When A Warrior Passes

Honestly, I have wanted to write this post for a good two months, but it has been difficult to write.

You know once you have transported to the world of chronic illness that one day you will be devasted when someone passes away. However, you are never ready enough for that moment.

I had expected to eventually lose someone in a Facebook support group not someone I went to school with. Two weeks before she passed I ran into her mom while food shopping. I barely remember anyone from high school and it is embarrassing as well as frustrating for me. But when her mom said her name I could picture her sitting next to me in middle school. I had assumed she moved not that she was chronically ill with at least one of my illnesses. I promised her mom I would talk with her and we could hang out. Her mom said they were attempting to get her paired with a service dog. I was so excited at the possibility of having an in person chronically ill friend my age.

I didn’t hesitate finding her on Facebook.I tried to be patient waiting for her to response constantly reminding myself she was flaring. Within hours I found out I was too late and it broke my heart in a new devasting way. I immediately regretted not connecting with her sooner. I know she suffered way too long and things were horribly unfair. She should be going to college and building a life for herself.

Lossing someone who has one of your illnesses or who is chronically ill is extremely different. I have balled my eyes out many of times for a life of a fellow warrior that I barely knew. My heart goes out to the families in a unique way.  I might not have known them well or maybe not at all yet I live a small part of their story. I live the pain, doctors, symptoms… the life of a spoonie.

The grieving seems to be unique to those with chronic illness. There is an element of guilt for living because you know it could have been you. You wonder why it was that person, what if someone listened better, could it have been avoided, or will that be me one day. Frustration with the health care system at times.  Angry with the people who brush us off.

It has been a few months but from time to time she’ll come to my mind. I wish I remembered more about her other than her pretty hair and sweet voice, like an actual conversation. This death has been completely unique in the way it affected me.

Anytime someone passes with a chronic illness around your age it hits home and it is difficult. When you lose someone to chronic illness allow yourself time to grieve. If someone in the chronic illness community you know passes find a special way to say good bye and to pay your respects. When a girl passed with IBD a few weeks back, I found great comfort in leaving her family a message on an online guest book in honor of her.

Regardless of how close you were let yourself cry if you need to.  Give yourself permission to get angry, to feel hopeless, or broken. Emotions are healthy. They are indicators of things going wrong and of heartbreak. However, emotions are not your dictator so once you have allowed yourself to feel you need to slowly move forward. Allow yourself to heal slowly. Seek support from others who are chronically ill, family, and friends. Cherish each moment in life and live them to the fullest as best you can.

 

 

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Valentine’s Day

It is a lovely day honoring those we love. To cherish our spouse. A day of cards and candies for children already sweet enough. On the other hand, it can feel discouraging for those who don’t have a significant other. Regardless of where you fall on this Valentine spectrum hear me out. In addition to the mushy stuff, today is a day to honor God, be compassionate to ourselves, and bless someone in our lives.

This day is more than a reminder of our precious love story. It is a reminder of the ultimate love story. “Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another” 1 John 4:911 The Voice Translation. Take time out of your busy schedule to sit down and have a quality quiet time in honor of Valentine’s day. Spending time with God will without a doubt sweeten your day! Try something different such as praising Him in a new way or writing out Scripture or recording your prayer.

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The Father gently and compassionately handcrafted every cell in your body. He thoughtfully constructed your character. Zealously selecting your talents. The beauty He bestowed on you has depth beyond physical appearance. He delights in You. You dear friend, are the apple of His eye. God is pursuing you. He is doing a mighty and awe-inspiring work in your life beyond your dreams. Blessings are around the corner.

I want to encourage you, precious friend to take even just five minutes to be compassionate to yourself. It can be something extremely simple. A few examples include; making a cup of tea, reading a book, enjoying some time of silence, or doing a face mask.  Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship Romans 12:1.

