My Daly Outreach Ministries

My Daly Outreach Ministries

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coffee Time

    Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. Proverbs 17:17
There are times in a caregivers day when we stop and sometimes wonder if anyone ever thinks about our needs or how we are feeling.  Rarely ever do others sincerely ask a caregiver how they are feeling.  When a caregiver finds a special friend who does, it can mean all the difference in the world.  Caregivers need to have at least one confidant they can talk with and trust.  Caregivers need to vent and express all the emotions they keep bottled up inside.

I also encourage caregivers to express to those you trust when you need an outing or a break.  They may think you appear to be doing fine when all the while you are breaking down on the inside.  Text or call that person and tell them you need some time to just grab some coffee or talk for a while.  This can be so important to your mental health which enables you to be a greater caregiver in the end.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

No Answer

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

As a caregiver I have faced countless amounts of fear.  Along my journey, I have learned to depend upon God and trust Him in such a richer way.  I worried anytime my husband was out of sight.  I would even panic if he didn’t answer me right away when we were in the same house.  I always feared he had passed out, that his pacemaker had gone off, or imagined even the worst.  When I would leave the house I made sure I could reach him and talk with him at all times.  I would have the house phone beside him along with his cell phone in his pocket, just in case he needed to reach me. 

Over time the fear began to lesson as his health improved.  It was a gradual process for me but I have come a long way.  First, just leaving the house was torture for me, yet at the same time I had to go back to work.  Next, came leaving Brian alone with our daughter, which was challenging as well.  I always envisioned him collapsing in front of her or dying while they were alone.  These are things caregivers think about that no one else even fathoms.   

I am now at a point where I am able to leave him each day in order to go to work and don’t think about all the morbid things I used to.  I also don’t worry when he picks our daughter up from school each afternoon before I get off of work.  I know that she knows what to do in case of emergency and I just don’t worry about those things happening to my husband as I used to for so many years. 

But… then come days like today when he doesn’t answer my text messages for over three hours.  By hour three I could feel those old fears rising up inside and me allowing the enemy to attack my thoughts.  I pictured Brian collapsed in our home or Taylor sitting at school because no one had picked her up.  I finally had to leave the group I was working with and go to my office in order to call my husband.  After several rings I heard his voice.  I was relieved but then came the frustration and even a sense of anger.  He explained he was busy and was talking with Taylor’s teacher and didn’t want to be rude and answer his text messages.  I totally understand but at the same time he has never been on my end of the phone.  If I didn’t answer his message he would think my phone was dead or on vibrate.  That is much different from the thoughts I have had in the past and that even continue to resurface now.

I have realizations when things like today happen about being a caregiver.  No matter how well my husband is doing, my mind remembers where we have been.  I find it amazing how quickly those hidden fears can rise to the surface and overcome me in only a moment.  I continually pray for caregivers and my heart breaks for all who are attached to your phone waiting for a call 24/7.  God is there and He doesn’t want your fears to take over your life.  Fear is not of God.  God’s peace and comfort can wash over you like a blanket to ease your mind and heart.  Call out to Him in your moments of fear.  I promise He hears you and will answer.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:14
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Recently, I had a heart wrenching talk with my ten year old daughter who suffers from mild ticks.  This means, for those who aren’t familiar, that she does small, usually unnoticeable, motions with her head, neck, or even her eyes, like blinking.  She cannot control these movements and they are hereditary.  I remember when I first became friends with my husband, he would blink his eyes several times quickly and one day I asked him about it.  He explained that it was a tick and he couldn’t help it.  His brother and other family members also suffer from these ticks, some more severe than others. 

Taylor’s ticks were sometimes very noticeable last school year and she encountered other students questioning her and many times making fun of her actions.  As you can imagine this destroyed me as her mother and I suddenly had the urge to beat up small children!  I knew this would have been frowned upon especially since I was an elementary school teacher!  God gave me the heart and patience to keep control but I did gain an understanding of why mama dogs bite! 

Our family did much research and found that there were things we could do to help control the ticks like her getting plenty of sleep, limiting caffeine intake, and keeping our daughter’s stress level low.  Another key is to NOT draw attention to the ticks, which only make them worsen.  Another issue we had to educate others on was trying to get her to stop the ticks, which is impossible and only escalated her ticks. 

Since our move, Taylor has not had a problem with them at school, but since Thanksgiving break and getting out of her regular routine, we have noticed the ticks bothering her this week.  Last night before she went to sleep, my daughter looked into my eyes and said, “Mommy, why did God let me has ticks?  They make me weird.”  She then went on to explain that a little girl had made fun of her at school that day and even mocked her tick.  It broke my heart.

