Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. In all your ways acknowledge HIM and He will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 5:3
— Proverbs 5:3
As a Christian Caregiver and as a leader of a Christian Caregiver Support Group I truly believe that God calls us to this role and walks with us in this role. No matter how long and difficult the journey, He is there by our side, offering and providing what we need to get through and loving us the whole way. In return for my thanksgiving for knowing this I share the following scripture, Colossians 1:24 “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that still has to be undergone by Christ.”
Nice scripture but a little tough to take in saying I’m happy to suffer or that we as caregivers should be happy to suffer. Is it possible in looking at this scripture to look upon what we are going through, even the struggles, even the difficult parts, the “suffering” in a thankful way? For what did Christ suffer on the cross and how is what we are going through a gift to Him now?
We can look a little deeper at Christian suffering to help us grasp this. We see through Christ we do not suffer alone. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
We know the journey Christ suffered and walked we also know the promises yet to be fulfilled through Christ. We know He currently walks with us. If we attempt this journey of caregiving alone without Him by our side, or without the gifts He gives us in each other as support, we risk the pitfalls of self-pity, self-preoccupation and depression. Denying and pretending we can do this task of caregiving alone runs the risk of hardening a place inside us. Allowing Christ to walk with us in our struggles and recognizing we cannot do it alone protects us from edge of despair, feeling beat and destroyed in life’s difficulties. Rather than falling into those pitfalls, sharing our struggles with Christ helps us find meaning along the way and offers us an opportunity to allow the love of God and others in. He lights a path to see our way through this journey we are called to.
Not only does Christ walk with us he provides others on our journey, Christian Caregiver Support is one way we do not suffer alone. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we are told “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” We must not underestimate the bond of each other, under the cross of Christ to soften our souls in our journey of Christian Caregiving. When together we can share in our difficulties, trials, struggles and yes even suffering we are humbled by the fact that we are in this together.
Christ suffered on the cross, and he was victorious! Together under His mighty care and with His help we can joyfully suffer our calling and be victorious also. Praise God!
Caregiver in Christ,
The Christian Caregiver Support Group is currently NOT meeting face to face to keep in accordance with social distancing guidelines. However, we invite each of you to a VIRTUAL (online) Zoom gathering beginning at our normally scheduled meeting time THIS Friday. Even if your schedule has never allowed you the opportunity to attend a Christian Caregiver Support Meeting, we invite you to consider joining us this Friday. We look forward to connecting with each you and we think you’ll find that the group provides much needed encouragement and support for your role as a caregiver.
Sue will lead us THIS Friday, May 8th at 10am.
You will need to use a smart phone, Ipad, laptop, computer, etc and you’ll need to download/install the "Zoom" app ahead of time, if you haven’t already. If you need help with that, please email me and we can connect before Friday. The invite link (SEE BELOW) needs to be clicked to join our Zoom Caregiver Support meeting.
CLC Small Groups is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Christian CaregIvers Support Group
Time: May 8, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 953 3506 1486
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I am praying for each of you. Please know that if you have a Care Need or prayer request, simply reply to this email. If you'd like to be contacted by one of the leaders, please send us your best phone number.
Virtual meeting dates via Zoom:
Friday, 5/8, at 10am
Friday, 5/22, at 10am
Our group focuses on the Caregiver’s well-being and finding strength through a strong relationship to Christ. Take time for YOU and join us!
This group is the perfect opportunity for YOU to develop relationships with others caring for a loved one and to find strength in Him through our sessions together.
Please feel free to forward this invite on to anyone you know that is serving in a caregiving role and ask them to join us.
All our support groups are confidential Christ-centered ministries. We look forward to seeing you! JOIN US WHENEVER YOU CAN or please let me know if you’d like to be removed from all communications involving this group.
“Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through
Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6,7
Christ Lutheran Church
Coordinator of Care Needs
(913)754-5812 or (913)707-5640 (cell)
For the past year I have watched the activity on my website to get a feel of what my visitors are looking for. The top interest category is devotions for the Christian caregiver. So I am making it easier to find devotions and adding additional blog sites for devotions under the page caring for the caregiver.
The second category is current article from my searching the web for articles that I think with provide vital information to help caregivers understand how to be a better caregiver in a variety of circumstances. Those articles are found on the page Topics and Tips.
The third category of interest is how to start a Christian Caregiver Support Group. While the site cannot help with the place, promotion or human relationship, we can help with some structure. We have found that a regular opening and closing is very helpful to center the group. Saying prayers together helps with a untied feel among the participants. Most topics come from deep feelings experienced by people in the groups and some guidance and understanding found in scripture. Most important, a group of fellow caregivers help us feel that we are not alone.
