Pray for Peter

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

Caring Amidst Caregiving

Confession time: being a caregiver can disincline you to care about others. A paradox, yes, but here’s how the rationale goes: God has laid on me a heavy burden. Caregiving to an invalid is a full-time job. It can dominate my thoughts and energies. If I need to have a life outside of caregiving, it needs to be for the purpose of taking care of me, so I can keep on taking care of Pete. Now, there is truth in these statements; I won’t refute them. But there’s also an inherent risk in giving free rein to such sentiments: selfishness. And without strong application of other ideas, our caregiving will fail to do in us the beautiful spiritual work that God designed for it to accomplish.

You would think that learning the role of a caregiver would foster great heights of spiritual devotion, would give flesh and blood to the good Samaritan story. Yet, our natural default to selfishness, so easy to justify when the burden is light, is infinitely easier when our load has us staggering. How effortlessly we conclude that we’ve got all we can take! How quickly a willful ignorance of the struggles of others—outside our own struggles—settles in. And we instinctively coddle our own selfishness, even pass it off as a virtue: “I have a heavier burden than most people, and they live for themselves. Ergo, I am better because I am a caregiver. I know what it means to deny myself because my life is taken up in caring for Peter.”

The Lord has His ways of dispelling such delusions. It goes like this: Our hardships bring to the surface the hidden self-interest we keep tucked away in our hearts. First, if I am to be like Christ, I don’t get to decide where and when I can be selfish as a reward for having met my quota of selflessness. If I am to be like Christ, I “always do the will of my Father in heaven.” If I am to be like Christ, none of my living gets to be for myself, “but for him who for ‘our’ sake died and was raised.”*

The battle against this stripe of selfishness requires me to be ruthless, but realistic. Victory cannot play out in my performing proud feats of service to others that require my neglect of Peter or of necessary rest. I need humble dependence on God to show me ways to come alongside others as we come alongside Pete. Thus, even when I can’t be as hospitable as I’d like because we care for an invalid in our home, I can still ask about people’s burdens and struggles when I see them. Even though we can’t be as involved in as many ministries, we can pray fervently for those who are. I can care about people outside my frame of focus and maintain an outward mindset even from within the four walls of my home.

I cannot let caregiving incline me to isolate myself, for that would break out against all sound judgment (Pr. 18:1). God intends that we live in community. He guides us through His word and through His church. Our hearts are deceitful and we need each other, not only for how “they” can meet “my” needs, but for the flip side as well. They need me to help them, even if how I do it feels a bit lackluster on my part at times. The Lord wants me to be faithful in small acts of service that may also be obscure. Our hunger for significant service is a function of our pride.

So Lord, today, give me an outward, unselfish mindset to give care to more people than Peter only. And give me the humility to be okay when giving my all means putting in two small copper coins.*

Selah

*John 8:29
2 Corinthians 5:15
Luke 21:2-4

New Year’s Greetings from the Helms family

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Our Thanksgiving letter, postponed till Christmas, has now become a New Year’s greeting.

Our family picture, eventually taken, came after bouts of illness and chaos, complete with our three-year-old grandson wiping out on the bricks right as he was making his way to the right spot to pose.

So, now, here we are, finally getting around to posting something. To those who’ve been asking and watching patiently for an update, thanks much!

Our tardiness sketches vividly what our lives are like living with a disability: we cannot be in a hurry. Disability slows us down to a habitual plod, because we can’t reach around all that we did before. We can’t make dozens of Christmas cookies and make sure everyone has the right present or even get our holiday greenery in place and jolly. Instead, we have to make sure that Pete gets his breathing treatments when the weather gets cold and dry, and that he still gets his mat exercises in for physical therapy when our helpers are out for Christmas, and that we are rested enough to take on his overnight care when his night nurse has a winter cold. Doesn’t always feel Christmas-y.

Still, the Lord gives us everything He has for us. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by our tortoise-style pace. In fact, He multiplies our time to us.

So when our three children, their spouses, our three grandchildren, and some nieces and nephews spent days with Doug, Peter and me over the holidays, somehow, the four dozen eggs, the 24 cups of coffee, and the pounds of bacon untold were scrambled, brewed and fried up every day. Everyone pitched in cheerily to make it happen. They keep it from falling on our shoulders. And our faithful mat session team showed up to help even on Christmas Eve. Likewise, a dear friend from church baked several dozen cookies to give me a supply to share with neighbors and night nurses, so that I can have a way of reaching out to others over the holidays. What can we give that we are not given?!

Our slowness keeps us aware that our own resources are not what moves us forward. We only must hold up the staff: the Lord parts the waters. What a chance to stand still and see the marvelous works made possible when He invades our world!

