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Hope Rays

Shining the light of hope into dark places

Excuses - Five Minute Friday

Karen Sebastian - Friday, November 17, 2017

Excuses

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:10

I just finished a monumental task. I got rid of stuff accumulated over a lifetime. That is with my first husband's multiple collections and my inability to throw away, give away or let go of books and training materials. My first husband moved to Heaven 5 years ago. It was a dark time and I became paralyzed. It was like I could not focus on one thing.

At one point I had a massive Estate Sale so I could keep paying my mortgage. I thought I would have to sell the house so I released many 'treasures.' Thankfully, God provided in surprising and amazing ways for the payments to continue. So I settled back into a comfort zone of clutter and inactivity. In time, the house was paid off.

I met a wonderful, Godly man and we got married. I moved out of my house to live with him. That's when the excuses really began. I stalled for weeks and months. I would walk into the rooms of my old home and start crying. I was paralyzed. It really is all a matter of perspective. My conversations about the issue were dismal and pathetic. I felt like a victim who could not move forward. And still, no one stepped up to rescue me because I was the only one who could make the decisions.

One morning I woke up with a changed attitude. I could do this. I could start small. No more excuses. I started timing myself in 20 minute segments and stayed in one room until it was finished. I delegated the picture closet to one daughter who consolidated the photos they wanted to keep so I can hire to have them scanned. I eliminated excuses and moved forward. 

It is finally done and I now wonder why it was so hard. Things can take on special meaning when they really should not. I realized that I don't need the stuff to retain my memories. I have no regrets.

It felt so good to walk through the clean and empty house yesterday. I want to live that way.

STOP
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Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Silence-Five Minute Friday Post

Karen Sebastian - Friday, November 10, 2017

Five Minute Friday - Silence

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 ESV

As a teenager I wanted my life to be totally involved in MUSIC! I practiced the piano by the hour. As a self-taught pianist I developed some very bad habits that didn't work in the classical setting.

When I got to college, I decided to pursue my desired goal of being a concert pianist.  At that point, I discovered that I was lost. I didn't even know what they were talking about when they told me how to place my hands on the notes. One teacher made a weird gesture with her mouth and I tried to imitate that.

I felt shut down - SILENCED. I was not good enough. I didn't meet the standards set by others.

I asked the Lord for perspective on that difficult time in my life. Here's what he told me:

"I made you unique. Your songs and music reach my ears and touch my heart. I love your heart. Never remain silent due to comparisons with others because you are the only one who can generate the sound you do."

And that was enough for me. My purpose in life is being fulfilled even though it is different from the one that I thought it would be.

I still love to play and can sit for hours listening to the tunes in my head and sounding them out.

I once worked with a lady who had her masters in piano. She could not play 'by ear.' Whatever music was put before her she could play perfectly. If I had to pick one way to play, I would keep my own.

What about you? How often do you compare yourself with others? What has the Lord told you about that?

Please join us at Five Minute Friday and link up with some fabulous writers and bloggers.

 

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Z-Zoom In On Positive Outcomes

Karen Sebastian - Sunday, October 29, 2017

Zoom In On Positive Outcomes

No eyes have ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it - what God has arranged for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 MSG

I wanted to conclude the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers series by focusing on all the positive outcomes of the four caregiving scenarios in my life. I never thought about it much before, yet I have spent most of my adult life as a caregiver. I complained a lot at in the beginning of the journey I complained, yet now I can thank God for the positive outcomes and who I have become as a result. I never imagined how hard yet how rewarding it would be.

Someone has said that hindsight is 20/20 and this is an accurate statement because now I clearly see the following positive outcomes:

  1. I became the Hope Lady and wrote a book about it that will be released in 2018.

  2. No experience is ever wasted when you learn from it. So much of my testimony revolves around the initial experience of moving in with my little, feisty mother-in-love. It was not an easy time, yet I would not be the person I am today without these stories to tell and common experiences.

  3. I learned to honor fully and will receive the benefits in the remainder of my life.

  4. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride that best explains this scriptural principle: Honor makes a huge difference in caregiving. The fifth commandment given by God to Israel through Moses has a promise attached to it. In Exodus 20:12 it says, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 takes the promise one step further by including the promise of favor in your life when you choose to honor your parents. This is a foundational principle that all caregivers should remember and celebrate even while navigating through difficult times. The Hebrew word that expresses honor in these two verses is kabed. It has opposite meanings. On the negative side, kabed can be heavy, burdensome, dull, or severe. Meanwhile on the positive side, it means filled with glory, weighty, noble, or wealthy. I have experienced both sides of the word and am grateful to have risen above the weight of obligation to the joy of serving and honoring fully. The rewards of exploring the positive version of honor are priceless and long-reaching.

  5. I can finish strong with no regrets.

  6. Here is another excerpt from the upcoming book: We live in a society that seems to have forgotten the true meaning of respect and favorable regard. Many parents go through tremendous difficulties as they perpetuate the abuse or neglect they suffered in their own childhood. In these situations, the communication breaks down over the years as family members separate and alienate themselves from those who have wronged them. Honor does not condone this behavior; instead, the essence of honor is to recognize the role of a person in your life and trust God in their execution of that appointment. Parents may fail in many ways and hurt their children. While this is not right or in God’s plan, when it’s your turn to take care of them in their final days, you have an opportunity to change the legacy and direction of your family, live a longer life, and experience unprecedented favor in all you do. You have been given the chance to rewrite the end of the story and redeem the pain by creating powerful positive memories to take the place of the painful ones. The redemptive quality of honor is applicable to much more than just parent-child relationships. In any type of caregiving situation, honoring the one you care for will empower you with the peace of mind that comes with no regrets.

Active Self Nurture

Make a "mind map" (or list) of the benefits of caregiving

I love to mind-map my thoughts. This truly is the basis for how I gain the content to start writing. It allows you to capture your thoughts the way they are occurring. Initially, it may be a stretch as you are in the middle of challenges and tough places right now.

Rewrite the end of your own story

Make the decision today to change the end of your life script. No matter what has been done to you, today you can take control of the rest of your decisions. Choose to give of yourself freely yet establish boundaries. Forgive and let go of past hurts. 

Take care of yourself

Review the ABC's of Self Nurture for Caregivers regularly to make sure you are taking care of the most important part of the caregiving equation - YOU! You make a difference in the lives of others so be kind to yourself. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that I can learn the true meaning of honor. What a great God You are to provide special blessing when I honor those I care for. I look forward to the blessing of a long life and the favor that comes along with it. I choose to forgive freely and move forward with confidence in Your goodness and the good plan You have for me.
In Jesus' name. Amen

For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Y-Say YES to What You Love

Karen Sebastian - Saturday, October 28, 2017

Say YES to What You Love

So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. James 4:7 MSG

I stood up with tears stinging on the corners of the my eyes. I had just been laid off. My first husband, Bill, was waiting to get his disability income and we were barely meeting our bills each month. It had been a difficult job assignment with an unreasonable boss and many commuting hours each day. Still, I clung to it like a shipwrecked sailor gripping a piece of driftwood, fearing that if I let go we would all go down together. 

