Hope For Us Even In Difficulties

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During May there are also awareness days for chronic illnesses like Celiacs, Lupus, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia and Asthma. Out of those five, I live with three-Celiacs, Fibromyalgia, and Asthma. I also live with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. It is fitting to have awareness days for chronic illnesses during Mental Health Awareness Month because living with chronic illness can certainly affect mental health.

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What keeps me going is summed up in one word, one name- Jesus.

I do have days that fatigue hits and hits hard. That is usually towards the end of the week on a Friday evening or a Saturday. There are some Saturdays that I spend most of the day lying down and watching movies and end up ordering delivery food because I don’t have the energy to cook.

I do have pain all of the time it is a matter of how much. I have lived with chronic pain for thirty years. Sometimes pain wakes me up at night and I do some stretching.

But with all of that, I still teach my classes, have my weekend ministry groups, spend time with refugees/immigrants, blog, and have divine appointments in the coffee shop all because of Jesus who gives me strength. Jesus gives me hope, eternal hope, knowing that this life is temporary and that eternity with him will be pain and fatigue free. 🙂

Doctors can help. Nurses are wonderful. But I do not derive hope from them. My hope comes from Jesus. I love what Romans 15:13 says:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love that God is described as the God of hope. It is eternally solid hope that we have in God because that hope depends on God through Jesus. Nothing can take that hope away from us because Jesus has all power.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Because Of Jesus-We Do Not Lose Heart

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Colossians 1:27-28

The verses of the day on biblegateway.com sparked a thought for me. Christ in me, Christ in us is the hope of glory we have been given because Jesus shares the victory of his resurrection with those who trust in him. Christ in me, in us, the hope of glory is the greatest treasure.

Then I thought about 2nd Corinthians chapter 4;

Verse 7- But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Verses 16-18-  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The hope of glory, Jesus in me. Jesus in us, is something I carry with me in this earthen vessel. My earthen vessel, my body, is not eternal. It is temporary and will one day die. It is wasting away even as I write.

The message of Jesus and his sacrificial love is something anyone who trusts in Jesus carries with them.

I can SO relate to the wasting away part due to living with chronic illnesses for over thirty years. This past year while writing my books, that my hope is will share Christ with those who suffer in life, has been one thing after another with two bouts of bronchitis, two minor heart procedures, one bout of pericarditis, one bout of pneumonia, and a bout of strep throat.

But because of Jesus and my eternal future, I will not lose heart. I will not let myself be overwhelmed. There is hope in every situation because Jesus is with me, with us. I am days away from publishing my books. My prayer is for Jesus to work through them to draw many people to him and bring healing to their souls and spirits.

In a way, my books are born out of suffering. First the suffering of Jesus that paid the way for me to be forgiven and brought into relationship with God which is available to all who believe in Jesus. Then my own suffering and finding comfort in Jesus as it relates to trauma. Then the health issues I have experienced while writing them. The fact that because of Jesus I have an eternal future with no suffering gives me the hope to press on.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Just When I Thought Things Couldn’t Get Weirder

My health journey has been quite strange the past several months with minor heart procedures, two bouts of bronchitis, pericarditis, and a bout of pneumonia. I thought all of that was in the rearview mirror and perhaps I would have smooth sailing for a while. Wrong.

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Last Monday I saw my GP due to a sore throat as in one that would not go away. They did a rapid test for strep throat that was negative, so they thought I had something called thrush and prescribed some medicine. I thought that meant all done until a phone call late Friday afternoon.

It was a nurse from my doctor’s office calling to inform me that the lab culture back for a different form of strep the rapid test does not test for. So for the first time in my life, I have strep throat. I had thought I could not get it because I had my tonsils out when I was five years old. I was wrong.

So back on antibiotics for the third time in two months. Of all the things to be sidelined by for a few days, I would have never thought it would be strep throat. What makes this seem weirder is the fact that I never had a fever with it.

Also just for fun I woke up to see it is snowing this morning. It is one of those late March wet snows.

So no longer being contagious and not feeling all that bad I will go to worship service this morning. I have a break for my evening classes for a few weeks, so I am determined to do one more final editing polish up of my book Jesus Understands Trauma and hopefully self publish in time for Easter weekend.

