I remember a balmy night this past summer, a quiet conversation that murmured under the soft light of a setting sun concluding a fun, but long, day.

“OK, buddy. Let’s get going. Mom needs a little bit of time to fill the cup before we get up and do it all again tomorrow,” I said. Sometimes I say it nicely and sometimes, well . . . not so much.

“Mama, why do you need to fill your cup? What does that mean?” he asked, long lashes scraping the ceiling, doe-eyes staring straight into my tired eyes.

“Because while it’s the best job ever and I’m so thankful I get to do it, taking care of others can be exhausting,” I answered. “To do it well, I need some time for me, time to do what I want to do and not answer questions, get snacks, fix meals, change laundry and drive everyone everywhere. Down-time for me is best for us all,” I explained.

He thought for a minute, processing this newly-discovered information that suggested his mother was not just his mother but a real person with real needs, too.

“Will I be tired when I take care of my kids?” he asks.

And after assuring him that yes, he will be tired sometimes, and yes, some days will be better than others but it’s always, always worth it and there will be nothing he’ll ever want to do more, he settled in for the night.

“Go fill your cup, mama,” he commanded, eyes heavy.

Caregiving is love-giving. Love-giving is life-giving. Life-giving is generation-building.

But let’s just be real about this. Caregiving is also exhausting.

My daughter has been home sick with what we discovered was pneumonia this past weekend. She will not be returning to school today, marking the start of our second week at home.

One of my sons is now sick though not necessarily the same sickness as the girl. He’s home, too.

One healthy child remains. I am the head doctor/nurse/cook at Snapp General.

It’s caregiving on crack.

Unfortunately, this past weekend, said daughter’s condition worsened and she needed to go to the doctor on Saturday morning.

As she coughed all over the patient woman, I asked her how she kept herself from getting sick.

“Oh, I’m sick a lot,” she said. “I’ve had the flu twice already,” she explained and added other sicknesses that  recently ailed her doctor self.

Yet there she was, not reacting as my baby coughed all over her face.

She was caregiving. A very selfless caregiving.

And in that moment, those seconds I watched her look in my girl’s throat and listen to her chest, I was reminded of a man who touched people no one else would.

A man who walked in when others walked out.

A man who had no qualms about touching an “unclean” woman.

Like Jesus, she touched a girl riddled with powerful germs and didn’t think twice about it.

Humbling and convicting, all wrapped into one package wearing a stethoscope.

And then there’s me, who just the day before, tried to avoid holding the hand of a little girl with a runny nose while I chaperoned a field trip for the sole survivor’s class because we just don’t need anymore illness. It was all about me and us – not this little girl who just wanted to hold my hand. I’m pretty sure Jesus would have held her hand without question.

Caregiving is exhausting. Some days are really, really hard. Some days you lose your stuff. Some days you want to run far, far away and never come back.

But I don’t think there’s a more inspirational role than that of a caregiver.

We touch lepers. We encourage those who have been sick for years. We show up.

We feed meals, we clean clothes, we kiss skinned knees, we talk through hurts.

We care for it all at the risk of it all.


So if you’re caring for children or aging parents or a hurting friend or anyone . . . Remember this: You are courageously touching lepers. You are running in when everyone else has run out. You are loving those in a very real, very tangible way.

And you are seen.

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” —1 Chronicles 28:20





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