Episode 69: Isaiah 35:8-10


Praying Isaiah 35:8-10


Before we get into our prayer today, I wanted to let you know some exciting news. My book, Yes, Father: A Daughter’s Journey to Forgiveness will be on sale on Amazon through December so that you get the best option while Christmas shopping. I pray you will consider what caregivers or friends you can gift this book to. Please don’t hesitate to go to my website www.ja-sellers.com while doing your online shopping and let me know if you decide to buy and who you bought it for. I would love to pray for them. That’s a great way to find out more about the book and who it’s for.


And don’t forget while you’re getting the book for someone else, to leave a review. That way more people can find the story that I hope was a blessing to you. Now, on to our prayer.

Today’s verse is Isaiah 35:8-10

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Let’s pray together.

God, I walk my own road and I can see it stretched out before me, mile upon mile. It seems to head in the direction I want to go. The places I want to visit lie along the path. It takes me to places I have been before, safe places, known places. As I walk, I stumble. There are potholes and it’s unsteady ground. But my eyes are fixed on the destination ahead, that place I desperately want to get to. I keep falling, but I keep getting up and hobbling, crawling forward.

Help me hear Your voice telling me where to go. When You tell me to stop, help me to stop. When You want me to change the way I’m going, turn me around. The destination is Yours, I believe that, but I don’t want to get there via a road that twists me into someone unfit to be there. I might not know the way so well, and I might not be able to see places I want to see yet and I might not revisit the old haunts, but that is for You to decide, not me.

Help me desire to go Your way. Create in me fresh need and joyful obedience. Help me be excited about the adventure You’re taking me on. I want to be fully invested in our life and walk together. So change my heart. Renew it. Let it be soft, a heart of flesh, not a stone etched with the wrongdoing of years, cracked with my own faulty desires. I want to be surrendered to You.

I know Your way is the right way. I know that it’s for the redeemed, for the holy, for the chosen, for the ones submitted to You. As I walk my own pitiful, determined, self-focused way, You ride in on Your white horse, charging in to the nightmare and gloom, and sweep me off my feet, carrying me, rescuing me, providing for me. Providing the right, good way. The way of You.

Don’t let me go back, LORD. Don’t let me pick up the staff of my own forging, the staff of self-dependence and desperate control. Don’t let me push and scramble my way through briar and thorn, desperate to get back to a place where I decide where my steps fall. Circle me with protection, even from myself. Guide my eyes against distraction. I am the unclean, the wicked, the fool, but You have washed me and changed me. Don’t let me put on that skin again. It’s not worthy of You and I so desperately want to be where You are.

Hold my hand, tell me stories, guide me. I want You to be my companion. I want You to be with me at all times. I want to glory in Your presence. I want to be a delight in Your eyes. I want to sing. I want to return to the place I was destined to be, by the road You planned for me before my birth, with the people You’ve given me, using the tools You’ve placed in my hands. But it’s You, it’s You, it’s You. None of that belongs to me or is a credit to me. So let all the glory be Yours, let it always be so clear that You are the source and the provider of all my needs.

Jesus, be the comforter in the midst of sorrow until it is fled away. Let all the distress and worries be carried on Your shoulders and don’t let me take them back again. I can’t carry them, only You can. I pray the joy and mirth and deep contented peace that are Yours would extend to me. Let me be dedicated and focused and yet never far from love and laughter. Crown me with Your abiding happiness. Let me be home with You and on the way home with You. But again, let it be You.

I love You, Jesus, the Great Shepherd. I pray that I never forget that fact and that each day, I am the lost sheep You return to find when I stray. Oh, help me not to stray.

I pray this in the peace and love and joy and hope of Jesus’ name. Amen.


Caregiving 101: Part Four: Feeling Alone

I took deep breaths, frantically thinking through the implications of my decision. It was hard to keep calm when I so desperately wanted to do the right thing. I had a specific deadline to meet to move my dad from his current unsafe living situation by himself in an apartment. I had done research, I had talked to people, I had looked at different places. I wished someone would pop up in front of me and tell me that they were taking over and I no longer had to make these kinds of decisions for him. Every single thing I did affected his life in a very real way. No matter what kind of advice I got or followed or resources I had, the cold fact was, at the end of the day, I was responsible. If I made the wrong call, my dad suffered for it.

That kind of pressure was unbearable and I shrank down underneath it, feeling miserable and alone. Who could I talk to about it that could help me? And, other than taking away the burden altogether, all help was ultimately meaningless. How could anyone’s advice do anything but make me feel like I was being attacked on all sides?

I was sitting at my mom’s dining room table; she was braiding my hair. I told her I had to make this decision and, before I knew it, I had broken down sobbing. I felt bad enough but it made me feel worse to cry in front of my mom. Despite her not wanting to be around my dad, she had tried to help me every way she could. He had already hurt her so much and now, because of me, she was being hurt again. It was my job to take care of my dad. For some reason, I felt like that also made it my job to protect everyone else from the responsibility.

That might not be rational, but it’s the way I felt. I both wanted everyone in my family to just help me and take some of the pressure away, and I felt this uncontrollable desire to protect them from him and try to do it all on my own. Asking my brothers to help take my dad to doctor’s appointments or having my sister use her hard-earned money to pay for movers felt like I was somehow making them take care of their abuser.

The weight of decision was crushing me and I felt so alone. Nobody else could make it for me. That didn’t stop everyone from having an opinion, but that just made it worse. Opinions weren’t help. Opinions just made me second guess myself and feel like a bad person because, apparently, I wasn’t taking care of my dad right. I got emails from different people, each telling me their concerns about how I was moving too fast, not letting my dad adjust, not handling the money right, or worried about the wrong things. They sent them from the security of their own homes, far away from the burden of decision, and it left me reeling. I was insecure and upset and didn’t know to handle this onslaught of well-meant advice and concern. It left me feeling like I was being personally attacked and that my relationships with my family were being damaged. People that I had looked up to suddenly felt like enemies. For someone who loves peace, it was the worst thing that could happen.

