Pray for Peter

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

Author: Selah (page 1 of 3)

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

 

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)

 

News and Updates

To Peter’s faithful prayer warriors, news and updates:

So, the year of 2015 jumped off to a much better start than 2014 did. We are settled into our new home. It works very well for Peter’s needs and for ours. Not only did the Lord answer our prayers for a more suitable home, but as well, he has provided already a young man to come live with us! (Remember this prayer request from last year?) Joe is a college student who also goes to our church, and he has been a good fit with us and Peter. Between this young man and three others that the Lord has sent into our lives–people who love Peter and care for him with a standard of excellence–Peter’s needs are well-covered right now. This is such a provision to us, and I am so glad I have the time and space to write you how the Lord brought us through to this point.

Last year was somewhat discouraging, as we lost caregiver after caregiver over the months, and we had to pack up and move–always a major stressor–at the same time. I am not sure all that the Lord wants to teach us during those kinds of times, as it was super tiring and sparse in comfort. But I have learned that the greatest prayer the Lord can answer on our behalf is to keep us faithful unto death. James 5:11 tells us that we can consider a person blessed by the Lord when he remains faithful under trial. The same sentiment shows up in Psalm 119:56, which indicates the Lord’s blessing on a person sparkles, not when everything is going well, but when he obeys the Lord’s precepts faithfully.

It appears evident the Scripture views faithfulness as the big catch, not freedom from being inconvenienced, or freedom from pain and suffering, or even freedom to have an easy time of doing what we think God wants us to do. How we have been blessed if the Lord keeps us faithfully on the path, doggedly so, in spite of setbacks and hardships!

Now that these provisions are in place, we don’t put our hope in them, but in the Lord’s faithfulness to us to keep us faithful in plenty or in want. However, I am hopeful that I will have more opportunities to write for this blog, because there are other things I think the Lord is giving to us that I want to share. So, more soon, Lord willing.

Learning to live to hear the “well-done,”
Selah (for Doug, Peter, and the family)

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