A podcast where we share stories of hope for family caregivers breaking through loneliness to see God even in this season of life.

Stories of Hope for living content, loving well, and caring with no regrets!

Marlene Boryszewski

Episode 190

Have you ever wondered how caregivers find the strength to support their loved ones through the toughest of times? Join us in this deeply moving episode as we sit down with Marlene Brzezinski, a pastor and family recovery coach, who has navigated the complex journey of caregiving within her own family. Marlene recounts her heartfelt experiences, from helping her husband recover from numerous surgeries to supporting her father through brain cancer, and now, caring for her mother. Discover the power of small, compassionate acts like singing “You Are My Sunshine” to a loved one in their final days, and learn how Marlene’s mother found healing through hospitality after her father’s passing.

We also tackle the profound emotional challenges that come with caregiving for individuals facing melanoma, COVID-19, and substance use disorders. Marlene sheds light on the importance of setting personal boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and recognizing divine support through the people around us. With practical advice and deeply personal stories, this episode is a testament to the resilience and grace of caregivers everywhere. Tune in for an inspiring conversation that will leave you with a deeper understanding of the multifaceted world of caregiving and the strength it requires.

3:23      Heartwarming Caregiving Stories
6:53      Challenges and Surprises in Caregiving
11:30    God’s Presence in Caregiving
15:38    The Importance of Quiet Time with the Lord
19:50    Caring for Those with Substance Use Disorders
23:35    Conclusion and Contact Information

This Episode is brought to you by:

A Season of Caring Podcast

A Season of Caring Podcast

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Marlene Boryszewski

Marlene Boryszewski

Marlene is a Pastor and Family Recovery Life Coach helping families find healing, wholeness and restoration. Her expertise is in the fields of helping families with loved ones who have addictions and helping families going through difficult to destructive relationships.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Wisdom. She is a BALM Certified Family Recovery Life Coach and a Family Recovery Specialist in the Commonwealth of PA and an ordained Pastor of Heart Ablaze Fellowship an online fellowship/church.



*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: Welcome. This is Rayna Neises, your host of a Season of Caring Podcast, where we share stories of hope for family caregivers, breaking through the busyness and loneliness of life, just to see God even in the middle of the season. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to our guest Marlene Borzewski. Marlene is a pastor and family recovery coach helping families find healing, wholeness, and restoration. Her experience is in the fields of helping families with loved ones who have addictions and helping families going through difficult to distructive relationships. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in biblical wisdom. She’s a BALM Certified Family Recovery Life Coach, and a Family Recovery Specialist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. as well as an ordained pastor. Thank you, Marlene, for being here today. I’m so glad to have you.

[00:00:48] Marlene Boryszewski: Thank you, Rayna. I’m delighted to be here.

[00:00:51] Rayna Neises: So tell us a little bit about your caregiving experience.

[00:00:55] Marlene Boryszewski: Okay. Well, if we start with my family, it seems that I’ve had a lot of caregiving over the years within my family. My husband has had physical issues. He’s had two knee replacements. He has trouble walking. He had COVID. What else? We’ve had just different, different seasons of his physical needs being more than he could handle by himself. And I would have to help him. So in essence, I’m caregiving. And then I’ve gone through helping my dad prior to his passing on. And caregiving him helping my mother, but going there three, four times a week while he’s going through his last days of being here on earth as he was going through brain cancer.

[00:01:39] And then after he passed, you know, now I’ve sort of in a way become a caregiver of my mother, maybe more from a distance, but at times she has her physical issues. She’s had a couple of surgeries So there’s caregiving there being attentive to her and staying at her house. So it just seems like there’s been a lot of places in my life where I’ve had to do caregiving, including dealing with addiction in the family.

[00:02:05] And that’s a different type of caregiving losing a loved one. That’s a different type of caregiving. So just, a lot of different ways and times and intensities of caregiving.

[00:02:18] Rayna Neises: I love that, Marlene, because I think so many times we are caregivers and we miss that. We don’t even realize because God made us in a way that we just have a heart to be able to help meet needs of people around us all in different ways. But it is true you have that season of life where your kids are totally dependent on you and then eventually become more independent. There’s a lot of roles in caregiving. And so, So many times we don’t think of it in that way. So I really appreciate you being willing to talk about some of those seasons and help us to see that as caregiving because it is. And I think sometimes just putting that label on it starts to give us permission to take care of ourselves a little differently and to acknowledge that there’s more stress than just normal. And so that’s where I love, the word season because it does come and go just like you mentioned, but it’s one of those things that we have to be aware of. So. Tell us a favorite caregiving story that you have.