These feelings were so visceral that as I read back through my old journals in preparation for writing my book, I had a panic attack when reading emails from five years earlier. I was trying to handle it as best as I could at the time, and I had big decisions to make, but those feelings of being attacked were never dealt with and caused me to be triggered when interacting with those people.

I can only share my experience and side of the story. Perhaps it would have been better if I’d had the ability to be more openly honest about how I was feeling. Maybe my family relationships would be better. What I do know is that I should have dealt with how I felt about the current crisis, but I ignored it and moved on. I didn’t want to make waves; I didn’t want to cause friction. I thought it was my job to hold the family together. Usually, I did it by helping translate to other people what someone else was feeling. I wasn’t sure how to do that for myself. I wasn’t used to being the source of contention. I was a peacemaker disrupting the peace!

We do need to make a distinction between peacemakers and peacekeepers. One inspires peace by showing peace. The other becomes the peace, which isn’t really peace at all. For years I had been peacekeeping, when I should have been peacemaking.

Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace should be fought for. It may seem counter-productive, but if we don’t fight for peace, it won’t happen, because God requires our participation in our peace. Romans 16:20 says, “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet” (NIV). We need to lift our feet to make it happen. We contribute to having peace, but we cannot achieve it by ourselves. We won’t get it unless we follow the Peacemaker’s lead. Jesus leads us out of death, fear, and control into peace.

Peacemakers are reconcilers; they are bridges. Let me be clear, they are not pushovers, or people who let themselves be abused so as to avoid conflict. They are examples, letting people walk alongside them as they live out peace in their own life. Their motives come from a strong love for others, not a strong love for themselves, even though they do love themselves well.

A few weeks after the crying incident with my mom, I was at church listening to the sermon, still trying to figure out my reaction to the emails. The sermon was on peace. I realized that I was more worried about my rights and being right, more worried about what they thought of me, than I was about the people involved, including my dad. I decided to let my own hurt feelings go. To this day, I believe that was the right decision. What I don’t think was right, was me believing being responsible meant I had to do it all alone.

I was frustrated with my family for not helping me more, for letting me be the sole person to carry this burden. And it wasn’t because I didn’t respect their decision to protect themselves, but because it made me feel afraid to ask for help for myself. I desperately needed help and support and, yet, I was afraid to even bring it up because I didn’t want the mention of my dad to cause any more pain. I was perpetuating that cycle of fear he had instilled so long ago, the one that made us afraid to even talk about it. Talking about things is a healthy way to heal together. By not talking about it, I often made assumptions about their motives and what they were willing to do. I had honestly assumed that I would get nothing from some people because of how they felt, not even for me, especially when they didn’t agree with my decision to help him.

But though I felt alone so often, I think it’s important for me, even now, to remember what help I did receive. My mother went with me to review living situations for my dad. My brother (suffering from a collapsed lung, no less) helped me move my dad from his apartment to his new place. My other brother took my dad to countless doctor appointments. My mother helped me clean up my dad’s apartment multiple times, in broiling heat. My sister hired movers and cleaners and filed my dad’s will and researched social security options. My mother listened to me complain and worry and fret and gave me practical solutions and comfort. My brothers supported me in my decisions. My sister texted me every day the week that he died, to make sure I was okay.

I know my family loves me and I love them too. I should have asked them for the help I needed, because I was so alone and felt like I couldn’t ask and yet look how much help they actually still gave me. Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to stop and look at what help you are actually receiving now, rather than focusing on the burden of responsibility. Don’t wait to do it in hindsight, like I did.

I recommend you be honest with your loved ones about what you need, even if you don’t know what that is at that moment. Let them know you’re not doing all right and that you need support of some kind. You may worry about being a burden, you may feel like you’re doing to them what your charge is doing to you, but families take care of each other and families need to communicate. It’s okay to be weak and vulnerable with each other. When we do, we break through the barriers that shame and fear would have us keep between each other. And if we’re open and we’re honest, we can communicate kindly and gently, without accusation, without that desperate fear I held, of hurting them more. It’s more healing for everyone.

Not everyone in your family may be ready for that and I urge you to make sure you are safe in sharing your feelings. Be wise, because it might not be the right time. Only you know your family. But you can be a peacemaker, that bridge, that shows others the way. We can demonstrate it for them as Christ demonstrated it for us on the cross. He wasn’t thinking about Himself, He was thinking about us. Yet, He shared His pain with His disciples, with His followers, and with His Father. Jesus felt His feelings and asked for help when He needed it, praying for strength. If even Jesus needed to be vulnerable, then I think we should be open to that in ourselves and in our relationships.

The best way to handle feeling alone in caregiving is to share those feelings with the people we are close with and not live in fear that sharing those feelings is going to make things worse. It will be difficult or uncomfortable, but feeling so hopelessly alone is far worse. Trust me. Reach out. Be a peacemaker and speak the truth in love.

Episode 68: Psalm 81:10,16


Praying Psalm 81:10,16


Today’s verse is Psalm 81:10,16.

I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Let’s pray together.

Today I reflect on all the times that I felt unsatisfied, that I felt forgotten, that I felt imprisoned, that I felt without. There have been so many seasons when I felt abandoned or left behind or envious of what others had and I did not. I thought that I wasn’t good enough or brave enough or smart enough or pretty enough or enough of anything. I thought that it was up to me to get what I wanted or needed because it didn’t feel like anyone else was going to provide it.

If I’m honest, God, sometimes I still think that way. Okay, I feel that way a lot of the time. Not consciously. My head tells me the truth, but my heart speaks what I truly believe and how I really feel. It whispers in the night and holds my hand in the day and nudges me to make decisions. And when I look at those decisions and my own actions, I have to confess that awful truth—that I’m trusting in myself rather than You.

So let me speak the real truth, the ultimate, final truth and declare it to myself and the world. I need You. God, I need You. I don’t need myself. I don’t need anybody else. I need You. Are You going to use me and others to provide for me, of course. But the core belief I can hold tight is that You are the source of every good thing. You are the Provider of my soul. Every good gift comes down from the Father of lights. You died so that I would be saved. You gave everything to give me everything.