The resource page points to organizations with various helps for the caregiver.
Hope this redesign help you find something that ministers to you.
Dr. Tom Frommer
Rest Ministries provides such wonderful devotions. I want to share this one with you for your inspiration and encouragement. I also suggest you read the comments at the end of her blog on her blog site.
Being overwhelmed isn’t bad. Lynn explains how it depends on what you are overwhelmed with.“No one is like You, Lord; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power” (Jeremiah 10:6).
I am feeling overwhelmed by my physical fatigue . . . pain. . . fears. . . dreams deferred . . . pain in the lives of those I love. . . uncertainly about my future. . . carrying burdens in isolation.
False guilt emerges about feeling overwhelmed when the Lord has exhorted me to trust Him. He has overcome. He knows his plans for me are good.
I love and trust Him above anyone and anything else. Yet, I get overwhelmed by the feelings whirling in my circumstances.
Why is He not overwhelmed by the heaviness I carry? The burdens are real. I don’t want to “spiritualize” them away. My focusing inward and dwelling on what cannot be answered in the “now” takes my focus off the One who is dwelling with me in all of these feelings.
It is not that He wants me to negate them. He wants me to be overwhelmed by Him so that the burdens are not foremost. He is.
Although He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I am not! I fluctuate in how I feel from moment to moment in the same day.
He beckons me to enter His rest where His peace is found. There, unlike the slippery slopes I create for myself, we are on even ground, yoked together, side by side, carrying the loads. I can then keep in step with Him allowing Him to set the pace, sharing with Him in the “now.”
He wants me to unload my feelings honestly. With Him I can, for He alone knows just what to do with them. Remaining close, I can hear His counsel and watch Him dismantle my confusion.
Prayer: Lord, You are surrounding me and within me. That is the overwhelming You want me to feel. Help me to let all else fall aside to be replaced by Your care. Amen.
About the Author:
Lynn Severance is a retired elementary classroom teacher. Since 1983, she has lived with vestibular dysfunction: constant dizziness, sessions of vertigo and related side effects of nausea, balance problems, neck and back pain, visual tracking and eye fatigue. She is a breast cancer survivor having gone through surgery and chemotherapy treatments in 1987-88. She lives in Lynnwood, Washington. Do visit her blog at http://lynn-severance.blogspot.com
or visit restministries.com
Outreach to Caregivers is a much needed ministry as the number and intensity of caregiving grows. What churches have to offer is a spiritual framework to give caregiving a Christian and Biblical perspective. This perspective brings hope, resilience, strength, and understanding to the challenges caregiving presents. I use the term ‘outreach’ because as caregiving intensifies the tendency of the caregiver is to withdraw and become isolated and that can be disastrous for both the caregiver and the loved one. I have witnessed the caregiver dying before the loved one because they were worn out.
Our caregiver support groups focus on both the spiritual journey God of caregiving and the practical helps that address particular situations. Sometimes preconceived views are changed because of the experience of another caregiver. In all cases we have found that scripture is loaded verses that address the feelings caregivers experience, whether fears, guilt, hurts, loneliness, concern about relationships, etc.
We have developed a ritual order for our meetings called the Caregiver Session for our opening and closing. We also use the song ‘Rest’ at our beginning because the words are wonderful to help us settle down into a sabbath moment together. We can then share with each other. Sometimes the sharing is all we do, especially if someone new comes to our group. We make sure new people can let the ‘air out’ about their stress and help us to know about their caregiving. Other times we focus on a spiritual truths like the spiritual topics listed on the home page of christiancaregiversupport.com. These are free for anyone to use. Other times we focus on practical concerns raised by members of our group. The page ‘topics and tips’ list many articles addressing practical needs or the experience of others. All are free, but we do have a creative commons copyright which will keep them free to use while allowing other to contribute to the site.
There is much more on our web site that I hope you will explore.
I pray these supports will encourage our churches to begin a Christian Caregiver Support Ministry. Let me know how you use these resources. Thanks!
Blessings on you and your ministry.
Dr. Tom Frommer
We can all talk with God anytime and should. The prayers we make either verbally or silently are our expression of faith that God listens and hears our need. But, sometimes, words are hard to come by or we don’t know what to say. I have found some historical prayers that have become very meaningful to me. These prayers express much in a few words.
One such prayer is very old and has helped focus my mind in a right relationship with God. It expresses thankfulness and my needs at the same time. It goes like this:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity. And in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen
Another prayer from THE DIVINE HOURS compiled by Phyllis Tickle goes like this:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us. Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have given to us in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
I connect with the words, “faithless fears and worldly anxieties”. It is God’s call to me to trust in HIM as I acknowledge the limits of my abilities and powers. God tells me that in Him all will be well.
