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.

Music Mondays- Till I Met You by Laura Story

Yesterday the pastor of my church taught about what it means that God is love as it says in 1 John 4. It was a wonderful message. The message basically was:

God is love means that love is part of God’s core being. He doesn’t love because of what we do, who we are, or anything else. He loves because it is part of who he is.

When we come to God, our motives are not pure. We do not bring anything to the table that God needs. God does not need anything from us, but he loves us because it is part of who he is.

We bring to God our failures, our sins, our struggles, our depression, our anxiety, our illness, our doubts. our mess. God loves us. Not because of what we do or who we are. He loves us because he loves us.

I love this video by Laura Story. The lyrics of the song so beautifully express the truth of how God loves us even though we are a mess. I hope the song blesses you as you start your week. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day- October 10

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Living with chronic illness has also meant dealing with symptoms I did not know would accompany two of my chronic illnesses, depression and anxiety.

I will never forget the day that I finally started taking the prescription my doctor had given me for them. It has since changed for one that also addresses nerve pain associated with Fibromyalgia. I did not want to start medication. I was not even sure if it was the right thing for me to do. There is still stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues.

God spoke to me through watching a movie. The movie was Brain On Fire. It is based on the true story of a woman with a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the brain. She was about to be sent off to a permanent stay at a psychiatric hospital when a psychiatrist tested her for the autoimmune problem. She was placed on a medication for the problem and it cleared up her problems.

After watching the movie, I realized that autoimmune problems can affect our whole body including the brain. I researched it as well. So I went ahead and started the medication the doctor prescribed. Within a week, I felt much better.

I will also never forget the response of the pastor for missions and outreach had when I offered to resign my ministry as a home missionary if taking medication would be a controversy. I have always been aware of the stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues like depression. His response was, “Matt it is medical. You don’t need to resign.”

Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus wants us to come to him with everything. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, or any other mental health issue, his invitation is to come to him. 🙂

I wanted to share a bit of my story in case it helps someone. Also in honor of World Mental Heath Day I want to share a few videos.

First a Spoken Word Poem video by Racheal Stevens- Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.

And a music video by Jenn Johnson- You’re Gonna Be Okay.

Music Mondays- Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot

Life today is increasingly stressful. There are so many opposing forces pulling at us each day. As someone who lives with chronic illness and also the accompanying depression, how I start my day is SO important. Starting my day with Jesus in prayer and listening to worship music helps me to renew spiritually for the day. It also helps me to clear my mind of negative things.

There are songs that I love to listen to simply because they help me to focus on Jesus while I pray. They help me to simply experience his presence as I begin time with Jesus in prayer, bible reading, and meditating on scripture.

I wanted to share a song with you today that I love to listen to. Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot has the message of Jesus is the Eternal Light and the message of let’s live as children of the light.

The choral background voices make the song one of beauty and lifts me up into the presence of Jesus.

I hope this song blesses you as much as it blesses me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Journey Together While Blogging-Spotlight on a New Blogger

This week it dawned on me. It is unusual for me, so it sneaked up on me. I am healthy this week.

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I had the worst Fibromyalgia flare up I ever had the first week of September and then I had bronchitis for four weeks. This week I am breathing normally, well for someone with asthma, and my pain level is low only maybe a 3 out of 10. For me that is a healthy week. Healthy is kind of relative term when living with chronic illness. Nonetheless, I am calling this a HEALTHY week for me. 🙂

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I wrote a post in August about how looking to Jesus helps me while living with chronic illness. It was-Jesus Understands Pain. Mornings are so important for me. Some mornings my prayer and worship time is deep and meaningful Some mornings it is a time to barely manage a prayer of please help me through this day while I listen to worship music. Either way, Jesus sustains me and gives me strength.

A new blogger I follow is Bro Craig. He recently wrote a post that I think captures the experience of someone living with chronic illness. His post was In Between My Fears. It is an excellent post to read.

I appreciate other bloggers who are willing to share struggles with health or with depression/anxiety. I remember when I first started to share about my struggles with both. I wasn’t certain about the response. But I felt as someone who has been a Christian for many years and as a person in ministry, if I would be willing to share about living with chronic illness and the depression/anxiety that are symptoms of 2 of the chronic illnesses I have that perhaps it would help others. My hope is also to be a small part of lessening the stigma.

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One thought I have about this blogging community is that for those of us who blog, in a way we are walking with each other to home. In this life we are strangers in a foreign land looking forward to our eternal home in heaven as Hebrews 11 says:

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

But our journey in this life is a marathon not a sprint. We can journey together as fellow Christians who blog. Writing a blog is something I can do even on my down days with chronic illness. I appreciate my fellow bloggers and look forward to seeing more of your posts.

It is my privilege to share about new bloggers. Please check our Bro Craig’s blog.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Blessed with Fruit :)

First before my post, I want to share a picture for my friend at justbacon.home.blog I love her quirky sense of humor, so I want to dedicate this salad photo to her. 🙂

One of the blessings of teaching English Second Language is sometimes my students give me food they cooked from their culture. I love food from other cultures. When a student brings me food, I feel like God smiled down at me. 🙂

So this past Wednesday, a student left a food container at my desk. It was my student from Iraq. I thanked her in her language and looked forward to getting home. Sometimes she gives me kebab and sometimes she gives me dohlma. I love both.

When I picked up the container, it felt too heavy to be either of those. When I got home and opened it, I found FRUIT. She gave me some fruit.

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You might be thinking I was disappointed. But I wasn’t. I was encouraged. I had just prayed that day that I need some fruit. It has been a long difficult summer due to 2 classes being canceled. I haven’t been eating very healthy.

I have fruit to last me until Sunday. With it being soft fruit season, I have felt I was missing out.

It happened on the same day that started with me struggling with depression. Wednesday morning was a rough morning. Summer has been rough and Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling down. Chronic illness has that effect on me at times. I had physical pain, the summer has been hard financially, and I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I did turn on some worship music.

While I was listening to the worship music, the passage in the bible when God talks with Elijah the prophet saying- “What are you doing here Elijah” when Elijah was depressed. Then my stomach started to growl and I felt the Lord tell me- EAT.

The passage in 1 Kings 19 where the angel comes to Elijah came to mind:

“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. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” ...

My stomach growled even more. I went to the kitchen, scary thought me in a kitchen, and microwaved some oatmeal. I ate and felt a little better.

That was when I said to God, “I wish I had some fruit.”

So when I came home and saw my student had given me fruit not a cooked meal, I realized God had just smiled down at me.

Now for some bacon salad 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.