with God allows the seeds to grow and keeps satan away.
  • Harvest time is a continuous time as the seeds are of every different part of growing that God wants for me.  He knows the possibilities in me for growthSo today, I may be able to harvest patience.  Tomorrow, I may harvest extra love.  I may also need some faith every day.  To harvest may be to serve, or to pray, or to wait, or to be gentle.  So many wonderful plants and fruits of the harvest.  Thus harvesting is ongoing and on-growing.

Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,

nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,

but dill is beaten out with a stick,

and cumin with a rod.

Does one crush grain for bread?

No, he does not thresh it forever;

when he drives his cart wheel over it

with his horses, he does not crush it.

This also comes from the Lord of hosts;

he is wonderful in counsel

and excellent in wisdom.

Isaiah 28:23-29 ESV


God uses the perfect tool for each task.  His counsel is what I need to cultivate the life that He desires for me.  His counsel calls me to pray.  He calls me to be still.  He wants my ear.  He also wants my mouth to hold fast to wait for Him.  He wants my obedience, my love, my humbleness, my honor.  He wants me in His hands like clay.
The life of God in me is, hopefully, that of respect, quietness, and gentleness.  It is that of service by His hand, not of mine, or that out of guilt.  He is the Farmer, the Potter, the Creator.  I want Him to be glorified in all I am, in all I do.  May it be so, Father God.  Amen.

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Careful Medication and Eldercare

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A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

As caregivers, one very important task is to make sure that our care recipient remains safe to the best of our ability.  Keeping hope and joy alive around them is also a vital component for their mental and spiritual well-being.  Gracing them with unconditional love assures them that their comfort and best interests are a priority.  As you well know, this is not always easy.  “A joyful heart” is not always a simple matter to come by.  And that “good medicine,” medications themselves, can either be a hindrance or a help to one’s joy or safety.  A caregiver’s attentiveness to this most vital of issues is a must.   

Most people, as they age, need medications.  They are great if used correctly and safely.  They also require caregivers to have a watchful eye as to what is happening to their care recipient:

  • Are there changes in behavior and/or personality?
  • Do they complain about their body, such as digestive tract issues or headaches?
  • Are they sleepier than usual?
  • Do they trip or even fall?
  • If a new drug is added to the regimen, are they any side-effects or reactions?
  • Be aware, and as up-to-date as possible, of side-effects, contraindications of drugs for diagnoses given for the care recipient.  Many people become over or under medicated.  When changes are noticed, and if they are self-medicating, question the ability of that person to dispense their own pills.  Talk with other family members if they are a part of the caregiving team about what they might be noticing.  Make notes.  Keep an updated list of all medicines being taken, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, other nutritional products and herbal remedies.  Keep the list with you at all times. 

Reactions to medications vary with each individual and with particular drugs.  For older adults and people with disabilities, medications, whether prescription, over-the-counter, alcohol, herbal remedies or alternative-type medicines can help or they can harm. When not used appropriately or safely, medications can cause untold consequences.  Changes that occur with aging and with disabilities can cause people to suffer what are called medication-related problems (MRPs).  But these medication-related problems are often preventable.  Caregivers can help to identify possible MRPs.  Side-effects or “symptoms” of MRPs may include: excessive drowsiness, confusion, depression, delirium, insomnia, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, incontinence, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, falls and fractures, changes in speech and memory.  When these symptoms appear, they should be considered “red flags” that an MRP may be occurring.  Yet they may turn out to be unrelated as these same side-effects can occur under many physical or mental circumstances.  But when these effects interfere with daily functioning, a health care professional should be informed immediately, just in case.

Before prescribing any new drug, the doctor should be aware of all the other drugs and over-the-counter medications the patient is taking.  This is when having that list of medications with you is necessary.  The doctor should want to know of any new symptoms or illnesses.  If possible, care recipients should be given the opportunity to present the doctor (or other professional) with accurate and complete information about health conditions.  It is important to share new medical problems by fully describing the problem, indicating how long it has been a problem, if the problem has been experienced before, how it started, what was done to relieve it, and what worked or didn’t work.  For seniors with cognitive impairments, caregivers are the ones to describe the concerns.  Often, the elderly do not tell the doctor the whole story either.  Mama would go in and tell the doctor how great she was feeling, yet I knew better.  She either had forgotten or she did not want him to know that she was less than perfect.  This makes it very difficult for health care professionals to assess just what is going on for the proper treatment.  So be prepared to step up to the plate.

