One Way To Defeat Fear and Discouragement


Image by mskathrynne from Pixabay
Photo Text by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Resting in the Lord

4.1 My Story

You may be like my late wife was when she was battling Stage Four Melanoma cancer. She found herself very tired. She needed rest. My daily caregiving also left me weary. Like my wife, I needed rest.

The managing of my wife’s schedule took a skillset even an air traffic controller would envy. First, she had the neverending visits to her primary medical team. The army of medical doctors was the primary care physician, the surgical oncologist, managing oncologist, dermatologist, gastro endocrinologist, thyroid doctor, cardiologist (the heart must be healthy enough for the treatments) and radiologist medical doctor. They did the routine checks, prescribed the medications and treatments, performed biopsies and surgery as well as ordering the tests.

A group of medical technicians did the grunt work of tests and treatment procedures. In this category was blood work, PET scans, CAT scans, MRIs, days and weeks of radiation treatments and the lymphedema therapy.

At home, my wife did months of daily chemotherapy prescription medications, spent hours waiting for UPS or FedEx to deliver the refrigerated prescriptions from the exotic, super expensive pharmacy, did 24/7/365 lymphedema therapy at home with the machine that sounded like Darth Vader with a sleeve that looked like the nose of Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street.

Added to these challenges was managing her work schedule to maintain health insurance. These alone were enough to have her constantly exhausted. Unfortunately, more daily challenges were adding to her fatigue.

My wife’s eating schedule controlled her life. She had to take the prescription meds and wait two hours to eat or eat and wait several hours before she could take the medications. The routine dictated the time of day when she woke and went to bed.

You get the picture and can relate. Like my wife, you get tired. Yes, the patient gets tired. The caregiver also gets worn down. The caregiver makes sure the loved on stays on schedule and task. As the caregiver, you need to rest. You need God.

4.2 Resting in the Lord

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness understands the need for resting in the Lord.

Caregiving for a loved one with a chronic illness can leave you tired and weary. I am talking about becoming bone tired. I am talking about the type of fatigue that vacations or even a sabbatical cannot cure.

4.3 Bible Verse

Exodus 33:14 (KJV), “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

4.4 What the Verse Means

The Lord is telling Moses that God will personally go with him. The Lord will give him rest. He is informing Moses that everything will ultimately be fine for him.

For the caregiver, this doesn’t mean that your loved one will be healed in this life. Final healing may not happen until heaven.

The application for the Believer in Christ is the Lord also personally goes with us, gives us rest, and promises to sustain us during our caregiving journey.

4.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father thank you for your presence going with us.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for the rest you give us.
  • God, we ask to experience your rest again this day.
  • Let us use Sundays as the day of rest and worship.

4.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Remember a recent time you felt God’s presence. What were you doing? Recall how you felt his presence.
  2. Ask God to go with you and be with you today as you work and go about your caregiving responsibilities.
  3. Are you getting enough rest? Are you reading your Bible regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking time to be still?

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog is from the book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. The book is available in paperback or eBook format at Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregiver’s Journey


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.

Tears Are Normal

3.1 My Story

“I removed the tumor. The tests also showed it has spread to her lymph nodes. I removed thirty-four of them,” said the surgical oncologist.

I stared at her. She was slowly becoming out of focus as I became teary-eyed. I knew the initial diagnosis of Stage 3 Melanoma Cancer was terrible. I knew the Melanoma spreading into the lymph nodes was very bad. I knew this would kill my wife. Even though I was trying hard not to, I started sobbing.

The surgeon then said the words I needed to hear. She said, “It’s okay to cry.” She took me in her arms, and I wept.

With her four simple words, I stopped pretending to be a macho man, let down my guard, and let the emotions of the moment take over. Today wouldn’t be the last time sobbing would overcome me. I would cry many more times over the next thirty-four months. Even now at one year since my wife’s passing, the crying returns from time to time.

Remember, it’s okay to cry.

The Bible tells of Jesus crying when Lazarus died. The Heavenly Father cares about our tears. Today’s Bible verse tells what God’s word says about crying.

3.2 Tears are Normal

When you’re a caregiver part of accepting the hope available through Jesus Christ is realizing that tears are normal. Daily living with a chronic illness or caring for a loved one with a persistent disease or terminal illness will bring tears. It’s okay to cry. Even Jesus wept (John 11:35 KJV, “Jesus wept.”).

3.3 Bible Verse

Psalm 56:8-9 (KJV), “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”

3.4 What the Verses Mean

Why would God keep tears in a bottle? The idea behind the keeping of “tears in a bottle” is a remembrance. King David, the writer of these verses, is expressing a deep trust in God. He knows that God remembers his sorrow. He knows God remembers his tears. King David also is sure the God will never forget about him. David is confident that God is on his side.