I explained to Taylor that God didn’t make mistakes.  I explained that people born without legs, or sight, or without hearing ask that same questions.  I told her that each person God creates is special and that what people see as different or weird, God sees as an opportunity to set you apart from the crowd.  I shared with her a personal story of being made fun of when I was her age and how everyone has something different about them.  I also told her that I believed with all my heart that she had been called out from the crowd and she wasn’t “just like everyone else” because God had amazing plans for her life.  I’ll never forget her response.  She smiled and said, “Mommy, you really believe those things about me, don’t you?”  I answered with tears in my eyes, “Oh, yes my sweetheart, I sure do.” 

None of us are perfect.  Each of us have flaws the world see and calls attention to, but I continue to believe it is God’s way of setting you apart from others.  We long to belong and fit in only to learn as we draw closer to our Savior that all the while God is calling us out from the crowd to stand for Him so that people will notice that “something different” which only comes from following Him.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Change of Plans

If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’

It’s Sunday morning and I wake to find my husband, who I care for, not feeling well.  The bad cold he has been fighting for over a week is hanging on and has now given him a terrible cough.  He cannot take any type of cold medication because of his heart failure and other medications, which means he deals with even a common cold for much longer.  We decide together that missing church will be the best decision today due to our circumstances.

This is a common occurrence for most caregivers.  You may have waited for weeks to attend a specific event to only find out hours or moments before that you will have to cancel and stay with the one you care for.  This can become very frustrating and cause bitterness within the heart of the caregiver.  It does NOT mean that you are not compassionate, understanding, or loving when you have these thoughts.  It means that you are HUMAN and continue to have your own desires and needs even though they now seem secondary to the needs of others. 

My advice to you is to express these feelings to the Lord!  Tell Him how disappointed you are and how much you wanted to do something that you were not able to do.  Share your heart with Him!  He wants that so much.  I also encourage you to plan ahead and have someone scheduled to stay with the person you care for just in case you are not able to leave them alone to attend your event.  This won’t always work but may help in some cases.  Caregivers must think ahead to what could go wrong when planning even to the store for groceries.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Caregiver Christmas Challenge

Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

With the beauty and celebratory time of Christmas right around the corner, I come to you this month with a plea or what I call my “Christmas Challenge.”  As we focus on finding the perfect gifts, baking our treats, singing our favorite carols, and spending time with friends and family, there is one small thing I would like you to do for me this year.  Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  I would like you to give some serious thought about the interests of at least one caregiver you know.

It could be the parent you see each day at your child’s school who cares for a child with a special need physically, mentally, or socially.  It could be the woman in your church who takes care of her spouse who may live at home but couldn’t make it without her full time assistance.  Or maybe it’s the man you know who visits the nursing home daily to check on his dad to make sure he is safe and eating each day. Still yet a professional caregiver that works in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or in a rehab facility.  The examples could go on and on, but hopefully by now you have a person in mind. 

I am asking you to take the time to do something special for this individual in the month of December.  Maybe you could go and sit in their place so they could have an hour to themselves?  Maybe you could take dinner to their house one night that they don’t have time to cook for their own family?  Maybe you could mail them a card of encouragement filled with scriptures?  Maybe you could take them for coffee and ONLY listen to them talk?  Maybe you could find out what they really enjoy and make or purchase them a special gift?  Maybe you could call them and remind them that you see what they are doing for another and that you are praying for them? 

Caregivers give and give until many times there is nothing left.  It just dawned on me that maybe if I reminded all of you how much caregivers need encouragement and love maybe this Christmas you could personally share the love of Christ with a caregiver who desperately needs to experience it.  I would love to know what you did if you wouldn’t mind emailing me and sharing.  I promise this small act of love will not go unnoticed.  You will be amazed at what it will do for not only the caregiver but for your heart, too!  I thank you in advance and pray that your Christmas will be the best you’ve ever experienced!  

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Did God Love You Today?

I wonder how many days pass us by that we never really stop and notice God showing specific acts of love toward us?  I am completely guilty of this or I wouldn't ask you!  Today, I stopped long enough to see several simple yet powerful ways God chose to express His love to me.  

First, I found out this morning that during the Thanksgiving holiday week at Liberty I was able to park directly in front of my building instead of walking my normal one mile trek! This was especially wonderful since it was 23 degrees!  Later in the day I found a penny on the floor of a classroom where I was a participant in a training session.  For over a year now when I see pennies I am reminded of God's promises and love due to my dear friend, Gena O'Neal.  Later in the afternoon, our entire library staff was treated to wonderful snacks and again they were two of my favorites which were cookies and hot chocolate!  To make it even better, the hot chocolate was from Panera Bread!  When I packed my things to return home this afternoon, I realized once again, with a smile on my face, that I didn't have to make my mile walk, which is all uphill in the afternoon, but instead only had to walk across the parking lot to my car.  On my walk I stopped to take in the beautiful Christmas tree and tress that were covered in lights along the road in front of my building.  I love Christmas lights and they evoked happy feelings and memories.  Upon going through the mail, once I was home, I found a card addressed to me.  I opened it to find a note of love and encouragement from my sister, Maxine.  It just said that she loved me and was praying for me.  What a great way to end my day with a love letter from God!

