Monday, November 1, 2010

Practical Tips for Caregivers

by Angela Pisel

Most women at one time in their life will be called upon to be a caregiver. Whether it is for a chronically ill child or an aging parent, here are some tips to help you keep the added responsibility in perspective.

· Remember that even Jesus rested. Prioritize time for yourself to rejuvenate. Consider “me” time a necessity, not a luxury.

· Ask God to reveal what He is trying to teach you through this situation. Thank God (whether you feel like it or not) for giving you the opportunity to be a servant to others.

· Think about the emotional and spiritual needs of the person you are helping. These needs, although often unspoken, are critical to the healing process.

· Don’t feel guilty about asking for help. No one can do this alone. Find one person you can vent to when the situation seems overwhelming.

· Care giving is for a season. Other responsibilities on your to-do list may need to slide.

· Go online and search for “resources for caregivers.” You will find links for valuable information on various topics such as governmental assistance and tips on ways to avoid burnout.

Angela Pisel is a freelance writer, speaker and Christian life coach who lives in Hickory, North Carolina. She is the author of the book “Praying for Your Kids Character – 31 Ways in 31 Days.” She and her husband, Greg are the proud parents of four children. She can be contacted at

Parenting from a Different Vantage Point

By Doris M. Cush

I was home making cookies when our son asked, “Mom, who’s that girl?” “Oh honey, that’s the baby Jesus in a manger under the Christmas tree.” “Who’s she?” “What do you mean ‘she’?! You’re kidding, right?!” I mused. As I glanced at his clueless disposition awaiting my response, I clearly remained dumbfounded. Normally, this could have been an adorable moment, but since he only graced our threshold less than a month ago, I realized my husband and I were parenting from a different vantage point. Adopting an older child means being prepared for the unexpected. For us, the key lesson was learning how to confront our child’s past as we learned to define our future together as a family.

At four years old, our precious bundle of joy came to us with his hurts, hang-ups and habits. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t the least bit surprised. We were hoping for a longer “honeymoon” period. But for better or worse, we prayed through our son’s night terrors, public meltdowns, unwarranted outbursts and unexplainable insecurities. We were determined as a family to trust the Lord with our little boy’s fragile heart. We forged ahead flip-flopping parenting roles between “dastardly villain Mom” and “amazing superhero Dad.” In the process, God taught us how to turn dilemmas into precious, teachable moments.

With so many from which to choose, I can remember a particular event like it was yesterday. It was our son’s first city bus ride and I had planned every detail perfectly. We would go to the library for story time, have lunch downtown, walk to the old-fashioned candy store for a treat and take the bus home.

But ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men! By the time I realized the library wouldn’t be open for at least an hour, I was well into Plan B. After 20 minutes of browsing through a department store, I was sitting Indian styled on the floor protecting the head of a screaming banshee from doing bodily harm to himself all under the watchful eye of a city police officer. “Dear Lord, please help!” was my repetitious prayer.

Giving up on the outing, I finally tossed our son over my shoulder trekking four blocks to the bus stop and home sweet home. With each step, my agitated petitions were being answered. His flailing lessened and the reality of the morning’s events sank in as we boarded the bus. Fear had been talking and I had to look beyond the behavior to hear what it was telling my son.

“Sorry, mom,” he repeated through his tears. And my arms, which previously carried him down the street like a sack of potatoes now warmly embraced his worn-out frame. He buried his head in my arms and slept the rest of the way home. I quietly offered up prayers of thanksgiving.

Our son came with no instructions, but what child, adopted or not, does? And yet, the only true, how-to manual any parent has at their disposal is God’s word. As parents, we learn to “trust in the Lord with ALL our heart and lean not on our own understanding.” We learn to embrace our children through love, consistency and constancy. And if all else fails, we learn to stand, reaching out for support from loved ones and wise counsel from professional, Christian therapists.

Well, three months after baby Jesus was put away with the rest of the Christmas decorations, I got to experience another precious moment. While running errands, our son recited the entire resurrection story from the backseat of our minivan as we sat at the stoplight.

“Mom, guess what? See those crosses? That’s where Jesus and the two thieves were. One’s with him in heaven and Jesus isn’t there anymore!” “Him? He said,’ him’!” I had to hold back the tears when the light changed and our son resumed playing “smash ‘em up” with his action figures. That precious moment caught me marveling at God’s handiwork. And from this particular parenting vantage point forged from consistency and love, the view was quite spectacular!

Doris Cush provides true-life musings on her blog, Embrace His Truth ( Infused with humor, encouragement and a bit of “real talk,” she loves bringing truth to life’s common misconceptions. Doris’ spare time involves more writing, ministry, teaching, crafting and songwriting detail with her husband, Dan. Their adoptive vantage point includes 11-year old, Jakji and a 4-year old Rhodesian Ridgeback-Beagle mix, Ginger.

Overcoming Anger

by Jenny Smith

I sank slowly to the ground in my kitchen, right in the same spot, where the cabinets meet and form a v-shape. For some reason I’m drawn here every time. Maybe on some level the closeness of the cabinets feels like someone’s comforting arms. Not that anyone would comfort me if they knew what I had just done.

As tears poured down my face I feel so helpless, defeated and shameful. I’m in church weekly, a volunteer at the elementary school, and harboring a secret that if anyone knew would cause me to lose everything. Why can’t I get my anger under control? Why do I hurt my little ones, with my words and actions, over and over?