3.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, thank you for making us where we can cry and experience the emotional release of the resulting tears. Teach me to understand and accept that my tears help me identify and help me deal with my feelings.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me know crying is okay.
  • Almighty God, it is comforting to know that you notice and keep track of my tears.
  • I turn the sorrow concerning the chronic illness of my loved one and my ability to care for them over to Yahweh-Rapha (God that heals).
  • I pray that my family and I would feel the freedom to cry out to you God and let the tears flow when the release is needed.
  • I pray that my family and friends would be supportive, loving, and understanding during the times the tears flow.
  • I pray I would hold on to God during these times without questioning and accept God’s comfort.
  • Help me to have the confidence of King David, the author of these verses, and say with him – for God is for me.

3.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Have you given yourself and your loved ones permission to cry? Remember it’s okay to cry. Share with your family members that there are times when you cry. Your sharing will permit them to shed tears. There are times when they need to cry.
  2. Remember that God will not forget about your loved one. He does not forget about you or the other caregivers. Thank God for remembering you and not forgetting you.
  3. What is the first concern you think of when it comes to caring for your loved one? Tell God what that concern is and remember, it’s okay to cry. Tears are normal.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog is from the book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. The book is available in paperback or eBook format at Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregiver’s Journey


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.

How to be Courageous

How to be Courageous

2.1 My Story

One of the first thoughts I had when my wife received the diagnosis that she had stage three Melanoma was how am I going to care for her and love her unconditionally until she dies.

I knew the Melanoma was going to kill her unless God intervened. I wondered if she would follow the doctor’s orders. Would my wife let me help her? How would she react? Could I handle being her caregiver?

In time all the questions were answered. The solutions didn’t happen in one day. There was some give and take.

My spouse had to have a heart to heart with me along the way, which included telling me to back off and give her some space as I was smothering her with kindness and care.

She didn’t need me reacting as if every little event she encountered was a life or death situation. I learned what she needed was for me to be there. She desired my calm, steady presence.

A simple example was when I had a ball game on the television, and she came into the room, I would change channels on the TV to her favorite HGTV program. I stayed in the room with her instead of going to the bedroom and continuing the ballgame. If I were cleaning, doing other housework, or even reading, I would stop, give her my attention, and be with her.

In her last days of hospice care, she told me how much my just being there meant to her. She said I could get the house spotless after she was in heaven, but until then, she needed the ministry of my presence. She needed me to be courageous as I spent time with her.

2.2 How to Be Courageous

Part of caring for a person with a chronic illness understands how to be courageous the Lord.

Caring for a person with a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for both the person with the disease, their family, and you as the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous.

How can we do this?

We cannot do this in our strength. Daily the Lord Jesus our God goes with the Christian. We need to remember, He goes with us. We need the Lord to strengthen us.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

2.3 Bible Verse

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

2.4 What the Verse Means

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God, which faith gives. This faith in Christ allows us to face each day bravely knowing we shall have the ultimate victory through Him. 

2.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, please help me and my family to continue to be courageous in the face of this illness.
  • Holy Spirit, I ask for Your comfort. Help me to not fear or be in dread of the challenges I face as a caregiver. Help me not to grow weary.
  • Thank You for letting me know it is the Lord our God who goes with me and that He will not leave me or forsake me.
  • I pray my family and loved ones’ would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

2.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. What are two areas that you are fearful of failing in as you care for your loved one? Name them.
  2. Take the two items you identified in question one. Admit your fears to God. Ask God for the faith you need to face fear courageously.
  3. Realize that God has entrusted you already with your loved one’s care. He’s put them under your supervision; God will equip you for the daily challenges you face. Thank God for the confidence He has placed in you, and for the way, He helps you daily as you care for your loved one.

2.7 Takeaway

Part of caring for a person with a chronic illness understands how to rely on the Lord.


If you are not a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace.
Click HERE to find out how to become a Christian. You can trust Jesus Christ and become a Christian now.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog is from the book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. The book is available in paperback or eBook format at Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregiver’s Journey


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

Comfort

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.

Do Not Lose Heart

13 Do Not Lose Heart

13.1 My Story

My wife was excited when the eleven months of taking the prescription chemotherapy medications ended.

I was expecting her to do a happy dance and to go celebrating her accomplishment. Instead of a time of rejoicing, it became a solemn watershed. She was tired of the handful of pills she took multiple times a day.

“Jimmie, I will never do chemo again. I know you’ll support my decision,” she said with the authority and resolve of a military general ordering troops into battle.

I looked at her. I’m sure she saw the fear, the disappointment, the lack of understanding in my face. I knew better than to question her decision. Her mind was made up. Questioning her decision would bring her to tears. Challenging her choice would breach my commitment to her.

I prayed for God to give me wisdom before I replied. I heard myself say, “You have decided never to do chemo again. You request me to support your decision. Is that correct?”

“Don’t be so clinical. Please, do not treat me like you did the children when they were young,” she demanded.

