In celebration of my upcoming book, Prayers of Hope for Caregivers, I’m introducing you to real-life caregivers who have served selflessly and faithfully. My prayer is that their stories and tips will encourage you in your own caregiving journey. No matter how hard or lonely the path, remember you’re not alone!
Today, meet my friend Edie…
Welcome, Edie! Who was your care recipient?
I provided respite care to help my mother as she cared for my father in his battle with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
What were your father’s physical challenges?
Memory loss, reduced mobility, and eventually inability to communicate
What was the biggest challenge in your caregiving journey?
Watching the person I knew so well drift away until there was just a shell left. It was also very hard to watch my mother lose my father day by day. Physically, it was exhausting. The daily requirements didn’t lessen, instead they increased.
What moments of joy did you experience?
My story is a little unusual. When my father developed his illness he was not a believer and we’d been praying for him to accept a relationship with Jesus Christ for 33 years. With the onset of his disease, his heart softened and entered wholeheartedly into that relationship. Ultimately, the thing that killed his physical body was used by God to save him.
After he came to know Jesus, we watched his joy return. He laughed more and demonstrated a peace I wouldn’t have thought possible when dealing with his ever-increasing struggles.
After he had gone into an assisted living facility, he’d lost most of his coordination. That was so hard because he was a classically trained musician and former music professor. It had been several years since he’d been able to play any of his beloved instruments. But there was one determined therapist and one day when I entered the facility, I heard the most beautiful flute duet. I ran to his therapy room and there sat my father, with his flute to his mouth, playing a duet with his therapist. I’ll treasure that memory forever.
What Bible verse has been most encouraging to you?
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
What practical steps or tips helped you through caregiving?
I’ve learned how important it is to step away and care for myself. I can’t pour out when I’m empty. Sometimes stepping away didn’t look like I expected – it wasn’t physically leaving. Instead it was reading quietly while my father slept, or doodling in my sketch book, or writing out my thoughts in the small journal I always have with me. I learned that when I look up, God will meet me in the small moments between the caregiving.
What spiritual practices were helpful for you?
This was a time when I needed God more than ever before, but I had less time and less energy to devote to deep, prolonged study. So I discovered that God was there in those in-between times. I kept a small Bible and journal with me and wrote out verses that spoke to me. As I wrote and doodled, I found myself filled with God’s refreshing spirit.
I also spent more time in thought-prayer—meaning I spoke to God regularly in my mind. I tried to filter all that I was experiencing through His eyes by praying about everything.
Instead of pulling me away from God, this time deepened my relationship in ways I never imagined it could.
What would you say to another caregiver in your shoes right now?
Leave the guilt at home. In times of caregiving it’s not possible to be all you feel you need to be. But God is still working through you, even when you’re grumpy and exhausted. Turn to Him and He is there to meet you, sustain you, and offer you the strength and comfort you so desperately crave.
What a powerful story, Edie. I had tears in my eyes when I read about your father’s faith in Christ and the flute duet he played. Thank you for sharing your experiences and encouraging others on the caregiving journey!
Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers experiencing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, caregivers, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.
In addition to being a writer, Edie has this to say, “I’m creative out of self-defense. As the daughter of an artist-mother and musician-turned-photographer-father, I’d have been a disgrace if I hadn’t been true my own creativity.”
She and husband Kirk have been married 37+ years and raised three sons. They live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in SC where they love to hike and wander the mountains. Connect with her on her website, www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.
Our lives are busier each day, and the margin we have available for recovery and peace is shrinking. Edie Melson helps you find Soul Care solutions using devotions and prayers and opportunities for creative expression. She has learned that sensory involvement deepens our relationship with the Father and gives rest to our weary souls. She will teach you to tap into your creativity. Reconnect with God using your tactile creativity. Warning! This book may become dog-eared and stained. Draw in it. Experiment with your creative passions. Learn the healing power of play. Allow God’s power to flow through creativity. Soul Care When You’re Weary will become your heart treasure.