How is your weekend?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Caller ID

Caller ID can be a mixed blessing. It helps to screen out calls but it also shows calls that I know I shouldn’t avoid but wish to avoid. Case in point from yesterday, I saw that all too familiar phone number calling me. It was my doctor’s office as in Primary Care Physician.

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I ignored it and let it go to voice mail. However, ten minutes later it was time to listen to the voice mail. It was a nurse calling to schedule a follow up to my most recent ER adventure. So I called back. She tried to get me in yesterday, but it did not work. She offered me an 8am appointment today. That was a no go for me.

Her persistence paid off when she told me she could get me in at 10:30am today. Have no fear my dear readers because by having the appointment at 10:30, it means finishing perhaps about 11:30. It was strategic on my part. My favorite burger place is not far from my doctor’s office. I can reward myself with a cheeseburger and fries after the appointment. 🙂

So the agenda today is doctor, burger, and later this afternoon teaching English at the Ukrainian church. It will be a whirlwind of activity. There might even be time for the coffee shop today.

Speaking of caller ID, did you know God has a sort of caller ID? For me it is in the form of a worship song in my spirit. There have many times that a worship song was in my spirit and I knew God was telling me something whether it was to pray for someone, to remember a truth from the bible, give comfort, or give guidance. That is a caller ID that I welcome.

Have you experienced that kind of caller ID?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Hope To Break The Cycle

For the past several months, I have been going through a repeated cycle of getting sick, getting treatment, and getting better. Starting from last September there have been bouts of bronchitis, then the heart flutter thing that resulted in two procedures, the pericarditis, and most recently pneumonia. By God’s grace I have been able to keep my classes going with only a few cancelations.

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But the cycle led to another cycle of getting behind on blogging, keeping up with blogs I follow, and interacting with people who comment on my posts. It has been get sick, be sick for a week or so, get behind, then when I feel better. try to catch up.

As I get better from pneumonia, here’s hoping to not get sick again for a while. One of the things I looked forward to doing with the extra free time due to not teaching mornings is blogging and of course writing.

I am thankful that I was able to teach all of my classes this week, but also thankful I had time to rest. This weekend will be meaningful with my Ukrainian friends as we celebrate three birthdays Saturday morning in class and then go to a prayer rally to commemorate the one year anniversary of the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ministry, writing, and blogging are all part of the plan behind my change of not teaching mornings. By God’s grace, I hope to not have any more interruptions of that for a while. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Back To Normal?

It felt a bit anti-climatic when the cardiologist told me I am golden now and the heart flutter is cleared up. It started last fall and was diagnosed after a visit to the ER for something else. A focal point of my life is gone now. No more visits to the cardiologist except one more follow up in June. As I walked out of the clinic, my thought was, “back to normal, well normal for me.”

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Back to normal for me means continuing to live with chronic pain and fatigue due to living with autoimmune. Back to normal for me means asking Jesus each morning to give me strength to be a blessing to my students and others. Back to normal for me means seeing God at work not only in my life but in the life of others. Back to normal for me also means hanging out at the coffee shop.

If I really think about, normal is not a word I would use to describe life with Jesus. The same Jesus who did things like walking on water in the midst of a storm is the same Jesus who says follow me. He is the same Jesus who is always with us, at work around us, and at work in our lives.

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Life with Jesus can bring many amazing surprises if we seek to follow him and stay open to him working in our lives and working around us. We can see amazing things happen.

Maybe I should say back to the adventure. 🙂

Thank you for reading. Also thank you for all the prayers. God Bless.

Peace of God in a Crazy Day

Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity with doctor stuff. The day started off with an MRI my rheumatologist wanted me to have with check in time for it at 7am. To put that in perspective, I usually wake up at 7:30 🙂 MRI machines are loud even with the earplugs in, but it was no big deal.

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Then I stopped at the school where my morning class is to do a few things. Mondays I do not teach. It is the day that we have a speaker come to share with the moms through a translator. I was there for a few hours.

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Then the big one my appointment with a cardio electro physiologist about an ablation. It looks to be a simple procedure. I will have the ablation next Monday with a check in time of 5am.

