Appreciating Communion

I struggle to find the right words to share with you this beautiful day. I know my words cannot fully explain the depth of all Jesus has done, but I pray that you will be encouraged in some way.

Holy week is a time for reflection. Reflecting on Jesus crucifixion. Reflecting on God’s love. Reflection on our lives; on our relationship with Christ.

Holy Thursday gives us the chance to refocus our hearts on the events of Holy week. A time to remember the first communion. We are also reminded that Jesus came to serve others as well as give his life for our sins.

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One way Jesus remains close to us is through communion. Communion is more than just bread and juice. Every time we receive communion Jesus becomes a part of us. Communion is an outward remembrance of the inward presence of Christ.  This is the personal presence of Jesus in the world today. Communion can be a very powerful experience.

However I can recall a time as a teenager when I was just going through the motions with communion, I didn’t stop believing in it, but it didn’t mean a lot to me. I had stopped appreciating it. It was just something that happened right before worship was over. On our journey home from Taize (which is similar to a retreat) experienced the most powerful communion in my life. It’s something I can’t completely put into words. The pastor who was severing it made it completely personal to the group of teens I was with. She didn’t just read words from a piece of paper, she spoke from her heart. I don’t remember everything she said however I do remember feeling completely overwhelmed and breaking down in tears. That moment I remembered how much God loves me and that He sent his son for me.

It’s not enough to merely go through the motions.

 

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The H Word

If you have been admitted to the hospital you know it is taxing on the body with all the testing, getting up in the middle of the night for blood pressure checks, and usually a lot of pain. Additionally, at times you may feel isolated, depressed, or anxious. The hospital drains one emotionally. Everyone longs to hear that beautiful H word… you can go home.

There is great comfort being in your own home surrounded by family and familiar things.Yet the transition is a challenge with vague discharge instructions. There is a lot of help in the hospital so keeping up with all the care at home can be difficult. It can take a few week to readjust completely to being home.

I have been admitted four times for different reasons. Each time adjusting has been a little difficult. I have several tips to make the transition home a bit smoother and less stressful.  I have seen very few blog posts or vlogs that talk about the transition in depth.

Depending on why you were admitted you should consider buying a pill crusher. Each time I was admitted I have struggled with my stomach. It is hard for my body at times to break down the pills and use them properly. I got mine at Kmart for under five dollars. The pills don’t taste amazing but it does help some. Find a system that works for you and stick to it this is not the time to be skipping medications.

Being in the hospital and going through a medical tragedy can deplete one of  a variety of vitamins.  During my last admission I was not able to get in all my medications and none of my vitamins. I felt a huge difference without my newest vitamins. I have no doubt that the vitamins I am on are working. Many times the hospital food is not the greatest and aids at times to one feeling worse. From being in the hospital If you can find out what extra vitamins you may need, even for a few weeks it is helpful. It is not a magic pill by any means, however, it can help keep down stress levels.

Personally, I struggle greatly with my pain levels especially after the hospital. Have a pain management plan in place. This plan will look extremely different for everyone depends on the doctor you may be able to use pain medications if not you need to become very creative. I will be doing a video sometime in August about all my pain management tips.

Rest, rest, and rest some more. It is tempting to try to get back to a normal routine but that is not what’s best for at least the first few days to a week. Pushing too hard too soon can be a recipe for another health disaster.

On that note also destress as much as humanly possible. As we all know stress makes our health worse even by a little bit. I set up my medications and vitamins for at least a week so that I do not need to stress about remembering to take everything. Moreover, I write, read, paint, do string art, spend time with my cats and puppy, and talk to friends to keep my stress levels at bay. Do not neglect your time with God. Personally, I do a devotional, an online Bible study book, and journal prayers. You can also utilize worship music. Find the best coping methods for you.

Baths are a must use tip for me. I always use two types of Epson salt along with a bath bomb. It helps the body to regulate the magnesium levels. Furthermore, it can aid in reducing pain and sleeping better.

Fueling your body with the correct things is fundamental as well. Like I said,I have a ton of GI issues so this is extremely difficult. I have not been hungry sense coming home from the hospital. Due to my mast cell I am pretty limited with what I can eat. I highly recommend that you figure out what you can tolerate. If you can get in fruits or veggies that is essential and helpful as the body recovers.