The company had been sold and the day before I had had a similar conversation with each of my training team as they were all let go. No one told me I was on the list. My heart sank as I saw the Human Resources Vice President come into my office with the 'folder.' I was totally caught off guard

"I just want you to know that you are doing me a favor," I exclaimed loudly. "I intend to write a book about hope."

I don't remember the rest of the conversation. As I packed up my books and other training materials I fumed as I heard the rest of the my 'friends' celebrating the new ownership of the company. The door to this difficult season had suddenly slammed shut. On the long drive home I dreaded telling Bill about the surprising turn of events.

The first one to greet me when I got home was our grandson, Dominic, who was two at the time.

"Nona!" he yelled and came running to me. I grabbed him in my arms and sat in the rocker. He must has sensed that I needed it because he sat very still (for him) and let me rock him for a long time. I was doing what only I could do. All was going to be okay in this change of season.

Every single person I know wants to make a difference in the lives of others by doing something special and unique. Within you are seeds of a dream to do what only you can do. It is the legacy that you will leave behind. Unfortunately, I had gotten so busy with my job and caregiving responsibilities that I did not make room for my gifts of writing, speaking and music. God was closing doors so He could open others.

Active Self Nurture 

Define your gift 

The first step in finding your gift is to define it. A great way to start is to ask yourself, “What would you do if you had unlimited resources (time, money and education)? Your mind is free to explore once you remove the self-imposed limitations that often lead you to talk yourself out of what you would love to do. You can always make time - even if it's just a few minutes

Follow what you love to do

Your gift will be centered around the things you like to do. Have you always had an inclination and innate ability to do certain things? Often you don’t recognize your gifting because you think that everyone has the same capabilities you do and it’s easy for you. It is the unique pattern and combination of talents and attributes that makes your gift rare and precious.  There may be others who do the same thing you do, yet you add a flair that distinguishes your gift from others.

Share your gift

Your gift brings you joy, especially when shared with others. There is no better feeling than to do what you were created to do. It does not seem like work because it is a pleasure. There will be those areas where you will need to grow to support that gift. In fact, you might feel most disqualified in the area where you would like to go. For example, I have always loved to sing and play worship songs. I can get lost in time as I sit down at the piano. I struggle with recording these and sharing with others. It’s my goal to move in that direction because others have told me these songs are a blessing to them.

Grow in your gift

Your gift will open doors and make room for you. Once you define your gift, look for ways to use it and improve your skills in that area. Even if it seems far-fetched right now, take steps in the right direction. This is where you can really get out of your Comfort Zone (or CZ as I like to call it). Volunteer to do something that you don’t feel quite sure about doing but have always wanted to do. You’ll figure it out and can have a lot of fun. Your gifts expand as you use them.

Prayer

Lord, I am so thankful for the gifts You have given each of us. I pray that You will grant us the courage to take a good look at them so we can expand and grow in these areas.  With Your help we will step outside of our ‘comfort zone’ and take some risks. Thank You for those around us that encourage us to ‘go for our dreams.’ In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What gifts are you going to share this week? What steps will you take to make a difference in the lives of others?


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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X-eXercise Every Day

Karen Sebastian - Friday, October 27, 2017

eXercise Every Day

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17 ESV

Exercise was the last thing on my mind in the flurry of activities of caring for my first husband, Bill. This is a common situation for full-time caregivers. It may seem like it is the last thing you can fit into  your schedule. You are exhausted when fall into bed and then the cycle starts over again the next morning.

The verse I chose to add to this series is a fascinating one from the well-known Proverbs 31 woman. When it says she dresses herself with strength it means that she rolls up her sleeves and approaches her responsibilities with force as she is secure in who she is. The Hebrew word there also means praise. Put on praise every morning as you start the day. Raise your arms in praise and put on the strength that you will need for that day.

She makes her arms strong. This means to me that she does her part to increase her stamina every day. She is alert mentally and physically. She has the courage to face whatever lies ahead because she trusts in God's good plan for everyone in her life. 

Hope says that I have the courage to face today with energy and courage.

The best thing that happened for me in that season is that a neighbor and I started walking in a local park every morning. I took many pictures of the sunrise and reframed my perspective. It was a huge blessing that I have been able to continue until this day. Every day I grew stronger and rejoiced in the beauty of each one. 

Active Self Nurture

Start today

Stop putting it off. Start small and increase as you gain strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Fortunately, research suggests that  everyday physical activities like walking and gardening are a great place to start. Even household chores can improve your health. The key is to increase your physical activity by exercising and using your own muscle power.

Start small

If the problem is finding a block of time for exercise, simply incorporate it into your daily activity. An ideal situation is the have the care recipient walk or do stretching exercise with you. If necessary, do frequent short exercises instead of those that require large blocks of time. Find activities you enjoy.

Stay consistent

It's okay if you miss a day or two. Just get back into the routine. Set reminders on your phone or hold yourself accountable with a friend. Walking if a great way to start because it is easy and available. Besides its physical benefits, walking helps to reduce stress. Besides it's okay to miss a day or two. If you can't get away for a block of time, use the app on your phone to measure your steps. The  recommended amount is 10,000 steps. Incorporate walking into your life. You'll be glad you did.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the ability to choose to do something for myself today to take care of this wonderful body you have given me. I ask for wisdom to know when to take the break to exercise consistently. I choose to gain strength by praising you and increasing my energy. Your hope tells me that I can have the courage mentally and physically to rise above what seems to be overwhelming me right now. 

In Jesus' name. Amen

  

For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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W-Wear a Smile

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wear a Smile

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. Proverbs 15:30 NLT

One of the hardest things about my first husband's illness (FSHD - Facioscapularhumeral dystrophy) was that it affected the muscles of his face making it hard for him to smile. The other day, as I was looking at some old pictures I started to smile because it brought back memories of when I first met Bill. We were both in the same Greek class at L.I.F.E. Bible College (Now Life Pacific College). I remember two things - his smile and the little drawings on gum wrappers. I have long since lost the works of art on the gum wrappers yet will always remember his smile.

During the last two years of his life Bill had to use a mask for the ventilator that did the breathing for him because his diaphragm had failed. That was when he relied on his little white board and marker to express how he felt. Emoji's were a blessing because they were able to express his smiles even though he physically could no longer smile. One of the greatest lessons Bill taught me was gratitude for the choices I have. Most people do not realize how powerful those choices are until they are around someone who can no longer make them. His mouth may not have been able to form a smile but his eyes expressed so much.