[00:03:19] Marlene Boryszewski: Oh, I, okay. So I have two actually,

[00:03:21] but one was just when my dad had brain cancer and so his cognitive abilities were lessening and lessening and he wasn’t able to communicate really well. He would have very frustrating days. You know, he knew that he wasn’t right. And it’s frustrating not to be able to communicate, not to be able to get your words right.

[00:03:44] Well, we had this amazing woman come in. We called her our angel. And she would sing sing his favorite song to him, You Are My Sunshine. And as soon as she began, every single time she came, she sang it. And as soon as she sang that song to him, you could see all the stress and all the heartache. And he would grin and smile and beam as if everything in life is just beautiful. It was just such a tender and special moment.

[00:04:16] Rayna Neises: I love that. That’s so amazing. Having different gifts is so important. And I talk about building your team when you’re caregiving is such a crucial piece of that. And she had this gift that was totally different and his interaction with her was totally different. That was one of the things I experienced in caring for my dad.

[00:04:34] Our relationship was one thing, but his relationship with other people was a blessing to him as well. And so sometimes we’re a little afraid to bring in help and we’re afraid to let other people step into those roles, but it’s amazing the blessing that they can bring with them. Thanks for sharing that. That’s really cool. So what’s another story for us.

[00:04:51] Marlene Boryszewski: So the other story, which I was thinking about this one after my dad passed, I began to go to church with my mother and about an hour and 15 minutes away. Every Sunday, my husband and I went to church with her and just walked her through the grief. You know, they were married a long time. Now she’s all alone. And after a while, oh, I don’t know, maybe six months to a year, after he was gone, she started wanting to reach out to people and bring them to her house for hospitality. She loves to serve. So she’d go get the cold cuts, get the cheeses, you know, just the fruits. And we’d make a threat, these trays, put them out on the table. She’d invite people over and it was just to watch again. It’s when you know, someone’s going through a hard time, but then you see something that brings them such joy that they can have peace and joy, even in the midst of their heartache. And that was healing to her to bring other people in to fellowship, to serve them food was comforting and healing her heart from losing my dad, from the loss and the grief of not having my dad. And we would do that not every Sunday, but pretty frequently through my goodness, seven years.

[00:06:03] Rayna Neises: Wow. Yeah. I love that you helped to support her in that desire when she was kind of too weak to do it all on her own. You came in and gave her that support that really allowed her to start to heal and get to that place again where she could do it on her own. That’s what our goal is as caregivers, right?

[00:06:22] Is to offer support. Sometimes I think walking that line of doing it all or not letting them do anything, sometimes can be difficult to navigate, but I love how you gave her that opportunity to use her gift again and almost then to allow the time and the people and the love to heal as she was grieving and to continue to move in.

[00:06:43] That’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing that Marlene. what would be one thing that was most surprising to you as you stepped into these caregiving roles?

[00:06:53] Marlene Boryszewski: Okay. The most surprising was for sure as far as in the physical arena of caregiving. I am not a caregiver. I don’t like needles. I don’t like blood. I don’t like the physical hands on. I’m more help you spiritually, emotionally, those ways. So the surprise to me was I have to do things. during these caregiving times when their physical needs that are not just out of my comfort zone, but they are really a struggle for me to do that. But the grace was there. I mean, God gave me the grace to do it. And that’s probably what surprised me more than anything. It was like, internally, I’m battling like, Oh, I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. This is not me. And then. Push comes to shove. There’s no other choice.

[00:07:48] You get in these situations like with my husband, with my, my mom and dad, they needed me physically.

[00:07:56] It wasn’t an option. So it’s like, okay, Marlene, you’ve got to go overcome your, your own struggles here with dealing with physical problems. You got to overcome it and step into it. And I did, I did. I’m not going to say I did it by. Oh, I’m excited to do this, but God gave me the grace. I did it. Oh

[00:08:21] Rayna Neises: I totally get it. I’ve been there as well. One of the first things I said to my sister as we were taking on keeping dad at home was, I knew, I mean, I had, As a young adult had cared for my mom. And part of that included every morning we got up, we showered.

