I love meeting new people and have the blessing of doing it online as well as in real life. I’m not sure of the exact timing, but I began to see encouraging posts about hope in my Instagram feed and knew I wanted to get to know the creator more.
Enter Karen Sebastian and along with “meeting” her, I was given the chance to find daily hope in my newsfeed. Today I am honored to open up #TellHisStory to our first guest. Please welcome Karen as she shares a bit of her caregiving journey and blesses one reader who leaves a comment with her new book.
True enrichment comes from the blessing of the Lord, with rest and contentment in knowing that it all comes from him. Proverbs 10:22 The Passion Translation
I ran into the nicest guy the other night. I was hurrying home after a wonderful prayer meeting that went far later than I had planned. As I made a left turn, I realized that I was seconds away from a huge impact. And then I heard the screech of brakes, and the crunch of metal on metal. The last thing I remember was that my car came to stop after a 180-degree turn. I closed my eyes as the vehicle spun out of control and believe an angel stopped it just inches away from a light pole.
As I leaned my head on the steering wheel and was tempted to say, “I hope this stuff works” instead of my signature by-line of, “This hope stuff works.”
“M’aam, are you okay?” a man yelled as he tapped on my window. I opened my eyes and looked around. The window glass was intact, and I was able to get out of the car.
The gentleman who hit me as I turned into his immediate path had changed his mind about stopping and had accelerated instead. My split-second decision was costly. The lessons learned were priceless.
This moment reminded me of another time when I had felt the same sense of impact and resulting helplessness. We were in the special Muscular Dystrophy clinic at University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Nations was asking my first husband, Bill, to walk on his tiptoes and then on his heels. He could not do it. I stood up and demonstrated to him how to do it. Tears streamed down my face as the doctor told us that he had Facio-Scapular-Humeral-Dystrophy (FSHD).
As a pastor, Bill was very mindful of making sure he was listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding where we were to serve. We moved to the Dallas area to lead a church that had 12 attendees our first Sunday and 5 of those present were members of our family. We served in this church for 11 years before he retired due to the decline of his health.
It was a relief to know what was wrong with him, yet at the same time, it felt like we had been hit by a Mack truck. We faced the reality that, at this stage of the disease, there was no cure nor definitive treatment. As we drove home I felt like our future had been shattered. The disease progressed very slowly and was like the growth of your kids. You didn’t notice it daily but about once a quarter I would get a “reality check” that my precious husband was getting worse.
I became Bill’s full-time caregiver during the last two and a half years of his life. I cherish the time we had together. The disease affected his core so his diaphragm stopped working and he lost his ability to swallow. He was put on a full-time ventilator and I fed him through a feeding tube. When I look back on this season of my life, I am amazed how we both kept going.
Still, it was so hard. I felt exhausted most of the time. I started writing a blog (Hopegrams) about my journey but found that I was out of energy, time and motivation to do much else. I remember standing at the foot of his bed in the mornings waiting for a finger to move to make sure he was still with us. Then, the daily marathon would start.
This Hope Stuff Works
Someone asked me the other day about the greatest lessons I learned during this hard season. Here are a few:
- I learned the true meaning of HOPE. Hope in God is the confident expectation of a good outcome even if you don’t understand why and it takes a long time.
- I managed to turn in my super woman cape and ask for help.
- I made a list of how others could help and assertively asked them to do so instead of hinting and complaining about how busy/tired I was.
- I discovered the Lord was very close especially when I cried myself to sleep – JOY comes in the morning.
- I explored my capabilities and discovered I could do just about anything (with the help of a You-Tube video).
- I am rich and grateful for the opportunity to live with no regrets after serving a precious man of God who is now in the presence of the Lord.
- I can fulfill a dream of being a published author. I wrote a book based on the drafts of that blog – The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride. You can get the Kindle version for 99 cents during the month of November,2018 to honor National Family Caregiver Month.
I could keep going but I’m past my word count set for me by my wonderful friend, Mary Geisen. I would like to give a book away to one of you. Please leave a comment and I will select a winner.
[Tweet “Win a copy of @karensebastian’s new book, The Power of Hope for Caregivers #TellHisStory”]
P.S. This Hope Stuff Works – I determined not to complain about the accident. My car was totaled so I got a newer model with no additional cost. I received three months of chiropractic treatment that I needed. I now have a signature life story to tell anyone who will listen.
[Tweet “Join the #TellHisStory community as we welcome @karensebastian. #caregivingjourney”]
What does hope look like for you? Have you experienced your own caregiving journey and what did that look like? Share in the comments.