Active Self Nurture

Use your smile muscles

The choice to lift the sides of your mouth can actually make you feel better. Researchers believe that activating a specific set of muscles in the face connects you to greater happiness and joy. When you choose to smile, you signal the emotional centers of your brain that all is well. Here's where hope comes in. This scripture says that the cheerful look brings joy. When you trust God's good plans for your life you can smile and mean it. 

Keep your thoughts focused on the positive side

It's not enough to simply paste on a fake smile. When you are feeling discouraged, start thinking about all the things that bring you joy. Gratitude produces genuine smiles. As a caregiver, you no doubt experience a great deal of stress. It can be easy to start focusing on all that you do not control. Instead, release the burdens to the Lord and find what brings you joy. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for all Your blessings and for providing all that I need just when I need it the most. At times, the burden of caregiving seems too great and it can be hard to smile. It is right there that I choose to look up and smile. I know you will take care of the rest.
In Jesus' name. Amen.



For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home





V-Verify Truth

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Verify Truth

What You're after is truth from the inside out. Psalm 51:6 MSG

Oh, what I would say to my younger self all those years ago as I was beginning my long, arduous caregiving journey. The lies I was believing made it so much harder than it needed to be. I has been hard to connect with specific memories during that time when our kids were little because it's all a blur. We had moved in with my mother-in-love after my father-in-love died because my husband felt she would also die if we did not do so. I felt like I was being manipulated and that I had no choice. I was angry most of the time and found that talking about small things stirred up mutual anger to the point that I shut down. I shut down all emotions as they were too painful to process. Besides, as a sweet pastor's wife I should be able to handle all this and more, right? 

The main thing that I would tell my younger self would be to open up the tight lid on my emotions to reveal where there were painful areas. I would check for the Lord's perspective in each one and receive the truth about the situation. Emotions are actually like a beach ball that the longer we attempt to hold under water the higher it goes when our tight grip slips. And trust me...it will slip! Let me give you an example of a memory:

I walked into the kitchen where my mother-in-love, Edith, is yelling at our five-year-old daughter because she left the chair next to the kitchen counter when she was getting the peanut butter down to make a snack. "What happened?" I ask as calmly as I can.

My mother-in-love refuses to speak to me and, instead, throws the chair across the kitchen and stalks out. I grab my daughter and her baby sister and we leave before I say something I will regret. As I walk down the hall to the garage I can hear my mother-in-love sobbing. I am also sobbing but from pent up anger. 

When we come back hours later, no one talked about what happened. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said, "Well, she is going through a lot now that Dad is gone." And so, another wall went up.

As I replay that memory in my mind I can feel a wave of anger and sense of hopelessness. I feel so tired and helpless. Worst of all, I feel believe that I am stupid for not standing up for myself in a more assertive way. The good news is that our memories are flexible and who better than the Holy Spirit to reshape this painful event and bring me peace right where I need it the most.

As I let my mind take me back to that difficult time, I ask Jesus to reveal to me where He is in all of this mess. He is right there in the middle of it all. He is shielding our daughter and has a sad look on his face as he reaches out to my mother-in-love. The compassion in His eyes melts my hard, angry heart. I feel his heart toward her. I no longer feel the need to run away from it all.

If I could do it over, I would hug our daughter and then go knock on the bedroom door. I would talk to her and offer to pray with her. I cannot do that now because the years have passed and my mother-in-love has moved to Heaven. Still, I feel peace in that memory and thank the Lord for the honor to serve her.

Active Self Nurture

Face what you are feeling

Do not be afraid to express exactly what you're feeling. Your Heavenly Father already knows, so why try to hide it? Admit your fear or your anger. Own the feelings instead of trying to pretend that everything is okay.

Ask the Lord for His perspective

Once we honestly face what we are feeling we can open our hearts to the true perspective the Lord can bring. It's amazing to me how different a situation becomes when we see it from an eternal Godly perspective. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for giving me emotions that can let me know when something is wrong. With your help, I will take the time to process what is truly going on. I release all anger to You and ask for Your perspective in the difficult situations that I face as I care for __________________. 

In Jesus' name. Amen.


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home





U-Unplug

Karen Sebastian - Saturday, October 21, 2017

Unplug

Those who humbly serve will see and rejoice! All you seekers-after-God will revive your souls! Psalm 69:32 Voice

There is no exhaustion quite like the one you may feel as a caregiver. It feels like it will never end and you don't know how you keep going - yet, you do. Technology has provided us a way to connect and keep people informed of prayer needs. There is a great deal of support from friends who can reach out to us with encouragement. On the other hand, there is a great danger of becoming addicted to Social Media. One of the greatest respites you can find is to completely unplug from technology for 24 hours.

You make choices every single day about what you will do with your time. I must admit that I was not fully aware of those choices during many years as a caregiver. Toward the end of my caregiving season for my first husband, Bill, I discovered something that I wish I had done during other seasons of caregiving. Every morning I walked 2 - 3 miles at a local park.  I disciplined myself to put my cell phone on airplane mode during that time. I enjoyed the beauty of nature and took pictures of the sunrise. The changes of season were more apparent and I found a respite while walking.

Technology has become a greater part of our lives than even five years ago when my first husband moved to Heaven. We find ourselves checking our phone every time it dings. When stuck in semi-isolation because of the responsibilities to care for someone you love, you can become more desperate than ever to know what is going on in the real world. It is here that you can establish addictive patterns. 

Social Media Addiction

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are addicted to social media. They are followed by alternative Hope Antidote that serves as an active form of self nurture.

1. Do you check Social Media accounts first before doing anything else every morning?

Hope Antidote:  
Stretch physically in bed before getting up. Pray and ask the Lord for strength and wisdom during the day. Jot down notes recording your dreams or first impressions of the day.

2. Is reaching for Social Media your main recreation or distraction throughout the day/evening?

If you answered 'yes' to this question then you may have fallen for the very addictive nature of the technology advances.

Hope Antidote: 

Make a list of physical actions you can take that will get you moving and involved with people. Act on at least one of them every day.

3. Do you choose online time instead of actual face time with family and immediate friends?

This is the familiar picture of a couple who are sitting at a very nice restaurant with cell phones in hand or the teenagers texting each other when they are in the same room.

Hope Antidote: 

Set the example at the next family gathering by placing your phone in a basket and passing the basket around. Or, a wonderful way to have fun with this is the have everyone put their phones on airplane mode and put them in the middle of the table. If someone picks theirs up, they get to pay for everyone's tab.