I thank You for this. I don’t do it often enough. Help my gratitude be strong. Help my humility be overflowing. It is You. Only You. And I need to relinquish control of my own destiny. I need to release my death-grip on my life and path and direction and decisions. But I need Your help to do it. I really don’t know how to let go. I don’t know how to trust despite my fear. I don’t know how to surrender to Your will. Holy Spirit, teach me.

Teach me the abundance and generosity of Your nature. Teach me how natural it is to allow You to decide what’s best for me. You created me. You know me better than anyone, intimately, inside and out. You have a plan and a purpose for me. You saw each of my days before they came into existence. How could I not believe in that? How could I not trust that? Each day, each moment, help me surrender just that little bit more. Change my heart so that it is soft, yielding, safe in Your hands.

Help me to remember what You have already done. Help me to be grateful and speak my gratitude to You and to others. God, I am in the month that reminds me to give thanks, but do I really remember to give thanks to You specifically? To point to You as the author of every good thing? Teach me these things, a consistent pattern of remembrance that always leads back to You. And when I forget, gently lead me back. Help me make progress, and not be frustrated by my failures.

Jesus, I am so happy and so excited for the future. It shines gloriously bright before me. Things I never dreamed of are glistening and beckoning to me. Achievements wild and unknown already exist in my past. The present is a sunshine rainbow of hope. My days are laughter and dreams. Warm, tender, true love bathes my every thought. All of this is because of You. Everything has changed, but the change is because of You and has nothing to do with me. All goodness in me exists because of You.

So today I declare that You are my LORD and You have delivered me from the past and You have good things for my future. You will lead me through every desert road, part every red sea, and bring me to Your promised land. I am Your child, trusting in the good nature of my Father. I open wide my mouth, eager for the good things that You will fill it with. I know You want to give me the finest and best things. You want nothing but joy and love for me. Even when I am in the valleys, the hard places, the narrow paths, Your hand is tightly holding mine and Your light shines in the darkness. You will never give me anything that I can’t trust.

Satisfy me, Jesus. Be the hope and love of my soul, sanctifying and renewing my spirit with Yours. I want only the honey that comes from the Rock of Ages. I will never be happy with anything else. It’s only You. All else will fail me. All else will be only a momentary happiness. I waited for so long, when all I had to do was trust.

When I wait again, when I feel forgotten again, when I feel useless or like a failure or that I am alone or broken, help me to lift my eyes to You. Help me to remember that You are my everything. My only thing. The Sustainer, Redeemer, Provider, Healer, Giver, Comforter. Most Holy. Most Merciful. Most Tender. Most True. You are the only Never-Failing, Always-Reliable, Complete and Full Person.

I kneel. I give You my heart, my everything. I trust. I follow. Please do not fail my broken and wounded heart. I am humbly grateful. I love You.

I pray this in Jesus’ beautiful, redeeming, gracious name. Amen.

Episode 67: Psalm 63:6-8


Praying Psalm 63:6-8


Today’s verse is Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember You;
    I think of You through the watches of the night.
Because You are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
I cling to You;
    Your right hand upholds me.

Let’s pray together.

God, the night is an interesting time. I am vulnerable. I am alone. I am stripped of distraction. I am in the dark. Whatever is most important to me is revealed. My thoughts are open before You. I cannot hide. Perhaps I am lonely, perhaps I am afraid, perhaps I am angry, perhaps I am prideful, perhaps I am selfish, perhaps I am critical, perhaps I am sad, perhaps I am exhausted, perhaps I am broken in my humanity.

In those moments, Jesus, be ever most in my mind and uppermost in my thoughts. I pray that I cling to You, to the knowledge of You, to Your presence. I don’t want anything else to be primary. I want to feel assured that I am giving You my all. How pleasant You are and how pleasant is thinking about Your love. I know I might need Your comfort, but I also want to rejoice in You.

I want my mind to be filled with thoughts of Your sacrifice, Your kindness, Your generosity, Your love, Your forgiveness, Your mercy, Your gentleness, Your words, Your deeds. You, You, You. I want to be so in love with You, You are all that I think of. I want my dreams to be full of You. I want to wake up and remember You. I want to spend each night with You.

I cannot do anything in life without You. When I try, I fail miserably. I end up doing it wrong. I end up hurting people. I end up making myself unhappy. I end up twisted, my priorities askew, and everything clutched tightly in my hands. I cannot let anything go. Instead, may I hold onto You. May You be what I grasp, and may I be held in Your hands. May I be safe in the knowledge that I can give up control to You. Help me to trust and understand how secure I am because of You. Help me to know deep in my soul that You are my Provider and I don’t have to do everything on my own. I have help. I have a Guardian and a Protector and a Healer and a Guide.

So I rejoice in this knowledge. I am giddy with love, giddy with joy, giddy that You are with me. I am a child, dancing with my Father. I am a woman in love in Your arms. I am open before You and unafraid, always reassured and comforted by the barrier of Your love. I cannot be harmed. You will always protect me. I sing and shout and am merry. I am Yours.

Thank You, my dear God and Savior. Thank You for all that You do. You are with me at all times. You have saved me. You are mine and I am Yours. I am so grateful and I pray that I remain so, never forgetting what You have done and what I have in You.

I pray all of these things in Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.

Episode 66: Joshua 1:9


Praying Joshua 1:9


Today’s verse is Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Let’s pray together.

Jesus, I am afraid of the future. I am afraid of the past. I don’t know how to live well in the present. Everywhere I go and everything I do seems fraught with peril. The world feels like it is against me. I feel small. I feel undeserving. I feel unprepared. I am clad in despair, clutching fear like a security blanket. I trust no one. I cannot hear wisdom, lost in the clamor of my own thoughts and insecurities.