Each of these simple experiences today could have been overlooked or even ignored but today I took the time to see each one for what they were.  Each was an example of how God showed his love toward me in a specific way.  I encourage you to notice these acts of love within your own day for it will humble your heart that God actually loves you so much that He takes the time to do special things just to make you happy.  I also challenge you to find ways in which you can be the vessel God uses to show His love to another like the card my sister sent me in the mail.  Simple acts can equal amazing results if we only allow Him to use us!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reliving the Past

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 1 Corinthians 5:17

Yesterday, our family took somewhat of a pilgrimage.  We went to visit with friends who daughter is a patient at UNC's Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC.  We were very excited about seeing them because we have not since September and so I really hadn't thought about what type of effect going to this particular hospital would have on me.  

As I drove into the parking lot, I became flooded with memories that were not pleasant or warm.  Then as I walked into the lobby I felt a sense of anxiety for everything looked, smelled, and remained exactly how it was only 4 years ago when my Taylor was a patient.  

The elevator served as a time machine that seemed to be taking me back to those very moments when we spent a week of our lives here watching God perform a miracle in our daughter's body.  As we walked onto the floor and into the room it was all so familiar.  Taylor turned to me and quickly said, "Look, Mommy, she has butterflies on her ceiling just like I did." I was able to keep it together but almost lost it.  I was amazed that she remembered things like that from so long ago.  

We had a wonderful visit with our friends and God gave Brian and I both His strength and power to focus on encouraging others instead of focusing on our past and painful memories.  I know God can do the same thing for you.  God wants us to use what He has brought us through in order to encourage others who are experiencing very similar things!  Don't be afraid.  He will do it and the results are fantastic!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hold On

I recently studied Acts chapter 27 and I was amazed at what God revealed to me about caregivers through this story of Paul.  I always love to study this man of God for he was the most unlikely to have been chosen by God and I see myself in that same light.  I wonder all the time why God would have chosen a woman from North Carolina whose only dream in life was to be an elementary school teacher to be a voice for caregivers all across the world.  Are you like me and every wonder, “What was God thinking?”  God chose all of us to do a specific and special thing in this life and once He reveals it we must embrace it and trust Him fully.

The way in which I connected with this story began when God called Paul into situations that never seemed to come easy for him.  This is the point where the southern girl in me says, “Bless Paul’s heart!”  Here he stands with a passion for Christ and for people to give their lives to Him through salvation, yet he once again finds himself in a terrible situation.  He is sailing for Italy on the Adriatic Sea for he knows God has called him do so.  That’s how our lives can be, too!  God called me to ministry for caregivers but  doors to speak and share what He has given me to share don’t always come very easily or from where I think are best.  This is where our obedience comes into play and it becomes our decision to either follow where He says to go or refuse and miss awesome opportunities to serve Him and others.  Many speaking engagements I was least excited about in the past turned out to be the very best and most influential to the ministry all because God chose them and lined them up instead of me!

In Acts 27:20 the Word tells us that, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”  I have felt that same way after days, months, or even years of praying for God to intervene in my raging storm with no visible results.  I, too, have felt like giving up on the dream or vision that God had given me because of being in the dark about what His plan was for my life.  Finally, Paul tells us that, “On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic[c] Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.” Acts 27:27  I have been at this point as well where I felt that the storm was coming to an end and I could sense the end was in sight yet day after day what I had been praying still did not happen.  This can become a very frustrating time for us as believers.  We know God is always faithful for He has been in the past yet waiting for His perfect timing can be agonizing! 

Paul and the others on board the ship finally get close to land but still not to their final destination when, “the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf, “in Acts 27:41.  What?  You mean after enduring and surviving the horrible storm for all that time they have gotten this close to the land and the ship runs aground?  I would have been crying out at this point to the Lord for sure!  In fact, I have done that so many times as a caregiver.  I can remember my husband, Brian, having operation and procedure after another believing each one was going to be what would slow his heart rate and begin to heal him only to find that it was not a success and we had to try something else.  Paul doesn’t stop in seeking what God has promised him and neither should we!  I never gave up hope that my husband would be healed but at the same time I did not know how or when. 