Lastly, do something sweet for someone outside of your family. Maybe even someone you aren’t close to or someone enduring a struggle. We love because He has first loved us. 1 John 4:19. We are called simply to love on another and to share one anothers burdens. Send a note of encouragement. Offer to help a new Mama with her children. Make a meal for someone who is chronically ill. Ask your friends how you can be specifically praying for them and then pray with them there. Find a simple way to let another person know that you care.

Wishing you a day consumed with love. A day of joy. Time to honor the Lord, those you love, and yourself.

 

Advent & The Belt of Truth

The belt of truth relates to advent. Jesus, the truth put on flesh and joined the world as a delicate baby. “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” John 1:9 NIV. Through Jesus, God reveals to us His truth. In addition, His word exposes it. His truth enables us to discern right from wrong as well as almost right from right. Truth is essential to our spiritual well-being.

By putting on the belt of truth we are a reflection of Jesus. Take time from the businesses of the season to go deeper with the one who is the reason for it all. Meditate on God’s truth. Consider how God might burden your heart to be a vessel for His truth to the world. Furthermore, you sweet friend are a light to this world.

Like the belt holds together the armor, God holds together our world. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:17.

God’s truth sets us free which provides peace that surpasses all understanding.  Despite, not so silent nights Christ’s peace continues to rule our hearts. This peace is not affected by the events or chaos in life. The second week of advent we reflect on the peace candle. We are reminded to slow down. To breath. Basking in His presence. Surrendering all to Him.

As you strap on the belt of truth this advent season and ponder these things in your heart rejoice in the goodness of God.  Praise Him for who He is. Rejoicing in the fact that He sent His only son.“Heavenly Choir: To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!” Luke 2:14 The Voice

My prayer for you this advent is that you would develop a more intimate relationship with Christ. That He would use the Christmas story to move your heart in a new and beautiful way. That there are many moments are consumed with deep joy and laughter. The Lord would use you as a vessel of truth to others.

Lord,

We rejoice in this stunning Christmas season. Our hearts sing praises for the precious and priceless gift of Your son. Enable us to put on Your belt of truth daily. Give us discernment. Help us to remain focused on Your truth. Thank you for holding together the universe and our individual world. For all the blessings You have graciously given us. Use us to bring honor and glory to Your name. Allow us to be a vessel in the work You are doing in others lives. Use us to bring others closer to You. Fill our hearts with your peace, love, and joy. Allow us to grow closer to you daily. Deeply bless this Christmas season in a new way. Provide all we need.

Amen

Fruit of Brokenness

Today, I have a special treat for you, Melinda from  Fruit of Brokenness.

I had to accept it. But I didn’t want to. I had to accept a term I didn’t like for myself. It’s a label used when someone does something horrific like shoot a bunch of innocent people or drown their children. We use it to describe people who are so out of touch with reality or so far outside societal norms that they make us uncomfortable…

MENTALLY ILL.

If you met me, your first thought wouldn’t be “mentally ill.” I mean, I look like a normal 43-year-old mom of three kids… which means I can look a little crazy-frazzled at times, but I’m not the stereotypical unkempt, wild-eyed, roaming the streets talking to imaginary friends and enemies.

I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. Sometimes my brain goes sideways.

Major or severe, depression is difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it.

It’s like walking death. Everything that makes you-you carved out, leaving a gaping emptiness that can’t believe you ever really were anything, especially not anything good. You no longer enjoy your favorite things, or anything else. It’s impossible to believe things will get better; it’s impossible to believe that better is your normal.

Some of you may think that faith in God should make feeling like this impossible, that people who claim to be Christians who suffer depression or anxiety must be doing something wrong.

Their faith must not be strong enough.

They don’t pray or read the Bible enough.

They must have hidden sin.

While all these things can contribute to depression, depression is not just a spiritual issue. When churches approach people struggling with mental health issues as if is all only their fault, it is unhelpful at best, and can be dangerous.

Faith hasn’t cured me.

