Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So Very Close

Hello, treasured friends,

One of the easiest elements of caregiving to let slide amid flurries of medical diagnoses, financial concerns, legal issues—is the element of spending love-filled quality time with our aging relatives. As our memories will attest, our parents—though aging—are more than care recipients, they are those with whom we’ve built relationships over the course of lifetimes.

So, as I spend some quality time with my mom today, I challenge you to just sit with your loved one, listen to her, talk about something other than age or disabilities. Just be together.

This is a concept that I believe translates well into our relationship with God and our dependence on His Spirit as we go about our caregiving lives. Listen to the closeness of relationship Paul describes regarding the believer and the Spirit of God Who lives within us:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will (Romans 8:26-27, NIV).

He’s so close that He searches our hearts. We don’t even need to form words to let Him know our needs, our exhaustion, our desperation, our utter dependence. He searches our hearts and recognizes our needs at the deepest levels. And He is the same one Who knows the heart of our loving Father toward us. So, He asks the Father for what we need most—and He does this in line with what He already knows to be the Father’s perfect will for us. And don’t think for a moment that our Father in Heaven won’t answer His own Spirit’s intercessory requests on our behalf with a resounding “Yes! Amen! Let it be done!”

This is quality relationship at its most amazing. The Triune God knows us. He is in us and with us and works through us. And, as we’ll discover soon (in Rom. 8:38-39) His love for us is beyond deterioration, division, or distraction. Nothing—not even the most grievous parts of caregiving—can separate us from His love, demonstrated most clearly in the gift of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perhaps the lesson here, then, is not only to be careful to spend quality time with our aging loved ones at regular, planned intervals; but more importantly to plan quality time getting to know the One Who knows us so intimately.

May these thoughts be a blessing and a challenge to you today!

Love,

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Better Helper!

Hello, dear friend,

One of the places in the Word where I go for comfort early and often is Romans 8. This whole chapter overflows with such beauty—such assurance. In its truths I've found resources I never knew I could tap.

For example, verse 21 assures us that we, along with all creation—and especially our ailing loved ones—will be liberated one day soon from bondage to decay. The aging process will one day be conquered by perfect health. Death will be overcome by life, rather than the other way around.

As we watch decay take the upper hand with our aging parents, what a comfort to have the absolute assurance that what we see isn’t the last word—Someone else has the last word, the Someone whose Father didn’t allow His body to decay in the grave, the Someone who rose and conquered death itself, the Someone Who now holds in His nail-scarred hands the keys of death, hell and the grave.

This is such a rich passage for caregivers, that I’d like us to focus on a couple more truths from its verses in the next few weeks.

Today, let’s look at our source of strength and comfort as we give ourselves away in caring for our aging loved ones.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:25-27 (NIV)

Did you catch the phrase, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”? The Spirit of God, Third Person of the Trinity, that Spirit—Comforter, Counselor, Friend—He recognizes our weakness, our exhaustion, our pain, our discouragement. And not only that, He comes in, rolls up His sleeves (as it were), gets into the middle of our struggles, and helps us. The HCSB translation puts it this way: “the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness.” NASB Greek Dictionary clarifies the long, compound Greek word Paul used when he wrote this. “To take hold with at the side, hence to take a share in, generally to help.”

So, treasured caregiver, today you need not feel alone. If there were only One Who could ever be on your side, at your side, shouldering the weight of the load along with you—you would want it to be this One—the Spirit of the Living God. Who better to search our hearts and help us in our most trying moments?

Next time we'll focus on His prayers for us. But for today, let's bask in the knowledge that His place is right where we are--right in the middle of it all--and He's lending His aid on our behalf. Draw strength right in this moment from the promise that the Spirit is helping you in your weakest hours. This is our hope—founded on solid ground. Take comfort from it.

Blessings and prayers,
Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Treasured by God

Hello Friends,


Within the last 24 hours, I had a phone call from a friend whose father was being rushed to the emergency room (she called as she was en route to the hospital) and an email from another whose mother was being resettled into a nursing facility after a fall. I attended the memorial for one of my mother’s contemporaries whose children watched her die in a long battle with cancer. While socializing there, I cried with an acquaintance whose mother (living thousands of miles away) is tottering between life and death after having a stroke, and stood with another whose sister-in-law is in a rehab hospital. (To make matters worse, the patient’s husband is in the grips of advanced dementia.)

I assured all of them that I would carry them to the Father in prayer. And I will continue to do so. But, in one sense, that seems so little for me to do.

As you each will attest, these crises are all too common as we watch our loved ones age. And they take a toll on us as we stand by helplessly, entrusting our precious loved ones into the care of medical teams made up, by and large, of strangers. But do our prayers really do anything for our fellow caregivers or care receivers in crisis?

Truly the caregiver’s life is filled with trauma, emergency, upheaval, guilt, and distress. Perhaps that’s why the Scripture I want to share with you today jumps off the page for me.

The setting is when the Prophet Daniel received a terribly unsettling revelation from the Lord. It troubled him so that he could do absolutely nothing but pour his heart out to God. He didn’t eat. He didn’t sleep. He didn’t tend to personal hygiene. (Does that sound at all like the life of a caregiver in crisis?) For 21 days this went on. (Seeming interminable, just like our heavy-duty caring times.) And then, in a moment, a messenger from heaven showed up.

Did that messenger berate Daniel for his tears? Did he tell the prophet to buck up? Did he bull right in with the discouraging diagnosis? Did he tell Daniel to stop praying and do something more productive? None of the above. Here’s the way Daniel recorded what happened:

“No strength was left in me; my face grew deathly pale, and I was powerless. … Suddenly, a hand touched me and raised me to my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘Daniel, you are a man treasured ⌊by God⌋. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.’ After he said this to me, I stood trembling. ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel,’ he said to me, ‘for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers’” (Daniel 10:8-12, HCSB).


Three phrases jump out at me, as if they were ablaze in neon lights:

--“you are … treasured by God”

--“don’t be afraid”

--“your prayers were heard”

My friends whose parents are in crisis this day (and those of us who are in breather moments between crises), take heart. Not only does God see your exhaustion—feel your lack of strength and your powerlessness in the face of crisis, but He sends an answer—a response to your prayers.

Whatever you’re facing today, know this for a fact:

--You are treasured by God.

--You don’t need to remain afraid. (Think of the words of David, in Psalm 23: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”)

--And, most of all, God hears and is even now acting on your behalf.

Treasured one, be strong and stand on your feet, for the Lord who loves you is beside you today. He was there with His servants in days past, He is with each of us today, and He will be always and forever with us.

I pray that these truths from the Word will hearten and strengthen you for today’s task.

Blessings,


Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Welcome Friends and Fellow Caregivers

Truly the job of caring for our parents as they walk the aging journey can be exhausting. So that's where this blog will come in. As a sometimes-caregiver myself, I turn early and often to God's Word for encouragement and strength to face each situation and each day.

I'll post to this blog about once a week -- and will include a devotional thought and a Scripture that's been my lifeline in crisis -- and just may become a source of encouragement to your heart.

So, here's the first Scripture ... it's one I use whenever I autograph books for readers:

"Dear friend I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually" 3 John 2 (HCSB).

Blessings to you,

Julie