This reminds me of some old, but powerful words from St. Theresa of Avila expressing deep trust in God.
Be not perplexed, Be not afraid
All thing are passing, God never changes
Patient endurance attains all things,
He who has God lacks nothing
God alone suffices.
Martin Luther wrote two short prayers, one for morning when we wake up and one for evening when we are ready for sleep. They are prayers of trust and dependence.
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
LUTHER'S EVENING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
We not only have historical and helpful prayers, prayed by millions over the history of the church, we also have a very important prayer given to us by Jesus. It was Jesus’ response when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. Here is the prayer taught by Jesus:
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
So, if you find yourself looking for words to pray, pause for a moment and try any of these prayers. As you seek God’s blessings in your life (and the one you are caring for) slowly ponder on one of these prayers to hear why these prayers have been classics for Christian over the ages. These, among other classic prayer, have been helpful in the spiritual life of Christians.
“Resilience” is the ability to respond creatively to stressful, pressure packed, anxiety-producing situations such as a caregiver might experience. A resilient person, rather than being deformed, diminished, or even destroyed by such traumatic, tension-filled circumstances, is able to engage those conditions in healthy, redemptive ways that bring some degree of wholeness.
St. Paul provides words from his extremely anxiety-producing situation. Consider his situation as he coined the words below. He was sitting in a Roman jail with no certainty that he would be release to continue this ministry or keep his life. In light of Paul’s circumstances, it would be wise to probe his advice. We read in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. He opens the door to Christian resilience.
Caregivers need resilience. The person we are caring for need us to be resilient, to meet so many different challenges of caregiving with creatively, hope, strength, and wisdom. The problem is no one has all those qualities innately within themselves. We value ideas and suggestions from others who might have traveled a road similar to ours. We find new energy when we can share our load with others. Or better yet, when we find a word from scripture speaking directly to us, like God understands. Maybe we find a book from an author whose journey was similar to ours. Some can find that even 15 minutes of meditation or inspiring music gives us a moment of sabbath time.
Paul is suggesting a rhythm to life for a resilient Christian. First, Paul finds a rhythm in prayer. For Paul, prayer is like breathing, He does not see prayer as a negotiation with God to get a particular result or resolve an issue in a favorable manner. Prayer for Paul is a life giving, life transforming relationship with God. Prayer affirms that we are not alone.
Then Paul mentions supplication as an acknowledgement that we lack necessary resources to meet what confronts us and affirms that God has the resources to provide what is needed. Supplication is a deep inner awareness of our radical dependence on God, offering our selves to HIM.
The third declaration of Paul is thanksgiving, a word Paul mentions just before requesting. Thanksgiving is not the response to a fulfilled request. It is the hallmark of a heart abandoned to God, grateful for who God is for us.
God already knows what we need, so our request is not to inform. Our request is response to Jesus offer to cast our care, our burden our labor, in prayer, towards Jesus so that we might find rest and peace. Jesus invites us to ask, seek and knock. We are not abdicating responsibility, but making ourselves available to God to be with us and do whatsoever God leads us to do. Our desire is to become a means of God’s grace in this situation on behalf of our loved one.
When we find ourselves enmeshed in stressful, pressure-packed, anxiety-producing situations, it is often impossible to understand how we can deal with such traumatic, tension-filled circumstances in creative, healthy, redemptive ways. What we find is God can go beyond our understanding or expectation. We can be surprised by grace.
Paul’s redemptive word for us is not a “method” but a "mode" of being in God, in which all life is lived. It is not a “reaction” to circumstances but a rhythm of life hid with Christ in God and out of which circumstances are engaged.
Watching our loved ones lose many abilities, choices and self control over the time we care for them is painful. The last period of life for many is an experience of losing more and more of independence and personal functions. The reality of death is a legitimate topic of discussion to talked about and even embraced. It is not realistic to believe that our loved one would not die. So to hope that our loved one would not die at some point would be a false hope. Life can be filled with many false hopes. And false hopes will disappoint. Yet the human spirit needs hope for a better day.
Peter in his letter to a suffering people in the early days of the church spoke about a living hope, one that will not disappoint or be false. It was a hope in Jesus. A hope for a better life for our loved one through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This was a very personal hope for Peter. He was a first hand witness to Jesus’s resurrection. He was there, ran to the empty tomb, saw Jesus appear in the upper room, saw him ascend from the earth. He remembered all the teaching of Jesus pointing to the kingdom of God. The living hope was Jesus, himself. He knew Jesus lives. He knew because Jesus lives, those who look to Jesus and confess faith in him will live with Jesus forever. He remembered Jesus saying he went to prepare a place for us and will come back to take us to be where he is, his home.
