Posted by: Joe LaGuardia | November 5, 2013

We are moving!

movingThe blog and website for the Center for Caregiver Spirituality is moving to the website for our new book, A Tapestry of Love.

For those of you who follow us on WordPress or who subscribe, please check out our new website and subscribe and “follow” there to receive updates and Joe’s and Daphne’s blogs related to caregiving, spirituality, and the Christian journey.

You may also find resources online and other book recommendations for caregivers at the Trinity Baptist Church website.

Thank you, friends and readers!

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Posted by: Joe LaGuardia | October 31, 2013

The Sacred Act of Encouraging Children

learningSeveral weeks ago our accompanist preached on using our gifts to join creation’s praise to God.  He told a story of how his grandfather hummed hymns around the house and farm and how that had an impact on our accompanist’s love for music.   Not a day after that sermon, my children and I went to Publix and roamed the grocery aisles, when I noticed that I was singing the chorus, “Give Me Jesus.”

I also noticed that my children were not playing and talking and fidgeting; they were listening.  I felt bad for them because they had to hear their father’s singing, but I also realized that my children were listening without my initial awareness of it.

The children are listening.  When we talk about our faith, sing songs, and pray, our children listen.  When we get impatient, gossip, or speak ill of others, our children listen.  We may not notice it and we may forget it every now and then, but they are always there, with an ear to our mouths and their eyes on our actions.

My only wish is that when my children grow up, they will remember the positive things they’ve heard from their father.  I hope that they can say, like my church accompanist, that they recall the many times their Dad sang the songs of the Christian journey rather than the laments of a busy-body life.

This wish is an intimate one, but when it comes to our relationships with our children, whether related to us or not, it is often an intimate affair.  Our behavior and our integrity are bound up with that of our children.

The apostle Paul recognized this in his relationship with his co-worker and pupil in Christ, Timothy.  Timothy was a disciple who had been with Paul from the beginning of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.  He was a prodigy of sorts, and Paul quickly recruited him as a companion on the journey.

We have two letters in the Bible that Paul wrote to Timothy.  They are instructional manuals to encourage Timothy in leading a church.  The second letter is the more personal and emotional one; it comes from the heart rather than the head.

Commentators note that the reason for this language is due to the fact that, during the writing of Paul’s second letter, Paul was in prison in Rome for a second time and was scheduled for execution.  The letter was, for all practical purposes, from a “dead man walking.”

Paul realized that once he met the executioner’s sword, his “beloved son” (2 Tim. 1:2) would be alone in the ministry.  Paul acknowledged the tearful separation that had occurred earlier in their ministry (2 Tim. 1:3), but he also gave Timothy a broader perspective: They were not alone; rather, they shared in a Gospel ministry that was part of the larger purposes of God.

Paul stood on the shoulders of Christians before him (his “ancestors in the faith”), and Timothy stood on the shoulders of his mother and grandmother.  They were not alone; they were in the company of so great a cloud of witnesses.

We must acknowledge that there are Christians who stand upon our shoulders and are coming after us, these our own beloved children.  Just as we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, we make up a cloud of witnesses for others.  Like Timothy who listened to the songs and stories of faith from his family, our children listen to us and need our support and encouragement for the ministry and journey ahead.

You never know, you may have the next great missionary–a Timothy–in your household.  You never know, but one thing we do know: Our children are listening.  What kind of Gospel message are you communicating?

Posted by: Joe LaGuardia | October 17, 2013

Reflections on facing the “firsts” after a loss…

autumnAnother October is almost over, and I can’t help but to be excited about Halloween coming up in several weeks.  It’s one of my favorite holidays.  There’s something about the fun and fantasy, the candy and candlelight, the storytelling and lure that gets me as giddy as my five-year around this time of year.

I’m giddy, but I’m also saddened because I have a feeling that much of this excitement has to do with my father’s participation in all things Halloween.  As you may recall, my father passed away several months ago; and now I realize that I will be dressing up, a dad myself, to share in this day with my family as he did with us so long ago.