And if you have a minute, please share this post to get the word out about Karen’s new book, The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride.
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Thank you for all you do to give caregivers hope, Karen!
Karen shares a beautiful story of hope. I know so many were touched by reading her story here.
I do have a caregiving story from 4 1/2 years ago when my husband had a spontaneous brain bleed. Don’t know how it happened but I noticed him behaving a bit strange plus he had experienced some severe headaches. A trip to the ER and a fast ambulance ride to a downtown major hospital and he was in ICU awaiting surgery. He did well and was sent home in 3 days but he was very weak. I began caring for him in the hospital and when he came home I was his caregiver. I am a Retired RN so had medical training but still depended so much on the Lord’s strength, guidance and wisdom. I was so blessed to be able to care for him. Thanks Karen for sharing your story!!
I love that you two have such an amazing testimony of love, support, honor and healing. You bring hope to all those who hear it.
As a caregiver for my disabled adult daughter I completely understand. It is an honor and labor of love. Thank you for sharing your journey. laurensparks.net
I so honor you as you love and honor your daughter. I am delighted to share and will check out your story as well.
What a heartbreaking story, Karen! But I’m also glad that you are using it to help others who find themselves in a caretaking role. I’m thankful God is redeeming what was lost. Praying for you! And thanks to Mary for sharing your story!
Thank you SO much! God uses the cracks to show His glory and I am so grateful for you and your prayers. I love Mary’s heart and yours as well.
Karen, you have so much wisdom from all your years of experience. May God bless you as your book goes out and may it encourage many. Blessings to you and to Mary!
You are such a dear. Feel like I know you and maybe one day we can meet IRL! (Learned that term from Anita and Susan. Blessings on all you do as well.
This is such an important topic, and it is talked about so rarely. Hope, yes. But hope for caregivers. That’s something special, something necessary. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for that perspective. Seek out a caregiver this week and let them know how much you can see God’s love through them. Better yet, offer to give them a break. Thanks so much for stopping by.
This hope stuff works. I love that line! And that truth. Sometimes we are timid about hoping. We’ve all had our hopes up only to have them dashed again. But Christianity is the religion of hope fulfilled, maybe not all right now, but all eventually. Thanks for sharing this, Karen.
Would you wear that on a T-Shirt? I had a couple of friends request it… I love your perspective about the waiting part. We don’t like it and yet, God is often teaching us our most important lessons in the waiting rooms.
Thanks for stopping by.
Caregiving is one of the most demanding jobs on the planet. Blessings to you for taking care of your husband during his long illness. I will remember your tagline long after I read it “This hope stuff works”. Glad no one was hurt in the car accident!
I am so glad you remember the tagline. Yes, I am grateful for all the blessings that came from the accident. God is faithful!
Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you, Karen, for this hopeful post. I was a caregiver to my mom when she had cancer. It was a long, hard and exhausting journey. Words really can’t describe how it is to be a full-time caregiver. When I try to explain it to someone, they just don’t get it. So, I truly pray your book will give hope to those going through this difficult and sometimes lonely season of life. And help the friends and family who support their efforts to understand the needs of a caregiver. Like your husband, my mom is now with the Lord. But we can rejoice knowing we will see them again. Blessings to you!
I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. It is hard and yet, a great joy to live with no regrets. Yes, it is a club none of us want to join but we still can enjoy the presence of the Lord in the midst of it all. Yes, one day soon we will see them again.
Blessings to you as well and thanks for stopping by.
Karen, I’m praising God for your book because it sounds like a beautiful message many people need. I’ve never experienced long-term care-giving and cannot imagine. But I’ve seen many in my community go through this. Blessings on your message.
Thank you for welcoming Karen today, Betsy. Hope you are doing well.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I am so thankful for your generous spirit and blessings on this book. It’s my prayer it can provide hope to those who need it the most – family caregivers.
Blessings to you as well.
Karen, such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing a piece of your story. Hope is my One Word for the year, and God keeps bringing it across my path today. It’s been it’s own sort of hard day, but nothing on par with saying good-bye to a beloved spouse. We need hope even in the smaller trials, don’t we? I was touched by your story and your lessons.
Hope in the big and small things is necessary. Don’t discount your own desire for hope and how God uses your story for His glory too. Praying your journey of hope shows you how God is always by your side.
Jeanne, thank you so much for your kind words. I totally agree with Mary that we all need hope in the day to day as well as the major life shattering experiences. You are a blessing to many and I look forward to reading your series on choosing gratitude. (My second favorite topic — after HOPE).
Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for this heartfelt, hope-filled guest post, Karen & Mary. I’m so sorry for your loss, Karen. It must have been devastating, too, to watch your husband’s body deteriorate like that. I love that phrase – “This hope stuff works!” Blessings and hugs to you both!
Karen’s beautiful story of caring for her husband is even better because of the hope she found in God. I was so honored to welcome her to this spaced community.
Trudy, thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, it was hard yet through it all, God was so present. I pray you also feel great hope in whatever you face. Blessings and hugs to you as well.
We’ve experienced some of this with my husband’s mother. We brought her home from the nursing home at 90 lbs. 5 years ago, thinking we were bringing her home to die among loved ones. But she regained weight and is still with us, though she sleeps 20-22 hours a day. Caregiving is one of the hardest things I’ve ever been asked to do, but I am sure it can’t compare to caregiving for a spouse. It was a blessing to hear how God sustained you through that time and since. Thank you for sharing!
Oh that is tough! Praying for you as you honor her and feel the sustenance of the Holy Spirit in it all. We also cared for my mother-in-love for over 20 years after my father-in-law passed away. That was actually a harder season than the one with my beloved because of his level of appreciation and grace. Praying for you and your entire family right now. Be sure to take good care of yourself in this equation.
Thank you for bravely sharing a small part of your own caregiving journey. I believe it is hard no matter what the relationship is to the other person. I am praying for you as you walk this journey with your MIL. Blessings!
Barbara – YOU WON!!!! I have just sent you an email so we can get your book to me. Thanks to all who participated. I loved reading your loving and amazing comments. Keep writing and sharing your stories. You make a huge difference!
What a powerful grace, Karen … that you would offer hope while needing it for your own soul. God has a way of replenishing our hearts in ways we could never do on our own …
What a tender ministry He’s called you to. Bless you.
I love your comments, Linda. It brought tears to my eyes to see the way you put the words “tender ministry” and “powerful grace” together. Indeed, the Father does replenish our hearts with hope as we trust for the positive outcome even in the midst of the rough ride. I will check out your BookBag and Giveaway.
Karen is truly a gift to others through her hope ministry. Thank you for sharing your kind words.
Thanks for sharing part of your story, Karen, and thanks, Mary, for hosting her words. It is amazing that we can find hope in God no matter what our circumstances. My main experience of caregiving so far has been supporting a friend who was suffering from anorexia and I learned a lot about finding hope in God rather than in a particular outcome and realising that there was nothing I could do to “fix” it- I just had to keep being there and looking to God.
It has been an honor to share. Oh my! You are indeed in a challenging season with your friend. She is SO blessed to have you in her life. I love how when we pray with true HOPE of a good outcome that there is a release in the person who needs HOPE to keep going. Please know that the Holy Spirit is working deep within in the areas where we do not see it. As you continue to paint a picture of hope – the changes will begin to show on the outside. Praying for you and your friend right now.
Letting go of trying to fix another person when a caregiver is only possible through the grace of God. What a blessing to be able to stand by your friend’s side as she went through anorexia.
Oh, my, can I ever relate to this journey. My husband passed away 9 weeks ago after a lengthy battle with congestive heart failure. I would stand by the bedroom door many times during the day waiting for his chest to rise or his toes to wiggle so I would know he was still here. And I have at times asked God why he had to suffer so, but even though it was very difficult, I am thankful for the time I had with him.
I have a blog and I want to write to encourage others, but I am stuck and just can’t get the words to come. It’s been over a year since I have posted anything.
Thursday this week my husband would have celebrated his 60th birthday.
Oh Terisa, your comment would make a beautiful blog post if you will simply add one or two lessons learned such as – how have you experienced his presence in the dark places? How did you get through the nights? With whom have you shared your story and how has it impacted them? I am so proud of you!!!! Karen Sebastian
Terisa – I am praying for you right now. May you feel some peace amidst the deep loss. Caregiving is a difficult journey and one that leaves us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
I pray you find a space where you can write about your journey as a way to heal and encourage others.
“This hope stuff works!”
I’m going to be turning that phrase over in my mind today alongside your story of a tough and sustaining hope that carried you through such a challenging time. Thank you for sharing your story here, and Mary, as usual, thank you for bringing good words to this friendly table.
Michele, it was a pleasure to share this story at such a friendly table (as you so aptly call it). I love your gratitude post as well.
Isn’t that the best hope mantra?? Thank you for being here and welcoming Karen so warmly.