[00:08:37] And so helping her shower for years, wiping her as she had gone to the restroom, that was part of taking care of my mom. And I’m not sure why that wasn’t uncomfortable, but it really, it wasn’t that uncomfortable to me. But my dad and I had been, had such a close adult relationship that I just couldn’t imagine.

[00:08:59] walking into that place with my dad. And so one of the first things I said to my sister was, okay, we need somebody to come in every morning and bathe him because that’s something I just don’t want to do. And I, I never really got over feeling like that was uncomfortable. Now, I can help him change clothes and those kinds of things.

[00:09:16] But for some reason, that was, was just one of those things that I just thought, Oh, I don’t really want to. The other thing was, and I was blessed to not have to get over with, My sister was always very curious about medical. procedures and things like that. So with all of our biggest piece of caregiving came when my dad had melanoma, which is skin cancer.

[00:09:37] And he had a large section, a quarter size part taken off. And when they do surgery like that, they go all the way down to pretty much through to the muscle. And so he had this huge gaping wound and they had taken a skin graph and put it over the top of that and it was supposed to graft itself back on there about two weeks later.

[00:09:59] It started smelling. My sister was doing all of the care of that. Awesome. Awesome. So excited. She would take pictures. She’s like, do you want to see the picture of the healing? And I’m like, no, I don’t want to see it at all. I never looked. And so she, he developed MRSA in there. And so. The skin graft died and all, it was just horrible.

[00:10:17] And so this big gaping wound was on him and they basically, it just took months of his body just to heal it on its own because the graph had to be taken off. And so thankfully she was like into all of that stuff. So I was not into any of that. And. I’m so glad I had her as my cohort because she could jump in and do those things when he had problems with wounds and things like that.

[00:10:42] But it was definitely a need to step outside of. And I, I often share that I was surprised, you know, in times that my dad needed me to bathe him or needed me to help him with those kinds of personal things. Like you said, it was God’s grace and just stepped into that need in the moment. It wasn’t like this big decision.

[00:10:59] Am I going to help? No, he needs help. I’m going to step in and help him do that. That’s it. So I love that example. Cause I I’m there with you. There are certain things that just turned my stomach. I’m like, no, thank you. And I don’t know. I mean, I probably would have had the grace to do it if I hadn’t had my sister, but thank heavens she liked all that stuff.

[00:11:16] So anytime we had to change bandages or any of that kind of stuff, thankfully that was her job. So, so share with us a time that comes to mind when God really showed up for you as a caregiver.

[00:11:31] Marlene Boryszewski: my goodness. When God really showed up for me. Oh, okay. This is, yeah, it just reminded me. My husband and I got COVID at the same time.

[00:11:42] Rayna Neises: Oh,

[00:11:44] Marlene Boryszewski: He, I was sick. And he has other physical problems, his feet some kidney, you know, just some other things. And so I found myself needing to care, give him while I’m sick. And I don’t know if

[00:12:03] anybody’s had to do that, but you know, I’m still the one cooking the meals. I’m still the one getting him his needs. And I, I am telling you. I have a doctor that’s also like, she’s a doctor and a nutritionist. I’ll tell you what she, God sent her to me. She would call me. She would say, how’s, not only am I, how am I doing, but how is he doing?

[00:12:27] And she would help me to know what to do to help him while I’m trying to help myself. And so just that extra support from somebody that was knowledgeable, that would help me know, okay, This is, you know, where are you at? Where’s he at? and just for God to carry me through that season was amazing. He did.

[00:12:50] We made it. We’re both, you know, we’re both still here. We’re healthy, but yeah, that’s a time God really showed up and, you know, he shows up through people sometimes like literally through this, this doctor is how he showed up for me every day. She, every day. And then every couple of days she would check in on me. And that was just my saving grace to say, okay, we’re doing okay. I mean, he did, you know, he got worse for a little bit, but I had her kind of holding my hand through it all. So

[00:13:22] Rayna Neises: I love that. I love that you said it right there is that God shows up through people so many times and we have to realize that they are sent from him. So twice now you’ve talked about the angel who came and saying, and now the doctor who was in the same way. And it is so important to see God in those people that he provides.

[00:13:39] And sometimes we can just take that for, for, Granted, or we might just not notice at all, but that’s such a true thing to notice of those around us that provide that support. And it didn’t mean somebody else was doing it for you. It just gave you that encouragement and that confidence to be able to step in and take care of him during that time.

[00:14:01] That’s great.