While a correct understanding of God and ourselves is vital for mental health, it doesn’t guarantee we won’t suffer from depression or anxiety.

Faith isn’t a magic cure-all. As with physical illness, mental illness can strike down believers and dog their steps.

As Paul related in 2 Corinthians 12, I haven’t been able to pray away my thorn. I have medication that is keeping the suicidal depression in check, but I still struggle with depression and anxiety and know it would be dangerous to quit taking my medication.

I have a chronic illness that requires physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual treatment. To attribute one too much importance than the others is unhelpful. There’s a glitch in my brain that affects my emotions, my perception of reality, and my ability to think clearly.

At its worst, I believe that I am beyond grace.

But there’s something awesome about God’s refusal to remove our thorns. Our weaknesses are an opportunity for His strength, and also His grace, to shine.

Paul knew this.

God can heal. God does heal. But God doesn’t always heal.

It’s not wrong to ask for healing, but we must choose to trust Him whether or not He sends it.

Whatever God allows or chooses in my life, I need to let Him be God. In and through my circumstances.

A huge thank you to Melinda for sharing her story and offering hope to others. Please check out Melinda’s blog and social media:

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Honoring God With Our Time

Time is a precious gift that should be cherished. Even with the blessing of a different, perhaps more mature perspective we still have the habit of wishing it away. Who could blame us between pain, frustration, isolation, and layers of symptoms? Cherishing the moment when the moment isn’t all that sweet is not something that comes naturally.

How do we honor God with our time in the midst of a flare? Personally, I have become limited in so many ways and this is a question that has been turning over in my mind nonstop recently. I deeply desire to honor God with every second of my day and to serve Him.

My insecurities boil over, spitting lies like you can’t possible honor God with your time because you are sick, lazy, and useless or look at what so and so is doing you can’t even stand for thirty minutes God can’t possibly use you. He will never get glory from your life. I know in my heart that these are the enemies lies, but when I am drained it is easy to get caught up in them.

It is vital to remember that God’s salvation and love for us, His children is not dependent on our actions. Jesus already paid the price. Salvation is freely ours.

At the same time we can do all things to the glory of God- even the things that make us feel miserable like our symptoms. Pastor John Pipper talks about drinking orange juice to the glory of God,

“But believers can, and this is how they glorify God. Their drinking orange juice is “sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” The word of Godteaches us that the juice, and even our strength to drink it, is a free gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Peter 4:11). The prayer is our humble response of thanks from the heart. Believing this truth in the word, and offering thanks in prayer is one way we drink orange juice to the glory of God.

The other way is to drink lovingly. For example, don’t insist on the biggest helping. This is taught in the context of 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (RSV). “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Everything we do—even drinking orange juice—can be done with the intention and hope that it will be to the advantage of many that they may be saved.”

There are many tasks during my day that are less than lovely, tasks that make me feel terrible, but my prayer truly is that some how some way God will receive all honor and glory from everything in my life. I pray that I would continue to learn how to cherish the time He blesses me with as well as how to honor Him more with it daily. I trust Him to make something beautiful out of everyday.

Rest

We live life in the fast lane; traveling full speed ahead. Over commitment boils over. We tango with multitasking racing to complete an over zealous achievement list. Our to-do list, family, friends, and much more scream for attention demanding more consistently, simpling depleting us physically, emotionally, and physically. Neglecting much we push forward running on empty. In addition, we feel like we might erupt from stress at any moment.

We need rest as desperately as we need our next breath. Not just physical rest but also emotional and spiritual. Time to reconnect in a meaningful way with our Abba (Our Heavenly Father). We need to be intentional about spending time rest in the Fathers arms. Not giving ourselves excuses about being too busy. Life goes smoother when we rest in the Father and connect with Him.