But here are Your words to me: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. These are more than exhortations; they are commands. In this moment, I am Joshua, newly commissioned, bewilderingly in charge, and thrust into the unknown, responsible for more than I can manage. I wonder why I cannot get a face-to-face meeting with You. I want the Angel of the Lord to appear and give me all the specific instructions I so crave. It feels unfair that I don’t get that when he did. But then I am reminded that I have an advantage Joshua did not have. He needed that kind of help because he could not approach You. He did not have the minutely intimate access to You that I have. The barrier between us is broken, the veil is torn, and I am free to be with You at all times.

It is me who runs away, me who shies from the responsibilities. I am the one who is too busy, who is too tired, who is too ashamed, who is too prideful to come to You and receive the help that I need. I am sorry, God. Please forgive me. Keep this before my mind’s eye at all times, this knowledge that You are present and with me, always the help at my right hand. I forget too often and complain about how unfair life is.

Let these words sink into who I am, melting into the core of my being, melding with the essence of my spirit. They will be instinctual, a life-habit, a heart’s desire, my body remembering to act under Your gentle tutelage. I want to be Your true servant, Your fearless warrior, and Your tender friend. Whatever task is put into my hand, may it be done with these words in mind. I ask You to help me be obedient to Your will and Your command.

Jesus, banish fear from me. Destroy fear. May it have no place anywhere near me. I am not bound by it. I am surrounded by Your protection. It cannot get to me and I should not invite it to dwell with me. It is the cruelest trick and the easiest lie for me to believe. But I have nothing to be afraid of. No sickness, no mandate, no perversion, no betrayal, no persecution, no shame, no poverty, no hatred, no division, no judgment, no law, no loss, no lie can ever be stronger or more powerful than the Almighty God that I have surrendered to.

But I need Your strength and Your courage. I cannot walk this path on my own. I am too easily cowed and illusioned. I require Your help. Thank You that You always give it to me. I cry out to You and You instantly answer me. I have all that I need and more. I am a conqueror, I am a leader, I am a healer, I am a soldier, I am a student. I am because You are. I am not afraid for one simple reason, because You are with me wherever I go. I cannot fly to the heavens or descend to the depths without You being with me. I am safe and I am held and I am protected and I am Yours, no matter what. Oh, help me believe it. Help me live it.

Jesus, I pray this in Your unbreakable and mighty name. Amen.

Episode 65: Psalm 51:10-12


Praying Psalm 51:10-12


Today’s verse is Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Let’s pray together.

LORD, today I believe the words purity, restraint, and surrender come from You. I believe that whatever I lose, You can restore. I need You to do all things. You are the most important. Whatever discipline there is in my life, has to come from You. Because all I have is a gift from You. You creatively made my heart. It is possible to walk away from that, from You, but I can always ask to come back. You are so good to receive me.

Jesus, I ask that today You, in Your awesome powers of creativity, impart to me a new thing—a heart untarnished by my sinful, selfish desires. Let Your resolve, Your patient humility, and Your will be powered to the full within me. Keep me with You always. Please make it so that I despise whatever is not of You, that I want to be with You at all times.

Fill me with the Spirit, overwhelm me in Him. Help shame depart from me; let me revel in my status with You. And when I am tempted and tried, help me remember truth and endure through You. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the gleeful knowledge that I have been saved, I have been snatched from death, from harm, and from my own broken way. I am Yours forever. I never have to live in that sorrow again.

Whatever comes my way, I know You are there to sustain me. I have only to reach out and You are there, closer than my breath. I have an indwelling holiness that is mine because You are mine. Oh, and I belong to You. I belong to no other. Whatever searches for me, desires to have me, to harm me, cannot reach me through the barrier of protection You provide. Thank you, my sweet LORD.

Today, I confess my sins, the things that have kept me from You. I have been selfish, unkind, judgmental, prideful, and dishonoring. Forgive me and put on me the mantle of Your blood, the one that washes away all that would keep me from Your presence. Don’t let me be parted from You for a second. I sinned against You. I am so sorry. Please receive my love, my surrender, my need for repentance. Let Your grace overflow into me so that it is all I know.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, be mine as I am Yours. Restore our union. Line each cracked sin with the gold of your forgiveness and mercy. And help me not to stumble again. Help me cling to You. I will want for nothing else all the days of my life.

I pray this in Jesus’ mighty and unbreakable name. Amen.

Caregiving 101: Part Three: Balance and Boundaries

It was 4:30 am. My phone vibrated incessantly next to me. I blinked blearily at the screen, recognizing it was Dad. Again. I had lost count of how many times he’d called me already. I had as many messages as I did missed calls. Each voicemail was similar: I was trying to steal his money, family used to mean things, I didn’t keep my promises. I didn’t have to answer the phone to listen to that, right? But I felt like I did. Every time I didn’t answer, I wondered if this time there was a genuine emergency. Did he actually need me? Maybe he was scared or sad and needed someone to listen to him. Wasn’t that the task I had signed up for? to make him feel better and take care of him?

Thoughts and feelings like this were an everyday occurrence for me. The more his filters disappeared, the more phone calls I got. The staff where he lived called me more often. His room looked like a giant, hoarder mess. He needed more doctor’s appointments. Caregiving is a full-time job, but I was already working a full-time and part-time job. I had church activities and responsibilities, other friends and family obligations, and my own life and finances to manage. Caring for him on top of that felt impossible. I desperately needed a balanced life with some boundaries in place.

Implementing that was not easy. Every time I didn’t pick up the phone, I felt a stab of guilt. I was doing this poorly; I was failing; I was selfish. I cringed whenever I took him to the doctor, wondering if he would rant about what a bad daughter I was. What was he telling other family members about me? Would they listen to him? Were those emails of concern coming because they believed his tantrums?

I’m going to deliberately stop here and remind you that peacemakers spread a peace generated by Christ in us, and then directed outward. You can’t do that when your self-worth is bound up in what other people think of you. God knew I was trying my best. Anybody else’s opinion ultimately didn’t matter. Accepting good advice and support is important, but you can’t base how you’re feeling on what anyone—including your charge—thinks of you. All balance and boundaries stem from this.