My secret was anger. The cycle was vicious. I would blow up, cry my eyes out in my corner and then get up acting like it never happened. Deep down I wanted to change, I did everything I knew to do. I prayed, I tried and I failed, over and over. At the time, I was teaching an adult class at church, we had started a study on the book of James. It was in that book where I discovered something that changed me.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).

I can still remember when I saw those words on the page, I started sweating and I felt like I might throw up. I wanted God to make my anger go away, but I would never consider telling anyone. What would they do? Who would they tell? How would people treat me?

My girls were young, Meghan was nine, Katie was six and Lauren was four. I knew what I was doing was marking their lives. ‘Confess your faults’ must have rolled around my head for days. One evening I was walking down the hall at church and I saw our Pastor’s wife. As I asked her if we could talk, I started stammering. I thought I was going to die! I really can’t remember exactly what I told her, but it was at that moment that I changed.

The power of a secret is huge! Once I pulled my secret out into the light, then God started showing me what steps I needed to take next to be healed. In my case, it was telling my husband. That was a painful conversation; he was so disappointed in me. Next, came getting down with the girls individually and telling them bluntly it was sinning when mom said/did that, and it was wrong. Would they forgive me?

Now my girls are seventeen, thirteen and eleven, and they still remember some of the bad times, but what they remember most is that mom changed. I’m not the same anymore, I have been healed!

If you are hanging on to a secret, I know that if you share it the power will be broken. Find someone you can trust and tell them. Nothing is more exciting than freedom!

Jenny’s passion is sharing both her struggles and successes with women to encourage them in their own walk with Jesus. Jenny and her husband Chad, reside in Adairsville, Georgia with their three girls, Meghan, Katie, and Lauren. You can visit Jenny’s website at for more resources.

Who Makes a Family?

By LeAnn Rice

Between the loss of my husband, Ron, and living on the opposite coast from my parents and in-laws, holidays felt mighty lonely. Empty chairs around the table, fewer stockings hung, and wrapping presents alone made me keenly aware of the smallness of my family of two. But letting people in is not easy for me. Loss and betrayal have resulted in protective walls around my heart. Big ones. Walls to keep me from being hurt again.

For years, I was so afraid of letting anyone in that I found myself completely alone with my sweet little boy who didn’t understand why our home wasn’t filled with family on special occasions and why there were so many empty chairs at our dinner table. I knew I desired our home to be filled with people, laughter and memories, but how could I make that happen?

I didn’t know, but God did. Over the years, God put little cracks in my walls and brought a handful of treasured friends to fill the empty chairs around our table and the voids in our lives.

~ Friends who fill in the gaps when I am unable to pick Nick up from school.

~ Friends who include us in family celebrations.

~ Friends who take care of home repairs that are beyond my capabilities.

~ Friends who let me be “Aunt LeLe” to their children.

~ Friends who notice that Nick needs a positive male role model in his life and someone to hit a tennis ball with.

~ Friends who help with the yard work in our overgrown forest of weeds and leaves.

~ Friends who notice that I don’t always fit in, so they find ways to fit me into their lives.

~ Friends who continue to eat my kitchen experiments no matter how many times I set
off the smoke alarm.

I may not have the life I imagined or hoped for, but it is my life and I am grateful for the blessings of family and friends who love Nick and me and fill in some of the empty spaces in our hearts.

I have to be honest though…I miss the holidays I used to have. Yes, I feel loved when my new “family” gathers for a big Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas celebration. But, they have families of their own: parents, siblings, or in-laws to visit on Christmas, so our celebration takes place on a different day. Christmas morning comes around and it is still just Nick and me sitting by the tree. Well… except for that spoiled rotten cat of ours.

If you find yourself in the same situation here are a few ideas that I hope will help get you through the holidays:

• Find a family or organization that needs something you can offer. It may be bringing ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner to a family that can’t afford a turkey and fixings. Maybe a family needs help purchasing and wrapping presents for their children who would otherwise have no gifts under their Christmas tree. Collect warm coats, blankets and socks for a homeless shelter. Help a shut-in write and send Christmas cards to friends and family. Simply find a need (and there is always a need) that you are gifted and have a heart for, and fill it.

• See if there are others who will be alone on a holiday and celebrate together. Prepare and serve a “family” meal or have everyone bring a dish to share. Maybe include a silly game to keep the mood lively.

• Volunteer to serve a holiday meal at a local soup kitchen.

I have found that doing for others makes me feel so much better. It takes the focus off of me, and I am blessed to be a blessing to someone else.

Maybe your situation is different. Maybe your home will be filled with family and friends this holiday season. Do you know someone who will be alone? Consider opening your home and heart to include them in your celebration. But please do not be offended if they say “no.” Sometimes it is actually harder to be a part of someone else’s celebration because it brings back memories of what you once had. But, even when I say “no,” it means so much to have been invited…to feel like I matter to someone.

Whether you are alone this holiday season, or you have a house brimming with family, I pray that God reveals Himself to you in a very real and tangible way. May He be all that you need. May He fill every empty space. May He draw you nearer to His heart.

Sweet Blessings,

LeAnn Rice is the Executive Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives with her 17-year-old son, Nick, and their ornery cat, Angel, in a small town just outside of Charlotte, NC. LeAnn shares hope and inspiration on her site and recipes, grace, and southern hospitality on