Day 3 – Worry

Part of learning to live with a chronic illness is managing worry.

Within the last five years, my wife was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoid and Melanoma cancers. We were told if the Melanoma cancer doesn’t kill her the neuroendocrine carcinoid will. The Melanoma cancer killed her in April 2018.

While I won’t get into her sickness or her chronic illness’s medical details, I will share how I am dealt with the challenges. While she was under a medical team of physician’s care and treatment, my focus was on the spiritual, not the therapeutic.

I am a Christian. My Christian faith is foundational for managing the emotional challenges. I find comfort from reading the Holy Bible, applying the Bible verses to daily life, and praying using the Bible verse(s) as my prayer.

This same comfort is available to you.

Today’s Bible Verse:

Matthew 6:34 (KJV), “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

What the Verse Means:

What the verse is saying in today’s English is give your entire attention to God. Look for what He is doing in your life today. With the focus in the here and now you are able to not get worried or worked up over what may or may not happen tomorrow.

There’s a reason why we shouldn’t get worked up.

The reason? God will help you. I dealt with whatever came our way, no matter how challenging or difficult the trials were. I can testify God walked with me through every step of this hard, heartbreaking process.

Personalized Prayer Using Today’s Scripture:

  • Father in Heaven, help me to focus on today. Help me see you and your activity in my life.
  • Lord Jesus, help me not to get too worried or concerned about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
  • Almighty Father, teach me how to trust in you and let you take control of my life.
  • I thank you for the promise that you will help me deal with whatever hard things are in my future where I will be as prepared as possible when the time comes.
  • I ask for the grace to handle today.
  • I trust tomorrow to the Lord.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Thy Will Be Done

Today’s blog post is from the book “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler. It is available in print and on Kindle for Amazon at Amazon Print or Amazon Kindle.

If you are an Amazon Kindle Unlimited member the book is available to read for free in Kindle format. Over the next two months, I will publish each chapter as a blog post

 

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Day 2 – It’s Okay to Cry

Part of learning to live with a chronic illness realizes it is okay to cry.

Daily living with a chronic illness or caring for a loved one with a persistent disease will bring tears.

The Heavenly Father cares about our tears. Today’s Bible verse tells what God’s word says about crying.

Today’s Bible Verses:

Psalm 56:8-9 (KJV), “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”

What the Verses Mean:

Why would God keep tears in a bottle? The idea behind the keeping of “tears in a bottle” is a remembrance. King David, the writer of these verses, is expressing a deep trust in God. He knows that God remembers his sorrow. He knows God remembers his tears. King David also is sure the God will never forget about him. David is confident that God is on his side.

Personalized Prayer Using Today’s Scripture:

  • Heavenly Father, thank you for crying and the resulting tears. Teach me to understand and accept that my tears help me identify and help me deal with my feelings.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me know crying is okay.
  • Almighty God, it is comforting to know that you notice and keep track of my tears.
  • I turn the sorrow concerning the chronic illness over to Yahweh-Rapha (God that heals).
  • I pray that my family and I would feel the freedom to cry out to God and let the tears flow when the release is needed.
  • I pray that my family and friends would be supportive, loving, and understanding during the times the tears flow.
  • I pray I would just hold on to God during these times without questioning and accept God’s comfort.
  • Help me to have the confidence of King David, the author of these verses, and say with him – for God is for me.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Thy Will Be Done

Today’s blog post is from the book “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler. It is available in print and on Kindle for Amazon at Amazon Print or Amazon Kindle.

If you are an Amazon Kindle Unlimited member the book is available to read for free in Kindle format. Over the next two months, I will publish each chapter as a blog post

 

Day 1 – Accepting God’s Love

Part of learning to live with a chronic illness is accepting God’s love.

What do you do when the lab results or physician’s diagnosis erase the future you or your loved one had planned?

As you or your loved one confronts a chronic illness, you may feel uncertain about tomorrow. Your hopes and dreams at best are placed on hold. At worst, you face an alternative future to the one you had charted. Feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness may engulf you.

When you are uncertain about the future, you need a perfect love which casts out all fear. You need the love of Jesus Christ.

If you are a caregiver, you may ask, “What is a chronic illness or disease?”

A chronic disease is one lasting three months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic illnesses generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. Examples of chronic diseases are:

  • Alzheimer disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • Crohn disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart Disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Oral lichen planus
  • Parkinson disease
  • Sickle cell disease

 Today’s Bible Verse:

1 John 4:18 King James Version of the Holy Bible (KJV), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

 What the Verse Means:

John says that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment. It casts out fear.

