Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

The Impact of One Act

A greeting card we received ten years ago stands on our computer desk. We received it from someone we did not know, who wrote, “Dear Fran and Jerry, We have you on our “permanent” prayer list and have been fervently praying for you regularly.”
A neighbor of ours had asked prayer at her church for Jerry, after his leg was amputated. The card was sent from someone who knew of his slow process of healing, saying, “We are so thankful for your Godly example in dealing with adversity and staying so faithful to trust in our Sovereign Lord. We will continue to lift you up! For His glory, Sarina and Michael Roth
This card was among many others, with emails from those who were praying, encouraging and supporting us during that difficult time, but this one stood out from all the rest because it came from a sister-in-Christ that we had never met.
It was over three years, and a third surgery, before Jerry’s wound from the amputation was healed. For nine years I kept the card in a special place. Last year, after I published TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver, I took the card out of the envelope, read the message again, and was led to find Sarina on Facebook. I contacted her to let her know how much her card had meant to Jerry and me, that we were still blessed by reading it. I told her about the book and sent her a copy. In the process of our communication, I learned that Sarina is a photographer and creator of her own greeting cards (perhaps another reason this card was so special to us).
Since our connecting on Facebook, she and Michael were involved in a motorcycle accident. Both sustained injuries, both are recovering, but Sarina cannot yet use her hand for her photography. My prayers for her and Michael are fervent and daily for their healing.
When she sent her card to us so many years ago, she had no idea how her act of compassion toward us would impact our hearts and lives.
Jerry and I were actually impacted by two acts. First, Sarina prayed.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Then Sarina, in an act of kindness to us, encouraged us by letting us know that she was praying.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12
We should never doubt that an act of kindness, no matter how small, will make a difference in someone’s life, and that kindness be returned to us when we least expect it.
 Dear Father in heaven. We praise you for working in the hearts of your people to care for one another. Thank you for revealing your love everywhere, especially in our kindness to others. Thank you for the blessing of Sarina’s card so many years ago, that proves a love that recycles, and truly is evident “all around us.” I ask for your continued healing for Michael and Sarina; for Jerry, as he still needs our care, and your mercy for all in need of healing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~ Fran

Healing From the Inside

Ten years ago I learned how to dress a horrible wound that was a result of Jerry’s left leg amputation. The wound left from Jerry’s surgery three weeks ago is somewhat different, but both would be described as an open hole. These kinds of wounds have to be treated and healed from the inside, with medicated packing, so that it does not close on its own and leave a cavity underneath the skin.
This one seems to be more difficult for me to handle than with the amputation; perhaps, because I watched a visiting health nurse do the dressing for several weeks. Jerry and I came home from the hospital this time with simple instructions for cleaning and dressing the incision. But after a week we noticed the difference in the top of the incision from the four inches below.
The next visit to the vascular surgeon confirmed the need for wound care, which she began in her office, and gave me supplies to care for it every day at home, with an appointment for a return visit each week.
My inadequacy for this has kept me awake, but finally, I think I am able to do this without anxiety.
During these last two weeks the thoughts came of how we are all born into this world wounded from the Fall due to our first parents’ disobedience. Though the fault is not ours, we have this hole in our soul that can only be healed from the inside.
Just as jerry cannot care for his own wound, and must depend on me for his care and healing, so we cannot cure ourselves. Our wound is much more serious than a physical one. There is no one who can apply what is needed except our heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to fill the void that sin has left in us all. He is able and promises the witness of our healing from grateful hearts as we submit to His working, His tender care and comfort. He is the great physician and able to bring complete healing of the heart and soul.
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for providing all things pertaining to life and godliness through your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We praise you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Reality of a Dream

Early this morning as I heard Jerry rolling back to bed from the bathroom, it dawned on me. This is real. It is not a dream. I lay there, and seemingly for the first time thought to myself ~ he cannot walk. He has only one leg.

There have been other times when he wheeled past me that my mind did not register.

When I look back to the last fifteen years, it seems that it has all been a dream, and I am just waking up to the reality.

How did we get through Mother’s four years of dementia? How did we survive Jerry’s first surgery a month after her death? Where was I when his leg had to be amputated a month later?

And how, for three years after waiting for healing; another surgery and finally healing? Nothing was normal anymore. From one thing to another; diabetes, pain, and other health problems; my brother’s and his wife’s death; Jerry’s brother’s death; his heart attack in December, and more.

What Is Real?

Was it in this dream that my heavenly Father brought me to totally depend on Him?

That is the only thing that I know to be real.

A spiritual life is a cocoon that encases all of the difficulties of this human experience. It is the Father’s gift to us that enables us to endure. When we emerge from this enclosure, we are enabled to bear the realities of this life with the same presence of the Father, but with a greater reality.  Everything seems like a dream when I look back, especially as God has worked in us this year to be a witness of His grace through writing and publishing, all of which is the proof that it is His work and not mine.

