Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter One

Chapter One

It’s Okay To Be Afraid

Learning to accept the fear of the unknown and fear of the journey you are on is part of the process of caring for a person with a chronic illness. You also need to learn to embrace the hope for the caregiver that’s available through Jesus Christ.

My Story

My eyes locked on to the bloody spot on the lower left front of my wife Benita’s blouse.

“What’s going on? What’s with the blood?” I asked. My heart was aching. The stain looked terrible, scary. I knew this couldn’t be good.

Benita gazed down toward the damp crimson. Her eyes looked tired, sad. She said, “It’s my mole.”

I recalled the small mole I had first noticed over forty years earlier on our wedding night. I had playfully kidded her about it calling it her beauty mark. I immediately found out that was the wrong thing to do. She was sensitive about the mole.

“Talk to me. What’s going on?” I said. 

She lifted her eyes meeting mine. I could see the tears forming. “I think I must have scratched or irritated it, maybe at work. It started bleeding a couple of weeks ago. It scabbed over a couple of time but each time I thought it was healing I did something to cause the scab to start bleeding again. I thought it would heal. Instead, I think it may be getting infected. It’s getting worse,” she said.

Melanoma Cancer, I thought. “Has the doctor looked at it?”

She shook her head, “Not yet. I didn’t want to mess up our vacation to Colorado and your writer’s conference. Now that we’re back home I guess I need to call her.” She forced a smile then lowered her eyes.

I took her hand, lovingly squeezed it, and hugged her pulling her close. We then walked to the car ending our shopping and drove home in silence. Once home, I led her to the bedroom, closed the door, had her unbutton the blouse, removed a blood-soaked gauze bandage, and looked at the mole. It was oozing blood through a cracked black scab. The mole had grown to about the size of a quarter since I last remembered seeing it.

“Let’s call the dermatologist and get you an appointment. I think that’s Melanoma Cancer. If it is, fast treatment is critical,” I said with a seriousness that scared even me.

The dermatologist did a biopsy during Benita’s visit. The physician had the test expedited. She called the same day with the biopsy’s results. 

“It’s malignant. It is a type of cancer called Melanoma, and stage 3,” said the young dermatologist with a quivering voice. 

The dermatologist obtained for us an appointment with a surgical oncologist. The urgency of the situation was shown by the dermatologist finding us an appointment the next morning. My wife Benita had surgery at the next availability of the operating room. 

The surgery’s findings were terrible. It was Melanoma Cancer. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. The surgeon removed thirty-four lymph nodes. The physician told me the five-year survival rate for these findings. 

She told us some treatment options and that when, not if, cancer recurred it would be restaged to Melanoma – Stage 4 and would be terminal. She told us this would kill Benita barring Providential intervention or a medical breakthrough.

I knew Melanoma – Stage 3 was too big for me to handle. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had already moved into a new role as a caregiver. I also understood the future Benita and I had planned together had suddenly changed. It was gone. We faced a different future, one we hadn’t planned for and did not want.

Our hopes and dreams were erased and replaced by feelings of fear and hopelessness. I was overwhelmed just thinking about the day to day struggles of caregiving. I faced the fear of the unknown. 

Questions flooded my mind. How long would my wife live? How would she hold up to facing treatments to extend life? What would be her quality of life? How would we handle the knowledge that death was coming sooner than expected? How would we pay the medical bills? How much help was she going to need from me daily? How could I be strong and help her? How was this going to affect our jobs? I also was concerned for our three grown children and granddaughter. I wondered if I could do this. 

What I needed was hope.

The purpose of this book is to share the hope we have and exercised through Jesus Christ. 

Hope for the Caregiver offers Biblical guidance and support helping the man or woman accepting the role as a caregiver with guidance and encouragement from God’s Word. It will help the caregiver connect with the perfect love which casts out all fear, the love of Jesus Christ.

The day I noticed the bloody spot on her blouse, Benita and I prayed together. We shared saying I love you and claimed, Psalm 56:3 King James Version (KJV), “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee” and 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) “Cast all your cares on the Lord for He careth for you.”

Benita lived 1001 days from the first surgery. The faith we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope. Yes, we still were afraid. However, out trust in Jesus Christ leads us through the process with a calmness that could only come from God.

The Bible Says

1 John 4:18 (KJV), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

The meaning of the Bible Verse

John says that perfect love produces courage in the face of fears. Why? Perfect love produces the likeness to Christ. 

There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a “cease and desist letter” to quit. 

A person cannot both love and fear the same person or thing at the same time. When perfect love comes in, the darker fear exists. 

When God’s love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Only professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear. 

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including a future with a chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.

