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During this holiday season, there are so many fun things to do and grand memories to warm our hearts. Unfortunately, there is also, often, too little sleep, too many meals on the run, and sometimes, unexpected health issues that crop up. Studies show that more elderly are admitted to the hospital during the holidays than the rest of the year. Part of that is because we are visiting elderly relatives and catch problems. But that doesn’t explain it all.
I remember several years ago when I had to leave a Thanksgiving worship service to head home and take my dad to the hospital because pneumonia had hit him again. That turned out to be the pivotal moment in his journey with Parkinson’s Disease as a few days later he entered hospice. That was one of the 2-3 hardest holiday seasons – full of many sad and bittersweet moments interspersed with smiles at the grandkids and hugs with each other.
It was also a time of much less sleep, a ton of worries, extra stress, and so many extra people in our home – hospice workers, relatives coming to help, long distance relatives coming to visit my sweet dad. There were many times we could have argued or hurt each other with unintentionally sharp words.
One passage God kept bringing to my mind was Proverbs 3:3-6. This whole passage is such a blessing to caregivers at any time, and especially when we are in “the trenches.”
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Those weeks were so hard. I often felt like I was going in circles, wading through darkness, bumping into things mentally. Yet when I look back, I can see how God was leading me directly, specifically, and carefully and never let go of me or my family.
I typed my favorite Bible verses out on a piece of paper and kept it in my pocket. When things would get too overwhelming, I would tell my mom I was going out for 5 minutes and I would walk around the block as fast as I could, while reading from that page. I would come back refreshed physically, emotionally, and spiritually – my way of “writing them on the tablet of my heart.”
Caregiving is never easy. But when we keep our eyes on God, seek to use only kindness with truth as we help our loved ones, and keep God’s Words in our heart (and our pockets), it truly does make a wonderful and positive difference. I pray that this holiday season will shine brightly and beautifully for us all this year. And for those of us that may end up having to deal with the sadly expected – or unexpected, I pray for His provision, His wisdom, and His comfort to surround us – to “wrap us in cotton” full of His love. Blessings to you all!