Share your transition tips in the comments.

Uncertainty in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness

Today we have a wonderful and eye opening post from Cassie Creley.

Cassie Creley lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves writing. Dealing with multiple health conditions including cancer, fibromyalgia, Dysautonomia, and asthma have taught her that God’s joy is available even in our worse struggles. She blogs about creativity, faith, and living with chronic illness at http://cassiecreley.com.

 

 

You would expect a diagnosis to bring some certainty to your life. But when the diagnosis you receive is for a chronic illness that is currently incurable, that is not often the case. It took me some time to realize this. At first, I was blindsided by the amount of uncertainty that took up residence in my life due to my health.

 

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness puts us in a constant state of uncertainty. This uncertainty is one of the unexpected and most difficult side effects I’ve been dealing with since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Before getting diagnosed, as my health declined, there was always the assumption in the back of my mind that things would get better, I would get well, and life would continue as normal. But the diagnoses have just kept coming in the last two years: thyroid cancer, Dysautonomia, CFIDS, in addition to the asthma and allergies I was diagnosed with early on in life.

 

Unless you’ve experienced fibromyalgia, Dysautonomia, or other chronic illnesses, it’s hard to imagine the daily impact. I find myself wishing someone had warned me, which is just the same as wishing there was no such thing as uncertainty!

 

My body and my mind have become sources of uncertainty. I’m normally a very organized and dependable person. I could be counted on to show up when I said I would, to have a project done by deadline. Now, I often have to cancel last minute because there’s no telling when my body will suddenly decide it’s done for the day. I also used to thrive on having a schedule and routine. My symptoms and lack of energy throw my entire day into chaos, making it nearly impossible to predict when I’ll be able to accomplish even simple tasks.

 

Perhaps most frustrating of all is the uncertainty I now experience when it comes to my mind. I used to easily memorize information, but now struggle to find words or put them in the right order when speaking. When proofreading my writing, I’ll often find that I’ve inexplicably typed the wrong word. This is all part of the infamous brain fog of fibromyalgia. It makes me uncomfortable when talking with even close friends, let alone people I don’t know well, and impacts my confidence as a writer and my self esteem in general.

 

In spite of all this (and maybe partially because of it) I’m a huge believer in silver linings. What, you might ask, could possibly be a silver lining to so much uncertainty?

 

Maybe, if we can harness our uncertainty, we can let it force us to realize that uncertainty is a natural part of life.

 

The world teaches us that we should have every step of our lives planned out. And part of me really likes that. I want to know all the details. I want to be prepared. But is this healthy?

 

This expectation starts young. I didn’t realize just how profound an impact it has until I was a high school leader at my church for a few years. Students were expected to know where they wanted to go to college and what career path they would follow well before they graduated. I could see how much pressure and stress this put on the students. And the expectations continue throughout life—people expect you to know who you’ll marry, how many kids you’ll have, what you’ll do every 5 years of your life, when you’ll retire, etc., etc. If you don’t have everything planned, people seem to think there is something wrong with you.

 

Huh. Kind of makes you realized that certainty, or at least the illusion of certainty, can be exhausting too. Probably because pretending we’re in control of everything isn’t the way God designed us to live. In fact, the book of James has some pretty harsh words about acting like we know everything:

 

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16 NIV)

 

Pride creeps in (aka boasting) when we become focused on our will and our need to control every aspect of our lives. Instead, we’re called to recognize our dependence on God’s will and surrender our uncertainty to His sovereign will and trustworthy love.

 

Maybe our unique understanding of uncertainty, brought about by chronic illness, will allow us to extend grace to others because we won’t expect people to have everything figured out.

 

Maybe we can extend that same grace to ourselves. Wouldn’t that be a relief? To know we’re not expected to have everything together at all times?

 

I’m realizing that uncertainty is part of being human. If we take the time to recognize the normalcy of uncertainty, we can also recognize that our faith makes uncertainty okay.

