Welcome December

I adore the Christmas season, it is absolutely magical. Beauty overflows all around from stunning lights to warm smiles to traditions and so much more. Christmas carols sweetly fill the air. The Christmas season brings joy as it reassures us gently that things will be okay. It helps us connect with our inner child reminding us of the wonderful Christmas memories. At the same time, it encourages us to move forward filling us with a hope like no other. It unites us with those we hold dear in our hearts. I cherish every aspect of Christmas.

Unfortunately chronic illness and the stressful demands that go with it does not take a holiday. The doctors appointments, treatment, and testing still must be done. Chronic illness tends to complicate things and get in the way of our joy during this season. It is easy to lose focus of the beauty in this season when we are consumed with emotion and pain. When the world seems to be caving in on us and everything seems to be falling apart. Chronic illness isolates us. We feel the effects more so this time of year. Finding a balance between doing things and resting becomes more difficult. For some, this season is depressing, reminding them of all they cannot do.

I hope you are able to take the time to rest and reflect this holiday season. Take to reflect about all the ways you have grown as an individual, all you have accomplished, all the blessings in your life, and everything you have overcome the past few months. You, my friend, have come so far. I am proud of you. You deserve to take time for yourself this busy season. You are an inspiration. Your story is breathtaking and laced with beauty along with encouragement it will change lives. I pray your strength is renewed. The Lord will bless you greatly this season, be open to all he has to offer for you.

I pray you would have a flare free Christmas season. I hope that despite your pain you are able to enjoy this season of blessing. Cherish every moment with those you hold dear to your heart. Hold onto the Christmas spirit. I pray that this season would bless you with little to no pain, plenty of spoons, memories, joy, and love. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

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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.

 

 

Spoonful of Spoonie Encouragment

Mornings for those with a chronic illness are a struggle beyond words. Waking up and willing our bodies to function is a fight. Here is a spoonful of encouragement for spoonie warriors. Happy Monday, brave friend!

You have victoriously made it out of bed this morning. The symptoms and pain are already overwhelming, but you’ve got this. You only need to take today one minute at a time. You have all the strength you need, even though it might not seem that way. Anxiety and depression attempt to dictate your day. Take a breath. Take a break.  Get some rest. Keep fighting to make today the best day possible.

You have been chosen to walk this path. It is one filled with heartbreak, disappointment, and setbacks. Walking the path of someone who is chronically ill is a challenge to say the very least. Being sick has most likely disrupted your flawless rhythm with life. It has stopped you dead in your tracks. Your illness has tried to toss your dreams out the window.

Though this path is difficult, I assure you there is a lot of beauty to be discovered. Sure life is not what it used to be, but the song you sing is just as beautiful. There is hope, joy, love, laughter, and life to be found on this path. You will be able to recreate your wonderful dreams. You are still you, despite your illness. You are an amazing and beautiful person with a flawless story and a huge purpose.

    There will be days that you become overwhelmed and feel completely alone. Your feelings are understandable, however, I promise you, you do not walk alone on this path. There are people who care about you, people who understand how difficult the journey is, and people who want to support you.

I am proud of all you have accomplished. I know you will thrive today. This week will be lovely simply because it is the only choice. While you don’t need to be positive all the time you need to take baby steps forward. You are doing amazing. Raise your coffee (or tea) to a great week warrior!

Sweetbriar Cottage Book Review

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This was the first book I read by Denise Hunter and I was pleasantly surprised. I completed the book within three days. She captured my full attention throughout the entire book.

The story line was uniquely constructed. It is not the typical love story at all. Noah and Josephine Mitchell are under the impression that they are divorced but accidentally discover it was never finalized. A few simple signatures are all that is required. However, that is not what transpires. The two heartbroken people end up spending time together against their free will, discovering there was more to the failed marriage than they realized. Each is strong willed, devastated by the past wounds, and overflowing with sorrow.

Throughout the majority of the story, the two are at odds, especially in their faith. Noah is a believer, in contrast, Josephine’s faith was shattered with an unanswered prayer at a tender age due to tragedy. I think there could have been more depth in the faith section. But overall it worked nicely.

” But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone–including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s, heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?”

This is one my favorite book of this year, furthermore, I will be checking out other books by Denise Hunter.  Sweetbriar Cottage gets five stars from me. This is a delightful summer read! The winter scenery might help to balance out the hot summer afternoons.

