Because I have a Twitter account, I’ve become somewhat adept at using hashtags. I’ve even made up a few of my own. (#clever) When I began seeing this one — #MeToo — in the news and on social media, I … Continue reading
This would normally be a Foodie post because it’s Foodie Friday. But my mind is elsewhere.
Yesterday a friend shared with me a text from her daughter-in-law. The poor woman was recounting every challenge which happened in just the past week alone, including a scare with her husband being hospitalized for chest pains. I told my friend, “Well, life is like a roller coaster, and it’s okay to scream.”
If you’re one of those people who is saying to yourself, “Thank God it’s Friday,” hang on to that bar in front of you. God will be your source of strength and comfort to get through any challenge. And, even though screaming may help in the moment, remember that the ride eventually evens out.
The more we get used to the roller coaster ride of life, the more we realize that the steep climbs, crashing plummets, and speedy curves are all part of it. Our approach to God in facing the roller coaster’s intensity–even while screaming–makes sense as we approach each challenge on the ride of our life.
Be a blessing to someone today.
We who have disabilities have certain limitations. We understand that and, with the passing of time, we accept them. But we also have abilities in addition to those limitations.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I’m manic-depressive. Or, to use the more common name for it, I have bi-polar disorder. People who are bi-polar are limited in different ways; limited in as many ways as there are people with the diagnosis, I imagine. And so it is with anyone who lives with chronic illness or a disability.
I believe that, although people with chronic illnesses and disabilities have limitations, most of us aren’t constantly “suffering.” What we’re doing is learning how to manage it; we’re living our lives and sometimes even thriving. Sure, we struggle sometimes. But we also have hope. We manage to put one foot in front of the other (so to speak) and do the necessary things to have a relatively good life.
Stress exacerbates any chronic illness, so we must avoid situations we’ve discovered we can’t handle as easily as someone without a disability. The symptoms we often have because of stress could be mental or emotional. They could manifest as physical symptoms.
Please don’t expect us to make important decisions when we are sick. If we’re experiencing a flare-up or an episode of the illness, we may in fact, need your patience as we make simple decisions to just get through the day.
If it seems we’re being irritable, you’re right. Some disabilities are noted for having an irritability aspect. For me, this is one of the first symptoms I display when I begin a manic phase–even before I begin the ‘hyper’ activity. I think I can speak for many when I say this is another aspect of having a disability we wouldn’t suffer if we didn’t have to. Most of us have a great attitude toward life. We don’t complain all the time and we’re generally nice people. But if we’re in pain or not able to think our way out of a paper bag, we can get grumpy. Hey, everyone gets grumpy occasionally; people with disabilities are no different.
Some of the ultimate limitations are being bed-ridden; inability to communicate our needs effectively; a temporary inability to handle being in public or with groups; not being able to work; and the necessity for some sort of support equipment (i.e., wheelchairs, oxygen, inhalers). However, many disabilities are what we refer to as “invisible.” Please don’t assume someone isn’t struggling just because they don’t need equipment.
As far as our hope is concerned:
For the most part, we rely on being educated about our specific disability. Knowledge is power and when we understand what’s going on in our bodies, we’re better equipped to respond to the symptoms. Then we go from being helpless to being able to manage, to a certain degree, what’s happening. We might not be able to rid ourselves of the physical (or mental) state, but we can usually control what we do. We can control our attitude toward our illness and the world around us.
Many of us practice some sort of faith. We rely on worship and prayer and are grateful when our friends and loved ones pray for us.
People with disabilities usually need to grieve their health. That process may be subtle and we may not even realize grieving is what we’re doing. Frankly, our irritability might be happening because we’re moving toward acceptance of our limitations. I mean, who wants to come out and say, “I simply can’t do some of the things I want to do”? But acceptance is one key to handling our problems.
I’ve learned that having a good day might mean leaving the house and moving my focus off myself. I can get the proverbial shot in the arm by simply having a brief conversation with a neighbor or calling someone on the phone to chat. I write letters and notes to friends and family members. Engaging in hobbies or learning a new skill helps too.
People with disabilities have much to offer. We might not be able to work even part time jobs. But we can volunteer, we can engage in our communities as advocates for something we’re passionate about, and we can offer a compassionate ear to someone who’s struggling with an illness because we’ve been there ourselves.
Over the years, I’ve discovered what Helen Keller said is also true for me.
“I thank God for my handicaps for through them I have found myself, my work and my God.”
Seeing my illnesses as something I can learn about and learn from helps me to keep a positive outlook even during a flare-up. I know God is with me. Even during a psychic ‘crash,’ I know that when I pray, God hears me. I don’t look like I’ve got it together–and I don’t. But I trust that God is in control.
Today, I’m believing less in “self-help” and relying on “God-help.” Ironically, in my most vulnerable states, I realized God can make me strong. In our world many of us think we must declare our independence. We believe our dreams are a result of hard work and self-sufficiency. While there’s nothing wrong with hard work, I prefer to declare dependence. On God.
