22 Compassion

22.1 My Story

I thought I knew how to minister to hurting families and person’s facing death. My hubris said I was an expert. After all, I was a seminary trained minister and an ordained minister and an ordained deacon. I had made thousands of hospital visits, nursing home visits, and been with numerous persons and their families when death visited. I also had cared for my mother-in-law, and both my parents being the last to see each alive.

It wasn’t until I was holding my wife’s hand, praying as she took her last breath and hearing the hospice registered nurse pronounce the time of death was is 3:54 PM, April 12, 2018, did I understand the sacrifice in time, emotion, and love that a family member makes in caring for someone they love more than they love themselves.

During the time of my wife’s cancer journey, I had with her permission started a Facebook secret group. The group’s description was, “A place for those that unconditionally love and care about Benita as she battles neuroendocrine carcinoma and melanoma cancers. A family of friends, coworkers, and prayer warriors.”

As I posted daily updates on her condition, how the group members could pray for her and a short daily devotional thought to encourage both my wife and those praying for her something magical and mystical happened. My wife Benita and I began ministering to those who were praying and ministering to her.

I was surprised when I received the first request for permission to share my daily devotion. The reader asked if it would be okay to copy and send it to a friend that was battling cancer. I had several cousins fighting cancer. A couple of them told me how they looked forward to my posting of the devotion every day. One cousin committed that the short devotional post ministered to her because she knew we were living what she was experiencing. The was a real, first-person experience and prayer instead of just words on a page.

It was with her words that I realized how God was using the bed in our life for good to others. My wife Benita would write and send cards to other up until about ten days before she died. Benita would share encouragement and how God was sustaining her during her cancer experience. She was able to comfort others in spite of her tribulation.

22.2 Developing Compassion for Others

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is developing compassion for others. Caring for a person with a long-lasting disease affects people in different ways. Depression may come to reside with some people. Other persons can become bitter. Withdrawal from friends and family can occur with some. You will find yourself tired, more tired than you thought you could ever become.

For the Believer in Jesus Christ, the chronic illness often mellows our heart to make us more compassionate. The persistent disease allows us empathy. It often becomes the point of rapport where we can care for and minister to not only our loved one but others now walking down the pathway we have recently or are currently helping our loved navigate.

22.3 Today’s Bible Verses

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (KJV), “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

22.4 What the Verses Mean

The verses are a reminder of what a wonderful God we have. He is the one who comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.

Why does he do this? He does this where we can help others.

When family, friends, or coworkers are troubled, needing our support, sympathy, and encouragement, we can pass on to them the help and comfort God has given us.

22.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, I praise you for how wonderful you are.
  • I acknowledge you are the Father of the Lord Jesus.
  • I proclaim you as the one who wonderfully comforts and strengthens me in hardships and trials.
  • Thank you for teaching me how to soothe others by your example to me where I can give sympathy and encouragement.

22.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Who do you know that could use a word of support today? 
  2. How can you prove that supportive word? A card, a phone call, an email or text?
  3. Name two things you learned in your journey as a caregiver that help you comfort others.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

The Lord is My Helper

21 The Lord is My Helper

21.1 My Story

My wife’s diagnosis of Melanoma cancer broke my heart. I promised myself I would be there for her. I would be there in good times. I would be there in bad times. I would care for her and celebrate every time we received good news. I would be there to hold, comfort, and pray for her when the diagnosis was terrible and when she had a bad day.

My ego initially got in the way as I wanted to prove I was the super, best husband ever. I tried to model for the world how to love your wife and care for her.

If I were sincere, I wanted the pat on the back and acclaim of family, coworkers, and friends for being the gold-standard in caregiving. I know I also wanted a well done from Jesus.

After her initial surgery, many people offered help. I took off a couple of weeks from work to care for her. Her sisters flew into town to see how she was doing and help.

All this time I declined more help than I accepted. My Bible fellowship class provided meals and gift cards. They were a blessing.

Over time we settled into the long adjustment to the treatments, a new life normal, and we received fewer offers of help. My stubbornness to accept help continued.

As time passed, I grew weary and had caregiving start to consume most of my waking hours. My saying no to offers for assistance and help was especially true when Miss Benita had follow-up surgeries. Through this time, I found myself feeling guilty when someone else helped. I felt like a failure. It was as if I wasn’t doing it all myself; I wasn’t the man or husband I was supposed to be.

During her 1001 days after the initial surgery, until my wife passed away, I was faithful in spending time with the Lord. However, the caregiving took a toll. I developed oral lichen planus, lichen planus, and irritable bowel disease while caring for my spouse. All are autoimmune diseases, and the physicians think stress can contribute to the illnesses. I  handled the situation so poorly I made myself sick.