Paul told his fellow passengers they were to jump off and swim or either “were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely,” in Acts 27:44.  I love it that Paul told them to get to their destination with whatever means they had.  Even though their ship, which can be our life as we know it, had fallen apart, he wanted them to know that they could still make it with the pieces that were left.  Caregivers are no different.  When I became a caregiver my boat definitely broke into a million pieces and I can still remember days when it was hard to even wake up and face my situation.  I have made it to shore over and over as the many storms of life have come upon me.  God has never left me nor forsaken me and nor will He you. 

Had Paul not kept his eyes on God’s promise everyone on the ship may have been lost but because he continued to trust, they were all saved.  Paul did make it to the place God had promised and so will we!  Amen!  Praise the Lord Almighty!  

I am now in love with this story because it is real and applies directly to our lives as caregivers today.  This is why I am so in love and stand amazed at God’s holy Word, the Bible.  It is timeless and relevant in our world today just as it was in the days it was written.  How precious we are that our God loves us so much.  God went to the trouble of writing His promises down for us to read and re-read as a teaching tool and a weapon in our defense for a life full of storms.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Must Read

I just finished this awesome book and I had to share it with you.  Ruth has always been one of my favorite women of the Bible but after reading this book I also feel in love with Naomi!  Then there was amazing Boaz, who just represents our Lord completely as he not only redeems Ruth but loves her and provides for her, too!  That's exactly what Jesus does for us!  I love it!

This book takes the book of Ruth step by step as if you are invisibly watching all the events of Ruth's life take place right before your eyes.  You feel the emotions, good and bad.  You sense the desperation and the joy of these followers of God.  You see that life isn't always what we think it is or going to work out the way in which we planned it.  What we do see is that God's plan is always the best and God actually does use all our "bad" for our "good."  

Ruth had a lot going against her but God used her to continue the family line our our Savior Jesus Christ.  Because Ruth chose to follow God and be obedient, she became a blessed woman and forever a part of Christian history.  We may never know what our choice to follow God and be obedient to Him will mean in the future of others and the kingdom of God.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Caregiver's Last Resort

 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
March 9:17-24

I have read this story many times over my lifetime,  yet until recently God had not revealed to me the connection of this story to caregiving.  The father mentioned here had suffered for years taking care of his demon possessed son.  After receiving no help or relief, has come to his last resort which was Jesus.  Let me stop here and ask, “How often as caregivers do we look to all other sources of help before we, out of desperation, turn to our last resort of Jesus Christ?”  I know I have done this and have to continue to remind myself to turn to Jesus as my first source of assistance, so don’t beat yourself up!

This father addresses Jesus and explains his situation and circumstances to him.  He explains to Jesus that he went to other people for help, which were Jesus’ disciples, yet they were of no help.  I like that this caregiver father was real with Jesus.  Many times we approach the thrown sounding good and looking good when all the time Jesus knows our hearts and knows what’s really going on, so why aren’t we truthful? 

Jesus responds to this caregiver by commanding him to bring his son to Him.  I want to shout when I read this for God still wants us to bring the ones we care for to Him.  He wants us to not only trust Him but trust the care of our loved ones to Him.  Jesus also asked the caregiver some very serious questions.  First was, “How long has he been like this?” which shows us that Jesus has an interest in what is happening in our personal situations and in our suffering.  It causes me to think that Jesus could read the eyes of this caregiver and sense the years of despair and frustration that lied within.  Our God has a heart of compassion for His children.  The father replies by explaining how bad things are and begs Jesus to take pity on them and help them if He can do anything.  I stopped with conviction when I reread this for I know many times I used to pray, “God, if you can do anything, please do it now.”  How silly and insulting that must be to our Father God.  The words “if” and “God” don’t belong together at all!  We must approach our Savior and Healer with confidence and assurance instead of doubt and half hearted hope.

Second, our Savior tells the caregiver that if he only believes his son can be healed.  Thankfully the father realized the power he is before and openly admits that he believes Jesus can do anything and we read of his son’s healing.  Wow!  I love the power of Jesus Christ and the way in which He uses it graciously and amazingly in this caregiver’s life and in ours, too. 

This healing was immediate, which all of us would like if given the choice.  For me, I have been praying for my husband’s healing over seven years, now.  I will tell you that healing is taking place yet it happens over time and didn’t happen all at once.  In fact, my husband is still not completely healed in the natural realm but we have already claimed his full healing and thank God for it daily.  We also have set backs when Brian is feeling bad or has slow days and still fear can creep back in.  During those times, we remind ourselves of where we were and how far God has carried us in order to stay focused on Him. 

I love this caregiver father for he not only accepted the call to care for his son, but also loved his son enough to carry him to Jesus.  Caregiver, don’t ever underestimate the power you hold in bringing your loved one to the throne of Jesus Christ daily.  Jesus cares and He is waiting for you just like He was that day when this desperate father brought his demon possessed son to the healer.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Valley Behind Us

Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain.