Having a disability doesn’t make me less human. It doesn’t mean my limitations define me. Having a disability doesn’t mean I can’t make contributions to society. I’m a person living my life with purpose because God has promised me that I can.
Author’s note: I don’t claim to know everything about every chronic illness. I know some illnesses make an individual totally unable to make decisions for themselves and caregivers are needed to help them navigate life. This post about the abilities and limitations of people with disabilities is not all-inclusive or meant to be medical advice. The comments herein are taken from observations of my friends’ conditions, conversations with those individuals, and my own experience with several chronic illnesses. For those interested in such things, many support groups exist addressing the needs of a variety of illnesses.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7; emphasis mine).
Truthfully, the current patterns of the world are not worse than ever. Hard to believe, but it’s true.
We are in no more danger sitting at home in our living rooms than the ancients were. There has always been war. We have always seen unrest in families. Children have always, unfortunately, been neglected or abused. Economies crash. People betray us. Loved ones die.
Sin took its toll on Earth and we have never been the same. At one time, it got so bad that God flooded the earth and saved only one family.
Believe me, this is not meant to be a gloomy article or a prophecy about what God has in mind for us if we don’t obey. Today I merely point these things out because they are the reality we have always lived in.
However, for those who trust God in everything, we have hope. We also have peace because we know that, no matter how things look right now, keeping an eternal perspective presents the reality our Lord showed us.
Are you struggling today with unrest in your family? Is someone sick or have a chronic illness? Does your financial situation look sick as well? Is a loved one fighting to defend freedom in a foreign country and you wait while they come home? Are you grieving?
Whatever the situation, God will, if you ask, give you wisdom, strength to endure, and the knowledge you need to come through your struggle. You can be at peace when you understand how faithful he is.
God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Even though he sends the rains, he has compassion on those who suffer. Because God has shown me mercy and because I finally acknowledge that, I can have compassion on people who, a few years ago, I would have shown indignation. I might have even been angry with them without knowing their individual circumstances. It’s a humbling thing for God to show me how arrogant I can be.
Our struggles are temporary like everything else in the world. To keep this in mind also helps to endure and press on. Today, know that I’m praying for you. I don’t know your struggles, but God does, and he’s there for you when you call on him.
Heavenly Father, please help those reading this to know the peace which passes all understanding. Not a peace as the world gives through temporary things, but the peace which you give. Your love for us means you are faithful to provide, to still our hearts, to heal. Thank you for giving your Son, Jesus, who is our Savior and Friend. Amen.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
The apostle Paul is saying he learned contentment by trusting the Lord for everything. Knowing God is in control of every aspect of our lives is the “secret” he talks about. If God’s eye is on the sparrow, know that He watches over you.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
If you’re serious about being like Jesus, here you go with some great ways to follow his lead.
- Jesus lived a sinless life. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:19
- Jesus prayed for His friends–and some people He’d never met. John 17:6-26
- Jesus submitted to authority. John 12:49-50; Luke 22:42
- Jesus never compromised the truth. Mark 8:34-35; John 8:10-11
- Jesus guided people into truth without hitting them over the head with it. Matthew 5-7; Luke 24:25-27
- Jesus is full of joy and peace–and shares it. John 14:27; John 15:11
- Jesus kept his priorities straight and was good at time management. Mark 1:35-39
- Jesus attended parties, enjoying fellowship with all types of people. Luke 7:36-38; Matthew 9:10; John 2:1,2
And the Number One Reason it’s cool to be Christ-like:
Jesus loves everyone, even those who don’t like Him and those who disagree with Him. Matthew 23:37
“Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.”
― Author Judith Viorst
When I was raising my children and dreaming of one day being–dare I say it–a famous author, I enjoyed reading Judith Viorst’s column in Redbook magazine each month. I also read her books. I even wrote to her once and received in return a sweet postcard.
When I become famous, I’ll answer my fan mail too, I thought.
Mrs. Viorst could make us chuckle about what it takes to keep house and raise children and maybe even teach us about resisting chocolate. But she couldn’t tell us where the ultimate source of strength comes from.
Like me, you’re probably faced with areas of weakness or a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting solved quickly enough for you. Where do you turn? Bench-pressing a dark chocolate candy bar seems like a good idea, but it doesn’t truly solve a problem of any magnitude. (Much as this chocoholic hates to admit that.)
My children are grown, but being a parent of a grown child possesses its own challenges. I’ve always been good at the housekeeping thing, but there are days I’d sooner eat that Hersey bar than sweep and mop the floors. And then, there’s the never-ending challenge of keeping finances in order, relationships from falling apart, and my health from doing likewise. I’m getting old and sort of broken down.
Heaven, help me! Literally.
“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” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
When I’m honest, I’ll tell you I’m challenged on some days to keep my eyes on Jesus, the one who keeps me strong. We face things like the annoyance of a cancelled appointment, a disobedient child, needing an unexpected surgery, or the death of a loved one. Scripture says these things, which we can see, are “light and momentary troubles.”
