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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Help in Choosing Levels of Care

Treasured friend,

As you know, I seldom do much here in this blog to promote other websites. But today I'm making an exception ... I was contacted by the editor of a great website that I know you will find useful whenever you need to make difficult choices about living arrangements for your aging loved ones. The site is: http://assistedlivingtoday.com. There you'll find guides to five levels of care: assisted living, memory care, nursing homes, home care, and independent living. If you don't need this today, keep it on file--you may need it tomorrow.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for Caregivers!

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11

Treasured Friend

Here in the U.S., we're getting ready to celebrate the national holiday, Thanksgiving. As every chef and one-day-a-year cook knows, it's coming up tomorrow. (I realize and cherish the fact that we have regular readers of this blog in dozens of countries on at least 5 continents--but please do allow me the privilege today of commenting on my culture--I promise if you read on, you'll find something useful for your journey, as well.)

While we may seem to have turned it into the national celebration of gluttony (I just pulled the pumpkin pies out of the oven, as evidence!), the deeper meaning hasn't gotten lost on most of us--that of treasuring and honoring God for His abundant provision on our behalf.

It may not always seem abundant -- but it is. It may show itself in the abundance of love in our households -- or in our greater households of faith. It may show itself in the abundance of strength He provides in His grace and mercy as we work diligently to fulfill our challenging callings.

I'm most thankful this season for the abundant number of people He provides to surround us on the caregiving journey. People who encourage, who uplift, who send messages of comfort and peace, and most importantly who carry this ministry and our little family to God's throne room in prayer regularly.

Just yesterday I received a FB message from a dear friend and colleague who regularly holds us up in prayer. I was hard at work writing my new book, and a little message appeared in the lower corner of my screen -- a lovingly worded reminder that she was praying, right then. Oh, what a blessing that message is--one to keep and cherish and re-read any day I feel alone on the journey. And what a powerful reminder it gave me of the close connection we can establish with each other (even across long distances and many miles) through the power of prayer.

That's what caused me to choose as my Scripture of Thanksgiving this year, the one from 2 Corinthians 1 that you read above. It talks about the help prayer provides to the recipient, and the blessing it reflects back on the pray-ers. All of this because of the One to Whom the prayers are directed--our loving God and Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ.

So, whether you're the caregivee or the caregiver -- or someone on the margins, holding up those doing the hard work of caring for aging loved ones, I challenge you to take Paul's strong request to heart. Choose at least one caregiver whom you know and hold her regularly -- early and often (like we're said to vote here in Chicago) -- before God's throne in meaningful prayer. She won't be the only one sharing in the blessings as God sees fit to answer your prayer. You'll be the recipient of more blessings than you could even imagine.

Oh, and if you're looking for other ways to support and encourage your favorite caregiver, check out my practical article, Priceless Gifts for Caregivers: http://issuu.com/julie-allysonieron/docs/priceless_gifts_for_caregivers.

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all. I thank my God every time I pray for you.


Blessings and prayers, Julie

© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sources of Respite

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17 (ESV)

Treasured friend,

Occasionally, I pass along to you information about sites and resources where you can find continued encouragement and refreshment in the caregiving journey. Recently, I received a message on my Facebook caregivers page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/OverwhelmedCaregivers) from a fellow FB page on a similar topic. After checking out their offerings, I commend their site to you: http://www.caregivervillage.com.

Here's what their executive vp Sharon K. Brothers, who has worked in senior care for three decades, has to say about the site:



The work of a caregiver is hard. It’s exhausting much of the time. You don’t earn a medal for doing it – you should, by the way – but you’re also doing something that’s an even greater achievement than completing a marathon. You’re giving of yourself: your time, your energy, your work. And you’re doing it selflessly.


In Caregiver Village (www.caregivervillage.com), a virtual community that is filled with family caregivers caring for people with all kinds of problems, the hard work of family caregivers is celebrated. Tips, suggestions and tools to reduce the stress of caregiving abound in the Village. Even more importantly, caregivers share their stories through journaling and in group discussions, giving each other help with problems, support and encouragement.


