Caring Vine (website: caringvine.com)
Caregivers Connection for Encouragement, Support and Help
I’m the middle child of a middle-class family born and raised in Atlanta, GA. I have an older brother and a younger sister. I chose to go to Auburn University mainly because of the friendliness of the people and the CRAZY, awesome spirit of the fans there. Best decision I ever made in my life. Ok, I guess the 2nd best decision!!
After graduating from AU with my accounting degree, I moved back to Atlanta. I did accounting for quite a few years – but still didn’t feel like I was in “my place.” I was actually in my upper 20’s when I realized that there was more to life than me – that life didn’t revolve around me. Shocking – I know! A David Meece song spoke to my heart one Thanksgiving night – “He is the Reason.” If you haven’t heard it – you need to listen to it. I realized that I was a sinner and I could be saved! In a nutshell, I realized that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came down to earth - lived, died and rose again to save those who believe. I asked Jesus to be lord of my life and my savior. THIS is the best decision I ever made! After a few years, I felt God tugging at my heart to go to seminary to learn more about Him.
At the time, I believed he was calling me to be a Christian counselor. Yet, after a semester at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas – I realized that I had more of a love for the Old Testament than I did psychology classes. So, after speaking to some advisors and professors at SWBTS, I switched my major to MDIV-Master of Divinity with a concentration in chaplaincy. After receiving my degree, I was a chaplain resident and enrolled in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at a hospital in Fort Worth. As much as I was blessed to be involved in people’s lives during very critical moments – I didn’t feel chaplaincy in a hospital setting was for me. I just wasn’t sure what direction I was to take in my life. It’s interesting looking back now and seeing where I’ve been – I can see God weaving his way in my life – but as you are going through it – you don’t see it – at least I didn’t.
I worked as a Business Administrator at a large church for another six years in Fort Worth. During the last three years there, I took on a part-time position that ended up being the best part-time job I’ve ever had – I was an usher for the Texas Rangers! I haven’t made that clear through this piece – but I love sports. My two favorite teams are the AUBURN TIGERS and the TEXAS RANGERS. I’ve always felt that the type of chaplaincy that I would love – is sports chaplaincy!! In fact, that is how I viewed my part-time job as an usher – getting to know people around the ballpark – as well as being able to watch the team AND GET PAID! That was awesome! J Sports for me has always been a great stress relief – no matter what was going on in my life – or with the team!
All this time – God continues to mold me. I still didn’t feel like I was where I needed to be – but I was growing and loving Fort Worth. However, I knew it was time to get back to Atlanta - mom and dad were starting to have major illness issues … and my nieces and nephew kept growing older – funny how that works. So, I moved back home.
Since 2007, I have had a variety of positions. I struggled continually with feeling that I was not where I needed to be. Yet now that I look back on it, the people I met during those times, what I learned as I struggled with finances, and the skills I obtained along the way have been immeasurable.
Then life as I knew it changed in an instant. My mom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I’d never even heard of esophageal – but I had heard of cancer. My two years of being a chaplain in Fort Worth had gotten me up close and personal to the people – and the effects of the disease. My family and mom’s friends were devastated. Mom didn’t get a good prognosis. She couldn’t have surgery. So, we proceeded with an aggressive treatment plan of chemo and radiation. There were many difficult and traumatic times through her treatment. Yet, we saw many miracles throughout the process. There were many trips to my parents’ house, nights in the hospital, intensive care and rehab center, scary alone times and trips to the chemo and radiation treatment centers.
Mom actually beat the cancer – and we had a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday with the family in 2011. We are so thankful to God for that time. Yet, in January following that holiday season – in fact, a day after dad’s birthday – mom went to the hospital due to complications from the treatments she had received. She died the end of January 2012 at home – with my sister and me by her side.
Now there is dad. First of all – he is five years older than mom. So, there are issues just due to his age – but he also has some challenging health issues himself. We’ve been coasting as best we can since mom’s death. I won’t lie – it’s been very difficult. All along, we’ve been wondering – what are we going to do when dad can’t handle things on his own? I realized – my sister has her family and my brother is not in the position to help with dad. I knew that it probably would be me becoming his primary caregiver. How was I going to do that? Finally, earlier this year – it became evident that something needed to happen – at least begin the process of being ready to care for my dad.
That’s a daunting thought – when you know you have bills to pay yourself and you don’t know exactly how you will handle them and care for another – where do you go for encouragement, support and just know-how? We knew a big project that will need to happen is to de-clutter my dad’s house. So – I’ll need to figure out the process – of what is junk, what is to be kept, what can be donated and finally what can be sold – say on eBay. That means learning how to use eBay, and PayPal, and how to ship large items. Every time I began to think about what needed to be done or will be needed to be done – I thought about processes that needed to be learned. Maybe you can hear and possibly feel the stress in these lines.
In addition to de-cluttering my dad’s house – I’ll start driving him where he needs to go. I’ll begin going with him to the doctor’s office. Thankfully, I already have been handling the bill paying and reconciliation portion of his accounts. I’ll need to understand his medications he’s taking and when he’s taking them.
There are just so many issues facing caring for others – especially the elderly – and we don’t know the answers and we aren’t sure where to get them. Thinking about all of these different issues is when we began to get the idea to begin a business – that can help provide encouragement, support and help in finding solutions for others in the same position. Caring for elderly – especially parents – seems to be very prevalent and it is going to only get to be a bigger issue. Between medical questions, financial issues, distance of family members from each other, time factor, grief issues, work schedules, organization or de-cluttering issues – there are just so many things to think about that cause issues for people caring for loved ones. Through it all you feel alone, helpless and lean towards hopelessness if you aren’t careful.
It has been overwhelming for me to think about myself. So – after getting sick myself from worrying about it - I realized – I can’t do it all and I can’t come up with all the answers. But, God can. I am – we are – to seek him. Nothing has been a surprise for him. He will give direction and wisdom of how best to use Caring Vine to help other caregivers in the same position we find ourselves. So, rather than waiting until I figure out all of how Caring Vine will be used – I felt God nudging me to begin – to step out in faith by posting my devotionals. Seeking God in the process. Then, other resources, blogs & services will evolve as we learn them ourselves. I hope you will join me in the journey – let’s encourage, support and help each other. Thanks for caring! God bless you and your loved ones. Carol
Why the name Caring Vine?
Caregivers: Many of us have the privilege of caring for others in our profession and/or our family. We may be prepared for this task – or not. Caregiving can sometimes be a daunting, tiring, thankless and grief-filled responsibility. We can’t and weren’t meant to do it alone. We are here to encourage, support and help you.
Vine: Who is the vine? Jesus Christ. He is our life-producing and empowering source of hope. We will seek God for guidance, instruction, direction, encouragement and hope as we provide resources and services to you.