For over seven years, my husband and I have gone through the hardest times of our lives.  We have faced death, illness, financial insecurity, depression, anxiety, fear, and heartache.  We have also seen the love of God through others who have stood by us and helped us in ways that continue to amaze us.  We found hope, comfort, love, and gained a renewed faith in a God we loved but didn't fully trust.  We learned more about God and ourselves than we could have ever imagined. This time was definitely a valley in our lives.

Today our family was blessed to take a short drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway and took in all the beauty God has created there.  We have now lived in Lynchburg, Virginia for 9 weeks and daily see why God has called us here for this new season.  As I looked back at the pictures we took today, this one really stood out to me.  I saw more than just me and my husband, Brian.  I saw that we were standing high above the valley!  We were on top of the mountain.  We see in the scriptures that God called many of his people to the top of a mountain, so we are excited because He has called us out of the valley and to the mountain top in many ways!

Each time a person met God on top of the mountain, miraculous things would happen!  I am blessed to have stood on top of this mountain today with the valley behind me!  I also never forget that I stood with my husband and best friend that according to the best doctors in the country should not be alive!  God never left us in the valley and He continues to stand with us on the mountain top, too.  God had plans that we could have never dreamed possible, but we are loving every minute of it!  Don't ever underestimate God's power and where He can take you if you only obey!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Half of a Candy Bar

 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. Matthew 10:29-31

This morning I decided to get myself a breakfast treat at a quick service snack station within my building here at Liberty.  The ladies that work at this station have been so friendly since my arrival several weeks ago and we always chat while I am making my selections and being checked out.  This morning was just different and very special.  It will sound very simple to you at first, but when I finish I hope you see the beauty in half of a candy bar.  

As I came toward the counter I saw one of these sweet ladies eating a candy bar.  She quickly without any hesitation looked at me and said, “Here, this is for you.”  Normally I would have never taken half of a candy bar from a stranger but this was my favorite, an Almond Joy, and if you enjoy these you know it is made up of two mini candy bars.  I started to refuse but then I felt that it was a gift from her to me so I needed to accept.  I also became overwhelmed with emotion for my daddy and I have enjoyed these candy bars together for years.  Each time I eat one I think of him and eating them from a cooler on a hot summer day while on our family’s boat making memories.  Isn’t it funny that how half of a candy bar could make all those memories come rushing to my mind within only one short moment?  

I also quickly realized that God had shown His love for me in this gift for it could have been any kind of candy bar, yet He chose one that He knew I would like, want, and connect with.  That’s how awesome the God we serve really is.  That’s how much He cares about the simplest details of our everyday lives.  I looked at this dear lady and explained that it was special for it was a token from the Almighty and He used her to bless my heart.  She smiled and agreed, which only confirmed what God had already shown me to be His hand touching my life in every single possible way.  

I wonder today if you are noticing the ways in which God shows His love to you in simple yet precious ways.  When others show kindness to you, do you realize it is God’s hand at work?  Do you see the ways in which He blesses you all throughout your day or do you stay too rushed and too busy to ever see Him as He tries to gain your attention and affection around every corner?  Please, stop and notice Him.  He’s pretty amazing!  As for me, I will continue to serve and adore my Lord and why not?  I mean, there’s nothing than can top a Savior who not only died to save me but then turns around and gives me half of my favorite candy bar.  God really is that good!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jesus Is In the Boat!

" He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat."  Luke 5:3

For the past few days God continues to give me Luke chapter 5 and until I share it with someone who needs to hear it He won't stop.  This scripture seems pretty simple when you first read it.  We know a large crowd was pushing in on Jesus and He realized He would be more effective in His preaching if He were standing in a boat just off shore.  Then God revealed something much deeper to me, like He usually does!  

Simon allowed Jesus to enter his boat and after doing so some amazing things took place.  First Jesus was able to share the love of God.  When I allow Jesus to enter my "boat" or life, He is able to reach others!  Wow!  Hang on, though, because more happens for Simon after he allows Jesus to use his boat to reach others.  

Jesus goes out with Simon and others to fish but things are no going well at all.  They can't catch anything.  Boy can I relate to that.  As long as I am trying to make things happen for myself nothing really happens of any significance, but when I stop doing things my way and listen to the advice of the Savior miracles begin to take place!  Jesus tells them to cast the nets again on the right side of the boat.  They had to be thinking, "We have done this over and over.  Why should we keep trying and what will be different this time about that side of the boat?  Last time we tried there was nothing there."  I have felt the very same way about many things in my life, too.  Thankfully, they listened and tried once more for they were overwhelmingly blessed beyond anything they had ever seen before.  