They’re going to get mad at you. My dad was furious over how I managed his money. It was his money. Why did I keep stealing it? Why wouldn’t I give it to him? I must be using it for something nefarious. Instead, I kept it from him so he didn’t buy eight bags of Whoppers at the store when his pension money wasn’t enough to cover his cost-of-living expenses. Explaining the logic to him only seemed to make him angrier. Sometimes I was just the bad guy, but I knew I was protecting him; that was the most important thing.

I once spoke to a friend of my dad’s who treated me very rudely and hung up on me. I knew that the only reason this man had to think badly of me was because my dad had influenced him. I was really upset and it hurt deeply. I was giving up so much of my life for him and that’s how he talked about me? That’s how he saw me? And why would this stranger, who knew my dad had Alzheimer’s, assume the worst of me like that? I had to pray the Serenity prayer before I could go back to work.

The Serenity Prayer was something I had begun saying after attending Celebrate Recovery. I had been going to therapy as well. I honestly don’t think I could have handled this period of my life without these two resources. But—though they took up precious time—they were essential to my life as a caregiver. They gave me the tools and support I needed for balance and good boundaries.

I resisted therapy for a long time. Therapy meant weakness and admitting I wasn’t perfect. Even if I did it in secret, I thought everyone would know how broken I was. I thank God I started to go before becoming a caregiver. I had a few years under my belt to give me some coping tools. I recommend therapy strongly. Even if it’s just a place where you vent about what’s happening in your life, it’s worth it, though you should take advantage of everything else it has to hold. Explore the depths of what might be holding you back. Venting treats symptoms, not root causes. Everyone has something they need to work on. We’re human and we live in a sinful world. Don’t let your pride or fear of other people’s opinions, hold you back from getting solid support and help.

I’m convinced God led me to Celebrate Recovery. I went at the invitation of a friend who was leading worship, to support her. I didn’t really know what it was; I certainly didn’t think I needed any additional help. After all, I was in therapy now. That was enough. You might think like I did, that going to recovery means you’re really broken. That it means you’re an alcoholic, a drug or sex addict, or someone out of control. That’s simply not true. Recovery is about support. We’re all recovering from something, whether it’s codependency, people-pleasing, negative self-talk, or anger management. It’s not just about substances. It’s another form of therapy, but a specific kind that I found to be immensely helpful in creating balance and boundaries for caregiving.

Celebrate Recovery is a ministry that has support groups, structure, lessons, and prayers, but it’s more than that. I went on a teaching night—not a testimony night when someone shares their story—and I really enjoyed the teaching. It felt like a normal church service to me. I didn’t know that after the teaching we would split into small groups and that each person would have a chance to share—without interruption or judgment—their lives, their struggle, and their pain. Woman after woman in the circle shared, vulnerably and openly. No one tried to fix them; everyone just listened. I fully intended to pass, but instead, I found myself sharing my deepest, darkest secrets to total strangers. The telling was exhilarating. My fear and shame were broken by the truth and by the security of that safe place.

I went back again. I went through the steps and I did an inventory and I got chips and I became a leader. I couldn’t get enough of this way of life. It meant that as I struggled through helping my dad, I had a safe place I could share those struggles, with people who struggled as well. I could release some of that stress and keep it from bottling up inside of me, which is the way I’d been dealing with it my whole life.

Therapy gave me someone to gently coach me through my own rough areas, equipping me with tools for how to deal with hard relationships. CR taught me to support and listen to others while being supported and listened to myself. The combination was life giving. I’m forever grateful to both God and my friend for making it happen.

I urge you to do something similar. Set up a regular time for both therapy and support groups. It won’t look exactly like how I did it, but you need two things: accountability and support. There are groups focused entirely around caregiving and, if there aren’t any in your area, there are online options. I joined Facebook groups, signed up for newsletters, and utilized resources I found from alz.org. Finding the resources may be hard, but I guarantee they are worth it. We cannot do this all on our own. It is impossible. And since we know that everyone goes into this unique situation blind, you need to develop those tools and resources. They will help you achieve balance and create boundaries.

For me those boundaries looked like not picking up the phone every time my dad called. They looked like having one designated day a week to go see him in person and do things like clean his room and help with laundry and take him shopping. They looked like not listening to him when he said mean things to me. Be as clear as you can with your charge about your boundaries. Early on, I explained my position about the phone calls as kindly as possible. I asked him to meet me in the middle since he had asked me to take on this role. We left it on a good note. Later on, he called me, apologized, and said he would try not to call me so often in rapid succession. That didn’t last long because he truly couldn’t help it, but just having the conversation helped me define my own boundaries.

Those boundaries will need to shift. I could have that conversation with my dad the first year, but the third year, it wouldn’t have done any good. At that point, I had to readjust to what was required of me and what I could give. Because it is a balancing act. When you decide to become a caregiver, you are giving up some of your rights for someone else. You are committing to taking care of those needs and that might mean sacrificing some of yours. It definitely takes time and energy. Because I worked full-time, I gave up a lot of my Saturdays to my dad because that was the day I could give. It meant not having as much free time to myself.

But part of the balance means you have to take time for yourself. You cannot deny yourself everything. You will burn out and will have nothing to give your charge. I went on vacations and made sure one of my brothers could take care of any emergencies while I was gone. If there was a special event I really wanted to go to on a Saturday, I went, and made up the time with my dad later. Walking this tightrope requires some flexibility and creativity, but it can be done.

That wasn’t always easy for me because I live by routines. It’s the way I remember things, it’s how I function, it’s what makes me a dependable, reliable person. But if I lived solely by routine—which was helpful because routine is good for memory loss—then I would lose out on that balance which was so essential to maintaining my energy and strength. Your situation will look different than mine, but the basics will remain the same. You need support, you need tools, you need boundaries, you need balance. Everyone does, they will just look different for each person.