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Will you sweet friend come to our Jesus now? Don’t wait another moment. Unload all the burdens on your heart, keeping in mind that nothing is too big or too small for Him. Pour every sorrow, burden, and emotion out to Him. Sit quietly in His loving arms as He frees you from the burden and reminds you of His everlasting love. Whatever is burdening you, the Lord will walk through it with you through it won’t be easy, but He will provide for you every step.
He calls us, Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
He will give you rest and renew your soul. Pour out everything in prayer than allow Him to pour into you through His word, devotionals, other people, or simply by being in His precious presence.
Father,
We come to you emotionally spent and phsyically tired. Help us to unload our burdens to You in prayer. Renew our hearts. Fill us with Your comfort. Allow us to be yoked to you and to find our rest in you. Thank you for your love and for being our provider. Help us to grow closer to you each day. Amen

The Struggle of Our Today

“We’ll tell you about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.” Lysa Terkeurst.

Wow. These words are heavy, exposing the truth. It is easier to talk about the past. How we have overcome trials demonstrating our own persistence and strength. Of course, from time to time we will include God, most times as a hero who swept in and saved the day. Rescuing us from the storm.

But talking about today? Being transparent; honest? That is a different story. It takes guts. We like to appear to the world as having it all together. As if we can accomplish this insane to do list, save the world, and be home for supper. In reality, we are falling apart- most people are facing limitations daily, which could be illness, addiction, family disputes, or finances.

 

With a chronic illness, we act often. Taking on the role of a healthy and normal individual in order to blend in or make others happy. A friend asks how we are… and too often, we smile straight up telling a lie, “I’m doing great”…. Desperately we even debate which lies to tell our doctor. What is worth sharing? Will he or she believe me? Is it worth the frustration? It is challenging, to be honest, and the individual that God created us to be. Isolation closes in on us; as we swim in the sea of invisible illness.

 

Without a doubt, there is a time and a place for everything. God’s word echo’s this in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” At times taking on a role has its advantages, and at other times, it is downright damaging. There is also a time for raw honesty. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up,” Rick Warren.  Putting yourself out there is scary. Sharing your heart is healthy. By sharing with others, you become an inspiration and encouragement to others. Struggling does not make you weak, it makes you human.

Additionally, we ask who can we be honest with. Lately, I seem to keep hearing the same message, we   were not meant to do life on our own. We were made for community, not isolation. But in all honesty, it easier to say than do. Falling into isolation becomes easy with an illness. Most times, it is not intentional. We flare up, battle fatigue, and lose many friends. Having someone we can confide in about the struggles of today is rare. There are people who hurt us, leave us, and betray our trust.

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I think it is hard, to be honest in this way because we don’t want to be negative or a burden to others. At the same time, it is important to do so. Not only is it healthy, but it allows others to support us and specifically pray with us then allows us the chance to offer the same to them. Being honest allows us to share with others how God is working in our lives right now.

 

Personally, I have two friends who I can be brutally gut level honest with, knowing in my heart that no matter what they will still love me and will pray with me. Their friendship is a beautiful treasure. I hope you have at least one person who you can be honest with about the struggles of today.

 

Lord,

 

You are the God who sees us and knows us completely. Teach us how to be honest about the struggles of today. Bless us with people who we can share our burdens with and support. Allow us to continually bring glory to Your Holy Name.

 

Amen

Don’t You Dare Run Away

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After becoming ill, many lose their faith. Unbelief dictates as anger boils over. Blaming God. Wrongfully accusing him. Instead of running towards God, they run away. Instead of filling up with God, they fill up with negativity. Instead of trusting him, they turn away.

It is human to swing through the jungle of emotions and experience doubt. The key factor is don’t run away. Pour out your heart to God, vent in confidence to a brother or sister in Christ, evaluate your doubts, even scream at God. God can handle your anger or anything else you experience. Whatever you do don’t you dare run away. Running away will only make things more difficult. God designed us to run to him when trials strike; he is our sustainer and strength.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12. At times, we are convinced that no one understands our trials. We act surprised when suffering drops by.