4. Do you feel anxious when you think about not checking your social media outlets for 24 hours?

Hope Antidote: 

Remove the applications from your smart phone or handheld devices. At the very least, turn off the notifications so you stop hearing the dings. Schedule specific times to check your accounts. Find someone to help you remain accountable.

Take the time to enjoy the world and the people around you. Use Social Media accounts to reach out to others and invite them to some one-on-one fellowship and conversation.

I love how the Message paraphrase expresses Philippians 2:12-13 regarding this topic:

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a heart of immediate responsive obedience. I want that so much. Forgive me for letting the distractions of Social Media dull me to the nudges of Your Holy Spirit to reach out to someone in need or share an encouraging word. Thank You for energizing me from deep within. It is such a comfort to know that You give me the desire and the ability to complete all that will bring You pleasure.

In Jesus' name. Amen.



For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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T-Take Breaks Consistently

Karen Sebastian - Friday, October 20, 2017
Take Breaks Consistently
Jesus said, Let's go to the a quiet place and rest awhile. Mark 6:31 NLT
I would like to share with you a quote from the upcoming book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride because it summarizes well how much you need to take consistent breaks:

My heart was heavy. When I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom I happened to glance in the mirror. The bloodshot eyes that stared back at me were filled with sadness and despair. I felt so helpless as I saw my precious husband struggling with the effects of Muscular Dystrophy. His diaphragm had stopped working so a ventilator was doing the breathing for him. He could no longer swallow so I had learned to feed him through a tube in his stomach. He used a suction apparatus to suction out his saliva. On a bad day, it seemed like that was all that he did.

How do you keep going when it seems like all you do is take care of the needs of others? How do you find the strength to continue cleaning up messes and dumping urine and saliva? How do you navigate the maze of doctor appointments and medical bills? The person you are caring for no longer can handle the pressure, so you keep it to yourself and carry that burden as well. At some point, there is a shift in the way you relate to him or her. 

I was exhausted. I was discouraged. I didn’t know what the future held for us and it scared me. I had lost hope. 

There is no exhaustion quite like it. I thought I was tired when my kids were babies. This was different. This was a deep, depleted feeling that overcame my entire body. It was partly because of lack of sleep but I've been sleep-deprived before. I was wearing many others hats as a wife, mother, minister, and employee. Besides, I never planned on taking this job as a caregiver—it just happened gradually, over time, as I kept taking the path of least resistance. I took on more and more, and no one seemed to notice. 

I call it “caregiver fog.” Simple tasks seemed overwhelming and I would cry for no reason. The next minute I would lash out in unreasonable anger only to burst into tears again because I felt frustrated and stuck. It was like I was on a never-ending ride down an unpredictable river with white-water rapids. Does this describe you right now? You are not alone in feeling this way. 

Caregiving burnout is very real because you can easily neglect yourself while caring for others. It is imperative that you secure your life vest and wear it all the time.

Active Self Nurture

Take care of yourself

Why is this so hard to do? It starts with a good premise of taking care of the crisis and being the one who is there when needed. Unfortunately, this can become a pattern that is perpetuated where that becomes what brings you value. You easily take on the role of a martyr and neglect your own health. (See this article: Monitor Your Health)

Hope Tip: Do something little for yourself EVERY day.  

Learn to power nap

Mom say it best don't they? She would say every afternoon, "I have a 101 things to do now and one of them is the nap. See you in half an hour." You can learn to relax enough so that you will be able to take a 20 minute nap every day. This is a discipline that is practiced by some of the most effective people on the planet. It does not mean you are lazy. On the contrary, this short amount of sleep, when done properly can revive creativity and allow you to function at top capacity. The best time to power nap is either mid afternoon after lunch or just before dawn. During these times you experience a natural dip in alertness due to your circadian rhythm, making it the most ideal time to power nap. Set your alarm for 20 minutes; relax fully; change your focus to inner peace; get up immediately when your alarm goes off. For more on this vital topic click here.

Hope Tip: Set aside 20 minutes every day for a power nap whether you sleep or not.

Make time for prayer and meditation

Jesus told his disciples after a busy day of dealing with demanding people that they needed to get away and rest awhile. Follow His example on this. Jesus was actually taking a power nap when they were in the middle of a big storm. Make your car a prayer closet as you drive today. Find rest in the Lord.

Hope Tip: Find the best time for you to quiet your heart and enjoy the presence of the Lord. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for being the perfect example. Today I want to thank You that I can rest in you and trust You with every detail of __________'s care. I ask for wisdom and the ability to relax enough to nap regardless of the storms raging all around me. You can speak peace to my heart and I receive it right now as I sit here at ___________.
In Jesus' name. Amen.




For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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S-Stay Connected

Karen Sebastian - Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stay Connected

If one person suffers, all suffer together; if one person is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV

It was never my intention to isolate myself. It basically happened because I was so consumed with caring for my husband that it was easier to stay home than to try to find someone to watch him. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that others were unwilling to help. In fact, they offered and I turned them down. (I talked about it in the Receive Help Graciously blog.)

The other challenge was that when my husband retired from the pastorate, the kids and I started going to a large church. For some reason, it was hard to connect because I was perceived as being single because my husband was not able to go with me. 

Isolation can become a reality as you get involved in the details of caring for your loved one(s). You stop meeting with the friends you met with before because you are no longer a couple. Eventually, people stop asking you to meet them for coffee - not because they no longer want to be your friend, but simply because you have turned them down so many times. It should not be this way, but in the busy nature of our lives we let time pass without making the special effort to stay connected. It's time to take action so that you remove the isolation from your life. 

Active Self Nurture

Reconnect with friends

Who are your forever friends? Make a list of those who you would love to speak with or sit down with your favorite cuppa coffee/tea. Pick up the phone or send a message over social media to these friends. They will be delighted to see you and you will be refreshed after your time with them.  

Make a list of people with whom you would be comfortable leaving your loved one (if you are at that stage). Let them come over to test it out and to show them what they need to do while you are away. This is especially important if your loved one has advanced dementia or Alzheimer's.

Recommit to time for yourself

It is not selfish to want to honor your personal needs for refreshing and rest. Work toward shared responsibilities and time when you can collect your thoughts and sense the presence of the Lord. It is vital that your well be full before you give out to others.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the times of refreshing that you have for me right now in this caregiving journey. I ask you give me peace as I leave __________ for times to reconnect with friends. Thank You for those who are coming alongside to suffer as we suffer and rejoice as we honor those we love. 
In Jesus' name. Amen.
 