How does the perfect love of Jesus Christ accomplish casting out fear? Perfect love casts out fear because it produces a likeness to Christ and Jesus Christ is the Judge.

There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by its casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a cease and desist letter. It is an order to quit.

When love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is perfect. Just professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear. AsBeliever’s in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.

If you are not a Christian accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace. The last section of today’s blog explains how to become a Christian. You can accept Jesus Christ today. 

Personalized Prayer Using Today’s Scripture:

  • Lord Jesus, thank you that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
  • Heavenly Father, help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love for me.
  • Remove any fears I may have as I look to the future.
  • Provide your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. I cannot travel this journey alone but can with you.
  • Help me to know without any doubt that as a Believer in Jesus Christ my ultimate future is in Heaven.

HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN

Being a good person doesn’t get you to heaven. Being “saved or born-again” does. Here’s my story of how I accepted Jesus Christ and became a Christian.

On July 11, 1977, my life changed. If you look up that date in history, you will find nothing historically significant happened on that Sunday. It was a remarkable day for me. Sunday, July 11, 1977, was the watershed event in my life.

While attending First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington, I noticed a group of men that seemed to have what I was missing. I attended a Bible study with them.

Here I found that God has given us an essential manual for life — the Bible. God has the answers to the problems and emptiness we may face. I found out I was here for a purpose, and not by accident. I learned Jesus loves me and desires to have a personal relationship with me. However, sin separated me from Him.

 I realized I had a sin problem.

The Bible says in Romans 3:23 (KJV), “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

But no one is perfect! We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by just living a good life.

Why not?

I learned there was a penalty to be paid for my sin.

The Bible says in Romans 6:23 (KJV), “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I learned God gives us a promise.

The Bible says in John 3:16 (KJV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

I learned that God made a provision for me.

The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10, 13 (KJV), “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

I prayed to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

I prayed, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life in Heaven with You. I willingly repent of my sins and ask you to come into my heart and life. Take control of my words, thoughts, and actions. I place all of my trust in You for my salvation. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and this free gift of eternal life. Amen.”

Since then my life has not been perfect. It’s been far from it. I’ve messed up from time to time, sometimes failing miserably in my decisions and choices. However, I have had direction and purpose in my life. I know where I am headed. I have the Bible to give me the principles for daily living. I am never alone. I have had real peace for the last 40 years.

How about you? Have you ever been “saved”?

You can do like I did.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Why not pray this simple prayer and accept Jesus Christ today?

If you prayed the prayer you can leave a simple “I prayed the prayer” in the comments section. It will encourage me and others. May God bless you.
Photo Source: Pixabay

Thy Will Be Done

Today’s blog post is from the book “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler. It is available in print and on Kindle for Amazon at Amazon Print or Amazon Kindle. If you are an Amazon Kindle Unlimited member the book is available to read for free in Kindle format. Over the next two months, I will publish each chapter as a blog post.

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Eleven

As most know who are reading this, I’m writing the first draft of a book with the working title, “Hope for the Caregiver” as a weekly blog post. I’m sharing my experience and lessons learned from my ten-year journey of being the caregiver for my parents and my wife. All three are now deceased. The blog post isn’t the polished, finished product. In fact, I find myself at times struggling for the best way to tell the story. The struggle is why sometimes the voice is a little different when I write a chapter. Here’s this week’s chapter.

Managing Worry

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is managing worry. You’ll be worried about their health and future as well as your ability to care for them.

My Story

I couldn’t help but worry about my wife’s diagnosis with neuroendocrine cancer in December 2013. I also questioned my ability to care for her. Scared describes my feelings along with anger.

Miss Benita (yes, I called her Miss Benita with the Miss in front of her name) had had stomach and bowel issues for several years. The doctors hadn’t been able to determine the cause of her pain. Then in late 2013, they found she had a malrotated intestine. While that’s not good, we at least thought they had found the cause. Yea!

Her gastro endocrinologist recommended one of the best surgeons in the southwestern USA. The surgeon agreed with the diagnosis. A date was scheduled for the surgery. At least she’ll get this fixed and be able to get on with life without pain was my thought.

In the pre-operation tests, all looked okay. The surgeon commented that at least we didn’t have to worry about cancer. CT scans, x-rays, PET Scans, and endoscopy procedures had shown no indicators of cancer.

You guessed it. When the doctor briefs me following the surgery he mentioned a mass he found that hadn’t shown on any of the tests. It grew into the organs in such a way it couldn’t be removed. He had taken a biopsy. With the surgery being a few days before Christmas it would take until the first week of the new year to get the results. It came back positive for neuroendocrine carcinoid.

