My Chronic Christmas

Thanksgiving has come and gone already. It feels like it zipped on past me quickly. It was nice to spend time with friends last night sharing friendship and delicious food. But it is over now. The rest of the world will be full speed ahead to Christmas, but I am not ready for it. I do not mean about shopping. That is a five minute thing for me on Amazon.

I wonder how many crazy people will wait outside in the cold to be the first ones in the stores for shopping. How many will be sane and do it all online like me. 🙂

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I feel like calling this year My Chronic Christmas as in chronic illness.. I have a follow up appointment with my GP next week to follow up on my recent hospital stay. I have a rheumatology appointment on Dec. 21st and a follow up appointment with the cardiologist on the 23rd. I also have a MRI sometime before the rheumatology appointment.

So that is four medical things before Christmas. UGH.

The one good thing about Christmas, the best thing, is that it is a reminder that Jesus left heaven to be born as a human baby, so he could be Immanuel-God With Us. I am grateful Jesus is with me at medical appointments.

Are you ready for the whole Christmas holiday thing?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Conversation Shows My Motivation to Write

After reading the timeline I wrote regarding the years after my first health struggles and remembering the timeline I wrote from childhood to my first health struggle, my therapist said, “You have overcome so much in your life. What’s next for you now that you have overcome so much?”

Me-“I don’t know. Maybe Jesus will take me home to heaven.”

Therapist-“What would you like to see happen?”

Me-“I would like to finish and publish my book about Jesus Understands Trauma. I think I can get it translated into Spanish and Portuguese. I would love to share about it in Ensenada Mexico and in Brazil and maybe here in the USA. I would like to continue teaching and helping refugees/immigrants.”

Therapist- “Those are great goals.”

Me-“But at my age I am not sure how much time I have to do them.”

Therapist-“You could have many more years.”

Not verbalized to her my thought-“I don’t want many more years of pain, Maranantha Lord Jesus. Come quickly Lord Jesus.”

Even this morning was another morning of waking up in pain and wishing I could stay home all day. But I will go teach three classes today. Each day is like that for me living with chronic illness. But there are more people to reach with the love of Jesus and I do hope to follow what 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God

That is my motivation behind the book and my desire for future ministry.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wonderful Time With My Ukrainian Friends

My Saturday morning group grew to 15 people this week including a 90 year old great grandmother. We had a fun time studying together. It is such a blessing to see people ,who suffered loss during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, smiling and laughing during class. The morning also had a few other blessings.

One is depicted by the picture. A woman was teaching cooking for Middle School age kids in their church. After my class, I went upstairs and followed the pleasing aroma of food being cooked to the kitchen. She blessed me with not one, but two omelets. I won’t need to eat the rest of the day. When I say omelet, I mean ultimate omelet. It had diced peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, diced potatoes, and cheese.

My translator for today was the 17 year old son of one of the pastors. We had a deep conversation about living with chronic illness. He had surgery for Crohn’s Disease a few months ago. We talked about how God can take our suffering, if we give it to him, and work through us to bless others as 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 says:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

Now I am sitting in the coffee shop, drinking coffee and giving the two omelets a chance to digest before I go to the Latino Festival.

How is your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Small Change I Hope Will Make a Difference

In June 2021, I started taking methotrexate for Psoriatic Arthritis/Psoriasis. I read comments by people on Instagram who take it and referred to the methotrexate hangover, which is not feeling like doing anything the day after. So I took it on Fridays with the thinking that Saturdays can be spent at home if need be.

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The opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays is something I believe God is calling me to do, but then there is that methotrexate hangover thing. So I made a small change. I injected Sunday afternoon. My thinking is that this small change will allow me to help the Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays with worrying about being out of it due to the medication.

I tried it this past Sunday due to the holiday yesterday to give me a trial at it. My thinking is that Mondays I can teach in the morning, come home to rest, and then teach online Monday evenings.

Chronic fatigue is something I always have to factor into my decisions including the after effects of methotrexate. That is just part of life while living with chronic illnesses. I am so grateful Jesus gives me strength.

I am looking forward to this Saturday and spending time with my new friends from Ukraine.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Update on My Upcoming Book-Jesus Understands Trauma

I started counseling in the beginning of the year with the thinking of it helping me stay on top of depression. Living with chronic illnesses that all can cause depression is why I have depression. After hearing my pastor encourage people about seeking counseling, I decided to do so. I had no idea that what was about to happen would occur.