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Excuses - Five Minute Friday

Karen Sebastian - Friday, November 17, 2017

Excuses

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:10

I just finished a monumental task. I got rid of stuff accumulated over a lifetime. That is with my first husband's multiple collections and my inability to throw away, give away or let go of books and training materials. My first husband moved to Heaven 5 years ago. It was a dark time and I became paralyzed. It was like I could not focus on one thing.

At one point I had a massive Estate Sale so I could keep paying my mortgage. I thought I would have to sell the house so I released many 'treasures.' Thankfully, God provided in surprising and amazing ways for the payments to continue. So I settled back into a comfort zone of clutter and inactivity. In time, the house was paid off.

I met a wonderful, Godly man and we got married. I moved out of my house to live with him. That's when the excuses really began. I stalled for weeks and months. I would walk into the rooms of my old home and start crying. I was paralyzed. It really is all a matter of perspective. My conversations about the issue were dismal and pathetic. I felt like a victim who could not move forward. And still, no one stepped up to rescue me because I was the only one who could make the decisions.

One morning I woke up with a changed attitude. I could do this. I could start small. No more excuses. I started timing myself in 20 minute segments and stayed in one room until it was finished. I delegated the picture closet to one daughter who consolidated the photos they wanted to keep so I can hire to have them scanned. I eliminated excuses and moved forward. 

It is finally done and I now wonder why it was so hard. Things can take on special meaning when they really should not. I realized that I don't need the stuff to retain my memories. I have no regrets.

It felt so good to walk through the clean and empty house yesterday. I want to live that way.

STOP
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Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Silence-Five Minute Friday Post

Karen Sebastian - Friday, November 10, 2017

Five Minute Friday - Silence

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 ESV

As a teenager I wanted my life to be totally involved in MUSIC! I practiced the piano by the hour. As a self-taught pianist I developed some very bad habits that didn't work in the classical setting.

When I got to college, I decided to pursue my desired goal of being a concert pianist.  At that point, I discovered that I was lost. I didn't even know what they were talking about when they told me how to place my hands on the notes. One teacher made a weird gesture with her mouth and I tried to imitate that.

I felt shut down - SILENCED. I was not good enough. I didn't meet the standards set by others.

I asked the Lord for perspective on that difficult time in my life. Here's what he told me:

"I made you unique. Your songs and music reach my ears and touch my heart. I love your heart. Never remain silent due to comparisons with others because you are the only one who can generate the sound you do."

And that was enough for me. My purpose in life is being fulfilled even though it is different from the one that I thought it would be.

I still love to play and can sit for hours listening to the tunes in my head and sounding them out.

I once worked with a lady who had her masters in piano. She could not play 'by ear.' Whatever music was put before her she could play perfectly. If I had to pick one way to play, I would keep my own.

What about you? How often do you compare yourself with others? What has the Lord told you about that?

Please join us at Five Minute Friday and link up with some fabulous writers and bloggers.

 

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Z-Zoom In On Positive Outcomes

Karen Sebastian - Sunday, October 29, 2017

Zoom In On Positive Outcomes

No eyes have ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it - what God has arranged for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 MSG

I wanted to conclude the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers series by focusing on all the positive outcomes of the four caregiving scenarios in my life. I never thought about it much before, yet I have spent most of my adult life as a caregiver. I complained a lot at in the beginning of the journey I complained, yet now I can thank God for the positive outcomes and who I have become as a result. I never imagined how hard yet how rewarding it would be.

Someone has said that hindsight is 20/20 and this is an accurate statement because now I clearly see the following positive outcomes:

  1. I became the Hope Lady and wrote a book about it that will be released in 2018.

  2. No experience is ever wasted when you learn from it. So much of my testimony revolves around the initial experience of moving in with my little, feisty mother-in-love. It was not an easy time, yet I would not be the person I am today without these stories to tell and common experiences.

  3. I learned to honor fully and will receive the benefits in the remainder of my life.

  4. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride that best explains this scriptural principle: Honor makes a huge difference in caregiving. The fifth commandment given by God to Israel through Moses has a promise attached to it. In Exodus 20:12 it says, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 takes the promise one step further by including the promise of favor in your life when you choose to honor your parents. This is a foundational principle that all caregivers should remember and celebrate even while navigating through difficult times. The Hebrew word that expresses honor in these two verses is kabed. It has opposite meanings. On the negative side, kabed can be heavy, burdensome, dull, or severe. Meanwhile on the positive side, it means filled with glory, weighty, noble, or wealthy. I have experienced both sides of the word and am grateful to have risen above the weight of obligation to the joy of serving and honoring fully. The rewards of exploring the positive version of honor are priceless and long-reaching.

  5. I can finish strong with no regrets.

  6. Here is another excerpt from the upcoming book: We live in a society that seems to have forgotten the true meaning of respect and favorable regard. Many parents go through tremendous difficulties as they perpetuate the abuse or neglect they suffered in their own childhood. In these situations, the communication breaks down over the years as family members separate and alienate themselves from those who have wronged them. Honor does not condone this behavior; instead, the essence of honor is to recognize the role of a person in your life and trust God in their execution of that appointment. Parents may fail in many ways and hurt their children. While this is not right or in God’s plan, when it’s your turn to take care of them in their final days, you have an opportunity to change the legacy and direction of your family, live a longer life, and experience unprecedented favor in all you do. You have been given the chance to rewrite the end of the story and redeem the pain by creating powerful positive memories to take the place of the painful ones. The redemptive quality of honor is applicable to much more than just parent-child relationships. In any type of caregiving situation, honoring the one you care for will empower you with the peace of mind that comes with no regrets.

Active Self Nurture

Make a "mind map" (or list) of the benefits of caregiving

I love to mind-map my thoughts. This truly is the basis for how I gain the content to start writing. It allows you to capture your thoughts the way they are occurring. Initially, it may be a stretch as you are in the middle of challenges and tough places right now.

Rewrite the end of your own story

Make the decision today to change the end of your life script. No matter what has been done to you, today you can take control of the rest of your decisions. Choose to give of yourself freely yet establish boundaries. Forgive and let go of past hurts. 

Take care of yourself

Review the ABC's of Self Nurture for Caregivers regularly to make sure you are taking care of the most important part of the caregiving equation - YOU! You make a difference in the lives of others so be kind to yourself. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that I can learn the true meaning of honor. What a great God You are to provide special blessing when I honor those I care for. I look forward to the blessing of a long life and the favor that comes along with it. I choose to forgive freely and move forward with confidence in Your goodness and the good plan You have for me.
In Jesus' name. Amen

For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Y-Say YES to What You Love

Karen Sebastian - Saturday, October 28, 2017

Say YES to What You Love

So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. James 4:7 MSG

I stood up with tears stinging on the corners of the my eyes. I had just been laid off. My first husband, Bill, was waiting to get his disability income and we were barely meeting our bills each month. It had been a difficult job assignment with an unreasonable boss and many commuting hours each day. Still, I clung to it like a shipwrecked sailor gripping a piece of driftwood, fearing that if I let go we would all go down together. 