I am so grateful I had some notion of what these things were when I started, but I didn’t always take advantage of them. I don’t even know if that’s fully possible. So don’t be discouraged when you fail, but pick yourself up and try again. It takes practice and I’m still working at it myself. But when I have those proper boundaries and live in balance, that gives God space to work that supernatural peace in me. I don’t base my feelings of self-worth on what other people are thinking of me. All that matters is what He thinks of me. He says I am His child. All parents are caregivers, and He’s the best. So I want to learn from His example and be confident in who He created me to be. Confidence equals inner peace. Not confidence in yourself, but confidence in God’s ability and opinion of you. You have to have peace with yourself before you can have peace with others.

Caregiving 101. Part Two: Changes

As you begin to live the caregiving life, you will notice changes: behavioral, mental, emotional, and physical. Handling these changes will be a big part of your life. A caregiver watches someone transform before their eyes. It is incredibly painful, seeing the person you know disappear. But whether the changes are subtle or sudden, they are inevitable.

My father was not an easy person to love. I’ve heard stories about people with Alzheimer’s flipping personalities, becoming sweet when they hadn’t been. But for my dad, his worse qualities were magnified until they were all I could see. One of my biggest struggles our first year was not knowing if he couldn’t help how he was acting or if he was doing it on purpose.

My dad was an expert emotional manipulator. When I was a child, after events in which he behaved badly, he would come into my room crying and tell me what an awful father he was. I would feel guilty for being upset and end up comforting him. When I helped him as an adult, he could switch between yelling at me for ruining his life to crying profusely in gratitude for my help in seconds, and it was a roller coaster ride for me. It could have been emotional manipulation at the beginning, but I chose not to see it that way or accept it as that. I chose to see it as a cry for help, which helped me keep going with my immense task.

There were many times when he needed something and asked for it. When I explained that I couldn’t drop everything I was doing—like my job—to immediately come take care of it, he’d talk about how ‘my things were more important than his.’ When it came time to move him, I was ‘putting him in jail’ and ‘his opinion didn’t matter.’ He’d make comments about shooting him or running him over with the car because he wasn’t important enough to me.

I do understand that my father faced a terrible situation, and I wouldn’t want to go through it myself. Alzheimer’s is not a kind disease to those it infects, and I hate that he had it. But I was triggered almost daily by his words and actions. They reminded me of my childhood, watching my entire family tiptoe around his moods, trying not to set him off. Alzheimer’s gave him new material and excuses. It was difficult for me to distinguish between the man who had raised me and the man who was suffering.

During this time, I watched the movie Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellan as an aging Sherlock Holmes, dealing with dementia.1 It’s a powerful movie, but it may be as hard for you to watch as it was for me. I hated comparing my dad’s way of handling his disease to Holmes’ way. Holmes, though he struggled, took it with grace and maturity. My dad used it to make everyone around him as miserable as he was.

I’ve often wondered how I would handle such a diagnosis and I don’t know. I’d like to think I’d make everything as easy as possible for the people around me and apologize in advance for anything I might do or say. But I can’t say for sure. People need space to get used to the idea, to the changes in their routines, and to the loss of independence. Losing the ability to drive was a big deal to my dad, a UPS driver for many years. It was a point of pride for him and felt like a death.

As caregivers, our job is to handle their transitions with grace and practicality. There are so many things to consider. Are they safe? What will help them emotionally? Physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Though I was overwhelmed, I went into crisis mode and took care of each practical need as it presented itself. Yet trying to balance him emotionally felt like feeding a vampire—impossible on top of everything else. I didn’t do a perfect job of taking care of my dad’s emotional needs. It was a lot easier to handle the logistics. The emotional side was triggering and painful for me and I didn’t have enough energy to do it. I still tried.

I hope you’re not doing this alone. Please don’t try to take care of everything yourself. It’s too much for one person. Caregivers need to communicate with each other who is going to take care of what. Maybe one of you is better at physical, practical matters and the other is better at mental/emotional support. Check in with each other often and be honest about what you need. It might be time to switch or something could be offloaded to a third party. Whatever your situation, don’t try to do it all alone. I realize that may be impossible for some people, but I promise that there are resources and help available, so don’t give up.

I soon stopped wondering if my dad was doing things on purpose. It became obvious he was not. That was easier for me, because I could stop wrestling with the hurt I still felt from my childhood. Instead, I got to know a new person, someone who really needed my help. Someone who, while never very agreeable, couldn’t possibly be held responsible for the previous man’s sins.

Remember that no matter what changes you see, you can’t take it personally. Have grace for yourself in this. Some days will be easier than others. Regardless of how you feel about your charge, they’re a person, they need help, and they should be treated with dignity and respect. It’s hard because it’s not normal. We’re used to holding people culpable for their behavior and we’re not used to someone we love acting like they hate us. It’s confusing to watch. Physically, they may be fine, like there’s no reason for them to be acting out. But just as they might be in denial about their disease, we caregivers might be in denial about their behavior, and have to accept that this is the new normal.

Some of the behaviors may seem childish or even funny. When we drove anywhere, my dad pointed to literally everything we saw and talked about how he used to work there as a teenager, or he and his dad built that barn, or he was pastor of that church. None of these things were true, but they certainly seemed true to him. The oddest thing he did was hoard silverware. He stole it from the dining area because he thought it belonged to his mother. He hid it in a sock, then put that sock inside another sock and so on. Trying to unravel them and get the forks back was a nightmare. Multiple times, I sheepishly returned silverware to the dining room.

There are phases to these changes as well. Looking back, I can divide my dad’s behavior into periods, but it’s hard to do in the middle of it. The physical changes are just as hard to spot. It took months, but it felt like one minute he was always fully shaved and the next he didn’t remember how. Each change was actually a marker, pulling me further from the man who hurt me and closer to the man who needed me. After one extremely tense conversation with him, I realized—in a twisted way—my dad and I were the only two who could understand what we were going through. I was closer to him than anyone else. It was a freeing moment for me, because I needed to release my feelings of anger in order to care for him. I also needed to keep my boundaries in place and not get dragged into his pain rather than feeling mine.