That's how God works for His people and for those who are obedient to His instruction.  Are you strong enough to listen to the Father when it doesn't make sense?  Are you willing to listen to God when you have already tried what He tells you to do 100 times already?  I pray you do for He will open the doors that were meant for you to walk through and the windows that will rain blessings from heaven into your life!  Let Jesus climb into your boat today and just watch what happens!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Picking Up a Check

Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.

Recently, I had to pick up a check at work in the finance department.  Being new to the Liberty campus I knew which building to go to but wasn't sure where to find the office I needed.  I was escorted by a kind woman right to the desk of a woman named Penni.  I had no idea what God had in store for me during the next few moments.  

I was greeted with a smile and Penni quickly found the check I had come to pick up.  Before walking away I asked her another question dealing with my first paycheck.  She explained that it was a question for the HR department.  I asked if she could write down the name of the person I needed to contact.  Instead of getting me a piece of paper, she picked up her phone and explained to me that she was going to call and find out the answer for me!  

Before leaving Penni, I hugged her and thanked her for being so helpful and kind to me. Once I returned to my own office I couldn't get her off of my mind.  I sat down at my laptop, found her email, and sent her a message thanking her again for her help and then shared a little about myself and MDO Ministries.  Within minutes I received an email back from her explaining that she had been a caregiver to her husband who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  She went on to share her love for him and how difficult it was to be a caregiver.  She ended by explaining how she had lost him last November.  I sat at my desk and cried.  My heart broke for this caregiver.

What I want you to understand is that God has a purpose for everything you do and for everyone who crosses your path.  I just went to pick up a check and now have a connection with a caregiver and a new friend in Christ.  God longs to work in our daily lives if we only open our eyes, ears, and hearts to experience it.  I praise God for this amazing woman named Penni and for her story as a caregiver.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Words

A gentle response defuses anger,
    but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Proverbs 15:1

Recently, I was blessed to sit under the teaching of pastor and author Pete Wilson.  He spoke about a simple yet very powerful topic which was the words we speak to others.  It really is amazing how our lives are impacted by the words we speak and others speak to us.  There were three things that Pete said every person has in common and I wanted to share those with you today.

1st - Everyone uses words.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that our words hold the power of life and death.  That's pretty strong.  No matter who we are or what our present circumstances we all use words.

2nd - Your deepest joys and pains were all accomplished by words.

This nearly knocked me over because of the truth this statement holds.  The words of someone getting a job or being pregnant are words of pure joy but then words announce people's death and horrible news, too.

3rd - Your world of words is a world of trouble.

We all have conversations and say things we wished we had not had or said.  The difference comes in what we do and how we handle it once the damage has been done.  Do we not only apologize but admit what we said or did to the person?  Do we admit our words and as hard as it may be acknowledge the hurt we caused?  We have to take responsibility for our words.

The last thing I want to share is a statement that Pete said and I immediately wrote it down.  I know it has been true in my life and I'm sure in yours as well.

"Every word comes at a cost.  There is a long-term shelf life to painful words."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

So Much To Do

My husband, Brian, says that I become this “crazy lady” when I know people are coming to visit in our home.  He says things like, “Calm down, the house looks fine,” which only aggravates me and doesn’t help.  The problem is that I see all that needs to be done in preparation for their arrival.  I want my guests to feel welcomed and special.  I will admit that I do go overboard.  I mean, I know I’ve never looked at the dust on top of someone’s refrigerator.  Have you? 

In this passage Jesus has come to visit in the home of Mary and Martha, two sisters.  Martha is very much like me when I have visitors.  She is the hostess with the mostess!  She is cooking and taking care of all her guests’ needs while her sister, Mary, is just hanging out at the feet of Jesus.  Martha has taken all of this she can handle and says to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me” Luke 10:40.  Jesus is so cool and in response He lovingly tells Martha no because Mary is putting being with him before all else.  Whoa!  That’s powerful! 

The Holy Spirit used this to speak to my heart by saying, “Jessica, how often to you spend time with me instead of all this running around and busy work you do?  How often do you find quiet times for only you and me to be alone?”  I had to answer, “Not often enough, Lord.  I am so sorry.  Please, forgive me.”  This is a daily struggle for we Martha’s.  So much is around us that needs to be done and something inside of us tells us we are the ones to take care of it all.  I believe there can be a balance.  I long to be half Mary and half Martha rolled into one.  I want to serve my Lord but at the same time I need to stop and just be with Him, too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blessing the Latter

I want to give a disclaimer before I ever begin by saying that I am NOT comparing myself to Job!  I would never want to even come close to his absolute suffering, but at the same time I think he endured so many different things so that as believers there is at least one area we can ALL relate to Job in.  He definitely was the ultimate package when it came to suffering! 