Have conversations regularly with the professionals involved in your care recipient’s care.  They may include a doctor, a physician’s assistant, a nurse, a pharmacist, an aide, or a host of others.  This team should be available to you, the caregiver, providing support and knowledge.  You gain confidence through the team and can then be ready to act, to assist, or to do it all.  If you have concerns about the ability of your care recipient being able to give themselves the medications, you need to address those concerns with this team.  It is so important to be on top of the medications and any problems because your attentiveness can lead to less medication-related problems, better outcomes, and improved daily functioning.

A few things to discuss with this team if the recipient is wanting to remain independent and handle the medicines themselves:

  • Will their memory function allow them to take the right medicines at the right time, in the right amounts what it needs to be?  Can they care of themselves?
  • Can they read the labels or should a large print label be ordered for them, if available?
  • Can they hear the provider’s instructions when given?  Ask the doctor or pharmacist to speak louder, if need be.
  • Does their dexterity (i.e., arthritis, Parkinson’s) allow them to open bottles, break tablets, prepare injections, eye drops, and inhalers well enough to do this themselves?
  • Can they schedule the various medications themselves without making mistakes?
  • One other question that needs to be asked but is not as pertinent to self-medicating as it is to just  helping: Are they having difficulty swallowing pills?  Are there other forms of this medicine that could be substituted?
  • A caregiver is key to noting these types of problems, sharing them with the medical team.  Being prepared to handle the medications may be your next step in the school of caregiving.  

If you do become the medicine giver, you must be as sure about each drug as you were expecting your recipient to have been when they were self-medicating.  When the drugs are purchased, ask any and all questions you can think of if you have not administered them before.  Usually, there is a pharmacist available to go over the important aspects of administration and side-effects.  You may need to prepare and administer injectable drugs, such as insulin.  Be certain you understand the dosage and how to inject.

I began giving Mama her medication shortly after she moved to Texas.  She had recently been diagnosed with vascular dementia, plus she had been diabetic for many years.  Soon she was placed on insulin.  Mama needed help in taking her glucose readings and then to establish the correct amount of insulin along with the correct type of insulin for a particular time of day.  She was injecting two — a short acting and a long acting.  She had blood pressure and cholesterol meds, thyroid plus a few other pills.  It was very confusing for her.  I also wanted her to maintain some independence while holding onto her dignity. As an example, I let Mama prick her own finger as she had done for years and place the blood on the glucometer.  Then with the proper dosage and type of insulin in the syringe, I would hand it to her so that she could self-inject.  She learned and remembered the sequence of needle placement which remained important.  She had some control over this process for many years.  Plus she seemed pleased to have me do the part that threw her for a loop.  I believe she was relieved that there would not be a mistake for she also understood that concern.

  • Store all of the medications in a designated location of the house, but not in the medicine cabinet of the bathroom or in the kitchen cupboard because heat and moisture can cause deterioration.  Be sure that they are stored out of reach of children who may visit, especially if there are non-child proof containers.  If the medication needs refrigeration, they should be placed in a container in one particular safe place in the refrigerator.  Medications that are taken by mouth should be kept separate from those used externally, such as ointments or creams.  Discard expired medications.  Never give your care recipient’s meds to anyone else or vice versa.
  • Medications are in high use these days.  Be knowledgeable and careful, and most of all, handle this step of caregiving with love and a smile.  Make it a light moment as you hand the pills to him or her with joy in your heart and that smile on your face.  They need some parts of their days to be joyful for both themselves and for you.    

…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 46:4 ESV

Father God, we ask Your guidance in all we do for the precious ones You have placed in our care.  May we hear Your voice as You tell us just what to do for each one of Your children.  May we be available to Your call.  I pray for each one of us who has stood to Your call and said, “Count me in for I will be obedient to You, Father God.”  Let us have eyes and ears open to be aware of those things which are so vitally important.  Let us not fall down on this beautiful, although difficult at times, calling.  Let Your love flow through us to the one we are to care for.  Should we become weary, hold us up as well, LORD.  In the Sweet and Healing Name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Tough Decisions in Caregiving

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share what I learned over the fifteen years of caring for my mother, my precious Mama.