The company had been sold and the day before I had had a similar conversation with each of my training team as they were all let go. No one told me I was on the list. My heart sank as I saw the Human Resources Vice President come into my office with the 'folder.' I was totally caught off guard

"I just want you to know that you are doing me a favor," I exclaimed loudly. "I intend to write a book about hope."

I don't remember the rest of the conversation. As I packed up my books and other training materials I fumed as I heard the rest of the my 'friends' celebrating the new ownership of the company. The door to this difficult season had suddenly slammed shut. On the long drive home I dreaded telling Bill about the surprising turn of events.

The first one to greet me when I got home was our grandson, Dominic, who was two at the time.

"Nona!" he yelled and came running to me. I grabbed him in my arms and sat in the rocker. He must has sensed that I needed it because he sat very still (for him) and let me rock him for a long time. I was doing what only I could do. All was going to be okay in this change of season.

Every single person I know wants to make a difference in the lives of others by doing something special and unique. Within you are seeds of a dream to do what only you can do. It is the legacy that you will leave behind. Unfortunately, I had gotten so busy with my job and caregiving responsibilities that I did not make room for my gifts of writing, speaking and music. God was closing doors so He could open others.

Active Self Nurture 

Define your gift 

The first step in finding your gift is to define it. A great way to start is to ask yourself, “What would you do if you had unlimited resources (time, money and education)? Your mind is free to explore once you remove the self-imposed limitations that often lead you to talk yourself out of what you would love to do. You can always make time - even if it's just a few minutes

Follow what you love to do

Your gift will be centered around the things you like to do. Have you always had an inclination and innate ability to do certain things? Often you don’t recognize your gifting because you think that everyone has the same capabilities you do and it’s easy for you. It is the unique pattern and combination of talents and attributes that makes your gift rare and precious.  There may be others who do the same thing you do, yet you add a flair that distinguishes your gift from others.

Share your gift

Your gift brings you joy, especially when shared with others. There is no better feeling than to do what you were created to do. It does not seem like work because it is a pleasure. There will be those areas where you will need to grow to support that gift. In fact, you might feel most disqualified in the area where you would like to go. For example, I have always loved to sing and play worship songs. I can get lost in time as I sit down at the piano. I struggle with recording these and sharing with others. It’s my goal to move in that direction because others have told me these songs are a blessing to them.

Grow in your gift

Your gift will open doors and make room for you. Once you define your gift, look for ways to use it and improve your skills in that area. Even if it seems far-fetched right now, take steps in the right direction. This is where you can really get out of your Comfort Zone (or CZ as I like to call it). Volunteer to do something that you don’t feel quite sure about doing but have always wanted to do. You’ll figure it out and can have a lot of fun. Your gifts expand as you use them.

Prayer

Lord, I am so thankful for the gifts You have given each of us. I pray that You will grant us the courage to take a good look at them so we can expand and grow in these areas.  With Your help we will step outside of our ‘comfort zone’ and take some risks. Thank You for those around us that encourage us to ‘go for our dreams.’ In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What gifts are you going to share this week? What steps will you take to make a difference in the lives of others?


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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X-eXercise Every Day

Karen Sebastian - Friday, October 27, 2017

eXercise Every Day

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17 ESV

Exercise was the last thing on my mind in the flurry of activities of caring for my first husband, Bill. This is a common situation for full-time caregivers. It may seem like it is the last thing you can fit into  your schedule. You are exhausted when fall into bed and then the cycle starts over again the next morning.

The verse I chose to add to this series is a fascinating one from the well-known Proverbs 31 woman. When it says she dresses herself with strength it means that she rolls up her sleeves and approaches her responsibilities with force as she is secure in who she is. The Hebrew word there also means praise. Put on praise every morning as you start the day. Raise your arms in praise and put on the strength that you will need for that day.

She makes her arms strong. This means to me that she does her part to increase her stamina every day. She is alert mentally and physically. She has the courage to face whatever lies ahead because she trusts in God's good plan for everyone in her life. 

Hope says that I have the courage to face today with energy and courage.

The best thing that happened for me in that season is that a neighbor and I started walking in a local park every morning. I took many pictures of the sunrise and reframed my perspective. It was a huge blessing that I have been able to continue until this day. Every day I grew stronger and rejoiced in the beauty of each one. 

Active Self Nurture

Start today

Stop putting it off. Start small and increase as you gain strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Fortunately, research suggests that  everyday physical activities like walking and gardening are a great place to start. Even household chores can improve your health. The key is to increase your physical activity by exercising and using your own muscle power.

Start small

If the problem is finding a block of time for exercise, simply incorporate it into your daily activity. An ideal situation is the have the care recipient walk or do stretching exercise with you. If necessary, do frequent short exercises instead of those that require large blocks of time. Find activities you enjoy.

Stay consistent

It's okay if you miss a day or two. Just get back into the routine. Set reminders on your phone or hold yourself accountable with a friend. Walking if a great way to start because it is easy and available. Besides its physical benefits, walking helps to reduce stress. Besides it's okay to miss a day or two. If you can't get away for a block of time, use the app on your phone to measure your steps. The  recommended amount is 10,000 steps. Incorporate walking into your life. You'll be glad you did.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the ability to choose to do something for myself today to take care of this wonderful body you have given me. I ask for wisdom to know when to take the break to exercise consistently. I choose to gain strength by praising you and increasing my energy. Your hope tells me that I can have the courage mentally and physically to rise above what seems to be overwhelming me right now. 

In Jesus' name. Amen

  

For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released early in 2018.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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W-Wear a Smile

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wear a Smile

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. Proverbs 15:30 NLT

One of the hardest things about my first husband's illness (FSHD - Facioscapularhumeral dystrophy) was that it affected the muscles of his face making it hard for him to smile. The other day, as I was looking at some old pictures I started to smile because it brought back memories of when I first met Bill. We were both in the same Greek class at L.I.F.E. Bible College (Now Life Pacific College). I remember two things - his smile and the little drawings on gum wrappers. I have long since lost the works of art on the gum wrappers yet will always remember his smile.

During the last two years of his life Bill had to use a mask for the ventilator that did the breathing for him because his diaphragm had failed. That was when he relied on his little white board and marker to express how he felt. Emoji's were a blessing because they were able to express his smiles even though he physically could no longer smile. One of the greatest lessons Bill taught me was gratitude for the choices I have. Most people do not realize how powerful those choices are until they are around someone who can no longer make them. His mouth may not have been able to form a smile but his eyes expressed so much.