Transition

This reality is part of our transition from this life to the next.

My brother told me years ago, when, at my new birth I felt like a butterfly, that butterflies do not have a very long life. That statement did not keep the Father from His work in me.

So at this age and stage of my human life, there is a sense of another transition as He continues His work in me. I love Paul’s words in relationship to the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 KJV

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“For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12

We, as His children, are being filled with His grace, and wrapped in His glory, forever.

This is not a dream ~ it is the reality of God’s love for us and in us ~ and enables us to endure all things, and to serve Him and others with joy.

Gracious Father, thank you that we are enclosed within your arms of grace; that nothing can separate us from you and your love.  We praise you for your presence in every moment of our lives, even before we are aware of it.  I pray that you enable your people today to know your sovereign rule and presence over all things.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

(The dream is recorded in TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver, paperback and a free eBook for subscribers.)

O The Deep Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To thy glorious rest above.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Spread his praise from shore to shore;
How he loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore;
How he watches o’er his loved ones,
Died to call them all his own;
How for them he intercedeth,
Watcheth o’er them from the throne.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Love of ev’ry love the best:
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
‘Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to thee.

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You Can’t Take Away My Joy

Jerry came wheeling into the kitchen last night, asking if I was still cleaning. “Sure,” I said, knowing that he was aware of my nightly schedule after dinner.

Since his amputation eight years ago, he feels badly that most of the work falls on me. Last night was no exception. He thinks that it is a drudgery for me to cook and clean for him. After his comment, I said, “Stop! You can’t take away my joy. The Lord planned years ago that this would be His grace and joy to me.”    He said, “I wouldn’t want to take that away.” 🙂

imagesIn writing Two Full Plates ~ Learning to be a Caregiver I realized that the Lord began preparing me for this role, and the reward of it, when I was only a little girl, trained at an early age to wash the dishes and make the beds everyday. Today these are done as naturally as brushing my teeth, although more rewarding. These are also good times to memorize and practice the hymns and psalms that we will be singing next Lord’s Day.

Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example for us, but more than this, died for us, to deliver us from the drudgery of the world, and to know the joy in serving Him and others.

In His presence is fullness of joy, no matter the task. Work can be drudgery or a joy depending on the heart and the spirit.   A task done, as unto the Lord, and to His glory, is not work, but a pleasure. The mind and the heart follow where He leads no matter the place or activity.

 “Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
John 16:22
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Dear Father, thank you for teaching us, and by your Spirit working in us, the joy of each day’s work and pleasure in you and our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name I pray.  Amen.

The Spirit of Grace ~ Heaven Sent and Heaven Bent

“According to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

according to the good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.

Ephesians 1:7-9

This morning, before I could think “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” the Father was pouring out His grace.  Before I could say,  “Abba, Father,”  He was filling my mind with His grace, and by His Spirit, filtering it to my heart.  There is never a day that His Spirit of grace is not working to obtain His end.  Before I am even aware of my wakefulness He has already begun His day of faithfulness—to the last that it lead to His glory.  I forget sometimes that He never sleeps.  His kingdom is on-going in heaven and on earth.

I was reminded that on this date, September 7, 2007, He began pouring out a “river” that carried me away. For 50 days I wrote, in prayer and praise of His grace and glory.*  (The season was almost a year after much adversity.  In August, 2006, my mother died, having lived and shared with Jerry and me her battle with Alzheimer’s disease for 4 1/2 years. Barely had we settled her estate, when in September, Jerry had emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg, due to what the surgeon thought was an aneurysm.  This was not so simple a case.  We waited until October to verify the need for amputation.  We were encouraged before this surgery that he would afterward be able to resume some activity with a prosthesis.)  Those 50 days were in the middle of a four-year period of continual dressing of the wound left from the amputation.  The Lord was working in my writing to verify His working of grace in the past and for the future. (Not to leave you hanging–it was discovered that Jerry’s body was rejecting a graft implanted when he had the by-pass surgery. After a four-hour surgery for its removal, and five months with a wound-care specialist, both wounds were healed.  While he still has limited use of a prosthesis, he can do more for himself, and my time of daily dressing wounds was relieved. The Lord is good, and His mercies are new every morning.

His Word, His Grace, His Spirit, does not dissipate here on earth, and does not return to Him void.  He draws us to His Son, binding and bending our hearts and minds to Himself. We cannot resist His Spirit of grace, in what the Father has decreed.  His kingdom is coming, and His will is being done.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 4:15

* “50 Days of Prayer and Praise ~ Articles and Stories of Faith