[00:14:02] I’m sure you’re enjoying my conversation with Marlene. The thing I love about talking with Marlene is that she is just like so many caregivers. I know she didn’t even identify herself as a caregiver for so many seasons of her life. And you know, the title just isn’t really that important. But the one thing that I think it’s helpful with is it really helps give us permission to care for ourselves differently during those caregiving seasons. So I would like to be able to encourage more people who find themselves in that season.

[00:14:36] Rayna Neises: Did you know that A Season of Caring Podcast has over 10,000 downloads and I would love to be able to get the word out even more about what a great resource of hope this can be for others. So I’m asking you for one thing, I’m asking you to help me support caregivers.

[00:14:53] I’m asking you, first of all, if you see a social media post about a episode that you enjoyed, share it, tell your friends about this podcast. Also, if you would like to share your caregiving story, I would love to talk to you about it. You would be surprised how easy it is just to have a conversation that we can share with others about your caregiving season. Just reach out rayna@aseasonofcaring.com and we can get something scheduled. Really. I would love to have you as a guest. So this episode has been. Brought to you by A Season of Caring Podcast. And I’m glad that you’re here. Let’s jump back into our conversation with Marlene.

[00:15:30] Rayna Neises: So what’s one thing that helps you to live content, love well, or care without regrets?

[00:15:38] Marlene Boryszewski: This is probably my favorite question because the one thing that I need and I make sure that it’s part of my daily routine is my quiet time with God. I have a little kitchen with a little nook. All my books are sitting there. I bring my phone for my music and every morning and the morning said, I can’t do it. I’ll find another time. So I would say 90 percent of the time I will be there in the kitchen and that’s my time that I just soak. I just sit. I relax. It’s quiet. I turn my phone off. I can put it on do not disturb or personal and I don’t see the phone calls coming in. I don’t have any distractions. I am just like in this moment, God, It’s me and you, and I need you to fill my cup, to refresh me, to just. you know, help me release what’s the stress of the day before the stress of the caregiving season. I’ll read my Bible. I’ll journal. I’ll just listen to quiet music. I’ll pray for people. But if I don’t have that, I feel like I go through my day, not, not from the same place of peace, you’re not from the same resting place of I’m refreshed and ready for the day.

[00:17:05] Some people can get up, get dressed, put their shoes on, they’re ready for the day. Not me. I get up, get dressed, sit in the kitchen and have that quiet time. But that’s what keeps me content. That’s what keeps my faith strong. That he will see me through whatever comes my way. Because I’m there and I’m talking to him about it. I’m including him in the caregiving. I’m saying, God, I need you. I can’t do this. Some of these things I really can’t do. And so that’s my place of finding peace, finding a refuge, finding strength, hope, all those things is my quiet time in the morning.

[00:17:44] Rayna Neises: And that can be challenging, especially when you’re caregiving, because sometimes those doctor’s appointments are really early. Sometimes other things are happening. So I’m glad you mentioned that sometimes you have to adjust and do it a little bit at a different time, but as much as you can, you keep that routine.

[00:17:58] Marlene Boryszewski: Yeah. Yeah. And caregiving, you know, like the times that I would go up to my dad. to visit my parents. I can remember though saying, okay, mom, I’m going to be a little bit, unless they had appointments. I’m going to be just a little bit an hour later than you would like me to be so that I could have that hours time before I left here.

[00:18:18] So I try, it’s not always possible, but I try as much as possible to make it like, you know, when you have a doctor’s appointment or you have to be at work at a certain hour, it’s like, this is my appointment. This is necessary, I need it, and this is my appointment.

[00:18:35] Rayna Neises: I think it’s important to know what you need and to really figure out what that looks like. And I think too, you have to be willing to be flexible because sometimes the way it looks changes. I know for me at times, there’s different things that I’ve done during that quiet time. Other things, possibly listening to the word versus reading a devotional or something like that, but different ways and being willing to find what really works to feel you can

[00:19:02] Marlene Boryszewski: Same thing. Yeah.

[00:19:04] same. thing for me. It’s not always the same. Yeah. And it’s not always the same length of time either, Rayna. I mean, sometimes there isn’t, you know, sometimes I may only have 15 minutes, other times an hour, it just depends, but even just 15, 10, 15 minutes can make a difference. So,

[00:19:23] Rayna Neises: I agree. All right. So we’ve mentioned that you have a lot of training in working with people who are in recovery or substance use disorders. And so that type of caregiving looks completely different than caring for someone who has physical only ailments, right? So tell us a little bit about what the difference is in your time of caregiving when you’re looking at somebody that’s dealing with a substance use disorder.

