Blessings

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I was a young christian I thought if I believed in God, then all my troubles will be taken away and life would be wonderful all the time. So when trouble did come (and it seemed to come a lot!) I thought I didn’t have enough faith or I was doing something wrong. When I got married I thought our life would be easy, wonderful, you know, the white picket fence, wholesome, beautiful family life. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Life has been so hard, so tough. There have been many times I’ve just wanted to give up and walk away. But as I look back, I can see that those tough times are what have made me the person I am today. People have told me that I’m a “strong” person to have weathered all that I’ve been through. I’d like to think that I’ve been teachable. I learned that when you face hard times is when when you grow, if you allow it.

Did you know that Jesus said we’d have trouble? It’s right there in John 16. He also says to take heart because He has overcome the world. Let your troubles be blessings.

This song, which came out quite a few years ago, still touches me. Laura Story wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, and all the stress and strife that would go along with that. All the changes (personality and otherwise) that happened. He is still living and thriving, but their lives have been changed by the diagnosis. I hope that this song will touch you as well.

Taking Care of You

Caregivers have a tendency of not taking care of themselves. I know this from my own experience. When Joe finally passed, I think I slept for a week; I was so totally exhausted. What I didn’t realize is just how exhausted I was.

The holiday season is coming fast and can be so stressful for caregivers. This is the time that I feel that we need to be intentional in what we are going to do and not do. Will you decorate the house “to the nines” (as my mother used to say) or will you not decorate at all? I used to feel guilty if I didn’t do all the “holiday” things that I wanted to but just didn’t have the energy. I know this is useless now, the guilt and emotional pain of not doing a “tradition” that you’ve always done, but can’t face this year because of your exhaustion.

This year, only do what you can and forget the rest, without guilt. Maybe it will be a small tree instead of that large tree that you “always” go hunt for and put up. Make small batches of cookies instead of the hundreds of dozens you usually bake. It is up to you to decide what you are NOT going to do and what you want to do.

If someone asks what you want for Christmas, instead of saying “nothing” (like I always did) tell them (or better yet make a list!) of things that will be helpful for you. Here is a small list to get you started:

  • Volunteer time to be with your “person” so you can have some time for yourself.
  • Gift cards for a salon or spa.
  • Jobs around the house to be done (mowing, maintenance, housekeeping)
  • Meals to be brought in, or someone to do grocery shopping for you.

It’s up to you. No one will step in and do for you unless you let them know what you need. So, decide what you will and won’t do and then ask others if they can help with the things you just don’t have the time and energy for.

You need to take care of yourself or you won’t be around to be a caregiver.

Trust God and…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… Proverbs 3:5

When the shut-down happened in March a feeling of fear swept over everyone. If you did go out of your home, people looked at you with suspicion and some would ridicule if you went out at all. Don’t even get me started on the toilet paper thing… (I still don’t understand it!)

Every flu season while I was caring for Joe I was aware that I could bring home a bug and kill him. Mentally, this is a really hard thing to face. I found that I was living in fear; afraid to go out (even though I worked full time) and afraid that I would be the one to bring a flu bug home. This is what everyone else is going through now.

During the years past I had to come to terms with the fear I experienced. I eventually found I didn’t need to fear, because God is in charge. He is the author of our lives, we just need to trust in him. This didn’t mean that I didn’t try to take precautions (flu shot, good hygiene, etc.) but I would live my life with care. I work with students who would come to our office sick. After they left I would be cleaning with antiseptic wipes. Yup, we had those at our work before everyone HAD to get them. Washing my hands was (an is) a habit.

Now I’m in the group of people that really should stay at home, yeah, I’m in that “high-risk” age and I do have some underlying medical issues. I refuse to live in fear. During this current flu pandemic I will not fear. I still work full time and I still work with students. I wear a mask when I have to. I wash my hands. I trust in the Lord.

In The Valley

Quite a few years ago I went to a Church Conference with my good friend Michele. While we were there a woman gave a devotional at the start of a meeting and she read this poem. The message really struck me and has stayed with me for a long time.

If we didn’t have hard times, we wouldn’t learn how to trust the Lord.

It’s In The Valleys I Grow

mountains-1660789_640

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble, and woe.
It’s then I have to remember,
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God’s love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it’s in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross.
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan’s loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I’m feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know;
The mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow!

By Janet Eggleston

Introducing Joe

Joe 2012

This is Joe, my husband, in 2012.  At this point we still had three years to go before he passed.  We were married for 36 years, some very difficult and tumultuous times but also some very good times as well.  During the last 16 of those years (almost half!) I was his caregiver and advocate.

It started with a diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme, or a cancerous brain tumor.  From that start he went through 2 craniotomies, whole brain radiation and Gamma Knife radiation.  His scalp and skull started to deteriorate from the radiation and then came six or more (I lost count) small surgeries to close the scalp that continued to rot away.  He also went through Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments for 53 days to try to help heal the scalp.  He finally had two cranietomies (removal of the skull) one to repair and the second to repair the first one.  While going through all this he also had COPD which complicated all surgeries.  The end of his journey wasn’t cancer; he was cancer free. His brain was deteriorating just as his scalp was.  The doctors could replace and heal the outside, but the brain was damaged.  He finally succumbed to the strokes and seizures from the damage to his brain.

I wanted to introduce you to his story because my story is entwined with his. I can’t tell my story in these blogs without any reference to Joe.  Would I change the past if I could?  Yes, only so that Joe wouldn’t have gone through so much.  What we went through together is what has molded me into the person I am today, and I’m still changing, trying to be the person the Lord would have me be.

If you have any questions about the treatments that Joe went through, please leave a comment or you can contact me through the email address listed to the right.