Active Self Nurture

Use your smile muscles

The choice to lift the sides of your mouth can actually make you feel better. Researchers believe that activating a specific set of muscles in the face connects you to greater happiness and joy. When you choose to smile, you signal the emotional centers of your brain that all is well. Here's where hope comes in. This scripture says that the cheerful look brings joy. When you trust God's good plans for your life you can smile and mean it. 

Keep your thoughts focused on the positive side

It's not enough to simply paste on a fake smile. When you are feeling discouraged, start thinking about all the things that bring you joy. Gratitude produces genuine smiles. As a caregiver, you no doubt experience a great deal of stress. It can be easy to start focusing on all that you do not control. Instead, release the burdens to the Lord and find what brings you joy. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for all Your blessings and for providing all that I need just when I need it the most. At times, the burden of caregiving seems too great and it can be hard to smile. It is right there that I choose to look up and smile. I know you will take care of the rest.
In Jesus' name. Amen.



For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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V-Verify Truth

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Verify Truth

What You're after is truth from the inside out. Psalm 51:6 MSG

Oh, what I would say to my younger self all those years ago as I was beginning my long, arduous caregiving journey. The lies I was believing made it so much harder than it needed to be. I has been hard to connect with specific memories during that time when our kids were little because it's all a blur. We had moved in with my mother-in-love after my father-in-love died because my husband felt she would also die if we did not do so. I felt like I was being manipulated and that I had no choice. I was angry most of the time and found that talking about small things stirred up mutual anger to the point that I shut down. I shut down all emotions as they were too painful to process. Besides, as a sweet pastor's wife I should be able to handle all this and more, right? 

The main thing that I would tell my younger self would be to open up the tight lid on my emotions to reveal where there were painful areas. I would check for the Lord's perspective in each one and receive the truth about the situation. Emotions are actually like a beach ball that the longer we attempt to hold under water the higher it goes when our tight grip slips. And trust me...it will slip! Let me give you an example of a memory:

I walked into the kitchen where my mother-in-love, Edith, is yelling at our five-year-old daughter because she left the chair next to the kitchen counter when she was getting the peanut butter down to make a snack. "What happened?" I ask as calmly as I can.

My mother-in-love refuses to speak to me and, instead, throws the chair across the kitchen and stalks out. I grab my daughter and her baby sister and we leave before I say something I will regret. As I walk down the hall to the garage I can hear my mother-in-love sobbing. I am also sobbing but from pent up anger. 

When we come back hours later, no one talked about what happened. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said, "Well, she is going through a lot now that Dad is gone." And so, another wall went up.

As I replay that memory in my mind I can feel a wave of anger and sense of hopelessness. I feel so tired and helpless. Worst of all, I feel believe that I am stupid for not standing up for myself in a more assertive way. The good news is that our memories are flexible and who better than the Holy Spirit to reshape this painful event and bring me peace right where I need it the most.

As I let my mind take me back to that difficult time, I ask Jesus to reveal to me where He is in all of this mess. He is right there in the middle of it all. He is shielding our daughter and has a sad look on his face as he reaches out to my mother-in-love. The compassion in His eyes melts my hard, angry heart. I feel his heart toward her. I no longer feel the need to run away from it all.

If I could do it over, I would hug our daughter and then go knock on the bedroom door. I would talk to her and offer to pray with her. I cannot do that now because the years have passed and my mother-in-love has moved to Heaven. Still, I feel peace in that memory and thank the Lord for the honor to serve her.

Active Self Nurture

Face what you are feeling

Do not be afraid to express exactly what you're feeling. Your Heavenly Father already knows, so why try to hide it? Admit your fear or your anger. Own the feelings instead of trying to pretend that everything is okay.

Ask the Lord for His perspective

Once we honestly face what we are feeling we can open our hearts to the true perspective the Lord can bring. It's amazing to me how different a situation becomes when we see it from an eternal Godly perspective. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for giving me emotions that can let me know when something is wrong. With your help, I will take the time to process what is truly going on. I release all anger to You and ask for Your perspective in the difficult situations that I face as I care for __________________. 

In Jesus' name. Amen.


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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U-Unplug

Karen Sebastian - Saturday, October 21, 2017

Unplug

Those who humbly serve will see and rejoice! All you seekers-after-God will revive your souls! Psalm 69:32 Voice

There is no exhaustion quite like the one you may feel as a caregiver. It feels like it will never end and you don't know how you keep going - yet, you do. Technology has provided us a way to connect and keep people informed of prayer needs. There is a great deal of support from friends who can reach out to us with encouragement. On the other hand, there is a great danger of becoming addicted to Social Media. One of the greatest respites you can find is to completely unplug from technology for 24 hours.

You make choices every single day about what you will do with your time. I must admit that I was not fully aware of those choices during many years as a caregiver. Toward the end of my caregiving season for my first husband, Bill, I discovered something that I wish I had done during other seasons of caregiving. Every morning I walked 2 - 3 miles at a local park.  I disciplined myself to put my cell phone on airplane mode during that time. I enjoyed the beauty of nature and took pictures of the sunrise. The changes of season were more apparent and I found a respite while walking.

Technology has become a greater part of our lives than even five years ago when my first husband moved to Heaven. We find ourselves checking our phone every time it dings. When stuck in semi-isolation because of the responsibilities to care for someone you love, you can become more desperate than ever to know what is going on in the real world. It is here that you can establish addictive patterns. 

Social Media Addiction

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are addicted to social media. They are followed by alternative Hope Antidote that serves as an active form of self nurture.

1. Do you check Social Media accounts first before doing anything else every morning?

Hope Antidote:  
Stretch physically in bed before getting up. Pray and ask the Lord for strength and wisdom during the day. Jot down notes recording your dreams or first impressions of the day.

2. Is reaching for Social Media your main recreation or distraction throughout the day/evening?

If you answered 'yes' to this question then you may have fallen for the very addictive nature of the technology advances.

Hope Antidote: 

Make a list of physical actions you can take that will get you moving and involved with people. Act on at least one of them every day.

3. Do you choose online time instead of actual face time with family and immediate friends?

This is the familiar picture of a couple who are sitting at a very nice restaurant with cell phones in hand or the teenagers texting each other when they are in the same room.

Hope Antidote: 

Set the example at the next family gathering by placing your phone in a basket and passing the basket around. Or, a wonderful way to have fun with this is the have everyone put their phones on airplane mode and put them in the middle of the table. If someone picks theirs up, they get to pay for everyone's tab.

4. Do you feel anxious when you think about not checking your social media outlets for 24 hours?

Hope Antidote: 

Remove the applications from your smart phone or handheld devices. At the very least, turn off the notifications so you stop hearing the dings. Schedule specific times to check your accounts. Find someone to help you remain accountable.