I offer this caution, because codependency can look an awful lot like closeness, need, and shared trauma. In the moment, reveling that someone else knows your pain and is in it with you feels nice, but it’s ultimately a trap. It will spiral both of you into unhealthy bonding and you will not be able to distinguish your feelings from your charge’s. I had to acknowledge that and figure out the difference between reconciling with my father and becoming trapped in the past.

What’s our pathway to peace while dealing with these changes? My answer is forgiveness. I was taking care of someone who had hurt me deeply. In order to be able to care for him, I needed to forgive him. At the beginning I had no concept of this; I was doing it out of duty. Forgiveness came slowly, especially with the way he continued to treat me. It was a blessing when it became obvious that he was no longer the same person because it was easier for me to let go of the pain and focus on the person he was becoming.

Forgiveness is a decision and a choice, but the healing is a process and, honestly, I’m not done yet. When he passed away, I was sad, but I was grateful we’d had the opportunity to reconcile. I have since discovered there are still parts of my heart that need to heal. But they’ll never start until I choose to forgive.

Even if you don’t have a broken relationship, forgiveness and the need for healing is still important. Your charge may not be able to help what’s happening to them, but they have changed the way they behave toward you and you are losing them. Abandonment might be the biggest issue you face as you watch them fade. It may not be logical to blame them, but you probably still will, even unconsciously. It’s possible to be angry at God, at ourselves, at the doctors, and at our charge, all at the same time. Letting anger and resentment fester is going to make the situation worse; those feelings will continue to grow.

Starting now—continuing every day—is the best way to avoid dealing with years of pain later. Make the choice to deliberately forgive, even in advance, anything your charge may say or do to hurt you. Start your healing now and then continue throughout the caregiving time. You need to make that choice deliberately, as the hardest part of any action is the choice. Execution is almost easy compared to the mental and emotional anguish that goes into the decision.

While you can, love and experience the person you know, but don’t bring blame and don’t let bitterness rule you. They truly will not be able to help their behavior. You’re the only person in the situation with full agency. So use it to make your life and their life better. You will get hurt, so acknowledge and feel those feelings. Don’t stuff them inside like they don’t matter. That’s how you develop codependency and that’s how you build resentment. Your feelings do matter. And I think your charge will acknowledge that while they can. Treasure those moments and accept their apologies and tears stemming from their true feelings. Store that up inside to use on the days when they don’t or can’t apologize.

Forgiveness might seem impossible. What helped me was remembering how God forgave me. His forgiveness for us is a powerful motivator. When I didn’t think I could do it anymore, that was my comfort and my strength. Recently, I listened to a sermon on Jonah, and the preacher said something that struck me. He said that God made the plant for Jonah because He is a caring God, not because Jonah is fun to care for.2 I think such a mindset would have been so helpful—especially at the beginning—when taking care of my dad.

Some of my family told me that I shouldn’t take on this burden because my father had never done anything for me. My response was that because Christ died for me when I didn’t deserve it, I would offer redemption to everyone else even when they didn’t deserve it. That’s my duty as a Christian and the example I’m called to follow. That is how I live out my beliefs. It needed to be done wisely and safely, but showing love was my response to being shown love by God. It built my confidence in my ability and I took it as my mission statement while riding the waves of caregiving.

I’m so sorry you’re losing the person you’re caring for. I’m so sorry that those wonderful memories and personality traits are slipping away. It is horrible. It’s a long, slow grieving, and every day brings a new death to face. You are a brave and compassionate person to choose this life and to accept this inevitability.  I pray you know exactly why you have agreed to do this, and embrace the forgiveness we all need to give, no matter how badly we’ve been hurt.

1 Condon, Bill, director. Mr. Holmes. Miramax Films, 2015.

2 https://calvarythehill.com/sermons

Isaiah 6:8


Praying Isaiah 6:8


Before we pray today, I want to read you some more reviews of my book: Yes, Father: A Daughter’s Journey to Forgiveness.

Juli takes us into such raw places with grace and skill to the destination of release and forgiveness. Her story never feels candy-coated while she also respects all the people involved. I enjoyed the format of alternating childhood and adulthood, past and more present. Well done telling such a vulnerable story. I was deeply moved.

Juli has such a gift with words, that I felt incapable of putting this memoir down! She beautifully describes the difficult journey of caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, but goes beyond to share the grief of a pained relationship between a father and daughter.
I was personally touched by the sibling bond through the years, and the thread of healing from codependency. A very raw picture at learning to trust God with your family members faith, emotions and healing journey.

I read this moving memoir about her father’s care from onset of dementia through his passing. Juli’s honest grappling with how to love her father well encourages us to turn to the God who sees, hears and understands.
I love the cover art, gold-filled cracks as pictures of Juli’s heart fissures filled by obedience and love.

Well done, Juli!

These and other reviews have left me with such a heart of gratitude. I hope they have helped you understand what the book is about, and if you’ve read it and haven’t left a review, I am hoping that you will take the time to do it. Reviews are what help me share this story with people who need to hear it, so I treasure each one. The book is on Amazon or Goodreads if you feel led to do so. And if you haven’t picked up your own copy yet, head on over to my website at www.ja-sellers.com and find the link there.

Okay, now on to our prayer!

Today’s verse is Isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Let’s pray together.

Father, today, I quiet my soul. I ask for the peace and contentment that comes before I hear Your voice. I ask to be ready to receive. My heart should be open before You, a waiting vessel of open-love. I am surrounded by the noises and distractions of this world. So many things are good and created for my pleasure, but they are only glimpses of You. I want You. Help me to know You, to know so intimately the sound of Your voice. Let me look and listen for it endlessly, never happy until I hear it. For You are the Lover of my soul, and the fulfiller of every good thing.

And when, oh, LORD, I hear Your voice, help me to understand it. Help me to decipher the beauty of Your instruction through the crowd and the layers of brokenness between us. I am unable to reach You on my own. I need You to break through all that would separate us and teach me about Yourself. I need to know myself through You. And I want to be the person You created me to be. To do that, I need Your goodness and mercy. I need Holy Spirit, a righteous fire burning the dross of my heart away. Then, and only then, do I know Your will.