The Scripture says that the redeemed of the Lord must tell where and when and in what manner this redemption has occurred. This New Year, Lord willing, my aim is to post monthly to testify how the Lord’s Christmas incarnation and subsequent work brings us along. We want to lift him up and encourage others who are slowed with the burden of disability or grief, because, the Lord GOD says, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’” Isaiah 28:16

 

Mom’s Book Release! — That Your Faith May Not Fail, Peter’s Sermon, by Selah Helms

We are grateful to the Lord to announce the release of Peter’s book, a story of his life, our journey with him the last five years, and the sustaining grace of our great God!

That Your Faith May Not Fail, Peter’s Sermon, by Selah Helms is available on Amazon for $16.99. For you prayer warriors who’ve sustained us, we would like to make the book available at a discount. Private message Selah Helms on Facebook if you are interested.

peterssermon
Here are some of the reviews that have come in so far:

“a true love story between a family and their God . . .” – Barb Stewart

“. . . a poignant and moving account of God’s faithfulness in the midst of great challenge and serious struggle. . . . .  Highly recommended!” – David S. Dockery, Ph.D – President, Trinity International University

“This book tells the story of fiery trials, tested faith, and the Lord’s sustaining grace in the lives of a godly family who were entrusted with a severe mercy. That Your Faith May Not Fail is a stirring account of how God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, of how our light momentary afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” –Brian Hedges, pastor, Fulkerson Park Baptist Church
 

“Selah Helms . . . has written a captivating book that I could hardly put down. The story is gripping and God-honoring as Selah and her husband Doug and their children grapple with the events of Peter’s accident and afterwards. This is one book you will want to read. I highly recommend it.” – Martha Peace, Biblical Counselor and author of The Excellent Wife

“. . . .This moving account of how they have and are walking through the ordeal of Peter’s suffering is truly powerful. I was challenged and encouraged by reading it. I found myself yearning to know God more richly, to trust Him more fully, to love my family more deeply, and to immerse myself more completely into God’s Word. I urge you to read this book and pass it on to others because it will be useful in building up believers and calling people to faith in Jesus, as it recounts how this family has found God faithful as they have been held fast by the great gospel truths.” – Ray Van Neste, Ph.D, Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Professor of Biblical studies, Union University
 

“This resource will stimulate the reader to view the sanctity of life through the lens of scripture concurrently with providing practical helps for any woman to assume the biblical role of caregiver.  Knowing the Helms family personally, I can affirm that they daily model their trust in their heavenly Father and His sovereignty that the book so clearly presents regardless of the outward circumstances.” – Patricia A. Ennis, Ph. D, CFCS – Distinguished Professor of Homemaking and Director of Homemaking Programs,
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I am abundantly grateful to the LORD for the inspiring privilege to read That Your Faith May Not Fail. . . .In the midst of a culture that speaks of “quality of life” issues and devalues suffering, the Helms’ God-given testimony speaks like a megaphone. Our belief system tells us that Peter has been used of the LORD to teach others to sacrificially love. In the midst of skepticism about the value of the Church he has been used by our LORD to show the beauty of the body of Christ in action. In the midst of the degradation of the American family, He has allowed the Helms family to model its tremendous depth and beauty. Please feed your soul and reinforce your theology by reading this book.” – Ernie Baker, D.Min, Professor of Biblical Counseling The Master’s College

Humor

I hope that Joe understands, because, sometimes, to live with us, he has to watch Doug and me acting a little, well, goofy.

We tease and make puns and throw ourselves into various comical personas, all designed to give each other a few laughs in the ways we know will be appreciated by the other. We recollect innocent witticisms that Winston, our three-year-old grandson, has sprung on us. We pretend to misunderstand something said, or we capitalize on unsettling events in the news, sometimes at the expense, of others, I’m afraid. We toss movie or book lines back and forth to each other, especially those of Dickens, Austen, or Lewis, but also from Babe or What About Bob? for our less bookish fare. We feign offense with each other, or we twist the meaning of a comment, then laugh aloud, tickled by our own attempts at humor.

And when a day has left us exhausted and real cleverness lies beyond the grasp of our mental energy, we willingly settle for just plain slapstick.

By humor, actually, the Lord conveys much grace to our lives, even while, at times, it may appear somewhat dorky. We like it.

And we understand it to be a way that we can comfort each other midst the disappointments and setbacks of the day, setbacks in ministry or discipleship or care with Peter, those hardships which often no one else knows about, struggles of which others are blissfully unaware. Some sorrows dwell in secret.

To watch us carrying on, do our friends realize that, “even in laughter, the heart may ache”? (Proverbs 14:13)

Yet Solomon’s wisdom also assures us that laughter cures the heart of many ills. It would be a shame not to employ it. And as in true comic literature, like works from some of our above favorites, we hope it’s an indication of character growth and redemption.

Can we pick up on the aches underneath the laughter in others? We’d be selfish clods not to listen for the deeper meaning behind the dialogue. For the Lord comforts us in our afflictions, so that we can look for the occasion to comfort others. (2 Corinthians 1)

 

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