Take the time to enjoy the world and the people around you. Use Social Media accounts to reach out to others and invite them to some one-on-one fellowship and conversation.

I love how the Message paraphrase expresses Philippians 2:12-13 regarding this topic:

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a heart of immediate responsive obedience. I want that so much. Forgive me for letting the distractions of Social Media dull me to the nudges of Your Holy Spirit to reach out to someone in need or share an encouraging word. Thank You for energizing me from deep within. It is such a comfort to know that You give me the desire and the ability to complete all that will bring You pleasure.

In Jesus' name. Amen.



For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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T-Take Breaks Consistently

Karen Sebastian - Friday, October 20, 2017
Take Breaks Consistently
Jesus said, Let's go to the a quiet place and rest awhile. Mark 6:31 NLT
I would like to share with you a quote from the upcoming book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride because it summarizes well how much you need to take consistent breaks:

My heart was heavy. When I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom I happened to glance in the mirror. The bloodshot eyes that stared back at me were filled with sadness and despair. I felt so helpless as I saw my precious husband struggling with the effects of Muscular Dystrophy. His diaphragm had stopped working so a ventilator was doing the breathing for him. He could no longer swallow so I had learned to feed him through a tube in his stomach. He used a suction apparatus to suction out his saliva. On a bad day, it seemed like that was all that he did.

How do you keep going when it seems like all you do is take care of the needs of others? How do you find the strength to continue cleaning up messes and dumping urine and saliva? How do you navigate the maze of doctor appointments and medical bills? The person you are caring for no longer can handle the pressure, so you keep it to yourself and carry that burden as well. At some point, there is a shift in the way you relate to him or her. 

I was exhausted. I was discouraged. I didn’t know what the future held for us and it scared me. I had lost hope. 

There is no exhaustion quite like it. I thought I was tired when my kids were babies. This was different. This was a deep, depleted feeling that overcame my entire body. It was partly because of lack of sleep but I've been sleep-deprived before. I was wearing many others hats as a wife, mother, minister, and employee. Besides, I never planned on taking this job as a caregiver—it just happened gradually, over time, as I kept taking the path of least resistance. I took on more and more, and no one seemed to notice. 

I call it “caregiver fog.” Simple tasks seemed overwhelming and I would cry for no reason. The next minute I would lash out in unreasonable anger only to burst into tears again because I felt frustrated and stuck. It was like I was on a never-ending ride down an unpredictable river with white-water rapids. Does this describe you right now? You are not alone in feeling this way. 

Caregiving burnout is very real because you can easily neglect yourself while caring for others. It is imperative that you secure your life vest and wear it all the time.

Active Self Nurture

Take care of yourself

Why is this so hard to do? It starts with a good premise of taking care of the crisis and being the one who is there when needed. Unfortunately, this can become a pattern that is perpetuated where that becomes what brings you value. You easily take on the role of a martyr and neglect your own health. (See this article: Monitor Your Health)

Hope Tip: Do something little for yourself EVERY day.  

Learn to power nap

Mom say it best don't they? She would say every afternoon, "I have a 101 things to do now and one of them is the nap. See you in half an hour." You can learn to relax enough so that you will be able to take a 20 minute nap every day. This is a discipline that is practiced by some of the most effective people on the planet. It does not mean you are lazy. On the contrary, this short amount of sleep, when done properly can revive creativity and allow you to function at top capacity. The best time to power nap is either mid afternoon after lunch or just before dawn. During these times you experience a natural dip in alertness due to your circadian rhythm, making it the most ideal time to power nap. Set your alarm for 20 minutes; relax fully; change your focus to inner peace; get up immediately when your alarm goes off. For more on this vital topic click here.

Hope Tip: Set aside 20 minutes every day for a power nap whether you sleep or not.

Make time for prayer and meditation

Jesus told his disciples after a busy day of dealing with demanding people that they needed to get away and rest awhile. Follow His example on this. Jesus was actually taking a power nap when they were in the middle of a big storm. Make your car a prayer closet as you drive today. Find rest in the Lord.

Hope Tip: Find the best time for you to quiet your heart and enjoy the presence of the Lord. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for being the perfect example. Today I want to thank You that I can rest in you and trust You with every detail of __________'s care. I ask for wisdom and the ability to relax enough to nap regardless of the storms raging all around me. You can speak peace to my heart and I receive it right now as I sit here at ___________.
In Jesus' name. Amen.




For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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S-Stay Connected

Karen Sebastian - Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stay Connected

If one person suffers, all suffer together; if one person is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV

It was never my intention to isolate myself. It basically happened because I was so consumed with caring for my husband that it was easier to stay home than to try to find someone to watch him. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that others were unwilling to help. In fact, they offered and I turned them down. (I talked about it in the Receive Help Graciously blog.)

The other challenge was that when my husband retired from the pastorate, the kids and I started going to a large church. For some reason, it was hard to connect because I was perceived as being single because my husband was not able to go with me. 

Isolation can become a reality as you get involved in the details of caring for your loved one(s). You stop meeting with the friends you met with before because you are no longer a couple. Eventually, people stop asking you to meet them for coffee - not because they no longer want to be your friend, but simply because you have turned them down so many times. It should not be this way, but in the busy nature of our lives we let time pass without making the special effort to stay connected. It's time to take action so that you remove the isolation from your life. 

Active Self Nurture

Reconnect with friends

Who are your forever friends? Make a list of those who you would love to speak with or sit down with your favorite cuppa coffee/tea. Pick up the phone or send a message over social media to these friends. They will be delighted to see you and you will be refreshed after your time with them.  

Make a list of people with whom you would be comfortable leaving your loved one (if you are at that stage). Let them come over to test it out and to show them what they need to do while you are away. This is especially important if your loved one has advanced dementia or Alzheimer's.

Recommit to time for yourself

It is not selfish to want to honor your personal needs for refreshing and rest. Work toward shared responsibilities and time when you can collect your thoughts and sense the presence of the Lord. It is vital that your well be full before you give out to others.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the times of refreshing that you have for me right now in this caregiving journey. I ask you give me peace as I leave __________ for times to reconnect with friends. Thank You for those who are coming alongside to suffer as we suffer and rejoice as we honor those we love. 
In Jesus' name. Amen.
 


For the rest of the alphabet in the ABCs of Self Nurture for Caregivers please click here.

Karen Sebastian-Wirth has, over the years, lovingly cared for her mother-in-love, mother, father and husband. She certainly has learned the lessons of hope in what can become a treacherous ride over some rough waters. You will enjoy her candid approach to self nurture and the practical ways to take care of yourself. Her new book The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride will be released in November, 2017.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home






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