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The first three sessions were mostly my therapist asking me questions and getting to know my back ground. At the end of the third session, she told me, “my diagnosis is PTSD, Dysthymia, and General Anxiety.” My reaction inwardly was, “crap I am a mess.:

My PTSD is actually Complex PTSD, Complex PTSD is repeated exposure to trauma or traumas over a period of time including childhood. It is something I was not concerned about dealing with because my focus has been on serving Jesus and letting the rest go thinking when I get to heaven, there won’t be any problem. But is it telling that I do not have any pictures of myself before the age of 20.

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However, my relationship with Jesus has brought healing and there have been aspects of Jesus’s earthly life that helped me to cope with trauma while I prayed to Jesus. So in May, I felt led to write about that. I asked my therapist if she would write a paragraph that I could include in my book’s forward-hopefully published in September just waiting for my pastor to finished reading the draft to write something for the forward. This is what my therapist wrote.

“Matt stepped into my office in January of 2022. He seemed sincere, honest, funny and well-spoken. However, after hearing of the heinous trauma he had suffered, I wondered if I was qualified to help him.  I was transparent about this and suggested a few Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapists. Matt was adamant that he had prayed and Jesus led him to me, he wanted to continue working with me. He put his faith in Jesus and in turn put his faith in me. Looking back I am pleased that he did, because it has been rewarding watching his healing journey. Matt continues to grow mentally and in his faith. His book, Jesus Understands, is a testimony to both. After reading the book I felt honored and humbled, but mostly comforted. Maybe because of Matt or through Matt I found solace in knowing that He understands and comes to our aid. No matter the suffering we have endured, if we put our Faith in Him he will show us the way. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” 

My hope and prayer is that Jesus uses my book to reach thousands who struggle with PTSD or Complex PTSD.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How I Got Started in My Ministry/My Go Fund Me

In October 1999, I was in Bucharest Romania talking with a missionary about connecting with people through teaching ESL-English Second Language. It was during that conversation that I felt led to pursue experience in teaching ESL though at the time, it was with the thought of returning to Romania full-time.

In March 2000, I had a training for teaching ESL with our local Literacy Council. I told them they could fill my mornings because I worked evenings. Within a month, I had 10 students I met with as a volunteer. That led to the Literacy Council hiring me in July 2000, which in turn led to the opportunity to teach for our local Community College in July 2001.

I was having fun exploring the many diverse cultures in my city when in 2002 while in prayer, Jesus reminded me he had a purpose for me in teaching ESL. That led to starting my first group at my church in May 2002, God opened so many doors of opportunity and blessed the work so much that my ministry went from an initial reaction of, “do we need that,” to “you can’t leave for Romania because look at what God is doing.”

I was doing ministry on my income as a part-time ESL Instructor piecing together various part-time teaching gigs and happy to do so because of what God had called me to when in 2008 my church began to support me with a monthly check. It is not a huge amount but has helped me make ends meet.

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Chronic illness got much worse about ten years ago. In the past five years, I have spent enough on doctors that I could have bought a new car.

That is my back story as to where I am today and why I started my Go Fund Me to get a different vehicle. Gary is a blogger who has been encouraging me in my endeavor. He wrote about in his post- Limited Time Offer. Please check out his post and blog.

My Go Fund Me link is- Home Missionary and Teacher Needs A Vehicle.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Coffee Shop Kind of Day

It’s a coffee shop day and I am looking forward to meeting a few people. It will start off with Todd my friend from childhood. Then my friend Lina from Mexico will meet me to help me practice Spanish. My third appointment will be with the teen boy who I will be tutoring this school year. I shared about him in Another God Appointment in the Coffee Shop.

Fortunately the bus that stops a few blocks from my home has a bus stop one block from my coffee shop. Otherwise there would be no coffee shop day.

I am going to set up a Go Fund Me to try to raise money to help me to purchase a different vehicle. That is one of my projects for the day after my appointments at the coffee shop. The other is to finalize my two books or should I say begin to finalize. I hope to publish them within a month.

The reason for setting up a Go Fund Me is due to living with chronic illnesses medical expenses take up a chunk of my monthly budget especially the first five or so months of the year due to deductibles. Well that and the fact that my two teaching positions are part-time, Those and my home missionary position support combined come out to less than $2,000 a month.

I am grateful to be called to what Jesus has me doing because it has allowed me to share Jesus with people from all over the world. My city is home to refugees/immigrants from many countries. That is why the title of one of my books is Lifted Out of the Pit/Called to the Nations.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Rest Sweet Rest

Yesterday afternoon I was tired as in FATIGUED. I finished teaching my afternoon Citizenship class at 3pm and did not need to be at the college until 7pm. So instead of going to a coffee shop, I came home.