Suffering cannot be avoided. Because of the first sin of Adam and Eve we live in a fallen world. Suffering leaks endlessly, robbing our focus. There is a multitude of suffering that is heartbreaking. It consumes lives… it consumes our world.

Suffering is merely an element of the world we live in. God is all knowing. He deeply, flawlessly, and fully understands every detail. Suffering is no different. It is no surprise to God. God uses it in our lives and to bring him glory.

We might not understand the role of suffering in our lives, but we need to confidentially trust in the Lord. Ultimately he will receive glory from everything. His purpose will one day be revealed.

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Stillness In the Invisible Fight

Chaos, one word to sum up the invisible fight. There are always phone calls to be made, medical testing, prescriptions to be filled, and doctors to see. And that is only the tip of the ice burg.The invisible fight is draining physically, emotionally, and spirituality. It demands all we’ve got and more. Sucking the spoons right out of our grasp. On top of the daunting tasks embed in chronic illness we attempt to be as normal as possible adding school, work, food shopping, and social events. It is a full time job.

There never seems to be a dull moment. We have become accustom to fighting, it is not a choice it is something we must do in order to survive. Accustom to the demands of this life. We fight against invisible illness, for tests to be run, with insurance companies, and to receive proper treatment. Our defenses are up. We attempt to be strong for those around us. Pretending we don’t need any support. We are weary yet dressed in a warriors optimistic attitude we continue to fight another round.

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Finding stillness in the mists of the fight seems impossible. Putting our to do list aside and quiet our minds we can enter into the presence of the Lord.The Lord is a flawless example of a warrior. He has fought for his children restlessly providing a picture of his love that is beyond words, beyond human comprehension. We can confidently surrender our invisible fight into His sovereign hands. The Lord understands every aspect of our invisible fight. He will support us, substation us, provide for us, and fight for us. The only thing we need to do is be still and trust in Him.

How do you find stillness in the invisible fight?

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College Chatter

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.” Isiah 55:8

Many times we are convinced that we are following the Lords plans for our lives.We take all the proper precautions praying, seeking guidance in the Word of God, meditating, than we take a leap of faith only to fall flat on our face. What went wrong? We might never know the answer to this question. Perhaps the time we spent searching and planning enhanced our faith allowing us to enjoy deeper fellowship with God. Regardless of the reason when things don’t work out how we intend them to we are grieved with disappointment.

I began praying about my college journey in middle school. Than began my intense college and scholarship search in my sophomore year of high school. I wrote everything out nicely, I had a well though out plan of action.  Though I went off to the college of my choice nothing happened the way I planed. I got sicker and ended up back home attending community college online. Once again I made plans to go away to school this fall. However, things did not work out as I planed. The finances did not line up.

I spent two business days straight making dead end no answer phone calls. Running around in endless circles unable to get information. I quickly became overcome with anxiety and dread. I had no back up plan. It became evident that things weren’t going to work out. I pleaded with God for Him to provide for me. Than took a step back and asked that his will would be carried out in my life. I know that my prayers and preparations for this coming semester were not in vain. They allowed me to draw closer to God.

Emotions clouded my mind, as I tried to figure out my next step. All I could see was a dead end and failure. After discussions with various people, I made the decision to continue my education though the community college. It wasn’t ideal but I am still moving forward.

I was disappointed to a degree, but more annoyed that things happened last minute. Like anyone who is chronically ill, I desire to be as normal as possible. To be as independent as possible. At times I am completely content as I take baby steps forward. Other times I am irritated to no end. I am twenty one and I am so limited with what I can do. Currently I cannot work, cannot be on my feet for too long, and cannot drive. It is easy to fall into the trap of a negative mind set. It is essential to keep things in perspective and to acknowledge the blessings in life.I am grateful for the progress that I have made. I look forward to continuing to get stronger and becoming more independent.