There’s even a game to give caregivers a break while they follow the travails of Cara and her friends, learning along with them how to better manage some of the tasks and stress they encounter along the way.

So, then, as always I encourage you first to go to God's Word and to Him personally in prayer--for courage and strength equal to your task; next go to real people in your life (loved ones, church family, fellow caregivers) for nurture and support; and finally use resources like my caregiving handbook (http://www.joymediaservices.com/jms2011golive_004.htm), our blog and Brothers' Caregiver Village to help equip you for this journey into honoring your elders in a way that honors your Lord.

Blessings and prayers, Julie

2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God, why don’t You step in and do something?

Treasured friend,


If you’ve ever had trouble understanding why the loving God you serve with all your heart would wait to answer your prayers—or fail to act on your behalf—then this week’s observations are especially for you.


God, do You see me flailing about in the dark waters, about to drown?
God, have You forgotten that I’m out here?
God, do You care?


How often do we, in any dark night of the soul, whisper prayers of desperation like these? And when it is our loved one suffering, and we know God could help, He could bring healing or comfort or energy or strength or courage or victory, but we feel Him only from afar and then He chooses not to act—it is then especially that we are susceptible to discouragement, to faltering faith, to stumbling into despair.


Oh, my flawed, human heart, how it longs to understand the mysteries of God and yet how blind it is to His real activity, His real purposes that are so much grander, so far superior to what I think ought to be.


Musings like these led me to a familiar passage in the Gospel of John—a passage whose meat I’ve been quick to pass by, instead rushing on to the dessert of the eventual answered prayer. It’s the story of the death of Lazarus. Notice, I said the death and not the raising. For if we skip too soon to the end of the story, we’ll miss a key lesson about the way God works so often in our lives. Or at least that’s what I’d been doing for so long.


As I read, I keyed in on a troubling series of two verses—troubling, because it blows out of the water every preconception I have about how God’s love ought to operate. Check it out in John 11:5-6:


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (ESV)


In the Greek it’s even stronger. That word we translate as now, actually is a transition word that’s more like “on the contrary.” As in: you might think this sounds contrary to what’s true, but for sure Jesus loved the Lazarus family. And the phrase he stayed is a two-word phrase that means something like he really stayed. As in: you might be incredulous, here, but I assure you it’s true when I tell you he stayed put for two days. (We lose so much in our bland English language!)


Because (really?) Jesus loved these three, He waited far away from them and let events unfold that they found dismaying, grieving, absolutely inconsistent with their previous relationship with Him. How could He do this to them, of all people—they’d fed Him, hosted Him in their home, offered friendship and service and attentiveness. They’d believed in Him. And this was how He repaid them? They sent word to Him in faith believing, and instead, they got a Master who stayed away and let the enemy of death have its say in their lives.


Ouch! I feel their pain, don’t you? It may be the enemy of death or unemployment or financial worries or health concerns or pained relationships. Whatever it is in your life, you may just be in a season when the Master isn’t doing anything to resolve it.


Or … so it seems.


But scoot back one verse, and He actually explains that this is going to happen and why this is going to happen (before it does!) I like the way the NASB renders Jesus’ pre-explanation: “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4).


Anyone who was truly listening to the Master would have heard that the end of the matter wasn’t what it seemed. There was a higher purpose involved here, one of ultimate intent—one that would do what God deems so important—show His hand at work, bring glory to Himself, and draw hearts to trust Him. (Don’t believe me? Skip down to v. 45: “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”


So, my grieving, exhausted, in-need-of-reassurance friend, God loves you. And it may be that because of that love, He’s working behind the scenes on your behalf—on a project that will not only bring ultimate good to you, but ultimate glory to Him.


Take comfort, treasured one, in the knowledge that just because you don’t feel Him near, God isn’t at all surprised or unwilling to act on your behalf. He’ll do it—His way, in His time. I see it in the story of Lazarus and his sisters—and I’ve seen it in obvious evidence recently in my own situation. Take it from Lazarus and Martha and Mary, take it from the apostle John—and if you must, take it from me—because He loves you, He will intervene on your behalf. Hang on with all that’s in you until He does.


Blessings and prayers,

Julie

© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com