This is Peter Rosenberger and one of the reasons I wrote my new book A Minute for Caregivers is because I remember the sinking, despairing feeling of struggling as a caregiver. No one knew what to say to me. I didn't understand and others didn't understand me.
For decades I foraged along and tried to find my path through this medical nightmare that Gracie and I have endured for nearly 40 years. And I've learned to speak the language of caregivers. I speak fluent caregiver. No pastor, no counselor, no medical provider, no friend should ever throw their hands up and say I don't know what to say to that caregiver.
Because I do. Give them a copy. This book is called A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday. They're easy to read, one minute chapters that speak directly to the heart of a caregiver and you can get them wherever books are sold. A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday.
Friends don't let friends care give alone. They are often the unsung heroes of our family. Those who are full time caregivers, daily serving their loved ones, suffering with illnesses, disabilities, Alzheimer's, addictions. This very daily and seeming to never end meeting of needs can result in burnout and sickness for those doing the caregiving.
So how can the church, how can our family be a support to not only the one suffering with the illness, but also to the caregiver? We're going to talk about it this morning with Peter Rosenberger, who is joining us on this National Family Caregivers Month. He's written A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday. And good morning, Peter. Good morning to both of you.
Thank you so much for having me. This is a very important topic as I was reading that there's so many of our society that we're living multi-generational in a house. For example, my mother-in-law, she's 85 years old, she lives with us, and there are times when we have to be her caregiver. And I think this is a growing situation of our population, isn't it?
It is. We're living longer, but not necessarily our brains are living longer. And that's for the aging population, this massive baby bloomer population. But then you have, look at the increase in diagnosis of things such as autism. Look at the increase of diagnosis with addiction and alcoholism. These are all chronic impairments. Wherever there's a chronic impairment, there's always a caregiver. And a lot of times the church is overwhelmed by the amount of challenges within a church, and sometimes churches are oblivious, because some of these folks can't come to church.
So it's a multi-pronged problem, but I do believe that the church has the mandate to speak with clarity into this issue. Now, Peter, you have a personal story with this. So let's begin with, what's your story?
Well, my story is rather dramatic. Forty years ago, last week, my wife had a horrific car accident when she was a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville. I did not know her. I was a student at a sister college of Moody down in South Carolina, Columbia Bible College.
And now it's Columbia International University. And I transferred into Belmont while she was out recuperating. I met her when she came back. She had a pretty significant limp. She'd already had about 20 surgeries, and friends thought the two of us might get along, and we did.
But I had no concept of what it was like to be in a relationship with somebody who was hurt, particularly the level she was hurt. And the surgeries just kept mounting. And now she's facing her 86th surgery that I can count next week. It's a nine-hour surgery to help straighten up her back. She gave up both of her legs in the 90s. She has had five operations just in the last two years. And so she lives with enormous amount of pain and challenges. Architecturally, she's just a train wreck. And I've been told by professionals in this world, in the orthopedic world, that she's at the far end of the scale when it comes to orthopedic complications. And there will probably never be somebody like her again. If she'd had her wreck today, they probably would have taken her legs the day of the wreck, because prosthetics are so more advanced than they are than they were 40 years ago. And they would not have probably gone down the same path, which has architecturally set things in motion that are requiring all these surgeries to save her legs, to repair the damage.
I'm trying to save her legs, and now to deal with the damage to her back and everything else. So it's been a haul for both of us. And here we are. Trying to just wrap my brain around the challenges that the two of you have is almost impossible. How do you deal with the challenges that you both face each and every day?
Well, that's been an evolving question. I dealt with it on my own understanding and on my own strengths and my own abilities, which Scripture clearly admonishes not to do, but I did. And it took me a lifetime to understand that I'm not here to solve this problem. As I tell my fellow caregivers on my radio program, look down at your hands. If you don't see nail prints, this ain't yours to fix. I didn't do this to Gracie.
I can't undo it. That's not my role. And I've had to learn to lean on Christ in ways that I didn't understand, didn't expect, and quite frankly, nobody really knew how to tell me to do it. That's why I write the books. That's why I do the radio show, because I've learned to speak caregiver fluently. But what I've come to understand is that it's a caregiver, the language of caregiver, that's our Savior's native tongue.