I wonder how much more challenging it would have been if I hadn’t spent time with the Lord daily and asked him for his help?

In the last five months of my wife’s life, I had someone with me daily helping. I know God touched my wife’s sisters’ heart to be with her. Family surrounded my wife when she passed away. I was holding my wife’s hand and talking with her. Her sisters were present. All three of our children were there. Her best girlfriend from high school was present. Only God could have brought all together.

In the last months, I sometimes let the family take my wife to the doctor and radiation treatments from time to time without me. It allowed them to help and see what she was going through. I let her sisters go to the oncologist and hear the reports first hand. Allowing this improved their engagement in caregiving.

21.2 The Lord is My Helper

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is allowing the Lord to be your helper.

When you or our loved one faces a chronic or severe illness, you need the Lord’s help as our helper. You also need the courage to face the next hour and the challenges of everyday living. With Christ, you can meet each day without fear.

21.3 Bible Verse

Hebrews 13:6 (KJV), “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

21.4 What the Verse Means

Without any hesitation or doubt, in all times of difficulty when we don’t know how to pray or how we will make it even through the night, we have an assurance that God will not leave us to suffer.

What can we fear if we have the assurance that the Lord is on our side, and that he will help us?

We fear nothing. Man can do no more to us than God permits, and no more than will be for our good.

We know under whatever trials we may face, we need to be under no extreme anxiety, for God will be our protector and our friend.

21.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me to cling to You and keep my total trust in You.
  • Lord Jesus, give me the courage to say You are my helper and ask You for help.
  • I pray for fear to flee from me. I will not fear what man or disease shall do unto my loved one or me.

21.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you trying to do it all yourself? Be honest. Ask God for His help. Let others know you need help.
  2. Do you have friends and family that have offered to help with the caregiving? List them by name. Consider allowing them to assist.
  3. You are not a failure or letting your loved one down if you need to have help. Do you belong to a Bible fellowship class that can help? Maybe there are a ladies Bible study groups that would help. How about friends or family? For example, make them aware that you could use someone for sitting with your loved one when you go buy groceries.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.


20 Thanks

20.1 My Story

As death was imminent for my wife, I did not feel sorry for the brevity of her life. Oh sure, I would have preferred her being healed and having another thirty plus years with me. After all, dying at sixty-one years old is dying too young.

I understood that God has the days of our life numbered. From the beginning of time, he knew when you would be born and when you will die.

Psalm 139:16 King James Version (KJV) says, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” In modern English, the verse means that God has ordained or predetermined for me the numbers of days I will have in my life. He knew when I would be born and knows when I will die. God has this information already written in His book of life.

I find great comfort and security in knowing that God has my life so ordered that I will neither die a day sooner nor live a day longer than what has already been recorded in his book. You see, life and death are far above my pay grade, so I will happily let Father God take care of that department, thank you very much.

Without a doubt I know I clearly understand this divine principle. Because of my understanding, I am freed from fearing death. My faith which frees me from this fear allows me to live the life God had designed for me.

Knowing and trusting that God knows best allowed both my wife and me to enjoy the time we had. Instead of weeping over her upcoming death we were able to reflect and reminisce. We looked at old family pictures remembering the events, thankful for our time together.

I still recall Miss Benita thanking me for loving her and staying with her until “death do we part.” I know it was I who was the real lucky one. I give thanks to the Lord for the forty-three plus years we were married. I thank God for what we had.

When I miss her and feel sad, I focus on the memories, ask God’s forgiveness for my failures and regrets, and look forward to the Heavenly reunion I’ll have one day with late wife, Miss Benita.

I am thankful for the assurance of Heaven for the Believer in Jesus Christ.

20.2 The Value of Giving Thanks

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness understands the value of giving thanks for what you have.

When you care for a person with a chronic illness, too often you focus on the negative and the bad. Instead of focusing on the adversity of the situation you are living through, you should give thanks for what you have. 

For the caregiver and their charge who are Believers in Jesus Christ, this includes being thankful knowing that death is not the end. That separation is temporary. You know you will again see each other in Heaven.

20.3 Bible Verse

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV), “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

20.4 What the Verse Means

The verse reminds us that Christians should not only to pray to God but also give thanks to Him. We should thank him for everything, in every circumstance, in joy as well as in sorrow. 

20.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me always show gratitude to family and friends who aid and support us.
  • Lord Jesus, help me to praise God daily for who he is and for his love and care.
  • God Almighty, I thank you for a loving church, Bible fellowship class, our brothers and sisters-in-Christ who help and support me.
  • I give thanks for the quality medical care and counsel I have as well as the health insurance that pays for so much of the treatment and prescriptions.

