by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward
My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NASB
Voices penetrated the heavy shroud of sleep. I checked my phone. Two o’clock in the morning. I could hear the anxiety in Mom and Dad’s conversation, but I couldn’t make out the words.
I threw back the covers and stumbled across the hall to their room. Dad lay on the floor beside the bed. I managed to get him sitting, but no matter how much I tried, I could not get him off the floor and back in the bed.
My husband Wayne was stirring in the other room, so I called for help. Together we got Dad up and settled back in bed. Thankfully, Dad only suffered a few bumps and bruises. But his fall was a dramatic reminder that I can’t care for my parents without help.
And neither can any of the millions of women in America caring for aging parents. They need community, help, and support.
No matter the exact situation, there is nothing easy about caring for aging parents. No matter how much we love them, the task often demands more than the caregiver has to give – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. God can and will supply everything caregivers lack, but He often chooses to work through other people to meet those needs.
If you aren’t a caregiver yourself, you probably know someone who is. You may have even wanted to help them, but you simply weren’t sure how. My personal experience has given me some insight on how ministry leaders and friends can offer practical help to those in our lives who care for family members at any level. Here are three things you can try:
- Ask – Every time a friend asks me about my mom and dad my spirits lift. The simple act of asking shows concern for my parents and love for me. I feel less alone in the journey. If someone you know or minister to cares for a parent, periodically ask how their parents are doing. And ask how you can pray for them and their parents specifically.
- Offer – So often we say, “Let me know if I can do anything!” And although we are sincere, the offer is too general. Instead, offer specific practical help. Before we moved my parents, my friend Kayleen offered to make the trip with me from Texas to Tennessee to unpack the boxes and get the house ready for them. Although this offer was huge, our help does not have to be this big to go a long way in providing comfort and relief to the caregiver. Just be specific and practical.
- Encourage – Caregiving is an emotional and spiritual journey. Caregivers need a shoulder to cry on, someone to pray with, and someone to laugh with. Bring her coffee and chocolate. Text her a link to a devotional that encouraged you. Send her flowers.
February 21, 2020 is National Caregivers Day! To celebrate, offer a helping hand to a caregiver you know. Although we can’t change her circumstances, we can ease her burden by extending practical care and loving concern for her.
About the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.
Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Join the conversation: Are you a caregiver? Have you ever been a caregiver? Please share what would be encouraging for those who are currently in the trenches!