After a refreshing nap, it was time for conversation practice with a Brazilian friend.. She lived in my city for one year several years ago. She is back in Brazil, so we meet in Zoom. Yesterday I met her boyfriend while we were talking. We do entrecambio-exchange- speaking in English and also some Portugues.

The day capped off with teaching my online class for the college.

What was the common theme that wove all of that together? Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 says:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Throughout the day there was a calm in my spirit because of Jesus. Starting a day with an MRI could be an unsettling experience, but the peace of God was with me. Seeing a cardio doctor could be unsettling, but the peace of God was with me. The peace of God was with me because of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- It Is Well by Kristene DiMarco

Seven years ago I began the experience of what I call being a pinball patient going from doctor to doctor to try to find out what was wrong. At that time, I came across this video by Kristene DiMarco-It Is Well. Since that time, I have listened to it every day and some days more than once, some days several times.

I have shared it before, but felt it would be good to share it again today. Today is a double doctor day for me. I have an MRI this morning with check in at 7am. The MRI is to determine if I have ankylosing spondylitis which is an arthritis that is in the spine. Then at 1pm I have an appointment with an cardiac electro physiologist which is a doctor who does ablations. I need one to correct my heart rhythm.

So I will start my morning, way too early, by listening to It Is Well and praying. It is a video that has blessed me, so I am sharing it in hopes it blesses you as well.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Question for My Doctor

Last Friday afternoon, I had a appointment with my cardiologist. I found out I was back in what he called heart flutter rhythm, which means I will have a minor procedure done in the coming weeks. It was not exactly the kind of news one wants to receive two days before Christmas, but at least as my cardiologist said, it is the best problem to have with the heart because it is easy to fix.

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My appointment finished in time for me to make it to the Ukrainian church to teach English for refugees. We had a good time together My plan was to go home after the class, but I found out that the children and youth of my friends in my class were singing in a Christmas program that evening, so I stayed to listen. It was a blessing to listen to them sing especially considering their children had just fled the war with them only a month or months ago.

Back to my appointment and a question I had when he told me I would need a procedure. My first question was about recovery time. I told him, “my concern about recovery time is how long it will take because I am helping Ukrainian refugees and need to know how long I would be away from them.” My concern was more about my Ukrainian friends and friends from other countries than it was about me. I was relieved when he told me I would be back to work a few days after the procedure.

Anytime I find out something medical that is one of my first thoughts. How will this affect the people Jesus has called me to serve?

Living with chronic illness has meant needing to make adjustments. Some are easy such as letting my friends from other countries know about my need to gluten free foods. Some are a hassle for me personally but do not affect them such as which day I inject my once a week medication knowing the next day will be low energy day for me. That has been my reality for many years. That is why one of my first questions was how long will the recovery time be.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Tug of War of Living with Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness means experiencing the ups and downs of it sometimes in one day. I can be fairly okay one day and the next day is a struggle. Add to that the fact that my personality is such that I do not want to give into it and do not want let it hold me back and the result is the pull of two sides one being accept it and adjust and the other being no way I will overcome it.

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Case in point is the temporary parking placard my doctor wanted me to have so I can use handicapped parking when needed. Upon receiving it, it sat there in my car not being used at all for two months. I know the stores I go to and the times to go, so the parking spot next to the handicapped spot is empty.

But last week in the midst of a flare up that caused me to have pain shooting down both legs from my back, I finally used it. I parked in a handicapped spot feeling defeated by doing so.

Since the first autoimmune problem hit in 1993, I have lived with a theme of I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. When someone would suggest perhaps I could not do something, I would stand on that verse from Philippians 4. Jesus has blessed me with eleven mission trips to other countries since 1997 for one example of Christ giving me strength.

Add in the fact that I tend to have an adventuresome spirit and it kind of complicates things even more. We had a large snow in parts of my state, but my city won’t have much. I was kind of hoping we would just so I could see how my small SUV does in the snow. As I work on finishing my book Jesus Understands Trauma, my hope is to travel to Brazil and Mexico to speak in churches.

But then there is that placard to handicapped parking that is in my car that I finally used last week. That is the push/pull of the two sides of me. This leaves me thinking it would be good to have Jesus return soon.

Such is life with chronic illness.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.