It doesn’t seem like it, does it? Yet we’re told to stay strong because what eternity holds is worth it. God wouldn’t tell us a lie about eternity; it’s his dwelling place and inherent in his nature. So trust him for that and stay strong.
Whenever I have questions about what it is God is trying to say to me (in any situation), God’s word is where I first turn for answers. However, the quote below from Michael Molinos often comes to mind. These words are simple and clear, like scripture.
They also seem to come from someone who’s believed God. Someone who has experienced His love. A love that is faithful and sweet no matter what the situation is at present.
In all Your Journey as a Believer,
You will have two kinds of Spiritual Experiences.
One is tender, delightful, and loving.
The Other can be quite obscure,
dry, dark and desolate.
God gives us the First one to Gain us;
He gives us the Second to Purify us.
~ Michael Molinos, 17th Century Writer
Read this quote all day until you have it memorized. Repeat it to your friends any chance you get. Type “amen” in the comments because you believe it’s true. Print it out and post it on your fridge. Do all those things if you want. But…
I’ve discovered if we don’t first deal with whatever is in the former chapters of our lives and get over what’s hurting us (resentment, regrets, open wounds, and unforgiveness for example), real and meaningful progress in life doesn’t occur.
Affirmations are okay. But an affirmation is only something positive we tell ourselves which doesn’t become real in our lives until we’ve acted on it. Take for example one I found on a list for Christians:
“I see others as God’s gift to me.”
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I believe this so-called affirmation is true. But if, in my daily walk-about, I don’t treat everyone as the gift I believe they are, my words are hollow.
God’s promises are the same. He offers so much to us that we don’t have to work for. However, even though many of those promises are a faith matter, even the most recognizable work in our lives may be accompanied by His “Now, go.”
Read about a man blind from birth in John 9:1-34. He wasn’t healed simply because Jesus put mud on his eyes. Jesus put the mud there; He did His part. Then Jesus told the man to go wash his eyes in a pool and he’d be healed. When the man acted on Jesus’s instructions, he went home with the gift of eyesight.
A friend of mine used to say, “God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw the worms into their nests.” Quite often, we mustn’t be content to sit and wait for God to simply come through with our need. On the contrary, we’ll discover that there’s work for us to do which coincides with the work He’s already doing for us.
Go ahead and read your “last chapter.” Then ask God how He’d like you to deal with it. I’m guessing that for you, as it was for me, He’s expecting you to do something. Listen with humility to what He’s saying to you.
And be a blessing to someone today.
Here at The Fruitful Life I like to post regular features. I may have started the blog to write about how the Christian faith molds my life. But since I began, I realize the word “fruitful” can mean more than that. I want to live the totally abundant life Christ came to give me.
My interests are many, thanks to God who created me. But to post about everything isn’t realistic. However, you’ll find on this site essays about things I can’t help but share. Reading is a passion of mine. I reeeally enjoy watching movies (even old B&W ones!). So occasionally I feel a stirring and write about those things.
I also have a passion for food, learning more about cooking and baking, and discovering new recipes. Sometimes I’m precise in the process; sometimes I cook ‘by guess and by golly.’ That’s here too.
Below is a tentative schedule for postings on The Fruitful Life. Sometimes I take little vacations or life gets hectic and I have to skip a post. Remember that abundant life? Yep, that’s what happens.
Media Monday Some Mondays will see either a book review or a movie review. Those offerings are strictly my opinion and the reviews may not be for media recently released. I believe that, after reading a book or watching a movie, I may help someone make a decision about whether to try it too. If that’s media which is not so new, it’s okay. I’m often influenced by the reviews–good and bad–that I read. You might even see an occasional mention of music here.
Wednesday is for Faith The middle of the work week has been the usual day when I share something about how my faith instructs all I do. I’ll be the first to say I don’t live the Christian life perfectly. That’s why I so desperately need a savior. Writing about what I believe and using the Bible to explain it helps confirm my faith.
Foodie Friday Friday food posts will be instantly recognizable since they’ll have the word “foodie” in the title. Friday features tips, recipes, ideas you may not have tried, or something heartfelt about how we respond to food and eating. I’m not a professional photographer so bear with me when I post my own picture stuff.
Good News Any Day I decided recently, after some time being involved with social media, that I want to share some good news. “How do I do that?” I wondered. So far, I have a couple ideas. One is obvious: search the Internet. It’s not all bad news out there and we need to hear good news to keep our psyches afloat. Hope buoys us up and knowing people are doing well or ‘doing good’ gives us hope. I’ll be keeping an ear to the ground and either telling the story in my own way or offering links to various good news stories.
And speaking of Good News, please remember that I write from a Christian perspective. Even when I’m not writing about food, I pray what you see here will be seasoned with truth and grace. Just as Jesus offered everything he said and did.
Your comments are always welcome. It would be great to know if you found me on WordPress, Twitter or Facebook, if you care to say so.
Be a blessing to someone today.