 

We don’t have to be uncertain about God. We’re assured in the Bible of His unchanging nature. (Hebrews 13:8) We’re assured of his presence. (Matthew 28:20) We’re assured of his unchanging love: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8 NIV)

 

The uncertainty of chronic illness starts to look smaller the more we focus on God’s certainty. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s possible. Some days will be harder than others. But the flip side of knowing some days will be harder is that we can rest assured that some days will be easier.

 

Once we stop running from uncertainty, we can embrace the fact that there is a positive side of not knowing everything. I’m reminded of a quote by Luci Swindoll, one of my favorites that I recently rediscovered: “Lord…may I relish the joy of knowing you are full of wonderful surprises.” Even in the midst of chronic illness or whatever life throws our way, let us never forget that God can certainly bring about beautiful things that are more than we ask or imagine.

 

Even in the midst of life’s uncertainty, let us never forget that God can certainly

bring about beautiful things!

Encouragement

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It is difficult when your illness dictates your life. When you are taped with no way out. Unable to live. Merely surviving one moment at a time. Hope seems light years away. Everything seems to crumble right before your eyes. Everyone has days when they break. It is okay to have break downs as long as you don’t give up. You have everything you need to overcome these struggles.

You are NOT alone. Others feel this way as well. It won’t be like this forever. Eventually you will be able to live life to the fullest again. We must hold on to this hope, for it gives us the strength to keep fighting. Keep your faith. Stay strong. Hold onto hope.  You have so much strength and courage. You accomplish amazing things on daily. Be proud of all you have overcome.

It’s a season for beauty and blessings. Your strong will provide strength and hope to countless people. There will be positive things that occur because of this difficult season in your life. God’s got this. Rest in his loving arms. Blessing are just around the corner. Be open too receive all the Lord has to offer. Gentle hugs spoonie warriors. Sending prayers and spoons.

Praise God for His Faithfulness

 

“How enduring is God’s loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Yahweh,

You are faithful even when I don’t feel You near. You are always with me. You are faithful even when my body or mind betrays me. When those I love reject me. You provide strength. Teaching me to be dependent on You. You are faithful, as the emotions run wild. Faithful even when the doctors fail. When isolation traps me. When my world is falling apart.

Lord Jesus, You are faithful in the smaller and bigger ways than I can imagine. Your faithfulness surpasses all understanding. Great and beautiful is Your unending faithfulness. You are my hope. Comfort. Provider.

Elohim God my creator knit my heart to Your. Guide me on the path You designed especially for you before air kissed my lungs. I am Depend fully on You. The storm will rage, but I have a secure and faithful anchor. Fear has no place. In You, I have sweet victory. Your faithfulness remains the same.

Amen

Psalms Bible Study

    This summer I am leading a super laid-back women’s online Bible study. We are reading one Psalm a week during the summer. We would be honored if you dropped by now and then or read through this life changing book with us. This post will focus on a brief introduction to the book of Psalm. Additionally, there will be a little on chapter one.

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Introduction to The Book of Psalm

A place of comfort. A refuge of strength with a ray of hope. Words alive to be cherished and written on the heart. The book of Psalm. Regardless of how one feels or where there are in their live story or how mature they are as a Christan, there is a relatable Psalm. Truly a Psalm for everyone.

The history of Psalm is richly complex over the course of more than 800 years. The outline of what occurred historically around various Palms is interesting rhythm to check it out here. I want to point out a few of these events behind this book of the Bible. For example, David & Goliath, During the Babylonish captivity, On the rebuilding of the temple, and During the war with Absalom.

Furthermore, God used numerous individuals. A few authors include David, Moses, Asaph, Solomon, and others. In addition, there are orphan Psalms which we do not know who wrote them.

The book of Psalm is broken down into five books. The order is as follows: Book 1 (Psalms 1–41), Book 2 (42–72), Book 3 (73–89), Book 4 (90–106), and Book 5 (107–150). Needless to say, this is the longest book of the Bible.

How is a Psalm defined? It is a poem, song, act of worship, prayer, and praise. The Psalm embodies experience, expression, and emotion. Read more in depth about this outline here. The Psalms tend to fall into these genres hymn, lament, thanksgiving, confidence, Remembrance, wisdom, and kingship.