The surgeon explained neuroendocrine carcinoid as the same type of cancer that had just killed Steve Jobs of Apple Computer.

Fast forward to late spring 2015. Miss Benita was diagnosed with a second cancer, Stage III Melanoma.

I had a pity party for myself. I was worried about how I would be able to handle caring for her as I was told this cancer would kill her. The oncological surgeon was very clear on that point giving her a very low chance to survive more than three years. And if by some miracle of God the Melanoma didn’t kill her, the neuroendocrine carcinoid would.

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is managing worry.

I found myself facing worry from two points of view. I was concerned about the health and future of my wife. Worrying about a loved one is a natural response. I also found myself worried about my ability to care for her and pay the medical bills.

I found myself turning to my faith in God and trusting Him to make it through each day. I am a Christian. My Christian faith is foundational for managing the emotional challenges. I find comfort from reading the Holy Bible, applying the Bible verses to daily life, and praying using the Bible verse(s) as my prayer. This same comfort is available to you.

The Bible Says

Matthew 6:34 (KJV), “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

What the verse is saying in today’s English is give your entire attention to God. Look for what He is doing in your life today. With the focus in the here and now you avoid becoming worried or worked up over what may or may not happen tomorrow.

There’s a reason why you shouldn’t get worked up. The reason?

God will help you deal with whatever comes your way, no matter how challenging or difficult they trials are.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

I thank you for the promise that you will help me deal with whatever hard things are in my future where I will be as ready as possible when the time comes.

I ask for the grace to handle today.

I trust tomorrow to the Lord.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

Father in Heaven, help me to focus on today. Help me see you and your activity in my life.

Lord Jesus, help me not to get too worried or concerned about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Almighty Father, teach me how to trust in you and let you take control of my life.


Photo Source:Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Ten

God Has Our Days Numbered

We need to remember God has our days numbered. God is in control. 

My Story

The day I originally wrote today’s thought was on Monday evening June 19, 2017.  It was three days before my father’s ninetieth birthday. My wife, grown children, and I all had a day of vacation scheduled for a big birthday bash for dad on Thursday of that week. Thursday was June 22, 2017. My dad was looking as forward to his ninetieth birthday celebration as we were. 

God had different plans.

That very Monday night around 7:30 PM dad calls me. He said, “Jim, this is your dad. I’ve fallen and can’t get up. Don’t call 911. I need you to come and help me.”

I drove the forty-five miles through Dallas, Texas traffic to his house with all sorts of thoughts racing through my mind. I admit I was weary of caring for him since my mother had passed away in December 2014. My father was becoming more and more high maintenance. He refused to move in with me or my brother. 

I never thought this would be an event that would lead to his death. What I learned when I took him to the hospital was that he had suffered a heart attack. In less than thirty-six hours he passed away. He died on June 21, 2017. It was one day before his ninetieth birthday. I knew he was okay spiritually. He and I had spoken on the subject often. His last words to me were, “I love Jesus.” And I cried and cried.

God’s plans superseded our plans.

The Bible Says

James 4:13-16 (KJV), “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

Our future is in God’s hands and plans.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we thank You for every day of life and especially for the opportunity of being the caregiver for our loved one.
  2. We acknowledge God as the giver of life. We acknowledge that God has both our days numbered and the days of the one for whom we are providing caring.
  3. Lord Jesus, we trust You know what is best for our loved one and us. We pray Thy Will Be Done for our (the caregiver and the one receiving care) lives. 

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you told God thank you for allowing you the opportunity of being the caregiver? Why not thank Him for allowing you to care for them?
  2. Have you accepted the fact that your mission is to give comfort care for your loved one? Comfort Care refers to the care plan for the patient focused on symptom control, pain relief, and quality of life (this includes spiritual care). Pray that God will help you accept your role in this care plan.
  3. Have you been willing to let go and let God have control of your caregiving and your loved one? Why not pray to acknowledge that God is in control. After all, both your and your loved one’s future is under God’s control.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Nine

It’s Scary

A typical feeling for one faced with caring for a person with a chronic illness is fear. The unknown and uncertainty of what you will encounter will scare you. It’s scary. If the loved one you are caring for is facing cancer, the very word cancer often has death or at least its possibility confronting us. You wonder how the disease will progress and how your loved one will be impacted. If the one receiving care is recovering from a stroke, you wonder if they will ever be normal again or how you will adjust to caring for them and their new normal. 

My Story

I’ve reflected on one of the last conversations I had with my late wife. Here’s the setting. We had agreed to hospice care. She was mentally back to near normal for a few hours. She and I were alone in the hospital room. She would be transported in a couple of days to inpatient hospice.

