Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Author/Speaker Ann (Nancy) Rhodes, NP. We met online and then shared a delightful hour getting to know each other in a virtual meeting.
Based on her work as a nurse practitioner in community health, Nancy brings a wealth of information and understanding to caregivers. I visited her YouTube channel, Caregiver Success, and was amazed. Every video speaks to the heart of caregivers.
In our conversation, I mentioned the caregiver blog I currently was writing, Blessed are the Caregivers, based on the first three Beatitudes. She invited me to chat about that and other caregiving issues in a video on her channel.
Ann (Nancy) Rhodes APRN-BC Author/Speaker
Book, ebook purchase: www.caregiversuccess.com, Amazon
Follow on You Tube, Twitter, and Instagram at “Caregiver Success” for How-to videos. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPXeEk-bi4BT58oPPurCLzw
Facebook.com/caregiversuccess for teaching aids and speaking events.
Email: email@example.comNANCY (844-406-2629)
“Mom moves in with you but she does not come with instructions! ‘Caregiver Success’ is a comprehensive book created by an experienced nurse practitioner who has worked in home care for over 40 years. It is filled with pictures that show you processes so you can be a successful caregiver!”
Meanwhile, here are my thoughts about caregiving as I pondered the first three Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Blessed are the Caregivers
Let’s be honest, fellow caregivers. Our lives are no longer our own. Sometimes our loved ones’ needs are so immediate that our plans, routines, and even our sleep are up for grabs. I’m reminded of that lobster in a pot of gradually heating water. It doesn’t realize what’s happening until it is cooked. Likewise, our lives as we knew them can gradually disappear until we find ourselves, like the poor lobster, in a new reality.
When I feel overwhelmed, and sometimes resentful of my loved one’s situation, I turn to prayer. I call it prayer, but it’s really uploading all my complaints and worries to God. (I’m told that’s okay, and he can take it.)
Searching for wisdom and comfort after a sleepless night, I turned to the Bible and re-read the Sermon on the Mount. This time, the first three Beatitudes took on new meaning, as if Jesus were speaking to us caregivers.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV)
For the sake of our loved ones, a spirit of poverty helps us release what we once valued. At a gathering for caregivers, one man told how he abandoned his business because there was no one else to take care of his mother. His listeners nodded. Many had put their own dreams on hold.
I am a goal-oriented person, making to-do lists and dutifully crossing off every completed item. I even would estimate how long each task may take to challenge myself to come in on the dot. I surrendered “beat the clock” long ago. Now, when my loved one’s call for help pulls me away from whatever task I am doing, I remind myself that helping him is exactly what I should be doing in that moment. Nothing else is more important, or more pleasing to God in his kingdom.
My NIV’s footnote to verse 3 jumped out at me. “By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.”
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NIV)
We mourn with our loved ones when they suffer pain, anxiety, or inability to do what once delighted them. Caregivers of people with dementia mourn the loss of the persons they once knew way before death steals them away. They are already far along in their grieving process by then. “He left long ago,” many survivors say.
Caregivers often find comfort contemplating their loved one’s joy in the presence of God and anticipate their future reunion with hope.
NIV footnote: “’Blessed’ means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God’s kingdom.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 NIV)
This Beatitude gives me the perseverance I need. I like to think of my caregiver journey as Eugene Peterson’s “long obedience in the same direction.”
I sometimes must assertively advocate for my loved one. And, like other caregivers, I constantly problem solve to try to maintain the plan of care, reduce pain or anxiety, and support my loved ones’ strengths.
Years ago, my lightbulb moment came during a discharge meeting for my mother I had — not meekly — requested. The social worker said, “Susan wants to make everything perfect for you.” On hearing that, I realized that was impossible. And if it was impossible, the outcomes of my best efforts rested somewhere else.
While I use my nursing/caregiving skills and turn to my loved one’s medical team for advice, I meekly rest in God’s sovereignty. While God gives me direction for my caregiving work, the outcomes are his department and not mine. I love what Mother Teresa said. “You don’t have to be successful; you just have to be faithful.”
What do I inherit for my meekness? By surrendering outcomes to his purpose, God gives me peace and removes guilt when I fail. I sometimes think of this time as the “desperate years.” Caregivers try everything to achieve outcomes they desperately want for their loved ones. But so often their best efforts fail. Now, when discouragement rears its ugly head, I say, “It’s above my pay grade,” and just trust God.
God is in charge, not me. And that is a good thing.
NIV footnote: “ To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.”