A book could be written on the purpose of this book of the Bible, in opening Matthew Henry shares the following:

To assist the exercises of natural religion, and to kindle in the souls of men those devout affections which we owe to God as our Creator, owner, ruler, and benefactor. The book of Job helps to prove our first principles of the divine perfections and providence; but this helps to improve them in prayers and praises, and professions of desire towards him, dependence on him, and an entire devotedness and resignation to him. Other parts of scripture show that God is infinitely above man, and his sovereign Lord; but this shows us that he may, notwithstanding, be conversed with by us sinful worms of the earth; and there are ways in which, if it be not our own fault, we may keep up communion with him in all the various conditions of human life.

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Now, let’s take a look at Psalm chapter one (The Voice Translation), which was written by King David:

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:
when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,
When you avoid sin’s highway,
when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.
 For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.
It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.

 For those who focus on sin, the story is different.
They are like the fallen husk of wheat, tossed by an open wind, left deserted and alone.
In the end, the wicked will fall in judgment;
the guilty will be separated from the innocent.
 Their road suddenly will end in death,
yet the journey of the righteous has been charted by the Eternal.

At times, it seems like a tragedy with a side of heartbreak is around each bend. With what seemly endless negativity acknowledging the blessings around each turn can seem impossible. The negativity makes our view blurry. Take a few minutes to acknowledge the blessings in your life. Consider the blessings that you don’t generally “count”.

While studying the Bible or being connected with God in prayer avoiding sin can sound like a piece of cake. Yet once back into the world it is evident that this is not easy. Falling into sin can be second nature. We can only avoid sins highway and walk in the way of the righteous is only possible through the strength of Jesus.

My prayer is that each person reading this will become more rooted in Christ in this season of life. That you would drink so deeply and often of the Father’s Word that you would not run dry. Soaking up His goodness. I am confident that all you do within God’s will, will prosper beyond your wildest dreams. Your journey righteous sister has been charted compassionately by the Eternal.

Main points of this Psalm

  • The blessedness of the righteous man (1-3)
  • The desperation of the wicked (4-5)
  • A final contrast between their two ways (6)

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Lord,

All honor, glory, and praise belong to Your holy name. In Your name mountains are moved and seas parted. You are on the move in Mighty ways. Nature reflects Your beauty. The earth sings Your praises. You are beyond my understanding.

I am surrounded by your blessings no matter where I turn day or night. Freely You have lavished Your love on me. I praise Your name for who You are.

I am undeserving of all Your goodness. Give me the strength to battle my flesh and avoid sins highway. Let me resist sin in the powerful name of Jesus.

Your Word provides me with strength, guidance, and joy. Allow me to remain focused from dawn to dusk on Your precious Word. May I write on my heart. May my thoughts be consumed with You. Holy Spirit move within me. Let me be firmly planted in You. Let me prosper in Your name. Allow me to serve You and bring glory to Your name.

Amen

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I want to invite you, sweet friend to continue to dig into Psalm chapter one with me. I pray that you will sincerely cherish these living and active words. I am confident that the Lord will work within you during your time in the books of Psalm. I am excited to give you free print out a which will hopefully provide guidance as you study the Word of God. Please download, print, and share.  

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For When I Am Weak, I Am Powerful: Finding Peace With My Disease

I am honored to introduce to you a beautiful Lupus warrior. Aliccia is sharing an amazing post with us in honor of Lupus awareness month. Please share to help us raise awareness! Who better to tell you more about this courageous warrior than Aliccia herself. A huge thank you to Aliccia for sharing some of her story with us.

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Hi! I’m Aliccia and I’m 24 years old. I love tea, Japanese cars, Netflix, good books and cold weather. I’m a Californian currently living in Texas with one fur baby named Takata. I like smiling, and I am proudly one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m obsessed with galaxies and I like to write on occasion.

 

For When I Am Weak, I Am Powerful: Finding Peace With My Disease

By: Aliccia Rico

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My quest started in late 2015, on a cold November morning. I couldn’t take the pain and discomfort of being in my own body anymore. Selena Gomez had been all over the media talking about how she had a disease called Lupus, and I’d been battling some sort of illness that oddly sounded just like the one she’d been interviewed about. It seemed as though I’d been dropped off in the wilderness and told to make the best of the situation… Even though the joint pain and my hair falling out drove me crazy, almost to the point of a nervous breakdown. I’d joke about being a pro napper, but fourteen-hour stretches wouldn’t even aid the fatigue I felt on a daily basis… Let alone be normal hours of sleep. This wilderness I was in felt isolated from everything I thought I knew about myself, and those around me. Who could I trust with telling about this thing that has been plaguing me? Am I crazy?