With that perfectly clear, I will move along. Ha!  What I am pulling from today is a specific scripture from the book of Job.  Chapter 42 verse 12 is simple yet powerful.  It tells us, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life with more than the former part.”  Job was a godly man, wealthy in property, animals, and family.  We would say today that Job had it all.  Then as we read the book of Job, which I don’t encourage on a down day, we see that everything was taken from him.  He lost his family, his wealth, even his own health.  But, we know that even at the lowest point Job would not curse our God and for his faithfulness God rewarded Job in the later part of his life.  I too, can relate to Job in several ways.

In 2006 I had it made, or so I thought.  I had married the man I loved and we had a beautiful two year old healthy daughter.  I was in the career field I had dreamed of all my life, which was teaching and did so at a school only minutes from my dream home and neighborhood.  My husband had a very successful job as an estimator for a large construction company and money was plentiful for the first time.  I drove a new car which was traded every other year and I wore very stylist clothing.  I had friends and family that I enjoyed being with and could not have been any happier.  Then one night it all changed and I lost it all slowly over the following two years. 

My 27 year old husband lay in a hospital bed and I was told his heart muscle was not functioning.  I was also told that he would not be able to ever return to work.  I became his caregiver as I continued to work full time and support a family on a teacher’s salary.  We sold one of the cars and got a very old used vehicle that we could afford.  We stopped shopping and I stopped buying new clothes.  Bills began to pill up and it seemed things could not have gotten any worse, but I didn’t know they really could.  In 2009 after selling our dream home and downsizing, our daughter was in an accident that nearly took her life and I then became her caregiver for over three months of recovery.  Soon after this problems arose in my career.  I then found myself working for a principal that did not understand my situation.  Things worsened and I was forced to resign from a 17 year career in education on October 31, 2011 after much persecution.  During this time the stress of work had also began to affect my own health and had caused me to develop severe anxiety as well as stomach issues.  I can say with confidence that my God never left my side.  Over the past seven years I have become solely dependent on my Savior and creator!  I have learned that He alone is my caregiver and that He will never leave nor forsake me.  I did have doubts and terrible fears but when I called to Him they were taken away.  He always found ways for me to escape and make it through.
We see that Job was blessed in his later years which always gave me home.  God also gave Job much greater than he had in the beginning.  I can tell you today that God is doing just that for me.  My husband’s heart function has increased from 5% to over 35%, which we are told is medically impossible.  My daughter was healed completely from her accident.  God took care of all our medical bills and we don’t owe one penny! When it comes to my career, well let’s just say that God gives you back even greater for instead of being a public school librarian as I once was; I am presently a research librarian for Liberty University, the largest and fastest growing Christian university in the world. Then a ministry in January 2011 for the spiritual encouragement of caregivers around the world, which would have never happened unless I had become a caregiver!  God is doing what His Word says He will do.  I am just excited about what is to come. 

Are you?  Do you believe that what is happening to you today is not forever?  Do you believe that your best days are ahead?  Do you believe that God can use anyone at any age to do outstanding things for His kingdom?  He can and He will if you only believe.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Write Your Future Down

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

When I read this powerful scripture I see that God says very specifically that we are to write what we desire to see in our future.  The message translation even says to write it in big block letters so that it can be seen even if a person runs by.  I love picturing that in my imagination!  Would any of us be brave enough to write all our dreams on a billboard along the highway?  It says to do so because it is a witness to what is soon to come.  My favorite part is when it calls it a "vision-message."  We must see our dreams coming to pass in the spiritual realm long before they actually take place in reality.

Next, God says that our future aches to come and can hardly wait!  I don't know about you but that excites me.  There is something that I have dreamed of doing for several years and today I actually wrote it in large letters on a piece of paper and attached this scripture to it.  I love knowing that God can't wait to see this dream become a reality in my life.  God also says that our future is not a lie.  God never lies.

The end of this portion of scripture is as if it were written just for me.  I can't stand to wait and it specifically says that it seems to be coming slowly, but that I have to continue to wait.  BUT, God says, "Don't worry, sweet child for it is on the way!  It will come right on time."  Never doubt the power and love the Lord holds and that His desire is for us to love Him.  I am waiting and watching. Won't you join me in claiming your future and your dreams?  Write them down and watch them happen in the Name of Jesus!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Unconditional Love

This past week I lost my pet, Miss Nina.  She was a gentle, beautiful, loving boxer bulldog who loyally loved and served my family for almost 8 years.  We received Nina into our home months before she turned 4 and spoiled her until last day with us this past Thursday.  On September 26th, our family decided to release her from cancer and the pain she was enduring.  My husband and I took her to our vet's office where we were greeted with compassion and love.  I held my sweet baby girl as she peacefully and quietly took her last breath with us.  I actually felt her leave but it was a beautiful moment.  My tears were those of relief because her pain had finally ended.  The healing I had prayed for her so many times happened right before my eyes.