20.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you thankful for the days you have with your loved one?
  2. Are you grateful for the memories you have? I am amazed God created us with the ability to have remembrances.
  3. Have you told your caregiving charge that your thankful for them and the opportunity to serve them?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

Don’t Lose Heart

19 Don’t Lose Heart

19.1 My Story

I’m sure my late wife grew tired of me asking, “What did you weight this morning?”

She would dutifully look at me and then give me the number. It was almost always the same weight. Oh, it may go up or down by a pound or two but generally was the same.

One day she replied, “You’re asking my weight to see if cancer is causing me to lose weight. Am I correct?”

Guilty as charged.

Then she schools me. She said something like you’re dying like I am. It may not be cancer that’s getting you. It’s old age. Even though you look a decade younger than your years, Father Time is getting you. The sands that count your days are slipping through the hourglass at an ever-increasing rate — and they’ll run out one day.

She told me she wasn’t going to sit on the couch wasting away and waiting to die. She reminded me she still read her Bible daily, prayed for herself and interceded for others.

She pointed out that God was renewing her inner person daily. Oh, the body was decaying, aging, suffering the ravaging of cancer but God had her spirit, and inner parson renewed daily.

My wife was smart. I may have had the formal seminary education with fancy masters and doctoral degrees, but she knew so much more from a deeper walk with the Lord in Bible reading, scripture meditation, and time in prayer.

She taught me that we shouldn’t be obsessed with the physical body. The Christian’s faith is far from a fatalistic acceptance of suffering and awaiting death. Every believer in Jesus Christ has their eyes open to something else. That is the continuous restoration of the inner person.

When my late wife was in her final days in hospice care the incredible calming power of God’s word was apparent. I would read from the Book of Psalms in the Bible to her. The little anxiousness she had of the pain would melt away and transform to calm. Playing favorite hymns and worship songs worked the same miracle. It reminded me of the way she used breathing techniques to mitigate pain when in labor during the delivery of our children.

I had witnessed Scriptures’ calming power on the life of a Believer of Jesus Christ for two-plus decades as a full-time minister working with responsibilities with older adults and pastoral care. Many times as I would read familiar Bible verses the chronically or terminally ill person would transform from anxiousness and fear into peacefulness. Sometimes they even from memory say or quote the Bible verses with me.

The power of God’s word is incredible.

19.2 Not Losing Heart

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is learning how not to lose heart and help your loved one not develop a gloom and doom attitude. God’s word helps us to have a confident acceptance of the reality of life. It enables you to keep the faith.

19.3 Bible Verse

2 Corinthians 4: 16 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

19.4 What the Verse Means

Christianity understands the steady decline of the physical body. Though we are rescued from spiritual death and alive with Christ, our bodies remain in the process of decay.

The follower of Christ should recognize that our outer bodies are wasting away. From the moment of birth, we begin to die. It is inescapable unless the Lord Jesus returns first.

The Christian should be aware of increasing inner, spiritual strength. God does not forsake his children, but he gives us growing supplies of grace.

The Holy Spirit works in us as an infinite well of life. Renewal results from the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Lord does not allow us to be born again and then ignore us. No, he gives us daily spiritual energy.

May we never forget the physical and the spiritual are part of your life every day.

19.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me to not focus on my decaying or diseased body, but to realize that my inner self is being renewed daily.
  • Lord Jesus, help me look to the things that are not seen, not the which are seen.
  • God, help me look to the eternal, not the temporal.

19.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you spending time in God’s word? If not, I encourage you to return to reading your Bible or being today for the first time. You can start with just a verse of two. God will speak to you.
  2. Are you spending time in prayer? If not, I encourage you to start today. A good beginning would be praying “God, help me spend time reading your Bible. Lord, teach me to pray.”
  3. Are you obsessed with your loved one’s physical appearance? Radiation and chemotherapy take a toll. They may lose their hair. My wife had no hair her last five months of life. I didn’t see her hairless head. I saw her beautiful smile and radiant countenance. She was comfortable without a wig and would wear a chemo beanie when she went to the doctor or on days when she was able to go out for a walk or meal.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

Know God

18 Know God

18.1 My Story

I had been up for thirty-three consecutive hours. My marathon of being up began on Tuesday when I had awakened at 5 AM. I had gotten up, checked on my wife, showered, and went to Starbucks at 6 AM for my morning writing. From writing, I had headed to the local climate controlled shopping mall where I did my morning walk at 9 AM. Following the exercise, I had an appointment with the dermatologist at 10:30 AM.