Are you a Believer in Jesus Christ? If not, see Appendix A for the simple steps of how to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love. Let me receive and experience Your perfect love that casts out fear.
  2. Lord Jesus, remove any fears I may have as I look to the future. Replace my fears with an unwavering trust in You and to know.
  3. May Your Holy Spirit provide and fill me with Your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. Give me the right vocal tone and words to say to provide comfort to my loved one.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. List two examples of times you have been afraid for yourself and your loved one since the illness diagnosis. (Psalm 56:3 [KJV] and 1 Peter 5:7). Did you tell God and turn over the fears to Him?
  2. Remember two times you have trusted in God since your loved one was diagnosed with a chronic illness (read Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7). Thank God for His faithfulness.
  3. List two cares or concerns you are facing. Cast (or give, turn over) those cares to the Lord remembering that, “He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). After listing the cares and concerns, turn them over to God, trusting Him with them.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Introduction

 

Hello, everyone. I give you greetings from North Texas. 2018 has kept me very busy. 

The year started off on a somber note. My sweet wife Benita passed away from cancer in April. Nothing has been more life-altering for me than her death. January through April 2018 was all caregiving, all the time, as in twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. She had two types of cancer. Benita had been fighting Melanoma Cancer since June 2015 and neuroendocrine carcinoid since 2013. From 2013 she had required daily caregiving. We were married over 43 years. I miss her every day.

In May 2018 I visited my brother in Destin, Florida followed by a brief visit to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in Sevierville, Tennessee. Both visits were during my en route travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. The conference was held at the Ridgecrest Conference Center near Ashville, North Carolina. I attended the meeting May 20 – 24. By the way, it was the best writer’s conference ever!

June 2018 included a trip to northern Arizona. There I rested, relaxed, and researched a new science fiction book I’ve started writing by visiting some places you’ll find in the book.

You probably know authors just can’t keep from jumping on those shiny new projects. I’ve decided to post a new nonfiction book on my blog starting this July before publishing it. By doing this, you can try the new book and see if it ministers to you before spending any money. The book’s working title is “Hope for the Caregiver.” The below introduction tells its purpose.

I know you’ll want to give it a try. Go ahead, try it. I’ll post a new chapter every Monday on my blog JimmieKepler.com, and then repeats the same chapter on Thursdays on my blog Prayers for the Chronically Ill. They’re not quite polished yet as I haven’t hired an editor for this project. He or she will get it when the completed draft of the book is finished. Until then, you can help. How? If you catch a typographical error, let me know in the comments. Thanks!

 

Introduction

Designed For The Caregiver

Hope for the Caregiver is a book designed specifically for the caregiver of the chronically ill. For the caregiver to keep caring for others long-term, they need to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

The focus of this book is to help the caregiver to replenish themselves spiritually. It will assist them in avoiding burn out and running on empty.

Who Is a Caregiver?

I define a caregiver as a man or woman providing direct care for a person chronically ill. The person with the long-term health problem may be an infant, child, teenager, young or middle-aged adult as well as the elderly. It may be the caregiver’s child, spouse, parent or friend. The caregiver may be an unpaid family member though sometimes they are a paid professional or sitter.

What Is a Chronic Illness?

A chronic illness is one lasting three months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. Examples of a chronic condition where a patient may require care include persons with Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson disease. 

The disease or a related disorder can be a physical, emotional and financial drain on the family caregiver. The illness may or may not be terminal.

A Book Designed For You

When you learn your loved one has a chronic illness, your hopes and dreams may be erased and replaced by feelings of hopelessness. You may feel overwhelmed or even afraid as you look ahead at the day-to-day struggles of caregiving. 

Hope for the Caregiver offers Biblical guidance and support for helping persons connect with the perfect love which casts out all fear, the love of Jesus Christ.

Using a devotion format, each chapter contains a verse of Scripture from the Holy Bible, an explanation of the verse, application of the verse to daily living, a prayer using the verse, and three directed questions for journaling.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

If You’re a Caregiver, Don’t Lose Heart

Don’t Lose Heart

When caring for someone with a chronic illness do not lose heart. We know that illness and disease can and ultimately will destroy the body. While our loved one’s body ages and suffers from diseases, we need to renew our spiritual side daily.

In today’s verse, God simply 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 earthly trials.

Today’s 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.”

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. these are only seen with our “spiritual eyes.” It takes faith. A part of faith is believing that what God has promised he will certainly bring to pass. I believe.

Praying Using the Verses

1. Heavenly Father, help us to focus on you and not lose heart.
2. Lord Jesus, while our outward body is perishing, yet our inward man or body is being renewed daily.
3. God, we realize the chronic illness we are facing won’t last forever but is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
4. Lord God, help us to not look at our circumstances which are temporary but to look at the things that are not now seen, but eternal.

Remember, as a caregiver we have hope. The hope for the caregiver is Jesus Christ.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope

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One of the hardest things about a chronic illness is its length. If it is not a terminal illness, you find yourself or family member facing its challenge daily. If it is a terminal illness, it may turn into a long goodbye.

Today’s 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.”

What the verse means:

Regardless of the length of the goodbye, for the Christian, there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Praying using the verses:

  1. Heavenly Father, we feel secure because there is hope.
  2. Because of the hope we have in you, we can rest in security.
  3. Pray for a good day of rest.

Photo Source: Pixaby