Christian Non-Fiction

Building a Caregivers Gift Basket PLUS A Book Review

Disclosure: While the people are real, I have changed our friends names to protect their privacy.
I was given a voucher to purchase items for this post through the Family Christian blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This post does not contain affiliate links.


The inspiration behind this post…

On Monday, September 8, 2014, Ryan arose slightly before 5am for his normal morning workout. He arrived home following his workout, parked his vehicle, and walked up the drive where he collapsed by the garage. At some point a neighbor, out for her morning walk, spotted him on the ground and called 911. Then she flagged down another neighbor who began CPR. Later at the hospital, Ryan underwent a cardiac cath for a severely constricted coronary artery. In the days immediately following surgery the signs were positive, but by Friday he started a rapid decline. All the tests came back clear and normal except for his MRI, which showed swelling in his blood vessels in the brain. The full extent of his brain injury would not be realized until months later, but would include brain damage, memory recall issues, and vision impairment.

By October 5th, Ryan’s balance had improved and he could walk with assistance. He was accepted into the VA treatment facility following week to continue in intensive inpatient rehab. Once he was settled, my husband and I went to visit him. The man we saw lying in the hospital bed was only a shadow of the incredible, full of life, gregarious friend we love. During our visit, his wife Anna aided him to a standing position and helped him maneuver into a wheelchair so he could sit and visit. Ryan recognized us and would laugh when we shared stories, however his speech was indiscernible and he was unable to keep his eyes open. The road ahead of them looked daunting.

In the aftermath of Ryan’s heart attack Anna, an Air Force pilot, was surrounded by friends and family. Meals were made, children (ages 1 & 3 at the time) were cared for, and most importantly prayers were lifted high! Throughout October Ryan showed marked improvement in his gross motor skills, speech, and even his vision. So much so that by late October he was accepted into a polytrauma rehab center in Texas. Again family and friends rallied support so that Anna could be with her husband, get him settled, and hear what treatments the new doctors had planned to speed his recovery. Ryan and Anna were sustained by hope and faith during the ensuing 6 months, which entail numerous weekend visits, tests, and therapy sessions.

After a brief visit home in June, Ryan relocated to the Blind Rehab Center in Chicago. Only then was Anna given a projected discharge date for late September.

Over a year later, Ryan is finally home. These past few weeks of transition have been challenging for our friends. In these first two weeks home, Anna has taken leave in order to prepare Ryan to be independent (organizing, setting up his office, moving back in), going to visit every doctor (PCM, TBI, Cardio, Eye, Dentist), get labs and pharmacy established, and also check in with the different therapies (Speech, OT, Vision, etc). This Monday she returned to work and next week I’ll be stepping in to drive Ryan to his therapy sessions at the VA. God has brought them this far and they are trusting that he will continue to sustain them and heal Ryan.

I’ve shared Anna and Ryan’s story so that you can understand why I’ve chosen to acknowledge her sacrifice as a caregiver with a gift. Maybe you are a caregiver yourself or know someone who is, a person who is continually giving of themselves, their love and their energies. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to acknowledge them for their sacrifice?

Who this basket is intended for…

The military spouse who is caring for her wounded warrior.

A new mother with a fussy newborn or a sick/special needs child.

The sibling who cares for your aging parent.

Your neighbor who tends to a spouse with multiple sclerosis.

The friend who holds your hand while you undergo chemo or radiation.

Anyone who cares for an Alzheimer or homebound patient.

The woman at church whose husband had a stroke.

The man whose wife needs around the clock medical care, but who must continue to work.

The countless scores of people who dedicate their time, love, and service to provide care and comfort to another.

This post is for Anna and Ryan, our dearest friends. Your story is an inspiring tale of steadfast faith, perseverance, and the power of love.

Building a Caregivers Gift Basket…


The #1 intent of the basket I am building is to encourage my friend. I’ve selected specific items I believe will put a smile on her face, help her to feel organized (a strong need of hers), and to provide encouragement. Everyone’s needs will be different, but I have tried to choose items that would be universally appreciated.

The Joy Bear – Oftentimes, the struggles we face in life leave us asking God, “Why?” Questioning God’s timing, motives, action or inaction. I chose the Joy Bear because because the verse on his paw reminds us that their is a purpose behind our pain. His plush body is huggable and soft and his orange bow provides a nice splash of color.

Bless You’s – The Bible promises that one day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Until then we need tissues for the times of pain or joy that bring us to tears.