I returned home just before lunchtime. I again checked on my wife. She was in her recliner. She said her head was hurting, and she had been trying to call her doctor and me.

Her neurologist had recently reduced her steroids dramatically. When the dosage of the steroids had decreased previously, she had felt bad, so the doctor increased the dosage to former levels.

Miss Benita assumed this is all that was needed.

Now she couldn’t figure out how to use her cell phone. Fear and concern overwhelmed me. Doctors were contacted, medications changed with an immediate doubling of the steroids, and sleep overcomes her.

She did not wake up until after 8 PM.

She didn’t know me when she awoke. She couldn’t tell me what day or month it was.

When I asked if she knew the time she answered, “blue?”

We headed for the emergency room at the hospital where only four months earlier, she had a brain tumor removed.

I was up all night. My three children took shifts being with me. Around 9 AM on Wednesday the doctor told me the brain tumor had recurred. He said another surgery would only add a few weeks to maybe two months maximum to my sweetie’s life. He said your options are surgery or hospice. With hospice, you have days to weeks at best.

Miss Benita and I had previously spoken on what to do if the brain tumor recurred. I followed her wishes and chose hospice. I called my children, my brother, her sisters, my minister, and my best friend informing them of the situation.

The next step was to move her from the intensive care unit to an intermediate care unit where they worked on stabilizing her and helping her regain her faculties. It wasn’t until late in the day that she was moved from ICU to a room. During this time, my oldest son arrived on the scene. My best friend was there with me, as well.

It was nearly noon on Wednesday before I somehow managed to drive home. Instead of sleeping, I prepared the house for the arrival of my wife’s sisters who were coming in from out of state. I had my sons schedule to shuttle them from the airport to the hospital.

At one-thirty on Wednesday afternoon I tried to sleep. I slept less than ninety minutes before waking up and returning to the hospital.

When I got back to the hospital, my oldest son, and best friend lectured me on the need for rest.

It was late in the day on Wednesday before the massive amount of drugs given my wife took hold and had her where she was conscious, could talk and understand.

I shared with her what was happening. I still remember her response.

She said with a nervous smile, “I knew the Melanoma was going to kill me. I just didn’t realize it was going to be today or in the next few days. I really thought I would make survive at least until the end of the year. I hope I live long enough to see Jason (our son) graduate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in May. Thank you for not letting them cut on me. Thank you for loving me enough to let me go by honoring my wishes.”

I nodded.

She squeezed my hand and added, “I’ve always been in God’s hands. He has this. Trust Him. I do.”

I went home around 7 PM that evening and cried out to God. I hurt. I was exhausted. I remember having today’s verse come to mind, “Be still and know that I am God …”

I got in bed and started recalling Bible verse after Bible verse. I had worked with the children in my church for nearly two decades in a program called “Bible Drill.” The program’s purpose was Scripture memory. I had memorized the same verses as they had. Those verses came to mind, calmed my spirit, and helped me to sleep.

I also was listening to spiritual songs that praised God. The songs calmed my nerves and spirit. I had to slow down enough to experience God’s presence.

18.2 Slow Down and Know God

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is slowing down and knowing God. As we live with the daily challenges of caring for a person with an ongoing disease, it is essential, we get adequate rest. 

This respite is both physical and spiritual. Today’s Scripture tells us to slow down, that is to be still and know I am God.

18.3 Bible Verse

Psalm 46:10 (KJV), ” Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

18.4 What the Verse Means

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is learning to slow down.

18.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me to be still and know you more intimately, and to feel your presence.
  • Lord Jesus, please help me to slow down and even stop when necessary to get to know God.
  • I pray that I would find rest in the adequacy of God.

18.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you getting enough rest? You cannot care for someone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You need assistance.
  2. Are you slowing down where you can hear God and feel his presence?
  3. Ask God to help you rest, have the help you need, and to experience his presence.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

Accepting God’s Hope

17 Accepting God’s Hope

17. 1 My Story

In April 2016, I had a surprise in the interoffice mail at work one Thursday. It came with an apology from the information technology vice president’s executive administrative assistant for not getting the large manila envelope to me sooner.

She said there was an interoffice mail for me. She had it “for a while, but hadn’t gotten it to me with all going on in IT.”

It was a wonderful gift of a necklace for my wife from a coworker of mine. It has the word HOPE on it.

Thank you, Cynthia Mitchell, for thinking of my wife, buying and sending her the necklace. The silver piece of jewelry was beautiful. It put a smile on my sweet wife’s face. It was a reminder of the hope we have in Christ necklace.

