Doing Life Together

ID-100111171Caregiving an elderly parent is not an easy job.

The toll of decision making, talking with doctors, flying home on a regular basis and taking care of multiple needs can be physically and emotionally exhausting. For me, it wasn’t an option not to do this. My mom took care of me when I needed her. Now it was my turn.

Even when you choose to give care, it can create an emotional strain. The National Family Caregivers Association reports that almost half of all caregivers suffer from depression; two-thirds regularly feel frustrated; and two of five feel “debilitated” due to the changes in family dynamics (same reference as above).

The emotional side of caregiving raises several issues:

1) Your own mortality. Care taking an aging parent causes you to think about your own aging process and eventual death.

 2) Who will take care of you if you need help some day? You may begin to think more about your own options and plans for care.

 3) Unresolved parent-child problems. The hope of many is that taking care of a parent may reverse a damaged relationship. When this doesn’t happen it can be even more distressing for the adult child. For example, a daughter might find the father who never gave approval, still not giving his approval, or the mother who was depressed and emotionally unavailable, still emotionally distant.

 4) Remorse about the past. You may have regrets that were never discussed.

 5) Reversal of roles. You become the parent and the parent becomes the child. This reversal of roles requires adjustment for both child and parent.

All of this requires extra doses of patience, understanding and grace. Try to honor your parents no matter how difficult the care taking becomes. Remember their dignity. They desire to be independent and self-sufficient as long as possible. Aging parents often worry that they are a burden to their adult children. They are not used to their children having to do for them. Put yourself in their place, having to depend on others when they have lived a life of independence. This perspective helps.

Be aware of the emotional issues raised and then work to manage or resolve them if possible. If you need the help of a therapist, find one who will counsel you and who specializes in treatment with the aged. Take advantage of help and support so you don’t become one of the seriously stressed.

The positive side of caretaking is that you will be more aware of what you need to do in terms of your own planning, you become more self-confident in terms of your ability to deal with health care workers and you can end well with your parent, not having regrets about the end of their lives. So do what you can, watch your stress levels and get plenty of support along the way.




I had to laugh as I watched the commercial. A woman and man were running towards each other just like you see in an old romantic movie. But as they get nearer and nearer, arms stretched out ready for an embrace, they by pass each other. The woman’s face drops, she cries and looks distressed. As she lifts her head, a red sweater is hanging on a clothes line in front of her. The tag line, “The man may leave you, but the sweater never will!”

Hardly a Hallmark moment!

But the idea that a gift can bring you joy is only true for a moment. More is needed for continuous joy! And there is one gift that lasts for a lifetime and brings comfort and joy. It’s not the sweater!

My mom’s Hummel Nativity scene greets you when you walk in the door. I love this time of year. The house is lit up with lights, candles glow in the evenings, and the fireplace warms the house as we enjoy the beauty of the tree. But the manager scene is front and center as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It is the reason we are joyous.

God gave us a gift, HIs Son sent as a baby.

This gift is not for one year, but lasts for all the years to come. And this gift continues into eternity. It is the gift of eternal life spent with God.

No dream destination can match this prize. No sweater, car, new gadget or money can bring such comfort and joy.

Today, on Christmas, receive the gift of God’s Son. It is freely given. JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!

Blue Christmas TreeIt’s a familiar part of the Christmas story.Luke 1: Zechariah is told by the angel, Gabriel, that his wife Elizabeth would have a child. This proclamation was surprising because Elizabeth and Zechariah were infertile and had been praying for a child for years. Now, past the normal age of child bearing, the couple was living in the reality of disappointment.

  • Most of us are can relate to barren places in our lives. We have experienced disappointment in a job, relationship, dream or health. Whether that disappointment is over a physical infertility or some other type of barren place, disappointment can easily settle in. We can give up on our dreams and feel that time has passed us by.Yet, in the biblical account of Elizabeth and Zechariah, against all odds, Elizabeth conceived and her desire was granted.As we picked apart this passage, several points are made:1) Disappointment happens to good people.

    2) Don’t believe that just because you are getting older, life is passing you by and your dreams won’t be fulfilled. Our later years can be times of great fulfillment. We don’t always understand the timing of God. But His timing is always best.

    3) Like Zechariah, we must continue to pray and contend for the goodness of God. In Luke 1: 13, the angel tells Zechariah, “Your prayer has been heard.” Never doubt: God hears our prayers.

    4) Miracles happen.

    5) Great joy comes from God

    When we are in those barren times, it is easy to think that God forgets us or that we aren’t that important to God. However, God wants us to stand fast in prayer and believe for those desires of our hearts.

    Luke 1:58 says that God showed great mercy to Elizabeth. The character trait of mercy is still true of God today. God wants to show great mercy to us as well.

    So if you are feeing barren in your life this Christmas, if you are living with disappointment, one of the messages of the Christmas story is that God wants to do something miraculous in your life. He delights in showing you great favor.




ID-10078264I was driving down the road the other day when a song played on my phone. It touched me and it will touch you.

I encourage anyone who will be missing a special someone this holiday season to click on this link. The music will minister to you. Such poignant words from Christian song artist Mark Schultz.

If you are dealing with loss this holiday season, here are a few points that may help:

1) Allow yourself to grieve. Let the feelings  come. It may hit at unexpected times–during a song, commercials, photographs, etc. The year my mom died just before Christmas, I remember baking and suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I needed to ask my mom a question about the baking and I couldn’t. For whatever reason, this hit me hard and I started to cry. I realized that so much of my mom’s contribution to the holidays was her incredible baking. Baking triggered the memory. It’s OK. Let the feelings out.

2) Consider attending a  support group. This is no time to be strong and go it alone. Grief needs to be shared. Find people who can listen and grieve with you. If you are really struggling, a support group can be just the place to heal the heart.

3) Do something for someone else. I know it is a cliche to say that seeing the need of someone else helps you feel better, but it is true.  Take an angel off the Angel tree, volunteer in a soup kitchen, visit a shelter or hospital, participate in a church activity or community event. Giving to others takes your mind off yourself and improves your mood. This year, I am caroling in a nursing home. The residents love it.

4) Don’t wallow in pity. It’s easy to look at people celebrating and feel deprived or resentful. Don’t go there. Anger will come as part of the grieving process, but don’t allow that anger to move to resentment.

5) Take a time-out if you become overwhelmed. Find a quiet room in a family get together, leave the church sanctuary for a side room to cry, etc.

6) Don’t avoid the loss or pretend the person wasn’t important. Talk about the person. In our family, we talk about mom’s pies and how much we miss them, the sound of her laughter, the love for her grandkids, etc. Share a favorite story. Laugh about funny moments. This helps keep the memories alive.

7) If the loss is fresh, don’t push yourself. Do as little or as much as you feel you can handle. There is no right way to handle grief. Pay attention to your physical life–sleep, eating well and resting. A little self-care will take the edge off the rawness of loss feelings.

8) Feel joy and laughter without feeling guilty. There will be moments of joy and laughter during the holiday season, especially if you are a person of faith. Allow them to come. You can’t sustain grief 24/7 or your body will be too stressed. Sometimes a light distraction like a funny movie can even help.

9) Don’t push yourself to grieve too quickly. The intensity of grief lessens with time. Time does heal. As the months go by, you will feel stronger and better, but it does take time.

10) Pray and comfort yourself with God’s Word. God knows our grief and our sorrows and promises to comfort us. Ask Him to help you through this difficult time.