“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I was just restating what you said to make sure I heard you correctly.”

“You heard me. Our body isn’t made to take these terrible treatments. You can’t imagine how horrible they are.”

I just looked at her and listened as she continued talking.

“I’m not saying I want to die today. I don’t want to die. However, I know that I have an eternity with Jesus Christ in Heaven waiting at the end of this dreadful journey. No pain, no suffering, a new body, a grand family reunion with my family and your mother (at the time of the conversation my mother was deceased, my dad would live another three months). It’s only because of the final destination that I can continue with this adventure as you like to call it with Melanoma. Living with cancer is hard. It’s terrible. I pray you and the children never experience it.”

13.2 Not Losing Heart

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is not losing heart. Your maintaining a positive attitude helps you to provide the best care. An optimistic view helps to maintain our outlook from an eternal perspective.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 verse, God is pointing out we should view all earthly adversity in comparison with our future heavenly glory. When we do this, we should be strengthened to endure our human trials.

13.3 Bible Verse

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

13.4 What the Verse Means

While our bodies (outward man) grow old and suffer from diseases, our spiritual side (inward man) is renewed daily. Too often we only focus on the things we see in this present life. We need to also focus on the spiritual, that is the things that are not seen but given to us by God as a future promise. 

Seeing with “spiritual eyes” takes belief. A part of faith is believing that what God has promised he will undoubtedly bring to pass. I have confidence in God’s word and promises.

13.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me to focus on you, our loved one’s final destination and never lose heart.
  • Lord Jesus, help me remember that while my loved one’s outer body is perishing, yet their inward body is being renewed daily.
  • God, I realize the chronic illness my loved one is facing won’t last forever but is working in them and me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
  • Lord God help me to not look at my loved one’s circumstances which are temporary but to look on the things that are not now seen, but eternal.

13.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Lord Jesus, help me have the courage to see my loved one’s situation from their point of view.
  2. God in Heaven help me to support their choices.
  3.  Father help me to listen to my loved on.

Photo Source: Image by dalnimi oh from Pixabay

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.

Your Health

12 Your Health

12.1 My Story

Following my wife’s diagnosis with Melanoma cancer, I scheduled an appointment with the same doctor to get myself checked from head to toe. I needed to stay in good health to care for my sweetie.

The doctor looked at every blemish, mole, and age spots on my body. She even removed a few skin tags. We scheduled a follow-up appointment in six months.

At the follow-up appointment, I mentioned I had seen my dentist who referred me to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon had biopsied a spot in my mouth. The inflamed area wasn’t cancerous. It was oral lichen planus. He told me to speak to you, my dermatologist, for follow-up treatment.

Oral lichen planus (see footnote 1). (OLP) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the mucus membrane of the oral cavity. It is a T-cell mediated autoimmune disease in which the cytotoxic CD8+ T cells trigger apoptosis of the basal cells of the oral epithelium.

The dermatologist told me she knew I was under excessive stress with Miss Benita’s cancer treatment. I shared the added responsibility I was under from caring for my 89 years old father. Life circumstances also didn’t help as my long-term day job had just completed a significant reduction in force and reorganization. I was still employed and experiencing the stress of the changes requiring doing more with less.

Just days before Miss Benita went into hospice care I was diagnosed with another autoimmune disease, Irritable Bowel Disease (see footnote 2). The gastro endocrinologist said while there is no known cause, he was assuming since I had the oral lichen planus and that I was under excessive stress with Miss Benita’s cancer treatment and care responsibilities that stress was a major contributing factor.

My point is the stress of caregiving may impact you physically. I do not give medical advice. This blog is not intended as medical advice. If you are having health issues see your physician for medical advice.

For you to provide the best care for your loved one, you need to also care for yourself. I saw the physicians. They helped me to keep on keeping on and continue to be a caregiver for my spouse.

12.2 Real Prosperity is in the Lord Jesus Christ

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic or terminal illness realizes our real prosperity is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s passage speaks about our mental health and general well-being.

12.3 Bible Verse

3 John 1:2 (KJV), “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

12.4 What the Verse Means

John, the author of the Bible verse, is addressing Gaius. Prosperity here is mental health and general well-being. John wants Gaius to prosper and have good health equal to his spiritual health.

12.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father I pray that I may prosper, that is to be healthy fiscally. Why? Not to be rich but to care for my family and pay my medical bills.
  • Lord Jesus, I pray that I would be in physically good health and that health would mirror our spiritual health.
  • I pray for rest and peace of mind.

12.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Do you have any medical concerns about yourself? If so, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  2. Are you getting adequate sleep? If not, talk to your health care professional for advice.
  3. Are you eating properly? See the advice of your health care professional if you have questions.

Footnotes:
 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3329692/
 2 https://medlineplus.gov/irritablebowelsyndrome.html

Photo Source: Pixabay

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.