When we moved my wife into hospice, she asked I get the HOPE necklace and put it back on her. She usually wore it all the time but it was off because of MRIs, CT scans, and PET Scans she had.

Cynthia’s act of kindness continued to give my wife comfort and hope until her last breath. Cynthia, thank you. You’re a beautiful woman inside and out with a caring heart. I was blessed to work with you before I retired. Thanks again.

My wife asked to be buried wearing the necklace. I honored that wish. My wife never lost hope. As death approached her faith never left. While she would have been glad for a miracle cure of the Melanoma cancer, she had her hope in Jesus and approached her death with the excitement of a school girl going on a trip to Disney World. She couldn’t wait to get on to heaven and to see Jesus. She never mentioned fear, just anticipation.

An interesting side note was when my wife was in in-patient hospice care getting stabilized enough where she could come home for her last days, her register nurse was named Hope. She had HOPE with her to the end.

One last thought — A simple act of kindness like a card or a thoughtful gift can touch a person’s heart in ways you will never know. If God prompts you to do an act of kindness, please follow through because you may never realize the impact of the hope you’re sharing.

17.2 Accepting the Hope Available through God

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is accepting the hope available through God. Everyone needs hope. Today’s Bible verse tells of the hope we have available in God.

17.3 Bible Verse

Job 11:18 (KJV), “And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.”

17.4 What the Verse Means

Like my wife, you can feel secure because of the hope you have in Jesus Christ. While you will continue to experience life’s difficulties, you need not have a gloom and doom or why me Lord attitude.

Your outlook should be optimistic because nothing will ultimately be able to harm you from your heavenly destination. Have a firm faith and assurance of your final victory, because of God’s love and in the Bible’s promises which respect the life that now is, and that which is to come.

Hope allows you to lie down on the bed and sleep at night in peace and quietness, having nothing to fear.

17.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, we feel secure because there is hope because of you. Help us to claim that promise.
  • Because of the hope and security that we have in you, we can rest and sleep in peace. Thank you for restful sleep.
  • Lord Jesus, help us to rest in you.

17.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Do you have hope for the future? I am talking of the hope that’s available through knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. See Appendix A for information on how to become a Christian.
  2. As a caregiver, you’ll grow tired and weary. You will have times you doubt that you can face another day of taking care of your family member or loved one. Thank God for the hope that you and your charge have through Christ Jesus.
  3. Ask God to give you the same level of peace he gave my wife.

Photo Source: Photo taken by the author. It is my late wife wearing the “Hope’ necklace.

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog


16 Comfort

16.1 My Story

My spouse paid the bills each month. We had a budget and discussed our financial priorities, but she wrote the checks each month and made the electronic payments. We were old school and had a joint checking account.

I had a basic understanding of what bills were due each month but did not know if they were paid electronically or by check. I also did not know the account numbers, contact information, and the like.

My spouse clung onto the bill paying. I asked her to tutor or mentor me where I could have some transition if the time came where I had to assume responsibility. She told me if she turned the bill paying over to me she was giving up on life. She added that it was the last thing she was holding on to do.

I pleaded with her to show me her system. Finally, less than two weeks before she went into hospice care we talked about finances and bill paying. She started to teach me but then stopped. She said the checkbook is here.

Her next words took me by surprise as she said, “I can’t do this. I can’t talk to you about the bills. You’re a brilliant man and will be able to figure this out. I’m sorry. You’ll have to deal with it when the time comes.”

I didn’t scream or yell. I didn’t even roll my eyes. I remember thinking that Miss Benita had more confidence in me than I did. I felt scared, helpless.

I also said a silent prayer. I wish I could tell you it was spiritual, but I asked God why she wouldn’t help me. I recall immediately hearing the still small voice of God. In my mind, I heard love your wife. She doesn’t need upsetting; she needs to feel my love through you. I’ll help you find the answers you need.

Gulp, I turned my fears over to God, trusted him, and to my amazement am still getting it all figured out. All bills have been paid on time. I have developed my routine. Instead of all the worst case scenarios that ran through my mind. I am wasn’t traumatized. I am surviving.

16.2 God’s Comfort is Available to You

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness understands God’s comfort is available for you.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your thoughts of how you will be able to handle or manage your loved one’s chronic illness? Have the “what ifs” overtaken you? Are any of your thoughts confused and even torturing you with the cares and fears about the future?

Today we will see how God’s comfort delights our soul. His promises, contained in His word (the Bible), and the memory of our past experiences of His care and kindness to us, afford us comfort. They can restore our discouraged mind.