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I turned on my laptop, logged into youtube, and started a play list of some of my favorite worship songs. I sat back in my chair and listened to songs like It Is Well by Kristene Di Marco and So Will I by Hillsong and more.I just sat in my chair listening to worship songs for a few hours dozing off here and there for brief periods of 10 or 15 minutes of sleep. It was SO refreshing.

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Side note- my furniture is not this fancy 🙂

As someone who lives with chronic illness, I value rest when I can get it. Physical rest has spiritual, mental, and emotional benefits.

God knows we need rest. Elijah was a great prophet, so much so that he did not die but was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Yet Elijah had his moments such as when he was running for his life, got tired and feel asleep under a tree. The Angel of the Lord came to him woke up up, fed him. But look what happened after he ate: We see it in 1st Kings 19:

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”  He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

After he ate and drank, he lay down again. In other words- He went back to sleep. The Angel of the Lord came back and fed him again.

The past five years as chronic illness has come more the the forefront in my life, I have come to value rest more and more. I have learned the importance of taking care of of the physical, so it does not interfere with my ministry.

So if you are feeling frazzled, weary, or overwhelmed. try seeking out time to rest in the presence of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Gives Confirmation

A little over a year go, I began to share in my blog about living with depression and anxiety which for me were symptoms of living with chronic illness. It felt a bit risky at the time, but I found that many people responded to my posts whether through comments, likes etc.

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Yesterday a woman I respect a great deal for her work with children who have been traumatized, responded to me sharing a few posts on her Facebook Wall. She had given me permission. I let her know that I share from a Christian perspective. She responded that we should seek to bring Christ into mental health issues. After I posted a few links on her Facebook wall:

Jesus Understands Trauma

World Mental Health Day-October 10

She responded with this message:

“Matt, Thank you for sharing these blogs. I pray others read it as you candidly shared your personal experience in a very relatable way. We are all searching to be heard & understood. Especially searching for our deepest desire: Jesus. Some might not believe or understand His healing power & gift of Salvation is waiting for them in the most deepest hurts, mental health, medical problems & any sin. He indeed experienced trauma. Stories like yours lead people to the Lord because you spoke biblical truth & love in despite how hurtful your trauma was you looked Him & found healing & peace.”

To receive such a message from a woman who is a Christian and also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meant a lot to me. I felt it gave me confirmation to continue to share.

My desire is to share with others the comfort Jesus has given me whether it is regarding depression/anxiety or about living with chronic illness. I always think about the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Her message was confirmation for me to continue to share about how God has helped and is helping me to press on with my ministry and life living with chronic illness and also with depression/anxiety. After my day Friday with friends, and also with the extra support from my home church, seeing my colleagues message Saturday, I feel God is telling me to continue.

On another note, a few of my followers on this blog recently went to my short stories blog- Encounters with the Ancients. I am thinking about making one of my short stories into a book. I would like HONEST feedback from my followers on this blog. I would like to ask you to read a story I wrote a year and a half ago- Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop.. What I want HONEST feedback about is if a book version would be of interest.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Here We Go Again

I was feeling good after finishing a 15 day treatment of Prednisone for bronchitis. I thought okay the coast is clear for a while. I started to feel a little of something starting up and went to the doctor in hopes of changing my asthma medicine to prevent problems. I got there and, well, something was noticed.

This is how I normally look. I tend to keep my tan on my face all year. I get that from my father who always had a tanned face. The problem with that is sometimes what would be obvious for other people is not so easily noticed on me. But Monday when I went to the doctor I looked like this.

I had a pink rash on my nose and cheeks. The PA didn’t notice until she looked more closely because it doesn’t show as much on me. When she looked closer she said, :”That is a sign of inflammation.” So instead of walking out with a prescription for a different inhaler, I walked out with a prescription for 15 more days of Prednisone. Yippee.

So here we go again. By the time I finish this 15 days, it will total to 35 days out of 40.

But Jesus is giving me strength. I have not missed teaching a class the whole time. I have been able to also be there for my weekend groups,. visit people in their homes, so in other words- Jesus has given me the strength to keep going with teaching and ministry.

Fortunately, Thursday and Friday will be fall break for my morning class, so I can sleep in, get more rest, and be ready to go. I hope. Anyone living with chronic illness can tell you that one never knows how one will be day to day.

The one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is with me to give me strength. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.