Friday, November 4, 2016
Counting During Caregiver's Month
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
~ Isaiah 58:11, NIV ~
November is National Family Caregivers Month. It's YOUR time! These are the days where people need to gain awareness of what you endure. From serving as a triage nurse, to endless hours on the phone with insurance companies, to advocating in the educational arena, to wiping the rear end of a teenager, you do it all. The typical world needs to realize that your baseline looks very little like their "normal."
The hope in building awareness through a month like this is that others will gain compassion, acceptance, and understanding for folks just like us. Perhaps the world would be a little less brutal, less demanding, less judgmental if they only knew.
On the other hand, this year's theme for National Family Caregivers Month is "Take Care to Give Care." Put another way, "Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First." How often do we hear this comment in the context of being a caregiver? Just like traveling with a child on an airplane, we need to put our own oxygen mask on first in an emergency so we are in the proper condition to put the oxygen mask on the child. So rather than building so much outward awareness this year, caregiver organizations are calling parents like us to look inward to ourselves.
That can be a tall order. We know what we are supposed to do. Our brains make our heads nod when others are telling us to get proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and plenty of exercise. Yet, our emotions insert themselves into our circumstances and mess things up. We feel guilty taking time for ourselves. Exhaustion drives us to quit trying with diet and exercise. We surrender ourselves to the toxic lifestyle of a chronic caregiver.
What if we were INTENTIONAL about one small thing?
Our children recently had a consultation for braces to be installed. The orthodontist re-emphasized the importance of brushing teeth well, especially after the braces are affixed. "All we ask is 2 minutes 2 times per day for you to keep your teeth for a lifetime." It is so simple, but our children make it so frustratingly hard.
We parents are no different. If we were intentional about one small quiet period of time alone with God each day, we could find ourselves refilled with that strength we so desperately need to properly care for our kids. If you read our key verse from the Book of Isaiah today, you see God's loving and generous provision, nurturing, and strengthening poured out on us. In the verse prior, Isaiah 58:10, God promises those blessings to those who spend their lives or who offer themselves to satisfy the needy and oppressed. Our caregiving role certainly fits that description. Why would we not take that simple step to grasp hold of that gift offered so tenderly to us? We cannot hear those blessings being spoken into our lives if we don't slow down and marinate in the Lord's promises for a few minutes every day. His word is our oxygen!
Precious parent, as we careen towards the holiday season, it will become even MORE easy for our needs to become subjugated by the needs of our children. Making all of the moving pieces of our lives will grow increasingly challenging as Thanksgiving and Christmas creep closer. Don't allow your well-being to get lost in the fray! Make certain YOU count during Caregiver's Month. As one of my favorite old pastors used to say, "Come apart before you come apart." Let God refill your cup, so you can gain the strength to march forward again.
PRAY: Our tender Provider, fill us to overflowing so we can be the parents You need us to be. During National Family Caregivers Month, remind us that the care begins with ourselves.