16. 3 Bible Verse

Psalm 94:19 (KJV), “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

16.4 What the Verse Means

When we are worried because of considering various possible outcomes and scenarios, listening to ungodly counsel from well-meaning friends, or just drowning in self-pity, we need to return to the Lord for real rest and comfort.

God’s comfort satisfies my soul. Focusing and meditating on His Word and teachings comfort me and delight me. True satisfaction only comes from God’s Holy Spirit!

16.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father I confess too often my thoughts are filled with various and confusing ideas. Protect me from the negative thinkers and their contrary counsel.
  • Lord Jesus, I admit sometimes being tortured with cares and fears about my future due to my loved one’s chronic illness.
  • God Almighty, I praise you because your comfort delights my soul.
  • I have heard your promises taught in Sunday School as well as heard them preached in church and have read in the Bible. They comfort me.
  • Lord, the memory of my experiences of your care and kindness to me, affords me such comfort as they restore my at times discouraged mind.

16.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Turn your worries and concerns over to God. Take a piece of paper and write down five worries you have. When you finish writing your five fears say out loud, God, the concerns I have written I now turn over to you. Crumble the paper and throw it into your trash can.
  2. Do not focus on your worries and fears. Instead, thank God that for your ability to provide some care and comfort for your loved one. Remember, sometimes the essential support you provide is being there with them. I call it the ministry of your presence.
  3. As I type this, I am praying for the person who is reading these words needs. Know that at least one person has prayed for your needs, cares, and concerns in advance. God knew from the beginning of time that you would have this appointment with caregiving. Maybe that’s why I felt impressed to pray for you as I typed this morning.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

We Are the Lord’s

15 We Are the Lord’s

15.1 My Story

I still recall the conversation. Rarely have I hated having such a talk. I am forever glad we had the conversation.

“Jimmie, we need to talk,” said Miss Benita. I glanced in her direction. While her natural smile and joyous attitude were on her face, it was the tangible seriousness in her voice that caught my attention.

I also realized we needed to talk, RIGHT NOW. Being married to the same person for over forty years helps you understand when she says we need to talk; she means we need to do it NOW.

I didn’t take time to get or doing anything. I gave my wife my complete attention.

“What’s on your mind,” I said as lovingly and supportive as I could. I wanted Miss Benita to know I had her complete attention and whatever was on her mind was the most critical thing in the world to me. If it was her concern, it was my concern.

“You know I am about to start the radiation treatment on the area of my head where the neurologist removed the brain tumor.”

I nodded.

“When the tumor recurs, and it will recur, don’t you go letting them cut on my head again. I don’t want any more surgeries. Them cutting on me isn’t going to save me. Jesus already saved me when I was a girl.”

“So you’re saying –” I started.

“I’m saying, love me enough to let me go. It’s going to be okay for me. I’ll be in heaven with Mama, Daddy, Willie, and Grandma before the hospice people get my time of death called in,” she said with a calm and peace of mind that can only come from God.

“Oh, okay,” I said suddenly choking out my words.

“Don’t go being selfish. Let me go to heaven. Love me enough to let me go. You and the children will be okay. I’ll be seeing you all again when you get to heaven. Even the kids that aren’t attending church or living for the Lord are going to be there. We trained them up the best we could, we shared Jesus with them, and even when they or you aren’t living for the Lord, you’re still saved. I know you know that. Like you, they each accepted Christ and knew what they were doing.”

I nodded.

Then she quoted from memory Romans 14:8 (KJV), “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

I teared up.

She added, “Best I can figure, the Lord is leaving you here to write about Him and point others to Him. You need to keep writing religiously. Don’t go chasing any Stephen King or Ray Bradbury dreams of fame and fortune. If you honor God, he’ll honor you. You know that. You taught me that.”

I grabbed a Kleenex.

“The book of devotions you wrote to help me will help others. Write something for those people like you, the ones who are caregivers. You have as hard a job taking care of me and the household as I have being the terminally ill patient. Just keep pointing people to Jesus. We both know Jesus is the only hope anyone has. Now promise me you won’t let them cut on me anymore and that you’ll write to lead people to Jesus and help Christians grow in their faith.”

“I promise,” I said as I held her hand and then kissed the back of the hand to seal my pledge.

Eight weeks later the tumor recurred. At the recurrence, I was given two options. Option one was surgery which would extend life a couple of months at the most. Choice two was hospice.

“I need your decision on which option you will choose. I need it now. The operating room is available now and then not again for several days. Several days will be too late. What do you want to do?” asked the neurological surgeon.

Miss Benita’s word reverberated through my head, “Don’t go being selfish. Let me go to heaven. Love me enough to let me go.”