Stephen Covey teaches successful people begin with the end in mind. You need to know where you want to go to plan and do the steps that will get you there. Keeping the end in mind helps to order our daily tasks and attitudes. Having our living hope in mind helps us plan our tasks and shape our attitude in our daily challenges.
Peter talks again about this hope in I Peter 1:13, “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Call it the big picture.
It is so easy to loose sight of the big picture when we are steeped in the worries of all the distractions in caregiving. The hurtful words, resentments and regrets along with the physical and emotional exhaustion involved in caring take its toll. We can easily loose focus and also hope.
Martin Luther wrote these words of encouragement to those carrying burdens. “Pray and let God worry.” That can be hard to do. Hopefully, as we gather together in our Christian Caregiver Support Group we find encouragement in the listening ear of other caregivers. Somehow, we feel understood and not alone. We might pickup up some helpful ideas. We might feel a sense of peace and relaxation in our restful sabbath time. We pray together and feel we are not alone in our worry. We leave with God’s blessing and strength for another day.
When Christians pray, share and look at God’s word, we experience the Body of Christ. In some way Jesus Christ is with us. Our hope is renewed. It is a Living Hope. The disciples talked about how their hearts were stirred when Jesus was with them That Living Hope stirs our hearts, also.
We may be uncomfortable talking about end of life with the one we love. Your loved one may want to let you know their wishes about dying and it may be your gift to listen. Be ready to give spiritual encouragement. Don’t neglect sharing the living hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Make your last conversations express love. Remember, we are spiritual people having a human experience. Strengthen the spiritual.
II Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
I was thrust into caregiving for my mom following the death of my dad. My first step was getting through the “FOG” of many issues and assessments in hopes of gaining a foothold on the path forward in caring for my mom. My hope was to do everything “right”.
Soon I learned that I was a clay jar caregiver. Getting everything “right” was going to be very difficult-impossible. The variables, surprises, questions, communications, and relationships seemed all so complicated. And this was my first time dealing with many of these issues of complicated caregiving. Oh, I had seen others involved in these challenges in my ministry. Now it was my mom and my family. It felt so different.
My wife and I went to a conference on grief during this time. We heard a funeral director talk about the difference of helping others with issues of death and grieving and then having the experience himself. At another event, I heard a professional in the field of senior care who had helped many others with caregiving, express the frustration and feelings she was now having to experience within her own family.
Professional or not, all caregivers are clay jars.
But we, as Paul says, “We have this treasure in our clay jars. The treasure is the glorious presence of Jesus Christ. We are a vessel serving a special purpose and service, in HIS name, for our loved one. Some how and in some way God wants to use us; and through us, to share this treasure with our loved one. We want to share this treasure as we care for their physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs. And this treasure is the all_surpassing power of God, and how deep and wide is His mercy, grace and love for all of us.
Families, and our other responsibilities, can press us from every side While hard pressed, we are not crushed. We may be very perplexed, to be at a loss on how to act or proceed, then we look to God for help and direction. We cannot give up. We are not alone. That is why a few chapters later Paul says in II Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong.” It was Christ who strengthened Paul. And Christ will strengthen you, also. In our weakness, let us let Christ shine through.
So, clay jar caregivers, keep your self relying on these everlasting arms of Christ. Stay close to Jesus so the treasure that is within you might guide and strengthen you in your calling as a caregiver. You need to take care of yourself spiritually as well as physically and emotionally.
Phillips Brooks wrote a Christmas carol we are all familiar with called, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. He also wrote these words to encourage Christ followers,
Feed on Christ
And then go and live your life,
And it is Christ in you that lives your life,
That helps the poor,
That tells the truth,
That fights the battle,
And that wins the crowns.
Caregiving is hard. Yet we find blessings in the journey.
It is said that in a time of great despondency among the first settlers in New England, it was proposed in one of their public assemblies to proclaim a fast. An old farmer arose. He spoke of their provoking heaven with their complaints. He reviewed their measures, showed that they had much to be thankful for, and moved that instead of appointing a day of fasting, they should appoint a day of thanksgiving. This was done, and the custom has been continued ever since.
Stenbock wrote, “Strength, rest, guidance, grace, help, sympathy, love -- all from God to us! What a blessing.” We find those blessings when we look for them.
Grace and Peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2
Sue Brettmann RN has been devoted to Caregiving both in her career as an RN, Parish Nurse and caring for her aging parents through the last 40 plus years. She has experience in trauma, home care and hospice. Her strong faith walk and relationship with Christ has always been a part of her care and she is committed to helping others see the gift of Christ in their personal journey's.