Her love for me was unconditional in the truest sense of the word.  For some reason Nina became my shadow.  Everywhere I went she was close behind.  If I got up, she got up.  If I left the room, she followed me.  When I came home from anywhere she acted as if it were the best thing in the world.  She made me feel special and loved no matter what else was going on in my world.  She was the best listener I've ever known, too.  Maybe it was because she couldn't talk!  At the same time, she could have walked away, but never did.

What I will miss most is Nina's love for me.  No one else loved me like Nina did except for my Lord.  I believe He loved me through my Nina.  Don't get me wrong.  My husband and daughter love me.  My parents and sister love me.  My family and friends love me, but this love was different.  It was UNCONDITIONAL.  Nina had no expectations of me.  Nina did not get mad at me. Nina didn't care what I said or did.  Nina didn't care what function I attended or what I did for a living.  Nina didn't care what I looked like or even if my hair looked good.  Nina didn't expect me to always make the right decision or be perfect.  Nina never hurt me or showed contempt against me.  Nina was never ugly to me.

Nina just loved me no matter what.  Even though my heart is broken and I miss her so much that tears are now a constant for me, I would do it all again to experience that kind of love.  God knew that I would need her over the past seven years of my life and He knew the kind of love I would need could only come from a beautiful boxer named Miss Nina Daly.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Not Accepted

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7 NIV

In the past few months of my life as a caregiver, I have listened to the voice of God more attentively than ever before.  At the very same time, I have met some of the hardest opposition from those who do not accept me nor what I was being told to do by the Lord. God tells us very clearly in the scripture above that we are to accept one another just as Christ accepted us and when we do it is a way in which to praise Him. 

I want to make it clear that when you accept someone it doesn't always mean that you agree or fully understand what they are doing.  What it does mean is that if they tell you that God is leading them and you can see the doors God is opening in their life, you should not discourage them or hinder them.  It means praying over them even if what they have been called to do doesn't fit into your plan for them.  Accepting someone means that you are okay with being different and you ask God to give you peace about what is happening.  

Those who cannot accept me or what God is doing in my life cannot be a hindrance or worry to me.  This may seem cold, but it is not in my control to change their minds or actions.  I can only pray for their eyes to be opened to see all that God is doing in my life for my good and hope that one day they can learn to accept me.  If I worry and become upset each time someone lashes out or says something hurtful to me because they cannot accept me or God's plan for my life, I would stay worried and upset which is not a part of God's plan. God's Word tells me not to worry and to trust Him.  I am sharing my heart with you today for I know I am not alone.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unseen Needs

I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.

As a caregiver, I remember many Sundays when I would leave church feeling more alone than when I entered the doors an hour earlier.  Instead of feeling encouraged and refueled for another week of intensive caregiving, I would be sad and exhausted from all the questions concerning my husband's health and latest Dr.'s appointment.  No one ever realized what was happening and I was never sad that others loved my husband and were praying for him.  Don't think that for a second.

BUT, at the same time, I was rarely ever asked how I was doing or feeling.  Not many ever asked me how all this had affected me or told me they were specifically praying for me.  When prayer requests were given in worship service, my husband's name was announced but never mine.  When names for prayer were written in the bulletin for people to pray over during the week, my husband's always appeared but never mine.

My church wasn't being insensitive they just didn't know any better.  They had never stopped and thought about me as the caregiver or my spiritual needs.  Because of this, it has become a personal mission of mine through MDO Ministries to make churches aware of the needs of the caregivers within their congregations.  Just like women, men, children, teens, young adults, singles, married couples, and the elderly, caregivers deserve and need their own group and support from the church.  I know that pastors and church boards would be amazed if they only polled their congregation during one Sunday morning worship service to see how many sitting in the pews consider themselves to be caregivers.  I also believe that when pastors and staff members visit people in hospitals, rest homes, and even homes, they should be aware of the needs of the caregivers along with those they are going to visit.  What if a caregiver they encounter is NOT a Christian?  What an amazing way to witness and bring another person to the Savior!

Do not think for a moment I am beating up the church.  I just know that unless we make it our goal to bring awareness to leaders in the church, it will never change.  I want to send a shout out to a church that has greatly inspired me in this which is Mount Olive P. H. Church in Mt. Olive, NC.  This church as a caregiver support group that not only meets to support one another in the Word of God and in prayer for one another but they also pray for other caregivers!  Another amazing outreach they participate in is providing care packages to caregivers.  I was invited to be their guest speaker for a meeting and I left more blessed and inspired than when I arrived thinking I would do that for them!

If your church does not provide support for caregivers, speak up today and propose that something can be started.  Caregivers are searching and longing for support.  Let's make the church of God the place they can go to find the One who cares for them.