“No more surgery We chose hospice,” I said. And then I cried. Loving someone enough to let them die and go to heaven is hard.

15.2 We Are the Lord’s

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic or terminal illness realizes we are the Lord’s. Today most people live for themselves and live for the moment. This lifestyle is different from how a Christian should live.

The purpose of the Christian life is to do the Lord’s will and promote his glory by our living example. Trying to model the Christian life doesn’t mean you cannot have fun. On the contrary, it allows you to have fun without regrets.

15.3 Bible Verse

Romans 14:8 (KJV), “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

15.4 What the Verse Means

The purpose of the Christian life is to do the Lord’s will and promote his glory by our living example. A Christin should do this because they belong to God. Not only do we belong to God in this life but we belong to him even as we are dying and after we die.

The passage provides a reminder that the soul does not cease to be conscious at death. We are still the Lord’s.

Even when the body is in the grace, we are the Lords. 2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV) reminds us, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

15.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father if I live I live to the Lord. Help me live to the Lord. May you be glorified through my life.
  • Lord Jesus if I die, I die to the Lord. Help me to die to the Lord. Help me to remember that even in the grave I am yours.
  • I proclaim to the world whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord’s. Thank you, Lord, for the security I have as a Believer in the Lord.

15.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you living every day to point people to Jesus? If not, ask God through prayer to help you live for Jesus.
  2. Are you spending time reading God’s word? Remember, a regular time of reading the Bible will help you as a caregiver. It will strengthen and refresh you spiritually.
  3. Who do you know in your loved one’s circle of friends that need to know Christ as Savior? Begin praying for God to soften their heart.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.


Don’t Go Down Regret Row

Miss Benita is in the center with sister Joette on the left and Rosemary on the right. The photo date is October 20, 2017. It was taken in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

14 God is Good

14.1 My Story

I remember Sunday, December 3, 2017, well. My wife had not been feeling well for the previous two months.

It started in early October when she worked a week of nights doing a stock reset. She worked retail for the big box store headquartered in Arkansas. I recall her commenting that she usually didn’t mind working a week of nights. This time she lacked her usual energy. It was a real struggle for her.

We spoke after her first night of work. She said the bosses were messing up. Specifically, she mentioned they had printed signs that had left off the last two or three letters of words.

She wasn’t happy with my one-word response of “really.”

She said that when she mentioned it to the manager on duty, he acted as if she was crazy. Even as she insisted something was wrong with the sign, the manager on duty said the signage was okay and ignored her comments. She was told to keep working.

A week later she flew to Denver, Colorado for a week of rest with her two sisters. They met at her older sister’s home in the metropolitan Denver area.

Her younger sister flew in from Tennessee to join in the reunion. Miss Benita had made it clear my presence was not needed or wanted for this week.

While in Colorado, my wife got sick. It was her usual nausea, vomiting, and something new, a headache. She went to see a doctor.

The physician told her to take to her nausea medicine and let her doctor know about this spell when she returned home.

Once home, the symptoms lessened. Miss Benita did not see her doctor or call the oncologist. She had a PET scan scheduled in a few days with a follow-up visit to the oncologist so she would let the doctor know at that time.

She saw the oncologist in early November. The PET Scan was just a body scan. They did not scan her head.

The body scan did not show any Melanoma. It only showed the other cancer Miss Benita had (yes, my wife had two different types of cancer), the neuroendocrine carcinoid. It had not changed. She mentioned the nausea spell on her recent trip to Colorado.

The oncologist commented that while flying and high elevation caused issues in persons with brain tumors, her last brain scans six months earlier had not shown any cancer. He mentioned if she didn’t have the neuro-endocrine carcinoid which had been a cause of her tummy distress for years, he would lean toward the Melanoma having spread to the brain.

He decided to schedule a brain scan which after the paperwork, insurance company initial denial, resubmission, and final approval was ultimately planned for the week after Christmas.

By the Friday after Thanksgiving, Miss Benita was having severe nausea issues. She went to an urgent care facility seeking relief. She passionately declined me taking her to the hospital’s emergency room fearing they would hospitalize her.

The urgent care facility encouraged her to see her primary care doctor on Monday and to call her oncologist to update him.

Miss Benita felt better on Monday. She decided against going to her primary care doctor. “I can’t run to her every time I hurt, or I would need to move in her office,” she said.

She was feeling better when home by keeping the lights turned off, and the windows closed with blackout curtains. Any television or music had to have the volume turned low.

At this time she also mentioned to me that my latest book “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill” wasn’t edited very good. She said some sentences aren’t complete. It just seemed like words are missing.