[00:19:51] Marlene Boryszewski: so yes, there’s a big difference for me on a personal level. For me, I, I tend to gravitate towards that field of helping people emotionally, spiritually, comforting them, encouraging them. That’s more me than the physical. So on the one hand, It energizes me, it gives me, I feel like a different level of confidence in that arena than helping somebody in the physical arena. And part of that is because I’ve gotten educated and, but part of it is because it’s my nature, my makeup. But the one thing that is different that I have discovered is when I’m working with somebody, a family member that has somebody. That has a substance use and you know, they’re pouring their heart out.

[00:20:39] They’re, they’re, they’re crying, they’re asking for help. They’re, they’re, you know, it’s a difficult season and you’re listening to it and you’re taking it in and you’re listening carefully how to help them and encourage them and support them. When I’m done with that, I need some space to unwind. And it’s, it’s the mental. Stress, if you will, that needs to find a release after helping people that have these kinds of issues. It’s more than mental, like with the caregiving for the physical, I don’t walk away from that mentally stressed, but with the caregiving for somebody with mental health issues. Substance use. I have to have like it’s a non negotiable. I need time to decompress to release it to put it all give it all back to the Lord and to not carry it. That’s the other thing to not carry it into my life. And that’s a fine line that we walk as caregivers. To help Lord to help us to release it so that we don’t carry it and it becomes part of our lives. And so yeah, again, it’s, it’s very, actually, it’s very different in that way.

[00:21:54] Rayna Neises: Yeah, I can see where it’d be really different in that way. I think the last thing you said that was what came to mind as well is that no matter if we’re meeting people’s physical needs or that emotional need, we have to remember it’s not ours to fix. And I think for me and my personality, the Lord’s always reminding me, you don’t get the magic wand, Rayna.

[00:22:18] It’s not about you being able to fix this. It’s about you pointing them to the true hope of me and remembering that for yourself as well to offer it back. I used to kind of do a ritual, I guess would be the right word for it. for it. But as I was leaving the driveway of my dad’s house, because I was 220 miles away, there was no way I could handle an emergency quickly, right from home.

[00:22:40] So as I was leaving, I would just kind of tap out and just be like, okay, Lord, it’s your turn now. Not that I was carrying it all when I was there, but I had to really make a decision that, okay, I’m not taking this with me. There’s nothing I can do about it. I have to just stay close to you, Lord, and trust you. And I can do that. And I’m going to drive away and I’ll be back again. But until I’m back again, it’s not mine to carry. And I think that’s one thing that really made a big difference. big difference for me because being so far away could be constantly thinking about, Oh, what’s wrong? Or did this happen? Or did somebody take that medicine? Do they do this or that? I don’t have any control over those things when I’m there. I can do the right thing, but when I’m not, I have to just trust God. And so really being able to have that conscious ritual of saying, okay, I’m going This is not mine. This is yours

[00:23:32] really can make a big difference.

[00:23:36] Marlene Boryszewski: Absolutely.

[00:23:37] Rayna Neises: Well, Marlene, I would love for my audience to be able to get in touch with you if they’re interested in learning more about recovery coaching, share with them how they can reach you and how they can learn more about what you do.

[00:23:48] Marlene Boryszewski: Okay. Thanks Rayna. So they can reach me at the website, www.heartablazerestorationministires.com. They can reach me through email heartablazeminstires@gmail.com m or Facebook. They can reach me on Facebook. Just look my name up in. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:24:08] Rayna Neises: that easy name to spell. We’ll, we’ll have all the contact information on the show notes page. So visit www.aseasonofcaring.Com and you can find all of that if you need more information about how to reach Marlene. So thanks so much for being here today and sharing some of your caregiving stories with us.

[00:24:27] Marlene Boryszewski: Thank you, Rayna. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to be here with you. So thank you for having me.

[00:24:33] Rayna Neises: Thank you for joining us today for stories of hope with Marlene. A Season of Caring Podcast has been created share stories of hope for living content, loving well, and caring without regrets. If you have financial, legal, or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

            Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Editor of Content Magazine, ICF Certified Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Positive Approach to Care® Independent Trainer offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, so that both might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Would you like to be a Guest?  |  Email Rayna

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