Beside Still Waters Adult Coloring Book – This item is not due to release until 11/2015, but I’ve included it here because of recent article I read about the benefits of adult coloring books for relaxation and stress relief. I can think back to the many hours I spent in the waiting room while my grandmother underwent radiation treatment and I can see how coloring (especially with a combination of prayer and scripture) would have been meditative.

I Am Strong: Finding God’s Peace and Strength in Life’s Darkest Moments – In this soon to be released (12/3) book by John S. Dickerson he explains how physical and emotional pain can sap hope and erode joy.

In its chapters, I Am Strong equips you to:

  • Unlock God’s strength for your difficulties.
  • Understand how a loving God will resolve your pain.
  • Know God’s plan to repurpose your pain, injustice and inadequacy.
  • Understand why your suffering does not mean God is punishing you.
  • Overcome life’s circumstances as Christ and Paul did.
  • Discover the life-changing power of God’s strength in your weakness.

I feel like this book is the perfect fit for a caregiver’s gift basket. However, I would like both the recipient of my basket and her husband (who is blind) to be able to enjoy the book, so I have inquired of the author about an audiobook. He assures me that he is working with Zondervan to bring it to fruition.

God’s Promises for Caregivers – I felt this was an inexpensive addition to the basket, intended to be a daily reminder of God’s care for the caregiver.

Fill Me With Your Strength Mug – A promise to the weary…”But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” 2 Timothy 4:17

You’ve Been Prayed For Note Cards – I intend to include one of these cards with the gift basket and then to send additional cards in the weeks to come. For many the road they walk is long and arduous. I know from personal experience how comforting it is to know that you are remembered in someones prayers. I’m also reminded of how Aaron and Hur held aloft Moses’ arms in Exodus 17:12. Have you ever been so weary that you lost the strength or will to pray? These are the times we need friends to hold our arms aloft in prayer and thanksgiving.

The Caregiver’s Notebook | Book Review

Military life has it’s own special challenges and for my friend, the geographical separation from family has made her solely responsible for coordinating the care of her husband (also a military veteran). I’ve chosen to include this book in a Caregiver’s Gift Basket I’m giving her because I believe it will help her to feel more organized and in the event she is called away from her home station, she will be able to easily pass on pertinent information to whomever comes to aid in his care.

The book is divided into 12 function sections in addition to the “How to Use The Caregiver’s Notebook” tab. They include:

  1. Emergency Information
  2. Calendar
  3. Contacts
  4. Notes
  5. Medications
  6. Medical Information
  7. Insurance Information
  8. Legal Documents
  9. Routines and Schedules
  10. Resources
  11. Bible Reading Plan
  12. Prayer Guides

The rigid cover speaks to the durability of the book, while the size (roughly 7 1/4″ X 9 1/4″ X 1″) makes it ideal for carrying in a purse or backpack. Each tab is laminated to protect against wear and the thickness of the paper should minimize bleed through. Most sections have tables for the caregiver to record important information in, these contain decent sized blocks to record information as well as font size/and script that are easy to read. At the beginning of each section are ideas/tips on how to maximize that tab or lessons learned by the author. An example of this from the Insurance Information tab reads, “Before ending any call, ask for the first and last name of the person you spoke to and the person’s extension number.” There are many other helpful hints, too numerous to mention here.

This book was designed by a caregiver and as such it’s tables request very specific data. I would not have thought to include a Routines and Schedules tab, but having seen it I can immediately grasp it’s usefulness. This would be perfect for a patient who is non-comunicative or difficult to understand. Tasks such as personal care, mobility, and eating include a check box to denote if the person needs assistance. Also included is a place to record personal preferences (likes and dislikes) and environmental considerations (room temperature, sound/smell triggers).

Having worked in an emergency room as a triage technician, I can recognize the importance of the Medications tab. Many times frantic loved ones would spill bags or purses full of pill bottles on my desk for me to sort through. Because some medications can be given to treat multiple ailments, I like how this book includes blocks for dosage, frequency, purpose, side effects, and prescribing physician. If a caregiver would record current medications in this section in pencil and keep it up to date, it would be a huge asset in an emergency!

In conclusion, The Caregiver’s Notebook will be a valuable asset for my friend and anyone who cares for another person – young or old. It has the potential to reduce stress through organization, prevent medical/physical accidents, as well as ensure continuity of care. I highly recommend it!


Are you a caregiver?

How does this gift basket appeal to you?

What other items would you include in a Caregiver’s Gift Basket?

In what ways have others made you feel valued in your role as a caregiver?

Is there a particular verse from scripture that has given you comfort?


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