Her words that caught me entirely off guard were, “Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for not leaving me when I was diagnosed with cancer and especially as cancer progressed. I was so blessed having God give you to me as my husband. I’ve never doubted your love and never thought you would ever abandon or leave me. Even when you or I messed up over the years of our marriage, you always made the proper adjustments and course corrections, loved me unconditionally keeping the family and me as the priority. I don’t fear death. I know God is with me. I look forward to heaven, Jesus, and seeing family and friends. I love you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you.”

I then received a hand squeeze from her. I returned the hand squeeze and kissed her forehead.

I told her I had been the one who was lucky and blessed.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 41:10 (KJV), “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The Meaning Of the Bible Verse

The verse’s meaning is best seen when examined in context with two preceding verses. Isaiah 41:8-10 (KJV), “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The whole passage is one of great tenderness. I am with thee (that is, God is with you). I (God) will strengthen thee (now and in the future). I have strengthened thee (in times past). There is a reminder that God has chosen thee). We see a declaration of past favors as well as prophetic words for future favors since God is unchanging.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that God is with us. We do not face today or tomorrow alone.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we fear not because You are here with us as we care for our loved one. 
  2. We are not heartbroken or dismayed because we know You are our God.
  3. We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will strengthen us.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you claiming God’s promises to help you? Have you made od aware of the areas of your needs? Pray and place your cares before God.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize God being in the room with you as you care for your loved one. Thank Him for holding you up with the right hand of His righteousness.
  3. Have you reminded your loved one that God is there with you? Have you prayed with them today acknowledging your trust in God to lead you both through the day? Thank God for being there with you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay


Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Eight

Sometimes We Feel No One Cares

When dealing with a chronic illness, there are times when we feel no one understands or cares. There is hope. We are not alone.

Jesus cares. In fact, he shares sympathy with you. Jesus knows you. He shares the feelings you have. He is in tune with you. God empathizes with you.

My Story

When my late wife Miss Benita was diagnosed with Melanoma Cancer I knew it was bigger than she or I could handle. We would need lots of help, prayers, and support. 

I immediately started a secret Facebook Group named “Benita’s Family & Friends.” I invited family, friends, church members, coworkers, and acquaintances to join. This included friends from high school and college days. It included her former boyfriends.

I had no doubt Miss Benita’s fight was cancer was more than we could handle, but not too big for God. I also knew from my working with social media at the day job regularly updated content was needed to keep people engaged with the social media.

The first posting was on the day of her first surgery. I made a daily entry for one thousand and one days. That is how long she lived. 

As I wrote the daily update and prayer I could feel her life passing away like sand slipping through an hourglass. We shared prayer requests with our church and Bible fellowship class. We shared them with coworkers. My day job had a chaplain’s department. They regularly ministered to us.  I never felt like God had forsaken us. However, many days I felt very alone. 

Miss Benita was very private and very caring. Because of my having had heart and stroke issues over the last thirty-six years she and our children had worked to protect me from stressful situations for years. This choice to care more about me than herself early in her illness had me at times feeling alone and excluded. 

All I knew to do was pray. and read my Bible. I read the Bible verse John 11:35 one morning. It simply says, “Jesus wept.” It was a good reminder for me that no matter what, Jesus cared, Jesus was aware, and He empathized with me. 

Amazingly in the last few weeks, Miss Benita told me that even with the Melanoma Cancer, she always felt she would outlive me. She did a great job of sharing her thoughts, concerns (she had almost none), trust in God, and let me help in almost every aspect of the last two and one-half years of her battle. 

She told me she never felt alone. She knew I was there for and would be with her until death did we part. She also felt God’s loving presence and the prayers lifted on her behalf. I thanked her for sharing her life with me and she thanked me for loving her and her parents and siblings unconditionally. 

The Bible Says

John 11:35 (KJV), “Jesus wept.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

God empathizes with you.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for paying attention to our hurts and cares.
  2. Lord Jesus, as today’s verse says, “Jesus wept.” Thank you for caring enough to cry with us and to comfort us.
  3. God, help us as your word teaches in 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV), “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are there times when you feel lonely as you care for your loved one? It is okay to feel this way. Remember God is here for you all the time. Talk to Him and let Him know how you feel.
  2. Do you have a support network? Many churches offer support groups for caregivers. Consider joining one.
  3. Are you reading your Bible and praying on a regular basis?  You don’t need special training or a theological education to do this. It can be as simple as reading a chapter of your Bible a day. I suggest reading a Psalm or Proverb to start. When you are lonely or struggling simply tell God. An example is to pray, “God, this is so hard. Help me make it through cleaning the potty chair or calling another doctor office to deal with a billing issue.” 

Photo Source: Pixabay