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Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Wounded Caregiver and Why We Should Put On the Armor of God

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ~Ephesians 6

The holidays began with a bang, then we crashed and burned, and finally God restored and showered us with peace in the New Year. Phew, Happy New Year everyone. It’s 2019! My New Year’s resolution is to 1) have none, or 2) take it slow and easy, and 3) keep it simple, or 4) de-clutter my life. Hmmm, I guess I did have a New Year’s resolution after all.

Well then, another resolution I might have is to really dress up this year—in the full armor of God.

We survived the holidays ... just barely. Poor Dad doesn’t do so well with company. He tends to withdraw and sleep, though he always enjoys the entertainment provided by his great grand-daughter, Olive. Thank the Lord for joyful children who are willing to share their bliss. Her laughter and sweet baby giggles stays with us for days to come.

Thanksgiving was tasty and fun; Christmas was filled with wonder, perfectly thought-out gifts, and everyone pretty much stayed off their phones. Success!

The crash-and-burn came a couple of days before the New Year when I allowed an argument to get seriously personal. I must have had bottled-up issues with this person as I threw every piece of my armor at unnamed person instead of suiting up.

My son reminded me later that we tend to avoid arguments and let it explode when we finally find the need to defend ourselves. I must take a deep breath as I write this and agree with him.

My advice however, is when you need to stand your ground, stand firm and don’t let those fiery arrows aimed at your head get through. Honestly, if God’s armor is on, those flaming darts will just ping right off.

An all-out war has many casualties so we better make sure we’re on the right side and find resolve. Sometimes the right side, however, might look a little strange especially when you’re in the middle of that heated debate. Who knows who’s right when ugly words are spewed at each other armed with daggers and poison-dipped spears?

Don’t let anybody tell you that the way you’re caring for your loved ones is not the way they would do it. We’ve probably got a lot to learn from one another but the accusatory method opens wounds and every harsh word adds salt.

Caregivers are already tired and fighting our own battles each day. We have God as our center to keep us balanced. But throw one stone at us and we’re likely to break … unless, of course, we got dressed in God’s armor. We look good in it, trust me. He’s tailored it just for us.

The crash-and-burn before the New Year, as peculiar as it might seem had to happen. My home was under attack, my parents were under attack, and I was under attack. I probably could have handled it much better, but yes, I was tired and this person brought a special kind of chaos into my home.

I went into my prayer closet as my physical body was failing under the strain of these attacks. Twice I almost fell, I couldn’t breathe, and the pain in my back was excruciating. I was not going to make it. Asking the Lord for His peace, and trying to find joy in all of this was not working. God intervened and made a quick exit of the chaos and removed it.

I wonder what God’s Plan A was? Or maybe me standing my ground and yelling for this person to get out of my house was Plan A after all. We’ll never know. But I did read in Exodus that God is a God of War. And He wins every time.

The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. ~Exodus 15:2–3

This is our God who parted the Red Sea and took on the Egyptians who enslaved His people. It says He will fight for us. And fight He did. He ordered the Fight out of my house, albeit, He used a weak vessel namely me. But it was done. Once the chaos was removed, peace flooded back into our home. The quietness was surreal.

But I love this person on a level I don’t understand. I probably have something to learn from said person, but it’s never relayed to me in a manner I can receive it. Maybe someday we’ll figure each other out.

God did something amazing after this debacle when an old friend, Pieter, his wife, Rosemary, and daughter, Tina, came to visit us. We had amazing fellowship, ate dinner at the table with them and shared a to-die-for Dutch chocolate cake called Spekkoek.

They escorted Dad to the living room after dinner, where all of a sudden the Holy Spirit, I kid you not, took over and Dad began singing with Pieter and Rose. They prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, cried, and laughed, and sang a bundle of old worship hymns. My dad stood up through all of this not wanting them to leave. They promised to return in May. Dad is counting the days.

This morning we are still talking about it and we’ve been trying to remember the Indonesian worship song they sang. Dad knows the words and he smiles every time Mom and I sing it. Of course, my Indonesian is zilch so my words are coming out completely wrong which makes him laugh to no end. Ah, laughter, still the best medicine. I recommend it, and pray for it. Thank you Lord for restoring the laughter and peace in our home.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the Comforter, the One who breathes peace into our homes, calms the storm, and restores our broken lives. Teach me to pray and to trust that you will show up every time even in the midst of our battles.




Off Guard


For two weeks a steady rain had battered the ancient forest. Malatthias was cold and hungry, the weight of his armor tiresome. By the time the second moon rose he wore but his tattered shirt and bloodstained pants, his sword still sheathed. A thick cloak covered him and part of his horse, Mayllyn.

Suddenly, a snarl came from above. Malatthias looked up. She was dark and beautiful and for the moment the disenchanted knight was mesmerized. Look away. He could not speak. She slowly descended toward him. “I am Kteress.” It was more like a hiss than a woman’s voice.

Mayllyn stood straight up on her hind legs, plunging the knight into the thistles and thorns. He scrambled to his feet but Kteress was on him within a blink of an eye. Her claws dug around and into his throat. For a fleeting moment when her gaze turned elsewhere, he heard the distant voice of his dead father.

“She makes men weak with lust; turns their hearts with her deceptive beauty. Men must look away. Set their minds on better things, worthy things: whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, pure, and admirable.”

But the pounding of the rain washed away his father’s words. She parted her red lips, dripping with rain drops like honey. Sharp white teeth gleamed by subtle moonlight.