 

What a couple other authors think:

 “Sweetbriar Cottage is a wonderful story, full of emotional tension and evocative prose. Josephine and Noah, though deeply wounded, are easy to love in this story of second chances and unconditional love. Hunter slowly feeds critical pieces of backstory to keep the pages turning. You’ll feel involved in these characters’ lives and carried along by their story as the tension ratchets up to a climactic and satisfying conclusion. Terrific read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” –FRANCINE RIVERS, bestselling author of Redeeming Love

“Denise Hunter is, hands down, the best romance writer out there and never disappoints. Layered with likable characters, rich setting, and a compelling plot, Sweetbriar Cottage is unputdownable. Highly recommended!” –COLLEEN COBLE, USAToday bestselling author

 

About the author:

Denise Hunter has garnered multiple awards for each of her books, which include being a two-time Holt Medallion Winner for Finding Faith and Surrender Bay. ( She’s also an outstanding drummer!) She lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons.

Favorite Bible Verse: Deuteronomy 31:6a “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.”

Uninvited

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Less than. Left out. Lonely. Rejection wasn’t new, yet this time, it would be less painful to rip my heart right out of my chest. I poured out the emotions, “God they promised they wouldn’t leave me. How could they?”I had spent plenty of time wandering the playground alone or reading my Bible in silence at lunch. I figured shedding the shell of shyness was key to overcoming rejection, to leave behind those times I was uninvited.

Entering into college I felt like I was on top of the world socially. I had my youth group, the teens from the retreat I passionately poured into my high school years, and the girls on my floor. (Of course, finding a guy friend in order to get a ring by spring couldn’t hurt. Just Kidding! If you don’t get that joke go find a kid who goes to a Christian college.)

I was hopeful that even though I had chronic pain I would soon have solid answers to it and a treatment plan. Steroids don’t make life as a college girl easy. Emotions explode pretty much everywhere in a confused mess. Nothing was going as planned but it could only get better, or so I thought. Thanksgiving weekend I found out I had a triple (Yes I have three kidney’s) kidney infection that was severe lasting a total of four months.

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I had always reached out to a particular group of friends checking in on everyone. I figured if no one heard from me someone would check to see if I was alive. I desperately wanted to just have a conversation about anything. Once someone reached out it wasn’t in a loving manner, leaving me in tears. From that conversation steamed rejection from a group of Christian friends. I felt unwanted, isolated, and brokenhearted.

It is a few years later as I sit on my bed writing this. My life is anything but typical.  God is on the move in my life providing me with a small group of friends who I cherish dearly and like a weirdo I do point it out to them that I am thankful they are in my life. The Lord is providing me with women to pour into through online Bible study, which I am forever grateful for. He has blessed me with the stability and faithfulness of my mom who has refused to walk out or give up. There are many days- even in those ‘safe’ places where I feel less than, left out, and lonely. Rejection is a knife leaving a deep scar regardless the colorful story attached.

Past rejections impact daily life more than we are aware of. Making us self-conscious. We throw up walls and harsh words out of fear. It seems at times we girls take things to heart a bit more.

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I would like to personally invite you to an online Bible study featuring Lysa TerKeurst new books Uninvited.

“In Uninvited, Lysa shares honestly from her own struggles with rejection and gives readers concrete truths to combat the lies our old Enemy hurls our way. You can stop feeling left out, because even when you are overlooked by others, you are handpicked by God. You can change your tendencies to either fall apart or control the actions of others by adopting healthy ways to process your hurt. You are designed for a love without limits, a love that will never let go.

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With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:

  • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
  • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
  • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
  • Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.”

This Women’s online study will dig deep into God’s word, build lasting friendships, pray with one another, in addition to reading and discussing the book.

Even when you’re overlooked by others, you are handpicked by God.
This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited Book Blog Tour which I am delighted, excited, and honored to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. Make sure to check out http://www.uninvitedbook.com.
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To RSVP: Please e-mail: hopefulspoonie@gmail.com
I will be assisting in leading two studies with the book. The first is God-Living Girls. God-Living girls is for women God-Living Girls is for women with chronic illness and/or pain. The book will be completed alongside Proverbs 31 Ministries from September 6th- October 14th. I highly encourage all teen girls and women to check out God-Living Girls even if you aren’t interested in the study, the group has a lot of excellent resources.
The second group also meets  in a private Facebook Group, which you will be able to join starting August 15th. We will begin September 6nd as well, but we will be doing the study at a slower pace for about ten weeks. Feel free to ask questions!
Please share!

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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Fruit of Brokenness on Facebook

Melinda VanRy on Twitter

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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