I had been seeing a rheumatologist that never took my symptoms seriously. He had me on a Remicade infusion therapy that made me worse than I was before. It took me three infusion sessions and hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket to leave this office… He even laughed in my face when I was diagnosed with pleurisy at an urgent care. I’d fallen into a depression, even when I started seeing my current rheumatologist who diagnosed me as having “Lupus-Like Syndrome”, she doesn’t want to diagnose me with Lupus officially yet. The light at the end of the wilderness I was in got dimmer and dimmer. It felt as though the life was being slowly drained out of me, and I started giving up all hope that I had.

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I found myself months later standing in my restroom, my face wet with tears and red from inflammation. The frustration finally hit its peak the moment I got out of bed. My hands couldn’t open all the way, my hair lay in the sink in chunks. I couldn’t recognize who was staring back at me, the breath gone from my lungs. How did this happen? Why did this happen? I threw all the items on the counter onto the floor, screaming at the top of my lungs. I fell to the floor and started sobbing, trembling from confusion, sadness, and anger. I was angry at my body, angry at how much more my hands and arms hurt from my moment of insanity. All I wanted was for all of this to be over. I looked up to the ceiling, my breath catching in my throat as I try to clear my head. My phone had been ringing for the past five minutes, and I didn’t care.

 

Finally, I grabbed my phone as best as I could, seeing a familiar name across the screen. I unlock the phone, my breathing slowly getting back to a normal pattern. I fixated on the words on the screen, making me cry even more.

I don’t know how it feels,
but we’re in this together.
You’re not alone… I love you.

 

I closed my eyes and started praying. The light at the end of this wilderness had been in front of me all along! Years of frustration, agony, and depression began pouring out of me. I thanked my God, Jehovah, for giving me such an amazing person to help me through this hardship, and for never abandoning me. The more and more I poured my heart out, the more I felt the strength building in my bones. The thing about faith is that it’s based on trust, and trust is what I had to give to my God to endure the obstacles put in front of me. That day, my whole outlook on my disease changed in various ways. I put away the makeup that I would use to hide my skin, I chose to smile and not dwell on the pain or weaknesses that I had now become accustomed to.

 

I refused to stay complacent, depressed and have a “woe is me” attitude. I’d read stories online for support with this disease, but none of them were even remotely positive. The whole goal with living with any type of autoimmune disease is to find positive support and know that you’re not alone. I didn’t and don’t want special treatment, nor do I want to be a walking billboard of the typical “but I don’t look sick” movement. I want people to see me for who I am, not the unfortunate disease I have. Facing each day with a prayer, relying on the support of my spiritual family and friends and telling myself I could face the day helped me personally so much.

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In one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote, “So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in times of need, in persecutions and difficulties, for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am powerful.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) I take those words to heart because in my weaknesses, I have been the most powerful. While in a flare up, getting out of bed is an accomplishment, making tea is a milestone, getting dressed is a feat. My faith is stronger than my weaknesses and my illness, stronger than the anxiety and depression that I face, my faith gives me the strength to walk when I am so physically tired that I want to collapse, it gets me through each day.

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That day I had my breakdown, I was at my lowest point in the wilderness called Lupus. My faith brought me out of the wilderness to a brighter, clear road that showed me that yes, I do have an autoimmune disease, but I can get through these challenges I face (even as simple as opening a jar) no matter how hard they are. Everyone’s autoimmune disease quest is different, everyone copes with things differently and fights their battles in their own way. I admire those who are enduring chemotherapy, those who are mothers and fathers while having a form of autoimmune disease, those ones who need canes and wheelchairs. Your strength is admirable, and in no way could I ever make light of what others go through. We’re in this together, and we will get through it… Day by day.

 

Remember, when you are weak, you are powerful.