Give me the courage to do Your will, to fulfill the purpose You have for me. I want to minister where You send me, speak the words You place in my mouth, do the work that is created for my hands. I know these things exist. Your word has promised it and so I believe. But I am often afraid. It feels like where You will send me will bring hardship and persecution and judgment. I feel so little and unworthy and unable. How could I possibly do these things or help these people or accomplish Your good?

But it isn’t really me. It is You. It is always You. So remind me of that, entrench this knowledge into my bones, so my very actions are motivated by truth. Instruct me in Your ways, saturate me in Your presence. Allow others to see You through me. I don’t want them to see me at all, because the me that is real and important is the image of You. So let them see You. Let them be blessed by You. Burn away my fears, banishing them forever into the darkness. Help me be full of joy and patient duty. I want to honor You, reverently fearing Your majesty.

You ask us to go, Father. You want willing and open spirits. Let that be us. Let that be the cry of our hearts. Take selfishness and self-protection from us. Rid us of our pride and humanism. Whatever lies and deception we have believed, about ourselves or others, brand us with the truth instead. Let us be eager for the chase, eager for the mission, eager for the glorious future awaiting us.

And, sustain us through the hardship. The calls on our lives do not protect us from pain or loss or the wickedness of others. But You have promised to watch over us. You have called us Your own. We belong to You. And You will bring us home. So be our Shepherd, be our Counselor, be our Father. Help us to understand and accept the mantles You have placed upon us.

I want to be obedient to Your will and I don’t want to fail to do what You have created me to do. Help me to be excited for the path laid before me and may I be a blessing to all. You know the way and I follow You in it.

I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, my friends, we’ve come to the end of Season Three of Peace Prayers. Thank you so much for sticking with me and being a part of these prayers. They are for you and I hope you come back to them and pray them over again, whenever you need encouragement.

I will be taking a break, but don’t worry because I will be back in about a month with S4 and I’ve got some exciting ideas about how to make our podcast better. As always, if you have any thoughts or feedback, I want to hear it. Please connect with me on Instagram at j.a.sellers.

Also remember you can follow me on my website at www.ja-sellers.com. My site hosts a transcription of each prayer, so that’s a great way to pray them on your own and see what else I am writing about.

I have one final favor to ask of you, and that’s for you to rate and review the podcast. The ratings and reviews are what help this podcast thrive and get shared so more people can join us on this pathway to peace. I’d love it if you would leave one if you haven’t already and share Peace Prayers with the people in your life who could use it. I would be so grateful.

All right, everyone, have a peaceful rest of your day, and I will talk to you soon.

Revelation 2:29


Praying Revelation 2:29


Before we pray today, I want to read you some more reviews of my book: Yes, Father: A Daughter’s Journey to Forgiveness.

Juli takes us into such raw places with grace and skill to the destination of release and forgiveness. Her story never feels candy-coated while she also respects all the people involved. I enjoyed the format of alternating childhood and adulthood, past and more present. Well done telling such a vulnerable story. I was deeply moved.

Juli has such a gift with words, that I felt incapable of putting this memoir down! She beautifully describes the difficult journey of caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, but goes beyond to share the grief of a pained relationship between a father and daughter.
I was personally touched by the sibling bond through the years, and the thread of healing from codependency. A very raw picture at learning to trust God with your family members faith, emotions and healing journey.

I read this moving memoir about her father’s care from onset of dementia through his passing. Juli’s honest grappling with how to love her father well encourages us to turn to the God who sees, hears and understands.
I love the cover art, gold-filled cracks as pictures of Juli’s heart fissures filled by obedience and love.

Well done, Juli!

These and other reviews have left me with such a heart of gratitude. I hope they have helped you understand what the book is about, and if you’ve read it and haven’t left a review, I am hoping that you will take the time to do it. Reviews are what help me share this story with people who need to hear it, so I treasure each one. The book is on Amazon or Goodreads if you feel led to do so. And if you haven’t picked up your own copy yet, head on over to my website at www.ja-sellers.com and find the link there.

Okay, now on to our prayer!

Today’s verse is Revelation 2:29

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

Let’s pray together.

Today my thoughts are random, much like words heard on the wind. I have questions: Can my ears be sentient? What keeps my ears asleep? Can I even hear at all? Wind words feel hard to hear and though the blowing may remove the debris that blocks my way to You, I must strain to hear the words. I want to pay attention to the right things, the right voice. I don’t want to be lazy, drowsy, yearning to hear, but in the wrong direction.

Help me to remember that it’s Holy Spirit who revives. He speaks, pleading for me to listen, to hear. He speaks not just to me, but to all His body, urging us to be revived, in revival, reviving. The bodies of the body need to move, to be free, to cast off the constraint of fear or awkwardness or judgment, and use every cell to be in worship and to be in relationship and to be ever open to His call, His wisdom, His healing.

As the wind buffets my spirit, let it cause shaking, disruption, and may all complacency drop away. Let the wind bring the cleanness, freedom, and new beginnings it always promises. Help me to listen in the chaos, giving in to the Spirit’s work, not impeding Him, but just listening. Renew hope in me, so I am alert, not afraid, attuned to Your words spoken amidst the noise of this world and my own desires. Help me to listen.

You are here, Holy Spirit. You are here to bring us back to life. We have been asleep for too long, too afraid of causing trouble, too afraid of being judged and persecuted, too conscious of the restrictions placed on us by others, and too unaware of the power we yield because of You. So wake us up, send us out, instill courage in our very bones. Unify us as a force mightier than any we face. Help us not to quarrel amongst ourselves, but to lift each other up and to fight alongside our brothers and sisters. And when the distractions gather and overwhelm, be our shield, a wall of air, where silence is broken only by Your golden authority. Speak to us, enable us to hear You. Wipe away each individual barrier, grow us into Wind Speakers, Truth Tellers, Listening Hearts.

I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.