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As a caregiver, there are constant decisions that must be made and many, if not most, are tough ones.  Relying upon God is so important when making these decisions for they affect a loved one, ourselves, and often others in the family.  If you are the one to make such a decision for someone who has lost the ability to do so for him or her self, truly turn it over to God.  Don’t try to go this alone.  Sharing your concerns with a spouse, a grown daughter or son, a brother or sister, (depending upon whom you are caring for) may be a step in the right direction, but sharing it with the LORD is the way to get His dependable answer.  He will direct the path intended for all concerned.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:6

Praying is the key, a must. The quiet time we spend with God in prayer is precious time.  God can reveal His plan to our still, calm, and quiet body, mind, heart, and soul.  God is our Stronghold, Tower, and Refuge.  Ask Him questions.  Share your feelings.  Tell Him your frustrations and struggles.  But be quiet, cease striving, and know that He is God of all, including you and the one you care.

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10 

Once His guidance is clear to you, it is time to move forward.  Whatever decisions need to be made particular to your case, you are not alone for God is walking with you.  You may need to research the assisted living or nursing home facilities in town.  Maybe you have to go to the state office where Medicaid is handled.  You might need to seek the advice of an eldercare financial planner or attorney for the procedure to shelter some of the income if one spouse must go into a nursing home while the other one must continue to be able to live comfortably, or you may need their advice to qualify your care recipient for Medicaid.  There might be a shift in medication with new side affects so making an appointment with the doctor to discuss these changes may give you reassurance of the physical or mental safety for your loved one.  Possibly, you might choose to search out those side effects by looking online at Physician’s Desk Reference (PDRhealth) or read those tiny words on that thin paper attached to the medication.  If you are working, you probably need to find out about the Family Medical Leave Act, how and when you can take time off to help your parent, child, or husband without being afraid of losing your job.  These are but a few of the many issues that can creep up and lead to caregiver overwhelm.  Take each one to the LORD and then, with the LORD, you can move ahead one step at a time.

Breathe in God-peace as you take each step.  Absorb God-love into your very heart.  Feel God-comfort as He wraps His arms around you.  You need and deserve these God-wrapped gifts; so does your loved one.  As you walk in His will, He is with you.

A dear one in my life was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease. His mental abilities were diminishing quite rapidly and decisions were needing to be made, one after another.  This dear one, his wife, had been caring for him alone since the diagnosis, but the ground seemed to be moving faster than she was able to keep a steady gait.  His behaviors, his memory-loss, and more had left her worried about his safety and the safety of others as he crossed their paths.  Her stress level increased daily, thus increasing her own health concerns.

She went to the LORD.  She spent time looking at local facilities that would take an Alzheimer patient.  She had her daughter go with her to the ones that were the choices she would make if and when she needed to place her husband in one.  Then fears arose:  how would others perceive her if she placed her husband in a nursing home?  Would they consider her a failure in her wifely duties?  Was she not strong enough to do this job even though she seemed able?  What about the cost?  Could she afford this?  Would she need to create a trust for the money issues?  Where would she get that legal help?  Was her husband eligible for Veterans benefits since he served in World War II?  All those “what if” questions crept into her heart and mind and did not seem to vanish.  Both she and her daughter went to the LORD on the husband/father’s behalf.  The LORD strengthened them, giving answers to these many questions as each one arose.  When the time came, she filled out one application to a special care nursing home.  She received a “go-ahead,” but at the last minute, the door closed.  She applied to a second facility.  They required her husband to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for evaluation for which she was willing.  After a week in the hospital, after a number of issues were resolved, her husband was able to be placed in the second facility.  Proper medication had been determined while in the hospital, and his adjustment to the medications and the facility began to smooth out.  God was with them.  The place and the timing were His.  The whole family agreed that the right thing was done.  And the wife had relinquished her guilt and burdens to the only One Who could carry 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

Making such decisions are stress-filled and can leave the caregiver exhausted and spent.  Plus, the physical strain of being on duty 24/7 if living with the care recipient, as well as the emotional roller coaster ride, take their toll on the caregiver’s body, mind, and life.  For this dear one, the strain of carrying these many concerns along with giving care to her husband was wearing her down faster than the Alzheimer’s was taking him.  She needed help.  And her help was in her LORD. 

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help.  From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.  Psalm 18:6  

Father, as we come to these cliffs of decision, we may find that we must jump or back up and wait.  LORD, we pray for Your Fatherly guidance.  We ask that You lead us, holding us near to You.  May our physical ears and heart-ears be open to hear You.  May we be willing to leap forward into Your loving and secure arms or wait with the patience You give us.  Thank You for loving us through these tough decisions and for reassuring us that, with You, nothing is impossible.  You are our Ever-Present God, our All-Knowing LORD.  You deserve our worship and our praise.  We fall before You on bended knees and lift our voices to You in awe, knowing that You already know how it is all to work out.  Your plan is perfect.  Thank You, Abba Father.  In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

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