Wow, I love that, Peter. And the broadcast is Hope for the Caregiver broadcast. And so what's some hope today for those that are in this role, or maybe they're just beginning this role in their marriage, something happened, or there was a diagnosis, and they're looking ahead, and they're wondering, how am I going to make it through this?
Give some hope today. Well, the biblical definition of hope has been kind of diluted in our English language, where we kind of like, wish for things, and we, oh, I hope this will work out kind of thing. When you talk about hope in a biblical sense, there is a conviction that is attached to that. And hope for the caregiver is that conviction that we can live a calmer, healthier, and dare I say, a more joyful life while serving as a caregiver. Knowing that He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it to the day of Christ Jesus. Now that's hope. Christ in us, the hope of glory, the conviction that this is, He saw to it that we were born, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, He saw to it that we believed, and He will see us hope. That is hope. And we hang onto that in the midst of this, so next week when they wheel Gracie down for this surgery, it's a nine-hour surgery, and they wheel her down for this thing, I will watch that gurney go, knowing that He's already waiting for her in the O.R.
He's already there now. That is the hope that we have as Christians for this. And somebody said the other day, I remember saying, don't you think you'd have a bigger audience if you didn't really get into all this religious stuff? And I said, you show me an atheist who's done what I've done.
And I'll read their book. But they haven't done it. I haven't seen one.
There may be one out there, but I haven't seen them. And I realize that it's understanding the Gospel. And the Gospel is that He has rescued us from something far worse than Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, chronic pain, amputation, trauma.
There is something far worse that He has saved us from. And He invites us to trust Him in these crazy, painful things, and they are painful. And we will weep, and we will mourn.
But here's the thing that I've come to understand. Mourning is when the comfort comes. Jesus said, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Well, despairing and raging is not mourning. Mourning is accepting that this is what it is. Trusting that God somehow will redeem and work this out, that this belongs in His purview. And that's where our comfort comes, knowing that we can trust Him in it, even though it looks so bleak. And it's hard to do that.
You can't do it by yourself. And so caregivers are so isolated that one of the things that drives me is to make sure I'm penetrated in that isolation, to extend this lifeline, point caregivers to safety when they can catch their breath, take a knee if they have to, and just breathe, and recognize, okay, every bit of this is just lousy. Every bit of this hurts. Gracie's life is hard. But it is not a life without consequence and substantive meaning, and neither is mine. And we have purpose, we have meaning, we have vision, and most importantly, we have the opportunity to go deeper with Christ, as Watchman Nee calls it, that dark night of the soul.
We can go deeper and deeper and deeper. And a friend of mine sent a picture to Gracie, a big blown-up picture that we're taking to the hospital, we'll put it on the wall, that Corrie Tim Boon once said, and you may know the quote, but it says, Look around and be distressed. Look within and be depressed.
Look at Jesus and be at rest. And Corrie Tim Boon led Gracie to the Lord when Gracie was six years old. And so that's hope. That's hope, Seth.
That's hope, that is that conviction, and that's what sustains us. You know, we think sometimes when we know someone who may have little kids that need a break, we'll make an offer to say, Hey, let us have the kids for a night and let you guys have some rest, or let us make dinner for you. There's little things that we can do to help people. What can we do to help those individuals that are in our lives that are significant caregivers? Because if you're not a caregiver, there's a real good chance you know one. So what are some things that we can do to help those that are significant caregivers?
Well, think through the whole picture of their ecosystem. If the caregiver looks tired, I bet their wallet is tired. I bet their car is tired.
I bet their house is tired. And you don't ever ask a caregiver, let me know if there's something I can do to help. Now I got to think of something for you to do, and I got to hope you're going to do it, and I hope you're going to do it without failing it and messing it up, and I hope I don't have to clean it up after you.
That just adds stress. What you want to do is you want to say, Hey, I'm at the grocery store. You need something? You need some milk? Hey, when's the last time you got your tires rotated and balanced?
Can I do that for you? Can I go get your oil changed? Is your car okay? Is it working okay? I got a mechanic. I'd be glad to have him take a look at it, just make sure everything's okay. How about your taxes? Are you able to stay on top of this?
If you know a good CPA that can help or maybe give you a good rate to help a single mom with a special needs child to make sure her accounting and everything is in good shape, that's something the church can help underwrite. All those kinds of things, you just start looking for creative ways. Is there gutter cleaned? When's a good time for a caregiver to be on top of the roof?