This year, however, I will be unable to tell my dad what the children will be wearing.  I won’t be able to share in his own joy as he shares the day with my nieces and nephews up north.

It hit me several weeks ago: This will be my first Halloween without my father, and it is only the first of many holidays that will unfold the next two months without him.  His birthday is in early November, Thanksgiving shortly thereafter, my mother’s birthday in December, and then Christmas.

All without Dad.  To borrow the words of Nicholas Wolterstorff, who lost his own son in a tragic accident, “The world will be an emptier place” this season.

I now know what it’s like to feel the “firsts” of a person’s first year without a loved one.  Each “first” passes with a sense of routine and joy, but also dread and profound aloneness–there is the first anniversary, birthday, Easter…the first year.

I also know that with the death of a loved one, certain traditions die as well.  Several months ago, when I visited family in New York, we lamented that Daddy won’t be dressing up in a Santa Claus outfit only to give everyone lousy dollar-store trinkets from his worn, pillow-case “santa bag.”

I know what it means when the author of Ecclesiastes wrote that there is a season for everything (3:1): Although some traditions may die, others emerge in their place.

Dad won’t be present for Christmas, and we will cry that we were robbed of the opportunity to call him “cheap” for another year because of those lousy gifts (“Vinny, seriously? A roll of toilet paper?”).  Yet, plans have been made for my brother-in-law to take his place as Santa Claus while my sister provides the dollar trinkets for all to enjoy.

I may not call Dad on Halloween to tell him of the new ghost stories I’ve made up for the kids this year, but I will likely rent a black-and-white Vincent Price movie to watch after the kids go to bed.  That’s the type of movie Dad and I used to watch when I was a boy.

The “firsts” bring with them the ebb and flow of such seasons: “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).  We just have to go through it, walk through that valley of the shadow of death, feel our feelings, cry, laugh, talk and share, and simply find our way in–and out–of those holidays together.

I won’t be the only one around these parts to go through the “firsts” this year, so the prayer of Ecclesiastes will not be mine to pray alone.  For that, I am grateful, for in the midst of every season, we tread–as All Saints Day will soon remind us–in so great a cloud of witnesses.

(Dr. LaGuardia’s new book, A Tapestry of Love, explores grief work after a caregiver is caregiver no longer because of loss.  Order it now; available on Amazon!)
Posted by: Joe LaGuardia | October 16, 2013

New book is resource for caregiver spiritual formation

Dr. Joe LaGuardia and Daphne Reiley have authored a new book to help caregivers along the way in their spiritual journey.

Tapestry bookA Tapestry of Love: The Spirituality of Caregivers is a resource for caregivers who often feel isolated and prone to exhaustion, loneliness, depression, anger, and resentment. Using Jesus’ interaction with Mary and Martha as recorded in Scripture, A Tapestry of Love provides a framework for spiritual formation that nurtures the crucial work of caregivers, bolsters their relationship with care-receivers, and promotes intimacy with God. This narrative loom weaves a tapestry of practices that garners a strong and supportive, creative and vibrant, time-tested and relevant spiritual path for the caregiving journey.

Chapters cover such topics as prayer, grief work, caregiving as a vocation, worship and Sabbath.  Purchase your copy online through Amazon Createspace today!  A Kindle version will be released within the next week.

A website devoted to the book will be online soon!

Posted by: Joe LaGuardia | October 7, 2013

Six Stages of a Caregiver’s Journey

I caught this article on “Comfortkeepers.com” via a friend, and thought I’d share the link here…

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The Six Stages of a Caregiver’s Journey.

Caregivers travel a unique and winding road that is sometimes hard to understand unless you have traveled the same route yourself. While it can bring great joy to be able to care for a loved one in need, the journey itself presents distinctive concerns and issues for both the caregiver and the care recipient…. (Read More)

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