Her words had me remembering her comments on the store signage from early October.

I double checked, and the book’s editing was excellent. Miss Benita became frustrated when I showed her nothing was wrong with the editing. I probably should have just acknowledged her comments and said I would look into it. Instead, I had to prove the editing was good.

I made my point by showing her if I moved the page; the missing words would magically appear for her to read.

I asked if she was having vision problems. She again mentioned the signage at work from back in early October with letters and words missing.

I suggested we tell this to the managing oncologist and schedule an eye exam. We called and left a message with the oncologist answering service. I also made an appointment for an eye exam for her later in December.

A few days later on Sunday, December 3, 2018, we attended Sunday morning worship and Bible study. Miss Benita commented that in spite of the loud music, the church is the one place she feels perfectly calm. She added that her upset stomach vanishes when in worship services at church. A remarkable peace seems to wrap its arms around her. She feels healthy, not sick, and her heavenly hope engulfs her.

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 7, 2017, she called me from the doctor’s office parking lot. She had driven herself there from work. She needed help to get from the car to the doctor’s office. She added it had taken her at least ten minutes to get the cell phone to work right where she can call me for help.

I am scared and worried. All my senses and intuition are screaming. I know this is bad. I dash to the parking lot which is just a mile from my house.

She sees the doctor. The physician immediately sends her for an emergency CAT Scan of the head. The physician whispers to me that she is sure Benita has a brain tumor.

The CAT Scan confirms a large brain tumor.

Miss Benita and I pray. The CT Scan people have us in a conference room where we have a speakerphone that allows the primary care physician to explain the results. The lady at the CT Scan facility is crying the entire time. The doctor tells the scan showed a massive brain tumor, and we need a category one certified brain trauma facility ASAP.

We go immediately to Presbyterian Hospital Plano which is a certified brain trauma facility.

The surgical neurologist removed a malignant Melanoma cancer tumor from her head. It was in the part of the brain that impacted her vision and the area that controlled nausea.

The managing oncologist told me if he had known of the brain tumor Miss Benita shouldn’t have flown in October and certainly should not have gone to high elevation in the Rocky Mountains.

The size of her tumor leads him to believe she had it in October and her being at high elevation caused her sick spell that month while in Colorado. He said getting records from her primary care doctor helped him get the total picture. Miss Benita had mentioned the vision issues only to the primary care, not the oncologist as per the records.

The oncologist said her flying and going to very high elevation probably caused brain swelling. Being at higher altitude caused her being sick in Colorado. The brain swelling reduced when she was back home at a lower height of 595 feet, and she felt better.

Well, I could go on and on with what ifs. What ifs lead to regrets. Regrets can lead to sadness and depression.

Please, don’t go down regret row. You won’t enjoy the journey or the destination.

The bottom line is as my spouse’s illness worsened it seemed that the only time she was in a state of nirvana was when she was in church, listening to Christin music, or reading or having Scripture read to her. I’m not saying what will work for you or your loved one. I am testifying to the Lord being Miss Benita’s stronghold and her place of peace and comfort.

Her experience also shows how difficult diagnosing and treating a disease can be.

14.2 We Need a Safe Place

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness realizes that sometimes we need a safe place. We need a place of refuge. A Christian has such a safe place of refuge in God.

The same God who was powerful enough to create the heavens and the Earth and who could destroy the world with the flood in Noah’s day is compassionate, kind, and charitable. He is an unquestionable harbor of protection to those who worship and serve him. He is good. Because of his goodness, the Believer is never ignored or deserted by him. God accepts, keeps, and preserves the Believers of Jesus Christ.

14.3 Bible Verse

Nahum 1:7 (KJV), “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”

14.4 What the Verse Means

But though God is steadfast in his power, yet he is merciful, gracious, and benevolent. God is a sure refuge and protection to those who know him as their Savior, worship him, serve him, and put their trust in him. He knows and pays regard to all such so that they are never overlooked or neglected by him. As such, God approves, owns, and preserves us.

14.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father I praise you for your goodness.
  • Thank you for being my stronghold in the day of trouble.
  • Thank you for never neglecting me.
  • Thank you for your provision.

14.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you going to the Lord God in your day of trouble and every day?
  2. Remember to read God’s word regularly. There is comfort in God’s word.

Are you treasuring the days you have with your loved one? Whether the day is good or bad, it is the only one you have. Enjoy the day. Enjoy your loved one. Time slips away, and soon you’ll only have the memories.

Taken on October 20, 2017, Miss Benita is smiling as always. She loved being with her sisters and being in the mountains.

Photo Source: Pixaby

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.