It was his blood she hungered for. “Become like me,” she whispered. “Immortal.” The stare of her black eyes brought him to his knees. He struggled to breathe as he felt life fading. Kteress licked her lips as if to taste the death of this knight till he cried out to the heavens, “Grant me Your strength just one more time.”

A surging force reached into the innermost part of his being. He unsheathed his sword and thrust it through her cold heart. She flailed while her claws cut deep into Malatthias’ face: from his temple, over his left eye, beneath the bridge of his nose, down his right cheek. From his bleeding throat a horrific scream of pain and anger erupted.

as she thrashed about. Yet she could not free herself from his blade till he pulled it out, little by little. Her body convulsed in the mud and mire. As thunder roared, the ground beneath swallowed her whole. Malatthias collapsed onto this back, losing his sword to the rising puddles of water which splashed and mingled with his blood. He closed his eyes and groaned. Rain fell harder. Someone called his name, over and over again.

When he opened his eyes, many long breaths later, the rain had eased and a shadowy figure appeared from within the mist.

“Father?”

“Where is your armor, Son?”

(First published by Deborah L. Alten in Short Tales of Secret Worlds)

25 comments:

  1. Good insights. I often forget the battle never ceases and to suit up everyday with God's armor is essential. Your comment about God fighting for us made me remember He is often referred to as "the God of angels armies" in the Bible.

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    1. Yes, that armor should be the first thing we put on. I hope to burn that message into my forehead. LOL. The God of Angel Armies ... I love that.

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  2. Wow! I am so sorry you had to go through the pain, however so blessed that you came out stronger and wiser. You have such a beautiful way of putting it all in writing. The short story at the end was perfect.

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    1. Thanks so much Carrie. Miss you terribly and our amazing fellowship times. Will have to catch up soon. And yeah, I thought that day would never end and hopefully I did come out stronger and wiser. Glad you enjoyed the short story, that encourages me to keep writing. And BTW, you're always a great encourager.

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  3. I love the story AND I love the pledge to wear the armor of God in 2019! Thanks for this!

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  4. Thanks Jessica. I'm sure there will be a few chinks in my armor, but at least it's on.

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  5. Oh dearest friend, I'm so sorry you had to go through open warfare! Being the non-confronter I am, I can't imagine having to do this but I know you did better than you thought you did and exhaustion probably had a lot to do with your letting your shield slip a little. God has you covered, even if you didn't think to put on your armor. You are a child of the King, a joint heir with Jesus and He strengthens you whether you remember to ask or not. Love you!

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  6. That one was from me, Deanne, even though it says I'm unknown!

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    1. LOL. Yes, I figured it was you. It's that writing style you know? Thanks D. An encouraging word from you is always welcome.

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  7. Deborah, I so appreciate you and how you care for your aging parents. Having walked a similar road with my mother for many years I have a sense of what you are going through. Caregiving is such a hard and lonely job and one of the toughest aspects of the responsibility, is when others weigh in with advice, criticism etc suggesting they know how it could be done better or differently. I think it is so complicated because everyone grieves so differently, processing things at different rates and ways. This adds to the tension about what should happen, and how and when things should be done. I think That most of us do the best we can, with the resources we have. And when someone is doing their best, we should all try to encourage and support them as they do one of the most emotionally, spiritually and physically taxing tasks of walking alongside someone in the autumn of their life. . Blessings to you as you care for your parents. They are fortunate to have you supporting them. So few people are so blessed to have a daughter who is willing to do what you do for them.

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    1. Thanks Anne. That means a lot coming from a fellow caregiver. Encouragement goes such a long way and it's definitely a booster to continue in this calling. Thanks again.

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  8. Thank you for your honesty. It has encouraged me today 😁

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  9. Hi Deborah. That image of throwing our armor instead of wearing it is profound. It means we are using some protective resources as offenses weapons, which, of course, is offensive and hurtful. Thank God for His hand after those times when we lose it. He extends mercy and, for those who are committed to Him, favor. Such blessings as we continue to strive Him.

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    1. I remember writing that part about throwing my armor and I had to chuckle. What was I thinking. Now, of course, I see how I could have handled things better. Suiting up in God's armor is easy, keeping it on has proven to be harder than I thought. But yeah, how awesome is God's mercy? Thanks for your insights Stephen.

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  10. Putting on the armor of God each and every moment. I pray I will always remember His armor is protecting me.

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    1. It's a wonderful thing. Part of the armor should be on all the time. Some of it protects, some of it moves us into battle. Like the sword and shoes, those are fighting things. But yeah, I definitely love the shield and helmet.

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  11. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Conflict is an inevitable part of every relationship, especially during stressful times, so it’s important to be prepared to deal with it in a Godly way.

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    1. So true. I always think I'm prepared but once in a while I let something go instead of preparing myself. Hope that makes sense. Thanks Chloe.

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  12. It is so important to suit up in the armor of God daily! Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. Yes, we need to wear God's armor! I enjoyed your post!

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  14. Such quick insight after the battle. I would not so quickly realize the Spiritual attack.. I tend to be deceived by my eyes - thinking the battle is in the flesh. Sometimes it is. But an "accuser" - sounds like spiritual warfare.

    I'm glad you found peace again and what a tremendous blessing to have that kind of fellowship, for your dad to be so lifted up.

    Happy New Year indeed - may the peace and resilience continue.

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  15. Thanks Christina. Of course, after the battle is done is when I see how I could have "fought" better. Thank God for his mercies.

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