Yeah, exactly. You know, let's get those gutters clean. You don't have to necessarily do it. You can just see the need and get the need fulfilled.
There are professionals out there that do all these kinds of things, but it's a matter of being aware of the need. Maybe they need for a season, they need a good housekeeping service. Just don't go over to do it. Clean the house yourself. You don't want to get in their business.
Just go ahead and support one that's doing it and say, you know what, would this be helpful if we sit over once a month just to do this to give you a little bit of a reprieve? You know, that kind of thing. And be intentional and see them.
More importantly, see them and recognize the magnitude of what they carry. So Peter, as we head into the holidays, we've got Thanksgiving here and then Christmas. Is there any special needs or, you know, things you can think of during this time of year where we could minister to those that are caregivers?
Yes, you can. First off, the holidays tend to stress caregivers out because we feel like it's all up to us to make sure it's going to happen. Now, Gracie and I are going to spend Christmas in the hospital. I mean, we know that. They've already told her to at least say in the month, we'll probably be there through Groundhog Day.
So who knows? But you know, I'm going to get a keyboard and bring it into the hospital room. I'm a pianist and Gracie's a singer. She's a really good singer. Don't take my word for it.
Go out and Google her. And I'm going to play and do some Christmas carols and things such as that. So we'll be in the hospital. There's always a time just to swing by and say hello to somebody who may be in a hospital that's near you. You can check on them. The isolation is the biggest part of the caregivers. The days are short.
The nights are long. They're small. They're lonely. Reach out to them. Speak with them. Sit with them. Offer to sit with them so they can go out and do something and sit with their loved one or maybe even work with a service to come in and sit with them. If you're a pastor, take communion to them. Don't let them get disassociated from the church. They need the fellowship of believers. They need this.
We all need this. We're commanded by scripture to do it. And if you're bedridden with somebody or beside somebody who's bedridden, it's hard to do that. So make that time.
I mean, Jesus was pretty clear, sick, naked, thirsty, hungry, prison, stranger. He's pretty clear about that. That's our mandate. And so let's look for ways to do that and speak into maybe help them decorate the trees. That is a pain. And by the way, help them undecorate the tree.
That's even a bigger pain. And I've done that for years, just doing it, and it's challenging. And Gracie, we live out in Montana, and so she always wants a really big tree cut from the forest.
One time she made me get a 13-foot tree. Do you know how difficult it is to pack all that stuff back up as fun? Oh yeah, well, we're decorating, we're singing carols. You know, come January 7th, that's why I leave my Christmas tree up till about Easter. Just easier that way.
Just take one decoration off a day, it's kind of like a reverse advent calendar. There you go. Perfect. Thank you. What I love about this is this is real practical advice and insight into what caregivers are enduring, what they are giving, and how we can be of help, real, true help.
Thank you very, very much for this. Seth, Deb, thank you for just spotlighting this group of people who are struggling, and let me tell you something, their Savior knows them by name, and they can lean on that Savior. That's what Christmas is all about. Emmanuel, God is with us. He has not abandoned you. He is with you, I promise you.
He is, and He is waiting for me and Gracie in the hospital next week, and He is waiting for you wherever you are. Amen. Thank you, brother. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Lord. You've heard me talk about standing with hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?
No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs, and this facility is run by a group out of Nashville called CoreCivic, and we met them over 11 years ago, and they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses, and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks, all these things we can reuse, and inmates help us do it. Before CoreCivic came along, I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville, and I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere, and feet, boxes of them and so forth, and I was doing all this myself, and I'd make the kids help me, and it got to be too much for me.
And so I was very grateful that CoreCivic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction, and we'd love to be a part of this, and that's what they're doing. And you can see more about that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. So please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well, but the majority of amputations are lower limb, and that's where the focus of Standing With Hope is, and that's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prostheses. And she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled. I mean, she's been an amputee for over 30 years, so you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking, and it goes to this prison in Arizona where it's such an extraordinary ministry.
Think with that. Inmates volunteering for this. They want to do it, and they've had amazing times with it, and I've had very moving conversations with the inmates that work in this program. And you can see, again, all of that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises, and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to standingwithhope.com slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there. We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be, and we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ, and that's the whole purpose of everything that we do, and that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope. standingwithhope.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-29 12:33:13 / 2023-11-29 12:41:12 / 8