The holidays can be full of joy, but also full of tears. This is especially true for those of us caring for elderly parents and/or grandkids with health issues, not to mention the widows and widowers among all of us in the baby boomer generation, as well as our senior parents.
The first Christmas after my husband went home to heaven was very difficult emotionally. We survived it but it was very hard! When my senior dad was in the end stage of Parkinsons Disease, he went into hospice at Thanksgiving, was ill through Christmas, and went home to the Lord in early January. It was a much quieter Advent season for all of us, including my senior mom, that year as well. I'm grateful, though, that we did have many moments of joy in each of these situations, thanks to the gifts of time and love from good friends and sweet family members!
Through these times and others, I have grown to love the comforting and encouraging Bible verses in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
Going through pain and suffering is never fun or easy, but as hard as it is, I am so encouraged to know that God is always with me throughout it and that He truly is the God of all comfort. And I was blessed over and over by the encouragement I received from others who had walked the path we were now on. In the later months, I was also comforted by many who took me out to lunch or tea to lift my spirits. I was also encouraged that, during those occasions, I was often able to help them and even comfort them in the struggles they were dealing with, as I shared of God's power and provision during our difficult days.
For many in the Sandwich Generation, caring for elderly parents and helping with grandkids, time is so short it's hard to make or keep up with friends at church or elsewhere. The internet has proven to be a blessing to many caregivers, including myself, by giving us new friends online through such sites as BloggerSpirit with their encouraging Spiritual Sundays, Floss at Troc Broc and Recup with her delightful A Pause in Advent, Internet Cafe Devotions making our Wednesdays brighter with Word-Filled Wednesday, and so many other encouraging and fun sites. And, of course, there are several great sites specific to caregiving, including Caregiving.com, run by Denise Brown. Denise and her site have been a sweet source of encouragement to me the past couple of years and I've made several new friends through it.
As a matter of fact, today is the beginning of the annual Holiday Progressive Blog Party at Caregiving and, once again, SandwichINK is enjoying participating in it all week long and invites you to come along for the fun. You'll meet new caregivers, read about others in similar situations to your own, have a chance for fun prizes, and be encouraged during this holiday season, even if caregiving or health is keeping you at home.
After all, it's Christmastime, Jesus' birthday, and that is reason enough to smile and raise a cup of hot chocolate to encourage each other and ourselves as we provide tender loving care for our aging parents! And I must say, that sounds like a WONDERFUL introduction to one of my favorite Christmas praise and worship songs this season. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith just keeps "sweeping me off my feet" and putting a huge smile on my face, even as I'm busy driving from senior parent to grandkids and back again. To enjoy it, just click on PLAY on the Smilebox ecard. 🙂
One of my favorite ways to prepare for Christmas during the season of Advent is through music and wasn't that an uplifting song? Hmmm, hot chocolate, new and old friends, comforting Bible verses and delightful Christmas music! Sounds like the perfect recipe for a delightful Advent season for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for elderly parents and helping with grandkids! Don't forget to check back here and at Caregiving.com all week for more holiday fun and encouragement!
P.S. Speaking of Caregiving and Fun, SandwichINK is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card here at SandwichINK AND another $15 gift card at Caregiving.com. Perfect for the busy elder caregiver to download encouraging and comforting Christmas praise and worship music, a new caregiving book, or maybe even one of the lovely and unique Christmas ornaments that make great gifts for the elderly parents in your life. Just leave a comment anywhere and anytime this week (through 8 p.m. EST on December 12, 2010) at SandwichINK for my giveaway. Check out Caregiving.com for their rules. And MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🙂